The Imperfect Pursuit of Perfection

The Imperfect Pursuit of Perfection

Life, it seems, has become an endless pursuit of perfection. The perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect face. 

Except, of course, it’s never enough. No matter what we achieve, we keep redefining what we mean by perfection. Yet I’d argue that when we define perfection, we’re instead allowing ourselves to be defined by how we want to be seen by others.

This is certainly true of celebrities. The rock stars, film icons and sporting heroes who occupy the unrelenting attention of the world’s media live in a strange and terrifying alternate reality in which they are presented with an image of themselves and experience the suffocating pressure of trying to live up to it.

A life of celebrity can be almost Orwellian, where the definition of self can become so blurred that the person in the spotlight in turn becomes convinced that the image they see on the news, in the papers and on film is actually who they are or should become.

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Have We Forgotten How To Be Cool?

Have We Forgotten How To Be Cool?

Have we forgotten how to be cool?  And no, I’m not talking about being able to wear a beard, an ear stud and a mandigan all at the same time without appearing to be the unsuspecting victim of some sort of haute couture drive-by shooting.

I’m talking about the ability to hide razor-sharp elbows behind a winning smile and effortless charm and appear sufficiently interested to be engaging, yet aloof enough to not be threatening.

Think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Cooler King cool.

The reason I’m banging on about this comes hot on the heels of a conversation with a good friend of mine after we’d both been on the receiving end of a particularly brutal hard-sell.  

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Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Nourishing your heart involves making a practice of loving every aspect of yourself. This is about embracing all of your inner world too. This includes those parts of you that are responsible for some of your greatest challenges. Many people have parts of themselves that are closed down to love, push away opportunity and sabotage their best attempts to make positive changes in their lives. It can be tempting to attack these parts of your mind, making them wrong and blaming them for everything that is difficult in your life.  Unfortunately that only makes matters worse. If you do have parts of yourself that seem set against you, they are working on some level to serve you. They always are. Yes, those parts may be serving you in wholly destructive ways, underpinning any number of terribly limiting behaviours and beliefs but those parts will be doing that with your best interests at heart. Somewhere in the middle of their motivation is a desire to keep you safe.

Changing behaviour only works in a real and lasting way if we can get every aspect of ourselves into alignment. It is about negotiating with yourself so that every part of you comes into agreement. Then it no longer involves any will power. Will power is when one part of you wants one thing and another wants something else and you go to war against an aspect of yourself.  True transformation comes from realising on a deep level what truly serves you. This is not a chore, a duty or a loss. It is a gift of love. From there, there is no more struggle or effort required. So, how do you bring those parts of you into agreement? Continue reading…


The Heavy Weight Of Shame

The Heavy Weight Of Shame

Rachel Watson, the girl on the train in Paula Hawkins’ searing bestseller published two years ago, is a woman living on the precipice of her own sanity. She stares into the black abyss of total emotional loss on an almost daily basis.

In the novel, Rachel is a functioning alcoholic divorcee who is kept from being engulfed by the hollowness of her own existence only through an irrational preoccupation with the lives of a couple whose house her train passes every day on its way into London.

It is this thread alone that barely tethers her to the here and now and the reality of who she is and what she stands for.

‘I want to drag knives over my skin, just to feel something other than shame,’ she says. ‘But I’m not even brave enough for that.’

Shame is a powerful force and, of course, it’s not just addiction that fuels it.

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The Bunfight At The Not-OK Corral

The Bunfight At The Not-OK Corral

Dusk settles over the house and the air is heavy with tension. In the kitchen, two pans bubble. It’s almost innocuous, that bubbling. In any other house, it would be an almost merry sound – a cheerful counterpoint in life’s great orchestra.

But not now. Not here. Here, that bubbling is about as cheerful and as welcome as a crow’s caw. Because it heralds misery.

There’s a noise behind you. You don’t turn. You don’t need to. You know what’s there. You try to stay calm. You try to pretend that today it will be different. Today there will be no misery. But you know the lie too well.

You strain the pans. Put the contents on the plate, next to the breaded chicken. You’ve added tomato sauce. His favourite. And chips. You’re thinking about whipping up some gravy. Would that be too much? You don’t know anymore. You’ve lost all sense of reason. You do know the whole damn plate is a bribe, really. He knows it, too. It might work. Might not. Probably not.

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The Agony & The Ecstasy Of Ageing

The Agony & The Ecstasy Of Ageing

If he were still around, my Dad would have been in his mid-Seventies now.

The eldest surviving child born at the outbreak of the Second World War into a dirt poor Liverpudlian family.  Four babies died of eight siblings.  My father had the unenviable challenge of being a sensitive lad growing up in harsh times..

He grew up in an extremely volatile environment where deprivation was rife, prospects scant and food scarcer. He learned early that the curse of asthma brought its own blessing with a decent meal on those occasions when he had to be hospitalised and that in good health a life of petty crime could mean the difference between eating or not.

Some would say he was a bad lad. Others, perhaps more kindly, that necessity drove him to live off his wits and take the opportunities that presented themselves, no matter how unpalatable.

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Addiction: Rat Park, or rat race?

Addiction: Rat Park, or rat race?

In the late 1970s Bruce Alexander, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, developed a contentious hypothesis. In a global society which focused entirely on the role drugs played in addiction, Alexander looked instead at a different enemy: the environment.

At the risk of over-simplifying things, he believed drug use – and therefore addiction – was much less likely to be prevalent if people were given alternative choices to make. Unsurprisingly, the science community all but laughed at him.

But Alexander believed he was onto something and to prove it, he developed the Seduction Experiment based in something that came to be known as Rat Park.

Rat Park was a sensory environment 200 times the size of a laboratory rat cage. He filled it with all manner of diversionary objects and gave the rats housed there two water sources: one plain, one heavily laced with morphine.

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The Problem With Getting Swept Off Your Feet (Is That You Can Land Up On Your Head)

The Problem With Getting Swept Off Your Feet (Is That You Can Land Up On Your Head)

I’ve come to realise that we’re all living with a terrible affliction, a curse of the modern age that infects almost every walk of life. It’s called The Lure Of The Instant. In the words of the immortal Freddie Mercury, we want it all … and we want it now.

If it isn’t delivered today, we’re not interested. We want music now. Books now. Films now. Our favourite TV shows now. Download speeds must be superfast, fast food faster and a quick buck easier to make.

The days when we sent our photos off to Boots and waited a week for them to come back seem almost prehistoric. Getting online through a dial-up connection that took ten minutes to deliver the world to our screen ridiculous. Using mail order to get a CD delivered preposterous (and what the hell is a CD anyway, right?)

And this malaise, this creeping and often malevolent virus also contaminates our romantic lives. Think not? Two words: speed dating.

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You Don’t Throw Away A Mercedes Because It’s Got A Scratch

You Don't Throw Away A Mercedes Because It's Got A Scratch

Everywhere we look we see things that are supposed to make us prettier, hotter, thinner, richer, smarter, more popular.  Advertising feeds off the very premise ‘you are not enough, but with this you could be’.

The voracious rise of social media has only exacerbated this – the relentless daily bombardment of glossy perfectionism supported by the current trend of wholly transparent captioning.   Pretence: “Guys, look at this beautiful ocean!” Subtext: “Check out my bikini body! I’ve worked sooooo hard to look this supreme!’

And then there are the nauseating hashtags that even some of the most intelligent of celebrities do not appear to be immune to: #sugarfreediet #eatclean #beachbodyready #nodaysoff. For many, Instagram has become, I suspect, an exhausting and relentless life-long competition. It’s the ultimate example of Keeping Up With The Joneses.

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The Superfine Art Of Ignoring (& How To Master It)

The Superfine Art Of Ignoring (& How To Master It)

Life is busy and crowded.   Constant messages, advertisements, texts, emails, problems, phone calls, things to learn, another social media platform, the endless tyranny of the to-do list, work, relationships – it can all get rather ‘shouty’ and lead to a lack of perspective and serious overwhelm.   Your mind can whirl and lose it’s ability to switch off.   This ‘loud mind’ can cause insomnia, stress and a distorted perspective and, if left unchecked for long enough, manifest as persistent anxiety and burnout.

Not only does ‘living in overwhelm & distraction’ disrupt our daily wellbeing but it also seriously hinders our chances of success.   It’s no secret that the key to success is focus.  If we are snarled up in a maelstrom of insignificant, useless ‘busyness’ and continual fire-fighting it hampers, or at the very least slows down and limits, our chances of fully realising our dreams.

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.