Category Archives: social situations

The day I realised I don’t have to deserve or earn love…

All my life I have tried desperately to earn acceptance and love from people around me. I have felt, at my very core, desperately worried about myself and whether I’m good enough. I’ve felt the need to put on a different mask according to who I’m spending time with. Like a chameleon, I’ve adapted to my environment, but at a huge cost: me!

The more I face up to my fears, and the more I just put myself ‘out there’ to be seen for who I really am, the more I realise that I never needed to earn the love or respect of anyone. Instead of running away, those people in my life who really matter to me have embraced this phase of my life, encouraging me to take my time, offering support and letting me know that they are there whenever I need them. I just had a text conversation with a friend which made me cry big fat tears of happiness, sadness and just about every emotion in between! But then I heard myself thinking:

What have I done to deserve this?

And the answer? I didn’t need to do anything, because love isn’t deserved or earned, and I have been worthy of love, friendship and companionship since the day I was born. I don’t have my own children yet, but I know that as/when I do have a baby, I won’t look at it and think: I’ll love you once you’re old enough to do something deserving and worthwhile. I’ll just love it because it is.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to slowly begin peeling away the mask, and to discover that I am loved so very much for who I am. And I am fortunate enough to have enough good people around me to know that anyone who doesn’t like what they see can look elsewhere. I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d be doing a pretty rubbish job of being authentic if everyone liked me! No one is universally liked and loved. Even Tom Hanks won’t be liked by everyone who meets him, although I find that hard to believe!

Being loveable doesn’t mean being perfect. It just means being you. We are all loveable, and we are all loved by someone.

The sad thing about Western culture is that it promotes a sense of ‘better than’ in relation to our fellow human beings. Instead of working together and celebrating who we are, we feel inclined to compete with others for our sense of self-esteem and worthiness. Conversations with certain people leave us feeling exhausted because they seem to be doing so much better than we are, and our egos just can’t handle it! Well I for one am sick of leading a life where my ego has such a big influence over how I feel about myself. There is such a thing as a healthy ego, and that involves doing what you love to do, with people you love to spend time with, and approaching life from a place of self-love and a sense of worthiness.

For someone who has been doing just the opposite of this for most of her life, I’m finding that old habits die hard, and I’m really having to trust myself to let go of my old hang-ups and let the magic unfold. But it’s all worthwhile in those moments where I feel totally at ease with myself and the world. Giving up the fight means realising there was never a fight in the first place.

Thanks for listening.

Bye for now x

A note on friendship

How is it that I’m in my early to mid thirties and I’m only just starting to experience true friendship for the first time? OK, to all my long-standing friends I apologise. I love you all and I’m not saying that our friendship doesn’t mean anything. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend before with whom I feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. There’s always something:

  • They’re a bit cooler or better dressed than me (or at least I feel self-conscious around them)
  • They are much more fun-loving and outgoing (unlike me who likes to stay in and watch a film over a mug of hot chocolate)
  • I used to fancy them growing up and although I don’t anymore I can’t completely relax around them! Lol.
  • They are a friend I met through my sister, and whereas my sister and I have some excellent friends, I perhaps wouldn’t have become friends with said individuals if not for convenience. Ouch, that sounds awful. Again, I love the people I’m talking about here. I just mean that the friendship didn’t develop because we were naturally drawn to each other’s personalities and absolutely loved spending time together.

I guess I’ve just never really had that kind of friendship which is a bit on the wild and uninhibited side, where any topic goes and it doesn’t matter if you need to tell them you couldn’t answer the phone because you were on the loo. You know what I mean?

Anyway, I now have a friend like that. A wild friendship between two kindred spirits who can happily talk about topics ranging from sex to poo and anything in between. We have similar – though not identical – beliefs. We look and dress differently, and have led completely different lives. But we are pretty much ideally suited as friends go.

I’m not sad that it’s taken me this long. I think I appreciate it far more for having waited this long. I’ve always felt like I’m the ‘odd’ one in my friendships, but not with this individual. I feel completely normal – whatever the hell ‘normal’ means!

Well I just wanted to share this development in my life with you guys, because I think it’s important to remember that true friendship means not feeling self-conscious or uneasy. It means comfortable silences and being able to look each other directly in the eye. I value all of my friendships very much, but it’s nice to have found someone who feels like a lovely great big cuddle to be around.

That’s all for now x

To be angry, or not to be angry…

I am so often conflicted about how I should feel in situations where people have annoyed or upset me. As much as I realise my emotions are real and perfectly valid, I am also aware that the person in question:

a) is just an imperfect human being, same as me

b) probably has their own ‘stuff’ going on

c) didn’t deliberately set out to upset me…

The list could easily go on. Excuses as to why I have no right to feel hard done by, and shouldn’t think anything of it.

Thing is, if you feel angry, you feel angry, and trying to suppress that isn’t going to help anyone. A world where everyone was always just OK and never expressed any of their negative emotions towards anyone or anything would be very stifling indeed. Not a lot would ever change because we wouldn’t allow ourselves to acknowledge our need to move on from a particular friendship or situation.

And unless we deal with our negative emotions, they never really go away. They just get buried, only to pop out in unexpected places! This, I tell myself, is why people I encounter in the supermarket can sometimes be so aggressive and mean. They’re maybe in a bad home situation, and aren’t able to express how they feel in their day-to-day lives.

So, I am going to take my own advice, and allow myself to feel angry. Without going in to any of the details, I have a tendency to allow myself to get walked over, and right now I am feeling like I have been treated very poorly – albeit unintentionally.

I need to keep my emotions under control less, and express myself more. I need to let people know how I’m really feeling, instead of pretending that I’m OK all the time. I need to be authentic and honest and allow myself to live life in a way that feels good to me. None of this means that I have to start treating people badly – it just means that I wish to put myself in a situation where others aren’t able to take advantage of my good nature.

If I don’t start to express the full rainbow of my emotions, I might find that my good nature runs out, and I grow into a miserable old woman who shakes her stick at passers-by. And I cannot tell you how much I don’t want to be that person!

Thanks for reading.

Bye for now x

Find your centre

So, when I was younger I found that I didn’t have much of an opinion on anything. Or at least I would have an opinion, but the second someone challenged my ideas with their own, I would assume that they must be right and change my mind. This process could go on until I had gone full circle and arrived back at my original belief system!

This exhausting and frustrating process served two purposes for me:

  1. It allowed me to doubt myself
  2. It allowed me to appear acceptable to others by agreeing with them

Now don’t get me wrong. I have always been able to see why racism is a load of bulls**t, and I have a strong moral compass when it comes to snatching handbags from old ladies. And I probably had the odd impassioned moment in my youth when I stood up for what I believed and had a strong sense of conviction and personal strength. No situation is purely black and white, and so I did have moments of allowing myself to be opinionated and stand up for what I believed. But all too often, in matters of everyday conversation, I would chop and change my mind to suit the situation.

Having an opinion scared me. It was simply too risky to lay all my cards on the table and not care if others agreed. I mean, if they didn’t, they might decide that they don’t like me! And this can only mean one thing – that there is something catastrophically wrong with me! No, this simply wasn’t a possibility for me during my adolescent/young adult years. Perhaps even more so in my 20s.

So what has changed? As we grow older most of us seem to go through some sort of awakening whereby we discover the things in life that really matter, and get our priorities and belief systems sorted out. For some this process can happen all of a sudden, perhaps due to a tragic or difficult family situation, or perhaps due to a life-changing experience whilst on holiday in Brazil. For others it is more gradual. Either way the feeling is one of liberation and joy:

I don’t have to be what everyone else wants me to be!

Even when I worried what everyone thought, I still made ‘mistakes’ and my friends continued to love me anyway!

I have always been wonderfully imperfect, but now I’m going to own my imperfections instead of running away from them!

I see now how much pressure I was putting on myself and others to meet certain expectations and how short life is.

And so on…

Perhaps you’re going through this process as I write this blog post. Perhaps you’re in your 40s and you’re only just starting to realise how much time you have wasted worrying about what others think of you. It really (really!) doesn’t matter. Each to their own. We all seem to have certain things to learn in our lifetimes and we all learn them in different ways and at different times. Give yourself a break and don’t worry that you haven’t yet learnt how to worry less about the small things.

So, coming back to having an opinion. Once you have begun to accept yourself for all that you are (notice I say ‘begun’ – very few people can claim to have completely accepted themselves, although that’s not to say that it isn’t within our reach), you can begin to own your opinions on certain matters and not worry too much about whether anyone agrees with you. As you begin to accept yourself, you step in to more of who you are, and spend more time doing things which you find enjoyable. It matters less if you are actually achieving anything, and more that you are having fun doing it! You start to develop a centre – a core. It’s like the essence of who you are, and it keeps calling you home every time you feel yourself feeling inadequate or compromised in any way. It’s the part of you that understands and respects what you have been through in your life and doesn’t need anyone else to tell you that you are valid and valuable.

Like with anything relating to personal development or spiritual growth, this is something we need to practice. The more re return to our centre, the more easy and natural it becomes. I haven’t mastered my inner voice perfectly as yet, but the more I listen to her the more we become friends and the more at peace I seem to feel.

So have an opinion! Be outspoken if it is something you feel passionate about. And remember that others will respect you more for standing up for your beliefs than if you just agree with what others are saying.

Be yourself.

Own your beliefs.

Respect your life’s journey.

Be free.

Bye for now lovely readers x

Everything changes

They say that the best friendships are the ones where you don’t find yourself fretting about the other person – whether you’ve seen them that week or what they think of your recent decision to change career. You know you love them, and they in turn love you, so what’s to worry about?

Well, the thing is that things change. People change. Life moves on and sometimes the friendships we formed when we were younger and which seemed so unbreakable get tested as we grow into adults and begin to go our separate ways. It’s only natural that this should happen, and it certainly isn’t a bad thing. And yet, we so often find ourselves trying to resist this change. To turn back the clocks and make everything OK by continuing to meet for a glass of wine every Friday night, even though it isn’t all that convenient anymore and our priorities have moved on. It isn’t that we don’t care. It isn’t that we don’t love the other person, or that we wouldn’t be there for them if they needed a shoulder to cry on. It’s just that we’ve changed and repeating the same old patterns of behaviour is starting to stifle us. In short, we’re ready to move on.

So, the key question is this: how do you move on from a friendship without feeling like a really bad person? I mean, what if the feeling isn’t reciprocated and the friend is heartbroken? What if they say things about you to your mutual friends out of anger? Even if you choose not to tell them directly, and opt for a more subtle approach of occasionally making other plans and phasing out your Friday night drinks dates, the friend may still react badly.

The truth is that friendships can be as complicated as romantic relationships. We can find ourselves feeling just as hurt, let down and confused.

I have witnessed friendships fall apart because one side has moved on and the other person can’t find a way to accept or forgive. I have also witnessed the effects of clinging on to friendships for the sake of politeness and not rocking the cradle, even though it’s obvious that things need to change.

Are you with me? I hope you’re following and that some of this chimes with your own life experiences. If not, I promise to make more sense next time!

Whatever your reason is for wishing to move on, you have every right to do so. This is your life, and you have every right to live it exactly how you want to. Would your friends advise you to stay in an unhealthy romantic relationship? No, they wouldn’t. So why should it be any different when it comes to friendships? There is just something so inherently unacceptable about ‘splitting up’ with a friend that we end up feeling like pond scum for having even considered it. We may even try to find a way out by waiting for them to do something really bad so that we can say: “Oh well, it was their fault for behaving badly. I had no choice in the matter”.

Splitting up with or phasing out a friend may cause you to feel that someone has indeed got a problem with you. And to be honest they probably have! This is something we have to face up to and live with if we wish to live as adults and free spirits, and if we wish to grow emotionally and spiritually, rather than surrounding ourselves with what feels ‘safe’ and ‘normal’.

You are OK. I am OK. The friend you don’t enjoy the company of anymore is OK. But we can’t always please others with our life choices and decisions. Let’s dare to be true to ourselves, and worry less what others think. Whenever I have been brave enough to do this in my own life, inner joy and happiness always seem to follow.

Bye for now x

Have a plan

So you have a ‘social situation’ coming up. A certain someone is going to be there and you just know they’re going to ask you about the one thing you really don’t want them to ask you about, because you’ll go from empowered to blithering idiot in the space of a few seconds and end up giving an overly complicated response and perspiring rather more than usual. Why can’t they just keep their nose out of it and leave me alone? (you find yourself pondering before you’ve even got to the party and had the pleasure of bumping into them).

We all have situations like this. Certain people, certain situations, certain topics – they just get to us! They hit a nerve and our usual coping mechanisms go out of the window. But we don’t have to approach these situations with our tails between our legs, already admitting defeat before we’ve even arrived at the venue!

What I’m going to suggest here is something which I have done myself on several occasions (when i can remember to do it), and it ALWAYS makes me feel better. It doesn’t guarantee no sweating or gibbering, but it will help to make you feel more in control of the situation and minimise the extent to which you feel you have to explain yourself to anyone. Because you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone – you know that don’t you? I mean, your life is yours, and theirs is theirs, and they probably don’t know anywhere near enough about you or the circumstances to make any kind of informed judgement anyway…

Anyhoo, what will this plan consist of? Well, it consists of getting your head around the situation before it presents itself. Find your centre. Remind yourself what you’re about, and how OK it is for you to be who you are, flaws and all. Remind yourself that more often than not, people ask questions about you with good intentions, and because they genuinely care about what happens to you. Or maybe they’re just asking a question because social convention dictates that they do (like when you go to the hairdressers and they ask you what you’ve been up to since your last appointment, or when you see a friend you haven’t met in years and they ask what you do for a living these days). Even if the person in question is a bit frosty and likes to watch people quake in their boots, remind yourself that this is their problem, not yours. Maybe they are in a loveless marriage and they are expressing their anger and resentment to the wrong people! Or maybe they’ve had a really, really shitty week. Feel a surge of compassion as you remember that they’re just human too – perfectly flawed in every way! They’re not evil, they just might be someone you’re better off not putting your energies into.

Once you’ve figured all of this stuff out, you can breathe a bit easier. You feel more centred and less defensive about yourself and how you choose to live your life.

Give it a try, It has worked for me, and given that we belong to the same species it’s likely that it will work for you too!

Bye for now x