Learning to feel Safe

Over the last 5 years my relationship with myself has improved enormously. I am learning to become a good friend with myself, and I now love and respect myself much more. I welcome improvement and success in my life.

I have been surprised by how unsafe this all feels at times, even though I am clearly moving in a positive direction.

It has not been an easy process moving into unfamiliar territory. I often don’t feel safe even though I’m kinder and more respectful towards myself than ever. The fear of the unknown is strong and present at times. I thank it when I see it arise and let it go. Other times it’s voice sneaks in before I notice and has me flooded with anxiety. I am learning to comfort myself in this anxiety, before I act on it. I sometimes act on it and make decisions that are not in my best interests when this happens. I forgive myself for this quickly and move on.

As I have learned to care about myself, I have started paying more attention to my feelings, to allow them. I am noticing when I experience anxiety and it is quite often. Every day I feel some amount of anxiety. I am patient with myself about it, kind and gentle.

I see that small steps are what I can allow. So every day I work at welcoming success and wellbeing. I reassure myself that it is okay, that I am not in danger. It is a difficult process coming out of my familiar prison and starting to allow more wellbeing, happiness and success in. I have to accept the limits that I currently experience, and perhaps there are some aspects that I won’t ever feel safe about.

I am feeling as a result much more compassion towards others who are trapped in their self limiting beliefs, or who are taking themselves into new territory, improving their lives, taking the risk into the unknown. I feel a sense of peace with this.

Advertisements

Boundaries

I didn’t used to feel I had a right to have healthy boundaries. People were free to treat me badly and I would still remain in a friendship, relationship or marriage with them. I see that I enabled this behaviour by allowing it. I was not a victim, though I believed I was for many years. I spent a lot of time feeling bewildered by the unkindness of friends and partners towards me. But by not asserting my boundaries I taught them that their behaviour was acceptable.

Why did I allow such behaviour? When a child grows up with a parent whose behaviour is aggressive they learn that this is normal, and they learn this is what they can expect in other relationships. They learn that they are not worthy of being treated with respect and love. Being in danger is normal with a dangerous parent around, so they don’t recognise dangerous situations or people, and even find themselves attracted to them. I found myself in such relationships and friendships. In fact I would seek them out, it was what I knew, it was familiar.

It was only when I started discovering that I could be a friend to myself, to treat myself with the same compassion and respect with which I treated others, that I started questioning what I was allowing. It no longer felt okay to me to have unloving, bad tempered people around.

My ex husband called me yesterday, he wants to be friends with me. For the first time I was able to explain to him, that the behaviour I had allowed and accommodated was no longer acceptable. It felt good to say it, I was honouring myself.

Gratitude

Today I feel grateful for

  • The sun shining
  • The cool breeze blowing
  • My son is coming home soon
  • My good health
  • My family and friends
  • That I enjoy solitude more nowadays
  • The beauty of nature
  • This lovely fruit tea in front of me
  • The gorgeous view out the window
  • My new flat and the fact I don’t have to move out of the current one soon
  • It’s summer and the leaves and flowers are out
  • There’s demand for our services and plenty of work coming in
  • The way I have learned to cope with stress and anxiety, oh and responsibility
  • That I have had the courage to let go of some people
  • For those I have let go of – Mark, Dave, Pauline, Jamie, Komyo, Cobus, Ketron, thanks for all you gave to me and received from me, I love you x
  • For absent friends who have died, Tamba, Gonzo, Fiona, Kalinka, or moved away, Tobie, Malin, Zeta, I love you x
  • For the gifts my parents gave to me of having sound values, love of music, of art and beauty, for Gaga, caring about the world, sharing and not being greedy, encouragement to do what I want, an upbringing in a fabulous beautiful safe environment, for being middle class and the opportunities that has given me.
  • Thank you Gaga, my grandmother, for being a highly positive antidote to the harm I experienced as a child, for apologising for my mums behaviour which helped me realise it wasn’t my fault, for your belief in me, your love of nature and architecture, showing me around Scotland, for the sense of safety around you, for showing me you can be wealthy and a decent person!
  • Thank you to this comfy sofa
  • For the success I’m experiencing

I want to write some more about that and the gratitude around this specifically now

I do feel anxiety and an aloneness in this success, and pointing out the positive aspects to it to myself helps me accommodate it and integrate the feelings that come up about it.

What is this success bringing me?

  • The ability to go abroad whenever I like
  • I can pay my bills, eat whatever I like, pay my rent and mortgage
  • I can afford the latest technology in computers etc
  • I can run a car, put fuel in, pay the insurance and mot
  • I employ 10 full time people at the moment and 2 part time
  • As a company we have a good reputation and a place of respect in society
  • I have freedom to spend my time as I like
  • I am able to buy a property and do it up
  • I eat any food I want and eat out when I want
  • It is stretching me out of my comfort zone and making me grow and develop into new areas
  • I can help those financially who are on the ground making a difference to the disadvantaged in poor countries
  • I don’t have to worry about not having enough
  • I am learning to save, to be responsible with money, to use it to love and look after myself

And much more.

On Success

Thought I’d write a list, a sort of check in to the positive things that are happening.

  • I am experiencing success financially relative to where I was a few years ago. My bank account is healthier than it has ever been before
  • I’ve been accepted to a course in psychotherapy starting soon. I’ve been wanting to do that for some years.
  • I’ve been gradually making new friends and acquaintances by getting out there and joining groups of topics I’m interested in.
  • I have bought a flat I am doing up with the help of a builder.

It’s all good! And I’m watching with curiosity my ebbing and flowing feelings around life going well.

It’s not as straightforward as ‘life going well=happy’.

Especially when happy is a mysterious state to me. I’m not sure I understand it, and suspect I may put blocks up towards letting it in. Evidence for this are feelings of uncertainty and anxiety around the success I’m feeling. My increasing sense of loneliness as my struggles subside and I no longer seek the company of fellow chronic struggle addictees!

I have huge wide spaces of time each day to do what I like with. Such freedom. And I feel tremendous gratitude towards myself for getting me here, and everyone I’ve known who played a part in helping me find a niche in society. Including those friends I no longer spend time with, I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from such camaraderie along the way.

So now what is happening. It’s very very hot. Anxiety is present, at a fairly low level. That is quite normal for me, being on a constant state of alert for what could go wrong, ready to respond to problems from the guys or the clients. I manage it by knowing and experiencing ‘me’ as bigger than the anxiety, and this allows the fear to be there but not overwhelm me. A self regulation technique I learned through Mindfulness, and how observing that feelings and thoughts come and go. Something always remains stable and constant no matter what I am experiencing, and that was a valuable discovery. Even if I do forget it at times of heightened agitation or fear.

I am learning to feel safe gradually. And it may sound like a contradiction but success stimulates feelings of being in danger. It’s still less familiar to me than struggle and actually being in danger.

That is the legacy of a childhood that felt dangerous to me. I have felt safer with danger than I do with safety. How perverse.

So now relative safety has arrived, stability. I no longer have relationships bringing agony into my daily life, and no longer live on the edge of bankruptcy. I no longer put the well-being of everyone else before my own. I include myself in my plans for increasing wellbeing! I can now help and support others who devote their lives to relieving the suffering of others with some of the spare money.

And I apply a soothing psychological ointment towards myself. I hug myself metaphorically. I include myself in the compassion I feel towards everyone.

I don’t have to sabotage my stability any more. I can watch with curiosity and enquiry the sabotaging impulses as they come. The way I bit my nails right down till they hurt the other day.

I see that stability has merit and value. Yes it’s very boring to me much of the time, there’s no stimulating drama or major problems for my brain to be entertained by. But I’m taking that as part of the resistance that appears to it. I will see in time that I can play within this stability. And I’m using it to further improve my life conditions.

And leave something for Tobie materially. I don’t mention him much. I feel it’s almost none of my business to comment on a 24 year old son. A mother has to let go for the son to be free. I’m so lucky. He is a darling, and I’m so very proud of him and what he has achieved. Kind of a weird phrase that, proud of, I’m very pleased and I feel great admiration is what I mean by it. He pulled himself up and forged a way ahead, and is living an exciting life of travel while earning money, and enjoying a varied social life. He is wise too. I love him a lot. Here he is a couple of years ago.

My Self Love Club

I go every Thursday to this group, the Self Love Club. It was started by a wonderful woman who, like me, had discovered self compassion as a path to greater happiness peace and wellbeing. She wanted to join with others in exploring this process and experience and so we meet for 2 hours every Thursday which she facilitates.

It is the highlight of my week. Being with others who are willing to be open and honest and share their experience of the difficulties of loving themselves and the ways they are learning to. We all help each other.

It is often brought up that our culture does not encourage full self acceptance and self love. Our culture generally wants to maintain the status quo in the name of stability possibly. What would happen if everyone were to start loving themselves enough to be the kindest they could towards themselves? Perhaps they would no longer be able to tolerate tedious jobs in offices, or a boss that is abusive, or a partner or friends that are less than respectful? It could cause a massive change in the world. I cannot even start to fathom the implications of this if it took place in a widespread way.

What else would happen if we started really valuing ourselves and being our own best friends?

  • We might find ourselves naturally gravitating towards living healthier lives, eat and exercise well and look after ourselves better.
  • We may find ourselves gravitating towards daily practises that maintain our inner wellbeing such as mindfulness or yoga
  • Perhaps we would drop some negative relationships and find new kindred spirits to be around who support us
  • We might find ourselves becoming aware of guidance from our own hearts over the seeking of status or admiration or accumulating money and other goals we have picked up from external influences
  • We could find the need of approval from others lessening as we give that approval to ourselves, and we would feel more free as a result
  • We might find that we give up short term pleasure seeking that can be detrimental to our wellbeing, such as drinking, binge eating, drug taking etc. In favour of our medium and long term wellbeing, health and financial security.
  • We would learn how to soothe ourselves in times of minor distress and be kind enough to ask for help in times of major distress when we need more assistance. Pride or fear would no longer stand in the way, when being kind to ourselves is a central goal
  • We may find ourselves feeling more creative or playful and wanting to express that side of ourselves
  • We might stop playing small and hiding our talent and strengths from others, no longer afraid of the reactions of others, or spending time with others who celebrate our strengths and successes.
  • We may become aware and appreciative of our lovable qualities and love even our less lovable qualities, which we would treat with tender understanding rather than criticism
  • Our feelings would be accepted and welcomed as they arise whatever they are, without judgement. We would regard our less pleasant feelings of anxiety, guilt, sadness and anger with tender caring and compassion as we would with a treasured friend. And maybe we would see these feelings as friends which remind us to up our level of self compassion and kindness
  • Regarding our feelings with self compassion and kindness would likely make us less afraid to feel them, so we would bottle feelings up less and so these would be less likely to become health problems
  • We would feel more worthy of opening up to the beneficial abundant side of life, instead of feeling deserving of scarcity and struggling…..these could include harmonious relationships, inner peace, financial abundance and we would allow ourselves to experience more of these and welcome them
  • We might find ourselves feeling more courageous and bold enough to overcome some of our fears, such as public speaking, the skydive we always wanted to take, the mountain we want to climb.
  • We may take many small daily actions that strengthen our new self love, such as buying flowers for ourselves, making our living spaces beautiful, keeping on top of our paperwork to create a feeling of order, writing lists of what we feel thankful for each day, or what we appreciate about ourselves.
  • We could find ourselves forgiving others more quickly, as holding on to resentment no longer feels healthy to us.
  • We would establish firmer boundaries with others and we would be able to assert our boundaries in a loving way, rather than waiting till we feel angry. We would not wish to harbour anger inside as we value our inner peace more.

To be continued!

And feel free to add any you can think of 🙂

Having an Upturn

It is lovely when the sun shines physically and metaphorically in life, both of which are happening right now in my world. I am having a moment of grace here. As strange as it sounds, while I welcome this moment of poise in what otherwise often feels like a storm, there is an accompanying slight disquiet. I am not used to this harmony, it is new territory. It is what I have been wishing for though, a main goal, to feel more at peace within myself and with the world. So here I am enjoying just that, even though I don’t often trust happiness when it arrives.

Everything (almost) is going well. So much to be grateful for:

  • My son is happy, in good health and doing well in life
  • The projects are going fine
  • The clients are happy, and they are putting money in the bank account
  • I can pay the suppliers  what I owe
  • I have bought my first ever property
  • I have money to improve it (new kitchen going in next week)
  • We have had an unprecedented 6 weeks of continual fine sunny weather
  • I have harmony in almost all my relations with others
  • I have a better than ever relationship with myself
  • My health is good and I am eating very healthy food and looking after myself
  • I have been asserting myself more recently
  • The perfectionist self criticism has reduced to almost zero, and has been replaced with a willingness to feel compassion when I suffer

So thats all I wanted to share. If you want to do well in life in all respects just start being kinder towards yourself, we can be our own best friend. My business is making way more money as a result of this action. I have no abusive people in my life. I am much more at peace with the world as a result.

The underlying anxiety is still present too, I am not sure that will ever fully leave, though I am open to that possibility. I live with it, I have learned how to soothe myself in numerous ways throughout each day and sometimes even give myself a gentle hug.

img_0683

 

Some thoughts on Success and Core Values

I have taken myself from being in receipt of welfare benefits aged 38 to having a thriving business that has allowed me to buy my first property, aged 53. 15 years of building a business and working hard through adverse economic conditions, adverse weather and my lack of business experience. But now here I am on a Monday morning writing this and I have 3 teams out building gardens. My business is in demand and I can hardly keep up with the new client enquiries. I have all the signs of the potential for even greater success if I steer my course wisely.

Why did it take me so long to  manoeuvre myself into being economically viable enough for a mortgage? Back when I was a teen I knew I did not want a life (like my parent’s life as I saw it) of having material security at the expense of my love of adventure and exploration, of learning and discovery, so I went for a life of being a bit of a gypsy and traveller.

As I also loved learning and progressing and wanted to keep a foot in society and contribute in some way, I managed to get a pass amid all the fun in Landscape Architecture in my 20s. Then I had a child at 28, a surprise, but a very very welcome one. That took care of the next few years, I could just relax a enjoy being with him and I did. I had a poor ability to choose good partners so I did this without his dad. I did have huge support from my family, I am so very grateful for that.

So back to now where I am now experiencing relative success. Allowing this in to my life has been a challenge in itself. Why?

  • Its new and unfamiliar to have money and I feel fear at times about it
  • It has made me wealthier than some friends, and I have experienced losing a few of those , some adverse responses and find myself more alone now
  • I am made aware of ambivalent judgements I have about wealthy people
  • It has brought up self doubt and questions for me to look at, can I handle wealth without losing my important core values?
  • It is a responsibility having money
  • It makes for more choices, which negatively can  be experienced as stress and positively as more freedom
  • It has made me question what I really want
  • Part of me identifies as being undeserving of wealth

So quite a wish mash of responses going on, and what I am doing is continue to row my boat regardless of the fears and doubts. I ma feeling anxious right now actually! But this is also very much exciting new territory, and essentially it is an act of self love to allow more material security into my life. And that is my main life theme at the moment.

Allowing myself to have more financial success is a way I can look after myself, an aspect of the relatively new theme of self compassion that I haven’t tried before. Up i=until now even in my business life I have yoyo’d between doing well and doing dismally poorly financially. I see now how I sabotaged my progress in this area.

Now I am more aware of the mechanism of self sabotage I can raise the upper limit of the abundance I allow into my life, and this goes not only for financial wealth but in joy and happiness and general wellbeing too.

What I have discovered is that my success needs to be compatible with my values. And some of my values did not appear to be compatible with wealthiness at first. This created some inner conflict of goals which I have to smooth out before I will allow more success in.

So I have had to do some digging into this to ensure that I honour these deeply held values that are important to me and that the new wealth I am learning to welcome in can in some way allow me to express these values more widely. (I did a core values test online, its free for the basic one, and I highly recommend it to clarify what your values are).

IMG_2282