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THOUGHTS

Being authentic matters to everyone…

I recently was in a situation with a group of friends, where via a group chat they were discussing a group catch up. Without going into too much detail, it turned into a discussion around the catch up becoming one where all the children would come too, rather than just a girls brunch. It went on about how cute it is when the kids are together, and a lot of other kid talk. As each message came in to my inbox, I got more and more upset (we have fertility issues and are unable to conceive naturally), I even shed a few tears. It is that constant reminder of what we are unable to have, and how it impacts all facets of our lives, like wanting to avoid hanging out with my own friends! I wrote out a few responses, and then deleted them. I felt that any response I gave was either not going to be my authentic self, or I was going to hurt my friends’ feelings by being honest, and vulnerable.

I sat on this for six days, and I really did stew over it. I was weighing up if it was worth saying something, what was the point when it was only going to hurt people’s feelings, and this was something I just had to get accustomed to, and basically just harden up. I also did not want to say anything, which would lead my friends to feel awkward, or created an elephant in the room with all future interactions. However, after writing my thoughts and feelings out it became clear to me that I had to say something:

          How did I expect this situation to change in the future when my friends had no idea it was upsetting to me? If they were unaware of my reaction to this conversation it was highly likely that similar conversations would occur in the future, which was not good for anyone.

          It was not ok for me to feel this upset in a casual conversation with some of my closest friends, and I did not want to lose these friendships because I was avoiding any contact that led me to be so upset.

          These are girls who actually love me and although I know they would hate to feel they had upset me, I know they would rather know for future reference, and so they could understand my feelings and consequent behaviours.

          It was not ok for my friends to not have the truth from me. To not have the authentic, vulnerable me. To not be honest with them.

I sent them all an email, outlining my feelings around the situation. I highlighted that it was not about hurting anyone, and I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for the conversation, but this is how I was feeling. I suggested that in future I am happy to be left out of these conversations (which people probably feel like they can’t do). The responses I got back were amazing, of course they were, these are my girls! I love them, and they love me.

The whole situation highlighted to me how important being authentic really is. By being authentic I have created stronger connections with loved ones, I have saved myself future heartache, and allowed my friends to understand me and my situation further.

It can be scary at times to open ourselves up like this, because the fear of rejection when it is our true self can hurt. However, by being authentic we are being true to ourselves and those that love us will recognise this and love us all the more. Most importantly, you can walk with peace in your heart and your head held high as you know you have spoken your truth.

Mel H x

SELF HELP

Self-worth: are you out-sourcing it?

One of the common things I hear in coaching and in general conversation is “I will be happy when..” “I will be able to… when…” and the ‘when’ is almost always based on external items or situations. When you out-source your own self-worth nothing will ever be enough, the shine wears off the new thing that you ‘needed to be happy’ and you are still the same you; the you that is not happy.

A common external focus for people is appearance, on what they wear, their make-up, nails, tan, lashes, and most commonly their weight. Not only do people end up punishing themselves with gruelling exercise and not nourishing their bodies they will never be happy with their appearance anyway, if they are not happy with who they are. I am by no means saying that you should not have these things, I love getting these things done, but your self-worth should not be attached to them. Your self-worth should not fluctuate with regrowth, clear nails, natural blonde lashes, or a change in the bathroom scales.

Out-sourcing self-worth to other people is another common occurrence. People take their self-worth from what other people say, which is all subjective and often just opinion. Nobody else dictates your worth, and seeking their approval often leads to doing things that don’t align to your goals and values, and consequently you end up feeling worse about yourself. You can end up running yourself ragged just to please other people, while you are not pleased about anything for yourself.

The new house, the boat, trips overseas, and all the new gear also don’t determine your self-worth. Logically, this is obvious. Objects do not say anything about our value as humans, but still we hear ‘retail therapy’ and even with a quick scroll through social media we see that people do give weight to the objects in their lives, as if these things are a reflection of them. When they are no longer new, ‘the high’ of the purchase has worn off, or the newer model is released what happens then? If your self-worth is attached to these things, then purchasing needs to continue to feel worthy.

For me, it was status, my achievements. When I was receiving external achievements and recognition I felt my self-worth increase, and this continued until my mid-20s where I changed careers and for a few weeks lost some of that (self-imposed) status. This was the best thing for me. It was the realisation I needed to happen, to really stop and reflect on where my value came from. I was still the same person with the same characteristics, personality, strengths and weaknesses, and I was still loved. I realised then, that my self-worth had been out-sourced to external achievements and the status that came with this; the salary, the title, the awards. I was embarrassed. I had never thought that these things were actually important, nor did they reflect another person’s value as a human, so why was I giving it value to myself? (If you read my previous blog on unmasking the insecurities you will see exactly where this has come from).

So, what did I do? I stopped and rediscovered my internal self-worth:

          I read, listened and watched speakers on topics around self-worth, shame, guilt, love etc.

          I journaled on what I had learned and insights I had to myself.

          I brainstormed what mattered in my life, focusing internally.

          I recorded what my strengths were, and made a list that was decent, not just a handful of things.

          I challenged negative self-talk. I recorded it, and used logic and facts to quiet it.

          I used positive affirmations daily.

When you out-source your self-worth not only does it lead to no change in your internal happiness but it lets comparison take a front seat also. When you have bought a new outfit, or are hanging on to someone’s compliment and then you see someone else with a better wardrobe, or get higher praise it can be crushing. It takes that away from you instantly, and your self-worth plummets.

This is why social media effects people differently. For those of us who really value ourselves, and have our self-worth tied up in who we are as people, our true internal self, social media is a way to connect to others, see cool pictures, watch inspiring videos, use it as a business platform etc., it does not touch our self-worth.  It can be harmful however, to those who have out-sourced their self-worth, and are therefore able to directly compare that (appearances, objects, status etc.) self-worth to others.

If scrolling through your social media makes you feel shit:

          Look at the accounts you are following. If there are certain accounts that are doing this…delete/block/unfriend!

          If it is more general then I would suggest you limit your social media use as a start, while you start looking at your own self-worth. Try some of the things I mentioned above, or contact me.

See, I know that lots of people have better bodies, better houses, products, more lavish holidays, and cooler stuff than me, but you know what? No one is me! My value is me.

Mel H x

SELF HELP

You’re toxic, I’m slipping under…

Firstly, I apologise for the Britney reference in the title, but it just fit so well. Secondly, the picture reflects what I think when I think about a non-toxic environment. Right, I will get on with the blog now…

We have all been in a toxic environment, whether it is at home, a situation with a group of ‘friends’ or most commonly from what I hear; a toxic work place. Sometimes we realise it immediately and will escape, like the frog placed in boiling water, but other times we don’t realise it slowly creeping up on us, as the frog placed in cold water remains in the water as it boils. (Apologies for the graphic analogy and animal cruelty, but I think it really highlights how we get stuck in situations and don’t realise it has happened, until it is “too late”).

If an environment is causing any of the following you need to think about why you continue to put yourself in it:

          Sleepless nights. I am not talking about when you lose some sleep because you have an important presentation/meeting/deal etc the following day. I am talking about a loss of sleep for no reason other than just having to be in that environment.

          Dread in getting out of bed in the morning (this is more particularly focused on a toxic workplace). Again, there are some days we just want to stay in bed, even when we are completely happy, but you know the difference I am talking about. It is that feeling of dread, and it is not a once in a year thing.

          Anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks. This is your mind and body telling you, please do not put me in that environment. The way to stop it; listen to your body and get out of the environment.

          Your eating habits change. For some this means a lack of eating, while for others it is over eating, in particular sugary foods.

          You are exhausted. You get home from the environment and you have no energy to do anything. This can result in leaving exercise out of your daily routine, and poor food choices,

          You find yourself constantly justifying it; “at least I have these friends/this job/this relationship” “I have to stay here because…”. If you have these lines playing through your head, you have to ask why are you trying to convince yourself? If you were in a healthy place you would have nothing to convince yourself of.

          You don’t feel appreciated. We don’t expect medals and certificates for everything we do. But if you feel a relationship is one way and you continually recognise that, or you don’t feel your work place appreciates your work let alone acknowledges it, it is not healthy for you. We all need to feel valued.

You can see, even from the small list I have compiled here, that remaining in a toxic environment can ultimately impact your whole life, including your wellness. So, it begs the question, why do we stay in these environments? When I am working with my clients, and from conversations with friends and past colleagues the reasons that often come up are:

          Financial. People ‘need’ to stay in jobs for the money.

o   You will be able to get another role though, and even if it isn’t as much money, what is the cost of your wellness?

          The people. You build good relationships with others in the group, or certain colleagues.

o   Is your unhappiness, and poor wellness worth it for others? The people that matter will remain in your life regardless of whether you are still sitting at the desk next to them, or if you are attending the group meetings or monthly catch ups.

          Fear of change. Better the devil we know and all that right?

o   I challenge you to change your perspective, see this is an opportunity. It is a chance to reflect on what it is you actually want, do things for yourself, and think about who you want to spend your time with.

          Lack of self-worth. People do not feel as though they deserve to feel good, they don’t feel they can achieve anything more, including their happiness.

o   You so are. You are unique, you have transferable skills, you deserve to be happy. You are good enough. You are  worthy.

I worked in a retail store years ago, was not on good money, and wasn’t following a dream of any sort, yet I was happier there than many work places I have been since. I felt valued, I was heard, I had opportunities ahead of me, and I worked with people who wanted to have fun, supported each other and worked for the team not the individual. The point is, it is not all about the status of the role or the salary paid, it is about being internally happy, so that we don’t accept an external environment that harms us in any way.

I have been in this position, and I know it is hard to get out of. Once it starts to drag you down and your eating, energy levels and sleeping suffers your self-worth often takes a hit. This then makes it even harder to remove yourself from the environment. Talk to someone, journal, do things that make you feel good, seek career help or engage with a life coach because here is thing…you are worth it! You are the star of your life, and you are too important to stay in a toxic environment. You are too important to not feel valued…you are worth more than that!

I encourage you to reflect on the environments in your life, are they healthy or harmful?

Mel H x

SELF HELP

Unmasking the insecurities…

Ever since I can remember I have been called an over-achiever. My teachers said it, my family made comments around it, friends laughed about it, I even gave myself this label. What I have realised later in life though was this description was masking my self-limiting belief, it was masking my deepest insecurity.

As is common for a self-limiting belief (“I am not good enough”), my brain filtered out anything that contradicted it, while accepting and warping any input so it seemingly confirmed this belief to be true. Having this insecurity made me strive to prove to everyone that I was good enough, so they wouldn’t know ‘the truth’. Consequently, I received really high marks right through school, did well at most things I did, and if I wasn’t good at something I either avoided it, or gave it up.

Self-beliefs are built from an experience, or experiences. Our mind takes this information in, and as I said above, filters help to confirm it. Let me be clear, these are not facts, they are beliefs. But the belief can be so strong, the mind takes it as fact. It is easy for me to see looking back where this self-belief came from. I do not remember the first experiences that built it, but I will tell you a story which will show the source of it, and how this was ‘reconfirmed’ throughout life. In 4th form (Year 10) I got 99% for a practice School Certificate (Year 11) exam. I went home excited to tell my Dad that I had got the top mark, and a pretty impressive result, right? The first question out of his mouth, his first honest reactions was “What happened to the 1%?” This was a genuine question. He was not trying to be funny, or trying to get some sort of a reaction. He just looked at things differently and what he saw was that I got 1% wrong. I got something wrong. This comment was filtered into my brain to confirm that I was not in fact good enough. That even with such an outstanding result, the top in the school, it was not enough, I was not enough.

The ‘not good enough’ insecurity is common, many of us have this fear, and it plays out in different ways. In some respect, I was lucky that for me it played out to give me positive outcomes, to bring me success through high marks, scholarships, qualifications, good jobs, two businesses etc. However, it left me reliant on external achievements to ‘prove’ that I was good enough, rather than looking inwards and realising my self-worth. The thing is, the achievements are never enough, because the limiting belief tells me so. I was in constant pursuit of something I was never going to achieve. If I didn’t believe I was good enough, nothing I achieved was going to make me believe otherwise.

“I am not good enough” manifests in other ways to, for some this is with addictions (drugs, alcohol, food etc.) to numb the pain of not feeling good enough. Some put on armour, or barriers, not allowing anyone to get close enough, this way they aren’t hurt, by someone ‘realising’ they are not good enough. Seeking out praise is a common symptom here too, because one does not feel good enough for themselves, they will do things to seek out others telling them they are (like I mentioned earlier).

None of these things will work. All of these are symptoms of the self-limiting belief. They are masking the insecurity. Sadly, it is often only the symptom that is addressed; the addiction, relationship issues, working too hard etc. We need to take the mask off, and address the insecurity.

Some things you can do:

1.       Identify the beliefs you have. This can actually be difficult for some, as they can be buried so deep, and woven within every thought pattern that it is hard to separate out as being a belief, not a fact.

2.       Notice your negative self-talk. What are you saying to yourself? Try and write down what it is saying and this may help you identify these self-beliefs.

3.       Practice Positive affirmations. If you know what the limiting self-belief is, tell yourself otherwise “I am good enough” “I am worthy” “I deserve…” These can be this simple or more specific. Keep them short, and have a few of them that you say to yourself regularly.

4.       Routine. Add the positive affirmations to a routine; say them when you are running, maybe you sing them every time you shower, have them stuck to your bathroom mirror and read them when you brush your teeth. Practice these consistently by making them part of your routine.

If this is an area you need to address I encourage you to read more on this subject, engage in coaching (happy to discuss this with you, or find a coach that suits you!), or maybe for you it is counselling.

Once I took the mask off, and stopped just addressing the ‘overachiever’ I was able to really work on the cause. I was able to dig into the belief system I had built up, that I was not good enough. Doing this changed my world.

          I no longer seek approval from others, because I approve of me.

          I no longer need to have the continual external achievements, because I am the achievement myself.

How powerful is that? You are the same! We are all achievements, we are special, unique, and have the power to be all that we are and speak our truth.

What are your own reflections after reading this; Did something resonate? Do you know your own belief systems? Are you masking your insecurities? Feel free to email or private message me! I would love to hear your feedback.

Mel H x

Photo: me at my 6th birthday party.

THOUGHTS

Good v Bad…

Lately I have found myself reflecting a lot on the social constructs of labelling things as good or bad. It really frustrates me that we have to give things a label, and in particular in the following two areas:

–          Food. This one is really common, so much so that I hear it in everyday conversation, that we have good and bad food. Yes, some foods cause negative effects in us, however this is often with over consumption, it is our behaviour that needs to be addressed, the food itself is not bad. Chocolate is not bad. It is chocolate.

–          Emotions. Although we don’t verbalise this as directly as we do with food, we live in a world that tells us that certain emotions are good (happy, excited, joy, gratitude, hope, love, pride, amusement) while others are bad (anger, frustration, anxious, sad, guilt, fear). As with food though, these are neither good or bad, they just are.

These emotions that society has constructed as ‘good’ can also cause negative effects; love can cause someone to stay in an abusive relationship (I know it is not this simple, but you see what I am saying here), pride can stop someone from taking an incredible opportunity and excitement can cause people to lose control and be physically ill. On the flip side fear can prevent us from being in an unsafe position, being anxious can lead to us putting more effort into something, and frustration might mean someone creates something new and amazing.

My frustration with putting labels on these things is because of the consequences it can lead to for people. It can perpetuate issues with food; avoiding certain foods, cutting them out completely, creating a focus on it, rather than simply eating a balanced diet that is nourishing. I see this regularly with people labelling a food as bad, and therefore constantly telling themselves not to eat it. All this does is puts this into your head, you visualise it and create the craving for it.

With emotions, the consequences are wide ranging. We have been taught that we need to get rid of the ‘bad’ emotions, not have them or avoid them. This leads to people not learning how to deal with their emotions, to lean into that discomfort, grow and learn about themselves.

–          It leads to people suppressing anger and frustration, consequently reaching a critical point where one explodes.

–          Fear is never conquered if one does not lean into it, and so phobias and the avoidance of amazing opportunities can occur.

–          By hushing someone who is crying (think about what you do with a child, when you are with a friend in public), or trying to make a joke, what we are really saying is this emotion is not ok, we don’t like it, it shouldn’t be shown. What consequences will this have? What are we saying to people about expressing emotion? What are we telling others about sadness?

In looking at the rates of depression, anxiety and suicide the labelling of emotions is a concern. I am not diminishing the physiology of mental illness whatsoever, nor am I saying that it is simply the labelling of the emotion that leads to these consequences, it is all a very complex area. But, one has to wonder what role labelling certain emotions as bad has had. By labelling it as bad, have we enforced the suppression and avoidance of emotions, have we not allowed people to feel, not taught others how to live with feelings, deal with, learn and move on from them?

We all need to be careful with how we are labelling things, how this effects both our own perceptions, behaviours and beliefs, and those of others. Let us just leave things as they are; food is food, an emotion is an emotion. I guess this is my main point, why do we need to label these things, rather than just letting be? Let us all have a range of both these areas in our lives; feel all emotions, and eat a range of food!

Mel H x

Uncategorized

Feel with me, not for me…

I recently watched a YouTube clip of Brene Brown, and in it she discussed the difference between empathy and sympathy. This is something that really resonates with me of late.

Often, I share with people the fertility struggle that we have been going through for the last two and a half years and the first response is one of the following:

          Try and fix it (have you gone to see… have you tried…)

          To minimise it (well at least you have…)

          Offer me an example of someone they know (their cousins, uncle’s, neighbours, doctor’s, friend’s daughter) who has gone through something similar (note: not the same) and how well things turned out for them.

          Tell me it will happen when the timing is right.

I don’t want to seem horrible, but please don’t do this! This is sympathy. It is standing from afar, and feeling FOR me. I know that it is coming from a place of good intention, but it means people can keep their distance. They can keep their barriers up and not let their own vulnerability show. By ‘making me feel better’, they don’t have to really feel the space I am in, they don’t have to deal with my feelings, and possibly their own. At a time when I am sharing a very personal, emotional and frankly bloody hard piece of me, the last thing I need is emotional distance. When you repeatedly get sympathy from people it makes you feel really lonely, because it seems as though no one understands what you are going through. In this particular example, this loneliness adds to the loneliness I am already feeling that society has created for women without children, and the loneliness I am feeling when I can’t engage with my friends in this space.

What I need is connection. I am sharing this with you because I want you to be with me, to feel this with me, to be angry with me, to cry with me. I want, and need empathy. Rather than feeling for me, I need you to feel WITH me. It doesn’t mean you have to have gone through what it is I am sharing, just walk beside me, stand with me, be present in my feelings. Brene Brown talks about how the simple gesture of touching one’s hand without speaking is more powerful than a sympathetic verse, and I agree. It is ok, to just say how shitty this is, that you don’t know what to say, to shed a tear with me, or to simply provide an affectionate touch. I will feel that you get what I am going through, that you are with me through it.

I also understand that no one wants their friends being upset and feeling shit, people want to make it better, but here is the thing…you can’t. Just as a friend who is going through a relationship break down knows I can’t change his behaviour, or the cousin who has a child going through sickness knows I can’t make the child better, you can’t change our situation, and that is not why I am sharing it with you.

I am of course only speaking my truth, and others may feel different, though I suspect there are many who would agree with this. But for me, here are some simple tips to remember when a loved one is being vulnerable with you and sharing something causing pain:

          Be present. Obviously don’t be on your phone, or checking other devices, but also don’t be thinking of what to say, what questions to ask. Just listen and be present.

          Avoid comparison. This is similar to being present, but something I have noticed a lot which frustrates me. Situations are unique, and so comparing could make it worse, it could remind the person of how much harder their situation is, how ‘hopeless’ it is for them.

          Match the vulnerability. If that means crying with them, or showing other emotions then do that. You don’t need to ‘be strong’ and try and make the person feel better all the time, because in all honesty there are no words you can say to me that will lessen this heartache.

          Don’t offer an “at least..” comment. Brene Brown talks about this too, and I have to say I laughed out loud when she said it, as I have heard it many times. “At least your marriage is strong” “At least you are healthy” “At least…” Really. Not. Helpful. This again avoids the vulnerability, minimises the experience of the person and although I am all for gratitude (and practice it daily), it really pisses me off. Please just let me feel what I am feeling.

I know this sounds like: just don’t be positive, but it is not about positivity or negativity. I am actually a really positive person, contrary to what you may think after reading this blog. It is about being with people, feeling with people, being vulnerable and letting me feel all the range of human emotions that come with life’s struggles. I know this is hard, it is hard to let people just feel, and often it is hard to just let ourselves feel (this is something society has drilled into us, but that is a whole series of blogs on its own!)

But if you really do this with others, really let them feel, and feel with them you will give them what it is they want and need at this time…to connect, and isn’t this what we really look for as humans?

Mel H x

Uncategorized

To my 20-year-old self…

As often happens around birthday time, you reflect on getting another year older. This year I was thinking about how much I love being the age that I am. I often heard growing up that your 30’s are the best years of your life, and I have to say I agree. I have learnt a lot, experienced my share of things (maybe more than my share to be honest), but still have youth on my side to put this learning to a lot of use. I thought I would write 13 key points (one for each year) that if I could go back in time I would tell 20-year-old me…

  1. It goes on. You will experience times that are hard. Times that are really hard. And at the time it will feel as though your world is caving in, that things are useless. They are not. This will pass. Wake up each day and start again, and slowly but surely things do get better. What was once all consuming will eventually become a distant memory. So even during those tough times, remember to keep waking up, it gets better. It goes on.
  2. Keep moving. During those years of late nights, too many drinks and too much fast food exercise fell down the priority list. As you get older it gets harder to build muscle, and increase cardio fitness, so keep doing it throughout. You know you are a much happier, peaceful person when you are exercising so keep it as a priority. Because it really is keeping you as a priority.
  3. Do you. People will push and pull you throughout your twenties and early thirties, placing expectations on you, giving you advice and influencing your decisions in a range of ways. You will want to impress some, not want to hurt anyone and be worried at what others might say about your decisions, behaviour and actions. The thing is, people will leave your life, there will always be someone who disagrees, and you are not that important in another person’s world. No one lives with your choices, except you. This includes attending events out of obligation, even when they make you feel shitty. Don’t go. Who says you have to? This goes for everything that comes your way…Worry about yourself first. Do what makes you happy.
  4. The good and the bad. It is important you surround yourself with people that lift you, inspire you, make you think or challenge you, ultimately spend your time with people you want to be more like. Ensure you have friends who are there for you during the hard times, but also the good times. Some people struggle to be happy for you when things are going well, notice this. These people thrive on negativity and prefer to have you pushed down in order for them to feel good. Weed these people out. You have so many amazing people in your life, you just do not have time for people who aren’t positive, share your energy, contribute to your growth and just simply make you feel good. You know who needs to go.
  5. Don’t try and fix people. This is different to supporting, guiding and helping people. But you need to accept people for who they are, what they bring, the experiences they own, their insecurities and vulnerabilities. If you can’t accept them for who they are, this is on you to decide the position they hold in your life. This is also the same for not trying to fix all situations. Some things are just shitty and all people want and need is for you to be there and to understanding this. You will learn this through your own journey when people want to offer you positive words of “it will happen when the time is right” and telling you about the people they know who have had positive outcomes, this frustrates you beyond measure, because they can’t fix it, but they can be there. Apply this learning yourself.
  6. Feel. All your feelings are valid, they are not good or bad, they just are. Enjoy the happy times, excitement, sense of pride with achievements and light bulb moments. Simultaneously, you need to lean into the discomfort, reflect on the anger, understand the guilt, use the sadness and feelings of it not being fair…and learn from it all. Even when you are not feeling good, the fact is you are feeling. This is part of life.
  7. Say it. Often you will think you don’t want to offend anyone, or ‘rock the boat’ etc. by telling people how you feel. But do it. Tell people how you feel. If you love someone, tell them. If something is said or done that upsets you, explain why something hurt you. If you don’t communicate honestly, it is pretty unfair to get angry or upset with others for repeating the behaviour they have no idea is hurting you.
  8. Understand. You can’t always understand what people are going through, but you can always be understanding.
  9. Don’t compare. Do not waste your energy looking over your shoulder, this energy would be better invested into growing yourself. Our situations are all different so there is no point in comparing, and as you will learn, you never know what is really going on behind the external façade that people put up. Often those that present the picture of perfection are those who are struggling the most.
  10. We are different. Oh it is such an obvious three words, yet you will continue to be confused, shocked and mixed up by people’s words and behaviours because you project yourself onto them. How one person reacts to something is different to another, and unless someone explicitly tells you why they said or did something, all you have is an assumption. So don’t over think, don’t project, don’t make assumptions, and just ask. Appreciate the differences in people. Actually appreciate them, don’t make them be, or want them to be like you.
  11. Listen. The older you get the more you realise that listening is so much better than talking. You already know what it is you have to say, so listen to what others say, and learn from them. Give attention to others, their ideas, their stories and their truths. At the same time, listen to yourself, what is it you really want, what is your body telling you, what is your gut saying – give attention to all of this too.
  12. Dogs heal. The best thing you will do is get your dogs. At a time of heartache, they help ease the pain, make the rollercoaster a little more bearable and give you the sense of what it is you are missing.
  13. Live a pleasurable life. I was going to say “Have fun” or something similar, but then I realised that is not what I want you to do, it is too narrow. Getting pleasure out of life means to ignore the housework and lay in the sun with a book, cancel that early morning run because you are going to dance until the wee hours, soak in a hot bubble bath, laugh with your girlfriends, watch romantic movies and cry with your besties, drink too much wine, talk until the sun comes up, jump on a plane just to be with someone you love, and yes, very importantly make sure you physically get pleasure! Whatever it is for you at the time, make sure you are getting pleasure from life.

 

I really could list so many more things, but those are the 13 that really came through strongly when thinking about what I know now that would have been helpful 13 years ago.

What would be the one thing you would tell a younger you?

Mel H x

Uncategorized

Self-perception

Self-perception

My sister took a photo of me recently, while we were joking around. She looked at it first and said, “aww I love this photo of you”, she turned the camera to me, and my first reaction was “eww I don’t like it.” I am sure many of us had this exact situation many times. My sister then said, “You look so happy” which has stuck with me and led me to write this piece on perception.

Perception is to perceive. Perceive means ‘to use the senses to become aware of, know, or identify.’ By using our senses, it is subjective. It is not necessarily fact, and often in the case of perception towards ourselves it is not fact at all.

What my sister saw, or perceived, when she looked at the photo was completely different to what I did. It seems that when it comes to ourselves, no matter what we are presented with it is very common for us to be searching for the flaws or focusing on the negatives, while we skim over, or downplay the positives.

I come across this often with other people, particularly during coaching sessions. People will always list more weaknesses then strengths, will often turn a strength into a weakness or frame what could be a strength as a weakness (Bossy, rather than a leader, strong, assertive OR over-sensitive, rather than empathetic, caring, able to read people or situations).

Even after you tell people a strength, or focus on what you perceive to be a positive, how often does that person just take the compliment, thank you, or agree with what you have said? From my experience, sadly, this is rare. More often, a person will deflect the compliment (“well it’s because the environment made it so easy”) down play it (“it was just..”), brush it aside (“that is just part of being human”), or they simply disagree (“that isn’t really a strength”).

Why is it so hard to accept we are good at things, have strengths, are liked, looked up to? Even as a matter of probability, we are bound to have some good features and be strong in some areas. But more than that, we are all unique individuals with amazing abilities, talents, and strengths.  There is obviously a bigger piece here on self-confidence, which is what it boils down to, but I just wanted to focus on that perception element first.

Think about this when you look in the mirror, when someone gives you a compliment, when you achieve something, or when you fail a task. What are you telling yourself in these moments, what is your perception of these things, of yourself? And how is this perception holding you back, making you fearful, avoiding something, basically affecting your life?

It is time we address the perception we have of ourselves, and I am doing that right now by posting this photo with this blog. I am choosing to perceive it as a photo of happiness, which is a photo of beauty!

selfperception blog

Mel H x

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Are you tied to a twig?

‘The Elephant and the Twig’ is a story that came about from watching captured infant elephants, tied to a strong tree, one that is strong enough to withstand the baby’s attempts at pulling and trying to escape.  Over a period of time and repeated unsuccessful attempts at escape, the elephant loses hope and thinks that no matter what it does, it will never be able to escape.  The elephant holds on to this mindset so that even as a fully grown beast, it can be tied to a very small tree and it will not even try to escape, though it could easily do so.

 This might seem like a silly story and you may be wondering why the elephant doesn’t realise that it’s now bigger and stronger and could easily escape, rather than letting it’s past experiences prevent it from trying.  However, this is something we do too.  Our past experiences, negative thoughts and our mind as a whole, cloud our reality and form such strong beliefs that it can stop us from achieving our goals, or even attempting to achieve them. 

From birth, we begin taking in information from the world, organising this into schema, like files, in our brains.  As we have more experiences, information or data that reinforces a particular event is added to this ‘file’ and we form a belief.  The young elephant in the story continually reinforces the belief that once tied up, he can not escape. 

Beliefs form a framework of how someone would see and understand the world and once a belief is formed, one tends to take this as fact and will persevere with this, accepting information that supports the belief and rejecting any information that contradicts it.  The elephant grows bigger and is tied to comparably tiny trees, information that logically should tell the elephant that he can now escape.  However, it’s mind rejects the contradictory information it’s receiving and sticks with the belief that it can’t escape.  This highlights how strong our beliefs really are and they show how much they can affect our lives, while it also demonstrates the power of self-talk. 

No doubt you’ve had times where you didn’t even bother to give something a go because you ‘knew’ you were going to fail.  Or you sabotaged your progress in some way because you ‘knew’ that you weren’t going to get the results you wanted.  It was pointless, and you told yourself this.  This has all come from a belief that has been formed based on past experiences, including what others have said to you, as well as your own negative self-talk.  These self-beliefs can be so strong that you 100% believe it, no matter what the real truth may be.  The self-talk of not being good enough, not being able to do it, why bother etc. outweighs any logic that might show you that you can, in fact, achieve something.  Conversely, you may have watched in disbelief as someone you know, didn’t try for that promotion, or try to reach that goal, even though you know they are extremely competent, and then listened to them explain it away.  You might have sat there and thought “what the…how do they not see how amazing they are?”  I can assure you that others have thought the same of you. 

So, what do we do about this?  The first step is to identify the beliefs we have.  Notice what you say to yourself as you begin a task, what you hear internally when you get feedback (positive or negative), somebody asks you to do something, when you react strongly to a perspective or simply when you’re chatting with others.  Try to catch this and note it down.  This will highlight the frameworks that you have built.  Once you have identified the beliefs that you hold, you can start addressing the negative self-talk and start working on those beliefs that can be changed.  This is something we can all do, though most of us will require support to do it, whether it be through a counsellor or a coach.

Start catching these thoughts and don’t let yourself be the strong elephant, constrained by the tiny twig. 

Mel H x

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Stand for Something

I, like most, have had a few experiences of people in my life bringing negativity, drama and causing a lot of hurt and conflict. Because of this I do reflect often on the people I spend my time with, confide in and love. I thought that I would do a few scattered blogs on some of those inspiring people I am fortunate to have in my life. This is by no means going to cover all those that I am blessed with, but I want to share some of those people who, for a range of reasons, inspire me.

I met Jessica Rose in January of 2015, as we had both started new roles in a new team at Unitec. Although I have only known her a short period of time, it is a friendship of real substance and depth. She is one of those people I am drawn to and I always feel energised, motivated and inspired to take action after being around.

When thinking how to summarise Jess into a one liner, as a title for the blog, I could not go past “Stand for Something.” A few years ago, I heard an inspirational speaker talk about being kaitiaki, or guardians of this world, and the most important thing we can do in this role for future generations is to stand for something. Her key points around this were to find what sets our soul alight and fight for it; help in an area that needs our help; give back; and if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for everything. I think all of this applies to Jess, and her energy and focus in this space is what really inspires me.

She is knowledgeable in a lot of areas, but really focuses in on those close to her heart, and puts so much into them. Sustainability, animal rights and equity (in particular around gender and sexuality) are what she stands for. If we all had the passion, commitment, energy that Jess did for at just one cause, this world would be a MUCH better place.

What immediately stands out with this woman is her passion. Her energy and commitment for her causes is something that I find incredible! She volunteers A LOT of her time to organisations that align with her vision of creating a better place to live for all Aucklanders. Some of these are; Bike Auckland, Frocks on Bikes, Auckland Tweed Run, Bike Rave Auckland and Velociteers. She works fulltime as the Transport Planner for Unitec, and in 2016 was elected onto the Albert-Eden local board. Did I also mention that she is superwoman?

jess6

Jess immerses herself in areas to enhance her knowledge and really understand all that she can about issues. She is then willing, and eager, to share this information. I tell you I have learnt HEAPS from her in the last two and a half years. Because of this, she has been asked to do presentations, write pieces, and do radio interviews on cycling (as an alternative method of transport, for health, saving our green space, sustainability overall and females cycling) on top of everything, and of course she does it…and does it well!

She is selfless. If something needs to be done, money needs to be raised, timelines change or someone else does not fulfil their task, Jess will step up, roll her sleeves up and do what is needed. She is always focused on the bigger picture, the vision, and so will do what is needed, and put herself to the side to help achieve it.

I could talk about her loyalty, her intelligence, her ability to reflect, her open-mindedness, her work ethic, her authenticity and just what an amazing friend she has been to me, but I wanted to focus on one part of her that inspires me and that is the fact that she stands for something. She stands for it, puts everything into it…she walks her talk.

Mel H x

 

If you are interested in reading more, check out the following links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-rose/

http://cityvision.org.nz/our-people/jessica-rose-albert-eden-local-board/

https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/lady-bike-advocate-jessica-rose/