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

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.

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.

New Shoes

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I have dogs and live in the country. As a consequence, unless going out somewhere I usually spend my time running around wearing shirts, jeans and trainers. These are all clothes which are suitable and practical to brush off the dog hair and stay reasonably tidy and on my feet when walking and living with them. Recently I tripped and noticed that the sole of my favourite trainers were coming off a little at the toe and I decided to go and buy some new ones. The choice was amazing and so large that it was initially a little bit overwhelming. To help me decide I made a list of what I required from a trainer, firstly I eliminated running shoes. Although I run it is never intentional, always based on pure necessity, usually after one on the dogs and always just a short sprint. Next I eliminated negative heel and ones designed to help me tone up. I need desperately to tone up but trying to balance whilst walking the dogs seemed a little too much like extreme sports for me. Working my way down my list of what I wanted in training shoes I was finally able to focus my attention on an all-round, comfort, walking trainer. Next choice was colour and then design. Finally I had selected my perfect shoe. When they arrived I eagerly put them on and felt silly for feeling so excited. The trainer was indeed comfortable, really nice but every time I looked down at my feet I was very aware of them being there and being brand new .I felt certain that everyone must know they were new as they  were beginning to feel, to me, like I was wearing clown feet. They were bright and cheerful and obvious, I went back to wearing my old trainers .Then tripped again and thought how daft I was being as I had spent money on carefully selected new ones .I decided that I simply had to just bite the bullet and wear them. For the first week I was really conscious of them poking out from underneath my jeans and found myself glancing longingly at my old ones sitting in the hall cupboard every time I opened the cupboard door. I persevered and before long I had was not even aware that I had completely forgotten I was wearing new trainers. Last week I was clearing out the hall cupboard and found my old trainers. They looked really tatty, scruffy and worn. ? Why on earth did I wear these for so long I thought? Then I realised we do that a lot in life with a lot of things and sometimes even with people. We hold on to them because they are familiar and were once comfortable. Even when they start giving us problems we cling on hoping somehow that the problems will just disappear and things will go back to normal. Most of us do not like change and it takes us time to adjust and accept new things, new people. The comforting thing is that if we allow ourselves time to adjust to new circumstances, before long they become familiar to us also and eventually comfortable too. All we really need to do is accept and recognise the need to make a positive change. It doesn’t really matter whether it is a big personal change or silly and small like my trainers the principal for each is the same. Once we have recognised that something is no longer helping us or working for us and decide to start afresh all we need to do is take it a day at a time, each day reminding ourselves what it is that we now want, persevere with the new and much more quickly than you could imagine the change is familiar and no longer new. It becomes comfortable and life will be easier once again.

A time to Change

 

 

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“Change isn’t easy…. changing the way you live means changing what you believe about life. That’s hard…When we make our own misery, we sometimes cling to it even when we want so bad to change because the misery is something we know. The misery is comfortable.”

Dean Koontz

It is unfortunately very true that sometimes we cling to the familiar far longer than we should even when it is causing us pain to do so. We can hang on to failing relationships, bad habits and destructive attitudes because of fear and that very fear  can deplete us of the energy we require to change things around .Creating a sort of double edged sword for us to hurt ourselves with. Often what then happens is that we need to hit what we feel is rock bottom before we decide that enough is enough and find the necessary incentive and energy required to let go  of that old negative behaviour and belief system which has been pulling us down. It doesn’t need to be that way though. We can choose at any time to say “enough” and take positive action to let go of our self-destructive behaviour and relationships.

It is a bit like wearing old comfortable clothes that we know are well past their best. Sometimes in order to make ourselves wear the new clothes and “break them in “we need to dump the old ones in the bin. If we keep them, even in the back of the cupboard, we will occasionally take them out and put them back on. Likewise when we decide that we are going to adopt a more constructive and positive approach to dealing with our lives we must make sure that we discard completely our old bad habits in order to create new better ones. That means that we change our habits by changing our attitude. This has to be done consciously at first and daily we must remind ourselves of why we want and need to change.

To assist us maintain daily changes we can use post it notes around the place to have visual reminders and in addition to those, using positive daily affirmations can also  be very helpful. To begin with it will feel strange but if we focus on the positive things that we wish to bring in to our lives it will make it easier for us to change. Persistence and perseverance are the keys to building a  new and more positive,constructive attitude to living life to the full. If you are consistent in your desire to bring about a new you  and continue with your new positive daily habits ,it won’t take long before you will feel as comfortable with the “new “you as you did with the old.

Dealing with Stress

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Yesterday I watched a very interesting video on stress and how it was not in fact a negative thing if you didn’t view it as such .Seems a strange thing to say as for many years we have been told that stress is a killer. We need to de stress our lives. Take up yoga, Thai chi meditate anything in fact to reduce our stress and let us live longer. This interesting video turns all that around and reports a recent study which has shown that people who believe stress is a killer are more likely to die from it than those who just see it as part of life and deal with it.

I am an Neuro Linguistic Practitioner and from an NLP point of view that is what we were taught, it makes perfect sense. Your brain and what you believe decides how well or how badly you will respond to any situation and how much you will learn positively and get out of life .The decision is yours to make. So in the case of stress it would seem if you believe it can kill you it will. We have a lot to learn from this study as it impacts all areas of our lives and can have a huge positive effect on us all if we learn how to improve our way of thinking by watching it.

My husband ,who is a Doctor doesn’t like to tell his patients how well or how badly he thinks they will do with certain treatment ,as he believes that will interfere with how well they can potentially do if they are not limited by limiting /negative beliefs. So for example if someone has had a stroke and lost the use of his arm and the scan shows it might never work again rather than say that to his patient my husband would say “some people do not recover the use of their arm after a stroke such as this but others manage to get movement let’s see how well you will do”. He has found that people can surprise you as long as you do not set them a limit. I find the same with clients. Take back control of your life  acknowledge that although there are problems there are also lots of ways of getting round, over and through them as long as you are determined to find a way. Sometimes we pay too much attention to the limits other people set for us not recognising that these my well be their limits but that does not make them ours, unless of course we choose to believe that they are.

Sometimes people will deliberately try and limit us for various reasons, jealousy, fear of losing us, not wanting to admit they need to try harder themselves. The list can go on and on but the important thing to remember is to make your own decisions and choices as you are the one going to have to live with the consequences as well as the benefits. So it is as well to make sure you give your all and have no regrets. As Audrey Hepburn is quoted as saying “Nothing is impossible the very word says I’m possible”.

If you are interested in watching the video I am talking about here is the link.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-whole-new-way-to-think-about-stress-that-changes-everything-weve-been-taught-2?g=5

There is also a very good book about the mind and the body written by Dr David Hamilton called” it’s the thought that counts.” Below is a link to Amazon uk where you can read a bit more about it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-The-Thought-That-Counts/dp/1401916295/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391976043&sr=8-1&keywords=its+the+thought+that+counts

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.