Just ask

At dinner recently, my date pointed out that something he really likes about me is that if there’s something on my mind, particularly about him or us, I just ask him without sending myself into a tizzy over it.

Not many people do, he said.

I was temporarily perplexed, but then after a few moments I remembered that he was actually right. I wasn’t even originally like that but it is something I’ve been doing for so long I’d forgotten.

I realised quite some time ago that nothing good came from overanalysing situations or stewing over them for days, weeks or sometimes longer. It was a waste of energy and didn’t actually get me any further to a solution or answer.

This is because often the reason something was running around my head on high rotation was because there were pieces of the puzzle missing.

No matter how many times I would look at the situation, without those puzzle pieces I’d never be able to see the full picture.

Sure I could imagine what the puzzle pieces would look like, or the whole picture, but there were millions of possibilities, and I never could be sure which was right. So one day I gave it up and just started asking.

This brought so much freedom. It freed me up from a huge amount of mental clutter, anxiety and stress on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until this lovely compliment that I remembered what my life used to be like – a constant roundabout of not knowing, speculation and dragging other people in to get their opinion then still not knowing for sure.

How exhausting!

Depending on the situation and the stage of my life the inability to get off this round about was normally from either not thinking to go to the root cause of the issue/situation, not having the confidence to ask or fear of possible conflict.

Today however I value my mental space more than to waste time and energy wondering.

If I am worried about something, I ask. If I’m not sure if I’ve misinterpreted something, I ask. If I’ve got something on my mind, I raise it with the person.

That is another thing, I go directly to the source. Other people rarely hold the answers if it’s to do with a specific person or situation known only to few.

So I encourage you all, if something is on your mind, just ask.

To start, it might be easier to pre-think how you will ask, making sure that if it is a sensitive person or issue that the other person does not add additional negative meaning to your innocent question. In my experience however the more relaxed you are about asking and nonchalant, the less likely the person is to respond in a negative way.

Anyone who knows me is quite used to me piping up with ‘hey, random question…’ or ‘now don’t go adding subtext to this that isn’t there but I was wondering…’ or even simply ‘I’m a little confused about something you said…’. These are all non-confrontational, relaxed yet confident ways of addressing an issue or concern. Even my boss is getting used to me calling him into quick chats to clarify things.

If the person does choose to add extra meaning and get sensitive, this is often more about them than you. Stand your ground, diffused their concerns by reiterating your intentions and continue. Be careful not to reflect their sensitivity back at them and 99% of the time any issues can be diffused quickly and relatively effortlessly.

Do yourself a favour and take a mental load off. You might enjoy it!

Much love,

C.

How to say no and be okay.

I hate cancelling plans that I don’t feel up to going to. Sometimes it physically hurts me to do so.

Logically I know that I can’t push my body beyond where it can go without big ramifications, but still I struggle.

If there was any way humanly possible that I could have prevented the situation, well that little voice rubs my nose in it that I should have done that.

Life is a learning curve and we’re always going to be on an up and down cycle.

No matter where we’re at in life, how evolved we think we are, how organised, how together we have it, we’re never going to be perfect. We’re just human.

I’m human. Why is this such a hard thing to grasp?

We’re all deliciously messed up, muddling our way through life making mistakes every which way that we turn. I understand this intellectually, like most of you might too, so why do we need permission from others to do what’s best for us?

I know the steps to cancel with integrity and accountability.

Step 1: communicate as soon as you have an inkling that something may come up to either delay you, change things or there’s even the slightest possibility that you may need to cancel.

Step 2: be sincere and communicate what you can when. This gives the other person/people a chance to do what works for them as a result of the possibility of changes on your part. This is an absolute pet peeve if people miss these two steps, so I do my very best to always stick to them.

Step 3: if you have to cancel, apologise sincerely and do your best to minimise the flow on effects if there are any (such as paying back for a ticket, finding another person to replace yourself etc).

This isn’t a technique from a book, but it’s how I go through life and a pattern I know that I tend to follow.

If these three steps are followed, we’ve done our very best to minimise the inconvenience to them and that’s all that anyone can ask from us – that we do our very best.

The most important step, however is what comes after that. It’s the step for us. Forgive ourselves and let go.

This doesn’t mean being narcissistic and shutting down to the influence we have on other people if we’ve not held up our end of an agreement. It also doesn’t mean suppressing any feelings that we might be feeling.

Allowing ourselves to feel each of the feelings that have come up, depending on the situation is important. It helps us heal.

It’s important once this is done though to consciously step outside of the situation and find things to be grateful for. For me, it went something like this.

I’m so grateful to have such caring and understanding friends who understand and let me rest when I need to.

How amazing that I’ve now got some free time when this was supposed to be a busy day/night.

I might not be great at this just yet, but each time it’s going to get easier.

By changing our mentality it helps to stop us dwelling on what has just happened. That’s in the past, it’s done and now it’s time to look forward. So begin creating something new and wonderful to focus on.

After all, isn’t that what we want in life? More new and wonderful things to fill our minds, hearts and selves?

Much love,

C

The pitfalls of personal development

Be seen but not heard – that’s what I learned. Whether that was being quiet when we visited others, using my manners or declining things out of politeness that I might have actually wanted so not to be a burden, I was always praised when I didn’t make a fuss.

I don’t fault my parent for their actions as they were just doing the best they could, but this set me up for a lifetime of passivity and struggling to communicate my needs.

By the time I began my personal development journey I was far from that passive youth – I was an angry, broken twenty year old. I was in pain after losing my mum and the world was going to pay.

As I dived into finding a better future, and better me, one of the key things I was taught was that peace comes from accepting things exactly as they are.

People are who they are and you can’t change that = peace. Situations are perfect exactly as they are so accept them as they are = peace. If you are angry, defeated or any other ‘negative’ emotion it’s something within you that you need to let go of.

On one hand this is right, but on the other this is one of the key pitfalls of personal development.

Even as I became more proficient at the techniques I was studying I found myself still being taken advantage of physically, emotionally and professionally because I would just let things go and never stand up for myself.

I was yet again gagged from expressing my emotions or needs, but I thought that by taking a few deep breathes and choosing to accept the situation as it was that I was growing as a person.

There is certainly a level of acceptance required that does result in peace within yourself. And you cannot change another for the most part, but in some situations an action is required before you reach this step.

If you are being bullied at work it is true that you cannot change the person as they are on their own journey, but that does not mean that you cannot stand up for yourself.

As long as you do not come from a space of aggression for example, you can and should explain that what they are doing is not okay. You owe it to yourself to at least communicate your needs even if you cannot guarantee they will be heard.

The conversation is of course a little more complex than that to still come from a space of love but the point is that it is okay to stand up for yourself.

It is okay if you think something or someone is wrong to question it. It is okay if your morals are being compromised to vocalise this before deciding whether or not to remove yourself from the situation.

Do not be gagged! Do not be aggressive or fueled by ego but do not just accept every situation without taking action.

What would the world be like if we all shrugged our shoulders at child abuse or genocide or famine?

I for one do not want to live in a world like this so I’m standing here encouraging you to speak up. Come from love, come from peace but also come from a place of respect for yourself. Then there is the space for you to care for others and the world – but not if you can’t care for yourself.

How I wish someone had told me that sooner for it took me many years to realise. In fact I still walk that line and sometimes fall to one side or the other. It’s tricky for sure but I’m happy to learn to navigate it in exchange for once again having a voice.

Please don’t lose yours!

Much love,

C.

The silent treatment

I grew up in a family where there was huge emotional strain on us from a young age. My mum was incredibly sick and my dad was mostly absent, working to support the family. This taught me some interesting lessons and created many patterns in my formative years.

My mum was one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever come across – a pure heart and soul and someone who we were all deeply terrified of losing. But for some reason we were one of those Italian families who kept everything hush hush. Only a handful of people knew that she was sick which meant that we had few people to talk to. Even among ourselves, I also have a brother, we did not speak about it or how we were coping or feeling.

This created all sorts of problems from strained relationships, to learning to suppress emotions to the point where we never felt them, to an inability to connect with others as we couldn’t share so many things about our life. It meant that even though there were four of us in the same situation, we each felt totally isolated and consumed by it. We each reacted in different ways, mine was all of the above.

It has taken many years of learning to conquer each of these things as I started from zero, and they are still deeply ingrained patterns that rear their heads when I’m not looking ie not consciously living. I’m sure in the journey of this blog I’ll write in more depth about each of these but for today my thoughts are about communication.

For me this began at base level. I had never learned to communicate. Sure I could talk but never about anything personal or important to me. To add to the situation, growing up with such a high level of emotional stress and pain I taught myself not only never to discuss these feelings, but not to feel at all.

I felt a huge level of guilt when I felt angry or sad because I had to be strong for my mum and I’d tell myself that it wasn’t her fault so I shouldn’t feel like that.

For a young child totally confused about what was happening, these emotions were totally natural but there was no one around to tell me that. Though even if I had had someone around, I wouldn’t have known how to express what I was feeling anyway.

My parents sent me to a few counsellors in my teens but I’d just sit silently, daring them with my eyes to try and get me to open up. I remember speaking to one, answering her questions, beginning to open up and feel, and then the hour was up and I was kicked out of the room feeling vulnerable and angry. I vowed never to speak to anyone about these things again and to the best of my memory I didn’t for many years.

Thankfully in my early 20s I was having some major health issues and my aunty insisted I go to her kinesiologist. I was suffering from many things but none that any specialist or doctor could properly diagnose or cure. They all simply shrugged their shoulders and told me that this was how life was going to be.

Now at the time I didn’t want a bar of any woo woo whatever natural crap – yes I was closed minded. I was angry and sick and no one seemed to be able to help, but I also knew that there was no way I was going to spend the rest of my life feeling like this. So I sucked up my pride and went along.

The kinesiologist was the most kind, gentle and knowledgeable woman I’d met at the time. She never pushed me to talk about anything and made me feel instantly comfortable.

She explained that kinesiology was all about the emotional cause of illnesses so it could help get to the root cause of issues and ailments. How? By muscle testing what was really going on in my subconscious.

Now this all sounded woo woo to me still but it seemed like my chance to get better, plus I didn’t have to talk about anything so I gave her a few goes. And to my surprise, I began to get better.

As we worked on my illnesses for the first time I realised that I had a huge amount of emotions bottled up that I wasn’t even aware of. I’d suppressed so many large emotions from such a young age that it was automatic, and I’d forgotten I did it.

I truly thought that all of the things I shrugged off constantly didn’t bother me, not realising that I was brooding and screaming deep down.

She taught me how to feel again, and eventually how to communicate these feelings. Many years later I grew even more, learning how to realise and communicate my needs and wants.

This woman changed my life and I am so grateful. There was a huge amount of work on both of our parts but I slowly learned to master feeling and then communicating.

I started at absolute zero my beautiful readers and can now feel the scariest and most overwhelming emotions without suppressing them, and express my needs even when I’m scared to. If I can learn, so can you.

Much love,

C.