Moodscope: The Scared Card

Moodscope Scared Card12 of 20: The Scared Card

In the twelfth of my series on the twenty Moodscope cards, it’s the turn of the “Scared” card.  Moodscope defines this as: “Feeling alarmed about something”.  Moodscope has a certain amount of doubling up for psychological validity.  For this reason, there are overlapping ideas.  I don’t see much difference between this and the “Afraid” card.  As such, I’d recommend the same strategies I shared on that card elsewhere in this blog series.

So, today, I’m going to go off-piste.  I love words.  “Scared” is a simple anagram of “Sacred”!  Tickled by this, I wondered, “Is being scared ever sacred?”  This led my thoughts back to the evolutionary value in this state of mind and body.  Should we venerate this state of vulnerability?


Being scared is a life-saver.  That’s its evolutionary purpose – to keep you and me safe.  In the UK we talk about being a “scaredy-cat” – because cats are really good at being scared.  They have good reason to be – the Universe is not always friendly.  So what does a scaredy-cat do?  First fact to notice is that a cat never sees itself as a mind-reader (hence the ESP Cards in the above image).  The cat tests the evidence, challenges the assumption of danger, and weighs the threat.  The cat uses all its finely-tuned empirical senses to check out the danger.  It responds to the “alarm” that the senses have triggered.  If there’s something there, the cat will then move away from the danger with feline grace.  If there isn’t danger, the cat will often shrug off the feeling and settle down to relax.

So, next time I’m feeling scared, I’m going to treat this as sacred – something valuable to venerate – and pretend I’m like a cat.  I’m going to use this card as if it was a “Code Blue” security alarm going off.  I’ll check out the perceived danger then respond.  I’ll move away from real danger, or return to my relaxed state.  Whatever the result, I’m going to perceive the feeling of being alarmed as initially helpful – a call to pay attention.

When I return to calmess, I will use this mantra: “I am calm; I am becoming calmer.”  (And there’s another delicious play on words: “calmer” and “Karma” lol)

Good Scared

Before I leave you today – I want to revisit the scared/sacred theme.  When I was a teenager, I was visited by a Being of Light.  It might just have been a dream, but it was utterly real to me at the time.

In the middle of the night, I was awoken by an intense column of light energy inside the doorway of my bedroom.  It was almost too bright to look at.  There was no form to it and no message (“Angel” means “Messenger” which is why this was not technically an angelic visitation).  There was, however, an intense feeling of holiness; so much so, I felt it right to get down to my knees.  I don’t really remember what happened next but I certainly went back to bed and slept soundly.

Confusion often follows such visitations.  Peter was confused when Jesus was transfigured on the Mountain top.  What was the significance of my visitation?  I haven’t got a clue.  But I was scared in the most delicious way!  Being scared is not always a bad way to be.  I enjoyed this feeling.  For me, this instance of being scared really was sacred.

I’d be curious to hear from other people who’ve had such experiences.

If you wish to be confident, confide


If you wish to be confident, confide!

Today’s message was inpired by the cover of a notebook I recently found.  The inscription that inspired reads simply, “If you wish to be a writer, write!”

Simple truth.

And what a gift to a writer!  That one truth leads to all manner of helpful thoughts: “if you want to be an xer, x!”  If you want to be a lovely person, love!  If you want to be good friend, be friendly!  I think there will be a good few blogs and poems coming out of that one!

The one that struck me with great force was the prevaling issue of “Confidence”.  So many people need to build and express confidence in themselves and their abilities and self worth.

Could it be true then that if you want to be more confident, you need to confide in someone?  Etymologically, I’m building on a firm foundation here – but will it work in the real world?

True Friends

I believe a lack of confidence can come from doubts about oneself.  These doubts can be based upon the opinions of key people throughout our development, comparing ourselves with the models supplied by the media, and the way we talk to ourselves internally.  It may also stem from decisions we’ve made that have not worked out well.

I think we all need a confessor; a friend we can trust in; a friend we can tell the truth, the whole truth to.  The root of “confide” is the Latin confidere which is “to trust in, rely firmly upon, believe.”  (online etymology dictionary)

Everyone, and I do mean everyone who has consciousness, needs someone who knows everything about them and yet genuinely accepts them without criticism or judgment.  Even better it is to find a friend who not only accepts but encourages.

Coming Out

A vital area a friend can support in is in the whole process of “coming out”.  Fortunately we have many tolerant societies around the World where being anything other than heterosexual is now OK.  Of course there are some orientations that are not OK and never will be, but the orientation of consenting adults should not be something we judge others about.

Some Christians have a real issue with this, which I understand but do not condone.  Christian love is supposed to be so amazingly different to anything else that a word had to be dedicated for the use of this “God-kind-of-Love” – Agape.  This, for many spiritual people, has the meaning of unconditional love.  It is contrasted with Philia – which is used for friendly love – and Eros – which is a whole other ball game!

We all need a friend who will show us Agape – the spiritual, unconditional love, that seeks nothing in return.

That would be the FACTS of Life for me:

Friend + Agape + Confide + Trust = Success

I am very fortunate to have two friends like that – and I don’t thank them often enough… something to do today.

A Word or Two of Warning

I, personally, have confided in more than those two friends.  With these two “saints” all is well, in fact our relationships are better for the “truth” shared between us.

I also shared with two other ‘friends’ over the years.  In confiding in them, I received the opposite – rejection.  (I’m not completely heterosexual!)  The result was a loss of confidence.  The relationships were lost too.

So, choose carefully in whom you confide.  I can’t believe I made such mistakes in the past, but at least I found my two who are a rock to me.  They, and only they, have built my confidence.

I would have to say to anyone reading this, I am worth you confiding in.  Sometimes the comfort of relative strangers is a deep comfort – and I’m here for you.

Improvised Discounts

Improvised Discounts and the Art of Communicating

I was talking on the phone with an important client yesterday evening. We were planning to meet up. I was enthusiastic about this, and said, “that’ll be brilliant!” He said, “It’ll be good, I’m not sure about ‘brilliant’.”
He wasn’t being cute of funny. He was just being himself.
It reminded me, usefully, of one of the Golden Rules of Impro (‘Improv’ or ‘improvisational theatre’). In Impro (as in the game show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”), one of the key principles is the win-win of building on a colleague’s suggestion. So if a colleague improvises and says, “I see you have a wooden leg” – the idea is to develop the theme. The next character might say, “And I’m terrified by the way you remind me of a woodpecker – get away from my leg!” An inexperienced impro artist will often panic and negate a line fed to them. In our story above, they might say, “No, I think you’ll find I have a normal leg…” What does the first actor do now? If they are brilliant, they’ll recover and add something Pythonesque such as, “I’m sorry, I have a cold!” but many people will let the connection die.
Communication Professionals call this negative barrier an ‘empathy blocker’.

It blocks empathy.

Blocks the flow of the conversation.

Creates an impasse.

We are not sympatico.

Pacing and Leading

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), great emphasis is placed on ‘pacing’ then ‘leading’. This is the opposite of an empathy blocker’s behaviour. We ‘pace’ a person – matching not just their speed but also their frame-of-reference, choice of tone, language, and volume. Then, when we believe ‘rapport’ has been achieved (we are sympatico), the partner in the dance of communication takes the lead. If the other follows, the dance continues. This ebb and flow, this give and take, I call “The Estuary of Conversation”.

Improvised Discounts

My client is normal. The normal way to communicate is for people to hold fast to their own world-view and decline the invitation to dance. This is as thrilling for the other party as having their card declined at the checkout… with a queue of people watching!  A lot of opportunities to dance are missed.

In this sense, any conversation is a series of transactions. When we fail to pace and lead, we decline the transaction. The conversation fails. It skids to a halt. Rapport is broken, like some strange chemical bond being broken, and you chemists know what happens next… a reaction!
Most people, when their transaction has been blocked, go quiet. That’s pretty sensible. When you’re ready though, you will learn the power of returning to pacing. You will be the experienced Impro Actor. When the apprentice stumbles, you must masterfully and graciously pick up their pace again and go with their flow. “I’m sorry, I have a cold…”
This is going to happen to you.

A lot.

So let’s get ready for it. Realise that it actually is a well-developed improvisational skill: improvised discounting! Discounting is the habit of rendering someone else’s point-of-view of lower value than they hold it to be worth – a discount. Many discounts are actually dismissive of the total value, but everyday conversations are full of little put-downs, empathy blockers, and discounts. A discount devalues the relationship. This is occasionally deliberate (where someone is being spiteful or jealous) but it is usually totalling innocent and beyond the awareness of the offending party.

Improvised Bargain

We can move from an ‘improvised discount’ to an ‘improvised bargain’. ‘Bargain’ is a strange word – meaning to ‘bar’ ‘gain’ – to forbid or block anyone gaining. In this sense, it is not a word I like. I do, however, like what it has come to mean in everyday speech. It means win-win. Neither party wins to the detriment of the other.

It is fair.

It is just.

It is Impro!

With an ‘improvised bargain’ of a conversation, the transactions are equal and flowing. Each listens, acknowledges, reflects, and builds on the other’s contributions…


…and a simple way to do this is to swap out the word ‘but’ for the phrase ‘and so’ (or just ‘and’ where more appropriate.)
And so, back to our actors…
“I see you have a wooden leg…”
“And so I make an excellent Pirate, ahargh!”
With pacing and leading on today’s agenda, I wonder if we can dance from ‘good’ to ‘brilliant’? I’ll let you know.
Can’t wait for the performance!

Moodscope: The “Interested” Card

The Interested Card

“Interested” – defined by Moodscope as: “wanting to be involved in something”.

This is a lean-forward, edge-of-the-seat, cock-your-head-to-one-side type of mindset.  Notice how many of those phrases are physical.  When we want to be involved, we naturally incline our body forward.  We are ‘inclined’ to be involved!  When we want to listen attentively, we most often move our heads to an angled position – perhaps to get a better ‘stereo’ sound reference.  Why we do it is not as important as the fact that we do it instinctively.

Walking in Agreement

Psychology and Physiology are the best of friends.  “Can two walk together unless they agree?”  (Amos 3:3)  They ‘agree’ with one another.  They are congruent with one another.  As with the mind, so with the body; as with the body, so with the mind.  Every time you shift your posture – you have to change your mind.  Why?  Well I’m playing with words but what I mean is that you are triggering a different pathway – a different pattern of neurons.  These patterns of ‘thoughts’ group together in clusters of associations.  So, your body knows what position it should take if you feel uninterested just as your body knows the position it should take when you’re interested.

So what?  Well we do the Moodscope cards because often we are not interested in being involved in something.  We’ve lost our Oomph!  Our get-up-and-go, got-up-and-went!

My suggestion (and I’m looking forwards to your suggestions) is to run after our get-up-and-go!  How?  By moving.  By moving our posture forward towards something.  By breaking any pattern in our body posture that ‘says’ “I’m not interested.”

Practically, if I’m finding it hard to stay engaged in a conversation, I deliberately sit up, move forward on my seat, lean forwards, and put my head to one side as if listening more attentively.  I don’t know how it works.  I don’t know why it works.  But I do know that it does work.

When you change your (physical) attitude and position you change your (mental) attitude and position.

Folks, the consequences of this are utterly life-changing: if you ever get stuck in an attitude you don’t like, you can only stay stuck if you stay stuck in that position.

If you ever get stuck period – change your physical position and new patterns of thought will flow.  Keep changing until you get some thoughts you like.

What’s your inclination today?

Assume the position!

Sermon: How Much is Your Self Worth?

How Much is Your Self Worth?  Yes, it’s time for the Sunday Sermon for the non-religious!

Today’s lesson will begin in Matthew, chapter 20.  [Text from New International Version (NIV) via]

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Author’s Intended Meaning vs this Sermon

Clearly this is a parable about the generosity of God and the repeating motif of the fact that the last will be first, and the first will be last. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll realise that my sermons are not for those with a particular faith but rather are a channel for learning life’s principles. Living Coaching is what I have in mind!
There’s only one verse I want to focus on today:

“Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” (v13)

That’s a pretty powerful summary of most people’s lives: they’ve agreed to work for whatever their particular ‘denarius’ is.
We live in a Universe that has riches in abundance. We live on the most abundant, resource-rich, and perfectly-suited planet. Nature is generous. Real Wealth never disappears; it just changes hands and form. Humans have even created new genuine wealth – more of it. So let’s get one hurdle out of the way:

there are plenty of denarii to go round!

That leads us to the big question: what is your self worth?

Obviously I’m enjoying the play on words here. I’m asking what your talents are worth in the market, but I was also alluding to the fact that the value you put on your talents is often indicative of your self-worth – the value you put on yourself.
When life gives us a bit of a bashing, it’s easy to begin to devalue your life-currencies: your time, your fees, your ideas, and your attitude. It is, however, the greatest foolishness to let circumstances or even the market define your worth. Consider how many artists (Vincent van Gogh instantly comes to mind) were not valued in their time – but whose works are now worth millions. You might say to me that this is the opposite of the point I am making. You might say that the market is now saying how much they are worth. And you would be right.

stone_table 3

Deeper Magic Before the Dawn of Time

I, however, am talking about the “Deeper Magic before the Dawn of Time”. What do I mean? I mean there is a ‘worth’ that goes far deeper than the magic of market forces. This deeper magic is far more influential on the final outcome. The fact is that:

Vincent van Gogh’s pieces of art were always worth millions – if we value their true worth.

In the current world paradigm, where the art appears on the time-line is defining its worth. That’s the magic of marketing. The market is defining the price. My point is that YOU are more than the time-line you are on. Vincent van Gogh is worth more than his pictures. The artist (i.e. you) are worth more than your art. This is the deeper magic.

In the New Paradigm, the Artist sets the value.

This is what the workers in the vineyard did at the beginning of the day. They agreed to work for a denarius. Later, by comparing themselves with others, they became dissatisfied. Assuming a ten hour day, and taking into account that the last workers got a denarius too for just an hour’s easy work, even the market was valuing them at an hourly rate equivalent to 10 denarii-a-day – ten times their own estimation.
So, if you charge by the hour, how much do you charge? (If you are an employee you can easily work out your hourly rate too. It may even be explicit in your contract.)
Now times that by ten.
That’s a good start.

Delivering Value

I can hear rebellion in the ranks! The thought arises: “No one is ever going to pay me that rate!” You’re right. If I can paraphrase Henry Ford,

“Whether you think you are worth it or not, you’re probably right.”

True wealth comes from true value. Value begins at home. You’ve got to value yourself – otherwise you’ll end up bitter and twisted like the first workers in the vineyard. Notice that by under-valuing themselves they actually became envious of the others because of the Vineyard Owner’s generosity.

Undervaluing yourself does no one any favours.

You and I need a New Paradigm of just how much we are truly worth. Then we need to play to that value. We need to deliver outstanding value.

The Heart of the Agreement

The Vineyard Owner said, “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?”
Here’s a glimpse of your future:

Don’t agree to work for a denarius. State what you’re worth.

You can pull a “Mr Scott” if that helps. You could say, “I agree to work for ten denarii, but I know you won’t pay that so you’ll give me ____ at this point in time…” They may look at you strangley but the valuable point has been made. Mr Scott was famous for his estimates on repairs. If the Starship Enterprise needed fixing, he’d say it would take so long, then agree that the crew didn’t have that long, so he’d do it in ____ – and you can fill in the gap depending on the episode.
The point is, he delivered the value regardless of the timeframe. He valued his work highly and he was highly valued for it. The timeframe didn’t define the value. Mr Scott’s uniqueness did.

You are unique

You should be internally referenced and externally calibrated.

This means that you alone decide upon your true wealth and value (internally referenced) but you also remain sensitive to where you are on the timeline and what the market environment is like (externally calibrated). The external does not define your true wealth. Work for what you can work for but always deliver based upon your internal reference of what you’re worth. You’ll play a higher level game. You can play from a 2 or you can play from a King (or an Ace when Aces are high). Your choice will be driven the internal reference of your true value.

Wealth begins within.

I had “Rule 5000” stuck to the top of my computer monitors years ago. That was the value I’d put on my day-rate, and that’s what I sought to deliver. It worked for me. The ‘rule’ has changed but the commitment to deliver, and to do whatever it takes to deliver, remains.
Here’s the warning: if you undervalue yourself you will make negative comparisons between your rates and other people’s. You will grumble and become envious. Flipping that over, if you are grumbling and envious because you are comparing yourself against others (if, and only if, they deliver similar or less value than you but get more for it), you can bet your bottom-line that you have seriously undervalued your worth.

So I ask you again, what will the internal sum be that you agree to work for?

What’s your self worth?

Get it right and the last shall be first.