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Setting intentions with kindness

December 22, 2018

Setting intentions with kindness (instead of a stick to beat yourself with)

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about setting intentions. They were areas I wanted to achieve, not actual resolutions per se, but a kinder, intentional approach that I would use as a focus and not beat myself up about.

Reader, I lied. I did everything I said I wouldn’t.

I’ve been writing my resolutions/intentions for years now. They’ve spanned my life from a binge-drinking, hot mess to a calmer mother of one. The approach has always been similar: some were things I wanted to achieve such as places to travel and others to try and implement some self-control. I genuinely had a resolution at one stage saying ‘only drink one bottle of wine on nights out – two on special occasions’. Bridget Jones was an amateur in comparison to me…

Yet I also can see a trend. When I wrote down a desire to travel to interesting places, then it happened or if it didn’t, there was a good reason why. But, when it was self-criticism wrapped up in the form of self-improvement, then those resolutions rolled over into yet another year of self-loathing.

Changing language into one of kindness

If I look back on my intentions from last year, then I haven’t really achieved any of them and that makes me feel bad about myself. However, if I reflect on the year, then I’ve made some good things happen. My relationship with my son just gets better, my job has changed to one that suits me personally and I have travelled to some amazing places. Yes, I could have done more yoga, eaten more salads and blogged more regularly but in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?

So, this year, I’m changing the language. I’m setting intentions with kindness.

My intentions for the year ahead

  • I plan to nourish my body – this might be with good food, yoga, running and sleep.
  • I want to deepen my spiritual practice. I might do that through mindfulness, yoga, or taking a walk in my local park and simply enjoying nature.
  • I want to create more content – and enjoy the process. I’m enjoying learning new creative tactics through work and I love feeling my brain is expanding.
  • And most of all, I want to focus on enjoying the everyday. A little kiss from my son. My morning commute saying hello to my fellow early birds. Seeing the love my child has for my mother. A cup of coffee from my husband. Recognising and feeling gratitude for the tiny moments because they are what makes a life.
wellbeing

September: the start of a new year?

September 13, 2018

There is something about September which feels like the start of a new year. I start re-evaluating what I want from life and feel more energetic and purposeful. I’ve always attributed this to the fact that the new school year starts in September in the UK. The last days of summer were spent buying new school shoes and pencil cases preparing for the year ahead. We had new teachers, different classes and the six-week holidays was enough time for collective memories to forget what had happened the year before.

I left school more than twenty years ago but yet I still feel in a cycle of using the summer to unwind before refocusing in September. This makes sense when you consider how our brains create neural pathways based on our previous thoughts and behaviours. Unless we do something to actively shift these thought processes, then they stay and good habits are a good thing.

Why a reset can be a positive thing

Now, I know lots of people hate the January new year because there’s too much of a focus on perfection over just getting on with life. However, I personally find it really useful to regroup, look at where I want to go in life and refocus accordingly. Now, I’m not one of those people that has a five year plan, or even a year’s plan tbh. I rarely know what I’m doing from one week to the next. But if I don’t check in with myself, then I have a tendency to drift along feeling like things aren’t quite right but not taking any action to change them. This is why a September reset really works for me.

How to harness the September new year feeling

  1. Use Pinterest or magazines to create a vision board – look for what visually excites you and resonates with you
  2. Think about your short term aims. What would you like to achieve?
  3. Be positive. This isn’t designed to be a stick to beat yourself with.
  4. Write down your intentions.
  5. Create a realistic action plan.
  6. Enjoy it.
mind

Working with the lunar cycle

July 11, 2018
working with the lunar cycle

The moon is responsible for lighting at the night’s sky, as well as the earth’s water. The moon’s gravitational force pulls on water in the oceans and creates tides. Spiritually, the moon looks after our emotions: controlling our desires, worries and dreams.  It’s said that as our bodies are made up of 85% water, the gravitational pull of the moon and the lunar cycle affects us too. The moon goes through several phases as it passes from new into full. Regardless of personal beliefs, working with the lunar cycle and the patterns of the mon offers the chance to focus on intention setting, working towards goals and letting go of what no longer serves you.

A simple guide to working with the lunar cycle

The moon goes through four major stages during the lunar cycle. Each one offers an opportunity for reflection. To harness the moon, use a lunar calendar to identify when each moon falls in the month. This will vary slightly by geographical location.

New moon

The new moon is the start of the lunar cycle. This is when there is no visible moon and the sky seems dark. Think of the new moon as a time of new beginnings, fresh starts and a blank page to work from. It’s a time to reset, refocus and to think about what you would like to see in your life.

Use the new moon to:

  • set intentions (situations and ideas you would like to happen)
  • visualise how you would like to see the future
  • create a vision board either using a pinboard and cut out images or Pinterest

Waxing moon

The waxing moon looks like a crescent. It’s time to take initiative with your intentions and turn those ideas into plans.

Use the waxing moon to:

  • network
  • look for synchronicity
  • work with others towards your vision

Full moon

The full moon is when the moon shines brightest. It’s a time when we celebrate what we’ve achieved and release what no longer works or is holding us back. Emotions run high during a full moon so it’s important to go slower with decision making.

Use the full moon to:

  • celebrate what you have achieved
  • recognise patterns or elements of life that no longer serve you and release them

Waning moon

The waning moon is again a crescent moon. This is a time for contemplation and reflection.

Use the waning moon to:

  • create space for the new
  • gratitude for all you have
  • rest and recuperate ready for the next stage
mind

How to form good habits

June 23, 2018
how to form good habits

I’m the patron saint of good intentions. I have lots of ideas and plans, which tend to fall by the wayside. The reason: I haven’t got into good habits.

It’s easy to stick to bad habits and harder to take on new behaviours. Our brain has learnt patterns and likes to stick with what it knows.

The good news is, there is a process to all this. We can form new habits.

How do we form habits?

A habit is a type of behaviour we do on autopilot without needing to think. They are  created through repeat behaviours until they become second nature.

Habit breaking is hard, purely because we’re not always aware of them.

To create a new habit instead of the old one, we need to repeat the same behaviour over and over again. We need to be consistent and create a setting to act as a behaviour cue. Once the behaviour pattern becomes ingrained in our brain, it will eventually become a habit.

However, it takes time.

The perceived wisdom was that it took 21 days to form a new habit. The reality is more than three times that amount. Researchers looked at how long it took people to reach a limit of operating on autopilot when for performing an initially new behaviour. They found it takes an average of 66 days. Although, in the grand scheme of things this isn’t much compared with changing habits of a lifetime.

How to get started with forming new habits

  1. Set an intention – decide what habit you would like to break and replace it with. Or what new habit you would like to form. Create a clear vision in your mind and decide how you will know when you’ve achieved it.
  2. Make a commitment – write it down, tell other people and do any preparations you need to in advance.
  3. Start off small – learn how to form habits and then move on to bigger commitments.
  4. Create a context – train your brain into behaving a certain way by designing a scenario around it. Stick to it.
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  6. Celebrate small successes – congratulate yourself on creating new habits. It’s a great achievement and your brain will start to recognise the reward.
mind

Let go of limiting beliefs

March 31, 2018

Letting limiting beliefs take over

After my Dad died, it hit me how life was short and I shouldn’t let anything stop me from living my dreams. My Dad had retired at 55 and spent the next 12 years of his life working as a walking guide across Europe. He took a chance (admittedly one with a final salary pension) and lived the rest of his days doing something he loved. 18 months have now passed and with the initial rawness of grief subsiding, I can tell my feelings of carpe diem are subsiding too. I’m slipping back into old habits of admiring people who are making exciting life changes, whilst telling myself inwardly, I could never do something like that and letting my limiting beliefs take over.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are essentially negative beliefs we have about ourselves, which holds us back in some way. Our limiting beliefs can hold us back from seeing opportunities or changing from our present circumstances. I actually only heard the phrase ‘limiting beliefs’ a few years ago and it made me realise how many times I’d held myself back because I’d decided I wasn’t good enough. I recognised there were situations I’d self-sabotaged or left unchanged all due to this narrative in my head.

One of the frustrating things about these types of beliefs is that most of the time they’re just not true. They tend to be built from events in the past, which we then use to dictate our decision-making. Our ego likes to be right and limiting beliefs in a sense protect us from stepping out and doing something new. How often have we heard our friends use self-depreciating language and think, that is so far from reality? We’re just not so good at saying it about ourselves.

Let go of limiting beliefs

I’ve read up a lot on limiting beliefs with the aim of finding a magic wand to eliminate them. There are a lot of different approaches from therapy to understand where the beliefs started, reminding yourself of past successes and/or using affirmation cards to change neural pathways and get into better habits with thinking patterns.

What I’ve found to help is to become more aware of what those beliefs are and identify them in my thought processes. Every time I notice I’m telling myself, ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you don’t deserve this’, I try and recognise that it’s just a limiting belief – and not necessarily the truth. I find my actions change as a result.

I’m 43 years old so I’ve had a long time to build up limiting beliefs. I don’t think they will change overnight. However, becoming more aware of their existence is enabling me to consciously change old patterns. And that feels like a real step in the right direction.

mind

31 January 2018 and the super blood blue moon

January 29, 2018
Super blood blue moon

What is a super blood blue moon?

On 31 January, there will be a lunar eclipse, which is the second one of the month.

This one is going to be particularly special because not only will there be an eclipse, there will also be a super moon (which happens when the full moon is closest to the earth), a blue moon (because it’s the second full moon of the month, which doesn’t happen often) and a blood moon (because when the moon passes behind the earth, it looks a reddish colour).

A super blood blue moon is quite rare and so is particularly significant.

What does the super blood blue moon mean for me?

Eclipses often bring turning points in our lives. They illuminate areas we may need to concentrate on and can bring about huge changes and transformations in our life.

They are often linked together and form part of a journey. This super blood blue moon eclipse links back to 2017 and the eclipses in February and August.

It’s worth trying to reflect on our feelings and emotions during 22 August 2017 because whatever happened then, is now going to be worked out and put behind us.

This super blood moon offers healing and the start of a new sixth-month chapter. To this, we need to let go of any negative thoughts and emotions. We need to forgive ourselves and any others so we can move forward and manifest the life we want.

Use 31 January to:

  • let go of negative thoughts about yourself and others
  • write down what you want to happen over the next six months
  • trust, whatever happens, is going to be the best thing for you

Or you might like to try this releasing ritual from Forever Conscious

wellbeing

Setting intentions (and not making resolutions)

January 1, 2018
setting intentions

Why I’m setting intentions

For years I made resolutions based on becoming the type of person I thought would make me happy: lose weight, save money, drink less etc. They never worked, mainly because they were centred around giving something up. It just became another way to make me feel like I was failing as a person. I’d tell myself how I don’t have enough willpower or self-control to see something through. It became a yearly tick list of things I hadn’t done.

I’m pretty sure most people hate resolutions for same reasons as I do. And this is why I’m done with making myself feel shit – and am setting intentions instead.

Using the new year for self-reflection

I totally get why some people want to do away with resolutions altogether and just focus on having a nice time. However, for me, there is some benefit in using the turn of the new year for some self-reflection. I like to think about what I want to get out of the forthcoming year. It’s just one where I’m not beating myself up if it doesn’t happen.

What are intentions?

The word intention is used a lot. But what does it actually mean? How do we set intentions? The most basic explanation is that it’s a desire to do something or become a certain state. So you might set an intention to feel happier or more in control of a situation. You might also decide to include travelling to a new country, learning a new skill and/or defining career goals. Whatever you decide, they are essentially a much kinder way of setting out what you aspire to achieve.

Benefits of setting intentions

Personally, I believe it’s important to check in on ourselves regularly to see how we’re really feeling and refocus our priorities accordingly. Otherwise, it’s quite easy to drift through life with that small feeling of dissatisfaction knowing that things aren’t quite right, but not really understanding why. This is one of the reasons why I use the lunar cycle.

However, we must do this with kindness. Life isn’t about ticking off a list of achievements but about learning what makes us happy and trying to live in the state as much as we can. This is where setting intentions helps us.

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