Everyone knows those moments in a conversation, where suddenly there’s a break in the flow, and a pause in the breath, while each of you waits for the other to say something clever. Maybe you take a sip from your empty glass, or avert your eyes whilst searching your brain for something quick to fill the awkward space. It feels like forever, until someone breaks the silence with an offer of more wine, a stiff laugh or bringing the talk back to noticing the weather.
Do you get irritated or angry when things don’t go the way you’d like or expect, whether it’s at home, at work, with your health or day to day living? Have you ever snapped at your loved ones in a moment of anger, immediately feeling guilty about it afterwards? Ever started a fight with your partner for no reason, or forgot why you were arguing half way through, but you just kept going anyway? Do you blame others for the situations you find yourself in?
These days you will often find me speaking to large groups of people at meet-ups, webinars, hangouts and sometimes from stage. It is something I really enjoy and love to do, but in the very beginning, before I even had a business, it was a challenge. A long time ago, I used to plan events in the hospitality industry and I would get stressed out over every little detail. I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect and that it ran smoothly.
Even as a little child, I can remember feeling guilty. Guilty about not doing the “right” thing when I had already been told, or guilty for forgetting something. Sometimes I felt guilty when I noticed that I had more cool toys or fun holidays than some of the other kids, or I would start to blame myself if I forgot someone’s birthday or didn’t get the best marks in class. As I got older, this guilt followed me when I saw people who were not as accomplished as I was,
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in what makes people confident, successful and happy in life. I’ve read so many books on the topic than I can count on my fingers and toes, and I’ve continuously invested in myself by doing courses and training in human behaviour, how the mind works, emotions and success strategies. I really enjoyed reading biographies about people who had already achieved success in many areas of their lives.
I used to feel alone almost all the time. Even in public.You know that saying “lonely in a crowd”? That was how I felt. Have you ever felt that when you’re by yourself, you just don’t feel content? Even if you’re an introvert like I am, even though you might like to have your own space, sometimes it can feel lonely. Have you ever been out to dinner with friends, a family gathering or hanging out in the break room at work,
Have you ever really wanted to do something but didn’t follow through or even start? Do you have this feeling that you know you can be and do more than you are? Have you ever felt trapped in the roles that you play throughout life, never feeling as if you are fully expressing yourself, or truly bringing your whole self to the table? I was at a point where I couldn’t help but wonder, what happened to all the things that I was going to be,
Do you ever wish you could just be yourself? Do you feel like you portray yourself differently to the outside world compared to who you are on the inside? Do you feel like you are “false” or “a fraud”?
If you do, you are not alone. I used to believe that certain personality traits were “good” and others were “bad” or just not valuable. As a small child I was emotional, living in my feelings and very vulnerable.
When I was younger, it felt really important for me to feel in control all the time. I didn’t like uncertainty or when things did not go to plan. And definitely do not surprise me for my birthday! I used to plan my day minute by minute. I literally had a schedule for the day where I would schedule the time to get things done, but also all the little things like brushing my teeth and getting dressed or cleaning up.
I used to worry about every little thing, and I filled my brain with so many thoughts that I couldn’t distinguish between what was important and what wasn’t. As a result, decision making was a real challenge and sometimes I would spend so much energy agonising of something as simple as what to order on the menu. Have you ever done this before? Do you struggle to make decisions in your daily life, or feel like you’ve got so much going on in your mind that you don’t know which things have priority over others?
I get it. I used to come home from work each day thinking things like ‘Life sucks,’ Work sucks,’ ‘I can’t do anything right,’ ‘Everyone hates me,’ ‘Nothing ever goes my way’. But if someone had asked me how my day was, I’d casually reply ‘Oh I’m just having one of those days’. As if it wasn’t affecting me as much as I really felt it was.
But really, every time I said these words to myself or thought how horrible my day was,
Mornings for me used to be hitting the snooze button and trying to stay in bed as long as possible, fantasising about how life could’ve been. That was way easier than facing the day. I just wanted to escape the monotony of getting up, going to work, going home, watching TV and going to bed.
I remember there being certain moments in my life that I could’ve made a change and I didn’t.
I used to get so frustrated over the most minor things. One moment I’d be fine, I’d feel like I was keeping it together and then all of a sudden woosh! This emotion would rush up inside of me and I’d find myself speaking harshly or fussing about something like stubbing my toe or missing the train as if it was the end of the world.
If you’re anything like I used to be,
I used to hate being alone. It was when I was alone that I would find myself thinking of the things that were not working in my life. I’d feel scared that no-one loved me, that no-one would EVER love me and that no-one cared.
I used to do anything not to be alone. Anything to distract myself from less than great thoughts and emotions, from feeling uncomfortable or from tough conversations. I found so many ways to distract myself from life but all the while I was still focusing on that feeling of aloneness.
Have you ever felt like something is missing from your life? You’re getting up each day to go through the motions and smile and do all the things you feel you’re supposed to do, but it’s just not enough. You know there has to be more to life, but something keeps holding you back from getting it. Maybe you tell yourself to stop dreaming and to suck it up and get on with it like everyone else seems to.
Do you ever want to make an amazing first impression so much, that you start to overthink it? Have you felt the pressure of wanting to put your best foot forward so much, that you start to put unrealistic expectations of perfection on yourself? Whether you’re dating, going to an interview or you simply want to meet new people, make some new friends or talk to someone you admire, have you been putting it off because it’s too hard?
Do you sometimes feel as if you’re just cruising through life on autopilot? You get up, go to work, make small talk with your colleagues, come home, eat dinner, sit on the couch and try to switch yourself off as you switch on the TV. Weekends are for sleeping in and catching up with friends but they never seem long enough. A part of you knows there’s more to life, but it’s easier to dream about it than to feel vulnerable facing it in real life right?
I was lucky I guess. I had an amazing family growing up. I had everything. Well, not everything I ever wanted, we weren’t super rich, but we weren’t poor either. I grew up in the country. I had a yard to play in, I had enough clothes to wear, I could go to the movies and out bowling. We had dinner on the table every night. I had parents who loved me, and I had an older brother to teach me.
How many times do you catch yourself saying yes to something you don’t really want to do? Going out with friends when you really want to stay in and have an early night. Helping someone move house when you have a project or assignment due. Going to dinner with family or friends when you would prefer to spend the money on something else. Picking up the phone and listening to a friend talk about the things going on in their life when you have things you of your own to deal with.
How many times do you look at everything you have to do but you just can’t be bothered, and maybe you even think or say to yourself ‘I don’t have the energy!’? There’s so much to do every day, work is draining – it feels like all you have the energy to do is get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep and repeat.
It’s so easy to stop doing the things we enjoy and get stuck in the rut of doing what ‘needs to be done’.
When you’re focussed, everything seems to flow and come together neatly. But when you’re not focussed, you find yourself thinking of five things at once and you end up being so preoccupied with everything that you still need to do, that you end up missing the turn off when you’re on your way home. Sound familiar?
Have you ever missed appointments, evenings with friends or stopped doing the things you love because you’re trying to get everything else done?
We face problems everyday; small things like “What if I’m late for work?” “Can I have a burger for lunch today, or should I stick to a salad?”, but we also face more prominent issues like “What if I don’t like my new job?” or “What if I don’t have enough money for bills?”.
There is uncertainty in life all the time. Things are changing and you’re not always going to be sure what will happen next.
Have you ever found yourself wanting to be brave in a moment? Did you ever wish you could feel a little stronger when you’re walking into a room of people you don’t know, or showing up at a job interview? Ever wanted to stand up to someone at work, or speak your mind to a family member? Even something as seemingly little as meeting a personal trainer or going to a new gym class might require a bit of bravery.
Life is busy. There’s so much to do. Go to work, pay the bills, catch up with family and friends, plan ahead, not to mention all the apps on our phones with notifications every few minutes letting us know what someone posted on Facebook. We have an event coming up or have to make sure you rsvp to your friends birthday, emails, SMS, Snapchat. The list goes on and on.
How technology affects us
There was a time before technology got as advanced as it is,
So there I was, sitting miserable, on my couch. For years, I’d been doing my absolute best to do well in life. I had made every effort, I’d tried everything, but nothing had ever worked out. I was single. I was lonely. I didn’t feel there was anybody I could turn to, so I isolated myself. That way I could prove to myself that no one cared.
Nobody cared. Nobody loved me. There was no way out.