Taking control of Fate.

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“I have noticed that even people, who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
Steven Hawking

Isn’t it funny how we can all too often decide to abdicate our own responsibility, our own power to change things and hand it over to Fate? Is that not just a bit of a “cop out” an easy way of giving up or giving in and not just making that little bit extra effort to get it right and make it work?
Don’t get me wrong I honestly believe that if you have given your all and did everything you possibly could to get something to succeed and it doesn’t then the chances are there is a good reason for that and something else may well be coming along that is much more suited to meet your needs. It may sound glib but I base that belief on looking back at past experiences in my life that have not worked out as I had hoped or planned .However instead of being sad and disappointed about them when I look back I can clearly see that there was a good reason for them not to work and that what eventually replaced them was infinitely better for me in the long run. Yet, despite knowing that, I would never advocate not trying to change your life for the better or not focussing on your dreams or suggest that you leave your life to see what fate has in store for you. To me that is foolish and will more than likely leave you with a very negative and frustrated outlook on life. I believe that fate needs a helping hand, yours. The initial effort and desire to achieve something has to come directly from you. If it doesn’t you are simply unable to recognise the opportunities that arise around you. These only become visible to you when you actually start to look  out for and expect to find them. And ,you expect this  when you are actively pursuing your dream and your awareness is raised. If you are simply sitting back and waiting on life to suddenly start for you without making the effort to start it yourself, then opportunities will pass you by and you will be simply not aware of them passing. By switching on your brain to look for positive ways to help you to find whatever it is that you are looking for, you also send out a signal to the universe that you are ready to receive.
In life seldom do we get what we want handed directly to us on a plate and that is not a bad thing as part of the pleasure we can all get from life is achieving something we have worked hard for. Working hard for something and succeeding makes us happier and keeps us healthy, as long as we make sure we balance our life and it is not all work and no play of course. So today my advice is simple, instead of waiting for your life to change for the positive, change it yourself. Make the effort to start taking the action you need to turn your life in to the one you have always wanted it to be. No more excuses, just positive steps towards a new you and give your fate a helping hand.
Have a great Day. Karen x

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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.

What can I do ?

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A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Wade Boggs.

I often tell people it is not what happens to you but how you handle what happens to you that determine how happy you are in life. Quite often I am told that it is easy to be positive when nothing is wrong but natural to feel negative when faced with adversity. I agree initially, it is quite natural to feel angry, sad, frustrated and hurt when life presents us with a problem or an issue to deal with that we would really rather not have to. However it is not good or healthy for us to remain feeling that way for any length of time. It most certainly will not help us to cope better with any adversity that we may be faced with and is in fact far more likely to add to our misery. So how do we change our attitude and see the positive when feeling only negatively? There is no magic wand to wave that can do it for you it requires conscious effort continuous hard work and determination but the results are well worth it. You will be happier and you will be in charge of your life. How do I know ?Well I live with someone who decided to do just that and I can daily see the positive benefit to his decision as can everyone around us.

My daughter’s partner was just like any other normal active young man until through no fault of his own he was injured in a car accident. Sitting in a queue of cars waiting to get out at a roundabout he looked in his rear window and noticed to his horror another car approaching at speed. With cars in front of him and at the side of him there was nowhere he could go and no action he could take to get out of the way. He braced himself as the car hit his car from the back and pushed him forward. He felt the pain in his knee immediately as the brake pedal he had his foot resting on came up with force. Although in pain and shocked he thanked his lucky stars that no one else was injured and all he appeared to have was a torn cartilage in his knee but that was just the start of his problems. Following surgery he began to develop pain and swelling in a lot of his joints. His knee wasn’t working properly and coming downstairs painful. Further investigations revealed that he had rheumatoid arthritis. He was just 23 years old and suddenly he was no longer able to do the sports to the level he had previously enjoyed and just walking was painful. Various medications were tried all with varying results. His hair began to thin and joints became deformed. Now many people would have felt pretty down at this stage and many might have thought quite naturally “why me?” He could have done that and we would have had every sympathy with him if he had but it would not have done him much good and would more than likely have added to his pain. Instead, however, he chose to tackle what was happening to his body head on. He read all about it and had long conversations with his specialist to determine the best course of treatment for him. He couldn’t play rugby anymore so he decided to take up cycling. He decided to focus his attention on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t  do and he found that it began to make his body feel stronger again and reduced the pain he felt in his joints. He got his work place to get him a chair that made his posture better and helped him be more comfortable. He took up photography and goes for long walks. Now, twelve years after the accident which triggered the whole thing off no one would ever guess there was anything at all wrong with him. He never complains not even when teased about holding his little pinkie finger up when drinking a cup of tea or having a beer. He actually can’t put it down; it is molded to that shape due to the arthritis. He doesn’t care it is a quirky part of him now.  He cycles to his work which is many miles away as often as he can and has cycled a long distance over three days for charity. His new medication means new hair not that I think anyone noticed the previous lack. We were all too busy looking at his pictures or having fun. He has chosen to not let anything stop him from being the person he wants to be. He is in charge of his life not the arthritis. He has a positive attitude and it is infectious. He is happy with his life and those around him are positively impacted by him. His attitude is not unique as there are many people who face difficult and challenging life events with the same positive determination. They all teach us that by adopting a positive attitude and approach to life we can make it better. We do not need to sit down and feel sorry for ourselves. We can all change things for the better if we are determined and focused on what we have and want to have rather than dwelling on what we do not want and do not have. The power to do so comes from our attitude to our circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves.

Always have a purpose.

 

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Recently I have been very surprised to find the amount of energy you can suddenly find once you have found a purpose to do something. Having a purpose seems to provide us all with real motivation, drive and determination to tackle anything big or small. In our case despite being aware of this we had simply forgotten its phenomenal qualities and have been reminded of them quite by accident.

For many months now our large garage has been used as storage space for spare items. Items we no longer wanted but ones that we hadn’t  quite made up our minds about what to do with them.  We had simply moved them from the house out to the garage intending to deal with them when we had a spare moment but never quite finding that moment. Recently my Mum moved house and having no desire to take everything with her, selected what she wanted and then stored the rest in our garage for us to use or dispose of as we liked. Suddenly our garage was no longer just a bit untidy it was overflowing with stuff. We occasionally looked at it and discussed how we were going to tackle it but then would decide to leave it for another day. A day when we had more time or more energy or any other excuse we could think of. Days passed and these days turned in to weeks and then before we knew it we were a month later and still no attempt had been made to clear out the junk. It was always in the back of our minds that we had to make an effort to do it but we simply didn’t .I am sure that this probably would have continued for quite a while longer but for one thing happening. My husband bought a new car. Not a brand new car but a car that he had wanted to buy for quite some time. As he was excited he was now filled with the necessary energy, drive and enthusiasm to clear out the garage. The garage finally had a purpose and he now began to see it the way he wanted it to be, not the way it was. As he now had a purpose he found that he had motivation. Before long the garage was cleared. Stuff had been disposed of that really was of no further use and other better items had been given to charity to sell. We both felt better and it made us realise that despite pretending to ourselves that we were not bothered about the mess in the garage we actually had been. Knowing it was there and that we still had to deal with it had actually sapped our energy. Despite working very hard to achieve the new clean space, we found that instead of being exhausted as we had thought we would be, we had in fact more energy. The sense of achievement we both felt has spilled over in to other neglected areas. I am now tackling my wardrobe, which appears to be full of clothes I seldom or never wear. I can envisage a nice clear space where I can hang my things easily and actually see what I have available that I like. I am getting rid of stuff that has seen better days and have decided to sell the items that are good but that I simply never wear. Any money raised is going in to the Christmas fund. In my new energised state it is hard for me to understand why I have left it so long to tackle but truthfully I do not think I truly noticed it until now. I suspect that by clearing out the clutter in the garage my awareness of other areas of clutter has been raised. I think life is like that. If we find a reason to change something, tap in to a purpose that gives us direction, we can then see much more clearly all of the areas in our lives that need our attention.  Having a purpose provides us with the energy that we need as well as, the strength and desire to make any changes necessary to bring happiness and contentment in to our lives. Despite being glaringly simple really and very obvious it is all too often forgotten by us as we lead our busy lives. I was grateful to be reminded in such a pleasant way.

Learning how to react positively to stress.

 

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In life our reactions to everything can be improved upon the more we learn about ourselves and our ability to handle situations. Nothing is worth making yourself ill over and without putting in to place some sort of structure and strategy to deal with stressful situations people can and do get ill by allowing daily issues to overwhelm and control them

Every day in life we all can be faced by situations that could be considered stressful. Partly what enables us to be happy and relatively stress free is learning how best to distinguish what really is a priority and therefore needs to be dealt with and what can be left until we have more time or energy to deal with it. By consciously making decisions to prioritize the importance level of daily events we can in fact learn to control our stress levels. If we believe everything has the same high importance and must be dealt with immediately then we are creating a very high stress level situation for ourselves to have to cope with. That inability to distinguish between important and not so important can easily cause us to go in to overwhelm and then nothing really gets done. Things start to pile up and before we know it we feel close to a complete meltdown as the pressure to act builds.

So how to decide what needs to be dealt with first? I usually make my decisions based upon the likely impact that taking no immediate action would have and whether I feel comfortable enough delegating it or leaving it until later? I make daily lists up and number in the order in which I consider I need to get things done. Where possible I will delegate tasks that do not necessarily need my particular attention alone to others who may be free to help. It is also important to take time during the day to try to have at least five minutes peace. To be able to sit, have a drink to rehydrate, eat something, take a good few deep relaxing breaths and then start again. I have found that having short breaks actually helps me to be more efficient and effective in dealing with any issues that have need of my attention. A short break often allows me to get a different perspective on a problem and enables me to tackle any issues with renewed vigor. If I don’t fully understand something or I need a different opinion I ask someone I trust for their views  as that can often help me to clarify my own thoughts.

Despite all our best efforts at the end of the day there are sometimes some things which are not fully resolved, some things which need more time and effort to sort out and we just have to learn to be able to accept that too. Fretting and fussing about those types of issues will not alter how quickly they can be effectively dealt with. Some things just need time and patience and it is important to learn how to recognize when you have done as much as you can and then to decide to stop worrying and, just wait and see what if anything is required next.

All of these techniques take conscious effort and practice but the end results are well worth it. As Hans Selye rightly says “It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it”.

Feeling sorry for myself ?

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Self-Pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller became blind and deaf at the age of two and yet she still was able to go on to become an author, political activist, lecturer and was the first blind person to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree. She could have allowed her disabilities to restrict her life but she chose not to and decided instead to push herself to lead as full a life as possible. We need to recognize as she did, that the key to living life fully is not being able to avoid negative life experiences; we can’t really do that no matter how safe we try to stay, but to choose no matter what life flings at us to embrace it as fully as we possibly can.

Too often when the going gets a bit tough and even sometimes just when feeling simply frustrated we can indulge ourselves by allowing our minds to become filled with self-pity. The trouble with this is that these destructive and weakening thoughts can then creep up and take over and completely affect negatively how we see the world. When we spend too much time feeling sorry for ourselves we forget to be grateful for all the things we have around us to be grateful for. We simply cease to be able to see the positives and focus only on the negatives. The shocking thing about this is that the trigger can just as easily be something trivial and yet we allow it to become a big deal and to grow out of proportion in to something we then falsely feel incapable of handling.

So what am I talking about? Surely it is normal to feel a little down at times, everyone can and does indulge a bit in this type of self-pity and occasionally, if it is brief, it can be a good catalyst to help us move on and to shake ourselves down as they say and start all over again. The problems arise when people get stuck in the habit of feeling sorry for themselves and then forget to move on or chose not to. For example relationships can and do break up and obviously that is painful ,but whilst sitting feeling sorry for yourself may feel quite good for a short while and is normal, if allowed the feeling of unhappiness can grow out of all proportion until it becomes all-consuming and can make you feel completely vulnerable, weak, unloved and bitter. When negative thoughts are allowed to grow out of proportion like this you are in fact digging a deep hole which is hard to then get out of. It is not impossible to get out of but it does make it much more of an effort to do. It is far easier to not allow it to take over than to rectify it when it has, so always, no matter what your life circumstances are or how down you feel, practice finding the positives in your life. Concentrate for a while on what you are grateful for. If you are breathing you should be grateful so no one should say ever that they are not grateful for something. If you have life you have the ability to change it. Perhaps not immediately but a day at a time is all any of us can really take. We need to choose to be responsible for our own happiness and to make decisions to change the things that pull us down. If we can’t change what has happened we can change how we look at it and how quickly we enable ourselves to move on. To live life we can choose to capitalise on our strengths or focus on our weaknesses. It is our life and our choice but only one will bring happiness. What would you choose?

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.