Self – Love – A work in progress

Firstly, apologies for the gap in blogs. This one has taken me ages to write. Mainly because I feel self-love for me is still very much a work in progress. Something that doesn’t come easy to me and therefore I have been questioning whether I should be writing about it at all!
Then I thought,
‘Hey, I don’t have to be perfect at self-love to write about it.’
So here goes….

I recently started listening to the amazing audio book ‘Power of Vulnerability’ by Brenè Brown. I wasn’t really expecting to find much in there about self-love with the title including ‘vulnerability’ but I was very wrong. I would recommend you take a listen to the audiobook if you get the chance.

‘We can only love others as much as we love ourselves’ (Brenè Brown)

This statement is something I only really started to understand a few years back. Disconnected and lonely from ‘never fitting in’, ‘being unlikeable’ and ‘a failure at social life’ (this was what I told myself), I didn’t realise or even understand how I would receive more love if I just loved myself. I say ‘just’ but I know it’s not as easy as that, I needed to find even a mild like of myself to start with!

However, I will now state that I am happy to say, with hand on heart,
‘I am amazing as a person and I am fully and deeply loveable just as I am’. Phew…. (that still feels cheesy and awkward to say, but you should give it a try. Put your hand on your heart and mean what you say. Tell yourself how amazing you are.)

I spent many years always thinking things such as,
• Once I lose weight, I will be loveable!
• Once I get that task done, I will be valuable!
• Once I have more money, I will be worthy!
And various other statements to this effect. The list became a never-ending horror story in my head. My worth and love-ability was always in something else rather than in myself. Like I said, it’s still a work in progress and these thoughts can still creep in and you will see me having ‘a word with myself’ as I like to call it. I am sure it always will be a work in progress, but I now do love myself, as I am.
What was my turning point? Why did I did decide to do something about this? As I am sure you are aware, if you have ever made any changes in your life, it usually comes after an emotional experience of some kind. These huge emotions can often make us decide to change what is causing a problem. Most who know me would probably think it was after a break-up. I do remember saying to a friend after the dust had started to settle that ‘I just want to meet someone who makes me feel like am not the most awful person in the world’. As some will probably see reading that, even then, I was looking to outside influences to ‘fix me’, make me feel better. The penny still hadn’t dropped. It finally dropped when I learnt mindfulness on a weekend away and pulled a card out of a pack of 50 contemplation cards, and this one read ‘Self-Respect’. I burst into tears and didn’t stop for hours. That was my moment.

You don’t have to wait for a moment, you can always change whenever you want to. Remember that.

So why can we only love others as much as we love ourselves? Brenè Brown explains this much better than me and is the one that made me finally fully understand the saying, but I will explain a little here.

We need to be vulnerable in loving others and be vulnerable in accepting our true authentic selves and this is tough to do. It means when a loved one is going through something, we feel empathy with them rather than feeling shame, disgust or rage and various other emotions because it triggers something in us. Love is two people meeting together with vulnerability and empathy and that is so hard when you don’t want to be vulnerable because that involves showing everything you think is wrong with yourself.

Now as I hope people are starting to realise, I like to be practical with things and use the research in various fields to come up with actions I can add to my daily lifestyle. It’s about consistency with activities that fit into a busy modern life. Not something I do once on a workshop and never try out again. We must practice things to get better at them. Self-Love, as I said at the start is a work in progress and I think it always will be for most people. So, I practice self-love regularly.

Here is an idea for you to try and add into your busy life…

To gain a little more self-love, try this:
Talk to yourself in a kind way. We can all have a horror story going on in our heads where we are always the stupid one who makes the mistake and goes upstairs instead of out the front door for help. We make a mistake and we are a complete loser, stupid, idiot (and probably other harsher words you can think up for yourself). Our best mate makes a mistake and we are calm, understanding, patient and kind to them. DO THIS FOR YOURSELF!!

Practice these sayings every time you notice your inner thoughts speaking unkindly.

• I made a mistake, but I can try again / I can fix it / I can apologise and make it up to them.

• I failed, but I am not a failure. I can try again / I know how I can make it work next time / I have a new idea.

• I am really proud of my achievement / the way I have coped with today / the way I handled that situation. It may not have been perfect, but life isn’t perfect.

Remember this is a work in progress, we won’t get it right all the time, but we can learn to accept, understand and love ourselves bit by bit if we keep going xxx

self-love pic

Mindful Speaking

mindful january picWhen you listen to others, do you listen mindfully and without judgement? When you respond, do you respond with mindfulness and non-judgement?
When we are face to face with someone it seems a little easier to be more mindful of what we are hearing and saying. We can practice being present and in touch with acceptance of the person before us.
What about when you text, tweet, comment on social media sites? Are you mindful then?
This is harder. When we are remotely conversing with people it is harder to use those visual and vocal tone cues which come naturally to us as social beings.
A text message can be read in numerous ways and taken far away from its original meaning. A comment on someone’s social media status that is meant to be funny or sarcastic can fuel an online feud if read in the wrong way. Acceptance of someone else’s ideas shared online becomes more difficult for us and non-judgement has flown out the window as our heads fill with thoughts probably seen as unkind.
There are easy ways to bring mindfulness into our daily lives as mindfulness is not just about being present and calming the mind. Mindfulness is also about our words and acceptance, our consumption of goods from material goods to film, TV and news. Mindfulness is about how we treat our bodies and minds as well as how we treat others and how we respond to how we are treated by others. KINDNESS is key in mindfulness. Compassion for others and for ourselves.
In an increasingly online world we need to use mindfulness to converse with others in all forms, verbally and via messaging or commenting.
When you post that quote that degrades a man, is that mindful considering you have been upset before about posts degrading women?
When you quickly message someone back in a hurry are you fully answering them and being mindful of your response?

Does your email to a work colleague remain professional when under stress?
Practicing mindfulness as part of daily life is a way to start exploring these ideas and as part of mindful January below are some daily ideas you can try.
One thing at a time! – Now I know it is great to multi task. I mean you get so much more done. Or do you just do things in a rush and mindlessly? Sometimes just focusing on one thing allows you the head space to be mindful of your response and give the task in hand your full attention.
Mindful Speaking, texting, commenting – Are you responding to help or inform, with kindness and compassion? If not, maybe question your motives first. If you are responding to harm, gossip or with malice, why? What is that doing for you? Remember be compassionate with yourself too. We all have mindless moments and can do and say things when under pressure. Just allow some silence before your response to think.

Practice accepting the things that you can’t control. – Now acceptance is not about letting people walk all over you. It is about understanding that there are some things that you can’t control, such as another’s behaviour. We must accept that their behaviour is their choice and we have the control to choose our response, mindfully of course.
Mindfulness was chosen as the first of 12 steps to happiness in 2019 as it allows us to notice more of the world around us and start opening our minds to the next 11 months of positive psychology. Keep an eye out for more from chill your beans.

Have you become a human doing?

Busy, busy, busy. It feels like it’s quite fashionable to be busy. Do you dare tell someone you have done nothing apart from just ‘be’ for a day?
I mean, Life’s too short isn’t it? We must rush through it doing as much as possible. Working more and more. Making sure the kids are achieving their potential in every single after school club possible. Make sure you are keeping fit, exercising as much as possible as well as cooking freshly prepared meals. Don’t forget you need hobbies, pass times, things that make you interesting. You need to read blog posts, social media threads and keep up with the news and latest goings on in a 24/7 world!
But what about taking time to just BE. When was the last time you stopped and fully enjoyed the experience of just being?
This is a time where people set new goals and intentions for the year. Or more often referred to as resolutions. A great way to achieve these and make them more likely to stick is to enjoy the journey. Be mindful each day of your experience in the present moment.
What does it mean to be mindful?
Quite often, in a busy world we are constantly looking to the next ‘thing’ or looking to the end result.

  • ‘If I work really hard and earn loads of money I can then relax and enjoy it.’
  • ‘If I put in more hours than everyone else in my team, I will keep one step ahead.’
  • ‘If I exercise like mad and eat healthy during the week, I can have a major blow out at the weekend.’

This is all the opposite of mindfulness. It is based on a future outcome that we are rushing towards. These statements are not mindful of the journey we all take on the way to our goals or resolutions. To achieve a great end result and stay motivated it is better to stay present and open to your experiences on the way. This enables us to stay flexible in our decisions and change the course of our journey when needed so we still achieve our end result. It can also bring us greater joy and fond memories of what we get to experience on the way.
Mindfulness is ‘non-judgemental awareness of the present moment’ (Kabat-Zinn)
If you are working so hard and make yourself unwell in the process are you going to fully enjoy that money or will it be spent on making yourself better?

If you are trying so hard to stay ahead of the game and your relationships suffer will you enjoy the work and be welcomed into the success of the team?
If you exercise and restrict your diet as a punishment for the weekend are you able to enjoy the taste of your favourite foods and drinks or enjoy the amazing things your body can achieve in an exercise class or gym?

When we live in our present moment, when we are mindful of what is here and now, not what is to come, we can spend time ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. This being is where we can recover from the rush off life. We have a chance to recover from stress and anxiety. We have a chance to appreciate and enjoy the journey of life we are on.

Just take time to be a human ‘being’ not a human ‘doing’.

Prevention of ill health

We often treat our physical health differently to the health of our minds.

We exercise our bodies and know when we have eaten too much and try to cut back. We feel tired and get an early night or we may feel a cold or the flu coming on and get the remedies out.
However; if you are feeling ‘out of sorts’, stressed, anxious or in a low mood more often than not, we tend to hide it, dismiss it and think it will just go away by itself.
It is not just the treatment of illness that is different but the prevention of it too. We try to prevent physical illness from happening every day. We use hand sanitiser and soap and hot water (my friend carries hand sanitiser in her bag because of watching a report on the poo particles found on touchscreens in shops! Last time we were out she started shouting at me to ‘rub this on your hands, I can’t believe you touched that!’). We are told not to smoke, eat the wrong food or drink too much alcohol. We are careful on the ice in these colder months so as not to break a bone by falling over. All these things we do, mostly without thinking in order to prevent a physical illness or injury.

 

But what do you do in order to prevent anxiety, depression or burnout? Do your friends shout at you from across a shop ‘will that be good for your mental wellbeing?’ like they would about touching a screen with possible poo particles on it!

 

Preventing mental ill health is just as important as preventing a physical illness or injury. When we feel in higher spirits and have a good grounding of wellbeing, we are more able to bounce back from adversity. This is known as resilience. We can use skills and tools from psychological research to help us build our wellbeing which in turn builds our resilience.

 

Here are a couple of ideas to boost your wellbeing….

 

Find meaning in your life: Try to serve a greater purpose by using your strengths to bring more love, compassion and generosity to those around you. Try giving your time to a cause that you are passionate about or to your community.
Have hope for the future and be optimistic about what will happen next: We often catastrophise, creating the worst-case scenarios for our decisions and the events in our lives. Try creating a best-case scenario too. Be as optimistic as you can. Even if the things you come up with are wildly exaggerated and unlikely to happen. They are probably just as likely as the worst-case scenario you create too! This breaks our negative thinking. If a worst-case only has a 1 in a million chance of happening, then so does your best case.

 

Give them a try and see if you can add more and more preventative tools to your daily life. Make 2019 the year you can say, YES, I am treating my mental health as important as my physical health.

Christmas

Peace, Joy and Goodwill to all….
Or….. present buying:
‘oh flip I didn’t get anything for Aunty Mabel and she has bought for me and all the kids’,

food shopping:

seriously, how many mince pies are one family going to eat, no-one really likes Brussels anyway and ‘HOW MUCH’ at the checkout.

Or it can be:

‘who am I going to spend Christmas with, someone will be upset’

‘they are not speaking to them and they can’t stand to be in the same room as someone else’

‘the kids should be with me not them’

‘I have to sit all by myself at home with no-one.’

Of course, there are those of us who work all Christmas or are up early sorting the shopping sales out because we clearly haven’t bought enough already!

Either way Christmas can be one of those times we feel we should be jolly like good old Santa and actually feel stressed, anxious and thankful that it only comes once a year, all be it for nearly three months of the year with the build-up.

If you are like me, Christmas can be an emotional time, for all sorts of reasons. I have found myself blubbing at numerous Christmas adverts in the past and not because they are necessarily tear jerkers (I have manged to cry at a Christmas supermarket food ad!). The reason I cry is because I end up in overwhelm at everything I believe is expected of me and how I am not capable of providing the ‘perfect’ Christmas. This can be financially and from a perfect family picture perspective of mum, dad, two children and the dog.

 

At Christmas I am flung onto a hedonic treadmill of constant buying in order to provide happiness to myself and those around me. And I am generally not like this for the rest of the year. It’s almost like some weird urge to purchase people ‘stuff’ they probably don’t want or need overcomes me and also, I might add, to purchase ‘stuff’ for myself that I think will improve my own experience of Christmas. Most who have been caught in this trap will realise that once we have the ‘thing’ we think will provide happiness or be the perfect gift we are quickly looking for the next and then the next and so on and so forth continuously adapting to the happiness and going back to how we felt prior to our purchase.

So, to overcome this overwhelm this year and to get out of causing myself financial misery I have decided to forget the perfect Christmas. There is no such thing. I have been honest with my kids and told them what I would rather do. I would rather save a bit of money, so we can do things together, creating memories, not more landfill with unwanted gifts. I am trying to pass this message onto family too who struggle to understand why kids wouldn’t want anything. My reasoning is simple and comes from my own experience although there is research which shows this too.

Memories and experiences are going to be with them and me a lot longer than a new plastic toy. I remember toasting marshmallows over my nans fire and her awesome leek and potato soup! I remember putting the decorations on the tree which we had made at school. I remember getting to see family whom we may not have seen most of the year. And in my 36 years of Christmas do you know the only toy I can really remember well and remember playing with is a wooden kitchen!

This is all about giving experiences to others and this doesn’t have to cost either. Making a memory with someone can be about giving them your time instead. The anticipation of the experience can bring us joy as well as the memory of the experience afterwards. This type of happiness can last longer than the joy of being given something material. Make sure the experience is something both of you or the group would want to share. This way the experience will mean something to each person there. This also gets us off that buying for buying’s sake roundabout that is synonymous with the festive season.

So, my plea to everyone, this year is….

Please don’t buy me a gift. Or buy one for the kids. Give me your time. Give them your time. I would love to see you face to face if possible and chat to you. Facetime is fine for those who live far away. Let me know what you have been up to all year and your dreams for the next. Let’s arrange a get together like we had in the summer. Let’s just have a cuppa and mince pie round mine. Or come share a bottle of wine with me. Your time and the memories of that time are much more important to me than anything else.

Tell me, what would you like for Christmas?

What have you done to be kind today?

Today, Tuesday 13th November, is world kindness day so it’s a very good day to be kind. But why wait for a special day when you can be kind all the time.

There are lots of ways to be kind and they do not have to involve money such as giving to charity or buying someone something. You can volunteer your time, pick up some litter, help someone carry their shopping, hold the door open, bring your neighbours bins in and much more.

Ulterior motives for kindness! Lots of people seem to be suspicious of a kind act. They think there must be some kind of motive behind the kindness. And there is….

Kindness makes us feel good!
By releasing serotonin in the brain. Not only is this great for us but if you witness a kind act you get the same feeling too and so does the recipient of the kindness. So, it is good for you and everyone else, it is contagious.
We can all be responsible for this passing on of happy hormones. Imagine how many people you could ‘infect’ if you did just one kind act a day.
Kindness is also a character strength from the VIA character list of 24 strengths. I have these fantastic Lego strengths cards from workmad and the children I teach love them (and the adults too). They are fun and we all need to have fun.

 

‘Kindness is the Language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see’ Mark Twain

Kindness is about doing good for others and enjoying it. It falls under the virtue of humanity which is great for our relationships with others. If you feel you maybe need a boost to your strength of kindness, trying doing a small generous thing for someone. Remember this doesn’t have to involve money, try just giving someone a genuine compliment. Such as ‘Cat, you write such interesting posts.’ Ahhhhh thanks 🙂

So, what have you done today to be kind? Let me know below. Or maybe you are the recipient of kindness and want to show your gratitude.

What is a Positive Psychology Practitioner and how can one help you?

Positive Psychology is the science of human flourishing. It is all the ‘stuff’ that makes us good and how we can use it to make us even better. This can be personally, through work and business interactions, or on a community and societal level. We can then use what is good to help us process and work with things that maybe cause us problems or discomfort.

A positive psychology practitioner is someone who practices this in their own life and has the skills to help others practice it also. They can provide support to businesses, individuals, families and more. A positive psychology practitioner can introduce you to easy and available interventions that can make an improvement on your wellbeing such as introducing you to your signature character strengths and how to use them.

Other areas to look at with a positive psychology practitioner would be self-care and self-love. We can look at social connection and resilience. Goals, meaning and purpose. Motivation, mindfulness and gratitude plus more.

If you are feeling like a new positive direction is your way forward or know of someone  who is feeling this way then a positive psychology practitioner may be just what is needed.

As a master of applied positive psychology I am keen to help others live their best life and start a scientifically backed wellbeing journey. If you want to learn more about how I can help you then please contact for a free consultation.