How’s The Fit?

Just in from a lovely walk with the dogs where I got to thinking about ‘fitting in’.

I met a friend whilst out who has  lost a lot of weight (you should never say you want to lose weight or you will look to find it subconsciously at some point later) and how she loved buying clothes now. That got me thinking about how my eldest son has changed his outward appearance over the last few years – thankfully!

Gone is his daily tracksuit attire and in are jeans and jumpers. It may be an age thing – but then I see men of all ages wearing tracksuits and they are almost certainly not going to the gym. Saying that – they are entitled to wear what they want to wear.

When I thought about his change I have to look at his closest friend – who is Spanish and always dresses well. Perhaps he has been the influence on my son’s change of wardrobe. Yes he still wears joggers but more so now for the gym.

But what drives our sense of style? What drives our need for success? What forces us to be someone who follows the crowd?

When I look at most of the young girls today they all look pretty similar to me. Long straight hair and similar attire. I suppose I was no different in my teens – though very different in my early twenties.

Man is driven by the need to ‘fit in’. To be like everyone else in order to survive. We generally like people who are like ourselves and tend to accept these people readily into our inner circle.

Our need to feel loved and accepted is high. When we feel rejected we feel bad and looking different brings with it a higher level of rejection, as does having different view points, being passionate about something, or speaking out.

So many just plod along, being like everyone else. Striving for recognition from friends and colleagues or even the man in the street. Buying the latest trend, the best car, loving what everyone else loves in the desperate need to feel ‘the same’ to feel included and accepted.

Thousands of years ago to be in a community meant safety and survival. You were more likely to survive if there were many of you watching out for wild animals and hunting for food and this need to be part of a community has stayed with us, not through a real need to survive, but an imagined need to fit in and be accepted in order to ‘survive’.

In order for us to survive today, we have to be accepted, successful, admired by others, and indeed, be the same as the others. Yet do we? A child in order to survive needs a mother and in order to thrive needs a mother’s love. However there is no greater love than self love and if you love and accept yourself, you are less needy of external verification. You know you matter and you don’t need others to verify this.

Rejection is hard and each and everyone of us will know this, however rejection of the self is more destructive. When we live up to others standards and follow their lead, we may seem to fit in, but do we really feel happy?

Rejection of the self is damaging on an emotional, mental and physical level. It can destroy our confidence and self worth. When we begin to accept ourselves for the individuals we are we become happier, more successful (and I am not relating to work success or financial success only here but emotional, relationship etc too), more at peace with ourselves.

So next time someone tells you to watch what you say when you express an opinion, be glad that you had the guts to express it and not bad that it wasn’t the same as theirs. When anyone laughs at your new hair cut – love it more! If someone judges you by the clothes you wear then be glad that you have the money to buy clothes!

But most of all, understand those that judge you for being different, for they truly haven’t found the strength to be themselves. They haven’t the voice to shout out ‘this is me’. They haven’t learnt the power of self love and acceptance.

Be unique. Be true to yourself, Be you.

 

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Self Love as a Healing Modality

If you feel like you’re constantly being rejected by others or feeling unworthy and unloved, it’s a pretty bleak place to be isn’t it? But what if you could change this place for a more loving and abundant place instead? Would you be willing to move?

The great thing is is that with some simple self love you can become a very different person living a more fulfilling life and you don’t need to rely on anyone else to start your journey!

Feeling unloved or rejected has it’s roots in childhood usually with some form of  ‘obvious’ rejection such as a parent walking out on you when you were a child or being bullied, or it could be a perceived rejection such as a parent ignoring you when you want their attention or a friend ignoring you one day at school.

It’s easier to see how we can feel unloved and abandoned when a parent walks out on us but it’s harder to understand how we can begin to feel unloved when a parent simply ignores our demands for attention. However as a child out whole world evolves around us quite literally and if someone ignores us, treats us badly, we begin to doubt our self worth and we create a misunderstanding that we are somehow unlovable or wrong as a result.

Once we form that seed of doubt, of feeling unlovable, we then begin to change how we view our world. Instead of seeing love in everything we do and experience, we begin to see rejection and over a relatively short period of time we can form the belief that we are unworthy or unlovable.

From then on in, an ignored text, or a harsh word from another person backs up that belief that we are unlovable or unworthy of being treated nicely. And isn’t it a shame that you waste your life feeling unloved or unimportant based on a misunderstanding from your childhood or someone else’s inability to love you?

The great thing is you can change how you feel about yourself and how you see ‘rejection’. How? By practising self love. By being aware that there is a part of you that craves love, that seeks love in most things you do and somehow always feels disappointed when that love never shows up.

So stop looking to the outside world for that love and start looking within yourself. Stop looking for people to verify your self worth and verify it yourself. Stop looking to relationships to make you feel ‘whole’ and make yourself feel ‘whole’.

Self love is the most important love of all. Without self love you will continue to feel unloved,  no matter how much love is in your life. And Self love allows you to feel loved, validated, important and worthy. And it’s an incredibly easy journey to take.

Initially it may well feel embarrassing or awkward telling yourself how amazing you are and how much you love yourself, but with perseverance, it will begin to feel more natural and eventually it will begin to feel incredible!

I was introduced to self love or ‘meta’ through a Buddhist Meditation Practice and I love it! It is an incredibly empowering way to start the day. No longer waiting for external verification to feel good,  you can go right on ahead and love yourself. Simple.

So give yourself an extra ten minutes in bed every morning or find a sacred place where you can practice ‘meta’ or self love. Of if you have some issues you need to work on, set aside some time to work through them.

Start by taking a three deep breaths in and slowly breathing out through your mouth. Focus on letting go and relaxing on every out breath. Then simply focus on your breathing and place your hands over your heart centre (in the middle of your chest). To begin with – if you feel it difficult to feel loving towards yourself – think of a loving, happy memory and focus on the feelings they create within you and the thoughts that come up.

Once you feel loving – simply focus on an image of you in your mind – as you are now or a younger you that might need this love – whilst telling yourself ‘I love you. I’m sorry. Thank you for being so amazing’. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

As you repeat this mantra, feelings will surface – usually sadness or fear or anger and that’s okay. Breathe through these feelings and continue with the mantra. Remember if you feel unloved or unworthy these feelings will surface.

Memories may surface which may need your attention and again, focus on you in the memory and send the younger you so much love, support, gratitude, forgiveness or whatever it is that you think they need. Or simply keep repeating the mantra until you feel a shift in your energy, when you feel more peaceful.

You may well experience a lot of negative emotions initially when practising this and that’s okay as it releases pain from the past. If you need support – make sure you have a friend to help you through. It may well prove tough – but believe you me – it is worth it.

There will be times when you practise this and feel great. Revel in the positive feelings of love and gratitude, really feel how awesome it feels to feel loved and appreciated. Tell yourself how amazing you are, focus on things you have done well. You can send this love to others if you desire too – to family or friends who need it.

Self love is a healing tool in that it soothes and releases past hurts and as we release these and fill our hearts and bodies with love, kindness and forgiveness, we begin to feel a shift.

You can use this exercise to heal the past which inevitably will help you feel better, or as an exercise to boost your mood, to feel more loved and help you feel more positive about yourself. I would recommend that you go with whatever comes up. If it’s healing the past make sure you spend time at the end, focusing on love and gratitude to ensure you feel upbeat and positive when you finish.

After a couple of weeks or months you will begin to notice how differently you feel about yourself and indeed others. You may notice you begin to be kinder to yourself, more loving and supportive and you may notice as a result you are more loving and kinder to others too.

You may feel differently about events in your life and begin to see them in a different light. The more forgiving you are of yourself and others the more inner calm you will feel.

Love starts with you. The more you love yourself the more you see that rejection isn’t all about you. And if someone does reject you, you know what, that doesn’t mean you are unlovable, it just means you weren’t right for each other. Self love enables you to become a better mother, lover, sister, aunt, friend and person. It allows you to find pure joy in the simplest of experiences. You will feel much more grateful for what you have and that in itself, will increase your feelings of self worth.

So make a commitment today to practise self love every morning. I guarantee it will change your life!

Namaste.

Smile!

A very simple yet powerful way to lift your spirits, to make you feel happier and more positive about who you are is to use a mirror and smile!

It may sound crazy and may feel completely awkward to begin with but keep at it and you will notice you begin to feel happier and better about who you are as an individual (and so you should because you are incredible!)

Every morning (and every time you pass a mirror if you can) take a couple of minutes to simply smile at yourself. That’s all you have to do – just smile at yourself. Appreciate it may feel weird to begin with – but keep doing it. If you can then tell yourself how amazing you are too – that you love yourself.

Again if that feels strange just go with it and before long you will feel comfortable smiling at yourself and telling yourself how great you are (because you are great!)

After a week you will begin to feel a little better and after a month you will feel a whole lot better and all you did was smile at yourself it the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are!

Try it out – I mean how long does it take? And if you can do this exercise 3 times a day – in the morning, during the day (if you have the bathroom free at work) and at night just before you go to bed. You will notice that you do feel good whilst doing this exercise – and that’s great isn’t it?

You may notice that you begin to laugh too – and that’s great too as laughter is a powerful medicine and one which many lack. So Smile and be Happy!!

Say NO and Mean It!

Reading an article yesterday I felt compelled to write on the subject of saying no. No is a simple two letter word. There is nothing complex in it’s pronunciation or interpretation. No is the opposite of yes. No is a full sentence and does not need clarification or justification. No means simply no.

So why do some of us have difficulty saying no and meaning it? Whether it’s saying no to the PTA or your kids or your boss at work who seems to have singled you out for extra work and unpaid hours. When you say no it should mean no and not ‘well I might be able to’ or ‘you know that I really don’t want to’ or even ‘I hate letting people down and they will probably not like me if I say no’.

People soon get used to the ‘weak’ no and consequently will try and force your hand based on past experience however isn’t it time you stood up for yourself, for what you want and for what you mean? Yes it is!

If you have problems saying no to people then try this simple exercise below and soon you will be saying NO in an assertive way that everyone will understand and no-one will doubt!

1. Think about a couple of past situations where you wanted to say no to someone but failed. You may have started with no but ended up with ‘okay if you want’ (what about what you want?!!)
2. Go through these scenes in your mind and find the point where your ‘no’ became a ‘yes’. Notice how you felt, what you said, what the other person said etc.
3. Now go through these situations again but this time change the end result to a positive outcome. When you get to the point where you gave in before, see yourself now saying no and meaning it. As you visualize yourself doing this notice your body posture, the tone of your voice etc and how much more assertive you look and sound. Go through this a couple of times and notice everything that is different about this new you that says no and means it!
(a few suggestions here would be seeing yourself standing tall, relaxed, possibly smiling (though not manically) whilst saying something like ‘Thanks for the opportunity but I really can’t right now, so I am going to have to say no’. And LEAVE IT AT THAT! No does not need to be justified it simply means no, however you can be polite about it which is more likely to appease the other person. Say no with a smile (creates a feeling of warmth) and simply say ‘No thank you, I am fine/I really haven’t the time right now/it’s really not something I enjoy/I do not accept what you say’ etc. When you have said no simply see yourself walking away or changing the subject.)
4. Next write down all the ways that you can say ‘no’ nicely, firmly and mean it. Read them through and practice saying them with conviction. This does not mean shouting or raising the tone of your voice, if anything lower the tone of your voice just slightly as this sends out a clear message to others that you mean what you say! (I use this technique in class with students and it’s far more effective than shouting which merely lets others know you have lost control).
5. Now practice saying no to people who take advantage of you, in front of a mirror preferably. See yourself looking calm and in control, maintaining eye contact (vital!) and smiling before saying no. And then practice defending that no – ‘As I have just mentioned I do not have the time……but thank you again for asking’. etc! Make sure the outcome is the one you want!

When you run through this exercise you will notice you begin to feel more confident about your ability to say no and mean it! If you have a situation that you know requires a no then practice saying no before hand and remember always picture a POSITIVE outcome i.e. the one you want!

Everyone has the right to say no and some say it more or less everyday whilst others fear the consequences of their no. Sometimes it is appropriate to say no – if it’s to the attention seeking child to the annoying friend or to the guy down the road who keeps you chatting for too long about his health problems!

From today make a commitment to say no and stick to it! Say no and mean it!

Confident Children And Imagination

My son was a very anxious boy this morning. He is playing in the school team this evening in a deciding match for the league title and he is scared!

As a mum it’s all to easy to say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you’re a great player’ and leave it at that, but if your child is really worried about something or lacking confidence then surely there is a better way to help them that just offering reassurance?

Well thankfully there is! Confidence is based on perception i.e. your child’s own idea of whether they feel they can do something well or not and like us all, confidence can be diminished through ‘bad’ experiences. And when I say ‘bad’ the experiences themselves may not necessarily be bad but the meanings we take from them may be.

So your son is anxious about a match or your daughter feels scared about doing her Show and Tell – how can you help them?

Two ways really and both very simple and incredibly powerful.

The first one is to get them to ‘rehearse’ what they are going to do in their mind and talk them through it with as much positivity as possible. Make them feel incredible and make sure that every detail is positive and that the outcome is a success.

Not only will this boost their confidence as you are doing the exercise but it also programs their mind to do what they have been ‘rehearsing’ too! So when they stand up in front of the class or get in front of that goal, their mind goes ‘ah right, I know what I need to know now’ and more often than not, they will get the results the practiced.

However be realistic. Don’ set them up for failure! You son will probably not score 10 goals even if he is up front and not in defence! The idea is to get them to focus on the skills needed to get the results they want and to program their minds for success and remember what the mind can see you will achieve – so if your child focuses on failure (which is probable if they are worried) they are more likely to fail. So get them to always focus on what they want from this moment on (and you too!)

To help them feel more positive towards doing this and the following exercise, mention how all the top sports personalities carry out this exercise and how it improves their game/race etc.

Another great way of boosting your kids confidence (which can be incorporated with the exercise above too) is know as the confidence switch. This is quite simply setting up a physical anchor which when ‘fired’ produces feelings of well being and confidence in your child. 

So how do you literally turn on a confidence switch? Well the first thing you need to do is decide what the switch will be (a good place is a knuckle on one hand, the back of the hand or even their nose) and ensure you keep this ‘switch’ and that the pressure used is the same too i.e. press the same place all the time and with enough pressure to register the touch but not too much that it’s obvious. Also once this is set up the switch needs to be something that you child themselves can access themselves if and when they need it. So discretion might be key.

Once you have decided where the ‘switch’ will be then you need to set it. So get your child to remember a time when they felt really great, perhaps when they scored a goal previously or when they were doing something they loved doing such as dancing, singing or simply a time when they felt really great – perhaps playing with friends or on the rollercoaster! 

Get them to close their eyes if they want to (it’s ok if they don’t want to) and get them (with a little help from you) to talk through the positive experience as if they were actually reliving it again. Ask them what they see, what they hear and ask them to really focus on how great they were feeling and as you know yourself, when you focus on happy memories those old feelings flood back don’t they? 

So when you see that your child has associated into those feel good feelings (it will be very obvious with a child when they are!) simply touch their ‘switch’ for roughly 10 seconds. Then stop.

Get them to go through the memory again maybe this time bring in more details or try another memory. Again get your child to really focus on all that they remember and when you see them accessing those happy feel good feelings again, anchor them by touching their knuckle again.

Do this a couple of times at any one go – don’t overdo it as your child will get fed up! Do it again with them the next day or the next to ensure that their confidence switch becomes more powerful.

However one of the best things about the confidence switch is that your child doesn’t even have to know what you are doing! You can get them to focus on happy memories whilst you anchor these feelings by touching their hand (in the same place and the same hand!)/knuckle/nose in such a way that they are unaware of what you are doing. 

Also every time they are feeling happy, confident or at ease with themselves you can simply top us this switch by touching their knuckle for a few seconds. 

You need to go this exercise around 4 – 8 times and then try out the switch. Get you child to focus and then flip the switch and ask (and watch out for signs) them what they noticed? Keep topping up this confidence switch – whenever you child is doing something they are enjoying, when they tell you about a fab goal they scored at school or how they did this incredible dance move – just switch that switch. The more you do this the better the result.

They will be delighted with their new weapon of  mass construction! So give this a go – it’s easy to do and will make your child feel so much more confident and in control. Furthermore, the more they use this switch the more likely the behaviour is to become a natural part of who they are. 

I will keep you posted on the result tonight!

Take care and speak soon!!!

Remember a time…….

…a specific time when you felt great about yourself, when you achieved something or when you just felt so relaxed or great to be alive. And as you remember that time now I want you to really get a sense of being right back in that moment right now…..perhaps close your eyes and see the memory now.

See it as though you were right back in that moment now, as though you were looking through your eyes and really see everything that you could see at that time. Hear what you could hear – perhaps people talking – and really get a sense of how great you felt at that time.

And you may be surprised at how good you are beginning to feel as your mind re-associates into those feelings at that time. Now make that image bigger, brighter, perhaps make the sounds crisper and notice how the feelings become stronger and stronger.

Keep focusing on everything that was going on at that time and feel all those feel good feelings flooding through your body again and doesn’t it feel good to know that you can feel this good when ever you want to?

How? By simply focusing on happy memories or positive things in our lives – such as gratitude – you can begin to feel a lot more positive and a whole heap happier.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety you have a tendency to focus on the ‘bad’ things or those things that make us feel anxious. You go through old hurts over and over again replaying them over and over again in your mind however, unlike a movie reel which will wear out over time, these memories seem to get stronger and more powerful the more you play them.

Sometimes these memories become distorted in some way so that they appear worse than what they actually were and all the time our mind is remembering and reliving these ‘bad’ memories your body is re-experiencing all those old ‘bad’ feelings.

Your cells become accustomed to certain feelings (depression, anxiety, anger) and you stay trapped in a cycle of bad feelings, as your body begins to ‘crave’ those ‘bad’ feelings because it’s all it knows so you continue to focus on those old memories and those negative feelings. Then you get given a label. Depressive. OCD. Frustrated.

If you want to beat depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, worthlessness or any other negative emotion then it’s time to change the movies you run in your mind. However before you do that you need to become aware of them first!

So take a few day to ‘listen in’ to your thoughts, and discover what things you dwell on – and write them down. You will be amazed at how a pattern seems to form. Once you become aware of what you focus on, then make a commitment to yourself that you are going to change. Write this down to and state it in the positive.

So if you want to let go of depression and feel happier then make a commitment to yourself to focus on the happy things in life and always see the good in any situation. If you want to be less angry, then make a commitment to stay calm in every situation and to speak calmly and politely to everyone.

Once you have made that commitment, for the next 30 days you need to change the movies in your mind or those negative thoughts to ones that are more supportive of your new outlook.

So as soon as you find yourself dwelling on that memory of you feeling sad, say CANCEL in your mind and bring in a new happy memory (and yes you will have them you have just chosen to forget them!) and focus on this memory for about 15-20 seconds. Each and every time you have a negative thought say CANCEL in your mind and change to positive supportive thoughts such as ‘I am happy’, ‘I am in control’ etc.

Write a reminder of what you are doing somewhere visible so that you are reminded everyday what you are doing. Use post it notes and stick them on mirrors, cupboard doors etc to remind you to change those old movies or thoughts to new, positive and supporting ones.

Yes some days will feel like an up hill struggle and that’s okay. Persevere. Because it’s natural to come up with some resistance when you are making changes to your life. So know that it’s natural to ‘fight’ these new changes and keep on going!

You can change how you feel and depression, anxiety, anger, low self esteem and all those horrible feelings are all run on automatic. Your thoughts run who you are so make a commitment to change how you feel and change your thoughts.

However in order to succeed there are three words of advice for you.

Persevere. Persevere. Persevere.

 

 

 

Seeing Is Believing

Many clients come to me in the hope that they can feel more confident in certain situations whether that be driving, singing, dancing, public speaking or to simply feel better about themselves.

I usually see these clients for a couple of sessions however there is an incredibly easy and effective tool that anyone can use which will build confidence over time and as they say, the more you do it the more you will benefit!

Visualization is (and I can not stipulate strongly enough!!!) one of the most simple yet powerful self help tools available to one and all and is completely free! The majority if not all of top athletes use visualization to enhance performance and it has been proven that visualization is more effective than just training alone. Top business men, professionals, actors, singers and even doctors use this simple tool.

Why? Well first and foremost because visualization  reprogrammes our mind for success. Your mind does respond to the thoughts you have and the images you create in your mind too. So if you see yourself confident you mind will respond accordingly. Also the part of the brain that responds to what we actually see is the same part of the mind that responds to what we visualize too, so your mind will just assume that you are the confident individual you see in your mind and will accordingly produce the behaviour appropriate. And the more you see yourself confident the stronger the new neural pathways become to that new more positive behaviour.

Secondly, when you visualize yourself feeling good and acting in a way that you wish to behave, you will automatically begin to feel better in yourself too so visualization stimulates these wonderful feel good feeling more and more in response to the positive images we create.

Thirdly. The part of your mind that is responsible for your behaviours in the unconscious mind and this part of our mind has many duties, one being to move you towards pleasure and away from pain. So whilst you visualize yourself acting more confidently, you begin to feel better too, so your unconscious mind will begin to associate this feel good feeling with acting confidently  and as it wants you to feel happy it will produce more confident behaviour to ensure you keep feeling great!

Visualization may not be easy to begin with as you may not be used to creating images in your mind but believe you me, you do produce images daily in your mind whether you are aware of it or not! Think of something you love and you may be surprised to notice an image pop to mind straight away! If you do struggle with visualizing then daydream – most people can daydream and quite often do about winning the lottery!

When you see yourself confident in your mind you may notice your physiology adapts accordingly too, however really get a sense of, or an image of just how you would look, how you would behave, especially in those situations that perhaps you would avoid. How do you sound when you speak? How do you walk? How do you feel in yourself? So really get into how you would look, feel, think, behave when confident and most importantly is FEEL how great you feel when you see yourself confident because the better you feel while visualizing the more confident you the quicker the transformation!

Get into a routine too – visualize first thing in the morning to set you up for the day and several times during the day – it only needs to be for a couple of minutes to make a difference each day. If you are preparing for something that you need to feel more confident about then see yourself doing what ever it is, whether it’s presenting or chatting up that guy at work that you’ve had your eye on for ages, but see yourself doing what you want to do in the way that you want to do it and make sure that you focus only on a positive performance because remember – what the mind can see the mind will achieve!!

So get seeing you in a more positive light and see how quickly you begin to feel differently. Confidence is based on perception and by changing how you see yourself in your mind you are changing how you perceive yourself in everyday life too.

Good luck!