No, really…. it’s absolutely OK to love who you are

Red Heart

The ego can be a thing of terrible beauty – rampantly cocksure one moment, fragile as parchment the next.

It is capable of inspiring and propelling us to moments of true greatness, leaving others around us lost in the backwash of its afterburners. And then, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it instant, it can plunge us into self-doubt and self-loathing.

Ego defines our emotional and psychological essence, a wild animal that paces the cage we lock it in. We feed it and it grows. We starve it and it shrinks. We neglect it and it becomes savage.

Often, its food of choice – or, perhaps more accurately at least, the diet we choose to feed it – is the approval and love of others. Our daily interactions with other humans – and machines, actually – can be boiled down into simple transactions of approval and disapproval, an ongoing exercise in the mutual business of validation, judgement, recognition and acknowledgement.

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Are You Dating From Defecit?

Um...no Picnic

In a shade over six months the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union. Whatever your view of that in principle, the matter of Britain’s membership is a debate that has long since been obsolete. Our love affair with Europe is in its death throes and come next March the political equivalent of a decree absolute will formally be signed by all parties.

Our departure is no longer about the financial terms of the divorce, either. 

Events over the weekend (which largely unfolded in The Daily Mail at the pen of Boris Johnson) and this morning, as it was revealed that at least 80 Conservative MPs will vote against Theresa May’s so-called ‘Chequers’ deal, have ensured that the immediate post-referendum arguments over whether or not the NHS would get another £350m a week are also now entirely moot.

The big question today is whether we will have any sort of formal relationship with the rest of Europe at all. 

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The One Thing You Need To Do To Improve Your Life Instantly

Boxing Gloves

Give a man a fish and he’ll feed himself for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself forever. Or so the saying goes. It’s probably true, but who really knows? Fish can be damned smart. Particularly the ones that have been caught before.

Here’s a saying which I know is absolutely true:

Give someone five minutes with nothing to do but think and they’ll find a way to beat themselves up about something, no matter how small or trivial.

It’s a sentence or thought that starts with the words If only I hadn’t

… said that, done the other, been mean about Rachel’s new hairstyle, bought that dress, maxed out my credit card, asked out the guy/girl in the Costa queue on an irrational impulse, inhaled an entire packet of Hobnobs in a single sitting, been quite so unkind to my mother, jumped to that conclusion about Dawn Smith when we were ten, poked the cat with a stick, got back with her / him for the 30th time, thought bad things about that woman before I knew she had cancer, turned down that job promotion, frittered away my teens … the list is endlessly long.

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The Sickening Truth About Secrets

George Michael (1)

Over the last few days, former Wham! manager Simon Napier-Bell has suggested that George Michael may have been tortured by a childhood secret that proved to be both the singer’s inspiration and his curse.

Michael was, of course, a global superstar, recognised as one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation. A string of bubblegum hits in the Eighties with Wham! made him the bedroom-wall-pin-up for teen girls – and some teen boys – around the world.

And as he outgrew the sockless deck shoes and coiffured highlights and forged a more contemporary image rendered in brooding charcoal and black and punctuated by goatees and designer shades, his songwriting became similarly substantial, its themes darker and more complex.

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Is Your Love Story A B-Movie?

Posterini 574196252839 (1)

As a concept, it’s a fantastic script. Two star crossed lovers wounded by a past littered with one failed relationship after another. Life gives them one last battle to fight: the battle to find each other.

It’s a sweeping, soaring, tear-fest of two people hampered by fate and shackled to a future they can’t yet see but which they both know lies somewhere just beyond their immediate reach. It’s Gable and Leigh, Bogart and Bergman, Tracy and Hepburn. It’s Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln in that scene in Love Actually. Except in your version, Keira doesn’t let him walk away.

You have the script and, because this is your love story, you have a ready-made cast. It’s an epic romantic blockbuster destined to smash all box office records.

The only problem is that your subconscious has been tasked with job of directing it.

As the director of your personal movie, your subconscious is more Quentin Tarantino than, say, Steven Spielberg. It’s opinionated and often comes with its own agenda, drawing on your past experiences to inform your present and future. If you grew up in a house of drama, your subconscious is more likely to push you toward dramatic love and tempestuous hit-and-run run hook-ups. 

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Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Nourishing your heart involves making a practice of loving every aspect of yourself. This is about embracing all of your inner world too. This includes those parts of you that are responsible for some of your greatest challenges. Many people have parts of themselves that are closed down to love, push away opportunity and sabotage their best attempts to make positive changes in their lives. It can be tempting to attack these parts of your mind, making them wrong and blaming them for everything that is difficult in your life.  Unfortunately that only makes matters worse. If you do have parts of yourself that seem set against you, they are working on some level to serve you. They always are. Yes, those parts may be serving you in wholly destructive ways, underpinning any number of terribly limiting behaviours and beliefs but those parts will be doing that with your best interests at heart. Somewhere in the middle of their motivation is a desire to keep you safe.

Changing behaviour only works in a real and lasting way if we can get every aspect of ourselves into alignment. It is about negotiating with yourself so that every part of you comes into agreement. Then it no longer involves any will power. Will power is when one part of you wants one thing and another wants something else and you go to war against an aspect of yourself.  True transformation comes from realising on a deep level what truly serves you. This is not a chore, a duty or a loss. It is a gift of love. From there, there is no more struggle or effort required. So, how do you bring those parts of you into agreement? Continue reading…


Valuing Yourself In Business (& Why It’s So Important)

Valuing Yourself In Business (& Why It's So Important)

Having a healthy sense of self esteem and self value is important in all areas of life, and your workplace, whether you are working for someone else or running your own business, is no exception.

So what does valuing yourself in business mean?    Well, it’s helpful to break it down:

One of the most important ways we can value ourselves in business is financially.    Whether this is fighting for the payrise we deserve or ensuring that we are charging enough for our services, time and products, it’s absolutely essential.   In today’s economic climate it’s easy to go into fear, overcommit ourselves financially and timewise, but if you can’t afford it then it’s counterproductive.     When running your own business sloppiness around financial details will undermine you faster than anything else, whilst we don’t always have time to do all of this ourselves at the very least it’s important to keep a close eye on the details, or have someone you trust taking care of this.

The same goes for time.    Time is, of course, money and if you’re continually giving away your time for free, or undercharging for projects it will ultimately lead to underearning.    If you’re starting up it’s often helpful to take on pro-bono projects in order to make contacts, build your reputation and hone your skills, but it’s important to set boundaries around it.   Of course pro-bono projects can be highly enjoyable, especially if for a worthy cause, however it’s essential to ensure that you plan accordingly, and allow paying projects to fully support these.   The same applies when you are an employee, it’s easy to get caught in a ‘people-pleasing’ loop in a desire to get ahead, but it creates what I call the ‘domino’ effect in that you are continually playing catch up, struggling to get out of bed due to the late nights at work and, again, ultimately it is counter-productive as you under-resourced and simply cannot perform to your best ability.

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Abandoning Yourself….Are You Guilty?

Abandoning Yourself....Are You Guilty?

What does abandoning yourself mean?

Well it means saying yes when really you feel no, it can also be described as people pleasing, playing small or giving away your power. It’s when you override the protestations of your inner voice and allow yourself to be overly influenced by others opinions, evaluations and verbalisations. Or it’s when you give yourself up to avoid rejection or the fear of it. Turning to a myriad of mild, or not so mild, addictions is another all too common way of avoiding painful feelings and therefore abandoning yourself.  Many of us are guilty of some or all of these at some time or another, but for many it’s become a deeply ingrained habit, or worse still a way of life.

So what does it cost us? Well continuing to abandon yourself is deeply corrosive to your self worth as you are not only giving yourself the message ‘I don’t trust myself’ but you are also compounding it with ‘what I think and feel doesn’t matter, even to me’.

Ultimately, continuing to abandon yourself will leave you dis-empowered and resentful.

If you have abandonment issues from childhood then this subconscious wounding unfortunately increases the likelihood of abandoning yourself in adulthood – we often do to ourselves what was done to us – until we bring our attention and healing to this. The reason for this is twofold: firstly the subconscious seeks out what is familiar, no matter how uncomfortable and painful, in an attempt to resolve it and secondly if there are unresolved childhood abandonment issues self worth will have already been eroded, meaning you are much less likely to trust and listen to yourself, until you do the work to do that.

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Are you your own personal bully?

Are you your own personal bully?

I imagine most people would agree that bullies are a nuisance, and that’s putting it mildly. I’m sure at some point in our lives, we have all experienced being bullied, intimidated, coerced and victimized, and I think we would also agree that it doesn’t feel good. In fact, it can stir up some very uncomfortable feelings, ranging from indignation, fear, sadness and hurt. Some of us will come out fighting, and other’s may retreat and just hope that the person responsible will eventually leave us alone. As a way of coping with the stress posed by this external threat, albeit an individual or group, we may try to be overly nice to compensate, or seek ways of remaining safe, by being hyper alert and trying to anticipate their behaviour. In doing so, we end up compromising ourselves, creating incredible stress and living in a state of anxiety. If our exposure to this level of anxiety continues, and panic ensues, then our self esteem is compromised and damaged. Once our self esteem starts plummeting, then most areas of our lives are negatively influenced. Over an extended period of time, we become a shadow of our former selves, unless we find a way to cope by seeking support, help and advice.

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Are You A Validation Addict?

Are You A Validation Addict?

When we feel the need for constant external validation, maybe it is time to start asking ourselves why that is. This applies specifically to women, who may regularly elicit attention from men to feel special, worthy and attractive. In fact, some of us can take this to an extreme, where we seek validation, using our feminine charms and sexuality to be ‘seen,’ noticed and approved of. This feeling of power gives us an instant feel good ‘hit,’ which never lasts, because ultimately it doesn’t reach in and validate who we are as people. So, we are off on our search again, longing and yearning for that magical person to give us something that for some reason, we are unable to give ourselves. That search will eventually lead us back to ourselves, because it is a dead end on a road going nowhere. We are solely responsible for determining, deciding and creating our level of self esteem that doesn’t require anyone’s stamp of approval.

Being centred and grounded in our authentic selves is not easy if we have low self esteem, we need propping up, we need to be noticed, and this need originates from a core wound that no amount of validation can heal. However, that doesn’t stop us jumping from one relationship and sexual encounter to the next, in the hope that this person and ensuing distraction will take our pain away. We are living on the periphery of our lives, orbiting our core wounding with an astute cleverness that has become our default defence mechanism. Unfortunately there is not a man walking on the earth who has the power to reach in and love all the hurt away, that belief belongs in the fairy tales with the likes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. In real life, Sleeping Beauty would wake up out of her 100 year stupor, dust herself off and tell Prince charming to take a hike, while she gets on with the business of discovering the Queen that she is, and not the ‘princess’ that she’s been conditioned to be. True, authentic transformation evolves out of the pursuit of self discovery, an innate potential that resides in us all. Low self esteem, with all its highs and lows, does not feel good. This offers a momentary reprieve, but it will never offer the one thing that we truly need, and that is healing. We can become so immersed in our story that it is hard to imagine that life could take on new meaning, that we could create a reality that would be deeply satisfying, in a way that drama, addiction and another pair of shoes, could never match and never equal.

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.