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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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.

Opening Doors

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I have three daughters who have all chosen to go to University to further their education before starting their careers. The youngest is just in her first year at university and loves her course. She has no idea yet where it will lead her and has no set career in mind at the moment she is just waiting to see what subject inspires her before deciding on her career path, but she feels strongly that for her, obtaining a degree is the best way forward. The older two girls both have honours degrees in the same subject but both then went on to take a post graduate and a master in an entirely different field from each other, in order to open the door to their chosen careers. I have also got friends that have left school without any qualifications and worked their way through various jobs, using experience from each one to open a door to the other and friends that gave up high powered careers to follow their hearts to find happiness. Some I have known followed a less easy route at the beginning and seemed to be going to have a lot of unhappiness because of their original choices yet at some point have said “enough” and have successfully managed to turn their lives positively around. Others have concentrated on their families and made that their career. All very different, yet they all share a drive and a determination to move forward in life towards their goals. Each of them has different skills, strengths and interests but each share a belief that they alone have responsibility to guide their life in the direction that they want it to go and a knowledge that they can change direction when they feel they need to or want to.

 So today when I counsel people I am often amazed when I hear their limiting belief that because they have made a mistake, made the wrong decision, their entire life must be spent still going down the wrong road because it is the one they are presently on. I am amazed and surprised because as far as I am aware there is no rule that says you cannot change what you are doing. To me it is simple. When something isn’t working do not keep doing it. At any point in your life you have the ability to stop and change direction. Antony Robbins says “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten” He is of course absolutely right. So why keep doing it? We can all be guilty of this at some point in our lives and for various reasons. Sometimes we do because we feel that we will be considered a failure if we change, if we admit we have got it wrong. But, if we really stopped to think about that reason surely we actually fail by not admitting our need to find a new way of doing something or a new method of working through a problem? Sometimes other people put pressure on us to keep at it when clearly we know it is not right for us and yet we allow them to continue to exert this pressure on us because we perhaps fear upsetting them or being judged harshly by them. Whatever the reason, if it is clearly not working then we need to change what we are doing.

Once we actually stop and recognise that something is not the way we had planned it to be or thought it would be and admit that to ourselves, we can then take the first constructive steps to being able to make positive changes and probably feel better than we have for a long while.

We naturally evolve and change as we grow and learn. To make full use of that new learning and new knowledge we must not be afraid of change. I often hear “I can’t do anything about it. I am just leaving it up to fate “That is fine if you have exhausted every other avenue but without at first trying then to me that is just an  opt out of taking personal responsibility for your life. Yes, I believe that fate plays a part in life but that can be used to guide us. Just because one door was closed doesn’t mean that all doors are. Often another opens. Perhaps in a direction different than you first thought but open nevertheless. Opportunities are all around if you look. Perhaps to take advantage of them you need to push yourself a little harder or take a chance or two but they are there. When Tony Robbins was asked what prompted him to change his life he said “Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is raise your standards. When people ask me what really changed my life eight years ago, I tell them that absolutely the most important thing was changing what I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things that I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things that I aspired to becoming”

In other words he pushed himself to make positive changes by deciding what he now wanted to invite in to his life.

As always the choice and ability to find happiness and contentment lies within our own actions and reactions to life.

 
 

Meeting your expectations.

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I mentioned last week that my Mum was having to go through a period of adjustment and find a new home after 23 years living in her much loved upper flat. Somehow I fell in to the trap of thinking that as soon as she had come to terms with the idea of moving everything else would just naturally fall in to place. I am clearly a glass half full type of person. What I hadn’t considered though was the impact that searching for the new home was going to have on us all.

We believed that it was going to be a simple straightforward procedure. We obviously haven’t moved a lot in our lives and certainly not recently! Mum selected houses in an area she liked, with room sizes that looked reasonable and large, fenced off enclosed gardens. She based her selections, as everyone does, on various Estate agents pictures and descriptions. Going to view the selected houses she was quite excited and looking forward to a fresh start. It was a huge shock to us both to find that many of the houses we viewed didn’t really look size wise like any of the cleverly taken photographs had suggested. Fenced gardens weren’t all completely fenced and in many cases a fenced patch would have been a more appropriate description. It felt truly awful going through someone’s much loved home knowing that whilst it was perfect for them it didn’t meet Mums needs at all. How can you criticize someone’s lovingly tended patch, when you know how proud they are of it, and how can you truthfully say you are interested when they eagerly enquire your views?

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that takes pictures deliberately to mislead prospective purchasers. What does it achieve? It can only frustrate the home seller as much as the viewer and when you actually see it the disappointment is more acute than it would have been if you had known exactly what you were choosing to view.

The houses we have viewed were not bad. They were lovely homes and would have been entirely suitable for someone else, someone without two large dogs perhaps! What happens though as that everyone ends up feeling slightly let down.

Strangely viewing the stylised pictures of the houses has made me even more determined to embrace my true self and to really value the individual natures of my family and friends. There is something really refreshing about dealing with honest, direct characters after viewing so many stylised photographs that have no basis in reality.

It made me think of us as people and why it is so important to remain true to ourselves and not to try to become something that other people, but not us want us to be. A false front can’t last as it requires too much energy to keep up and to maintain .It also prevents us from actually meeting and bonding with the people who truly like us and can really relate to us. The world is full of interesting and varied individuals. How sad would life be if we turned in to well-manicured, highly polished clones of each other as some magazines would seem to suggest?

If the houses we have viewed were advertised to show them exactly as they are, the right people would view them and no doubt they would sell much more quickly by reaching the right target market. There really was nothing wrong with them in the first place. Their photographs just presented a falsely attractive image to us as we were searching for a large enclosed space. Equally the pictures may well have put off a prospective buyer looking for something smaller and more manageable .In truth it is not just the Estate agents who are at fault I think we could all benefit from being a bit more honest. Honest about what we are looking for and what we have to offer to get it. We all need to relax a little and like ourselves more. We should respect ourselves enough not to have to pretend to be what we are not. Likely we would all be much happier if we had the confidence to do so. 

As for the house hunting, well it still goes on but we have learned from this experience. Now before we go to view a house we visit the area first and drive past to get an idea of the garden size and external look of the house. If that meets Mums criteria we visit and I can honestly say we are much happier about what we have viewed. All being well we may actually be placing an offer in for one soon.

Mum has to sell her house too and we have decided that the pictures will honestly represent it. People will come to view and see exactly the same thing that attracted them in the first place. Hopefully they will like it and Mum can soon move on to the next new chapter in her life and have some fun.

Creating a nice space.

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It will soon be spring. When I was younger the thought of spring and a massive house cleaning session went together. My grandmother, with whom I lived, always insisted every year that the house get a good spring clean. Being young and having decidedly more interesting things to do with my time than clean this filled me with dread. That meant no more gathering of clothes and hiding them in a bundle or stuffing shoes under the bed when asked to tidy my room. This was the real deal, where cupboards would be emptied, old stuff given away to the rag and bone man(a chap who made his living selling stuff people had no longer any use for),shelves washed ,everything lifted dusted or in the case of floor rugs taken outside and beaten until clean. That meant a lot of time doing very boring, unnecessary things. Or so I thought then. The funny thing was that after I had complained, moaned and generally tried everything I could to get out of it I had to just knuckle down and do it.My grandmother was a very gentle woman but had the most stubborn nature I have ever met. I knew if I didn’t help she would just do it herself and she knew that my conscience would never allow that. So we would work together and get everything done. The strange thing was that despite my protestations I loved how the house felt after. It was never a dirty house, my grandmother would never have allowed that, yet once we had completed the spring clean everything felt better. It looked nice too but it was more the feeling of space it gave that I enjoyed. A strange feeling, coming from the girl who could happily live with a bulging cupboard that required brute force to close, but that is how it felt.

Years later as I work with people I find myself often telling them to declutter their lives. To get rid of all the unnecessary tasks they fill their day with and concentrate on only the most important. It is amazing how many silly things get included in to the day to day duties of a busy person, things that could well wait or be relegated to other members of the household. I am sure that if you looked at your own schedule you would understand exactly what I mean.

Aside from this one of the quickest and biggest improvement that can be made to make you feel better, is to have one clear, uncluttered nice space that you come home too. Sometimes because of living with teenagers or an untidy spouse or a multitude of other reasons, I have heard them all, it is not possible to have the whole house clean and tidy. It is possible to choose one room, the room where you would unwind in, to be clean and free of any distracting mess. For some that might be the bedroom, for others the bathroom or sitting room or kitchen. It doesn’t matter where you pick only that it is a place you would go to, when stressed, to chill out or relax.

Set aside time to clean it thoroughly. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been used or that you dislike but have kept because so and so gave it to you. If you don’t like it, it will drain your energy by just being present when you try to unwind. Give it away or if that isn’t possible because of sentiment or obligation move it elsewhere. Somewhere you can’t see it. Then set about creating a personal space that suits you. Create your perfect space to unwind and feel relaxed in.

Think of all your senses. What colours, textures even shapes do you like. Find items that you love to put in to your space. Think about scents. What do you love to smell the scent of? What smell makes you take a nice deep breath in and relax with? If you haven’t thought about this before go to the shops and have a smell of some of the many jar candles available. I suggest jar as they are generally not so easily knocked over and have long lasting scents. If you can, get one that makes you feel happy or calm or relaxed. Anything in fact that you want to feel in this specific area, find a scent that suits this purpose. One note of caution If you have young children and or animals and they are going to have access to this area stay away from reed diffusers as they are too tempting ,yet dangerous for both if knocked over or drunk. Candles also require caution but can create a fantastic atmosphere and really make a difference to how you feel. Create a room that you love to walk in to. One that just by knowing you have it there allows you to feel relaxed. Make it your place to recharge and keep it that way. This is actually a great way of taking back control of your life. It starts with just one space and then often has a habit of spreading to give you more positive energy to declutter and reconstruct in a positive way, all the areas of your life that you have been neglecting or just surviving not thriving with. Why not try it and see.

Festive season choices.

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Today is the first of December and for many, particularly the young and young at heart, there is now a happy dash towards Christmas and love for the Festive season, but for many others it can be a time of worry, sadness and stress. I am always busier towards Christmas as people who feel outside of the festive fun for whatever reason and worry about how alien all of this festivity makes them feel. They can be badly affected by adverts and Christmas television where everyone appears happy and there seems to be nothing that can’t be fixed and yet they may be living with a lot that can’t at present be mended.Often people feeling this way can quickly become overwhelmed by it all and start to act or sound like Scrooge as they put up buffers and barriers of protection. This in turn actually starts to alienate them from other people at the very time when they perhaps need them the most.

It is very easy to get sucked in to the commercial aspect of Christmas and forget what it should really be all about and I am not just talking about the religious aspect of it, though obviously for many that is the most significant part of Christmas. I am actually talking about recognizing the opportunity that it gives us. Joseph Addison, an English writer and politician once said “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for”. If you are dreading Christmas take note of this and my guess is that you will feel happier. If we ignore the commercial advertising aspect of the Festive season and just look at the essentials we can all learn how to feel part of it and make it something to be enjoyed instead of feared or avoided.

Firstly it gives us at its most basic a holiday. We can use this for meeting up with people that are otherwise too busy working and living normal family life to meet up and relax or we can plan to rewards ourselves with a nice time to relax away from the stress of normal daily routine. So we should plan to do things around this time that normally we don’t have the time to do or are not available for us to do at other times of the year. It can be anything but there are obvious things like a panto, outdoor ice skating or one of the many food and drink festivals that are around at this time of year.

We can use this period to spend time with loved ones and reconnect in ways that we have missed throughout the busier time of the year. If you are totally alone and happy then just enjoy having time to do the things you enjoy doing. If alone and unhappy make plans to bring some love in to your life. It could be in the form of a pet, never underestimate the love and companionship having a pet can bring. Or, it could be that perhaps you need to get out and volunteer to help others and in doing so meet like-minded individuals and open your heart to the wonderful energy that working to help others brings in to your life.

I know of one person locally here, who is on her own and last year spoke with several elderly neighbours about their Christmas and finding that they had none decided to invite them to Christmas dinner at her house. So she ended up cooking for 8 others as well as herself. Her Christmas was hectic but she said she loved it and this year she and a few others are doing the same. I am not suggesting that you do the same but it is a fact that looking outside of yourself and finding a way to relate to others can often provide the most satisfaction and happiness.

Christmas can also bring us hope. As a religious festivity it is all about hope but even if we remove the religious aspect we can still share the feeling of hope and wonder  as we watch others doing things to make life easier or better for those around them and even perhaps choose to become involved in this ourselves.

It is a time when we can feel a bond with others that although present all year round can often go unnoticed. It is when many ordinary and normally busy people increase their work for charities and charities can collect more. This is obviously done throughout the year but it is at Christmas that most of us will dig a little deeper to give to those without. Perhaps, it is because we all have time to stop and think of all the things in our life that we are very grateful for that we recognize now more than ever how difficult life can be for those less fortunate and we want to do something to help. Like New Year which follows so closely, it also gives us time to reflect on what we would like to be different for the following year and for us to start making plans.

Of course there can be and are a lot of negatives around this time, such as overspending and debt and loneliness but we all need to take personal responsibility for this. We do not need to buy in to the advertising. We can encourage limits to be set and we can teach our children, when young values, the importance of real values not manufactured values. That is our responsibility.

We do not need to be alone; we can reach out and connect with others if we make a choice to do so. As with everything in life it is always far easier to look to the negative, it requires much less effort and very little is ever gained by it. For some finding a way to look at the positive side of set occasions such as Christmas can be harder and definitely requires more effort if you are not naturally thrilled by it all, but if you take a positive mindset it will ripple out from you to impact others in a positive way and produces an uplifting benefit to yourself. As none of us truly know what the person next to us is going through surely it is far better to find something positive, no matter how small to say and leave them feeling happy.

I would like to end with more wise words from Joseph Addison who wrote:

I have somewhere met with the epitaph on a charitable man which has pleased me very much. I cannot recollect the words, but here is the sense of it :”What I spent I lost ;what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me”

Everyday Magic

A little bit of magic A little bit of magic

When I was younger I loved any magical story and had my nose constantly in a book. I watched Bewitched with Samantha twitching her nose and creating instant magic, clearing all problems and making everything work and laughed, loving every mad moment of it. My daughters grew up with Harry Potter and films like Practical Magic ,Hocus Pocus and The Witches .They loved fairy tales and when young used to collect sticks from our walks to make magic wands and would spend many happy hours later making potions from rose petals and water, which I would have to fling out and refresh as they slept to keep the illusion and prevent them from seeing the petals turn translucent and the water brown. Everything had a magic potential from pebbles and shells collected on the beech to the cats whisker fallen on the floor. They believed anything was possible and at that stage anything was. When they went to school, they learned that it was not always possible to achieve everything they wanted not every exam was passed and not every person they met wanted to be their friend. At night we would talk through their experiences and about any disappointments but would always end up laughing about the nicer funnier aspects of the day and felt happier.

I was in the fortunate position of being able to stop working when my youngest daughter was three and my oldest had just started High School to spend more time at home with them. I loved that time when the older girls came home and we would sit and chat before starting homework or going to any after school clubs. I always made sure that all the daily chores were done and that I had peace to sit and talk. We would light a nice scented candle, have a hot chocolate and they would off load their day before going on to do their various activities. It was magical and we all loved it.

When I studied Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP for short I learned the powerful magic of words and realised that by sitting chatting we were creating a sort of magical cleansing experience. By setting time aside to listen and talk to each other we managed to get rid of all the days clutter, clear any negative thoughts and start afresh. We were using the most powerful magical tool any witch, wizard or fairy ever had, the power of our words.

Words can uplift you or crush your mood and each of us has the power through our words to give happiness to others or to remove it and often we do so without being aware of the devastating effects our words have. Even if you are not trying to be cruel or nasty a thoughtless word can wound.

I have learned that by becoming aware of the language I use and by taking time to listen to my own thoughts and feelings as well as those of the people around me ,I can choose to create my own sort of magic good or bad and in doing so make my life happier or worse depending upon my choice. We all have that power and we must all take personal responsibility for it.

As Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”