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Turning Shit into Gold

Recently I had to rearrange my headspace and lifestyle because I was getting bent out of shape because of what someone else was doing.  I wasn’t happy with the information I was receiving and it was causing untold grief and obsession within my life.  Luckily for me I was reading “Destructive Emotions,” a dialogue with the Dalai Llama narrated by Daniel Goleman, one of my three favourite Daniels (Stern and Siegel being the other two).

According to the book, when you have had enough of the shit in your life you can do one of three things: 

1)  You can remove the source of vexation;

2) You can see it from a different perspective; or

3) You can transform shit into gold.

I decided to go with Numbers 1, 2 and 3.  Not only did I remove them from my life, I also (internally) wished them well with theirs and thus relieved myself of considerable self-inflicted anguish.  I decided that the time I used to spend brooding and ruminating should be put to better use and put my not inconsiderable mental energy into journaling (as opposed to blogging) and learning how to paint in watercolours.   That was the transforming shit into gold bit.

I have long blogged on lake-walks, ducks and photography and how it soaks into my soul and soothes my shattered nerves and puts me into a meditative, reflective, contemplative and productive headspace and I am now in the process of choosing which subject to paint first.  For less than AU$40 I purchased a journal, sketch pad and paints and have searched and viewed many YouTube clips for lessons on technique.

The source of my misery is now at the back of my mind and much more manageable than I thought was possible.  “Destructive Emotions” is where Western thinking meets Buddhist mind and always in Buddhist teaching is learning how to see the other perspective or transforming shit into gold.

Ajahn Brahm, the Buddhist monk who presides over our local Buddhist Community in Nollamara, Western Australia, gave a talk about the different perspectives of winning and losing last Friday night and the how the two perspectives aren’t about garnering accolades, qualifications and prizes that you highly desire, it’s about the middle road, being happy with losing, finding pleasure in life and not seeing yourself as an end result of your winning ability.

Being able to turn any unbecoming situation to your emotional advantage makes anyone and everyone an instant winner.

Now isn’t THAT a pretty picture worth painting.

Turning Shit into Gold

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). Turning Shit into Gold. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jan 2011
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