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Understanding your Human Design

December 16, 2020
human design

What is Human Design?

Human design is a system which helps you understand how you respond to the world – and the role you’re designed to play in it.

It brings together the principles of I Ching, astrology, kabbalah, the hindhu-brahmin chakra systems and quantum physics using the date, time and location of your birth to reveal your unique human design.

Still with me? Good. So, what Human Design really gives you is a practical guide to who you really are. It’s almost like being given a road map to yourself. 

Learning to understand your Human Design means you’ll start to become in alignment and live your life in the way that you’re designed to. It won’t make your life easier in a sense because we will all have struggles and challenges to deal with, however, it will help you understand how you should respond and make decisions enabling your life to flow.

We’re all born with our own unique design and the more we go through childhood, the more we lose the essence of our real self. Human Design brings us back to ourselves so we can start to live life as we’re meant to.

Making decisions based on our Human Design

I think we’ve probably all been in situations where we’ve felt we’ve pushed into a decision and it hasn’t been right. Or wanted something so badly, we’ve tried to force it to happen and felt like we’re swimming in treacle. What Human Design does is show how best to make decisions aligned with who we are – so we’re going for what’s right for us at the right time, rather than chasing what isn’t. 

Human Design is a really complex system that can give you guidance on pretty much every aspect of your life: relationships; careers; diet and what you’re here on earth to do. 

You can have your full Human Design read by an analyst. However, there are also some free tools you can access to give you some information about your design. These tools include your Human Design type and your strategy, which gives you an introduction to your energy, your aura and how best to use both.

Human Design types and strategies

Finding out your Human Design type helps us understand our energy and how we’re designed to move through the world. We all have different levels of energy and some of us can keep going and going – whilst other types are not designed to do this. Human Design helps us understand this and determine what works best for us.

There are four different types that each have their own Strategy. Your Strategy gives the information we need to make decisions most aligned with who we are.

So what are each of the Human Design types?

Generators

Generators represent about 75 percent of the population. They have a consistent energy source which means they can keep going when they’re doing work they’re aligned to. The flip side is, they can also get burnt out when doing work that they’re not.

Generators have a big powerful aura which affects the people around them. So when they’re doing work or living in a way that lights them up, then it lights up other people too. But the harder question really is, how do you identify what lights you up? Generators should try to listen to their gut (sacral centre) and make decisions from your instincts, trying not to overrule it with your mind. They’re here to master a skill and sometimes that means feeling fed up or stuck, however, mastering something does mean sticking at it. Generators should listen to their sacral response before making a decision as to stick or leave what they’re trying to learn.

Generator strategy

The strategy for a generator is to wait to respond. So rather than going out there hustling and trying to make things happen, generators should just wait and see what happens. Now, I’m a generator and this goes against everything I know. I feel like the only way things have ever happened for me is when I’ve worked for them. But, is that really true or is it just a story I’ve told myself? I’m learning to take a step back, set intentions and put ideas out there – whilst giving space for opportunities to come to me, rather than trying to force them to happen.

Manifesting generator

The design of a manifesting generator isn’t dissimilar to that of a generator. They have the energy to keep going when they’re doing something that’s right for them. Again, their work lights them up and they have the ability to keep going. They move faster than other people and can juggle lots of plates at once but they have to be careful not to overcommit. They should use their sacral response to guide them to the right decision.

Manifesting generator strategy

The strategy for a manifesting generator is slightly different though. Like a generator, they should wait to respond but they should also think about who else might be impacted before taking action and then inform them. This isn’t about asking for permission – it’s just simply letting other people know what you’re going to do because this will lead the way to less resistance.

We’ve all been taught that we should choose one thing and stick with it. This is different for manifesting generators who are designed to try lots of things and let go of the ones that don’t work. They just need to inform people when they do.

Manifestors

Manifestors are here to initiate. They’re the ones who get the ball rolling. They don’t need to necessarily finish what they started – other human design types are here to help with that. Their role is to act as a creative force and get things going. Don’t feel bad if you start something and don’t finish it – this right for you. You’re designed to initiate and then move on.

Manifestors can have a powerful aura which sometimes causes people to react. This isn’t your fault or something you should feel the need to control – just be aware of it so you learn not to take it personally. Manifestors actually don’t require external input or inspiration – it all comes from within. This means you need to maintain a constant connection to your internal voice and find peace within.

Manifestor strategy

The manifestor strategy is to inform others before taking action. Just like the manifestor generators above, this isn’t about permission, it’s just letting people know what you plan to do. It’s about creating less resistance so you can move forward with ease. You may also find your relationships become easier too.

Projectors

Projectors have a focused and penetrating aura which gives them the ability to see deeply into others. They need to be thoughtful about how they use their energy. Society has told us that we need to be always go-go-go. However, this isn’t always the best way to be for a projector and can lead to burn out. Projectors work in bursts of energy, which allows them to get a lot done in a short space of time. However, they need to also take some time to recuperate. 

Projectors are at their best when steering and shaping the ideas and energies of other people. They’re good at seeing the big picture and are able to recognise talents and gifts in other people bringing them together. 

Projector strategy

Their Strategy is to wait to be invited to share their wisdom. They should wait for big life decisions such as relationships, career/work and where to live until they get an invitation. This is so there’s the right energetic exchange. Don’t worry about not getting an invitation, the Projector’s aura is so powerful, it drives the right people to you – and once you’re in, then you can start manifesting and intitating and driving things forward.

Reflectors

Reflectors represent about 1 percent of the population. They process and experience energy very differently from the other Human Design types. Reflectors are here to be wise observers by sampling, magnifying and reflecting people’s auras back at them. They’re really gifted at being able to detect when something is out of line or unusual. In an ideal world, each community would have a reflector who can act as a barometer for the health of the collective.

Reflectors are able to read other people’s auras and understand who they truly are. This makes them extremely empathetic. However, their own aura is actually quite resilient. It’s important though that they have the right environment and community to call home. They need the right people about them who will listen and support their decision making. 

Reflector strategy

For reflectors, their strategy is to connect to lunar energy. So this means waiting 28 days before making any major decisions and use this time to discuss your options with trusted friends. A good peer group is really important for reflectors so they can discuss decisions and use them to reflect ideas. 

Where can you find out more?

You can get a simple and free Human Design birth chart from:

https://www.ihdschool.com/get-your-chart

https://freehumandesignchart.com/

You can also ask me any questions.

soul

How to find your purpose (and make your soul sing)

August 20, 2019
How to find your purpose (and make your soul sing)

Feeling lost and drifting 

Three years ago (not quite to the day) I went on maternity leave for a year. This was the longest time I’d ever been away from work and I felt it would be a good time to think about what I really wanted from life. I gave myself two objectives: one (and obviously the most critical) to nurture my son; and secondly to use the time to find my purpose.

I had been feeling like I was drifting for quite a while and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I had low level dissatisfaction with work: it wasn’t amazing, but I wasn’t crying in the toilets either. I felt like I had changed and my job wasn’t quite the right fit for me anymore. I needed to understand what it was that would make me happy.

This is why I wanted to go on this voyage of self-discovery and really try to understand what makes my soul sing.

Now, spoiler alert, I didn’t find my purpose during maternity leave. A) I had a newborn to look after so didn’t have the time and B) l never had a lightbulb moment where suddenly everything fell into place.

I’m saying this to illustrate that finding your purpose is a journey and may not happen overnight. It’s a process of exploration.

Here’s what I learnt along the way.

The world isn’t your oyster

For a self-help/self-development/wellbeing blog, it might seem discouraging to say the world isn’t your oyster. Surely that’s going against the grain of everything I say?

Well yes and no. I believe if you really want to do something, then you should throw everything at it. Life’s too short for coulda, woulda, shoulda.

However, if you’re floundering around like a fish washed up on the shore waiting for the tide to sweep you back into the sea, then sometimes you need to be able to focus on what you need in that moment in time. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with too many choices, which leads to indecision.

So focus on your needs, then your wants. Be pragmatic. 

What I mean by that is in my situation, as much as I’d like to spend all my time with my son pottering around my local area, it’s never going to be a realistic option for me. I’m the breadwinner and financially, I have to work to support my family. Momma’s gotta make rent and all that. 

I also genuinely like work. I enjoy being around people from different backgrounds and learning from their experiences. I also have a reasonably creative job and it’s important to me that I can using my brain in that way.

So whatever I did had to support those needs (financial) and those wants (being creatively fulfilled). 

It’s important to recognise here that we quite often think finding our purpose means finding a job we really like (I realise my examples above reinforce that..). However, I personally feel it involves taking much more of a holistic look at our lives overall to understand what gives us meaning.

Sometimes, there are ways of getting what we want in other ways outside of employment. Plus, whilst work can give us external validation, it doesn’t always give us the inner fulfilment we need.

This is why it’s important to check in on yourself and reflect on what your needs are because they change throughout your life – and your purpose will do too. Our lives all develop and evolve.

What makes you tick? 5 probing questions to ask yourself

I often think I’d like to move to a small holding surrounded by goats and sheep; yet the reality is I’d find that life really hard. I don’t mind getting up early but truthfully a 4am start in winter isn’t my jam.

This is why it’s important to ask yourself what really makes you happy?

Take some quiet time to yourself and sit down with a pen and paper. Write down your feelings in response to the following 5 questions.

1. What comes easily to you?

2. What makes you feel energised when you’re doing it?

3. Where would you like to be in the future? Write down how you want to see your future self.

4. When did you feel the happiest in life? Write down all the occasions you felt true happiness.

5. What would you do if you stopped holding yourself back?

Now reflect on what you’ve written to see if there are any common threads or thoughts. Does anything spark your interest or make you want to explore it more?

Can you use what you’ve written to create a vision for your life? How about putting some goals to help you put this into action? Are there steps you can take first?

The best way is just to start 

Do you ever have an idea and then immediately think of several reasons why it wouldn’t work?

Well, stop that. Stop that right now. 

I only really started promoting this blog (by which I mean sharing links on Twitter) back in June. For ages, I felt stupid and embarrassed that someone I know might read it. 

I had other reasons for writing initially. I wanted to write about something I felt passionate about and use it as way to hold myself to account. But the more time I spent writing, the more ridiculous it seemed to not share it. Otherwise, I may as well just be writing a diary.

So I started to share links and take my blog a bit more seriously and funnily enough, the only thing that happened is more people now read what I write. No one has said: this is the worst thing I’ve ever read or judged me. And if they do, so what? It’s just their opinion.

It’s easy to let our fears of being judged stand in our way. We’ve already decided it’s a disaster and so don’t even start. Whilst this is our way of trying to protect ourselves, we also don’t let ourselves grow and look for new opportunities. 

Please remember it’s just an annoying voice in your head and not your reality so try not to let it hold you back.

It’s ok to change your mind

Sometimes I think we feel the idea is the destination and once we have that cracked, the rest will fall into place. This is why we end up feeling so indecisive at the beginning becuase we feel we have to get it exactly right.

However, our lives don’t stay still: they transform throughout our lives so we don’t need to have the answers right away. This is why I feel like it’s important to try different things to see what makes you happy and sets your soul on fire.

It’s funny how sometimes life has a way of gaining momentum once you start putting thoughts into action. It’s like a chain reaction takes place and opportunities start coming your way.

“Life’s what happens when you’re busy making other plans”

John Lennon

What if your real purpose is just to be you?

Imagine a world where you feel truly connected to what you need and that you can live your life based on your needs. Where you trust your instincts, follow your intuition and make decisions based on what feels right.

Your true purpose is to live your life without limiting beliefs and wondering about the what ifs. It’s about learning what’s right for you, not worrying about what other people are doing and putting thoughts into action (or recognising its ok to stay still). It’s about being happy with the decisions you make in this moment in time and recognising you can shift and change in the future. We’re ever evolving.

Your real purpose in life is just to be you.

mind

How to silence your inner critic

August 17, 2019
How to silence your inner critic

I’m far too busy judging myself to worry about judging you.

Quite often (and generally in a work context), I will be talking out loud and a voice will start in my head saying, ‘stop, you sound ridiculous, Just stop before you embarrass yourself any further’.

This voice tells me I look too fat in my clothes, that I’m ageing and wrinkled. It likes to analyse situations and tell me where I’m going wrong. This can be in the moment or after the event – it doesn’t discriminate. It points out my inadequacies and then really hones in on what I could have done better. It only focuses on the negatives, never the positives and really enjoys making me feel bad about myself.

This voice is my inner critic.

If things don’t go my way, my inner critic will tell me it’s because I’m stupid / useless / annoying / a bad person (delete as appropriate). And when things do work in my favour, my inner critic will still find a way to put me down. It’s the last kind of person you want on your team.

I’m sure all of us have an inner critic, particularly as it’s impossible to go through life without experiencing self-doubt at some point. However, if this situation does apply, then I need to meet you and discover what you’re doing differently to the rest of us..

The difference is for some of us, our inner critic can be debilatating and it can stop us from reaching our full potential.

This is why we need to learn how to silence it (or at least put it on mute).

Why the critical voice in our head stands in our way

Listening to our inner critic point out our every ‘failure’ fundamentally leads to low self-esteem and feelings of poor self-worth. It’s hard to feel confident when a little voice is telling you you’re not.

My inner critic tends to be at its most vocal when I’m feeling a bit down about myself anyway. This then becomes a vicious cycle because the lower our self-esteem, the more our inner critic attacks what confidence we have left.

Our inner critic helps us build up patterns of limiting beliefs. This is where we tell ourselves we’re not good enough or a course of action wouldn’t be right for us. Our limiting beliefs are defensive mechanisms where we try and stop ourselves from getting hurt or looking foolish. But ultimately, they stand in our way and don’t let us take new opportunities or progress.

The important thing to remember though is that your inner critic isn’t real. It’s just a stupid voice in your head.

How to silence your inner critic

The best short term way of getting rid of your inner critic is to become aware of it. Remind yourself it doesn’t mean anything. Recognise it’s unhelpful and try to dismiss it as just that.

Longer term, mindfulness and learning how to calm your mind will help to silence your inner critic. It helps us to observe our thoughts and let them go whilst recognising they’re not our reality.

Gratitude also helps me. It makes me feel more positive about myself, in control of my own life and can recognise the good things that are going on (rather than just the bad).

The better I feel, the more able I am to tell my inner critic to pipe down.

wellbeing

What is resilience (and why do you need it)?

July 28, 2019
What is resilience (and why do you need it)?

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to be able to cope with or navigate your way through difficulties and crisis.

It essentially means you’re able to either bounce after a crisis or adapt to new circumstances.

Resilient people are able to understand what their body and mental state need and put in processes or modify their behaviour accordingly.

Why is resilience so important?

It’s a fact of life that we’ll all experience setbacks and challenges in life.

Whilst it’s true, some people will have more difficulties due to their circumstances of birth; it’s impossible to go through life without some form of hardship.

The loss of loved ones, relationship struggles, ill health and financial issues are all common themes we’ll probably all experience at some point.

Being resilient doesn’t make us impervious to stress or hurt. It just means we’re more able to cope, in spite of challenges that may be thrown our way.

It’s a sign of emotional strength.

Can you become more resilient?

The good news is resilience is something you can build.

Ironically, the more difficulties you have, the more you can develop your abilities to be resilient. You start to understand your emotional needs and put coping strategies in place.

I come from baby boomer parents and one trait I sometimes see in that generation is their emotional intelligence isn’t hugely strong. They were born in post-war years to people who had lived through horrific events and as a result a lot went unsaid.

If I had an emotional problem, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. No one would have tried to help me or come to my rescue. They just didn’t understand.

I sometimes felt a bit envious of people whose parents would drop everything to give them emotional support and take care of them.

But now I look back, I realise that it made me very self-sufficient. On the flip side though, I struggle to ask for help when I need it and find it hard to show vulnerability.

I also feel my experience is quite common in people of my age and I see similar traits in my peers.

I think it’s only in recent years we’re starting to develop the language to talk about our emotions and understand our feelings.

Although the term ‘self-care’ is sometimes mocked, essentially it is the act of understanding our needs and putting that support in place. Even when it does mean opening up and asking for help.

7 ways to build resilience

So how can you build resilience to help you through difficult times?

  1. Remember that a crisis is not forever even though it may feel like it at the time. Life ebbs and flows and we have hard times as well as good.
  2. Change is part of life. There are 2 types of change: change that happens to us; and change we create for ourselves. Change that happens to us is harder to navigate because it can make us feel that we’re not in control of our own lives. Accept there are sometimes events and issues completely out of our control and consider what you are able to change yourself.
  3. Look for opportunities for self-development. Difficult times help us grow and can make us more empathetic. It’s worth reflecting on challenging situations once you have some distance and thinking about what we learnt or how the experience may have changed us.
  4. Understand that this is part of human experience – not just about you. I had my fair share of shitty times growing up and it knocked my self-esteem and made me feel powerless. I now realise I wasn’t singled out by the universe for some special negative attention; it’s just one part of my history and not my whole life.
  5. Try to keep things in perspective where you can and remember everything is relative. However, I do also think it’s important to feel your feelings and just because one person sailed through a similar situation doesn’t mean you should to. Our ability to cope with challenges is dependent on how we’re feeling at that moment and what else is going on in life. It is worth though trying to remind yourself that this won’t be forever.
  6. Be positive (where you can). Again, I’m not suggesting there’s always something to feel positive about – sometimes there really isn’t. Try to remember things will get better.
  7. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Yes, I know it’s an inspirational quote cliche – however, hear me out… Let’s be honest, so many of our problems can generally be put down to the actions and behaviours of other people. Try not to let them grind you down and remember you, my friend deserve better than this.
mind

How to practice gratitude

May 6, 2019
how to practice gratitude

Gratitude practice changed my life

I’ve previously about how gratitude practice changed my life. It turned me from perpetually being a ‘grey sky thinker’ to seeing the positives in life.

I had gone through life feeling like the odds were stacked against me. 

Good fortune and luck were things that happened to other people. I was great at seeing the negatives in any situation which helped back up my theory (let’s face it, none of us like to be wrong…). My train was 2 minutes late: this always happen to me. Didn’t get the call for a job interview: that’s just typical. 

In pretty much any situation, I found it easy to dissect what was wrong about it, I just struggled with thinking what was right.

I first learnt about gratitude after reading the Secret and falling down a Rhonda Byrne / self-help book rabbit hole. I decided to give it a whirl for a few weeks and here I am 7 years later with my cup still half full.

For me, the greatest change has been to stop sweating the small stuff and to notice the positives more. I feel happy when I’m running late and my train is equally late too. I look for opportunities in situations, rather than being a naysayer and I’m much more in control of my feelings instead of being led by them. 

However, the main benefit is, I feel much happier overall.

Now, that’s not to say I find positives in every situation. When my Dad died very suddenly, I can’t say I found anything to feel particularly grateful about. I could barely function. However, a few years on, I can see the experience has changed me for the better. I have a deeper level of empathy and understanding towards other people, which just didn’t exist before. Obviously, I wish my Dad dying had never happened – but I guess as it did, I’m grateful I learnt something along the way.

What is a gratitude practice?

Gratitude practice involves regularly paying attention to the good around us, such as being around nature, meeting friends and time spent with family. 

It’s looking out for those small moments and feeling grateful for them. The cheery smile from a stranger or enjoying a really nice meal. 

Happiness is a feeling we can cultivate. So the more regularly we practice feeling grateful, the more aware we become of the good around us and the happier we feel.

Most of us take our lives for granted (a roof over our head, regular access to food, good health) and we forget to recognise it. Gratitude helps us remember this and all the other positives in life.

The science behind gratitude

There is a lot of science behind practising gratitude and the benefits it brings to both our physical and mental wellbeing. Researchers have found it helps with sleep, moods and overall physical health. 

There is also evidence that it retrains our neural pathways in the brain. Our neural pathways carry messages to and from the brain and are created by learnt behaviour so most of the time we don’t know we’re doing it. They’re not just physical responses, but emotional and behavioural too. 

Think about when you cross the road. In my case, I’m generally listening to music or a podcast and am pretty much in a world of my own. However, I still know to press the button and wait for the green man before I cross. I’m not diving into the road because I’ve done this task so many times my brain knows what to do.

Ever felt anxious when you know you’re going to have to navigate a tricky conversation? That’s because your brain knows this might result in conflict and so has sent that message to the brain and your emotions are heightened.

In the same way, if you’re always noticing negative events and situations, then your brain starts will send messages as soon as these things take place so you’re more aware of them. 

By focusing on feeling grateful when good things happen, then your neural pathways will send happier messages and you’ll be more aware of the positives in life instead. 

4 ways to practice gratitude

Here are 4 ways, I practice gratitude.

1. I follow a process I learnt by reading ‘the Magic’ and keep a gratitude journal where I write out 10 things I feel grateful for and the reasons why. I then read it back and say ‘thank you’ 3 times.

2. I use an App called Gratitude Plus. This sets a daily reminder, which prompts me to fill it in. This is great for being on the go and I use it on my commute.

3. I try to pause throughout the day and feel grateful for small moments. 

4. I reflect on the day before I go to sleep and pick out things that happened which I feel grateful for. It takes seconds and is a really nice way to end the day.

Please note, I’ve included links to Amazon for books that I’ve read. I’m not not suggesting you use this store over another – it’s just to be helpful. 

wellbeing

How to stop being a victim and take responsibility for your own life

April 22, 2019
Stop being a victim and take responsibility for your own life

Stop being a victim

Confession time: I was the world’s biggest victim. I felt everything was stacked against me.

The reason why my relationships failed? That was down to my turbulent childhood and not having good role models. Why I never got promoted at work? That was because no one appreciated my efforts. If someone spoke down to me, well, that was because there was something about me that made them think it was ok. I didn’t come from money and had no safety net to fall back on so I couldn’t follow my dreams.

I felt life wasn’t fair.

Life isn’t fair

The truth is, life isn’t fair. Some people are born into exceptionally difficult circumstances. Sadly, the situation of our early years wrongly has a massive impact on our life chances. Our health: mental and physical can also be a lottery and completely outside of our control.

I’m not saying this to try and illustrate life can be much harder for other people so just suck it up. If someone had said this to me, I would have felt even more useless and misunderstood. Plus, there was truth to how I was feeling.

I’m using it to illustrate that we all will deal with issues: some people more than others. It’s what you do afterwards that really counts.

Please note, afterwards is a very long time so don’t use that to beat yourself up either.

Truth in your feelings

The truth is a lot of my feelings were valid.

It’s harder to understand what a healthy relationship is when you didn’t grow up around many of them. I had quite a black and white view: relationships are either good or bad and I didn’t really understand they require work.

I also had zero confidence so whilst people speaking down to me is absolutely their responsibility, I just didn’t know how to navigate it.

I had the self-awareness to realise these issues were the root cause of most of my problems.

What I didn’t realise was they were things I could change.

Changing the narrative in your head

Where I was going wrong was to use how I felt as the story of my life.

I would never do well because I lacked confidence. I was really good at identifying situations or events that backed up how I felt. However, I never reflected on when I’d done well.

The reality was that on paper, I was reasonably successful. I perhaps hadn’t fulfilled my full potential, but, I wasn’t doing too badly either. I just didn’t realise it.

I was letting my feelings dictate the course of my life by telling myself they were fact.

Take responsibility for your own life

I was a bit late to the party in realising the only person with responsibility for my life was me.

I started to stop searching for someone to come and look after me and decided to make myself happy instead.

The biggest and most simplest change I made was my gratitude practice. I’ve written about this in previous blogs and how it completely reframed my thinking. I stopped focusing so much on what was wrong with my life and saw what was good.

I also realised there were certain things I was telling myself that maybe weren’t true anymore. I’d always said I was bad at public speaking and so avoided it like the plague. I would always let other people take the lead at work and pull out of job interviews if they had presentations involved. I decided to stop saying no, and you know what.. it’s really not that bad. Yes, I still feel self-conscious but the narrative in my head has changed.

This made me realise there were more things I was hiding behind that were no longer the case.

I always think it’s important to think of change as a sliding scale involving small incremental steps.

We would never expect to run a marathon overnight without any training; yet we expect to become different people overnight and then have feelings of self-loathing when we don’t.

Change is gradual and often there is progress where we don’t even see it. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s a journey.

I’m never going to be the world’s most confident person and that’s ok. I think about it far less and look at it when it’s an issue.

I also recognise the buck stops with me. I’m no longer waiting for someone to pluck me out of obscurity. I don’t need the external validation as much as I used to. Plus it’s up to me to manage my own life.

Sometimes it’s worth drawing a line in the sand to say, this was then, and this is now. The past is the past. It doesn’t determine your future.

mind

Why self-doubt isn’t always a bad thing: turning our negative patterns around

April 15, 2019
why self-doubt isn't always a bad thing

It might seem bizarre that I’m writing about why self-doubt isn’t always a bad thing given that it’s plagued me my whole life. Self-doubt has affected my decision-making, stopped me from pursuing potential opportunities and held me back no end. I spend a considerable amount of time second-guessing myself and overthinking to the point that it can be exhausting.

I’d like to give you a happy ending here with some advice on what I’ve done to turn this around. However, I can’t. Self-doubt is something I work hard on and more than likely will always be part of my life.

Yet, I was thinking recently about how we’re always very quick to complain about our negative characteristics and how they hold us back. But what if there are some positives to being this way too?

I always say life is about balance and like yin and yang, there is darkness and light within everything. Can we look at some of our ‘negative’ traits and see something good?


Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

Brene Brown

Humans aren’t wholly good or wholly bad. We’re complicated and unique. Our backgrounds and experiences shape how we react to situations and events. We also tend to see ourselves quite differently from how other people see us. Are they also seeing our negative patterns in a different way?

So here are 6 reasons why self-doubt isn’t always a bad thing

  1. Self-doubt means you care. Have you ever had a sleepless night worrying about whether you’ve done a good enough job or that you said the wrong thing? Well, at least you care. Of course, you can care too much. But surely it’s better to care than be apathetic and lacklustre?
  2. It’s often a way we protect ourselves from what we regard to be challenging situations. Often we use self-doubt to hold us back. However, there are occasions where it’s right to be doubtful because we’re being realistic. We’re having feelings of self-doubt because it’s just not the right time or situation for us.
  3. People who suffer with self-doubt tend to be hard workers in my experience. They work harder because they question themselves, rather than thinking they don’t need to make any effort.
  4. Self-doubt can make you more open because you ask others for advice and guidance. Whilst we shouldn’t judge ourselves by the court of public opinion, it can help to ask other people for input. We don’t always have all the answers.
  5. Personally, I see nothing wrong with a bit of humility. Us self-doubters tend to have it in spades. The opposite of humility is arrogance and I would much rather be around someone with humility than a know-it-all who’s always right.
  6. Brene Brown delivered on of the most popular Ted Talks of all time on the power of vulnerability. Our self-doubt can make us vulnerable, but we can use that vulnerability as a power for good helping us to open up and make greater connections with others.
self-care

Self-care practices and how to implement them

March 26, 2019
self-care practices and how to implement them

What is self-care?

Self-care is the practice of ensuring we are looking after ourselves physically and emotionally. This helps us navigate through life easier.

Whilst the self-care phrase has been mocked for just being about candles and baths (both of which I love); it is fundamentally important to make sure we are giving ourselves what we need.

Stresses about our families, finances, work all play on our minds. Eating badly, sleeping badly, becoming dehydrated and not exercising enough affect our physical health.

So how can we put self-care practices in place?

Our lives fluctuate and so it’s important to think about what we need to help with the situations we are experiencing at that moment in time. We are all individuals and our experiences are different so it’s important our self-care practices reflect what we need. In a previous post, I put together a self-care audit template so you can work through areas to focus on.

It’s important to then think about what self-care practices we can put in place to help and how we can do this realistically. What self-care isn’t, is a stick to beat ourselves up with. For that reason, I would choose only a few practices to put in place at any one time.

What are good self-care practices?

Nutrition: I find the advice about nutrition overwhelming and busy lives can make it hard to eat well. I try to start the day with a smoothie (2/3rds green veg and/or beetroot and 1/3rd fruit) so I know I’m getting some vitamins. I buy frozen fruit to save time in the morning. I also find taking my lunch to work helps. It’s very hard to eat the perfect diet and our bodies all metabolise food differently. I would choose one thing to start with such as cutting down on takeaways and then take it from there.

Dealing with stress: stress is an inevitable part of life. However, it’s important to understand the physical and mental impact it has on us. Try to rest and yes, take a bath or light a candle. Think about a mindfulness practice and download an App such as Headspace or Andrew Johnson to help. Look at ways you can minimise what is causing you stress – although admittedly, sometimes it’s out of our control and we need to just be kind to ourselves.

Good sleep hygiene: sleep is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Going to bed at a regular time; switching off phones at least an hour before bed; avoiding alcohol and making your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary should all help.

Give yourself permission to focus on you: there is a saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and it’s so true. Sometimes we are so busy focusing on other people, we forget to take care of ourselves but being depleted means we can’t give either. Do something for yourself even if it’s just taking a short walk or sitting down with a coffee.

mind

Are you suffering from imposter syndrome?

March 17, 2019
are you suffering from impostor syndrome?

A few years ago I got promoted at work. Despite being more than qualified, I spent the first year waiting to be pulled into a meeting room and told, ‘we’ve made a terrible mistake’. I lived in a state of panic and regardless of any positive feedback, I still couldn’t relax and enjoy my new role.

My experience is not uncommon. I’ve heard of chief executives googling how to run a company and high profile celebrities talking about feeling like a fraud. It’s so well known, it has its own terminology: imposter syndrome. This is where you believe you’re not good enough despite evidence to the contrary.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where feelings of self-doubt and low confidence levels are so intense they make you feel like a fraud. Researchers say it’s more common in high achieving women. However, statistics show 70% of millenials have experienced imposter syndrome at some point.

Whilst I think it’s a far nicer character trait to be under confident and overachieving, as opposed to overconfident and underachieving, the reality is that imposter syndrome can stop us from realising our true ambitions without us really realising it.

So what can you do to overcome it?

  • Awareness of an issue is generally the first step to overcoming it. Take notice of your feelings, thought processes and whether you feel a fraud for no real reason.
  • Try tracking your achievements so you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Some people keep a compliments folder or write lists.
  • Recognise lots of other people feel this way and you are not alone. It’s a sign that you care.
  • Open up to friends about how you’re feeling. Their perception is likely to be different to yours and it might be useful to get an impartial view.
  • Focus on adding value in the short term and remember you won’t feel this way forever.

wellbeing

Retraining your neural pathways (and what that actually means)

March 5, 2019

What are neural pathways?

Our nervous system consists of neurons (nerve cells) that transmit nerve signals or messages to and from the brain. The path which this information travels along is called a neural pathway.

Our neural pathways are developed from childhood. As a baby, we learn to smile through our parents or caregivers smiling at us. We learn not to touch a hot pan from being burnt in the past. They help keep us safe and secure.

Our neural pathways aren’t just responsible for our physical responses but our emotional ones too. We develop habits through them: both positive and negative and they determine our responses to situations because of experiences in the past.

How do we retrain our neural pathways?

The brain is often described as a muscle and although biologically it’s not, it can be trained in a similar sort of way through repetition. This is in the same way as going to the gym or undertaking regular exercise.

So how exactly do you start?

The best place to start is to identify the patterns you want to change. This does take an element of self awareness and understanding patterns and behaviours you would like to create.

The next is to spend a decent amount of time practising the change you want to make. The perceived wisdom is it takes 66 days for a new habit to take effect and for your neural pathways to redevelop.

In the same way that it takes time for your body to change as a result of exercise, retraining neural pathways also doesn’t happen overnight. However, with time, you will see changes. I spent my 20s and some of my 30s feeling awkward and shy. I would clam up when I met new people but then laugh and joke with my friends. People thought I was standoffish and over the years I realised I was giving the wrong impression. I made a conscious decision to be friendly to new people. The more I did it, the easier it became. It’s now second nature to me.

Many of us go through life feeling like our confidence is holding us back and our previous life experiences have affected our future. Retraining our neural pathways gives us the opportunity to reset the balance. Yes, it takes practice but one that is potentially life-changing.

mind

The pre-mortem technique (and how I use it on my overthinking brain)

February 17, 2019
The pre-mortem technique and how I use it on my overthinking brain

I recently went on a leadership training course with work. Admittedly, we did one exercise on how to evacuate a village, but the rest of the time was spent on management skills and decision-making abilities. This is where I learnt the pre-mortem technique and realised how I could use it on my overthinking brain.

What is the pre-mortem technique?

A pre-mortem is opposite of a post-mortem – where you look to see what went wrong after the event. With a post-mortem you do it before. You take a scenario, pull it to pieces, write down everything that can go wrong, then choose the top 2 or 3 and put solutions in place.

For someone with overthinking, worrying tendencies like myself, the pre-mortem technique has helped me work through some of my negative thought processes. We (as in me and my family) have been thinking about moving house and the mere thought sent me into a tailspin of anxious thoughts. What if my son gets bullied at his new nursery (my son is 2)? What if we don’t like the area (we’ll still be in London..)? And even, what if there isn’t a Turkish grocer nearby (erm.. I’m not Turkish)?

I get annoyed with myself because moving to a new house is a privilege and I shouldn’t look for the negatives. Equally, the last time we did it, I found the move to a different area so much better. I end up feeling really frustrated thinking why I am like this?

Writing down my thoughts has really helped me understand what’s whirling around in my overthinking brain. Even though those thoughts may be somewhat irrational (Turkish greengrocer, anyone?), it’s good to address them head on.

I have found the pre-mortem technique useful, particularly when feeling overwhelmed. I always knew my brain worked at double speed, I just didn’t know how to separate my thoughts out and work through them one by one. Challenging my thoughts, understanding what’s going on and writing it all down has alleviated most of my worries. And I now feel positive about our plans to move.

wellbeing

Is technology making us less productive?

January 22, 2019

Is always being on affecting our productivity?

I got my first job in communications back in 2001. I worked hard, no doubt moaned about my long hours, but once I left work, that was it. I couldn’t physically do any more work. I couldn’t answer emails because I didn’t have WiFi at home and regardless, there wasn’t the technology to log in remotely. Our mobile phones only made phone calls and sent texts (no camera phones). The height of their ability was to download a polyphonic ringtone.

If I needed to remind myself to do something, I would ring my work voicemail and leave myself a message. I (probably) received about 20 emails a day. It was generally understood if it was outside office hours, you wouldn’t get a response until the following day at best. There was no way to reply. Our expectations were much lower back then.

I ripped out pages from a printed A-Z if I went to a party and didn’t want to take a bag. As a result, there were a few areas in London that were a bit sparce… I would ring a friend for directions if I got stuck. It was pretty commonplace for at least one person to be stood outside a noisy bar navigating a friend in.

Online shopping will never take off…

People started to mention the idea of buying clothes online. I scoffed at the idea saying how that would never work – of course, only thinking about my 20-something self and not how life changing it would be for people who are unable to leave the house or dedicate a day to trailing round the shops. Millennials, please note: it’s not just your generation that can be accused of lacking in self awareness..

The impact of technology

Fast forward over 15 years and technology has changed our lives.

We buy our groceries from our phone. It’s almost impossible to get lost as GPS can determine our exact location and the maps on our phones help us navigate to where we need to be. The postal system, which we all thought was going to die with email, has benefitted from online shopping and all the Amazon and Asos parcels sent to our offices and homes. We access news and culture regardless of location as long as we can get online. We can watch the latest films and even see theatre productions all without leaving our living rooms.

Social media – initially designed to help us keep in touch with friends and family – is now a viable career option with people ‘selling’ us lifestyles and promoting products. The term ‘influencer’ has become common parlance and changed the nature of advertising.

We run businesses from our phones; processing orders and promoting products and services. We email customers, clients, reach out to potential employers all through Apps and 4G connections.

Yet is technology making us less productive?

Great power involves great responsibility.

Franklin D Roosevelt

In the name of transparency, I should say I started writing this blog on the London Underground, typing away on my phone, whilst travelling to meet friends. I no longer work a 9-5 but have a flexible working arrangement so I can spend one day a week with my toddler. Technology on so many levels has massively changed my life.

However, I also feel the pull to dedicate more time to social media. Am I out there enough? Could I be doing more? As a blogger, I find it hard to balance my enjoyment of the writing process without evaluating myself by traffic levels. I also find it very hard to not get distracted. It’s easy to start mindlessly scrolling instagram, twitter and facebook – and when you’re tired, you need something easy that doesn’t take too much brain power. It does mean I focus less on the task in hand so even though I’m achieving more than I could have done in the past, too much choice makes me feel technology is making me less productive.

Do any of us have a work / life balance?

A study by the University of West England found that over half of commuters used their travelling time to catch up on work emails. Better connectivity has enabled people to work from the train. For people with long commutes, this must add a considerable amount of time to their working day – and one that they’re not necessarily paid for.

I have a friend who works in Silicon Valley. He gets on a company bus to his office, logs on and starts work. His commute is classified as working time and as a result he spends less time in the office. He has a better work/life balance and isn’t resentful about his commute. Technology is there to make life easier (not harder) and helps people be productive.

I’ve felt for a long time we measure the wrong metrics in workplaces. We like to see early starters and late finishers and classify them as hard workers, but we forget what really counts is the work that takes place during the day. It’s a false metric to view hours at a desk as a measure of productivity.

Over 50 hours and we’re no longer productive

Research shows that working over 50 hours a week has a negative impact on our productivity. After 50 hours, our productivity falls and after 55 hours, we are not productive at all. There is absolutely no benefit to our employer in us working – they are not gaining anything other than potential health issues to manage. It has also been shown, overworking is damaging our physical and mental health, as well as impacting on our relationships. It’s a lose-lose situation. Technology and our ability to be always on has enabled this – but fundamentally we’re not productive after a certain time.

It’s not just the employed that suffer with lack of boundaries. For those who are self-employed and particularly people who work from home, it must be even harder to create a work/life balance. There has been a quote circulating on Instagram creating by New York based artist, Adam JK mocking the ‘do what you love and you’ll never do a day’s work in your life’ idea highlighting how hard it is to switch off.

Quote about running a small business
Courtesy of @AdamJK – Instagram

A more mindful approach to technology

Now, the purpose of this blog post isn’t to start an uprising at our desks or encourage you to throw your phone out of the window, but to reflect on how we we are using technology. Are we using it mindfully? Is technology making us more or less productive?

Tools to help cut down on screen time

Here are a few tricks and tips I use to keep an eye on my phone usage.

  • I monitor my iPhone screen time. If you go into settings > screen time, you get a weekly report on how much you are using your iphone. I aim to reduce this amount week on week.
  • Think about taking off your work emails from your phone or having two phones. There is also a way you can switch off your email in settings. If this isn’t possible, make sure you don’t have notifications switched on. Start putting boundaries around its usage (ie, no work emails at weekends).
  • Be aware of how sending emails outside of work times can affect other people. Are you sending a message that this is how you expect other people to work? Is it impacting on time you spend with family and friends?
  • Become comfortable with your own thoughts and not needing to entertain yourself 24/7. I genuinely think being bored can be good for you.
  • Keep your phone in your bag or away from you to stop temptation. I have a terrible habit of googling to see why I recognise an actor and losing the plot of a TV show because I’ve fallen down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. I now make sure I fully concentrate on what I’m watching  – looking at my phone just ruins my enjoyment.

Remember technology can also impact on our emotional wellbeing

  • Watch out for feelings of inadequacy. It’s so easy to compare your real life with someone’s curated Instagram life and it’s not healthy because it’s not real. It’s something that creeps up on me from time to time and that’s when I know, it’s time to take a break from the ‘gram.  
  • I try to implement Switch off Sunday. I also am much more aware of how much I’m using my phone around my child. I tend to put the radio on or listen to a podcast so I can dedicate time to him but also have a little bit of a distraction for myself.

Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential for wisdom.


Arianna Huffington

I often have my best ideas when I’m not really doing anything. My brain feels less cluttered and I have space to think. Taking a break from technology is not about working less, it’s about working better. Let’s use technology and make it productive.

wellbeing

How to set boundaries with 7 simple steps

January 16, 2019

Boundaries are fundamental when it comes to taking care of ourselves. They enable us to recognise what we need and develop the right techniques and language to achieve them. Good boundaries help us create less stressful lives, better physical wellbeing and healthy respectful relationships. For some people, learning to set boundaries is a skill they learnt growing up. They have seen adults articulate and set boundaries and understand they are a necessity. They have the right level of self-awareness to understand their needs and articulate them. For others, including myself, setting and reinforcing boundaries is a work in progress.

However, like a lot of self-care strategies, setting and reinforcing boundaries is a muscle that grows over time. The more we do it, the easier it gets.

7 steps to help you set boundaries

  1. Understand your value. Someone or a situation that continually oversteps the mark has a massive impact on your self-esteem. Likewise, continually putting yourself at the bottom of a priority list is not healthy either. Everyone has the right to be treated properly and we need to believe we deserve better.
  2. You cannot change other people’s behaviour, only your own. Setting boundaries won’t change how people behave towards you. It gives you the tools to respond and to reflect on where you want to see changes. However, it’s not your fault if your boundaries aren’t respected.
  3. Think about situations where you want to set boundaries. What do you want to change? What is your response when this situation comes up? Decide the consequences ahead of time.
  4. Communicate. Be decisive and remember your worth.
  5. Prepare for your boundaries to be overstepped. Having boundaries in place won’t stop people from overstepping them. Prepare for it to happen and decide in advance how you will respond.
  6. Remember boundary setting is a muscle we grow. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t go right the first time or the second. You will get better at it and learn new responses as you go along.
  7. Leave a situation. Unfortunately, if your boundaries aren’t respected, then the only way sometimes is to leave a situation or a person. We cannot change other people. We can leave though knowing we deserve better.
mind

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

How to leave the cult of busyness

September 30, 2018

Being busy and the cult of busyness

I look at friends who left homes and jobs in London to set up lives elsewhere and think how well they seem. Their skin looks brighter, their stress lines faded away and I think to myself, it’s because they’re not so busy anymore. I often fantasise about spending a week at a health camp (somewhere abroad obviously) and having five nights of good night’s sleep and time to fully relax. But the reality is, other than hugely missing home, I would find something else to do because I’m one of those people who measure their self-worth by how much they’ve achieved in a day. I’m a fully paid up member of the cult of busyness because somewhere in my subconscious I believe that I’m a better person when I get more done.

What is the cult of busyness?

Fully paid-up subscribers to the cult of busyness like myself get a feeling of satisfaction from being busy. It feeds our sense of importance and worth because we feel we are needed and wanted. It also sends an external message that somehow our lives are more valid because we have so much on and are always on the go.

Researchers from Columbia University, Harvard and Georgetown conducted a series of experiments to see how being busy was perceived. They created two characters called Jeff: one who worked long hours and had a busy schedule, the other had a leisurely lifestyle and didn’t work. They found hardworking Jeff was thought to be more important and his lack of time was due to the fact he was highly sort after.

Losing the busy mindset

As someone who puts their self-worth into how many tasks they’ve finished in a day, the cult of busyness is an attractive one to be in. I tick things off lists. I take my child to play dates. I rush around working full time and sorting my home in the evening.

My mind also has a habit of turning fun into tasks I need to do. Getting my haircut becomes something I need to tick off the list rather than an experience to enjoy. Likewise, shopping becomes about making sure I get everything I planned, rather than having time to myself. I realise it’s my mindset that needs to change. I’m aware that I’m filling up my life with a series of tasks… I need to become more comfortable with being still.

5 ways to leave the cult of busyness

  1. Stop multi-tasking and focus on one thing at a time. I have a habit of trying to do too many things at once and achieving very little.
  2. Switch off the screen. It’s so easy to lose time falling down an internet rabbit hole under the pretence of relaxing. Read a book, watch a film or have a bath instead.
  3. Be realistic about what you can achieve. I take on too much and then feel overwhelmed by everything I need to do.
  4. Set boundaries. For the first time in a long time, I articulated that I needed a day to myself. I used that day to do things I enjoy and not just to carry out a series of errands. I now recognise it’s something I need to do on a more regular basis.
  5. Start saying no. I have a tendency to say yes to things without really thinking it through. I’m trying to learn that sometimes it’s ok to say no.
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

Learning to be brave

May 8, 2018

Being brave

At the beginning of the year, I thought about changes I wanted to make in my life and to stop letting fear stand in my way. I realised I was going to need to start learning to be brave if I was going to live a more authentic life.

Part of transitioning from my 20s into my 30s and beyond has been to recognise that actions have consequences and that not everyone is interested in my opinions. Along the way though, I’ve perhaps taken that to the other extreme. I’m starting to realise I lost the risk-taker, the dreamer and the person who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in. I’ve started to couch my words so as not to offend – and whilst it’s good to think of other people’s feelings – along the way, I’ve lost the ability to speak my own truth.

Becoming vulnerable

It’s easy to play it safe and keep ourselves protected. We don’t have to open ourselves up or make ourselves feel vulnerable. The downside is of course, that you don’t allow yourself to feel truly fulfilled and you never know what might have been.

When I first starting writing, just putting words out there felt intimidating. I worried about judgement – both my own and from others. Pushing myself out there is a leap of faith and doesn’t always sit so comfortably with me. Change can be intimidating. It can be slow and we put barriers in the way to make it even slower.

Learning to be brave

So how do us once rebels start living in a place where we feel more confident in our decision-making and abilities? Is there a way we can get back to becoming ourselves? We’ve all read stories about women adventurers who threw in a high-powered job in finance to become a Mongolia horse seller or set up a best selling bee keeping instagram business. But what do you do when you’ve got bills to pay, kids to collect from nursery and life is just about getting through each day with the minimum amount of stress possible?

The good news is we don’t all have to go through dramatic life changes to become braver. What we need to do is have the desire to reclaim the person we once were. We can start moving forward by remembering who we are, what we want (try remembering the feeling you want to create) and inching towards it taking incremental baby steps.

And what I’m learning is that with each small step I take, the easier it is and the little bit braver I become.

wellbeing

Spring clean your life

April 21, 2018
spring clean your life

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut, or that things are ok, but, could be better? Does life feel a little bit blah? Well, this is when you might want to give your life an overhaul and look at what could do with sprucing up? Do you need to give your life a spring clean?

What is a spring clean?

The term ‘spring clean’ comes from the days when our homes were heated by fires. People would spring clean and air their homes in the warmer months to clean it of all the soot and grime that had accumulated when the weather was colder. These days, we rely on much more modern methods to heat our homes – but there is still something about the first sunny day and seeing flowers starting to bloom, which lifts our spirits and offers the chance to spring clean your life of some of the patterns we may be in.

How to give your life a spring clean

Revaluate relationships

Do you have relationships in your life with people who make you feel bad about yourself? Are there people that you feel you have to mentally ‘psyche’ yourself up to spend time with? We should try to surround ourselves with people who lift us up and support us rather than bringing toxic energy. There are occasions when it’s time to let friendships go or manage the amount of time you spend with someone. We all change throughout our lives and sometimes our relationships need to change to.

Contact people you care about

How many times have you mentally composed a message to someone – but never actually sent it? Are there people on your mind, who you never seem to contact? Make the effort to reach out and let people know you’re thinking about them.

Declutter old clothes and possessions

My Dad always told me if you haven’t used something for two years, you should get rid of it. I think there is an element of truth in that idea. However, I sometimes struggle with the idea that I might want to wear something again. If I’m really uncertain, I pack it away and if I haven’t missed it in a year, I know I can give it away happily. There are physical benefits to decluttering in that it frees up more living space, as well as mentally feeling a lot clearer.

Go through life admin and paperwork

Write a list of everything you need to do and work through it. It can be really easy to put off tasks that need doing (even as I’m writing this I know I have a fair few outstanding..), however, it’s good to be able to clear the decks.

Look at finances

Anyone else like to stick their head in the sand when it comes to their finances? Or is it just me? Spring is a good time to think about your spending, where you might need to make savings and if you have any financial goals. Note to self.

Switch off social media

Social media brings lots of positives into our lives especially around building communities and connecting with people. However, it can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, lower self-esteem and the feeling of being ‘always on’. Like anything, there is a balance to be had so take the time to switch off and do something else instead.

mind

Why I practice gratitude

April 11, 2018
why I practice gratitude

A few years ago, I realised I was stuck in a bit of rut. I tended to focus on the negative and had a blamey attitude. I got frustrated easily and often felt like the world was conspiring against me. Other people just seemed to fall into new opportunities, where as I was always trying to dig myself out of a hole… I knew I need to make some changes so I started to explore new ways of thinking and living. One of those ideas included a gratitude practice.

A friend introduced me to the Secret. I’m going to be honest, some bits I liked and some I found overly materialistic so I completely get that it’s not for everyone. However, the bit that stuck was about developing a gratitude practice. I decided to keep a gratitude diary and each morning wrote down ten things that made me happy and the reasons why. I then read my list out loud.

My gratitude practice completely changed how I see the world.

How my gratitude practice changed my life for the better

I let go of feeling frustrated.

If my train was delayed, I could see it was such a tiny thing to feel annoyed about and in the grand scheme of things, it just didn’t matter. I could apologise if I was late and people would understand.

I saw my life as a full picture.

Yes, I may have had bad things happen but I also have so much happening which is positive too. It helped me gain a more balanced viewpoint.

I felt more in control of my own life.

I felt less as though events were conspiring against me and more optimistic. I now realise I have responsibility for my thought processes.

Small things made me smile.

A friendly chat with a stranger or an offer of help from a colleague lifted my spirits and brought me joy. I noticed what was right in front of me.

It felt like the world was more on my side.

I could be running late and my train would be magically delayed by just the right amount of time for me to step straight on. It felt like life was in harmony.

I started to count my blessings.

I noticed how much I have and how lucky I am.

And as a result, I’m much happier.

mind

Six ways to help you step out of your comfort zone

April 3, 2018
six ways to help you step out of your comfort zone

What if I Fall, Oh but my darling what if you fly.” – Erin Hanson

Ever have that niggling feeling that there’s something more out there for you? Things feel pretty much ok – but you’re a bit bored. Are you telling yourself that things are good enough? Whilst really feeling that it’s not good enough really. If you’re saying yes, then it sounds like you’re in a comfort zone. Comfort zones can be magical places keeping us safe and secure. They help protect us and look after us. However, there are times though when we know we’re capable of more and it’s time to step out and reach our potential.

How to move out of your comfort zone.

So how do you move out of a comfort zone? Here are 6 ways to help.

  1. Think about what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail. It’s easy to dismiss our dreams as feeling unrealistic and unachievable. But, what would you do if there was no way you could fail? Try to think about what you would do if time and money weren’t issues and you had everything you needed at your disposal.
  2. Focus on how you want to feel. We don’t always have a big goal in life and sometimes we’re stuck in a rut, which we want to get out of. What does success really mean to you? Focussing on how we want to feel can help give us clarity on what we really want.
  3. Take baby steps. I used to be painfully shy. I felt awkward around people I didn’t know and gave off a bit of a negative vibe. I started to overcome it by being friendly, changing my body language and being more approachable. It took time and work on my part, however, I’m much more relaxed around new people now.
  4. Go for progress, not the finished product. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to just start and refine as you go along. Otherwise, I have a tendency to focus on perfection and put so many obstacles in the way, that it becomes overwhelming.
  5. Become aware of excuses. Notice what you are telling yourself. Making excuses is a way of procrastinating and avoiding leaving your comfort zone.
  6. Live with discomfort. Comfort zones are comfortable. The downside is that they don’t allow you to reach your full potential. It can be daunting stepping out – just remember this is helping you grow.
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.

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