Start with why: how personal responsibility influences your happiness

This article first appeared on 

Phenomenal Masterclass (prelaunch)


My story

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

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?
  1. Not blaming others for your misfortunes or the way you feel.

  2. Being happy regardless of the external circumstances or situation.

  3. Your functional state is based on interpretation rather than reality.

  4. 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.
You can read the full article here:

Taking personal responsibility is empowering

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.
With warmest wishes,


Ten ways you can overcome low self esteem

This article first appeared on
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.



Dear Diary: Am I attracting the fakes or is it just bad luck?

Dear Diary

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.

This is why the universe is such an infinitely beautiful place. The Law of Attraction dictates that whatever can be imagined and held in the mind’s eye is achievable if you take action on a plan to get to where you want to be. 

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.




Stay safe online series #5: Whose responsibility is it anyway?

We all need to take personal responsibility for ourselves

I had cause to reflect today, on everything that has happened since the time on 19th November when I discovered the man that I was so excited about was in fact a fake Thomas.

It is fair to say that it is a minefield out there – but something struck me today when I was talking about another issue.  Personal responsibility. There is not much we can do to stem the tide of people who see no wrong in duping and scamming others – heaven knows, we have tried.  The hours that have been dedicated to reporting the fake Thomases and warning other women are staggering. Not to mention the money I have handed over to Facebook to run adverts (better than the scammer having my money and my choice).

We each have our own story, and we each have our own personal influences.  What we all have in common, is that we can choose to NOT be a victim when others try to exert their immoral behaviour on us.  We can take care that we know who we are talking to and whereas I accept that the intense feelings that arise lead us to think we are in love (as I have experienced it myself) – it is the stimuli that is igniting our brains and making us feel that way.  Fortunately for me, once the stimuli was removed, the intensity of my feelings subsided. After all … you cannot be in love with something that is not real. You can have feelings of intense pleasure in response to the pretty words and the flattering attention – that is not the same as enduring love.

For those women who continue to struggle with that happened to them, I would hazard a guess that they have other things going in their lives and the distress and disappointment has caused a loop.  I cannot fathom though, how the real Captain Thomas Lindegaard Madsen must feel at the vitriol and obsessive way in which he is pursued.

It is a sad reflection that it has been beyond difficult to get anyone at #Facebook to listen and to apply correctly the community standards.  That is a battle that I fear we will never win.

What I want to say to any person who reads this post – live your life the way you want to, develop the relationships in your life in the way that you want to – but please, be vigilant and accept that you have personal responsibility to protect yourself from those who would do you harm.

#Besafe #PersonalResponsibility

Check out the website and Facebook groups: 
Facebook page and groups