Tag: responses

The truth about being kind to yourself

The truth about being kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself is hardly a new idea. The idea of loving-kindness is a central concept in mindfulness. Many of the latest trends in psychology (both genuine theories and woo-woo pop fads) also look at this idea of being kind to yourself.

A few months ago I had a chat with a close friend about just this topic. It came about because we spontaneously met for a cup of coffee.

[Side-note: this friend has uncanny timing. She called me up for said cuppa moments after I received discouraging news. Then, as I started writing the draft for this post, she got in contact again. Gotta be a sign?! Anyway, back to my point…]

We met at a new artisan cafe where they have a baker’s table that offers the most delectable teatime treats. Warning: smugness approaching… Our order did not feature any of these said delights, even though I have a sweet tooth to rival the best of ’em. She too was on a campaign to start eating healthily. It felt like an accomplishment – and for me, it was – to walk out of there without having dived into a sugary moment of deliciousness.

Our conscious effort to spurn the baker’s table got us talking. When we talk about being kind to ourselves it often involves something unhealthy – taking a rest from gym, ordering that slice of cake, enjoying just one more GnT in the evening, and so on. But really, when you stop to think about it, that’s being pretty unkind to yourself. Not only are you doing something that is physically unhealthy, but you are undermining your efforts to achieve your goals, to stay motivated, to stay on track, and to enjoy the results of your efforts.

I think that being kind to yourself is really about motivating yourself to stick to your goals, rather than allowing yourself the ‘treat’ of having a break from them. It just sets up the mindset that a reward consists of cheating on your goals, no matter what they are. If you want to boost your motivation, feelings of accomplishment, etc, then your reward should be something that is in line with your goals – something that will enable you to reap the results of your efforts to create a fulfilling life.

It’s all rather too easy to sit down and type this out. Tomorrow I’m going back to the same cafe… and I can already feel my motivation waning. After all, lemon meringue pie is my personal weakness. So I might find myself at this time tomorrow having to eat a slice of humble pie. Oh dear…

I’d love to know – what is your take on the idea of being kind to yourself?

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A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

It’s funny how your mind can play tricks on you. Like when you get hit in the head by an unidentified flying pink shoe.

My husband and I went out for a spontaneous day trip with my bestie and her husband. Firstly, we visited a German beerfest ‘Church fete’. After failing to win the bottlestore raffle, we resorted to seeking a salve for our broken spirits. We drove to a nearby coastal city to sit on a wharf and eat deep fried ice-cream. As one does. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for a lazy calorie-laden afternoon indulgence.

I leant back on my chair and drank in the seaside atmosphere. Comments drifted over from a nearby group of people. They were discussing the rugby match that was dominating South Africa’s attention at the time. Out of nowhere, something slammed into the side of my head. For a split second I thought it was the rugby ball from the game under discussion. Delusional? Absolutely.

There was a stunned silence for a moment as we all looked in disbelief at a bright pink shoe that was lying in the middle of our table. Not quite a rugby ball. A very embarrassed mother approached our table to apologise profusely and retrieve her daughter’s shoe.

Despite a smarting face, I returned the shoe with hysterical laughter gracious understanding. Likewise, her little girl’s apology that was ‘encouraged’ a few moments later.

It made me think of myself as a little girl. Not that I ever managed the feat of kicking my shoe and launching it several meters into someone’s head. I had neither the skill nor the talent. (Although my younger brother did once claim that I could “kickstart a Boeing”.) But had something of the ilk happened to me, I would never have had the courage to approach a table of laughing adults and apologise for assaulting one of them with my footwear. To be honest, I probably would have dissolved into tears and hidden behind my parents. (My dad specifically – my mother reaches a whopping five foot. When standing.)

Today, however, I am anything but shy. It just goes to show how we do grow and develop as we get older. Reflecting on that little girl’s apology renewed my optimism in people’s ability to take charge of their progress in life.

 

You do have the ability to be the person you want to be. It’s never too late to take charge of your life. It’s never too late to grow. It’s never too late to discover the true you.

self belief

How have you changed and developed since you were a child?

Pink elephants, lemon meringue pie, and eliminating toxicity

Pink elephants, lemon meringue pie, and eliminating toxicity

I have to admit that I read a lot of articles of the LifeHacker variety. If you’re like me, you’ll have this this lovely warm Aha! moment. And then dish up another serving of dessert as you watch yet another episode of Bones, and somehow forget the beauty of that insight.

On another note, I’m a self-confessed lemon meringue pie snob. And glutton. And addict. And obsessive. And compulsive.

Over and over again we’re told the same stuff:

  • eat right
  • exercise right
  • sleep right

But we also need to think right.

And I’m not just talking about having the right mindset, or being optimistic. Judging from what people say and write, I think that we’re guilty of a lot more negativity that we realise. I believe that negative thoughts and comments are truly toxic to our wellbeing.

toxic thoughts

It’s just so easy to fall into the trap. I think we’re all too quick to judge, to criticise, to belittle, to gossip. Oh of course we all agree that these things are awful, but yet these kind of comments seem to creep into conversations all the time. And I’m no exception.

Taking it a step further, I think that even negative things said in jest, in teasing, are just as toxic. If you’re think I’m being oversensitive, then that’s okay. I think you’ll just be proving my point. Because it’s okay to be sensitive. I’d rather have a capacity for empathy and be sensitive than be that woman who sends bitch slap messages.

negative messages

I think that even when we say negative things in a joking manner, that negativity is still transferred somehow. I’ll use an example that is random but is nonetheless one of my personal favourites…

Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant.

I’m hazarding a guess that you now have an image of a rosy pachyderm in your mind? It’s kinda cute, hey? Awwww. Okay, back to my point…

Even though the instruction was not to think of something, that idea or image was still presented to your consciousness. I think that negative things said in a joking or teasing fashion are just the same. Long after the humorous tone has faded, the message remains.

So here’s to being mindful of what we are thinking, saying and writing. To eliminating the negative – and being committed to doing so.

do not think of a pink elephant

You’ll have to read my next post to find out my embarrassing confession when it comes to eliminating the toxicity in my life.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the extent of negativity and trying to eliminate it?

How tomatoes encouraged me to meditate

How tomatoes encouraged me to meditate

I love tomatoes. Weird perhaps, but true. But I never thought that tomatoes would show me the path to meditation.

I was first introduced to meditation a long time ago. And for those of you who think meditation is some sort of woo-woo practice (or worse), this occurred in a religious context. A Christian context, if you must know. However, it wasn’t something that I pursued (either the meditation or religion). Although I’ve always thought meditation to be a good habit, the true healing power was only really made clear to me when I started incorporating it into my life as part of mindfulness.

Like many things, I got out of the habit. You know how it goes: life gets busy and all these things fall by the wayside. Which is a pity. It’s also counterproductive because it’s when we get increasingly busy that things such as mindfulness and meditation are that much more crucial. Despite several concerted attempts to practice regularly, I just didn’t develop the habit. That’s where the tomatoes come in.

I was recently reading an article that mentioned the Pomodoro Technique in passing. Upon embarking on the inevitable Google search I discovered that this is not something new. Even though I’m rather late in getting the Pomodoro memo I decided to give it a try. Not because I struggle to procrastinate, but because I tend to focus so much when writing that I neglect to take breaks. Although this might sound like a thinly veiled attempt to sound smug, this pattern is just as destructive as procrastination, if not more so.pomodoro technique

And then, just like anything else in life, I discovered that there are several Pomodoro apps. Because who doesn’t need a desktop tomato kitchen timer? It even has all the sound effects of a traditional timer.

My 5 minute Pomodoro breaks typically involve green Rooibos tea. My daily consumption of the stuff is quite impressive. After four Pomodori I hit the twenty minute break. What to do? And then it hit me: meditate. It’s amazing what a twenty minute mindful meditation can do. I feel much calmer, more focused. And happier.

tomighty pomodoro app

Weird as it may sound, and bizarre it definitely is, as long as I use my desktop tomato kitchen timer, I find the time to include meditation as part of my daily routine. And I’m much the better for it. So you see, I have been right all along to love tomatoes!

What has been your experience of an unexpected source of motivation?

Power tools and business suits

Power tools and business suits

“The first thing they teach you is not to wear a tie when using power tools.” I thought this was the most ridiculous piece of advice ever. I mean, who dresses formally whilst using power tools? But then I realised that the person speaking was my husband. Wrench in one hand, angle grinder in the other, he was dressed in suit and tie.

Now he might wear a suit and tie five days of the week, but my husband fancies himself as quite the electrician. And he is. Apart from the fact that he hasn’t quite got the hang of the dress code. I, on the other hand, hate power tools. They terrify me. When sparks start flying, I fly further. (Please don’t read anything into that.)

So there we are, staring at the motor of our electric gate. I have managed to find three spare extension cords in the house which now form a long cable from our bedroom window, snaking up our steep driveway to the gate. At the end of these cables is the terrifying angle grinder. I was put in charge of plugging and unplugging said power tool. Luckily, thanks to the cabling, I was able to do this whilst cowering behind a shrub.

When the sparks had flown, the faulty padlock in question been cut, the surrounding concrete inadvertently sculpted, I could emerge from my cowardly pose. And then I couldn’t help but laugh at the ludicrous scene we must have made.

The situation was in reality very frustrating. What should have been a simple task with the turn of a key turned into a lengthy DIY chore involving an angle grinder at the most inconvenient of times. But the irony of my husband’s advice was just too funny to ignore. So instead of swearing (sorry Mom) and complaining, we laughed about it. And at ourselves. It just shows that even in the most common everyday occurrences we can find humour. Choose optimism and the funny side of things. Always.

Note: My husband insists that I mention that he was pushed for time, otherwise he would have dressed appropriately. It’s up to you whether you believe him or not. I don’t.

You Have More Strength Than You Realise

People are incredibly resilient. It’s amazing how, when you are faced with challenging circumstances, you can draw on reserves of inner strength that you never knew you had.

Even when you are faced with something that pushes you to your limits of emotional tolerance, you will somehow find the strength to endure it. There will be times when you feel that you cannot go on, that you cannot endure more, that you cannot possible shoulder what life is throwing at you, but you will go on, you will endure, and you will survive everything.

It is only when life threatens to destroy the sense of balance and safety in your life that you will realise just how strong you are. And you are strong. You are resilient. You will get through it, and emerge a stronger and more confident person as a result of the process.

Trusting the Present

Too much of our time is spent mulling over the past or worrying about the future, which robs us of our present. The truth is that we need to just trust the process.

Even though I’m not particularly religious, I do believe that you need to have faith that things will work out. You need to have a sense of trust that things will in fact be okay. I’m not saying that you can simply sit back and let life happen. Obviously you need to do what you can to create the life that you want. But you need to do so in such a way that you can focus on the present. I really believe that in order to be happy, you have to leave the past behind you, have faith in the future, and be mindfully present in your life.

It is only in this way that you will be able to extract true enjoyment from your daily life. I think that the key to getting the most out of life is a combination of optimism and mindfulness.