Why do we give it away?

When it comes to relationships, I have been known to jump in. Head first and an optimistic heart – ready for the next adventure. And I know I’m not the only one.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes for great passion and in the beginning amazing fun.

When he was into raving, I die my hear blue and grab a couple of glow sticks. If he’s into motor bikes, I find myself trackside cheering on my favourite riders. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being adaptable and open, I’ve had some much fun and never did anything I didn’t want to do.

It’s just sometimes it goes a little too far.

The problem is, when someone else’s life takes president over yours and you don’t give your own interests and hobbies as much focus and enthusiasm as you do theirs.

So from time to time i’ve found myself in this place. I become so submerged in their wold, I can’t remember what I like to do for myself. I’ve lost friends, given up hobbies and even quit jobs, all in the interest of the relationship.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not a push over, no one made me do it, it’s always been my own choice and it’s always felt so good in the moment. It’s only when I’ve had the time and space to step back and ask what exactly do I do for myself? That I’ve realise, somewhere along the line, I forgot about me.

I don’t want to say no to new things or not get involved in a partners life, just because I didn’t suggested it. There has to be a way we can meet in the middle?

Are we afraid of looking selfish, or saying no? Or is it that I genuinely don’t mind what we do? When I’ve been single I’ve had no issues coming up with great things to do. It just seems, as soon as I’m in a relationship I throw them away.

Is it possible to have balance and maintaining the things we love as well as being present in someone else’s life?

I guess the first step is identifying the things you love. I’ve never been hard core at anything and I don’t have a hobby that takes over my life and demand every weekend. Perhaps if I did the boundaries would be easier to maintain. But I don’t, I like going for breakfast with my friends and writing my blog, which seem to be easily shifted to make space for other things.

But it shouldn’t matter what the activities are that we love to do, the important thing is that we do them for the right reasons. And that reason is you.

Maintaining your sense of self doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of independence, it can be as simple as your morning run, drinks with friends or taking your partner to see a play.

Remember what makes you shine and keep on doing it!

Plan ahead or live in the moment?

I can’t exactly put my finger on when things changed, but I know for sure they have. It’s not that I didn’t used to plan ahead, it’s just how far into the future I thought things through, that seems to have changed.

The plans of what to wear on Saturday night and if I had enough money to get drunk and get the last bus home, have somehow morphed into – how much do I need to earn to be able to pay the mortgage in 4 years time, and what do I need to do to combat the long term effects of alcohol on my body?

With every inspirational quote on Instagram telling us to be more present, I can’t help but question, is this shift to future planning actually doing me any favours? Life is definitely more fun when you forget about the consequences and live in the now.

It is however, worth mentioning at this stage, anyone with a social media following of 300K plus, at some point must have given a nod to the future, when they mapped out their path to Instagram influencer fame. And not, as they quote, stayed fully in the present.

Perhaps it’s ok to live in the moment if you have a plan for the future?

But what if it’s not the distance into the future that’s the problem, but the sentiment behind it. It seems to me, that planning ahead somehow got replaced with worrying ahead.

When you plan for the short term, it’s easy to see the outcome and in the most part take joy form it. Worrying about the future is useless, there’s no real way of knowing how things will go. And worrying doesn’t have any influence on the outcome, it doesn’t change a thing.

Planning into the future is a great thing, as long you actually do something about it and take action. That’s the difference between planning ahead and worrying ahead – the action you take.

I believe it’s possible to be fully present and look ahead at the same time, when your actions in the now line up with the future you want.

However in the ultimate twist, it does seem to me that the best adventures always come along when you least expect them, from an unplanned, unexpected place.

So now all that’s left to do is, be present, while planning ahead and remaining flexible…….

If anyone has mastered that please let me know how.

What my fears have taught me

I don’t suppose anyone sits down and thinks intentionally about what their afraid of, but somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve always known.

I remember once on a date, I was asked – “what are you scared of?” He meant like spiders or snakes, but without even thinking I blurted out “not being able to have children.” Needless to say I didn’t see him again.

Recently I’ve found myself wondering, if  perhaps I’d manifested this painful reality there and then? Did the universe hear my worry and set out to challenge me? Is there a lesson I need to learn?

And, on other days it feels as though life is just a line of disconnected events, that we’re so desperate to join together in the hope of making sense of it all?

Whatever the reason for the things that happen, I’ve found two things to be true.

  1. There are things you can change.
  2. There are things you can not change – no matter how desperately you want to.

And with this knowledge I re-access the damage caused by this all mighty fear coming true. I am still standing, I have not ceased to exist, the world did not end – although perhaps it did, if only for a moment.

By accepting the things I can not change, I’m not giving up. No, i’m just loosing the tight grip that’s controlled my world. I’m unclenching my teeth and breathing out – this is me. I’d spent so long focused on things that were outside of my control, that i’d let the important stuff slip away. So much worry, so much fear and for no benefit, nothing has changed.

And so to focus on the things I can change, here comes the fun. My mindset, my thoughts, in time my feelings, but most importantly my future. It’s ours to shape however we want.

Focus on the good stuff and pour your energy into the things you can change.

For I truly believe, the best is yet to come.

The stories I’ve made up about you

I have a running conversation in my head and it’s not just with myself. I imagine conversations I might have with people I know and then I make up their response. More often than not it’s a negative conversation. Sometimes it’s a friend picking me up on my shitty behavior or my boss pulling me up on my bad mood. Whatever the situation I always have the best answers to their reprimanding.

Apart from the obvious issues with having a chat with yourself, there are a few other problems with speaking on behalf of someone else, even if it’s in your own head. The biggest issue is you have absolutely no way of knowing how the other person feels about this situation, let alone might actually say in reality.

Now, as our brains are constantly looking to make sense of the world we live in, we join the dots where possible. And, when there is no obvious connection we make it up. This creation of a story will always reinforcing the view you already have, because after all it’s you making it up. Whatever you believe you’ll find ways to confirm.

As I run though these made up scenarios in my head and allow myself to play every role, I muster an emotional response towards these people, and just like that, my brain subconsciously applies it to real life.

With very pieces of information (fiction or real) I construct a linear story that reinforces my views of the people I know and the world we’re in.

As I write this I can’t help but wonder if anyone else is doing the same thing inside their head? And if they are, how different is their world must to mine? Have they already made up my responses and crafted an image of who they believe I am. Will they even be able to hear me if I answer differently to what they believe? Do our realities ever cross?

All I can do is consciously tried to stop myself when I feel those stories stirring in my head.

 

Pissed off therapy

I’ve been trying to ignore it but it won’t go away. I’ve been dancing around in the hope it will disappear, desperately trying every strategy to shake it off.

But it’s still there.

There’s the big issues, the ones that you give yourself permission to feel, because you know they’re a big deal. And most days I can take them in my stride.

And then there’s the smaller issues, the kind of things that are so small I shouldn’t even acknowledge them and yet, it is the weight of these little dramas that seem to send my whole world toppling over, spinning out of control – like the guy who beeped at me in the car park and then stole my space, or the fact we don’t have any milk in the fridge.

It’s all just too much.

So today i’m trying a different tactic. I’m putting my positive mantras down and diving into a whole world of pissed off.

I’m allowing myself one hour to be totally annoyed.

In this one hour i’m going to indulge in the feelings. I’m going to list every single little thing that is getting on my nerves, making me sad, mad or just generally pissing me off.

If it’s a person i’m writing them a letter, with no intention of them receiving it I can let loose.

I’m going to dive in, fully embrace and totally explore these feelings. I give myself full permission to be pissed off, annoyed and as emotional as I want.

However, when the hour is up, that’s it, we’re done, it’s over.

Step two: 

Taking a different pen and setting one more timer on my phone.

In this next hour I address each and every point on the page. It’s incredible what a difference letting the problems out has. Having to not just articulate what’s annoying me, but also write it down. The smaller issues seem to instantly dissolve away and the bigger ones are clear now and easier to tackle.

And just like that I feel better, even lighter.

You don’t need to leave to feel free

I’d never felt more in touch with myself than I did right then.

In that moment, as I stuffed very few belongings into the worlds smallest bag, I knew I was doing the right thing. This trip to me, was a celebration of what I’d achieved, not an attempt to find myself.

If anything I wanted to get lost.

Over the last 6 months I’d had control over every element in my life. I knew what I needed to do to feel great and how much I could get away with before I felt bad. I had exactly the right amount of sleep and just enough late nights to convince myself I was having fun.

I was in control of my diet and in the best shape I’d ever been.

I was bored!

Maybe I was trying to find myself after all.

Whatever it was, it worked.

I felt amazing, with as much time and space to do whatever I wanted, I came home feeling fully charged and totally in touch with myself.

The only problem is, one year on and i’m in need of a little boost, and taking off round the world isn’t an option this time.

Perhaps it’s easy to make yourself happy when you’re only priority is making yourself happy.  But how do you maintain that level of selfishness when everyday life gets in the way?

As I think back to that time, I picture myself there. I remember the smells and imagine myself walking the street and exploring. I remember how proud I felt for achieving things on my own and the sense of accomplishment I had for just doing something for myself.

Now I bring that feel into my everyday world and wonder, what can I do to have that here?

Everyday is a brand new adventure and you don’t need to pack a bag to experience the life you already have. I’m giving myself permission to explore. To take time away from the everyday, to discover those feelings again.

Making time for you doesn’t need to be as dramatic as booking a round the world trip, it could be as simple as a weekly ritual of taking a walk alone, getting your nails done or reading a book. The trick is just remembering to doing it.

The rules of saying I love you

He told me he loved me on our 3rd date. Not in any romantic way, he just chucked it out there, like it was nothing. I wondered for a minute if it was a mistake – like when you call your teacher mum. But it wasn’t.

All that was left to think, was it must be some sort of weird joke.

When he said it again on the 4th date, I thought perhaps he did mean it, but  I couldn’t help but wonder, “how can you possibly love me, what do you know about love? You don’t even know me.”

Turns out he knew a lot more about love than I gave him credit for.

I used to think there were these rules about falling in love. Rules that if you played to, you were guaranteed love, happiness and everything else that’s meant to follow. I’d been playing by these rules my whole life.

Rule 1. Wait 3 months before you say I love you.
Rule 2. Look deeply into each others eyes.
Rule 3. Be totally blown away when you hear the words.

As I discussed his obvious disregard for the rules with my friend she said, “maybe he does love you? Love isn’t about looking into each others eyes, it’s about looking into the future together.”

I thought back to past relationships, where the moment had been right and the sacred three words had been said, but there was nothing more to it, nothing to back that perfect moment. No future, just all present.

Suddenly my rules dissolved, they crumble away. Falling in love and saying it, isn’t a one time transaction that has to be perfect or even life changing. It’s simply a feeling that you want to be around that person for a lot longer. You’re saying you want to be in their future.

And with that, on our 5th date, I casually told him I wanted to be a part of his future too.

I love you.

Why you don’t like change

I used to pride myself on liking change. In fact, I found it hard when things stayed the same for too long.

But then why, when it comes to making a few changes in my life, changes I know will transform things,  am I so resistant?

I’d dig in my heels, look away and hold my breath.

In life, it seems that we thrive off change and new challenges, even when we hate them at the time. Change forces us to adapt and learn, it’s what makes us grow.

However, I’m all too aware of the repetition we seek out in everyday life. We find comfort in doing things the same way. I catch myself drawn to the same seat on the bus every single time I get on.

And, with a wardrobe full of clothes, why then do we wear the same things over and over again?

I may like it when things in my life change, but how proactive am I at instigating that change and finding new challenges?

I recently read Mel Robins, 5 Second Rule, she explains that we’re hardwired to avoid anything that makes us feel uncomfortable, especially change.

That’s why you’ll never really feel ready to take that leap of faith, or put yourself out there – you just have to make yourself do it anyway.

From getting fit to finding your dream job, Mel says that if it means simply putting one foot outside your comfort zone, your brain will go into overdrive to protect you. It will do everything it can to talk you out of taking action.

Change is scary, staying the same is not.
Change requires action, staying the same does not.
Change is unknown, staying the same is not.

The way I see it, is we have a choice when it comes to change. Each of those 3 sentences can be split in half. One half is negative and the other is positive, it’s up to us which half is which.

Mantra this, and change your life

To say I didn’t enjoy school, would be an understatement.

I remember being 15 years old, and trying to make the walk to school last as long as humanly possible.

I started to notice a pattern on the days I dreaded going in. I would find myself repeating in my head over and over again, “It’s going to be a horrible day”. I think I honestly believed that if I prepared myself, it wouldn’t matter if it was a bad day, because I’d already called it.

And of course, it always was.

Then one day I decided to try something different. I started to repeat in my head, over and over again, “today is a great day”.

I remember it feeling so forced, and I’m sure I rolled my eyes with every repetition.

But, I kept doing it, the whole walk to school.

Today is a great day.
Today is a great day.
Today is a great day.

I’m not sure what was more annoying, the fact it worked, or the fact I actually did have a good day. But, none the less things got a little bit brighter.

Ever since then, I’ve used matras to keep me and my mind on the right track.

I repeat a short phrase to myself, over and over again, most often while I’m walking somewhere.

I’ll say anything from “I love myself”, to “I am successful”. And, from time to time I still find myself repeating the words, “today is a great day”.

The trick is to talk in the first person and as if it’s already true. Try not to use any negative words, like not. Because, your brain can’t identify them and only hears the instruction.

So if you say “I am not late” over and over, all your brain hears is “I’m late, I’m late”. And with the power of matras being what it is, you’ll most definitely end up being late.

And that’s it. Just pick something you want and start saying it over and over again.

It doesn’t even matter whether you believe it or not at first. All that matters is that you say it, over and over again.

From brightening your mood to increasing productivity, mantras will change the way you view the world.

What are you waiting for? Give it a go right now.

A lesson in not giving a f*#k

The less f*#ks you give, the happier you’ll be.

As I zipped up my old hoody, I looked down to admire how close in colour it actually was to the washed out, horribly fitting tracky bottoms I had also chosen to wear that evening.

It was clear that a long time ago both these garments were very different colours, but not anymore.

As I headed out into the street, knowing this outfit choice was not my finest, my instincts told me – this is the moment you’ll bump into every ex and their beautiful, well dressed, pristine girlfriends!

I shrugged off that feeling and replaced it with this thought, – the less you give a f*#k, the happier you’ll be.

That sat much better with me in my current state.

Happily, I trotted down the dark street, and collected the beers. I held my head high as I announced my arrival at the pizza shop and then promptly scurried back to the safety of home.

I may look slightly homeless I thought, but I’m definitely happy.

But, what exactly had I stopped giving a f*#k about?

Had I stopped caring about how I felt? Or what other people thought of me? And, could caring about either of these things, really be holding me back in the happiness stakes?

I decided to test it out. The next morning I picked out the smartest outfit I could find – it wasn’t exactly a ball gown, but it was the best I had. I did my hair and slapped some make up on.

It felt good.

Caring about how I looked made me feel happy too, it also seemed to make my boyfriend happy. Clearly officewear was more up his street than hobo chic.

I know it’s pretty obvious that caring what other people think doesn’t get us anywhere. But it’s easy to forget, what we think and feel about ourselves drives almost every emotion we have.

So next time I decide to not give a f#*k, it will be about what other people think, and not how I feel about myself.