Tag Archives: Passion

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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What you want more of!

Fish

I don’t actually remember exactly when I started making these ‘mind maps’, as I call them. Nor do I remember where I heard of them first. Nevertheless, I have now constantly had a mind map as my screensaver for about 4 years.

Research shows that most people tend to focus on what they don’t want as opposed to what they actually do want, which is a real shame, as what we focus on tends to grow stronger. Negative becomes the dominating factor in many lives and the positives suddenly seem further and further apart. I wrote a little something about this the other day – catch up here.
But then how do we focus on what we want? Good question. If you, as most people, have grown accustomed to sneaking in negatives during most of your day, positivity can seem like quite a challenge. You might want to start with simply reminding yourself daily of what you are grateful for. In the post ‘Dancing in the rain’ I go deeper into what I mean by this.

Another way to focus on what you want more of is by creating a ‘mind map’. Although doing this is slightly time consuming, it is worth every single minute! You can go ‘High Tech’ (min. 30-60 minutes required) or ‘Low Tech’ (min. 1 hour required). What’s important is that you take your time while working through this exercise.

If you don’t find you have time for being creative right now, bookmark this website (maybe do so regardless) and return when you have the time. However, I’m assuming you’re up for the challenge this very minute, so grab a cup of tea or coffee and let’s get started.

Low Tech version

  1. Get out a piece of paper or cardboard (A4 should do for your first one – you can always upgrade to A3 or bigger later on), some glue and maybe a sharpie / permanent marker or two.
  2. Grab all the old magazines you can get hold of (make sure no one else wants to read them before you do this as you might become highly unpopular otherwise – you’ll find out why in a sec). Image wise, we’re looking for humans, houses, desirable places, dancers, office workers, children, jewellery, cars – anything that speaks to you.
  3. Now, go through each magazine one page at a time. While doing this ask yourself one, simple question: ‘If I could have anything in the world, what would it be.’
    Don’t read the magazine, just look at the images and cut out anything that appeals to you. Anything that sparks your dreams and gives you a relaxed, happy feeling. Don’t be critical (e.g. ‘In reality, I could never afford that!‘) – just go for it. Let go of all negative thoughts! Sky is the limit. You can have anything you like this very moment. If anyone has ever told you otherwise and this person’s voice is replaying in your mind, block it! This is your dream. You control it. And you are choosing, this very moment, to focus on what you really, truly want from life. Happiness? Go through the magazine and find an image of a truly happy person. Relaxation? Search the magazine for a beach, yoga course, a sunset, a field, a bed even – whatever works for you. A car? Find that car and cut it out. A pet monkey? Find it!
    Keep in mind that no one will ever see this (unless you show it to them, obviously). This is yours and yours alone. Nothing is silly; nothing is unachievable – go for it. Own your dreams!
  4. Once you have cut out all your images, stick them on your piece of paper / cardboard (this is the part where an A3 might all of a sudden be more appropriate, but I’ll let you be the judge of that). It’s your mind map – it’s your design.
  5. When you have glued all the images you want on your piece of paper / cardboard, place it somewhere where you know you’ll see it every day. Stick it on the mirror, in your cupboard, fold it and place it in your wallet, take a picture of it and use it as your screen saver. Again, this is completely up to you. The important part is that you see it every single day. In the end you might not notice it any longer, but your subconscious will still pick up on it.
  6. Now leave it where it is (unless you want to move it to a new place once in a while) and let life work it’s magic.

Focus

High Tech version

  1. High tech people will laugh at me calling this a high tech version, as the minimum required here is a computer with either Word or PowerPoint installed + an internet connection. But compared to the above it is, in fact, rather high tech.
  2. Start by opening up one of the above-mentioned programs and start a fresh page.
  3. It’s time for Mr Google (images). Positive words that mean something to you is what we need. What would you like more of? Success? Type it in there and see which images appear. Someone standing on top of a mountain? Thumbs up? A quote? A jump? A large corner office in Manhattan? Save your preferred image and paste it into your open document (who cares if you live in one country and have dreams of living in another although you can see no possibility of this happening! This is your dream – everything is realistic).
    Money? Google it and see what comes up. Save an image and paste it into your document.
    Health? What is health to you? A fruit & vegetable bowl? Someone running or lifting weights? Google it, save the image and paste.
    Love? See what Google comes up with and pick the image that speaks to you. Save it and paste it. You know the drill by now.
  4. Keep going till you feel you have gathered the images that represent your inner most amazing dreams. Remember that this is your personal mind map. No one gets a say but you.
    Place the images as your wish in your document. If you have a favourite inspirational quote of some sort, maybe put it in the middle or the corner. It’s your mind map – you decide. Just remember to save your work as you go.
  5. Once you are happy with your mind map print it out and hang it where you’ll notice it every single day. On the fridge, the mirror, in the cupboard, in your diary, wallet. You know best.
    As you chose the ‘High Tech’ option, chances are you use your computer just as much as I do, in which case you might want to consider using you mind map as a screensaver.
  6. Now, just as in the ‘Low Tech’ version, leave your mind map where it is (unless you want to move it to a new place once in a while) and let life work it’s magic.

As I wrote earlier, I started doing these mind maps about 4 years ago – creating a new one each year (but how often you want to create a new one is entirely up to you). Recently, I came across the first one I made. I had honestly forgotten about it, but finding it made me smile. Every single image / dream on that mind map has either come true or is literally coming true this very moment. Now, how do you like that?

A little less than a year ago I randomly met a girl in a café. We were sat next to each other with our computers and all of a sudden the Internet stopped working, so we started chatting. Time passed and the conversation turned personal. In just a few hours she went from seeming slightly down to shining – the transformation was outstanding and I’ll probably write a post about it one day. For now though, the end of our conversation is what’s interesting;
We were saying our goodbyes when her eyes caught a glimpse of my screensaver – my current mind map. In the corner of my mind map is an image of a veranda with an ocean view. She smiled when she saw this and asked me whether this was a place I would like to go to? I replied that I would love to. That this was my idea of complete relaxation. Full of joy she said the following words: ‘Let me know when you want to go and I’ll make it happen! That image could have been the view from my familie’s holiday home in Ireland.’ What were the odds? Keep in mind that this girl was a complete stranger just a few hours before.

So, if you’re wondering whether to spend a few hours doing a mind map, I’ll say as I always do; What have you got to lose? What’s the worst that can happen? Exactly. Just do it.

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