Hi all! Hope you’re all having an awesome start to 2020.
I know how it is when you see all these motivational posts by myself and other writers, and how disheartening it can be when you haven’t yet got to where you envision.
That’s why this week, I’ve decided to talk about the things I sometimes go through, and the times I’ve succumbed to weakness, to show you that while I’ve come far, and while I certainly believe in what I write, I’m not perfect.
You don’t have to be, either.
All you have to do is continue to be your unique self, and above all, love the person you are or are becoming.
Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work And How You Can Master Yourself PERMANENTLY
I know it’s a little on the late side since January has well and truly kicked off, but Happy New Year to you all!
And how are those New Year resolutions going? Still going strong, or starting to feel the burn? Perhaps you’ve already given up.
If the latter sounds like you then worry not ,because today I want to talk about why New Year New Me doesn’t work, and why you can still win big this year while being yourself.
For many, New Years is like starting a fresh new notebook or journal. You know the feeling: crisp fresh pages that you’re definitely going to keep neat and fill all the pages this time. But ten weeks later, it’s full of scribbles and you’re already looking at new ones.
That’s what New Yew Year’s resolutions can be like and this is why so many people are what I call one month wonders.
It’s the same every year; the clock strikes midnight and everyone cheers, pops the champagne and vows to be a better person.
‘From this moment on, I’m cutting sugar and losing weight!’
‘I’m going to find a new job’,
‘I’m going to be more organised’,
‘I’m going to stop smoking’’
‘I’m going to start going to the gym’,
‘I’m going to be a better parent/partner’,
‘I’m going to get a nicer partner’
Half a week goes by. Then one. You’re on fire! You’re totally going to smash your goals. You can already feel yourself becoming the person you’re meant to be, that you’ve always dreamed of.
Then week two comes and you start to feel the burn. It’s hard. Really hard. And you’ve already skipped a few days at the gym, and are falling behind schedule.
Life is hard, so you go out and treat yourself to the biggest, creamiest slice of cake you can find, accompanied by the sweetest, most luxurious hot chocolate. Bliss.
‘Oh well, failed already,’ you think. But no matter, everyone else has as well. I’ll try again once the warmer weather comes.’
Thus, the pattern continues year after year. The resolutions remain the same, and the list is a little longer than before. Why isn’t anything changing? You try, but life just keeps getting in the way.
That’s because New Year New Me doesn’t work like that.
Despite what marketing would have you believe, you’re still you, and growth takes place over a long period of time. Change must come from within if you want to see a significant difference in your reality.
A new you isn’t something that comes about like a change in the weather. It’s like planting a tree, maintaining it, and watching it grow. It takes time and dedication. And you must be willing to fail and learn from it as a part of the process.
Society and social media would have you believe that you must be perfect, and that you can be perfect if only you’d buy this health drink, and this notebook. But the opposite is true.
Without failure you cannot win.
This may feel shocking and a little uncomfortable to take on, but failure is a great thing. Not only do you learn what works and what doesn’t, it means you’re taking action, which is more than most people do.
There isn’t a single successful person who has got where they have or where they did without consistent failure.
Take Thomas Edison, for example. He didn’t see failure as his enemy, despite a thousand failed attempts at creating the lightbulb.When a reporter asked how it felt to have failed that many times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
The reason so many people fail and don’t get back up is because they lack grit, don’t have a powerful enough reason for change to take place, and see failure as a terrible, unacceptable thing.
Also, getting fired up just because everyone else is doing it.
Everyone else is going to the gym and going on diets. Everyone else has a plan. Everyone else is going to be better and you’re going to be left in the dark.
But if you’re one of those people who say ‘Right, it’s New Year, I’m going to be more assertive and look after myself more’, you’re not serious enough.
That’s right. You’re not truly ready to commit.
Because people who wait until the New Year to make changes always wait for the planets to align before they start. They wait until everyone else is doing the same thing, then burn out at around the same time.
If you’re dead serious about becoming a new you and winning throughout the year, the best time to start is always NOW.
You’ve probably read that on a hundred other posts and in dozens of books. You might even be sick of seeing it. That’s because it’s true.
It doesn’t matter if it’s New Year or the end of summer, if you’re twenty-five or seventy. If you really want things to change, you’ll put in the time and dedication from the moment you decide what you want.
As author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn said ‘If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse’.
I used to be a master of excuses and spinning stories as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. It meant I could sound and feel temporarily awesome without putting in the work.
If I was meant to be successful, success would come to me. Maybe I’d even win big on the lottery.
I grew up with everyone around me telling me that life is hard, that money is hard to come by, that I should be grateful for what I have and not do anything stupid, aka, go outside my comfort zone and look for another way in life.
I was told that people who have money or who were successful had either cheated the system or won big.
And I believed it all.
As a result, I looked in awe at successful people and thought they were born that way. If someone was in a higher position that me at work I looked at them almost like celebrities. I put them on a pedestal and looked at them starry-eyed whilst seeing myself as important as pond scum.
I’ve also read tonnes of amazing self-help books and done every exercise in them, applying them best I can every day of my life.
That doesn’t mean that I never slip up because I do, plenty of times. But it’s important to keep going. Remember what I said about failure?
Over time my confidence has sky-rocketed, I’ve completed the first course towards a new career as a counsellor, and I started this blog. I also entered my first writing competition despite being so terrified that my heart was pounding before I hit publish.
My mindset has completely altered from what it once was and my old beliefs have long gone out with the trash.
But it took a lot of hard work and perseverance. I had to carve out time for personal reflection and self-growth exercises, to toss out my past in bin liners and boxes, and it had to be more important than sitting with a game controller in hand, daydreaming about a new me.
Change didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time, and I’ll never have completely reached my full potential because growth never stops.
In the words of entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Hal Elrod, ‘You are where you are because of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.”
To be successful you have to make the choice to carry on long after everyone around you has quit.
It’s easy to enter the New Year saying ‘Hell yeah, watch out world, here comes the new me!’and dive in brimming with motivation, especially while everyone else is doing the same thing.
It’s why it’s always so hard to find a parking spot at gyms in January, why book shops start selling all the motivational self-help books, and why health food and fitness equipment adverts can suddenly be found everywhere.
But simply buying an exercise bike and going at it when you feel like it isn’t going to make you fit.
Buying a nicer laptop or a shiny new notebook isn’t going to make you a well-known author.
Ditching one bad relationship isn’t going to stop you from attracting more of the same if you still harbour subconscious negative beliefs about your self-worth.
Vowing to be better with money isn’t going to make you any richer.
What will get you results is riding that bike regularly, churning out words daily, altering your inner beliefs so that you will no longer put up with mediocre circumstances. Not giving up when you fail, no matter how many times.
What you do must become so routine that it feels the new norm, including the way you think about yourself.
Grit and habit aside, you must also be very specific. If you’re vague and say things like ‘I will be better with money’, you’ll be scratching your head come March and blowing cobwebs out of your wallet.
You need a detailed plan which includes specifics. For example ‘I will not go under £200 in my bank account every month. I will do this by eating out only once a month, and making lunches at home four days a week’.
You must become like the Terminator. Your why must be so strong that it can’t be reasoned with or bargained with, and you must be relentless even when everyone else is back to screwing around.
Let me give you an example of this from my own experience.
When I first decided I was going to change my path and become a counsellor, I encountered a lot of resistance from others; mainly because it had come to me in a dream and it felt so right and I felt so excited that I started excitedly ranting to my husband about it.
Then I jumped out of bed and started looking up courses and thinking of ways to pay for it, even though I was completely broke.
Not surprisingly, my family thought I had lost my mind.
But I felt so intensely that this was the path I was meant to follow, that I didn’t stop. I went on the search for days, researching the career, talking to people, and searching for courses even when it seemed there were none in my area.
I didn’t care how long it took me or if I had to travel for miles on train. My husband was about tearing his hair out at this point trying to talk and shout sense into me (before he started supporting me when he saw just how deadly serious I was).
Long story short, a course appeared in my area as if by magic and in a very short time I applied for and was accepted onto it. In true Law of Attraction style, I ended up with the exact amount of money needed to pay for it and have now completed my course and applied for the next one.
Without a doubt, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I didn’t care what anyone else said to me, what the universe threw at me, or what my current situation was.
That’s how dedicated you need to be if you want to change your life.
Yes you’ll have challenges thrown your way. The universe loves to do that.
Many people see them as impossible hurdles and a sure sign that they aren’t meant to succeed.
Don’t believe it for a moment! See these things for what they really are – a test to see how serious you are. Find a way to barrage through the obstacle and you’ll get to where you want in no time.
This brings me to my final point of staying focused.
Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others and look at what they’re doing unless it’s for educational or inspirational purposes.
It’s not a competition and you won’t be lying in the same grave as them when you’re gone.
You’re living YOUR life, crafting YOUR own reality. You can only do this by following YOUR own path in life.
If you’re constantly looking over at someone else’s path, you’re going to bump into trees, get lost and not even see the massive pile of gold you passed ten miles back.
You’ll also probably start noticing how many more weeds are on your path than theirs, not realising they had to hack their way through a jungle at the start.
So stop dreaming and start living, TODAY!
With that, I leave you with one more quote I love by Jim Rohn: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Post-Christmas Blues; usually characterised by feelings of emptiness, sadness and loneliness, typically sets in days after the festive celebrations have died down.
The run up to the big day is full of excitement, anticipation and time spent with family. For others, it is a big build up of anxiety.
Before you can blink, the presents have been unwrapped, the food is almost gone, and so have the excess of visitors. Your wallet is empty, everything is quiet and you’re exhausted and left with your own thoughts and feelings.
Exactly what shade of blue you feel will depend on if you’ve had a chaotic few days of family bust-ups, spent it alone, are financially broke, or overdid it on the food and wine.
Either way, there are ways you can get back to feeling yourself, perhaps even better than before, with these 8 simple yet effective tips.
As humans we are programmed to see the negative much more prominently than the positive. Seeing the negatives is an ingrained survival response so that we don’t repeat situations that might endanger us. As a result, all the good things that happened get buried under a quagmire of sickly emotions and thoughts about things that have happened.
Write down all the things you are grateful for over the year. They don’t have to be big things, and if you feel that your year has been a total bust, or you suffer from depression, they can be as simple as ‘I am grateful that I had a tasty hot dinner today’,’I am grateful for my two best friends’ or whatever it is that suits you.
Sometimes, when I struggle to think about what’s been good in a day I am grateful for the simple things such as being able to express myself through writing, and having great friends.
You can also write down small good things that have happened even if it was something as small as “I managed to have a shower and get dressed”, or “I managed to go into town”.
Your wins can depend largely on your mental and physical health, so don’t dismiss something just because others might perceive it as insignificant.
2. Positive Connections
Spending time with someone positive who makes you feel good can make a world of difference and change your outlook for the rest of the day or week. If that isn’t possible then a phone call should suffice.
If you often find yourself in contact with ‘toxic people’, limit your time with them if possible, or read how to handle such people and situations in this post.
Ask anybody what they would do if they had a whole day to do whatever they wanted, and I guarantee you that ‘scrolling through social media feeds’, and clicking ‘like’ won’t even get a mention.
Further elaborating on the point I made above, social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand it can make you feel temporarily connected with others, but on the other it can make you focus on the lives of other people and on the likes you get on your posts, which will ultimately make you feel much worse.
Remember, what you see of people online is a mere snapshot, and some of it may be a carefully curated mask that people like to show online, but in no way represents their true life.
Limit the time you spend online and do something else that makes you glow inside. As if by magic, you will find you have much more time to do such things.
It goes without saying, but over the festive season, it is astounding just how much food you end up consuming in one day: leftover turkey sandwiches, boxes of sweets, chocolate and biscuits, mounds of cheese on crackers, mince pies, fruit cake and alcohol – and all of it after a big hearty dinner.
Not only can it leave you feeling lethargic and bloated, it can make you feel guilty. If that’s the case, try swapping the sweet treats for some refreshing fruit instead, and limit the amount of carbs (found in bread, pastry and pasta) which will make you feel tired and sluggish.
Finally, if you’re known to enjoy a good few drinks as soon as the holidays start, cut it out until at least New Years Eve. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice festive drink; have the occasional hot chocolate or steaming cup of herbal tea – whatever takes your fancy.
5. Minimise/declutter your environment
Your environment has a massive impact on how you feel, but it’s one of those hidden things which so many of us don’t consider.
We tend to think about people and situations rather than our stuff, yet your physical surroundings can make you stressed without you even realising it – too much stuff, things that are broken, things that have bad memories attached, gifts and heirlooms with an aura of guilt surrounding them, dust bunnies hiding behind the sofa.
Try having a deep-clean of the rooms you use the most and getting rid of anything that you don’t use or doesn’t bring you any happiness.
Among all the mounds of novelty Christmas gifts, or knick-knacks bought in winter sales, it can be hard to see the things which you truly love; the things which scream “This is what I enjoy and this is what’s important to me”.
A clean environment feels fresh, and regained space allows for a calmer mind and new possibilities to take on the things you enjoy instead of spending time thinking about and cleaning around your stuff.
6. Write some goals for 2019
Everyone seems to be making goals for the New Year: to lose weight, to quit smoking, to go to the gym regularly, to spend more time with family, to get a more fulfilling job.
Your resolutions will be unique to you, but it can feel fruitless if you compare yourself to others or believe that you can’t.
But before you say ‘What’s the point? I can never keep my resolutions’, break your goals down into chunks and start believing that you can. And truly believe it.
Above all, be specific. Don’t just say “I want to lose weight”, say “I will lose 5lb in X number of weeks by X date”. Don’t just say “I want to spend more time with my family”, say “I will go with my significant other to the seaside this summer, go to the cinema with them next month, and only check my phone after dinner”.
It’s critically important that you change ‘I want’ to ‘I will’, because ‘I want’ is nothing but dreaming about change whereas, ‘I will’ puts you in the mindset that action must and will be taken.
And if you stumble along the way, don’t treat it as a failure. Don’t say “I failed to stop smoking today because I snuck one in – I may as well give up”, say “I smoked less than yesterday and will try again tomorrow”. See failures for what they truly are – stepping stones to success.
Whenever you see a successful person, I guarantee you that they will have failed dozens or hundreds of times before they got where they are now. So see failure as your greatest ally, not something to fear.
If you happen to believe in the Law of Attraction, you can also think and act as if you’ve already achieved what you want, which will attract success your way. To use this method, your thoughts must be in perfect, positive alignment with what you’re seeking, and you must never back down.
Keep it manageable, keep it achievable, keep the momentum. Just don’t underestimate what you’re capable of.
But why wait until the final bongs of the year? Make a start now and start carving the path to a new, happier you.
Once you’ve taken the tree, the lights and the other festive decor down, your room can feel incredibly barren. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. You can choose to appreciate the exposed space and bask in serenity, or you can replace the tree with a lovely house plant instead.
Why not bring some of the benefits of the outdoors, indoors? You’ll be amazed at what some fresh greenery here and there can do to lift your spirits, as well as help purify the air you are breathing.
8. Be kind to yourself
Possibly the most important thing on this list, being kind to yourself is easier said than done. We are our own worst critics. But with daily practice and some self-awareness, you can tame your inner voice to speak to you with respect and positivity.
Instead of saying “I was useless with my friends today, I didn’t have much to say and I looked a mess”, say “I have good friends who wouldn’t hang out with me if they didn’t enjoy being around me.”
Start to recognise how amazing you are as an individual and tell yourself on a daily basis over and over until you’re sick of it. Write it out every day if you have to, stick it on your bedroom ceiling – whatever it is that will remind you of how amazing you truly are.
While walking the dog, I saw a single white flower, almost like a large daisy, beneath a tree where everything else around it was defeated by ground frost. This flower stood defiant against the elements for many more weeks before finally going crispy and brown. Even then, it stood proud, refusing to fall.
It’s all too easy to end up wilted and lifeless, lacking motivation and longing to hibernate like a bear, especially during these cold, dark, busy winter months.
We get sick, depressed, and lethargic. And if you have a chronic illness, symptoms may become even worse during the colder season.
Add the stress of the holidays, increasingly bleak news headlines, tough finances, family arguments, and you have the perfect recipe for depression, anxiety, overwhelm, and hiding under the duvet for months on end.
There may be times when you feel completely drained and hopeless, but rest assured, there are things you can do to bring that spark back into your soul.
You see, in today’s modern world of consumerism, always-online technology, scary news, uncertainty, and filling tick boxes, we forget to take care of number one. In fact, society tells us it’s selfish to do so; and that couldn’t be any more damaging or further from the truth.
But how do you know when you’re at your limit?
The trick is to understand the signs of when you’re nearing overload. These can include but are not limited to:
Easily losing your temper, even with small things
Feeling like hiding for long periods of time
Thoughts of running away
Feeling stressed without knowing why
Having flare ups of existing illnesses
Unable to cope at work
Fatigue and lethargy
Withdrawing from social situations
Persistent negative thoughts
Please bear in mind that the things I’ve mentioned can also be symptoms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety disorder, or other conditions. If you’ve suffered with symptoms for more than a few months, be sure to talk to a doctor, trusted friend, colleague, or a family member.
Don’t suffer in silence.
Society tells us that it’s selfish to take care of ourselves before we take care of others, but the opposite is true.
Think of yourself as being like a storage box- one with rammed with so much clutter that you can’t possibly fit anymore in.
If you try, the stuff just spills out and the box might even break. Stuff deep inside of it gets damaged because it’s buried under the weight of so much other stuff.
And here’s the thing: it’s impossible to be there for others when your internal storage box is overflowing with to do lists, negative emotions, and other people’s baggage.
Christmas is a particularly stressful time of year but there’s so much you can do to dial it down whilst raising your overall happiness levels.
It’s vital to rewrite the message that society gives out and take care of yourself.
Set healthy boundaries with others. What I mean by that, is if someone is piling their problems onto you, but you feel like you’re creaking under the weight of your own problems, you don’t have to keep cramming your internal storage box beyond capacity.
What you can do, is to tell them that you’ll happily listen to them, but you need a day or so to take some downtime. That way you’re not letting them down, all you’re doing is taking care of yourself so that you’re able to help them.
Realise you don’t have to participate in every event and splurge hundreds of pounds on gifts. You could just as easily donate to a charity and avoid the stress of cards and gifts, all while feeling great because you helped someone in need.
We buy so much stuff to show our love, stuff which will be unloved and unused because it’s the person that’s loved, not the thing. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of people on the streets who can’t afford a hot meal.
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty here, but for me, the reality that’s on the streets of my own town has helped me to put things into perspective.
Do the things you love. Whether that’s snuggling up to watch movies, chilling out to music, writing, playing video games, sewing, drawing or volunteering for charity. Make time for you.
Learn to relax. There’s no need to cram your schedule so full of shopping and events that you lose sight of what’s really important.
Declutter your home to make way for the positive energy of the New Year. Make way for the things that are important to you because you’ll have a far clearer view of what you truly want when it’s not buried by a mountain of stuff you don’t need.
Take Vitamins. A lack of Vitamin D, especially when days are short and dark can contribute to feelings of depression and other health issues. Remember to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
However, if you really want to help out someone else who’s suffering, here are some tips you can use to support them, many of which I’ve learned from completing my counselling course and further studying.
Listen. Truly listen. And empathise. To do this, you must be completely non-judgemental and turn off your inner chatter. Focus only on them and try to feel things from their view of reality. All too often we think we are listening, but can’t wait to bombard them with advice that might not even be suitable.
Depending on the age of the person you’re supporting, you should be very careful if giving advice because it can make them feel powerless, and also cause them to become dependent on you to solve their problems.
Everyone has endless potential to grow and to take charge of their lives, if given the right kind of support, in supportive, kind and caring conditions.
Signpost them to a helpful organisation, charity or service. This would be useful if what they are going through is far more than what you could realistically help with. E.g sexual abuse disclosures or severe mental health issues you are not trained to support.
Don’t assume anything Making assumptions can be more harmful than you think. For example, it would be easy to assume that if you have been through something similar, they must feel the same way about their situation as you did.
That’s not always the case because people are so unique and the meanings they drew from that event in their lives may well be different from your own. Making assumptions is the easiest way to show someone that you don’t understand their viewpoint, and that you’re not truly listening.
Visit them/meet up for fun or just a nice, cosy chat. Christmas can be the loneliest time of year for people or bring forth sad memories and feelings.
Hi there my awesome readers! This week’s post is a little late because I’ve been swept up in the mania the Christmas holidays bring, and some brilliant festive events, which makes my upcoming post ‘Healing Your Inner Self’ very apt for the time of year.
So many people suffer with heightened stress and poor mental health during the winter holiday season, so before I write this week’s post, I remind you all to take good care of yourselves.
Take a breath or two.
Remember that Christmas isn’t about how much money you can spend on your friends and loved ones, or how much you can cram into your schedule in one weekend.
Above all, please don’t suffer in silence if you’re one of those who feels you need to wear a holiday mask of cheer, or if this time of year is difficult for you.
Please check back over the next few days to find out how to care for yourself without those icky feelings of guilt.
Until then, sending positive, chill vibes your way!
I am a writer. You are a writer. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.
And just like you, I sometimes suffer from torturous levels of self-doubt. I haven’t published any books – yet. But I do have a couple of amateurish self-help books that were written years in the past and buried in the attic. I’ve also been writing a self-help blog for the past half a year. A blog I was putting off starting for the longest time because I was petrified of failure.
After starting my blog, people contacted me to tell me how much they appreciated me sharing my stories and advice. It was only a handful of people, but let me tell you, when you have a message to get out and you’re being authentic, it’s the most freeing and amazing feeling in the world.
No matter how rubbish you think you’re writing is, it will always entertain or help someone. And you can only get better, not worse. Though if you never start, nobody can ever hope to be moved by your words or inspired by your inner world.
Looking back on my old work, I see grammatical horrors, and an inconsistent flow. It’s all too easy to listen to that voice from beyond the cobwebs of your mind that says ‘Give it up now. Throw away the pen. Nobody wants to read that hot garbage. Everyone will laugh at you’.
That voice is meaningless. Poison. It will kill your dreams and stifle your voice if you give it so much as an inch.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer. As a child I would sit at home writing stories in cheap spiral notebooks, or typing up a storm on the old-fashioned style typewriter which my parents bought me; you really had to hammer the keys to get the ink onto the paper. I used it so much that one Christmas, they surprised me with an electronic one and I was beside myself with excitement, my fingers soon dancing over the keys, page after page of prose whirring onto the paper.
At school, I put my heart and soul into writing assignments, winning commendations for the stories I wrote in English. It was exhilarating to have my work read out to the whole class, and I felt proud.
Then I got older. And the more of life’s traumas I experienced, the rarer and more incomplete my stories became. I became convinced that they weren’t good enough, even though my cousin would read them, transfixed, and beg me to write the next chapter. I never did. I would screw up entire pages of prose, rewrite it, then screw it up and rewrite it again, until the story got abandoned completely.
Until recently, I would continue to write half stories, only to leave them behind until they become nothing more than a long-buried memory in Google Docs or on my hard drive. Over the years I’ve read dozens of books and magazines on writing. I formed a writing habit, but it still didn’t cure me of my endless need to perfect whatever I was working on. For me, perfectionism was another form of procrastination. As long as I was forever editing my work, I didn’t have to get it out there.
Then something happened which drastically altered that self-defeating mindset that had poisoned my writing over the years. I rediscovered one of the horror stories I had written as a child.
The story was about an alien that came into my house one day and kidnapped my family, then I discovered the family dog could talk because she helped me to defeat the alien and rescue my family. It’s cringe-worthy and hilarious to read now, but ultimately, this story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You see, back then, I was too young and innocent to let a lack of confidence hold back my imagination. My child-self simply put pen to paper and wrote whatever nonsense her brain had dreamed up, no matter how silly it sounded or how crazy the plot.
It’s astounding and depressing how as I grew older, experiencing trauma and setbacks, my stories eroded alongside my self-confidence.
For many years I’d been held back by my insecurities: I’ll never be any good, I’ll never write anything worthwhile, people will never care about what I write and will judge my work harshly. Yet nobody else had ever read this story. The cruellest judge of all was me.
Without a doubt I can tell you that your mind is the enemy of your pen. Whenever you put off another project, or another sentence, you are standing in your own way of success, letting doubt and fear gain the upper hand.
But you’re worth more than that, aren’t you? You know you are. That’s why you have so many words racing around your mind. So many untold dreams.
The words you keep locked in your mind are endless, just like your potential.
Whenever I feel that self-doubt creeping back in, I still my mind and get back in touch with my inner child, locked up behind bars, still poised at the typewriter. And I start to write as if I were that fearless child again, simply getting anything and everything down on paper or my screen.
Just like I finally started my blog and gained several followers, I brought down that old buried manuscript of the self-help book in the attic, and began to rewrite it with the knowledge and skills I’ve gained as a thirty-something writer.
No longer am I a writer in hiding.
Through getting back in touch with that eager and neglected inner-child who’s always wielding her pen and typewriter, never caring what others think, I’ve found that old buried confidence.
Because I am a writer.
So, what are you waiting for? Go unleash those ideas and share them with the world! Your words are worth it!
Despite having so many luxuries and so much stuff, I wasn’t happy.
Back when I was a child I was spoiled. On Christmas and birthdays, presents would be piled to the rafters, and my parents bought me whatever I desired throughout the rest of the year.
The trouble was, I always wanted more, and that pattern continued into my adult life. I also had a real problem with letting go of things from my past.
When I started minimising, I felt an amazing sense of freedom, but something else started to happen as well – I no longer desired the latest smartphone, or a hundred books, or a game room filled to the brim like the collectors I admired on Youtube.
It’s also become virtually impossible to tell family and friends what I want for Christmas or my birthday because, truthfully, there’s very little I desire.
If you’d asked me that question two years before, I wanted so much that it was hard for me to choose what to ask for. The things I didn’t get, I could find in the January sales.
But now I realise that I never needed a bigger house, or any of the other luxuries I craved.
The more I’ve downsized my collections, the more I’ve realised I didn’t need a bigger house or more storage. A bigger house would just mean more maintenance and time wasted. And I’ve never been a party animal.
The reason I was so unhappy was because I wasn’t challenging myself.
I was living in mediocrity, staying at the same level I always had, doing the same job I’d always done, and was content letting my husband take care of the important stuff. After all, I was looked after and fine, so why change anything?
I soon learned just how dangerous that mindset was.
One day, he was driving us to work as usual, and we had a near miss with another car who pulled out on us from the left. As he swerved to avoid it, another car was coming at full speed from up ahead. I started screaming and my life flashed through my brain at a thousand miles an hour.
Mainly all the stuff I hadn’t done.
If my husband hadn’t had super-sonic reflexes that morning, we wouldn’t be here today and this blog never would’ve started.
For the rest of the day, I felt shaky and couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I died without accomplishing what I wanted in life. I also came to the sickening conclusion that I’ve always been looked after, and if anything happened to him, I would be as helpless as a child.
Life can be taken away in an instant. Dreams extinguished along with it.
Minimalism has revealed that I don’t need stuff to make me happy. I need to be able to stand on my own two feet.
I need to be fulfilled. I need to help others. I need to become a full-fledged author and a successful counsellor. I need to make an impression on the world – not my stuff.
That’s why when my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas this year, I was delighted when he suggested that he pay some money towards my training rather than something else that will end up forgotten on a shelf.
I was also more than happy when, for my birthday, my mother paid for my hair to be done. She said she would rather get me something useful than something I would shove in a drawer.
After a year of feeling misunderstood as a minimalist, I can’t even begin to express how much that meant to me.
Now, I also want to say that it’s totally OK to enjoy giving gifts at Christmas, or to ask for a physical possession, as long as it’s something that’s well thought out, and will be loved for a long time, rather than something that will give a quick dopamine hit and end up in a charity shop by summer.
What I want is to invest in my future so that I can be fulfilled and support myself and my family. I want to be of value to others and to enjoy myself in the process.
Does that mean giving up every physical thing I enjoy? No. Of course not. And I’m not ungrateful when people do buy me things because that would make me into an asshat. Being ungrateful for how others choose to show their love is also a surefire way to end up miserable and frustrated.
Minimalism is more than just about decluttering your home and your schedule. It can also apply to people and relationships in your life that are causing you stress or harm. So, this week’s post is all about how to deal with toxic people.
You know the kind of person; they walk into a room and the atmosphere becomes dark and oppressive, almost as if someone sucked the light and energy out of it. They whine and complain, moan and berate. Punch and stamp. The world is a terrible place. They’re always a victim. It’s always your fault.
But I’m not talking about people who’ve had a bad day once or twice, have a moan and say something they later regret. I’m talking about the people who constantly whine, complain, talk about others behind their backs, take without gratitude, and never ever give back.
I’m talking about people who raise their fist and use fear to gain control over others.
Personally, I don’t like the word ‘toxic’ for these people. Rather, I see them as damaged individuals who may or may nor be conscious of the effect they’re having on others. It’s the behaviour that results from that damage that’s toxic.
Please understand that I’m not giving these people a free pass to abuse or belittle others – there is no excuse whatsoever and it’s not acceptable in the slightest. I’m also not asking you to feel sorry for them. I’m simply trying to shed some light about what’s really going on with the so called ‘toxic’ individuals.
For example, a person who spent their whole lives being smacked around by their alcoholic father might go on to abuse others in the same way, or become an alcoholic themselves (I realise that not all abused people go on to abuse!). But the person with that behaviour was once a pure soul who came out of their mother like everyone else.
These kinds of people appear in all walks of life. They’re parents, brothers, sisters, children, friends, colleagues, and people in authority positions.
At best, they make you feel annoyed and fed up. At worst, they start to have a huge impact on your health and mental resources, or even pose a danger to your life.
It doesn’t matter how serene or minimalist your life is behind closed doors, if you constantly hang around people who drain you in such ways, your life will always feel like a hellish whirlwind and you’ll constantly feel exhausted.
But how do you deal with that kind of person without resorting to nastiness or reacting to their behaviour in the exact same way that you despise from them?
I know the feeling; you want to finally say something. To take action. But you worry about feeling guilty, and perhaps hating yourself. Maybe you’re scared.
The reality of having those feelings becomes even more of a worry when you consider that many of these damaged people are also manipulators who know all the right buttons to press to make you feel that way and forgive them , time and time again.
The alternative, is you play tit-for-tat. Perhaps you shout at them and call them even worse things than they called you. Maybe you threaten them with not doing favours for them in the future, or withhold something from them in the hope that they will change.
THIS NEVER WORKS. Reactions such as promises to change will likely be based on fear and/or control. People cannot change overnight. They have to want to change themselves, and it takes many months or years.
Here’s the thing: it sounds crazy but you can still forgive these people without hanging around them and further forfeiting your well-being. You can let go of these people while still remaining a friendly and caring person.
You see, when we hold onto negative feelings for too long; hate, upset, frustration, fury, sadness, despair, helplessness, it becomes emotional clutter that weighs even more heavily than an excess of physical possessions. Eventually, you can no longer function.
But you don’t have to hold onto to all of those feelings. Here’s some ways to deal with those people who are wearing you down, without playing tit-for-tat.
Gradually reduce the time you spend hanging around these people. Or massively cut down on the time you spend responding to them on social media or other means.
On the more extreme end of the spectrum, cut them out of your life completely. This might be the only option if the person is extremely mentally and/or physically abusive or has worn you down over many years with no possibility that they will change.
If you really must be around them, frequently attempt to change the topic of conversation to something more positive. Refuse to engage in negative discussion, especially if it involves bringing others down or going against your own values.
Encourage them to be positive by being positive yourself. Be kind and friendly to them at all times. Be a positive influence in their life. This doesn’t always work and you might find that they re-gravitate towards more negative people, instead. Remember, kindness doesn’t mean you have to accept abuse!
Raise your standards of the kind of people you allow into your life. Many times I’ve heard people say “Why is it I only seem to attract assholes?”, “Why don’t people ever treat me with respect?”. If that sounds like you, consider the Law of Attraction. If you’re negative yourself, orbit around people with toxic behaviour, and you see yourself as that’s all you’re worthy of, I can guarantee without a doubt that you will attract more of the same . The universe will send more people like that your way, and it won’t stop. Manipulators and other damaged people will sense your weakness and take advantage, even if they, themselves, don’t realise they’re doing it.
Simply accept them as they are but put boundaries in place. This doesn’t mean tolerating disrespect and abuse, but understanding why they are the person they are and seeing things from their point of view. Show them warmth and understanding, but have boundaries in place to protect yourself. For example, you will gladly listen to them but under no circumstances will you join in with bad mouthing others, and you will not pick up their messes for them. You are not on beck and call 24/7. Recognise that unless they have a severe mental illness, they are, ultimately, responsible for themselves and their actions. Again – you do not have to put up with any kind of abuse.
If you’re deeply worried about a person and what they might do without you, or they make threats of suicide, either call the emergency services to protect them, or provide them with helpline numbers and services they can contact. As tempting as it might be, try not to play the part of the rescuer unless it’s absolutely necessary. Use common sense and trust your judgement, but don’t be manipulated.
For those of you who aren’t sure what to look out for in a manipulator, some signs are:
threats of suicide if you leave them or don’t do as they ask
Sudden bouts of aggression or dramatic weeping when they’re denied something or don’t feel in control.
controlling behaviour e.g controlling who you talk to
constant phonecalls/texts/social media communications
saying or doing things to make you feel guilty, either by saying something to make you feel sorry for them or by buying expensive gifts.
Please take what I say as a guide only. How you choose to deal with the people in your life will depend on many factors including: your situation,how long it’s been going on, mental health, the ages of the people involved, their relationship to you, and your beliefs.
Whatever you take away from this post, let it be this: you are a worthy human being who deserves love and respect. Learn to love yourself and don’t let others devalue you.
That being said, if you frequently suffer from depressive thoughts and feelings, or can’t seem to pull yourself out of a slump, talk to your GP, or consider therapy such as counselling.
Now, if you’re reading this with two fingers down your throat pretending to vomit, I urge you to consider why that is. Do you feel vulnerable?
It’s hard to admit but it makes me feel vulnerable whenever a sappy scene plays in a movie or game. I sometimes recoil and make immature comments or start acting silly in general.
It used to make me feel vulnerable when my husband acted sweet and romantic towards me (he still does, although I’m now much more mature and accepting about it).
Why? Because it might expose my feelings. Because others might ridicule or judge them, and therefore, ridicule and judge me.
But why, in a post about dealing with ‘toxic’ people, am I telling you this?
Because by becoming better in tune with who you really are and what you really want out of life, you can start to recognise and deal with the toxicity around you.
With that, I leave you with a few questions to think about.
Who are you and what do you stand for?
Who and what do you want in your life and why?
How do you want to spend your time and who with? Why?
How do you want to be treated? Why?
What kind of person don’t you want in your life? Why not?
How don’t you want to be treated? Why not?
How don’t you want to spend your time? Why is that?
What’s the worst way you can imagine yourself or anyone else behaving? Why?
If you allow yourself to be treated as less than human, why is that? Are you scared of being alone? Do you feel unworthy? Why?
You may have noticed that the above questions contain a tonne of ‘whys’. So many they might just be driving you nuts. The reason is because without a ‘why’ it’s next to impossible to understand yourself and others. Without a ‘why’ you’re more likely to give answers without much thought. It makes it easy to avoid difficult truths and feelings.
Remember: never settle for less than you’re worth (you’re always worth far more than you think) and always be kind.
I’ve been watching a riveting anime called Dr Stone. In it, a mysterious wave of light suddenly washes over Earth and turns everybody into stone. 3,700 years later, the world has reverted back to how it was before humans became advanced, and the humans that break out have to survive and rebuild civilisation.
So many things in this anime have stood out to me, but one which has stuck in my mind is how quickly everything can be taken away in a flash, whether that’s by natural disaster, or from unfortunate circumstances.
The humans who found themselves 3,700 years in the future had to start from scratch; foraging for food, hunting, building basic shelter, surviving wild animal attacks, and encountering other humans who’d made their own rules.
There were no smartphones, no TV, no convenience shopping, no electricity, no doctors, and no medicine.
Dr Stone shows just how much we take for granted in today’s modern world.
All humans want happiness, and too often we try to achieve that by buying the things which we believe will make us happy and which marketers have convinced us we need: a new phone, the latest fashions, the latest car, the best smelling cologne, the shiniest, most expensive jewellery, the latest tablet/laptop, the biggest TV, I could go on forever here.
Another thing which struck me in Dr Stone, was how much vegetation had taken over where entire towns and cities once stood. It made me think about how much damage us humans have actually done to our planet.
Gilbert goes on to say that back in the 60’s people had a sense of community, helped each other out, and believed that technology would give us more time to be with the people we love, and to take care of ourselves.
Instead, technology has been used to increase productivity and place huge demands on people, more so than ever before. We now live in a society where everyone is rushed off their feet and busyness is looked upon more admirably than producing quality or meaningful work.
We live in a hive rather than a community. Tick boxes in place of what’s really important. Productivity in place of quality. As busyness has become a hidden expectation, it’s become the norm, and so has stress and mental health disorders.
Rush, rush, rush. Tick, tick, tick. Click, click, click. And what for? To make more money to own a bigger house, to afford everything influencers and the media tells us we need, and to fund the vices that helps us to cope in the resulting frantic, consumerist world.
Now, I’m not saying that buying things you need or will actually bring you joy is bad. Of course it isn’t. I’m talking about mindless, frantic consumerism here. Zombie-like consumption and trying to keep up with the joneses is no good for people, or the planet.
At the end of the day, everything is just stuff. Some of it makes our lives more convenient, some of it brings us joy, some of it is just there to make us look or feel good in front of others, and some of it we don’t even realise we have.