#Lifelessons101 –  Changing to a positive attitude (inspired by Gretchen Rubin)

Recently I got a wake-up call. And it wasn’t a nice one and kinda scary to admit in public. Ok here goes. I am in reality a pretty negative person. Not in my professional life, where I inspire others to see the bright side of life. Not even my public life, with friends or on social media. But at home behind closed doors, I can be, and regularly am a pessimistic, grumpy stress head. Not a great realisation. However, it is a constructive one as it’s a starting point for change.

I realised this at a recent Lammas workshop where we were talking about sacrifice and the concept that if you want to make something new in your life you have to let something go. (Or sacrifice it, just as the wheat gets cut down to become our bread and brandy) One of this year’s goals for me it to have a healthier, happier relationship with Mr T. Our communication has taken a downwards turn of late so I wanted to improve this. But as the year has gone and stress has been rising if anything my negativity and negative communication with the man I love has got worse. Definitely a glowing neon universal sign that something needs to change.

And of course, that change starts with me. In that workshop, I identified that one of the reasons I was being a snappy cow was because I had too much control and responsibility in our lives and that made me unconsciously resent Mr T (who bless him is sublimely oblivious to this fact). Secondly, I was having trouble letting go of frustrations, little niggling things, like the fact he can’t put the cardboard from a used toilet paper in the bin (WHY??), blind me to all the good and sweet things he does. So letting go was a big key to changing my negativity to positivity. But how? That’s the magic question.

Luckily one of my favourite author’s Gretchen Rubin came to my rescue in her wonderful book “The Happiness Project”. It seems Gretchen had exactly the same issue as me. Always jumping to the negative rather than the positive. In fact, it’s a common issue for many of us. To combat this Gretchen took a whole month to consciously work on her attitude, focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I love this idea, it really spoke to my structured loving mindset. So for the next four weeks, I am going to focus on my attitude.

And this is how I am going to do it:

Identify how you want to change

To not make this a sweeping declaration (a la Marshell Eriksen) I have made a plan. Firstly I have identified how I want to change :

  • I want to understand my negative reactions and use that to help me turn them into positivity.
  • I want to use positive language
  • I want to feel less angry and frustrated
  • I want to think positively even under stress

Make resolutions

Following the Gretchen recipe, the first step is to make resolutions. The idea is to find specific areas to focus on to reach your goal. So my 4 resolutions for this month are:

  • React positively
  • Use good manners
  • Let go of things that don’t serve me
  • Find my joy

The surreal thing is that as always the universe is listening. And lo and behold the moment I set these resolutions I began to find ways to keep them.

Catch the negativity, analyze it and find a positive way to react

If you find that like me you often react negatively, the first step to change is catching yourself at it. Ask yourself why you re reacting this way and then find a way you can react positively.

As I have been writing I could hear the annoying piercing scream of the hoover my Mr T is using. Immediately my first reaction was one of frustration. The noise is too loud. I can’t concentrate. Why the heck does he have to do this now! Normally I would let this spiral on until my next interaction with Mr T and then this frustration would be thrown at the poor unsuspecting man. However, in the spirit of reacting positively, I didn’t. Instead, I took myself outside away from the noise, caught my breath. And therein remembered that we have some neon green noise cancelling headphones. So now I am sitting here comfortable in the lack of wailing noise and appreciative that my lovely man has cleaned the house and I don’t have to do it. (Note to self: Be grateful and say thank you.)

Use good manners

Now this one is lifted straight from the book. As I read I could really relate to the fact that I don’t always use good manners in the way I speak to people. Well, correction, in the way I speak to Mr T. One of the curses of a coach is that you use a lot of energy helping others to feel good and grow, which can mean you don’t have much energy left. And often I find that manifests in me being rude to  Mr T. Well they do say “We hurt those we love the most” which is stupidity if ever I heard it. I didn’t want to hurt Mr T. I wanted to treat him best of all persons. So I have started to find ways I can use good manners towards him. Assuming less and asking more. Using please and thank you. Not rolling my eyes when he is annoying (one of his pet hates). Doing actions of love. Basically being nice.

If you want the world to feel nicer you can’t expect it to hand it to you on a plate if you aren’t willing to be nice too. Good manners are something we can all work on in every aspect of life. Ultimately it’s about being kind and the world is always better for a little kindness.

Let go of things that don’t serve me

Mr T is frustratingly good at this. In a situation, I recently found hella frustrating and a bad experience, Mr T simply focused on the positive things and found the same situation as a great experience. He let go of the bits that didn’t serve him and kept the bits that did. Oh to be able to do that in the blink of an eye! I seriously struggle with letting things go. Partly because I have an expectation of how things should be. And partly because it niggles inside me. So my work here is two-fold.

Firstly I need to use the five-minute rule. Give myself 5 minutes alone to be cross, frustrated, sad, whatever I feel. Then ask myself “can I do anything now?” If I can then do something. If I can’t I have to let it go. However in order to do that I have to find the positives from the challenge.

Secondly, I have to let go of my expectation of how something should play out and enjoy the moment. So what if a date night ended up being a discussion about our finances. At least we got that sorted. Simply looking for the positive here is going to help. Also letting Mr T know I have an expectation is a great way to make sure disappointment is avoided.

There are many different ways you can work on letting go of that which does not serve you. Ask Google for inspiration. As always Google knows!

Find my joy

When you are stressed it is easy to lash out at our nearest and dearest. It’s normal. But I hate it. I always feel like I am the worst version of myself when I do this. So to release the pressure I want to focus on finding my joy in the stressful times. Whether I need some time alone, to draw, to write, to have a walk, to dance, to laugh. Basically, instead of lashing out I want to find ways to make me feel good.

pollyannaGretchen had a great suggestion for this the Pollyanna week. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, Pollyanna plays the glad game. Basically, whatever happens to her she finds a reason to be glad. Gretchen took a whole week of being glad. I used to play this game a lot as a child. As an adult, it has transpired into my golden rule, if you can learn from a situation it was a good situation. But to just be glad seems like a much simpler and joyful way.

Instead of expecting others to give us joy in the down times find ways you can lift your own spirits and connect with your joy. In times of stress connect with yourself and ask you what do I need right now? How can I feel my joy?

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In essence, the recipe to turn your negative attitude into a positive one is quite simple:

  • Identify how you want to change
  • Make resolutions
  • Find ways you can make those resolutions a reality
  • Follow your plan

I hope you find this as helpful as I did writing it. How do you guys turn your negativity into a positive attitude? Let me know in the comments below.

Have an amazing weekend <3

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What planet is he/she on ?!?!?! – 5 ways to understand other people (3 min read)

What planet are they on?!?! There is not one of us who has not asked this question at least once in our lives. Sometimes understanding other people can seem like the most impossible task in the world. It doesn’t matter who it is or your relationship to them. It could be  the teacher that sets the impossible to understand assignment, the guy who never contributes at work, the girlfriend who insists on buying another pair of shoes  or the friend or child that does the exact opposite of what you believe to be reasonable behaviour, sometimes other people are just hard to understand.

Infact not understanding  other people is one of the most common day to day problems we all have as humans. No matter where we are, how we live or what we believe, this is a life challenge that we all have in common. And it is also a challenge that we all have to overcome because like or not we need other people.

But when your communication with another person is as effective as static on a radio it can have seriously negative results on your life. (You know the scenario in my brain’s cinema. In the background one long beeeeep whilst both people make increasingly larger incomprehensible gestures at each other, a situation made absolutely more  ridiculous that they  can’t understand each other because you are actually speaking the same language. You know it, you’ve been there.) Why does communication often go so wrong? There are many answers to that question however often or not, the answer is because we have an emotional investment. And it’s those emotions investments that create misunderstandings.

And that my friends is actually good news! If it’s our emotions getting involved then we can do something about it.  How ? By using Emotional Intelligence (which in a nutshell can be defined a the ability to identify and manage our own  emotions and the emotions of others). Emotional intelligence techniques are vast and many (try typing emotional intelligence into Youtube, Amazon or Google you will see what I mean).  So I am not going to go too deeply here and now. I prefer to share with you (and remind myself !) 5  ways of using emotional intelligence to help understand someone else, even when they seem to live on a completely different planet.

Remember we aren’t all the same: It sounds simple but how often do we forget that people don’t function like we do. This is especially true of people we are very close to like a lover or a partner. Just because you eat together, sleep together, train together or work together does not mean anyone you know is the same as you or has 100% the same perspective as you. We all see things differently. Infact one of life’s universal truths is that no-one will ever have an exact carbon copy of your world view. Accept it and move on. 

Not understanding is your problem not theirs: In the world of not understanding people we are fantastic at putting the blame on to other for it. Even more so if we get back up. For example many people can misunderstand someone who is chronically shy as “strange, aloof thinks she is above us”. If you don’t understand someone it’s more about you than it is about them. Take responsibility for your role, it is not the world’s job to respond to you, it’s your job to find out how to respond to the world.

Check in with yourself: Understanding ourselves better helps us remove barriers to understanding others. What do I mean by this? I mean that when you find yourself not understanding someone then figure out where your emotional investment is and how is that blocking your understanding. By doing this you will not only check in with yourself but you will also learn the habits of your own emotional reactions

Ask don’t assume: The more we ask the more we learn. Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups. We often believe we understand when we don’t or worse pretend we understand when we don’t. What would be worse for you telling someone about a serious problem at work for example and them pretending to understand or them showing you respect by asking what you mean. And don’t wait to be asked if you understand ask questions, investigate, the more you do this the more you know, the more you know the more you understand.

Experience more and improve your empathy: We all know that to understand other people we need to use empathy. And I mean true empathy here not the aw poor you,  true empathy is where we truly attempt to shift our perspective into seeing from someone else’s perspective However if you don’t try new things you have a limited base to start out from. Imagining emotions or perspectives someone else would feel or have from situations you have never experienced is hard. The more you experience the wider your empathy database will be. So get out in the world and experience as much as you can! 

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“People are strange” sang Jim Morrison (The Doors and if you don’t know this song where have you been, go directly to youtube. Now. I can wait….) and that means all of us. We are a weird and wonderful bunch that make up this species of humankind. The golden rules of understanding each other are like all the best things simple;

Respond, don’t react, be honest with everyone including yourself and be interested in each other.

If you can master these and use the guidelines above you are always going to be on the right path to connecting and understanding anyone from any planet albeit the person you sleep beside, the stranger on a bus or even the weird teacher whose crazy assignment that makes no sense!

Have fun seeing how many people you can better understand this week and see if you don’t understand yourself more by the weekend too !
Happy Monday <3

 

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#Lifelessons101 – I do everything in our house – but do you really?

After talking to a Mr  the other day about our role in our homes and in our families. It became very obvious that we both were having the same feeling and frustration about our lives. We both felt that we de 90% of everything at home. We both felt that every day we had to tidy up after the other. It’s especially ironic as when we moved together we dealt our roles up in the home so we both had different jobs. A perfect idea but not realistic.

However it was great to get it out in the open. It somehow brought closer. Later in the same week I spoke with a friend and she also told me that she felt the same in her house. It infact is a common problem between people living together whether as friends, strangers on partners. We all feel that we do the most and that it is unfair.

Often when we feel like this we allow the feeling to sit inside of us. It builds up pressure and eventually explodes. The worst thing we can do is repress our feelings. Physically it can’t do harm to your body. Repression builds up stress. Stress turns our body into continuous stress mode. This in turn tightens up places in our body where eventually toxins gather. (If you would like to read more http://fitlife.tv/this-is-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-suppress-your-emotions-original/)

In short this problem is common. However this very common problem can actually be solved, with patience, compromise  and a little bravery. Mr T and I talked it through. By talking it through honestly and without taking offence, we learned about the things we did that annoyed the other. It gave us the opportunity to assess our actions in certain situations. As well  we got a clear idea of what the other one did in the home.

There are many different small problems like this when people live together. On a base level it is part of our animal makeup. We all vie for a strong position in the pack we all have an unconscious opinion about what is right for our pack and how we should survive or live. Luckily our species has evolved to a point where we can step out of our animal state and stretch our comfort zone by talking about these issues.

Here are a few guidelines to use when discussing these sort of problems.

  • Choose a time and space where you won’t be interrupted
  • Explain to the other person that this is not a personal attack but a chance to talk out an issue and find some solutions.
  • Talk about your issues and give space for them to tell about theirs.
  • Respond not react. Remember the other person is not attacking  you but is explaining something that makes their own lives unhappy or frustrating.
  • Be patient with each other and take breaks rather than arguing.
  • Make one agreement where both of you have to try something to improve the situation. (Not more it’s hard to remember more).
  • Make sure that the dialogue is not closed- that you can discuss this again in the future)
  • Do something fun together afterwards.

Remember this kind of talk has one very important goal it is to bring you closer to the other person/people by understanding each other. As I said before it takes a bit of bravery to step out of our comfort zone however when we do it brings a release and sense of freedom. 56d4f13dee2bdd494f3b2a5150d9b67d

Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

Improving your relationships – The roots of a healthy relationship in 6 easy steps (3 min read)

This is part 2 of the three part series on Improving your relationships. Last week was about you, this week it’s about other people.

The roots of a great relationship

People need other people. It’s the way we are made. We need each other to create, to support and to love. We need to connect and to be important to someone. Baumeister and Leary claim that human beings are “naturally driven toward establishing and sustaining belongingness.” As we all know relationships can be some of the most fantastic experiences in the world and some of the worst. It’s up to us to make them wonderful!

Last week we looked at your relationship with yourself, the most important of all. The seed from which every other relationship comes. But now it’s time to look further to grow the roots of your relationships. A relationship isn’t just between lovers, it’s between every one you are close to. If you grow deep healthy roots in your relationships you will be stronger and happier in your life. It’s as simple as that!

I know, I know  it sounds hellishly complicated, however I promise you it’s not as hard as it sounds. In fact in 6 easy steps you can grow the roots of healthy relationships with anyone in your life.

Know your boundaries

In any relationship you will have to make compromises so it’s important to know your boundaries, to know what you want, how you want to be treated. To know what you will and won’t accept. By loving yourself you know that you deserve to be respected. 

Remember this doesn’t just go one way. Other people have different boundaries and these also need to be respected. You may have heard the saying we hurt the people we love the most. Unfortunately it is true so you need to think about how you would like to treat them.

Think of a relationship you already have or one you want to have .Write a description of that relationship describing how it will be in the future. How can it be a healthy, respectful and caring relationship.

Don’t assume

An ex taught me the phrase “Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups”. It’s true. We know our internal world so well,that we often forget that people can’t read our internal dialogue. We know  exactly how we want to be loved and yet we forget that this is not always obvious. Stop assuming and start explaining. Instead of taking offence, ask if the person meant to offend. Explain to a loved one how you would like them to help you when you are having a hard time. And yes this does work with children and colleagues too. (Obviously with a change in how you use your language). However remember that this goes both ways so invite the other person to explain their inner world. It is a new habit to train, but once in place makes life sooo much easier.

Forget about perfection

In any relationship there will be challenges. People are different and we can’t always get along. So don’t expect otherwise. What you can do is choose how to respond to these situations. Do you react or respond? Can you agree to disagree? And most importantly can you take the move to communicate and heal the situation. In a healthy relationship our egos have to be put aside for them to work.

If this is not possible you then have to ask yourself how important is this relationship in my life, does it serve me and the other person. If not you know what to do..

Be honest

Healthy relationships just don’t work without honesty. If something is bugging you about the other person and they ask you what is wrong, don’t answer “nothing”. How is that supposed to help? The problem can’t be fixed if you don’t explain what it is. And obviously lying is a complete NO GO!

Be kind and loving

It sounds stupid to mention it but be kind and loving. We often forget to be kind to those we love or are close to. Kindness with no thought of a return goes a long way. After all it’s the little things in life that count after all. Mr T for example today posted on Facebook how proud he is that I passed and exam. It meant so much to me and has made me feel happy all day 😀

And laugh!

Laughing, taking time for each other and making it important to have fun with the people in your lives is what makes wonderful memories and  relationship so worthwhile. So arrange to have some fun with someone you care about and be as silly as you can!

Find someone who you want to improve or build a relationship this week and try the six steps. It’s amazing how our relationships can be enriched with a little effort.

Tune in next week to find out how to grow and blossom your relationships until then have a wonderful week getting closer to the people you love.

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