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That time when I realised the importance of doing nothing

For anyone who is deep in the trenches of the fight for self-esteem with me, like me, I am sure you have found a million different tiny ways to try to make sure that you feel like you are enough. However we do it, we find our own little ways of creating that spark of recognition in others.

My capacity for doing has always been exponential, whatever I have chosen to apply that ‘doing’ to. The doing is linked to feeling like I have value. If I can make the world feel a certain way about me, I create safety.

It’s not a part of some deep, evil plan to manipulate others to remove them of something they can’t afford to give, however. What my subconscious is trying to collect is love, admiration and affection.

Excessive doing means that you are never truly being.

You exist in every moment calculating what the next might be. Pre COVID, I always had plans, I always had ideas of what I wanted to get up to. When the world stopped in March 2020, I had no choice but to stop with it.

Happily, I had already been hard at work learning how to get still with myself. I was lucky enough to have already started to curate a toolkit for my own version of wellness and it served me well.

Even with big pockets of stillness, I still managed to find plenty of ways to keep doing. Working crazy hours, consoling myself that I was one of the fortunate ones to even have the opportunity to be working.

Then something shifted. I met a human who I wanted to be still with. With that human I felt no need to escape back into doing. I could be still.

That’s where I am right now, content in the still. But knowing him and experiencing those moments of not wanting to escape to the next thing, has shown me that I still seek my escape often.

So that is my work. Being over doing.

Being gives us so much more than doing, my friends. Being enables us to connect to our higher power, our light within. Being allows us to have a dialogue with our bodies, and honour what they truly need. Being enables us to create space inside ourselves for wonder.

I read a great book lately, From What Is to What If, by Rob Hopkins. He talks in detail about what the lack of this kind of space does not only to humans, but also to the world.

When we are deeply immersed in stuff, however hard that stuff might be, we are less able to imagine our way out. Imagination lies at the heart of our growth. If we can’t see further than what is in front of us and allow ourselves to be sucked into the cycles of our lives, we will never truly create the space for joy.

Joy is a radical force, because it connects us to life.

When we are connected to life, we feel connected to each other, we see each other more clearly, we care more about each other’s experiences and are therefore more likely to start trying to figure out how we might be able to enrich them.

Trying to figure out how to truly create this energy within workplaces will be my life’s work. What is the right shape of the organisation for imaginations to flourish? How do we start to measure success by new dreams adopted? I’ll let you know if and when I get there.

Right now, our work is in our own back yards.

How you manage to create ‘space’ is going to be completely individual to you, but in the meantime, let me inspire you with some clues in the world to help you on your path, some taken from the book:

  • The more joy you fake, the more joy you make. A trick of mine for years has been smiling when I don’t feel like doing so, even if alone.
  • Create time to do something that moves you, perhaps it’s writing, perhaps it’s drawing, perhaps it’s just lying on your back and looking at the sky and feeling how small you are.
  • Find more opportunities for we not me. See where you can start to shift self-interest to collective interest. When making big decisions, reflect deeply on what the drivers might be.
  • In the teams you work in, work hard to remove the fallacy of a right or wrong answer. Become critical friends rather than critics to one another’s ideas. “Yes, and” over “No, but” for the win.
  • Turn off stories so you don’t have pre traumatic stress disorder. Consider what you are consuming in your world and if that needs to alter. Does how you are living deplete or support you?
  • Find moments of awe to reunite with fellow humans. When we are in awe of something, it creates a shift with us, it makes us wonder and it helps us to turn our own imaginations back on.

Once you have created the awareness of what joyful exploration feels like, you will start to notice when you stop doing it. When that happens, you might be running out of space again. Use that awareness as a beautiful gift and do whatever it is you need to do to create that space again.


That time when I realised that I am not an anxious person

The feeling of anxiety is something many of us experience. That doesn’t have to be the way we experience the world. Here’s a little on how I managed to create a better experience for myself. 

Anxious AF

If you type “how to deal with” into your Google search bar, the first thing that comes up is anxiety. If that’s not a clear indicator of how we are all feeling I don’t know what is.

Anxiety is something that is hugely impactful for those experiencing it and it can have huge implications on your physical and mental health.

So what is it? 

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. It can feel different from body to body, but for me, it’s something I can feel bubbling in the centre of my chest. I also have a stress knot in my left shoulder that dials up and down based on how I am feeling.

Learning what the markers are in your body is so so important. It doesn’t mean you become suddenly immune to the feeling, but it does give you a great barometer that can tell you if you need to course correct.

It took me a while to realise that I was experiencing anxiety, because from the outside I can appear pretty steady a lot of the time. I was good at fooling myself too. Then when I started to unpack and consider what feelings I was having in my body, I would often say things like; “as an anxious person…”.

That’s not true either. It is not absolute. I am not an anxious person. I am a person that has absorbed energy easily and has often let things like anxiety creep in. I did that because I didn’t have the boundaries to hold the rest of the world back.

What did I do about it? 

A few years ago I was wound up like a coil. I had developed some fairly firm beliefs about how I should be showing up in the world and was tying myself up in knots. I decided to unpack the feelings of anxiety I was experiencing, and worked with a therapist at the time to do so.

She described me as “a bit like a kitchen which has all the utensils it needs, but at that time they were in a big pile in the centre of the room, needing to learn where everything lived and what it all does.” She was right. I had all my “utensils” I just didn’t know how to use them for the right activity.

When we really looked at the root cause of what was worrying me, every single time it boiled down to the fear of what other people thought of me. If you want to do the same thing, it’s pretty easy.

  1. State your concern.
  2. Ask yourself why you feel that way. Ask yourself why again and what the feeling is underneath. Ask yourself why again.
  3. And keep going until you get to the honest bedrock of what lies underneath your fears. Your underlying theme. 
  4. Help yourself to understand a more realistic outcome. 

We keep asking why because it means that we get past all of our justifications and excuses. Let’s see that in action.

  1. I’m worried about the client presentation I need to give next week. 
  2. Why? Because it is a really big deal and a lot of the senior team will be there. Why is it a big deal? Because it is an important account so I am worried about getting something wrong. What would happen if you got something wrong? It could feel embarrassing and I might lose the respect of my peers. And what would that mean to you if that happened? I would feel bad and separate from the rest of the team.
  3. The underlying theme here is a fear of what other people think. 
  4. Given it is normal for people to make little mistakes in every day life, if you were to get something slightly wrong, what is a more realistic outcome? That I would apologise for the misstep, and complete the rest of the presentation. 

Once we had created the space for me to learn those things about myself, we were able to work together to change the narrative I told myself from “I must” to “Ideally I would, but it is okay if I don’t”.

Some of my WAY too rigid beliefs were:

  • I need everything to be fair
  • I want to be perfect
  • I want to be held in the highest regard

We changed them to:

  • Ideally I would like everything to be fair but I am okay if it isn’t
  • Ideally I would like to be perfect, but it is okay if I am not
  • Ideally I would like to be held in the highest regard, but if I am not, that is okay

Together, we were able to create space between me and what I was letting in. What that has given me is the power of choice. It doesn’t mean that those feelings go away, it just means that when they do, I can have a conversation between the rational and irrational parts of myself.

I recommend doing this as a written exercise when you are getting started. Take a sheet of paper and create two columns. Write how you feel on one side, then on the other side, write a reply to what you have just said from your rational side. Then reply from the irrational feelings and so on, until you have talked yourself into a place of reason.

If you are wondering how to access your rational side, start by thinking how you might answer if it was your friend who was telling your their feelings about something, and you were helping them to rationalise them. Learning how to have these conversations with myself was critical in learning how to self soothe, and how to be my own therapist.

Our reactions are learnt

Most of the things we say that we “are” are things that have been introduced. We are born as joyful, worry-free creatures that then become distorted by the world around us. As we look to our primary caregivers for our needs to be met and they aren’t, even in a small way, that’s where the worry kicks in. Something as small as a facial expression can be the difference between feeling safe and feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Given how we are born, anything that we then become can only be something that is introduced. That means there is always a chance to find our way back to our default setting. Much of my journey back to me has been more about unlearning things which I held to be true.

Unlearning this stuff and getting better at using our “utensils” means that we can create the space to choose another path. We can find the means to create space between us and what we are letting in and sit firmly in the driving seat of our lived experience.

That time when I was wilfully blind

I was with my ex husband 12 years before I left him and I often get asked if it suddenly went wrong somewhere down the line, whether we grew apart or perhaps something happened that meant things changed between us.

The truth is, whilst we inevitably changed as people as we grew a little older, the relationship was wrong from the beginning. The actual beginning. As I look back at that moment in time, there weren’t just red flags around me, there were actual fires. The warning signs were clear; lies, manipulation and an attempt to wield control, yet somewhere in the haze of those fires, I told myself that this was the path that I wanted, and taught myself to believe we could build something together. I committed.

By choosing to ignore the clear signs that were there, I soon became somewhat numb to the bad things. The more bad things that occurred, the more numb I became. I passively challenged things as they occurred along the way, but I didn’t want to take the risk of learning the real truth of what was happening in my world in case that meant I lost the thing that I had at the time. I was afraid and through my fear I learned to ignore the reality of my situation and become wilfully blind.

It’s not just me, it’s likely to be you too 

The truth is my friends, none of us are immune to wilful blindness. Whether big or small, personal or professional there are many things that we all choose not to see on a daily basis.

We create little stories around why it’s okay for us to do this one thing, when deep down we know we ‘shouldn’t’. We seek to validate our choices with excuses to make ourselves feel more comfortable with our chosen path. Most of this plays out without us being consciously aware.

Some of this is just the brain’s way of keeping us safe. The brain thinks it is doing its job by minimising pain, but actually in doing so can keep us in a situation that actually harms us more and for a longer period of time.

The brain’s refusal to see the reality of the world around us and its attempt to keep us ‘safe’ can actually just keep us in suspended animation, or even worse, in danger.

What can we do about it

To really get better at being honest with ourselves about the reality of the situations we find ourselves in, we have to start by developing our relationship with ourselves. That’s the only way your true inner voice can ever be heard.

Some people don’t have to fight so hard to hear their inner voice. My younger sister is a total badass, but someone who has had more than her fair share of challenging interactions with the world. This happens because she refuses to “play the game”, her internal barometer is so strong that she calls bullshit when she sees it.

My sister, and others like her, are the folks that we need in the world who are brave enough to call out bad things when they see them happening. Whilst I know other people like my sister, I know many more people who would be more afraid to say something and speak out if they saw wrongdoing. It’s a muscle that I myself have been working on over the years, as the drive to stay ‘safe’ within myself is so damn strong.

Lean into the challenge 

Challenge takes bravery, guts and determination. If the life that you have lived so far hasn’t equipped you with what it takes to challenge the status quo around you (whether personal or professional), there is still hope. Like so many things, you can work to get better at it like I have.

I read Margaret Heffernan’s book on Wilful Blindness recently and she buckets the habits we need to get better at into two areas:

#1 Critical thinking

To really think critically, we need to overcome the urge to people please. The way our schools are structured means that we learn the dark art of informed obedience; we are celebrated when we give the “right” answer, but we are marginalised if we challenge or disagree.

Think about the handful of children you were at school with you walked their own path. At the time they were likely subject to bullying, whereas now, they are probably the humans amongst us who feel the most free. We need to start raising and educating individuals who think for themselves and challenge the status quo.

Start small on this stuff, and just begin asking yourself the question; “What am I not seeing here?”.

#2 Courage

Just like anything that takes a little practice, the only way you get better at doing it is by doing it. So your courage muscle can be increased by daring to be brave, perhaps just in small ways at first.

Whether it’s something in your own world or in the life of others, each of us owes it to ourselves and the world around us to develop the courage to intervene. One dissenting voice in a meeting can have a huge impact on the overall outcome. To do that we need to alter our thinking and perspective from me (how do I stay safe?) to we (how to we all thrive together?).

A hack in the meantime

Whilst we build these muscles, there’s a hack that you can use. Surround yourself with as many truth seekers as you can find. Find the folks that aren’t afraid to tell you what you don’t want to hear. That’s ultimately the thing that got me unstuck, I met a dear friend who called BS on much of what I told her about by life at that time.

The same works in business too, I like to make sure that I have a good amount of dissenting voices within my team. People who aren’t afraid to tell me what they see, and help me to realise what I don’t.


That time when I learnt a little more about the ways that shame can drive us

Every so often a book comes along that really shifts something for me, and I feel compelled to share some of its contents. Having just read Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw, now is one of those times. 

To sensitive people in the world like me, the ones who feel emotion and energy around them, the ones who have likely battled against low self esteem, the ones who have had to work hard on their relationships with themselves; this book is one I highly recommend reading. 

Shame as a word may feel a little triggering, but ultimately it’s the thing that drives people around the world to both overachieve and underachieve. It is the thing that drives the majority of our toxic behaviours.

We are likely, for a time at least, resolute in those behaviours, thinking that if we can just keep working super humanly hard then we won’t be found out, or on the flip side, no thank you, I don’t want to be part of your society because it is easier this way. 

Either way we are working ridiculously hard to make sure we don’t have to experience shame. 

We learn this really early on, often through our experiences of otherwise loving adults. As children we study the eyes of those around us for acceptance and learn to clip ourselves in a way that we feel meets everyone else’s needs. We learn what it means to be bad and what it means to be good. 

Whichever adult we are in contact with as children, our survival is dependent on them, so we have to believe that they are good. That means that if there is even a sniff of disdain sensed, the child will often form the hard view that they are indeed the bad one, and frankly lucky to be tolerated at all. 

This is where a low self esteem creeps in. This is also where the shrinking creeps in, namely that you don’t want to be too big for the folks around you, because you need them to love you and keep you safe, so you cover up who you really are.

It happens at school also and I can see how that was the case for me, when my imagination and ideas were a little too ‘out there’ for the adult I was dealing with. They trigger your shame with their disgust at your work and perhaps you, like me, tried to become something else or create something else in order to meet their needs. 

I also lived out a full scale teenage rebellion at around this time, and looking back I can see how at my core I was simply seeking belonging and acceptance in the eyes of others.

Cool and rebellious was a badge I was happy to wear, no matter what that meant for my future, and I tried to infiltrate many different groups that had their own identity, in the hope that I would feel a sense of belonging. 

To develop strong ego boundaries, children need parents with strong boundaries, so if a parent hasn’t managed to develop their own, the children are unlikely to be able to do so by design. 

When you have damaged boundaries, like I had for much of my adult life, you don’t really have a clear sense of self.

You have existed in the world in a way that means you survive. 

What that means is that you are likely prone to love too hard, too quickly (I’ve definitely done my fair share of that) and become dependent entirely on other beings, and pretty much codependent by design. You’ve also likely learnt to stifle your real feelings to be more palatable for the people around you and cling on for dear life in those doomed relationships, romantic or otherwise. 

You are also extremely likely to attract and seek people who are perhaps a different side of the same coin, perhaps narcissistic or similar. You then may find yourself in a relationship which is shaming on a daily basis and therefore continues to lower your value within yourself. Side note: if we do not grow because of someone else’s ‘love’, it’s generally because it is not legit.

You’ve also probably learnt that kindness is better than honestly, so you have extended and distorted yourself in all kinds of ways to meet the needs of others. You’ve perhaps also been super judgemental of others and perhaps envious, which may show up in a ‘nice’ way in the form of a barbed compliment. Top tip: if you find someone triggers you in that way, it’s worth sitting with that and looking at the emotion that they have brought up in you, there is likely to be a major learning opportunity hidden in there somewhere. 

You’ve also likely been extremely prone to addictions whether big or small. For clarity, in the book he cites Pia Mellody’s definition of addiction as: “any process used to avoid or take away intolerable reality.”

I’ve always been someone who jumps into things, constantly seeking, constantly looking to fill what was missing inside me and make the world love me more. When I managed to overcome one addiction, a new one would creep in. I simply got lucky that my addictions didn’t involve drugs and alcohol, but the energy driving the behaviour is the same.

In my childhood world there was no big thing, no big incident, my parents were just two wonderful humans doing the best with what they had. In a recent conversation with my Mum she shared some of the guilt she felt watching her own children on their healing journeys. 

The way I see it is as simple as this; we can only operate in the world based on our own lived experiences. My parents came into the world and were influenced by their own experiences, they stood on the shoulders of their ancestors and have evolved based on the platform they were standing on. All I am doing is that; standing on my parents shoulders and evolving based on the platform I am standing on. I also benefit from many positive things I have learnt from them, the resourcefulness to find the means to put myself onto a more expansive path being one.

I appreciate that doesn’t even scratch the surface of a parents guilt on this stuff, but I also must point out that much of these things happens due to the nature of who we are as creatures and our drive for survival. Emotion is quite literally there to drive us to get what we need to survive. 

I am sure you are thinking by now, okay Penfold, enough. What do we do about this? 

Well you could read John’s book for a start, as there are a tonne of great practical exercises in there to support you with developing self awareness. The truth is there is no quick path to your own evolution, there is just the long road of life long commitment to keep expanding and evolving. Each persons path is individual to them and completely unique, which I can appreciate makes things even harder. 

What we can do though is be inspired by others, and pay attention to what they have learnt, in the hope that we might learn something too. 

I’ve written many blogs on all of this over the years, but some of the other things that have helped me on my path have been:

  • To start to make decisions for myself that truly served me, whether big or small. 
  • To start to monitor my emotions and pay attention to what they are telling me.
  • To learn how to get still within myself through meditation, and learn that there’s nothing in there I need to run away from.
  • By learning how to meditate, to give myself the space to create a greater awareness of myself and the nuances that drive my behaviour throughout a day.
  • To build a trusted, non shaming team around me that I trusted enough to believe it when they told me I was loveable. 
  • To put in the work to become vulnerable, to allow space for the love of other people to come in.
  • And right now, my new one is to give the negative voice inside myself a voice so that I can love and accept my dark parts as well as my light ones.

I will leave you with some commandments from John:

  • You have the right to judge your own behaviour, thoughts and emotions, and to take responsibility for their initiation and consequences. 
  • You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour.
  • You have the right to judge if you are responsible for judging other people’s problems.
  • You have the right to change your mind. 
  • You have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. 
  • You have the right to say, “I don’t know.” 
  • You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them. You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.
  • You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.” 
  • You have the right to say, “I don’t care.” 

If any of this piece resonates with you and you are feeling a little flummoxed about where to go from here, reach out to me and let’s have a conversation and hack it together. My own healing journey is supported by sharing both what I have learnt and what I am learning in the support of others.

With special thanks to Josh Connolly for recommending the book and more broadly for his work in creating awareness of this area.

That time when I wanted to share a little gratitude for 2020

I spent the first part of my life in Northumberland, which is in the very far north of England, surrounded by the bracken of the Pennines. The leaves of ferns have long since held my fascination, and for me have carried this symbol of familiarity, of home. 

The would look just as magnificent when they died as when they were alive, and provided a real fascination as the new buds grew, like funny little gnarled hands. 

Ferns are incredibly hardy, and I had often thought of their magic in terms of resilience and ability to survive in different conditions. Perhaps though, their real magic can be found in their ability to start over, to begin again. They are often the first plants to show signs of recovery in wildfires. 

This year has given us more than most of us could really handle, certainly more than we expected or could have ever predicted. Whilst the wildfires of 2020 (metaphorical and actual) have brought a lot of devastation for many, they have also made many of us ask some of the questions that we hadn’t been asking ourselves. That questioning has made many of us rethink our ways of living and loving and see if we can do a little better, and like the ferns do so well, to begin again. 

I write this at a time when we are all being presented yet again with new data, with changes to what we had understood the rest of our year to hold in the UK. I understand just how hard that can feel, and how crushing to have things shift it can feel and be for our hearts and for our pockets, in the case of so many businesses. 

What 2020 gave me

I started this year with the intention of being over doing. Essentially, to do less and be present more. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it, but the intention was there nonetheless. 

If you read my blog often, you will know I talk a lot about meditation, and have had a daily practice for a number of years – though I don’t say that lightly, it was hard fought. Even with that, what has blown my mind is exactly how many activities I was still using for escapism. 

This year, living alone and spending much of the year solo, I have had to stop running at last. I have finally learnt how to stay. I have finally learnt to allow my emotions to speak to me and tell me what they need me to hear. 

Whilst I might have stopped running, it doesn’t mean that I outran my demons. It just means that when emotions and feelings occur, I have learnt how to invite them to come and take a seat next to me, and explain to me why they are there. 

Being able to sit still with myself and be peaceful with whoever and wherever I am in that moment has been a big shift for me this year, and the ability to hold myself and to cherish myself through it. 

The ability to begin again 

The end of the year is the time when many people tend to have a time for reflection, to look back on what they have achieved and where they want to be next. 

What I take from this year, and have seen when I look around me is the incredible human ability to begin again, to start over. Just like those magical ferns. Here are five of my 2020 favourites: 

  1. The way that I have seen new life in communities, closer to home and otherwise. When things get dark for us humans, we light up and get closer. To do anything else is counter to our instinct. Togetherness is what we were made for and should be the thing we fight hard for in 2021.  
  2. That the world has been shaken awake to realise that Black Lives Matter, at least in part. The conversations have become louder and have started to happen across tables where they hadn’t before. This is just the beginning, but the door is starting to open. Let’s fight for this collectively in support of togetherness even harder in 2021. 
  3. That we have loved and cared for ourselves and for one another in our darkest moments. The random acts of kindness, the selfless acts of service and even the simple smiles amongst strangers have taken on a whole new meaning. Many companies now have an unapologetic focus on employee wellbeing, in a way that has been needed long before 2020.
  4. For the innovation stories. This year has been brutal for businesses, but through the ashes I see strong ferns growing in their place. The work is far from done, but to my entrepreneur friends, I am so proud of all of you and the way that you have pivoted based on what the world has thrown at you this year. 
  5. For the fact that closer to home, COVID has brought me new love, and my own chance to begin again. I connected with an American boy by chance on Tinder (when they let everyone Tinder across the world for free) and we formed a friendship, which over time blossomed into something more. We found a way to meet IRL after three months, against all odds, and our love continues to grow. He’s been with me for Christmas and it has been the most beautiful gift of all. 

Somewhere amongst the flames of 2020, our recovery as a species has begun and we have seen a renewed focus on togetherness, of community and of love. Our 2021 needs us, and this for us all to thrive together. 

This is just the beginning my friends, and it’s going to take all of us working together to give us the full bloom our species really needs.

Sending love and light to all of you. 

That time when I realised I had been mistaking numbness for resilience

I used to pride myself on my ability to bounce back. When something significant happened to me, generally I was able to wake up the next day as a fresh start and put it behind me. People would commend me on it, and it made me feel like I was strong and resilient.

What I was actually doing, on a very deep subconscious level, was not allowing myself to feel things, and in doing so, denying myself the opportunity to process them. I developed a tolerance for things that felt bad by simply becoming numb.

I was living a lie, but not deliberately so, my brain was finding a way to stay safe and protect me from pain. I say was, it still does by the way, I am just getting a little better at calling it out.

A better definition of resilience

Recently I have been blessed to spend some time with Josh Connolly, largely as I invited him to come and work with the Launchpad team on this very subject and to be a guest on my podcast, Pancakes and Peacocks. He has a beautiful take on resilience.

“Resilience is about connecting with my authenticity to understand myself well enough to know exactly what I’m feeling, so that I can get the resources in my life to be able to deal with the way that I feel. That doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to struggle, that doesn’t mean that I am not able to find life difficult.” 

He goes further when he talks about honesty with ourselves; when we show up for everyone else around us and what we think they want us to be, we do so at the expense of ourselves. Rather than building relationships based on who we are, we work out who you need and want us to be and give you that person.

In doing so, we deny everyone (us included) the opportunity for authenticity in that moment.

In denying the reality of my emotions to myself, I was also denying the reality of myself to others. When people met the seemingly happy and ‘moving on with things’ me, they weren’t really getting to meet the real me, they were getting the version of me I thought they wanted and needed.

When we deny ourselves the opportunity to feel what is real to us, we deny ourselves access to authenticity. Authenticity starts with our ability to be honest with ourselves first, and continues when we become whole enough within ourselves to be honest with others.

Developing resilience is about developing flexibility 

For me that has meant developing a toolkit that enables me to be able to know how to get back to myself, based on whatever comes my way. I highly recommend starting to consider what you might need in yours.

I can’t tell you what you need, that is something that only you can figure out. My toolkit looks a little like this:


Finding the means to connect to my body, for me that means using a gentle breath meditation. I do this every morning for 10-15 minutes. For me, developing a daily practice as been an essential part of enabling my emotional stability, and my ability to cope with the challenges of life.


I need my days to follow a set structure to thrive, before that I operated in chaos. My bedtimes and my wake up times are set, in the mornings I meditate, move and then take the time to do whatever I need before I start my working day. I eat at the same times every day, and sleep hygiene is super important to me. I always have 2 hours between eating and sleeping, and allow myself some screen free time before I attempt to sleep. My journey with rest has been a critical part of my overall mental flexibility.


Letting go of tolerance to allow space for the support and love of others in a very real way. Coming back to Josh on this one: “Resilience is not about being insular, it is not about doing it on our own, accepting the support of other people is an act of resilience”. 

I have had to work really hard to accept the love and support of others. I have had to work to let my guard down and learn what I need in terms of the support of others. I now have my team assembled that support me in different ways on different things, and I am always adding new members.

Self love

For me that means things like the conversation that I have with myself when no one else is around and the way that I look at myself in the mirror. The way I forgive myself if I get something wrong.

I also love myself by taking care of myself and my environment. I aim to start each day feeling as good as I possibly can be and am always thinking about the future me when it comes to the level of care I take for the things around me.

That’s what works for me my friends, the key is to find what works for you and to play around with it.

Supporting yourself to support others 

A big part of the way we are able to develop our collective resilience will come in the way we are able to support one another.

When someone tells you something that is hard to hear, we don’t like the feeling that they are bringing us, so we often give them false positivity, or try to troubleshoot their challenges. I know I have been so guilty of this, the fixer in me just doesn’t want to quit. In reality we need to develop our own ability to withstand someone else’s truth.

We develop the means to withstand emotions and feelings from another person when we have developed enough within ourselves not to be pulled into them. That doesn’t mean the trigger doesn’t happen, it just means that we have developed the muscle that means that we are okay sitting within it when it does. 

We experienced this as a team at Launchpad in Josh’s workshop, where we divided into pairs and have a few minutes each sharing a moment where we developed resilience. We listened, we loved, we supported and we held space for one another. It was a beautiful thing indeed.

As Josh puts it; “…rather than seeking to make someone else better, we actually need to help them be better at feeling.” We do that by allowing them the space to do so, with honest enquiry, and from a place of gentle, loving discovery.  By listening fully, by caring enough to take the time to understand where they are and by simply just letting them speak. 

This was a huge reflection for me in terms of how I have shown up for others in the past, and one I take forward with me in terms of how I will show up in future.

That time when I created my blueprint for joyful living

A couple of years ago, one sunrise in Hyde Park I captured a picture of two swans with their necks turning into one another, in perfect symmetry, I posted it on Instagram with the caption #RelationshipGoals. Something about the intimacy of their stance made me feel a surge to find the same intimate bond with another human animal, the kind that doesn’t need words, the kind that just is.


I found myself back in Hyde Park for a sunrise earlier this year and I noticed a lone swan. It was grubby and a little dishevelled, but it was doing a phenomenal job of tidying itself up with its beak, and meeting its own needs. It was a beautiful moment of self partnering.

As I watched this lone swan with darker patches of feathers and shades of beauty magnified by its own lived experience, I understood that that’s what true love is all about. Only once we have learnt to love and cherish ourselves first and foremost, are able to truly let our light radiate out into the world in relationship with others.

Sure, it’s beautiful to form a harmonious balance with another creature, but actually, just like our hero swan, you can only really do that once you have developed the harmonious balance within yourself. Once we realign our relationship goals to ourselves, only then do we open up the potential for that harmonious balance with another.

Lost love

There are many lucky people who grow up already loving themselves, but I was not one of those people. I made a firm assumption early on in my life that I was not loveable and that my own grubby feathers made me an unattractive prospect. I spent the next couple of decades avoiding myself, steeped in low self esteem and finding a million negative ways to prove those things to myself over and over again.

Around 10 years ago I ejected myself from a cycle of abuse; in the form of a relationship with another person, but most importantly, in the form of the relationship I was having with myself.

In the years that have followed I have fought and worked hard to get back to the essence of who I am, why I am and what made me make those very negative choices for myself. I also worked hard to evolve past those experiences, and let go of the expectations, stories and personas I have created for myself along the way.

A blueprint for joyful living

Somewhere in and amongst the past decade, I managed to create a life that feels amazing from the the inside out, one with joy at its very heart.

For me, joy isn’t an effervescent feeling of excitement. It’s the deep, connected feeling of calm that I get when I walk in alignment with myself and when I make decisions that I know truly serve me. Crafting a life where I have daily access to this joyful experience is the very essence of true self care, of self love.

Self love isn’t about something external; it is found in the way that we look at ourselves in the mirror and in the conversation that we have with ourselves when no one else is around. It is kindness. It is forgiveness. It is the love and care that we provide ourselves when we truly self partner; our ability to self soothe and our ability to self celebrate.

Where did I start?

It all begins with the quality we align to, that we move in and live in. The quality I used to live in was one of harshness. Harshness in terms of how I moved around the world, but also harshness in terms of the relationship I was having with myself.

I needed to learn how to treat myself tenderly and develop my relationship with gentleness. To do that, I needed to start by experiencing what gentleness feels like, because I honestly did not know. I did that under the pupillage of Sara Williams, who I continue to work with to this day.

We started with really basic things in day to day life, like the way you open and close a door, the way you move in the world, the way you cook a meal. By experimenting and trying to do this more and more, I started to become aware of the quality I was living in, and to make better choices.

Find your way back

Sadly for us human animals, we move in separation against the natural flow of things almost all of the time. A big part of my work with Sara has also been in learning to connect to myself via meditation.

By learning what I feel like when I am connected and in alignment, I have begun to be able to feel when I am stepping away from myself. Over the years, I have become a lot better at choosing not to do so. I can’t tell you this stuff is easy. It’s like building muscles in the gym, you have to keep up your regime to see any progress.

By deepening your relationship with you, you become better equipped to read the world around you and in turn, become better at relating to others. You start to realise that other beings are also just made of love, just like you, and that when you are experiencing bad energy from them, it’s not about who they are and therefore absolute, it is instead about the energy they are letting in.

That doesn’t mean you tolerate bad energy, it just enables you to become more peaceful at letting it pass you by when it shows up.

Joyfully ever after…?

The work continues. Like any solid relationship, you have to wake up with a renewed commitment to keep investing in your relationship with yourself each day, to tend to your dishevelled feathers and put your best webbed foot forward.

I allow myself a fresh start with every new day that dawns with one real goal; to be Ruth, at her essence, at her purest, at her realest. I forgive myself quickly and reinforce loving energy as often as possible. I seek not to remove those grubby feathers, but rather to show them proudly to the world, in order that the world gets to see the real me.

I work to become my own biggest champion, to have the courage to live daringly and to step fully into my power. At this point I am about up to my webbed footed ankles, how do you feel about stepping into the pond with me, and see if by the end of the year we can get up to our wrinkly knees…?

That time when we had a chance to rethink the world of work

2020 has become quite a year. A year full of loss yet a year full of opportunity. It is as if the universe has conspired to present us with all the things we needed to focus on, and slowed at least some of us down sufficiently that we had the space to tune in and listen.
I have begun to be asked frequently what kinds of changes and responses we are making and seeing at a workplace level at Launchpad and recently took part in a panel on this subject as part of London Tech Week and as Dan Zell of Decoded quite rightly puts it; ‘We’re all in the same storm, we’re just in completely different boats.’
Whilst many of us in the working world have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity of at least some space over the past six months, many have not been so fortunate. When we look at how the working world has shifted in that time therefore, it really is a tale of two halves.
For those who work outside of offices and in the frontline, there has been either furlough or a relentless slog throughout. My sister who is a pastry chef has experienced this relentlessness, as has my friend in construction. What they’ve also experienced is a total disregard from their industries around their well-being beyond the superficial provision of PPE. By total contrast, amongst my peers in people roles in tech businesses, we’ve doubled down on the provision of wellness related things like coaching, meditation and other tools to help folks sculpt their own resilience toolkit.
For the purposes of the remainder of this piece, I will keep the focus on my immediate vista; that of tech businesses and office environments but as a side note, I would urge those who are able to wield influence across different spheres to do so. The evolution of work can’t and should not only be a thing for half of the working world.
10 years of development in six months
What we have witnessed over the past six months has been unprecedented. We have seen the acceleration of the adoption of remote work by something like 10 years in that space of time. We are looking at many of the big players giving their teams the chance to be permanently remote, potentially saving a trillion dollars collectively in process.
According to the rather brilliant Chris Herd, CEO of Firstbase, someone who is based permanently remotely costs a business on average 10 times less in terms of full loaded costs. We invited him to come and talk to a number of business leaders from across the Launchpad community, to help us all crystallise our thinking when it comes to planning for our future work dynamics.
Aside from the obvious longer term cost savings, having the whole team working from home has had a number of more immediate positive effects, and my hope is them that some of them take root.
1. That we keep building our businesses as communities, with love at the core
Home working has seen a rise in bidirectional empathy. For years, people like me have been working with business leaders to help them find their most authentic voice, and give their teams access to who they really are. Now simply by showing up on screens within the middle of our homes and our lives, we have suddenly become real to one another in a way that you could never manufacture.
Within Launchpad and bp, we have seen and felt a rise in understanding of one another’s circumstances, and colleagues have become real humans with real challenges that we don’t need to be ashamed of. Across the working from home working world parenthood is no longer a dirty word that questions commitment, but instead a brilliant quirk and welcome delight when we get to meet one another’s people.
Suddenly see one another as whole human beings, but it is up to us as leaders to maintain and nurture that. We have to stay open and allow our people to do so.
2. That by doing so, we create the space for people to start to feel able to bring their whole selves to work
When people feel like they don’t have to hide elements of themselves, we get to see them do their best work. Hopefully by now you will have been reading more about the lived experience of Black people in our societies, and the additional cognitive load they often carry in order to try to stay safe. Whilst their experiences are unique to them, there are many other groups across our societies who bear additional cognitive burden trying to exist safely in our societies. Consider then the power that we would unleash if we were able to alleviate that burden from those humans.
The other way that home working as been supportive is that those people who index more towards introversion. It’s been easier to do the deep work we struggled to create space for in office-space-starved startups, or as Chris Herd puts it; ‘distraction factories’. Though I still standby the importance of collaboration in person as an advocate for team togetherness.
On the flip side the extrovert might in part have been satiated by video calls at first, but that quickly turned into video call fatigue for many. It is, however, going to be critical that we keep finding ways to come together in the real world, according to what the world we live in allows and that we find a way to fire up our collective creative energies together. There simply is no substitute for in person interaction, and it remains an essential agreement for how we all grow together, especially in a new business like Launchpad.
3. That we all commit to dismantling the structural oppression of Black people. 
Whilst we are getting busy dismantling how we have worked before in the physical sense, it seems to me to be high time we dismantled the way we’ve worked in the invisible structures that hold some parts of our communities back.
We’re looking to build inclusion into how we help businesses to grow at Launchpad by partnering with new new diversity and inclusion collective The Wake Up Call to make sure that we collectively step into the discomfort it takes for us all to evolve. It’s never lost on me that the word evolve has love embedded in it. Coincidence? I think not.
By having a laser focus on inclusion from the beginning, we stand a real chance of creating businesses that feel good for all who sail in them. We must also commit to creating opportunity every which way we can, by seeking to remove barriers to entry and giving people the chance to step into roles that they perhaps haven’t done before. We do that by being prepared to put our own “necks” on the line by backing others. A well timed advocate can change someone’s life and hopefully, in turn, society as a whole.
4. That we find the balance between online presenteeism and productivity
Now that we’ve all lived the boom and bust of video call fatigue, my next hope is that we will find further balance around presenteeism in the working world in general. At Launchpad we gave people permission early on to find the rhythm of life that worked for them and to say no as and where they needed to.
To make that work, you have to model those behaviours as much as you can at a leadership level. The interruptions of life have become the norm for us, and we are all okay with that.
Will we really see the focus move from time as the metric to how much work is getting done, to what the output is? I’m not sure, but we are keen to test that theory at Launchpad.
5. That we find the means to support all the space folks need to build the life they always dreamed of with us
Those different boats that Dan Zell mentioned really are wide ranging. People have been challenged in different ways by the enforced work from home many of us experienced. My final hope is that the shift will provide the longer term balance that people crave.
For parents and for children, will working just some of the week in an office provide a greater opportunity to participate fully in one another’s lives? If we start to release the shackles of big city-based offices, perhaps we will benefit from being able to hire talent anywhere (tax and administrative burden permitting).
If that happens, the opportunity to get access to opportunity completely shifts and a whole new talent pool is born. There would be huge potential for people to retrain and try something new. The next question remains, what happens to cities if it does…? Whilst office workers only make up a fraction of a city’s total workforce, if they leave, let’s not forget that a lot of industry could be devastated as a direct consequence.
A gloomy but important note to leave you all on. I’m all for progressive, blue sky thinking on how the working world evolves and supports the creation of joy in the lives of the people within it, let’s just make sure that we don’t leave a tonne of our fellow humans behind.

That time when I decided to fill in the blanks

I was thinking back to when I lived in the suburbs for a beat, and remembering the funny relationship that you have with the folks that get on the same train as you, each and every day. Even if you might have felt a little oppositional at first, you gradually become a little like extended family, and you grow to find their presence reassuring. In some cases, you might even become real friends.

I’ve been noodling around cyberspace for the past 10 years and in the wonderful way that people do, I’m aware that people have joined my pixelated ‘train’ along the way, and I have joined theirs right back. We’ve developed that feeling of extended family with each other, celebrated one another’s growth and in some cases, taken that pixelated train friendship to the real world. There are still so many co-passengers that I know so little about, perhaps joined the same train a little later and missed one another’s back stories. That means that we can assume knowledge on the part of the reader that they simply don’t have, given we have recently alighted onto one another’s ‘trains’, and that can make posts feel a little cryptic.

So to my pixelated train friends, I don’t want to be cryptic, I just want to be Ruth Penfold; sold as seen.

This is me, giving you a new chance to get to know some of my backstory, in the hope that I get a new chance to get to know you a little better in return.

  1. I was born in Carlisle and lived in Northumberland until I was 7, then moved to Bristol until I was 19 and settled in London for University where I have been ever since. I have never lost the essence of my northern roots; the open heart and the conversations with strangers (often on trains haha), but have complimented that with a little southern sass for good measure.
  2. I was an effervescent, loud, creative and independent child, who fed herself as soon as she was able and was intensely focused on things that she found interesting, but struggled to focus on things that she didn’t. Very soon I learnt to judge my own merits in the eyes of others, which meant I quickly shed my innate operating model to become what I thought the world needed me to be.
  3. I rebelled for a lot of my teens, determined to grow up super fast and experience as much as I could of what life had to offer. I was driven to be independent and make my mark in the world, and got a job as soon as I was able to. Seeking validation in the eyes of others meant I was constantly striving and seeking admiration, rebellion was the tool I used at the time that allowed me to find it.
  4. I studied Business Law and Marketing at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan). Whilst I didn’t pursue a career in the Law, the course was an essential ingredient for me as it taught me that I was smart enough to achieve around 70% in all my Legal papers. Up until that time I had identified as an entertainer and someone who had bucketloads of common sense, but found a lot of traditional education hard.
  5. At around the time of my move to London, I got embroiled in a codependent abusive relationship which didn’t serve me, and spent 12 years applying the majority of my energy on trying to make that doomed relationship successful. I felt like if I worked a bit harder or gave a bit more, things would be better. I was wrong. I landed my approval-seeking squarely at the door and in the eyes of my ex husband, and fought for years to try to find it. Honestly that was a big part of why I stayed, constantly striving, constantly seeking admiration, seeking love.
  6. After University I fell into recruitment, and spent the next 13 years working in smaller boutique recruitment businesses. I was with the first company for eight years, and was a Director of that business. At the time my self esteem was so low, that I felt silly calling myself what I perceived to be such a lofty title, so I often downplayed it on my CV. In actual fact I was running the team and bringing in a healthy revenue; I was indeed a Director.
  7. At the age of 27 my life started to shift when I started to be inspired to choose something different by the people around me, first with my dear friend Emily Robertson, who shone a light on many of the areas of self neglect in my world. The awakening was a slow process, but at the age of 30, when the pain of remaining became bigger than the pain of leaving, I set myself free and started my life over again.
  8. At this time I moved to Notting Hill, an epicentre of eccentricity and life. It was across the backdrop of this neighbourhood that I allowed my healing journey to really unfold, a journey that continues to this day, each week shining a little brighter and feeling a little wiser than the last. I now understand who I am and what my triggers are, I take full responsibility for my environment, the integrity with which I operate and how I ‘show up’ in the world. Every day is a school day.
  9. As part of this journey of self discovery, I started to meet people who looked interesting and that I admired in some way. I’d invite people for coffee and see where it took me. The whole world had suddenly opened up for me, and whilst it was a little overwhelming at times, I chomped down the new experiences and learnt a tonne about lots of different people and ways of working, largely across the creative spaces as I felt like the energy of those people matched my own my closely.
  10. That intense drive saw me spend a couple of years working across the art world in my spare time, curating a couple of shows and working with artists to help them network with galleries. I fell in love with art and became determined to learn everything I could about it. I quickly became part of a brilliant art community. If you speak to me on a Zoom call, you will see that my walls are full of artwork as a result of this time. Whilst I was still seeking validation in this community, they simply seemed to accept me just as I was. I kept this work secret from the ‘professional’ sphere at the time as I thought it would be seen as a bad thing. Silly Penfold.
  11. Then I got a call from someone in my new network about a job with Shazam. At this point, I really wasn’t enjoying working in recruitment, it felt like a means to an end, but Shazam changed all that and suddenly I fell in love with my day job in a way I never had before, so the art stuff fell away. Shazam is an app loved by many, and I was at last able to see all the ways that I could truly add value to a business when my heart was engaged. It was at Shazam that I was able to develop a true sense of self respect for my work ethic and what I was able to deliver. It was at Shazam where I gave myself the permission to show up as my whole self, warts and all.
  12. By finding my authentic voice and using that voice to connect to others, I had quite unconsciously also started to build my own personal brand, blogging and being someone who often spoke on panels and at conferences. Saying yes to those opportunities awakened a side of myself that I had allowed to become dormant; the entertainer. I found my voice and through my passion and love for my work, had quite a lot to say about the People space and the growth of the working world in general.
  13. Outside of work, the journey to self continued with a segway into the yoga world. As I began to find the means to connect to my body, I fell in love with the practice of yoga and decided to learn how to teach. I have been teaching now in my spare time for almost four years. This moment was complemented by learning more about meditation, and somewhere between those two things, I found the ability to be still and find my breath. I stopped striving for a moment, and learnt that the person that was inside me wasn’t someone I needed to keep running away from.
  14. I was at Shazam for almost 5 years, and during that time many companies tried to hire me to do what I had done for Shazam, but I didn’t want to live Groundhog Day. Through the network I had created, I was given the opportunity to step into a broader People role at Onfido, my first role at Executive level. It was like a grown up grad scheme, and I was laden with imposter syndrome, but I kept leaning in and I learnt a tonne. I am truly proud of what we achieved as a team during my time there. This time I showed up as my whole self from the get go and in doing so, gave other people the permission to do the same.
  15. The Launchpad role appeared and it was too good an opportunity to turn down; to build an organisation that supported and accelerated the growth of new technology companies in the energy space. Our role is to bring the very best of bp to the companies we support, whilst maintaining their agility and ability to scale rapidly. I am learning each and every day, and as Launchpad we are trying to build something a little different. We approach the People stuff with very much a product mindset, and are really just getting started. I can’t wait to see what we can build together.
  16. I have spent the last 10 years studying humans; who we are, how we are and why we are. I know what it has taken for me to put myself in an environment where I can truly thrive; mind, body, soul. I am hugely compelled to take this knowledge and apply it to the wider world, supporting people to grow on an individual level, but also supporting organisations to operate in a way that allows the human being to find their authentic voice and thrive. This is a subject that I never tire of.
  17. This year I also launched my podcast; Pancakes and Peacocks. It is a podcast which focuses on joyful living. When I talk about joy, I don’t mean something giddy and temporary, I mean the deep feeling of calm when you are truly walking in alignment with who you are, what you really want and making choices that serve you. As so much of the positive momentum in my life has been created through the inspiration of others, this pod is a chance for me to share some of those people with you all, in the hope that you might feel a little inspired also. Oh and my love of pancakes is real. It’s not just a podcast title. I eat a version of some kind of pancake most days and I am always hacking and creating new ones.
  18. Since lockdown in London in March, I haven’t been teaching yoga, so I have been applying that energy into things like mentoring, whilst working on my own practice. Daily exercise is one of the cornerstones of my existence. By learning to honour what my body really wants and needs in the past decade, that has influenced how I rest, how I move, what I consume. The work here is continuous and I am constantly iterating on my operating model to created the best possible lived experience for myself. Hacking things and optimising life is one of my very best things to do.
  19. When I stripped it all away, it turns out I am still that loud and effervescent child who is fiercely independent, but I have at last learnt to stop looking for validation and love in the eyes of others, or at least, I have learnt how to catch myself when I am and instead learning to look inwards. I have learnt the the only love and admiration that truly counts is that which you fine within yourself. It is that steady, committed, consistent love that forms the foundation of my world and I fall in love with myself a little more each day. I work hard to stay committed to my truth and to live from that place as often as possible.
  20. I ground my day to day life and interactions in a place of love. I meet new people like old friends. I talk unashamedly about love often in a business context and see no divide between who we are professionally and personally. Now showing up as my whole self is instinctive, I no longer have to think about it in the way that I used to. I am delighted to share all of me with all of you, in the hope that I inspire you to feel able to do the same in your own world.

You can expect to see me dialling up on even more honesty in the coming weeks and months, as I endeavour to find new ways to share what I have learnt with you all, in the hope that you will feel inspired to do the same with me right back.

This is my stop. Same time tomorrow…?

That time when I learnt how to manage expectations

Some of the biggest moments of disappointment we can feel in life happen when our expectation of the world and the people around us fails to match our actual lived experience. We expect something from another person, they fail to deliver and we spiral into a whole host of emotional reactions.

Our misery and our suffering in those scenarios is basically entirely of our own making. The action doesn’t change, we aren’t in charge of that part. But our reaction…? That’s all us.

We start this process as children, albeit involuntarily. Our little brains map the world around us and set their expectations. They fail to enlist the rest of the world in their expectation mapping, so of course, the world and the people in it, do whatever it is they are going to do. Our little brains then spiral as they struggle to pick up the pieces.

As adults, our relationships continue to suffer as a result of the expectations we have of others. They form the bedrock for many of the disagreements and emotional disturbances within relationships, whether personal or professional. The idea of having a dividing line between these different kinds of people groupings really is silly, if you have at least two people attempting to communicate, you are in relationship.

Our expectations are also something we use to clip and restrict the people around us.

When we share our disappointment that people have failed to meet our expectations, we then pass the emotional reaction on, and the other person may then start to clip themselves to try to meet our ‘needs’, and make themselves behave in a way that means they aren’t really being who they are.

That isn’t to say that constructive feedback isn’t important, or that sharing your truth isn’t important, but it is important you become tangibly aware of the emotional loading you present to other people, and try to operate from your most rational state of being as often as possible.

Just imagine how powerful it would be for our emotional wellbeing if we were able to simple let things go without reaction, meet our own needs and let people just be who they are. If we are able to dismiss others of the ‘roles’ we expect them to assume in our lives, whether because they are titled to do so (brother, sister, mother, father…) or simply because we have landed them with our emotional responsibility and let them just be people.

When we allow others to be just who they are and develop a relationship with their truth, the whole world benefits. That’s the place where the magic happens.

This is something that I have been quietly working on; letting go of my own expectations and working on my ability to self soothe when I feel triggered. To create more solid ground within myself and find the means meet my own emotional needs and reduce my emotional loading on others.

I’m lucky enough to call my parents two of my best friends.  This is possible because we have worked (and are working) to remove the shackles of the roles we were assigned in one another’s lives, to create a platform for friendship and honesty together, to develop a relationship with one another’s truths.

When I first really buckled down on the journey back to myself, one of the things I found essential was to deep dive into my childhood and look at what led to me ending up making the choices I’d chosen. A bit like safe breaking in human form. We have to crack our own codes to crack ourselves open.

This deeper understanding of self is essential but the next step is even more so. Once you’ve figured this stuff out; Let. It. Go. Whatever experiences may have formed my blueprint of self, once I acknowledge them, I let them peacefully go.

Now we allow ourselves to just be Ruth, John and Tricia. I see them as the beautiful beings that they are. I don’t need anything from them, but instead choose to keep building and investing in the friendship that I have with each of them, and they choose to do the same in return. I am getting to know them on a deeper level; who they are, why they are the way they are and we continue to grow together.

There is no miracle pill here, there is only awareness.

When I feel that creeping ache of disappointment, or the angry flare of an expectation not being met, I do the following:

  1. Stop. I sometimes say out loud to myself and the thoughts in my brain; stop that nonsense Penfold! Talking into a mirror can work really well here. If you find that silly, I would ask you to consider how silly it is to allow yourself to suffer by playing things over and over in your brain. Smile at yourself, pull a face; honestly whatever it takes to break the reaction.
  2. Breathe. I take a moment to connect into myself at a deeper level. Find a way to access the calm, steady rational human that lives deep within. Meditation works well for me here.
  3. Rationalise. I allow myself a conversation with rational side of myself and realise that I am the master of my own disappointment here. A really good trick I have learnt is to allow your irrational self to write out their feelings on the subject, then have your rational self dissect it, bit by bit.
  4. Let it go. I sometimes physically shake it off. Mainly I allow my rational self to simply sooth the irrational side of myself, almost like singing myself a lullaby.
  5. Repeat as often as needed.

When you are able to better rationalise your expectations, you clear the space for true friendship to flourish and for love to blossom. It doesn’t mean the emotions stop coming, it just means that we become better equipped at letting them pass when they do.

It is completely possible to take total responsibility for our own joyfulness, by simply taking the wheel ourselves and releasing others from the shackles of our expectation drama.