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!!

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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!

Responsibility Versus Blame…….Let The Race Begin

Responsibility and blame line up at the start of the race – both look on top form and both have their own band of supporters. They are on the starting blocks………..and then they are off. Blame gets off to a good start, with responsibility close behind. It’s a close battle at the beginning of the race and blame,fueled by anger and self pity, steams forward inching away from responsibility, however responsibility has maintained an even pace and manages to overtake and surpass blame, sprinting towards the finish and with a clear vision of success in mind, crosses the line and takes first place. A race well run with the only true contender winning.

As a therapist I deal with many people who suffer from a myriad of issues ranging from lack of self esteem to bad habits to excessive eating and before I can help any of them, they need to accept responsibility for there issue and for any subsequent changes. This does not mean that they are to ‘blame’  for their issues it simply means they need to acknowledge that in order to change they have to accept that they can not keep on going the way they are going.

For example, I often hear from clients who are overweight that it is because of ‘hormonal issues’ or ‘it’s in their genes’ or that they ‘love food’ or ‘they kids love this food’ but they do not acknowledge that it is anything that they are doing that is causing them to be overweight (research also shows that that very few people have what is often referred to as the ‘fat’ gene). So how can I help someone who blames their genes or the fact that they love food and don’t wish to change their eating habits? I can’t!

However if an overweight client comes in and admits that they have several issues with food that they wish to address then I can certainly help them and they can help themselves too because they have admitted responsibility for their weight. They have chosen to overeat or to eat unhealthily, and it may well have been something they were ‘taught’ as a child, but as an adult they can choose to change or continue to blame someone else for their being overweight. It is a choice. We can take responsibility for who we are and who we wish to become and we can acknowledge that what we do is not working therefore we need to change something to make it work.

Taking responsibility for our lives is incredibly empowering and instead of blaming God, the kids, your parents etc for what is wrong in your life, isn’t it about time you took responsibility for how you behave? Of course you may well suffer from anxiety or low self esteem if you lived with domineering or critical parents, but is you continue to blame your parents for your low self esteem you stay in victim mode and you maintain your low self esteem. So does blame really improve your life in anyway or does it give you the easy option of staying where you are and avoiding change?

Yes your parents could have contributed to your low self esteem however as an adult you have to accept responsibility for yourself for who you are now. That may mean that you can acknowledge that events or people in your past contributed towards your lack of confidence or anxiety etc however as an adult you now have the choice whether to continue blaming the past or move forward qand improve your future.

Responsibility features very much is all adult relationships too and I quite often see clients who wish to increase confidence or feel  better about themselves after years in an abusive or controlling relationship.  In any adult relationship be it love, work or friendship you have to accept 50% of the responsibility for that relationship.

Yes it may be that your partner is physically and emotionally abusive and he/she may be the ‘bad’ one in the relationship, but by staying in the abusive or controlling relationship and allowing your partner to continue the abuse you are just as responsible as they are for the state of your relationship. Both parties are equally responsible however for the victim it is very important that they realize that they have a choice. They can either allow the abuse to continue and blame the perpetrator for their awful life or they can  refuse to allow the abuse to continue and either leave or get help and thus accept responsibility for their life and their well being.

Whilst you can change who you are you can not change other people unless they accept your help and in order to do this they need to accept responsibility for where they are in their lives too.

Anger is another great excuse for people to play the blame game and I have come across many angry people in my life! (I too have given in to anger but at least I can see who is to blame!). Anger masks another emotion, usually fear, and  is used as a defense mechanism to protect against emotional hurt and in some cases too, to avoid the individual acknowledging that they are unhappy in their lives. How many times do you hear people blame others for losing control? ‘It’s your fault that I am angry!’ they shout but is it the other persons fault that you lost control? Absolutely not!

We control how we feel and if we chose to let someone upset us then we are to ‘blame’. We can either ignore hurtful words or respond to them angrily, either way it is our choice how we react. We can stay in control or we can let the other person take control by responding negatively.

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, negativity, worry – then take responsibility for how you are feeling today and tomorrow you can change your life by changing how you feel. Your thoughts make you who you are and only you (with some help if you require it) can change your thoughts. Stop blaming your mum or partner or siblings or work colleagues and take the initiative to take back responsibility and change your life. You will feel so much better! It may take time but believe you me, it is well worth it!