Are you too sensitive?

are you too sensitive

Have you ever felt that you were too sensitive for this world? Has anyone ever made you feel ashamed of being too emotional? Do you sometimes feel that your empathy for others makes your heart break too much, too often?

Throughout my life, I have felt too sensitive for this world and at times, I have felt very fragile. This sensitivity is an expression of my deep empathy for others which has enabled me to understand others and find the right words and support to offer. This is a great asset to have, a superpower as some would define it, and this feature is what made it obvious for me that life coaching was the right path for me.

But if my empathy is a superpower, it is also a source of pain as my heart breaks as it deeply understands the pain others experience.

At times, I have been shamed for being too emotional, especially by men, which made me feel like the ugly duckling. I thought that there was something wrong with me.It took me a long time to spot and join the flock of swans I belonged to in the first place. It helped to know that there were many sensitive souls out there.

The internet has become a place to acknowledge and claim our sensitivity but this display that makes us feel that maybe there isn’t anything wrong with us after all, falls short of truly empowering us except for the power that comes from being one amongst many. How does a sensitive soul survive in this world?

Sensitivity is a great asset because

  • Our empathy helps us relate to others easily.
  • It makes us approachable because we understand people and it feels safe for them to talk to us.
  • We come across as well-mannered and friendly.
  • It allows us to understand that there are many perspectives so we are better at considering different options. This is great for seeing the big picture and looking at various angles to solve problems.
  • It also leads us, at work, to pay attention to detail whether we are dealing with a product or a service.
  • We anticipate other people’s needs which makes us good mothers, daughters and friends.
  • It makes us more likely to savour the moment, enjoy the arts and show reverence to nature.
    Solitude is not an issue for us and we’d rather be alone than with the wrong person.

But sensitivity can also be a curse because

  • Our feelings are easily hurt.
  • Taking onboard other people’s feelings means our heart breaks too often.
  • We weep at any soap story or ad.
  • We get overwhelmed quicker than others and need to retreat in solitude which may be perceived as rejection from others. People find it hard to understand us at times.
  • As we see different perspectives, it sometimes makes it hard to make decisions.
  • We pick up moods around us and it can be destabilising and uneasy for us and others.
  • To protect ourselves, we become either a recluse or a people pleaser, and neither is good for us.

Do not give in too much to feelings. An overly sensitive heart is an unhappy possession on this shaky earth. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Understanding and managing our emotions better.

  • Understanding our emotions means that we acknowledge responsibility for them. They come from us, even if they are triggered by others, and therefore we need to deal with them not expect anyone else to makes us feel better. Taking 100% responsibility and giving up expectations of external help puts us right back in the driver seat.
  • Understanding our emotions also means that we understand what triggers them and we can prepare ourselves ahead of time. When you know what situation or person is likely to generate violent emotions, you can build an arsenal of responses. My favourite response is to stay silent. I find that it gives me the inner space to become more of a spectator rather than overreacting. I remain grounded in self-protection and I find this very helpful.
  • Being aware of our tendency to pick up moods means that we can manage them. As soon as we witness it, we can use personal tricks to shift our mood. Deep breathing, a little dance party or just listening to upbeat music, a nap, journalling, getting engrossed into a creative activity (even for just a few minutes), going for a walk, reading a few pages of a novel, listening to a few minutes of a podcast or audiobook, whatever works for you. The idea is that you reclaim your own mood.
  • Knowing that we easily get overwhelmed, we learn to give ourselves permission to leave a party when we stop enjoying it, or even when meeting a friend.No explanation needed, we just say we need to go.
  • Embrace who we are. We can be okay with some of our emotions such as weeping when watching television. If anyone is uncomfortable with it, that is not your problem.
  • Managing our emotions means that we must create pockets of time when we can be by ourselves and find our inner balance again, either through rest, meditation or a favourite activity.
  • Looking for positive experiences that are safe, will empower us. Go to places where people express emotions openly like the theatre, ballet, opera, book clubs or museums.
  • We must make sure that we are in the right environment. If the city is too noisy and brash, is it possible to move to a quieter area? If we feel that work is like swimming upstream every day, is there a job better suited for our qualities? If our friends drain us, is it time to sign up for a class and meet other people?
  • Managing our emotions, finally, means that we must replace any feeling of guilt or shame about it with compassion for ourselves.

The #1 threat to your physical and mental well-being

The #1 threat to your physical and mental well-being

One of the most important things I do for self-care and mental/emotional well-being is to declutter my mind as much as possible. Whenever I let some of my practices go, I feel out of sorts and become disempowered. The power shifts to unwanted thoughts, largely negative, unhelpful or down right debilitating. I believe the greatest power struggle we have in our life is with our thoughts.

If you have been accepting these thoughts as part of life, think again! It is not so much your work overload, financial difficulties, relationship, family or personal problems that are the source of your stress but the negative thoughts you have about them. Our negative thoughts are causing anxiety, worry, fear and stress which raise our level of stress hormone called cortisol which, in turn, can cause ill-health, raised blood pressure, weight-gain, poor skin, hair loss, memory loss, helplessness or even depression. Ultimately, we might succumb to anger, resentment, violence or at the very least strained relationships.

In 2005, the National Science Foundation published a report based on research about human thoughts per day. It reveals that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% are the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.

Here are a few types of negative thoughts that might be spoiling your life:

  • Toxic thoughts such as “I didn’t get enough sleep” or “I don’t have enough time”.
  • Generalising thoughts such as “I never win anything”, “Men are…”, “He never listen to me”.
  • Thoughts associated with guilt and shame. They usually contain words like should, must, have to,  etc.
  • Pessimistic predictions/assumptions such as “I’ll never earn that kind of money”, “I’ll never meet a good man”, “I won’t get that job”.
  • ‘Mind reading’: attributing thoughts to others without tangible proof or magnifying others thoughts or feeling towards you.
  • Worrying

There is no short cut to a positive mindset but I believe that you can train your mind to cut down on negative thoughts in a very significant way. It is really a matter of tackling them as soon as they arise.

  • Toxic thoughts need to be either deleted or replaced by their opposite immediately. For instance,  “I didn’t get enough sleep” could be ignored or replaced by “I’ll be just fine after a good shower” and “I don’t have enough time” by “I have all the time I need to do what needs to be done”.
  • Generalising thoughts need to be challenged very seriously and I highly recommend Byron Katie’s method The Work. The idea is to take apart a belief, prove it, disprove it and turn it around.
  • Pessimistic predictions are pretty useless as they are purely speculative, yet they often serve a purpose. Either they reinforce a long-held belief or they believe they will protect us from disappointment or hurt. I tend to disagree with that because they don’t have any impact on the outcome and just spoil your life.
  • ‘Mind reading’ or lending thoughts to others without proof is most often impossible to prove or disprove unless we ask which is never a good idea. With this type of thoughts, the best thing to do is to remember that thoughts are not facts. The simple question “Do I know this to be absolutely true today?” should rein in many wild assumptions.
  • Last but not least: worrying. Worrying is a thief of serenity that keeps us stuck in passivity. In reality worry can be remedied either through trust or action. For instance, if you worry about your credit card debt, you will be stuck in a loop of negative thoughts. However if you shift from worry to action, you will look for solutions, like ringing your bank or looking for interest free deals. If you worry about something that you can’t do anything about, then you have to trust the other person or the Universe and believe that everything will be turn out fine as it usually does. Yes, it feels like a leap of faith but trust defeats negative thoughts and feels good.
  • Journalling helps with the process of questioning our thoughts. A journal is a great place to unveil negative thinking patterns and confronts them. I often end up an entry with solutions and definitely more clarity.
  • Physical activity releases oxytocin, the radical opposite hormone to cortisol and as such it lowers the risks generated by stress. Whether you have a dance party in your kitchen, go for a walk, to the gym or a fitness class, just moving your body changes your physiology radically and dissolves your negative thoughts. Just do it!

Negative thoughts stick around because we believe them, not because we want them or choose them. Andrew J. Bernstein

… So, stop believing what you are thinking!

We are the creators of our life

WE ARE THE CREATORS OF OUR LIFE

A journalling prompt I came across recently was about how people perceive us and I have to admit that I really can’t answer that. How would I know? Do you know how people truly perceive you? Doesn’t it vary anyway from one person to another? And honestly, I don’t feel comfortable asking people how they see me. First of all, I don’t want to put them on the spot and in an uncomfortable position. Second, will they tell me the truth? Third, do I really want to hear it? Fourth, what if they are not truthful or if they are overly kind, how is that helping me? Finally, what if their perception of me doesn’t align with the image I have of myself? What if it hurts my feelings?

Gustave Flaubert wrote, “There is no truth. There is only perception.”. Any opinion of us would be just that, an opinion, a perception, an interpretation, not a reality. This doesn’t mean of course that other people’s opinion of us doesn’t matter, only that we should take them with a pinch of salt.

Equally, unless we have cultivated a healthy love and respect for ourselves, our own perception is flawed.

The real matter is what we are going to do today, tomorrow, to project the image we want people to see, not because we want to please them but because it is the image we want of ourselves. Now is always the right time. We can list those things we would like ourselves to look like in the eyes of others and decide every morning how we are going to act and react to align with this image.

We can also extend this idea to our life. How do others perceive our life? I tend to think that when we try to figure this out, we will see that our life looks better than we thought and that it probably is better than we think. Describing our life on paper can give us a chance to see how good it is and where we could make changes. They might require more time and planning than to decide in the morning how we are going to be that day, but it could be very exciting.

Unintentionally, we sometimes become complaisant about the way we live our life and we lose sight of the power we have to change our daily behaviour and to change the bigger picture of our life. I know I sometimes do and when I do, I feel as though I am on a hamster wheel, trapped, not holding the reins. Then I remember that I do and for all the things I can’t control, there are many little things I can do to change the way I experience my life. Our power is in the way we react to and the way we create each instant of our life. Moment by moment we can be who we are meant to be, who we want to be. If we take an outsider’s view, we might gain a new perspective and be reminded that we are the creators of our life.

How to re-create your best life

HOW TO RE-CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE

Can you remember a time and place where you felt good about yourself and about life in general, where you felt you were ‘you’? Maybe it was during a one-off vacation or every time you go somewhere you love? Maybe it was a place you lived in for a while or different circumstances in terms of work or relationships. Whatever it was that revealed the best versions of your life and yourself, I am inviting you to look beyond some obvious reasons why that was. When you look at all the ingredients that made your best experience, there must be some that you could use in your present life to make it better.

It took me a long time to realise why I love being in Brittany so much. The obvious reasons don’t need explaining: the ocean, the luminosity, the bluer sky, the fact that I am on holiday. These could have been enough for me to long to be there when I am in London, yet the seeker in me knew there was more to explore. What else could I learn from my experience of the place? What could I learn that would be useful in my ‘regular’ life? Why am I more creative there? Why do I feel like I am more myself there?

8 Steps to re-create your best life

  1. List all the things you like(d) about that time and place. State the obvious then go deeper. You might remember additional elements in the next few days so keep that list open for a while.
  2. Describe your then mindset. What is/was different in your thinking? Go beyond the obvious (like “I was on holiday so my mind was relaxed, not thinking about work” or “I was married so I never felt alone”). What were you thinking about or looking forward to, each morning? What was feeding your mind? This is important. Were you listening to music? Were you reading great fiction or non-fiction? Did you have stimulating discussions? Did you listen to or watch shows that made you laugh? Did your physical environment affect your state of mind? Some factors might possibly become more evident as you build this list so keep going. I find that the best information comes when I think I have finished a list but then keep at it a bit longer.
  3. List all the things that contributed to your well-being. How were you taking care of yourself physically, intellectually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? What was your physical environment like (the place you stayed in and the scenery? Who did you spend time with?
  4. Write about the things you thought you deserved then and that you stopped thinking you deserved in this everyday life. It could be food, beverages, massages, classes, outings to the cinema, the theatre, the concert, the ballet, the restaurant, the cocktail bars, the books, the magazines, and so on.
  5. Now answer these questions: Did you dream of possibilities that you don’t allow yourself to dream anymore? Did you have a sense that things were possible? If so, go back to your mindset description and decide to feed your mind again with those things that enhanced your positivity.
  6. Next, strengthen that positivity and increase your self-love by treating yourself to something you thought you deserved then (Step #4) as often as your budget allows now.
  7. Build your well-being again by looking at the ways you took care of yourself physically, intellectually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and re-introducing them progressively into your life, modifying them as necessary given the difference of circumstances.
  8. Finally, looking at the first list, look at the things you can do in your life right now to recapture what made life great. If you enjoyed walks in Nature, can you go to a park, a green space, a pond, a river on a regular basis to connect with Nature, even if it is just a few minutes (but on a regular basis)? If you enjoyed not being on the internet or social media, can you reduce the time you spend on them now? What would help? A timer on your internet router, an app or software that blocks access to some sites like Freedom, Anti-social, Cold Turkey, Self-control or TrackTime? Replacing the habit with an activity or a hobby that makes you happy? If it was sunnier, how can you increase your exposure to natural light? Going out for a short walk at lunchtime and/or long walks at the weekend? Sitting by the window more often? Getting rid of net curtains? Replacing some lightbulbs with natural light ones? If you thought the people were friendlier, can you smile to people in the street, in stores, at work and engage in light conversation at the checkout, at the water-cooler or in queues? From your first list, explore all the ways that can help you recreate a similar feeling for each item.

We are so conditioned by our environment that we end up living on auto-pilot most of the time. We forget that we can transfer experiences and feelings by simply looking at alternative ways of doing things. I believe that going through this process will enhance your everyday life dramatically.

How anger can give you your life back!

How anger can give you your life back!

Sometimes I feel that I am not in control of much in my life. I sacrifice a lot for my children but seem to often be seen as an ‘annoying bother’; I work hard but don’t seem to create the income that matches it; my calendar mostly depends on others and a good part of the leisure time I have, tends to be hijacked by my obsession with the news. This is not a unique story. This might be your story with different details. Most people I know feel this way. There are always parts of our life that are difficult to control and we are so weakened by the stress it creates that we let the parts that we could control be taken over by others/other things.

Sometimes it feels like we are being expropriated from our own life.

I want my life back! I want all the control I can have, back! NOW!

Four steps to regain control of your life

  1. Get angry! When we move from helplessness to anger, we step on the path we were seeking and could not see. Are you angry enough? Amp it up by writing a list of things you are fed up with at the moment (things that frustrate you, things you feel guilty for not having done, things that keep you up at night, things you have had enough of). That should get you going…I want you to get angry because anger usually leads to action whereas feeling helpless, stressed, overwhelmed, not in control, keeps you stuck in inertia. Action, any action, then tends to lead to more action, so you regain control of your life.
  2. Get clear! The list you wrote previously is the best tool you have to define your path. Each item on the list suggests an action or series of actions that need to be taken.
  3. Prioritise! From your list of actions, you now need to identify what is creating the most bother or stress in your life and act on those first. Establish a rough plan to tackle each item over the next few months.
  4. Calendarize! Schedule when you will take your first and next actions and write them down. This is critical if you want them to happen. I know if it is not written, I will not remember it, however important it is because life is just so busy.

Caveat: You might not have control over some items and in this case, it is essential to let go of the frustration that cannot be controlled. This is the only way to find peace of mind. One little handwritten note left by my grandfather is the prayer: God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

To be sure though, question how little or how much control you have in any situation. You might not be able to change a situation, but you can change the way you perceive it and respond to it. We all know this quote from Viktor Frankl but now is a critical moment to implement it:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Bulletproof your mind against decision fatigue

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Do you suffer from decision fatigue? We are facing more decision making now than at any other time in history. Most of them are trivial or a waste of time but there are there all the time. The choice in food, drinks, notebooks, books, magazines, courses, alternatives to milk, Art supplies, ways of spending your leisure time, ways to get to work, where to shop, where to eat, where to work, how to work, how to have your coffee, what clubs your child should attend, what link to click on and the list goes on and on.

We have to make decisions all the time and some of them are impossible to escape but there are many others that we can avoid having to make. By reducing the number of decisions we make in a day, we can prevent that fatigue that results in indecision, inertia, procrastination or making the wrong decision.

The seemingly endless choices we have in most areas of our life have fooled us into believing that we needed to entertain this notion of choice all the time. It has become our prerogative, our freedom. But is it?

The truth is, we don’t have to consider all the choices because they’re there just as we don’t have to answer the phone just because it’s ringing. It is your right to refuse wasting your time and energy making decisions that are not life changing.

If you want to be more effective in your decision making ability and save some precious mental energy and time, I suggest that there are two tools that can support your battle against decision fatigue:

  • a bullet journal
  • routines

Bullet journal

Bullet journals are gaining popularity and coverage. Just a look at some Instagram’s hashtags such as #bulletjournal or #bujo will offer thousands of pictures of beautifully crafted bullet journals along with affiliated products. However, its initial concept was one of simplicity. No calligraphy, no stickers, no specific notebook, no page adornments, just straight to the point – or bullet! You can see the original idea here.

Depending on your style and the time available for this, you can choose your own level of simplicity or sophistication. I use it for taking notes, for my shopping lists, for doodling, for ideas, for recording information that I might need again and if I am out and in need of journalling, I will journal in it. I am not fussy about it. It is there to help me. Youtube has many videos but be careful not to fall in the rabbit hole!…

A bullet journal will help you fight decision fatigue because every morning or evening, when you plan your day, you know exactly what needs to be done or to happen. As you write them down and go through the items, there is no decision to make, no hesitation, no choice. When I don’t use it, I can waste my whole day procrastinating because I think about what I could or should be doing instead of doing things.

Rules and routines

The second tool is really a set of rules you create for yourself in order to bypass the decision making process. Once your rules to live by and routines are in place, your mind is free to focus on what matters. If you don’t like the world ‘rules’, replace it with whatever word or phrase that suits you, such as ‘life choices’, ‘habits’, ‘principles’, ‘practices’, ‘guidelines’, etc.

It is essential to have morning and evening routines that work for you and that you can stick to most of the time. Write down in detail what an ideal morning routine would look like with specific times, then write down what needs to be in place. For instance, if you want to journal or read something inspirational as soon as you wake up, your journal, favourite pen or book need to be on your bedside table. Then if you want to do some physical exercise afterward, you need to leave your fitness gear in the bathroom for instance and maybe a Fitness Programme in the DVD player, etc. what time do you need to have breakfast or have your shower taking into account the other people living with you. Your routine needs to be timed so that you know what to do at what time and you can leave home without having to rush.

In the evening, your routine can incorporate creative expression, reading, quality time with loved ones, reflection, time dedicated to an online course and so on. Make sure that you include things that will lift your spirits up even if it is only ten, twenty or thirty minutes. Crucially, you have to have two reminders in your phone: one an hour before you need to be in bed that says ‘Get ready. Plan tomorrow. Wind down’ and one at the time you need to be in bed or switch off the light. And you need to stick to them! That way, your mind won’t have to nag you to get ready, to go to bed, to stop watching TV, to get off the internet, to close that book. Decision made.

These personal ‘principles’ you set up can be extended to as many areas as you want. Steve jobs always wore the same type of black clothes. No time wasted shopping for clothes, no money wasted on ‘mistakes’ in your purchasing, no time in front of the wardrobe wondering what you are going to wear. It works for women too. My grandmother had a range of black trousers and white blouses, some more comfortable for gardening and housework, some more tailored for day wear. She was always chic and never had to think about what to wear which freed time for a daily series of muscle stretches. And in case you are wondering, she had occasion wear that differed…

Creating a meal list for the week also avoids mind struggles about what you should buy or not. I have my shopping list in my bullet journal. I whizz around the supermarket without having to make any decision or wonder whether it would be nice to buy this or that.

Review the different areas where you are faced with too much choice and waste your time, and formulate guidelines to reduce this. You will be surprised at the peace of mind you experience and how your decision making time shortens when needed.

Don’t miss out!

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We are now in the second half of December and it is time to start saying goodbye to 2016. If you have been with me a while, you know I’ll be glad to see the back of it. I finished 2015 on a high and I believed in bigger things for me in 2016, but as soon as it started, it was clear this year had other plans for me.

I said yes to something that exhausted me in January whilst delivering a new online course, was shaken by two unexpected deaths, had a few health issues, Brexit, and I am not mentioning all the other things that go wrong when you are having a tough time. You know how that goes… When it rains, it pours!

One thing I know for sure though is that, even when you can’t wait to see the end of a year, you have to take the time to examine it and extract the lessons that it brought. I don’t have big achievements to celebrate but I am looking forward to taking stock of the growth I experienced this year.

This is the reason why we need to review the year every December. The same questions will bring different answers every year. Some will be worth exploring a bit further one year and others another year. If you haven’t signed up for Honouring Your Story yet, I highly encouraged you to. It’s free and it’s an opportunity to spend some time journalling and focusing on yourself during a period often spent thinking of others and rushing.We are starting on Monday and it is important work, especially if you have specific goals for 2017.

I will be spending the rest of the month focusing on this shared journey and laying the foundations for 2017. This is not a luxury that would be nice to do if we have time. Dismissing it is the reason why so many New Year’s resolutions never get fulfilled. This is essential work if we want to create a life that brings us joy, serenity and a sense of achievement. We must make it a priority.

Don’t miss out on the valuable lessons that come out of an end of year review!

For more information about Honouring Your Story and to register, click here or on the photo below!

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A sustainable life for my soul

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I have been thinking about how people have been voting lately and how it has been analysed as a rejection of established politicians and institutions, immigration and financial inequalities. Sure, a lot of people are fed up with all these things and there is still a lot governments could do to make sure that no one is left behind.
But I think there is a deeper phenomenon happening here and it has nothing to do with politics, money or foreigners. I believe that we have come to a point in Western societies where the life we have created is utter madness and completely unsustainable for our souls.

Don’t get me wrong, we are lucky to have been born at a time when material living conditions are so much easier and more comfortable than for past generations. The Industrial Revolution has led to amazing material progress and intellectual enlightenment. Even politicians worked hard after WWII to make peace a fundamental priority with the creation of the United Nations Organisation and Europe. Life got really good.

However, some people became convinced that we needed to always move forward towards ‘more’ and ‘better’. More technology to make life easier, to access information quicker and to distract ourselves as often as we wish. More diversity in food and drinks. Better opportunities for everyone, higher productivity and greater performance. But at what cost?

I am grateful for so many of these things, I truly am. I couldn’t imagine life without equal opportunities for women, without a washing machine, Google or wonderful books. It all got really good… until it wasn’t.

For me, at some point, work pressure and insane expectations led me to burn out. Life, as it was, had become unsustainable for my soul. My field, Education, had lost its way with managers more interested in targets and constant monitoring of teachers and test results than in children enjoying their childhood and their learning. The memory of what anxiety did to my body, my mind and my soul won’t allow me to even contemplate the idea of working full-time anywhere again. I just can’t…

I was just one of so many people in many different fields who burnt out and I wasn’t the last. Everywhere I go, especially in big cities, I see people who feel stressed, overwhelmed or stuck. Work pressure and comparison with others on social media or in the media, lead us to make decisions that are not aligned with our profound essence.

We, as a society, have lost our way and the lifestyle that many of us have is not sustainable for our soul. Our soul needs connection with nature, meaningful relationships, time and space to rest and explore who we really are, what we really enjoy doing. Our soul has become depleted and feels silenced by a society where the ego reigns.

My soul is alive when I watch the sun rise or set, when I listen to the rain or to the waves of the ocean, when I pick fruit and savour them, when I leave my curtains open to be bathed in moonlight, when I spend an hour in traffic some days just to pick up my 14-year-old from school and see his face light up for a moment, when I see an Art exhibition with my friend Claire and both our souls delight together at the sight of the light or colours in a painting, when I hug a loved one for just a few extra seconds, when I light a candle, when I listen to a well-written BBC Drama, when I read a book just because I’m really interested, when I journal and let it speak, when I do something creative just for pleasure, when I write, when I drink a cup of tea and sit still in the moment.

This week I saw a man on the news talking about 5G coming soon and how it would mean quicker downloads and the emergence of brand new technology. I couldn’t share his enthusiasm. I couldn’t see how any new technology could help my soul feel more at home in this world. I imagined the air getting more crowded with invisible waves, making us sick. I saw more disconnection from the world we come from, the Earth, our spirit, the divine.

I don’t need faster internet. Why not pour more money into medical research instead? Or to improve the quality of life of the sick and the elderly? Or to create happy schools for children?

I choose ‘less and good enough’ over ‘more and better’ if it means that I can notice the sky becoming orangey pink as I am writing this. 5G won’t stir my soul like this. Having more will distract me from the essential, which, by the way, doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals but I just want what is right for me. I want a life that is sustainable for my soul.

It really is up to you!

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This week, half of the American nation experienced excitement and hope whilst the other half experienced shock and despair. The nation, families and friends have been split into two camps that cannot share their excitement or sadness together.
More than ever, we are reminded that our personal response to events is the only thing we can control and that might mean going through different stages. Emotions are never permanent.

Either way, it is helpful to keep in mind what truly matters to you and what you can do personally. No politician on either side can help you shape the life you want or change your core values and priorities. You can.

Now is the time to do the work that will enhance your life. Ultimately, taking responsibility for your life is the only way to create change.

The process starts with letting go of any feelings you might have that is holding you back. Don’t let your feelings for any politician, for your spouse, for people who wronged you or even harmed you, keep you stuck. You might want to meditate, visualise, dance them out, journal them, express them on the canvas, go for a walk or go to therapy. Do whatever you need to, to free yourself from repeating negative thoughts about certain people or situations.

Be clear about what you want. Have you written down all that you want to see in your life? I cannot stress enough how essential this step is. Of course you know it, but have you put a description of your most desired life in writing? Until you do, change won’t happen because from this description, you can write down what needs to happen for it to become a reality. Create different categories such as Home, Family/Loved ones, Work, Finances, Recreation/Play, Spirituality, etc. If the slogan of a politician resonated with you, describe what it meant to you personally and work out what you can do every day to embody the message or the values in your own life (as long as it doesn’t affect others negatively of course). Mahatma Gandhi’s words were timeless: ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

Each week, put in your schedule the steps that are going to take you closer to your desired life, no matter how small. Houses are not made of enormous blocks but of little bricks, a lot of materials and decoration items. Your life is no different.

Take the time to enjoy the world around you, your family, your friends, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, plants, flowers, animals, the Moon. The universe is the most solid background to our life because it carries on doing with cyclic regularity whatever it does. No matter what happens in your life, however great or tragic, the sun is going to rise, the autumn leaves will fall, flowers will bloom and the stars will be there tonight.

Do what you love to do just the same. Whether you are leaving a relationship, dealing with an illness or a loss, barely coping with stress or sudden change, you need to do what makes you feel better. Read a page-turner, do the work for this e-course you paid for and haven’t even looked at, get that colouring book out and get started (honestly, it is so relaxing!), learn something, prepare your garden for winter, create a kitchen herb garden, create jewellery, grab your camera and capture beauty, go to flea markets, just do whatever makes you happy in your spare time.

Sometimes, we feel that our world is coming to an end. Our mind is so good at taking the idea and running away with it, creating the worst scenario. In reality, things most likely turn out better than that scenario, and we often find that this was the painful step that was needed in the greater picture. I can still remember days when I wanted the earth to swallow me whole and I can see now that I have survived 100% of all the worst days I have ever had. I also know that I will survive others to come. And that is the other essential ingredient: faith. Have faith in the future, faith that things will be alright in the end, faith that there is a bigger story, faith in what you can do.

What I really want to say is, have a clear intention for your life and believe that this is the single, most important thing that is going to powerfully help you create the life you desire, not an external event, be it positive or negative. I believe, more than ever, that you are the creator of your life.

Why you need to ditch your self-care list

why-you-need-to-ditch-your-self-care-list

Candlelit bubble bath and taking five deep breaths. Gratitude list and feel good playlist. Journaling and adult colouring books. Sleeping more and eating well (although, dear one, that’s just addressing basic needs). Meditation and gentle stretching. Home manicure and pedicure. A massage and flowers.

Yes please!

These ideas for self-care that we see everywhere make a lovely list that you might want to look at when you have the time (!). Maybe you do one or two once in a while. It does feel good for as long as it lasts. The problem is, you do need to do these on a regular basis to sustain that feel-good factor.

I have been pondering on the question of self-care for a while and I believe that it is a much bigger issue than stolen moments here and there in an effort to restore body and soul. Just like with health, it is best to look at how we look after ourselves on a daily basis than having to fix problems as they happen.

Self-care is often seen as a remedy when we are exhausted physically or mentally, and we do need pick-me-ups, yet I believe we are restricting its scope.

The fundamental and lasting basis for self-care is self-love.

Self-love is looking at everything that is good in ourselves and declare it good enough to love ourselves unreservedly, despite the size of our thighs, the shape of our nose, the state of our house or of our bank account. It is essential to absolutely refuse that our inner critic bullies us day in, day out. Time to say ‘NO! I will not put myself down again, in a way that I would never dream of doing to someone else’

Self-love is remembering ourselves as babies and children and allowing our love to match the love we have for our own children. We don’t have to earn it! You don’t ask your children (grandchildren, nephews, godchildren, …) to earn your love, do you? So why would you need to earn your own love?

Self-love is paying attention to your needs every day throughout the day. The ultimate self-care tool is to ask yourself this simple question, ‘What do I need right now?’ Given the circumstances, what can you do to make it easier for yourself, to make it more comfortable, more bearable, more … (whatever is relevant). It’s all about loving yourself. What would you do to make life easier for your children? Be as determined to do the same for yourself!

Self-love also means taking care of your home which is an extension of yourself. Self-care could mean spending the day or the week decluttering or painting your house. If you love cooking, it could mean organising, remodelling your kitchen so you enjoy your time there.

Self-care is asking yourself what would enhance the quality of your life now, in the short term or in the long term. When you take the time to ask yourself the question, the answers might surprise you. They might involve some work instead of taking some time off, treating yourself.

The truth is, self-care might not look like its cliché; it can even look like hard work. You’ll know it was self-care when you experience a long lasting feeling of wellbeing or serenity, and definitely when you love and accept yourself.

Tell me, what do you need right now?