Come into the office and close the door behind you

Does anyone else fear those awful words?

It shakes me to my very core

When the boss comes out to me and says

“Come into the office,

And close the door behind you.”

What the fuck do you need to say to me

That can’t be heard by anybody else?

What are you going to do to me

Once we’re trapped inside that tomb

That you prefer to call a room,

Or an office, or some other

Much less terrifying name.

Does anyone else feel their blood run cold?

Does anyone else say a silent prayer

When those fatal words are uttered?

But in I go like a little lamb

To the slaughter or at least the place

Where I get a grilling

For a thing I really didn’t mean to do.

I really hope that my words resonate with some people out there because this is a fear that has crippled me over the years. I’m not sure if it is down to some repressed trauma; maybe I got locked in a cupboard when I was naughty back when I was three?

I can joke about it but the fear of being asked into the office has made my life a living nightmare. Every time it happens I can feel myself sweating and my heart palpitating. And then nine times out of ten, whatever my manager wanted to say to me is positive anyway!

I think that a lot of this fear comes from my own insecurities. I constantly worry that I’m going to get pulled up for doing something wrong and a lot of the time this prevents me from even starting something. I sometimes wonder where I may have gotten to in my career if I had been more fearless and cared less about the dreaded office. I wish that I had known in my twenties that it’s fine to get something wrong. We all make mistakes and that’s how we grow and develop into strong and wise people.

If you are struggling with the fear of the office, try to see it as a place of growth. I understand how it quite literally feels like a tomb, like a place that I’m never going to escape from once that door closes behind me. It’s about as scary as being buried alive for me, so I know that it’s worthy of a panic attack. There is nothing to be ashamed of in feeling this frightened but do draw strength from the knowledge that there are lots of us that feel the same. I pray that you find strength and that next time you are called into the office there is a positive outcome.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

What I REALLY need is someone to look up to

I’m watching BBC Question Time and these are the words that started to come into my head. We are living in a really divided and scary Britain and world at the moment. It’s scary enough to make me want to turn the TV off and pretend that none of it is happening. But poetry is designed to help us say what we feel about these bigger topics in the world, so here goes…

What I really need is someone to look up to.

I don’t need a person who speaks so posh,

That someone like me can’t understand what he thinks,

How he feels and the things that he wants.

I don’t want to follow men who are older than dad,

Who can’t possibly understand

What is nagging at my consciousness, as I toss and turn,

In my bed late at night.

I need somebody who speaks like me, looks like me,

Concerned by the same things as me.

I need to know that the world that I leave,

To my children and their children will be OK.

Better than OK.

I want it to flourish and some posh geezer,

Who waltzed through Eton and Oxford,

Or Cambridge or somewhere like that,

Just doesn’t seem to get what I mean.

When I say that I’m scared, I’m really so scared.

They’re out for themselves in this contest,

For popularity and fame.

Think of the speaking gigs and book deals they’ll get,

When this is all over,

And the country is in tatters.

When we are all left to pick up the pieces.

So I don’t really care if a candidate,

Is young or female or ‘wet behind the ears’.

I care if she cares and I can see it in her eyes.

I want a role model,

And if that makes me stupid or silly or dumb,

I’ll take it on the chin and vote with my foot.

Because all that I really want and need,

Is a person to relate to,

To look up to and a person I’d quite like to be.

I don’t think it’s hard to guess who I’ll be voting for next month and my reasoning behind it. I hope that everyone does get out there and vote and I hope that this next couple of weeks will start to wrap up such a difficult three and a half years in our history.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are in the comments, although do keep them loving and respectful. Politics have the ability to draw us together or rip us apart and I hope that whoever in power does everything they can to do the former. This is about what’s best for the country and not how much glory the person who wins can enjoy.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

Am I too shy to be a leader?

As a person who is about as sensitive as it is possible to be, and also lacking in confidence, I have often worried that I’m too shy to be a leader. Is it possible for somebody like me to stand up and lead the way for others? Can I possibly inspire other people? Or would it just be best for me to keep in line and keep my mouth shut?

I think that this feeling that I cannot lead stems from the fear that I cannot possibly have anything worth hearing. It’s a total lack of confidence in myself and what I stand for and I’m sure that there are a tonne of other people out there that feel the same way about themselves.

Where does this lack of confidence come from?

I’m no psychiatrist but I’ve had enough therapy to know that it comes from childhood. I grew up always being told to keep in line. I was an athlete so I had a very strict and structured lifestyle and I just learnt to do as I was told. And I was also told that you can’t be a shy leader.

I’m not saying that this was bad or that it damaged me in any way. My parents were incredibly loving and gave me everything I needed. And my sports gave me an incredible amount of discipline that has helped me later in life. But it also taught me to just shut up and follow instructions.

What I wish somebody would have told me?

So it’s all very easy saying that this all stems from childhood, but how do I fix it? I want to become a leader. I know that I have so much to say and to give and I can’t give it from my place in the audience. What do I do?

The first thing to remember is that a place in the audience is not a bad place to be. It’s the place where you learn from others and the place where you join forces with others to make something great as a team.

But, sometimes stepping up on to stage is necessary and you need to know that you are capable of doing it. It is a scary place to be because all eyes are on you, but you need to tell yourself what you should have been told when you were a child.

I wish that somebody had told me that my voice does matter. Because it really does. Even if I feel like I have nothing to say, I actually have a whole lifetime of experiences that could help another if I just had the courage to step up to the microphone. Even if my voice is shaky and uncertain, there will be at least a handful of people who will need to hear it.

Do our insecurities make us shy and unable to lead?

I have always suffered from anxiety and in my twenties I used alcohol to numb it. My alcoholism was always something that I was deeply ashamed of and it made me put the brakes on every time I started to excel at something. But what if I could use this part of my story to boost my own confidence and that of others?

Having had some time to reflect on everything that happened in my twenties, I have realised that my difficulties could actually help me to be a better leader. People can relate to that pain and that struggling and it helps me to relate to them. And being relatable is one of the best things a leader can be. It’s not all about being loud and gobby. It’s about having something important to say, that can help people, and can inspire them.

So, next time you are thinking you aren’t good enough, or your past is too shameful or isn’t epic enough for people to want to follow you, remember that those bumps in the road are the thing that will make you a great leader.

Confidence is all you need and it only comes from really knowing where you come from and really believing that none of it can stand in your way. I believe that any one of you can get up there and inspire others. It’s just a case of finding your tribe and the cause that really sets your heart on fire. I wish you luck in finding it because I know that it will lift such a weight off your shoulders and that is something that everybody deserves.

Much love,

Rachel xx

What to do when life goes wrong?

There are times in life when everything is going stupendously. The flowers are in bloom and there is a spring in your step. But what happens when life takes a turn for the worse and everything just goes a bit wrong?

I was thinking about this today having just watched an interview with Glennon Doyle. I had come across her before and I knew her work but I didn’t really know anything about her life before she was a big writer and married to Abby Wambach. I didn’t know what had led her to the point that she was at when I came across her.

In the interview, she spoke about how she had the blog that she still runs called Momastery. She was a Christian mommy blogger with a husband and a couple of kids. Life looked pretty amazing from the outside, and it sounds as though she thought it was pretty amazing from the inside. And then disaster stuck and her husband told her that he had been unfaithful for the entirety of their marriage.

Now, for a lot of us that could have spelled the end of everything. The perfect life that she had portrayed on the internet had just been blown to smithereens. But instead she picked herself up and wrote a book.

Then, rather than worry about what people thought of her in the small community she had surrounded herself with she married the woman who she fell in love with, Abby Wambach. She didn’t care that people who had previously followed her were saying that she was wrong, she did what her heart told her to do.

And now, the two of them are one of the biggest power couples out there. They have a following of millions and they raise millions of dollars for charities that mean a lot to them.

I bet that there were some really dark days in between her husband leaving her and her marrying Abby and being where she is now. There must have been times that she got down on her knees and asked her God why life had to go wrong in the first place. But she persevered and kept following her heart and just look where she ended up.

There are times in all of our lives when a catastrophic event sends us careering off course, ending the life that we have come to know. But we need to remember that it is just lining us up for the next step in our life. And when life goes wrong, that is the time when we really truly grow. It’s the time that teaches us the most about ourselves if we are willing to stop and learn.

So next time something bad happens, remember that Gods timing is always perfect. You have been dealt that blow so that you can become a stronger person and be in the right place for your next blessing. If Glennon’s husband hadn’t left she would never have met Abby and if they hadn’t faced difficulties together then they wouldn’t be the inspiration that they are to so many young people.

Life has a funny way of working itself out so just enjoy the ride and really appreciate the full human experience, and that includes the bad parts!

When the time is right, I, the LORD, will make it happen

Isaiah 60:22

Reflections on 3 years sober

Crikey! Where do I start? I remember my last drink like it was yesterday, and then at the same time it seems so strangely long ago. And that’s because I’ve grown; something it’s impossible not to do when you sober up and start living a real and fulfilling life. In reality, I’m still a newbie in sobriety terms. Three years is nothing next to the thirty to forty years that I have seen others achieve. But God willing, I will continue on this road and get there too.

I just wanted to write a little bit about what drove me to take that scary step into sobriety because I think that it’s an important message to carry and the purpose of this blog is to inspire, uplift and help.

So, my journey began in August 2016 when I was pulled into yet another HR meeting because I had acted out. I was never malicious but my social faux pas were slowly mounting and this just ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was so humiliated and angry and frustrated and depressed although I spent every night drinking to blackout so I had no idea what these feelings were, let alone how to articulate them.

I ended up getting into a total mess after this quite traumatic meeting and I needed to be signed off from work. Yet again, I found myself at the doctor’s office, crying over my anxiety and depression. I admitted that I was having trouble with my drinking but I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even get help with my mental health problems because no services would touch me with a barge pole, knowing how much I drank (and quite rightly so, not knocking them for that in the slightest!)

This doctor that I saw turned out to be the person who would save my life from being the shit show that it was slowly becoming. She pointed me in the direction of an NHS drug and alcohol service and told me not to come back until I was sober (she wasn’t quite that blunt, but she was pretty straight to the point).

I went to the NHS place and it was terrifying. I was frightened and ashamed but they gave me a handful of tools and sent me off to AA. I didn’t go for quite some time because I knew that I had an all inclusive holiday coming up and there was no way that I was going to get through that without alcohol. I slogged through the holiday and then I decided that enough was enough. But midway through the following week I caved and bought another bottle of vodka. I was shaking, I needed it so badly. I realised that I had officially come to the end of the line. The next morning I woke up at about 3am feeling really sick. I was living at my parents’ house because I was too much of a wreck to look after my own place and I was so embarrassed to let them hear me being sick that I ended up vomiting in the sink in the utility room. That was my moment. I wouldn’t say it was my rock bottom. That was unfortunately still to come. But it was when I knew that I could never drink again. It was 3rd November 2016.

Life since then has not been easy but the changes have been amazing. AA promises you that you will have a life beyond your wildest dreams and at the time I thought that meant money and ‘success’. Now I realise that it’s something far more subtle than that. Now I realise that it means that I’ll have a much better chance of living to watch my son get married and to enjoy grandchildren. I have the money to go on an extra holiday or buy something nice for the house. I can actually live on my own and not run the place into the ground like I did before. I can pay my bills on time and I can be a much more reliable friend, family member and employee.

I still have anxiety and I’ll always take tablets for my depression but I’m constantly growing and learning so much about myself and the world that I live in. Now I just hope and pray that others can enjoy what I have and that hopefully I can inspire somebody who is struggling to reach out for help. Go to the doctor, speak to a friend or send me a message if you like! We’re all here to help if you are struggling so don’t squander this wonderful thing called life.

Much love ,

Rachel xx

Rejection (a poem)

I sometimes feel so pained and raw,

It’s quite a common human flaw,

To worry what the people think.

Have they found that hidden chink,

The one we try so hard to hide,

To protect our selfish pride?

But it’s not that we are scared,

Of how they think that we have fared.

It’s more a fear that they will force,

Us out to run the longest course,

On our own, without the backing,

Of the tribe that have done the sacking.

But really you can go and find,

The love and joy or your own kind,

Somewhere else where you will fit,

And you are free to do your bit.

So turn your back on those that fail,

To see what greatness you can nail.

Feeling attacked? Try this little trick to put a stop to it

I know that people who tend to be even the tiniest bit on the sensitive side can struggle with the feelings of being under attack. You do something wrong at work; you feel like your boss is attacking you over it for the next month. You can’t meet a friend for lunch; you feel like they are attacking you for being a bad friend. You can’t help out a colleague by covering a shift; you feel like they are being spiteful towards you for weeks afterwards. The list can go on and on. So how do you put an end to it without being an absolute bitch and losing your cool?

There are a tonne of different techniques that you can use ranging from meditation through to going into a bathroom and crying about it for ten minutes. Some are good and some are not so good. But this one is a brilliant way to cut the person down immediately without the need to be horrible in return.

The technique is really very simple and it’s all about repetition. Repetition is such a powerful technique in so many situations and this is no exception. Just think about it for a moment. If you repeat an action over and over, it gets learned and you become an expert. If you use repetition in a speech you really drive your point forward. If you repeat a mantra to yourself then you can really end up believing what you are telling yourself.

Now think what effect it has on someone who is attacking you. Many people who resort to attack are feeling emotional and they are not thinking about what they are saying. They are on autopilot. And it’s very easy for you to get sucked into the same trap, say something mean back to them and then you find that you’re both engaged in a meaningless war of words.

If you just slow down and ask the person to repeat what they said you will be amazed by what effect it has on them. I recently had a co-worker tell me that I had done half of my job wrong when I had missed one task that I was supposed to do. Instead of flying into a rage and arguing that point, I just told her that I wasn’t sure that I’d heard her properly and could she please repeat what she had said. She IMMEDIATELY took back what she had said because she was repeating it in her mind and realising just how much she had exaggerated. It worked a treat.

Now this only works if you then just let it go. You can’t then carry on and on at the person about how they had been making things up and outright lying and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You have to know when to pick your battles and when someone has dropped it you need to learn to also drop it. You probably won’t get an apology but at least you have stopped the ear bashing in its tracks.

Try it next time someone starts to harp on at you about something that’s really not necessary. It won’t work all of the time but it’s a good way to stop things escalating when emotions are starting to bubble. I’d love to hear if it works for any of you?

Have a great day and remember to be nice to people and love your life because it’s the only one that you’re going to be given.

Reframing: overcoming blogging issues (and any other problem in life)

So I’m not the most technically minded person in the world and to be a really good blogger I have found that being a bit computer savvy is definitely advantageous. I’m also writing this blog because of my sensitivity and I want people who are like me to feel that the world is a little bit safer and easier to navigate. But sensitivity and computer problems don’t go together very well. In fact, they are probably the worst mix in the world because just a minor hitch in my plans can make me feel like my whole world is ending!

Therefore, the point of this post is to explore how people can make scary or crappy situations seem just a little bit more manageable. It is not just sensitive people that will struggle with this, but I do often wonder how some people seem to make everything look like it’s water off a duck’s back.

One of the best ways that I have found over the past few years of working on myself, is to reframe the problem, and I am pretty sure this is what all those really resilient people are doing even if they are doing it subconsciously.

What this involves is taking the problem (in this case it was my flipping computer not working) and reframing it so that it is less huge or just different in some way. Here I just had to look at it on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being my life being in danger and 1 being a minor annoyance. When you look at it in this way you suddenly see that it’s only about a 2 at the very most and it immediately diminishes the level of anxiety. This is because life is all about survival and when you see where you are on the scale of survival needs, everything can be put into better perspective.

The other way of reframing is to just look at something differently. I’m having a lot of problems with my mother at the moment. She is being very difficult and the situation was becoming overwhelming. With the help of a therapist, what I have been doing is looking at the problem as though it is a puzzle. I love doing books of sudoku and so likening it to solving a puzzle or just moving on to the next has just made it all feel a little more trivial. The problem is still there and it’s still serious, but I’ve given my brain some relief from the stress that’s been flooding it. This means that I can get on with other things in my life and have some moments to actually enjoy life.

Now I’m not a counsellor or psychiatrist so I’m just telling you these techniques because they have helped me. If you have any serious issues that are causing you distress I can’t urge you enough to go and seek help. There are resources out there that you can use and a lot of them are completely free. Your GP is a good starting place.

I hope that this can help one or two people and together we can make the world just a little bit happier, more patient and more kind.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Focus on yourself, not others.

People, places and things. Something that you learn very early on in recovery from addiction is that you cannot control any of these things, no matter how hard you try. And this piece of advice wouldn’t go amiss in other areas of our lives.

Sometimes when you are trying to make it as a successful entrepreneur you will find that people don’t do the things that you wanted them to or expected to do. And this can throw a spanner in the works if you are trying to build something that is going to be a success and sustainable. And of course, you have to watch trends develop and understand how people tick if you are going to make something that is lasting, but you also can’t let it get to you every time something doesn’t go your way.

When I was drinking in an unhealthy way, a lot of the reasons behind it were that I just couldn’t handle people not doing the things that I wanted or needed them to do. It wasn’t because I was a bad person, or because I wanted to control them; it was because I had so little confidence in myself that I couldn’t handle it if I didn’t know, with absolute certainty, what the outcome was going to be. I would actually freak out and lose the plot which is not the ideal reaction when you are trying to lead and inspire!

As I’ve gone through my recovery, I’ve realised that people are funny and unpredictable things. There is no way that we can say, with any certainty, that they will be on board with our own ideas. The key to being successful is in being able to focus on yourself rather than everybody else around you.

You need to remember that everyone else around you has their own agendas and hopes and dreams and just because they let you down, it doesn’t mean that they no longer care about you. This can be a really hard thing for sensitive people to grasp, but it is essential if you want to make your own way in the world.

I would crumble every time that somebody so much as disagreed with my point of view, which was never going to get me very far. In fact, it only led to addiction and misery. So here are my top tips on how to stop yourself from going down that rabbit hole that I found myself in:

  • Take on board what people have to say and show respect if it differs to your own opinion. By arguing back you only make situations escalate into an emotional mess.
  • If somebody is getting a bit aggressive about a differing opinion, just back away. They are the ones that are stewing in anger and feeling uncomfortable. If you have the class and the self control to just walk away while someone is hammering you with abuse, guess what? You’re the one that comes out looking better.
  • Try to remember a time that you last had a bad day and remember how you felt. Now tell yourself that the person being horrible is having a day even worse than that. You don’t know if they’ve had an argument with their other half or scraped their car on the way to work. Anything could have riled them up and you have nothing to do with it!
  • Focus on your own goals. There are seven billion people in the world and just because one of them wants to be negative about where you are going it doesn’t mean that everyone else will be.
  • And most importantly, if someone is doing better than you, the same rules apply. Congratulate that person on their success and then focus on your own work. Never be nasty or bitter, because you’d want people to be nice about your own successes. Remember that you can learn from these people and they might end up being useful friends to have further down the line.

So, really, the point that I want to push more than anything is that I want to encourage people to be nice and lift others up if they are doing will. No more bitching and backstabbing and if someone directs that behaviour towards you, you are free to back away.

And a lot of the people that I hope are reading this are the sensitive type and I know how much of a slave we can be to our feelings. But remember that we are not a sum or our feelings. Acknowledge that a person has made you feel shitty and then move on rather than sit and stew in it. It’s not helpful for you mental health or your future success. You deserve so much more so concentrate on all the good things in your life and all the wonderful things that are going to happen. Everyone else is just running their own race and you need to do the same.

Want to be successful? Then be a bitch…. (plus a bonus poem)

Or that might be what it feels like sometimes, doesn’t it? If you’re a quiet and sensitive person. If you’re living your life in a way that involves not stomping all over people’s hopes, dreams and self confidence, it can sometimes feel like you are not deserving of success and happiness.

I was in the grips of alcohol addiction when I first watched The Devil Wears Prada. I was therefore craving money and attention and general adoration from everyone around me and so there was something about this movie that just resonated with me and everything that I wanted. I looked at Meryl Streep’s character like she was some sort of goddess; the epitome of what I wanted to be. She was rich and successful and everybody worshipped the ground that she walked on.

I also didn’t seem to be aware that the reason these people all bowed down to her like she was a goddess was because they were actually terrified of her. The respect people had for her was born out of fear and it’s not like anyone would ever want to go out to the pub with her after work. She wasn’t loved like a friend or a mother figure. And people only wanted to impress her so that they didn’t get stomped on, or because they wanted to impress her to advance their own careers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where Meryl’s character was a jolly and rotund woman who dished out hugs and invited people into her office for cups of tea when they were stressed? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate kindness rather than fear? Is that even possible or would society fall to pieces if we took away those ball breakers who ‘make things happen’?

I would love to see that happen and I hope that my little online community and friend group can help to make this a reality. I don’t see why empathy and kindness can’t win the day and I would love to hear people’s thoughts and ideas on whether this could be encouraged. Because now that I am free from my addiction and not so focused on power and money I realise the level of misery that ball breakers can inflict is high and unnecessary! Why spread all that pain when it’s not needed?

So let’s all pull together and try to help the nice ones rise to the top. And here are a couple of tips for being kind in the work place (or anywhere else in the world):

  1. Try not to get on other people’s wick,

Because it just makes you look like quite the little dick.

2. If you have nothing nice to say,

Just save it for another bloody day.

3. If something said, hits a little nerve,

Don’t hate back, but smother it with lurve.

4. Rise above the gossip and the hate,

It’s not worth it, don’t take the fucking bait!

5. And lift the the nice ones way up high,

Because manners, empathy and love are never things that you can buy.