Sunday, 30 March 2014

What Is Fear?

Fear is that oh-so- familiar feeling of dread in th pit of our stomachs. It is the thing that makes our palms sweaty, makes us shake and want to run away. It is the barrier that makes us want to hide. It is the enemy that immobolises us.
It is also all in our head.

Image from Google
The mind is a very powerful thing. It can help us, hinder us and, if we're not careful, destroy us.

Fear is all in the mind. It is not something physical, you can not have it surgically removed, it is very much a mental boundary.

And what do we do with boundaries? Well, my friend, we push them.

All of us can do this- chances are you've done so already. (Look at my post on courage for more on this)
Fear, like pain, is a manifestation of the mind. Think of the last time that you accidently knocked yourself. Chances are that when you caught you arm or leg it hurt. What we tend to forget though, is that it is not the limb itself that is hurting- it is your brain telling you that you have hurt yourself and something is wrong. In a way, pain isn't real.

Fear is our brain's way of telling us to be cautious. It is our sense of self-preservation that causes our fear but, unfortunately, our over-cautious brain doesn't understand the difference between running from sabre-tooth tigers and going for something new.

The only way to conquer fear- to not let is hold you back- is to face it.

Now, this isn't always easy. It can hold us hostage so that we can't function. The trick is to put things into perspective. How do we do this? We try to rationalise our fear.
  • Why am I feeling like this? 
  • Realistically, what is the very worst that can happen?
  • How will I feel if I do what I am scared of?
  • Is there anyway I can ease my fear? 
  • What is getting to me the most? And can I change this?
These are some of the questions you can ask yourself to try and ease your concerns. Give them a go! Let me know if they helped!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What Is Reality?

It may seem obvious. Reality is real life, surely? But there's more to it then that.

'Reality' is the current state of something whether that be your general outlook of life, your finances, your career etc'

'Time to face reality' or 'It's time for a reality check' are common phrases that we tend to come across. They can slip into our thoughts or our conversations on a regular basis without us giving them much thought. We never really think about what they mean.

From paulgerald.com

The funny thing about reality is that it is constantly changing and evolving with us.

A year ago, my reality was revising for exams, spending time with friends and wondering what I was going to do with my life. Now, while (admittedly) I have no idea what to do wIth my life, my reality had changed. I get up and ready for work, go there and come home and write. I didn't plan on this change, I didn't foresee this new stage in my life changing me drastically as a person (in a good way I'd like to think) but it happened- my reality changed.

If you consider reality as an adaptable force then you have a lot of possibilities at your fingertips. You can take control of it. You can change your own reality.

Just because something is a certain way right now, doesn't mean it has to stay that way. If you have the drive to do something, if you have the vision and the determination to make something different, whether that be financially, emotionally or maybe even to do with your career, then why shouldn't you be able to change things? Why not be in control of your own future?

It's your reality- no-one else's so take charge of it or else it'll take charge of you!

What are you planning on changing? Do you like your reality and if so, why? Let me know in the comments below!


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Why You're Full Of Courage

I once read a fantastic way of describing courage. The source  has slipped my mind but their definition of courage was this:

"Courage is being scared to death but doing it anyway." (Tweet that)

It's that feeling of your stomach churning, that feeling that you could either cry or be sick but knowing that it's something you want to do.


Image from Google
How many times have you had that feeling yet have gone and done it anyway? Once? Twice? More? Much More?

Give yourself a huge pat on the back.

It's never easy. In fact, deciding that despite the fear- despite the anxiety and pure dread that you feel- you're going to go for it, is one of the most difficult things you can do. It feels as though every part of you is screaming not to do it but... you take that chance.

That is what makes the difference. You do it.

Despite all of the emotions that race through you at the thought of doing it, despite all of the little men running about your head screaming at the prospect, you do it.

Now think of all the times that you have gone ahead and done those things- think back on all of those times that you have made yourself go through with it.

You were probably terrified that you were going to mess up or that something was going to go wrong but you know what? You got through it.

That takes a lot of strength.

We're all so much stronger than we think we are! Think of when you had your exams, your driving test, your big job interview- you were probably terrified, right? But all of those things that you thought you couldn't handle... you did. You did it.

The truth is we're all brave. We are all capable of displaying courage when we need to and that makes us all pretty damn special. We can do anything we put our minds to- we can conquer our fears- and we even have the courage to do so.

It's the same courage that made you make that terrifying journey.

It's the same courage that made you do something you were putting off.

It's already there- it's in you, waiting! You can do anything!

All it takes is just a little bit of that courage.

What have you done lately that needed a bit of courage? How did you feel afterwards? Let me know!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Why its OK not to be OK

I'm not in a good place right now. I wouldn't go as far to say that my life is bad or that I'm in a horrible situation but, to be honest, I'm just not happy.
I'm crying a lot-even at things which I have no need to cry over- but that's just the way I am feeling at the moment and, you know what? That's OK.

Obviously, it's not 'OK' in the sense that I'm feeling pretty down at the moment- hopefully the sooner that's sorted and out of my system the better- but it's OK to admit to it. It's OK not to be OK.
Image from weheartit.com

I think that we forget that sometimes. I think that we forget that it's alright to hold your hands up and say, "You know what? I need some help."


As the picture above mentions, it's an automatic response to lie. Even when we're feeling rotten, we can't seem to admit to it. We seem to feel that to offer any other response than 'I'm fine' makes people feel uncomfortable and awkward.

But you know what? The majority of people who ask that question are genuinely concerned over your welfare. What's more, there isn't a single person out there who has never had a time in their lives where life hasn't been perfect. It's just the way that it goes sometimes.

Life is never simple, it gives us knocks every now and then- it's the knowledge that we'll find a way back on our feet that keeps us going. (Tweet that)

Remember, you're not alone.

When you're not alright, you're allowed to admit to it. You won't be breaking any laws or breaking any social conventions, you're just being honest about how you're feeling.

And, you know what? If people were more truthful about their feelings, they might make others feel as though they could admit their own.

By admitting your feelings, you're giving others the permission to do the same.

By admitting that you're not feeling great, you're opening the barriers and allowing others to express themselves. The conversation becomes more meaningful.

If we were all a little bit more honest about our feelings, the world could be a lot happier place.

Could you be a bit more honest with how you're feeling? Or is there someone in your life who could do with a really good heart-to-heart? Let me know you're thought in the comments!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

When Does It Become Unacceptable To Chase Your Dream?

I know, it sounds bizarre. Why wouldn't you chase your dream? Why wouldn't you go for it completely and utterly until you get what you want? It seems obvious, right? Well... not exactly.

In life, we're told that we have a responsibility. This can vary as we get older or begin to form more ties to different people and situations but the ideology stays the same.

We have a duty to do X, Y and Z.

But- while we're bogged down with the societal pressures to get a job, earn money, buy things- we still have that dream that is nagging in the back of our mind, begging and pleading with us to listen and act on it.

Image from Google

The funny thing with dreams is that, no matter how many times they may adapt or change, the passion behind them- that excitement that drives us- remains.

Everyone has a dream, no matter how big or little, and we all in our own way of responding to them.

Some people, arguably the most proactive of dreamers, actively go out and seek to accomplish them. They go out and try to take part in as many things as they can to take one step closer to what they want. Their dream is their entire focus and, more often then not, they make it their full time occupation- they don't rest until they've found success. It is these dreamers that are the free spirits; it is these dreamers that are the relentless ones.

Some of us dreamers (myself included) follow our dream and hold it close to our hearts yet are not quite willing to dive headfirst into a spiritual and emotional adventure. We are the ones who have the idea of 'earning a crust' heavily programmed into our brains that, although we do take part and express our desires, cannot imagine the possibility of being able to fully act on then- to hold our hands up, effectively say 'forget the world' and take a leap of faith. While some may argue with me, I don't believe that this makes us cowards but rather pragmatic. We are the cautionary dreamers who like to ensure we have a plan A, B and C.

There are the dabblers. These are the dreamers that are occasionally swayed to try a bit of their dream- to dip their toe in the water, so to speak- whenever the mood takes them. They are not necessarily  the less passionate of us but they are more grounded, they are not swept away by their dreams but instead can see the benefits of keeping touch with reality and are often content with what they already have.

Then, finally, there are the dreamers in denial. These people have dreams, don't doubt that, but their dreams are smothered and forced to the back of the mind. There may be various reasons for this: maybe they think that their dream is completely unachievable or they are bogged down with reality and unable or unwilling to even consider how things could be different for them, but either way they cannot or do not make any motions to make their dream into a reality. Instead, they grieve their dreams rather than give them the chance to live.

Image from Google
So how is it that dreams begin to come under threat? There are various different points or climates that you experience in life that, not only affect how you feel about yourself, but how you see your own desires.

Firstly, there's school. Now, I'm not writing this to point the fingers at teachers or anybody else for that matter (after all in the words of Paul McGee it's all about playing the 'explain game instead of the blame game')

When you're going through education you are constantly asked:

"What do you want to do?"

"What career are you aiming for?"

"What qualifications do you need?"

And, to tell you the truth, when it comes to confessing that you want to be whether that be an actor/ singer/ writer/ dancer/ whatever, the words can, sometimes, get lodged in your throat. Why? Because, to some people, your aspirations aren't good enough or you should focus on something more 'realistic'.

I remember a time when I was younger and considering training to be a hairdresser and, after admitting as such to my Geography teacher, having a full blown argument with the man as, "I was too intelligent to do that." It would have been a "waste". And I should "be aiming for University."

It didn't matter that I had no wish to go or that I, at the time, was genuinely interested in learning to style people's hair for a living, as far as he was concerned my dream wasn't good enough.

Now, depending on what kind of dreamer you are (see above), you may have different reactions to this. If you are a free spirit you may have done it regardless, if you are a dabbler you may have been a bit shocked but would have brushed it of or, alternatively, if you are a dreamer in denial you would have been devastated and begun the process of locking your ambitions away.

But for me, little miss pragmatic, I was mostly insulted but then began to re-evaluate. I still wanted to be a hairdresser, don't get me wrong, but I began to consider what other careers I could go into- something that was preferably deemed 'acceptable' for my academic level. (I never did go to uni!)

Another time in your life that can put your dreams under strain is (as previously mentioned) during work or, more specifically, the pressure of bringing money in and beginning to form a steady income.

Without meaning to sound like a complete pessimist and waving the Marxist flag, it is an unfortunate fact that, in life, you need to do something to earn money... unless you decide to relocate in the middle of a rainforest and leave all of society, technology and all modern aspects of life behind.

So, when I turned to my career's advisor and told her how all I wanted to do was write, I got a surprised look and then the suggestion that I go to university. (I, obviously, didn't go.)

Once I explained that I didn't want to go to university until I reached a point that I needed to go to qualify for a profession or had found a course or career that I really wanted to commit to enough to put effort and money towards (and that would be useful and pay off) we went onto other options... Mostly how I had to earn some money whilst I decided what career I wanted to do. And how I needed to earn money. And figure out what I wanted to do as a day job... but mostly how I needed to earn money.

Suddenly life starts to revolve around salaries, incomes and where you are actually going with your job. The dream gets put on the back burner once again (unless, of course, you're lucky enough to have your dream job).

Throughout society we are bombarded with mixed messages.
  • Work hard to get the qualifications to get the job that you want but make sure that you're doing something reliable that brings in money.
  • Aim high with the company but don't take life too seriously.
  • Do what you want and say what you feel but make sure that you don't rock the boat too much or you may lose your job.
It can be emotionally exhausting trying to keep a balance- of trying to respect and act on your dreams and yet have a firm enough grip on reality to stay functioning.

My advice is this: when society makes you feel as though chasing your dream instead of aiming for something else is somehow wrong or foolish, remember that it is your life to lead- not theirs. It is you who has to make the major decisions, it is you that has to live with the decisions and choices that you make.

Follow your dreams or live with regrets.

What kind of dreamer are you? What is your dream? Let me know by commenting!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Why Happiness Needs To Be Recognised

I wouldn't say that I want a lot from life, maybe a loving relationship and to feel secure- but my main focus is just to be happy in both myself and where I am in life.

That's it.

It's this kind of response that surprises people. They get this mystified look in their eyes as though I've missed something vitally important before the inevitable line of questioning emerges:

"Yes but what do you want to do?"

"Don't you want to be successful?"

"What are you career aspirations?"

Or, as previously mentioned, during interviews: "Where do you see yourself in five years time?"

Why is it that we are expected to have our future happiness- our future sense of self- defined by our academic or career based successes and aspirations?

What ever happened to the simple joys in life? The joy of having family near or knowing that you've put a smile on someone's face?

People seem to become so consumed with where they should be headed in life, on where they should be striving towards, they seem to lose the concept of contentment entirely. Go onto Google and type in 'how to be happy' and you'll see what I mean.

Why is it that our own happiness gets put on the back burner? It's because we put everything else before it- we get our priorities wrong. We forget that we already can already experience it if we start to be grateful for what we already have.

Image from Google
In the words of Albert Camus: 'What is happiness but the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?'
Why is it that happiness has to be conditional? Why is it that we can only achieve happiness, that feeling of contentment... right after we've done this.

Why not start now? You more than have the potential! Why not just embrace what you have around you right this moment- whether it be pets, family, friends or maybe even just characters inside your head.

We may not feel it sometimes but we have so much to be thankful for already and yet we seem to just steamroll over what they are to reach that ultimate distant goal of  'perfection'. 

A great way to become happier is to have a more positive attitude so here's a challenge for the rest of the week: Everyday I want you to list one thing that is in your life that makes you happy and then spend time doing it or appreciating it. It can be anything- the only rule is that it has to be something different each day.
 
Life is short- there's no escaping that- so to waste so much energy and stress on seeking for that moment of bliss that you are sure is waiting around the corner is just pointless. You can grasp it now, you just need to acknowledge what you have already achieved.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years Time?

Ugh. Just ugh.

We've all been there, sat at an interview with sweaty palms- nervous, naturally- but things are going well. They seem to be impressed with what we've said so far and our application has gone down well. We might just get this job, we might get to start with this great company, we might just...

"So, where do you see yourself in five years time?"

Oh. Erm... Well...

Your mind begins to stumble over itself as you flounder for words. You suddenly become increasingly aware of their eyes on you, the click of their pens as they wait for a response.

Where do you see yourself in five years time? In all honesty, I have no idea.

Who can honestly say? How can you possibly know?

Image from Google
The truth is no one truly knows. We all like to think that we have a rough idea of where we are going in life but, truthfully, we have no idea.

Life is unpredictable- that is what makes it so precious and so damn scary sometimes. You don't know where you're going and you know what? That 's OK. You're not alone.

A lot can happen in five years. Think of the time between when you were thirteen and when you were eighteen and everything that happened in that length of time. Think of all of the friends made and lost, of all of the memories and experiences formed- of the amount of decisions made and plans changed.

The question is the equivalent of asking someone where they can see themselves in half a decade.

Not easy is it?

I am not saying this as an excuse to drift- but rather as an explanation. When you're feeling the pressure because you can't see the destination just remember one thing: all you need to see is the road ahead of you to reach your end goal.

Next time you're asked the question, 'Where do you see yourself in five years time?' don't panic. Maybe you'd like to be progressing well in your, hopefully new, career or in another country taking in another culture but, as long as your happy, I guarantee that you're on the right path.

Where would you like to be in five years time? Let me know below!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Accepting When It's Time To Move On

It's not easy and, to be honest, the majority of the time that you try it will hurt like hell but to progress with our lives, to have a positive outlook for the future we have to say goodbye to certain parts of the past.

Letting go isn't easy. We can become unwilling to see beyond the blinkers of the 'good old days' where things were great but are now souring. Alternatively, we use the things that have a negative impact on our lives as a way of shielding ourselves from more, potential, harm. We hide from the reality that it's time to let go.

Memories, people, situations (etc.) can cloud that part of our brain that helps us to think logically and makes us unable to see the problems they cause. We become accustomed to having these things around us and, in a way, we grudgingly accept that they are just a part of our lives that we have to live with (even if they not particularly healthy or good for us.)
Such as having a person in your life that you have had good experiences with but they take you for granted or rarely bother to get in touch.
Or, if you have a difficult situation you feel tied into out of obligation and are having difficulty pulling away to stop yourself being sucked in.

We can also feel the same way over things that have happened to us or tough experiences we have gone through. It becomes easy to use these feelings of hurt, anger or disappointment to 'pin point' where things went wrong or to supply excuses for why we haven't gone for new opportunities or taken new chances.
  • "It's his fault that I'm like this."
  • "If she hadn't done that I would be much more confident."
  • If it wasn't down to this I would have done that."
But, you know what? Holding onto the past isn't good for us. What's more, using that past as a way for explaining our lack of action for the future is just down right self-sabotage.

When it comes to this, when you're stuck in a place you can't get out of, whether that be socially or emotionally, it's time to let go.

Image from Google

I cannot stress this enough. When I say to move on I do not mean to stick your head in the sand and act like everything is perfect, I mean that you need to face the issue head on, accept it and start to release it.

Forget what hurt you in the past but never forget what it taught you.

Read that again.

In life, we live and learn. We make mistakes, we get hurt but nine times out of ten we will pick ourselves back up and carry on. Every single one of us has been hurt one way or the other but all of us are finding a way to look forward.

Think about what you have done. Don't think of the past but think of what you're doing with your life right now.
  • Do you have a job?
  • Are you independent?
  • Are you supporting yourself?
  • Do you have friends?
  • Do you own your own things?
  • Do you feel really passionate about something and are you following that passion?
Now look at the answers to those questions. Do you see how much you have progressed from that negativity in your life? Do you see where you could be if you take that brave step to walk away, to put that negativity firmly behind you?

Sometimes, we just need to look at how far we've come to see what we're capable of.

So, is it time for you to move on?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Treat Yourself How You'd Treat Others

It's amazing how quick we are to put ourselves down.
  • I'm not good enough
  • I don't deserve this
  • I should be better
Yet when was the last time you said those phrases to a person who was doubting themselves? When this person turned around to you and said how they couldn't do it did you then reply: "Yep, you're right- you shouldn't even bother."?

Of course not! You would be encouraging them and telling them that they can succeed. So, why can't we do that for ourselves?

Image from Google
When faced with challenges, our insecurities creep in. All the memories of harsh words said or rejections suffered flood to the forefront of our mind and we feel weakened and vulnerable. We feel as if we can't do it.

But why don't we step back? Why don't we just give ourselves a break? Instead of constantly beating ourselves up with why we shouldn't do it, why don't we start giving ourselves some encouragement? Why don't we start being our own friend?

When you start to feel like all of your negative thoughts are getting you down, imagine that it is your friend who is voicing them. What would you say in response? How would you help them?

It's time to treat yourself how you'd treat others- it's time to give yourself a break!

How can you be a bit easier on yourself? What do you say to your friends that you should listen to yourself? Let me know below!