Category Archives: Personal development

Why you should trust the timing of your life

It’s so easy to manipulate these days – so easy to move things forward. We’re part of a culture where boredom is rare and options are all over the place. Settling or remaining calm becomes increasingly difficult because ‘what if’ something better comes along? ‘What if’ it never happens if you don’t force it? ‘What if’ you don’t do it now – will it ever happen?

I’m all for putting yourself out there. Pursuing happiness and doing everything you can to reach goals is admirable in my opinion – something I strive to do myself on a daily basis. However, there’s a fine line between the above and manipulating or forcing results before they (or you, for that matter) are ready.

Here’s one of my favourite examples for you:
I had been struggling with being single for YEARS and as all my friends were moving in with their partners, getting married, having children and completing the ‘dream’ I eventually forced myself into a relationship I was never whole heartedly a part of. He was lovely and I’m sure he’s making someone else incredibly happy this very moment, but we were not compatible and I tried changing pretty much everything about him every single day. It was awful – for both of us. It became a very stressful relationship and eventually the whole thing blew up on us in a rather dramatic manner. Life had been whispering to me (and probably to him too) for so long, but I ignored it due to a slight panic that if I didn’t go along with this relationship, I would never get what everyone else had. Oh, dear… We all know that trap. My intuition even screamed at me (I know this from my diary); Do you want what everyone else has no matter what the price? I stayed. I was stubborn. And, worst of all, I did this because I had absolutely NO idea what I was worth. I truly believed that if I couldn’t make it work with this guy, I wouldn’t be able to make it work with anyone. Who would ever want me? If we had stayed in this relationship one of us (if not both of us) would have become severely ill, I’m sure – mentally or physically. Personally, I was heading down this path, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So, after a few years the relationship ended and I was on my own. Again. I was exhausted and frightened. Was I going to be alone for the rest of my life? Would kids ever be an option? At this point I had met Lis (read about her here) and she spent the coming 6 months guiding me to self-love, gratitude and happiness (a process that I had already started years before, but had let go of during this relationship). I started letting go. I started trusting life. I took chances. I met a ton of different interesting men, but, for once, I was completely relaxed about it. I didn’t force myself into anything that didn’t feel right. I finally knew what I was worth – I knew my value, and, most importantly, I knew what inner peace and happiness felt like. No way would I ever compromise again.

I ended up moving to London – city of singles and pursuing careers. This move didn’t connect with my dream still being to meet ‘the one’ and start a family, but it felt right. Besides, I kept reminding myself that I could always go back to Copenhagen or travel somewhere else. Life was a clean sheet and I could do exactly what I wanted with it. Nothing was tying me down. No strings attached anywhere. Life had never been more exciting! I let go. I let life guide me for once. Sure, I had days full of tears. I had days where I doubted literally everything. Days where I I was close to giving up. But I stayed and I kept pursuing the goal I had set; To find a job and create some sort of life in London. This part was about me. Love would join in when the time was right.

One month in I went to a London networking event where I met a guy I could tell was younger than myself (turns out I had no idea just how much younger!). He was slightly mysterious and didn’t talk much, but when he did his intelligence revealed wisdom far beyond his years and I was intrigued. Believe me when I say we had absolutely everything against us ever becoming an item! There was no logic to it at all and my mind was very much against it. Especially one of my otherwise very supportive friends was shaking her head and reminding me of my age along with the fact that I wanted children. But I took no notice. The whole thing was out of my control – I had surrendered. The timing of my life was very much guiding me and I mean it with every part of my body and soul when I say the following; Letting go and pursuing a life with him turned out to be the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. More than three years in I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart skips a beat when I think of all the incredible years we have ahead. I look forward to him walking through the front door every day and the thought of life without him makes no sense to me.

If I had met Morten before I knew what I was worth, I’m not sure we would have been where we are today. I had found my own inner balance prior to meeting him, so I dared take the chance knowing that life would catch me if I fell.
We were very different places in life when we met, but I purposely never pressured him into anything he wasn’t ready for. We communicated with honesty and respect from day 1 and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the trust and the depth of our love has carried us through all of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful every single day for waking up next to him.

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So, trust the timing of your life
I believe there’s a flow to life and that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to in it’s own due time. As you have just read, I’ve tried forcing results and I’ve tried letting go – believe me when I say that forced results are very rarely worth it (especially as you run the risk of reaching a result that isn’t actually good for you). If you let go of control and let things happen the way they are supposed to, it might turn out that a completely different option will show up. An option that’s a lot better for you and your happiness.

Pursue your goals – go all in on your dreams, but trust the timing of your life while doing so. Don’t force results. Trust that the best results will appear when you are ready.

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How to stop worrying

Are you a worrier? Or maybe you’re ‘just’ worried about someting specific at the moment? You’re not alone. In fact, we are biologically programmed to worry in order to prepare for worst case scenarios. It turns out though, that worrying not only doesn’t do you any good, it’s also a massive waste of time.

I had a dream last night – about Obama. He taught me some incredible math tricks while we had drinks. It was awesome. What does this have to do with worrying? Absolutely nothing. However, apart from this dream leaving me with a great feeling of having bonded with the American President (and wondering whether, if I ever were to meet him in real life, I just might accidently greet him as if he were a friend of mine) it reminded me how dreams can sometimes be random (like this one) and sometimes carry an important message. Obviously we all have several of both, but I had one in particular – several years ago – that carried a strong message:

I was running up the stairs of a collapsing building, being chased by a huge, frightening beast. Bricks were falling everywhere and I was scared out of my mind, full of panic and completely out of breath. On each floor I would call for the elevator, which was the only thing still standing, but the elevator never made it in time. I could hear the beast approaching and had to run to the next floor in order for it not to catch up with me. As I finally reached the top floor of the building I realised there was nothing I could do. It was out of my hands. From here on it would be a matter of luck; Either the beast would get to me first or the elevator would make it just in time to save me and take me to the ground floor, allowing me to exit the building.
The beast made it first. Except it turned out it wasn’t actually a beast. It was a huge, soft, purple hippopotamus-like, peaceful creature, probably 10 times the size of myself. When it reached me it stopped. It never wanted to hurt me. It literally just stopped and stood there in front of me, looking into my eyes while we were both catching out breaths. The next thing I knew the elevator arrived, I stepped into it, faced the hippo while the doors closed and that was it. I woke up.

Imagine that. I spent all that time running up stairs, scared out of this world, only to find that really, there was nothing to be scared about. The ‘beast’ was a cute, purple hippo that never set out to hurt me. I had worried for absolutely nothing. Sound familiar?

Most of my life I have been a worrier. I never handled change very well and as a result I always analysed the 1000 things that could go wrong ahead of time – you know, just to make sure I wouldn’t be surprised by misfortune. What a waste of time.

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Thankfully things have changed a lot since then. Sure, I still worry from time to time, but nowhere near what I used to. When it happens, I remind myself of a study in a book called ‘The worry cure’ (2005), which concluded that 85% of what the studied subjects worried about actually never happened. And of the remaining 15% that did occur, 79% of the subjects discovered that they could handle it much better than expected or the difficulty turned into a life lesson. So, to sum it up, this means that really, there’s absolutely no point in worrying. How about that? Basically, if you worry, you’re just spending time punishing yourself ahead of something that will probably never happen.

How to stop worrying? I posted one of my favourite memes the other day on facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter. The text on the meme pretty much sums it up: ‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think about what could go right’. This is probably one of my most popular posts to date, which I guess is because we all know it. We all know that we shouldn’t worry as much as we do, but we all struggle to shift our mind-set.

The trick is to stay away from all the negatives and focus on the positives – which, as a beautiful bonus, will also keep you mentally and physically well for longer.

As with any other bad habit it’s about making a conscious effort to stop worrying. Here are three very simple things you can do:

  • Put a post-it on your mirror with the words ‘focus on the positive’ (or similar) across it – then every time you see this post-it you’ll be reminded to shift your focus in case you are worrying.
  • Place a red (or any other colour) ribbon on your arm, which will remind you to stay positive whenever you notice it.
  • Or, if you find it hard to change this habit on your own, involve someone close to you and ask this person to remind you to shift your focus when you start to worry.

Change takes time, but it’s worth it. And remember that what you focus on grows stronger. Focus on the positives. Focus on what can go right. Leave the rest behind.

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When to leave your comfort zone

Chances are you’ve probably seen the below image before. Question is, have you ever really thought about what it means? Where is your comfort zone? And how on earth do leave it to find that so called ‘magic’?

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Comfort zones come in all shapes and sizes. Basically it’s a state of ‘what you are used to’ – and if you’re completely honest with yourself I’m sure you already know what your own personal comfort zone is all about.

Comfort zones aren’t necessarily negative (which one could be led to believe from the image above). They can, however, become so. They can keep you in places that no longer serve you or grow you, which can eventually lead to a feeling of being lost, powerless and slightly (if not severely) depressed.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • You’re depressed and anxious on a daily basis and rarely leave the house. This state, unfortunately, just might have become your comfort zone (if this is you; read here). In fact, you might be in this state because you haven’t yet dared to leave your comfort zone even though you know, deep down, that you should.
  • You’ve found comfort in living life ‘as it is’, with no challenge and everything being predictable, which has worked for a while, but you’re bored with it.
  • You’re staying in a job that isn’t quite what you dreamed of, but it works and gets you the income required to get through each month.
  • From a distance (your comfort zone) you’ve been secretly obsessed with a specific guy for years, yet you haven’t found the courage to speak to him, so he has no idea you are interested.
  • (Insert your own comfort zone here)

What happened to the dreams? The hopes? The excitement? Where did all the ‘good stuff’ go? This, my friend, is what the image is about. Going for the magic doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your comfort zone behind completely (although, if your comfort zone is bad for you, I highly recommend doing so). It simply means ‘take the risk‘.

Most people have a dream of some sort that haunts them. Something they never did or something they keep postponing, as ‘the timing just isn’t quite right’. Tell you what; the timing will probably never be quite right. But how will you ever know what could have been if you don’t go for it?

Risking it can be incredibly intimidating. Believe me, I’ve been there quite a few times (one of which you can read about here)! Once you do it, though, you feel so alive. And even if you fail, you will have learned so much from the experience, that really, if you think about it, you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain (have a read).

What a risk feels like is very subjective. What’s risky to you might be completely different to what’s risky to me (try this exercise for inspiration). Maybe it’s asking that girl out? Maybe it’s moving to a different country? Maybe it’s quitting your job and going all in on this incredible idea you’ve had for years? Maybe it’s leaving a relationship that’s not good for you? Maybe it’s simply stepping out your front door? Maybe it’s proposing to your partner? Regardless, if you imagine going for whatever it is you dream of and it gives you a slight scared yet excited gut feeling, you’re probably on the right track. Don’t let fear put you off! Leave your comfort zone (even if just for a short while)! Go for the challenge! There’s no time like the present – who knows where we’ll all be tomorrow?  Start planning now and follow through! Live! And, by all means, don’t give up!

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The choice is yours – choose wisely

Are you struggling? Feeling alone? Confused? Do you feel ike you don’t belong? Like you have no clue as to where you’re heading in life? Going through a break-up (or considering one)? Feel let down by people you love? Not being true to yourself? Bored with life? Does it all feel pointless?

One important lesson I’ve learned during my many years of intense self development and search for happiness is that when it comes to how you deal with resistance, the choice is yours – always. You can rarely control what happens to you, but you can definitely control how you react to it. Basically, you can choose to focus on the hurt and pain you’re going through or you can shift your focus slightly (even in the most hardcore cases – check this out) and find that life has so much incredible beauty to offer. It takes a little practice and I’m in no way saying it’s easy, but once you manage to find happiness and gratitude in the middle of pain and suffering, once you learn to dance your way through a storm, you will realise that happiness outshines misery by miles. Every time. It’s all about your choice of focus.

The challenge with emotional pain and suffering is that quite often we tend to find some sort of comfort in these states. It’s familiar. It’s something we know well and it doesn’t demand very much from us. You can just stay under the covers and / or in front of the screen, leave the blinds down, eat poorly and excessively, blame everyone else for what you’re struggling with, let the house remain a mess (or store the mess in millions of boxes somewhere) and give up. Although it doesn’t necessarily feel easy, believe me when I say this is you taking the easy route.

So often in these scenarios we forget to value what should be the most important; our own happiness. Basically, we forget our own value. And a lot of the time we do so because finding the light in darkness can be a difficult and rather demanding task that requires action and, in most cases, will have consequenses.

Self development can be incredibly painful. Sometimes it can even feel unachievable (have a read). It involves a whole lot of soul searching, bravery and being honest with yourself. Particularly the latter is something a lot of people find overwhelming (I know I did – read about it here), as your own honesty doesn’t always connect with what society and surroundings want to make you believe you need.

Taking the necessary steps towards happiness might mean letting go of people, lifestyles and self-perceptions, but believe me when I say that it will be worth it! Do yourself a favour and get a move on.

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How do you want life to be? Happy, healthy and full of passion? Or would you rather stay behind the blinds in fear? The choice is yours. Keep in mind, though, that the longer you wait, the harder the work becomes – and no one can do the work for you. Also, if you choose to ignore it (which might even work for a while) you can be almost 100% sure you will find yourself back here in ‘no mans land’ again and again till you learn the lesson and do something about it. So, in other words, there really is no time like the present. You can do it!

Make sure to follow the links I’ve placed throughout this blog post to get some pointers as to how you can get that self development started (providing you choose to do so, obviously).

Also, don’t forget to follow my blog on social media (links below) to stay tuned for new posts to come. Let’s spark that self development of yours and get you closer to a happier, healthier life.

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10 crucial steps when hurt or angry

Have you been hurt recently? Do you feel left out by someone? Neglected? Misunderstood? Unloved? Are you angry? Sad? Feeling powerless? We all go through these emotions at one point or another and the degrees vary massively according to circumstances. Personally, this has been one of the areas of self-development where I have evolved the most over the years (which I am incredibly thankful for). My former pattern of dealing with emotional pain was rather explosive and so I would tend to end up in very unpleasant and quite often incredibly dramatic situations as a direct result. I have since found a strategy that has worked wonders for me and continues to do so when dealing with emotional hurt or anger. Would you like to know the 10 crucial steps when hurt or angry? Keep reading.

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  1. Remove yourself from the situation
    Don’t ever confront straight away when you are emotionally wired. When you’ve just been hurt, chances are you won’t be thinking clearly and you might end up saying a lot of things that don’t help the situation in any way. Keep in mind that you can’t reverse what you’ve said, so be clever and start by removing yourself from the situation. Go to the toilet, go for a walk, go home, close down your computer /leave your phone (if it was an email or a text) or find a different escape.
  1. Breathe
    When your emotions are all over the place you’ll probably be breathing in a shallow way, which doesn’t give you the oxygen your brain requires to function in a rational manner. Rational is what we want, so breathe.
    Take some deep breaths. I like to inhale while counting to four slowly and then I exhale in the same pace (this super simple breathing technique actually works wonders in most situations, so it would be a good idea to make a note of it). Keep going till these slow, deep breaths become natural.
  1. Write it down
    This might seem rather old fashioned, but writing down what you would say to the person right here and now can be a great way of getting it out of your system without doing damage. The thing to keep in mind here is to never send, email or text what you have written. You are writing these things in order to gain perspective – nothing else. So write it all down with nothing holding you back. Let go. Write exactly what’s on your mind. You can do this as a letter or simply a brainstorm – just make sure you get whatever is hurting you out of your system.
  1. Take a break / sleep on it
    This one is probably one of the most important steps in this guide. Take. A. Break. Do something completely different for a little while. If you can, postpone doing any more about this today – sleep on it. However, if you must confront today, take a break first; Do the laundry, the dishes, homework, go to the gym, go for a run, have a nap, go for a walk, go grocery shopping, paint, sew – anything! (Personally, I prefer activities where I remove myself from home and get my pulse going – exercise raises the happiness levels dramatically and usually ends up changing my perspective on things). Try to not think of anything while doing this, but if you must, then make sure you let your thoughts come and go. Acknowledge that they are there and leave them be, so to speak. Don’t do anything about them.
  1. Analyse
    Why did the person act as he / she did? What’s going on in his / her life at the moment? Is there a background to this whole story that you might not know so much about? If you know anything about this person’s upbringing, value, friends or family, can this have affected what happened earlier? Is the person stressed? Jealous? Keep coming up with more questions and answer them as well as you can. The thing is, you can never know exactly what’s going on inside another human being, but usually, you can come pretty close, and by doing so you get closer to gaining an understanding of why everything happened as it did, which will make it easier for you to confront in a constructive way.
  1. Status
    Having gone through all the former steps, where are you now? Try reading the result of step 3 – are these still your feelings and thoughts? Without knowing, my guess would be that you are probably not as angry or hurt as you were earlier on. Maybe the reason for confrontation no longer exists? (In which case congratulations! Your work here is done.) By performing the 5 steps prior to this one, you have created a huge advantage. If you confront someone with understanding and calmness, you will get your message through much clearer and will in most circumstances be met with more positivity and empathetic emotions. Chances are the whole thing will be resolved much faster than you thought or, at least, that the person will be more open to what you’re saying than you ever would have imagined.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Format
    Would you like to write a letter, text, make a phone call, meet up with the person? This is a very personal choice and quite often it’s decided for us – e.g. it’s not always easy to meet up with someone who lives half way across the world. However, keep in mind that the written word is more often than not misunderstood. Depending on who you’re confronting, it might still be the best way to go though. Was the person stressed? Maybe best to write down what you have to say so the person can read it in his / her own time. Personally I prefer confronting face to face. When we communicate, about 70% of our communication is in our body language, so if you meet up it will be a lot easier for both of you to really understand each other. Just make sure you keep the whole thing calm. Research show that as soon as you start screaming and shouting at each other, you no longer actually hear one another. All you react to is body language….and let’s face it. Angry body language is never a pleasant sight.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Avoid starting sentences with the word ‘you’
    A general, very wise, rule when speaking to others is avoiding the start of a sentence with the word ‘you’. Another way to put it is ‘don’t point fingers’. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on on the other side of the ball court – stick to your own side. E.g. instead of saying ‘you are not interested in what’s going on in my life at all’, you could say ‘I feel like my life has no importance on your list of priorities’. Do you see the difference? Another example could be ‘You don’t love me’ as apposed to ‘I become unsure of whether you love me when you do this’. If you start with ‘I’ you’re staying on your side of things and the person you’re confronting will most likely not have the same urge to defend him- / herself if you’re not attacking (which you very easily could be by starting the sentences with ‘you’).
  1. Plan your confrontation: Ask questions
    There’s a very good chance that you have no idea what’s going on in the other person’s life. You could easily have misunderstood the whole thing. E.g. I once received a gift that seemed rather expensive from my ex mother-in-law. When saying thank you, I used the words ‘this is far too much – you shouldn’t have’. Her reply was ‘Maybe it was a bit too much, actually.’ Auch. I was hurt. Why did she give me the present in the first place if this was how she felt about it? Unfortunately I never got to ask the following question; ‘What did you mean when you said that?’ – I really wish I had. Because (as a friend of mine pointed out to me afterwards) she might have meant that she didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving something so expensive. What I heard though was ‘you’re not worth that much money’, but in reality she probably just didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving it in the first place.
    Another example; Recently I found myself texting a friend of mine several times without getting a reply. I was hurt and felt like he didn’t care about me as he was obviously trying to avoid my question. I then wrote ‘how come you’re not answering me?’ and he immediately replied and apologised with a very, very good excuse after which he answered my question and all was good. So, in short, ask questions. Whatever happened might have been meant in a very different way than how you perceived it.
  1. Follow through
    You’ve done all the steps – it’s time to follow through. Actually confronting someone can be a very overwhelming step – especially if you, as most people, fear rejection and / or confrontation for that matter. But believe me, it’s worth it. How can we ever know what’s going on with each other if we don’t speak up? Read this, if you need a little push. Go for it. Confront the person that hurt you and remember that there are so many misunderstandings out there every day. This just might be one of them.

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Good luck. ❤️

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How to work the wonders of a mirror

A lot of you may have noticed that I mention mirrors quite often. Now, I don’t keep mentioning mirrors to point out the importance of vanity (that said, there is a lot to be gained by having an extra thorough look at that reflection, believe me). I keep mentioning mirrors because they are a brilliant tool!

For so many unfortunate reasons, most people have issues with their bodies in one way or the other. A lot of the time the same people have issues with their personalities too. As a population we have become overly critical with ourselves and unfortunately this results in a lot of criticizing on a daily basis – in thought and speech.

Most people tell themselves that they’re not good enough in one way or the other every day – are you one of them? Keep in mind that this isn’t just about what you say out loud, this is also very much about your thoughts. Have you been telling yourself lately that you are fat? That you are ugly? That your nose is too big? That you suck at school? That you can never do anything right? That you’re single because no one finds you attractive? That your boobs are too small? That you look old? I bet at least one of the above apply to thoughts you’ve had about yourself recently.

Now imagine your closest friend said these things to you every single day. Imagine the person you trust and love the most chooses to focus on the negative things about you. Would you want to hang out with this person? Would this person make you happy? Would this person make you want to wake up with a big smile on your face every morning excited about the day ahead? I didn’t think so. It’s time for a change. It’s time to be your own very best and positive friend! It’s time for some light mirror work!

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Have a good look at the baby above. Does he look sad? Does he look like he hates what he sees? Does he look like he’s ready to criticise? Hardly. He does look like he’s just about to attack though – with a big kiss! He’s so excited about his own reflection in the mirror. Gotta love that! And this is where we want to get to!
There’s a good chance you used to look at yourself in the mirror this way when you were a baby. Then life happened and your inner voice changed. Let’s get back to basics my friend – be nice to yourself.

How to work the wonders of a mirror:
Next time you pass a mirror, stop. Stop and have a good look at that reflection of yours. Look into those beautiful eyes and smile! Not just one of those pretend smiles, but the real deal! You wouldn’t believe how important a smile is – it can be life altering (have a read: Why smiling is important). Keep the eye contact and the gorgeous smile on your face all through this exercise. Now focus on something positive about yourself and say (preferably out loud, but I appreciate others might be able to hear you in which case thoughts are ok for now) to yourself that you LOVE this trait. E.g. Let’s say you have a fabulous hair colour – tell yourself this! Or maybe you have great skin – tell yourself this! Maybe you just closed an important deal at work – tell yourself that you did an amazing job! I’m sure you get the picture by now. Give yourself the praise you deserve!

If this is all rather new to you, start with pointing out one positive thing about yourself today when you pass a mirror. Do this tomorrow as well. And the day after. Do it every single day this week. Then, next week, make it two things. The week after that, make it three things. Sky is the limit – tell yourself how incredibly amazing you are in every way and finish off with ‘I love you’ (I know this seems rather cheesy to most people, but the importance of self love is so severe I would urge you to do it anyway – have a read here for more on this).

There’s a good chance you’re shaking your head this very moment and thinking to yourself that this whole thing is nuts. I used to do the same, so I get it. However, here’s how I see it; What have you got to lose? Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a great story about the time you took a piece of advice from a blog and ended up talking to yourself in front of a mirror. This will then probably make people laugh and boom – a positive situation appears. In other words, this is a win-win situation. Go for it!

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5 questions that will spark your self development

I was having lunch with a good friend of mine a few days ago. One of those lovely lunches that turn into hours hanging out discussing life and all the ups and downs that come with it.
We ended up discussing an article she read recently where the author didn’t understand why getting engaged was seen as more of an accomplishment (at least on social media) than e.g. getting a promotion or a degree. In some ways I guess this is a good point; Post a photo on social media of a rock on a finger with the words ‘She/I said yes!!’ and you’ll probably have a few hundred likes within a very short amount of time. Post a photo of yourself with your degree and a happy face along with the words ‘I did it!!’ and the amount of likes will probably still be quite high. However, if you compare the two, chances are the engagement photo will be quite a lot more popular.
Personally I find both accomplishments fantastic! Both statements say a lot about who you are and what truly means something to you – what’s not to love? I think the main issue the author wanted to highlight is the tendency of putting the love two people share higher than anything else in life and this made me think!

I have a new scenario for you – a new post. I realise this will rarely happen, but imagine a photo of yourself with your arms spread out wide and your face lit up in a gorgeous smile. Next to the photo are the following words: ‘I LOVE MYSELF!!’ How do you think social media would react to this one?

Now this to me is much more of an interesting topic. Why is the love between two people placed so much higher on the accomplishment scale than the love you have for yourself? Don’t get me wrong – I love relationships and I truly believe in love between two people (I love my boyfriend to pieces!). But even more so, I truly believe we need to love ourselves first and foremost! I believe that if we put the same amount of time and attention to self development, loving ourselves and understanding who we are as we put into the efforts of looking for love from others, this world truly would be a happier place. To take it even further, and I realise this is a bold statement, I actually believe that a lot of divorces / break ups happen today because people don’t love or don’t know how to love themselves.
We enter into relationships hoping our partner will do this for us – which will probably be the case for most people for a little while. The issue is that we’ve seen far too many romantic Hollywood movies and believe life will always be like this as soon as we find that certain someone. We mirror ourselves in those movies and our surroundings rather than in ourselves and our own value. And then, one day, Hollywood is over. Life becomes boring. Enter the blame game; ‘She’s just not interesting any longer – she used to have all these hobbies and friends and now she’s just dull’ or ‘He’s gained so much weight. It’s as if he doesn’t care any longer. He used to be so fit when we met, now he’s constantly in front of the tv or checking his phone’ or ‘I feel so alone in my relationship. It’s as if my partner no longer sees me’. I’m sure you’re able to make up more – however, you might want to read this before you do.

If you’re in one of these not so happy relationships or if you’re doing everything in your power to enter a relationship rather than using the time to give that self development of yours a little nudge in the right direction, try the following exercise on for size:

Turn your attention away from whatever you were doing. If you’re in a relationship, let your partner do his / her thing and redirect all your energy to yourself. In fact, regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, when you ask yourself the following questions kids and partners are not allowed to be part of the answers. This exercise is about you and you alone. Take your time when answering the questions and remember that there’s no point in answering with lies. No one will know the answers but you (unless you wish to share them, obviously), so if you lie, you’ll be lying to yourself. Just saying.

your-self-development

Be honest and write the answers down as you go. Answer in full sentences and make the answers as long as you wish. This is for your benefit and your benefit alone.
Turn off the music, TV, phone and anything else that has the ability to remove your attention. It might help to close your eyes and maybe even lay down for a little bit during this exercise – when you remove all distractions it’s easier to get in touch with your body, it’s easier to get to the honest truth. Ready? Here goes.

  • When was the last time you felt happy?
  • When was the last time you did something for yourself that gave you a deeply content feeling?
  • What happens when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you smile? Do you try to avoid the reflection?
  • How do you ‘speak’ to yourself (your thoughts count on this one)? Do you let yourself down daily? Or do you give yourself praise?
  • What are your dreams (for now and for the future)? What would make you happy?

Remember; Take your time.

Done? So, what are your answers like? Did you find the questions difficult? Do your answers add up to the life you’re living? Don’t panic if they don’t – you’re not the only one who feels this way, trust me. In fact, most people will have a hard time answering these questions. And very few answer them with positive replies.
The good news is that once you know what the issue is, you can do something about it! How’s that for a start? By being honest with yourself you’ve already taken the first step towards a more fulfilled and loving life. You have sparked your self development!

When we know what we truly enjoy and what’s important to us deep down inside, we can adjust our lives accordingly – this is why it’s so incredibly important to sync with yourself from time to time.

So, now what? What are the next steps? For starters, here’s a few links to exercises and information that will give your self development a good push:

The most important part of all of this is to NEVER GIVE UP (read this and this) and, by all means, don’t lie to yourself! If you find you choose to ignore your own signals or always put yourself last in the equation of life, believe me when I say you won’t be able to do this forever. Listen to your body now. Be your own best friend. Get to know your value – self development is your key.

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Don’t give up

So, it’s Monday. Again. And you don’t feel you’re any closer to that goal of yours. It’s as if no matter what you do, you’re just not getting there. So you look to your neighbour, colleague, friend – heck – even a stranger, to find company for your misery. But they are all so content! What are you doing wrong?! Why does everyone else seem to have it all worked out yet here you are in the same miserable state you’ve been in for weeks, months or maybe even years. Nothing ever works for you. Is the whole thing just a scam? Has life been set up to disappoint you? Is this a bad joke? Where’s the camera?
Don’t give up!

First of all, I can assure you that you’re not the only one feeling the way you do this very moment. Even the ones who smile the most and seem the most ’on top of the world’ have issues and challenges that will exceed your wildest imagination. Most people, however, choose not to let everyone else in on these matters – they choose to deal with them privately and quite often for good reason.

But then what about social media? Every day you’re faced with pictures from mountain tops, rooftop parties in exotic countries, weddings on beaches, babies, new designer bags, sports cars – you name it. Surely that’s not just something these people make up? Probably not, no (although some might be – trust me). But just because you bought a new Ferrari doesn’t mean you’re happy deep down inside. That friend of yours travelling the world and seeing all these exotic places could be just as lonely as you might be when tucked in at night. The ones who just became parents? They are probably scared out of their minds! The girl from your class who’s always at the right parties? Maybe she’s desperately searching for attention. My point is, we all have struggles. Even those who are genuinely happy most of the time have worries and challenges. You are not alone! So, my thoughts on social media? If it brings you down, leave it be for a while. But remember; some people aren’t really what they ’post’ to be…

Second, if you have set a goal for yourself, if you have dreams and visions of what you really want in life; keep working at it! Don’t ever give up. It’s usually when we give up that we were the closest to achieving what we had set out to accomplish.

Don’t-give-up

That said, if you’ve been stuck in misery for years in a life or job you don’t enjoy, this might be your wake-up call (you might want to read this). It might be time to look deep within and work on figuring out what you’re dreams and wishes are really about. In my opinion there’s no such thing as dreaming too big or setting unrealistic goals. Nothing is impossible! (Have a look at this exercise, if you need a little push.) Follow your heart and your gut and make sure you’re passionate about whatever you start up / set your mind to. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you’re passionate about it, you’ll put in the work required without hesitation. You won’t even perceive it as work. You’ll do it because it comes naturally to you and because you truly enjoy doing it. Chances are, you might not even be able to put it away. However,  even when we feel this way about something there can be a setback or two, which is ok. In fact, it’s natural. Just don’t give up. Be your own coach! Get back in the game. Trust me. You are so much closer to the break through than you think.

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Do you know your value?

Tough question, right? Do you know your value? If you’re in a relationship of some sort (be it a relationship with a significant other, a parent, a colleague etc.) and you feel like you’re always chasing, trying to make the other person happy, calling, texting or otherwise desperately seeking attention, chances are you probably don’t. The thing is, in your relationship with others you are the only one responsible for how you are treated. That’s right; It’s your responsibility – no blaming others. You are the master of how others react to you. You set the rules. Your surroundings do as you ask them to regardless of whether you do so with words, actions, body language or simply with thoughts.

Bring on the excuses: ‘But she says she’s not hurting me on purpose’, ‘But he is in the middle of a depression – I have to be there’, ‘But she’s just confused’, ‘But he is just busy’, ‘But he is ending it with his partner – it’s only a matter of time till we can be together’, ‘But I’ll never find anyone else like her’, ‘But we’re married – I have to stick it out’, ‘But I don’t want my kids to grow up with divorced parents’. If you’re like most people, I’m sure you’re able to make up more..

I realise that special circumstances can arise, and if you have children, are married or have otherwise made a life long promise to someone, you’ll probably need to have a longer leash. However, even when you’ve made these commitments, there’s no point in giving up all your power to your significant other. There’s simply no excuse for not knowing your own value. It takes two to tango in any relationship. Where is the puzzle piece with your happiness on it, if you’re constantly focused on making someone else happy?

I recently read a blog where the writer was describing how her mother was always subject to her dominating father. How her mother would obey her husband’s every request and generally do everything to make him happy. Which party do you feel sorry for in this scenario? Hopefully both (and the blogger, who was a child in this unhealthy environment). None of these roles are pleasant. No one enjoys that amount of power – no one enjoys being ‘small’. I don’t know this couple, but chances are the imbalance was probably there from the very beginning and has then, with time, become even more outspoken. Regardless, I believe that the imbalance wouldn’t be there in the first place if they both knew their value.

I was once told that relationships are all about meeting a person you’re at eye level with (in regards to energy and soul – not height). It’s all about healthy counteraction and great communication (the latter being the ‘glue’). When I heard this I had just been in a relationship where I was the dominating one (you can read about it here) and had formerly been in a relationship where my partner had all the power, so my first reaction was to fear the future. What were the odds that I would ever find anyone where the balance would be just right? I didn’t even know what to look for! So I gave up the hunt for a little while and focused on myself – the best thing I could have ever done.

I worked on my relationship with myself daily! In several different ways (some of the exercises I used can be found here, here and  here). If you don’t love yourself, how are you ever going to show anyone how you want to be loved? If you don’t respect yourself, how are you ever going to be able to demand respect from others? If you don’t see your own inner beauty, chances are others won’t see it either. Be nice to yourself. Think positive thoughts (a little about positivity to be found here)! Smile to yourself and the people around you daily – you have so much to offer and so much to be grateful for. Why would you waste your fabulous energy on someone or something who doesn’t appreciate it?

Respect yourself

If you’re feeling powerless in your relationship, you’re probably not placing yourself high enough. There’s nothing wrong with loving others (on the contrary – go for it!) or wanting to be good to them. But the problem with putting others first is, that you automatically put yourself second. Think about that sentence for a minute.
Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude. It means you value the one person that will be with you forever – regardless of what happens. (In case you missed it, this person would be you.) You need to be your own best friend. You need to realise your value. Once you do this, nothing can knock you over (not completely, anyway).

You are never powerless. If you’re not happy and don’t see a change on it’s way – make the change yourself. Your happiness is your own responsibility. Leave behind what’s pulling you down and move forward. Put yourself first. Value who you are or no one else will.

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How much worse could things be?

When we’re caught up in misery and pain, everything somehow becomes all about ourselves in the darkness – nothing else matters. Everything is just black, awful, unimportant, cold and there seems to be no prospect of anything ever getting any better. But what if things could get better? And what if they could get better by thinking ‘How much worse could things be?’

During her commencement speech at Berkeley on Saturday, COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, brought up the subject of gratitude several times in several different ways. Throughout an extremely touching, honest and truly inspirational speech she shared her hard core and heart breaking story publicly for the first time since the sudden loss of her husband a little over a year ago. Several times, she came close to letting her emotions take over and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one truly in awe of her strength as she stood there and shared her life’s biggest struggle with everyone.
Sheryl Sandberg touched base on so many incredibly important and very interesting subjects during her speech, but there was one subject in particular that caught my attention; Her ability to find gratitude during the absolute darkest hours of her life.
She managed to find gratitude with help from her friend and therapist, Adam Grant, who, one day, suggested she think about how much worse things could be.

Steps

Sheryl Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, due to a cardiac arrhythmia that the doctors had not yet discovered he had. In an instant she lost the love of her life and became a single parent to two children, yet she, like so many others who are suddenly faced with severe sorrows in life, managed to make life work regardless of tremendous heartbreak and pain. So when Sheryl Sandberg was asked to consider how much worse things could be, her reply was ‘Worse?! Are you crazy?! How could things be worse?!’ Adam Grant replied: ‘Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia driving your children’. And just like that the situation was put into perspective. A perspective that made her realise how much she had to be grateful for.

Now, Sheryl Sandberg’s example is obviously rather hard core, but maybe that’s what makes the point so clear; that gratitude can always be found. Always. Regardless of what happens, you’ll always be able to find something to be grateful for in the light of a scenario that’s worse than the one you’re in.  And that little grain of gratitude can end up being the star that shines and leads the way on your otherwise dark road. The trick is to then add more stars to the sky and eventually you will have enough light to recognize the beauty that surrounds you.

I have formerly brought up exercises that can help you increase your gratefulness (and thereby also your happiness). Sheryl Sandberg actually mentions this one in her speech and another one can be found here. You might not be able to feel the effects of these exercises immediately, but I promise you that if you repeat them every day, you will feel it eventually, as what you put your attention to grows stronger. Put your attention towards the positives – always.

If you’d like to see Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech, which I highly recommend, this can be found below. You might think it’s slightly long, but trust me – it’s worth every minute and will stay with you for quite some time if you really let it sink in.

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