Category Archives: life

Life – it’s weird, wonderful, confusing, enfuriating…how to manage life and survive…

Top 100 Blog Award

 

personal development blog award

I wanted to say a big “THANK YOU” to all the readers who enjoy and read this blog. It’s thanks to you that this blog has been included in a Top 100 Blog Awards list for being one of the best personal development blogs out there. Onwards and upwards…

 

Here is the link:  Top 100 Personal Development Blog Award

Mandy xxx

 

 

Accept anxiety as a part of life

 

accept anxiety

Accept anxiety as a part of life

Anxiety is a part of life unfortunately, yet we all furiously engage in behaviours to try avoid anxiety as much as possible. When you accept anxiety as a part of life it actually becomes easier to manage.

If you are not willing to experience anxiety, you will definitely have anxiety!

When you accept anxiety as something that will always be there, you can then learn ways to deal with it more effectively. Anxiety can be managed but it can’t be removed completely.

Anxiety is caused by two things:

  1. The fact that we overestimate the threat. This could be fear of rejection, humiliation or failure. It could also be fear of losing someone or experiencing shame. There are numerous triggers around us and the more we try to avoid them, the more anxious we become.
  2. The fact that we underestimate our ability to cope. We often cope far better than we anticipate bit the more we avoid situations that might cause anxiety, the fewer opportunities we have to test out our beliefs.

Tips for managing anxiety

Know the difference between a real problem (the car has broken down) and a hypothetical problem. This is a “what if” problem that might never happen. Learn to spend less time agonising over “what if” type problems. Find a solution if possible but then ‘mentally shelve’ the worry.

Don’t spend time overthinking. If you can do something that is solution focused to help towards solving the problem/worry, do it. If you can’t, learn to distract yourself. Count backwards from 100 or do something else but don’t waste mental energy by allowing a problem to go round and round in your mind.

Learn to let thoughts pass without focusing on them. We have between 40 000 – 60 000 thoughts per day. Visualise thoughts as leaves flowing on a river, let the ones that aren’t useful pass by. It is possible to learn to focus your attention on the thoughts that are helpful rather than unhelpful. Examples of unhelpful thoughts: I will never be able to cope. I am useless. It will never work etc

If you really cannot focus elsewhere, try implementing ‘worry time’ Give yourself 30 minutes per day to worry and for the rest of the day, do your best to distract yourself and keep busy.

Ask yourself: what would I tell a friend in this situation? Am I exaggerating the threat? Is there another way to look at this that makes me feel less anxious? (there is always another way to look at something).

Learn mindfulness – be in the moment more rather than living in your head. TO bring yourself back to the present moment, try this:

Look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, 1 thing you can taste. The more you engage your 5 senses, the less time your brain has to wander off to your worries.

Anxiety is the body’s way of telling us we are in danger but often the body sends us false alarms. We may feel physical sensations related to anxiety – sweaty palms, heart palpitations etc but tell yourself quietly that you are safe and that you are not in danger.

Try deep breathing to calm yourself and tell yourself “this will pass”.

Make anxiety your friend as much as possible. See it as an early warning system that can prepare you and make you ready for action.

Mandy X

 

How to deal with conflict in relationships

 

couple arguing photo

How to deal with conflict in relationships

Deal with the problem, not the person

Focus on resolving the issue rather than blaming the other person. Blame never solves anything and leads to defensiveness. The other person will stop listening and want to defend themselves if you are insulting them or verbally attacking them. Once a conversation becomes insulting, the interaction is no longer productive. If a disagreement gets personal, pause the conversation. Act like an adult as much as possible.

Use reflective listening

Often, we focus more on getting our own point across instead of really listening to what the other person is trying to tell us. Get into the habit of repeating back to the other person what they have said to you, in your own words. This shows them that you are really listening to them and opens the way to better communication and to both people feeling understood.

Use “I” statements

When sharing a concern, start your sentence with “I”. For example: “I feel hurt when you  don’t tell me you’ll be late”. With this sentence format we show that we are taking responsibility for our own emotion rather than blaming our partner. The alternative sentence – “You never tell me when you are going to be late” will often cause the other person to close down and become defensive. Try to avoid using words such as “you always” or “you never”.

Know when to take time out

Know when to call a break if the conversation gets personal, insulting or stops becoming resolution focused. Spend some time apart to cool down and only return when you both feel able to listen and move forward in order to find a solution.

Work towards a resolution

Disagreements are part of most relationships. If it becomes clear that you and your partner will not agree, focus on a resolution instead where you compromise and negotiate towards something that you both find acceptable. Ask yourself whether this conflict/disagreement really matters that much to you or whether you are willing to make concessions for the sake of the relationship. Sometimes it is better to be happy instead of right!

Mandy X

How to manage negative thoughts

negative thinking photoPhoto by martinak15

 

How to manage negative thoughts

We have somewhere between 40 000 and 60 000 thoughts every day so it pays to be selective about the thoughts you decide to focus on.  In general, I have found that most of my clients tend to worry more when they have spare time. Rumination is the tendency to over think things without finding a solution. It is wasted energy and only serves as mental torture.

The best way to deal with negative thoughts is to remind yourself that thoughts are NOT facts. They are merely a representation of reality and are formed according to your existing ‘filters’ and experiences. This means they can often be distorted and unhelpful – creating anxiety and distress unnecessarily. Have you ever worried about something only to find out that you had made assumptions and all your worry was for nothing? Remember that there is ALWAYS another way to look at an event. Watch what you tell yourself and how you interpret things.

Thoughts affect emotions which in turn affect how we behave. THINK – FEEL – BEHAVE. This is the bottom line of cognitive behavioural therapy. Watch your thinking, challenge your negative thinking and immediately improve your quality of life.

We can all ‘catastrophise’ initially and think the worst. For example, I have had days when I have eaten junk all day and then had the thought “I am never going to be healthy, I may as well just give up”. This thought led me to feeling pretty low and annoyed at myself. I could also choose to think “I may have been undisciplined today but tomorrow I can start again”. The same event and two different thoughts which will in turn lead to two different emotions….the first negative thought will lead to negative emotions whereas the second thought will lead me to feeling more hopeful and optimistic. Watch what you feed yourself – I call it my ‘mental diet’ and I constantly work at talking to myself in an empowering way.

Ask yourself what you might tell a friend to help you think up another way to look at something.

Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. One good thing about life is that there will always be change and although change isn’t always welcome, at times it can really be a good thing.

Accept that negative and intrusive thoughts are part of life. They will keep coming but you can train yourself to let the thoughts pass without really giving them attention. Distract yourself if necessary…another thought will soon be coming along.

Learn to choose the thoughts that work for you and empower you. You can choose your thoughts and beliefs.

Don’t compare yourself to others as you never truly know what is going on, Instead focus on yourself, your strengths and your goals.

If you find it really hard not to worry, schedule yourself some ‘worry time’, say half an hour in the evening and then don’t allow yourself to worry until then. Make sure that when worry time comes around, you do your best to be resolution focused rather than allowing your scary thoughts to ‘bully’ and scare you. Fear paralyses us and often there is no need for the fear in the first place.

Think of these three options: Change, accept or let go.

Decide on a plan of action and do it. Try not to allow thought to just keep running through your mind over and over. The more you worry, the more you lose time to be content and at peace.

Keeping negative thinking in check takes practise and the job will never be perfect but I work at it every day and I have definitely improved my happiness levels and ability to cope over time…a work in progress and you can do it too.

Mandy X

 

Make the most of every day

 

appreciate others

Make the most of every day

Living with cystic fibrosis has helped me to keep these words firmly in my mind: make the most of every day. It’s easy to expect that we will live forever but this is an attitude that can lead to us wasting precious time pursuing things that aren’t important.

Make time for friends, family and experiences – these will serve you far better than possessions. I feel sad when I see people who say they will be happy when…

Be happy now, live life now. Say what you feel instead of keeping it a secret, express yourself and try the things you’ve always wanted to. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Be brave and enjoy each day as if it may be your last. Sorry – it’s such a cliche I know but they are wise words.

Mandy X

Merry Christmas!

 

christmas photo

Merry Christmas!

Another year done and how are you feeling? No doubt the past year has been filled with triumphs and mishaps – like the rest of us. The year started off tough for me but that second half has definitely improved. No matter what happens though, it’s important to tell yourself that the one thing in life that is constant is change. I always try to see the bigger picture and ‘sit tight’ when life is feeling particularly challenging. I try not to catastrophise and take it one day at a time. So far, that strategy seems to work pretty well for me.

I wanted to wish all my wonderful lovely readers a fantastic Christmas and many happy prosperous days ahead. Thank you for your support over the years and your positive feedback.

Lots of love

Mandy X

 

The ideal and the reality

 

ideal photo

The ideal and the reality

I was having a chat with a friend this morning about how there is so much available when it comes to self-help. There are tons of suggestions on what you should do to lead a happy and fulfilled life, and this blog is no exception. However, it must be said that there is a big difference between theory and application, or the ideal and the reality.

We all know what we should be doing but that doesn’t mean that we are all doing it. Actually, in real life, it is hard to always do the right thing, eat the right food and live a life that fits the self help books.

The irony is that a lot of anxiety comes from the gap between how we feel life should be and how life really is. So maybe part of the process should be acknowledgement of this ‘gap’ and that this is normal part of living an imperfect life. Most of us are bumbling alone, hoping that we are on the right track and that things will work out. Despite our best endeavours, we all know that life can throw us curve balls that destroy the best laid plans.

So this blog post is all about keeping a sense of humour, not taking life too seriously and accepting the imperfect nature of life. No one has all the answers, no one gets it right all the time (even if they act as if they do!) and that’s okay. Welcome to the human race…

Mandy X

The perfect stranger

 

perfect stranger

The perfect stranger

When we feel dissatisfied with our relationships, it can be tempting to fantasise about what life could be like with someone that was more like us, was more loving, more supportive etc

It’s easy to fall into the trap of the perfect stranger – the idea that there is someone who will fulfil our needs and be more compatible for us than our existing partner. Of course, there is the possibility that there is someone out there that would be better suited to you but when we put too much focus on the idea of perfect stranger, we can stop putting enough effort into making our existing relationships work. If you are good companions, fancy each other and enjoy being together most of the time, that’s a great foundation/base to work with. Don’t always assume that someone else will be better. We all have bad habits and no one is perfect. Give up the idea that someone better is around the corner. It will increase your dissatisfaction and may end up a self fulfilling prophecy. Be happy with what you have if most of the time, you tend to chug along quite happily.

Mandy X