How many of us have felt like we weren't normal because we have had to go on diets and watch what we eat or drink?
I have been thinking about this lately because in the past what I really wanted was to be slimmer and to not have to worry about what I ate because I put on weight so easily.
I wanted to be normal. I really believed that normal slim people didn't have to worry about what they ate and that eating what you want when you want was normal.
So many of us have said things like.. "it's not fair, I only have to look at cake and I put on 10lbs" and that we wish we could eat cake whenever we want to and still be slim like X does. But is it really NORMAL not to have to think about what you eat?
Who are these normal people? The only people who genuinely don't have to think about their weight in today's society are people who are very active and manage to burn off more calories than they consume or who are gifted in the metabolism department? But are these scenarios normal? I'd say they are more often than not exceptions to the actual average person because so many of our jobs are office based and sedentary which means we have to supplement our lifestyles with exercise and because food is so plentiful (I mean it's everywhere) we all need to keep an eye on how many calories we take in, and remember that we only really need to eat to fuel our bodies/minds.
I spent so many years feeling I was being denied normal pleasures when I had the strength to say no to the free cakes in the office or when I had to swap from drinking beer to drinking a low calorie spirit. I felt like I was being denied a NORMAL life. But was I?
I guess our perceptions of normal come from our societal habits and expectations which have evolved organically over time.
For example, we happen to have come to celebrate birthdays and weddings and
other milestones in life with CAKE (sugar & flour) or ALCOHOL, so they seem NORMAL, but is it really normal to consume more calories than our bodies really need or is it slightly disordered thinking?
Of course I'm not saying we shouldn't have occasional treats and celebrate with delicious cake or a glass of champagne but I want you to think about how normal it actually is to do any of these things? Thinking about this has made me realise that I shouldn't NEED to make
excuses if I choose not to eat cake just because it is there and everyone else is eating it, and it's become expected.
I also don't need to feel like I'm defective because I have to be careful about what food I take in seen as I work in a very sedentary job.
What other things do we consider NORMAL which actually don't necessarily make sense and which we could benefit from decoupling our perceptions with reality?
It's definitely worth thinking about!
How to Boost your Emotional Intelligence
Our emotions are how we experience the world and physically process information. We often refer to our Emotions as our Feelings because they are just that.
They are physical feelings.
We all know that positive emotions feel good and we know that many negative emotions can give us real feeling or sensations of pain or discomfort.
Love might make us feel all warm and fuzzy and grief can hurt like a knife through the heart. The human language has given us words for all of these emotions
because they are common human experiences.
To feel emotions makes us human!
So what is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, for me, means being able to recognise and identify the emotions that I am feeling at any given time, or that I recognise in others around me.
I believe that many of us don't take time to work on our emotional intelligence and we limit ourselves to a very basic range of emotions and therefore limit our human experience.
How many times has someone asked you how you feel and you said ... “Fine!” or “I'm good.” or “ I'm feeling ok.” or when you have felt negative emotion you have said you feel “down”, or “sad” or “anxious” but you are really just reaching for general cover all language.
I believe if we increase our emotional vocabulary and learn to see the nuanced differences between each one by practicing recognising what we feel and regularly checking in with ourselves, that we can enrich our experience of life.
Look through the list of emotional vocabulary attached.
All of these emotions FEEL different.
Take a minute to look through the list and think about whether you know what each one feels like for you?
When did you last feel that emotion?
Are there any on there that you have never really felt at all? (Very possible).
Are you open to being able to feel all of them, even the negative ones?
Now i challenge you to try to use more of these words in your everyday life.
Next time someone asks how you feel, ask yourself if “FINE” or “GOOD” actually does your real feelings any justice?
Right now I feel driven and enthusiastic.
This morning I felt exhausted after a night of coughing.
When I was working on a problem at work yesterday I was feeling perplexed.
Why not keep a mood log to see how much of your emotional life you are really in touch with?
What Does It Mean To Be Self Aware?
If you had asked me if I was self aware at the age of, say, 25, I’d have said yes, but I’m not sure I’d have truly understood the concept. It’s only through doing a lot of personal work over the past 5 years that I’ve fully understood what it means to be self aware and how important it is that we all learn to practice it. And it is something we all need to practice.
When I talk about being self aware, what I’m referring to is a state of having a deep understanding of who you are, how you show up in the world, the impact you have, and what your underlying motivations are.
Looking back at myself at 25, I knew very little about myself apart from some very surface level values, most of which were borrowed and not truly my own. I was acutely aware of my weaknesses. I was acutely aware of my struggles with mental illness and feelings of emptiness and unfulfillment but I couldn’t have told you WHY I was feeling those things. I was very ego driven and was very easily hurt by criticism. I took things intensely personally. I was not an objective observer of my own behaviour.
It’s only through the regular practice of focusing on the following things that I have really had a much more objective view of myself and it has now become a passion of mine to help others do the same through my coaching.
To Have Good Self Awareness You Need To;
Understand Your Values/Beliefs Systems
You need to know and understand your core values and beliefs. We all have core personal values and they influence so much of our lives yet very few of us can name what our values are.
Be Able To Observe Yourself Objectively
We need to learn to become compassionate observers of our thoughts and behaviour. We all have aspects of ego which surface in our behaviour in day to day life and it’s so important to learn to identify the patterns that emerge, positive and negative. We are as a species blessed with the skill of being able to think about what we are thinking about. This process of observing ourselves is in essence the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent times and people tend to think it means we all need to be meditating for hours a day, but it is merely the act of being able to be present and conscious in our lives. Most of us are on autopilot 90% of the time and we don’t give ourselves space to stop and check in with what we are thinking and feeling in any given moment.
Work On Becoming A Better Listener
Again, I have probably always thought of myself as a good listener but if I’m honest I’ve been a terrible listener. I still have to work really hard on this but my coaching has helped me refine this a lot recently. To be a good listener you need to be able to resist the urge to react or make judgements in real time in conversations and to be able to hold space for others to express themselves fully before responding. Why is this good for self awareness? Because if you can hold space for others you can learn to do it for yourself. To observe without judgement is a real skill.
Keep A Journal
One tool that I found invaluable in this was Journalling. I keep a bullet journal which has all of my diary and to do lists in it, but it also has space for reflection on aspects of mindfulness. I keep a log of what I’m grateful for in my life every day. I keep a log of my moods, I log what I eat, when I exercise and much more. This allows me to not only observe mentally, but to physically collect data on what is going on with me on any given day. As someone with bipolar I needed to track my moods, but that wasn’t always giving a very full picture of what was going on. Once I combined tracking moods and what I was feeling, with tracking what I was eating and when I was exercising and what was going on in my life on a day to day basis was I able to see very strong patterns which could help me predict my behaviour in similar situations.
What is the Benefit of Greater Self Awareness?
It takes away a lot of the guess work. When did you last feel off or down and you just didn’t know why? How many times have you had an emotional outburst and only realise days later that it was probably hormone related? How often do you find yourself over eating or over drinking in order to avoid your feelings? I think I used to be afraid to find out what I was really like inside. I was afraid that I was broken or damaged in someway. Then I found out that I had bipolar disorder and instead of feeling broken I realised that I was actually just made this way and that I could avoid the suffering by becoming more self aware so that I could nip any future mood issues in the bud before they became more than they needed to be. I think we are all the same in some respect. Maybe you get anxious or depressed or stressed and you wonder if it’s something that makes you broken but I promise you you’re just fine and there are very simple things, like those above, that can help you get back in control of your emotions and your life.
I offer a 6 Week Online Course called Meology which runs every month. This covers many of the core skills you need to develop to in order to help you find a greater level of self awareness. For more information on this course check out www.helengregorycoaching.com/courses
Things That Made 2018 Awesome
My Audible Audiobooks Subscription!!
One of my goals for 2018 was to read more. I’ve always been a self help genre fan because of the life changing things I’ve found and applied to my life in the past. I don’t, however have a lot of spare time so I hadn’t really done much reading at all in recent years. My husband is a massive book worm and goes through 20-30 books in a year easily. I had to up my game! He’d said he had an Audible subscription and would listen to most of his fiction books that way so I checked it out and was thrilled at the choice of the titles I’d been dying to read on there, so I signed up. Each month you get 1 free credit (1 book download) for your subscription of £7.99 and you can buy credits if you run out. I then replaced my morning ride to work sound track (which had, for the past decade, been the Radio 4 Today Show (doom and gloom central) with a positive uplifting book and it made such a huge difference. I started my day feeling positive and energised.
Audible have a HALF PRICE Black Friday deal on from today, until the 14th of December, £3.99 per month for 4 months, instead of the regular £7.99 per month. I 100% recommend it.
Here is a link to the deal
WHAT IS YOUR WHY?
I wrestled with this question for many years. If you ask most people what their why is they will tell you they live for their children, or they live for their work, or they simply don’t know... I was in the don’t know camp.
I love singing opera, I love being a test analyst, a photographer, a blogger and embroidery artist but couldn’t honestly say I live for any one of those things.
I don’t plan to have any children because I my partner and I made the decision years ago that that wasn’t something we felt we wanted.
So what is my why? Why am I here...
I feel it’s important for us all to take the time to work out their higher level purpose because human beings need to have an aim. If you have no aim then it doesn’t matter what you do and that breeds apathy.
I’ve always believed It’s better to have an aim and miss than to have no aim at all.
So how did I find my why, and how can you find yours?
Find out on my latest blog post. Follow the link in my biog!
Why not carry on the conversation on this and other topics on my Facebook Group MEology Life (you can find a link on my blog page)
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How did I find my why?
1. I wrote down all of my strengths, talents, skills, attributes.
2. I identified and wrote down my highest held core values.
3. I looked for patterns and connections between all of those things.
What did I find?
I found that what links my passions for music, performance, opera, photography, embroidery art, and psychology was story telling and communication.
I realised that my WHY was all about communicating the messages that are important.
- To tell my story about my journey with mental health, my fitness journey and to help others find themselves and to find joy after living with depression or anxiety.
- To communicate the beauty, power and emotion of music.
- To help others capture their stories in pictures and art.
If I am doing these things I know am living my life purposefully with real authenticity.
SHAME is the MOST POWERFUL and destructive emotion...
I had never thought about it until I read Dr Brené Brown. She has spent her academic life studying shame and courage and vulnerability.
Why is shame so powerful?
When we feel ashamed about something we feel like by talking about it will risk social rejection or isolation. And what does that do ... it makes us bury our shameful thoughts and feelings and it stops us communicating.
What is the antidote to shame?
Compassion, empathy and vulnerability.
How do we get that?
By sharing our stories with people who we feel will not judge us.
Have you got something in your life which is causing you to feel shame?
I think most of us would be shocked to know that we all feel shame about something at some point in our lives.
Know that no matter what you feel ashamed about, you are not alone. You are not the first person to have felt the way you do about whatever your situation.
Talking about your shame will stop it being bottled up inside where it can only cause negative damage to your mental and physical health.
If there is nobody in your life you would trust to hear you without judgement then seeking an external source like a counsellor or coach is the best solution. Someone who won’t judge you but who will treat you with the compassion and understanding that you deserve.
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Join my FB Group - MeologyLife -
For a safe space to talk to like minded people. People who believe that discussions about mental health are important!
MEology Life Facebook Group
Check out more about me, check out my Instagram Feed here
I absolutely love my USN 1ltr sports drink bottle! It’s the ideal amount of water to take to the gym or to have on my desk!
My partner loved it but wanted the larger 2.2ltr version and now these go everywhere with us!
A few people had asked where I got it from so I thought I’d share the link!
This Book Can Change Lives!
It Changed Mine! ?
After my diagnosis of #Bipolar disorder I knew I had to make some big changes in my life. ?
My overly active brain was constantly coming up with new plans, ideas, creative #projects, and I’d forget them as quickly as they came to me. ?
I was scattered and I had good #intentions to follow up all the tasks and plans I set for myself but nothing ever got done. ?
This was a great #painpoint for me and for my husband. I never remembered to fill in our online calendar, I kept bits of paper with lists on all over the place and no consistency as to how I #organised my life. ?
Then I read about @Rydercarroll Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method online. He had created a method of self organisation which was so simple, all I needed was a #notebook and a pen ?
I set up my first bullet journal that day and vowed to dedicate 5 minutes each and every day to logging the tasks I wanted to achieve that day/week/month and to track the progress of these goals ?
Fast forward 1 year! I had come to the final page of my #bulletjournal and looked back over my year which was all there on paper ?
I had achieved every goal I had set out to #achieve and I felt as though I had done nothing more extraordinary than to dedicate this tiny amount of time to mindfully checking in.
An added bonus was my mental health improved greatly as I had solid data there in my journal as to what moods I had been feeling, alongside factual information to indicate WHY I was feeling like that. ?
If you would like to learn more about how Journaling can change your life DM me about my 6 week online course “MEology” which covers this as one of the topics! #meologylife #mentalhealthrecovery #anxietyrecovery #depressionrecovery #bipolarsurvivor #bookreview #lifechanging
What you Focus on Affects What you See!⠀
Psychologist Daniel Simons did an experiment (in the form of a Youtube video) where you are asked to watch 2 small teams playing basket ball. One team in red and one team in white. 🏀⠀
You are asked to count the number of times the white team passes the ball. (if you've not seen it check it out here before reading on… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY)⠀
You are then asked if you spotted the Gorilla! 🦍⠀
In this experiment Simmons wanted to prove that when we are focused on a task we use selective attention to filter out things that we don't need to see for the task at hand. ⠀
Don't get me wrong, focus is good but at what cost?⠀
What have you been focused on?⠀
What has THAT FOCUS made you blind to?⠀
I am a trained Opera Singer, and from 2008-2014 I dissapeared down a focus rabbit hole. ⠀
I had spent years in working, not knowing what I wanted from my life, and then the opportunity came along to go for what seemed like "my dream job" and I locked on. 🍀⠀
During that period I went at that aim with such intensity I didn't notice that some of the other important things in my life, which were on the peripheries, had started falling appart. ⚡️⠀
I was so focused on becoming something and forgot about BEING. 😥⠀
I had a vision of who I was supposed to be on the other end of the process but I hadn't taken the time to assess the effect of giving one thing my entire focus. I felt ok with the thought that I could put the rest of my life on hold until I got to the end goal. ⠀
Has anyone ever woken up one day, like I did, and realise they had achieved what they wanted to achieve but found they had lost something of great value on the way. ⠀
A relationship, a lifestyle, physical fitness, your mental health? 😰⠀
So many of us plow straight ahead in life when we see something that sounds like what we might want without actually knowing what we want. We are forced to make career decisions at a younger and younger age. ⠀
How can this be avoided? ⠀
Better education in Self Awareness! We need to realise the importance of learning how to identify our needs, our motivations and our core values.⠀
If we all had the opportunity work out what we REALLY wanted, we might avoid getting lost and aim our focal points more wisely? 🤯⠀
I am running a 6 week online course, based on 6 really effective lessons in self awareness leading to a strong foundation of self knowledge from which to build your future and plan your future goals. ⠀
If anyone is interested please comment or DM me for additional information. ⠀
The course starts next monday (5th November 2018). There are only 10 places left and places are on a first come first serve basis. ⠀
WHO ARE YOU?
No I don’t mean what is your job title?
No I don’t mean your family/relationship roles (mother, son, wife, cousin)?
No I don’t mean your reputation of being a bit of a party animal or the girl that cries on the stairs at parties (yeah, that one was me). I mean who are you on a much more fundamental level.
In my moments of crisis a few years back I realised I wasn’t my job title because as a professional singer who was often in between jobs or on the audition trail I only felt that I could identify as that part of the time. I was a wife, but I wasn’t being a very good one as I had become so lost in my depression and anxiety. I had recently lost my father so again part of my identity as “Bill Shorey’s” daughter had gone (not that I will ever stop being his daughter but you get it…). I WAS that girl that often cried at parties for no apparent reason other than alcohol really didn’t agree with me, but who wants to be THAT girl? These were all transient things. Things that couldn’t really define me in any real sense.
In the past few years I’ve been working on writing my first book “Meology” which is all about how to find yourself when you realise you feel lost and foundationless like I was. I have put togther a whole range of tools and questions which helped me put the pieces of the jigsaw together and I can’t wait to share them because of how much they have changed my life.
Starting next month I’m running an online course called Meology - the art of self understanding for personal growth and I’m looking for people who would like to do this 6 week online course. On it I cover 6 topics all of which will give you a deeper understanding of how you think, what you really need and what you are being motivated by alongside your deepest held values systems. I can guarantee you will find things you never knew about yourself.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE COURSE - DM ME, or comment and I will send you a link to some information. It would be great to work with anyone else who feels like they might be feeling lost or stuck.
#identity #whoami #onlinecourse #feelingstuck #lost #stuck #meologylife #whoareyou #jigsaw #depressionrecovery