7 ways to do nothing at all

I do not feel great. I feel awful! Sometime over the last two weeks I have made myself quite sick! The culprit? Too many late nights, dinners and work and not enough down time where I have to do nothing at all. I frequently like to do nothing. Nothing can take a lot of work. I have come to the conclusion that I often have trouble nurturing myself. I think this can lead to issues of overdoing things in people.

Know what I mean? When I start to feel strung-out and tired, it’s often when I eat too much, drink too much or buy too much. I start to try to fill myself up in other ways and often these are not good for me. I have decided to make a list of ways to appropriately nurture myself. Here are some ways you can do nothing at all.

1. A giant, hard squeeze from someone you love

I am a fan of the good, hard squeeze. No, no! Don’t blush. When I speak about a hard squeeze, a hug is all I mean. It’s good to find (if you are lucky enough) someone who is strong with large arms who can squeeze you very hard, but gently at the same time. That’s what I like.

2. Trip to the library

I am a huge library-lover. Did you know that they will give you books, magazines, DVDs and CDs for FREE? You have to give them back, but I can handle that. I love my local library and just going in there makes me happy.

3. Cooking something weird and new

I like to cook things that are challenging. Creating something new can be a great way to have a relaxing afternoon and to nurture yourself. If your recipe does not work out, don’t worry. Half the fun is in making it, right?

4. Getting my hair done

I do not like beauty treatments. I hate the idea of someone giving me a facial, for example, and I do not like getting my nails done either. However, I like getting my hair done but I always ask the price in advance so I am not shocked.

5. Paint your toenails

I do like doing my own nails, though. Painting my toenails is quite fun and I like to be able to connect with my feet every now and then since they service my body so well by carrying it around all day. They deserve some love.

6. Turn off the TV

I actually dislike most TV and movies. I really only like to watch the news, some TV shows (but not on my own) and documentaries. Usually when I am home alone, I get annoyed after about 1-2 hours of TV, so I switch it off.

7. Re-read your old diaries

I have kept diaries my whole life and they make for some interesting reading. I can’t believe what an idiot my younger self was on some days – and it’s good to be reminded.

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be nice to yourself

Taking Charge of My Life by Telling Myself a Better “Personal-Story”

I have been having trouble with some negative self talk lately, and it’s getting out of hand. I have discussed this problem on my blog before, but I am finding this a constant struggle. I have recently split with my partner, whom I loved very much, and I am still feeling very emotional and distraught.

Broken heart syndrome

I actually read an article about “broken heart syndrome” where a perfectly healthy 34 year old man had a heart attack after his partner left him. He just passed out at work one day, and doctors discovered that he seemed to have a temporary inflammatory heart disease. This was affecting his heart muscle, and he had a mini-heart attack.

Wait…you can actually DIE from a broken heart?

I am serious. Read it for yourself! I honestly have been wondering if I have this syndrome, but I feel too silly to go to the doctor about it. I think the problem has been that I have been negatively talking to myself about this situation, and making it harder for myself to move on. I have been toiling over the things I did wrong, stewing over some things I think he did wrong, and generally obsessing in a way that has made the last few weeks absolute hell.

Negative talk: I don’t mean to do this. I just can’t seem to stop.

sad finger

I found a great post on one of my favourite blogs Penelope Trunk, where she talks about “Managing your image by telling good stories”. She is talking about this from a work/careers aspect, but it resonated with me – thinking that this technique would certainly work for relationships too. She suggests to talk about yourself how you want yourself to be and to focus on the future, rather than where you have just been.

Penelope says: The stories we tell make an enormous difference in how we cope with change.

I will directly quote from the article here: Creating a story that resonates helps us believe in ourselves. We need a good story to reassure us that our plans make sense — that, in [making our next step], we are not discarding everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. A story gives us motivation to help us endure frustration, suffering and hard work.

Tell people about your new life

So, I have decided to work on my inner story, and to change the dialogue to something more positive. It’s not enough to just speak to yourself, either. Apparently to really make these changes real, you need to envision yourself in a new phase of your life by telling people about it.

I am in a New Phase of My Life

(And so are you!)

Here’s what I used to say, and what I am saying to myself now instead:

The Old Story The New Story
I feel so sad to be   alone I am surrounded by   people who love me
I have been rejected I have freed myself   to walk new paths
I miss this   person I am whole as myself
I am angry about   things that have happened I let go of past   hurt
I am guilty about   the things I did wrong I truly forgive   myself
He left me We mutually decided   to split, because we were both unhappy

 

Taking charge of my life and my emotions

And you know what? The “New Story” is actually far more accurate anyway! I have been feeling bad because I have been indulging these feelings (whether subconsciously or consciously) and telling myself a negative story. I am now taking charge of my life, not just reacting to what comes along.

Getting to my next point

Because my story is not over, far from it. There will be other lovers and other cuddles, more days and nights, more happy times and sad. I continue to live, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to open my heart just a little bit more.

Photos by by pinprick and swpave : thanks!

Why You Need to Commit to Making Mistakes, Today!

I’m always making mistakes. Messing up and getting things wrong. I can make mistakes all day: on the road, at work, in documents, with punctuation, spelling, in life, when I argue, when I cancel plans with people, when I make insensitive comments.

Mistakes stress me out. I am a natural stress-head and I come from a family of stress junkies. My family will stress over things that need not be stressed about, and if we can’t find anything to stress about, we simply start stressing about anything.

So can stressing out cause you to make more mistakes?

When I am stressed, I often make mistakes, and apparently I am not alone. Heidi Grant Halvorson recently wrote a book called Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. She believes that when the pressure to not make mistakes is removed, we make fewer of them, naturally. She says,’ Anxiety and frustration disrupt the many cognitive processes we rely on for creative and analytical thinking.”

What about perfectionism?

There is a book which gave birth to a now-famous quote: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.”

I think that perfectionism can be a very negative trait, and I see this trait in many high-achievers around me, and it can be damaging. Initially, these people can put so much pressure on themselves, they can actually crash and burn before the task is completed to their satisfaction. It is effectively self-sabotage.

The fear of making mistakes

mistake

There is a great post I found about overcoming the fear of making mistakes. Margarita Tartakovsky interviews Martin Antony, co-author of When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough. He says, “The constant pressure to improve performance can have the effect of triggering fears of underperforming and of making mistakes,” Antony said. He added that constant criticism has a similar impact.

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, in fact, this is inevitable. The issue comes when your fear of making mistakes (perfectionism) causses you stress and anxiety. We all experience this to a certain degree, but some people have such a fear of mistakes, and feel such a drive to be perfect, that it ruins their jobs, relationships and ultimately lives.

So how to you learn not to fear making mistakes?

Antony says that you need to give yourself an alternative reality to the voices in your head. (I am totally paraphrasing him here, but if you’d like to read his original post, here it is.) He gives an example of a man who makes a bad joke at a party and worries that all his friends think of him as awkward and boring.

The exercise he is given is to provide himself with an alternate picture of what the reality of the situation is. Maybe he could tell himself that everyone makes bad jokes sometimes, or that maybe his friends like him anyway. Maybe he could remind himself that he does get invited out to functions, so that indicates that his friends find him interesting.

With two options of a reality, he picks this more helpful perspective: “Perhaps I need to give myself permission to make mistakes when I am talking to other people. I don’t judge other people when they say something unusual or awkward. Perhaps they are not judging me when I make mistakes.”

I am too afraid to commit to making mistakes!

So I am not taking my own advice here, but I need to do something to loosen up this fear I have of doing the wrong thing. Purpose Fairy has written a post on this topic and I love this idea: “Believe it or not, if you play it safe you will have more and more regrets about the things you did not do rather than the things you did do, you will regret not making more mistakes.”

I’ll end with a lovely little quote from the Fairy: Mistakes are the stepping stones to happiness.

alpha

Being Alpha Without Effort: Your Guide

The term “Alpha” started to appear in the media a few years back to define those people that take control of a room effortlessly; those people who seem to have the command of others’ attention, those people who seem to get the best jobs, the best lovers, the greatest opportunities.

Where does the term come from?

The term probably comes from one of my favourite books, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932). It’s actually a dystopian novel, and it’s quite scary and depressing. In it, humans are grown in test tubes away from their parents and raised in communal groups, according to their social and physical standing. The ‘Alphas’ are the smartest, the wealthiest and the ones who are in power. The ‘Betas’ fall beneath them, and they run the general businesses day to day. The ‘Epsilons’ are the lower class; the people are practically dullards with very little sense of self. They exist only to serve.

These three categories of people are created inorganically. To create Epsilons, the foetuses are denied nutrition in the last stages of development, which impedes their development, making them simple and easily controlled. The ‘Alphas’ are taught from birth that they are the leading class via psychological indoctrination. Words and phrases are pumped out to the groups from birth via sound recordings that lead these classes to behave in the way they have been designed.

It’s a very scary book.

The concept of ‘Alphas’ is an interesting one. Brave New World is not using them term positively, but these days, it is something to aspire to. However, we could all use a dose of self-confidence. If you have not been feeling your best lately, here’s a cheat sheet on how to be more Alpha, the responsible way.

Hold your head up high

Good posture makes you feel powerful, and it gives other people confidence in your abilities. Walking with your head held up high can make you look thinner; it’s better for your back and can even prevent women from being targeted by male predators. Don’t slink around the streets, hold your head up high, and walk tall.

Listen to people

So many of us don’t take the time to really hear people. Being a successful Alpha depends on your ability to connect with others, and to do this, you need to get to know them. Take the time to really tune in to what a person is saying, and don’t merely think about what you’ll say in reply. This is a powerful tool that is a valuable life skill.

Speak slowly

Don’t gush and babble when you do open your mouth. Take your time when you speak and choose your words carefully. Speak in a lower register as it has more power. Make use of pauses. Don’t rush.

Think before you speak

This is a point I need to heed myself. I am always saying silly things. When I take the time to reply concisely and carefully, I find that I reap the rewards. So often I find myself just babbling on to fill an empty space of silence. Embrace silence: it is nothing to fear.

Walk with your shoulders back

Open up your chest and breathe deeply into your diaphragm. Feel the difference within when you hold your shoulders back, as opposed to keeping them hunched or closed.

Tell yourself you love yourself

A great little trick I am trying to instil. I have written a post on this, and I am trying to incorporate daily affirmations into my life. Nothing tricky, just a simple ‘I love you’ to remind me that no one else will be able to love me until I can give that loving energy to myself.

Take pride in your appearance

When we feel more ‘Epsilon’ than ‘Alpha’ one of the first things to go is our appearance. We stop looking after ourselves; we don’t wash our hair or shave. We overeat or drink and smoke. We forget to dress well, to wear makeup, aftershave or sometimes to even brush our teeth. Looking good and talking care of your appearance adds to yourself worth, and changes how others perceive you.

Have terrific manners

I am a huge fan of great manners, and I don’t always practise them. Wait your turn, say please and thank you. Be polite, be considerate. Let others go ahead of you. Don’t interrupt. Bring a gift when you are invited to a person’s house. Make other people more important than you.

Care about people, genuinely

We all do, in our hearts at least. Remember how much you care for others and try to have empathy for those around you. Learn to put yourself in other people’s shoes and treat others with the respect that you would hope for yourself.

Be organised and in control

Alphas have command of their lives. They plan and they achieve. Look at areas of your life that could be organised? How are your finances? Your sock drawer? Your files? Try to improve areas of your life by enhancing your ability to organise. If you know where things are: you will be able to find them. Things need to have a place; personal or professional.

Think of others first

A true Alpha realises that they are not the most important person in the room. A true Alpha seeks to make others more important than themselves. A true Alpha does not need to scream for attention, a true Alpha commands that by his/her grace and presence.