Thursday, 27 November 2014

Slow down and switch off

I must apologise for being a little late with my morning musings this morning, time I'm afraid has rather run away with me. Which would be lovely if it had decided to run away somewhere sunny and warm, sadly I remain under the anticyclonic gloom of Burgess Hill. If only we all had a little more time time to do the things we want.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." 
That quote is from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson who was basically reminding us that sometimes it's best to do nothing at all. The trouble is we're all busy, and when we're not busy, we're filling our time with other things to do that keep us busy. It's like we're busy addicts, or end up feeling guilty when we find ourselves not being busy. 

Well I'm here to tell you to stop feeling guilty about it. Enjoy those down times when you're scratching around for something to do. Make the most of any moments nothingness. Savour the slothfulness and languish in the languorousness. You deserve some down time – we all do!

I'm not suggesting that we all just start slacking off, but it's 'nothing time' is almost as important to your brain's health as sleeping is. Pondering and procrastinating, and embracing the day dreams all help your brain to function. Scientists and people far brainier than me have proven that mentally switching off actually helps you understand decisions better. You learn things quicker. You even become more creative and our productivity gets better. 

We can't all be inactive all the time sadly, but it's certainly an item on our 'to-do' list that we're losing touch with. Like all things, it's about balance of course, but the next time you're sitting at the bus stop, maybe leave your phone in your pocket. Take a walk without plugging in your headphones now and again. Or just lay back on the sofa and procrastinate away to your hearts content. A lot of things in life happen at warp speed and if you don't slow down once in a while and look around, you just might miss something wonderful. 

Do look after yourself, and each other.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Life is hard

Everybody wants to be a bit Pharrell Williams. We all want some happy in lives. We all want that perfect little life. We want that fantastic job that we always enjoy. We want to be with Mrs. Right or Mr Perfect. If we have kids we want them to be the sort of kids that other people praise because they are such good role models. We want to have the kind of friends that stick by us come rain or shine. We want to be able to have all the material things life has to offer and just have all our problems disappear.

Everybody wishes for there ideal life. Of course one persons view of a good life may be completely different for somebody else. For one person a good life may just mean having three meals a day and a roof over their head. For another it may be living in a huge mansion and having a few million in the bank. Whatever you definition of it, there is one thing that you probably have in common with everyone else. You want that 'good life' to be stress free. You want a life where you don't have to work too hard to achieve it. 

Unfortunately of course, that's what's probably stopping you from having that great life. The thought of all that hard work, all that strife and planning, overcoming hurdles and having to fight for things is enough to make a lot of people give up before they even start. It can seem like too much for some, and for quite a few it just doesn’t seem to be worth it. It’s like being completely drained of energy before being asked to run a marathon. The fear of just getting to the starting line tires you out so much mentally you just decide not to go for it at all. It’s just too hard!

But guess what – life IS hard, and there's nothing we can do about it.

Of course, once we know that life is hard and actually accept it – then life starts to get a little easier. It's impossible to get anything in life without some degree of effort. (Unless you win the Lottery of course, and we all know the odds of that one)

Life is hard – people aren't always going to be nice or react the way you want them to. Your job will have challenges that you didn't foresee and clients may not be the easiest people to understand. Your kids won’t always be the ideal you want them to be. Your home may not be the ideal place you have in your mind. Your better other won't always be as perfect as you hope they are, and indeed you may not the perfect specimen that you once thought you were either.

I'm not saying we don’t deserve a break or not justified in hoping that we deserve more than what we've got from life and the world to this point. I mean we've all worked very hard and done all that we could in our lives to try and make them a bit better. But things don’t alway work out as well as we plan or hope. Things are just a bit more rubbish than we hoped they would be.

That’s quite normal I'm afraid, it's one of the things that being human is all about. To coin a business speak saying, it's all about managing our expectations upstream. Life is hard, so we might as well accept it.
Once you do, you WILL feel better about your circumstances. You won’t think of your situation as anything but what is normal for all of us. Then it just become a part of life. You will no longer beat yourself up about how bad things are or how you are not doing so well in one area or another. You will realise that you are only a mere mortal like the rest of us! Guess what – you make mistakes just like everybody else. We're not perfect, just like everyone else.

Accepting that life is hard though doesn't mean that you have to accept every circumstance and just go with the flow though. You see, there is another side to this coin. Yes, one side of the coin is inscribed with “life is hard”, but if you turn that coin over you will find in very small writing it says:
“You can make it better”

Accepting that life is hard comes with accepting that you have the responsibility to make it better. You see, the only person you have any control over in your life is you. You cannot change other people. But no matter what situation is or how bad it may be, you do have a choice. No matter what you think you can or cannot do, you still a choice.

Now it may not alway be an easy choice, by any means. It may push you way out of your comfort zone. It may even mean that your life may get even harder than it already is for a while. But it is still a choice.

A lot of times you will actually find that the choices are not as hard as you thought they were. You may just have shut off your mind from seeing those choices and possibilities because you thought you had no choice. Once we become open to the idea that we are responsible for our lives and that we do have choices, we start find that we are no longer stuck just because life is hard.

Do look after yourselves and each other.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Words of Power

Growing up, my mum (probably like quite a few mums) used to say to me “If you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything.” I guess the world would be a much nicer place if we all did that, but we don’t. All too often conversations start with “Oh you won’t believe what so and so said/did!”. Of course it's all the worse when 'so and so' happens to be us, and what's being said is flagging up mistakes we may have made or things we've said in the heat of the moment. I suppose the trouble is, in todays world of social media, the problems of people saying down right hurtful things has probably multiplied exponentially. 

Hurtful words, no matter the reasons for using them, cause low self-esteem and damage our self-confidence. Words are very powerful and can be devastating when they are used to deliberately hurt someone and it doesn't just have to be said face-to-face these days either. The words we speak or write down in a text or post on the internet, can have a huge affect not only on us, but on everyone who see them. 

It is important to realise the massive effect words can have on us. How often do we hear the phrases: “I was only joking!” or: “Look, I don't mean any offence, but . . .” or the classic: “I didn’t MEAN it!” or of course the best one: "Look, it was just the heat of the moment". The thing is whether we mean it or not, if things are said often enough they can change the very nature of the person they are aimed at and lower their self-esteem and give that person a damaged view of themselves for a very long time to come.

People don’t realise the massive effect that hurtful words can have on others. Hurtful words can cause life long damage and is a major cause of low self-esteem in people, especially if it’s put on them as a child, although just as easily as an adult.

The best way forward if ever it does happen to you, is to forgive the person who said/wrote it. Through whatever insecurities they have they thoughtlessly said something horrible to you, to try and make themselves feel better about themself. So just forgive them and move on with your life. If it really hurt you, the quicker you begin to repair the damage to yourself he better.

Low self-esteem is basically caused by the negative thoughts that we have about ourselves. To overcome low self esteem, is a very long process but we must at least try to change these negative thoughts to positive ones. The first step in doing this is by changing the way we talk to ourselves. We must try to stop all of the negative self talk for a start, as it's only going to do more damage. So try replacing your negative self talk with something more positive.

When you find yourself thinking something negative about yourself (such as – I'm stupid, I'm fat or I’m ugly or utterly useless), replace it with a positive stuff (such as – 'If I look at it, I actually have a great life' or: 'most of the time I’m fairly happy' or more importantly: 'there are quite a few people who actually love me). Sit down and figure out a few positive thoughts that would make you feel better and give your self-esteem that little boost it needs. Eventually your subconscious mind will believe them to be true. Even if it may take a little while to achieve it. 

The trouble with hurtful words apart from causing us to feel sad, is they can also result in resentment and anger. With these negative emotions ruling the roost, we are living in misery and setting ourselves up for a fall instead of enjoying life. Sure there may well be times if life when we have no choice but to say something to someone that we know is gonna hurt their pride and knock them down a few pegs; but if we can balance it out by saying something positive at the same time it often softens the blow and doesn't leave that person feeling utterly crushed.

In truth, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks, your self esteem is all about what you think about yourself. So don't dwell on the negative thoughts, turn these around to positive ones. Try as hard as possible to be the most positive person you can be. 

Be kind to everyone you meet and alway try to give someone, even if you’ve heard bad things about them from someone else the benefit of the doubt before you treat them in any other way. It's a fact that when we’re nice to someone we boost our own self-esteem along with theirs.

If someone is constantly negative about other people just do your best to try and avoid them! The trouble is, attitudes are contagious – so try and be around people with good attitudes. As this can also raise your own self-esteem too. Somebody a lot wiser than me once said, If we turn our face to the sun, all our shadows fall behind us.

Let’s face it, we could all do with a bigger slice of self esteem at times. Especially at those time's when we feel like it's been stamped on by someone else. At the end of the day it always feels good to feel good.

So I guess mum was right, it IS always better to look at other people’s positives and try to build someone up to feel good about themselves, rather than focusing on their negatives and trying to knock them down. 

Do look after yourself, and each other.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Remember those that fought for us
100 years ago,
They fought for the freedom
of those they'd never know.

Maybe it is pointless
to wish for lasting peace,
For countries to lay down their arms
For all fighting just to cease.

You could despair of ever seeing
peace throughout the land,
No longer seeing scenes of war,
blood mixed with desert sand.

We just don't have the tolerance
for cultures not our own,
Seeds of peace thrown to the wind
From the heart where they are sown.

Yet hope lays in a child's heart
One not turned to stone,
A mind still free of prejudice
and a child that's not alone.

So as we remember all those fallen
with an aptly heavy heart,
Fan the spark of future hope
that's up to us to start.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

We all need somebody to lean on

PHILOSOPHICAL THURSDAY: It isn't easy when we go through though times in our lives when we find ourselves emotionally damaged. Something or someone has upset us SO dramatically we almost feel broken. However it can be almost equally as hard when the person in pain isn't us but someone we really care about. Finding the right way to support that person can be really hard. It’s quite normal (particularly as a man) to feel like you just want to make things ‘all better’ for that person, but it’s not always that straight forward. Seeing the people we love in distress can actually make us feel pain and a little overwhelmed.
First of all, everybody is different and has different needs and different ways of coping. So what feels supportive for one person may not feel at all helpful for someone else. So rule one if you like is not to presume you know what someone needs or wants from you in terms of support. Secondly, remember it’s ok to admit that sometimes you just don’t know how to help them. So the best thing to do is just ask them the question! “What can I do to help?" or "What can I do to let you know I'm here for you?” If they say they don’t know, (Which is quite a common response) just reassure them that if there IS something they want, or need, to let you know and if you can help, you will. Just letting them know you are there is often a big help itself.
It’s also important to let those people be where they are emotionally, and to let them know that whatever they are feeling it’s ok. Feelings after all are just that – feelings. Not good or bad, not right or wrong. Life experiences will always give us the full range of human emotion. Feeling distress is not necessarily a negative thing. Even the most difficult experiences teach us about who we are, our relationship to others and the world around us. When bad things do happen it actually forces us out of our comfort zones and makes us stronger and more prepared for the future.
So often, what people really need in times of distress is just someone who can listen without judging them and someone with a sympathetic response.
So be aware of how you phrase things and the way in which you say them. Don’t say things like “You Shouldn’t . . .” or “Don’t . . .” . Those kind of answers are basically saying “What you are feeling is bad or wrong” or “Stop it” or “get rid of it.”
Accept the persons feelings how they are, don’t ask them to explain or defend the way they are feeling. Feelings are almost never logical, so don't expect the explanations of how they are feeling to be either. Resist the need to ask a lot of questions about whatever it is that has caused the grief as it may well have a negative effect and cause them to shut off completely.
Whatever you do, never ever say things like “cheer up” or “look on the bright side” or "just forget about it!". Chances are this will make them feel worse; knowing that they feel unable to do so. More positive feedback is best given when that person is at a stage when they are open to hear it. 
Also, don’t always rush in too soon trying to fix things. Sometimes just being there and allowing the person to say what they need to say, feel what they need to feel and ask what they might need to is the best way of being supportive, without trying to force it all to end sooner.
Of course the best thing to do is always to ask yourself how you would feel in their situation. That said, although it is really useful to draw on your own past experiences as an example, this isn’t always the case. If you yourself have unresolved issues or hurt on what they are going through, it’s going to effect your ability to be objective and neutral. So do know your own limits. 
Don’t expect that you should know all the right answers either and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it if you don’t. It’s ok to remove yourself from a ‘supportive’ role if you really don’t think you’ll be able to help. Just be honest about it with the person, we all have our limitations of usefulness when it comes to be emotionally supportive, but reassure them the you are of course able to just ‘be there’ for them.
Finally, and rather unsurprisingly from me, always offer them a hug. It is scientifically proven that being held, or hugged, (yes even for those that say they can't stand being hugged) or just having a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on can feel amazing when the crud has hit the fan. Sometimes just a silent hug can say so much more, and be so much more comforting than any words are able to.
Do look after yourself, and each other.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


It was 8:27am on what promised to be another horrendously long Tuesday. Sophie was on her laptop idling her time away before she rushed out the door to go to work. The draw of talking to complete strangers online was too tempting, she enjoyed the freedom of being whoever she wanted to be and then walking away. She was naturally shy and socially awkward, but online she could be as strong and powerful as her imagination let her.
She signed on her profile as SophieQ14: and only two minutes had gone by before she got pinged; this is how the chat was later logged:
Tuesday25: Just been looking at your pics! 
TheTuesday25: WOW! You're beautiful!
SophieQ14: Really! You think so?
TheTuesday25: You've got amazing hair.
SophieQ14: Thanks!  *blushes*
TheTuesday25: : You've got really beautiful eyes.
SophieQ14: Well, people do tell me they are one of my best features. 
TheTuesday25: And your nose is SO cute.
SophieQ14: Aww . . . thanx.
TheTuesday25: And such a long graceful neck.
SophieQ14: Err . . . ok! I get it.
TheTuesday25: And such a beautiful body.
SophieQ14: Errr . . .
TheTuesday25: And your heart is just divine.
SophieQ14: Ok! That's enough lover boy!
TheTuesday25: I bet all your internal organs are beautiful.
SophieQ14: WTF!! Now you're being weird!
TheTuesday25: I wish I could see them. I want to see them.
SophieQ14: Goodbye!
TheTuesday25: I wish I could open you up and look inside.
SophieQ14: Get lost you freak!!
TheTuesday25: I could run my fingers through your entrails. hmmmm
SophieQ14: Stop messaging me now you weirdo, or you're getting reported
TheTuesday25: I would remove all of your organs delicately one by one.
SophieQ14: If you don't stop this crap now, you can forget blocking, I'll go to the police!
TheTuesday25: Then I would lovingly kiss each one of them.
SophieQ14: STOP IT NOW YOU SICK FREAK!! I'm ignoring you!
TheTuesday25: Sophie.
TheTuesday25: Sophie!
TheTuesday25: SOPHIE!?
TheTuesday25: SOPHIE!?
TheTuesday25: Your blood over my body
SophieQ14: Get lost you sad lonely little sick prick.
TheTuesday25: I can see you, you know.
SophieQ14: Oh really! Course you can.
TheTuesday25: I'm watching you right now.
SophieQ14: Yeah course you are. Freak!
TheTuesday25: I can prove it!
SophieQ14: Go on then!
TheTuesday25: Peekaboo! I see you!
SophieQ14: Ok then, where am I?
TheTuesday25: In your house.
SophieQ14: Well durrr!
TheTuesday25: Chatting on your laptop.
SophieQ14: Again . . . Durrr!
TheTuesday25: Sitting on your sofa.
SophieQ14: hardly a tricky guess really!
TheTuesday25: Ask me where I am Sophie.
SophieQ14: I couldn't give a crap where you are to be honest!
TheTuesday25: If you ask me where I am, I promise I will stop messaging you.
SophieQ14: OK!! Where are you?
TheTuesday25: In a house.
TheTuesday25: Chatting to you on my smartphone.
TheTuesday25: Hiding behind your sofa.
The conversation ended there, and sadly Sophie was never seen again.