Just being Honest.

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“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom”.

Thomas Jefferson

To me being honest is not just about calling a spade a spade and to hell with the consequences. For some people it is but I do not believe that is necessarily the best or the kindest way to behave or the most productive and motivational. For the small percentage of people that a direct and blunt approach works, I find that there is a far larger percentage that it will fail to achieve anything at all helpful and in many cases actually causes more harm than good. There is no doubt that being honest and fair is the best way to live life but what you say and how you say it can be done gently and with kindness rather than with a sledgehammer and still have a powerful and motivating effect. And, it is the same when you are being honest with yourself. There is seldom any good positive motivation received when you criticize yourself and tell yourself how wrong you have got it or how badly you have done. I find that when people adopt that approach to try to motivate themselves it often has quite the opposite effect and will in fact demotivate and make them feel even more useless  and miserable ,resulting in more bad choices and poor strategies.

Yes, we need to learn how to be honest with ourselves and to stop making excuses for making poor life decisions or for holding on to strategies or behaviours that obviously do not work for us. If we do not reassess our choices and take personal responsibility to make positive changes to improve when we get it wrong, then we are unlikely to feel as happy or even as stable as we ultimately could feel and we will really just be surviving life rather than thriving in life.

To make it easier to adapt and learn new ways to behave it is important to look back objectively at the areas in our life where we feel we could do better and could improve upon. Stop looking at them as our failures and see them more as lessons we need to look over again in order to get a better understanding of them. Using the benefit of hindsight we can look back on them and decide how much better and differently we would handle it now and by figuring that out, we have also established a new and more positive strategy for ourselves.

A short sharp shock of truth can change lives but frequently that change doesn’t last. As soon as the initial shock wears off old habits can creep back in. Being straight and honest with ourselves can bring about very important life changes but I believe that by doing it gently and with kindness it will help us to maintain these changes and provide us with long term benefits.

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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.

Decisions,Decisions.

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Sometimes we can all find it hard to make a decision about something and we can go backwards and forwards in our thinking process and feel we are getting nowhere. This can make us feel stressed and uneasy and can cause others who are waiting on our decision to get frustrated and upset by us. There is often a very practical reason for our minds to vacillate, it is simply seeking more information and whilst doing so is going back and forth trying to check it against what it already has had experience of and the past consequences from that. We can however train ourselves to make it a more efficient and faster process and in doing so avoid any unnecessary stress.
If you are being asked or need to make a decision about something and are finding it hard .The chances are as I have previously mentioned you actually just need to get a bit more information before being able to make your mind up. To simplify the process ask yourself what is stopping you from agreeing to do it or saying no? Has there ever been a time before you have had to make a similar decision and if so what did you learn from that? Use the answers to those simple questions to hone in on the specific areas of information or answers required to provide you with a clearer picture of what is the best thing for you to do. If it helps you to think more clearly simply write down your reasons before seeking the answers to them. Gather the information you require by doing a little further research and by chatting to people. Often these simple steps provide enough feedback for you to feel confident about saying yes or no.
However if you still feel uneasy about something after reviewing all the facts and information possible then simply do not agree to do it. Never allow yourself to be pushed in to agreeing to do something that does not sit comfortably with you. Sometimes it is fear that prevents you from trying something new and if that is the case seek help to get rid of it. Many times though your unconscious mind has picked up something negative that your conscious mind has not even seen yet. Too often I hear from people if only I had followed my instinct and not agreed to this or that .Your instinct is there for a reason. It is telling you that something is not quite right and asking you to pause for a short while to find out more. Overriding that is to me the equivalent of ignoring an amber light. Sometimes when you do that you escape unscathed but other times you will find yourself in trouble. So pay attention to inner feelings. If you have made a decision that you later regret do not avoid thinking about it. Take any learning you need from it by looking at how it happened and how best to prevent it happening again.
At the end of the day we have to accept that we all have different personalities. Some people can go through life and fling themselves fully in to everything without apparent care and others hate to do anything new or take any responsibility. Most of us are somewhere in between both of these. Learn how you function best and allow yourself any necessary time without being stressed to do what is right for you and what you feel comfortable with.