Saturday, 7 July 2018

Being good enough

Do you recognise this set of events?

1.       You write a long list of things to do in your day,
2.       Postpone things you enjoy or really want to do for yourself, because you haven’t finished your list,
3.       Beat yourself up at the end of the day for not getting it all done,
4.       And feel overwhelmed.

This is a sign of perfectionism. A common misunderstanding about perfectionism is that it is about doing things really well; which sounds like quite a good thing to aim for, doesn’t it? However, it is actually about setting yourself an impossible target, and then beating yourself up when you don’t achieve it. It tends to have one of two results: you end up pushing and exhausting yourself trying to achieve the impossible, or you don’t even begin to do something, because it all looks too overwhelming.

Perfectionist patterns vary from person to person: for example trying to be the perfect parent, trying to meet everyone else’s needs and requests (now THAT’S an impossible task to set yourself!), wanting everything you write to be perfect.

Society encourages this pattern. What is expected of you at work can be completely unrealistic. Schools reward getting things right, and working hard. Social media gives the impression that you need to have the “perfect” life or body. Interestingly, I reckon that about 70-80% of clients that come to see me run this pattern somewhere in their lives, which shows how common it is.

But what gets lost in all of this? You! The things you love doing, space and time for yourself, living your life fully, and enjoying the present moment. So to make room for these vitally important things, you need to get really good at:
·         Knowing what is really important in your life and prioritising that.
·         Being kind to yourself.
·         Making mistakes and that being OK (after all, do we really like it if our friends are perfect?!).
·         And being good enough.

I know about this because I used to have plenty of perfectionist patterns. I have made huge changes with these since I did the Lightning Process, but from time to time I still notice and change unrealistic expectations that I have of myself, other people, and the world. The other week I was enjoying a walk on my own and having a chat with myself (as I like to do from time to time!) and I started playing round with putting “good enough” after anything that crossed my mind. For example;
                “My life is good enough”
                “The world is good enough”
                “My family and friends are good enough”
                “My body is good enough”
                And, of course, most importantly, “I am good enough!”

I felt quite different about all sorts of things as I did this. And it must have had a powerful effect, because that night I woke up with a poem in my head (not something that has ever happened to me before!):

             Nowhere to go,
Nothing to do,
I’m good enough
And the world is too.


Friday, 6 April 2018

The science behind ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Ever wondered how it is possible for the body to get stuck in a long term illness such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME? Here is an infographic from Phil Parker which explains some of the science which lies behind this. Similar things happen with a range of other physical illnesses.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

How to live life the easy way

There is an easy way and a hard way to live life; and interestingly, the difference between these two has surprisingly little to do with external circumstances.

So often we assume that we need to change the external situation to be happy. We think “If only I had a better job, different government, more sun….. THEN I would be happy” If being happy involves changing the government, our job, other people, or the weather, we are setting ourselves some very big obstacles to getting there! And then one of two things tends to happen. We either put loads of energy into trying to change something that is very difficult to change; or, we give up and assume we can never be happy.

The key to living life the easy way is to identify what it is we can change, and what we can’t. And then direct our energy into the things we CAN change.

When you want something to be different in your life, try asking yourself:
“Can I actually change this?”
If not, “What DO I have influence over?”

Generally we have most influence over ourselves, our choices and actions, and our state of mind. We have very little influence over other people, and trying to change other people tends not to work out too well! And as our influence over the government, world events etc tends to be small, we will get further in changing things if we focus on what WE can do rather than worrying about what others are not doing.

You might think you don’t have influence over your state of mind, but you do! Here are two simple ways of discovering this.
·         Move, do some exercise, go for a walk, do something fun; and check out how differently you feel afterwards.
·         Think about someone you are fed up with, and look for 3 good things about them. How does that change how you feel about them?

There are many things in life we have no control over, but we ALWAYS have control over how we respond to them.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Insights into changing pain

There is a revolution going on in our understanding of how chronic pain works, and therefore how we can retrain our brains to resolve it. In this video Professor Lorimer Moseley gives us fascinating insights into this breakthrough.

What you focus on matters

This video and article both show how choosing what we focus on helps us to shape our lives. Reticular Activating System

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

What is REALLY important?

Recently I heard the story of ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams Bianco for the first time, and it got me thinking about what is REALLY important in life.

Two toys in a nursery are having a conversation. The Skin Horse, who ‘had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath.’ And the Velveteen Rabbit, a newcomer to the nursery.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day... The Skin Horse replies,
"Real ... is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." 

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. 

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." 

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," the Rabbit asked, "or bit by bit?" 

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time .... Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

We often fail to notice some of the most important things in life, like the connections and love we have with people, because we spend so much time thinking about stuff like how we look, or what people think of us. This is when it is worth asking “What is REALLY important here?”

I also thought about the fact that this is what this story is saying to me, today, but the last time I heard it I took a slightly different meaning from it. Stories are very powerful, partly because they mean whatever we need them to mean to help us at the time. What you take from this story might be very different from what I take from it, but just right for you.

By the way, the picture is of my niece’s much loved rabbit, which went everywhere with her for many years!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Tips for getting things done

I used to be a great procrastinator, saying things to myself like “I really SHOULD write that email / go swimming / sort out those boxes”! However, I have learned lots about how easy it can be to get motivated, once you know how.

So often we unconsciously use ways to try and motivate ourselves that simply don’t work.
Do any of these sound familiar?

*   Scaring yourself with what will happen if you don't do it: eg "I will be fat and unhealthy if I don't exercise". It means you tend to experience lots of stress and bad feelings. Also, you don't spend much time thinking about what you do want in life so you may not have very clear goals.

It is a good idea to add in what you do want.

*   Being a Dictator: eg giving yourself orders (in your head) in a stern, unpleasant voice, or saying "have to" or ‘should’. Most people react by putting things off!

Instead you can use a pleasant, inviting voice to say things like "It will be nice / useful to ... " or "I really want to ..."

*   Imagining what it will be like to do something, instead of seeing it finished. This works well if what you are doing is fun, but not so well if it is something like washing up.

What happens when you think instead about what it will be like when the washing up is all done?

*   Overwhelming yourself: eg. "To paint the spare room I’ll have to clear everything out and I don’t know where to put everything and then I’ll have to buy the paint and then…. " It all seems too big and we tend to put off starting.

You can break it down by asking yourself "What is the first step?" If that is still too big, break that down too! Then notice and enjoy each little step you complete, so you are motivated to do the next one.