Worth sticking up for

How many times have you held your tongue or put the needs of others before your own? Often the idea of being selfless is something that is praised but the reality is that it’s often just self-sacrifice.

When the person that puts others first is around people that put themselves first, they end up losing. The unfortunate truth is people won’t always be considerate of you so you have to be considerate of yourself.

Not sticking up for yourself can be a combination of people pleasing, avoiding conflict and a lack of self-worth. It often shows up in the smallest of ways.

It might seem like it’s not a big deal and it isn’t if it happens every now and then. However, if you spend your whole life not sticking up for your wants and needs then you’ll end up living a life that caters to other people.

Start slow, take it easy and remember that sticking up for yourself will always be worth it even if it feels difficult in the moment.

The first 10 subscribers

Over the past few months I’ve found myself really interested in newsletters.

Many of the blogs I used to regularly read are now sites I check out every once in a while or have just forgotten about altogether. People don’t blog (or read blogs) like they used to and the sort of blog content that worked 4/5 years back is now the sort of thing that gets posted on Instagram.

However, a newsletter is a great way to keep readers or followers updated in a way that feels personal. This blog is now in it’s fourth year and my intention is for it to expand beyond just blogposts.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking to create a newsletter. However, I currently only have one email subscriber (the majority of readers follow this blog via WordPress) so I’ll hold off for a little while. I’m waiting until I reach the first 10 email subscribers before putting out my first newsletter.

It’ll be a monthly summary with extra bits and pieces that don’t get shared on the blog. My newsletter is for all my readers but mainly those that find it hard to keep up. I think a monthly email with links to top posts, recent content and recommendations will be much easier to keep up with.

I look forward to putting out my first newsletter in the coming weeks or months. I hope you look forward to reading it, sign up below:

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Time to do nothing

I recently found myself with a problem.

My initial instinct was to solve it.

I found myself focusing my efforts and energy on figuring out the best solution but at the same time, I felt stuck.

Then suddenly, it occurred to me that I could just do nothing. This problem was the sort of thing that wouldn’t matter in the years to come, it also wasn’t urgent. Whether I took action right away or in a couple weeks would make no real difference.

So, I decided to do nothing which felt strange at first but it was also liberating.

How to avoid getting caught up in your feelings?

Around a month or so ago, an idea came to me that I found really useful.

The idea was that situations that emotionally charge us are a reminder to focus on ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, feeling bad or worrying, take some time to check in with yourself.

Perhaps you were involved in a situation that left you feeling upset. You could ‘go off’ at the other people involved, blame them or get annoyed at yourself.

You could also ask yourself ‘Why is this bothering me?’, ‘What can I do for myself to shift my mood?’ or ‘How can I take responsibility for the part I played in this?’.

Asking these questions assures you’re looking at the situation consciously, taking care of yourself and not focusing on other people.

How to tell if it’s working?

When you’re working on yourself, it can be easy to overlook the progress you’re making. Sometimes it can feel as if nothing has changed.

It’s not until you find yourself in a challenging situation and you are able to manage it so differently compared to in the past, that you realise the work you have been doing is working.

Perhaps, in situations that feel comfortable you used to default to playing small and hiding away. But, now you find yourself speaking up and allowing yourself to be seen and heard even though you feel nervous.

That’s how you know the work is working.

Creating a container for change

I first heard about this idea from Maryam Hasnaa in a class she taught.

When a person dedicates themselves to a particular path, it more often than not requires significant change.

An example of this could be taking space from friends that like to have nights out often. You need space from this because in that environment you’re likely to drink which leaves you feeling unwell the next day and the time it takes to recover feels like a waste. You also might decide that you want to maintain a regular sleep pattern and night routine which you’re unlikely to be committed to when you get home at 2am. Lastly, when your path becomes clear you realise that the pub, bar or club where it’s noisy, crowded and you’re probably spending a lot of money isn’t an environment that supports you.

And so even though no longer engaging in nights out may show up as you taking space from certain people, it’s not so much about the people at all, it’s about you and what you need.

Another example is leaving your job. Let’s say you work a very full on and at times stressful job that requires a lot from you. When you’re committed to something, in order to focus on that, you don’t want unnecessary stress getting in the way. Perhaps at one point the stress was worth it for the money but now you’d rather earn less in a calmer environment. If your finances allow it, you might even take a break from working for a little while.

Both of these examples could be permanent or temporary changes. The point is that when you’re clear about your path shifting your life is mandatory.

I think if we could, we would turn inwards and away from certain responsibilities and obligations. But since that’s not possible we have to create a container where we can focus and commit whilst still engaging in certain aspects of life. And that container becomes sort of sacred which is why we can’t allow everything in our lives to remain.

And if you don’t know where to begin, ask yourself what you would and wouldn’t keep in your life if you could start over whilst still being able to maintain your basic needs (food, shelter etc).

NLP changed me

When I first discovered NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), it felt pretty radical. I was going through a difficult time and it helped to have something new to learn about that could in turn help me. I bought a book, read it and it changed my life.

It wasn’t so different that it felt weird or hard to take it. But it was new enough that I found myself evolving in order to become open to it.

I was a fairly pessimistic person at the time with a lot of unhelpful beliefs so the idea that underlying every behaviour is a positive intention was hard to take in. Yet at the same same, something like if what you are doing isn’t working, do something else felt pretty wonderful.

When you’re going through a challenging period life can feel very rigid and brittle, as though change isn’t quite possible. But then I had this book telling me that I could just ‘do something else’ which almost didn’t even occur to me at the time because I felt so stuck.

And so today lets highlight and celebrate the journeys we’re on, the things we’ve overcome and our ability to embrace life with a little more flow because change is always possible.

Re-learning compromise

If you’re used to always being the one to bend to the needs of another, you might reach a point where you decide to change. Perhaps after an epiphany about the importance of balance.

When it comes to some change, the advice is to go slow and take it bit by bit. However, when it comes to changing a habit of compromising, it’s probably more helpful to go cold turkey.

The reason for this is that no compromise allows you to gain clarity on exactly what you want to do for yourself without taking others into account.

It’s then from a place of clarity of your own needs that you can learn to compromise properly.

Bent out of shape

People that are used to people pleasing know what it’s like to put their own wants and needs aside.

Sometimes, you convince yourself that you’re just compromising to find a balance. This is fine, until you realise that you’re the only one willing to change. This could all be with one person or apply to your life overall.

You can become so used to doing it that the thought of doing anything else feels wrong.

But the thing about bending, is that it can lead to breaking. However, before you reach breaking point you end up bent out of shape. By this I mean, you’ve spent so much time bending (meeting the needs of others) that you’re no longer yourself. You’ve become what you think other people need you to be.

When you’re engaging in the art of compromise which is the overlap in the Venn diagram of 2 people’s needs (or a balanced back and forth of meeting one another’s needs without self-sacrifice), it’s fine. The problem occurs when you consistently go outside of your circle into another’s, so that they get what they want.

People become so used to you doing it that they may even push back at you if you stop compromising for them.

However, sometimes it’s only when you stop and reflect on how you act that you realise you’re doing it but also the negative implications, one of which is your needs never being met.

A life changing perspective

A running theme throughout a lot of my posts (and what has become the baseline for this blog) is this idea of life’s challenges and difficult moments having a lesson or a takeaway.

Having this perspective completely changes your life.

You go from things like blaming other people, being overly self critical, treating yourself unkindly and feeling stuck to feeling empowered with the ability to move through challenging situations with greater ease.

Let’s say you like the way you look but someone makes fun of your appearance. On one hand you could get upset, feel bad about yourself and feel anger towards the other person for how they made you feel.

On the other hand, you could accept that this person has an opinion, remind yourself that how you feel about the way you look is what matters most and see if there’s something worth learning there.

If the persons comment upset you, perhaps the lesson is that you need to work on your self-confidence. The takeaway could be a reminder that other peoples opinions of you shouldn’t matter more than your own, that you don’t need to take on the opinions of others or that you need to become more comfortable with not fitting into other peoples standards/ideals.

And then maybe you’ll go away and work on these things. An example of this might be embracing the way you want to look by going a week wearing whatever you want as a way of learning to become more comfortable with looking different. In doing so, you’ll probably realise that it’s exhausting to allow yourself to be bothered by everyone else’s opinion and that you feel at your best when you’re just being yourself.

This might seem excessive to some but the truth is that you can choose the way you look at things and how you handle them. Imagine if you faced every difficult or challenging situation with this kind of perspective. How different would your life be?