Remember as a kid you could write your “I want” list for Christmas? It was easy. You didn’t restrict yourself. You didn’t judge your desires on whether it would make you happy for more than 5 minutes or whether it was value for money. it didn’t matter whether it would last or not. And I highly doubt you put much effort into convincing yourself that you don’t “really” need it.
But if I asked you to write an “I want” list now, you’d restrict yourself by the above and you’d throw whether it was socially acceptable, whether its appropriate at your age and whether it was high on your list of priorities.
With all these restrictions, we’ve taught ourselves to not dream too big, not to have any big desires. We lost the ability to daydream about the future. We’re taught to be realistic, to work hard, pay the bills and now we believe that you don’t always get what you want. We worry about the future and often prepare ourselves for the worst.
When I started my personal growth path, I really struggled because I keep being told to set goals and focus all of my energy towards them. I didn’t struggle because I didn’t understand the concept, I couldn’t set any goals because I hadn’t thought about what I wanted in such a long time. I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted.
I realised that I had lost my ability to daydream. At some point in my adult life, I’d started listening to the people around me. I’d focused solely on my outer world, being busy doing the “mum thing”, the “entrepreneur thing” As far as I was aware my aim was simple. Work hard, give all your energy to running the house, sort out the kids and try to grow a business.
People would ask me what I wanted for my birthday and Christmas and I replied “no idea!”. Honestly, I didn’t know because I’d never allowed myself to take the time to dream and discover what I want.
So back in June, I started my first ever “I want” list. I really struggled at first, my brain automatically censored itself. But eventually, I was writing about the most trivial things. I wrote 4 A5 sides of paper in my notebook. Do I have everything I wanted from last June – nope. And that’s not the I want
Do I have everything I wanted from last June – nope. And that’s not the I want list is for. Sure pull something off it when someone wants to buy you something or you want to spend some spare cash. But the most powerful thing I want list does for you is it allows you to dream. It gives you a better sense of yourself. It becomes clear what’s important to you and what you only thought was important to you.
I do my “i want” list at the beginning of each month and I’ll add to it throughout the month. If I got something off the list, then I’d tick it off but I prefer to see it as an ever-evolving wish list that shows you with increasing precision what you want from life, from your physical spaces, your relationships and how to find fulfilment.
I hope you find your own list useful, even if you just do it the once, you might surprise yourself what you write down.
While I don’t walk around with low-level anxiety anymore (there was a time when I was anxious about everything) I do have my days when I feel very anxious for what seems like no reason at all.
Sometimes it’s because I feel overwhelmed at all the little jobs that I needed to get done for the family and work. Other times it’s because I’m over-thinking situations and imagining what could go wrong. You know what that feels like, don’t you?
So what do I need?
I prefer to do my journaling old school style with a cheap pen and a note pad. Nothing fancy, I did spend some time using a note taking app on my iPad but I found this didn’t work as well for me.
The other thing you need is no censorship, so before you write anything down, decide how you will keep your thought to yourself. Whether you’ll burn the paper, paint over it, glue the pages together or just rip it up and put it in the bin. You need to feel able to write whatever comes to mind without the fear of offending someone or people finding out your closely guarded secrets. Journaling doesn’t work anywhere near as well if you feel the need to censor yourself.
You need to feel able to write whatever comes to mind without the fear of offending someone or people finding out your closely guarded secrets. Journaling doesn’t work anywhere near as well if you feel the need to censor yourself.
How do I start?
If you’re not sure what’s actually bugging you, then start with the obvious. I’ve once started a journaling session with “I hate his pen, it writes crap” and the rest just flowed out. You’ll find that what you write from an irritated standpoint, is usually the thing that’s making you feel most anxious. It doesn’t really matter what you write, there are no prizes for correct spelling or grammar. You need to get it out of your head and on to the paper.
You’ll find that what you write from an irritated standpoint, is usually the thing that’s making you feel most anxious. It doesn’t really matter what you write, there are no prizes for correct spelling or grammar. You need to get it out of your head and on to the paper.
If you need a more structured approach, I find the following questions work really well
Write until you find that aha moment. It’s when certain things will click into place and you see the bigger picture. For example, if I was feeling anxious about lots of little things, I wouldn’t stop until I felt that I had a handle on everything that needed to be done. Often these type of journaling sessions ends with a list of things to be done. Getting to a realistic to do list really does elevate my anxiety.
Another aha moment might be that you realise that you have no control over a certain outcome and it’s pointless to waste more mental energy worrying about it.
Sometimes just getting it out onto paper is enough to clear much-needed space in your head for you to focus on something else.
In reality, you can stop whenever you want to but the aim of this type of journaling is to feel better, so if you’re still feeling anxious you haven’t uncovered the real reason why.
How often should I journal?
This depends on you. If you’re feeling anxious most of the time, then journal every day, see what recurrent themes pop up. This is a simple way of watching how your mind works. With time you’ll be able to intervene and stop that feeling of anxiety before it snow balls.
If you’re only anxious occasionally, then do it when you feel the need.
I’ve created a list of questions for you to download. Feel free to answer all or some of the questions. Like I said there’s no right or wrong way to do this, just do what works for you.
We are taught from childhood that it’s kind to put others first, and as a child, it gives us a sense of purpose and makes up happy. But at some point putting others first causes us to feel resentment. Here are my 5 damn good reasons you should give yourself permission to make yourself a priority.
1. You can not serve from an empty vessel
You’ve probably heard this phrase before, but not really give it any thought. Basically, it means while you have been tending to the needs of others, your energy has been depleting and you’ve not had a chance to recharge. There’s only so much you can do when your batteries are running low. Guess what happens when they run out – you flip, you throw a paddy on how you are sick of looking after everyone else, feeding the kids, cleaning the house. You resent anyone who asks you to do anything. The longer it goes on, the more you despise people and the more you crave alone time. Prioritising yourself isn’t selfish, it’s the same as plugging in your phone to charge after you’ve battered the battery.
Guess what happens when they run out – you flip, you throw a paddy, start shouting how you are sick of looking after everyone else, feeding the kids, cleaning the house. You resent anyone who asks you to do anything. The longer it goes on, the more you despise people and the more you crave alone time. Prioritising yourself isn’t selfish, it’s the same as plugging in your phone to charge after you’ve battered the battery.
2. You will inspire others to take better care of themselves
As a kid I watched my mum serve from that empty vessel, she spent her days looking after us, cleaning the house, biting her teeth with her husband and making lists of all the things she needed to do. She spent her entire day doing something for the family. This manic activity seemed honourable on the surface, but deep down she was run down and very unhappy. She felt guilty about lying in the bath with a book or spending money on herself and I took on those same beliefs in my early 20’s when I became a mum. It took me til my mid 30’s to start to change them. So I don’t want my own daughter growing up to think that she should put everyone else first, or that time spent in self-care such as looking after her body and her sanity isn’t as important as everyone else needs. I do this by teaching by example. Such as making my daily meditation practice a normal thing, practising mindfulness while we walk to school. I’ve even shown her EFT (emotional freedom technique) and stressed the importance of loving and excepting herself just as she is.
3. It’s good for your mental health and self-esteem.
We focus so much on our physical health, but I believe that our mental health is much more important. Afterall all our choices about food and diet come from our brain, so improving mental health can only improve our physical health. For me, my mental health takes a steep nose dive when I don’t prioritise my own needs. I need quality time with my thoughts, or I can slip into depression even when I’m taking anti depressants. I get mean, I dislike people, I avoid social interactions and I have the shortest temper known to man! Self-care, particularly meditation and journaling have been a life saver for me, and it means there have been no dead bodies for me to bury.
4. It forces you to focus on yourself
This goes back to the putting everyone else before yourself mentality being the right thing to do. For some actually spending time focusing on themselves will be scary, I have been known in the past to focus on all the stuff I need to do to avoid dealing with my slip back into depression. But by focusing on yourself, you get to understand yourself more, you begin to see your wants and desires, find your talents, you find you again.
5. It gives you time to really think
We all think, all of the time, but prioritising you and particular your self-care gives you the permission to slow your thinking brain down and feel less overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. By slowing down your thoughts you’ll see patterns, easier ways to achieve things, ideas flow and you’ll feel less like you’re putting out fires.
Understand the need to put yourself first, but still struggling with justifying it to yourself?
Download my free affirmations (they’re just things to tell yourself every day) to move past that ickiness start putting yourself first.
Sometimes it’s ok if the only thing you managed to do today is breathe! honestly, it really is. We all need days to regroup, find our strength just to face the normal day to day stuff. Don’t beat yourself up about the 100s of things that still haven’t been done. Take the time out, you’ll be in a better headspace to tackle them after.
2. Your thoughts shape your vision, you can choose what you want to see. The information that is received through our eyes is very different from the information we process in our brains. The visual information is filtered by your expectations, beliefs and your current mood. Change any of those and you’ll change what you see.
3. I’m not sure about you, but as a kid, I was always told that it’s polite to put others first if you prioritised yourself it was seen as unfair and selfish and no one wants those kinds of labels thrown at them. But in reality when most of our adult lives are spent taking care of others. We really do need to put our own needs first. Check out this blog post – why being selfish is good for others. If we don’t we simply don’t have the energy to continue.
4. EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE falls down, whether it’s in public or private, we all have setbacks, failures, moments of self-doubt. That’s ok, it’s normal, but the real progress comes from when we decide to look for the lessons and use it.
5. Sometimes you need the validation of others so here it is. You are and have always been capable of amazing things. Your brain does so many things without you consciously giving instructions, your skin repairs itself, over your lifetime you have unknowingly inspired others. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I challenge you to think of 5 more things that are amazing about you.
I love cats, I own 3 and I love people who celebrate their crazy cat lady tendencies by creating handmade gifts perfect for a cat owner. So this week I wanted to celebrate those amazing creatures and those creative humans who share a strong affinity with them by sharing a round-up of handmade cat gifts.
Your beliefs affect your behaviour whether you’re conscious of them or not.
They’re like a set point on a thermostat, pass that set point and your brain tries to keep you in your comfort zone.
This limits you in every way imaginable and it’s how these beliefs get the common term of ‘self-limiting beliefs’.
Since your brain likes the familiar (aka your comfort zone) it will attempt to sabotage you unconsciously every time you to try to step out of it.
The reason for this is in our past. Way back when our survival was based on our ability to avoid danger. The unknown is definitely seen by the brain as dangerous. Even though you don’t like in fear for your life (I’m hoping) our brains still haven’t shaken this behaviour. So we still look for things that will harm us physically or emotionally.
Nor are we ever taught to how to enjoy not feeling anxious and on guard. We are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because we always believe that good things aren’t meant to last. Our brain can’t help but shove negative feelings and memories at us when we start to feel too good.
I wanted to take a look at how limiting beliefs affect your behaviour towards others and towards yourself.
Let’s start with how limiting beliefs affect how you interact with others.
Other people that we meet in our everyday lives can easily trigger the self-limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves. Sometimes a compliment from a well-meaning friend or even a total stranger can be hard to accept because we hold a belief that we’re not worthy of it. We brush off those compliments because it’s hard for us to enjoy the attention, especially if we feel like we don’t deserve it.
Many of us can’t accept help or even ask for it because we hold a belief that we should be strong enough to do it on our own. I admit this is a powerful self-limiting belief for me and something I’m constantly working on. I have always struggled to accept help from others because I felt that I should be able to do it by myself. If I can’t, then there must be something wrong with me. This benefited me in some ways as a child, it made me determined and stubborn to achieve things and I enjoyed the challenge of school. But as I got older, I became aware of how this belief became one of my biggest downfalls. I’ve struggled to do stuff because I felt like it would be a failure to ask for help. I’ve reinvented the wheel time and time again, wasting so much energy because I couldn’t bring myself to be ok with asking for assistance and support.
There are too many ways that self-limiting beliefs influence how you interact with others for me to share here. But I’m sure if you take just a second to look back over your day, you’ll be able to find at least one example of how one of your own limiting beliefs has reared it’s ugly head today.
When it comes to our behaviour towards ourselves and own growth, these limiting beliefs become even more powerful in stopping you from getting to where you want to be. They rob you of opportunities to learn, take on new challenges and push past your limits.
It might be that you’re not aware of the limiting belief but more of the consequences which you can see emerging from your own thoughts repeatedly. To compound this problem our brain is looking for evidence to reinforce the limiting beliefs because it seeks familiarity.
Just to hit this point home here’s a few examples that might be familiar to you.
you feel like you can’t be artistic because you were shit at art in school
you don’t bother setting goals because experience has shown you in the past you don’t take action on them
you tell yourself you’re not good at meeting new people because you fear the anxiety that the unknown brings
A limiting belief that I’m currently working on is the belief that I’m not consistent enough to ever achieve anything. I used it as an excuse for everything, especially when I wanted to learn a new skill. To explain this belief in other words – I realised that I held a belief that I could never be good at anything because I can’t stick will it! This one belief alone sets me up to fail on everything!
If you hold a belief similar to this, it’s going to stop you enjoying new hobbies, new experiences, new relationships. Let just be blunt, it’s going to cause problems in all areas of your life because your brain is primed to make you fail.
I’d love to hear any limiting beliefs that you’ve uncovered lately, what were they stopping you from doing?
We’re you even aware that you had any, and if there was one limiting belief that you’d love to banish, what would it be?
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Sometimes, we just feel stuck! We know we need to make decisions, we know we need to move things forward in our lives but we’re not really sure what the next step is.
We don’t seem to be really drawn to anything or nothing really speaks to us and we just feel blank and stuck.
And I think that is normal quite a lot of the time. Simply because we’ve been conditioned to not put our own needs first. So, we don’t really spend time thinking about what we want and if we don’t know what we want how can we ever move towards it?
So, I’ve put together a list of questions. These are simple questions just to get you out of that “feeling stuck” mood and more into an “I think I might have an idea where I want to go” mood.
So, I think the most important question is, why do you feel stuck?
Maybe something in your self-talk is making you feel stuck. Reminding yourself that you’re stuck and you don’t know what to do – is actually keeping you stuck exactly where you are. Your brain is programmed to believe everything you say to it. Instead of telling yourself that you’re stuck, try telling yourself that you’re excited about the burst of inspiration that’s on it way.
Do you have to make a decision right this second?
Do you really need to know at this very second in time what you need to do? Or would this be easier if you were in a better mood?
It might be possible for now, just for now, maybe for the next five minutes, the next ten minutes, maybe even the next twenty-four hours what others might see as “shoving your head in the sand” might be the right thing for you to do.
Give yourself time to regroup and recharge. Once you’ve cleared your head, the obvious solution usually appears as an ah ha moment.
Do you feel stuck because you don’t know what the next step is?
Maybe you feel stuck because you obsessing about what the next step is so you feel paralysed.
So Start thinking about what it is you want in the long run.
Do you want to feel better about yourself?
Do you want to have more free time?
Do you want to get better at creating art?
Do you want to get better at, being you?
Do you want to feel more like you again?
Once you start to think about what it is you actually want as opposed to just feeling stuck, you might just get that inspiration you need to get unstuck and the next step will simply flow.
How are your personal beliefs keeping you feeling stuck?
Our parents shape our beliefs. My mother always taught me that I could be anything I wanted, but it made me feel stuck because it gave me too many possibilities. I didn’t know which one to take. I kept thinking “What if I get the wrong one?” Do you have a personal belief that it stopping you from making a decision? Was there something you were told constantly as a child that impacts your ability to make one? A common one that makes people feel stuck is money and if you’ve heard the phrases such as “money doesn’t grow on trees” then many of your thoughts will be influenced by the belief that there isn’t enough money.
Do you feel like you’re not good at making decisions?
Have you made any decision in the past which had disastrous consequences? This reinforces the belief that you’re not good at making decisions or that you always make wrong ones. Turn this past situation on its head and take a look at the positives that came out it. Look for them, they are there.
Still feeling stuck?
After asking yourself all these questions, are you able to move to a place where you feel more confident about making decisions?
Do the smallest amount possible to start the task, it’s the starting that’s the problem, once you get started you should find yourself on a role.
Work out what it is you’re afraid of, do you think it’s a waste of your time, the work won’t be good enough, you won’t be happy with the result – then make peace with that, aim for progress, not perfection
Look at the task in terms of smaller chunks, this helps with the overwhelm. You don’t need to plan everything out at once, just the next few steps. Take baby steps, focus on moving forward, not the speed that you’re progressing.
Plan treats. For example, If I write 500 words I can go and throw some paint on some paper for half hour. I can read a chapter in my book, I can knit 10 more rows of my project. I can watch the latest youtube video from (insert your favourite you tuber here)
Can I get someone else to do it for me? Handing over jobs that you don’t want to do to someone else isn’t lazy, it’s a good use of your time. Is it worth the stress and anxiety doing it yourself or would you be happier if you could pay someone else to do it? Sure you’ve got the skills to do it, but do you have the desire?
Write a list of things that will happen if it’s not done
Take notice of your frame of mind or mood and deal with that first, feeling down or depressed has an effect on our brains motivational centre. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything and you’re going to procrastinate forever, it just means that you need to deal with the feelings first. My favourite way to do this is to write in locked notepad. This way I can write uncensored without worrying about other people’s judgements and whether I’m hurting anyone’s feelings.
Give yourself the treat first and wake up the pleasure centres in your brain to help motivate you to action. For example, sit down with a hot drink and watch half of your favourite tv programme. Once you’ve finished your task, you can watch the remaining half.
Get accountable, find someone who will kick your arse for not getting your stuff done. I’ve personally found this a bit tricky, you need someone who will be brutally honest with you, call you out for not acting on your intentions and still be supportive when you need it.
Understand the way your brain works better, a great book is the chimp paradox, the child-like illustrations (reminds me of something my husband would draw) should give you a giggle.
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It’s instinctual to look after yourself first, society has turned this instinct into something we should ignore, but how can we take care of others, if we’re low on energy, passionate and lust for life?
We are taught that we should be community orientated, family orientated, that we should sacrifice our own needs to serve the needs of others. Yes, these are worthy traits, they have built us into a progressive supportive species, but these are the things that should only be focused on when we have cared for our self first.
So many of us see the word selfish as a negative thing, it suggests that we don’t care about others, that we put our own need first at the expense of everyone else.
But what if by being selfish, you are more willing to help others, you are happy to dedicate your free time to a community project. What does the term selfish mean? It means putting your health and wellbeing first before everything and everyone else. Does that seem so unreasonable? If you’re a mother, then you know how draining that role can be, without being selfish how will you find the energy and mental stamina to deal with screaming kids, to meet their constant demands and still be a loving parent. If you don’t take time for yourself, to remind yourself that being a mother is not your only role then you’ll lose your sense of self and start to resent the life you have (whether you admit it or not).
How about if we interchange the word selfish with self-care? That seems logical, it seems a no-brainer.
It is selfish to spend time creating something that makes you feel satisfied and accomplished? Or is it self-care?