Category Archives: self improvement

Ways to learn more about ourselves and reach our true potential

Do the opposite

 

opposite photo

Do the opposite

We’re creatures of habit so we rarely do the opposite. It’s human nature to repeat the same patterns often without even realising how often we act in a certain way. Think about it. Do you always go down the supermarket aisles in the same direction? Do you always put your underwear on before your socks? How do you make your tea and coffee? The same way each time I’ll bet. And when it comes to more important things like relationships, we tend to behave in similar ways too.

When we feel insecure, some of us become more needy, some of us pull away to protect ourselves. When it comes to friendships, some of us act aloof, some of us try too hard.

Whatever your patterns of behaviour are, I dare you try shake it up and do the opposite. I am trying this in my own life and it’s working! Of course, you need to find out what you do out of habit before you can do the opposite. Being self aware is part of the issue, as often we race through our lives like rats in a maze, hitting our heads against the same wall every time.

Think of each time you do the opposite as a ‘life experiment’. Try small things first like a new route to the grocery store or go up and down the aisles in the opposite direction and see if you notice any new things or products. If you find that you end up in similar situations with intimate relationships and/or friendships, see if you can identify things that you do in each relationship and try doing it differently next time. See what happens..take a chance.

Mandy X

Why it’s important to tolerate discomfort

 

endurance photo

Why it’s important to tolerate discomfort

If you’ve ever put something off, you can probably figure out that you have had a negative feeling that has led you to procrastinate. This feeling comes from an inability to tolerate discomfort. The more you try to avoid discomfort in life, the further you will fall behind. It takes discipline to tolerate discomfort. Does your discomfort drive your behaviour?

If you can say to yourself “I don’t like discomfort, but I can stand it”, you will be amazed at how much more you may be able to do in your life. You could overcome fear, rejection, boredom, frustration, exhaustion, resentment etc…

Increasing  tolerance to discomfort

Practise observing your discomfort in a detached manner, without trying to change it or get involved with it. Try not to struggle with it or try to get rid of it – just watch it as it is. Often, when people do this they find that their discomfort eases. Detaching is a skill and takes practise.

Steps to being more detached and less judgemental

Be aware

Be aware of what you are experiencing, notice your breathing, sensations in your body as it makes contact with the surrounding environment, sounds around you, things you can see, touch, smell and taste. Notice your emotions and thoughts.

Watch and observe with no judgement

Once you are more aware of your experience and how it affects you body and mind, get used to being an observer of your experience. Don’t try to change anything or get caught up in it. Imagine you are watching yourself on a movie screen and you are in the audience.  Be non-judgemental – try not to label the experience as good as bad. See it just as it is. You can use words such as “Here is a feeling of anger/frustration etc” Try to relate to them as just feelings, nothing more and nothing less. Remind yourself that you are NOT your feelings and that you are MORE than just your feelings”.

Let Go

If you allow your experience to be as it is without judgement, you might find it feels less scary and you are able to accept it more easily. We often resist what we fear and t makes the situation worse. Breathe in blue, breathe out red – visualise this and it can help you feel calmer.

Riding the wave of discomfort is possible and will lead to accomplishing more, less procrastination and a feeling of achievement. Discomfort is temporary, see it in a neutral way.

Don’t be afraid of a little discomfort, we all have to go through it – meeting new people, going to the gym, going for a job interview etc..there are many times when we feel discomfort. Learn to observe and not attach meaning and emotions to it. You will see how fearful situations become much easier!

Mandy X

Focus on yourself

self focus

Focus on yourself

It’s so easy to focus on the other person in a new relationship. Do they like me? Are they into me? It can become a draining and anxiety producing experience because we can’t control what another person feels or how they behave. This is why you must focus on yourself. All we have control and power over is how we wish to behave and react in a relationship. Focusing too much on the other person is a waste of time. I have been insecure in relationships in the past and it has turned a good relationship into one where I feel on edge. I am not the jealous type but I did tend to worry a lot when in a relationship and look for any sign that they were losing interest.

As you can imagine, this took all the fun out of the relationship. What I should have been doing was enjoying the relationship more and not overthinking and dissecting every small thing the other person did, driving myself crazy in the process.

Where to Put Your Focus

Putting your focus on getting your partner to like you, or constantly trying to figure out if they like you really doesn’t help you in a positive way at all. Instead, put your focus on yourself. Work at your own personal growth and self improvement. Have a lot going on in your life. The richer your own life is, the less bothered you will be if your partner is temporarily less attentive. If they are your whole focus, it will be a much bigger deal when they don’t text enough or show you enough attention. Work on really liking yourself and on finding fulfillment in your own life.  I know it’s much  easier said than done, but that’s what makes all the difference.

Be philosophical and trust the workings on the universe. Trust that things are unfolding as they are meant to. We don’t have much control over anything in this life. You can’t control how someone feels, or when, and if, certain things will happen to you and for you. All you can do is focus on yourself and find a way to be at peace, to accept yourself as you are, and to love who you are.

Mandy X

How to decatastrophise

 

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How to decatastrophise

We’ve all been there – something triggers us and we end up catastrophising and imagining the absolute worst case scenario. We make mountains out of molehills. Try out the techniques in this blog post to decatastrophise and get back to normality. One thought can sometimes spiral out of control and before we know it we have become homeless, bankrupt, single /and/or have imagined ourselves on our deathbed. Learn to deal with anxiety and stress in a calmer way and enjoy a less stressful life.

Steps to decatastrophise

Specify the catastrophic consequence clearly:

This has to be as specific as possible. “What if something bad happens?” is too vague.

Here are a few good examples:

What if my health never gets better?

What if my partner leaves me?

Losing my job

Change any “what if” statements into concrete declarations of fact:

Examples: My health will never get better

My partner will leave me

I will lose my job

Challenge the truth/validity of your statement:

Ask yourself if anything bad has ever happened before. Ask yourself how often this might happen or whether it is very likely to happen. Also ask yourself whether there is any clear evidence to suggest that your worry will come true.

Ask yourself what a friend might say if you told them about your worry. Are there any reasons to doubt your worry coming true?

Examples: My health is bad right now but I have been ill before and improved. The doctor said I had a good prognosis.

My relationship is going through a rough patch but that doesn’t mean my partner is thinking of leaving me. My partner has given me no indication that they might leave me.

I might be performing worse at work but losing my job is a big jump. Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions. There is no evidence that I am about to be fired.

Come up with three positive alternative statements:

My health will probably get better. I’m at my worst now – even if I don’t fully recover I’m likely to get better than I am now.

My relationship will survive this tricky patch

My job will still be there tomorrow

Remember that thoughts are not facts and there are times when we allow our thoughts to get the better of us and cause us great distress. Use the above exercise to restore calm to your mind and see things from a different perspective.

Mandy X

 

 

Thoughts on core beliefs

 

core beliefs

Thoughts on core beliefs

We all look at the world differently but it is easy to believe that others see things the same way we do. Two people can have the same experience but come away from that with a very different reaction/thought process. We all interpret the world differently according to our upbringings, genetics and past experiences.

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that can be hard to shake. Often, they are dysfunctional and inaccurate. For example – someone who was constantly told as a child that they are worthless will most likely internalise that and make that part of their identity, believing themselves to be worthless. Think of core beliefs like a pair of sunglasses – a kind of filter that we see the world through. We are more atuned to pick up on things around us that confirm our core beliefs and will reject or not notice things that don’t confirm our core beliefs. Events that happen that prove a person isn’t worthless may be dismissed as it doesn’t fit. This is how core beliefs can limit us unnecessarily.

How core beliefs can limit us:

Situation: You meet a new person and think about asking them to go for coffee.

Core belief – I’m not worthy = Consequence: Why would they go out with me? Don’t ask them for coffee

Core belief – I am worthy = Consequence: We might have fun if we go out together. Asks the person to go for coffee.

Many people have negative core beliefs that cause harmful consequences and limit their opportunities. They hold on to self limiting beliefs without realising it.

To begin challenging your core beliefs, you first need to identify what they are. Here are some common examples:

I am unworthy; I am  unloveable; I am unworthy; I’m ugly; I’m undeserving; I’m a bad person; I’m stupid…

What is one of your core beliefs? _______________________

List three pieces of evidence contrary to your belief_____________

Beliefs can be changed, that’s the good news. Some beliefs are old, outdated and just not true. Do a stock-take on your core beliefs and make sure you have core beliefs that support and empower you.

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

 

How to deal with a confidence crisis

 

confidence crisis

 

How to deal with a confidence crisis

Confidence is a dynamic concept and it varies throughout our lives. Usually there will be a trigger that strips our confidence away. If we aren’t able to nip this in the bud, a full confidence crisis can ensue where we are so focused on what it is that we perceive are our shortcomings…that in the end our insecurities become all we can see.

Here are a few tips to help overcome and deal with a confidence crisis:

  1. Get out of your head

Once we focus on our perceived shortcomings, we tend to spiral downwards. Remind yourself that your thinking is probably distorted and not entirely realistic. We tend to be our own worst critics. Instead, remind yourself that thoughts aren’t facts and don’t allow yourself to dwell on negative thoughts about yourself. If you catch yourself being self focused, make an effort to distract yourself.

2. Have clear goals

Know what you are good at and know where you are headed in life. Having that commitment to ourselves and our goals can help us to stay strong when our foundations get shaken. Regularly remind yourself of all that you are proud of and why you think you are a lovely person – whether it’s the way you make a cake, drive a car, your sense of humour or your kindness…never stop letting yourself know why you are special and why you deserve love and to be cherished.

3. Don’t compare

It’s so tempting to compare ourselves to others and we all do it but it is probably one of the most destructive things we can do. We very rarely come out ‘on top’ when we do that. Accept that we are all different and we all have different priorities. Love your own priorities even they seem different to other people’s. Embrace your differences rather than seeing them as inferior.

4.Evaluate your triggers

Figure out what is causing your confidence crisis and decide whether something can be done about it. Is it a specific relationship causing your confidence crisis? Is it a job, a situation? You will usually have three options – change, accept or let go. If you can change it then get stuck in – have that conversation, don;t let things get out of hand. The less assertive we are, the worse the situation will become. Often, we turn a blind eye and hope that the situation will resolve itself but it rarely does. It will often take an active and assertive intervention. If you feel unwilling or unable to make changes then you need to learn to accept the way it makes you feel or learn to let it go – whichever is applicable.

Face your triggers head on, part of approaching the problem will lead to an increase in confidence. When we do something actively to sort our troubles out, we often feel empowered. Believe in yourself.

5. Trust your instincts

All too often we lack the self belief and self doubt gets the better of us. When in the throes of a confidence crisis we may find it even harder to approach the problem and fix it. A confidence crisis never lasts thankfully, and you will get back up again and feel stronger.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself, don’t criticise yourself and never allow someone else to make you feel inferior.No one is perfect and if some one else is somehow leading to your confidence crisis, make sure you keep perspective. You are wonderfully and unique and don’t let anyone else ever lead you to believe otherwise!

Mandy X

 

 

How to be your imperfect perfect self

 

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How to be your imperfect perfect self

We live in a crazy world that is constantly trying to turn us into an obedient, conventional, conforming members of society. It takes a strong person to have the courage to go against the grain but it is often those that don’t conform that end up happiest, even though being true to yourself has it’s challenge. It’s often the harder path to follow but the most rewarding in the long run.

Stop pleasing others

You dilute your essence when you spend too much time trying to please others. Start pleasing yourself a little more. Those that are right for you will be able to handle it. If you try too hard to change into what you think is expected of you, you will end up unhappy and confused. You may even lose your identity – stick close to your natural essential self. Those that are right for you will fit in with you just fine.

Trust yourself more

Seek reassurance from others less. Get into the habit of believing in your own decisions and your own beliefs about yourself. No one else can make you feel inferior without your consent. If someone criticises the way you do things ask yourself if they are ‘qualified’ to comment. Reject the rules and laws others try to put on you, especially if you don’t agree with them. Trust yourself. Trusting in yourself and accepting the consequences of your decisions is what leads to greater confidence in yourself.  Keep at it.

Like yourself

No one is perfect and we are all our own worst critic. Stop being to hard on yourself and learn to like the person you are. Sure, we can all strive to improve but get comfortable with the body you are currently living in. Why would you want to reject and resist what you have? How is that helpful? It isn’t…not in the slightest. Focus on your strengths and all the things you do love about yourself. The more you accept and like yourself, the more others will too. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

Identify your strengths

Regularly remind yourself of how far you have come and all the challenges that you have managed to overcome. You are still here, surviving – give yourself a pat on the back! Life is tough and you are still around to tell the tale despite all the failure, rejection and disappointment. You are far more resilient than you realise!

Stop comparing

When you acknowledge your uniqueness and you accept that we are all learning and experiencing life in different stages, you will realise what a waste of energy it is to compare your life circumstances to those of others. When we compare, we only have some of the facts and tend to compare the positives of other people’s lives with all our negative perceptions of our own lives – it very rarely benefits us and can lead us to feel downtrodden. Stop comparing – instead look at your own progress and set yourself new goals. Make sure these goals are the next step in YOUR own journey rather than a step to try keep up with someone else.

Believe in yourself

You are as good as anyone else. Don’t believe anything else. You matter as much as the next person. Believe in yourself, Be assertive and allow yourself to be heard. Get in the habit of expressing yourself – push those boundaries.

Spend time with people who inspire you and bring out the best in you. There are so many ‘social equations’ that exist – there are ‘people’ out there for you – your ‘kind’ of people. They will gravitate to you but only if you show the real you. Get brave, be yourself and celebrate the real you.

Mandy X