Welcome to the Freedom Fridays Project podcast. I'm Pete Clark, your host, the Whispers Guy. It appears that work expands to the time that we give it and I started to explore how I was investing my time and effort, particularly on Fridays. It's evolved to an exploration and experiment with time, energy, attention and identity. And a mindset shift from I have to, to I choose to. So if you're interested in exploring some changes to the way that you invest your time and energy, if you'd like some tips on the way as you make some changes, perhaps to your identity, if you would like the freedom of I choose to, away from I have to, then this is the podcast for you. So welcome to the Freedom Fridays Project podcast.
Welcome to Episode 32, of the Freedom Fridays Project podcast. I thought I would go solo this week, partly in response to my inability to organise anyone to chat to. But on a future episode, something has prompted me that someone asked what it's been like. And I'll commit to, in a future podcast, sharing some of those insights and what I've learned from some of those conversations, which I've really enjoyed, selfishly, again, I still don't know where this is going to go, and it doesn't need to go anywhere. I'm definitely starting ugly. I'm a motivated idiot when it comes to podcasting is concerned. But I've really enjoyed it so I am going to continue. I've enjoyed the commitment of turning up on a weekly basis which, after saying in most of our schedules has been challenging, but I'm proud that I've, you know, Episode 32 and I started a bit on a whim.
So here I am solo episode this week, and I'm going to share my own experience of R U OK? It's really a suicide prevention charity born here in Australia, through a guy called Gavin Larkin, who sadly passed a few years ago through cancer, in response to his dad who sadly committed suicide and the expression you know, the letters R U OK? It's an invitation for us to check in with people.
Are you okay? Really? Are you really okay? And even just if they don't respond, the checking in there is a possibility a probability that they will feel heard, thought of, and that can sometimes be and always be a really positive thing. So I thought I would just share with you, am I OK? Some thoughts about what's gotten me through what am I not okay with? Where am I at, you know, here we are mid September 2021. When September 20, certainly in Australia, where I live we thought we'd seen the back end of this COVID thing, and obviously we haven't and I hear someone this morning talking about I'm so looking forward to 2022. And I remember saying that in September 2019. And here we are in September 2021, saying the same thing. So I'm pausing my expectations, perhaps on what 22 might bring. But I thought I would share a couple of things with you about what has kept me or not what's taken me off kilter, what's kept me on kilter. One of the biggest things I've had to and when I say big, it's more the consistency of I've had to work on is surrender. I don't mean giving up. I mean, surrendering the thought that I can control or need to control or if I've not got control, it's all over. And I don't mean anything necessarily big. But just the surrendering to what is and whilst I might not like or enjoy, and I worry for certain people, in certain situations I worry like probably most of us do about the state of the world. Feel like as a net contributor to that, that I've made much of a difference.
So I'm complicit in the conditions that I say I don't want to be part of and I feel guilt that I'm not doing enough to address it. And so in that guilt and thoughtfulness I have learnt more and more the value of surrender and what struck me is, I listen to a lady called Sarah Blondin b-l-o-n-d-i-n on Insight Timer, which is an app that has 1000s of free meditations and guided meditations. And there's something about her voice that I resonate with. And her Learning To Surrender meditation is probably the one that I listen to most. It's only eight minutes but it just gives me, it reminds me, it gets me back into that place where I'm able to pause the worry and pause the stress and anxiety about what's not going well, you know, globally, macro wise, or micro wise and just get back into being okay with what is. And one of the quotes that she says in the meditation really strikes me and she said this; If we keep our worries in plain sight, we think we will have less of a chance of them coming true. When in fact, the very act of doing so is causing us to live in the very places we're trying to avoid. And I can't help but see the irony, the paradox in that statement, that I recognise my pattern when, whether it's a work thing, or a personal thing, or societal thing, or whatever it might be my previous pattern was very much to control the controllables, do what I can, drive things forward, ignore everything else.
And slowly, very slowly, through the last 18 months, and particularly as I've heard some of the stories I've heard on these podcast conversations is to, in surrendering and letting go of the expectation of an outcome and letting go of an expectation of a particular result and being okay with just it being what is. Ironically, that's helped me more, it's helped me feel more in control. And I'm not doing it for that reason but that's one of the, I guess, the paradoxes that I've found in finding ways, whether it's physically whether it's emotionally, mentally or spiritually to let go, let go of the expectation of a particular number or a particular result or a particular outcome. And be okay, from an inside out perspective, be okay with what is. It's really, it's brought me back into the centre, it's chilled my nervous system. It's paused my relentless drive to think about, What more can I do and what can I do in the future? And it brings me back to one of my all time favorite books, which is Loving What Is, it's a book written by Byron Katie. And I'll put some notes in the show notes about I'll give you the reference for it. But it's really four questions that are so simple in nature but so profound, it brings me back to those questions. And the essence of it is, if you argue with reality, you'll be wrong, but only 100% of the time. And often our stress and anxiety and challenge comes from arguing with what is shouldn't be. And yet it will always be what is. And so, this practice of, and it's a constant reminder, I often forget this practice of surrendering to an outcome to any expectations that I have about something being different or good, bad or indifferent, has helped me no end to navigate my way through some, like I'm sure we've all experienced, some pretty challenging albeit first world issues. And I found that simple 30 second, two minute practices in letting go. So it might be letting go physically, a big sigh.
And obviously too much of that might not be helpful, but just you know, a big sigh, and then that extra intake of breath and just releasing, letting go and surrendering the tightness that I'm probably holding in my body, letting go of the expectation of who might call, a friend or a client and what projects or what initiatives or what programs I might get to run and trying to be a little bit more circumspect about it will be what it will be. And that's probably easier sometimes when we perceive things are going well. I find it particularly challenging when I feel things haven't been going so well. Based on my expectations and goals and all that sort of stuff, good stuff that I do. So that's been certainly something that's helped me that ability to or willingness to or finding ways to physically, emotionally mentally surrender, surrender to what is and not fight it so much that the fighting seems to bring, whilst drive and possible outcomes, it seems to create tension and conflict. And as I reflect on some of the peace and stillness I've got from listening to some of the things that Sarah Blondin has suggested on our meditations, I feel that's been a really good practice for me. So it's helped me be okay. As opposed to, I think it'd be inauthentic for me to see flourishing. But okay, I think, okay, right now, given what's going on in my life, personally and professionally. The second thing, and I haven't addressed this, I haven't nailed this at all, the second thing that I've noticed is my pattern of closing in, fundamentally to protect.
So when I'm under stress or I'm anxious or worried about something, my pattern has been from memory since my dad died 30-40 years ago, to just close in, bring the curtains down, bring the blinds down, and just get tight around, nothing can touch me, nothing can harm me. And what that has led to on occasion is me forgetting some of the things that I know bring value, and that are connecting and soulful. Some of you will know that I've been married for a number of years and we regularly talk about the same thing, ie the quality of our relationship. And and for years I wondered, sometimes outside my head which led to a different conversation, for years I wondered why are we talking about this again? Didn't we talk about this last month? Or, you know, last week? I didn't give you a Valentine's card nine months ago, don't you know that I love you? I thought we were done with this. We did that yesterday, apparently not. And very slowly, it dawned on me that the ongoing conversation with my wife wasn't, isn't about the relationship isn't about the quality of the relationship, per se. It's not about that content, it's about the conversation itself is the depth of the relationship and if you sense there's something in that for you, then you know, if the conversation about the quality of a relationship stops, it seems that the possibilities for that relationship becomes smaller. And it's possible that one day you overhear yourself, as I've read engaged in another meaningless transactional conversation. And so therefore, when the hard issues arise many of us stop having these conversations, and the relationship deteriorates, and festers, albeit minimally and on a micro level, and slowly, then for it to, perhaps have some hard stuff. So I'm really conscious that that's my pattern.
When I'm busy I have a relentless geekness around the books and personal development, and I could probably immerse myself in this content forever. And you know, if any of you have seen me online, you'll know that I stand in front of the bookshelf and people wonder, have you read, you can't have read all of them? Well, I won't read all of them cover to cover. But most of them will have earmarked pages, notes written in them or post it notes indicating a quote or an exercise or a line and so that's, when I get stressed I close in on that. Knowing that I'm thinking it's helping me. And so I've got to find ways to break out of that to reveal myself not have necessarily a task or some content to speak about purely just the talking. You know, where am I at, where are you at, what's going on? Should we talk about the weather? Should we talk about the cloud formation? Should we talk about our family and friends in the UK? Should we talk about a client experience? Should we just talk about the kids? Should we talk about we've been enjoying Ted Lasso on the TV, and shall we talk about that? And so it doesn't really matter what the content is. It's just the talking itself, the dialogue, the conversation, wherever it goes, wherever it meanders seems to help and so partly, I'm sharing this because in sharing it publicly, I'm reminded and I fall off that wagon regularly when I feel I'm under pressure. The third thing I would share at this point is, there's many of us, and I would put myself in this category on some things not everything, that like things to be tied up in a bow. And if our experience of what COVID's brought, the upside, and the downside is that rarely things are necessarily tied up in a bow.
And whilst I feel that, for example, my youngest is going through her last year at school, and she's missed the last, since June, and unfortunately will not go back to school, Now she's maybe one of a rare bunch of kids who actually loved school have loved the process, the content, her friends, the experience, and she's gutted, she's gutted that she's not going back to school. And so that hurts that's painful for us to experience and painful for us to try and navigate as parents. And yet what I've tried to work on and it's a constant work in progress, is to be okay with it not being tied up in a little bow, and it reflects back on the circuitous surrendering to what is that being tied up in a bow is okay, in certain circumstances, but in many circumstances, it's never going to be tied up, it's never going to be perfect, it's never going to be everything you expect. Life probably throws things at us that we can't see and don't know. And if you take the perspective, it's happening to you, that's probably going to cause a different response than if it's happening for you. And I've been a bit better at balancing the It's happening to me versus It's happening for me. And so being able to use these experiences as a way of building inner strength, building a core strength within so whatever happens on the outside, that it doesn't shake me so much. It shakes me a little bit, I can still feel it in my body and my nervous system when things happen. But it's for an hour or a day, and it's not for a week, or a month or a lifetime. And so I found that that's really helped. And so, I'm going to pause there and close the solo episode.
I've talked about my willingness to surrender in terms of Am I okay? Well, I'm doing okay. And what I've found is that if I can surrender to certain aspects of what is, that's been helpful, to be really conscious of how I close in, put these barriers up these walls up to protect myself and yet ultimately that doesn't. And the conversation itself is the relationships that we have, and not to expect things to be tied up in a bow all the time. So if you're out there, if you're listening and you would like to be part of this, or you know someone that has a story to be told, then please reach out, please get in touch. I will happily set up the conversation and see if we can pull some insights from it.
Meanwhile, if you're enjoying this, please give it a rating, please make comment, please let us know what you're enjoying. And if there's any particular topics or people that you'd like me to speak to, I am more than happy to do that. So for the moment, enjoy the rest of your day.