Walk Among the Flowers Instead of Walking in Your Own Shadow

by Eileen Campbell

Letting go of negative emotions is vital if we want to have more joy in our lives.  We all experience a broad range of emotions, but negative emotions like fear, anger, resentment, guilt, and shame emerge when life doesn’t go the way we want it, which it rarely does.  Such emotions can be problematic and prevent us from experiencing true joy.  Whereas positive emotions like love, openness, courage, and empathy enhance life and health, negative emotions create tension and stress.

The origin of negative emotions lies in our past.  We have forgotten what was effectively programmed into our brains in childhood and have remained as misperceptions in our thinking. We actually make our lives more difficult than they need be by holding on to long-held beliefs and self-imposed limitations that are no longer appropriate.  As children we wanted love and approval from our parents, and as we grew up, from our teachers and peers.  We learned how to get our needs met by adopting certain patterns of behaviour, and these became habits.  Gradually we created a self-image, and in order to make sense of our lives, we told ourselves stories about who we were, and we continue to do this, modifying and justifying that self-image that is our identity.

Walk Among the Flowers

By becoming more aware of these stories we tell ourselves and the roles we play automatically that cause us unhappiness, we can begin to let go of them.  It’s our thoughts that create emotions, and we tend to think we are our emotions, when they are simply feelings – they are not who we are.  Only when we become more aware of our thoughts can we begin to see them for what they are and let them go.

Although there’s much that we cannot control in life, we always have a choice about what our thoughts dwell on, as Rumi cautioned us:

‘Stop walking in your own shadow

Wallowing in your foolish thoughts.

Raise your head, look at the sun, walk

Among the flowers, become a human being.’

We need to take an honest look at our past in order to understand, leaving behind the hurts, fears, and disappointments of our earlier years.  Whatever happened is in the past, and we need to accept that the wounds were inflicted, but there is no need to keep revisiting them and suffering.  We can let the circumstances of our life close us down, or we can let them open us up.  We can let go of our negative thoughts.  By becoming more aware of the patterns that run through our lives, we can change what we believe is who we are.  Once we see ourselves more clearly we can begin to accept and love ourselves.  We can also reshape our stories to give us what we most want out of life for the future.


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705

Daring to Be Ourselves!

by Eileen Campbell

It takes courage to be fully human, to wake up to life’s possibilities, and to grow and mature.  We need to be open, yet being open is a risk.  We tend to stay with the known, the familiar, rather than risk the unknown.  Taking risks is scary – we might fail, or experience loss or disappointment, and nothing might turn out as we hope.  Life rarely does go according to plan, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving beyond our comfort zone.  If we don’t take risks life is not being fully lived, and we may experience fear, loneliness and lack of fulfilment.  ‘The day came,’ wrote the author Anais Nin, ‘when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’

Taking risks means being open to life’s experiences, being curious about what might be if we were to do something different, break away, or speak out and challenge.  Daring to be ourselves and letting people see who we really are requires courage.  Often we play a role, while underneath we’re a bundle of fears, largely because we were never given a sense of unconditional approval.  We see ourselves as separate from everything and everyone, which leaves us with a sense of being incomplete.  Sometimes we reach a crossroads – we sense a need to live differently.  The authentic self is calling us and we need to listen to the whispers coming from our hearts.  We need to find out who we truly are, and what we really want and need for our growth.

Daring To Be Ourselves

‘Know Thyself’ was inscribed above the entrance to the shrine of Apollo at Delphi, a maxim that was also used in the writings of Plato, Socrates, and Aeschylus, as well as by later philosophers like Hobbes and Rousseau, and poets like Emerson and Coleridge.  When we find the courage to explore the depths of ourselves and make the journey inwards, we develop greater awareness and begin to understand our emotions and thoughts, and have insights as to why they are the way they are.   We need to make time for quiet and reflection and ask for help and guidance.  Meditation, mindfulness, psychotherapy, or counselling can all help us get to know ourselves better.

Gradually we can make changes and adjustments so that our lives seem to run more harmoniously and become richer and more meaningful.  We feel a sense of being connected to something greater than ourselves, yet there’s a softness at the centre that allows us to be more open-hearted – both towards ourselves and others.  We are at ease with who we are.

The Indian teacher Sri Sathya Sai Baba taught that we’re actually three people and suggested that we try to make them one.  ‘There is the one you think you are, the one others think you are, and the one you really are.’  If we can make them one, joy, peace, and bliss will be the result.


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705

We Don’t Need to Be Perfect!

by Eileen Campbell

Many of us as women try too hard to meet impossible standards of perfection.  We always want to know the answers, do everything right, and never make mistakes.  We try to look well-turned-out, stylish, and attractive, to be professional and efficient in our careers, to be good mothers, considerate partners, dutiful daughters, pillars of the community, etc.  We’re so busy trying to be perfect and hold everything together, we become rigid and inflexible, losing touch with what we’re thinking and feeling, and less able genuinely to connect with others.

The problem is we’ve been conditioned to be perfect and are afraid of getting it wrong.  We’re less likely than men to take risks, believing that we’re not good enough.  Over thousands of years women have been conditioned to feel that their role is secondary to men’s,  and so it’s hard to break out of the mould.  Fear drives us – those subliminal whispers make us doubt our capabilities and tell us we’ll be found out as not up to the task in hand unless we do something perfectly.  The competitive society in which we live can sometimes make us feel envious of others’ seeming good fortune – their looks, their wealth, their success etc. – and we compare ourselves needlessly.

We Don't Need to Be Perfect

For young women, with the pressures from social media, it can be particularly difficult – not only should they be having the most thrilling and perfect time of their lives, but they also have to have a successful career, be getting married, buying a house, and having children.  Sometimes lives can spiral into chaos, when feelings of inadequacy and failing to make the grade become overwhelming, resulting in stress, anxiety, and depression.

We’ve got to learn to be comfortable with imperfection.  We’re human, with all our faults and flaws.  We’re not perfect and our life is a work in progress.  Instead of beating ourselves up for failing to meet the high standards we demand of ourselves, we need to congratulate ourselves on what we’ve achieved.  We need to be kinder to ourselves.  Self-acceptance is one of the most important factors in producing a consistent sense of well-being.

Instead of being afraid that we’re not good enough, we need to learn to be braver and take more risks.  That becomes easier when we feel at ease with who we are.  We need to take care of ourselves in the fullest sense, by slowing down and turning inwards.  When we appreciate who we are, where we are, and what we have in our lives, we can let go of the need to be perfect.


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705

Learning the Dance of Life

by Eileen Campbell

Life is like a dance, and for the dance we need to be fluid, fearless, and aware.  Everything in life is in a state of constant change, ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning, but we need to trust in the process of constant regeneration.

In Hinduism Shiva, in the form of Nataraj, is the transforming god.  In his cosmic dance, Shiva balances on one leg within a circle of flames, representing the continuous creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe.  His right foot is poised over a demon representing ignorance, but Shiva’s head is serene.  As the archetypal dancer, Shiva represents the ever-changing life-force with the myriads of worlds, galaxies, and beings taking shape and passing away.  As the archetypal sage, he represents the Absolute where all distinctions dissolve.  This endless round of existence means beginnings and endings, with life renewing itself constantly.

Learning the Dance of Life

Things may fall apart, but out of chaos something new is always being born.  We cannot hold on to anything in life forever – we have to let go.  Relationships dissolve, we lose parents, friends and colleagues, possessions and homes can be destroyed, youth and beauty fade, fame and success are eclipsed, and our bodies wither and cease functioning.  If we can learn to view life as a dance however and trust the Life-force within us to show us the way, wisdom and serenity can triumph over ignorance.

The martial arts like tai chi, aikido judo, karate, and kendo help in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, where the purpose of training is to enable the practitioner to respond in an appropriate manner when under attack.    Thomas Crum, uses the graceful martial art of aikido, often translated as ‘the way of harmonious spirit’, or ‘the way of unifying life energy’ in his well-known conflict resolution and stress management workshops.   He advises us on not being afraid of the ups and downs of life – ‘Instead of seeing the rug pulled from under us, we can learn to dance on the shifting carpet.’


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705

Flourishing in a Dysfunctional World

by Eileen Campbell

All of us want to flourish – to live a life that makes us feel happy and fulfilled and be the best we can be.

Yet it’s hardly surprising that in today’s world many of us end up suffering from anxiety and stress.  To start with, there’s the endless stream of news stories percolating through the media reminding us of how dysfunctional our society is, whether it’s the latest bombing or a mass shooting, an epic man-made environmental disaster, or yet another downturn in the economy – there’s always bad news of some sort (after all that’s what the media thrives on!), and it’s hard to avoid it.

Then there’s the sheer pace of life today.  It’s hectic, and we struggle to keep up with a huge array of tasks and commitments.  Our heads spin with information, and we’re on a tread-mill with our consumer lifestyle – both consequences of the material progress we’ve made in the last decades.

Flourishing in a Dysfunctional World Eileen Campbell

As women we’ve ended up juggling careers, home, children, and relationships, whether with our significant other, our parents or our friends and neighbours; we’re short on time and leisure; and definitely lacking in the sleep department.  We keep on keeping on.  We say we’re fine, whilst we frantically multi-task and try to cope.  But heck, this isn’t flourishing!

Deep down we know this.  In our heart of hearts we suspect there has to be a better way of living our lives.  We also know that sooner or later chronic stress and anxiety are bad for us and can result in burnout.   Serious mental and physical problems can ensue.  One in four of us will experience depression of some kind at some point in our lifetime.  Insomnia, adrenal depletion, heart disease, poor immune function and memory problems are all possible consequences too.  The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline increase our heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which is all well and good if we happen come across a lion in the street, but as a constant reaction to everyday events and circumstances it’s disastrous for our health and well-being.

So how can we best deal with stress and take back control of our lives so that we can actually flourish?  There are a number of things which help, but the most important one is to stop, slow down, and focus on ourselves.  Self-care isn’t a luxury.  It’s essential!  As women we’re often programmed to care for others rather than ourselves, but the best way of caring for others is to make sure we look after ourselves first.

We have to be disciplined enough to create space for ourselves every single day, no matter how busy we think we are.  Thirty minutes is sufficient, and we can choose to do something just for ourselves. We might want to go for a walk in the park and smell the roses, or enjoy a bicycle ride, or do some yoga, or tai chi. We may feel we want to simply relax and do absolutely nothing, but it’s usually helpful to have a focus to stop the mind chatter.

We might want to do something creative like drawing, sewing, reading a poem, writing in a journal, or playing a musical instrument. If we can take a little more time for ourselves, then having a massage is wonderfully therapeutic.  One of the best things we can do, however, is to practise mindfulness or meditation, both proven to lower anxiety and stress.

It doesn’t matter too much what we choose, but we need to find that time on a regular basis to switch off from the constant activity and stimulation that we’re caught up in, and focus on ourselves.   When we do take the time, something shifts.

What shifts is our perspective.  We begin to rethink our priorities and make changes.   Taking time for ourselves becomes our top priority.  We may want to work with affirmations and cultivate more positive emotions.  We may well find that we want to increase the amount of time we set aside each day.    Our strength and confidence grows and we become more effective, feel more connected, and are more able to withstand life’s challenges.  Flourishing will become second nature!


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705