8 Nourishing Ways to Celebrate Self Love on Valentine’s day

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Going back as far as primary school when THE big question was how many cards did you get, Valentine’s day has always been a day loaded with meaning. Right? It was important, somehow a statement about you! My birthday is 2 days after so back then I think I would suggest that a few cards had gotten lost in the post and turned up late!! It took on more importance in the teenage years, even more an indication of your loveability, beauty and popularity! And to top it all, as someone who didn’t get married until I was 41, I spent alot of my late 20’s and 30’s in that Bridget Jones space on Valentine’s day, you know the single one. I’d always get asked about ‘the boyfriend’, in fact can you believe, I was actually asked in an interview(by a man) why I wasn’t married as I was a very pretty young woman!!!! People would say things like you’re high maintenance, too fussy, a career woman and you know, I think that at some subconscious level I did buy into that story, the story there was something wrong with me.

I now know how wrong I was and the only way to stop buying into the stories is to do your own inner work and connect with who you truly are from the inside out. As I have gone on this journey this day has now taken on an equally important aspect for me that I think applies to everyone, that of self love. Yes Valentine’s Day is an occasion when couples celebrate romantic love. However, I think it is also important to make it a day for self-love too. After all, didn’t Whitney Houston once sing, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all“?

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I believe we all have to cultivate self-love, whether you are single or attached. It’s nice to be able to share the day with a loved one but I think you should also allocate a bit of time nurturing your own soul. Part of my own self love journey was enquiring what a romantic relationship would give me that I didn’t have and then being curious about what ways I already had this in my life .The obvious answer was love and then I realised I had that in abundance and in so many different forms. I then thought, well that’s good to know and if it turns up in the shape of a life partner, great, if not I’m still all good. Ironically when I got to this place of acceptance , it wasn’t long after that I met the one! Funny that.

So personally I feel that it is far more helpful to think of February 14 as a great day for self-love and invite you to join in! Make it a day for you to go inwards and cultivate self love, single or married. Loving yourself completely and unconditionally is when your true beauty radiates out into the world. While complete self-love is a life time work and every day affair, February 14 can be a day to remind us all about its importance! There is another upside- no need to fork out for expensive, overpriced flowers and meals. Believe me the more you nurture yourself, the more love you have to give to others! It could well be a day that you do less and be more too!

And so, just for Valentine’s Day, it helps to have some nice nurturing activities planned. Do things that lift you up in the body, mind and spirit! Here’s my top 8 suggestions…

1.Make a Gratitude List.
No matter your relationship status. Remind yourself of all of the good in your life by making a gratitude list. Choose 20 things you love about your life just as it is and reflect on how they fulfill you. Write about why each of the people, places, and things you’ve selected make you feel happy and whole.

2.Create a set of loving affirmations for yourself .Here are some examples:
I choose to love myself and appreciate my inner beauty.I cherish my mind, body and soul.
I choose to always be myself and let that be enough
I am loved and I am loveable.

3.Light some candles, make your room cosy, put on some music and meditate. Spoil yourself with your favourite film or meal.

4.Read a meaningful self-help book such as The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. or Good Vibes Good Life by Vex King

5. Spend the day in aromatherapy. Work on releasing emotions and uplifting your spirit.

6. Pack a picnic, go outdoors and connect with nature .

7.Listen to a podcast of your choice, try Ferne Cotton’s Happy Place. It’s real

8. Dress to Impress… Yourself.
When you look your best, you’re sure to feel your best! This Valentine’s Day, wear an outfit that makes you feel confident. Be brave and pull out that dress that makes you feel like the stunner you are, dust off those heels you love, but never wear, and top it all off with your favourite accessories.

” Its not your job to like me, its mine” Bryan Katie

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The Top 10 Ways To Build Self Love

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world” Lucille Ball

It’s February and all thoughts turn to Valentine’s day and love, yet how many of us are thinking about the relationship we have with ourselves? How many of us are intentional and purposeful about nurturing and appreciating this relationship? This relationship is one of the most, in fact to my mind, THE most important relationship and yet, more often than not, the one we pay the least attention to. Or the one that, if it were possible, we’d ditch ourselves ‘cos there is not a lot of love going on!! Self- love is the number one secret to a happy life because wherever you go there you are

So as cheesy as the term may sound and it might make you screw your face up as it seems just a little bit self indulgent, then think again. Learning to love yourself is one of the most powerful and important things you can do in life. Your heart is your power and when you become the source of your own love in your life, it changes everything. Your relationships, your career, your confidence, your health, your happiness – they all flourish when you start to love yourself.


What do we mean by self love?

It’s about accepting yourself fully and unconditionally, it’s about treating yourself with the kindness and respect you deserve. It is about having high regard for your own well being and happiness. It allows you to nurture your own growth and wellbeing. When you hold yourself in high esteem, from there you are more likely to make healthy choices. And it does not mean you feel positive all the time, it does not mean you don’t mess up, it does not mean you don’t fail. But when you do, you do for yourself exactly what you would with someone you love dearly. We’ve all been angry with someone we love at some stage but the love we have for them informs how we forgive them, consider their feelings, meet their needs and make decisions that supports them,

So what if I don’t learn to love myself – guys it’s not pretty! Without it, you are highly self critical, fall into people pleasing and perfectionism. You tolerate people who mistreat you, you neglect yourself. Self love is the ultimate foundation in a happy and fulfilling life.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance” Oscar Wilde

How do I practise it?

Exactly that practise! It can be challenging for many of us, especially when we face serious challenges. It’s not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, it’s about getting in touch with ourselves, our well-being and our happiness. We practice self-love so we can push through our limiting beliefs and live a life that truly shines. It is also individual so figuring out what it means for you, is critical to your wellbeing. A great place to start is reading and here’s a book that has blown me away recently Good Vibes, Good Life

Take action too, do yourself a favour, take a deep breath, give yourself a little hug and begin to consciously practice some of the following:

1.Start each day by telling yourself something positive about yourself – how you handled a situation, how nice you look, something you are proud of yourself for.

2.Move your body every single day and learn to love the skin you’re in. You can’t hate your way into loving yourself

3.Spend time around people who uplift, support you, encourage you and make you want to show up as your best self

4.You are not your thoughts or feelings so don’t believe everything you think or feel to be fact. We all have an inner critic trying to keep us “safe” but in the process is not being very loving towards us and keeping us small.

https://www.ted.com/talks/kari_romeo_teach_your_inner_critic_a_new_story

5.Stop the comparisons.There is no one like you and that is your superpower

6.Celebrate your wins no matter how big or small. Pat yourself on the back for progress and effort along the way

7.Take time for yourself each day. Breathe in and out, clear your mind of your thoughts and just be.

8.Learn to say no. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, in fact, sometimes it makes you a smart person.

9.Forgive yourself. You know that thing you did one time (or maybe a few times) that made you feel bad, embarrassed, ashamed? It’s time to let that go. You can’t change the things you have done in the past but you can control your future. Look at it as a learning experience and believe in your ability to change.

10.Treat others with love and respect. It makes us feel better about ourselves when we treat others the way we hope to be treated. That doesn’t mean everybody will always repay the favour, but that’s their problem not yours.

Be patient and persistent with yourself. Self-love is forever evolving. It’s something that needs to be practised daily and can take a lifetime to master. So be kind and support yourself through the hard times. Most of all have fun! Get out there and do the things that make your heart sing. Enjoy them, enjoy being you and enjoy your incredible life.

If you liked this blog you may find more inspiration and ideas here The Essential Life Mantra | InShineOut

How the humble brussel sprout taught me a valuable lesson going into 2021!

For those of you repulsed by the brussel sprout, I hate to mention these “little green balls of hell”, at least that’s what my husband thinks they are. I,on the other hand, do like them and this Christmas they taught me a valuable lesson: a lesson about being able to let go and how to approach 2021 open to the possibility of what can emerge when we do.

How I hear you say? Well, like all of us, Covid Christmas 2020 was going to be “different”. In embracing the difference, we decided to have steak for Christmas dinner. I insisted that the brussels would still feature! Now I knew due to childhood trauma of having to eat your greens, Rich absolutely hates them. I also had a fair idea they probably weren’t going to be the most creative enhancement for our alternative Christmas dinner! Still I bought them anyway and yes they ended up being thrown as they rotted away in the veggie drawer.

You see I could not let go of the picture I had of what makes Christmas, even though a brussel sprout free menu was unfolding before my very eyes. Even though it was time to let go of that picture to make way for something new, I struggled. Only when I saw them rotting in the fridge, did I wish I had fully embraced what was happening and let them go with dignity at the time!

So as we all begin a new year creating visions,goals, planning and strategising, can I also encourage you to be able to let go. Remember to allow for life unfolding with unexpected twists and turns: (after all, who would have planned the year we just had):a new idea; an unforeseen opportunity; something off plan. I’m not saying you should not plan, on the contrary. I am all for it. Life will happen, so it is important to plan for what you would like to have happen. However, planning exactly how life should be can get in the way if we do not let go, if we are too rigid to acknowledge what is happening before us. So stay open, allow the sense of the unknown not to be a place of fear but an exciting place, a place of possibility and a place for a different story to emerge. Keep in mind the brussel sprout lesson of the power of letting go, after all there may be greater things waiting fo you. By the way our Christmas dinner was fabulous and washed down with an quality red wine we had a blissful, peaceful, loving, very Christmassy Christmas day.

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Genuine Happiness comes from Within


Life isn’t always the sweetest candy. Sometimes, when you feel like the world is just too heavy, you look around and find people who continue to live fascinating and wonderful lives. And then thoughts come popping into your mind like bubbles from nowhere – “How did their life become so adorably easy? How come they still can manage to laugh and play around despite a busy stressful life?” This is the time to pause and observe for a while… you’ll figure something out… that maybe they have started to work on a place called “self”.
So, how do you become genuinely happy?

Step 1 is to love yourself.
A theology professor once said that “loving means accepting.” To love oneself means to accept that you are not a perfect being, but behind the imperfections lies the courage to be able to discover ways on how to improve your repertoire to recover from setbacks, obstacles and mistakes.

Genuine happiness also links to contentment. When you are content with the job you have, the way you look, with your family, your friends, the place you live in, your car, and all the things you have NOW – truly, you know the answer to the question “how to be genuinely happy.”

When we discover a small start somewhere from within, that small start will eventually lead to something else, and to something else. But if you keep questioning life like it has never done you any good, you will never be able to find genuine happiness.

I believe that life is about finding out about right and wrong, trying and failing, winning and losing. These are things that happen as often as you inhale and exhale. Failure, in a person’s life has become as abundant and necessary as air. But this should not hinder us from becoming happy.

How to be genuinely happy in spite all these? I tell you… every time you exert effort to improve the quality of your life and your being, whether it is helping a friend, taking care of your sick dog, failing exams and trying again, life gives you equivalent points for that.
Imagine life as a big score board like those used in the sporting arenas. Every time you take a step forward, you score points. Wouldn’t it be nice to look at that board at the end of each game and think to yourself “Whew! I got points today. I’m glad I gave it a shot.”, instead of looking at it all blank and murmur “Bummer, I didn’t even hit a score today. I wish I had the guts to try. We could have won!” and then walk away.

Genuine happiness isn’t about driving the hottest Formula 1 car, nor getting the employee of the year award, earning the highest pay, or beating the sales quota. Sometimes, the most sought after prizes in life doesn’t always go to the fastest, the strongest, the bravest or not even the best. So, how do you become genuinely happy? Every one has their own definition of “happiness”. What makes you happy may be another’s idea of hell. It is up to you to figure out what brings you true happiness.


So, really now, how do we become genuinely happy? Simple. You don’t have to have the best things in this world. It’s about doing and making the best out of every single thing. When you find yourself smiling at your own mistakes and telling yourself “Oh, I’ll do better next time”, you carry with you a flame of strong willpower to persevere that may spread like a fire. You possess a willingness to stand up again and try – that will make you a genuinely happy person.

When you learn to accept yourself and your own faults. You pass step 1 in the project “how to become genuinely happy”. For as long as you know how to accept others, you will also be accepted. For as long as you love and know how to love, you will receive love ten folds back.

Again, ask me that same question “how to become genuinely happy?”. I’ll refer you to a friend of mine who quoted- “Most of us know that laughter is the best medicine to life’s aches and pain. But most of us don’t know that the best kind of laughter is laughter over self. Because then you don’t just become happy you become free.”

A Look In The Mirror

That’s all it takes to change the world. Take a long hard look in the mirror and really notice who you are.

We’re all screaming for peace right now – not just world peace – but peace in our towns and cities, in our workplaces, in our homes and in our minds. There has to be a better way to deal with this madness.

We need a new way of doing things. Yet we seem to be stuck in outdated modes of thought that have not been working. For if they did, we wouldn’t be in the predicaments we are in now. The past will keep repeating itself until we make a conscious choice to go in a new direction.

Going in a new direction begins inside of you, of me, and of us as individuals. Until we change as individuals, only then can the world change.

One of my favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandhi – ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world.’ So to have world peace we have to look in the mirror. Take a look and try to find the peace you’re searching for in your heart.

If you can’t find it ask yourself why. It’s not missing – it’s been there with you all along waiting for you to begin your search within. Peace isn’t hard to find at all. You just have to dig from underneath all of the rubble – fear and anger. Once you push the fear and anger to the side peace will be in plain view.

When you find the peace in your heart you start to exude it. It becomes infectious. Joy soon follows and a sense of calm is not too far behind. All of this from one good look in the mirror. One hard look at who you really are. That’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.

And it’s easy to pass it on. Remind your loved ones to find their peace within. They’ll know it can be done because they would have seen the transformation in you. Be a walking example of peace and watch how it spreads.

When others come to you full of fear and anger remember the peace within yourself and gently remind them that no matter how bad it gets it will eventually work itself out for the best.

We get what we dwell upon so if we keep our thoughts based on fear and anger that’s what we’ll continue to get. Instead let’s focus on peace – peace within ourselves and let these thoughts multiply. Remember, be the change you want to see – so be peaceful within your heart and watch your world begin to mirror that.

Sharon James

www.InShineOut.com

The Essential Life Mantra

Life is tough for everyone at the moment in so many different ways. We are having a common experience and also a personal experience. One of the things this pandemic has made us all aware of, simultaneously, is the suffering and challenges in “living” life. The fact is, with or without a pandemic, there is always someone going through a tough time or facing a tough day. Tough might be an understatement but you get my drift.

Life does not always go swimmingly or according to plan. Sometimes it just does not pan out the way you hoped at all. I don’t mean to be a pessimist but, in life, there is inevitable suffering. There are amazing highs and the equal and opposite lows. I’m sure you all can relate to personal setbacks, loss, heartbreak, illness or pain you or your loved ones have or are going through. So if there is one mantra I would love everyone in this world to embrace and perhaps even believe, it is this…


“You have everything you need within you”


“Me? ” ……. “Yes, you!” Deep within us all is a well, a well where you can lower the bucket and scoop up what you need to create the life you want or to cope with whatever life throws at you. A well full of strength, courage, compassion, trust, love, ability to face the world. It is true that sometimes you have to lower the bucket quite far to access it. This is because life will life. At times it seems it’s not there, that the source has dried up, It might not be easy to access it, but it is there. You see we get cut off sometimes from our true essence and source by layers of fear and ego.

The answers are within you. Turn and look inwards, tune into your deep intuition, wisdom and knowing. There you will find all the guidance, belief and confidence you need to take you forwards in life. Let go of the need to look outside for the answers, they are not your answers. “Really they might know better”, I hear you say. “No” because they are not you, nor living your life. You don’t need anyone’s validation or approval, you can find it in you. Sure, look to others as sources of inspiration to fill the well but do not let it be a comparison to prove that you are not enough or to beat yourself up with. You are enough. And when you do let go and trust in yourself, it is surprising that within your grasp is calm, peace and serenity.


You can get access your intuition, your gut feeling and learn to recognise its power. In the tuning in and in the silence through reflection, meditation, journalling, listening, feeling, you can get in touch with how you really feel. You can hear your heart and soul speak about your heartfelt wants and desires. You can even find the answers to most of your problems or challenges in life.

Use this mantra as if it is your inner self giving you some important life advice –

“Everything you need is already within you”

And in the wise words of life guru, Winnie the Pooh, believe that…

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Survive to Thrive in 6 Vital Steps

Is it really possible to pull yourself out of a tough time and instead of just surviving and coping with a situation, be able to return to a place of thriving and going beyond what you thought possible? Simple answer, in my humble opinion, yes! It doesn’t mean it is easy to do but it is possible. I want to share with you the 6 key steps that have worked for me to overcome life challenges and return to a thriving place again.

When you face a challenging situation, crisis or trauma you go into survival mode and your flight or fight brain gets activated. Survive, that is all it is about. While this is life saving in the moment, it is meant to be short lived. If you get stuck in survival mode for long episodes, it is detrimental to your total wellbeing.

This is my return to thrive strategy designed in response to the life challenges I have faced. This was most recently tested as I recovered from cancer treatment, a massive test for the strategy! I wondered if I would ever feel alive again, have the passion and energy for life that had been fuelling me up until then. Through it I was literally putting one foot in front of the other:1 breath, 1 step at a time. But eventually with a lot of self care, belief and a strategy to boot, like the lotus flower “we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world again” So when you are faced with what seems like an insurmountable challenge be it an illness, a world pandemic, a relationship breakup, a job loss, or business failure you have 3 choices: you can let it define; let it destroy you; or let it strengthen you. I choose strengthen and this is how.

STEP 1 ACCEPTANCE

A biggy! Wishing things were different is a futile exercise which leaves you drained and disempowered. It doesn’t mean agreement or happy about the situation you find yourself in. No, it is simply accepting what is. This is your thrive starting point. By mentally shifting into a place of accepting, you move yourself into a place of control and power again. Give some thought to what you are resisting and fighting and what to accept rather than ignore, avoid, suppress or deny.

STEP 2 BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

This is all about practising self care and compassion, which is vital to fuel your recovery. And it is treating yourself like you would your best friends. Supporting, looking after yourself , talking to yourself the way you would those people you love dearly. In tough times being mean and hard on yourself does not help nor work! I know you have the tools because its the same as being gentle and kind to a child, a best friend or even a stranger, so do it for yourself

STEP 3 HAVE A VISION

This gives you something to aim for so make it a motivating picture of a future you would like to create for yourself again. Your brain loves to have pictures to subconsciously go after. In my opinion we spend a lot of time imagining an awful future and acting as though it will come true, so why not flip it and work on creating a future you would like to move towards. It can be 1month from now, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years. You decide.

STEP 4 TAKE ACTION STEPS

Do not underestimate how, step by step, you travel far. Your vision may seem far off. Mine did. In all honesty it was not in my control. I could not control the cancer but I worked on all the other things that were 100% in my control. That’s where your superpower comes from.Take action each day to move you towards this. Increase your actions as you gain momentum and energy. In the beginning, during chemotherapy, I was so ill but I still had 3 “goals” for each day – get up, have a shower, take some exercise. On really bad days just accomplishing number 1 was a challenge. Continually review your progress and revise the action, stretching yourself along the way!

STEP 5 HAVE A SUPPORT NETWORK

Whether it is virtual or actual, having support is key to get thriving again. Accepting help is a big part of self care and letting go of the feeling of being a burden, Have people to turn to help endure the bad days. Sometimes if feels like a cha cha cha, one step forward, one back. In fact some things can’t be fixed, just carried so it is important to have a circle of people who can be there for you on the good and bad days.

STEP 6 CELEBRATE AND BE GRATEFUL ALONG THE WAY

Celebrate every milestone, every bit of progress, every achievement large and small. Size is not what matters. You are moving closer and closer to the new envisioned future you desire. One of my favourite celebrations was the first time I could visit the hairdressers when my hair grown back. what a fabulous day that was and I now have a new perspective on bad hair days. Express your gratitude because although not every day will be a good one, there is always good in every day. Expressing the things you are grateful for along the way reduces your stress and makes you feel better. Take a moment to truly appreciate about yourself, your life and others. Saying thank you for the small things that you take for granted can work miracles.

And then one day you look back on day 1 and marvel at how far you’ve come and the journey on the way.

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Has your Detox gone digital yet?

On Sunday evening I spent a wonderful hour online with a group of ladies, talking about things self care and self love. You see, I believe one of the most important relationships, if not THE most important, is the one you have with yourself. Self care, self love, self belief, self confidence, self compassion etc There’s a reason they begin with self, only you can do it! This sets the tone for all your other relationships.

A few things became pretty apparent, very quickly. The first being that, even though everyone had different personal situations – some with babies, grown up kids, no kids, ageing parents, working from home, working in large corporations, self employed I could go on, many really struggled with the guilt of taking care of themselves. Words like indulgent and selfish came to mind for most people. Now I am here to tell you that thinking is the problem! You need to detox that thought! Even though I appreciate it is not always easy to find time for yourself in the melee of life, you must! It is essential, not a luxury. A self care plan is a healthcare plan, even if it is only 10mins in your day. So a suggested strategy to deal with this is to create a positive affirmation which is a powerful way of rewiring the brain to a new way of thinking and being.

Examples like

Taking care of myself is worth making time for and everyone benefits”

I take care of the world when I take care of myself

The other revealing thing for many was the curse of the “mindless scroll”. Yes, the mobile phone is like carrying life and work around in your hands, which is all great. You get instant access – whether it be banking, email, ordering goods, the news, getting directions. They are all there with the swipe of a screen. Many cannot imagine life without this. That said, it can also be a contributor to your stress. Like many things in life, it is not that it’s either good or bad but good and bad. Many things overused can turn into a liability or a problem. We discussed how easy it is to pick up the phone to “check something” and before you know it, you’ve been mindlessly scrolling for 30mins. So how to do a digital detox? There are 3 steps to any change of habit

1.Awareness

2.Action

3.Practise

Change begins first by becoming aware of how you are currently using it, what action you can take to improve – stop doing, start doing and then practise. It is about training yourself to pick up your phone only when you really need and mastering the meaningful scroll. So before you start scrolling think about what your intention is. Make sure it supports your goals, keeps the benefits and minimises any unnecessary drain on your attention, time and wellbeing. Here are some great suggestions to help reduce the urge:

Invest in an alarm clock instead of using the alarm on your phone

Put your phone on flight mode when working on another task

Keep screens out of the bedroom

(If this isn’t possible as you are an emergency contact, at least move it to the other side of the room to reduce any temptation to start scrolling just because you can get to sleep)

Set time limits and timers to keep you mindful

Take your phone off the table at dinner

Reduce notifications to a minimum

Leave your phone at home when you go out for a walk

I talked about a superpower that all of us as humans have, our power to consciously choose. It is said we operate anything from 75% – 95% of the time, unconsciously, in old beliefs, unhelpful habits and patterns. Get back in the driving seat! After all your brain pretty much does what it thinks you want it to do, so you need to direct it much more clearly .Take conscious control of how you choose to spend the time on the mobile phone. The upshot is self care is not all chocolates, candles and spa days which is important too. Self care is doing what you need to do to look after your total well being – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual and show up as your best self as much as possible

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self confidence so that’s very important for good health” Dalai lama

Are you chasing the Elusive Butterfly of Happiness?

For many people happiness is an elusive butterfly in the garden of life. Imagine a young child in the garden on a summer day. The child sees a beautiful butterfly flitting from flower to flower. With eyes of wonder the child wants to see it close up, touch it, and hold it in their hands. The child goes towards the flower that the butterfly is resting on, with arms out stretched, only to find as he just gets in reach, the butterfly moves to another flower. Undeterred the child follows the butterfly to the next flower, and then the next, but the butterfly always stays just out of reach.

As adults, happiness can seem just like that butterfly, always just out of reach. It becomes almost an obsession and the words “if only…” become an increasingly large part of our thoughts and vocabulary. If only I had more money I would be happy, if only I was in a great relationship I would be happy, if only I could have a different job……….and the list goes on. Even if we achieve one of our “if only “desires, the happiness we seek is still just out of our reach. The truth of the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” becomes our focus and perception. If this becomes our focus, we find that dissatisfaction and unhappiness increasingly keep growing in our life and experience.

The unhappiness within us can not be completely satisfied by external events or circumstances. To find happiness in life we must first be at peace with ourselves internally. External events and circumstances can bring us happiness in the moment, but they do not have a lasting effect on our inner self. Life experience brings a mixture of good and bad circumstances to everyone. To rely on life’s experiences for our source of happiness would mean living life in a constant emotional roller coaster ride.

Happiness comes from within. The inner contentment that survives the roller coaster ride of life has its roots deep within our being. The source of happiness comes from finding and embracing who we are as a person, and living a life of purpose. We need to find peace in every aspect of our life- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. To discover acceptance, purpose and peace in all of these areas will give a sense of completion in life. If we neglect any one of these areas, we experience a sense of emptiness and feel something is missing. There is not a solid foundation for building happiness within, but we then, typically start to try to fill this incompleteness by looking for outside solutions. That is the point when we can fall into the ‘elusive butterfly’ syndrome, and experience such frustration.

Is happiness an elusive butterfly for you? Spend some time in quiet reflection. Are you neglecting one of the four important parts of who you are and experiencing a sense of emptiness within? The more you discover, embrace and accept your uniqueness and purpose, the more you will experience the butterfly of happiness alighting on your shoulder.

The new normal!

Life May Never Be the Same, But Could This Actually Be a Good Thing For YOU?

Why you should get ready to move to your NOW normal.

The words “new normal” are being bandied about with as much frequency as “unprecedented times” were at the beginning of lockdown. To be honest, it is as good a time as any to think about how you want your new norm to be.

Of course, we still don’t know for certain how things are going to pan out, but taking control is still the best strategy for personal success and wellbeing. Now is the time to give some thought to creating a better, more positive, and sustainable future. You should do this not only for yourself, but for your family, your community and even the planet, too. Particularly if you find yourself reflecting on how a lot of things that have been better lately!

Let’s be honest, many of us knew we could not keep up the pace we were going at; burnout, disconnect and exhaustion were accepted as the norm.

Busyness was worn like a badge of honour.

“How are you?” someone would ask and all too often the reply would be;

“Busy”

It was an ingrained way of being for far too many of us. So being forced into lockdown allowed us to do things differently; some things we stopped doing, some we started and some we continued with. A lot of us took on new hobbies in order to cope with lockdown in a way they would not have thought possible, as there was no space to squeeze it in!

Baking, Pilates, quizzes, family meals, singing, flower arranging, daily exercise- as it was a chance to get out, talking and getting to know our neighbours, helping each other out. All of these suddenly filled our days. There is a plethora of hobbies, interests and new ways being cultivated right now and many of them are having a positive impact on our self-care and wellbeing.

So, is it possible to integrate any of what is really working for you into your now norm?

I think so. I would suggest that in order not to fall back into old ways that really did not serve you well, you will need to engage in a bit of intentional reflection on your part. Think about how you could integrate the above into how you wish life to be moving forward.

You will need to spend some time considering the routines and rituals that truly contribute to your overall wellbeing (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical) which power you to be a better version of yourself, and dare I say allow you to be much happier.

I mentioned that some of my clients are loving how lockdown had freed them mentally from some of the assumptions and constraints they had prior to Covid. These clients equally had a fear that it would lift and then would go back to how it was before Covid. It doesn’t have to be this way!

The process of change.

William Bridges in his book ‘Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes’ discusses a 3-stage process which happens when we are going through change. In fact, he calls the ‘change’ the external event, whereas the ‘transition’ is the internal processing that we go through. The three phases are; endings, neutral zone, new beginnings.

“What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from” T.S. Eliot.

Lockdown certainly ended a lot of things very quickly. Lockdown was the external event, but in fact the beginning of the transition. We are well immersed in the neutral zone and starting to see new beginnings, but the neutral zone has felt anything but neutral!

I’m sure you can relate to the feelings of uncertainty, confusion, discomfort, weirdness, strangeness and possibly even distress as we know the old way no longer works. However, the new beginning has not yet emerged. In Bridges’ words he describes this phase “Deep do do for the next 750 miles.”

It’s quite comforting to know that there is a structure to what we are experiencing right now, I guess what’s different is there is no one we can turn to to guide us as every country, government, leader, parent, teacher is in uncharted waters. As human beings we like to hurry through transitions taking them too seriously or not seriously enough. The lexicon around it is always about moving on.

The only person who can truly guide you is you.  

There is no one who knows better than you about what is right for you and the life you want to move towards and what aligns with it. So, reflect and consciously choose your own new beginnings, that serve and support the life you want to have. This is the link between the usual and not yet. Using this time to reflect and integrate as you go forward IS the silver lining.

We have a chance to turn the crisis into an opportunity!

Consider all aspects of your life in lockdown.  

Maybe for you it was getting to bed earlier and quality sleep that you are benefiting from. I know home schooling is a challenge I have heard enough people say it, but perhaps it has made you realise how quickly children grow up and how you want to keep having good quality family time together or to be there to put them to bed. Or you may even have realised how much you have enjoyed leading your team through this time and would love to go for the promotion you always thought you were not capable of. Maybe you started planning and preparing healthy meals and found yourself with so much energy and looking and feeling better much better.

Maybe you were someone who spent hours of your day on trains, planes or automobiles and you now realise how much you hate it. What choices do you have now? How can you keep that up? Change your working approach in a way that works for you and your clients? Or perhaps it has just reinforced your workaholic tendencies as even in lock down you still don’t find YOU time! Personally, time to incorporate yoga and meditation into my day has been so uplifting, calming and energising. So why not click below to download my free worksheet to help reflect on how it has been for you and the lessons you want to take with you and how you will implement the now normal.

“In school you get the lesson and then take the test…In life you take the test and then get the lesson.” Unknown

What are the lessons you want to take away from this crisis and weirdness? And what will you do with them? I hope you find this exercise helpful and please stay calm and centred.