Ploughing on regardless? Notice and be curious

As you get into your stride for 2020, how broad and deep is your vision? What are the headlines, as you turn into the new year at work? How far are you simply ploughing on with the things which are demanded of you, driven by diary commitments and the action list? How far are you seeing the year ahead within the broader context of your values and spirituality, allowing this broader framework to help you set your 2020 priorities for work and for life?

Jane Tillier led our first City Women lunchtime event of 2020 on “2020 Vision – A Clear Path into the New Year? Taking stock of values and spirituality at work and beyond”. Thanks to Brewin Dolphin for hosting our event.

Jane is a priest and a trainee psychotherapist with a Birmingham base – see Jane has over 30 years of experience of working with individuals and groups in a wide variety of settings including healthcare, education) and church. She has particular expertise in offering spiritual and pastoral counselling support and understanding alongside people struggling with diverse issues, including stress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems. Jane is passionate about giving space to grow in self-awareness, self-understanding and self-compassion.

What are the headlines Jane shared with us? You can listen to the whole talk here and read a summary below.

Ploughing on regardless: Jane opened with a story, sharing an experience she had when she was working full time and dashing from one appointment to another: she drove round a corner and saw in front of her a tractor with the ploughshare’s fearsomely sharp blades glinting in the sun light. This sight had such an impact on her that she had to stop the car, recognising the potential destructiveness of “ploughing on regardless”.

Responsible and response-able: How do we take stock of our lives, pressing the “pause” button now and then? Spiritual disciplines can help us regularly to “touch base with something bigger than me”. When and how can I step aside from simply being “responsible”, in a way that allows me to become “response-able”? Instead of being pushed and pulled by everything that comes up, how can I engage with a depth and presence from which I am able to respond?

Notice and be curious: It’s not particularly effective simply to focus on a new year’s resolutions to “try harder and to aim to do better”. Instead how about these resolutions? I am going to notice; and I am going to be curious.

Ebb and flow: We all have different rhythms, different tides – sometimes it’ll be a flow tide and sometimes it will be an ebb time. Jane resists the Holland & Barrett advertising campaign for women of a certain age, “Me. No. Pause”. Rather than ploughing on regardless, can we honour the pauses in life? Perhaps the points in our day or our week which are a pause can be an unexpected gift – a time to bring our attention somewhere else other than our head. If I’m often not very productive on a Monday, rather than being irritated, it might be more helpful simply to notice it’s a Monday, perhaps working out how I best use my Mondays. The ebb tide or the pause can be a place of rest, even momentarily. The ebb may be creative and productive in a different way.

I’m OK You’re OK – which is your natural quadrant?

I’m OK, you’re OK: A good “transactional analysis” framework for noticing and being curious is “I’m OK, you’re OK”. (If you are curious about this, you may want to look at Eric Berne or Franklin Ernst’s work around this framework – including Eric Berne’s book with the interesting title, “What do You Say After You Say Hello?”.) It’s been recognised that we each have a “favourite quarter”. It may help to notice which quadrant you are naturally drawn to – and also to notice your direction of travel. When something doesn’t work out, are you someone who naturally says, “It’s all his fault – he didn’t do what was needed”, or do you instinctively say, “I didn’t get it right, I didn’t have the skills that were needed”? Acknowledging the wounds and gifts, the blessings and curses of life, can I move towards the “I’m OK, you’re OK” quadrant? When we are travelling towards “You’re not OK” or “I’m not OK”, are we able to “repent”, turn round? Can I notice what I’m doing to myself and to others? Can I “put down the stick” that I sometimes beat myself and others with, instead being generous in my judgements to myself and others? This can free me up into the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21): when that liberty is tasted, you can see it in someone’s eyes.

Let your yes be yes: We find that liberty, in part, by finding our yes and our no. What am I saying “yes” to and what am I saying “no” to? In line with Matthew 5:27, can I let my “yes” be “yes” and my “no” “no”, wholeheartedly?

In summary: I am here. I am who I am. I am invited to notice and be curious about how I treat and think about myself and others. I am invited to notice the ebb and flow. I am being invited to move towards “I’m OK, you’re OK”. I am being invited to notice how I say yes and how I say no.

Finally, a blessing:
Bless us with awareness
as we journey forwards into 2020,
noticing both the ebb and the flow, the yes and the no,
daring not simply to plough on regardless,
daring to press the pause button every now and then,
allowing ourselves time to notice and to become more curious.

If you’d like to discuss anything arising from this, now or at any time, let’s arrange to meet for coffee. Contact me at or 0798 224 8949

Jane Tillier is co-leading a “Being Together Retreat” at Launde Abbey from 16 – 20 November, with psychotherapist Geoff Hopping. More details are available here:

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