Sunday, 26 October 2014

Right, raise your hands, who's bottling something up right now?

No matter if you're an extrovert or an introvert, emotions can be tricky. While they are a natural part of being human and give us the ability to feel empathy or follow a set of morals, they can also cause us problems.

They can cause us to have strong reactions at inappropriate times or make us want to behave in a way that could mean problems later on. They can cause us to want to lose our temper or have us cry when we need to keep a level head.

Emotions, if we let them take hold of us, can get in the way.

So, what do we do when we feel one build up inside of us and we can't release it? We store it for later.

Whether it's the red hot fire of anger or the twitchiness of anxiety, we smother it down and make a note to deal with it when it's more appropriate.

But what happens when we don't deal with that feeling? What if we leave it on constant pause so that it simmers below the surface?

What happens if you keep blowing into a balloon without releasing any air? It bursts.

Image from Google
I have to admit here, that this is something that I used to have a lot of problems with. I used to get really annoyed, refuse to confront the issue in fear that it would trigger an argument I wasn't willing to face, figuratively explode and lose my temper with those closest to me and then start the process all over again.

I was once compared to a full copper kettle on the stove. The temperature was getting hotter and hotter yet no liquid was being released from the container and so the pressure would end up causing a massive reaction.

It wasn't until fairly recently that I realised how much stress this was causing and that I needed to deal with it or else the cycle would just keep on repeating itself.

The thing is, when you don't deal with what you're feeling- when you just stuff it deep down into your gut and refuse it to face it again- it will bite you on the arse.

It's not going to go away. Emotions need an outlet and, sooner or later, they're going to find a way to get out of you whether you like it or not, the choice is how you release it.

Whatever you do, don't internalise your feelings.

While some of us are more private than others, it is still majorly important that we find a safe, positive outlet for our build up feelings so that they don't fester and poison our relationships with the people around us. The last thing anyone wants is to find themselves getting really frustrated (say with their job) and taking out that pent up frustration on their family. It's not fair on the family and it makes the person who lost their temper feel even worse as they've upset the people that they love.

It isn't always easy when we're trying to juggle how we're feeling with what's going on in our lives but there are a few ways we can give ourselves an outlet so that we can think more clearly.

1) Beat the hell out of your bed/ pillow.

I'm not kidding. Throw yourself at it and pummel it like crazy. Scream into a pillow until your voice cuts off and them scream some more. Not only will this help to get rid of any frustration but it will help to tire yourself out enough for your mind to quieten. Just a piece of advice, though: make sure that the door is shut before you do. It can be difficult to explain to people what the hell you're doing!

2) Wrap your comforter around your shoulders and pull it tight so it gives you a 'hug'.

I'm telling you, when you feel down yet you don't really want to share what's on your mind with those close to you or you just want some time to gather your thoughts, giving yourself a hug with the duvet is great. Once again, you may want to shut the door...

3) Write it down.

Whether it's in a journal, diary or maybe just on a scrap piece of paper or a word document on your computer. Get down everything you're feeling- no matter how childish or silly it may seem. Release it all onto that paper- trust me, you'll feel a lot better for it afterwards.

4) Have a long soak in the bath.

This is a great way to get rid of some stress as well as give you some time to clear your head and think things over, after all, no one should really be trying to talk to you when you're in the bathroom.

5) Walk it/ shake it/ run it off

Exercise is good for you anyway but when it also produces those lovely endorphins it can help you to blow off some steam and begin to process your emotions. It clears your head and helps you to rationalise why you were feeling that way in the first place so that you can work out whether it was justified, how to go about solving the situation/ problem that made you feel that way and how you can avoid feeling that way again.

Emotions, while they can hinder us, are ultimately there to help us. They allow us to process things as well as to enjoy fantastic moments in our lives and find real joy in being around the people we love or getting a sense of excitement when we experience something new. They help us to enjoy life to the fullest.

So, next time you feel like your head might explode, let it out and then get back to savouring the good things in life- don't waste it by letting negativity brew inside- feeling the need to store up all that chaos really isn't worth your health or your happiness.

Have you been bottling anything up lately? How did you deal with it? Let me know!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

So tell me, why ARE you 'putting up with it'?

Meet Fred. Fred is in his thirties and is an accountant at a law firm. He doesn't really like his job, his boss is overbearing, his work colleagues constantly slack off leaving him to deal with everything but he gets on with it.

After work, he goes home and spends some time with his partner and his kids before going out for a drink with some of the guys. His friend Paul, after having several beers and spending the night embarrassing Fred, has realised that he's forgotten his wallet again and nags Fred to pay for him. Fred does, mumbling under his breath, before going back home feeling fed up after the day he's had.

Image from Google

Why is Fred putting up with this?

Maybe it's because Fred feels as though he has no other option. Maybe it's because Fred feels as though this is his life now and he has to 'put up with it', take a stiff upper lip and just get on with things.

But what if Fred is wrong? What if Fred doesn't have to 'put up with it'?

What if things could change?

We tend to carry on with how things are without trying to alter them for various reasons. Sometimes we can't imagine things any other way- we become so used to how things are that we can't see any alternative and so become stuck in that mind-set. Sometimes we feel as though making a change might cause harm to ourselves or those around us or that the decision to do something might blow up in our face and cause a lot of damage to our lives. Sometimes the problem is that we just accept the love or the respect that we think we deserve.

Change is scary. No matter what the change is you will always get that flutter of nerves in the pit of your stomach. Yet, if you do nothing, no matter how much you wish for things to change they're not going to.

Whenever you find yourself wondering if you should do something, it's important to ask yourself the simple question of why you are putting up with the problem and come up with three good reasons.

Let's get back to Fred. Why is he putting up with his job? He may feel as though he has to put up with his job to pay the bills, he may feel as though he has to put up with his job as he doesn't have anything else to go to and he may feel as though he has to put up with his job because his family are relying on him to provide an income.

All three are very good, very legitimate reasons but notice that not one of them give a reason as to why he has to put up with it forever but rather for now.

Let's look at the other problem in Fred's life. His friend Paul, after giving him grief all night, has gotten Fred to pay his bill for him again- something which seems to be a reoccurring problem. Why is he putting up with his friend's behaviour? It could be because he's a friend... but why else would he put up with it? It may cause an argument with his friend if he doesn't approach the problem carefully but apart from that there is nothing to gain from staying quiet.

So, what do we do when we try to come up with three reasons and can't? What's next?

You take the time to work out your next step.

You start to look for other jobs whilst carrying on with the one you have. You think of how to talk to your friend and explain how their behaviour isn't acceptable. You accept that you have a problem and try to work out how to tackle it from there. Step by step.

Where are you having issues in your life? Do you really have to put up with it or can you make a change for the better?

Think about it.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tell me, are you living in the present? Or are you too busy with your head in the future?

When was the last time that you just did something? When you didn't think, you didn't sit and look at all of the angles and try and work out what could happen? Hell, as I write this I am letting the words just flow- I have no idea where it's headed but I'm going for it. Why? Because how many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you were overthinking it?

Evidence of my spontaneity (please excuse the scruffy handwriting)

I admit, I am awful when it comes to overthinking yet it hit me the other day, inspiring me to grab the nearest sticky note and get it down.

When we are spending so much time (and energy) focussing on the future, what does that mean for our present?

What are we missing when we are trying to meticulously plan the right course of action or what we should do in the future? We're missing time with our family. We are missing time with our friends. Instead of being in that moment there with them, ours minds are elsewhere thinking of what we should be doing.

Precious time that could be spent with those dear to us, who at any time could leave our lives, is wasted and all because we're too preoccupied with making sure that a moment or a decision that we have yet to experience is perfect.

We spend so much time focussing on planning the future to perfection- too scared to make a mistake- that we miss out on the fleeting moments that come into our lives.

Now, I'm not saying not to plan for the future at all! It is important to think things through sometimes but when overanalysing each little thing means missing out on the here and now it really isn't worth it, especially when more often than not those plans that we try to make for the future don't go the way we plan.

Sometimes, the best way to make the most of your future and avoid any mistakes or regrets is to make the most of the present. Why? Because it is the memories that you make in the present, it is the memories that you make when you just go for things- when you just give it a go and see what happens- that you tend to look back on fondly or with a lesson learnt.

These moments aren't made from overthinking or calculating each move before it's made.

They're made by just willing to be there and taking it all in.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

So, you think that you're being an imposter...

Have you ever been in that situation where you feel like you don't deserve to be in the position you're in and you're just waiting for someone to realise and take that position away? Maybe when starting a new job or being given a big new responsibility?

It's not very nice, is it? Kind of feels like that dream you get where you're on a stage in front of a tonne of people but you don't know your lines.

You feel like a fraud.

Image from Google
I'm about to let you into a little secret though, you ready for this? You can't tell anyone else.

You're not the only one who's ever felt like that.

That sinking feeling you get in your stomach when your boss asks you to do something unfamiliar a couple of days into a new job... totally normal.

The irrepressible fear that you get when you friend/ sibling asks you to be their best man and write a speech... totally normal/

Having a book/ poem/ piece of writing that you've published be well received, leaving you wondering what they could have seen... yep, you guessed it, totally normal.

In fact, chances are that the people around you- whether that be in an office, a shop etc- have felt, or are feeling, the exact same way.

Why is it that we feel this way, then? Why are so many people are waiting to be 'caught out'?

It's a natural reaction to feel insecure in these situations but partly I think it's our minds way of keeping us in check, like it's the brains way of saying, "OK, stop now before you get too cocky.". While we do need a reality check every now and then to keep us in line, sometimes it can be more of a hindrance than a help but when we've earned or proven ourselves to be given that chance, that job, that responsibility, we should revel in it.

Next time you find yourself suffering from 'Imposter Syndrome' think of this: someone clearly thought that you deserved that recognition or that position. Someone- whether that's your boss, your friend or your audience- thought you should have that place.

You're not an imposter, you're exactly where you're meant to be.