Grab your cuppa my lovelies. Let’s settle down for a chat. In this monthly musings post, I am taking you inside my head a little. I know, scary right? (Oh and I’ll also be screaming at you, at various intervals, “Don’t Chase People….”). Recently, I had a real ah-ha moment, and I want to share as I think a lot of us could fall into this trap.
Without realising, I had slipped into behaviour that was neither healthy or productive to my own wellbeing. I knew I was feeling “off” and out of kilter, but had not figured out what the contributing factors were. Although I consider myself pretty well versed in self development, I also know it shoud be a never ending process. Growth, in all forms, is continuous. We should always be open to it. We should also be ready and willing to learn lessons that are presented to us.
But first, The Realisation..
So let’s start at somewhere near the beginning of how this happened, give you a little background. Recently, I have started journalling. Not the gratitude journalling that I have enjoyed for years, but full on, stream of consciousness journalling. I realised I had been feeling a little directionless. I had reached a bit of a crossroads and unsure which road to take. After all the stress with Nik’s cancer journey, leaving my full on, totally immersive career, and then the joy of the global pandemic, I felt my wheels had come off my trolly! (To be fair, we are all having wobbles this year with these crazy times we are all living I’m sure)!
I was feeling a little lost and unsure what I wanted in my “10 year plan”. For the first time in my life, I had no goal to work towards. It felt like I was bobbing about on an open sea. Waiting for the wind to fill my sails, and choose my direction. As much as I am happy to go with the flow most of the time, I was feeling impatient. I needed something to get my teeth into and focus on. But I had no clue what!
This is where one of my many, many notebooks came in. (Yep, stationary addict right here). I had read about the benefits of full journalling, so I thought I would give it a go. In its simplest form, journalling is just freely writing. It is putting pen to paper, and just writing your thoughts, feelings, randomness. It is totally free reign and there are no rules. You write whatever the hell you like, safe in the knowledge that there is no judgement, no repercussions and no other eyes on it. Whatever comes to mind, you write it down. The idea is that both your consciousness, and sub consciousness will word vomit. The words that flow from your head will bring with them, a little insight into what is going on up there.
The first couple of days, I wrote maybe a paragraph or two. Within a week or so, I was writing pages full! It seemed that my mind had a lot to get out there! As time went on, I found that this offloading of thoughts, seemed to free up room in my head. It was as if it had started to clear out the clutter, and let me see what was really going on. Realisations began to surface. Things that I was not even aware I was bothered by, were floating into view. The blurriness of my thoughts began to come into sharper focus. I would literally be brushing my teeth and clarity about something would pop up. It was such a useful tool for me and something I will continue with as part of my daily routine. I would recommend it to anyone. This eco friendly journal is the one I am currently offloading into.
Don’t Chase People – Recognise why you do it
Clearing out the clutter of your brain, is a bit like de-cluttering the kitchen cupboard. When you have completed the task, you have a more orderly space. But, you are left with a lot of shit to throw out! It is out of the cupboard, but now has to be dealt with. It can be the same with the brain. You have cleared the space, but now have stuff that no longer serves you.
During my brain dumping, I came to realise that I was slowly falling into the Venus flytrap of people pleasing! I was beginning to place some of my worth, on how other people treated me. As human beings, we all like to be liked. But that absolutely starts with liking and valuing ourselves. Yet I was allowing lack of effort from people, to lead me to the assumption that I was not worthy of their effort. I was accepting that unbalanced friendships was better than no friendship. I was supporting and making effort with people that were not affording me that same courtesy. My actions were subconsciously telling myself that I was not as worthy or deserving of support as them. We get what we allow, right??
Now the world is not so foggy to me, I can see where this manifested. I have spoken before about how I dealt with the death of a friendship. I think that this temporary lack of value on myself, is just the last part of the hangover from that experience. The last of the baggage from that period of my life. Like that one box that sits in the garage for years after you move. You have brought it with you, but no idea why! It is time to unpack it once and for all and dump it down the tip!
The first revelation that came, was noticing that I was mindlessly scrolling social media more. A sure fire sign, that I know from experience, means my brain is a little scattered. I also realised that I was letting Instagram hurt my feelings a little! Of course, as I unpacked these thoughts in my head, I realised it was me hurting my own feelings. I realised that I was toning myself down a touch. Dialing down my weirdness. Shortening my captions to be more generic and bland. Posting only travel content. Trying to pack myself neatly into a niche box that everyone tells you that you should have. I became a diluted version of myself. It was me, making myself unhappy by trying to fit into an Instagram ideal. Something I vowed I would never do!
Revelation two came as I was eating my way through half a jar of Biscoff spread for my dinner….don’t judge me. We are being honest here okaaayyyy! I had cooked Nik and our boys a warming, healthy stew. I am vegan, so the meat stew is not something I would eat. Yet, I had not bothered to cook myself a nice dinner. Almost like it did not matter if I ate rubbish. Like I was not worthy of that same effort. Again, subconsciously telling myself that the health and needs of my household was far greater and more important than mine.
Take yourself on a date. Reconnect with you
Then then the third and final revelation came. I realised that I was allowing myself to be dismissed by people. Not that I think for one minute they meant to do that. Or maybe they did. Either way it should not have mattered. It was me, allowing them to make me feel less important. I was giving them that power. Someone I considered a friend recently had the opportunity to show me support, but chose not to. I was not in her thoughts. Her choice absolutely and entirely.
But the hurt I felt when I realised that I had been dismissed, was irrational. It upset me far more than it should have. It upset me for days. This of course, triggers an onslaught on yourself. Your inner critic grabs out her loud hailer to shout in your ear. She also grabs the club made up of all your perceived failings to whack you about the head a bit. That inner critic is savage!
You mentally hop onboard an emotional rollercoaster. Climbing up the incline to happier times in the friendship. Then crashing down round the loop-de-loop to how it is now. You start looking back over the friendship. Honing in on the times that you were treated less than equal. Beating yourself over the head with reasons why they didnt want to support you. Making up all kinds of scenarios of what they think of you. The rollercoaster is off the rails and heading for the crash pads.
But then I whacked the brakes on. I took a breath. I realised that yes, all of these things were indeed happening. But so what? There is that famous quote, “if someone shows you that they don’t care, believe them” If that was acceptable to that person to treat a friend that way, then they held very little value for the friendship. That was not their fault. They feel how they feel. You can never be angry with someone for being their truest self can you. But it was me going through this feeling of low self worth, that put weight on it mattering. Once again, I was the one conducting the orchestra of my own unhappiness song.
Don’t Chase People – Know your worth
So I knew had to make changes. I knew a little more work was needed on myself. I needed to see my own worth again, before I could even think about anyone else seeing it. I have zero control over how others treat me, but 100% control over how I react to it!
But it also made me see that perhaps, I only gave myself worth through what I was achieving. I have always been a high achiever. Always set that standard for myself. But now, I was not striving or aiming for a goal. Did that mean in my eyes, I offered no value? I have always been around people that were career driven and focused on goals too. My switch to a slower pace of life after selling my business meant that I did not have that same fire in my belly. But did that make me less than them?
I started unpicking and pulling back the layers of all of my self deprecating. I read lots of books. Listened to lots of podcasts. Slowly began to see that my confidence was still not fully stitched back together from the death of my friendship. Self awareness really is a beautiful gift. We can all be our own problem and solution!
It has been a revealing, and interesting process. I feel like I am coming out of the other side now. We are in lockdown part 2 here in the UK, so time has been on my side. I had more opportunity to implement changes. I removed the things that I knew were not helping me to rebuild my confidence.
- I deleted Instagram off my phone.
- I started to reconnect with myself. Take yourself on a date even!
- I make sure I get out in nature for at least an hour a day
- I phone my long term friends who’s friendship I never have to question.
- I surround myself with positive people (as much as I can in lockdown).
- I journaled (life changing).
- I went back to my meditation practice of twice a day.
- I really looked at the content I consumed, and made sure it was positive and beneficial (books, podcasts, blogs, etc)
- I have spent time writing poetry (a long term, but sporadic love).
- I spend more time doing productive and purposeful things.
- I am making plans for when lockdown ends
- I have pulled away from unbalanced relationships
- I have been patient with myself!
I honestly think as people, we are ever changing. We are evolving constantly and growing all the time. That can only be a good thing. It is all leading us to exactly where we are meant to be. If you find that you are giving people or things waaayyy too much time living rent free in your head, it may be time to look at why.
The biggest thing for me was being honest with myself. It was acknowledging that I was not living as positively as I have always lived. It was taking a breath and seeing that I needed to reconnect with myself. It was cutting myself a bit of slack and acknowledging that that least few years have been tough. So, so tough. But, I realise that the foundations of me are rock solid, and strong. I just kinda forgot that for a little while. I will not chase people. I am worth more than that.
Well, if you have got to the end, well done! I bet your tea pot is empty! It was a long one eh! As ever, I would love to hear about your experiences. If you have ever found yourself slipping into people pleasing. Have you found that you have given people too much power over your happiness? Do you forget your own self worth sometimes? If anyone would like more information on journalling, feel free to message me. I may even create a post about how I journal. Let me know if you think that is a god idea.