Prioritise Yourself & Cut Distractions

Making time for what matters most to you requires balance, a deviation from the million needless distractions that occupy our minds. A realisation of how limited our focus and energy is, a realistic acknowledgement of where this boundary is and to stop continuously crossing it for the sake of keeping up with appearances and trends, or giving into fear of social judgement.
Our job is to look after ourselves, and when we do that, those we love and who we touch in our daily lives will be too touched in a positive, meaningful way. We can demonstrate boundaries and through this, give other people permission to do the same through our own example.
Prioritising downtime and being disciplined in scheduling it, protecting it from other interferences and maintaining is key to self care. If you can achieve this, the changes you see in yourself can make you even more determined to stick to it.
I talk about this stuff because since returning from my travels, I have been strictly practising restorative downtime in a number of ways:
  • Checking less for messages in Facebook Messenger and my WhatsApp. The phone is a tool you use, not the other way around. Knowing exactly what it’s uses are and for what purpose will help you distance yourself emotionally from it. It helps you to connect those you love, it’s not something to love itself.
  • Two evenings a week of blocked off time from communications where I allow myself free time to do whatever I want (i call them ‘white blocks’). That doesn’t include household obligatory activities such as cooking or cleaning, it means doing WHATEVER.
  • Meditation for at least half an hour each evening and longer if I want on the weekends.
  • Spending more time journalling and blogging and staying off Netflix (although I’ve found staying away from my beloved Netflix pretty difficult to do!).
My priorities has flipped from people-focused to being more focused on myself and while it potentially comes across as selfish I’ve noticed that I’m a better colleague and a better friend because of it. Because I give to myself, I can more freely give to others without resentment or feeling they owe me something. I’m a better listener and can participate more deeply in meaningful discussions with others, lighting up their minds, as much as my own. I can laugh and joke more, making others laugh too and feel relaxed around me. I think two evenings a week is a small sacrifice that others can take, for what I can give.
At the end of the day we’re all adults here, we’re also highly connected thanks to technology but too much can erode our minds, our capability of level of thought as distractions weaken our ability to  concentrate. Its our responsibility to set the boundaries at the risk of pissing people off or causing offence. The risk is worth it, cause your time is ultimately your most valuable currency, your only currency one could philosophically argue. Connecting deeply with yourself and trusting your inner compass to help make decisions around what you spend time on, what you value most is looking after yourself.
When it comes down to it, you owe it to yourself, it’s your ultimate responsibility and because none else can be looked after, if you don’t look after yourself.

Unexpected Traits of Confidence

I’m not exactly the first person to jump up, hand held high in the air, exclaiming to the whole world that I have problems with confidence, but even for people who are perceived as accomplished and achieved have days of setbacks and struggle.
The following are insights I’ve gained, realisation I’ve glimpsed into what makes someone truly confident, in an authentic and permanent way.

1. Knowing and Owning your own truth.

One thing that needs to be louder in your mind and body than other people’s thoughts and opinions are your own. Our heads can get full others perspectives on things and while it’s good to be aware, its key to stay connected to your own while this is happening, take a long breath and express it as best you can. This is related to self expression, and taking an improv class can help build your responsive strength, and responding to verbally expressions, ideas and opinions in the moment. Being a natural introvert, I’m better at writing than speaking but it’s possible to develop and get good at something you may not naturally excel at.
The critical point is to not lose touch with that inner feeling, that peripheral knowledge you have and be brave enough to put it forward, regardless of external reaction.

2. Accepting your humanity and where you are in life.

This is hard, especially if you’re a compulsive ‘self-comparer’ like myself and you’re looking at how well everyone else is doing. Here’s the mad part, I know there’s people in my life who think I’m in a great place and doing well for myself, there’s also people I know who I believe are better than me and their lives are generally better than mine. Self-comparison goes in a circle and so who you compare yourself to, unless they’re Ghandi, is probably comparing themselves to others as well. Accepting the imperfections or even just the normalacy of yourself and your life is not the ending of your aspirations, in fact, it could help increase your contentment, leading to more happiness which, guess what? Attracts more good of what you want in your life. Accept where you are now, respect yourself, and build your standard from there.

3. Self compassion and connected to your heart.

This is a very powerful one for anyone who is self-critical (myself included). I struggle most with this one personally but it is one of the most effective ways of being resilient. No internal judge or jury means you won’t take judgement from others personally. ‘No enemies within, no enemies without’ as the Chinese proverb goes, and someone would have to work really hard to get on your bad side!

4. Stop thinking you’re a charlatan and own your achievements.

Do I hear the Imposter Syndrome bells ringing? You’ve gotten this far in life, and you don’t get this far without overcoming, without problem-solving. Stop telling yourself you’re not good enough once there’s others better than you – there’ll always be someone smarter or better than you, but you can bring something to the table none else can, not as well as they do. Find out what that is and focus on it. It doesn’t need to be outstanding or blow everyone’s socks off, it just needs to be unique, it just needs to be you. If it feels genuine, and you can see first-hand the positive effects of what you’re naturally good at happening, you’ll grow more into that and bloom.

5. Reminding yourself of achievements…

Imagine stretched out behind you the timeline of your life achievements, even the ones you don’t think are much but might ‘wow’ someone else. Highlight them like milestones and even place a visual representation somewhere you can see everyday, it’s easy to forget the positives of the past when we’re so focused on dealing with the present and impending future.

Other Points

No longer listening to an inner saboteur that tells you to stop or change or nags at you for logical reason number 1, number 2, 3 etc. There’ll always be valid reasons for not doing something that feels innately right, confident people go for it anyway – and keep the faith ❤
They ultimately realise everything is a learning curve.

To Heal – First Let Go

Healing Frees Up Space

Healing is a word that gets tossed around a lot, for the purposes of this article I’ll be phrasing it within the context of mental/emotional healing.
Healing is a process by which our busy lives rarely slow down to take time out to do, and yet it’s so essential to our existence because without it, we acquire more emotional baggage as we move through life and sits there.
The older we get, the longer our memory of experience stretches back. And not all of it pain-free.
Consciously letting go keeps you fresh, shedding off what you don’t need so your energy is focused on developing the more positive things you want in life.
Letting go yields to more space, a fertile bed to grow what was repressed, and allow it to return. You wouldn’t think it linked but self-healing supports self-discovery, and you’ll quickly realise aspects of you and possibilities were held back by occupied pain. In essence, the feeling could be described like this:
giphy (1)

Exercise #1

This is a typical exercise I do when I’m overrun with toxicity that doesn’t need to be there, whether it’s self-comparison, imposter syndrome or just downright crap self-talk that’s useless to me and everyone else around me.
It doesn’t involve desperately searching for an escape from it, nor accepting it, it’s only about consciously letting it go.
Visualise yourself standing or sitting (however you like) by a wide, deep fast moving river. Whatever issue comes first is the biggest and the one you need to create enough space between yourself and it in order to gently let it go. Picture throwing a leaf or stone into the river, feel whatever it is leaving your body and being imbued into that object. Now throw it into the river, and as you watch it rush away, feel it drain out of you more and more as the current runs away with it. Conciously focus on letting whatever it is go.
Tip: Remember, not just the mind releasing it, but the body too. The body has it’s own kind of memory in the form of feeling that needs relinquishment from.
It’s a brave let go, a loving let go, a courageous let go. Courageous cause letting go means chancing new, unfamiliar things to enter which creates risk.
Its unknown, your newness through letting go, and it cannot be identified until its experienced and how others will react to what emerges from you cannot be fathomed beforehand.
But that’s not the point is it? The point, really, is wholeness. Happy with your lot, content and accepting of who you are. But you don’t get to that fun stuff unless you face the shit first. Identifying it by consciously by shining a light on it and releasing it. So you feel like:
tenor (1).gif

The Healing Part?

Yep. But it only happens when you’re ready to face what gets in the way, Dr. Brene Brown talks about this at great length.
And what gets in the way instructs, what instructs teaches, and what teaches trains you into a better person. Appreciating more, humming humility, a quiet wisdom that can sit with itself at sunset.
That’s healing. And it never stops. There’s practise and practise for the rest of your life.
(Gif by French artist, Étienne Jacob).

Travel Blog 3 – Reconnect

I sat in an old church in Old Town Dubrovnik this evening. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and remains of a saint named St. Sylvan were encased in a small glass case beneath a religious portrait.
I find churches great places to reflect and process whatever is bothering me, and being there helped me write the remainder of this post. It’s a bit of a mixed bag of ideas/realisations so thought I’d structure it under 3 main areas.
1. Connection Inside must be Stronger than What Happens on the Outside
Oh man how I struggle with this one. Not meditating and journaling frequently has unravelled this and has seen me betray myself in a million tiny ways in my daily life. But what does it mean to have a stronger connection inside? It means to always have within arms reach what is true for you, no matter what the situation is. It’s staying rooted to your inner truth and opinion on something, expressing it courageously no matter the reaction you get.
Being a natural people pleaser, I’ve several times in the past said indirectly to others, ‘My inner truth can be whatever you want it to be’ with a customer service smile (makes me sick even admitting that). All to avoid conflict and confrontation, because if someone gets mad, it means I’m not worthy. And that’s the equivalent of death for me.
I’m not sure at what point in my timeline I made the assumption that others perceptions of me should have a direct impact on my self worth, but happen it did. Which is why I seek positive experiences in all my social encounters – to help me keep glowing. To keep life bearable. To feel accepted. To belong without prerequisites.
2. Self-Comparison at Work
At work, performance is highly valued. So much so that its affected my focus and being comfortable in my own skin there, feeling and knowing I’m enough is a luxury I’ve rarely tasted in that place. The scourge of Imposter Syndrome.
I’ve allowed myself to slip into the belief that I’m somehow lower than everyone else there, that’s there’s something wrong with me because I don’t think the same as everyone else.
One thing that has helped enormously is to maintain a fixed perspective at work. Others perceptions aren’t solid objects that define me, but more like wisps of smoke – here and then gone, over and over again. And it’s all bullshit, what they think. Barack Obama once said in an interview with Humans of New York that it isn’t about you when you’re working, it’s only the work that matters and where your focus should be at. Detaching yourself from the equation is what matters, and only seeking knowledge and truth to help you feel comfortable in doing your role, and do it well.
For someone with social anxiety, caring what others think is linked into self-comparison, they form a vicious circle and the only exit is to drop caring what others think so much, and re-shift the emphasis on myself and staying connected to my inner truth, moment by moment. Can be easier said than done but it’s so worth attaining, and life just gets easier.
3. Reconnection
I’ve banked a lot of expectation on myself on this holiday because of all of the above – I’ve put myself down for 2 weeks to know what my next move should at least be, career wise. Oh, and write up blog posts of my holiday, and finish reading my book – The Handmaid’s Tale – and meditate and reconnect with myself while also running around nearly everyday sight seeing. As you can tell I’m pretty good at filling up my itinerary 🙂
Where I am now isn’t all that different to where I’ve started, in a way. I still have the same issues and 2 weeks abroad wasn’t going to magically wipe it all up like a mop (as much as I’d hoped!). What I can say is that I’ve begun to accept it all – and that’s always been my problem – accepting my soft parts and my vulnerabilities and allowing myself to be that way, publicly. From a social anxiety perspective, it’s again the equivalent of death.
The only way myself, or you reader, or anyone can be that way, is if we hold above all else, like a prized trophy immune to reproach, the belief we’re worthy, no matter what.
And that’s courage, like a lonesome ship fighting through a storm type of courage. Because sometimes the world will tell you it’s not true, or even worse, you’ll tell it to yourself.
And I write this post, not just for myself, but for everyone who is struggling with shit like this because let’s be honest, it’s a fucking struggle.
And I’m tired of it always being an issue but here’s the thing I’ve learned. This isn’t something you get a medal for and then get to go home, this is practice and practice until you’ve built it within yourself so strongly none can knock it over. Brick by brick, you build a stronghold of all that you love about yourself, with a banner flying at the top that says, ‘My existence is enough’. You pronounce yourself to the world and yeah, you will get poked and prodded. But people poke you to the extent of their own insecurities and past experiences so don’t let it push you over.
Staying rooted inside keeps you strong against the gale, particularly when you’re under speculation and doubts are pushed on you. Accepting your flaws and faults lovingly is the only way I’ve known to get through it.
Remember you’re human, that counts for something.
What’s come to me from being away is that no matter where you go, you bring how you are with you. And this holiday wasn’t about fixing it, it was about accepting it so it wasn’t such a big deal anymore. Initially, I felt the urge to rush and change it.
What I found most important was this; to stop seeking some other better, higher version of yourself and accept unconditionally how you are now. If you do that, that wonderful version of you that you’ve envisioned will become organically and not through some artificial, forceful means.
I’ve been trying to reconnect with my identity, like it’s some separate object I’ve lost. All I’ve been seeking this whole time is now so bloody obvious; loving myself, no matter what version of that looks like.