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January 2014




The Challenge In How Others See Us

"It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project."

… Napoleon Hill

I turned sixty this week and with that birthday came a surprise. For the first time in my life, I received a birthday card from not one but two policitians. My initial thought, "This can't be good!" One, my state member of parliament, was even so kind to include an application for a Senior's Card entitled, "collect your reward". I am fairly sure this was done with good intent, but it didn't feel that way to me at the time. Added to that were some cards and comments that alluded to the writer or speaker's assessment that although I had turned sixty, I certainly didn't look that old. Nice of them to say, however it got me thinking about what they and, more particularly, I thought about a stereotypical sixty year old male and how this compared with myself.

As I reflected on the importance of a particular date in the calendar that indicated that I was now officially "old", at least according to my daughter, my thoughts went to how I actually felt in comparison to the story I and others had about how I should feel. After all, I had only really aged a day not crossed some great divide in time.

In my reflection, I found that my breakdown was not about how I felt within myself but how I now had to deal with other people's assessments of me. Every time someone raised the point with me, I found myself automatically asking, "Is that how I feel?" Although I know that I should not feel any difference in my experience of being when these breakdowns occur I have found myself in the question of whether my feelings are valid or not.

As it turned out, I also had a conversation with a female friend who spoke about a women in leadership program she attended at some time in the past. She told about one exercise the group had been asked to do where they were given a situation where the group was stranded on a desert island and each person was asked to identify what role they would best fill in the group. Two of the roles were "hunter" and "leader" and interestingly enough not one woman in that group picked either of those two roles. Given these were women in leadership roles already, my friend was puzzled about why this should be so. However, unsurprisingly the women had picked roles that were seen as more nurturing and, therefore, more feminine as they seemingly defined femininity.

As the women on the leadership program discovered, it is all too easy to get caught up in other people's stories about ourselves. Without knowing it, over our lifetime we have taken on many beliefs about who we are and who we should be. These women were in leadership roles yet struggled to see themselves as leaders and it would appear this was a well hidden belief about themselves. Unless we are vigilant, it is all easy to fall under the spell of such stories and embrace them as our own.

Heightened self-awareness is a way of innoculating ourselves from taking on the stories that may not serve us well into the future. Families, friends and work colleagues are usually the main sources telling us who they think we are or should be. Only with a clear of sense of self and our integrity can we assess the validity of their stories.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.

Play Create Elevate

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with."

… Mark Twain (1835 - 1910) US novelist

Death, Grieving and Mind Health

In October’s message I spoke about my Nana turning 100. This week, at 100 and a quarter, she passed away peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Amazingly enough, less than 24 hours before she died she was lucid, chatting and was letting those who cared for her know that she was experiencing an abnormal amount of pain. They managed her pain with a centenarian’s little helper and not long after that she went to sleep. No fuss, no drama, no fanfare… really not like her at all! All of us recognise the wonderful blessing her dignified departure was for her as well as us.

In response to Nana Peg’s passing I decided to focus the next episode of my Radio Show ‘But I Feel Good’… talking Pink Elephants and Black Dogs on grief and grieving.  To me, there is a clear link between grief, grieving and mind health. There is much written about the subject of grief but many of us avoid it and rarely take the chance to educate ourselves about how we and others might respond to grief and loss. So here are just a few things to get you thinking about how prepared you and those you care about might be for the passing of a loved one… especially unexpectedly.

How young, how unexpected and the relationship with the person who dies are three significant factors in how we respond to grief and loss. As is how recently or the number of deaths of other loved ones. Minutes after the passing of my nana, my 10 year old nephew came out into the corridor, walked straight up to me and said, “Ten is too young to have gone to three funerals!” I agreed with him and we spoke about his 20 year old cousin’s death while shooting hoops at a neighbour’s house, the death of his grandfather 12 months ago and now his Great Nana. We decided we’d both had enough and that he would be an ‘old man’ of 33 before we wanted the next funeral – his grandma, at 100.

A number of people in my family were evidently experiencing a layering of grief which showed up in very different ways.  All responses to grief and expressions of sadness are acceptable – no matter how different. Whether you’re and expressive crier or silent and stoic, how you grieve will be right for you!

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is well known in the field of grief and loss and she puts forward that there are several stages of grief or loss that many of us will typically go through. Even as we go through these stages there can be a great diversity of expressions and experiences of grief.

The Kubler-Ross Model proposes that in grief we will firstly experience denial or shock. People can faint, stand still in open mouthed silence, or I know in the case of hearing of my nephew’s passing, “What???” was about all I managed. All these things can be about escaping the awful reality you’re facing. People will tell you “I’m fine!” when they’re clearly not. People might also respond by telling others that it is not true.  This is usually a temporary stage.

The second stage is Anger. When people can no longer sustain the denial they might move to anger. They might be angry at the person who died for ‘leaving them’ or they might be angry because they feel the death is unfair and should not have happened to them.

Then there is Bargaining. Bargaining often shows up for a person exprecting to die and is seeking a little bit longer. If they could live for another year, see their child turn 5 or make it to Christmas.

Depression is the next stage. During this stage an individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. Depression occurs when the realisation that the person is really gone and they are not returning sets in. People’s responses differ depending on their defence mechanism.

The final stage in the Kubler-Ross model is Acceptance. This stage is characterised by the grieving individual knowing their loved one is resting and that it is for the best. This allows people to begin moving on with their life. 

This is by no means a comprehensive summary of the stages of grief. It is a brief overview designed to give you a sense of what you might expect to happen when people experience the loss of a loved one. The critical factor related to mind health is that people do not become stuck in the depression stage. Depression as defined in the Kubler-Ross model is not the same as clinical depression. However, it is possible that this depression, as a response to death of a loved one, may become a trigger for clinical depression. If you are concerned about your own or another’s response to grief a sensible first choice is a visit to your GP (General Practitioner).

There are many great references for strategies for dealing with grief both on line and accessible through counselling or therapy.

www.mygriefassist.com.au is a great starting point reference for more information. 

You can read Jacqui’s Blog at http://www.playcreateelevate.com.au/Blog/

Please check out the website, www.PlayCreateElevate.com.au, and let Jacqui know what you think.

More on PCE next month!

The Monthly Diversion

Thanks to Peter Thorneycroft for this one...

If you've ever worked for a boss who reacts before getting the facts and thinking things through, you will love this!

A major steel company, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO.

The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers.

On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business.

He asked the guy, "How much money do you make a week?"

A little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, "I make $400 a week. Why?"

The CEO said, "Wait right here."

He walked back to his office, came back in two minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and said, "Here's four weeks' pay. Now GET OUT and don't come back."

Feeling pretty good about himself the CEO looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?"

From across the room a voice said, "Pizza delivery guy from Domino's."


"Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong about his facts."

…Bernard Baruch (1870 - 1965) US businessman and statesman

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