Expressing Gratitude to those we Love and to Ourselves

I sometimes wish I had people around me giving me positive affirmations and say “well done” to me more often. I find it so encouraging and empowering to be validated and recognised in this way. Just someone recognising I’m doing well. However this isn’t often present so what am I doing about it? I’ve decided to give others what I would like to receive more of myself. So I’m sending thank you texts and emails to people who are of value to me in my life. Relationships need nurturing like we do ourselves.

I was curious about why I don’t do this more often, (not that it matters much) but I wondered if it was a bit of ego wanting to hold back and protect itself, after all its an opening up expressing love and appreciation. Perhaps, and also maybe a bit of laziness. Anyways….this is what I’ve done the last few days in expressing appreciation.

  • Yesterday I sent a text to the foreman to say, ” I just want you to know how much I appreciate all your hard work and valuable input to the business”. His replay showed that it was well received. It’s such an easy thing to do, and I often just forget.
  • I told my tetraplegic friend how well he is doing and what amazing strength he is showing in coping with his situation. I visit him regularly too, going this Sunday. Really, what a situation, paralysed from the neck down and with severe Parkinson’s disease. What else can I bring to his life to cheer him up. Maybe I write a list of his admirable qualities that he can read when he is down.
  • I sent a message to my son to say that “I love and appreciate you and admire you too”, I could see this was well received too. Important for a son to feel admired by his family, and I certainly do admire him a lot.
  • I told my mum I appreciate her and also her support and generosity
  • I told the group last night when we were leaving that I benefitted greatly from our meeting and really enjoyed every individuals valuable contribution
  • I sent a text to my closest fund to say that I value our friendship and thank her for being in my life
  • I texted my Mum to tell her thanks for her support and help, that I love her and am grateful for our friendship
  • Sent a longish email to my sister (who has been estranged for quite long periods) to say “Jane I don’t  tell you nearly enough, if ever actually that I really really appreciate you. You are an inspiration to me and I admire you greatly. Your energy to help others, your practicality and organisational ability, your confidence, your incredible wittiness and quick thinking and emotional intelligence and diplomacy among many other things. I learn a lot from you, and you often show me a different way of approaching life that I wouldn’t have thought of. So thank you for being such a great sister. Love Susan xxxx”

This all feels so good. And it’s spreading love and appreciation around.

It was inspired by the support I’m receiving from the Thursday group I’ve been going to, where we communicate authentically with each other and sometimes do little exercises. We always leave feeling energised and empowered, and feeling good about ourselves. We feel it’s okay to be us just exactly as we are.

There were 8 of us there last night. One of last night’s exercises was to write our name on the top of a page. Then we had to pass it to the person next to us and we each had to write something we like about each person, and the paper was passed round the circle till our own sheet of paper came back to us. A whole page of positive things that others feel or think about us. Wow, how empowering that was. Picture attached.

How come we don’t all do much more of this? Is it because most people just don’t need it or what?

So even if we don’t have such positive affirmations from others in our lives we can give that affirmation to ourselves.

One thing I’m doing often is celebrating my achievements. This encourages me and reminds me that quite a lot in life is going right. This counteracts the sort of my brain that tends to focus on problems and restores balance. So here are a few of my recent achievements.

  • Today I paid the “legal fine” of £10k. The first of three, so one down two to go, a third of the way through, woo hoo!
  • I’m about to buy a little apartment, my first property aged 52! I feel this is a big achievement for me and I feel proud I’ve managed to manoeuvre myself into a position to make this possible.
  • I paid my staff today as I do each week, all 8 of them. I’m proud of running a business that employs so many people and running it all on my own too. I’m amazing for being able to do this! 15 years ago I’d never have believed I could do this.
  • I’m taking risks by going to these groups which require a high degree of self exposure and honesty. I’m proud of myself that I’m brave enough to do this.
  • I’m going on a date with a stranger tomorrow (in a public place of course) and he is a detective in the CID. I’m proud of myself for going into the unknown in this way and meeting complete strangers with a view to developing a relationship. This is one of the most important decisions a person can make, who to spend our lives with. I’m nervous about the prospect but proud of myself for taking some steps to meet someone I can have a relationship with.
  • Managing money I was never very good at in the past, I just didn’t have much and didn’t respect or care about it. Now I have become really good and responsible with money, I have had to with the amount of juggling I’ve had to do. I deal with over half a million through my bank account each year. It’s a lot of responsibility and people trust me with their money. And there’s who to pay first, how to manage cash flow, looking ahead and planning. Proud of my improvements in this area.
  • I’m proud of myself for overcoming quite a bit of the damage that was done to me as a child, the negative conditioning that was not conducive to a healthy self esteem. Despite this ‘handicap’ I’ve managed to make a successful niche for myself in society, believe in myself enough to persevere through hard times, have healthy worthwhile achievable goals, learn to be kinder to myself and be less defensive with others. Well done to me!
  • I design really lovely gardens and I’m in demand for my relative services, and people trust me, I’m proud of that.
  • I’ve worked hard to go from a position of self contempt to self appreciation and self compassion. It has taken a lot of honest facing of myself and I’m proud of myself for having the courage and determination to have done this. Life is so much bette without self hatred and harsh self judgement and criticism!

So that’s it for now, I could go on but it’s a bit of an essay already. Hope your day is full of thoughts of what you appreciate in yourself, in others and in nature. What a lot of positivity can be generated and I haven’t even left my sofa!

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Wise Words

Not mine, I was handed this printout the other day at one of the groups I go to and I plan on keeping it in my pocket. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff”. Indeed. Amazes me how I fly into panic and anxiety over the smallest blip or problem. I feel the wise part of me is so nearby, present and here all the time, but I just don’t listen. You could say that is a compulsive response. But actually it is a choice, even if its a choice based on a lifetime of habits starting with early conditioning to be reactive. I have a sense if I were given a year to live I would listen more to that wise me, the real me.

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Recovery happening!

Gosh, after a year or more of feeling pretty miserable, lonely and down, and in mourning, not to mention anxious nearly daily, I seem to be coming out of it. I feel encouraged and even optimistic about the future. It has been a 6-8 week process, quite quick I suppose but I have employed intensive help over this time. Every day isn’t exactly filed with thrilling joyful exuberance exactly, but there’s a stability.

This has been a multi pronged approach.

  • Asking for help. Reaching out to a therapist and a coach, both of whom have been a tremendous support. I enjoy my rapport with them and I feel a lot less lonely. There is something really special about having the undivided attention of a trusted qualified professional an hour a week to make one felt heard, to express it all uncensored, all the messy feelings of hurt, and anxiety, depression, confusion. And to be listened too.
  • Finding groups of like minded people through Meet Up groups. Im out 4 nights a week making new friends and contacts with some lovely people who are unafraid to be vulnerable open and authentic. What a gift that has been.
  • I joined the 8 week Action for Happiness course which runs worldwide in most cities, again its centred on real issues of being alive and how to maximise our care for ourselves and others.
  • I am not over eating as a result of boredom and stress now, which resulted in outing on 10 extra pounds of weight which I have now lost, by just listening to my body’s needs closely and with care about what I put into my body. The body seemed less attracted to meat and more towards vegetarian diet with some chicken still, but little red meat.
  • Also listening to my body, alcohol is now a very occasional treat and only socially, no more drinking on my own in the evenings and feeling muggy in the mornings. Three nights of social drinking in 7 weeks now. And I have saved a lot of money and vastly reduced the amount of empty calories going in.
  • Again listening to my body over these last 2 winter months, I have spent time on the sofa deeply relaxing, reading watching films after work. And not feeling guilty about it. Hibernation. Stopped swimming every day due to the tennis elbow and dirty gym, which began to feel I was belittling myself putting up with that. I was even leaning the showers and changing room myself often, which isn’t on for a 5 star hotel. I did not feel cared for, it felt like ild self abuse in the end. I plan to join a different gym shortly.
  • I have stopped my daily walks which would seem like a contradiction as exercise is so good for us. I just haven’t felt like it except occasionally during this very cold winter, and that is okay. Giving myself permission to do whatever my body feels like, I trust it if it wants to rest. Its been traumatic this year and I have needed to rest not push myself at this point. But I went to the woods yesterday when we had a rare glimpse of sunshine and that was great.
  • I spend a lot of time reading educational material, keeping my brain alive and thinking and active.
  • I am making more effort to help others, I visit my paralysed friend regularly and while it is an act of compassion I also really enjoy his company and feel good about myself making the effort to make that long drive. I made the homeless boxes full of items homeless people might benefit from. I get to help others and feel good to be part of the efforts to alleviate the suffering of others. We are all in this together.
  • I have been dating a little recently snd enjoying meeting new men. I have a new guy to meet soon who sounds interesting, a detective of all things!
  • I have been reading and focusing material which is positive on the internet, the media bombards us with so many negative views of the world and how badly we are all doing. This engenders guilt. It is necessary and not true either. Read this from Steven Pinker for an alternative more balanced view of how humanity is doing.
  • I listen to Tara Brach every night before I go to sleep. This is a link to her latest talk, and she adds a new one each week. This helps to reorientate me, and encourages me to practise mindfulness throughout the day.
  • I am making more effort to tell people how much I appreciate them, neighbours family, friends and those I am meeting in the groups. I feel good, they feel good, win win.
  • I am working more on my garden designs and enjoying being accepted in the restive process.

What I still need to work on right now.

  • My stress level dealing with difficult demanding and quite often unpleasant clients, it goes from a 2 to about a 9. Im working on this with my coach and therapist.
  • Moments when my thoughts tell me ‘life is shit’, I have to notice these more often rather than believing them and sooth myself with self compassion when these thoughts occur. And even contradict them by remembering all that is going well and that I am grateful for.
  • Gratitude, remembering what I have and watching out for those complaint thoughts
  • Establishing a less friendly and more business like relationships with clients and implementing the terms and conditions which will protect me more
  • Charging more for our work
  • Forgiving myself more quickly for mistakes

So all in all Im happy with the general direction I am moving in, the process. Many blips occur daily but these can be embraced and let go of with compassion for myself. And for us all, its not easy or at least its pretty damn strange to find ourselves in bodies walking about the surface of a planet and keeping ourselves alive and healthy with so many temptations to do otherwise around us.

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Feeling stressed Today

I was having a big spike in anxiety last night and this morning which started with an email from a client last night. Thought we had finally finished a project and the client informed me it needs more work before they will pay. Need that final payment to pa6 bills. Waiting for payment from another client who hasn’t got back to me. I’m having to take money out of my deposit money to pay legal stuff off of £30k. I’m hoping to buy this flat I’ve found that the idea of having to let that go is really disappointing.

So what is happening here is that the limbic system has been activated, brain thinks my survival is threatened with these events and my thoughts about not having a house to buy add to that. And it freaks out with fear, then annoyance and my inner balance is disturbed. Added to that I feel disheartened, discouraged that this is ever going to work. The mind makes a meal of a set back, and doom and gloom thinking enters to disturb the emotions further.

This is where resilience really helps. And I’m aware mine has been much lower this year, it’s seems it’s been one disaster after the next in work, and my dog dying set the stage for a reduced bounce back and mood buoyancy and a general feeling of sadness and malaise.

So I’ve been slowly building up my resilience again. New healthy habits, new friends and activities and being kind to myself. It’s all helping, but it’s not instant. Gradual turning around of overall mood. And at times here I am in the silence of my space alone wondering if this is all there is to life. Struggle to earn a living, to please clients, pay suppliers, keep on top of paperwork and legalities, pay to fix broken vehicles, keep the men happy and remembering to thank them. When I’m feeling just so discouraged.

There’s a psychodynamic psychotherapy 2 year course starting this year which I’m going to apply for. I want to set myself up for a new type of life in my later years. And I’d like to put to use all this self development and healing I’ve been doing to help others.

The rest of my packages just arrived for my homeless boxes and that has cheered me up. I want to do more to help others. So they each contain a pair of thermal gloves and socks, healthy bars, plasters, hand cream, about £10, hand-warmers, rain poncho, lip salve and a “you matter and you are loved” note. Still a deodorant to add to each when they arrive.

Mood better already, no better way to cheer myself up by being of help to someone else.

Lost 10 pounds!

Since the 1st of January by making healthy choices, and next to no wine or any other alcohol. Still having the very odd treat and meal out though, not completely depriving myself of treats, as I know that leads to a backlash of inner rebellion against healthy eating!

I went to another group meeting last night, a new group for me, called Live Your Legend. Met a bunch of really interesting people and had some nice healthy food and was glad I went. It really cheers me up getting out and mingling. There was some shamanic drumming in the middle that was quite enjoyable. We each had a shaker and a blindfold to put on. I’m not very into shamanism but it was fun to experience something new. The facilitator told us about his journey from being bullied and into anxiety for decades till he took steps to change his life. It feels good to be around people who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.

So back to now, today. There are a few things getting me down but I’m going to write and achievement list to encourage myself after this little moan. It’s 11.30 and I’m struggling to get motivated to do anything much. Answering a few calls, writing email replies, keeping an eye on finances. Worried about paying this £30k and still get to have my flat. Feeling anxiety about not feeling motivated. I’m feeling anxious and unsettled about an imminent move too. Tennis elbow had flared up again and is a nearly constant pain. It’s minor I know but it’s a little stressful. Even holding a cup of tea or the kettle hurts. A support strap has just arrived though so I’ve got that on and hopefully it helps.

So as I don’t want to focus on that I want to write about what is going well. This is an experiment taking place this last 6 weeks, of changing my situation and watching the results. So this is what I have done to combat the loneliness and depression I was experiencing.

  • Next to no drinking , think I’ve had 2 nights of drinking socially in 6 weeks. My mind is clearer, and I’m relieved of the guilt I was experiencing from leaning on it, knowing it was in conflict with my health goals and weight loss goal. I’m also saving a lot of money, £200 a month even.
  • I’m doing what I want when I want almost all the time. Cutting myself a bit of slack when I feel like lounging instead of working. I feel like I’m in recovery so judging myself less harshly
  • I’m out probably 5 times a week mostly at night at different self development social groups and meeting new people, and experiencing myself in this new social context. I love being around people, hearing their stories and telling mine.
  • I got a therapist to delve with me and it’s someone I can confide in too. She encourages me and is an adsvocate for my wellbeing. I lobe this support
  • Also got a life coach, she is helping me too a lot and I really like her with affirmations, finding solutions, making me accountable for decisions I make
  • Enjoying family dinners and visiting my mum.
  • Going to see the guys every day and having a nice chat, while making sure projects are on track

How can I increase my benefit to others as well as increase my own sense of meaning and purpose. Then I just had an idea. I got the little boxes out from under the bed, and started making up packs for the homeless, starting off with some Swiss hand cream, a little money, and bought some stuff on eBay to put in them, thermL socks and gloves, hand warmers lip salve, vitamins and a couple more things. I put a little note in to each one that says you are valued and loved. Feeling energised now and motivated to get on with my work tasks.

Fulfilment, purpose, belonging, contact, joy, engagement with life

I just started off about to write how lacking I am in these things. Then I realised I actually have them in my life already. Somehow I seem to have programmed myself or been programmed to look at what is wrong and what is lacking. Addiction to complaint and scarcity thinking are habits I am in the process of successfully breaking.

Not only do I have all these things, I’m tremendously grateful for them. I have the satisfaction and fulfilment from creating a business from nothing and a niche to occupy in society, from employing men and caring for them as an employer, I have my wonderful family, my son, Mum, uncle, sister, and a few cousins. I have my good friends, and new friends in the making, my new weekly groups, intimate connection and communication with strangers has brought a new dimension, and I am engaged not withdrawn from life out there meeting clients and running a business.

I have been seeking material security these last few years, as I have considered that I have been lacking that, in the sense of owning my own home mostly and also struggling to pay bills and make a profit and balance the books in business. Perhaps I can drop that story now though. So I don’t own a house, so what. I struggle with cash flow at times, yet I manage.

I forget that most of us have such an enormous level of comfort safety and actually luxury that I take for granted too. I am again sitting here under a blanket keeping warm this winter afternoon. I’m not working in some office among people I don’t like with a boss telling me what to do. I am free of that. How great.

I do have a better standard of living than cleopatra had and so do many of us. It’s so wonderful, the first time in human history that so many of us live in such material comfort and safety. It does seem that for many a sense of purpose, belonging, community, joy, intimacy have taken second place to ‘getting ahead’.

Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely felt the lack of these things with my 2 most meaningful connections gone, my son and my dog. And I have had to take steps to help myself develop these deeper aspects of life. I sought help when I couldn’t get out of my mourning which became an underlying low mood funk. I got a therapist and a coach, and now focus more on seeking new activities that bring meaning and purpose and connection and I feel so much better now that I am building new connections. I am finding these through the groups I have become a part of which encourage authentic connection and communication. It’s weird looking at how I sat here for a year feeling so lonely and all I had to do was help myself, look for the meet up groups and go along, spend the time meeting people, learning new things. It took a long time before I asked for help too, I could have done that earlier, I suppose I had to wait for the courage of desperation to arrive!

I have felt so alone running this business with all its responsibility, stress and pressure. But boy, have I learned a lot about resilience and stress. And myself, and people and how we all work. And what not to do, and what to do for success. It has been an opportunity for the development of my strength and self knowledge. I have made big mistakes saying yes when I knew no was the answer, these have cost me dearly and set me back. I may have to forego my dream of owning my own place this year and drag all this stuff into another rental apartment. So yes, I’ve had to face the self sabotage of limiting my progress. Is success really so scary? This painful lesson taught me a lot not least that it is more scary to unconsciously self sabotage. However, I won’t focus too much on the failures. There is a whole future ahead and a new story that I can write. Already I’ve achieved a lot.

I am a woman on her own in a traditionally male industry who has created a business out of nothing that is still going after 12 years and is successful enough to fully support 6 people and their families including myself. I need to regularly remind myself what an achievement that is.

Soundbath, paralysed friend, new flat

I went to see a flat to buy on Saturday with my Mum, and think it may very well be my first house. It needs a bit of work but it’s quite big and cheap. I imagine being there for 2 or 3 years till I build up funds to get a nicer place, maybe a house with a garden. I’m playing safe at the moment. Quite exciting and something to really look forward to! Choosing colours, furnishings and making a home.

On Saturday night my neighbours downstairs had a loud party till 3am. I holed up in my back room and watched great movies, taking the good with the bad and knowing I will be out of here soon. Was angry at some points, I thought they could have just warned me and I could have vacated. That’s where much anger comes from, my own thoughts – thinking that people should behave in a different way than the way they are behaving. It’s rather pointless and I realise that. So I just made the best of it and looked after myself.

On Sunday I visited a friend who is paralysed from the neck down. He has Parkinson’s disease and had a fall a year ago which damaged his spine at the neck. I go about once a month, it’s an hour and a half drive away to the Care Home he lives in. We always have a good intimate deep authentic talk about our lives. His situation is extremely challenging as you can imagine. He can’t eat, or walk, or even wipe his own bottom. I can’t imagine it. But he is coping somehow. Though none of his friends other than me visit him ever. I don’t really understand that. He has a wife who is leaving too. I got him a therapist who goes once’s week. Mostly to help him face the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Man oh man, so humbling. What some people go through. I can hardly process what it must be like.

I was thinking about it as I stood in the shower. How someone in his position would so love to be able to do such a simple act. And many other such activities we all do every day, cook, walk in the park, have a poo, use a knife and fork. I feel that I’m not aware of the miracle that is our every day life, at that most simple level. Though I do connect with my gratitude regularly.

Last night I went to a ‘sound bath’. 5 of us lay on huge bean bags under cosy blankets in candlelight. The group facilitator, a most loving and slightly mystical polish woman, played on half a dozen singing bowls making sublime hypnotic sounds, and went round each of us while playing them and talking us through a guided meditation. The sound was very penetrative, a beautiful experience.

Im glad I sought out help. I’m glad to have a therapist, a life coach and a business coach! And all these groups…

I’m feeling very grateful for discovering these Meet Up groups, it’s been a life changer. It’s brought new experiences, new people and learning and fun. And giving me something to do. I’m out 3 or 4 nights a week. I’m still not drinking alcohol, it’s just gone as a habit, I don’t think about it at all. I don’t mind drinking occasionally socially, but it just doesn’t feel good any more generally. Strange to look back on how I felt I needed those couple of glasses of wine or cider most evenings as a little ‘treat’. I don’t even like the feeling of it any more, especially when I’m on my own. I really enjoy the clarity of being sober. Life isn’t so painful now I suppose, not so much reason to self medicate. Must be saving such a lot of money too.

It’s 1pm and I’ve been on the sofa working away, sending emails answering calls, reading and writing here. I’m so glad to have this place to express my thoughts in.