- Life is a journey, not a series of boxes you have to tick. You already have all the resources you’ll ever need to make that journey rich, meaning, and enjoyable. You just don’t know that you have them – yet.
- Living is the process whereby you discover and share all the amazing gifts you hope – and secretly believe - you might have. Only to discover you had even more gifts than you previously thought!
- Comparing yourself to others is pointless. The fact is, you are unique and wonderful just as you are (even if you don’t believe that, yet). Your job is to allow those qualities to shine. This may take a while, but oak trees don’t spring up overnight, either.
- Don’t waste energy believing people who tell you what you cannot be, or do, or have. They can’t read your future –although they may think they can. Don’t let their negativity blight your precious life.
- Commit to working on your personal development. You’ve spent 11 years at school learning a ton of stuff you’ll never use. But nobody has taught you how to master your moods, feel at peace with your emotions, or love yourself. That’s like being let loose on the motorway without learning how to drive. You are the one person in your life who you cannot avoid. The way you treat yourself is the way the world will treat you.
- Try not to control Life. Life doesn’t have a downer on you; it isn’t out to get you. It just places hurdles along your way. How you get over them and what help you enlist is up to you.
- Trust your intuition; it’s your inner Sat Nav - or wisdom, if you prefer. You may not always like what it says but treat it with respect and it will keep you safe, happy, and loved.
- Making mistakes is part of the deal, don’t be afraid of them, and don’t waste time regretting them. Simply learn from them. Always ask yourself: “What is the gift in this situation?” until you find it.
- Learn to love yourself sooner rather than later . You learn to love yourself so you can love others – and be loved – better. Don’t worry about becoming selfish. You care too much about other people for that ever to happen.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you are talking with a man and it feels like you've hit a wall?
Because you have hit a wall. It’s that Mars and Venus stuff. You could almost be from different planets. Suddenly, you're not talking the same language.
And the way that you know - or could know that you're not talking the same language is this: the other person isn't hearing you; he's not making sense of what you're saying.
That happened to me very recently. Not with my lovely partner, but with another man that I really needed to communicate with effectively. We were communicating by email.
I said to him pretty much the same thing that I say to a lot of people and I got a pretty sharp reply back. He told me that my terminology was cringe-worthy.
Actually, he wasn't wrong.
For the purposes of communication, I was just using the kind of cliches that a lot of women use – because we women instantly understand them.
This man didn't understand them. He wasn’t even going to try: they offended him. End of.
If I wanted to communicate with him, I was going to have to speak his language. My communication could have to be short, sharp, and concrete.
I understood that. And I didn't take his directness personally.
The problem was: how do I communicate more effectively about matters touchy-feely in the language of a rather direct, Alpha male?
I'd love to say that I simply flicked a linguistic switch in my head and instantly translated what I had to say into Alpha Male language. But I didn't. I’m not fluent in Alpha Male.
Instead, because there was a lot riding on the effectiveness of my communication, I started second-guessing myself. And then what happened?
I found a thousand other touchy-feely, cringe-worthy ways of expressing the same thing, as I cudgelled my poor brain to do better – and my poor brain refused.
Then I remembered the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire option, and phoned a friend: an Alpha male Russian friend. I told him the problem, and within a few minutes he helped me arrive at the solution.
Of course, he pitched it absolutely right, man to man.
Now, I understand that in personal relationships, taking time out to phone a friend may not always work. Not least because you don't have the luxury of time, and distance that you have with email.
I also know that there are times when I realise that my lovely partner and I are not communicating in quite the same language.
We all know what can happen next: voices are raised – purely to aid comprehension – frustration sets in very fast, tempers and blood pressure rise, and the Finger of Blame can be pointed.
It's hard to stop an argument once it's started. So, if possible, it makes sense not to go there, in the first place.
With my lovely partner, I've reached the stage of registering when the communication is not getting through.
That's a great signal that I'm not speaking to him in the right language. (Sure, I could argue that he's not speaking to me in my language, but that would only open the way up to blame, and powerlessness.)
When communication is not getting through it’s a sign to abort the line of argument right there.
That's not about giving in, or silencing your own voice.
It's about accepting the pointlessness of listening to the sound of your own voice when the other person won't.
Much better to abandon the point then and there, but keep the connection. After all, that is the important thing. Isn't it?
Further down the line, when you are calm, and have thought how to put whatever you want to say in terms that Mr (Alpha) Male can understand, you can use mention whatever it is you wanted to talk about. ( In between times, you can always use the Phone A Friend option, provided you don't select an inflammatory friend to speak with.)
I'm not saying men are like pets – perish the thought! However you are more likely to have their relaxed attention when your voice is calm, and reassuring, and what you say connects with the way they think.
“Can people change?”
Theoretically, the asker is appealing to my professional wisdom for the answer to the burning question they cannot answer for themselves.
In reality, something quite different is going on, and they are asking The Hopium Addiction Question.
Needless to say, the Hopium Addiction Question has a whole back story, which goes like this: “I've been hurt and disappointed by someone in my life. I feel badly let down, and part of me is telling me that I need to let go. But I really don't want to do that. See, I'm still hoping that if I hold on long enough, they will change, and behave towards me the way I want them to – the way I need them to. Is there hope of that happening?”
Years and years ago, when I was caught up in a cycle of neediness and emotional dependence, I ploughed through most of Doris Lessing's output. One observation still sticks with me. She wrote, approximately:
“People do things, in their own good time, for their own good reasons.”
At the time, I was struggling with a tough emotional scenario, and that was the most useful piece of wisdom that was on offer. I took it to mean that, when it comes to the important things
a) people don't do what you want them to do for your reasons
b) getting on with their own lives, and focusing on their own needs and wants tends to be their priority – even though it may not be yours.
Which brings us back to the question, can people change?
My guess is that most people are capable of change, provided the concept of change does not strike them as unduly dangerous. If, for whatever reason, they believe that change will herald the end of their life as they know it then, of course, they will resist change tooth and nail.
But, even if they are capable of change, that doesn't mean they are going to get on and do it.
You have to ask yourself: “What's in it for them?” From their point of view. Sure, from your point of view, their change would Improve Things so that they, too, would reap benefits. But to quote the inimitable Catherine Tate: “Are they bovvered?” Are they really losing out with the way things are now? Or are things working perfectly well for them, thank you very much.
Besides, chances are, if they've been causing you a bit of emotional grief, they have a marked talent for digging their heels in. People who have a habit of digging their heels in tend to resent you making what they perceive as 'demands'. So, of course, when you persist, they resist – and keep on resisting.
By now, “Can people change?” should be beginning to look like a Wrong Question. Wrong Questions are nasty little critters because they tend to lead you – by the road more travelled – straight up the nearest blind alley.
The worst thing about The Hopium Addiction Question is that it leaves you disempowered. It means that the thing you want lies beyond your control. Your only hope of getting it is by getting control of another person, who has no intention of changing the existing balance of power between the two of you. (Why would they? It works to their advantage, doesn't it?)
In other words, it's a hiding to nothing.
So, if what is key is NOT the other's person's ability to change, what's left?
What's left is your ability to switch your focus back to you, so you can say to yourself: “Yes, that other person is important to me. But my long-term happiness and well-being are even more important to me. After all, I'm the one person who is going to be my constant companion from now until I shuffle off this mortal coil. That being the case, where and how do I need to change, so I can enjoy the lasting feelings of belonging, self-worth, and happiness that I deserve?”
I am an Abuse Recovery Expert, writer, and Seminar Leader.
I empower women to make changes in their life, believe in their own value, trust their own judgements, and create healthy relationships for themselves.
If you’re ready to put the misery of emotional abuse behind you, once and for all, working with me will fast track your recovery. Together with my ebooks, The Woman You Want To Be, and Married to Mr Nasty, I offer group and 1-2-1 coaching programs, for women who have been in unhappy, unhealthy relationships.
If you would like to apply for VIP 1-on-1 Coaching, you can call our office at (0044) 01707 264984, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be in touch with you within 2 business days.
Here’s to creating and enjoying the bright future of your dreams!