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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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
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
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.
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.
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;
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.
Ancient Romans named the month of January for Janus, their god of gates, doors and beginnings. Always pictured with two faces – one looking toward the future, the other back at the past — Janus is a fitting symbol for the turning of a new year. As we step through the doorway from one year to the next, it’s natural to do as Janus does: lookback and ahead. It is also predicted that2020’s quitter day will be Sunday 19th January, the day most people will give up on their new year’s resolutions. In my opinion this is because they have not created a compelling enough vision of a future reality they want to aim for. So I’m inviting you this year, instead of just reflecting on the past year or making New Year’s resolutions to break, why not consider using this first part of the year to look beyond, beyond the horizon and create that compelling, heart thumping vision for the next decade for yourself and those you want to take with you. Whether it is a vision for your business, your leadership, your life, whatever it might be, you need to know what you really want to aim for, otherwise you just might end up somewhere else!
Why? Well from a business perspective this should go without saying: Leaders are only leaders if they are leading somewhere. Unfortunately, there are many people in positions of leadership who want people to passionately and fully devote themselves to their business and yet they themselves have no clear sense of where they are going or taking people. Sometimes, what’s missing is the ability to inspire a shared vision. This is a core leadership capability in today’s world. Kouzes & Posner, 2 academics turned business leaders conducted extensive research in this area by asking followers: what matters most in your leaders? The ability to inspire a shared vision was the number 1 attribute that most distinguishes leaders from non-leaders.And yet it continues to be the practise where leaders score least effectively, both according to themselves and their followers. You can take the concept of leadership into your own life too and have a vision for an integrated, flourishing and well-balanced life. After all you are the leader of your own life!
It’s not the notion of climbing some mountain and assuming the lotus position waiting for revelation then going and announcing or being a clairvoyant. Done well it’s how positive change occurs, people coming together united for a common cause and greater good. It generates energy, excitement and passion.
Done well everyone has a sense of where things are going and their part in it, smart choices are being made with the end in mind. Done well there is much to be gained
So how do we do it? According to Gainpiero Petriglieri and his wife, INSEAD professors who have done extensive work in this area they found 2 things to be present and essential for greatness in this area:
• Painting a vivid picture of a future day that is better than today
• Articulating a clear plan and show signs of progress no matter how small
Sounds simple right so how come it is not common practise? Well 2 key mistakes;
Some are getting on with it, but no one knows where they are headed but the number one reason for failure is, we are not dreaming of a future that is big, bold enough, audacious enough to excite and inspire
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo Buonarroti
The key is to take time to uncover, connect, communicate, execute and review your vision for business and life. Vision provides direction and helps your business prepare for the future, Vision provides guidance for decision-making, it shapes strategy, Vision guides the types of people you hire and promote. Vision defines what you will and what you will not do, in business and life. Vision helps set priorities and guides planning. Vision aligns people and activities. Vision provides purpose and a source of inspiration Vision reflects a person or business’ core values and beliefs. Vision empowers people and helps focus their efforts. Vision brings change and hope for the future.
Let’s start 2020 a different way. It takes effort to distil big ideas and hopes into a simple picture of the future but it’s worth the effort. Too often we say we’re too busy, but more likely to be busy in our business not on the businessand other times that is simply an avoidance strategy. It is not easy to do. As a leadership coach, one of my passions is to partner with you through this and propel you to greatness, running thriving business and flourishing lives.
It is by no means a new thing to consider reflecting as the end of one year approaches and a new one begins, however, we should take some time to think about why this is such a critical activity to engage in.
So the value of reflecting? With the pace and demands of life nowadays, I’m inclined to agree with this quote from Dale Dauten:
“Just because we increase the speed of information doesn’t mean we can increase the speed of decisions. Pondering, reflecting and ruminating are undervalued skills in our culture.” Dale Dauten
Reflection time is not just important – it’s VITAL. It gives us the opportunity to acknowledge our professional and personal successes, challenges and difficulties. It helps us see where we have grown and what directions we would like to take next. It brings learning to life, increases our insights, makes lessons stick more and allows us to grow and change. More and more, in business and life, reflection is being scarified for doing. I see people acting like machines, running from one thing to the next ,whether it is a meeting or an event, with no time to process. We are addicted to do lists and in the habit of doing without adequate reflection: what’s my desired outcome; why is this important to me?; what am I prepared to do to have it and make it happen; what happened; what have I learnt about myself, others from this lesson and how can I apply this learning? The quality of our results will be determined by our action, I agree, but the quality of the action is often determined by the quality of our thinking and reflecting, so I encourage you and teams to do more of this.
And what better time than the end of December – a quieter time for many of us. As 2019 draws to an end, we are at the end of another decade! Where does time go? It seems like only yesterday we were getting all worried about Y2K , that’s now 20 years ago!!! So take this opportunity to think about who you value in your life, where you are on your spiritual or life journey, what you’ve achieved over the past decade and last year, in all areas of importance to you – career, business, health, relationships, growth, contribution etc. I’d also recommend thinking about what you might want to leave behind from last year or this decade – unhelpful patterns, unhealthy choices, old version of yourself or anything toxic from your life. Life will happen, fact, but perhaps with this reflecting, you can decide what you want to have happen. What is important to you in the upcoming year, what do you believe you deserve and what are you willing /want to do to create the year you want? Armed with this information, it is not always about making huge unrealistic promises to ourselves and others and falling at the first hurdle! Sometimes we do want to create change and other times it is simply about preserving the existing. This decade was definitely full of turbulence for me and yet despite a lot of tough times I have so many fun and wonderful memories to cherish. I’m looking forward with gratitude, appreciation for all the love in my life and a determination to make every day count. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.
Are you the kind of person who is always there showing kindness, empathy and affection to friends and family when they have made a mistake, not lived up to some expectation, or when they are going through a really tough time? Are you the one full of compassion, asking them what they need right now to help them through it, offering encouraging words, reminding them they are only human or helping them see the positive lesson in the failure?
Next question – when it is you who has made the mistake, not lived up to an expectation (probably your own!) or going through a tough time, are you there offering the same support, words of encouragement, compassion? My guess is not! It’s more likely to sound like this “you are a failure, you look awful today, how could you do that, how could be so stupid” Things you are quite happy to say to yourself but you would never dream of saying to a close friend or family member.
So I am on a quest to encourage you to practice being there for yourself, just as a friend would be, to learn how to show self compassion. Why? Because mental health research has shown us it can relieve pain and free us from anxiety, eliminate insecurities and even depression. No matter what happens on the outside, it’s about treating yourself with care and compassion on the inside.
Fact – everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like; something that causes them to feel inadequate, to feel insecure, or not “good enough.” It’s all part of life. I’ve been working on this myself. as sometimes I get really tired and exhausted in a way that I know is a result of medical treatment. I used to beat myself up a lot , not literally of course, just berating myself for needing to rest when some people can run marathons going though treatment. I would never say that to a friend or family member. I’d be there suggesting that they might go easy on themselves and perhaps listen to what their body is asking for right now. Like everything some days I find it easier than others but at least I’m getting better and don’t compare myself to what others can do. I learn how to look after my own needs and nourish myself.
So self-compassion is about acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself, as you would a best friend. Instead of expecting yourself to deal with a “get over it , stiff upper lip” mentality, it’s about stopping and acknowledging “this is really difficult right now and asking “how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?
Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest this as it is far way from the usual judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings. Some people even believe they would drop their standards if they went easy on themselves! Self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect? It doesn’t mean you don’t try to improve or get better but you do it to be better, healthier, happier not because you are worthless. Things do not always go the way you want them to and even the best laid plans fail. You will face disappointments, let downs, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your own ideals. This is called being human, something we all share . So please befriend yourself, pay attention to the words you say and most of all be compassionate and forgiving with yourself whenever the proverbial hits the fan. Beating yourself up when you feel like you are already on the ropes, I don’t think so. This is the time to be your most loving and forgiving of yourself – be your own best friend.
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