Self sabotage or self support?

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“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty

Usually the voice we listen to the most is our inner voice. It is the one which urges us to go for it or to hold back and reflects how we are feeling. It should be positively working in our best interests but all too often we are actually sabotaging ourselves by allowing our inner voice to sound negative and disparaging towards us. It becomes not just our inner self talking to us, but all the negative people we may have had in our life who have held us down or belittled us and occasionally it might even begin to sound like them. Listening to that is never going to give us the confidence to achieve what we dream of and worse still we it may well impact negatively our behaviour and actions making feel insecure and doubtful and that in turn will in turn reflect outwards potentially causing others to doubt us too. We all need to regularly stop and listen to what we are saying to ourselves and if we find that we are always being harsh and unsupportive in our self-talk we must take the time and make the effort to change it. Every time we are faced with a choice, an opportunity or a request, in fact any time that we engage our inner voice to give us help, motivation and support, we need to stop and listen to what we are actually saying to ourselves. Is it supportive and encouraging or are we putting ourselves down and making ourselves feel insecure and even insignificant. If so we need to change it and simply start by thinking how we would want someone we love a lot to be spoken to and then use the same tone and the same words that we would like them to hear to motivate ourselves. Often we find that learning how to do this has a double benefit for us as if we can be kinder towards ourselves it makes it much easier to feel more kindly towards others and that in turn is how we enrich our life. Have a great day, Karen x

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Adapting to Change

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I have always had dogs and cats living with me. A short while before going on holiday our elderly and last remaining cat passed peacefully away. We were all heartbroken as he had been such a little character, always chatting to us, sitting on our shoulders as we worked at a desk or the computer and lying next to the dogs in the family room or standing waiting on them or us to dry him off when he came in from the rain. As he had such a strong presence our home seemed very quiet without him and the thought of bringing in another little cat did not seem very fair or right at that time.

By a strange coincidence the house we had rented for our holiday had living right next door to it a caretaker and he had four quite young cats. Initially the cats were shy and quite aloof and we were not really aware of their presence but as curiosity soon got the better of them they quickly began coming round to visit us and sit beside us as we sat and read or swam. By the time we came home we all had decided to get another cat. I had anticipated no problems with the dogs as they were so used to cats and had such sweet natures that they would accept anything. So, shortly after we came home we got a little black kitten and almost the day after I received a surprise with the gift of another little kitten, this one grey and white. The kittens were both fortunately males and luckily almost exactly the same age. It was no surprise that they got on really well and almost immediately began to play and sleep wrapped around each other. Our surprise came when some of the dogs who had always had a cat living with them in the house, actually found it really hard to adapt and cope with the new arrivals. Strangely it was my three biggest dogs that seemed to be the most affected, the others being neither up nor down. They were not aggressive, simply afraid and their fear manifested itself in different ways. One seemed to decide that if he looked up all the time and never down at the floor then they didn’t exist and he walked around staring at me or the ceiling with the kittens chasing around his feet. The second appeared to think that if he stuck his head under a cushion he would instantly become invisible so spent his time doing just that every time the kittens came near to him.The third and youngest  of my Golden Retrievers elected to mimic a parrot, when either of the kittens made any move towards him, he simply would get off the floor and quickly climb on to my shoulder as I sat on the couch. Of course the kittens absolutely loved this game, it was amazing ,they knew they had power and were loving being able to use it. They would try and scramble under the cushion to see Alfie, run around Teddy’s feet and trip him up and try to use my legs as a climbing post to get to Bruce. We were all amazed, after all our dogs loved cats what on earth were we going to do? Well, fortunately we did not need to do anything as all it took was a little time, time for the dogs to get used to the size of the kittens and time for them to realise that the kittens were just trying to play and have some fun. As soon as they recognised and accepted that, it took about a week, they became happy to lie on the floor and allow themselves to be used as climbing posts and now they are simply delighted when one of the kittens decides to lie cuddled next to them and purr happily away until asleep. The kittens have learned too. They know that the dogs will walk away if they try to chew their feet or run up their backs so they have stopped even trying. They want the dogs to be there and to play with them but have learned boundaries. The dogs have taught them those simply by withdrawing from play and moving to another room, anytime they felt the kittens were playing too roughly for them and the kittens have been astute enough to pick up on those signals and adapted their play.

In hindsight it was a bit unfair of me to think that the dogs would have no concerns about me introducing something new in to their environment, their home. Milo, our old cat had been their friend for many years. He was a certain size and behaved a certain way. The kittens are much smaller, faster and something quite new .But, by giving them all time and space, letting them each adjust to the new arrivals in a safe setting they have quickly recognised that there is nothing to fear and have been flexible and willing to adapt to the change. Now, looking at them all as they play and sleep together, it seems as if there has never been anything other than complete harmony.

Watching them learn and adapt and become good friends has strangely made me rethink what I expect from myself and others. We all take time to adapt to new circumstances and events, even if we have had similar experiences in the past we may need to allow ourselves a little more time to accept and become comfortable with any changes, even positive ones.

We need to take personal responsibility to set our own boundaries, ones which make us feel comfortable and make them clear to others. We should not just expect them to know what we want or need from them as that is simply unfair. If others make clear to us what their boundaries are we must respect them and not try to foist our own beliefs or strategies on to them, even if we feel they might be of help. We can explain how we feel and why we think it may help but still back off and let them come to terms with any issues or circumstances in their own time and at their own pace.

We are all different and as unique individuals and when faced with something new we each will have our own way of handling things. Some people find it very easy to adapt to change and others much more difficult. Knowing what makes us “tick” as an individual lets us develop a strategy for coping with change and helps us to manage it and make life easier.

For certain people fear is sometimes a normal response to being asked to face something new and different, before they have had time to adjust to a situation. If this is how you feel ,know that you  do not need to respond angrily or aggressively to new things, as that sort of strategy will never improve a situation or clear any issues, in fact almost always all that will do is make everything worse. Instead acknowledge that you have a need to get used to new circumstances, whatever they are, good or bad  and then take time to gather more information to enable you to adapt more quickly, make better decisions and be flexible enough to cope with and accept change.

Generally, when we show people close to us and even those a little more distant, respect and give each other personal space, we find that we can usually resolve any problems or issues and create an outcome that we are all happy with.

The right attitude gives the best experience.

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One of my daughters is getting married and we have been shopping for “the dress”. I rather naively thought this was going to be a straightforward, simple, nice experience for us all to do. I had not realized how times have changes since I went looking for my own dress, many years ago. Nowadays there appears to me to be a lot more pressures on the bride to be than ever before, a whole lot more pressure. Today because of the new celebrity culture that seems to be around, the internet and movies, all manufacturing an image and a perceived standard for the potential bride to be and her friends and family to meet, the pressure is on before you have even ventured out to the shops to look. There is a certain pressure on the shops too as image appears to be everything. Although we found out that even a good external image can be deceptive as I will later explain.

My first surprise was that the present system requires any potential bride to book an appointment to go try on dresses. I thought my daughters were kidding on when they advised me of this. When I was younger (and clearly I am giving away my age now), you just went to look at the shops you wished to look at without having to have pre-arranged your appointment. That doesn’t seem to be possible now and so it was the bridesmaids jobs to phone ahead, weeks in advance to book the shops (bridal boutiques) that my daughter had selected and then having successfully done that, they had to create an online calendar which notified all the relevant parties to save the times and dates .It was done with military precision and required a lot of effort from the girls involved to make sure it all worked and allowed everyone time to get from one place to the next and have lunch in between. Given that we had several hills to climb and were all varying ages and fitness levels that was harder to do than you would think, yet somehow my daughters wonder team managed it.

Our first weekend shopping was done locally and I began to realise why an appointment had been required. There was a huge choice now available and not just in design but in colour, texture, pattern material and accessories. At first my daughter was a bit like a child in a sweetie shop, she wanted to try on everything and had absolutely no idea of what she liked or disliked. Had they not just given us an allotted hour we could have stayed lost in there for days. All thoughts of time went out the window. We all felt rather overwhelmed by the huge selection available and with few exceptions, thought every dress she tried on was lovely but none amazing. Since it was amazing she was after we moved on to shop number two. Shop number two fortunately did not have the layout of number one. You selected from books the dresses you wished to try on and as there was not as much choice we quickly calmed down and were able to focus on the designs and shapes we had liked on her in the previous shop. As there was still no “amazing “feeling we agreed to move on to the next on the list. Shop number three was arranged for the following weekend .It was one my daughter was quite excited about visiting. The dresses were displayed in a way that made them look both glamorous and exciting. We arrived five minutes before our appointment, which was the first of the day. The rain was pouring down as we rang the bell for entry. After a moment the impressive door was opened by the owner who advised us that we would have to wait for another 4 minutes before she would let us in. Attitude is everything as they say so when the door was opened again four minute later and we were allowed in, there was simply no dress in the world that could have made any of us want to purchase from her store .As it was we were not even tempted as most of the dresses my daughter tried on were rather grey having been tried on by many excited brides to be before. Who knows if we had been met by a smile and asked to wait inside in the foyer how differently we might have felt, but, the negative and unfriendly start made us all see every fault there was to see. The stop had lost its sparkle for us and so we moved on to shop number four There we were so pleased to be met by a friendly and helpful owner that we all once again fell in love with nearly every dress she tried on. However, this time one dress stood out and so we went off to lunch to discuss it more fully before making a final decision.

As we sat enjoying our lunch we wondered if we had just seen the perfect dress none of us were completely sure and so we decided that after shop number five, the last on our list for that day, we would go back and ask to try on the dress again and see then how we all felt .

The next shop was like something out of a movie. We were met by a very beautifully dressed, friendly member of staff. She directed us to a waiting area and went off to get our bridal consultant. My daughter whispered to me “Mum, this is going to be too expensive, let’s just try on a few and then leave”.At that moment and before I could reply, the bridal consultant arrived and we were ushered through to the area where we would see her in her chosen dresses.

All around us sat other brides to be with their families and friends along with their consultants making choices. Each of us in our own beautifully laid out area, in a huge room. We all sat looking at each other were all thinking the same thing “expensive”. After making her selection from a computer my daughter was ushered in to the changing room. Her consultant sat with her and went through her selection and asked her why she had chosen each dress, what she had liked and why. Then she suggested that whilst they wait for her dresses to arrive from the storeroom, she would bring her a dress that she thought she might like based on their discussion.

When she stepped out from the changing room I felt a surge rather like an electrical charge go through me, I later found out that we all had felt exactly the same, and suddenly we were all feeling quite emotional. She had found “the one “.What were we going to do, the place looked and felt ridiculously expensive, we had a budget, doesn’t everyone? No dress was ever going to make her look or feel the same. My daughter was smiling from ear to ear as she read my thoughts. ”It’s okay”, she said “we set down a budget before I selected the dresses I was going to try.” I was so pleased that both the shop and my daughter had been practical enough to consider this. Had they not, the chances are that I would have felt I had to try to get her what she really wanted. That potentially could have caused problems and all of that was avoided by common sense and good communication.

So my daughter has her dress and I have had reinforced to me the things that we should always try to remember. Have a plan, know your limits when it comes to financial matters communicate clearly with those around you, never judge a book by its cover, be flexible enough to listen to what others have to say and how having a good attitude and the right experience always counts. All of this I knew, yet had simply let fly out the window as I got drawn in to and carried away by the whole finding the perfect dress experience. Thankfully, my daughter, her sisters and friends managed to get it right. Fortunately, thanks to them I found that I had been wrong about it being a nice experience. It was a really wonderful experience and one I was truly grateful to be able to partake in. Now all we need to do is find the bridesmaid dresses.

Listen and Learn.

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I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.
Larry King.

We all like to be heard. What we think and feel we want to be able to express to others and when we can do it freely we feel better and happier. We all recognize this and appreciate how important it is, so why when we have all this understanding and insight do we frequently fail to truly listen to what others want to say?
Perhaps it is because we feel that we are too busy or under too much pressure to waste time listening to what someone else thinks as we believe we already know the best decision or outcome? Or perhaps, we are too focused on what we need to do next that we simply do not take the time to listen before moving on to our next task or job. We just want to be able to tick off that we have dealt with the matter and move on.
The problem with this strategy is that more often than not we haven’t dealt with anything successfully. All we have really done by communicating in this manner is to potentially create more stress for the future.
Too often when we think that we are communicating we are in fact just barking out orders to others or we are defending ourselves from perceived criticism from others. This sort of communication can end up with us going round and round in circles trying to make our point and failing to do so. All that happens is that we end up feeling more and more exasperated, fed up and no further forward.
We are all guilty of doing this at some point in our lives and the solution to all the frustration and angst that this type of behavior causes us it really simple and straightforward. If we feel that we are not being heard rather than shouting louder and louder we need to stop and listen to what those around us are saying before we can then calmly answer them and express how we are feeling. Good communication requires all parties to be silent at some point and listen to what the others are saying before they actually respond. If we try to get our view over without paying attention to their views we are simply wasting our time. Seldom has anyone ever personally achieved anything constructive or made themselves feel better just by overriding the views of those close to them and imposing their own on any situation.
If we want to be happy, successful and content then it is simply essential to be a good listener. When we spend time listening to others they respect us more and will in turn spend time listening to us when we need them to. We can learn so much from hearing what those close to us have to say and that can help us to grow closer to those we love and to grow stronger as a person. As American psychologist Karl A Menninger once said:
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.
Sometimes when we feel that we are not being listened to, we ourselves are also not actually listening. The only way to resolve or at least attempt to resolve this type of situation, is to stop trying to get our own point across and spend time hearing what those we believe are ignoring us, are really saying .If once we have listened to them we still feel they are not letting us respond or take our view in to account we need to make a decision about whether they are the right people to surround ourselves with. Either way just by listening we gain knowledge and that always makes us stronger.
If we find that we are the ones who have allowed ourselves to get in to the bad habit of not truly listening and communicating well to those around us, we simply need to decide to stop and change how we have been responding to others and handling things.
It is not difficult as we all have the ability inside us to be able to make such positive changes when we can see the benefit of doing so and know that by changing we will feel better and more in control. We all must learn how to make positive choices in life if we desire happiness. None of us should stick with bad habits or poor strategies that do not work well simply because they take time and a bit of effort to change. That is simply daft and most definitely not a recipe for success. Being able to be flexible enough to adapt and change makes life happier, as we learn what works best for us and for those around us. As I always say though, the choice and the power to make positive life changes lies solely within ourselves. No one can do it for us and we can hold no one responsible other than ourselves if we don’t change when we need to. We all need to learn to make changes today, even if only small positive, ones for a happier tomorrow.

Feed the positive and let go the negative.

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Remember ,always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And ,then you destroy yourself. Richard  M Nixon.

Love him or hate him this is actually very good advice .We need to learn to be true to our own beliefs and take responsibility for our own decisions and always make sure we are totally committed to what we are doing to get the best out of our lives

Every decision has a consequence some good, some bad and we cannot avoid that, but if our initial  choice  and subsequent action was based completely on what we believe, with a positive heart and intent, then we are less likely to regret our actions and more likely to learn positively from them and move forward in life.

Sometimes, particularly when we have given a 100% and someone then criticizes us, it is very easy and quite natural to get irritated and angry with them for not recognizing the effort we have made and the positive intention behind it. Sometimes this misunderstanding is created because of poor communication skills and that can easily be resolved. However ,occasionally it is not possible to resolve such issues and we have to accept that we do not always see things the same way as each other and we must just accept that different people have different opinions and let any angst we have had towards them go, as we go on our own way.

The most important thing is not to carry that hurt or anger on with us and allow it to impact our next choice, our next decision or make us not try as hard or even worse withdraw from doing anything. That is actually not achieving anything other than letting someone, who has perhaps wronged you or judged you unfairly win .It means that you are in fact hurting yourself twice as much as they could. Firstly by taking their unfair criticism to heart and secondly by then letting it change you as a person. People only have the power over us we choose to give them. If we change ourselves to solely meet another person’s needs but not our own then we are changing for the worse and not the better. We must learn to have enough self-confidence to have a positive belief in our own abilities, which then enables us work in partnership with others. This in turn creates healthier and happier relationships and a healthier happier life.

Do I know what you are thinking ?

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It is amazing how many mind readers that I have met this week. People with psychic abilities that can tell ,just by looking at their partner or loved ones even people on the street, exactly what it is they are thinking ,feeling and even what it is that they are about to say.

They apparently know when they are being sarcastic or critical, hurt or offended, angry, sad, content, happy, flirtatious or dismissive just by watching them. They are so confident about this that they immediately respond in a manner they feel is appropriate to the mood they believe they are observing. Quite remarkable really and impressive if it was really true, however the problem is that it seldom is, true or accurate or helpful. In fact what usually happens when someone attempts to mind read another  ,they get it wrong .They personalise  how someone is looking at them based upon their own thoughts and feeling when they look  at someone that particular way .They imagine thoughts like they have or are having internally  as they pre judge what the person is truly thinking. Problems always arise when relying on this method of communication with another .It doesn’t actually show how close you are to another if you choose to do this; to me it actually shows a lack of consideration and respect. Both for yourself and for the person that you are choosing to mind read. Neither of these attributes are desirable in a healthy, happy relationship.

I don’t care how long you have known someone and how close you are to them, there is always going to be a time when you judge their mood or thoughts and be wrong. That is unfair  both on them and on yourself .There is no substitute, no quicker way to actually know what someone is thinking, than to stop and really listen to what they are saying. There is a definite need in any good relationship, to spend time communicating and talking to each other. Not as you run past each other on the way out to work or for that matter any other time when you are partly preoccupied doing something else as that too is a recipe for disaster. To communicate in this harassed way is a sure fire way to create problems in any relationship. People need time to explain themselves fully and this cannot be done to someone’s back as they  walk out the door, or run for the bus ,deal with the children ,the messages or any other distraction.

Time is needed to just sit and connect or even reconnect and to explore what both of you are truly thinking and feeling. If something has been said that has come across as hurtful or antagonistic, time is needed to actually explain things a bit more fully before deciding how to react to it. Everything worth doing takes practice and communication is no different. We need to consciously decide that we are going to be good listeners and make the effort to positively follow through with that decision. We need to set aside time for the people we care about to hear what they are thinking and feeling in order to develop healthy, happy and more fulfilling relationships. If we leave mind reading for Fairgrounds and magic shows we can concentrate on truly improving our lives. Simply put anytime we spend developing this quality adds to our character strengths and makes life a bit easier and happier for us all.

As British actress Emma Thompson once wisely said “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.”

A different View

 

 

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A short time ago I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and took on something new, well new to me, Instagram. I was very apprehensive about posting pictures publically and feared getting daft or cheeky comments .Such a silly thing to be bothered about really, as what it would matter I could always have deleted any if they did arise? My conscious mind knew that but the inner me was still a bit concerned that I might well get my feeling hurt.

Well eight months on and I can honestly say that I have found it to be a truly inspiring and uplifting experience. I think that I actually have started to view my surroundings in a different way, by looking to see the beauty in everything. I have seen many, many amazing pictures from around the world that I would have missed out on seeing had I not joined and made friends with people from all corners of the globe. The support and care shown to me throughout this new learning process has also been quite exceptional.

All a fantastic learning experience for me but it is the knock on effect of this supportive environment that has had perhaps the biggest impact upon me. I find now that when I watch the news and feel rather down with all the anger and sadness in it, instead of ruminating on the things I cannot change I change my focus from negative to positive by going to Instagram and view the world again from a different and for me more constructive standpoint. Or, I go out in to my own environment to reconnect and remind myself of the things that give me joy and energy. I can then take a quick pictures to store in my phone for a quick” pick me up” whenever needed and post it on the site in the hope that it will give the same positive lift to others also.

I am sure as everything in life has an opposite that there must be negative and draining people on the site also, but I have not met them. It no longer would worry me if I did, as they can only exist in my world if I give them permission to and I have no intention of doing that.

I guess it is looking at the glass half full or half empty. In order for me to have the personal energy to actually go and do something about the things that I care about, I need to have my internal energy batteries fully charged up. Listening to and viewing only negative things drains me and makes me feel powerless to do anything to help facilitate change. However, when I go on and connect to such a tremendous positive energy source it helps me to see how much more constructive people actually can be and renews my faith in my and every other person’s ability ,should they choose to use it, to be able to change things around and make their world a better place to be. As Mother Teresa once said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the Ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

If you have been sitting for too long in your comfort zone as I was, perhaps it is time to stretch yourself a little. Push yourself to learn something new or just go out and, meet new people and expand your horizons. Every little positive thing that you can do in your life can make a much bigger impact than you would at first think possible. Don’t take my word for it, go try it and see.