More, More, More – The Reasons You Can’t Stop Buying

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

We all buy things we don’t need from time to time. Unless we’re incredibly disciplined we get tempted by the seasonal sales, or the second we desire something new, it’s just a few clicks away. 

But what happens when buying gets out of control? When everything you ever desired surrounds you but you still want more? 

It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into, but for some, the cycle of purchasing can turn into a shameful nightmare. 

You may not realise you have a problem until people in your household start commenting on the number of deliveries. You may deny you have a problem at all, especially to escape feelings of shame.

Or you might realise you have a problem, but find yourself unable to stop. 

Signs that purchasing has got out of control in your life might include comments from family members about the number of deliveries, consistently low finances, feelings of shame and guilt, or a feeling of spiralling out of control. 

You know you should stop spending but you can’t. 

The clutter in your home is growing but you can’t control it.

You’re not any happier than before, but you’re convinced that the next purchase will help. 

Well-meaning people in your life may try all sorts of things to get you to stop, but it’s not going to happen unless you understand what’s triggering you to buy or order things in the first place. 

I wish I could tell you that it’s going to be easy, but it’s not. Not once you look past the surface level of the factors that make you fork over your cash. 

Let’s take a look at these levels. 

Surface level (Grass)

Influencing from marketers, sale items, emails, peer pressure, images and messages of success and happiness. 

The surface level includes the factors above which may seem obvious to yourself or others. 

We’re all subject to advertisements on our screens and in the streets, we all love a good bargain, and it’s likely that at some point your friends convinced you to buy those new jeans, that new makeup set, or that awesome new videogame. 

We’re also surrounded by false messages and images all the time that money + stuff = happiness + success. 

Of course, happiness can never be achieved through endless material gains, but our world is set up to make you believe that. 

Deeper level (Mud)

Comparison with others, the feeling of not having enough, shopping addiction, wanting to project a certain image, chasing everlasting happiness 

These are the feelings that make us even more susceptible to the surface level factors above. 

With constant access to the internet, it’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to the people around us. Before the internet, we had to walk down the street or look out at our neighbours shiny new car to start feeling jealous or inadequate.

Now, all we need to do is look on Instagram, Facebook or Youtube to see who’s sexier, richer, more popular, and living more exciting lives than us. 

Some people want to project a certain image so that they will appeal to a certain group of people, or to look as if their life is more extravagant than it is. 

All of it is to chase this need for everlasting happiness that all of us strive for. 

Separate to all of those is shopping addiction, where people have found themselves caught up in a hellish cycle of buying that they can’t get out of, usually due to underlying emotional problems. 

Deepest level (Fossil)

Boredom, depression, needing a buzz, unresolved issues in life, insecurity, identity issues, trying to fill a void or solve an issue with material stuff, need to feel in control if other things are in complete chaos, struggling in the past. 

Underneath all desires for material possessions (which don’t include needs for survival) are the deep-seated reasons and feelings that drive us. 

Deep down, you might buy things because you’re bored and can’t discover your passion. 

People insecure with who they are might buy lots of things to try to figure it out or to fill the void. For example, someone who isn’t an artist might buy a load of painting tools because they want to create something great but haven’t yet figured out their passion.

Someone else might buy loads of makeup and dresses when they don’t even like makeup and dresses, just because they feel ugly, or aren’t sure of their image. 

Some people suffer with depression or feel empty inside, then attempt to fill the void with material possessions. 

For others, buying and ordering goods is the only thing they feel in control of. 

Even a person’s past can play a part. If all someone has known is poverty and struggling, and suddenly they have the power to surround themselves with the things they never had, buying and surrounding themselves with stuff might be a comfort or reassurance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, someone who has always been surrounded by things might be unable to find satisfaction without buying something new every week (this one is definitely a part of me that I regularly battle). 

Photo by Onur Bahçıvancılar on Unsplash

Now we’ve looked at the different levels of feelings which can trigger us to buy things we don’t need, let’s look at the feelings you might experience before, during, and after an impulse purchase. 

First, know that for the most part, dopamine is responsible. 

This is the feel good chemical that our brain releases whenever we do something pleasurable such as make a purchase, drink alcohol, receive a like on Facebook, or complete a level in a game. It can become very addictive and many companies exploit the dopamine hit that people chase to keep your attention. 

And here are the feelings that might be familiar to you at the three different stages of making a purchase. 

Feelings after impulse purchases

Elation, excitement, impatience, a rush, anticipation. 

You can’t wait to get the item home and see what it will look like on your shelf or your body. It also felt great to buy something new. You feel the excitement and anticipation of the delivery coming to your door, or from the shop to your home. 

Feelings after receiving the item 

Emptiness, sudden drop in satisfaction level, shame, embarrassment, guilt, exhaustion from wasted energy and possibly making a return, panic at finances. 

The initial rush from making a purchase wears off as fast as the dopamine hit. And that’s fast.  Eventually, buying things we know we don’t need can lead to the negative feelings above. 

I know because I’ve been there myself plenty of times. 

The item never gave me the happiness I was sure it would give me at the time, and then comes the shame and embarrassment, and the realisation that the money could have been better spent investing in a skill or saving. 

The shame can be tripled when returns have to be made and family members see it happening again and again. 

Not to mention, the financial burden caused by impulse purchases can lead to even more stress and shame, and cause arguments with family members. 

Ways we might try to deal with the after feelings

Buying more stuff, hiding the stuff, reselling or returning the item, adding it to the hoard and convincing ourselves we must keep it as we spent money and time on it, drinking or other coping device, shoving it in a cupboard and forgetting about it, denial (making up stories as to why we had to have it, or that there is isn’t a problem). 

Believe it or not, people who have a problem with impulse buying or who have a shopping addiction often try to get rid of the negative feelings by buying yet more stuff. Others might hide the stuff and how much they spent from the people around them. 

This can become a vicious and never ending cycle. 

Alcohol and other coping mechanisms may also pose a problem for those trying to escape the shame and other bad feelings inside. 

As you can see, there’ are a lot of factors to consider that might cause you to get trapped in a cycle of buying. 

The only way to escape is to look at the deepest part of yourself which your purchases might be covering or compensating for, then take steps to deal with the issues themselves. 

While some issues, such as boredom, can be more easily solved, painful issues relating to your past or mental health might require some sort of therapy or seeing your doctor.

Without pulling out or killing the roots, weeds will keep coming back, sometimes bigger and more numerous than before. 

It’s the same with our inner selves. 

If we don’t recognise and treat the underlying cause, we’re doomed to forever fall victim to the resulting behaviour or activity. 

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Upcoming Post – Do You Really Need That?

Are you struggling in a never-ending cycle of buying things you don’t need? Do you feel lost if you’ve not got a parcel on the way? If so, stay tuned for this week’s upcoming post which is all about what keeps us stuck in the cycle, and why you might feel the need for more, even when you know you have enough.

With this post, I won’t just be talking about the usual ‘marketers want to keep us buying’ but am going to focus on the emotional and deep-seated reasons that can cause us to compulsively click ‘buy’.

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Is It Really You? – The Masks We Wear and 10 Questions You Can Ask Yourself

Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

All of us wear masks.

The professional self we use at work, or to talk with our clients.

The sweet-talking parent we use with our three year old

The always dependable friend who’s everyone’s support post

The perfect self-help guru who needs to set an example

The sensible teacher 

The brand-name rich guy 

The party-goer

A mask is something we wear to suit the situation we’re in and it’s natural to switch from one to the other depending on the situation.

For example, the professional CEO would , perhaps, switch to family mode when getting home. 

The sweet-talking parent might become foul mouthed in front of friends, once the child is out of earshot. 

The sensible teacher might get home and start planning their crazy stag night out. 

Masks help us to adapt. 

The problem starts when we forget who we really are beneath, when we construct them purely to cover up parts of ourselves we don’t like, or when we use them purely to fit into a crowd that doesn’t match our true values. I will refer to these masks as ‘theatrical masks’. 

These days, with social media, it’s easier than ever to project the image of a perfect life, while leaving out all the crazy or mundane.

You can show people only what they want to see, write only what people want to read.

It’s easy to pretend you’re somebody else.

Carl Jung spoke about the unwanted parts of ourselves as ‘the shadow’. The parts of ourselves we don’t like to acknowledge but are there whether you like it or not.

We often construct masks to relieve that discomfort, or to appear a certain way in order to find acceptance – something all people strive for. 

Sometimes, we’re aware of using these kinds of masks, almost as if we’re performing on a stage, but most of the time, we don’t even realise it. 

Photo by Dominic Hampton on Unsplash

We think we’re a party animal, but we’re not. We think we’re thrill-seekers, but we’re not. 

We can wear masks for so long that not only do we forget who we are, it slowly becomes a part of who we are. That can be a terribly destructive thing, but not always. 

For example, as a teenager and young adult I used to be wallowing in depression and self-pity, but would pretend to be hyperactive, silly, and fun-loving. That way, I would surely make and keep friends. 

Now, it certainly got me friends, and after a while, I noticed that I was no longer pretending – I really had become more energetic and fun-loving, and I was no longer depressed. It was a classic case of ‘fake it to make it’. 

But that’s not always the case, and quite often, the theatrical masks we use to escape from parts of ourselves only serve as a constant drain of precious mental and emotional energy. 

Celebrities are under a lot of pressure to project a certain image, and thus the true self can end up totally lost or destroyed and lead to substance abuse or breakdowns. 

Imagine what it would be like to be constantly practising lines, ready to perform in front of thousands of people, day in, day out, without a break, whether you’re a celebrity or a student. 

Contrary to what many think, it’s a hundred times more exhausting to maintain a mask, than using the courage to just be ourselves. 

Left unchecked, a theatrical mask can cause serious mental health and relationship problems as we are constantly at war within ourselves. 

Marketers promote the use of masks all the time  – they convince you that if you buy their product you can appear a certain way (strengthen the mask you show to the world). 

There’s constant pressure in society, as well, to be or look a certain way.

Wear celebrity-endorsed fashion, become rich, have two kids, become a CEO, own the latest iphone, keep climbing the usual career ladder, don’t think outside the box, don’t break the mold, don’t be exceptional. 

People who do break the mold, start walking their own path, and being their authentic selves often face a lot of backlash and confusion, often from people who are busy maintaining their own masks and are concerned that you have pulled off yours. 

Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

Someone who quits their job to run their own business, for example, might encounter a lot of “You’re mad”, “that’s wrong”, that’ll never work.”

Minimalists might encounter others who laugh at their way of life. 

Authors might encounter people who shake their head and tell them to get a real job. 

But people who laugh at or discourage others from being their best authentic selves, are most likely wearing their own masks and are disturbed to see others break free from the stifling need to keep thoughts and dreams, as just that. 

After all, it’s utterly terrifying to be directly confronted with another truth or way of life, when you don’t know yourself, or are suddenly forced to ask yourself uncomfortable questions.

Most would rather project their worry and pain onto the person in question, rather than confront and discover themselves.

Sooner than asking things like, “If this is possible, then what have I been doing for the past twenty years?”, it’s much easier to try to pull the other person back into the circle of what is ‘known and acceptable’, or to make them start doubting themselves.

Confronting yourself is hard. It’s petrifying. It can be paralysing.

To check whether you’re wearing a mask right now, you should make a habit of asking yourself these questions:

What is my dream?

Is what I’m doing contributing to that?

What’s my opinion on (insert topic here)?

Do my words match my beliefs?

Do I speak the truth, or do I fear hurting or angering others?

Why am I doing what I’m doing? 

How do I act around my friends? 

Is that true to how I really feel? 

How do I act around my significant other?

Is that true to how I feel inside?

Asking such questions can be uncomfortable, but can bring a lot of clarity and save you a lot of energy from fake performances. 

Being authentic can lead to true happiness and a sense of wellbeing that performing never can.

Just recently, I discovered I was wearing my own mask without even knowing. 

I used to have anger issues, but over time, in my quest to become a better person, I became the opposite.

I became complacent and started covering up my true thoughts and feelings. Being overly nice to people when I felt like ripping into them. Playing the videogame platforms that the people around me said was for ‘true gamers’.

Somehow, I had discarded one damaging mask, only to put on another damaging one.

I was only alerted to the mask I had been wearing, when I almost had a mini-breakdown the other week. 

Someone had upset me and made me feel very small. I recognised what they were doing was a classic power play technique, but instead of sticking up for myself, I made a joke out of it. 

Instead of having my mini breakdown, I sat and wrote for hours. Pages and pages. And it was amazing the things I was doing simply to please others and ‘not hurt or anger’ others. 

To be accepted and liked, I would let people walk all over me, laugh at me, and control my likes. All without me being aware. 

I was pretending to be an avid PC gamer, all while deep down I prefer to play on consoles and earn the satisfying ding of achievements. Then I was wondering why I rarely played any of my games. 

I was covering up my real thoughts and feelings and acting like a mouse, all while the me inside was screaming and raging. 

I can’t tell you when the mask started, because it was more of a gradual construction, but from that moment on, I decided to start being more authentic. 

That started by telling someone close to me exactly how pissed I was with them when they were making me feel insignificant. And didn’t sugarcoat it. 

To my surprise, they quickly stopped. In that moment, I had self-respect, and I earned respect. 

It’s easy to forget how liberating it feels to say what you’re really thinking. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. 

Also, I went back to mainly gaming on consoles, and using my PC only for the most power-hungry games and The Sims. I felt so much happier.

Masks can be useful, but they can also be a major hindrance. 

They can help you to get that promotion, and they can cause you to become drained and depressed. 

They can support you or they can weigh you down. 

What type of mask are you wearing?

Photo by Noah Näf on Unsplash

A Year Long Thank you!

Minimalistmojo recently turned a year old and I just want to say a big thank you to my readers and followers.

It’s been a strange and intense year of growth to say the least, and I’ve learned so much, not just about minimalism, but about who I am and what I stand for.

I want to keep this blog going to help as many as possible on the road to minimalism and self-discovery, and am thinking about some fresh new looks for the blog, as well as expanding my reach.

This week’s post is late coming, but will be about authenticity, and how we sometimes wear a mask without even realising.

Once again, thank you to all of my readers; I appreciate all of you.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

The Helping Hand of Failure – Why I Recover Faster

Photo by Vicky Sim on Unsplash

I’m not perfect. 

Nobody’s perfect. 

Yet there’s this expectation in society that if you don’t have a high-profile job and don’t own the latest and greatest stuff, you’re no good. 

Marketers constantly try to convince you you’re lacking in life if you don’t own the latest phone, celebrity endorsed cologne, or the sexiest sofa.

You’re not a good parent

You’re not a good runner

You’re not beautiful enough

Not smart enough

Not cool enough

Not happy with your life

But that’s OK because if you buy today, you can rest assured that you’ll be the envy of your friends, and you’ll be so much more interesting. 

We rarely realise it, but after a while, those messages add up into an essay about how much we lack,  and life starts to feel intensely unsatisfying. Depressing, even. 

While embracing minimalism definitely made me see that happiness doesn’t come from a delivery van, it certainly hasn’t made me immune to slipping up and making bad decisions. 

On this blog, I talk about achieving goals a lot and simplifying your life so that you can discover what’s really important to you. I even share my successes so that you can hopefully start to realise the potential in you. 

But what I don’t talk about often enough are my failures along the way. The times where I take five steps up the ladder but fall down ten. 

Let’s face it, even though we need failure to grow,  it’s embarrassing to talk about and even scarier to experience. 

First off, here’s a little bit about me so that you get a little bit of context: I’m generally happy and cheerful (sometimes to an annoying degree according to my husband), I have several obsessions including writing, reading, gaming, minimalism, and self-growth.

Come into my living room, and you will see that everything is a calming white and pastel green with loads of empty space. I’ve got my future planned out, an incredible family, and quality friends. 

But it wasn’t always like that, and sometimes I fall into the same quicksand I had escaped before, slowly sinking back into old habits and ways of thinking. 

I used to be a hoarder. Not the kind of hoarder you see on those TV shows, but an organised hoarder. I was in serious denial about how much I owned. It caused arguments with my fiance, and allowed me to carry on hiding behind my stuff. 

You can read the story here, but basically, I was keeping it all because I was deeply unhappy, didn’t believe in myself, and identified strongly with my past. 

It took my mum bringing it all down to my house and my husband threatening to bin the lot, for me to finally confront the lonely memories and dusty old beliefs that kept me clinging on. 

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Now, I am living and loving a minimalist lifestyle but although I’m reaping all the benefits, I’m not totally free of my old coping mechanisms. 

You see, minimalism will make your life a hell of a lot calmer and easier, and it will help you to discover yourself, but it won’t solve every problem for you. Especially those that are nestled deep inside. 

It also won’t cure bad habits because they won’t go straight in the trash with your physical clutter. Rather, they get recycled into new, useful habits. 

Sometimes, when things get me down like an argument, symptoms of chronic illness, or even writer’s block, I will find myself clicking over to Amazon and Ebay. Other times, I just feel stale in myself, like a mouldy piece of bread. 

Suddenly, the bag I bought just months before has a fault and I need a new one. I need a new game despite having a mile long list of unplayed titles. I could really do with that lovely looking lunch box as it will ensure my food doesn’t leak in my backpack (despite never having that issue).

Of course, those are all elaborate stories I weave in my mind which will lead to me buying the product of interest. 

As I click ‘buy’ I feel the anticipation of the item’s arrival and start getting rid of things that are relatively new. The dopamine rushes through me, even though I know deep down that two clicks and a parcel won’t bring me satisfaction. 

But my brain doesn’t care about that fact because of the temporary feelings of elation.

Days later, the package comes, and as the packaging goes in the bin, so does my excitement. I realise I didn’t really need it, that I could have saved the money, invested in more skills, or gone on a day trip.

‘Call yourself a minimalist? Ha! You’re a phoney, you’re weak’, my brain chatters. 

Just to be clear, I don’t have a shopping addiction, because these slips ups don’t happen very often. But the shame is no less intense, and the bad decisions can lead to me making other bad choices such as eating a luxurious helping of Nutella on toast when I know I’m gluten intolerant, or having a second glass of wine even though I know I’ve had enough. 

However, unlike in the past, I find that I can get back up from the fall much faster than before. The injury doesn’t go as deep. 

I know that I’m not a phony because I strongly believe in what I practise and what I say. As sickening as it sometimes feels, I acknowledge my mistakes, and that makes me self-aware. 

Experiencing failure makes you feel like masking the feelings that come with it, and all the mean things the gremlin in your brain might be hissing at you. 

But here’s the thing: the more failures you have, the more wise and resilient you become. You grow. You learn. You start to become aware of why you made those bad choices. 

I’ve discovered that, generally, when I’m craving something new and making up stories of validation, it’s not the stuff I’m craving but experiences. 

It’s not a new outfit I’m after, but love and acceptance. 

I don’t want to own new stuff, I want to see new places, learn new skills, walk a new path, blossom into who I know I can be. 

However, even though I’ve taken action and forged a new path for myself, the path is long, sometimes a forest gets in the way, and you know how excruciating it can be when what you want is just a little bit further, and a little bit further. 

But what we often forget is to enjoy that journey. We can get so focused on hacking through that forest that we don’t see the beauty, or notice the undergrowth teeming with life.  

The trick is, to not lurk in that beautiful forest for too long, and if you fall, get right back up. 

Remember who you are and what you stand for, and walk hand-in-hand with failure no matter how scary, because it is your best teacher, and your greatest friend. 

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Imperfection

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.

Photo by davisco on Unsplash

New Year Still Me

Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work And How You Can Master Yourself PERMANENTLY

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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. 

Know why? 

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. 

When I discovered and started following minimalism, everything changed for me because getting rid of my hoard forced me to confront the reasons I was clinging on. 

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. 

Photo by Chander R on Unsplash

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.”

Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

8 Tips to Beat the Post-Christmas Blues and Feel Better Than Ever Before

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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.

1. Gratitude

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.

Don’t just rely on social media, which is a quick fix at best and has you relying on the ‘likes’ and instant responses to feel good.

3. Balance your time spent on social media

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.

Photo by Timi David on Unsplash

4. Healthy Eating

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.

Photo by Dale de Vera on Unsplash

7. Greenery

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.

Healing Your Inner-self: Care For Others by Caring For You

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

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. 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


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. 

Did you know that 36% of people have self -harmed over Christmas, and a further 45% have thought about committing suicide?

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. 

This will also lessen the financial burden that comes with Christmas.

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.

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

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. 

Practise gratitude and look for it in everything that’s around you.

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.

If you’re still struggling and dealing with issues such as bereavement or social anxiety there are some more useful tips on this website.

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. 

You can find some more great tips here. 

Remember, to take care of somebody else you must first remember to declutter and maintain your own internal storage box. 

Don’t feel ashamed to reach out to someone.

Photo by Moe Kong on Unsplash

With that, I wish you all the best health, a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a fantastic New Year.