A LinkedIn feed full of people being nominated for, claiming, or seeking awards, has got me thinking lately.
Furthermore, a plethora of emails inviting me to some summit, or another, for patronising and well-meaning advice from apparently happy, wealthy people or - sorry, 'inspiration' from 'keynote speakers' or 'thought leaders' whom I need to apparently listen to, admire, or revere, also poked my bear a little.
Additionally, a host of faces on billboards going up around the foothills of East Clare, disturbing my view of the countryside and imploring me to have my scenery thus abused, with the mandate of 'looking for my vote', not to mention the bare-faced temerity of actually calling to my door to disturb my peace, served to rattle my wee cage even further.
They promise to deliver the sun, moon and stars, whilst looking for recognition, popularity, and approval, spend a fortune on shameless self-promotion, and yet nothing actually changes, a power structure preserving a rich elite remain, as one bunch of self-serving sycophants is replaced with another and the illusion or charade of parliamentary democracy is played out for those gullible enough to buy it.
What is it, about those people?
Truth: Wherein lies the real value - Would you prefer a day of wellness, full of space for wellbeing, meditation, healing, relaxing, self-care, timeout, de-stress and mindful practice, awarding yourself and recognising you have within yourself everything you need to fulfil your needs as a human being?
Or would you prefer an award ceremony, hanging off your seat for approval and recognition from people outside of yourself, such as a panel of sponsors, banks, professional experts and judges?
Accolades, recognition, and merit are all fine in their correct place. For example, a hard-working mother gets nominated for a community award, unbeknownst to her, because the people in her family and community share her values, and appreciate her. It is a nice surprise and makes her feel special.
I'm not likely to be offended by that!
But when some bullshit awards are made up, and a network of small business owners or local businesses start nominating themselves for them, it clearly stems from a space of need, an inadequacy. A desire for recognition masking a lack of self-esteem. A lack of self-belief, even.
Why constantly strive for the appearance of excellence and success? Just be yourself.
Why need the approval of your peers, for doing your job? Just do it.
Why seek awards for running a business? Just run it.
Why the drooling liturgy of egocentric and egotistical social media posts from one bored, needy person to another?
Well, again, this is what got me thinking.
Sharing positive thoughts and opinions on certain events is not to be confused with vacant criticism - I am aware that my disdain for awards and ceremonies can seem like the fox looking longingly at the grapes, to those who do not personally know me, if that judgement sits in some truth for you, then so be it.
Life throws up irony at will and if I am subsequently nominated for any blog-writing awards I will surely be torn between my desire for acknowledgement and my disdain for the ceremony.
Again, so be it.
Projecting success and happiness via social media is not in keeping with telling it how it is - and truth and honesty with oneself has always been at the crux of my writings.
May is mental health awareness month, and I will be wearing my green ribbon, and supporting and attending Green Ribbon events, in recognition of those working with, and working through, like I have done in my past, depression, addiction, poverty consciousness, lack of self-esteem, and ultimately, lack of self-love.
Aside from being a published author, who publicly spoke out about dealing with vulnerability, the crippling and debilitating effects of low self-esteem, documenting a progression through taking up a mindfulness practice and quitting a life of drink, drugs, gambling and other behaviour patterns of avoidance, self-abuse and lack of self-love.
Aside from being a father of four, familiar with the struggle of meeting the costs of running a family, and experiencing codependency, bereavement, loss, grief, separation, abandonment and enduring the struggle and failure of being self-employed, one could even say the usual events of a midlife crisis once you move into your thirties and forties, and having an awareness that things are not as they seem or that life is not about what you thought it was. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe some people never wake up, and move into their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond, oblivious to their real purpose - in my case, the healing journey.
And aside from the realisation that nobody is going to heal you, except for yourself - your path is your own and nobody can walk it for you. These essential revelations are not age-dependent, but part of the fabric of life experience, within business or otherwise.
Important work on yourself, whether it is healing ancestral pain, or overcoming present life difficulties, is something for which awards could be given. But, of course, nobody really profits from sponsoring positive mental health, or at least, I am not aware of anybody who would consider themselves wanting to receive accolades for this kind of work, because it necessarily involves what I would describe as ego-death.
Those best served to lead, are sometimes those the least inclined to do so. Thus beware of people claiming to be leaders! Those who seek to govern, are the least qualified to do so!
In a culture where we are bombarded 24/7 with advertising, whether via tell-lie-vision, radio, or digital media, and constantly reminding us we need a faster car, a bigger house, a prettier wife, a 'more successful' life, a better holiday, a shinier new gadget, and so on, one begins to realise that from birth we are relentlessly programmed with the sense of not having or being enough. This perceived inadequacy underpins every effort to sell to us solutions, products and services to make us better, whole, or complete. Come to our summit and listen to these successful people share wisdom and insight so you can learn from them and be like them! No thanks, I'm fine as I am...
Indeed, reinforcing this supposed inadequacy, not accepting ourselves for just who we are and as we are, is a crucial component underlying the marketing efforts of the western world - if you are a woman, for example, you are relentlessly primed with the need for make up products, to obscure wrinkles and blemishes, cover up spots, remove tummy marks after pregnancy and look perfect. Be a goddess in the kitchen, a nymphomaniac in the bedroom, the perfect wife, mother and hostess, run a family home, run a business, the demands are endless, and the pressure on women from society is both unrealistic and relentless, because there is nobody marketing the fact that you do not need any of the shite they make and need to sell to feel good about yourself.
I have news.
You are enough.
You don't need a man. You don't need awards. You don't need anything.
Okay so maybe a little oxygen, food and water, now and again
Some meditation, some sleep.
To Love and be Loved.
My message is clear : You are perfect, just as you are.
Or in the words of Japanese poet Suzuki Roshi, "Things are perfect just as they are. But there is always room for a little improvement."
Look out for our upcoming schedule of wellness day events in and around Clare, Limerick, Tipperary and Cork.
We will be inviting a host of practitioners, facilitators, teachers and healers to offer a space of healing and wellbeing to anyone who is available or interested. Shamanic drumming, sound healing with Tibetan bowls and gongs, yoga, Tai Chi, insight meditation, wellness talks, mental health speakers. These wellness days will be at various venues, and can be from a corporate perspective, as in a company day out, or as in a personal perspective, take the day off work and feel free to join us. More details to follow ...
So don't worry if you can't make it to an awards ceremony, come to one of our wellness days instead! It would be nice to see a LinkedIn feed full of people who don't need awards, because they don't suffer from the insecurity of needing recognition.
Be as you are, and the right people and right things will come to you.
Just at the right time.
Carl J Ashley May 2019.
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