Category Archives: Advice

Stop Tormenting Yourself

I’m  going insane over a girl who only wants to be friends with me.  We spend a lot of time together and she shares her insecurities with me. I feel that I know her better than the men she chases who don’t seem to care much about her and usually end up hurting her.  I think she knows that I secretly love her, but I don’t think she knows how much it hurts me to have to hear about all her heartache over other men.  Why can’t she appreciate how much love and care and affection I can give her and how happy we could be together?  What can I do to make her love me?

Why do you need to make her love you?  Is it about you wanting to possess her?  To protect her?  Do you desire to get back the affection and love you feel for her? Or do you just want to have sex with her and become another of the men she chases and then discards when they disappoint her?  What is wrong with being her loyal friend whom she trusts and respects and depends on?  Can’t you see how much she already does love you?  How much she values your company?  How open and honest and close your friendship is? Be grateful for that.  You are a steady part of her life which she values and does appreciate. Surely that is worth more to her than what she feels for these other men who can never give her what you do?

Having said that, I can understand how painful it must be for you to have to witness the emotional turmoil she creates for herself with other, less sympathetic men, and how she then shares this with you. I see this as being harmful to both of you, and as much as you feel the need to help her through her pain or protect her from getting hurt, you can only really take care of yourself and your own feelings.  How much of her emotional pain is your friendship based on? Do you think you may be playing an enabling role in her unhealthy relationships with men by continuing to pick her up and make her feel better again?  You are giving her problems attention and reacting in a reassuring manner.  This may be part of the recognition she craves from these other unhealthy relationships, but you are giving it to her for the wrong reasons.  What if you were to stop being the shoulder she cries on and started being a proactive friend who allows her to feel her own pain and grow from it? Remind her that she is more than her problems. Encourage her to make the most of her skills and talents. That is what a true, respectful friend would do.  It may seem tough and insensitive at first, but she will appreciate and respect you for it in the long run.  If she stops seeking you out for comfort and your friendship dwindles as a result, then acknowledge that your friendship was maybe not as solid as you thought it was.  Maybe it is just based on her problems and your addiction to her insecurity.

You will never cause her to love you, no matter how much love and care and attention you give her.  If she ever does fall in love with you it will be completely of her own doing and it will be because she desires and respects you for the person you are.  Not for how much love you can give her. Stop tormenting yourself and give your own feelings more respect.

The Spark

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The Emotional Blur

I’ve noticed that lately that I tend to give family and friends advice when they are worried or upset about something. Most often my advice seems to ease people’s worries or give hope, so I feel as though it is appreciated.  I get a sense of satisfaction from this, but it has occurred to me that if I were to find myself in a similar situation, I would probably not take my own advice.  I feel like a hypocrite and wonder if I should stop telling people what to do and not get involved in their problems.  What do you think?

It sounds like the people close to you trust you enough with their problems to share them with you.  It also sounds like they appreciate the advice you offer them, and perhaps come to you because they value your opinion.  If, on the other hand, you were imposing your uninvited opinions and judgements on people in the disguise of friendly advice, then I would say to you that maybe, yes, you would be better off keeping your nose out of other people’s business and keeping your opinions to yourself.  But I don’t get the feeling that this is the case with you.  I would assume that the advice you offer is sensible and compassionate, and if this is the case, then your concern for other people’s welfare is commendable.

I can understand though, how useless it may feel to you if you don’t believe in your own advice enough to put it into practice for yourself.  This disability is common for lots of people, and it’s a well-known fact that it’s usually easier to give advice than to take it.  The reason that it is so easy for you to give practical, inspired advice to others is that you have less of an emotional blur in the way to prevent you from seeing simple truths that are less obvious to those affected by their circumstances.

May I suggest to you an exercise which could be useful to you when making difficult decisions:

Notice that there is a gap between perceiving/understanding a situation/problem and then you taking action to correct it.

At that point, stop yourself if you can, and observe your impulsive need to fix it, based on your emotional response to the situation.

Imagine that you are watching another person, maybe another family member (not you), in the same situation that you are in and ask yourself what advice you would give to them at that moment.

Remind yourself that you have a choice of how to react and that you don’t need to automatically choose the response that feels most familiar or satisfying.

You may choose to trust the most familiar emotional response and go against the advice you imagined for yourself. If this is the case, it’s fine.  Do what feels right, but observe what you are doing, and remind yourself that you are acting on emotional responses, not logical conclusions based on simple truths.

With practice, the process of separating yourself from the emotional attachment to decision making will become more and more familiar. Eventually you may even find that taking the rational, sensible advice that you give to others becomes the more natural choice for yourself.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong choice in any situation, just more or less chance of favourable outcomes or unpleasant consequences, plus the infinite variety of possibilities in between. In most cases the particular action itself is less important than the intention that goes into it. Be mindful of what motivates you and remember that you always have a choice.

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Your number one responsibility is to yourself…

I feel like my life is slipping away from me without letting me achieve any of the things I really want to do. Every year that passes I feel older, but don’t feel that I have progressed in any way. I am so busy all the time, but don’t have much to show for it.  Is it unrealistic for me to have dreams and ambition? Maybe this is all I am capable of.  Is this really all my life will ever be?

How satisfied are you with what you have achieved in your life? You may not have conquered the great heights you dream of, but you may have established close family ties, lasting quality relationships and inspired the lives of others through your generosity, compassion and wisdom.  If you have achieved any or all of these things, there is no need for you to feel unaccomplished.  Many people never succeed in achieving any of these things.  Having said that, there is no need for you to compare your achievements to those of others either.  All that matters is how happy your achievements make you feel.  If you are happy with what you have achieved, then that is enough.  Continue to enjoy the happiness you gain from doing these things.

If you feel unsatisfied, then maybe you need to re-prioritise what’s important to you and focus your integrity on living the ideal, or realizing the dream.  Your life is not something that you will get around to living when all the other little distractions are taken care of.  Your life is right now!  And now is the time to do all those things that are truly important to you.  I don’t mean that you need to stop completely everything you are doing now and jump into some momentous challenges.  This sort of rash action may be too abrupt or forced and you will be unlikely to succeed in living out your expectations. Trying, and then feeling as though you have failed, will be an even more detrimental step towards achieving your goals.  A more gentle approach is required.

Give yourself permission to succeed and to be all the things you have ever wanted to be.  Then, believe that you can be.  Hold that image in your mind.  That is the true you.

Recognise the obstacles, excuses and disabilities you cling to, that prevent you from being the true you.  Realize that none of these things are you and that they are burdens that you choose to carry with you.

Open your eyes wider to all the possibilities everyday presents to you, and turn down the volume on all the reasons why not to act on the opportunities you receive that will bring you closer to being the true you, or achieving what it is you truly want to achieve.

Don’t deny yourself these things.  Your number one responsibility is to yourself.

The Spark

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Advice from The Spark

I try so hard to be nice, but no matter what I do, I always seem to get it wrong.  At work I am constantly being criticised and whenever I try to help by telling people what needs to be done I get snapped at and treated like a nuisance.  Even if I try to show an interest by asking questions about how my colleagues projects are going, I am ridiculed for my ignorance and made to feel like a halfwit.  Nobody appreciates me.  I feel like I would be doing everyone a favour if I just disappeared.  What should I do?

The way you describe your colleagues sounds very much like the behaviour of people under pressure.  They no doubt have lots of things on their minds and little patience for distractions.  You probably feel as though you are helping by reminding when important things need to be done, but to people with lots to remember and never enough time to do everything, any extra reminder of something they seem to have neglected may feel like an accusation or just an extra burden for them to carry.  They will most likely reject or resent your concern.  That’s normal.  It’s most likely that your colleagues are not even aware of your feelings because they are so caught up in their important business, but I very much doubt that anyone intends to criticise or put you down.  A workplace can be a brutal environment for sensitive emotions, so please be aware of your surroundings and don’t take other people’s harsh responses personally.
You suggest disappearing… Well maybe you could try this in a subtle way by avoiding the battle ground of communication with your colleagues and not entering into discussions until they invite you to.  Wherever possible leave your messages, inquiries and reminders in writing, in a business-like, respectful manner, and then put them out of your mind.  Once you have dealt with them in this way, you will have done all you need to.
Forget about trying to be nice.  You can never please everybody, so stop wasting your time and energy trying so hard to be nice.  Your attention will be far more wisely invested in completing your tasks at hand to the best of your ability, and respecting that your colleagues will attend to theirs.  Don’t resent their attitude.  It is not your fault, nor can you fix it.  Just accept the pressure they are under and do what you can to be serene, attentive to your actions and enjoy yourself.

The Spark

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Advice from the Spark

I am in love with a woman who is in a relationship with another man. Sometimes I think she has feelings for me but I can’t tell for sure. Should I tell her my feelings?

I find it strangely ironic that you are asking my advice about matters of the heart.  I’m a spark!  I don’t have a physical form, therefore I am completely unaffected by emotion.   Still, it’s probably very sensible of you to ask a spark.  You are no doubt under the influence of this mindless state of infatuation that you humans so clumsily label as love, which is actually no more than an emotional loop that has grown in your neurons.  You have developed a tight little neural net which when triggered by some memory or thought or interaction with the victim of your obsession (Dear me.  If I had eyes I would be rolling them right now) it sends a signal to a gland in your brain to inject endorphins into your blood stream which gives you a high.  You have now grown attached to this pattern and cannot envisage how you would cope without a constant supply of this stimulation which you associate with this woman.

I apologise for my lack of sensitivity.  I consider this adoration that human beings have for one another as a condition that borders on insanity, and I have very little patience for it.  Probably because it closes down the rational, peripherally conscious parts of the brain which make in unreceptive to spark influence.  So whenever my host brain goes into this mode I am forced to depart.

Getting back to your problem; very sensible for you to seek a rational, sparkly objective viewpoint, although I very much doubt that what I tell you is what you want to hear.

What do you expect to gain by sharing your feelings with a woman who cannot respond to them?  Do you truly believe that her feelings for you may be strong enough for her to leave her partner and devote herself to you?  I am guessing that this is what you desire… But do you honestly believe you have the power to cause her to do that?  The cold hearted answer is no.  You cannot make this woman act or feel any way that you want her to.  You cannot control her feelings or actions, and if you believe that you may be able to influence her in any way, then I’m sorry, but you are insane.

If you don’t expect her to leave her partner, but think she may be interested in a secret little affair, just to flirt with the possibility of one day running off together and living happily ever after, then I would suggest you ask yourself seriously if you are willing to bare the pain and dissatisfaction, the guilt of deceit and possibly even the loss of your friendship with her (not to mention your dignity), because some, if not all of these things are certain to come to you if you proceed down this path.

If you are simply fantasizing about having sex with this woman and feel you cannot control your animal desires, then be honest with yourself and don’t call it love.  Love deserves far more respect than that.  Unless she initiates a purely sexual no-emotion-attached type exploration with you, then I would suggest you keep your fantasies to yourself and enjoy them as fantasies.  I am witness to this scenario and can assure you that most fantasies of this kind are far more enjoyable as fantasies than the realities of them actually occurring.

So my advice to you is the easiest to give and sometimes the most difficult to follow.  Simply do nothing.  You cannot cause love to blossom all by yourself, nor can you avoid it.  If this woman loves you and your love was meant to be then one day you will be thrown together and there will be no doubts.  If you are in doubt right now, do nothing.  If you do nothing, what you have right now will not be lost.  Treasure your feelings for her now as they are without expecting anymore from her in return.  Don’t be greedy.  Give her space and respect and have patience and faith that all will fall into place without your clumsy intervention.

The Spark

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Advice from the Spark

I have so many things I need to do but I find that getting things done is such a struggle! What can I do?

Sounds to me like you are caught in a hamster wheel.  The harder you try, the faster it spins and you still get no where.  Do you feel as though each day is a trial to get through?  That every obstacle along the way presents new problems and set backs?  That from the moment you wake in the morning until you fall asleep at night you are racing against time?  Do you wish life could be easier?

What if I told you it could be?  Would you be willing to give it a go?  Because it can be.  Life can be full of excitement, love and comedy if you let it.  You can still keep up with your obligations and projects without sliding and falling behind.  In fact you may find that your methods are smoother, more efficient and more creative when you allow life to be and work with it, rather than against it.

There’s no use in fearing or dreading the day ahead.  That’s not going to change anything apart from putting you in a bad mood and making it harder for yourself to cope with the day’s challenges.  Instead, when you wake in the morning put yourself trustingly in the hands of the present moment and make a deal with the day to accept what comes your way and cooperate by playing your part as it unfolds for you.  Each day is a gift.  Don’t reject it ungratefully by wishing it were different, but appreciate the opportunities you are given.  To the inexperienced many opportunities may be confused as problems.  Don’t be fooled.

Where are your problems now anyway?  Are they pounding on the door, trying to all come in at once to “get” you?  If they are, welcome them in. Give them your full attention and cooperate with them by doing what is required of you.  There’s no need to judge or resist them.  They exist, so calmly and mindfully deal with them one by one.  Notice and enjoy the feeling of harmony when working with life, rather than against it.

Or you may notice that your problems are not really out there after all.  It may be that the only place they exist right now is in your mind.  Perhaps the only thing that requires your immediate attention right now is to breathe and to be in this moment as you put this step of your plan into action.  That is all you ever really need to do. As you do so, respect your actions and give them the attention they deserve.  This will help you to go about your tasks more effectively with less stumbling and tripping.

If you are out of step with life’s rhythm you will feel like you are fighting a current, forcing your way through, exhausting yourself without gaining pleasure or satisfaction from your activities.  If you let life run it’s course and take the moments necessary to find your place in the rhythm and your comfortable cruising speed, life will be easier and more enjoyable.  Your actions will feel natural and effortless.  You will find that your problems often sort themselves out without your clumsy intervention, and solutions will present themselves when you are more receptive to your surroundings.  You will feel energised and alive when you find your slipstream.  You will find excitement in a challenge and pride in a job well done.  You will laugh more, attract appreciation from others and create opportunities to do all the things you never used to have time for.

Stop trying so hard.  Tension and resistance drain your energy and blind you.  Remember to breathe, accept what is, and whatever you do, make it fun!

The Spark

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Advice from the Spark

I am a single, overweight 40-something. I feel like I’m wasting my life. What can I do?

What do you feel is lacking in your life right now?  Is there anything missing? Maybe you do already have everything you need to be happy, but just need to discover where your happiness and joy has been hiding.

Is there anything in your life right now that you have the power to change, which may help unblock your connection with life and fulfillment? Maybe everything is fine the way it is and you are already as happy and content as you possibly can be…  But the fact that you are asking me this question indicates that you have some doubt within yourself.  Maybe it’s not obvious and pressing, but more of a persistent itch that feels like it can never really be scratched satisfactorily.

You mention your weight… This would be the most obvious problem a human would focus on.  As a spark, I can assure you that your physical shell is not really you, but merely a reflection of how you view and treat yourself.  Maybe it could be suggested that your excess weight is the manifestation of your unsatisfiable hunger, rather than the cause of your discontent.  It is completely normal for humans to feel perpetually hungry for fulfillment.  This is usually the explanation behind so much of their irrational behaviour.  Your discontent may even be aggravated by the form in which you attend to your hunger (this is often the case).  Hunger, naturally, you would associate with food, so it’s perfectly logical that whenever you feel the aches and pains of your discontent, you reach for the most automatic, tried and trusted remedy, which in your case may be food.  This action no doubt calms your discontent temporarily, but the long term, chronic itching persists.

Rather than feeling uncomfortable in your body because you judge it as being overweight, why not recognise your weight as the result of mistreatment.  Is food really the only way for you to satisfy your hunger?  Why not vary your emotional diet with more nutritious, longer lasting activities which fertilize the growth of true happiness or aid in the re-ignition and maintenance of your inner flame.

This is probably sounding like a whole lot of cosmic rubbish.  What you really want is reassurance and simple answers.  So let me suggest to you some clues which will lead the way to rediscovering your true self and ultimately your true happiness:

* Think of the times in your life when you have felt most alive.  What was that feeling like?  Remember it intensely.  What allowed you to feel that way then?  What is stopping you from feeling that way again now?

* Think of all the fun you have had in your life.  Do you still do any of those things now?  If not, why not?  What’s stopping you?

* When was the last time you experienced a soulful connection with another Human Being? I don’t just mean during sexual intercourse. Think about times when you have opened your heart to a friend or sibling or parent, maybe even to a stranger, and shared with them your true feelings?  What gave you the courage to do it then?  What’s stopping you from doing it again now?

You don’t need to stop doing any of the things you are physically doing, or give up deriving pleasure from food.  Food is not the problem, it’s just not the only answer.

Be aware of all the other opportunities for soul fulfilment that life gives you each day.  When you see an opportunity to try something new or do something differently, take a risk.  See what happens.  Be brave.  Live each day as if it were your last.

The Spark

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Don’t Waste This Moment (advice from The Spark)

I am unhappy because no matter how hard I work I can’t have the life I want. My husband and I both have good jobs but struggle to pay our mortgage, bills and school fees and barely scrape together enough for our annual holidays. Everyone else we went to school and uni with seems to be doing better than us. I am ashamed of our out of date furniture and our kitchen, which hasn’t been renovated for nearly 15 years! My husband feels inadequate when our friends buy investment properties and better stuff than us and now because of our feelings of inadequacy the spark has gone from our relationship. What can I do?

If there is one thing that Human Beings are particularly good at it is complicating things. HB’s are so good at focusing on their discontent and attending to their addictions that the majority of them, generally, have no idea or interest in recognising anything more than that.

This is easy for me to say, I know, I’m just a spark. My primary purpose is to observe and inspire. It’s not tangibly possible for me, nor would I care to get caught up in all the nitty gritty of everyday physical living. Lucky for me. But even if I did have a physical body to care for and maintain and emotional attachments to other physical beings or sensations, I don’t see the need for all the compulsive fussing and rushing around that humans put themselves through. You really do resemble a swarm of hungry ants, racing around in circles without any kind of collective consciousness to hold it all together. Is it really that much of an effort to stay alive?

Believe me lady, from where I am your worries could be whipped away in the breath of a passing thought. Truly, you carry so much imaginary weight needlessly. You have more than enough food, warmth and shelter to sustain your family’s needs (and those of three other families). Not to mention all the additional space, padding and armour that you surround yourself with. What’s it all for?! If right now you lost all your material possessions and the only things you were left with were your health, love from your family and the charity of friends to keep you and your family warm, sheltered and fed, would you be any less of a person? Would you feel any less alive than you do now? Would it really matter?

You don’t need to spend a cent more on time saving devices, pampering activities or expensive luxury holidays to get a break from your hassles and reignite the spark in your relationship. Nor do you need to give up what you are doing or go without. In fact you don’t need to physically change a thing in your present situation before you can enjoy your life. All you need to do is to value what you do have already and give yourself permission to enjoy those things.

Nothing is really more important than the way you are feeling right now. Discover what you have in this moment that makes you feel good and savour those things. Let go of anything that is worrying you unnecessarily in this moment and appreciate all the things that add beauty, fascination, inspiration, love and comedy to your life. Stop looking for happiness and recognition in the future and smile with what you are right now. Don’t waste this moment, it’s all you will ever have.

The Spark

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