"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

How to be Accepting & Stop Resisting What You Don't Like About Your Life

Image of white broken ice on the survice of water with the text: Break open your defenses and let go, accept where you are, now. Allow your life to flow.Do you get frustrated by the things you can’t change or control in your life?

Do you get angry when things don’t go the way you want?

Do you waste time and energy refusing to accept the ways things are?

 “Resistance is futile”- The Borg Collective - Star Trek: First Contact 😉

I am a not a Trekkie per se, but The Borg were correct. It will cause you more trouble than it’s worth to resist assimilation.

There are some things that you can’t change or control in life, but resisting them will cause you more pain in the long term and keep you stuck in a negative place for longer than necessary.

My best friend used to repeat to me on the phone, “Accept and allow, go with the flow of life.” It took me years to fully understand and embrace this concept. I could understand it in theory but it felt like an unachievable goal for me. I found everything difficult.

Even though I made decisions to do things – like moving to a foreign country and culture to be with my partner - I resisted them. Often it was because I didn’t really want to do them and I was doing them to please another, but I made it harder on myself by refusing to accept that it was a chose that I had made, and not one that was forced upon me.

I was locked in the victim mindset.

In the instance of moving to a foreign country for love, this led me to reject what I found there: the friends, community, and the different culture. And rather than embrace the life on offer, I resisted it. I attempted a few things, but when they didn’t go the way I wanted or didn’t achieve the results I was looking for, I felt stuck and fixated on feeling powerless.

I longed for the things I didn’t have and only focused on what was missing from my life. I became miserable, tense, stressed, frustrated and very angry. For me this manifested mentally in a breakdown in 2008, and physically in two slipped discs in my neck in 2014.

“Resisting what is happening is a major cause of suffering.” -  Pema Chodron 

But it was during the pain I experienced with the slipped disc in my neck (which trapped a nerve, putting my right shoulder and arm in excruciating pain for 8 weeks at a time – they slipped twice) that I learnt to surrender.

I learnt to accept that I couldn’t do anything. I let go of everything – all the expectations I had of myself and of others, all the things I thought I had to do, all the chores I did to try and feel that my life was worth living. I could do nothing, so I did nothing.

And what I found was that there were people to support me and my husband to pick up the slack. And when you aren’t able to lose your temper over something petty, you respond differently - quietly and calmly, and people respond differently.

Within the pain I found the calm I was seeking.

“You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” - Timber Hawkeye

I had to surrender.

I don’t like to use the word surrender, because to me it means to give up – but I didn’t give up, I opened up.

I accepted that this was how things were going to be and to let go in that moment. I let others help me; I relinquished control; I stopped and observed the life around me.

In accepting that time (and fortunately recovering) I was able to understand that I needed to accept other aspects of my life too. I needed to look at what I did have in my life and appreciate it and embrace it. I started to take walks in nature and appreciate where I was living. I stopped thinking about my future and where my life was going, and started living in the present.

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

When the noise in my mind would start up about where I wanted to live, what I wanted to be doing with my life, and how I felt like I was stagnating and not growing, I would just let the noise go.

I would hear it, register it, but know that I could only get to where I wanted to step by step, day by day. I took the end goal, the one thing I wanted to do the most, and broke it down into small steps - things I could achieve on a daily basis.

This enabled me to feel like I was moving forward. I would still have moments of frustration, but rather than fight that frustration I would allow myself to feel it – journal it out, or express it to a trusted friend, but then I would let it go.

“Resisting your negative feelings just keeps you stuck.” - Kute Blackson

When I was learning to drive, my driving instructor told me I thought too much about what I was doing to make the learning process easy. He said he could always tell when I started thinking about what I was doing because I would stall the car or crunch the gears. He said, “If you just let go and let your body do what you have trained it to do, it will be much easier. When you think about it, you interrupt the flow.”

By thinking about what I was doing I was letting my brain take over and panic about what I was doing. If I had accepted that I did know and allowed the training to flow through me, I wouldn’t have had a problem.

Often resistance is built up from having too many expectations. If we drop expectation of how something will be, and of ourselves in that situation, and not focus on a desired outcome, we can accept whatever happens organically.

We can release ourselves from the need to control. We become open to whatever happens. And accepting how our life is, in that moment, brings freedom and peace.

“It takes radical acceptance to bring inner peace.”- Kute Blackson

It can be a struggle to accept where you are in life if it is not what you want or where you saw yourself being. You can be consumed with trying to change it. But while you are spending time looking at all the things that aren’t working, you are closed to what IS working.

But how do you stop, if you are truly unhappy with your situation?

Have you ever thought about taking a holiday from your thinking?

If there is something you know you can’t do anything about right now, such as: move house, move job, create more time for yourself, go traveling, then set a date in the future  - a month, 6 months, a year from now, when you can review it again.

And every time you find yourself thinking about it, say, “No, I'm not going to think about that until *insert date*.”

I found this worked to stop me constantly thinking about how to change my situation. I knew I wouldn’t be able to for more than a year, so I set a date to review it the following year. And every time I thought about it, I stopped myself. I said, no, I’m not going to think about that now. I took a holiday from thinking about it. And the more often I stopped myself from thinking about it, the easier it became, until I was thinking about it less and less.

And what also happened, during that holiday, was say to myself, okay, I’m here for the next year, so how can I enjoy and embrace the life I have right now?

It changed the entire perspective I had on the life I was actually living. I was able to engage more with the people in my life and create a better day to day existence.

It broke the habit of the negative frustrated thoughts I was experiencing and allowed me to concentrate on the things that I could change in my life at that moment, and give myself room to work on the things that would help me move forward to the change I did want to see.

My accepting my life as it was I had freed myself from being a victim in my life, and enabled me to find my personal power over the things I could achieve. It gave me freedom and peace of mind.

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” – Eckhart Tolle

Monday, 5 March 2018

Self-Love: How to Love Yourself, and Why You Should

Image of a pink lily flower fully open on lily pads with text: look at what you bring to the world, not at what you lack
Do you know whether you like yourself or not? Have you ever asked yourself?

Are you kind to yourself when things go wrong or do you scold yourself?

Do people tell you, you’re hard on yourself?

“Love yourself first because that's who you'll be spending the rest of your life with.”– Paulo Coelho

There is a lot in personal development and self help about loving yourself and being self-approved (the first one tends to lead to the second). It is a fundamental building block in finding your own sense of authenticity or ‘being authentic’ – meaning taking off the public mask and not being afraid to show others who you really are, and relaxing around people. 

You may have heard the term ‘Self Care’ recently. It is the new buzz word for loving yourself. It means to take time out for yourself: buy yourself something special, spend time with yourself in solitude or in meditation, walking in nature, or doing something you want to do that you would normally consider too extravagant or time consuming.

Some people think that ‘self-care’ or ‘self-love’ or ‘believing in yourself’ is selfish, that you are only thinking of yourself and your own happiness. But you are the most important person in your life – even as a parent your children are dependent on your health and happiness, and your ability to function on a daily basis.

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity, it’s sanity.” – Andre Gide

When I began the journey to start loving myself, it was to try and achieve a sense of calm about everything in my life. I was defensive, sensitive and reacted to people, usually with unsuccessful outcomes. I was angry and frustrated, and I needed to find a way to change that. I realised that I hadn’t spent much time with myself - in fact initially I had been scared to spend time with myself. I would do anything to avoid being on my own. I would liken it to loneliness. Spending time alone meant emptiness and sadness to me. It meant spending time with my feelings, which I was trying to avoid. As a child I hadn’t been allowed to express my feelings or have feelings, so I had no idea how to deal with them.

It was only when I went travelling on my own for a year that I started to understand myself better. On a daily basis I met new people and I would listen to what I talked about and what I told them, and notice how I reacted to them. I started to hear my own story and notice my reactions and behaviours. I started to know myself and see parts of myself I liked, and by the end of my trip I discovered I enjoyed my own company, and was fine spending time in solitude.  

“Stop hating yourself for everything you're not. Start loving yourself for everything you are.” – unknown

But not everyone can go travelling to ‘find themselves’, so how do you go about loving yourself while living your day to day life?

Step one: Listen to yourself: your feelings, your thoughts, your response to things externally. Don’t concentrate on any specific one, just listen to all of it, without judgement, without any expectation. During this process you will start to understand your own thoughts and opinions about things.

Step two: Trust your feelings: Trust how you feel about things: from what you might want to eat in the morning, to the state of the world. Some feelings might feel bad, or ‘wrong’, but they are your feelings, so hear them out. Believe them, rather than argue with them. Reason with them or sympathise with them. Find a place that you can start feeling comfortable about them. Don’t cover them up; be honest with yourself about how you feel. If you think you have to change how you feel to suit others, ask yourself why? Are you putting their feelings before your own? Why are you compromising yourself for another? Know the reasons why you think and feel the way you do, but don’t justify them. You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone. 

Step three: Set Personal Boundaries: Boundaries are to stop you compromising too much of yourself to suit others. Decide how you want to be treated: what you are okay with and what you are not okay with. Define where your limits are. Not being true to yourself will disrupt your sense of self. If you change your mind to suit another, or do something you are not really happy or comfortable with, you are compromising yourself – your feelings, your truth - and that can leave you feeling bad about yourself, resulting in guilt, regret, even resent and anger. By setting personal boundaries and trusting your own feelings and thoughts, and being clear about what you do and don’t want, you can achieve your own sense of inner security. If you are sure about who you are, it doesn’t matter what others externally say or do.  

“Listen to your own voice, your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world, instead of themselves.” – Leon Brown

There are a great deal of articles and books on this topic. A book I have found helpful is Mirror Work by Louise Hay. In this book, you are guided through exercises where you look at yourself in a mirror and talk to yourself – to your inner child (the part of you inside that was once a child). It helps you uncover previous painful events and helps you release that pain and learn to appreciate who you are in the present moment. It teaches you how to be comfortable with yourself.

This book also highlights how you talk to yourself. Many of us might be kind to others, but we aren’t very pleasant to ourselves. When we start listening to what we are saying to ourselves, often we will find a negative stream of dialogue: berating ourselves over things from the past, present and even future scenarios, or constant criticism over how we look, feel or present ourselves.

If you hear yourself doing this, ask yourself: “If someone externally was saying these things to me, how would I feel?” Would you be upset, offended, even angry? If so then ask yourself: “Why am I saying these things to myself? Why am I not standing up for myself? Why am I not being a friend to myself?”

To practice self-love, let that voice speak, but don’t engage with it - know that it is not the truth. Not every thought you have in your head is true or real. And a lot of the noise in our heads is put there by other people: family, school friends, work colleagues. It is their perception of us, which is a reflection of themselves: their own thoughts and feelings. It is not who you are, and by listening and learning who you are, you can be sure of that.

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening.” – Lisa M Hayes

Compassion and empathy are feelings that we express when we care about someone deeply, and we want the best for them. They allow us to be non-judgemental and support people in being who they are and appreciating them. By listening to and trusting our feelings we are showing compassion and empathy for ourselves. We can then appreciate all the positive things about who we are and what we can bring to the world.

Self-love is something that can take years to build, but once you achieve it, you have a foundation of inner security: of trusting who you are and being sure of yourself. No longer questioning the things you do or feeling bad about them. It’s not easy, it takes courage to stand up and be honest about who you are, but you find that you start caring less about what others think and say about you. You realise that only what you think matters - because it is the only thing that impacts you.

“If you are not good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you will resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”- Barbara De Angelis

Friday, 2 February 2018

Self-Sabotage: Identify When You Are Doing It & How to Stop It

Image of a beech woods and all the tree trunks with text: Clear the pathway to your dreams, let nothing stand in your way - even yourswelf. Believe in you are worth it.
Do you make a lot of excuses about not doing something you have always wanted to do?

Do you not inform yourself properly so you miss out on an opportunity you have always claimed to want?

Do you behave in certain ways that stop things from progressing in relationship?

“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” - Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

Self-sabotage is when we have dreams or goals that we want to achieve, but keep putting them off, or create problems that stop them from happening. We might even attempt to try them but in a half-hearted way so that it goes wrong.  

We can sabotage a career by not informing ourselves properly about what we need to do, so we’re not successful when we take the first few steps. We might not work hard enough at it; we might keep making excuses why we can’t, or deliberately forget things and/or turn up late. Alternatively we might behave badly in interviews for a job we need but don’t really want, thus sabotaging our chances of getting it. 

In a relationship we might keep providing reasons why we are not good for our partner, or behave in ways that are destructive to the relationship: being needy, desperate, clingy, or argumentative, rude, aggressive, even disinterested, until eventually they break it off.

This type of behaviour is borne out of fear and feelings of lack: whether lack of self-belief, lack of self-esteem or lack of confidence; we don’t feel worthy, we don’t feel good enough. Or we are scared that if we succeed we will be a fraud or undeserving.  

We sabotage the great things in our lives because deep down we don’t feel worthy of having the great things.” – Taressa Riazzi

Our limiting beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities cause us to self- sabotage: If we believe something won’t work or that we won’t be able to create the desired outcome, we don’t commit in the first place. And through that non-commitment the cycle is repeated: we don't give it our all, so it doesn't work, thus reaffirming the belief that it's not for us - self-sabotage at its best. 

The way to deal with self-sabotage is to understand that we limit the things we want to do by the thoughts we have about them. 

If we have been told we can't do something as a young child, we may hold onto that, and believe we can never do it. If when we were a child we were enthusiastic about being an astronaut, but someone (a parent or teacher or authority figure) says "You can't possible do be an astronaut, science is not your strong point', we might believe it, and stop pursing our dream: no longer working at the subjects required with such commitment and vigour and getting lower grades, thus supporting the idea that we wouldn't be able to do it, and that they were right. But had we been encouraged, we could have worked on the subjects required and pursued a career in it, and truly giving it our best shot.

Unlocking the negative belief and seeing what we are truly capable of, we can embrace it and wonderful things can happen. 

To see if you are doing things to sabotage the things you want, write down a list of the things you want or wanted to do in your life. Leave nothing out.

Then make a list about why you aren’t doing (haven't done) them. Ask yourself: what is/was stopping me? Why do I believe I can't do them?

Then question that list. Ask yourself if the reasons you have provided are the truth, are they real reasons, or are they due to fear, or something somebody said? 

Question all of the answers back until you see what the truth is. More often than not you will find that really it is just yourself stopping you; most likely fear about being out of your comfort zone and trying something new. 

“A comfort zone is great, but nothing ever grows there.” – John Assaraf 

Seeing the reasons and the truth behind the reasons written down in black and white enables you to see them differently; seeing them outside of the internal perspective enables you to understand what is real and what is not. You can re-evaluate the truth behind the things you want to do, they can become tangible possibilities again, things you can pursue. 

You can then take the next step: Action. 

You do this by looking at the things you want to do and breaking them down into bitesize goals, and then take them step by step. This can involve learning what you need to so that you are fully equipped to do the things you want to do, and provide no more excuses.

"The distance between your dreams and reality is called Action." - Jim Rohn

But this can be trickier if self-sabotage is taking place in relationships. In those instances you need to question your beliefs about love:

What do you believe about love?
Where did you learn that?
Was that source positive or negative?
What do you believe about love – especially about you and love?
What do you tell yourself about love?
Do you let others love you?
Are you able to love yourself?
Do you know how to love yourself?

It can be hard to give love to another if you aren’t very good at giving it to yourself. Working on these deep rooted beliefs can take a lot of in depth work. I recommend a course (available in book or audio) called Calling In The One by Katherine Woodward Thomas. She enables people to uncover all their issues surrounding love and relationships, and how to go about healing them. 

Withholding love is a form of self-sabotage, as what we withhold from others we are withholding from ourselves. - Marianne Williamson 

Learning to identify where you are self-sabotaging in your life is the key to making the changes that will help bring you all the things you want and deserve in life.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Limiting beliefs: How to Change Them & Be More Successful in Life

Image of pink and purple lupin flowers in bloom with the text: Release what limits you. Grow and thrive.Do your thoughts hold you back?

Do you want to do something, but don’t believe you can?

Have you ever challenged what you believe you can do?

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Many of us believe we are in control of our own minds and believe we choose to do things, or not do things, based off what our limits are. But do we truly know our limits, or are they imagined? Are they based off fact, or have they been put there by something someone said, or an experience that led us to believe that?
Belief is everything, whether it is the day to day 'I can do this' kind of belief, or the religious sort. If people want to think or see things a certain way, they will, no matter what facts or experience might contradict them.
The very word: Believe, taken apart, is ‘Be’ ‘Live’ – you ‘Be’ and ‘Live’ based on what you think about the things in your world.
A Limiting Belief is one that suppresses our own personal truth about who we are or what we can achieve. In general we are all limited to rules and regulations as a society or civilisation to function and get along, but what I am talking about are the personal beliefs that hurts us by limiting what we want to achieve in life and stop us growing and thriving.

Many people limit their beliefs to conform to a given set of rules, or to satisfy another. When we stifle ourselves to conform to a belief imposed by another, it stops us from being able to step into who we truly are and live our lives to the fullest. It can lead to an unhappy life and often depression if we feel powerless under such restrictions.

“The only limits you have are the limits you believe.” – Wayne Dyer

Understanding that some of our beliefs are limiting us and identifying those that stop us from reaching for our dreams, is the first step in changing them and releasing ourselves from their bonds.

We need to then ask ourselves some questions - particularly when we find ourselves resisting something we thought we wanted to do:
1) Can I do that?
2) Do I want to?
When asking ourselves the second question, we also check our feelings on it: Maybe we do want to, but we are scared or fearful of the outcome – an imagined outcome. But until we try we won’t know so we can choose to stay in fear or we can push through the fear and try. And whether we succeed or fail it doesn’t matter, because we have tried and learnt something about ourselves in the process.
For example, I might believe that I am not welcome in a particular social group. I might decide in my own mind I am not welcome by over-analysing conversations or body language. But really I am fearful of the rejection if I try to take part in a group activity. I can choose to keep believing that I am not welcome or I can find out for sure by participating.

I am a writer. I can choose to believe that it is a waste of time submitting my work to publishers because it won’t be good enough. But why do I believe it is not good enough? Don’t I have as much chance as anyone? Have I had only negative feedback on my writing? Asking these questions makes me stop and decide what I really believe, and also whether I am helping myself or giving my negatives beliefs power.
Maybe when we were a child we wanted to do something and someone told us we couldn’t, that we wouldn’t be able to - maybe a parent, a teacher or another authority figure. And from that point on we believed it was always out of our reach. And now when someone asks us if we want to do it, we say we can’t. But in truth, we don’t know, because we have never tried or given ourselves the chance to try.

“Learning, too soon, our limitations, we never learn our power.” - Mignon Mclaughlin

Many limiting beliefs are driven by a lack of self-confidence and self-worth, by honestly not believing in ourselves or our abilities. Only by questioning ourselves, in a positive and constructive way, can we challenge the beliefs that limit us in our day to day lives. Only once we start to unlock them can we release our inner power and realise our dreams.

Why don’t you go and write a list of all the things you would like to do, go on - I dare you! Write out all the things you dreamed of, however extreme they might be. And then go through that list and see which ones are within your grasp if you believed you could do them.

It will give you a whole new perspective on your potential, and liberate you. It will also make you question some of the limiting beliefs you hold in other areas of your life.

“Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself - limiting beliefs of the past or half-assed or fearful states.” – Tony Robbins

Sunday, 9 July 2017

What is Meditation? The Myths, the Truth, & How to Fit It In

Image of the sun shining through a tree in a perfect circle with text: Focus on one point for just a moment in the present moment.
Do you keep hearing people talk about meditation and wonder if you should be doing it too?

Do you struggle to clear you mind to meditate?

Do you get frustrated that you can’t find time to meditate?

According to my Oxford English dictionary, to meditate is to “focus ones mind for a time, for spiritual purposes or for relaxation.” And mediation is the act of doing this.  

There are a wealth of articles on websites, and YouTube videos about meditating: People do it daily; they make it a routine; they say they can’t live without it. Some even go away on retreats and boast about how it alters their lives. But there are a lot of myths about meditating and here are a few.

  • You don’t have to have special training;
  • It doesn’t have to take 20 minutes or an hour;
  • You don’t have to do it daily;
  • You don’t have to be able to sit in the lotus position;
  • You don’t have to listen to music, or burn oils while doing it;
  • You don’t need special clothing;
  • You don’t need a special place, or room to do it in;
  • The place doesn’t have to be quiet;
  • You don’t need to be alone. 

You can do all of the above, but they aren’t necessary. You can mediate in any way you feel works for you. There is no right way of doing it, and it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

I don’t mediate daily, I meditate when I feel the need, or when I have time and am in the mood to do so. I struggle to meditate for longer than 10 minutes. But there are moments during my day where I do still mediate for just a moment. I consciously stop my thoughts in my head and breathe. And I can do this several times a day when I am so busy I am overwhelmed. 

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” - Deepak Chopra 

You can meditate in just a minute; it is simple. The first thing you need to do is breathe. It doesn’t matter where you are: you can be in your car driving, at work, or in the midst of cooking the family meal – anywhere. As soon as you feel the need to clear you mind, just think about your breathing: count 2 while inhaling, then 4 when (slowly) exhaling and then pause for a count of 2 (neither inhale or exhale), then begin again. Consciously feel your body physically relax for a moment.

And that’s it.

No really, it is.

You can continue to do this, or you can do it for a moment.

If you want to keep going you might find thoughts coming into your mind as you do it. Every time you realise that is happening, return your mind to your breathing. Imagine your thoughts running like the credits of a movie in the back of your mind. Don’t engage with them. Just leave them.

And that is meditation. 

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.” - meditationSHIFT 

Yes, there are people that continue to do this for hours on end, for entire weekends on retreats. And there are those that go so far with it they are able to control their heart rate. And others chant too, all sorts of sounds or words, believing it will draw positive things to them and into their life – and that might well work.

If you can focus your mind for long periods of time, you can also develop the same self-discipline in other areas of your life, and concentrate on the things you are working on, which can result in a lot of personal success. But the fundamentals of meditation don’t change. It is just a matter of building up from that single point. 

“Not to be able to stop thinking is an affliction, but we don't realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it." – Eckhart Tolle

Friday, 30 June 2017

Writing it out: How to Resolve a Noisy Mind

Image of a wisp of cloud shaped like a quill pen in a blue sky with text: Unlock the words inside. Let them flow across the page and release their secrets. Do things people say or do replay in your mind?

Do they go round and round distracting you in the day, or keeping you awake at night?

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about things you should have done, or wish you could have done?

I call this a noisy mind, and it can be triggered by many things:

- A conversation with someone;
- An action someone has taken;
- An event that has taken place;
- Or an action that you haven’t taken;
- Or an event you wanted to go to, but didn’t.

These things stick in your mind
, or something about it stays with you. You might be questioning it, or worrying about it; it might cause you to feel anxious, sad, angry, or upset in some way. But most of all it distracts you from your day to day life, interrupting your concentration and causing you to forget things, or not listen properly to those around you.

When this happens to me I know I need to get whatever it is out of my head.

Sometimes talking it over with a trusted friend can help. But if it is something I feel would come across wrong, or sound stupid when said out loud, I find the only solution is to write it out; my journal becomes my friend.

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” – Christina Baldwin

Once I do this, I often find solutions and answers to my questions; seeing it in black and white on the page enables me to see it from another perspective. Just getting it out and showing it to the light of day minimizes its impact on me emotionally. I sift through it and deal with it in a more constructive way, deciding what is real and what is self-created drama inside my head.

It gives me a sense of release, but also empowers me by helping me feel as though I can handle my thoughts and emotions again and function again.

When writing it out I often make sense of my feelings, identify patterns or past events that are influencing them.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor

When connecting with myself in this way, I understand myself better. It enables me to see inside myself, explore thoughts and feelings which influence my external life. Through this process I listen to my feelings and learn to trust them – and thus trust myself.

It helps me build confidence and inner security: Once I become sure of myself I rely less on external factors, such as other people and their opinions or acceptance of me.

“Paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out.” – Lee Wise

To clear a noisy mind some people might try meditation, but when my head is exceptionally noisy and I have a lot of things bubbling up to the surface, I find transferring my thoughts onto paper much more helpful. Then when I meditate afterwards, it’s much easier.

Journalling doesn’t have to be a chore, or even something you do on a daily basis. There are people who like to keep a diary, or do what they call ‘Morning Pages’, which means writing out your thoughts first thing after you wake up. But I tend to only journal when I feel the need. I also do a lot of creative writing in the form of short stories and poetry, which is also a good way to express yourself. 

 “Whether you are keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it is the same thing. What’s important is you are having a relationship with your mind.” – Natalie Goldberg

Never be afraid of what might come out, or how it comes out, just write it out as it appears in your mind, letting it flow, unblocking your heart and your mind.