Vulnerability

March 11, 2019

My last blog post definitely aired on the side of caution, it was close to the line and definitely exposed my vulnerability.

To me vulnerability has two sides of a coin.

Heads – an act of courage to expose my authenticity.

Tails– putting up barriers to avoid getting hurt

Let’s break this down

Heads

Embracing your vulnerability is an act of strength, human beings can’t always run at maximum capacity hiding behind a facade. It would be awful to be around people that do. I’m not saying that there are nobody in the world that don’t do this but I think it’s unrealistic to expect that people can. I’m a heart on the sleeve type of person and I’m not afraid to show and share my vulnerabilities and pain points. I want to help people with what I’m going through and I have a gift for doing that.

You need to be aware of the points of your vulnerability, and try and heel it, it’s like ripping a plaster from a wound. You’re exposing it to the air which means it can breathe, which heels up quicker. Ripping a plaster off is like forgiving the reason/cause of your vulnerability.

I think for me, right now I’m peeling the edges around the plaster and it would be incorrect for me to tell you otherwise.

Neuropsychologist Mario Martinez writes in his book: The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success, The wound you choose in order to interpret your pain becomes a shield of protection against forgiving, because releasing your grudge means being vulnerable again.”

Tails

Putting up barriers to avoid getting hurt. This is something I’m getting better at as I’ve got older. I didn’t used to let anyone in and be so trusting in others. That meant that people didn’t really want to speak to me because I put up that wall. There’s something quite beautiful in being able to be open with people, I think people understand what I’m about now where as a few years ago they didn’t. I guess going through a very troubling life event was the cure of the barrier, which is ironic really when if you’ve been hurt mentally or physically you’d think my barrier would of gone up. It didn’t. I have some kind people that make it safe for me to expose my vulnerability. It’s almost celebrated.

How to fix it

I don’t think you can fully fix or cure vulnerability, but you can very much embrace it.

My advice….

1. Make your heart as big as possible so that nobody can completely take it. Small things will happen but it’s a tiny segment of the whole heart.

2. Take small risks of being open, I promise not everyone or everything will hurt you. Your relationships with people will improve significantly if you expose yourself.

3. Some self evaluation and examine your vulnerabilities, everyone’s will be different.

4. Trust your heart not your head, the mind plays lots of tricks on us.

I’ve never considered the true meaning of being vulnerable until I experienced it myself and watching someone very close to my heart expose their vulnerability. I also never once considered that we are all vulnerable in different respects and there’s nothing wrong being vulnerable. It actually shows incredible strength.

Good luck

Loneliness

March 2, 2019

I used to consider loneliness as something older people went through. I never once thought of it in different ways until I experienced this feeling myself.

For the last 18 months I’ve experienced loneliness in the most extreme of ways. To me loneliness has the overwhelming feeling of isolation, confusion and uncertainty.

Why is it overwhelming

I am of the personality where I crave social interaction. I am experiencing little of it at work, then I come home and there’s zero social interaction at all. It’s relentless to me and makes me seriously question my purpose in life.

When I leave work I get this sick feeling and

I walk home from work and I get to the bottom of my road and I stand there, I cry, because I just don’t want to come home. I don’t want to be alone. Just watching cars zoom past me always has me wondering everyone but me has somewhere to be. I used to always have somewhere to be.

A lot of people say to me you’re not alone, you’ve got lots of friends. I think they don’t understand how I feel when I leave the office, yes I have lots of acquaintances but it’s a business transaction. I doubt these people give me a second thought.

Since moving to another floor at work. I’ve felt more out of sight out of mind than ever before. I feel incredibly isolated. I used to work on this floor a few years ago and with the added reminder of who I used to be. Happy, confident, bold and unapologetic. Loneliness becomes confusing.

What about uncertainty

This is delicate. For 18 months I’ve felt this way, and it seems to have got worse not better. Trying to explain to someone how this feels when they don’t have this feeling is hard. I’m at a stage now when someone asks me if I’m ok, I polite respond I’m ok thank you. I am at the point where I have nothing else to say. I’m not sure I can continue on this path. I am just going to have to accept that this is my life now.

I’m 35 years old and I’d probably say that there are 2 people I’d say are actually my friend. It’s hard and it’s unpleasant and I crave someone, anyone to say what you doing I’m picking you up we’re going out. I reach out to lots of people, I very rarely get a response.

The dreaded Friday question, what plans do you have this weekend and the Monday did you have a nice weekend. Those questions upset me, because I desperately wish I had something to share.

Loneliness has affected me mentally so much so. I’ve lost my identity. I don’t know who I am anymore and I also don’t know how to fix it.

It’s relentless.

Knowing the Right Thing to Do

February 9, 2019

I get overwhelmed almost every hour of every day about knowing what the right thing to do is.

I’ve started a new job recently that I have no experience of, and am walking around like bird box so My anxiety around this has recently resurfaced and is overwhelming at the best of times. I would now like to nip it in the bud before it becomes out of control.

Most of the time I do know what is the right thing to do.

But the complexity around the decision, putting it into practice, past experiences and feelings can put me off and I put myself under so much pressure to chose the right thing and end up shafting myself instead.

Sometimes if it’s a decision I don’t want to make I’ll ask a friend that renowned for talking me out of deciding. Subconsciously thinking I can blame them if it goes wrong and that makes me feel like a bad person.

But there are magical moments when I can talk it though with someone else and then I can see the light. This friend always says to me, you know what the right thing to do was, you just needed to talk it through.

The later friend clearly is a master at asking specific questions to make me evaluate and identify all the options available and what the consequences are of those decisions.

My advice around doing the right thing:

1. Don’t ask someone to make a decision for you – it’s your life not theirs.

2. Don’t approach people with a decision if you know they have and urge to talk you out of it. It’s wrong for someone to be able to say what’s best for you when they are not you.

3. Find someone you trust, to talk it through.

4. If it’s an on the spot decision and you don’t want to commit to potentially doing the wrong thing. It’s ok to say, can I think about that and get back to you later.

Sometimes decisions you make you naturally fear you may make wrong ones but it’s the wrong ones we learn more from. Sometimes knowing the right thing to do has made me look like an arsehole, but most of the time the hero.

I know I’m not a stranger with this topic. I work with lots of different people and 95% are in the same boat as me. Someone even said to me yesterday they didn’t know the right thing to do about something. The fact that they talked it though with me means I’m not a talker outer.

Sometimes it’s better to lose and do the right thing than it is to win and do the wrong thing.

Facing fears not conquering them

January 31, 2019

After writing my post about courage and receiving some feedback from various people. It occurred to me that I needed to expand on this subject to specific sections.

Fears; it isn’t about conquering them it’s about facing them.

It’s very easy, and something I do well is hiding and avoiding my fears. But it’s when I broke it down did something really incredible happened. I followed some steps and asked myself some questions.

1. Is this fear worth facing?

Being fearful of spiders only occurs to me when there’s one in my house. It happens once maybe twice a year at best. So probably not worth facing at all.

Have a conversation with yourself, is this fear stopping you from fulfilling your life, is it stopping you from doing something, is it something I really need to confront.

Making a list will help establish which is worth it and which isn’t.

2. Risk analysis

Don’t worry I’m not about to go all auditor on you. What is the risk of facing my fear. Is there statistical evidence to back up the risk level. Is the risk that you might look daft or have an impact on your personal brand.

3. Create a plan

Once you have established that the fear is worth facing and you’ve assessed the risk. Now comes the time to plan how you will face your fear. This is where practice comes in. I’ve been taught a lot recently that you only become good at something when you practice. For example, I only managed to deadlift 60kg because I practiced lower weights first.

4. Get some help

When I faced one of my personal fears I sought advise from many people in my circle. People whom I trust to give me their honest opinion. A very nice lady at my work suggested some breathing techniques that worked a treat.

There are also professional people that can help you with specialist fears of you do a google search.

What was my fear

Full disclosure: A few years ago I was the type of person that could stand in front of a lot of people and deliver important messages. I did this without any fear. Until that changed for me.

As you know from my other posts my confidence hit an all time low, anxiety crept in and I no longer was able to deliver anything to small group of people let alone a large group.

I have to deliver presentations, gain buy in from my audience and that’s more important now than ever before.

I have followed the steps and it’s a much improved and enjoyable experience it’s actually quite incredible because I took action before it became a real problem that may of affected my future.

What other fears

That’s a work related fear, but I have taken the same approach to other things in my life.

Becoming fitter and stronger with zero confidence.

Facing the fear of rejection for not being enough – this is something I haven’t fully faced but I have been working very hard to face it. Almost throwing myself into situations and building relationships and taking those risks.

What next

Everyday you have an opportunity to develop yourself personally. Keep yourself on your toes. Trust yourself to take a risk. I have in so many ways. You only learn by taking risks, not all of them work out, but mostly they do. Be brave and be bold.

Dream, believe achieve enjoy the ride. You might just like it.

Goal Setting for Success

January 4, 2019

Goal setting is a process for planning ahead and and thinking about what you believe personal success looks like. Setting personal goals big or small help you focus on what’s important to you.

Learning how to set goals and achieve them mean you are in control and you decide what success looks like.

It’s the beginning of the year and people always talk about New Years resolutions. It’s important to remember that whilst making those very few people actually follow them through.

This is the first time I’ve really considered goals for myself long term ones. I initially considered this year I want to but stopped myself in my tracks. There was no way I’d set goals for this year and follow them through. I know that because I know me so well and I know I lose focus very quickly setting a year worth of goals was counterproductive.

Goal Setting

When setting my goals I considered the following

⁃ What is important to me

⁃ What I want to achieve

⁃ What I want from my life

Clear and specific goals

It’s important to set achievable and very realistic goals. There’s no point setting something that means you won’t achieve (lottery win is not a goal).

Break it down

Pick aspects of your world that your goals will be set against. This will be more manageable and allow you to work on goals at specified times perhaps.

Get support

Setting goals and achieving them isn’t always easy and you may need help achieving them. It doesn’t mean you didn’t achieve them. Think about who in your network would be able to help. This is key to your success.

Share your goals with your network

Sharing your goals with others provides a level of validity. It also gives you a level of commitment that ensures you achieve them.

Stay positive

Hmmmmm one I’m trying bloody hard to manage but it isn’t always easy to believe in yourself. My best advice here, when you feel yourself slipping, stop, take a break and reevaluate. (My blog post: If at first you don’t succeed will help)

Track your success and progress

Journal time, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A square lined page notebook at 2 quid from Amazon is perfect.

Reward yourself

It’s is absolutely essential to reward yourself after achieving goals, it doesn’t have to be something huge. A little something that reminds yourself you got that because you were successful at meeting some or all of your goals.

What did I do……

I worked out how I was going to set these out I categorised 3 things that were important to me personally: Life, Gym, Work. These were written up in my note book and on the next page I wrote out how I was going to keep track of my goals to ensure I have achieved them.

I decided that monthly goals were for me. I sent them to my PT for validity. I love that I can do this with my PT, after all he will be instrumental for my Gym subject.

If anyone wants any tips on setting goals or want to talk anything through please do get in touch.

Here’s my goals for January and you’ll see I’ve already set myself up to achieve some of them.

Courage

December 19, 2018

Courage

Definition: The ability to do something that frightens ones bravery.

Strength in the face of pain or grief.

I have been doing some research and came across attributes of a courageous person. I bet you can associate yourself with at least 1.

1. Feeling fear yet choosing to act

2. Following your heart

3. Perseverance in the face of adversity

4. Standing up for what is right

5. Expanding your horizons and leaving your comfort zone.

6. Face suffering with dignity and faith

When a 5 different very close friends told me this week I had courage and in the past they have told me too. I don’t think I truly understood the meaning of the word. To me the word courage should be associated with Rosa Parks who refused to sit at the back, Ant Middleton who scaled Mount Everest and nearly died trying, Nelson Mandela who chose to speak out about injustice at fear of his life.

But it accidentally occurred to me yesterday that I face a lot of bravery every single day and so do a number of people in my life. Even though we’re not facing physical challenges like climbing a mountain we are facing mental ones and require stamina and innovation.

You need to acknowledge your bravery no matter what the situation may be, going to work, going to school, going to the gym or going shopping. What I have learnt this week more than ever is that this bravery fuels you with empowerment, which also fuels your self confidence. Which then makes you do things out of your comfort zone.

Just take a moment to think about when you didn’t want to do something…….

For me a while ago I didn’t want to go to a meeting in another city, it was out of my comfort zone, I didn’t have any time to prepare I was trying to find excuses for not going, I don’t feel well, I could miss my train etc. But when I got there it wasn’t as bad as I thought, I felt empowered, I felt confident and I felt like the cocky, and loveable side of me shone through. Which then in turn convinced my colleagues that I was the expert in my field.

Summary

We demonstrate more courage when we are fearful but when we proceed anyway despite our fear. That my friends demonstrates the most courage of all.

I’m dedicating this blog to each one of you I’ve spoken to this week. Friends, cousin, my PT, and a complete stranger who reached out via social media. You all know who you are. Thank you 🙏🏼

Why physical exercise has been absolutely essential for my mental health

November 5, 2018

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It’s no secret for the last year I have very severely struggled with my mental health. I lost a considerable amount of weight, I wasn’t enjoying food, sleep was a non existent part of my life, my confidence was the lowest it’s ever been and I really didn’t enjoy who I was or what I looked like. 

7 weeks ago i decided to give the gym a go. I’m someone who used to thrive on exercise and cooking for myself. My confidence wasn’t that great and walking into a busy cheap gym wasn’t something that appealed with my state of mind.  One of my friends recommended a PT and after meeting him and talking on the phone I signed up to doing 3 sessions a week with him and this has been the best decision I’ve ever made. 

I set 3 goals:

1. Get my confidence back

2. Put on weight

3. Become stronger

At first we were both worried about my weight because if I lost more any progress would be out of the question. We do very little cardio and have been focusing mostly on weights and core strength. The exercises I most enjoy are all of them! Why you ask!? 

After 4 weeks I noticed some changes in my body, at the beginning I couldn’t even lift a 10kg kettle bell and I did a PB deadlift of 50kg at week 4 which is 1kg more than my body weight. 7 weeks later I’m getting stronger and stronger and massive progress is made every session. This type of exercise suits me, I always put in 100% effort, there’s moments when I knew I was pushing myself past my own boundaries, but I’ll tell you I couldn’t of done this on my own. Having a PT has been instrumental to my success and burst of positivity. 

What has it done for my mind?

After a few sessions the real me appeared and my confidence grew and grew. I am sleeping better than I ever had, my skin is looking better, I’m always eating, I’m in a good routine every day, I purposely have a session at the weekend so it gives me something to look forward to, I’m feeling positive and ready to take on the world. I feel like a completely new person so much so my friendship group has grown considerably because of where I am with my mind. I find exercise helps clear my mind, I often use this as an opportunity to realign my priorities. For the first time in a long time I’m putting me first. 

Has it made me feel happy? It’s a good question because I can’t actually remember how happy feels or when I last was but I’m really enjoying where I am right now. It’s funny, I speak to some friends quite regularly and they have noticed a huge change in me, they remind me how far I’ve come and to just do me and do it unapologetically. I still sometimes have a bit of a blip but the blips are less intense than they used to be and that’s just par of the course of having depression and anxiety. 

Science behind how I feel

One theory is that exercise increases serotonin(a neurotransmitter targeted by antidepressants)levels. A second theory suggests exercise helps improve sleep. With better sleep, mood improves.
Other possible effects of exercise on the brain and mental functioning include the release of endorphins in the body (Endorphins are a chemical in the brain associated with positive mood); the break down of muscle tension through exercise can improve sleep and decrease physical pain and discomfort associated with depression; improvements in self-esteem, a feeling of accomplishment and feelings of self-worth; and an interruption of cycles of negative thoughts and rumination.

I believe that exercise should be prescribed by medical professionals for people like me. Whilst I accept physical exercise like what I’m doing is not for everyone, but I totally recommend a small walk every day as a positive step. (Tip: wear headphones to get in your zone)

Summary

What I am doing has been the best thing I’ve ever decided to do for myself. I surprise myself with my achievements so far and looking back this time last year I thought how I felt would last forever it hasn’t at all. I am incredibly lucky to have met a perfect PT who I now consider a good friend of mine. Having that push definitely helps.
I would recommend physical exercise to anyone it’s aided my recovery and there’s no reason why it can’t aid yours too.

 

If at first you don’t succeed….

September 9, 2018

This is my first blog post for a while and what a while it has been!

I’ve seen a number of people appear in my life new and old and warm to my openness and I’ve had people create a tornado in my life and vanish in a blink of an eye but that’s ok I wish you well.

A lot of people are not lucky enough to see the real me, but a lot more than ever before have recently and those people stick around, not because they feel sorry for me it’s because they value me and what I bring to their lives. One of my new friends said to me recently “you’re the most grounded person I know and that’s refreshing” those are the types of people I like to have in my circle. That value me for me not because they want something from me.

Which brings me on to the purpose of this post.

If I’ve learnt anything this past year is you can’t ever expect everything to go the way you planned, if that’s work plans, investment plans, home purchases, relationships or the economy you name it, life rarely does what we expect. Curveballs are normal and that’s the one thing that’s certain in life. I am of the personality who refused to accept this at first but it’s a lesson very well worth learning.

It’s important to use those curveballs to reinvent, reinvest in yourself and recover from those setbacks. It’s easy to start from scratch after a little personal evaluation. I have used the following three things as a way of doing that.

1. Re evaluate

Sometimes curveballs happen for a reason, it’s the subconscious telling you that what you are doing right now might not be good for you in the future. Ask yourself these questions, is what I’m doing making me happy? Could I be more effective? Do I feel fulfilled?

2. Find a new solution

Is there a better more efficient way you could be doing things. I work in a job where efficiency means more productivity which then makes money. Is what you are doing in your life right now efficient and effective? Could you be doing it differently? Think outside your bubble and find a new solution.

3. Grow from your situation

Take action. The only people in the world who succeed are those that help themselves. Don’t give in to your situation. Work out how to improve. Set some goals, and a target of when to achieve them. It doesn’t have to be big. Work to move past your struggles you might enjoy it.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

#mentalhealth #anxiety #depression #life #positivity #friendship #life #expierence #progress

My playlist – the power of music in my life

March 18, 2018

111115_musicmental_THUMB_LARGE_UPDATE.jpgA few weeks ago I posted around the power of music in my life. Quite a lot of you have asked for my playlist and here it is:

Groove Armada – Paper romance                                                                                                       Emeli Sande – Highs&Lows                                                                                                                                No Wyld – Odyssey                                                                                                                                 Seal – Kiss from a rose                                                                                                                           Rudimental – Free                                                                                                                                               Jessie Ware, Goldie – Midnight                                                                                                                             Jennifer Hudson – Spotlight                                                                                                                 Rudimental – Powerless                                                                                                                                Paloma Faith – The Architect                                                                                                               Megan Trainor – Woman Up                                                                                                                       Beyonce – Run the world                                                                                                                                      Jessie Ware – Alone                                                                                                                                             Naughty boy – Wonder                                                                                                                                  Lisa Stansfield – All around the world                                                                                               Ariana Grande – Bad Decisions                                                                                                           Justin Timberlake – Say something                                                                                                     Jengi – Without you                                                                                                                                               Mabel – Finders keepers                                                                                                                       Groove Armada – Andhim remix                                                                                                                Jill Scott – Getting in the way                                                                                                                                                            Jill Scott – Golden                                                                                                                                              Jill Scott – Coming to you                                                                                                                       4hero – Les Fleur                                                                                                                                              4hero – Another day                                                                                                                               Sebastien Tellier – La Ritournella                                                                                                 Ludovico Einaudi – Night                                                                                                                                            Ludovico Einaudi – Expierience                                                                                                                             Ludovico Einaudi – Primavera

Enjoy x111115_musicmental_THUMB_LARGE_UPDATE.jpg

The Power of Music in My Life

February 10, 2018

Music has always played an important part in my mental wellbeing. Anyone that knows me I always have my headphones in, always have something playing and my neighbours also have the privilege of sharing my varied tastes in music. In low points recently I forgot what impact this has on my brain, this is why its now on my self care list when I am feeling stressed.

The types of music I enjoy the most are, house, jazz, classical piano, soul, and R&B.

Today for example, I had a list of jobs I wanted to get done today, so I stuck Spotify on, and played some house music and I had a little shimmy and a dance round my living room. It certainly got the endorphins going.

Some people who are lucky enough to be very close to me know to make me put music on when they sense I am not feeling to great emotionally.

The Science

One of the ways music affects mood is by stimulating the formation of certain brain chemicals. Listening to music increases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the brain’s “motivation molecule” and an integral part of the pleasure-reward system. It’s the same brain chemical responsible for the feel-good states obtained from eating chocolate, orgasm, and runner’s high. Interestingly, you can further increase dopamine by listening to a playlist that’s being shuffled. When one of your favorite songs unexpectedly comes up, it triggers a small dopamine boost.

Conclusion

Music definitely is a huge part of my life and notably has a substantial effect on my mental health. It often helps me to make decisions for myself. I do recommend that if you are feeling low, stick something on loud and dance it off. Then decide what to do.

Making playlists is an excellent idea and share these with people in your life, I have done this for a few people, you never know, your playlist might just lift someone else mental wellbeing.

Its also worth noting too that I randomly found my iPod last week that has made me feel a bit more happy.