After letting go of my worldly belongings and moving aboard Tamaha I went through a time of transitioning. Not only had I changed my lifestyle I had moved away from friends and family and given up a business. It was also a time of big questions, “What have I done?” “Who am I now?” “Who am I becoming?” I felt a little wobbly on the inside and had to pull all of the tools from my coaching toolkit to give myself a positivity tune up. These techniques come from a variety of therapies and are my favourite tools for creating a positive mind set.
What other people think of you is none of your business
When I was younger I spent a lot of time worrying about what other people thought of me. If you analyse that statement you will see that it’s completely crazy. How on earth could I know what people were thinking? I wasn’t a mind reader. What right did I have to know what went on in their heads anyway?
It was during a time when vicious lies were being spread about me. The stories were fabricated to justify the actions of an abusive person and I spent many sleepless nights worrying and feeling helpless. I felt shame and horror when I imagined what people would think of me. It was mentally crippling and I realised I had two choices… I could either let it continue to rule my life and start contacting everyone I knew to tell them the truth or I could choose to ignore it and show through my day-to-day actions the type of person I am. I chose the later.
Think about it, this little statement is freedom. I no longer have to try and guess what anyone else thinks of me. As long as I am doing the right thing, being true to my values and not hurting anyone – I am living authentically – and that’s the best anyone can do.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.” Carl Jung
Take responsibility for you
One of my favourite sayings is “with freedom comes responsibility” to me this means taking full responsibility for the things in my life that I can control. The only thing that is within my control is myself; my behaviour, actions and reactions. I therefore take responsible for me. It took a long time and a lot of wasted effort to realise that other people and things will not bend to my will. I have found that when I take responsibility for me and change my own behaviour, everything around me reacts differently. By truly living this I am able to let go of all of the blame traps that once held me back and take responsibility for creating my own life. If I find myself in a situation that is not working and start to hear thoughts forming like “it’s not my fault” then I stop and ask myself, “what did I do to create this in my universe and what can I do differently to change it?” By choosing to be positive and take responsibility for my behaviour, actions and reactions, I completely change my view of the world and therefore change my life.
It took a long time and a lot of wasted effort to realise that other people and things will not bend to my will. I have found that when I take responsibility for me and change my own behaviour, everything around me reacts differently. By truly living this I am able to let go of all of the blame traps that once held me back and take responsibility for creating my own life. If I find myself in a situation that is not working and start to hear thoughts forming like “it’s not my fault” then I stop and ask myself, “what did I do to create this in my universe and what can I do differently to change it?” By choosing to be positive and take responsibility for my behaviour, actions and reactions, I completely change my view of the world and therefore change my life.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln
Create positive futures
Goal setting is one of those things that some people think need to be written as a five year plan and set in stone. While this may be very true for a self contained project, setting milestones for a life doesn’t work for me, it’s too restricting. I use the same technique as top athletes called Mental Rehearsal. By using visualisation, they set their intent and rehearse the outcome of an event. Studies have shown that the brain does not know the difference between what is real and imagined, so visualising an outcome sets the direction of travel for the unconscious mind. The technique is quite simple the main thing is to make it as real and as vivid as possible. Use all five senses; feel, see, hear, smell and taste it. This is how I set a goal for travelling, business, money, health and relationships. I close my eyes and relax and breath deeply. I picture myself aboard Tamaha, it’s July 2017 and we’re anchored off the coast of a Greek island, I can see people on the beach and can hear them laugh and chatter. Children are running and playing in the gently lapping waves and their parents are relaxing near by. Sunshine and laughter, happy people. I can hear the lapping of the waves and the sea birds are flying overhead. I shade my eyes to watch them. Tamaha is gently rocking with the ebb and flow of the tide. We are sitting in the cockpit talking. Our table is laid for lunch; seafood, salads and fresh fruit. We’re drinking tall glasses of sparkling water with slices of lemon and ice – so cool and refreshing. We’re discussing our morning’s work and are really happy with how the business is performing, all is well and our business partners are running things beautifully. I can taste the salt from the sea spray as we chat about our friends who are joining us on board for a fishing trip this afternoon. We’ve decided to barbecue the fish in a secluded cove. It will be very special. I feel exhilarated, so happy and free. Of course we look amazing (as does Tamaha). So fit and healthy from sailing and eating gloriously fresh food. We have no money or health worries, the family are all doing well and are coming out to join us for a couple of weeks during the school holidays. I am so looking forward to seeing them in this beautiful place. Life is perfect. Another visualisation I use is to look back to see how I got to this future. This sometimes takes the form of a discussion, telling someone how I achieved my goal or it could just be looking back to see the path that was taken. This is not in specific detail, but the steps that were taken are quite obvious. If you can hold onto your goals as strong future memories, visualising them often (a day dream will do) and speaking about them when they include others, they become real and your unconscious mind will help find the quickest route to get you there. It is important to note that doing visualisation is not enough, the universe will not just provide. You need to take action. The first step on the journey needs to be planned in more detail and then work must start. When Kevin and I are nearing the middle of one step we start planning the detail of the next and affirm the rest to ensure we are both still going in the same direction.
“As I walk. As I walk. The universe is walking with me.” – from the Navajo rain dance ceremony.
Having set a goal and decided on a path, the next thing is to accept that it will probably not go exactly according to plan. Life is not set in stone, the only thing we have true control over is ourselves. Other people, places and things sometimes get in the way of our plans. Accept this and the need to be flexible. In project management it’s called contingency planning. Being flexible gives us more choices. Having choices is more powerful than having no choice. If something blocks your path, accept it as an interesting challenge. Find a way around it, over it or through it, but don’t let it stop you. Look at how you can adjust your plan to meet your future goal.
“To keep our faces towards change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable” Helen Keller
There is no such thing as failure, only feedback
This one has saved my sanity on many occasions. Yes sometimes I might get a bit frustrated because something went disastrously wrong but then I remember this little gem and take the time to glean what I learned from the situation. I ask myself, “what can I do differently next time to change the outcome.” If you can start to look at so called failure as a learning opportunity, you start to see life very differently. Thomas Edison’s numerous experiments in search of a filament to work in his light bulb illustrates this principle. When asked, “It must be hard to have failed 10,000 times!” Edison replied, “I didn’t have 10,000 failures. I just found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.” Remove the word failure from your vocabulary and replace it with feedback and your life will become richer and more rewarding.
“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in it’s hands.” Richard Bach
Kill the worry worm
We have heard it often. Life is a journey not a destination – so enjoy the journey. We spend too much time worrying about the future and not enough enjoying the present. That’s why I like doing positive futures rather than tight goal setting. It enables me to be flexible and enjoy each step along the way, knowing where I am heading and sometimes making detours to get there. Unexpected things do happen to impact plans and the worry worm tries to wriggle into my head. I have a couple of tools that I use for slaying negative self-talk and the one below is to calm the mind. The worry worm sets about getting your thoughts to race towards FEAR (Future Events Appearing Real) and the trick is to bring your mind back to the present, right into the moment. There is no room for FEAR in the present moment. The following is a simple mindfulness technique that can be done anytime, anywhere:
- Look around you. Really look but do NOT form opinions, just experience your surroundings as if for the first time.
- Describe to yourself what you see; the colour and texture of the walls, the floor, the furniture, the people. Really look at it all and state what you see.
- If there is a mark, blemish or cobweb you haven’t noticed before in your environment, describe the shape of it, touch it, how does it feel? Remember, no opinions, just let things be as they are.
- Smell the air. What does it smell like? Is the air dry or wet? Can you taste it? What does air taste like? Does it have a flavour?
- What does the energy around you feel like, is it buzzing or calm? Where do you feel that energy? What does it feel like within your body?
- What can you hear – really listen, close your eyes, can you feel the vibration of the sound? Does the sound have a colour?
That’s the general idea, sometimes it helps to say it out loud. If your mind starts to drift, bring it back by repeating something you can see over and over till you have it back. Just stay in the moment for as long as you can. I had a health scare a few years ago and this simple technique kept me clam and positive in the days between the tests and results (all fine). As soon as my mind started to race to the “what ifs” I could stop it from going to FEAR. I kept myself firmly rooted in the now because that’s all that’s known. FEAR hasn’t happened. FEAR can be dealt with if it becomes now. This moment is all the life I have. This moment is my eternity and I’m not going to waste a second of it.
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow
Today’s society is programmed to want more, buy more – that’s how capitalism works. Marketing and advertising entice us with things we never knew we wanted but now need to have. All those lovely shiny things that need to be mine. I remember those days well and I remember having a family’s worth of shiny things and “must haves” in cupboards and storage boxes for years. One of the difficult things about moving aboard Tamaha was getting rid of everything except the basics. It was not easy and I covered my ritual for letting go in a previous post. It was interesting as through this exercise I found out what I value and what am I grateful for having in my life. I value my family and am so grateful that I have three wonderful daughters and am so proud to be their mum. I love my grandchildren in a way I could never have imagined possible. I am grateful that my husband is my best friend and living in this tiny space somehow works for us. I am grateful for my extended family and my lovely friends. I carry my special people in my heart and I’m grateful for all of the memories. I live on a boat on a river that is bursting with life with a way out to the sea and the oceans beyond. I love the sea and the sky and the seasons, I’m thankful for mother nature and all of her changing moods. As for the shiny things; I have grown to love Tamaha, she is emerging as a gracious old lady and I value her beauty and solid build. I am thankful for our car and appreciate that when we set sail, we won’t have one. Thank goodness for technology which has given me the ability to stay in touch and work from anywhere. I really like our brass port holes and vents, our lovely old ship’s bell and potbellied stove. I may not have a house full anymore but I am probably more grateful for all that I have. I know that it may sound a bit cheesy to some, but having an attitude of gratitude really does make my life better. Being grateful for the precious people and things in my life, makes me focus on what I have and not on what I haven’t got.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart
Do not engage with negativity
There is a good reason why you always hear “surround yourself with positive people”, emotions are catching and that’s a fact. “Emotional contagion embodies the idea that humans will synchronize their personal emotions with the emotions expressed by those around them, whether consciously or unconsciously, and thus an emotion conveyed by one person will become “contagious” to others.” Wikipedia Last year it came to light that Facebook conducted a study with academics from Cornell and the University of California, with nearly 700,000 people – without their knowledge. The experiment took place in 2012 and the purpose was to see if they could control the emotions of Facebook users. They manipulated the content (posts, videos, memes etc) that was delivered in newsfeeds. Some users were only fed positive content while others received only negative. The study states – “In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”” The questionable ethics and the frightening implications of this study are not the topic of this post but it does prove that we are affected not only by the people around us but also by what we receive in our social media feeds. There is a nifty little button on Facebook at the top right hand corner of all posts. This enables you to “unfollow” but remain friends with people. On twitter the “mute” function does the same. To help maintain my own positive state, I have unfollowed and muted a few passive aggressive bullies. I don’t necessarily want to block them or cause a fuss but I don’t want my newsfeeds filled with other people’s dirty washing and self-serving rants. It’s the same in real life. I try not to engage; if I don’t feed the energy vampires they tend to move on. Most of these people do not want solutions, their behaviour is giving them a reward and it’s not likely to change while they are achieving this satisfaction. By being embroiled in drama and getting the attention they seek, they remain the centre of attention. As soon as one problem is solved, they find another. Engaging is not healthy or kind to either party and I do what I can to surround myself with positive people and those seeking solutions rather than problems.
“Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” Joyce Meyer
Strive for progress not perfection
The last little nugget that keeps me positive is the understanding that though I am doing the best I can, I don’t always get it right. I am a work in progress, continually striving to improve but I’ll never be perfect. Sometimes it’s a couple of days before I realise that the worry worm is wriggling back into my head or I’m annoyed with myself for not succeeding at a task. The point is that I do realise what’s happening, I have the ability to fix it and each time I use these tools they become more and more a part of who I am. That’s progress. I am grateful that we are all beautifully flawed human beings – if you don’t agree and think you are perfect, I know a good doctor who can help .
“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl Jung
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