Sticking to your resolutions?

 

New Year. New Resolutions.

We are almost a month into the New Year and many of us might be evaluating the effectiveness of our resolutions. The New Year traditionally signifies new beginnings, a fresh start and possibly a chance to even start again from something that didn’t quite go to plan in the past.

Every year, most of us set ourselves a resolution that we hope to achieve within the year. According to the recent ComRes poll via The Telegraph the most common New Year’s resolutions are as follows:

  1. Exercise more (38 per cent)
  2. Lose weight (33 per cent)
  3. Eat more healthily (32 per cent)
  4. Take a more active approach to health (15 per cent)
  5. Learn new skill or hobby (15 per cent)
  6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing (12 per cent)
  7. Spend more time with family and friends (12 per cent)
  8. Drink less alcohol (12 per cent)
  9. Stop smoking (9 per cent)
  10. Other (1 per cent)

Alas, if only it were as easy to stick to our resolutions as it was to make them. On average, according to the ComRes poll, 80% of resolutions will fail by the time it gets to the second week of February. Personally, what I find easier when it comes to resolutions is to set something realistic and small, something that you know can achieve within that year. So even if you have a big resolution it’s more achievable to break it down and create smaller resolutions or goals within that. Kind of like a tick list!

When we create a resolution that’s too big or even unrealistic it simply makes it harder for us to achieve and then this affects our mood and outlook towards the resolution. We can start to feel unaccomplished; negative thoughts enter our mind and ultimately we might decide to give up on the whole idea. Constantly thinking about not achieving the resolution or feeling like we’re not getting anywhere with it pre-determines negative thoughts which then bring our mood down, and when we feel this way, we are unlikely to be able to motivate ourselves towards achieving new things.

An article by Huffington Post suggests;

“When resolutions are too ambitious, we struggle to change our habits, become discouraged when we fail and ultimately give up altogether.”

Another reason to create smaller resolutions is that we feel less pressurised to achieve them. Where having overambitious resolutions might make us feel like we have to have an all-or-nothing outcome, ‘bitesized’ resolutions give us a confidence boost which often encourage us to pursue our goals further! If we miss a small target, we should be able to forgive ourselves and try to get rid of any guilty feelings as quickly as possible. Guilt will push us away from feeling motivated into disappointed with ourselves and discouraged from trying again. The point of this idea is to not create so much pressure for ourselves as this will only lead to negative thoughts and we are setting ourselves up for failure before we even begin!

According to the American Psychological Association, ways to make your New Year’s Resolution stick and stay on track is to do the following;

  • Start small
  • Change one behaviour at a time
  • Talk about it
  • Don’t beat yourself up about it and ask for support

Talking about your experience with your friends and family can have a positive effect to achieving your resolution. Using the above can help us achieve our resolutions but I would say that the most important would be to not criticise ourselves if we fall off the wagon for a moment and accept that slip-ups are completely normal and okay and forgivable! And asking for support doesn’t mean we’re less capable of achieving our goals – it actually takes huge amounts of courage.

So what do we do if mess up our resolutions?  For example, If you have a resolution which it to lose weight and you break the resolution by eating something you shouldn’t – an idea to come up from this is to get rid of the guilt; so doing something good for yourself which will impact your mood and hopefully make you feel better for the ‘bad’ that you’ve just done. But remember, not completely sticking to our resolutions shouldn’t deter us from thinking we can still achieve them!

Changing our perceptions of New Year’s Resolutions and taking time to consider what is realistic for us can form an important part of us being kind and compassionate towards ourselves; vital ingredients for self-care! Stay tuned for further insights into how we can show ourselves more self-care as we prepare for a month of self-care strategies throughout February! After all, Valentine’s Day is equally about showing ourselves love as well as our nearest and dearest

10 WAYS TO DOUSE THE FLAMES OF ANGER

Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.

  1. Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

  1. Once you’re calm, express your anger

As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

  1. Get some exercise

Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.

  1. Take a timeout

Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.

  1. Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.

6. Stick with ‘I’ statements

To avoid criticising or placing blame which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes” instead of “You never do any housework.”

7.. Don’t hold a grudge

Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.

8.Use humour to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humour to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though— it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

9. Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

10. Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.

If you are finding it difficult to manage your anger, please get in touch to arrange one-to-one support with us.

Talking therapy: Frames of Reference

Linking in with yesterday’s post about ways of thinking, have you ever thought about what might shape our thoughts? Or at least contribute to them? In therapy, we often call this our Frame of Reference. What does this mean? Frames of Reference are about how our beliefs and values are shaped through our lived experiences. A snapshot of what might make up our unique Frame will include our experiences of childhood, work, gender, sexuality, culture, family situation, work experiences, relationships and much, much more. We formulate our thoughts based on this information, most of the time. A frame of reference is a complex set of assumptions and attitudes which we use to filter perceptions to create meaning.

Notably, much of life’s satisfaction comes from experiences which broaden our perspectives and give us new ‘reference’ points. This is just as relevant for us when working with mental health challenges. We might not always understand them, or be able to identify with them, as the experiences might not be within our Frame of Reference. However, this does not mean we cannot support others. The way we communicate is paramount.

Mastering Ego

We often come across ego-clashing in our lives; in the workplace, in our families, with peers or even passing strangers in the street!

Ego-clashes can be nasty and leave us feeling wounded or angry, and the atmosphere is made uncomfortable… even for the people who are not involved…

There are many reasons for ego-clashes, including conflicting personalities, jealousy or communication problems. Egos might also surface when fear, insecurity or lack of trust. Fundamentally, we are an animal species and conflict will occur. If our ego wins, we can enjoy feelings of euphoria and superiority. However, this is often at the expenses of others feeling demoralised, tense and stressed.

The bottom line is; our ego is our self-image, and also a great con artist. It knows us so well that it can use whatever tools it wishes to make us succumb to what it wants us to believe. This includes logic, false confidence and even sweet-talk to get us trapped.

The ego will never die, but we can teach ourselves to live in harmony with it.

Tips to Master Our Ego:

1. Treat It As Another Person: give your ego an image and a personality and imagine this person when your ego arises – this can help you to see your ego as separate from yourself and disagree with what it says. Maybe your ego is a six year old boy, or a teenage girl – you decide!

2. Reality vs Illusion: The ego thrives on illusion that we do not have enough good things. Focusing on what we do have can bring us back into reality and diminish ego-illusion!

3. Learn to Love: The ego often lives off fear; fear is powerful and fear thrives off fear! Living our days with love and learning to see love helps us to see beauty rather than be frightened or feel threatened. Therefore we do not need our ego to protect us.

We are far more powerful than our egos. We have less fear and more love than it tells us. When it comes to your ego, just tell it “You Are Not The Boss of Me” and focus on what we have, in reality, rather than what we may think we lack.

Circling Thoughts: Rumination

How often do we say we’re stressed? And what does it really mean? Stress is when our thoughts tell us we are unable to cope. And that’s a big statement. A lot of the time our thoughts reflect this through one factor…. rumination; regurgitating the same thoughts over and over again in our mind. We might think about the past and how historic events have affected the present. We might think about the future with trepidation, but this thinking style means we are not in the moment. Rumination travels across time and distracts us from the here and now.

Four Simple Secrets for Living in the Moment

Sometimes I find it hard to live in the moment. So often I find myself resisting life, rather than allowing it to unfold. Instead of riding the wave, I find myself fighting against the tide, and when I do that, I end up drowning.

That is because life goes forward in its own way, with or without you on board. Our egos tell us that we should be able to control life; to make plans, execute them, and for things to turn out exactly how we want and expect them to. And when they don’t, we get upset… anxious… depressed.

Life is insecure, unpredictable and uncertain. Life is constantly fluctuating and changing, and so when we try to control it and find security, we end up disappointed. Even if we find predictability and security for a short while, its repetition takes all of the colour out of life and the ‘daily grind’ takes its toll on us. If we are not changing, evolving and moving confidently forward, life sucks.

I am no expert in this, and so it’s not for me to tell people how to live. But I am more aware than I used to be. I used to think that my reality or life situation created my mindset, but exploring mindfulness has shown me that the opposite is true.

What have I found?

I find that when I live in the past, I feel regretful and depressed. But I know that the past does not exist. Not really. It only ever exists as a thought.

I find that when I think too much about the future, I become anxious; fearing the uncertainty ahead and desperate to control it, which deep down, I know I cannot do. And like the past, I know the future does not exist as anything but a thought.

But when I live in the present, I find myself at peace. From that peaceful place, I can then make truly positive decisions. This is because the present moment is real. Life is the ever unfolding now, and I have found that misery is only created when I refuse to accept reality and resist life.

What follows are four life lessons that have helped me accept, live in and experience peace in the present moment.

1. Accept

When I first started practising mindfulness techniques, I was trying to get into a state of ‘no-mind’, wanting to be no longer fixated on my thoughts but entirely focussed on the present moment. This was the first time I had managed to stop the mental chatter in my mind which had been going on ceaselessly for years, and I felt immense peace for the first time in a very long time. I wanted more of that!

But rather than embracing the moment, I became more inclined to battle with my mind. My approach was to tell my mind, ‘Stop thinking so I can focus on the moment and be at peace!!!’ But, as Neale Donald Walsch says, whatever you resist, persists.

So whenever thoughts arise now, rather than becoming frustrated and internally wanting to stop thinking, I instead remind myself that it’s not a battle. I relax, and allow the thoughts to arise and subside of their own accord. I recognise that thoughts and ideas come and go like the wind. They are not part of who I am.

It was not the thoughts that were the root issue, but rather my inner state of resistance. To become aligned with life is to live in harmony with it; to say yes to the moment, both inside and out.

In the following video, Eckhart Tolle provides some incredible insight into how acceptance can be applied in our everyday lives to achieve more positive outcomes.

 

2. Break with the Past

When I first started practising mindfulness, I believed that I could carry on living on the outside in exactly the same way as before, and all that needed to change was my inner state and my perception of my life situation. Sure, I would change things in my life situation in time, but there was no rush. I could achieve peace now.

However, I realised later that I was being drawn repeatedly into my old habits of thinking. And this is because I was entering the same situations each day. My current life situation had been created when I was in a negative, reactive mindset. The ‘old me’ had created it, but the ‘new me’ had to live in it.

You may have become friends with the wrong people, chosen the wrong partner or the wrong job. Life decisions made in a negative, depressed or anxious state of mind will lead to negativity, depression or anxiety. This happens because of a universal law; the law of attraction, which dictates that you attract what you are. Like attracts like.

Sometimes the change in your inner state can bring changes to a negative life situation. But it is harder, because you may be drawn into old behaviour and thought patterns. Breaking ties with the past is often the path of least resistance when it comes to enhancing your ability to be free inside.

But remember, positive change always comes from within first. As Yogi Bhajan said, “if you fail to go within, you go without.” My first step was in bringing mindfulness into my life and reaching a stage where I am able to access peace. And once I am in a peaceful state of mind, it is then, and only then, that I make my life decisions. Making decisions from a reactive, “screw this” mentality has never brought positive change for me.

The video below provides a great, two minute explanation of the law of attraction.

3. Trust

When I stop resisting life, and start making decisions when in a positive frame of mind, I can trust in my decisions, then leap without fear. I can trust that the outcomes will be positive, because I made them in a positive state… because like attracts like.

Trust is different from belief. Belief is a head thing. Belief is based on thoughts, and because thoughts can change, so can people’s beliefs, no matter how firmly held. People can be left-wing one day and right-wing the next. People can change their minds, and so can change their beliefs. Belief is like a house built on sand.

Trust is a heart thing. It is knowing things will turn out best. It is knowing that your decisions, if made out of a positive place, will lead to positive outcomes. And trust enables you to take leaps and make changes. Trust is like a house built on rock.

4. Give

Those who want, go wanting. Neale Donald Walsch said abundance comes to those who are abundant themselves, and this is again the law of attraction at work. He makes the point that you needn’t be financially abundant to be abundant in other ways. After all, not many of us are born with a huge pot of money we can generously dish out, but to think that means we have nothing to offer is absurd.

Ask yourself, what have you got to give? I started helping startup businesses for free in areas of marketing that I want to extend my experience in. This gives them my time and marketing knowledge, and I get to develop specific skills, learn about other areas of business from them, and get future referrals. The situation is win-win. But that’s just in business…

What have you got to give in your personal life? Time, love, compassion, kindness, help, authenticity? I recently stumbled across an awesome looking social media site called helpfulpeeps. The idea is that people connect on there and help each other, for free. If you need an easy and quick way to feel abundant, this is it.

The following video is an excerpt from a longer talk given by Neale Donald Walsch on abundance, which can be seen here. Don’t be put off by his language if you are not religious. He uses the word ‘God’ as synonymous with life and the universe, rather than referring to a deity. It can be a bit tricky, but remember he’s communicating with an American audience.

Last Words

Finally, I apologise for using the word ‘secrets’ in title. I just used the word to create a clickbait headline that would hopefully get people reading the article. None of these are secrets and certainly none of them are my own unique insights. I learned them from books and talks given by people far more wise than I am.

What are your experiences of acceptance, the law of attraction, trust and abundance? Please leave a comment – it would be great to get a conversation going!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it was worth your time.