Part 1: The day that I threw out my scales

A flat piece of plastic is all that it is. 1.1kgs of it.

This 1.1kgs of electronics and plastic has ruled my life for over a decade.

It has no emotions, no sense of muscle versus fat and no perception that women hold water at a certain time of the month.

Most of all it has no idea that we are people, and so much more than the number that they assign us.

So many of us have deemed this small piece of plastic and electronics the ruler of our self worth and leader of our confidence.

No more.

Growing up I had always been happy, energetic, healthy and a little bit lanky. As hormones kicked in and my food allergies developed, all of a sudden I became much larger and my body shape changed.

Combined with bad skin and low self confidence, I hid from the world. I tried to be as unseen as humanly possible.

This isn’t easy when you’re nearly 5.7” and seem to draw attention from strangers anyway.

I enjoyed a world of books, movies, my family and occasionally friends outside of school.

As my mum got sicker and I was old enough to figure out how the story with her was going to end, my mental state deteriorated quite quickly. I’ve touched on this in past posts.

The biggest physical change was that I went from around a size 18 very quickly down to around a size 8.

I became obsessive.

I spent my nights exercising after I’d made sure that Mum was cared for and comfortable. Late into the night I’d run up and down the stairs or power walk laps of the house so I didn’t wake anyone up.

I had my routine down.

It was easy to skip breakfast as this wasn’t monitored.

For lunch I’d delay getting to the table with my friends until right before the bell. I could then grab my lunch as if I was going to eat it on the way, and throw it into the closest bin as I left their view.

Dinner I’d have to eat a little, but would complain about being tired and not hungry to help me get away with barely touching what was on my plate.

This is where my eating disorders began. There are so many to choose from and it seemed to be a constant rotation between one or the other. 

The body dysmorphia associated with eating disorders, or low confidence in general, shaped what I saw in the mirror with its suffocating grip.

I’d look in the mirror and still see a size 18 body when in reality I was barely an 8. So I’d continue, never enjoying my body for what it was.

This cycle continued for 11 years.

It peaked after my dad died. Even I could see that I was skeletal and my closest male friend, whom we’d never had an argument before, sat with me until I ate a full meal the day before the funeral.

He was one of only two people in my whole life who was bold enough to call me on what was so clearly visible. We argued, but he didn’t care. I wasn’t allowed to budge until the whole meal was gone.

It was childlike on my part, but that moment changed my entire future.

He helped me see what my body looked like to others in terms that I understood. He compared me to someone else who I’ve always admired as incredibly slim and beautiful, and told me I was now much smaller than her.

I was shocked, and it clicked that what I saw in the mirror wasn’t real.

When I left my home town and returned back to my life I got help.

I’d been to a few people for one or two sessions about eating at certain points in my life but this time was different. I saw the impact it was having on my long term health and wanted it to end.

I was ready to let it go.

Drop back next week to read more about how I finally managed to conquer the scales and all that they represent.

Much love,

C

Silver medalist

So many people live in denial. Whether it’s subconsciously or consciously, they choose not to dig into why they are held back from whatever they may truly want.

When we’re living mindfully, we bravely face our internal demons, roadblocks and nasty bits and it’s not an easy thing to do.

What it gives us in return is hope that life isn’t stuck, and that we have the power to let go of so many things we otherwise would have no idea were holding us back.

It’s a chance to create, recreate and create some more in our lives in a constant cycle.

One of my highly volatile buttons I’ll admit is when I feel like I’m not important to someone or something that’s important to me, or like I’m the runner up prize and should be thankful to have that position.

Recently, what on the surface should have been very flattering simply wasn’t sitting right. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something in my gut was telling me to stay away.

It turned out that I, in this situation, was being groomed as a suitable backup plan.

Sorry life, but I’m not a backup plan. Do you know what else? You shouldn’t be either.

What is it in me that has made this scenario pop up over and over again in my life? My friends joke about it but also know full well it’s a recurring theme. 

I began to dig and saw how many areas in the past I’d tried to squeeze myself into something that clearly wasn’t right.

I’d forced myself to be the runner up prize, as when I was being totally myself I wasn’t the best choice for them and whatever it was wasn’t the best choice for me.

Whether it was stubbornness, lack of self worth or trust that I could actually have the perfect thing for me, I was the one telling life that it was okay to compromise who I am and settle for being an okay fit.

I was telling life that I’d change myself to at least some degree for something not quite right, and then I’d be grateful for it. I’d even be happy about it.

It had started with me.

Looking at my life now there weren’t many areas I could see myself doing this. Then one sprung to mind and it seemed to be the catalyst for many other areas that had started to show the same symptoms.

It hurt, but I consciously let go of this thing that wasn’t the right fit for me, at least for the time being.

I could clearly see how I was yet again trying to squeeze myself in to fit something that didn’t belong to me. I was once again telling life that it was okay to do this. It’s not.

As soon as I let go and made a conscious decision to be aware of when I fell back into this pattern life began to flow again.

Whether it’s friendships, relationships, work opportunities, social events we host or any area of our life where there’s others involved, we each deserve to be the very first choice.

We deserve to have people see our value and know with 100% certainty that they want what we are offering.

They should want us as we are, the real us, and everything should reflect this.

When we truly align with something that’s right there’s no escaping it. It just fits. We just fit, and it becomes effortless.

It’s that best friend who we feel like different parts of the same person, our soul mate or a perfect job that all the stars aligned for and continues to inspire us daily.

These symmetries are all around us. We each know that when it’s right, it’s right.

So this is my letter to life – I’m not a backup plan anymore.

I’m not the suitable but not quite right option, I’m not a placeholder and I’m certainly not the sidekick in my own life story.

We owe it to ourselves to learn to quickly identify when this is happening and step away.

Be aware and watch how the right things flows in. The best part? They’re always so much better when we get what was meant for us.

No matter the area, don’t settle for second best and certainly not being second choice.

You deserve to be wanted, respected and valued for everything you bring to the table always.

You deserve it. I deserve it.

Please let’s all stop selling ourselves short and settling when we know we could have so much more. It’s a brave move, but one I’m committing to. Will you?

Much love,

C

Part 3: Discovering personal boundaries

Realising and letting go of an unconscious pattern is a huge step and we should always acknowledge ourselves for what we’ve just done. It’s a big thing.

It does leave a gap in our thinking and way of being that needs to be filled to avoid us refilling it with more of the same old ways of thinking again.

This is how we create lasting changes to our ways of being.

Some new patterns are easy to create and can be done without a lot of effort or focus. I write about these often on the blog.

Other times, we have no comprehension of how to function without our unconscious pattern and need to look around.

What does this tangibly look like? How do other people do it? How do we maintain it?

Over-giving was a way of life and a huge part of who I was. I didn’t know anything else.

The people who seemed to be able to balance their life and time had always seemed so far away. The goal seemed unattainable so I never tried.

With a bit of mindfulness, I’d created this breakthrough a few times in my life but I’d never been able to maintain it.  

This time was different. I fully understood the impact it was having on myself, my goals and the people I loved and wasn’t giving up.

I was conscious not to fall into a common trap and simply become the polar opposite. This isn’t truly breaking free as it’s still being fuelled by the same limitation that drove the original way of being in most cases.

I didn’t want to become a taker. I wanted to learn how to automatically take a moment to check in with myself and how much I had to give to any one thing at the time.

Serendipitously two people popped up in my life who seemed to have amazing boundaries.

One seemed to have endless time and energy for everyone and everything he cared about, and the other was pragmatic at ensuring that he didn’t over-give himself while still fitting in what he was most passionate about.

They might as well have been aliens.

Luckily we spend a lot of time together so I’m slowly learning how they manage this on an ongoing basis.

They both make time for what is most important to them, and always consider what they want and need in terms of this.

They are inward, and balanced in some cases and are constantly checking in with what they want and need in that moment. Then they make it happen.

For example they may have said they’d go out but if they’re tired they’ll stay in. A-mazing.

If they are passionate about something they’ll make time for that no exceptions. Wow.

If someone is struggling, they’ll trust that this person will be okay, lend a shoulder or ear to the extent that they can without overburdening themselves and then move forward.

Wait, what?

This is the middle ground I wanted to find. The space between being selfish and giving to the point of a total and utter empty tank.

Who are we helping when we have an empty tank anyway? No one.

For me, there is still a fine line.

If someone is going through something that they truly cannot get through without me, I’ll be there.

On the other hand I’ll also make tough decisions that let me be there fully for whoever or whatever is most important in that moment. 

The difference is that now I don’t need to save every person that comes into my life whether they want me to or not.

The other difference is that now I have fuel in the tank for when something pops up and I need to be ready to go instantly. It’s opened up a lot of new experiences and made life a lot more spontaneous and fun.

Next time you are helping above and beyond what any logical person would do, ask yourself does this person truly need this much of my time and help?

We are all strong and resilient and blessed with the answers we need to get through. Always. We just need to learn to listen.

By doing the work for other people, we’re actually denying them the chance to learn, grow and move forward.

We’re hindering them and us. No one is winning in this situation.

If you’re an over-giver, or over-giving, ask yourself why. What are you getting out of saving people?

There’s always a payoff for doing anything. Even good deeds have payoffs.

When it’s to the extreme we are usually trying to counteract something big within ourselves.

Think back. Were you always like this?

If you stop saving people all of the time what are you afraid will happen?

There’s your clue.

From here you can begin unravelling the real reason why you are an over-giver, or any deep subconscious patter, and slowly take back the reins of your life.

Much love,

C

Part 2: discovering personal boundaries

The more I looked around, the more I saw areas where over-giving was spreading like a bad disease.

Business was one of the big areas.

The startup community is all about scratching each other’s backs.

I saw myself doing a lot of scratching. Not because I wanted to have the mutually beneficial two way exchange of knowledge, help and support, but because I felt like I needed to help them in any way I could.

I was time poor for the important things, and this is a lot to do with not investing my time wisely and over-giving. This habit needed to be kicked before it became expected.

There is always a place for kindness, compassion, support and helping a friend out, but when it becomes a constant demand from you it might be time to step back and see how much time and energy is being spent because you think you need to, versus want to.

Consider this: if you throw yourself into the ocean to save someone else without taking a moment to put on a life jacket is this the best solution?

What if you both drown? What if there was an easier and safer way to do this that would have kept you both safe?

By staying on the ship and throwing over a life saving device, or looking after yourself for a moment before you jump in, this leaves both of you with a lot more options. It also keeps you safe to help others in the future.

What does this look like in real life?

For me I began to look over where I was investing my energy. There was a lot I could see being driven by my unconscious need to over-give.

The list was unexpected and made things glaringly obvious – most of this wasn’t where I wanted to be spending my time or energy.

I went for a walk to help me process what I’d just realised.

I thought about what was most important to me. Who were the people I loved most? What areas of my life were most important? What topped me up so I had fuel in the tank at the end of the day?

A lot of this was also what makes me be a better person for me and everyone else.

Things began to click in my head.

When I’m consciously running my business, I’m always weighing up output versus input. When I do this the results speak for themselves.

Why do I not extend this into my personal life to at least some degree? Why don’t I take a moment to see if I have the time/energy/want to do something before jumping right in?

When I made this choice everything that is truly important to me all of a sudden had life breathed back into it. My life once again reflected the amazing one that I choose to create.

My life was my own again and I could breathe.

It’s a deeply engrained pattern so I began to look around for some tangible examples of people who have managed to do this in a balanced way. They began popping up in my life and this was the final step to creating personal boundaries.

Much love,

C

Part 1: Discovering personal boundaries

This is a post dedicated to all of the over-givers out there.

You know, the ones who give without apprehension or consideration.

Those of us who give first and think later. We who see someone in need and no matter what we’re doing or need will drop everything to help them on their journey.

This one is for you.

I looked around my life today and saw an unsettling trend that I was collecting a lot of takers again.

I’ve done a major cull over the last few years of takers as I am slowly learning to have better boundaries. Some takers left easily realising that I wasn’t giving them what they needed anymore, and other more toxic and connected people were much trickier.

It wasn’t a natural thing for me to do, but eventually I got more comfortable making hard decisions that were the best thing for my life.

Like so many over-givers this is a lifetime pattern from as early as I can remember. It would be based on a decision I made when I was very young, and has shaped my entire life and self until I became aware of its impact.

My mum was the best cook out of any of my friends’ parents and as many Italian women do, she showed her love through lovingly preparing our food.

At lunchtimes I’d share with my friends quite a bit. Their packaged lunches never seemed that appealing and I could have this kind of food anytime I wanted.

Just like sharing my lunch however, what starts out with innocent intentions for us to share within our boundaries can become expected and then forced in the wrong hands.

Takers, and even more so over-takers do not like it when they’re not considered.

Whatever the reason, be it forgetting or no longer wanting to indulge their every whim, things can get nasty sometimes when we start to change.

For me, I got strangled in the playground one day because I’d finished my lunch already when this person asked for some. There was none to give and this was her reaction.

I didn’t tell a soul until my adult life, feeling like it had been my fault for not thinking to share first.

Looking back, this left me with a few scars.

It taught me that I was only worth what I was willing to give, and that I had no right to think of myself first. In fact, it may have gone as deep as showing me that my life would be in danger if I didn’t give everything I had.

Thankfully I now see that this was an extreme case of bullying and, in reality, I had every right to eat my lunch. Our subconscious doesn’t see reality unfortunately however. It only sees threats and survival.

This is more than likely what changed me from being an giver into needing to be an over-giver.

Whatever happened in your life to give you this pattern may not have been as extreme on the outside, or maybe it was. Whatever happened the internal pain and decisions from that moment are more than likely very similar.

I’m so thankful for my chronic fatigue shining light (finally!) onto how my over-giver ways were adding to this condition.

It’s a big topic so my next post will talk more about the impact of over-giving and then how to dissolve this need within yourself or any over-givers in your life.

Much love,

C

Failing to win

Winning can look a lot like failing some days but they’re galaxies away from each other.

Growing up we get taught that failing is bad. If we’re lucky we got shown how to dust ourselves off and try again, but the underlying message was still that failing is bad.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this notion recently after reminding a number of friends that we’re not all superhuman and that sometimes things don’t go to plan.

There are road blocks, health issues, temporary slips into old ways of being and the pièce de résistance when we think we’re doing the right thing and fail still. Again and again we fall and it hurts.

When this happens it’s time for that conscious voice to take the reins.

If we fall and don’t give up, we are already so far ahead of where we started, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

In the words of Thomas Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

It’s completely true.

If we fail repeatedly and still don’t give up, we’re learning so much still. We’re learning to be resilient, adaptive, trusting and strong to name a few.

I think of it as growing laterally. Sometimes it’s not about becoming taller, but is about growing in another way.

Whether that’s new skills, ways of thinking or being, or maybe even some physical learnings, we’re still evolving and moving towards where we want to be.

It can be infuriating and disheartening, trust me I’m with you. Know however that our growth will eventually catch up so that we can shoot forward with far more speed and accuracy now that we’re truly ready.

There are plans that are bigger than us, and life is a lot easier if we listen, feel when something is right or amiss and roll with it.

When there’s no rules it’s hard. When the rules keep changing it’s hard, but if you look back you’ll see that you’ve learned so much and not given up. And you’ve probably done it with class and persistence.

That’s something not everyone can say.

Next time you feel like you’re failing, take a minute to look back and see how far you’ve come.

This and all blips are temporary if you embrace your next life lesson, learn and move on.

Fail often, fail big, fail repeatedly, just not in the same way. That’s how we grow and how we live this gloriously messy thing called life.

Hang in there.

Much love,

C

Part 2: The fear cycle of illness

I had done everything I could think of – eating clean, keeping my stress levels low, getting out into nature and resting but my chronic fatigue wasn’t created overnight and it wouldn’t be fixed overnight.

As weeks passed a slight fear began building that I didn’t notice until it more aggressively took hold.

In some situations kid gloves were absolutely required when dealing with my fears. We should be kind to ourselves in our mind, especially when we don’t feel strong physically or emotionally.

In others, however, I was becoming over precious.

I was starting to fear that if I pushed even the slightest bit too hard I’d become trapped again.

I began to believe that this cycle of illness, recovery then relapsing again would never end.

This was not a powerful thought cycle and one that I am thankful life gave me a very hard shove to realise had no place in my life or my mind.

It was nasty and confronting to delve into but I needed to. I was looking at a base level fear that sits very deep within each of us. Survival.

Ironically, not being fearful was the exact conversation I’d had weeks before with my friend.

We chatted about the reality of good days and bad days, physical requirements and the need to listen to our bodies.

These things are important for anyone wanting to lead a full life and still be healthy, but are a bit more top of mind for anyone with a health blip, condition or recurring illness.

In addition to this we need to be mindful not to turn ourselves into a victim of illness in our minds or our actions.

We must not become fearful. Otherwise we’re at the mercy of our illness and it wins.

In her case we were talking about her being scared to do a dance class which she had recently discovered and loved.

She was fearful of the effect the fun and physical exertion would have on her adrenals and energy stores.

She was worried having fun would hurt her! Scoff as some may, it’s a very common thought.

As we sat there we discussed how far she had come.

In the past it had been necessary to avoid stimulants of any kind but at the stage she was at a little stimulation was something she’d probably be able to handle. It might even help.

Our conversation wasn’t about encouraging her to run a marathon, or push her body to the extreme. It was about not denying herself an activity she loved because of fear.

As long as she listened to and respected her body’s needs at each moment she didn’t need to miss out. Luckily for her, this is something she’d been focusing on and is now quite good at.

I encouraged her to plan to go to the class each week, and to see how she felt right before. If she wasn’t up to it, then she had the choice not to go.

She could powerfully make a choice.

Alternatively she might surprise herself and do the whole class, planning to head to bed early that night if she needed to.

She also may go some weeks and find that after part of the class she needs to sit out and rest for a little bit. That’s okay too.

There are so many ways that we can all still experience life and joy without being fearful.

Through listening to and respecting our bodies, there is no need to let fear rule us. There is no need to deny ourselves all of the amazing fun and pleasures of being alive.

We may still need to be somewhat responsible and kind to ourselves, but don’t stop living.

This is how we can break the fear cycle of illness.

Much love,

C

Part 1: The fear cycle of illness

The day before my largest chronic fatigue relapse in a long time I had brunch with a friend who has spent the last year recovering from a severe chronic fatigue crash of her own.

As we sat there discussing where she was at with her recovery I coached her a little bit, drawing from my own past experiences.

Never did I dream the next day I’d be right back there myself.

Right back experiencing all of the helplessness, confusion and as much as I tried not to, fear that gets triggered by this and so many other health issues.

Speaking about how I’d overcome all of these feelings had seemed so far away as we munched on our meals.

As life had it I was reunited with the experience all too quickly.

We’ve discussed before that if we’re able to experience emotions, accept them and release them, that they can pass relatively quickly. That was step one.

This was also a welcome sign that although I appeared to be back in a similar situation to one that had nearly beaten me all those years ago, it would be different this time. I was different.

Ditching the guilt, self pity and anger that would have consumed me when I was younger, I was able to get on with healing.

I knew that the next step was rest, and I did this.

I cancelled all of my social plans and made arrangements with work as best as I could to cater to my need for serious amounts of sleep and a stress free environment.

It also prompted me to get my eating back on track one hundred percent.

This was something I’d been doing a tango with for the last year. I also made meditation and surrounding myself with nature a priority.

By doing each of these things I knew that I was doing everything I could physically to support myself. From there it was just about being patient and trusting all would be well soon.

Some days I was swayed to believe otherwise, but each time I came back to what I knew – that it was going to be okay.

Keeping my fear in check was a journey of its own.

It was the key, and where the fear cycle of illness really shone its light into some dark subconscious…almost prehistoric patterns within.

Stay tuned for part two.

Much love,

C

Are you okay?

It’s been interesting to watch people’s reactions on social media after my friend’s decision to take his own life.

Once I let go and accepted that each person has the right to grieve in their own way, it was much easier to watch it all play out in such a public arena.

One thing that really stood out was a number of his best friends rehashing his older posts that were cries for help.

Some of these original posts got one or two likes. But by his friends’ reactions it seems that few thought to ask if he was okay.

All I can wonder is, did people see his posts? He had over 1600 friends surely more than one or two people saw them.

Did they scroll past them and not think twice? Did they wonder if he was okay but never asked?

I wasn’t there so I’ll never know. What I do know is that there are a lot of people now regretfully reposting his cries for help wishing that they’d asked what they were about.

Online platforms give us a greater reach but are we now so numb to the constant barrage of messages from friends and companies that we don’t hear anything anymore?

Social media is supposed to connect us, but we don’t really connect, we scan. We scan for gossip, we scan for information, we scan for things to entertain and amuse us.

Among all of this, sometimes there’s an honest cry for help. A subtle, silent wish that someone, anyone will ask if they’re okay.

When I was much younger and struggling severely with depression I put on a happy face, and few would have seen anything different. I’d always say I was fine even if people looked at me sceptically on a bad day.

I kept doing the regular things and smiling through it all. No one knew for sure.

There were days though where I did give a very subtle cry for help. On those days, pre social media, I wished so badly that someone, anyone would ask if I was okay.

In that moment I would have said no.

But they never heard my cries on those days. They never asked. So I never told them.

This is something that happens for so many who are truly struggling and in deep despair. The kind that they can’t see a way past and is swallowing them whole.

It’s not easy to spot the difference between attention seekers and genuine cries for help at a glance, I know. That’s why it’s so important to be present with those that we love.

We can’t save everyone, but we can remind them that they’re seen. That they’re heard. That they’re not alone in a world where so many are.

This doesn’t mean fixing everyone. It doesn’t getting involved in people’s business or even the situation.

It can be a simple sentence that shows a compassion and connection that we seem to have lost.

“Are You Okay Day should be more than one day”, is something I heard someone say.

I agree. It shouldn’t be a day at all, it should be an automatic reaction.

Compassion, consideration and presence should be a normal part of society again. Have we lost this?

Whether it’s on social media or in real life, remember that life is about really experiencing things. Really connecting.

The world needs more love. Let’s start here.

Much love,

C

Being human

Do we all have certain buttons that when pressed send us instantly crazy?

It can’t just be me.

I see it all the time in different forms, whether it is someone getting angry after being given constructive criticism or comfort eating after a fight.

We each have certain buttons, triggers and responses that rear their ugly heads before we can blink.

In my case one of mine is people treating me like I’m worthless.

Like my opinions are worthless, my time is worthless and my friendship/love is worthless along with many others.

This particularly sensitive button of mine can be triggered in many different ways. Sometimes it is a malicious, conscious push by a narcissist or negative influence, but most of the time it is people innocently triggering something that they have no idea is so highly charged.

When we look at these innocent people and the anger is starting to bubble away it’s easy to give in to our ego and emotions and choose to be right.

“Of course they are *insert whatever insult our huffing ego is calling them here*!”

It feels good to be right and to justify our beliefs. We actually spend most of our lives trying to do exactly that for every belief…but that’s a topic for another post.

If we step back for a second and look at the situation without emotion, let’s ask ourselves “does this really merit the response I am having?”.

Sometimes the answer will be yes, and this might be an opportunity to communicate our needs or establish boundaries.

In many cases however the answer will be no, and that’s where conscious thinking really takes commitment and guts.

This is the moment we either give in to our ego and be right, or become a master of our own life, choose conscious thinking and begin to eat some humble pie.

You see, the big secret our ego doesn’t want us to realise is that the trigger is not the person who did whatever the action might be, or even the action itself that we are reacting to.

If you are fighting me at this point it’s more than likely your ego trying to keep its power over you. You’ve listened to it for so long it’s not going to want a blogger to take away its hold on you.

You have been a faithful follower, carrying out its needs and wishes.

By indulging our auto-responses we are being servants to our past and our ego. But I believe we are better than that and that we deserve a life where we choose.

If we are going to choose to indulge our emotions, let’s at least consciously do it.  Are you ready?

Be honest – if this situation happened to another person, would they respond in the same way and to the extent you are reacting?

If we really take the emotion out, our honest answer will likely be no. This means that we are not reacting to the person or the situation at all!

In these moments we are actually reacting to something or someone from our past, not necessarily them.

So that person we were about to turn all Carrie on, well let’s put down the pail, take a breath and realise that they actually don’t merit our response…or at least not to that scale.

Becoming powerful and the master of our emotions, and in turn life, sometimes means admitting that we were in that moment fuelled by ego and were wrong to react in that way.

Ouch goes our ego!

All that said, our reactions happen without us realising. They are automatic unconscious habits, so be kind while learning to tame them.

It might take years before we can quickly pick up that our ego is about to strike and consciously choose to react in a more powerful way.

Mastery doesn’t happen overnight but the rewards will be worth it. Don’t give up. Celebrate every win no matter how small.

I know you can learn to master your ego – do you?

Much love,

C.