I just went for a massage with an amazing, intuitive lady. Man, it hurt. She suggested that I take a little time out to do NOTHING. Umm, that’s a little outside my field of expertise. Doing things, I’m very good at. Doing NOTHING… Nope. Never done that. I am a serial expert. I’ve never specialised in anything. I’ve tried, oh my word, how I’ve tried. I’ve tried to focus, to be a master of something, to be top of my field in something. I can’t stay interested for long enough. Over my life, I’ve learned how to be a swimming coach, a synchronised swimming judge (and coach), an exceptional cook (thanks to Katrina Ruth for pointing that out because I had no clue even though people have been telling me the same thing for years! I just wasn’t ready to hear it), a pretty awesome mum, a loyal friend, an author, an amazingly perceptive & persistent coach, a manager, a systems expert, an entrepreneur, a successful blogger, a font of diet & fitness knowledge, a dressmaker, a clothes designer, an organisational genius (you should see my pantry!), the list goes on and on. Learning new things is second nature to me; it’s not confronting… well, not much, anyway, and I pick up the new skills very, very quickly because I’ve had so much practise at starting new things.
Am I an expert in starting up an online business? You betcha.
Am I an incredible swimming coach? Definitely. You should see the butterfly of the kids that I’ve taught.
Am I an enticing & clear communicator & writer. I like to think so, yep.
Could I explain to you in great detail how to start a blog? Sure could.
Could I show you how to make your own skincare products & explain about the different skin & body types? Absolutely.
Could I talk to you about health & wellbeing in a way that you’d understand and make you want to change what you eat? Probably (though that’s a tricky one; I could definitely talk to you about diets and stuff, just not so sure whether you’d actually do anything about it!)
Could we have a coaching session where I’d be able to hear EXACTLY what your beliefs and blocks are? I’D LOVE TO! And yes, I’m bloody good at it, it’s one of my Superpowers!
There are a lot of people who get to my age (50-something) who feel that because they haven’t specialised, they can’t create any kind of life for themselves, they can’t go back into the workforce, they can’t really move forward in life; they’re just stuck. And I’m not pointing the finger at anyone or making random remarks here, I’m saying it because that’s where I was, and where I still retreat to, if I’m not careful.
We’re all different. There is definitely a place for the specialists in life, but there’s also a place for us multi-skilled serial experts, too, because, if there’s one thing we do really well, it’s learn FAST. We’re so used to doing new things, we become experts in an unbelievably short space of time.
PLUS, because we’ve done so many things, our experience is much, much wider ranging than any specialists’ would ever be. And we can apply all that knowledge to everything else we do. We can think outside the box because we tend to live outside the box. We’re not used to working within defined parameters because we’re always on the move, doing new things.
So, if you can relate to this, DO NOT DISCOUNT YOURSELF. Your experience is INVALUABLE because it’s so wide-ranging. Now, if that’s the case, if you’re not at the disadvantage that you thought you were, what does that open up for you? If you actually have the perfect experience for any number of things – and we both know that you do – what are you going to do next?
NOTE: I am NOT asking you ‘what are you going to do for the rest of your life’. I’m asking you what you’re going to do NEXT; the immediate future, the next six-twelve months? What new skill are you going to become an expert in next?
That’s the real question to be asking yourself: what next?
Remember: it’s all about the attitude.
PS Don’t forget to tell me what you’d love to do next.
Your job is okay, but you’re left feeling a little ‘meh’ about the way your boss treats their staff.
Your health is okay, but you know you really ought to cut out the chips and the cake and quite possibly all the wine that you seem to go through. And maybe exercise a little more.
Your relationship with your partner is fine, and I don’t mean ‘fine’ in an amazing sense, I mean it’s only ‘fine’.
Your money situation… how’s that going? Do you ‘get by’? ‘Struggle through’? ‘Do your best’?
When things just aren’t quite right, they’re okay but they’re not amazing, it could simply be that you need to reassess and realign. When was the last time, you really, truly sat down and mapped out what you want from your life, what your goals are, what’s on the bucket list, what is a must-do this year? It’s something that we really need to do at least three or four times a year.
Because things change.
Our goals and desires can change in an instant.
Think of it this way: say we’re on a road trip from Paris to Moscow. We set off, knowing that we’re going to Moscow and we need to head east and kind of north. We can do the most detailed plan that we like, but things happen: a bridge breaks, there are roadworks, a river floods, the roads change, we hear about a nice town that’s slightly off our planned route and we want to stop there. We have to keep reassessing our journey constantly, allowing for minor changes all the time. Life & our goals are no different. As different information comes in, we need to make adjustments, change direction slightly, maybe we’ll veer a little off our planned route because some unforeseen opportunity comes up that sounds pretty cool.
When things just don’t fit, it’s a sign that we’re off track. It’s a sign that we need to reassess and realign ourselves. So, whether our life is OKAY, whether it’s FINE, or whether it’s really AWFUL, we need to sit down and write out what we really want and what we believe is stopping us. We need to write out our values, what’s important to us, what we really, truly would like to do/be if there was nothing in our way. We need to write out how we’d feel if we did/were all those things. And reassess our path. Take a look at where we’re heading. And realign as necessary.
That’s your mission for today, if you choose to accept it.
Remember: it’s all about the attitude.
I am so triggered right now
This is not funny, I am supposed to be transformed, goddammit. I am not supposed to get jealous and crabby when I see someone doing well for themselves financially.
But I do.
And I am.
Man, it’s annoying when you think you’ve got a grip on things and suddenly the same old stuff floats to the surface and grabs you by the throat again.
Comparison is a B***H. An absolute B***H.
I was feeling quite good about myself and my life, about what I’m doing and creating. And then I saw it: a Facebook post, about a friend who’s doing very well for herself. I saw her about a year ago and she was in a financial pickle, really struggling and didn’t know what she was going to do. On top of that, she’d just found out she was pregnant. Since I last saw her a year ago, she’s earned approximately $1 million. From nothing.
I am so jealous.
I feel so inadequate, and not good enough, and stupid, and lazy, and foolish, and a waste of space, and basically I can’t justify my existence right now because, you know, she’s earned a million dollars and I haven’t earned anywhere close to that.
I’m not looking for support or comfort here, I’m pointing out what we say to ourselves because I’m not the only one who has these little moments of self-flagellation, am I, hmm? This is what goes through our mind on a regular basis, but what we try to do is PRETEND IT’S NOT HAPPENING! “I’m not doing that, that’s so wrong!” we say to ourselves, and we try to shove it under the carpet and ignore it.
GET THAT B***H OUT AND SHINE A LIGHT ON IT!
We can’t gloss over it. Every time we feel like this, there’s an opportunity for us to grow, but only if we experience those feelings FULLY. We’re never going to move beyond it if we don’t own it. This isn’t about judging it, saying it’s right or wrong or how good or bad we are for feeling that way, it’s just about FULLY EXPERIENCING THOSE FEELINGS. Get right into that feeling, observe – don’t judge, and feel how powerful it is, how much power has gone into the way that you’re feeling. And instead of letting it go and releasing it, RECLAIM the power back into yourself WITHOUT all the negativity attached to it and feel that power coming back into yourself.
When we have a strong negative feeling about something, we’re giving away our power. Think about it: when we feel strongly about something in a positive way, we feel really powerful, right? What we’re trying to do here, is reclaim the power that we’re unconsciously giving away in these negative feelings. The more often we do this, the more power we reclaim and the better we feel.
I’m uplevelling on a massive scale right now, I’m being triggered and challenged left, right and centre. Unsurprisingly, I’ve got the worst cold that I’ve had in YEARS. So, I’m going with all of these feelings, I’m welcoming their appearance and I’m reclaiming my power.
Take a look at what triggers you. My jealousy in this case is because I want to be where she is, and I know that I SHOULD be where she is. I could go into blame, I could go into acceptance but I’m going to EXPERIENCE those horrible, nasty, unworthy thoughts in their disgusting depths and then I’m going to reclaim my power from them.
What can you reclaim your power from right now?
Because, remember: it's all about the attitude!
It’s okay to be you.
It really is.
The Universe/God created just one of you, only one in the entire history of the world, just so that it could experience life through your eyes with your experiences. The Universe doesn’t want you to be anything else. It doesn’t want you to improve yourself, it doesn’t want you to be like anyone else. It just wants you to be you. All you. Wholeheartedly, unreservedly you.
What would that be like?
What would it feel like to not second guess yourself, to not wonder whether you’ve got it right? Because you can’t get it wrong if you’re being you. There might be a lesson to learn but there’s nothing inherently WRONG. That’s just YOU being YOU, right? Anytime you give yourself permission to be you, you give the rest of us permission to be ourselves, too. Anytime you fully accept yourself, with all your flaws, all your faults, all your foibles, all of those wonderful things that you do, you allow the rest of us to do the same thing. Anytime you just fully be you, the Universe gets to experience life as it intended. You not only have PERMISSION from the Universe to be yourself, you have a RESPONSIBILITY to be yourself. Not being yourself is denying the Universe the reason that it created you. Thinking there’s something wrong with yourself that you need to fix is telling the Universe that it got things wrong! I’m definitely guilty of that! Feeling like there’s something wrong with me and there are things I need to sort out before I allow other people to really get to know me or before I allow myself to act from a space of trusting myself.
Having said all that, sometimes I wish I would just shut up and stop trying to put the world and everyone in it to rights! But then, if I did that I wouldn’t be being fully me. Because I DO care, I AM committed to having people experience life from a place that’s completely uninhibited in terms of being themselves, and I WANT to be around REAL people. I think that to some extent or another, we all know who everyone else is and we all know when they’re not being fully themselves. If we’re interested in someone it’s because we’re interested in who they really are underneath everything.
Have a think about this: what would your life look like if you were just fully yourself? How would it be different? What would change? Would your experience of life change? How?
Give yourself permission to just be yourself.
I give you my permission to be fully yourself.
You definitely have permission from the Universe.
Let me know what kind of a difference feeling/being this way would make.
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I’ve never been one for feeling sorry for people. I mean, my heart will go out to people, I’ll be sad for them, hurt, feel angry, upset, lost. But I never, ever think of them as a victim. They may have endured some terrible things, had some awful things happen to them, but that does not mean that they’re a VICTIM.
They’re just someone that bad s**t happened to.
It doesn’t mean they’re weak or helpless or not good enough, it just means that some bad s**t happened to them.
It doesn’t mean ANYTHING except that they may need a little support & a little reminding of just who they are and what they’re capable of. It certainly doesn’t mean that they’re a VICTIM.
I get really upset when I see people treating others as victims: “oh you poor thing, they did terrible things to you, let me help you!”
No. NO. Absolutely NOT. “Oh man, that was terrible. How can I support you?” has a completely different feel. One comes from the space of the person is a poor, helpless, VICTIM and the other one comes from a space of they’ve got this handled for the most part, let’s give them a bit of a hand in dealing with it, let them know they’re loved and that whatever happened in no way reflects on who they are at the core of themselves.
I am very, very suspicious of people who run around in life, looking for people to help, supporting the downtrodden & the underdogs, because I suspect that a lot of them get a real kick out of ‘helping’ those ‘victims’. They somehow feel morally righteous because they do all this ‘good’ work and help out those who are weaker than they are.
That’s a gross generalisation, I know that, and I also know there are a lot of people who do a lot of good in that arena, but I suggest that THEY’RE the ones who don’t so much see victims as people who’ve had a run of bad luck.
If we treat someone as a helpless victim, we are telling them that they’re unable to look after themselves and that they need someone more powerful & able to look after them & sort their lives out.
If we treat someone as a human being who’s had some rotten things happen to them, the basic assumption there is that they’re powerful in their own right and they just need some support to remember that fact. It’s completely different.
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We’re all so busy. We work every hour we can, we run the kids around, we socialise when we can, we go, go, go. Every waking hour seems crammed full of stuff. Having no time to ourselves, being stressed and overworked has become a status symbol in the Western world. How many of us have said “Oh, I’m so busy, I haven’t had time to think!” and felt kind of proud that we feel that way. It’s as though we’re saying “Look at me, I’m so busy. I’m top of the heap for being busy. And that allows me to justify my existence. What about you? Are you that busy? Can you justify yourself as well as I can? Can you be as good at being busy as I am?”
Photograph: courtesy of Kira O'Connor
Let me say right here that I’m not pointing the finger at anyone other than myself on this. This is EXACTLY how my life goes… or how it went, anyway. But if the shoe fits, if you can relate to this…
It feels like a race, a competition to see who can do the most, be the busiest, feel the most stressed. When I was a teenager, if I did before or after school sports (and I did a lot of them), I made my own way there. I had a horse who was stabled 5 miles away. It was up to me to get there; the only time I got a lift was on Christmas Day when there was a lot going on and it was just get to the stable, feed him, muck out and leave. Apart from that, I either caught the bus or walked. There was no option. Nowadays, most of us wouldn’t DREAM of letting our kids do that: it’s not safe, the kids have too much on, it would be too difficult for them, they need the time to do their homework, meet with their friends, etc. So, we finish work (whether that’s paid work or whether we’re stay-at-home parents) and we spend our evenings and weekends running the kids to their activities.
We cram our lives to the BRIM, doing, doing, doing. We don’t allow ourselves any spare time, spare time must be filled with things, we have responsibilities, we must meet them, we must try harder, we must do better, we must do more, we must do what THAT person is doing because they look like they have it so much more together than we do. We do all this stuff and we PRETEND that we’re ENJOYING it, that we’re living FULFILLED lives, that we LOVE what we’re doing, and we make sure that we LOOK as though we’ve got it all under control while we’re doing all this.
Can anyone else relate to this? This is generally how my life looked and, to the outside world, I looked as though I had it all handled, as though I was happy and fulfilled, cool, calm and collected, like the eternally graceful swan.
And I prided myself on having everyone believe that of me, on having everyone think that I was on top of everything… organised… the perfect parent. For others, it’s the perfect employee, the perfect assistant, the perfect lawyer, the perfect businesswoman, the perfect corporate climber.
The thing is, I CAN do all that, I CAN handle it all and make it look easy. A lot of us do, regardless of the field we choose to do that in, but ask anyone who’s created a lifestyle that they TRULY love, one that inspires them and makes them feel great, and they’ll tell you that 90% of the work in getting what you want from life is IN THE MIND. It’s not in what we do, what we have, how many hours we work or who we know. It’s what we think; being aware of what we think and using our thoughts to create what we want.
Think about this: must of us spend all of our lives doing things. We work our entire lives, doing what we believe we need to DO so that we can be a little richer, a little wealthier, have a few more things, feel a little more comfortable. 95% of the world does this…
…and have 5% of the wealth. We’re the ones who wear our “stressed-out-working-all-hours-don’t-have-time-to-do-anything” badges of honour on our sleeves. We’re Human Doings…
Oh my god, I can’t stop laughing! I know what that means, but whenever I think about “doings”, I think of dog poo. One of my aunts used to say she had to go out and clean up the dog’s “doings”. It’s actually quite appropriate in this context, don’t you think?
Getting right back to our serious conversation… The other 5%? The ones who aren’t Human Doings, they focus on the BEING, on the mind. They spend a large portion of their day taking care of their mind, allowing themselves the space to create, to think, to just be.
10 minutes at the start of each day. 10 minutes focusing on your mind, taking care of it, nurturing it, feeding it, loving it, expanding and growing it. 10 minutes every day. That’s all. 10 minutes to BE, to remind yourself that you’re a Human Being not a Human Doing.
How will you spend your 10 minutes?
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I was in a weekend mastermind, listening to a mindset coach, doing the exercises she’d given us, and that comment came out.
“Like, really?” I thought (yes, I do talk like a teenager in the not-so-quiet recesses of my mind… sometimes I do, anyway), “What’s that about?” The trouble was, it really rang true. If I look at everything I’ve done in business or in life in general, I have this underlying belief that I need someone else in order to make it work, the reason being, I’m not good enough. At least, I’m not at EVERYTHING. That’s not a negative belief, it’s a fact. While I’m good at some things and great at others, I’m not good at EVERYTHING, therefore, I MUST need other people to supplement that and make things work, right? It’s LOGICAL. It’s common sense.
It’s simply the truth.
Photograph: courtesy of Kira O'Connor
But this was interesting; I’d only ever looked at this kind of thing as a negative belief that I somehow needed to let go of before, but then I began to get an inkling of the awful truth: that belief actually had a basis in FACT. We are all incapable of doing everything ourselves and also incapable of doing it all well. That’s the way we’re made, it’s necessary and there’s nothing wrong with that but what I’d done was twisted it round and turned it into a PROOF, total evidence of something. And then I’d used it to PROVE my ‘deficiencies’ to myself.
Ooh, this was interesting!
Where else do we do this? I remember when I felt like a complete failure, and this wasn’t all that long ago. I KNEW, I absolutely KNEW that I hadn’t done the right thing by everybody and I’d let myself and my family down. I KNEW that. So, what if that wasn’t just something I made up to beat myself up? What if there was actually a grain of truth in there and I just used something that I knew to be true and turn it into something else? Because if I did that, then that would make things so much harder to let go of because I would know that it really was the truth, right? I wouldn’t be lying, I wouldn’t be misleading myself, I’d be stating the truth: I HADN’T done enough, I WAS letting everyone down and I KNEW IT. Regardless of the reasons, regardless of how understandable it was (and it was), regardless of how much other people thought my feeling that way was completely reasonable, a small part of me KNEW that I could really do something, something more than what I was doing right now, and I just wasn’t doing it because I was allowing myself to wallow in pity/sadness/whatever rather than do what I knew I could do.
Now, I need to say here that I understand that there are times when we NEED to allow ourselves the space to grieve or recover or whatever, I know that. And I needed to give myself the space for a while. And there comes a point when we KNOW we’ve gone through what we need to go through and now it’s time to move on.
But it’s hard. It’s difficult to do that. It takes courage to move out of this comfort zone that we’ve created for ourselves, the comfort zone where we’re protected and supported and understood. It’s safe there.
There’s a difference in our experience; that’s what we need to recognise. Where once we were sad/upset/anxious for a reason, after a while, we’re like that because we’re USED to feeling that way, not because we actually are that way anymore. Then we’ll find ourselves saying things like “I can’t do this by myself” or “I’m letting people down” and there will be a kernel of truth in them, enough for what we say to feel like they are true but there’ll be a feeling in us, at some level, we’ll know that’s not fully true and we’ll know it to be an excuse. And we’ll probably carry on behaving like that for a while – sometimes a long while – until the pain of being that way goads us into action.
Consider this: when we’re feeling this way, the amount of pain we’re in, the amount of discomfort that we feel, is an indication of how far away from our true selves that we are. There are always times in our lives when we’re in pain for whatever reason, but prolonged pain is usually the result of something we’re doing to ourselves. If we’re in pain, it’s an indicator that we’re not doing what our subconscious knows we’re meant to be doing. The more pain, the further away we are from where we’re meant to be.
How much pain are you in right now? Is it enough pain to draw a line in the sand and say “Enough! I am doing this no more”? When will you be in enough pain? The danger zone is when you’re not quite in enough pain to do anything about it, and most of us live our lives like that, we tolerate things, put up with them: the job that’s okay, the pay cheque that gets us by, the relationship that’s not quite right but, you know, it’s good enough. The pain of those things is not quite enough to get us to change anything, so we go through our lives feeling like we’re being ungrateful or unreasonable, and putting up with stuff because it’s not worth doing anything about it.
If we’re not ecstatic, if we’re not leaping out of bed in the mornings, jumping into life like a 4-year old on holiday, we’re not LIVING our lives, we’re existing. And we’ve been taught that’s okay, that’s how life is. What if it’s not? What if we’re meant to live life fully and joyfully?
And by the way, the moment we find ourselves saying “yeah, but how do I live? I’ve got to survive, I’ve got a family to feed, a mortgage to pay, what am I supposed to do about those?” The moment we find ourselves saying those things is the moment we’re continuing to buy into those stories that have a kernel of truth in them. There is always a way. Just because we can’t see it from where we are now, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
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I was talking to someone yesterday. She'd done a lot of mindset work, read a lots of books, done seminars and programs, but she was stuck in the same place, unable to move forwards, not knowing what the block is that's stopping her from moving forward. She couldn't understand it, why was nothing sinking in? Why was nothing making a difference? She could see that there was SOMETHING going on but she couldn't work out what, and no matter how much gratitude she reminded herself to feel, no matter how many affirmations she said, no matter what good things happened in her life, she still kept falling back into the old patterns, feeling stifled and trapped.
Here's the thing: our minds are like these big empty rooms. Over the years, as we live, as things happen, we gradually fill them up with more and more 'stuff': experiences, both bad and good, emotions, memories, decisions, meanings, understandings, responsibilities, obligations, duties, expectations.
We end up with so much 'stuff' in there, that there's hardly any room left to move. The only pathways through all this 'stuff' are the old, familiar, well-trodden ones, that allow us to squeeze past familiar landmarks, while making us do certain things in certain ways, and reinforcing certain beliefs. Can you see that might be how it happens? It's all very familiar territory and it constantly reinforces that that's the 'way things are'.
We can do as much mindset work as we want, we can read, learn, watch, attend seminars, do everything, but until we get rid of some of the 'stuff' that's already in our minds, THERE'S NO ROOM FOR ANYTHING NEW TO COME IN, regardless of how much we want to change. We have to get rid of some of the old 'stuff' first.
Does that make sense? Our minds are like huge warehouses that are stuffed FULL, floor to ceiling, with JUNK. And the older we get, the more junk there is in there.
If we want to change things, change our lives, change our beliefs, change our experiences, we have to create the space for something different to occur. Yes, we have to create new pathways, but FIRST we have to clear some of the junk away so there's ROOM to create new pathways. And the best way to create that room is to JOURNAL. To write about it. Not type, not talk, not mull over in meditations, not discuss over coffee with your friends; journal. Personally, my experience is that it's the only way to clean things out; sit down with a pen and paper and get it all out onto the page, and keep going, and going, and going.
I can't remember what the actual scientific facts are, but to our brains, writing is far more powerful than either talking or typing. It's as though writing something down makes our brain feel like it doesn't have to remember something, it doesn't have to keep it in mind anymore, it can forget about it and move on. And the minute it does that, BINGO! We've cleared a little space.
If something keeps coming up for you over and over again, it's because there's something in it that your subconscious wants you to look at. Start writing. Don't judge what you're writing, just write down whatever comes to mind. Clear as much junk as you can.
If we want to change the way things are for ourselves, we need to grab a pen and paper and start writing. Get all of our thoughts out of our head and onto paper so that there's room for new things to go in there, and we can start creating new paths. Until we've cleared out and created some space, we can't create anything new.
If you've already tried this, let me know how you went on and what changed for you. If you haven't done this yet, make a commitment to do it in the comments and tell us when you'll do this, then post and let us know how you go on.
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Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...