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.

How to be a productivity bad ass (or not) (a poem)

I have spent a lot of time looking into how to be more productive and there are so many things out there that can help. Everything from calendar blocking to bullet journalling can help with the organisational side of things. And then you can look at all the self help stuff to help you with your procrastination and fears. But doing all of this stuff doesn’t actually get the work done. And what exactly are we trying to achieve in the first place. Being busy for the sake of being busy is just a sure fire way to get yourself burnt out.

So what is the optimum working speed? Should we all be pulling all nighters and working until our fingers bleed? And how do we measure how well we have done? Is it by how many words we have typed, or how many likes we have received over the course of a day? Or is it based on monetary return? There are so many ways of measuring but one way that is very rarely looked at, is how much happiness an activity has brought you.

What good is it to earn a fortune and to not feel fulfilled at the end of the day? There was a time in my life when my identity was so tied up in how much I achieved and at what speed that I quite literally felt hollow. I could produce loads of work but I wanted to gouge my eyes out by the end of the day.

So, when you are watching any of these videos on youtube that show you how to make your day more worthwhile and full, think why you are watching it and what you want from the work that you are doing. Sometimes, doing some arts and crafts (which you are doing for enjoyment only and not to sell the fruits of your labour) can be much more rewarding than working away at the blog that is making you tonnes of money. Sometimes, doing some voluntary work is the way forwards. And sometimes just doing nothing is pretty awesome too. In fact, the people who can sit and do nothing without feeling irritable are the people who are most at peace with themselves.

But, if you are wanting to get more done then try and take the distractions out of your life. Things like social media and TV would be the first things to get rid of. And then really think about what you want out of a piece of work. It doesn’t have to make you money to be of use. If you know what you’re looking to get out of something then it’s far easier to keep motivated and on track. It’s also worth writing out goals and monitoring progress as this can also help when you start to flag. I’m always far more likely to procrastinate when I’ve lost my passion for a project and this is normally because I don’t know what I’m aiming for any more.

With all of these things in mind I wrote a little poem about being productive and how money shouldn’t always be the end game.

The thought to me that is most seductive,

Is “what if I could be a little more productive?”

If I were, would I smash my every goal?

Would I seem like I was on a roll?

I’d be sure to make a tonne of cash,

And live a lifestyle that’s really very falsh.

But this could come at such a price,

That no amount of clothes could be that nice.

So do the things that you enjoy,

Because the money myth is just a ploy,

To make you think that you’re not good enough,

That you’re not made of the right stuff.

But, my dear, you really are,

Already quite the shining star.

Too scared to start and 3 ways to overcome that fear

It was Oprah who once said that nervousness is actually a selfish emotion. When I first heard this I thought she was having a laugh. As someone who has been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder I get nervous about lots of situations and I thought it was a bit rich of her to say that made me selfish. But when I read her reasoning behind this statement it made me start to at least try and change my mind set when tackling new and scary things.

When Oprah made this statement she wasn’t trying to say that us anxious types were horrible people; what she was saying was that a safe amount of anxiety is no reason to deny the world of your idea. Saying that you’re too scared and then not carrying through with it because of that fear could stop something really great from being released into the world. And who are you to say that nobody can experience that thing you dreamt up? What would have happened if Fleming had decided he was too scared to tell the world that he had discovered penicillin in case something went wrong and everyone laughed at him? Or if Mandela hadn’t fought for the end of apartheid because he knew that he was going to get resistance? The world could have been a very different place, and don’t go thinking that your small idea couldn’t make the biggest of waves.

If you’ve read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert then you may be familiar with the idea that any inspiration that comes flying into your head is a gift and it should be treated as such. If somebody gave you a gift of a million pounds and told you to spread it between your favourite charities you wouldn’t then put it in your bank and keep it to yourself. Surely this should be the same with gifts that are given to us from God? Use them and help to make the people around you happy.

So yeah, I totally get what Oprah meant when she said that it’s a selfish emotion. She meant that we need to push through our own feelings so that we can make the world a better place. If you’re struggling to get past this first step towards success because you’re feeling frightened then keep these things in mind:

Number One- Most people will be secretly impressed that you’re trying.

Because, news flash! Everyone else is scared too! If people are standing in the wings waiting for you to fail then it’s because it backs up their own theory that they shouldn’t try. If the people around you are real friends then they will support you no matter what you try and it won’t matter whether you succeed or fail.

Number Two – What’s the worst that could happen?

Even if things do go really badly you can still turn it around again. Most of the super successful people in the world have had some pretty serious setbacks. Some very famous billionaires have filed for bankruptcy several times. Hopefully you won’t be at the point where you are doing that, but this is proof that it can still not necessarily mean game over.

If you’re scared of people’s opinions then the worst that could happen is that those people fall out of your life. And would you really want those people in your life?

On the other hand, there’s always the possibility that things could go well, and then what? That business could take off or the book could get published and then you’ll be left wondering what you were ever wondering about in the first place.

Number Three – Try to see these risks like a book of puzzles

If I buy a book of Sudoku puzzles, I normally expect that I can get one or two wrong. But there are normally a hundred or so other puzzles in the book that I can have a go at. There are an infinite number of challenges out there in the world and I can have a go at them even if I’ve already failed at something else.

Keeping with the same analogy, there is nothing stopping me doing a puzzle in pencil so that I can rub it out and have a go at the same one a second time. I had this experience when I first started ultra running. I had a go at a 100 mile race and got to 54 miles before I bombed out. I could have said ‘screw that, I’m not doing that again!’ But I didn’t. I dusted myself off and started training again and it took me another three years, but eventually I did it.

So when you’re scared of taking that first step remember what you could be depriving the world of and keep in mind that even if you do fail miserably, failure is the way that you refine your skills, learn and become the very best you can be at something. So take a deep breath and have a go!

5 kick ass reasons why stopping drinking will make you a freaking super hero

Not all of us have a drinking problem and it’s fine if you just want a glass or two at the end of a hard day. That’s your choice as a fully grown human being. I did have a bit of a problem so stopping completely was a must but I’ve noticed so many differences in myself since stopping that I now realise they would be applicable to everyone. I could make a list so long you will be reading until next June so I’ve kept this one to five of the best. Here goes:

Number One – You wake up with a clear head

This one is probably the most obvious. No headaches or fuzzy brains means that you can work harder in the day and get more done. It used to take me an hour or two to start functioning in the morning and now I bounce out of bed so that also gives me an extra couple of hours per day that are productive.

Number Two – You make better decisions

Because you have a clearer mind you are far less likely to make dumb choices. In my work day I can think more quickly and concentrate for longer. Not having a fluffy brain makes a world of difference to how much work you are able to produce.

But more importantly than that, you can’t make dumb decisions while drunk. How many times have you woken up and had to look at your phone to check that you haven’t drunk dialled an ex or emailed your boss to tell him exactly what you think about him? I’ve got into so much trouble over the years because my tongue loosened up quite a bit once I’d had a drink or two.

Number Three – Your motivations change

When you are drinking too much your brain is hungry for everything that it can get hold of that is addictive and unfortunately money is one of the most potent drugs out there. This means that as an addict you are far more likely to be chasing the money at the expense of everything else. Happiness and friendships fall by the wayside as you try to get that next elusive bonus or promotion.

Once you sober up and your perspective on life starts to change you start to have other ideas about what’s important when it comes to earning a living. The big houses and fancy cars look less attractive and bigger causes take on a more important role. I decided to go part time and although I earn far less money I get to spend time with the family and being outside in nature. I’m far happier now because my sober brain has allowed me to take a step back and really look at what is important to me and to stop worrying so much about what society says I should be doing.

Number Four – You stop self-sabotaging

This is really a form of low self confidence. I didn’t believe in myself so whenever I was starting to do well I would drive myself into a ditch to stop the good things from happening. I knew that I couldn’t handle the responsibilities that came with the good things so it was easier to just trash it myself and then blame everyone else around me.

It helps that I now know what I want in life so the choices I make are far less scary. I can still be ambitious and take risks, but now I do it in areas that I feel passionate about. For example, I’d no longer consider going for a management position at work but I’d be quite happy to spread my wings by helping at the youth group at church, putting my face on Youtube or signing up for an ultramarathon. They’re all difficult things but they are a world away from what I was trying to do while drunk and rather lost.

Number Five – You become a nicer person

When you stop drinking you realise that there is a whole world out there and, shockingly, you are not at the centre of it! When you spend every evening sitting on your sofa drinking wine and eating Cheetos, you forget that there are things going on outside.

Put down the drink and you can start to volunteer at your local food bank or night shelter. You start to become aware of the issues that are going on in your community and when you start to get your confidence back you realise that you can help and you can make a difference. This is the single most empowering thing you can discover as a human being; that you can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

One of the most important elements of the twelve step programme that helps so many addicts is that of service. To be of service to your community is so empowering and fulfilling. And if you’re starting a business you will be starting it on the right foot if you are thinking outside of yourself.

So, by all means have a drink, but next time you pick up that glass of Chardonnay consider whether you really need it and think whether there is anything better that you could be doing with your time. And of course, as always, just make sure to be a really nice person.

The power of saying “I don’t know”

When I was in my twenties I was perfect. Or at least I thought I was in my own head. I could do no wrong and if anyone questioned me or my actions I would go into meltdown. And guess what? I failed miserably at almost everything I did. There were a few flukes where things went really well but a lot of the time I was languishing in my own self pity while outwardly telling the world that I was the most knowledgeable person on the planet.

Anyone who has been reading the past posts on this blog will know that I’ve had trouble with addictions in the past and one of the big character defects that you see time and time again in addicts is that they can’t see the error of their own ways. Why else would they drink themselves to near death and financial ruin?

However, when we get better we have the advantage of being able to see things from two very different perspectives and I’m glad that I was so steadfastly adamant that I had it all right because now I know that that is impossible to achieve and it’s laughable to think that you can get anywhere in anything without a little help from those around you. It’s no coincidence that all athletes say that they couldn’t have won their gold medal without their families and their coaches. It really is true. Without that support they’d still be jogging round the park with the rest of us.

So saying “I need help” or “I don’t know” or “can you tell me how?” is anything but the weakness that I first thought it was. It means that you are able to use a whole heap of resources and information and advice that comes your way from just asking. Think of the time and energy that will save by just asking the question!

This is precisely why it’s important to find a mentor or a group of people that you trust who can guide you and support you in difficult times. If it is just you weathering the storm on your own then there is nowhere near as much chance of success. Taking it back to what I’ve learnt from getting sober I know that it is near impossible to do that on your own. People who are the most successful are those that have a sponsor and go to meetings so that they have a huge network of people to call on when they’re having a bad day.

My argument against telling people that I didn’t know the answer was that it would make me look stupid. Actually I’ve learnt that when you are open about the fact that you have flaws and holes in your knowledge, it makes you appear just a little bit vulnerable and quite a lot more likeable. Nobody likes a smart ass, especially when they are just talking a load of rubbish. If people are going to buy into your ideas and your visions then they have to see you as a human being that has hopes and dreams and feelings just like them.

The worst thing that you can do when you don’t know, is to pretend that you do and I’ve learned that the hard way (trust me on that one!). You just look like a fool because you’ll always be found out. Even if you’re doing your first Saturday job in a clothes store, if someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, go get the manager. A customer would rather wait and get the right information!

Having said all this, I would put up a word of warning and say that you should always arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can. If you keep saying ‘I don’t know’ people will start to think that you don’t know your stuff. You’ll just have so much more confidence going into a situation if you are fully prepared and you can back up what you are saying with examples, even if they are just examples that are personal to you.

So go out there and practice. You might find that you learn more than you expected and you branch out and meet new and interesting people just by saying that you don’t know the answer to a question. The doors that it could open are infinite. Whole communities have been built on wanting to learn more about a subject and you could be at the heart of it. To me, that sounds like a really fun and exciting place to be.