Have you ever wondered why some people leave you cold while others leave you wanting (or in the case of Nigella Lawson), begging for more?!
Backtrack to Italy in the early 1990’s where Italian researchers made an unexpected discovery (don’t you just love the way most of our greatest discoveries were made by accident?) Anyway…
One day, sitting in the lab, surrounded by macaque monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains, one of the researchers noticed something interesting as they reached for their own food. The monkeys watching him began to show neural activity in the same area of the brain that fired when they themselves made similar hand movements! The discovery of mirror neurons was made!
These brain cells fire not only when we do something, but also, when we watch someone else do the same thing.
Scientists used to think our brains used logical thought processes to understand and predict other people’s actions.
Now they believe we understand other people by feeling, not by thinking.
These little neurons help us to not only mirror other people’s actions but also the intentions and feelings behind those actions.
For example, when you see someone smile, your own smiling neurons fire up, creating a sensation in your own mind of the feelings that go with smiling.
Or you watch an athlete on television and feel your own heart racing and the exhiliaration of winning.
Or you watch Nigella taking almost erotic pleasure and delight in her cooking, you can feel her rapture and joy in what she is doing (no wonder we can’t get enough of her!).
In all of the above examples, our mirror neurons fire away, creating in us, the same experience and emotion being observed, so in a sense we enter another person’s reality for a moment.
Now this is all fantastic when we are around people who make us feel as fabulous as Nigella does, but consider the effects of those who aren’t so positive in their take on life. People who are anxious, nasty, fearful, depressed, manipulative or just plain whiny! We all have them in our lives (and if we are really honest we’ve all been one of them at some point in our lives!) People who we walk away from feeling drained, empty, anxious and depressed. If we understand how mirror neurons work, we can identify who these people are and prepare ourselves or even choose to avoid them.
And just as importantly, we can ask ourselves, “how do we want others to experience us?”
So… what in the world does this have to do with Madeleine’s???
All this started with a decision to catch up with some really great women one Friday afternoon. Intelligent and supportive women that approach life with a sense of humour, so there’s always a lot of laughter. And there are no hidden agendas or power plays, so there’s a wonderful lightness and a simplicity in being with them. As I flicked through Nigella’s “How To Be a Domestic Goddess” book, I took one look at the simple yet elegant madeleine’s and they seemed to embody the essence of what these women are about and how they make others feel!
(Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” book)
50g unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon for greasing tin)
1 large egg
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
45g plain flour
1 tbsp rosewater
icing sugar for dusting
Steps (abbreviated by me)
1. Melt butter then leave to cool.
2. Beat egg, sugar and salt with electric mixer for 5 mins, until “thick as mayonnaise.”
3. Sieve flour over egg and sugar mixture, then fold with a wooden spoon.
4. Fold in butter (minus one tablespoon for greasing tin).
5. Fold in rosewater.
6. Mix gently, then leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
7. Take out of fridge and rest a further 30 mins.
8. Preheat oven to 22o degrees Celsius.
9. Brush insides of tin with melted butter and fill with mixture.
10. Bake for about 5 minutes, turn out and cool on a rack before dusting with icing sugar.
(Nigella says her recipe will fill two x 24 bun mini-madeleine tin. I used 1 x12 bun tin and only filled 10 of the holes).
What to do when you start to think that maybe this isn’t the right person for you…
Well kids, this is a topic I am very passionate about because I don’t want to see you in a therapist’s chair 50 or 60 years from now talking about how you wasted your life on someone who never loved you or treated you with respect.
Where is this coming from you might ask?
Many clients, family and friends who spent their lives waiting for the “love of their life” to change and become the man or woman they knew they had the potential to be!
So this advice may be hard to take and you will probably ignore it at first buy you will come back to it at some point. I just hope it’s sooner than later…
When you are considering getting married, moving in, having children or making any kind of committment with this person, I urge you to look at him or her. Look beyond their great looks! Look beyond their cool attitude and obvious intelligence! Look beyond the great hairstyle, tatts, piercings, car, money or whatever it is that has made you think this is the one!!!
Do you like him or her just as they are.
Now I know this might sound a bit simplistic and even stupid! But I have heard so many times the answer “no” and then followed by “but once they change they’ll make a great husband/wife!”
Don’t marry / stay with someone because you think they have potential!
Potential is something that could possibly happen, as opposed to what you’ve actually got there. See this person as they are. Not the person they could one day be once they kick that drug habit. The person they could be once they get a job. Or one of my favourites, the person you know they could be once they grow up and start acting more responsible! What makes you think they will grow up? And here’s one of the most cringe-worthy answers I get of all time… “once we have kids they’ll have to grow up and take responsibility.” No they won’t!
I know I sound incredibly cynical but consider the following scenarios…
1. When you met him, you knew he smoked pot but you just assumed he would stop one day because that’s what people do. You go on to buy a house, have kids however you can’t go on holidays because he can’t take his pot or whatever drugs there are without getting caught! He disappears into the shed for a while each day and when you ask him what he’s doing he gets angry at you for snooping or not giving him his space. At random times throughout your relationship you’ve discovered drug taking paraphanalia, but he has always said it’s someone else’s or it’s been there for years. He lays around and doesn’t help much or intereact much with you or the children. He gets passed over at work and you know he could achieve so much if he just applied himself and he promises he will, but he never does. Everyone else can see that he’s unreliable and stoned yet you believe him because you don’t want to see it.
2. You’ve been married for 40 or 50 years and one day he dies and finally you find all the evidence and confirmation you need that he had been cheating one you! You pretty much knew it while he was alive, actually he cheated on you while you were dating but you believed him when he said he wasn’t and anyway you weren’t married then and you thought once you were married it would all stop. Now you are left with anger, resentment and bitterness because finally you have all the proof you needed. But too late now.
3. When you met he was so exciting, playful, spontaneous. You thought he was the best thing and you couldn’t believe how lucky you were to have snagged him! You did everything for him! Cooked, ironed, payed his bills and you loved doing this because he needed you. People told you that you were being used but you just cut them out of your life because you thought they were just mean and jealous! Fast forward a few years or even decades and he is still loving life and having fun! You have become bitter and resentful because his playing meant someone had to be the adult and you are tired and exhausted. Finally you see what everyone else!
These are just a few scenarios. There are many, many more!
However I don’t want to lose sight of my point here.
Don’t ignore the niggling doubts, don’t bury you intuition that says there’s something not right here.
And my favourite, don’t ignore the feedback from family and friends!
They know this person better than you and they can see them in an objective light.
And if you think you will change him or her you are kidding yourself!
I say this because I have seen so many people stuck in relationships that suck the life right out of them!
People stay in these relationships hoping/waiting for their partner to change. To stop taking drugs, stop acting life a child and get a job, stop sleeping around. Because if they stop then everything would finally be okay!
If you stay in a relationship where you are cheated on, trespassed against, abused, taken advantage of, the consequences to you are not pretty. While you have invest all your time and efforts in this person you didn’t realised you had lost yourself in the process. You lose your self respect by behaving in ways that are beneath you. You lose your confidence and you lose your ability to trust yourself and others. It ain’t pretty when you have a person who is well into their 60’s crying about wasting their life on someone who never loved, respected or appreciated them.
I have seen so much anger, resentment, bitterness and pain it would be a damn shame to not take it on board and learn from it! I also think that if their experiences help another human being then it might ease their pain just a little bit to think that it was for something. It had some meaning.