Category Archives: social situations

Self-acceptance is a unique and personal journey

There is no rule book or set of processes to go through to gain a sense of self-acceptance. How could there be, when we are all so unique and have experienced such different life circumstances? That’s not to say that there aren’t tools and resources that we can use, and teachers (in the form of friends, authors, movies etc.) that will encourage us on our journey. It’s more that how we interpret them and what they mean to us as individuals will be highly personal.

This, of course, is no bad thing. If anything it’s part of the wonder that is human existence. Life is beautifully messy and chaotic. We are beautifully messy and chaotic. We are all united in our uniqueness and the complex twists and turns that life sometimes takes. Difference is a unifying factor – not a reason to find fault, or fear what we don’t understand.

My problem of late has been realising that who I am is so very different to the person I thought I was (or ought to be), that transitioning – or allowing myself to transform into the person I was always meant to be – is downright terrifying. Let me give you some background…

I’ve always been someone who feels things intensely and is highly emotional. I soak up other people’s emotions like a sponge, making many social encounters emotionally and physically draining. This has made working in a shared office environment practically impossible for me in the past, and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not suited to a busy, fast-paced lifestyle. I used to believe this meant that there’s something wrong with me or that I’m deficient in some way, but I’m coming to understand and respect this aspect of myself and not view it as a weakness or a failing.

My environment has always been extremely important to me, and the smallest detail such as lighting or the position of my desk in relation to the door has always had a huge impact on me. I know I’m not unique in this and that many people are ‘fussy’ about their office or home environments. I’m sure I’m not the only person who drives by houses in the winter time and wonders how on earth people can stand to sit in a brightly lit room with the television on full blast, with not a scented candle or joss stick in sight! I also detest brightly lit supermarkets and shops, which seems to be the norm these days. Something about those harsh overhead strip lights just does something to my brain and I can’t think straight or concentrate. Modern day living just doesn’t seem to suit me, no matter how much I’ve tried to make myself fit in. I often wish I was living in a small town with cobbled roads and a smattering of local shops – all lit by candlelight! I’d probably hate this is reality, but something about it really does appeal to me.

I’ve been a career person most of my adult life; ticking off the list of things to do as you enter and work your way through adulthood:

  • Get a good education
  • Get a job and stay there for approximately three years
  • Move on to a better job with greater prospects and increased pay
  • Get married and start thinking about having kids

In the last few years I’ve come to realise that this life was not serving me. It wasn’t allowing me to give the best of myself, to express who I really am, or to live anything other than a half-life. Now, I’d like to say that I came to this decision myself, by a process of careful analysis and deduction – but the truth is that life forced me to take a huge step back and reevaluate just about everything in my life, from my relationships to my career and my style of dress. My way of perceiving the world also changed, as I could no longer believe that our existence on this planet is just a happy accident and that human existence has no real meaning. I’m not religious. I do not believe in God in the sense that a member of an organised religion does. But I do believe that we are all part of something much greater than ourselves, that we are surrounded by guidance at every step of the way, and that we each had a purpose (or ten) when we entered this lifetime. I’ve experienced enough strange and magical moments over the last few years that I have no choice now but to wholeheartedly believe such whimsical notions as:

  • Life loves us all
  • We have a soul/higher-self that is always trying to guide us towards our highest good
  • We all have something unique and meaningful to offer the world

I’m finding these things very hard to come to terms with, because I still feel like a bit of a nutcase when I express my views on life. People regularly giggle at me, and I often make a joke of myself by making reference to hippies and rainbows, and generally poo-pooing my own belief system. It’s just going to take time, I guess. The day will come when I can stand tall, look someone in the eyes and say: “You are a beautiful beam of light”, without laughing nervously afterwards! In the meantime, I’ll just keep giggling.

So, as you can see, self-acceptance is quite a roller-coaster for me, because to accept who I truly am, I have to accept that:

  • My life now looks completely different to how it did
  • A lot of people in my life either don’t approve or are taking a while to get on board
  • My views are more than a little ‘out there’ for the average conversation over a cup of coffee
  • The more I believe in myself, the happier and more fulfilled I feel, so I have no choice but to keep going, no matter how much I want to run back to the safety of my old life. Anxiety and depression come when I deny something fundamental about myself, and follow social constructs about what I should do and who I should be.

What does self-acceptance mean to you? Are you gay but don’t feel able to come to terms with it? Are you a geek surrounded by people who don’t understand your passion for 18th Century literature? Are you a wild soul who lives in the suburbs and longs to sell up and build a tree house in the forest?

No matter who you are or what you’re going through, self-acceptance is possible. Please don’t tell yourself that your life is so unique that no one else has ever overcome something similar and found peace within themselves.

The one thing that we can all benefit from, no matter who we are or what we’re aiming for, is a tribe: a group of people who are on our wavelength, who help us to become more and more of who we are, and who inspire us to live our best lives. This tribe of people will look different for all of  us, but they will all have the same effect of supporting us and providing space for us to explore our true selves in a safe environment.

I’m at a loss at the moment. My old journey seems to have come to an end, and I haven’t fully embraced the next chapter of my life yet. I’m in a state of limbo; too scared to move forward, but even more scared to go back to my old ways. I’m not 100% sure where I belong or what my ‘tribe’ looks like. I guess for now all I can do is respect the process, be kind to myself and know that no matter how small my progress may be, I’m moving towards something wonderful.

I love you all, because I’m a great big hippy – yay!

Bye for now,

Kath x

 

p.s. Image is by Travis Simon via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/ya6d6vtg

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Opening the door to connectivity

I have spent the vast majority of my life fearing people, and seeing any interaction as an opportunity for me to fail or reveal myself for the good-for-nothing I really am. (I’m sure some of you reading this can identify with that deep-seated fear that sits inside your belly and tells you that you’re a bad person, and that if people only knew the real you they wouldn’t want to be your friend anymore).

I feared judgement, whilst unknowingly being judgemental myself; because finding fault in others was the only way I could feel good about myself. I say ‘unknowingly’ because I genuinely didn’t realise this trait in myself until recent years.

So this idea of connecting with and enjoying the company and companionship of my fellow human beings is a fairly recent discovery for me. And forgive me – I seem to remember that I wrote on this topic not that long ago. But it’s something I continue to ponder, especially as I start to feel more connected with the world around me (my joy is all the greater for having lived in the dark for so many years). We all have days when we feel closed off and don’t especially want to talk to anyone, but on the whole I feel less like I have something to prove and more like a valid piece in the enormous jigsaw puzzle that is our universe.

Connection isn’t something we can learn, but rather something we must learn to feel. Connection exists and is there for us to tap into in almost every moment. Like it or not, we are all connected as part of the shared human experience, and we are all worthy in our own right. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to believe this last point. And if you’re in a place in your life where you doubt your worthiness, then that is absolutely fine. It’s where you’re at right now, and it means that the joy of discovering your place in the world lies ahead, waiting patiently for the time that you feel ready to embrace all that you are.

So, from one piece of a giant jigsaw to another, thanks for being here to read this blog post and I’ll speak to you again soon.

Bye for now x

No offence but I don’t care what job you do

Well actually I do care. I care if it makes you happy, I care if you have the financial stability you crave, and I care if you are stressed out due to looming redundancies. But in terms of what you do actually meaning anything in the grand scheme of life? Well it just doesn’t. Of course it may have personal and emotional significance to you and/or your friends and family, in which case it is hugely meaningful. What I’m driving at here is that it doesn’t mean anything about you as a person. It doesn’t make you better or worse than any other human being, and it in no way defines who you are. We all have a certain sense of snobbery about us. Even as I write this I am aware of moments in my life where I have been a snob. Having worked at a university and earned a professional wage, I recently did a stint of cleaning work in my local neighborhood. I’d quit my job, was looking for something less stressful for a while AND I happen to genuinely love cleaning. So why not do some cleaning work? My parents were obviously a little disturbed by this sudden change in direction – and social status! They used to enjoy telling people I worked for a local university, and they were very proud of me. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I was proud of myself, in fact. But do you know what I was even more proud of? My decision to quit a job that in the end was making me miserable and do something completely different. It took guts to do that, and it was much more of a personal achievement than any successful job applications I’d ever made. But despite this, and despite really enjoying the work, I still had moments of shame about it. Intense shame whereby I didn’t like to admit what I was doing, especially to former colleagues and other academically successful friends of mine. It was OK in certain situations, but mostly I felt it made me unworthy and I was too embarrassed to chat openly to anyone about it.

It’s a shame really, don’t you think? A huge, colossal sized shame really. Because deep down we all know we’re born equal and die equal. That someone may be cleverer or more beautiful than us, but that it doesn’t make them a more worthy individual. How could it possibly mean that? In a world where people are born into different social and cultural environments and have different experiences and opportunities?  It just isn’t a thing. I often think that if aliens were to land, and we explained about the varying perception of two people because one works in a posh deli in a quaint little village, and the other in a cafe selling fried food in a busy town centre, they’d be frankly a little baffled.

Have you ever noticed how obsessed we are as a society about what we do to make money? If you go on a gameshow you give your name, age and occupation. As far as I’m concerned two of those things are irrelevant, unless the contestant is especially proud to have just celebrated a milestone birthday, or they’ve just got a new job that they want to share with the world. But otherwise, what difference does it make if you’re a retired police officer or a part-time bin man?!!!!

The question: “and what do you do?” always baffles me too. I always want to answer with a list of daily hobbies and activities, ending with: “and right this moment I’m stood here talking to you”. That’d surely make them wish they’d never asked.

And what’s with paid work carrying more kudos than the equivalent role but in a voluntary capacity? It’s all work.

Before I get too ranty about the whole thing, I’m going to sign off here and leave you to ponder what a great big bunch of snobs the human race can be.

Peace!

Living in shades of grey

So, I made an eBay purchase the other week. I was so excited. It was exactly what I’d been looking for at a price that I could afford. I was devastated when I missed the postman/woman and had to wait until the next working day to collect the parcel from my local delivery office. Imagine, then, my disappointment when I finally collect my new pair of Birkenstock sandals, only to find that they weren’t ‘as new’, as the description had suggested. The leather straps were worn in ways that just didn’t show up in the pictures, and the sandals had clearly been worn for a fairly muddy outing – a music festival maybe? In which case, perhaps by ‘worn only once’ the seller actually meant ‘worn for only one 4 day long music festival where I camped in a field and endured some pretty harsh conditions’. Anyway, I emailed the seller straight away to let her know how disappointed I was, but was very polite and offered for her to send me a partial refund (an amount we could agree between us), but that if she didn’t want to do that I would be returning the shoes under eBay’s money back guarantee for items that aren’t as described or different to the photos provided.

Where am I going with this, I here you ask? Well, the seller was quite annoyed with my message, and said that they absolutely were worn only once etc. You get the picture. We didn’t agree on the situation, and despite me being as nice as I could manage (whilst still getting my point across) the seller was rude and called me a ‘time waster’. She said she would dispute my return request, to which I said ‘that’s fine, I’ll request the return, you decline it and at that point I can get eBay involved to resolve the dispute for us’. I was happy with that. I didn’t mind eBay having to step in. I was confident from the photos I’d uploaded that eBay would agree the shoes were clearly not ‘as new’, but even if they didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least I’m not completely broke and that was my last £20 to my name. At least I’d end up with a pair of shoes that I could wear, even if they weren’t as nice as I was expecting etc. etc. I was basically being one of those annoying sunny side up people who sees only the blessings (gross, right?!).

‘Oh just send them back, I can’t be doing with time wasters’, was the response to my last message. I was soooooo tempted to reply and say something like ‘thank you for your excellent customer service skills, I will make sure to recommend your eBay shop to my friends’ or ‘maybe you should get some new glasses before re-listing the shoes on eBay’. But I didn’t. I took my husband’s advice and just left it alone. I said I didn’t want to leave her a rubbish review, and I have stuck to that because I don’t agree with posting angry reviews in the heat of the moment. I took the moral high ground, basically, which gave me no immediate sense of satisfaction, but in the long run has left me feeling quite pleased with myself.

‘We still don’t know why you’re telling us about the shoes you bought on eBay’, I hear you cry! Well, I guess the whole thing just got me thinking. It seems fairly clear-cut at first, that I’m the good guy and she’s the nasty piece of work eBay seller with a bad attitude and zero people skills. But I’m becoming increasingly aware of my tendency to think about myself and the world in black and white, rather than in shades of grey. In black and white thinking, one person is clearly ‘wrong’ and the other ‘right’, but in shades of grey, we are two human beings coming at the same situation from different angles and with different life experiences. Maybe I could have viewed the photos on a bigger screen and scrutinised them more closely, rather than trusting the description she had provided. Maybe she has had a miserable year and is feeling angry with the world in general. And there definitely isn’t anything wrong with feeling angry – although perhaps taking it out on your eBay customers isn’t the best outlet.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? I am not 100% a nice person or 100% right, but neither is she 100% nasty or 100% wrong. The truth always lies somewhere in between, and it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to acknowledge this and not force people or situations into boxes labelled ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

So yes, grey may be a bit of a dismal and depressing colour, but actually there is a lot of joy to be found in it. It’s the road to less stress and tension, and greater acceptance of life and the people we encounter on a day-to-day basis. It means that we can see each other as fellow humans, rather than friend or enemy. We don’t need to make these distinctions, even if there are people we’d rather not buy from on eBay ever again. From their own point of view, everyone is right, and we can never know what it’s like to be another person until we’ve walked in their shoes. So give yourself a break, and give them a break whilst you’re at it.

I hope you’re all doing well out there in the world, whoever you are. But remember, if things aren’t so good right now, that’s OK too. There are no prizes for the human being with the least amount of baggage or issues to sift through. We’re all doing just fine 🙂

Peace out x

Companionship, connection and togetherness. Are they the meaning of life?

I grew up believing that I had to do certain things and be the version of me everyone else wanted to see. Sound familiar? One of the side-effects of this was that, although I had friends and socialised regularly, it was always a bit of an inconvenience to me. I was always partly waiting to go back home where I could completely relax, because I didn’t have anyone else’s needs or opinions to take into account. I’ve never been great at maintaining eye contact with people – even those I’m really close to. I guess every encounter with someone or any social situation had the potential for me to get something ‘wrong’ or to be judged negatively in some way.

Well, let me tell you something about where I’m at right now! I’m in the process of discovering the joy of connecting with people – of sharing my existence and physical space with like-minded (or completely different!) individuals who make me laugh, inspire me or make me feel welcome and comfortable. There will always be people who make us feel, well, completely the opposite of this! We’ve all met a few of those people. And perhaps there are some friends or family members who sometimes make us feel on edge. That’s fine. Life isn’t about becoming a perfect human being, totally free of worry or judgement of others. But it is about connecting and companionship; fostering a sense of togetherness by engaging in tasks together and helping one another out. Today my neighbour and I worked together to cut back some ivy which has slowly but surely been taking over the wall between our two gardens. It was fun! And there was a real sense of achievement afterwards.

I’ve felt quite lonely recently. I think any time in our lives when we are going through some emotional trauma can feel lonely and isolating, but it’s exactly at this point that we need to remind ourselves how very not alone we are. At the risk of sounding like a complete hippy (peace, man) we are all connected by our very existence as living things on this planet of ours. There is always someone out there who loves and cares about us. Even the ones who judge us and make us feel inadequate secretly love us – they’re just too wrapped up in their own ‘stuff’ to express it as often as we sometimes need to hear it.

So this discovery of mine has led me to actually want to spend time with people. Imagine that?! I actively seek out conversations and opportunities to meet up. I see the opportunity to get together as just that – an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience. I recognise that these people I’m lucky enough to share my life with don’t like me because I’m perfect. I mean let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we never do quite meet that gold standard, because it just doesn’t exist. No, they like me because I’m me. They see something in me that they like, as I do with them. If only we could see the magical spark that others see in us. Talk about medicine for the soul.

I’m admittedly very late in the game when it comes to valuing and enjoying my social connections, but to be honest I think my appreciation of it is all the better for having come from where I have. Never waste a moment on regrets, and always look for the blessings…

I am human. You are human. We’re all here to celebrate our shared humanity, and to explore each other’s opinions and ideas. Competition comes from a place of feeling unworthy and ashamed, and if saying goodbye to these negative emotions means more time spent in the company of my friends and family, then I’m certainly willing to let them go.

And remember, you were born worthy, and you will die worthy. Find small ways to start believing this and just see what magic unfolds.

Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE being by myself, and sometimes I can’t think of anything worse than going out to a pub and having to actually talk to someone! This will never change. Enjoying feeling your connection to others doesn’t mean that you can’t also value some alone time.

Bye for now x

The day I realised I don’t have to deserve or earn love…

All my life I have tried desperately to earn acceptance and love from people around me. I have felt, at my very core, desperately worried about myself and whether I’m good enough. I’ve felt the need to put on a different mask according to who I’m spending time with. Like a chameleon, I’ve adapted to my environment, but at a huge cost: me!

The more I face up to my fears, and the more I just put myself ‘out there’ to be seen for who I really am, the more I realise that I never needed to earn the love or respect of anyone. Instead of running away, those people in my life who really matter to me have embraced this phase of my life, encouraging me to take my time, offering support and letting me know that they are there whenever I need them. I just had a text conversation with a friend which made me cry big fat tears of happiness, sadness and just about every emotion in between! But then I heard myself thinking:

What have I done to deserve this?

And the answer? I didn’t need to do anything, because love isn’t deserved or earned, and I have been worthy of love, friendship and companionship since the day I was born. I don’t have my own children yet, but I know that as/when I do have a baby, I won’t look at it and think: I’ll love you once you’re old enough to do something deserving and worthwhile. I’ll just love it because it is.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to slowly begin peeling away the mask, and to discover that I am loved so very much for who I am. And I am fortunate enough to have enough good people around me to know that anyone who doesn’t like what they see can look elsewhere. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d be doing a pretty rubbish job of being authentic if everyone liked me! No one is universally liked and loved. Even Tom Hanks won’t be liked by everyone who meets him, although I find that hard to believe!

Being loveable doesn’t mean being perfect. It just means being you. We are all loveable, and we are all loved by someone.

The sad thing about Western culture is that it promotes a sense of ‘better than’ in relation to our fellow human beings. Instead of working together and celebrating who we are, we feel inclined to compete with others for our sense of self-esteem and worthiness. Conversations with certain people leave us feeling exhausted because they seem to be doing so much better than we are, and our egos just can’t handle it! Well I for one am sick of leading a life where my ego has such a big influence over how I feel about myself. There is such a thing as a healthy ego, and that involves doing what you love to do, with people you love to spend time with, and approaching life from a place of self-love and a sense of worthiness.

For someone who has been doing just the opposite of this for most of her life, I’m finding that old habits die hard, and I’m really having to trust myself to let go of my old hang-ups and let the magic unfold. But it’s all worthwhile in those moments where I feel totally at ease with myself and the world. Giving up the fight means realising there was never a fight in the first place.

Thanks for listening.

Bye for now x

A note on friendship

How is it that I’m in my early to mid thirties and I’m only just starting to experience true friendship for the first time? OK, to all my long-standing friends I apologise. I love you all and I’m not saying that our friendship doesn’t mean anything. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend before with whom I feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. There’s always something:

  • They’re a bit cooler or better dressed than me (or at least I feel self-conscious around them)
  • They are much more fun-loving and outgoing (unlike me who likes to stay in and watch a film over a mug of hot chocolate)
  • I used to fancy them growing up and although I don’t anymore I can’t completely relax around them! Lol.
  • They are a friend I met through my sister, and whereas my sister and I have some excellent friends, I perhaps wouldn’t have become friends with said individuals if not for convenience. Ouch, that sounds awful. Again, I love the people I’m talking about here. I just mean that the friendship didn’t develop because we were naturally drawn to each other’s personalities and absolutely loved spending time together.

I guess I’ve just never really had that kind of friendship which is a bit on the wild and uninhibited side, where any topic goes and it doesn’t matter if you need to tell them you couldn’t answer the phone because you were on the loo. You know what I mean?

Anyway, I now have a friend like that. A wild friendship between two kindred spirits who can happily talk about topics ranging from sex to poo and anything in between. We have similar – though not identical – beliefs. We look and dress differently, and have led completely different lives. But we are pretty much ideally suited as friends go.

I’m not sad that it’s taken me this long. I think I appreciate it far more for having waited this long. I’ve always felt like I’m the ‘odd’ one in my friendships, but not with this individual. I feel completely normal – whatever the hell ‘normal’ means!

Well I just wanted to share this development in my life with you guys, because I think it’s important to remember that true friendship means not feeling self-conscious or uneasy. It means comfortable silences and being able to look each other directly in the eye. I value all of my friendships very much, but it’s nice to have found someone who feels like a lovely great big cuddle to be around.

That’s all for now x

To be angry, or not to be angry…

I am so often conflicted about how I should feel in situations where people have annoyed or upset me. As much as I realise my emotions are real and perfectly valid, I am also aware that the person in question:

a) is just an imperfect human being, same as me

b) probably has their own ‘stuff’ going on

c) didn’t deliberately set out to upset me…

The list could easily go on. Excuses as to why I have no right to feel hard done by, and shouldn’t think anything of it.

Thing is, if you feel angry, you feel angry, and trying to suppress that isn’t going to help anyone. A world where everyone was always just OK and never expressed any of their negative emotions towards anyone or anything would be very stifling indeed. Not a lot would ever change because we wouldn’t allow ourselves to acknowledge our need to move on from a particular friendship or situation.

And unless we deal with our negative emotions, they never really go away. They just get buried, only to pop out in unexpected places! This, I tell myself, is why people I encounter in the supermarket can sometimes be so aggressive and mean. They’re maybe in a bad home situation, and aren’t able to express how they feel in their day-to-day lives.

So, I am going to take my own advice, and allow myself to feel angry. Without going in to any of the details, I have a tendency to allow myself to get walked over, and right now I am feeling like I have been treated very poorly – albeit unintentionally.

I need to keep my emotions under control less, and express myself more. I need to let people know how I’m really feeling, instead of pretending that I’m OK all the time. I need to be authentic and honest and allow myself to live life in a way that feels good to me. None of this means that I have to start treating people badly – it just means that I wish to put myself in a situation where others aren’t able to take advantage of my good nature.

If I don’t start to express the full rainbow of my emotions, I might find that my good nature runs out, and I grow into a miserable old woman who shakes her stick at passers-by. And I cannot tell you how much I don’t want to be that person!

Thanks for reading.

Bye for now x

Find your centre

So, when I was younger I found that I didn’t have much of an opinion on anything. Or at least I would have an opinion, but the second someone challenged my ideas with their own, I would assume that they must be right and change my mind. This process could go on until I had gone full circle and arrived back at my original belief system!

This exhausting and frustrating process served two purposes for me:

  1. It allowed me to doubt myself
  2. It allowed me to appear acceptable to others by agreeing with them

Now don’t get me wrong. I have always been able to see why racism is a load of bulls**t, and I have a strong moral compass when it comes to snatching handbags from old ladies. And I probably had the odd impassioned moment in my youth when I stood up for what I believed and had a strong sense of conviction and personal strength. No situation is purely black and white, and so I did have moments of allowing myself to be opinionated and stand up for what I believed. But all too often, in matters of everyday conversation, I would chop and change my mind to suit the situation.

Having an opinion scared me. It was simply too risky to lay all my cards on the table and not care if others agreed. I mean, if they didn’t, they might decide that they don’t like me! And this can only mean one thing – that there is something catastrophically wrong with me! No, this simply wasn’t a possibility for me during my adolescent/young adult years. Perhaps even more so in my 20s.

So what has changed? As we grow older most of us seem to go through some sort of awakening whereby we discover the things in life that really matter, and get our priorities and belief systems sorted out. For some this process can happen all of a sudden, perhaps due to a tragic or difficult family situation, or perhaps due to a life-changing experience whilst on holiday in Brazil. For others it is more gradual. Either way the feeling is one of liberation and joy:

I don’t have to be what everyone else wants me to be!

Even when I worried what everyone thought, I still made ‘mistakes’ and my friends continued to love me anyway!

I have always been wonderfully imperfect, but now I’m going to own my imperfections instead of running away from them!

I see now how much pressure I was putting on myself and others to meet certain expectations and how short life is.

And so on…

Perhaps you’re going through this process as I write this blog post. Perhaps you’re in your 40s and you’re only just starting to realise how much time you have wasted worrying about what others think of you. It really (really!) doesn’t matter. Each to their own. We all seem to have certain things to learn in our lifetimes and we all learn them in different ways and at different times. Give yourself a break and don’t worry that you haven’t yet learnt how to worry less about the small things.

So, coming back to having an opinion. Once you have begun to accept yourself for all that you are (notice I say ‘begun’ – very few people can claim to have completely accepted themselves, although that’s not to say that it isn’t within our reach), you can begin to own your opinions on certain matters and not worry too much about whether anyone agrees with you. As you begin to accept yourself, you step in to more of who you are, and spend more time doing things which you find enjoyable. It matters less if you are actually achieving anything, and more that you are having fun doing it! You start to develop a centre – a core. It’s like the essence of who you are, and it keeps calling you home every time you feel yourself feeling inadequate or compromised in any way. It’s the part of you that understands and respects what you have been through in your life and doesn’t need anyone else to tell you that you are valid and valuable.

Like with anything relating to personal development or spiritual growth, this is something we need to practice. The more re return to our centre, the more easy and natural it becomes. I haven’t mastered my inner voice perfectly as yet, but the more I listen to her the more we become friends and the more at peace I seem to feel.

So have an opinion! Be outspoken if it is something you feel passionate about. And remember that others will respect you more for standing up for your beliefs than if you just agree with what others are saying.

Be yourself.

Own your beliefs.

Respect your life’s journey.

Be free.

Bye for now lovely readers x

Everything changes

They say that the best friendships are the ones where you don’t find yourself fretting about the other person – whether you’ve seen them that week or what they think of your recent decision to change career. You know you love them, and they in turn love you, so what’s to worry about?

Well, the thing is that things change. People change. Life moves on and sometimes the friendships we formed when we were younger and which seemed so unbreakable get tested as we grow into adults and begin to go our separate ways. It’s only natural that this should happen, and it certainly isn’t a bad thing. And yet, we so often find ourselves trying to resist this change. To turn back the clocks and make everything OK by continuing to meet for a glass of wine every Friday night, even though it isn’t all that convenient anymore and our priorities have moved on. It isn’t that we don’t care. It isn’t that we don’t love the other person, or that we wouldn’t be there for them if they needed a shoulder to cry on. It’s just that we’ve changed and repeating the same old patterns of behaviour is starting to stifle us. In short, we’re ready to move on.

So, the key question is this: how do you move on from a friendship without feeling like a really bad person? I mean, what if the feeling isn’t reciprocated and the friend is heartbroken? What if they say things about you to your mutual friends out of anger? Even if you choose not to tell them directly, and opt for a more subtle approach of occasionally making other plans and phasing out your Friday night drinks dates, the friend may still react badly.

The truth is that friendships can be as complicated as romantic relationships. We can find ourselves feeling just as hurt, let down and confused.

I have witnessed friendships fall apart because one side has moved on and the other person can’t find a way to accept or forgive. I have also witnessed the effects of clinging on to friendships for the sake of politeness and not rocking the cradle, even though it’s obvious that things need to change.

Are you with me? I hope you’re following and that some of this chimes with your own life experiences. If not, I promise to make more sense next time!

Whatever your reason is for wishing to move on, you have every right to do so. This is your life, and you have every right to live it exactly how you want to. Would your friends advise you to stay in an unhealthy romantic relationship? No, they wouldn’t. So why should it be any different when it comes to friendships? There is just something so inherently unacceptable about ‘splitting up’ with a friend that we end up feeling like pond scum for having even considered it. We may even try to find a way out by waiting for them to do something really bad so that we can say: “Oh well, it was their fault for behaving badly. I had no choice in the matter”.

Splitting up with or phasing out a friend may cause you to feel that someone has indeed got a problem with you. And to be honest they probably have! This is something we have to face up to and live with if we wish to live as adults and free spirits, and if we wish to grow emotionally and spiritually, rather than surrounding ourselves with what feels ‘safe’ and ‘normal’.

You are OK. I am OK. The friend you don’t enjoy the company of anymore is OK. But we can’t always please others with our life choices and decisions. Let’s dare to be true to ourselves, and worry less what others think. Whenever I have been brave enough to do this in my own life, inner joy and happiness always seem to follow.

Bye for now x