Cape Town. Land of the long, flat mountain and gratefully a place I get to call home. I had forgotten just how beautiful this city is. You can smell the fresh, crisp sea air while you drive yourself around in the warm embrace of the mighty African sun and you are never lost because the gentle behemoth stands tall and is always there to guide you. I’ve been out of touch with Afrika (deliberately spelt with a K) for quite some time now. I chose to distance myself from her complicated development and instead invest in an old, established order. Upon my return to the motherland, I ponder was it worth it?
The United Kingdom is the epicentre of modern development. The engine room of Europe, she stands regal, proud, and defiant as ever acting as a colander of culture. The world passes through and inevitably stains her, but what is truly palatable is that the flavour you get (and believe me, it’s not something you will forget in a hurry).
Perhaps the latter is a fickle anecdote, but the point is that anyone who lives in London will leave a changed person. There is an energy about London that is difficult to verbalise. It’s fluid and modern yet stoic and rich in tradition. This paradox continues as the Union Jack stands as a bastion of cultural freedom and yet the royal monarch resides over the country with such grace and charm that you are blissfully unaware of how contradictory it all is.
Love it or hate it – London is marmite. It’s certainly not for the foolhardy, because it is a real city that will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t adapt and play properly. But on the flipside, if you do play properly and you will be rewarded with more than you can imagine.
I believe in learning from experience and that is exactly what you will get when you accept London as part of your life. “Experience is the greatest school master” – It’s an old phrase that I heard my dad use when I was younger and I never really took much stock of it until recently. As many of you know, due to immigration laws and policies, I unfortunately had to leave London recently. And typically, when your journey is suddenly diverted, one responds with a range of emotions that are both positive and negative, but ultimately you tend to reflect on your journey. And suddenly my old man’s words came alive – experience is the greatest school master.
Leaving London was extremely difficult. Much more than I had anticipated. I looked forward to my new journey but upon departure I suddenly felt a torrent of overwhelming sadness. It washed over me unexpectedly and it was debilitating. It felt like a harness that kept me bridled to something uncontrollable. And never mind the little voice in the back of your head, I had a choir of demons sing tunes of despair and folly. I didn’t enjoy that at all. In fact I found myself sitting in the sterile cubicle of an airport toilet sobbing. I felt like it was in slow motion as the tears fell from my eyes and splattered on the cold, hard tiles below, the world I knew for seven years had evaporated and now I was faced with the cold, hard unknown.
And it was in this moment of pure melancholy that the words ‘emotional response and focus’ came slicing through my jagged emotions. To paint an accurate picture imagine the light cycles from Tron. Blue and yellow transparent walls of energy and light slicing through my dark mood. Introducing themselves with a stern, clean punch that caused me to catch my breath. And with that, I dried my eyes, blew my nose and I took out my little red book of ideas and wrote down the following: “to create an optimised outcome, I need to have an optimised emotional response”.
What is an ‘optimised emotional response’? That sounds like a bit of psychobabble if you ask me! Well that’s what I thought when I first heard it. It’s crazy how conditioned we are not to accept something new or how autonomous our response is to something we know will change us or at least challenge us. But all that it means is simply this: by learning to control your emotions, you can get a more favourable outcome for yourself. Think about it: If you are angry and upset when dealing with a customer service person – what do you think the likelihood of resolving the issue quickly and pleasantly will be? I’m going to say zero. However, if you make a conscious effort to change your emotional response to the person, you will be able to influence a more positive outcome. Being aware of your emotions is the first step in gaining emotional intelligence. Here is an exercise that helped me when I first learnt about the power of emotions: Try taking stock of your emotional responses to everyday events and people. Make a note of it, and I mean literally – write it down. Capture the emotion that you felt. Be specific with regards to the emotion and the event. Also note down your outcome of the interaction. The object of the exercise is simple; become aware of your emotions. Once you are aware of your emotions, you can start to ‘optimise’ them so that you get an ‘optimised’ outcome. Simples (for all my London readers).
Another good exercise is to try and verbalise your emotions. Talk to someone you trust, be open and honest (I am always here if you need someone to talk to, just use the ‘Contact me’ tab at the top right of this page). Find words that describe your emotions. This can be extremely helpful in understanding yourself and understanding your emotional responses. In Hinduism, it is said that talking stimulates the throat chakra and talking about emotions can help to bring balance. Being in a state of balance is a wonderful way to focus on the ‘correct’ aspects of life because what we focus on is what we will get. It is the manifesto of the universe – we attract what we focus on. The problem however is not being aware of what we are focusing on. We do it instinctually and most often without conscious direction. If you consistently worry about money, you are in fact focusing on the negativity of the intention. By being aware of what you are focusing on, making a conscious effort to redirect your thoughts and intentions to something more positive, you have the power to change your reality. It’s not something that happens overnight and as with anything new it requires practice. But with time and patience you will begin to transform your life. It’s a secret that’s been with us throughout the ages. Except it’s not really a secret, it’s just common sense.