Being Human: 21 Ways to Master the Art

Being Human: 21 Ways to Master the Art

Being human is an art and living bravely is one of the best ways to master it. Living bold, brave and fearless doesn’t always end as predicted, but what is predictable is that the potential for full flight is so much more likely when courage leads behaviour, than when fear does. There may be the occasional two steps back, but even with two steps back, those who live bravely will still be ahead of where they would have been otherwise.

But wait. Before temptation wins out and sees us racing off on the backs of wild horses to fulfil a dream or two, there’s something else – being brave and being sensible are a beautiful duo, and must be allowed to tag. There are times to be conservative – times to hold tight and hold back. In fact, sometimes saying ‘no’ is the bravest thing in the world. What’s important is basing the decision sensibility, rather than fear. 

Living brave allows for full expansion and full engagement. The beautiful thing about living brave – it’s in all of us. Within every person is the means to reach his or her full potential. Sometimes it gets lost, sometimes trapped under the rubble of life, but it’s always there. We humans are remarkable like that. Here are some things to know master the art of being human:

  1. Feel the feelings. All of Them.

    There is no feeling that ‘shouldn’t’ be felt, but there are some that shouldn’t be acted on. Being able to fully engage with feelings, means that even if you choose to give something else to the world (a smile instead of a slap) at least you are being honest with yourself and more able to give yourself what you need. Feelings are just a sign of an unmet need. Listen to them and acknowledge them – they’ve got a good reason for being.

  2. Don’t compare yourself. Just don’t.

    Don’t compare yourself. Your own wisdom and experience will have uniquely shaped you for wherever you need to be and wherever you are heading.  Be grateful for what you have – even the lumps. You never know the person you might be without it.|

  3. Act as though everything is geared in your favour.

    People are drawn to happy, hopeful, optimistic people and opportunity is drawn to the same. Act as though you know it’s on its way – and it will be.

  4. Take time to be in the present moment.

    Focussing on the past or future is the fast way to an uneasy mind. Be mindful of the present.

  5. Put yourself first.

    Not in a selfish way, but in a self-loving way. When you have attended to your own needs,  there will be more of you to share with others – if you want to. It’s not easy to cultivate relationships and connectedness if you’re feeling drained, taken for granted ( by you). Constantly sacrificing your own needs will eventually take it toll.

  6. Be generous.

    And know when to stop. Give when it’s appreciated. Stop when it’s not. It’s really that simple. Give with a full heart and a generous spirit. Give without expectating of receiving, but if there comes a point where that giving is taking too much from you, then stop. Giving when it’s appreciated or acknowledged is one thing. Giving because someone feels entitled to it is another.

  7. You don’t need people to like you.

    Some won’t. And that’s okay. You weren’t put here to win everyone’s approval. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or something wrong with you. It just means that you don’t combine well together. Don’t put too much weight on what other people think of you. It’s usually more about them. 

  8. See the opportunity in failure and the protection in a rejection.

    Take the lesson and sit tight for the opportunity to use it to grow to something extraordinary. The opportunity will come. Make sure you’re ready when it does.

  9. Celebrate diversity.

    Celebrate the differences in people you meet and look for what they know that you don’t. There isn’t a single person on the planet we can’t learn from. Even if it’s how not to be.

  10. Realise the power you have.

    You have a profound capacity to shape your own destiny.  If the path to the left isn’t working, try the one to the right. Trust your capacity to cope with what tests you.

  11. Full living comes with a price.

    We can protect ourselves from pain but shutting down the risk of hurt or disappointment also involves shutting down the good that could come from that risk. When a need isn’t met, wisdom and experience will be delivered in its place. Would be excellent if there was another way to gat that wisdom and experience, but generally, there isn’t.

  12. Being vulnerable is okay. Actually it’s so much better than okay.

    One of the best things about being human is being close to other ones. By its very nature, intimacy involves a certain amount of vulnerability. There is such abundance in being fully present with someone, provided of course, that we have chosen that someone wisely. Sometimes it will get messy, and that’s okay. People will disappoint. And you will disappoint people. It’s all part of being human.

  13. The more you live brave, the more you live brave.

    The more you do things that scare you, the more confidence you’ll get to take on bigger challenges and make bigger changes and bigger strides forward. Be open to everything and everyone, unless of course they they prove they don’t deserve you.

  14. Sometimes you feel scared.

    Living on the edge of your capabilities can be terrifying. But so too is living life as though it is a thing of eggshell fragility. The experiences and the decisions you make, and the  and experiences don’t need to be huge – they just need to be uncomfortable enough and unfamiliar enough to set you up against your limits – just enough to expand them. 

  15. Listen to your intuition.

    Somewhere in each of us are a lifetime of memories, wisdom and experiences. They don’t disappear, they stay and become the collective wisdom that informs our intuition – that voice and those feelings that whisper,  just loud enough to get our attention. Listen to it. 

  16. Love honestly, openly and abundantly.

    And make no apologies for it. Relationships never fall apart because people are too emotionally generous. They fall apart because at least one person keeps the warmth, appreciation and love safely stored away where no-one can touch it. It might be safe. But it’s useless.  

  17. There’s no shame in failing. Nope. None.

    Shame is one of the most debilitating emotions. It’s so powerful that even the fear of shame – regardless of whether or not it’s real or perceived – is enough to keep courage sidelined. There is no learning where there is no failure.

  18. Let go of what you can’t change. Fight hard for what you can.

    Every need we have is legitimate and valid, but the ways we try to meet them might not be. Be ready to let go of people or behaviours that constantly drain you or leave you feeling compromised. This will make room for a more effective way to meet your needs.  Know the difference between hanging on to something worth hanging on to  and and hanging on to something that was gone long ago. If it’s important to you, be fearless in the chase. If it’s important to you, it’s important. You don’t need to explain it, apologise for it or minimise it. Fullstop.

  19. You won’t have to have it all figured out.

    Always look for what you can learn and the possibilities will start to open up.  Seek  to grow wiser, stronger, better. Acknowledging that you don’t know everything, or that you sometimes need help, is key to expanding.

  20. Leave room for the unexpected.

    It’s where the best things happen.

  21. ‘N’..N.. ‘No’.

     ‘No’. It’s a small word that tends to stick to the tongue tooo It’s about self respect and healthy boundaries. The more you are able to say ‘no’ to the things that don’t work for you, the more you are able to say ‘yes’ to the ones that do.

 

 

6 Comments

Maria P

❤ Loved it. I needed to read this. Feeling totally inspired. Thank you so very much, thank you!!

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George

Existencionall crisis lessened… I am definitelly going to learn this to other people. Everyone should think about this!

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Visitor01

Thank you. I’ve been having a hard time accepting things. After reading this, it knocked me into realization and now I think I now what I have to do. Thanks again:)

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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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