The path to self-love was fraught with second guessing.
After all, no-one else has a clue what they’re doing, either.
“Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all” – Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All
Learning to love yourself as the imperfect being you are sometimes ain’t easy to do, but do it we must for the sake of healthy personal relationships and our ability to make smart, healthy choices.
After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do it?
And I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism, I’m talking about the kind of self-love that spurs you to make healthy life choices and treat yourself with loving kindness. Experts say developing a healthy level of self-esteem will help us to be less sensitive and more able to accept constructive criticism, express ideas in a calm way, be less dependent and more likely to have our needs met.
We’ll also inevitably be much healthier, happier humans, thus improving and strengthening our personal relationships. Maybe it’s a hard life lesson that comes in your 30s – at least, it was for me.
The minute I truly learned to be comfortable in my own skin and accept and enjoy my singleton status, I met my husband soon after.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. But it was a hard-fought lesson; instead of looking for someone to fill a void – a self-love deficit, if you will, as I had done in the past – I made the conscious decision to really work on developing my inner happiness and self-love on my solo journey.
A clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says our level of self-love is inevitably shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences, as well as personality traits.
“Life can be difficult for someone who has low self-esteem, for example: someone who doesn’t like him/her self, judges him/herself harshly and expects bad things to happen often. Expectations of negativity can be self-fulfilling, so if you anticipate that there will be lots of criticism and stuff-ups in your life, then these things will often happen. You’ll question your own judgement and will consequently make poor decisions that lead to negative outcomes,” she says.
“Conversely, if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’ll be able to face the challenges and difficulties that life throws at you in a positive way. You’ll have more faith in your own choices and decisions. You’ll be able to assertively stand up for your rights without being aggressive and without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or pushed around. You’ll feel comfortable with who you are and like yourself, so you’ll be less susceptible to depression and anxiety.”
But how do we foster such self-love and inner confidence if it’s lacking? Here are some handy expert pointers:
- Be kind to yourself. If something goes wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and determine to do better next time.
- Avoid people who pull you down – those who are critical and negative towards you. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and in whose presence you feel good about yourself.
- Give yourself positive messages, don’t self-criticise. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as: “I’m always messing up, I’ve failed again”, challenge this and change your thinking to something more positive like: “I’ve made a mistake, but what can I learn from this? How can I do better in this situation next time?”
- Learn to see difficulties as problems to be solved rather than catastrophes. Develop your problem-solving skills and you’ll have more confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with difficult situations, thereby developing your self-esteem as a result.
Of course, if this all seems too difficult to achieve on your own, seek help from a professional relationship counsellor or psychologist.
Images, in order, via www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk; www.freespiritgirl.com and pixabay.com.
In need of a some new books to help change your perception on life? Who doesn’t! Sometimes we all require a little extra guidance, and the best way to get some is to sit back and relax with a self-help book.
Choosing just one book to start can feel a little daunting at first, but we have hand-picked some of our favourites for you below.
The Kindness Pact, Domonique Bertolucci
8 promises to make you feel good about who you are and the life you live. A great book if you’re unsure of where to start and need to reflect on your own actions.
Six Pillars of Self Esteem, Nathaniel Branden
If your self esteem needs a reality check, then this straightforward book is the best one for you. It clearly explains how anyone can master great self confidence at any age.
10% Happier, Dan Harris
Who else is a victim of their thoughts, even at the best of times? Take control of your life and make your thoughts work with you, rather than against you. A delightful little read on how to make the most of your life.
Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done, Adrian Tannock
As women, we often have more than we bargained for on our daily schedule. If you’re always leaving everything to the eleventh hour, this will will change your views on almost everything.
The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook, Martha Davis
Finding it hard to practice what you preach? This interactive workbook will help to realise your goals and make the most of what you read, without making it feel like a waste of time.
What are some of your best self-help books?
Image via Womens Health Mag, Buzzfeed
“You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” How many times have you heard that in your life? It’s usually from older relatives, who you don’t want to admit have life experience and may actually be onto something, but if you’re looking to motivate yourself to achieve a particular goal, you should listen to their wise words.
Whether it’s getting back into the gym, renovating your house or changing your career, motivation can often be hard to gather, especially when you’re tired, busy or comfortable. But we should always be challenging ourselves to go above and beyond, so here are our top tips to get motivated!
Write it down
Write down what it is you want to achieve so that you have a clear goal in mind. Once you’ve written that down, add in smaller steps that can build up to your goal, for example, if you’re looking to lose five kilograms, your steps would start with things like easing yourself off naughty food and going doing some form of exercise three times per week for one month. When you break down a bigger task into smaller ones, it makes it more manageable and you’re more likely to try and complete the steps.
Write down why you want to achieve your goal as well. You could accompany this with pictures that you find inspiring. This may help you when you’re a bit lost and feel like giving up. Knowing why you want to do something and having this written down reminds you of the end result and how you’ll feel, which is the most important part.
Get a planner
Planning your day is a key part of achieving your goal. Putting a small amount of time, even ten minutes into working towards your goal makes you focus on it more and can make you want to work harder. Planning your day also gives you better time management which will give you more free time to work towards what you’re after and also have some me-time.
Leave some time to enjoy yourself. What you are motivating yourself for should be your passion, but you still need time to relax and recuperate. Letting go and having fun will help you to unwind, which will make you available to work harder to achieve your goals.
Make healthy decisions
No matter what your goal is, you should always be treating your body with respect and fuelling it efficiently for you to function. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly will make you feel great, improve your energy and get you in the great mood that you need to get working.
Invest in the right tools
Make your environment supportive of your goal. By investing in the right tools, such as a computer or a gym membership, you are empowering yourself to go ahead. A great environment will have you itching to use your great tools, which will in turn, achieve great results. Not having efficient tools can kill your motivational drive.
Image via motivateplay.com
Women generally aren’t comfortable talking about self-pleasure. Yes, I’m talking about masturbation, but it’s so much more than that. It involves being in control and exploring our own physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and sexual needs. Many women don’t prioritise or give themselves permission to experience it.
Men have this naturally inbuilt and more importantly, self-pleasure is approved and encouraged by society. They participate and watch a range of sports and leisure activities, create private spaces for themselves like “man caves” and are given permission to sexually explore their own bodies and be sexual beings.
Despite women sharing this need most will need to teach themselves. Society has taken a strong position about women experiencing self-pleasure. Our mothers and the generations before them weren’t taught and many never experienced it. Their entire lives were based on the premise that they were born to serve and satisfy others.
Modern women need to learn about self-pleasure and pass this knowledge down to the next generation. We need to encourage them to fully explore themselves and open themselves up to life’s possibilities. Hopefully generations to come will be educated and empowered, encouraging self-pleasure to be approved by society, regardless of gender.
So, to start with, many women neglect self-pleasure by simply not allowing themselves alone or quiet time. This should be an essential part of each day. Concentrate on your breathing and heartbeat, allow thoughts to flow through your mind like clouds being swept away by the wind. Allowing yourself this time steadies, calms and rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit.
Women should also create a space as their our own private sanctuary. When we need alone time we need to give ourselves permission to go there and breathe in the peace and stillness. The experience should be similar to taking a nice, long, uninterrupted bath with no technology or other distractions.
Another element of self -pleasure is doing simple things for yourself. Women are instinctive nurturers and often this takes preference over caring for themselves. To achieve it, it can be as simple as taking time to read or going out into the garden with a cuppa and literally taking time to smell the roses.
Then there’s the element of physical self-pleasure. This includes touch and masturbation. We need to learn about how our bodies and brains work and offer ourselves permission to explore our sexual thoughts, fantasies, wants and desires. We should know what body parts react to what types of touch, what we like and what turns us on. Most importantly, women need to ignore society’s condemnation concerning their sexual and erotic self and lead a charge into a new and improved way of thinking.
This change of mindset is urgently required. Currently, many male partners feel responsible for their ladies sexual pleasure. In reality, they aren’t. Women should know how to bring themselves to orgasm, be fully in control of their sexuality and remove sexual pressure from their partners.
This shift will empower women and take sexual pressure off men to “perform”. Sex should be about experience, not performance. Women should be responsible for their own sexual gratification and self-pleasure will help them achieve this. This will level the equilibrium that women aren’t responsible for their sexual satisfaction and that men’s sexual experience be based on performance.
Image via gfx.aftonbladet-cdn.se
We all want to live happier, healthier lives, but making changes is not always easy. Do you find it hard to even remember about that new habit you wanted to create, let alone stick with it? Here are some tips that will help.
Know why you want to change
Why is this new habit important to you? What will you gain? What old pains will you leave behind? Get really clear about it, because your ‘why’ is what will keep you going when it gets hard. The more you want the end result, the more likely you are to do what you need to do to get it.
Know what gets in the way
If you can’t drag yourself to the gym because you’re too tired and you’re too tired because you go to bed too late every night, then you probably need to address your sleep habits first. Once you feel energised, you might find that your issues with exercise magically resolve and even if they don’t, going to the gym will take a lot less effort. That’s exactly what happened to me – after focusing on sleep for just one week, I found myself getting up at 6 am in the morning to go to the gym and enjoying it!
Plan for your new habit
How are you going to remember to do the thing that you want to do? You can put it to your diary or attach it to something you’re already doing. For example, if your goal is to drink more water, you can add an image of water to your phone, so every time you look at it, you’re reminded to take a sip.
Engage the people around you
Ask someone to hold you accountable. My children make great accountability buddies because they’re excite to help and I care what they think. I want to be a good role model for them, which means that when I say I’m committing to something, I want to them to see that I’m following through. You can also ask your partner, a friend or even hire a coach or a personal trainer for additional motivation.
Don’t give up!
If you accidentally forget about your new habit or skip a day because you’re feeling flat, it doesn’t mean you’re hopeless and can’t do it. All of us have bad days. Be gentle on yourself and just pick it up again as soon as you can. When you persist, you’ll eventually reach a point when your new habit becomes automatic and you may even feel that something is missing in your day without it.
Image by PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com
Each day an average of 4 people lose their lives and another 90 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Despite warnings about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, using mobile phones or speeding, people still think they can get away with it when no-one is watching. Drivers need to be aware that it’s a recipe for disaster.
Take this scenario for example. You’re driving and hear the message tone go off on your mobile. Instead of ignoring it you glance over to it and read the text which says, ”we need milk”. Hey, we all get stuff like this so it’s not that much of stretch of the imagination. Out of nowhere a pedestrian or another car suddenly appears in front of you. Bang! You’ve been distracted by your “urgent” text message and never saw them coming.
Even though you had no time to break and your car collided with them at full speed, the individual or driver of the other car survives. You may have seriously injured yourself in the process. After weeks in hospital the other person is finally released with severe brain damage. They won’t recover and their family will need to provide special care for them for the rest of their lives. Ok, tell me, how do you live with that?
When people reach for their phones that’s exactly the risk they are taking. I know for a fact that I don’t want to live with those types of consequences hanging over me. No call or text is worth putting myself in that position. It’s not an accident either. Drivers intentionally distracted themselves and therefore it should be criminal negligence. Just like if they seriously injure or kill others whilst driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, excessive speed or turn public roads into personal playgrounds.
I’m not sorry if I sound harsh. Thousands of people still think they are perfectly justified doing this on our roads as long as they can get away with it. They need a reality check and walk into a rehabilitation center and see first-hand the impact these types of behaviors have had on other people. Many need to start from scratch learning how to walk and talk again. If people witnessed this reality they’d hopefully rethink just how much they have “gotten away with”!
I live in the country and I see these bad driving behaviors almost everyday. Heck, I even have family members who choose them. Drivers forget that fines, demerit points or loss of license aren’t the actual consequences they need to worry about! That’s insignificant compared with the real consequences of their behavior which might end up costing someone their life.
So next time you’re driving and hear your mobile phone ring, jump into the driver’s seat after too many drinks or just after that smoke you had, stop and think about the real consequences. Watch your speed, take a break when you’re tired and try to make our roads a safer place. By having no Police in sight you run an even greater risk of serious consequences and the chance of getting away with it!
Image via http://kylelawfirm.com/assets/distracted-women-driving.jpg
How much time do you spend thinking about yourself during sex? And I don’t mean in the positive way. Do you have sex in certain positions because it’s more flattering, or sometimes find yourself seeing how your body looks through the eyes of your partner? Ever worried about how your belly looks while you’re getting busy? You might be engaging in habitual body monitoring.
Confidence is like oxygen, it affects us without us even knowing, and when we’re running low on it, our brains don’t work too well. Frankly, it’s a fact of life that we will be judged upon our appearance, but when we start judging ourselves about how we look it can have dire consequences. Excessive self-monitoring not only attacks your confidence, but affects your ability to think critically and can devastate your sex drive.
A way you can tell if you’re body monitoring, is to be aware of your thoughts: do you often see yourself through the eyes of someone else, or change your posture/clothes etc. in case you’re being looked at? Do you spend a lot of time concerned about a specific area of your body such as your thighs, belly or breasts – thinking how they could be better and ways to improve them?
These thoughts can significantly inhibit your ability to become sexually aroused and enjoy physical pleasure; after all, confidence and good sex are inextricably linked, so if you want to have better sex, you need to work on your state of mind first.
Body monitoring has serious consequences beyond the bedroom, with links to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. If you feel it’s affecting your life, look into it and talk to someone. There are some habits you can develop to help you ditch the criticism:
- Recognise when you’re seeing yourself as someone else would see you or focusing on your body in parts to be critiqued
- Re-evaluate your perception, consider your positive attributes and achievements rather than your appearance
- Resist the urge to critically evaluate others from their appearance (this reinforces self-monitoring)
Studies have shown anxiety about your physical appearance influences your ability to become aroused both physically and mentally. Which is understandable: it’s hard to have fun doing the horizontal hula if you’re too busy worrying about your wobbly bits. Our sexual desire is hugely impacted by our perception of ourselves and how we think others see us. So if we’re spending all our time worrying about how we look, we’re never going to get the perks of satisfying hanky-panky.
Sex reduces stress, it builds intimacy, bombards you with feel-good chemicals and it’s meant to be fun! It can cure headaches, reduce depression, lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It’s a good thing, and it’s made to be enjoyed, and you deserve to enjoy it. Not because you spent a fortune on lacy lingerie that pushes you up and holds you in at right places, but because it’s a lovely thing and you’re a physical being and you deserve to feel awesome. So if you want better sex, it’s starts with your brain.
Kate Jones blogs about writing and pop culture at Calvicle Capitalism.
If you are like almost half of the population, you will be thinking of making New Year resolutions. The sad fact is that most people don’t achieve their resolutions, but with a bit of planning you can be one of few smug few who can make your resolutions a reality.
A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol in 2007 showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Another study by the University of Scranton showed that it has a lot to do with age. 39% of people in their twenties achieved their resolution each year while this dropped to 14% for people inTo achieve New Year resolutions you need to understand a bit about how your mind works and how to remove obstacles to success.
In his New Year resolution book A Course in Happiness, Frank Ra maintains that “resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s resolutions”.
Chris Noone, co-founder of www.PromiseLocker.com, supports the view that sharing your goals with others improves the chance of success. After a few unsuccessful solo attempts he and a few friends promised each other that they would lose weight and enter competitive sporting events. Importantly they also told all of their friends.
“Because we publicly declared our commitment we had the support of friends and family, plus a bit of peer pressure from the rest of the group. We were all able to achieve results that we had only dreamed of previously”.
James Brodie, a strength and conditioning Coach for the Manly Marlins Rugby Union Club and owner of J-Train Athletic Performance, works one-on-one with his clients to achieve their fitness goals.
“The ones who really succeed are those who make public pacts and get ongoing encouragement from their friends and family. This holds them accountable and puts the responsibility on them to work harder to achieve these goals”, said James.
Here are some more tips to help you achieve success in 2014.
A big goal sounds impressive, but is hard to achieve. Start by setting small goals so you begin to understand how you can best achieve results. Once you have a few successes under your belt and understand your potential, take a step up to a bigger goal.
We all need help to maintain our motivation. Set your goals so that you can celebrate the small achievements along the way. Short sprints are much more effective and enjoyable than a long, slow slog.
Share your success with friends and family so they can congratulate you along the way. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you slip up too! You’ll find that encouragement from others can be really motivating. At the very least, the risk of public failure will make improve your dedication. Set up a blog to share your progress or use Facebook or Twitter. Websites like PromiseLocker and apps such as Lift and Everest make it easy to record, track and share your commitments.
Plan for Setbacks
Nobody is perfect. Life has a habit of getting in the way of New Year resolutions. Accept this as normal and don’t aim for perfection all of the time. Think in advance what setbacks you may encounter and how you can mitigate them.
Check Your Progress
Measuring, recording and sharing your progress are all positive steps that will support your achievement. If your progress has been good, it provides positive reinforcement to keep going. If you have fallen behind, take some time to reflect on why and what you can do to improve.
Think ahead about things that may tempt you to stray from your path and try to get them out of your life, at least for a while. This could include staying away from people who reinforce your bad habits, removing sugary foods from the cupboard or avoiding certain activities.
Make it Real
Your New Year’s Resolutions should be based on actions that are obvious. Vowing to get fit or lose weight are quite vague, instead try to commit to walking to work twice per week or not drinking sugary drinks.
Manage Your Willpower
You can’t do everything all at once. According to Roy Baumeister from Florida State University your willpower is a finite resource, so ration it for the goals that count and let some other things go. Recent research shows that willpower can be increased with positive attitude. Perhaps achieving some small goals will help you to improve your willpower.
Are you making any resolutions in 2014?
Have you ever monitored your daily bitching?
I recently tried a bitch-free month where I was forbidden to speak or write in negative terms about anyone. Oh, how virtuous and high horsey of you, I hear you groan. Perhaps my motivations began being slightly high horsey, but what I discovered about the power behind trash talk was bigger than I thought.
Let me say, it was an extremely challenging mission and took colossal amounts of will and determination to curb my relentless enthusiasm for negative natter. Initially I thought that eliminating my trash talk about other people would be as simple as just stopping the behaviour, but then it dawned on me that some relationships I had with certain people were based on trash talk. It didn’t seem like bitching and if we stretched the truth we could certainly say we were just ‘bouncing ideas about other people off each other’.
Yet the truth of it was, it was negative and served no one, especially not us. It was a petty waste of time born from some shameful attempt at trying to make us feel better about ourselves by judging other people.
Beyond the obvious sentiments that bitching is no good for anyone, and that women will never gain equality until we stop talking about each other behind each other’s backs; I discovered much more.
After attempting to stop engaging in any negative speak about people, I began to censor all of my communication. “Does this sound negative?”…“could that be construed as bitching?” It wasn’t just people I had to stop talking about, I realised it was everything: events, work situations, family matters and even my depressing view of current politics. Analysing the tone and content of my texts, emails and phone calls was a very sobering exercise. Even when I was not speaking negative about anyone, a hint of complaint, blame and judgment was lurking and wanting to nuzzle into conversations. This was huge.
The ‘aha’ moment came to me when after just a few days of not speaking negatively about things; my attitude began to change about my life in current time. My world became a nicer place.
I am not one who believes that we should only have positive thoughts. An ability to judge the world around us is a survival skill that no one should abandon. However, there comes a point when our addiction to negativity could potentially be the cause of us not getting what we truly want.
“If we fall into the habit of bitching and whinging, we start to believe our own spin, this then shapes our brain so we then process all of the input into our brain through a negative bitching lens,” says psychologist Jodi Nilsson.
So, it’s by no means some mystical energetic realm that by positive thoughts bring positive outcomes, but something more simplistic. We do create our own reality via our own thoughts.
If you find yourself judging, bitching or complaining, just stop for a while and see what happens.
Do you think society bitches and complains too much?
Deanna Coleman is the founder of eco news and sustainable food website Cook My Way.
For most people, Christmas is a happy time of year. But for some it can be a very sad and lonely time, even a time of crisis. Lifeline speaks to 1,400 people a day over the festive period. Chris Wagner from Lifeline shares 8 tips for relieving stress and staying calm over the holidays.
1. Stress is common
Understand that it is common for people to feel stressed at this time of year.
2. Limit your expectations
Try not to expect too much – aiming for the “perfect” Christmas or assuming that everyone will be on their best behaviour may not be realistic.
3. Watch your alcohol intake
Limit alcohol – there can be a temptation to drink too much at Christmas, but alcohol can fuel arguments and cause unwanted behaviour.
4. Reach out
If you are feeling in crisis, tell someone, e.g. a trusted friend or family member, or talk to your GP, a counsellor, or call a helpline like Lifeline on 13 11 14.
5. Stay healthy
Look after yourself physically. If you look after your body your mind will feel better too.
Where possible plan ahead to deal with stressful situations.
7. Know your limits
Know your limits and listen to your emotions. If you need to calm down, take a walk or find a quiet place.
8. Have a Christmas that’s within your limits
If times are tough financially or for other reasons, make time to sit down as a family and plan a Christmas that is reasonable.
Remember, if you need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au.