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Change your relationship to change

“Change: has been the topic of the month in The Super Woman Life club for October.

Change is probably the word I associate most with Autumn. The changes seem so apparent at this time of year. The leaves on the trees turn from green to gold and then fall to the ground. The days get shorter and the nights longer. We all reach for our jumpers and boots and huddle round the fire with a hot drink. 

Everything about life seems to change in the Autumn. 

I don’t know about you, but I love it. I love getting under a wamr blanket with a cuppa or a hot chocolate and watching a film with the family, or reading a book, or even doing some work. Everything feels happier and more acceptable with a blanket and tea.

Changes in nature are out of our control. We can’t decide that we want it to be Spring, or that we would like it to snow today and make that happen. We accept the changes and we often embrace them. They are predictable to a degree. We don’t often get weather that is completely unexpected. We grow used to what weather we should expect depending on the season we are in (and I am saying this as a resident of the UK, where the weather can seem really unpredictable at times!).

There are other changes that we accept. We know we will grow older every year, every day actually. With that ageing comes a string of changes; growth, learning, changes in hair colour, number of teeth, height. We may not necessarily embrace all the changes as we head into old age, but we can pretty much predict what they will be. Just as when we are children we know we will get taller, stronger, learn to talk. We know that our hair and nails will grow and that will will learn something every day. It is expected and because of that it feels safe.

Changes we create…

Some changes we create, such as deciding to get fit or lose weight. Perhaps we make the decision to work on our mental wellbeing by meditating every day or doing more gardening. Perhaps we decide to make more effort to change our outside world by decorating, rearranging a cupboard, tidying up more often or recycling more. These are all changes we consciously make. These are the most amazing changes. This type of change empowers us. It helps us grow. It makes us a better version of ourselves and fills us with a sense of achievement or pride. This change is magical. We are in control and we embrace it.

Some change though, catches us out.

Redundancy, illness, bereavement… the list goes on. Changes over which will have no control but that we aren’t prepared for can derail us.

Any change in our outside world which is outside our control can have a huge impact on our internal world and, as a consequance, our mental health.

change

How can we stop ourselves from being floored by unexpected change?

It is important to remember that feeling anxious about change is normal. We are pre-programmed to feel safe when things stay the same. New things may be dangerous so we instinctively avoid anything which has the potential to cause us harm. We are often scared of failing too. Perhaps the change means we have to do something we have never done before, it may be a new job which has different demands or moving to a new area where you have to make new friends. We often convince ourselves that we are not capable of these challenges and as a result we stay in the safety of our familiar life and routines.

However, if we never change, and everything always stays the same, we never experience anything new. We never learn anything and we can never discover new pleasures either.

Imperfect change

What can you do to overcome your fear of change?

Accept that being imperfect is exactly what is required of youYou don’t have to be the best. You might have a quiver in your voice when you do your first presentation for your boss, that’s ok. Just by standing up and speaking you have learned to overcome that fear. You have grown and achieved something amazing.

Accept what you can control. All too often the changes that make us most uncomfortable and afraid are caused by someone else’s decisions. We have to accept that sometimes these decisions are signs that we aren’t supposed to spending as much time with them, or even that we shouldn’t have them in our lives at all. We can only control our rection to changes that occur, we can’t always change the decision.

Your life is your choices. Your life isn’t pre-destined. It is a collection of choices and changes. By choosing whether to embrace the changes that occur or reject them you are writing your life story. Sometimes we have to make that big scary decision to embrace a change in order to create the life that we know we are meant to be living. Grab that opportunity with both hands and hold it close, if you run away who knows when it might present itself again.

Take control of the situation. This may sound silly but if you make the decision to accept the change and convince yourself that it is something you want to happen, it suddenly becomes something you can cope with. This isn’t possible with every change, for example it wouldn’t work with grief, but even with illness, you can decide that it is a necessary rest and reminder of your own mortality. Appreciate the lesson in the situation and be grateful for the opportunities it presents. Harness the energy of the change rather than letting it control you. Make the most of what life has given you.

Burn your script. So often our resistance to change comes from a belief that we are not living up to the life we always thought we would be living. We have created a story of what our life will be like, often from an early age, and any deviation feels like failure. It isn’t failure, it is just another choice, another path you can decide to take. Stop and really think about why you feel that your script it the right story. Often we are trying to live our life according to a very outdated idea of what we sould or shouldn’t be doing. Burn that script and enjoy living the life you have been given. Everything will feel so much better.

So, as you are huddled up under your blanket this Autumn,take a moment to reflect on your relationship to change. Do you embrace it or does it fill you with dread? What can you do to make it more manageable?

If you would like to know more about The Super Woman Life  and the many and how it can help you to feel more empowered and calm, you can find out more here.

Cosy change

The Super Woman Life

The Super Woman Life is a brilliant new series of videos where I interview a range of inspiring, real women about the challenges they have overcome, and how they have used those experiences to help others through their work. 

I am releasing the first video on Monday 28th September as that would have been my Grandma’s 99th birthday. She was one of my heroes and I know she would have been fascinated by the women I am talking to, but also very proud of me for giving them a platform.

Over the years I have realised that every woman I have ever met has an incredible story to tell, they all believe though that they are just the same as everyone else – which of course they are, but that doesn’t make them any less important or inspiring. 

I’m not special…

We are conditioned to think that if we are capable of coping with something then anyone is, which of course isn’t always the case. What is true though is that when something is thrown at us we have one two choices; to sink or swim. How often do we listen to someone’s situation and comment “I don’t know how you do it!”. The fact is, we do, we just don’t know we do until we are in the same situation. 

Whether it is coping with a serious illness, a sick child or bankruptcy, we all have the ability to dig deep when we need to and survive these times. 

The Superwoman Life

Why a Super Woman video series?

The reason I have created the Super Woman Life interviews is to showcase some incredible women, but more importantly, to remind you that you have an incredible story to tell. That you can inspire others by sharing tales of your own triumphs over adversity.

By telling stories, by sharing our own pain, we give others the freedom to do the same. This process is not only very healing, but it can be life changing. If someone is caught in the middle of their own struggle. Feeling like there is no way out, or the pain will never end. Hearing a tale of someone who not only survived, but thrived, could be exactly what they need to hear to give them the strength they need to do the same. Ot also gives them a mental library of people to turn to should they find themselves in that situation in the future.

Super Women Revolution

Women are super strong. We support everyone in our lives, our partners, our children, as we get older our parents, our friends… the list is endless! If we aren’t careful we forget to support ourselves. 

By talking, sharing our stories we normalise what we have gone through. We feel less persecuted by life and we realise that everyone we meet has been through a lot, often more than we have. Super Women raise each other up. They prop each other up when needed too, but one thing is sure, together we are always stronger. 

You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you. I am not an interviewer and I am certainly not a tv presenter. Recording these videos has stretched my comfort zone to breaking point, but I knew it was something I needed to do. 

If you have a story you would like to share and you would like to be interviewed for The Super Woman Life, please get in touch.

Supportive women

Personal Wisdom

Personal Wisdom

Recently I have been paying close attention to my personal wisdom. I have realised that during these times of uncertainty and overwhelm that it is more important to me than ever before. 

When I was younger too often allowed my personal wisdom to be shouted down by the loudest or most authoritative voice on a subject. I was reluctant to speak out about things that concerned me or let the most seductive arguement win me over. 

The older I have grown the less I concern myself with the opinions of others. Increasingly I feel confident that if I am true to myself then I will attract people who feel the same way.  

There are many issues we are being challenged to take sides on at the moment; covid-19 regulations (mask wearing, social distancing, school return etc), Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, poverty, homelessness… the list goes on and on. 

I am not one to ruffle feathers, especially unnecessarily, but I am no longer prepared to be pushed into making decisions for my family which go against my personal wisdom in order to conform either.

Personal Wisdom

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes

I have also become increasingly aware that I need to be more proactive in my approach to certain issues. For many years I believed that by not agreeing with someone I was showing that I was against what they were saying. That simply isn’t true and over recent years and months I have seen the importance of speaking out when someone says something I disagree with.

 

Not all decisions are on a global scale though, or even a national scale.

Personal wisdom is deeper than being true to yourself on public issues such as racism and sexism though. It is also important to listen to that still small voice when it comes to making choices about small scale things like exercise, self care, diet, career choices, social engagements. 

There are times when I listen to my inner voice if I am feeling tired, which I often am due to my acromegaly, or if my family need me. It isn’t wrong to prioritise that over work. Of course it is also important not to let people down for no reason, but if I can possibly rearrange something, I will now. There was a time when I would have pushed through no matter what for fear of letting someone down. 

Now though, I sit quietly, take a deep breath and listen to my inner wisdom. There have been times when I have ignored that voice, but I invariably regret it. Sometimes I think I should do something but when I really listen I realise that it doesn’t feel right. It might be a feeling in my upper stomach, just below my rib cage (solar plexus). Other times it’s a nagging feeling I just can’t shake. However I hear that personal wisdom though, I know to listen.

 

Being true is more important than being perfect

Do you know what? Since I started listening to my personal wisdom and tuning in to find out if I should go ahead with something I have had more support and my business has grown.  

I spend a lot of time talking about self care and the importance of making healthy decisions. If I then push through no matter what, who is going to listen to me?

By listening to my personal wisdom I know that I am being true to me. If I am always true to me then I will be consistent in everything I say and do (hopefully!). 

Does that mean I am always right? Hell no! 

Does it mean that I always try my best to do the honest thing, the caring thing, the thing which will help others the most, sometimes the thing that will help me the most? Yes, I hope so. At the very least I will always be able to hold my hand up and my head up high and say “I did my best with what I knew at the time”. 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Poet

It concerns me that these days many people jump on a bandwagon of beliefs without stopping and listening to see that is what is true to them. We see waves of beliefs and movements rise up and people are keen to be seen to be supporting them. Now many of these absolutely should be supported by most, if not all. Sometimes though, it is important to step back and look at where this wave started before we decide to jump on board. 

Equally there are other issues which are going on under our noses every day which we aren’t made aware of by big movements, but which deserve just as much outrage and airtime, such as human trafficking. It is important to listen to your personal wisdom and decide which issues you really want to fight for and fight with all your heart. It isn’t possible to stand for everything but please, stand for something. Whether it is animal cruelty, global warming, save the bees, pollution, homelessness, #metoo, FGM, the legalisation of cannabis, paedophile rings… the possibilities are endless, there are so many things we need to sort out in the world. But if we all listen to our still small voice and give ourselves wholeheartedly to one cause we will do more good than by standing for everything but only enough to share a meme on social media and maybe sign an online petition.

 

Be brave. Be bold. Be the hero of your own story. 

Stop the elderly relative who is being wittingly or unwittingly racist in their language (remember you can challenge them without being disrespectful. Acceptable terms have changed greatly in my life time and certainly have over the generations). Challenge the person who throws litter on the floor. Educate yourself about the big issues of our times and then decide to be the voice of change. 

No-one is perfect but we can all make small changes, in line with our own situation and belief system, that when combined with lots of other small changes, creates big change.

We all stayed home for a few weeks during lockdown and the impact on the environment was massive. Many environmental groups recommend making one small change such as getting a milk man who uses glass bottles. Once you have got used to that change, you can make another and another and if everyone was to do the same thing the impact would be immense.

If every time someone said or did something sexist they were challenged on it perhaps they would stop. They may not, but they would at least realise that others don’t necessarily share their attitude. 

Whatever your religion, political view, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, gender you are a human and you have an obligation to care. Whether you channel your caring energy into donkeys, children, refugees, clean water or keeping theatres open doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we care. So listen to your personal wisdom. Go deep inside yourself and find what you are really passionate about, and do it. Whether it is growing organic vegetables for your family or marching on human rights be the change you want to see in the world.

The Next Step – Coping with the Easing of Lockdown

The Next Step

As the UK begins to ease lockdown measures and life begins to return to a new normal, what is the next step?

Unfortunately for many there is still a lot of uncertainty. I know many therapists who were counting on being allowed to open on 4th July like hairdressers, who are now having to make very difficult decisions about the future of their business. 

This next step feels uncertain and for many is inducing more anxiety than going into lockdown. 

We have spent months being told it isn’t safe to go out, that we mustn’t see other people apart from for essential errands and now suddenly we are able to go to the pub or go clothes shopping and many are very wary.

You see the problem with deeply imprinting a message that we have to stay at home to stay safe, is that, we all then immediately feel unsafe leaving our homes.

Most people are aware of the powerful impact of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and affirmations now. We understand that repeating a message or hearing a message repeated many times imprints on our unconscious mind and can be life changing.

Unfortunately that means that “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives” the government’s lockdown message to the UK population, is now so firmly imprinted that many people are now feeling uneasy, and unsafe, leaving their homes. 

Lockdown

If you are reading this then chances are you are more than familiar with this phenomenon.

What can we do to make this next step easier?

Well, there are lots of things, from research to energy protection. I’ll go through a few things that I am personally using to help me cope with this next step to normality.

Rationalise 

This is almost the opposite of the advice I would usually be giving but do some careful research from sources such as WHO. We have been bombarded with statistics during this pandemic which isn’t particularly helpful. Imagine if everytime we turned on the news we were told how many people had died in the UK today. We would all be living in a permanent state of fear.  Look carefully at the statistics. Often they can be more reassuring than you might imagine. 

Take sensible precautions

Continue to wash your hands regularly, avoid large gatherings and generally take the advice we are being given to make sensible judgment calls. If you feel unsafe going somewhere and you don’t absolutely have to go, then stay at home. If you have to go to the shop, hospital etc then wear a mask or face covering. 

We are all longing for time with loved ones and a good hair cut but if your intuition is saying “wait a bit longer” then listen to that. 

Breathe 

Many people who struggle with anxiety notice a dramatic change in their breathing. Given the respiratory nature of the current pandemic, and the necessity to wear a mask on occasion, this can then be esculated in our minds to a frightening level. Be aware of your breathing. Use a simple breathing technique such as 7-11 breathing (breathing in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11) to regulate your breathing if you begin to feel anxious. Having something to smell, such as an essential oil on a tissue can also be helpful in regulating your breathing.                 

Avoid watching the news 

This advice may appear to contradict the first tip but there is a difference between educating yourself and being bombarded with what often feels like propaganda. It also means that you can choose to research the important facts when you are feeling emotionally strong, not all day every day. For the most part if you are on social media you can pick up everything you need to as far as announcements and key facts.  

Meditate 

Meditation is a great way to calm your body and mind. It doesn’t have to be for longm just 5-10 minutes meditation is enough to make a dramatic impact on your wellbeing.  

If you are new to meditation there are some wonderful apps such as Headspace, which can be a gret introduction to the practice. If you would like to learn more about meditation or book an introductory session with me have a look at my meditation page

Get mindful

Finding ways to be incorporate mindfulness into your day is another great way to ease anxiety. Mindfulness is not a complex practice, it is simply the art of being completely present while you are doing anything. It may be washing up, gardening, playing golf, walking to the shops. Whatever you choose to do, being 100% present means you are doing it mindfully. By not allowing your mind to be constantly racing and thinking about a million things at once you will give your mind time to process everything it is already working through. If you would like to learn to be more mindful and how you can incorporate these life changing but simple techniques into your life find out more here.  

 

“My philosophy is worrying means you suffer twice – Newt Scamander”

JK Rowling

Author, Fantastic Beasts

There are many uncertainties at the moment, but one thing is certain, worrying won’t solve anything. 

Easier said than done, I know.

It is important to regain some perspective as you take this next step. To stop and think about all the things you would miss if we continued to live in isolation. It may be that you have enjoyed the extra time with our children or time to get on top of jobs at home. Perhaps you have enjoyed the fact you were able to work from home, or maybe you have rediscovered a hobby you didn’t have time for. It has been a time of self discovery for many people. As a population we have learned many lessons too. We have consumed less, gardened more, travelled less and repaired more, spent less but appreciated more. It is important to try and take these lessons with us as the restrictions on our lives ease and we take the next step into this brave new world. 

Life will continue to be different for a while yet but if we are sensible and make choices which reduce the risk of a second wave we can begin to send time with our families and friends again. More people can return to work, which will ease the financial fears many have at the moment (in addition to all the other anxieties).  Whatever your circumstances I hope you are safe and well, that you feel secure and loved and that you feel strong enough to deal with this next step. Remember, you are stronger and braver than you will ever believe, you’ve got this!

 

Jumping into June!

Jumping into June

It’s June! 

I’m not sure many of us quite understand how that has happened this year, but the calendar says it’s June so it must be true.

Almost half way through the year and we have spent nearly a quarter of that time in a very strange alternate reality.

Many of us around the world have been in lockdown, or at least with restrictions on our behaviour and movement for a large percentage of the year so far. It is a very strange time to be alive and certainly one we will never forget.

Here in the UK we are just starting our 11th week of lockdown, and the conditions are beginning to ease but many people, including the scientists, have their concerns about that. Who knows how long life will continue like this but one thing I do know is that it’s June! 

It’s June and I have been juggling running my businesses with running online classes, seeing clients via Zoom, home schooling my son and everything else I usually juggle, since March now.  

That’s a long time!

Have I kept my head in the game all the time? – nope!

Have I lost whole weeks sometimes? – yup!

There have been weeks where I have been incredibly productive. Where I have got loads of work done, helped my son with his school work, worked in the garden, baked scones, crocheted gifts, rearranged kitchen cupboards and completed online courses and smiled the whole way through. 

There have also been weeks when I have got to Friday and wondered what happened! 

That’s normal.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic.

Some people will handle their stress by being busy all the time and by being very productive. Others will be handling it by eating their body weight in crisps and watching every series Netflix has to offer.

There is no right way to do this. We certainly haven’t been taught the best way to handle a pandemic lockdown.

As you know, I am generally a very positive person. I always see the silver lining or the lesson in everything and I can see many positives coming out of this situation. But I am also fearful of the negative behaviour I have seen from some of our world leaders. I can feel the anxiety and fear increasing globally and it scares me a little sometimes. 

However, I will not allow myself to dwell in those thoughts for long, because now, more than ever, we need to shine our light and be an example of love and compassion to the world.

My response

I have been finishing a course I began before lockdown the last few weeks and one of the things covered was the Psychological Phases of Crises and I decided they were worth sharing with you here.

 The 3 Psychological Phases of Crises

1. Emergency – we have shared goals, there is a sense of urgency which makes us work together, we feel energised, focused and even positive.

2. Regression – We are increasingly aware that the future is no uncertain, we lose all sense of purpose, we are tired, irritable, withdrawn and less            productive.

3. Recovery – We begin to resurface, we revise our expectations and goals, even our roles. We begin to focus on getting by and moving on.

I have definitely been through these stages myself during this pandemic. I’m sure you will identify them yourself if you take the time to stop and think about your experiences.

One of the best decisions I made at the start of lockdown was to start writing a diary. I have always written my Gratitude Diary (writing down 10 things I am thankful for every night before I go to sleep), but this is a proper journal. I sit for a few minutes before I sleep every night and I write everything from what I have done during the day to how I am feeling and anything that might be concerning me about the current situation.  

“Show up. Shine. Let it go.”

Danielle La Porte

Author

It has been a very helpful therapeutic tool, I often recommend clients keep a diary of their thoughts and feelings as it is such a useful way of accessing your deeper emotions. It has also helped me to keep track of events during this time too though, and I know it will be really interesting to look back in in years to come.

 

Eleven weeks. 

 Eleven weeks of a new reality, which I have to admit I am enjoying immensely in parts. But also eleven weeks of  a slightly wishy washy approach to life. I have let my diet slip (not too far, but further than I would like). I am exercising in a sporadic, “when the mood takes me” way. I have been working some days and not at all others. Weekends slide through the week and the promise of a Zoom with my loved ones is enough to make me abandon almost any plan I already had.

I’ve had enough!  

I’ve had enough of free falling and seeing where the wind takes me. It is time to get some preper structure back into my days and to get really productive again. Today is the 1st June and that seems like the perfect day to start my new regime.

This morning I woke up, (admittedly later than I would on a normal school morning, but I don’t have to spend an hour doing the school run so that’s not too bad!) and I immediately went downstairs and did half an hour of yoga. I worked solidly in my office all morning, including my mastermind group Zoom which really helped fire me up. 

I had lunch with my family (one of the many things I am really appreciating about lockdown), then I came straight back in my office to spend the afternoon scheduling calls and writing this post. 

 I am making a gf/df quiche for tea with salad and I will either go for a walk or get on my rowing machine after that. Then this evening is my online Meditation Group (Lockdown Meditation Sessions you can sign up and join us every Monday evening, it’s completely free!).

You see I have decided that this free falling has to end, so it will. That’s how powerful our mind is when it is really determined. I can be quite stubborn when I want to be (ask my family!) but that comes in really handy when I need to make. change. I like to have a start date and am really motivated by routine so I think this will prove really helpful. 

Will I beat myself up if I don’t get up for yoga every morning? – no!

Will there be days when I don’t eat as healthily as I would like? – definitely!

But as long as I achieve the 80-20 balance then I will be winning. 

I am also taking part in a social media challenge this month where I have to post an image relating to a particular aspect of my business every day, so that will help keep me motivated. If you would like to follow my progress you can follow me here:

My challenge to you this June 

1. Take time to sit with your emotions and really get clear on how you are feeling right now. Perhaps you have been treating yourself to a few more biscuits than usual and although you are enjoying them, the side effects are making you sluggish, tired and you aren’t happy with how you are feeling. Maybe you are just really missing your loved ones and you need to call them or go round for a socially distanced cuppa. However you are feeling, embrace it and listen to the message it is giving you. 

2. Create an affirmation around how you are feeling. An affirmation is a positive statement in the present tense that you can carry with you to really deepen the message you need to take from these learnings. 

So you might choose;

I make healthy choices and my body looks and feels amazing. 

I am energised and motivated to be productive each and every day. 

I take the time to connect with my loved ones every day. 

Whatever it is that you need to work on, create an affirmation as though it is already reality. 

3. Get moving. Now, you know how you are feeling and what you need go for a walk, dance round the kitchen or just pace round your garden barefoot and really embed that message. Repeat your affirmation to yourself as you walk or dance. Repeat is when you are getting ready to sleep and repeat it every morning as you wake up. 

4. Be gentle with yourself. Remember these are difficult times for everyone. We are all digging deep into our mental reserves right now. Get up and do your best, but if you really, really can’t do it today, then, unless you have to, don’t do it. Give yourself a break.  

5. Keep your sources positive. What do I mean by that? I mean be careful what you read. Be careful who you talk to. Be aware of how much news you are watching/reading. If you watch every update and constantly scroll through social media it will zap your energy quicker ran running a marathon in this heat. Keep the things you allow into your body positive. Thoughts and feelings are energy which feed your body just as much as food and water. Make sure you don’t expose your body to too much junk food/ junk thoughts.

Finally, I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of you, yes you! We are living through an experience that noone has really ever lived through on this scale before. We have legitimate fears for our health, financial security, for the future generally, but we are all making decisions based on what benefits the collective good. 

That is amazing. 

You are amazing 

Thank you x

 

Related Blogs:

We need a hero

Mental health and the Coronavirus

 

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