Do you find that at certain times you worry more about what people think of you? I’m sure it is a general human condition that from time to time we all experience this, as social beings, but if you suffer from any kind of anxiety disorder, then this can at times become debilitating. Believe me, I speak from experience, so I extend compassion to anyone else who may be suffering from something similar. There aren’t necessarily any ‘quick fixes’, but sometimes it just helps to know that you are not alone – and I can assure you that you are not. At times, our own thoughts and feelings can be so acute, so overwhelming and so difficult to ignore or get on top of, and this impacts upon our neurological responses, and on our behaviour in any given situation. Sometimes we even tell ourselves that we are being ‘ridiculous’, paranoid even, but it doesn’t make the struggle any less real. I find that I resort to self-protective behaviours such as avoidance, isolation, just keeping myself to myself as much as possible. Because there’s enough going on inside of an anxious person than to have to deal with the external world as well. Yet, it is often the case that individuals like myself, and perhaps like you if you can relate to any of this, have so much going on inside of them that they find difficult to regulate, precisely because at some point or another, and most likely during childhood and adolescence while our coping mechanisms were still forming, the external world caused some sort of damage. And so our adult lives have that stressful edge to them, and the smallest of things can send our nervous system into overdrive as our bodies try to determine whether the best response would be to fight, take to flight, or flee the situation. And that’s not our faults if our developing brains have been damaged or are over or underactive in certain ways. People don’t realise how incredibly tough it can be to live in such a way. But that’s not to say there is no hope – there is plenty of hope, so if you are struggling please don’t feel too disheartened. This comes with the proviso, however that it is going to take hard work and practice, and getting ‘back to basics’ on a daily basis – something that I need to work on as well. The basics are calming our nervous system, investing our time in ‘breath work’, in relaxation, calming techniques, observing the world around us using our senses in an intentional way so as to ground ourselves, and working on redressing the negative and fearful thought patterns that our brains have become stuck in. This can be done – simply look up neuroplasticity for inspiration that your brain can change as we create and strengthen new neural connections. It is not easy, my friend, I know…anxiety sometimes feels like a monster we have to fight, but we can and will win if we keep on going; panic attacks are exhausting, and PTSD / C-PTSD can be frightening, confusing, disorienting and painful on so many levels – but we will overcome. If you are struggling today, know that there is hope, for a better, brighter, calmer future….and even a calmer today – maybe not free from stress, anxiety or worry, but as you take time to work on things you may just find that you cope better than you did yesterday. Whatever your situation, and however trapped you might feel, find a place to get away from it all, even if that means going for a walk by yourself before going home from work for example, and begin or continue your training of ‘rewiring’ your body, brain and nervous system. It will take effort and commitment but don’t we owe it to ourselves, regardless of what other people might think? What other people think or might be thinking about us isn’t nearly as important as our health and wellbeing – so let’s get training – like any muscle in the body, we need to keep exercising our minds in order to be mentally healthy, even if that means we start training as if we were an athlete in recovery from a major injury – it might feel that way to you just now but it can get better if you put in the work and build up your support mechanisms. One step at a time, we will get stronger, so take care, walk slowly, breathe a little more deeply, and fill your mind with kind thoughts towards yourself and others. x
Sometimes when we are sad and confused it can be difficult to know what to do to feel better. It is a good idea to have something to cheer us up when we don’t feel so good. Why don’t you ask a grown up to help you create a “Happiness Box”. You could decorate a […]
Everyone needs compassion. And that includes you, and me. Sometimes we face the cruellest words and unkindest treatment from our own selves. Self compassion can be a hard practice to learn, but it is also worth the time, and can be transformative to your outlook on life, your perception and feelings towards yourself, your mental and emotional health, your physical wellbeing and your relationships with other people as well as your confidence to make a positive difference in the world.
It can be hard to know where to start with being kind to ourselves, so here is a simple exercise, that although simple in concept can be challenging to some of the more ingrained negative thoughts and attitudes we hold towards ourselves. Give it a go….it can’t do any harm, and may in fact do you a lot of good. Be blessed. x
Self-Compassion Exercise – fill in the blanks:
Today I am grateful for_______________________
I recognise that I struggle with __________________________ , yet it took me courage to __________________________, and I am proud of myself for this.
I often compliment other people, and I recognise that as human beings we all are unique yet equal in worth. So, just as I compliment and show kindness to others, I will do so to myself. This is something I’d like to compliment myself on today________________________.
I realise I can be negative towards myself, especially in my ‘self talk’, whereas I am more encouraging to other people. I might not have done brilliantly at _____________________
but as an encouragement to myself, I’d like to say that _____________________________.
Something I like about myself is ___________________________________.
Something nice that other people say about me is________________________.
I recognise that I have the positive quality of____________________________,
and I’d therefore like to make a positive contribution to the world I live in and the people around me by__________________________________________________.
I am worthy of love, and I appreciate myself. I will be kind to others and myself. One way I will do this today is__________________________________________________.
Before the day begins, and by that I mean before you start ‘doing’ all the things you usually do in the day, before you get going and are off and on your way, stop.
What is one of the first things many people do in the morning after settling in and beginning to get ready? People these days go online. It’s 7.38am and I’ve been up since 5.50am (this night owl’s attempts to become more of a morning person are beginning to bring forth some fruit, albeit gradually 🙂 ) and I spent the first hour and a half or so offline, in this beautiful little analogue world 🙂
I encourage you to take some time before ‘switching on’ to the busy, noisy world around you and the online world, as inspiring as it can be, to wait, to breathe in this morning, your own morning, and connect with your own life. How did I spend my time? In prayer, in writing down my thoughts as they came to me, thanking God, gratitude, a little bit of colouring in my yearly planner and a picture I’m working on, drinking tea and eating breakfast without distraction. I feel all the better for it. To be honest my mood wasn’t the best at the start but spending some time just connecting with my own life without comparison has lifted me. I now feel more motivated to continue with my day – prayer, Bible study, exercise, work, and all that the day holds for me. Even if you have just five or ten minutes to spare at first, just take that time, to switch on internally before you switch on any devices. It will help you embrace the day with greater authenticity and inspiration. Be blessed. x
Challenge: What would you do with that ‘analogue time’ in the morning?
Sometimes we need to relax, need a bit of a ‘pick me up’ but can’t really afford the time or money to go for a pamper or spa day somewhere.
That’s not to say that you can’t create your own relaxing spa experience at home. Some people set aside whole days for this, but if you want something quick, simple and relaxing, then all you need is a bowl or basin suitable for putting both your feet in at the same time, and being able to hold hot water, some towels, moisturiser and a bath fizzer or shower gel, with your favourite scents, and maybe a pumice stone if you want to use one. Check the temperature of the water is just right for you, put your feet in, add your fragrance, then just sit back and relax. I did this evening, and I now I have soft and happy feet. Simple! 🙂
Following on from my recent series (which is awaiting a final concluding blog post) on my personal / writing retreat, I have a few words that will hopefully encourage you that even if you don’t feel you have the time to take a retreat, even if that is in your own home, and even if it is a mini retreat over a weekend, you can plan what I’d like to call ‘mini mini-retreats’…or maybe micro retreats if you prefer 🙂
This is something you can achievably plan to incorporate into your week, your weekend or even your daily life. What do I mean by a micro retreat? It’s simply time that you have set aside to focus on an aspect of your life that is important to you, giving it the care and attention you long to. You may, like myself, only have rare occasions where you can deeply delve into creative projects you are involved in where over a space of a few days or even a week you are immersed in that creative experience and set aside time without having to worry about other commitments. However, on a regular basis, you can still ‘go on retreat’ in a focused and meaningful way, even if the breadth and depth of your experience differs from a longer time spent in this way. In some ways, because it is shorter and more focused time, you may reap unexpected benefits and glean new insights into your self and life.
So, think about what you’d like to focus on. Like me, you may have many different aspects of life that are important to you that you’d like to give time care and attention to. Perhaps self care, meditative time in nature, prayer, reading the Bible, reading generally, blog writing, spending time alone, painting, writing, photography, journaling, model making, music, or simply just getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can be flexible with how you fit such times into your daily and weekly life. All you need to do is set aside, protect and honour that time. In business speak, ‘ring fence’ that time for a specific purpose. Whether it is 15 minutes, half an hour, an hour, or half a day, you can modify and change things to suit your own life. But once you’re in that time, treat it as you would a retreat – no distractions, find a place by yourself, undisturbed, make a warm cosy drink and spend that time giving attention to that one specific thing that matters to you. You can have many ‘mini mini retreats’ or micro retreats in a month, week or even a day. Let it be a time you make special for yourself, and give your full attention to that purpose, with gratitude, intent and a deep focus. And most of all enjoy the time, and seek to be refreshed, as you seek to live a life that you don’t want to ‘get away from’, and learn to live fully right where you are.
Dear single friends,
Embrace the truth today that you are worthy, unique, special and do not require another person to complete or validate you – you are enough. We are sold the lie so often that we are incomplete, defective or lacking in some way. Once you begin to be able to identify that as a lie, you will approach your life more positively and hopefully with less fear and worry about society’s expectations. Your life path and journey can’t be dictated by someone else’s or society’s plan or timetable, especially when we live in a time when society’s standards are unfortunately quite low and seem to be slipping daily. There are things, eternal things, that we have little grasp of and therefore we can fall into the trap of being overly influenced by the noise around us from a multitude of sources. You have the capacity to reach great heights, to fulfil your potential and to inspire others, ‘just’ as you are today. Be blessed. x