Tag Archives: acceptance

Life sucks sometimes

sad woman photo

 

Life sucks sometimes

It’s a fact, life sucks sometimes. People come into your life and steal your heart and then leave just as quickly as they entered.It’s hard to open up again and take the risk of letting someone else in. Should you trust them with your fragile feelings? I guess life is a risk and you can protect yourself forever or you can be brave and try to let love back in again. Life sucks for various reasons not just due to fading relationships.

I am writing this as it is close to my heart and I like to use this blog to write about all sorts of things. My own life serves as inspiration for blog posts, especially when I know there are many others experiencing similar things. I try to use hard times to learn and apply my professional experience to heal. I use this to help others if I can and to support my clients going through similar things. No one is immune to life, no matter how much ‘wisdom’ and/or knowledge you have.

Being rejected for something you have no control over is tough. He loved me until I told him I had health issues and that was that. He hung in but not for too long. Heart break central! His loss…

You have to believe that things happen for a reason. Being philosophical can be a blessing in life. Some things are beyond our control – like the feelings and thoughts of other people.

What needs to happen – focus on yourself, the only thing you can control. Make the most of yourself, never put yourself down and know that you are special whether someone else recognises it or not. Don’t allow your value and self worth to be wrapped up in the validation from others. Easier said than done but work on loving who you are. Someone who doesn’t want to be with you doesn’t deserve you in the first place. A broken relationship leaves you free to find the person who will love you, warts and all.

Well, that’s what I tell myself and it seems to work most of the time! Life sucks but always remember it won’t (thankfully) stay that way. Visualise yourself in the future, happy and carefree again. Each day, every second – you are closer to that happier place!

Mandy X

The quickest routes to unhappiness

 

routes to unhappiness

thoughtsonlifeandlove.com

The quickest routes to unhappiness

We can often be our own worst enemies, engaging in behaviours that lead us down routes to unhappiness. Here are the most common ways that we end up unhappy:

Overthinking

The more time you have to worry endlessly about something, the more likely you are to feel unhappy. Rumination tends to lead us to negative thinking and a whole lot of “what if” thinking. If you find yourself going over the same topic in your mind without looking for an active solution – distract yourself. When you are in your mind, you are in enemy territory. Learn to become a better ‘thought manager’. Distinguish between real (the car has broken down) and hypothetical (“what if…”) thinking. Ask yourself if your worry is something you can/can’t control and take action if there is something you can do. Worry in itself is wasted energy. It’s a myth that it keeps you safe and prepared. Life is uncertain – accept it.

Making comparisons

Comparing yourself to others is never a good idea, especially if you compare yourself in a negative way. You don’t really know what is going on in someone else’s life. Stop focusing on them and focus on your own life and where you want to be. The less you focus and compare, the happier you will be – it’s that simple.

Living by too many rules

The more rules you tend to live by, the more anxious and unhappy you are likely to be. The more rules, which often take the form of “if this…then that”, the more often they will be broken – leading to tension and anxiety. We all have ‘rules for living’. One of mine is: If I don’t please others, they won’t like me. This rule for living leads me to agree to do things I often don’t want to do or don’t really have the time for. This leads me to feeling time pressure and I feel less happy as a result. The more flexible you can be in your thinking the better…let the rules go.

Chasing the wrong things

When we feel under threat, we look for immediate ways to self soothe and feel better. This could be alcohol, drugs, shopping, having illicit affairs and so on. This works for a short while but the original threat usually returns and then we turn to the negative unhelpful behaviour once again. Research suggests that the things that tend to make us happy include experiences, friends and family rather than material possessions. Spending time with others, bonding and connecting, releases the chemical oxytocin – a long lasting ‘happy hormone’ that the body releases. Get your priorities straight and have a plan and a direction.

Living with no purpose

Have you set yourself clear short term and long term goals? A little structure in life and a sense of purpose can do wonders for self esteem and confidence, thereby increasing happiness levels. Make sure you have something to work towards and check regularly that you are on track and going in the right direction. Help others, donate to a charity and spread some kindness in the world. It leads to happiness.

Living in the past or the future

Get back to being present in your life. When we live in the past or we live in the future, we aren’t fully engaged with the current moment and this is the moment of ‘power’. Learn to be more mindful and really enjoy where you are – the physical environment around you.

Try This:

Focus on 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Relish the moment.

The above definitely challenge your ability to be happy – make an effort to stop doing them and you might just realise that happiness is possible.

Mandy X

There’s no need to be mean

 

nasty photo

There’s no need to be mean

There seems to be a general consensus on the idea that being mean gets you ahead in life. There is a famous quote, “Nice guys finish last”. I don’t believe this though. Being assertive is the best way to be – stand up for yourself and try to reach a win-win situations with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a nasty person. Asking for what you want but considering other people’s needs is a great way to move forward in life and still like yourself in the process.

People who are mean may temporarily get ahead in life but the long term effects can be surprising. Negative emotions are suppressed and this sometimes lead to depression and anxiety later in life. I like the idea of karma – if you’re mean to others, that negative energy will be returned to you in some form or another.

So deliver kindness to others, treat others as you would like to be treated. As tempting as it is to return nastiness when it is received, I try my best not to return it as it leads me to operate at the same simplistic and barbaric level as those mean ‘low lifes’.

Spend time with people you love, trust and respect and limit time with the toxic people but never stoop to their level. They are not worth your energy.

Mandy X

Control, Resistance and Acceptance

 

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Control, Resistance and Acceptance

Peace of mind and contentment doesn’t come from control. We all fool ourselves by thinking that if we can control our worlds and environments we will be happier. This is a myth. Firstly, there is no such thing as 100% control.The very nature of life on earth is uncertain. Trying to obtain control is wasted energy and although it helps us temporarily to feel safer (and soothes our minds), the reality is that we are no more safe with or without seeking ultimate control.

I have observed people spending inordinate amounts of time trying to control people and things in their lives. They avoid uncertainty and resist whatever threatens them in life. Be that new experiences or events that they fear such as a new relationship or making important and necessary changes in their lives. Resisting ‘what is’ is similar to being stuck in a yacht on a lake with no wind and trying to blow at the sales with your own breath. It won’t get you very far and will leave you exhausted.

If instead, you accept that at the present moment you’re in a spot of trouble but that if you relax and give it some time, things may very well correct themselves naturally, sending a gust of wind to help you out. Accepting a situation and ‘sitting with it’ for a while can often bring you the clarity you lack when you are trying to control outcomes that are actually beyond your control.

When we hit a snag in life, we immediately go into control mode, instead of waiting and  being patient that little bit longer. Try it. Not everything needs to be controlled. Trust in the natural order of life at times and let this guide you as to how to move forward.

Mandy X

 

10 ways to increase happiness

 

happiness

A female enjoying a day at the beach.

10 ways to increase happiness

Accept responsibility for yourself

When you accept that you are where your are in life due to your own choices and stop blaming others for your situation, you begin to feel back in control of your life. You, and you alone must be responsible for your own life. If you are doing things that make you unhappy, look at why you are doing them – what is the pay off? Do you like seeming like a victim? You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose to create a better life for yourself by changing what you are doing and making new decisions. Be hopeful about where this new-found power can lead you.

Be flexible towards life

“Musts” and “shoulds” create inflexible rules for life and the more rigid our rules for living are, the quicker we stress out when they don’t remain as we wish. Instead of using “must” and “should” in your vocabulary, try “could” or “it would be preferable”. The minute you adopt a more easy going approach to life, is the moment your stress levels reduce. There are very few things in life that MUST be a certain way…always ask yourself why it MUST be that way. Who said? Where’s the big rule book of life that tells you so? You will find you have a lot more choice and freedom as to the “musts” and “shoulds” you want to live by in life. You do get to choose.

Accept reality

Acceptance plays a big part in our levels of contentment and happiness. We don’t have to like reality but dealing with what is rather than resisting reality will save a lot of unnecessary effort in the long run. Instead of lamenting endlessly with statements such as “why me?” or ?It’s so unfair!”, look at ways to problem solve. Fair enough – we all deserve a little bit of ‘poor me’ time but put a time limit on it and then try to find ways to improve what is happening..or just wait a while and it might pass all on it;s own. The point is – stop resisting what life throws at you. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you’re stuck in a traffic jam. You can work yourself up into a froth or you can chill and listen to some music. There’s not much else you can do. Always distinguish between what you can and can’t control and then let go of what you can do nothing about.

Develop a high tolerance for frustration

If you procrastinate, lead an undisciplined lifestyle, frequently fail to stick with tasks that would be in your best interests to complete or go out of your way to avoid hassle in life, you may be someone with a low tolerance for frustration. Perhaps you have become caught in the “comfort trap”. Ask yourself whether your current approach is likely to get the best out of you and help you find out what you are really made of? It may feel okay now as long as you don’t want to be someone who wakes up one day and wishes they had engaged more in life. You will be left with a lot of “what ifs” which isn’t conducive to happiness or contentment. Challenge your “I can’t stand it” philosophy. You may not always like it but most likely you can stand it..that temporary upheaval for long term satisfaction. Don’t hide form life. See frustration as proof that you are really living and engaging.

Love and respect yourself

I love the personal statement “Always wear your invisible crown”-it’s a reminder to me to like myself and see myself as a good person who deserves love and care. You teach others how to treat you whether you realise it or not, vocalise it or not so it pays to treat yourself well – other will follow your lead.

Allow yourself to be feel negative emotions

How many times have you watched the runner up in a competition say “Well I am so grateful just to get this far..blah blah”. Sure – if that’s genuine, but it really is okay to be fecked off when things don’t go your way. We can’t always be positive, we can’t always be dynamic etc and that is okay. Watch those “musts” and “shoulds” again – I must always be happy, I must always cope – not necessarily. It is a normal and healthy part of life to be fed up, to have had enough and to want to check out and go live on a desert island somewhere. Feel the emotions – they are normal, don’t suppress them. It isn’t healthy to always put on a brave face irrespective of how you feel.

Be a critical thinker

Be a healthy sceptic. Don’t believe everything you are told.Whether that’s what parents and authority figures told you about who you are or whether it’s a media outlet trying to persuade you to think something new. Does the new message fit in with how you see yourself? A famous American psychiatrist, Aaron Beck – the founder of Cognitive Therapy argued that when people are in distress, they frequently show distortions on the way they think. Some of the major distortions we engage in which can be very unhelpful are:

black and white thinking (all or nothing thinking – nothing in life is ever all or nothing); mind reading – where we make assumptions about what other people think and feel (actually we don’t really know unless we ask them directly); catastrophising – when we make a mountain out of a molehill and work ourselves into a froth unnecessarily and personalising – where we blame ourselves for things that often have nothing to do with us.

Develop a problem solving attitude and get comfy with making your own decisions about yourself and your life. You don’t need the approval of others.

Be curious about the world and others

Be adventurous and be true to yourself when it comes to following your interests. A fulfilled, happy person is a kinder and more tolerant person and we could definitely use more of those on this planet. Make time for your own pleasurable pursuits and learn every day.

Focus on relationships

As I explained in one of my recent blog posts about oxytocin – the cuddle drug is wonderful when it comes to providing feelings of contentment. Oxytocin is produced by our bodies when we engage with others. Learn to trust others and let them in – you may be pleasantly surprised. Those with a supportive network tend to cope better in life when they are stressed and seem to be more resilient. Take a genuine interest in others – we all want to be loved and accepted and if you welcome others, you will find they seek you out. We really aren’t all that different from one another.

Personal change

Do you ever say to yourself, “I will do X/Y/Z when I have…” ? Get into the habit of just doing, instead of waiting for the right moment – there is never a better time than right now. Sometimes we need to engage in the behaviour before it feels right – acting as if we are confident can often lead the confidence to emerge. Try not to think fearfully about your option – be curious and adventurous and embrace the trial and error nature of life.

There is no foolproof formula to be happy but the above ten pointers will definitely help to increase contentment if you get used to applying them!

Mandy X

3 ways to embrace and reduce stress

 

peace photo

 

3 ways to embrace and reduce stress

I find life very stressful these days. There seems to be less time to enjoy life and most of my time is spent rushing about trying to complete chores and ticking off items on my to-do list. I know I am not alone as many people that I speak to seem to be sharing a similar experience. When did we let it get to this? Stress seems to be an integral part of modern day living. I have found a way that helps me to feel less stressed in the moment and here it is:

1) Acceptance

I have often found myself resisting what is happening in my life. I get angry at the injustice as I see around me, I feel sorry for myself at times and feel frustrated when life doesn’t turn out as I hoped it would. In the past I have spent countless hours resisting ‘what is’. I am getting better at accepting what is going on in my life rather than wishing I had a different life. This does not mean that I have become passive but it does mean that I have stopped resisting the reality that I am experiencing. Acceptance has a lot to do with acknowledging what is going on. Once we accept the true nature of our experience we can begin to create a realistic plan.

2) Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tricky skill to to master. It requires that we calm our busy brains and focus our attention on the present moment. I find this incredibly hard to do because my mind is always wandering off. Mainly I worry about the future and can get myself into a right tizz over possibilities that may never come to be. Mindfulness ensures that we enjoy the present moment and the present moment is all that we really have. Touch, taste, see, hear and smell everything around you. Engage your senses in the present moment.

3) Detach from negative thinking

Our thoughts create our emotions. If our thoughts are negative and full of worry, our behaviour will be in line with this thinking and our focus will be on our fears and insecurities. Learning to detach from our thoughts is a skill that can be learned. When you find yourself thinking a negative thoughts such as, “I will never find someone to love me”, immediately challenge it. Ask yourself where the evidence is for this thought and check whether there is an alternative way to view the particular problem or issue.

There is a saying: “when you are in your own mind, you are in enemy territory”. This saying is so true. Our thoughts can lead us to heaven or hell. Learn to separate your thoughts from the reality. Thoughts are often based upon our own insecurities and false assumptions.

I have found the above three strategies very useful. When I am in the middle of an anxious phase I stop myself and I mentally go through the above three strategies. I have found them to be very effective in lessening my anxiety and I hope you receive the same benefits.

Mandy X

Please like me

 

people pleasing photo

Please like me

We’re all ‘people pleasers’ underneath. Who doesn’t want to be liked and popular? We can all fall into the trap of yearning for acceptance and validation from others. When we don’t get it we can feel useless and unloveable. We’re social creatures and we are wired to seek out acceptance and a sense of belonging. There is a BIG difference however between seeking a connection with someone else and seeking approval that we are fundamentally acceptable and okay.

Many of our negative ideas about ourselves come from when we were younger. It’s time to challenge these beliefs. Parents seem to know everything when we are young but as we age we tend to realise that they were flawed too. Use this fact to challenge any negative things they said to you. If you still believe negative remnants from your childhood – look for the evidence. Is it true or is it an ill-judged idea that was created a long time ago and is no longer valid?

Regularly look for evidence that is the opposite of your negative belief. You will find plenty of evidence although it may take some practise. When we have become accustomed to seeing ourselves in a certain way it can take time to allow new, healthier beliefs to emerge.

Make time each day to think about your inner dialogue. What do you tell yourself about you on a regular basis. Are these thoughts working for you and inspiring you or are they keeping you ‘small’ and fearful? Think about this – what do you want to believe about you? Why don’t you adopt the thoughts that you want to believe…what’s stopping you?

It takes practise but the more you watch your negative inner dialogue the better you get at challenging – you might not always get it right. Emotions tend to take us off on a tangent but even if you just manage to identify the thought, you’re on the right track. At least you are self aware – that’s a huge skill to possess and so many people respond to life like robots.

I’m imperfect. I’ve made many mistakes but replacing old negative beliefs and working on championing myself has helped me to have more self confidence. I am happy to be eccentric and a slight misfit but I embrace this (whereas I tried to disown that part of me previously) and won’t change who I am just to please the company I am in.

Mandy X

Photo by iloveart106

Instant Stress Relief

 

stress relief photo

Instant Stress Relief

Most of our stress comes from wishing life was different to the way it actually is. We may have imagined a more glamorous job than the reality of what it has turned out to be or it might be the reality of a monotonous relationship where we yearn for the fun filled days that were plentiful at the beginning of the relationship. Whatever it is, I have never met a person who doesn’t fantasise about life being different, thereby feeling disgruntled and annoyed by ‘their lot’ in life.

Stress comes in many forms and manifests in different ways for us but the following three stress relievers can work for most, if not all of us.

1) Acceptance

Instead of resisting ‘what is’, learn to work with the reality of your current life. When we resist, we spend time feeling sorry for ourselves instead of looking for effective problem solving strategies. Acceptance allows us to acknowledge what is going on for us and learn to deal with it more effectively. Many of us have an unrealistic idea of how life should be. This message is often transferred to us through the media and Hollywood movies. The reality is that real life can be quite mundane and boring at times. At times it can even be downright disappointing leading to disillusionment. We begin to imagine that we are the only ones who have boring lives, especially if Facebook is anything to go by where everyone sees to living a thrilling life (I promise you they are not).

Accept what is happening, it really is okay to go through times where you feel less love for someone or feel fed up with your situation. Don’t resist with ‘poor me’ statements, look at what isn’t right and try to find effective ways to bring about change where possible.

Mindfulness

The second technique for instant stress relief is to learn to live more in the moment. Too often we live our lives in our heads – thinking about when we will be happier, thinner, richer in the future. At the same time we are missing crucial moments of our lives, they pass us by every second. Learn to live in the moment as much as possible. The power is in the present moment…enjoy your friendships, really savour that mouthful of food, listen carefully to the music and lyrics. Learning to engage your senses in the moment leaves your mind less time to worry needlessly about things that may never happen.

Unhook from thoughts

Our wayward thoughts can take us off in all sorts of unwanted directions. Learn to let the negative thoughts pass by without listening to them or believing that they are true.

You really can choose what you want to think and believe about yourself and the world. Ignore the doom-mongering thoughts, the “what if” thoughts and the thoughts based on faulty assumptions.

Stress is a part of modern day life but learning the above three tips can help you to handle stress when it becomes too much to handle. I often implement the above three strategies when I feel overwhelmed and personally find them very useful.

Mandy X

 

Photo by Beth Phillips