Using the Japanese art and philosophy of Kintsugi, Gillian shows us how we can add a sparkle of gold to our thinking when faced with adversity. She explains that the way we talk and communicate with ourselves significantly impacts our ability to unite our thoughts, emotions and actions.
Have you heard of the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi?
Rather than discarding broken pottery, or hiding the damage with glue, gold is used to beautify cracks where broken pieces have been glued together, highlighting and even celebrating the life that has been. How beautiful is that?!
We also deserve this love, respect and care. Perhaps if we could try and offer ourselves the same kind of approach and thinking when it comes to our own body and any pain, mental struggles, scars, mobility issues, fears, and so on – we might be able to stand a little bit taller and with greater peace in our minds.
Our bodies tell a fascinating story of the life we have lived and experienced to date, with the physical marks that some of us carry – giving visibility to a part of our history. We all face our physical and mental struggles, and that is indeed life; a mix of sunshine, rain and storms.
Over the last fourteen months or so, everyone across the globe has been in the same storm, one that has continued to be unpredictable and life-changing, and tragically deadly, to millions. No one will have shared the same experience, not even when we live in the same household. We are all so very different and with our own experiences to manage. A friend recently summed this up perfectly …
“We are all in the same storm but navigating from within different boats.”
How very true!
And this applies to our life in general. How many times have we discovered someone close to us has been going through emotional and or physical situations, unbeknownst to us for some time? How many times have we been that person? We need to ask, what are the reasons for trying to manage these situations so privately? Is it independence? Fear of judgement? Are we uncomfortable with admitting the need for help and support? Do we fear our work’s response to the situation? Is it the feeling of shame? Are we worried about how family and friends will react?
We must start looking deeper and more honestly at the reasons we revert inwardly and privately during tough times so we can best support ourselves and others.
First of all, let’s start being more self-aware, honest with ourselves and consider our current ability to manage life, including all the good as well as all of the challenges. Are we saying we are ‘fine’ when we really aren’t?
Whether all is going well or not, it’s essential we start taking notice of our own emotions, thoughts and actions; to look deeper and make sure our wellbeing is being protected. Asking for help can be a considerable obstacle for many, but by reaching out and highlighting health and wellbeing concerns, a positive move forward can be made.
Our minds are unbelievably powerful
I’m sure you will have heard of the sayings ‘mind over matter’ or ‘mind over body’. Think about this for a second. The power of your mind is far stronger than the strength of your body or external influences. Countless numbers of studies and research have shown there is constant communication between the mind and body.
Every thought that crosses our mind, or every word that passes our lips, signals the mind, which then signals the body to respond, manifesting those thoughts. Thoughts and actions will forever be interlinked.
If we are determined to do something and believe in it, then we are far more likely to achieve it – even more so if we write down our goals and regularly reflect upon them. If we are not fully committed in mind, we can be influenced by our body’s reaction and external factors, and as such, the outcome will be very different!
This also applies to how companies engage with employees, particularly during times of change, uncertainty and new strategy. If engagement and commitment are to be achieved, then the right mix of communication, listening skills and leadership is a must.
Bearing this in mind, we also need to be mindful of how we speak to ourselves and to others and also how we think about who we are, and what we do. If we think negatively about ourselves, then the associated negative emotions are more likely to become stronger than any positive emotion, which in turn impacts our actions.
Read the following and think of the emotions that are triggered:
‘I can’t do this’
I’m not as good as they are’
‘I will never achieve that’
‘people always do this to me’
‘there’s no hope for this situation’
‘I am not good enough’
‘I’m always criticised’
‘I can learn and will manage this task’,
‘I’m just as good as everyone else’
‘I am going to hit that goal and will approach it in parts’
‘I am more aware of people’s actions and will remove myself from negativity’
‘I will look at possible options‘
‘I know there is a way forward’
‘I am doing my best’
‘I choose to let any criticism move past me’
Thoughts, emotions, action
When united and when we are truly aware of each, three simple words can bring remarkable outcomes. Or, they can be devastating should the negativity spread. And without a doubt, the way we talk and communicate with ourselves and others significantly impacts our ability to unite our thoughts, emotions and actions.
All too often, we tend to resort to negative thoughts (which triggers low self-belief) during the midst of any darker, more challenging times. Yet perhaps we need to think more like the art of Kintsugi. Maybe we can learn to fill the cracks with nuggets of gold by becoming more self-aware of situations, accepting what we cannot control, and making more positive choices for ourselves.
We will do well to keep reminding ourselves of our strength and resilience to get through what life has to throw at us and to celebrate our strength and determination. As I said, our thinking directly impacts our emotions, which in turn impacts our actions and outcomes. I’m sure we can all notice this in our everyday lives, both at work and home.
So let’s consider accepting our historical flaws and mistakes and put them to rest. They are in the past, and we cannot change what has happened. Instead, work on areas of your life you wish to better and improve. Be more attentive and aware of the thoughts and external factors impacting your energy and, ultimately, your feelings.
By adding a sparkle of gold to the cracks in our life experiences, we can choose a more positive, caring and kinder path to bringing greater happiness, contentment, happiness and fulfilment in our lives.
Life is short enough. I suggest we all add a sparkle of gold and let’s be the best version of ourselves x
PS, Click on the link below to find out more about Kintsugi, written as part of BBC Four’s celebration of their Japan Season: