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Self Nurturance? Who has the time?

self-nurteringWe hear it everywhere, advice to "self nurture" and take time out. While that's all fine if you are a lady of leisure with all the time in the world, what about the rest of us?

Fact = Life is busy, and when the going gets tough, it's not every one else who suffers, it's you.

So what is "self-nurturance? In case you live under a rock and have missed it, there is a massive cultural movement taking hold. Words and phrases such as "holistic health" "mindfulness" "clean eating" have entered our daily lexicon. Words, which until recently, were found only in the books of naturopaths, yoga instructors and other holistic health professionals. This is certainly a good thing. It means that as a society we are beginning to understand the negative health impacts of living a busy and stressful lifestyle. However, to many it represents pressure. Pressure to make changes that on the surface seem overwhelming.

Before we go on, it's important to make a very important distinction; Self-nurturance is not the same thing as self-indulgence. Self-indulgence is about striving for happiness at just about any cost. Whether it be about shifting a negative "mood" or distressing emotion, or just "treating" ourselves with "more". The net effect of self-indulgence is that happiness is never quite achieved (and often, those around us suffer). Not to mention the fact that self-indulgent behaviours are often in the long-term....quite unhealthy.

Self-nurturance on the other hand, is about treating yourself with compassion by prioritising your mental and physical health. After all, when our health suffers; so does our ability to function at our best. It is for this reason that self-nurturance has become a phrase that is really taking off. By learning to self-nurture, we can get so much more out of life!

So where to begin? The first step is to turn your attention inwards for at least 5-10 minutes a day. Call it meditation if you like, however what you are really doing is paying attention to your mind and body. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have never really thought about what it is that you (and your body) really need. Think of it like tuning a radio. You need to learn to "tune in" to your body, and the way to do this is to listen. Once you hit the right channel, the rest is easy.

Start by doing 1 thing for yourself each day. It may be a pedicure, bubble bath at the end of the day, movie with a friend, or even an early night! Once you are able to listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs, and THAT is what self-nurturance is all about!

Change takes time, and so don't try a major lifestyle overhaul in one week! For example, if you feel your body is calling out for better nutrition – set one goal per week. You may start by having a healthy breaky each morning, or make sure you have 3-4 alcohol free nights per week. If you change too much too soon, you will feel overwhelmed and be unable to maintain the changes.

Finally, self-nurturance is about acceptance. Accepting that we are not perfect, and make mistakes. A bad day can easily turn into a bad week if we let it. Start each day fresh, and move forward – don't let today be influenced by yesterday's mistakes. Mistakes are part of what makes us human!

How to keep Mr Right!

mr-right

So you've managed to snag the love of your life. Well good for you! Now you can really enjoy those couple dates with friends, romantic dinners, and walks on the beach at sunset and weekends away.

But wait......what's that annoying niggling voice in the back of your mind? Oh yeah, that's your inner critic reminding you that maybe things aren't as "perfect" as you keep trying to tell yourself?

The good news? We ALL have one of those little voices. It's our own voice which is why it's very hard to ignore and almost impossible not to believe. Here's the other thing; we all like to be "right" don't we? Well this is why when that inner critic starts to play over and over in our heads; it can act like a filter – only taking in information that is consistent, and ignoring information that is not consistent.

Let me give you an example. The inner critic feeds off insecurities and related fears. With that in mind, you're inner critic starts telling you that maybe he's just not that into you. Now that thought can trigger a whole chain of not-so-helpful emotions; fear, anxiety, anger. Then you then start "noticing" things that you hadn't really noticed before, or felt were important. Perhaps he doesn't call you back straight away, or you see a picture of another girl on his Facebook page. The next thing you know....."Oh my god I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!"

Ok, back up a minute. What actually happened, is that you filtered the information around you to make your inner critic "right" when in fact he didn't call because he was in a work meeting, and as for the girl you saw on Facebook? Well that was his cousin. Now you feel like an insecure, over jealous idiot, and if it couldn't get any worse you now just end up feeling more insecure.... convincing yourself that he couldn't possibly want to stay in a relationship with you. You have not only made your inner critic right, but she has now stepped up her plan to ruin your happiness once and for all.

Our inner critic can become a third person in our relationship if we let her. Thoughts like "I'm just not good enough for him", or "why would he think I'm attractive?", or "it's only a matter of time before he leaves me", are all examples of that annoying negative and often self-deprecating voice that can intrude on relationships. What's worse is that she often gets louder the stronger our feelings become, and if ignored can wreak havoc in a perfectly healthy relationship.

The bad news? Your inner critic is here to stay. However, although you cannot silence her completely, you can learn to calm her down a little.

Start by befriending her. Fighting her or ignoring will most certainly NOT calm her down. In fact, that will just make her even louder. "Maybe he's just not that into you?". Observe the thought without judgement for a minute. What else could this mean? If you were to say this to your bestie, what would your intention be? Protection? By understanding her motives, our perception of the inner critic can change for the better. She can be seen more as an over protective friend rather than someone determined at ruining our happiness.

Remember that you are not your inner critic. Although she is a part of you, she does not represent who you are. This means that sometimes you can simply agree to disagree. After all, all she really represents is a "thought" and we have a million of those a day. Just because we think something, does not mean it will happen. By accepting this, you take the power away from your inner critic. What happens to a bully when you don't react? They get bored and move on. The same can be said of your inner critic.

Finally, enjoy the moment! So often we get lost in our own heads and miss the fun stuff. You are not a mind-reader or fortune-teller, so if you find your mind wandering to "what if" land, gently bring it back to "now" land and enjoy the only thing you really can be sure of.....NOW!

Are you attracting Mr Wrong?

mr-wrong

Ever asked yourself; "why do I keep attracting the wrong partner?". While the reasons for this may differ from one person to the next, asking yourself a few important questions may just help you figure out where you may be going wrong.

Am I attracted to the same type? There is this thing is psychology called "repetition compulsion". It means that we tend to be attracted to people who feel "familiar" even if that familiarity is based on a past relationship/person that was painful and destructive. Go back to your earliest relationship experiences, they might be your own experiences or what you observed from other's around you, such as parents, older siblings etc. Does the "bad boy" just feel "right"? If you are more aware of the type of men you are attracted to, then you can make different choices.

Do you sell yourself short? Do you look at all those happy loved up couples and think; "gee, I just don't think I deserve to be happy like that". Do yourself a favour and write down 10 wonderful things about yourself. Get a friend to help you if you get stuck. Remember no one is perfect, not even Mr Right!

Are you afraid of rejection or of being hurt? Well who isn't, however if this fear dominates your relationships then you are likely to end up either being paralysed by jealousy and possessiveness, or worse you could be the one sabotaging relationships. "I'll reject him, before he gets the chance to reject me". Everyone likes to be the one in control, but guess what? You cannot control what may happen tomorrow or next week. Embracing uncertainty and reminding yourself that you are strong and will survive anything, is one way to keep those natural fears in a box where they belong.

Do you know what's important to you in a relationship? Ok so we all have an imaginary list of what we want Mr Right to be. Forget looks, the car he drives, how much money he might earn. All of those things can change, and mean nothing if he doesn't treat you with love and respect. Think about the big things: Honesty, sense of humour, ambitious, loves kids, laid back, loves the outdoors. Write down the 5 most important things to you, and never compromise on these. We can always compromise on the small stuff, but when our partner doesn't measure up to the big things, then be prepared for lots of conflict.

Do you keep thinking about your ex? Ok so he broke your heart, maybe he was the first guy you ever really loved. While it is so important to allow time to grieve, it's equally important to learn from your mistakes and take those lessons with you into your next relationship. There is no set "time" to give yourself after the end of a relationship, so the first step to working through relationship grief is to accept that you need to feel. Don't block it out, and certainly don't dive into a relationship to fill the void. In time you will be able to see the wonderful things that that relationship taught you. You will also be able to refine your list, and perhaps gain more clarity with regard to what's important to you in a relationship.

So now that you may have a clearer understanding of why you may be attracting the wrong partner, what can you do about it?

Hit the pause button! Take a break from dating, and get to know yourself. If you don't like your own company, then how can you expect someone else to?

Learn to nurture and treat yourself, and put a gag on that little inner critic who tells you that you don't "deserve" it.

Once you learn to treat yourself with respect, then you are much more likely to attract a partner who will do the same. This is the first step in creating healthy boundaries!

You know that feeling when someone asks something of you, and you say "yes" so that you don't hurt their feelings? That's a sign your boundaries have been crossed. Pay attention to that feeling, and learn to respect and listen to it. If you find yourself constantly in situations that you don't want to be in, you need to start asserting your boundaries and stop putting everyone else's needs before your own. Compromise is about give and take, so if you find that you are always the one giving – it's time to be assertive!
Learn to trust and forgive. Forgiveness is a very powerful thing. By letting go of the past, you get rid of its hold over you and free yourself to make new choices. Remember we are so much more than the sum total of our mistakes!

Don't over think things! While reflection is important, over thinking and over analysing simply takes energy away from enjoying the moment. Typically over thinking stems from a perceived lack of control over something, however it almost always leads to a more negative and pessimistic view of it! So the next time your mind starts over thinking, focus on action; do something that brings your attention back to the present.

Always remember there is no such thing as Mr Perfect. It's our imperfections that make us interesting!

How to tell who your REAL friends are.

friends 1Friends come and go. As our frontal lobes develop, so does our personality. This has implications for the company we choose to keep. Just because Sarah stood by your side all through high school, doesn't necessarily mean that you will have loads in common when you are both 30.

The bad news? The brain is not fully developed until we hit our mid 20's. This doesn't mean than we cannot keep our bestie from high school. Nor does it mean that we need to trade in our boyfriend when we hit 25. What it does mean is that we need to periodically sort through our friends list and perhaps make some difficult decisions.

 

For example, if you find that you are putting in ALL of the effort ALL of the time with certain friends, perhaps you need to ask the question; "what am I really getting out of this relationship".

Now don't get me wrong. Relationships are about give and take. Sometimes, you will be the one doing all of the giving for a friend. That's what friendship is all about right? But what happens when you get fired from your dream job, or when the love of your life leaves you for his personal trainer? Sometimes, it's through tragedy and crisis that you learn who your REAL friends are. It's during these times that your best friend in the whole world may fall off the face of the earth....and that work colleague you sometimes have lunch with, all of a sudden rises to the occasion to support and nurture you.

friends 2

However, why wait for a crisis or tragedy to figure out who your real buddies are? Here are some simple tips to get you thinking. Open up your Facebook friends list....and ask yourself these questions as you work your way down the list (for some of you this may take quite a bit of time!)

  1. When is the last time you saw each other? Was it awkward, or did you simply pick up where you left off? Real friends don't stress if you have not caught up for a while, so the conversation when you do finally catch up should flow freely.
  2. Does she ever comment on your updates/pics? This is only really an issue if you can see they live their life online. Don't get paranoid though, just assess the facts: Is she commenting on everyone BUT you? Or does she really not comment on anyone?
  3. Do you have to keep telling her your boyfriend's name? Ok, this may sound obvious but I am always amazed at how people can tolerate this one. A real friend remembers. Simple. Not the small stuff necessarily – but the big stuff. Like; your boyfriends name, where you work, how many brothers and sisters you have, whether you are a vegetarian. You get the idea?
  4. Does she respect your other relationships? Does she always find something negative to say about your other friends, or worse – your boyfriend? This could be a sign of a very insecure friend, and one who has the potential to sabotage your other relationships. The message here is to be careful. By understanding her agenda, you can learn to buffer yourself from her negativity. Remember though, you should not really have to "manage" your friends......that's what work associates are for.
  5. Do you have things in common? Another simple one, but one which is often overlooked. Sometimes the longevity of a friendship means that we just cannot let go. What do you talk about? Having different interests can enhance a relationship, but there needs to be some sticky stuff to hold you both together.

Now I am not suggesting you de-friend all of those "friends" who don't live up to the mark. Keep them in your life, just re-assess where you put your energy. Think about how you feel when you are with them. Do they make you feel uncomfortable, or judged? Or do they help to bring out the best in you?

friends 3

In the same way our brain develops, and neural pathways are "pruned" to make way for new learning– we need to take stock of our friends and perhaps do some pruning of our own, making way for new or young relationships to grow and develop. As for our school buddy Sarah? Without the sticky stuff it can be hard to hold on. On the other hand, sometimes friends can grow with us – and it's these friendships that last a lifetime.