As I lay on my makeshift bed, I close my eyes and wait for the inevitable. It has taken a long time to get me to this point – this is where I check out. I lay unmoving, waiting. The next day I am still waiting. Err … ok, so my overdose hasn’t worked and I am still here. I guess I had better ask for some help! How did I come to this? I had been a functioning depressive for may years. Outwardly smiling and efficient at work, yet in my personal life – I was falling apart. I was in debt, I couldn’t afford to make repairs to my house and I quite simply stopped functioning outside of work.
The final straw that broke me was when my precious dogs were removed from my house. They were well fed, they were healthy, but their living environment – our living environment was chaotic and unkempt. What followed was a year of being apart from my beloved dogs (my only reason for living), being pursued by an uncaring (towards humans) animal charity and appearing in court on my birthday to answer charges of neglect. Fortunately, I was able to secure a barrister from London, and I was acquitted and my dogs returned to me. They both died of old age at 12 years and 16 years.
So what changed for me? What took me from the depths of despair to being in control of my life, happy and NOT depressed?
Personal responsibility is the key to happiness
I spent many years trying to figure out why I was a screw up. After all, I was a bit of a goody two shoes growing up and thought of myself as a good girl. I also thought of myself as someone who wasn’t very good at anything, lacking in confidence and – unlovable!
As many of you will know, we are all shaped somewhat by our upbringing and those early experiences. I have to say that looking back – I certainly did not have a bad upbringing. The way I learned to rationalise it was that it just wasn’t the right upbringing for me. I was one of five children, and I was painfully shy. In my view, as an extremely sensitive child, I was simply “lost” in the noise and chaos of family life. Those who shouted loudest got the attention. Over time, I learned not to ask for help or for my needs to be met. This is something that stayed with me right throughout my life until just recently.
I always seemed to assume responsibility for others and I also felt a bit like a modern day Cinderella. This version of my psyche remained with me for many years, although I tried hard to shake it off. There were many times when I thought I was “there”. But it never stuck. For many years I was a very unhappy, angry, and passive aggressive person.
I spent a good proportion of my adult life either severely depressed, anxious or binge drinking and pretending I had a happy life. It was difficult at times, not to lament how my life would have turned out if only ….
So what changed? What changed for me was the recognition that it didn’t have to be that way. I didn’t have to blame my parents and I didn’t have to blame my sister for the sibling-rivalry-bullying that I perceived growing up. I could take personal responsibility for myself.
It was so liberating.
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies with their own hands.” __Anne Frank
Taking Personal Responsibility for Happiness Involves Surrendering
I came across a very interesting article as I researched this topic. I wanted to know what others had to say about the phenomenon of taking responsibility.
So, what are they key aspects of taking personal responsibility, and how can YOU achieve this?
Not blaming others for your misfortunes or the way you feel.
Being happy regardless of the external circumstances or situation.
Your functional state is based on interpretation rather than reality.
You can be happy regardless of negative events in your life.
Ok, so I can almost hear you asking: but how do I achieve this? Believe it or not, it is really quite simple. In order to be happy in the face of adversity, perceived or otherwise, is to work on your confidence. If you practice being confident that you can be happy regardless of what is going on around you – then over time, this will become your reality.
I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree that taking personal responsibility is crucial to being happy. Although the article talks about developing a mindset of surrender in order to achieve a state of personal responsibility, I would take that one step further.
The fundamental reason that we can struggle so much in our lives is because if we think something, we feel it – and therefore it becomes real for us. This is not the same as it being a reality.
We may blame our partners for our bad mood because they yelled at us. Therefore, we are attributing our emotional state to them rather than considering that perhaps they are reacting because they have something troubling them. We have a tendency to internalise what we experience, and our experiences are shaped by our perception.
By taking personal responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, reactions and actions, we set ourselves free. We don’t have to feel bad that something did not go our way, or someone spoke unkindly to us. We can recognise that something may be going on for the other person to make them act this way.
Asking questions is an extremely powerful way to diffuse many situations. Rather than react and exclaim: I feel bad because you are being horrible to me – we can say something along the lines of: You seem to be upset, do you want to talk about it?
I would like to share a couple of examples from case studies where this has been empowering for my clients:
Case study 1: Fiona was going through a very difficult time, she and her family had been living under financial strain for a number of years and her marriage was falling apart. She had come to the conclusion that, for her, the marriage was over; but was afraid to verbalise this to her husband as she was afraid as to how he would react.
I showcased to Fiona how – instead of making statements about what she wanted that her husband may find challenging or threatening, she could ask questions that would open up a dialogue between them without confrontation.
Example: We can’t go on like this. What do you think we should do? What do you want to happen next?
By using this approach, Fiona is taking personal responsibility for her own feelings, thoughts and actions, and not those of her husband. She is also providing an opportunity for her husband to share his fears, needs and expectations around how they should proceed.
Case study 2: Simon shared with me that he found meetings stressful, particularly ones where he was tasked with highlighting some difficulty that needed action. At one particular meeting he got very flustered when the senior managers that he was presenting to stared to challenge him.
Simon had internalised the challenge and felt that it was a personal attack on what he was saying and that he didn’t know what he was talking about.
I highlighted to Simon that instead of experiencing challenge as a negative event, to instead experience it as an opportunity to get to know more about the other people in the meeting.
Simon came to understand that when others challenged what he said, it was not about him, but rather, about their own fears around what this would mean for them. By asking the question: “I hear that this is a problem for you, could you expand on that” it creates an opportunity for barriers to be brought out into the open and solutions to be found.
Personal responsibility is truly liberating
I hope that, from this article, you get a sense of how truly liberating learning to take personal responsibility is. It is so important, and has been so crucial to my own happiness and fulfilment, that it is the central tenant to my Coaching Programme: Becoming PHENOMENAL.
Look out over the coming weeks and months as I share elements of this programme – that will guide you along your journey of taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, reactions and actions – and becoming the PHENOMENAL version of YOU.
If you want to sign up to be the first to hear about our amazing offers, please register here.
If anything within this blog has resonated with you, please do comment, like and share. If there is anything that you would like to discuss with me personally, then please message the page here or send me a message on the website.
Self esteem is one of those things that we are not always aware we have a problem with. Sometimes it is obvious – when we are lacking in confidence and don’t think we are good enough. Other times, it is less obvious that our self esteem is not as robust as it can be.
This might be the case when you are not making progress with some area in your life, and you feel stuck. Perhaps you keep being over looked for that promotion or every date you go on wants to keep you in the friends zone. You find yourself looking in the mirror and asking yourself “what is the problem? I’m confident and I know that I deserve what I am striving for, but why am I not getting it?”
If I was having that kind of conversation with a client, on the surface, they would be coming across as confident, assertive ….. and consistently not achieving their stated goals in either getting that promotion or finding a romantic relationship that sticks.
So, what is going on? As a coach I would help my client to peel away the layers that we tend to hide behind until we get to the root of the issue. If I was a gambling woman (which I am not), I would lay odds on favourite that the client is unaware that they have less than robust self esteem. Obviously, this is not the only issue that presents itself in our lives without us realising it is even there. It is, though, one of the fundamental core principles that will hold us back.
So, how do you know you have low self esteem when you outwardly feel confident and the face you show to the world is brimming with self confidence? Firstly, I would point out that self confidence and self esteem are two very different things, albeit closely related.
I read something today that is not a new concept to me, but it made the blood in my veins run cold. In fact, I have been sat pondering why I feel so unsettled and a little weepy. I’ve only had a few mouthfuls of the glass of red wine that I poured for myself. My mind started churning over the possible reasons for the feeling of sadness that hit me square in the solar plexus, and forced hot tears to leak from my eyes. Yes, I am overtired after being away for the weekend, which included a LOT of driving – but being over tired usually makes me grumpy not weepy.
Could it be because I was thinking about my recently departed cousin’s widow, and how she is doing? Is this a latent form of grief for a much loved family member who has left us?
Perhaps I am over thinking this. I try to settle into the feeling and simply experience it without analysing it. As I try this tactic, I notice the sudden desire to eat something “really nice”. Hmmm … so I do comfort eat!
One thing you may have picked up about me, dear reader, is that asking myself just to “be” without over thinking and analysing to the nth degree of a fart doesn’t really work. I have an insatiable quest to understand things, and so my mind returns to my earlier thought. Hmmm? Oh – you want to know what I read that started me off on this tryst with naval gazing? It was quite simply:
We receive what we ask of life.
Erm. I’m asking for fakes to come into my romantic life? Really?
If you follow the teachings of the Law of Attraction, then yes. In some way, my psyche is inviting into my life the fakes who would relieve me of my hard earned cash if I wasn’t so stingy to part with it. Actually, I am being self deprecating – I would never be foolish enough part with cash to someone I had never met, regardless of whether their recipe of sweet words and attention has drawn me in.
So what unresolved issue in my psyche is the universe tapping into?
For those of you who don’t know what the Law of Attraction is, in the most simplest form, it suggests:
Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. It is believed that regardless of age, nationality or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction.
It is the Law of Attraction which uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality. In basic terms, all thoughts turn into things eventually. If you focus on negative doom and gloom you will remain under that cloud. If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action.
Really? I have been focusing on people who are inauthentic? Unless there is something going on in my subconscious I am not buying it. If anything, I have proven that I can remain positive in the face of adversity and that I haven’t let it put me off finding a romantic partner.
Law of attraction aside, I am left wondering if there is indeed something beneath the surface of my iceberg that I am not aware of. Intellectually, I am well acquainted with how early experiences in our lives can shape who we become as adults. Emotionally, I really thought I had excavated and dumped all unhelpful and inaccurate beliefs I had about myself.
It is true that in this day and age many people find love online, and that is why I have dabbled with online dating. It is not my preferred way of doing things, but it seems to be the only option that is open to me. I do create opportunities to get out and socialise – but so far it has brought nada in the men stakes.
Internet dating, like any other aspect of life, is a good idea gone rogue. Not because the concept is not a sound one, but because there are people out there who are looking for the next opportunistic way of making money without actually getting a job. Some of the scammers lament that there are not jobs available for them, and so this is how they must earn money to provide for their families. Maybe this is true. Maybe not. Either way – they are NOT getting my money, and I am hoping that twice bitten, I have now become immune to their charms.
So, dear reader, I am inclined to think I have just been unlucky. Perhaps given that I have not had that many dates, it is understandable that I should have a less than stellar view of online dating. After all, it’s a numbers game. If I had more dates I would increase my odds of finding that one special person that will save me from myself and t’internet. Wouldn’t I??
That brings me to my final point. Personal responsibility. It is our responsibility to ensure that we take the necessary precautions to safeguard ourselves until such time as we are able to meet our would-be-paramour face to face. Never get too emotionally invested with someone you have yet to meet, regardless of the sweet words and ego-stroking attention they put our way. The reason it works in hooking women in, is because they tap into the fundamental needs we all have for intimate connections.
Back to my weepiness. Who knows why I was having a “moment” – it seems to have passed, as I distracted myself with writing this blog. Naval gazing over. Bliss.
Take the time today to do exactly what you want to rather than what is expected of you. If that means doing absolutely NOTHING, then enjoy! Making the most of every moment is not about the rush rush rush, sometimes it is about slowing down and appreciating the small things. Along the way, if you are able to share a small kindness with someone who needs it then do so – sometimes all it takes is a friendly smile to brighten someone’s day.
It has been an interesting few days. I have enjoyed a couple of dates – both were successful in as much as both expressed an interest in seeing me again (a confidence boost I can tell you). I also got drawn back in to all things fake when approached by someone concerned about her friend who had updated her #Facebook status to say that she was “in a relationship” with a profile that we both know to be fake. This because, the profile is using #CaptainThomas ‘s images.
After a lengthy discussion, I agreed to send a message to the lady in question with links to my website, blog and Facebook page. I did not get a response, however, a quick check showed a status change, back from “in a relationship …..” to “widowed”. I do hope that this lady is able to reach out to her friends to support her, as I am sure she is feeling rather lost and bewildered.
What is love and what does it mean to YOU?
After some harsh words (on my part) I asked the man in question what he wanted. He replied with this – no words, no bullshit. They say a picture can paint a thousands words… well this “sticker” image cut right through to the core of what we are both looking for.
After a few days of not being in contact, I was sent this image this morning. This from a man who simply wants to be part of my life. Again, no words, but a very simple message.
Who knows what the future holds for any of us – all I know is that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just jump off that safe bridge, and trust that whatever you find at the bottom – you can handle it; good, bad or indifferent.
Not everyone in the world is a stand up person
On checking my email, this morning, I was reminded that the cheats, fakes and scammers aren’t just in the dating world.
This is what I received:
It is a while since I have received emails like this – but I guess that is because the spam filter on my business email is not as well defined as my gmail accounts. It is a salutary reminder that fakery is all around us – and we can’t take it personally. We haven’t been targeted or singled out. Many of these attempts are random – in the hopes that they will hook in one or two that will take the bait.
2018 – a year of new beginnings
Many of us start off a new year full of hope: that things will go our way, we will get slimmer, drink less, be more assertive, get richer, find a better job …..find love!
Let me share with you, dear reader, something I wholeheartedly believe. That the exquisiteness that is life is in the journey. The destination is never guaranteed – just enjoy the journey along the way! If you do that – the destination becomes somewhat irrelevant.
This momma has turned into a cougar, albeit a budget one, as I ain’t wealthy by any means! At least – I was for an hour or so. Let me explain …
Oh wait … before I do – I just have to share this with you.
A woman reached out to me on Instagram and was sharing her experiences of an attempt to dupe her using Captain Lindegaard’s images. (There’s a lot of it about!). So we are chatting away, and then a thought suddenly occurs to me. Here is the exchange that followed:
Erm ok, so maybe using Captain Lindegaard’s image as my profile pic on Instagram has backfired!
I am no longer a would-be-cougar … I am now a gay man!! The mind boggles. Hmmm.. let’s leave that one there shall we?
Ok, so back to my original blog topic. Am I a cougar-in-the-making? Well, dear diary – not really. My newly acquired cougar status lasted all of a couple of hours. Here’s what happened.
I had been contacted by a few young guys, ranging in age – the oldest being 31, the youngest 26. Now, the 31 year old was quite cute – in fact, probably a little bit too cute and definitely of the pretty boy persuasion (as I have stated before, I am a visually-orientated-kinda-gal).
Having knocked back a fair few of them, the youngest (at least, the youngest that I actually engaged with) made a few rather mature comments. Take a look:
Then this happened!
This was the parting shot!
Brutal? Maybe. In my defence, the guy got me onto WhatsApp under false pretences. He came across as mature and not having any expectations other than getting to know me – and, as I said, he seemed so mature. WRONG!
Not only that, when I went back to take a peek at his bio, I discovered that he lived at home with his parents! Maybe that was the attraction of an older woman – more likely to have their own place to hang out in!!!
So, ok, I admit – I was tempted to meet up with him. Afer all, age is but a number, right? Ok – well maybe it is more complicated than that. The reason the initial chat with this guy made me decide that I would take a chance on him was that he did not seem to have a “thing” for older women as most younger guys that approach me do. Instead, he expressed that he just didn’t really think it was an issue. There are plenty of examples of age-gap couples out there – and I wondered whether I was missing a trick by being so narrow in my view about this.
After all, finding a long term love is only part of the equation – the other part is about spending time in the company of an interesting man, and having someone to have dates with other than my girlfriends. Believe me, a night out with the girls is very different to a night out with a date.
All is not lost
Or so I thought. I got to wondering why it was (apart from the age bias that I suspect happens with Match.com) that I was receiving next to no messages from guys on the site. I mean, I scrub up ok when I make the effort, and I put my most recent decent pictures up – all from late September 2017 onwards.
So where was I going wrong? Ok, so my habit of clicking yay or nay based on the picture alone wasn’t really getting me anywhere – so if I thought the guy was my age or a little younger, I checked out what age range he was looking for. If I was only a year or so out I would still give an indicator that I had checked out and was interested in his profile.
I decided to investigate this a little further and I discovered, that for all the zillions of profiles on Match, only a small percentage of profiles are paid members. This means, dear diary, that I most probably was winking or messaging men that could not reply. This might also explain why a cute guy that winked at me did not respond to my message.
Now some sites do let you know who are paid members, but alas, not the sites I am signed up to. There was only one thing for it. I hesitated for a moment pondering on whether I really wanted to initiate a conversation with a guy who was too miserly to stump up the cash, then I thought – in for a penny in for a pound. So I paid for an extra – so that men could message me for free. Ok, at the very least, this would be a good experiment in determining whether it was me/my profile or lack of membership that was keeping me dateless.
So the experiment begins
Well, so far, I can’t say that my message traffic has gone up that much, but I did enjoy a couple of hours banter with a rather cute guy that I thought was just up the road. Turns out that I had misread the location, and he was in fact a couple of hours away, not the 30 minutes I had thought. This guy was pretty cute, and I was hopeful that my luck had changed.
Alas ….not so. On requesting that I send him some “pictures”, my refusal elicited this response!
Definitely not a hero then!
Is it time to give up with online?
So, today, it is quiet again in Match, safe for a few views from guys that I am not interested in, a wink from a guy who lives hours away, and oh – a message from not a bad looking guy who – ok, lived miles away – but for the right guy, that wouldn’t matter, right? WRONG.
The first alarm bell was that the guy winked at me before looking at my profile. Ok, so maybe he saw me in the “discover” shuffle that lets you swipe left or right for potential matches. It is quite feasible that a guy might wink without looking at my profile as there is a smattering of detail shared on the “cards” that are presented.
The second alarm bell was that there was only one picture – although Google reverse image did not throw up any issues.
The third alarm bell was that his requirements for a match were very broad, almost as though he did not care.
The final straw that broke the match was that on sharing with him that I had recently been the subject of a dupe, he stopped messaging me. Hmmm … a genuine guy would most certainly have responded, if only to have a go for thinking they were a dupe.
I hesitated for all of half an hour before reporting my concern about the profile. I did not want to jeopardise a potential match – but then, I am pretty certain I would have heard back from him within 5 minutes if he had been genuine. Of course, he may have been called away to attend to something – or, more likely, he was simply yet another fake.
Ok, so that is all I have time for just now, dear diary. It is my birthday tomorrow and Dillon’s best pal Spotty has invited me over for dinner tonight – or at least his hoomans have.
As ever, stay safe online, dear reader – and if you would like to share your experiences of online dating, comment, like or share this blog to spread the word.
Today I have mostly been nursing a slight hangover! Went out with a girlfriend last night with the intention of staying out only an hour or so to check out a brand new bar, which had just opened that day.
I must say, I was very impressed. The venue is lovely…a complete transformation from the family owned Greek restaurant that had occupied the premises for more than 35 years! I was a little disappointed though that on subsequent trips to the bar I either had to wait for the staff to stop chatting to each other before they noticed me …or even worse …being unnoticed by four off then stood facing the bar counter. What am I? Invisible??
My pet peeve
This is a pet hate if mine, as is being served out of turn. In my early 20s I took a second job in a bar to be able to earn enough to qualify for a second mortgage. For the years that I tended bar I ALWAYS made sure to notice and serve the next person in line.
I have been known to cause a fuss if this does not happen. Most recently a few weeks ago when I was out of town with ex-friend and another friend. We had arrived at a busy bar where a former work colleague of ex- friend was tending bar. He greeted ex-friend and served her immediately. He then, rather than serve myself and my other friend, proceeded to serve people that had just arrived at the bar!
Needless to say I had no hesitation in telling him exactly what I thought of him. If it had not been for the fact that ex-friend already had her drink – I would have walked out and taken my money and my custom elsewhere!
Don’t get me started on the extremely rude guy that incensed my friend so much with a very disrespectful comment that she tipped him off his stool!
Getting back to last night
My girlfriend and I had a lovely evening , and fuelled by multiple double gins and the best margarita in town (I swear they get stronger each time) we decided to head for an Indian. It has been some time since I have been to this particular restaurant, and we arrived just before closing time (my past typical MO). I honestly think we would have been better stopping off for cheesy chips at the rather not-so-dodgy-these-days burger van.
The meal was a huge disappointment to say the least. Firstly my girlfriend’s Dahl started was as thin and watery as a mealy gruel. Secondly, the naan was so undercooked the middle was raw and uncooked.
Needless to say the waiter was summoned and the offending issues with the food pointed out to him. It amazes me that restaurants would be so lazy and careless to serve up undercooked food! This from a well established restaurant. Either they were being slapdash as it was nearly home time or they simply thought we would be too inebriated to to notice or care. Not so.
By the way …they did not so much as offer the naan free by way of apology – most decent restaurants would do this without hesitation if they had been caught short passing off undercooked food!
A quiet day with my pooch
So today has been pretty much a quiet day with my pooch …and having a few nice chats with some potential dates – I mean, a girl has gotta pass the time when ever so slightly incapacitated by the previous evening’s partying somehow, right?
A few of the guys I chatted to were decent enough …and one or two of the conversations were quite zany and amusing. One guy who messaged me though, had me laughing-out-loud. He was young, pretty-boy and had a body so gym honed and whipped into shape that it made me blush ever so slightly and hide my curvy frame under the duvet!
Now what do you want with me??
I like older women!
He retorted. I won’t say what else he said as although it didn’t quite make me blush …it would lower the tone of my blog …ahem …sniff!
I shared his images with my girlfriend and she proclaimed him too good to be true and therefore he must be a scammer (everyone’s an expert right? 😞😄🙄).
He did though, pass the Google Reverseimage test!
Oh …what was that you say? You want to see his picture? You do? Oh well…in the interests of research you understand…
Back to the Fighback campaign
It has not all been lazing around though. I have given some more thought to the brilliant plan (at least, I thought so) that I came up with under the shower last night. Don’t the best ideas always come in the shower? No? Oh, that’s just me then …ahem.
The idea that I conceived was to make some noise on Twitter, and try to make the #FakeProfile issue go viral. It would be much harder for Mr Facebook to ignore our pleadings if more than my few followers were talking about this.
As it happens, I came across this article on #LinkedIn today. Very apt, although I am less concerned about the political angle as I am the social one.
If you have a Twitter account please join us. Heck …if you don’t, it takes seconds to create one.
Please let me know if you would like to participate in the #FightbackFakeProfiles challenge.
The more people we can get involved the more chance we have of taking the issue viral. Mr Facebook will surely have to take notice of us then! You can comment below or email me.