I don’t know about you, but I blummin’ love a good self-help book. Anything that scratches the surface of our psyche and gives insight to the reasons we have those seemingly irrational thoughts and reactions to every day life, is a winner in my books. The more I talk to friends, the more I realise I’m not the only one so I thought I’d share some of the books I have read, light bulb moments and all, as it seems fitting to this little blog of mine. And what better book to start with than Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, sent to me by my Life Coach, Lydia, on the basis this is very much my current goal in life right now. So here are the lessons I’ve learnt from the book:
The when/then game
I have always seen fear as “a signal to retreat rather than a green light to move ahead”.
I am an expert at this game. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my biggest game of when/then was “when I’ve had a baby then……” [insert every possible change I’ve ever considered here]. Basically delay tactics as I didn’t want to have to step out of my comfort zone because it was scary. I hid behind the baby. It was my excuse for everything. But the reality? As the books says, “the fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow” so we kind of have to suck it up and get on with it. The truth is, fear is a fact of life and shouldn’t be used as a barrier to success. Change will always be scary. There will never be a better time to make the change so you just have to quit the when/then game and go for it. Push yourself outside that comfort zone.
The power of language
When you give your subconscious the message “I can’t”, your subconscious really believes you and registers on it’s computer: WEAK….WEAK…WEAK.
So it seems I’m not the only one with an imaginary enemy, telling me I can’t do things – looks like Pru‘s got mates out there! We’re all victims of our internal chatterbox at some point in our life. How we talk to ourselves internally can make or break us when we’re trying to grow/change. We can let it tell us we can’t do something or we can choose a different dialogue. A more encouraging dialogue. We absolutely need to take responsibility for our internal dialogue.
Why so pessimistic?
It is reported that over 90% of what we worry about never happens
I haven’t got enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I’ve chosen not to do something because of what might go wrong. My natural default is to think about all the negatives rather than the positives, my weaknesses rather than my strengths. “There is an automatic assumption that negative is realistic and positive is unrealistic.” Yet, it seems the reality is there is more chance of things being OK than not. What a revelation! The book talks about reality being whatever we choose it to be – happy, sad, good, bad. It’s how we think that makes the difference. How we choose to interpret situations. In my first session with Lydia, she asked me what I had learnt from our infertility and IVF experience. It took me a while to come up with something but eventually I said it had shown me how strong I was. I had surprised myself with my strength to keep going whilst life went on as usual around me. Not a characteristic I’d have ever associated with myself. So despite all the negatives associated with our experience, there have definitely been positives and so I choose to focus on those now, not the bad stuff. I could be full of resentment for the card we have been dealt but instead I choose to focus on the good stuff. The fact it showed just how strong we were. The fact it likely strengthened my relationship with Mr W, and the fact it opened the door to the life we have now – a life we would never have considered had we not been faced with such a challenging, life changing situation. So although positive thinking won’t magic up that baby or, worst still, cure that illness, it certainly helps take the edge of an otherwise shitty situation. So a big lesson in this book is no one but you can determine how you view life and situations – it’s very much a choice. “We can’t control the world, but we can control our actions to it”.
The power of your inner circle
It is amazingly empowering to have the support of a strong, motivated and inspirational group of people
Never a truer word spoken. Who you surround yourself with can make all the difference in how you approach things and the level of belief you have in yourself. And I’m not talking about a group of eternally happy people necessarily – we all go through tough times – but people who inspire you, who support you, who encourage you, who have the capacity to be happy for you when things go well. Sadly, not everyone will fall in to this camp. I am very fortunate I have a lot of supportive cheerleaders in my life, but equally I have had people in my life that weren’t. This is not to say you go ditching friends because they don’t tell you how great you are every 5 minutes, but spending time with people who energise you is so important to maintaining a great mind set and believing you can do anything.
Letting go of perfection
You’re not a failure because you don’t make it, you’re a success because you try.
This aim for perfection is crippling for some people. And I know I am guilty of it to a point. I hate the thought of getting something wrong. It’s certainly stopped me moving forward in the past. It’s stopped me going for those jobs because “what happens if I can’t do it?”. I feel I need to be the finished article before I’ve even started which is crazy. “We feel we should be perfect, and forget we learn through our mistakes”. Take photography as an example. One of the biggest reasons I never considered pursuing it was because there were already so many amazing photographers out there, so what was the point? I’d never be that good. Sounds ridiculous when I write it down. I mean how do you get good at something without doing it? Chicken and egg and all that. We need to embrace the imperfections, embrace our differences. No one is perfect!
Throw away your picture
If you are focussed on “the way it’s supposed to be”, you might miss the opportunity to enjoy the way it is
Yes, yes and yes to this little gem. So apparently life = school, university, career, boyfriend, house, wedding, 2.4 kids, happily-ever-after, THE END. Well that’s what I always believed anyway. But who says? For some people, this is very much the dream and reality. But it’s not the only way, people! Letting go of what I grew up believing was “supposed to be” is how I managed to make the difficult decision to stop pursuing children and can now finally enjoy life without feeling like I’ve somehow failed at it. To some people this may seem alien – we live in a flat, spend loads of time in Ibiza and have no kids. What are we thinking? But as I am no longer working to someone else’s brief, I have finally found a way of life that’s right for me. So throw away the picture!
I could go on. The book is full of such good insight so go read it for yourself if you haven’t already. I’ll just leave you with the overriding message from the book:
Whatever happens, I’ll handle it