Great Expectations

There is only ever a problem in relationships when the parties have different expectations of each other. If all parties had the same expectations of each other life is usually rosy however if I expect something from you and don’t get it I might begin to feel a little disappointed in you.

I had a bit of a standoff with my son this morning after he wiped his nose on my nice new clean sofa – as far as he was concerned his behaviour was okay. I on the other hand did not think it was okay – not only did he wipe his nose on the settee (eeewww yuk) but he’d also done it 2 days after me taking it apart and washing all the covers!  He didn’t like me pulling him up for his poor hygiene (the didn’t see it as a problem – he needed to wipe his nose and the arm of the settee was the nearest thing for him to wipe it on!!!) and I did not appreciate his dirty tactics.

When you expect something from people and they fail to live up to your expectations you may well feel a little peeved – but do you have a right to be annoyed with them? Do you have a right to express your disappointment? Or are you expecting too much from your relationships and sabotaging them?

If you want more from me than I am willing to commit then that is something you need to deal with – not me. If I expect you to join forces with me on something that I feel strongly about and you say no – I don’t have a right to be upset with you although you have a right to say no! If you don’t want the same things as I do – then hey that’s okay – that’s life, but throw a hissy fit instead – then who ends up being even more disappointed? 

When we expect people to do what we want them to do – then we will always be disappointed. If we expect more from people than they are willing to give then you will always be disappointed. If you expect someone to want the same as you – you are open to disappointment. If you accept that people are intrinsically the same but have very different views, opinions wants and needs – then you are less likely to have problems in your relationships.

I know I get disappointed with my children’s behaviour because I expect them to behave more appropriately – but then again they are only kids. If I accept that they have very different ideas from me then I can begin to accept them as individuals and as such lower my expectations of what to expect from them. They are kids and as such will be silly, annoying, loud, etc and if I expect them to act like kids and not as I would expect adults to behave – then there will be a more peaceful air around the home (that’s not to say I ignore bad behaviour!)

So next time you expect too much from your friend and they let you down – lower your expectations. If you believe you colleague at work should help you to complete that report and they run a mile in the opposite direction – then ask yourself if you are asking too much from them – should they be helping you anyway?  

What you expect from others are notions about how they can help your or improve your life – not ideas on how you both can work together harmoniously. So next time you expect too much from your friend or colleague – ask yourself did you consider them in the equations or was it just what you wanted? And if you felt you did consider their needs – then perhaps think again – not everyone wants what you want!!!! 

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Second That Emotion

All of us (though some are exempt from this) have been or still are hostage to our emotions, with many people not even being aware of how they feel from one moment to the other.

However being aware of how you are feeling and the thoughts you have – can help you gain some control over wayward emotions such as anger, angst, sadness or anxiety. Basically the more ‘self aware’ you become the more able you are to control your emotions.

Being self aware simply means being aware of our thoughts and feelings which in turn gives us the opportunity to be ‘aware’ of them without becoming emotionally attached to them and when we become the ‘observer’ of our emotions we can choose whether we wish to change how we feel or wallow in our emotions.

For example, how many of us have been cut up on the road at some point by what would appear to be a ‘thoughtless’ driver? Most of us no doubt! But self awareness allows us to see that our angry response to this incident is ours – maybe our outburst (expletives!) are called for but maybe they weren’t – maybe the guy just didn’t see you?

So yes we got angry – but being aware that you are angry in the first place is great but being aware that our response to this incident is also our choice – means we gain control over how we feel – or for how long we feel these emotions, because lets face it – feeling bad sucks!

Self awareness allows us to remain calm in stressful situations, helps us to chose a more beneficial or positive state of mind and as a result we feel more balanced and positive. We become the ‘observer’ of our emotions – ‘I am feeling angry/sad/overwhelmed etc – which enables us to distance ourselves from those negative emotions and then gives us leverage to change them into a more positive one, if we want to! So if we find ourselves in a bad mood we can get ourselves out of it more quickly than other people who are less aware of their emotions.

On the flip side there are people who loose themselves in their emotions – drowning in their emotions or wallowing in their sorrows or worries. These people are immersed in their emotions and are unable to ‘see’ them clearly and as a result become overwhelmed by the emotions they experience. They have little perspective on the emotions they feel as and a result have little control over their emotional life and live at the mercy of their own emotions feeling they can do nothing to improve their situation.

And then we have those people who are aware of how they feel but do nothing to change them. Some people believe that they should experience all emotions as they arise as this is natural – but then there is a fine line here between wallowing in these emotions or really ‘feeling’ them and moving on.

And of course there are those who know they feel depressed, or sad, or angry but chose to stay with these emotions and they are ‘who I am’.

Your emotions are not who you are – they ‘tell’ us how we should feel based on past, present and future experiences however they are not always appropriate or the best option. You always have a choice – to feel bad or feel good. Simple.

Yes it’s necessary to feel bad sometimes – they make the good times good – and it’s better ‘out than in’ we are told (and I’m not talking about wind here!) – if we feel upset, angry, worried – deal with the cause of these feelings and move on – it’s a far healthier option than denying our emotions or believing you are a slave to them – you are not!

We all have times when we feel low – and that’s okay – but if these feelings drag on then perhaps you need to ask yourself if these emotions are serving you at this moment in time. Do they make you feel good – probably not – so do something about it.

Make a commitment to yourself to be more self aware – and once you start to notice your emotions – you can then go on to question whether they are appropriate (not all emotions we feel are – they can be a learned response) and if not – change them and move on.

You have a choice in life – to live a more fulfilling and happier life – or to chose to be a victim to your emotions. We all feel them – good or bad – but it’s how we ‘experience’ them and ‘deal’ with them that determines our lives. So chose well!

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!!

Feel Good Or Bad – Your Choice

I am in the process of getting a program together to help people realize their true potential – to enable people to see how awesome they truly are – and it’s been an exciting project so far.

I have become more and more aware, due to the nature of my job and life itself, that we chose the life we want – that’s right – we chose the life we want! Every second of the day we make life choices which not only affect how we feel from moment to moment, but also our future too,

All to many people focus on the bad things in life and fail to see the abundance of beauty that surrounds them every single second of every single day – and why? Because they have chosen to be ‘miserable’ – it has become a habit for them. They feel ‘safe’ being miserable and it becomes comfortable – just like an old comfy sweater – worn out and holey! They resent happy people and go out of their way to hurt others – because in some way – it makes them feel better temporarily.

And when you ask said people how they are – they will no doubt moan and groan about this and that and when you ask them if they are happy in their life – amazingly they will say yes!! And why? Because we all strive to be happy – but how we go about that may not be working!

We chose our moods – no one else choses them for us – how can they? Seriously? No-one can get inside your head except you and I mean no-one. You chose whether you get upset about the mindless comment made by a colleague – you chose to get upset. It has absolutely nothing to do with what anyone says – it is about whether you wish to ‘accept’ what your colleague has said and get upset or whether you chose to ignore it or deal with it.

Surely you know that what people say (about you) is about them and where they are at – and has absolutely nothing to do with you? Yes, your boss can give you some feedback – and you can take it as just that – feedback – a way to improve your performance. Or you could take it as a personal sleight and spend days and weeks brooding. Again – your choice.

When we begin to realize that everything about our life is a choice – it makes it all the more easier to change it! Think about it – if you react to everyone in your life, to what people say or do – you are handing others control over your life.

However if  you acknowledge what is happening in your life and chose whether or not to react (and again it’s a choice whether your react positively or negatively here too!) you maintain control over your life and believe me – it feels incredible!

If you chose anger – then expect anger in return. If you chose hate then expect hate in return. If you chose victim then expect to be abused. But if you chose love you get love in return. If you chose tolerance you will receive tolerance and if you chose fun – how much better will your life be?

So stop blaming others for the way you feel and for once in your life – make a commitment to change your life for the better by acknowledging your personal power. You have so much personal power which lies dormant – wake it up, shake it out and chose a better life!!

After all it literally is your choice.

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!