Monday, 13 June 2016

Think For A Minute [1]: Anxiety, Bravery, Control.

It’s so easy to allow fear and anxiety to take control of your life. To take control of you and your actions and allow you to become a shell of the person you want to be. You allow it to keep you indoors, hidden under the duvet and away from the world; away from any form of interaction or any form of progress - metaphorically or literally. It takes courage to be able to throw that duvet aside and tell yourself you’ve had enough; enough of feeling down and enough of letting them win. We all have our own version of that courage deep inside of us, we just need to be willing to find it; willing to find it and willing to fight. 

Day by day we are all working on ourselves, working to destroy our demons and working to achieve the life we want. During this process we need to see fear and anxiety as a test, a test on our determination, willpower and commitment - to and for ourselves. We only have one life to live and we spend each and every minute of that time with our own mind, no one else's. Each of us battling our own inner conflicts wondering whether you've said or done the right thing or chosen the right path; but deep down we know the answers. We are in control of what we say, what we do and how we say or do it - the answer, lies within yourself. 

Are you brave enough to take control of your own life path, conquer those fears, face anxiety head on, to not allow the opinions of others to take over, loving yourself in the process and removing yourself from the comfort of your sleep zone? Are you able to finally make your dreams a reality? You believe in others, but do you believe in yourself? It simply starts with you and only you have the ability to make a change.


Monday, 2 May 2016

For Better, For Me (A): After All This Time.

You as a person are ever growing and ever changing.  You might not notice it at first as the changes may be tiny little aspects of your life but changes are definitely being made. Whether that be in terms of your personal life, professional life, love life or just life in general, depending on the daily decisions and choices you make slight changes or huge changes can occur and send you on a different path; this path can have both positive and negative elements.  It could be from deciding that your current job isn't for you and finally choosing to quit and go for something better, to procrastinating over sending your CV to the email supplied in the job advertisement for your dream job that  then becomes 'no longer available' to telling that person you like that you have feelings for them to arguing with a close friend and facing the possibility of losing them forever.  Each decision you make can alter your outlook, alter your prospective choices or alter your life path as a whole for better or for worse.

'Life is about Choices and hovering in the middle can be extremely frightening.  Remember, once you make a Decision, the Universe will conspire to make it happen...but you must choose' - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As you get older you get wiser, you make choices and you make mistakes and on most occasions you learn from them. You might need a little longer than others to adapt to certain situations or a little longer to move on from a certain issue or more time than others to decide where you want your life to go but that doesn't mean you're not progressing in your own way or improving in a certain area where you currently feel dissatisfied.  Your life is constantly progressing, some elements even not by choice, even if nothing visual can be seen, your age for example is constantly increasing even if you're not using each year to its highest potential.  Therefore it's up to you to take control of the reigns and seek to make use of every aspect that you can - learning from the Past, living in the Present and preparing for the Future.  I've had almost 25 years of life and after all this time, nearly a quarter of a century, I'm constantly changing, constantly progressing and constantly looking for ways to improve, but there has been times when I too have been stuck in a rut and feeling unable to climb out.  I myself find change to be a daunting prospect and have used so many excuses and so many procrastination attempts to try and avoid moving forward.  It wasn't that I didn't want to move forward and progress, that's all I've ever wanted. I just found it so much easier to hide under my rock and not face the hardships of life on the way, but I know that it's the only way to keep up with today's society, the only way to keep up with my ever increasing list of demands on my life, and the only way to keep up with my dreams; I've got to keep on keeping on.

'Your life does not get better by chance.  It gets better by change' - Jim Rohn.

Everyone changes and adapts differently and at different paces. However, I believe from the offset you already know the basics of what you want out of life, they might not be concrete plans or definitive decisions but you have a fair understanding of where you want your life to lead to and how you want yourself to behave and react to your surroundings and change. From a young age we have dreams, dreams of being a singer, an actor, a police officer or even an astronaut but as we grow older we're faced with a lot of 'as ifs' and 'you can'ts' from both our own inferior thoughts and those of the people around us. It's your fears and other people's opinions that sometimes allow your dreams and your passions to become attached to negativity and attached to that I can't mentality and therefore put on the back-burner. Thus leaving you, current day you, feeling stuck in a rut and deflated. You begin to settle, think 'is this it?' or 'I'll be fine with this for now' and that manifests into working simply for the money or staying in a relationship simply because you don't want to be 'alone'. In hindsight though, we need to push ourselves passed this way of thinking and tell ourselves that we are just like those people already in the positions we dream of for ourselves, those people who appear to be more independent or are in the job we've always wished to have, so if they can do it then why can't we?  If we truly believe we can be what we dream to be then who is to say we can't at least try to get there? Same goes for hobbies we want to take up, goals we want to accomplish or new ways of thinking, there's always going to be someone out there who has already done it, someone to learn from and someone to follow the example of. This is something people fail to realise as they are too busy competing or comparing to see the advantages.

'Don't copy, compete with or compare yourself to others.  Their path is not your path, nor should it be.  Everyone has a unique gift to offer. What is yours?' - Mary Frances Winters.

Now as much as it is great to learn from others and gain mentors of people who are already in the field or area you wish to succeed in, it becomes so easy for that learning to change to envy and negativity if your own goals aren't materialising just as quickly as someone else's.  That doesn't necessarily mean you're not capable and equipped to do the same thing it just might be that what you have to offer or the skills and knowledge you currently have might be allowing you to look at certain aspects in a different light or might be making you take a little longer to fully invest in the idea.  What you need to realise is that other people are there for help but not for comparison, it's your attitude towards this that matters.  As you continue on with life you keep your own basic personality traits as you go, the quirks that make you 'you', but they too continue to be built upon and adapted to create the 'you' you currently face in the mirror each day. The you that only you can judge, only you can change and only you can tell that you're good enough.  They say you can do anything you put your mind to and I fully believe that's true.

'Learn from the Past. Prepare for the Future. Live in the Present' - Thomas S. Monson.

I wrote before about time as a concept and I briefly covered the three main aspects of how time can have an affect but I failed to fully mention how significant these three parts can truly be to your life or to the ever growing 'you' and how important it is to utilise each in order to fully improve. I want to do that now, using my life as my basis for analysis.  I'm using an 'After All This Time' format - looking at each consecutive part and the possible movements within each and deciding how each affected my outlook on life and the choices I've made then, now and how I would like them to be looked at in the future after a significant amount of time passing.  So I guess here's my past, present and future.


'Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life.  You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them' - Iyania Vanzant.

When it comes to looking at the past you have the 2 R's, Reminisce and Regret.  You look back to remember good memories and bad memories to think of the things you could have done differently or should have done differently; the people who are no longer in your life any more whether through choice or not through choice and on the other end of the spectrum there's the great memories you made with your friends or family that you love to look back on.  Most of the time though, your thoughts on the Past seem to consist wholly of Regret, 'Why didn't I do that?', 'Why didn't I say that?' or 'My life was so much simpler then!' moments; I know, I have many.  Looking at the Past this way can be extremely scary, you realise a lot of time has passed you by and some of the goals you set yourself or the way you thought your life would turn out at a certain age haven't materialised and you begin to panic, you begin to use your Present as a bridge, a bridge that's rickety on one end and burning on the other.  You're looking back at what could have been burning away day by day and too scared to take a step in the opposite direction through fear of breaking; so, you stay put watching everything go on around you.

When I think of the Past I think of the following:

After all this time I still think about how much easier school life was.
After all this time I think of the good memories I made with people no longer in my life any more.
After all this time I think about all the places I've been and how much I want to visit them again.
After all this time I'm thankful for the things I've been able to see and the people I've been able to meet.

After all this time I'm not in the job that I want.
After all this time I still haven't joined the gym.
After all this time I can't get over him.
After all this time I fear being judged.
After all this time I've built up an invisible wall of protection.
After all this time I feel like I should have utilised my school/university life more.
After all this time I've had plenty of times where I could have given myself the opportunity to commit to my writing and rid my fear of letting others read my work.

'Don't ignore the past, but deal with it, on your own pace. Once you deal with it, you are free of it; and you are free to embrace your life and be a happy loving person because if you don't, the past will come back to haunt you and keep coming back to haunt you' - Boris Kodjoe.

Now these things are not necessarily things that are still 100% relevant to my life in the Present, but they're still things I look back on and regret or reminisce about and think about how I could have done things differently. They're things that I need to decide the level of importance of, are they still things I want to do now or are they just things I've regretted for so long that they've now become a part of me and my sometimes negative way of thinking? I need to learn what's truly important and take that experience with me as I go as a learning experience and not a continuous problem but some of these I've still left for so long that they have become Present problems.

'You have to decide whether you're going to let your past destroy you or whether you're going to let it build you into the strongest person you've ever met' - Sonya Parker.


'Realise deeply that the Present moment is all you ever have' - Eckhart Tolle.

When it comes to looking at the present you have the 2 P's, Problems and Progression.  You have the current problems you face day to day in your life that you feel need changing or feel you can't get away from and then you have the progression, the things you're currently working on, the relationships you're currently building and the life you're currently leading.

When I think of the Present I think of the following:

After all this time I possibly do love him.
After all this time I'm still living at home when I'm ready to move out.
After all this time I'm still in a job where I'm over skilled.
After all this time I'm still not pushing myself to pass my driving test.
After all this time I still find it difficult to tell people how I feel.
After all this time I still haven't joined a gym.
After all this time I still have bouts of social anxiety.
After all this time I still feel like I need to seek permission before I do anything for me - e.g. post a blog post.

After all this time I've only just started to tell people about and publish my writing.
After all this time I've only just started to fully focus on my goals.
After all this time I have friends who I can spend five hours that feel like five minutes with. 
After all this time I'm finally learning that I can be confident without alcohol.
After all this time I've been working out at home.

'Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most' - Jack Kornfield.

I've changed my present a LOT in the past four months. I think something finally clicked in me to change.  I realised I'd been procrastinating my life away waiting for someone to pick me up, show me where to go and direct my life for me, but no one was coming.  I had so many goals and so much I wanted to achieve but I never took note or wrote anything down so it dwindled away and was forgotten about; left behind in a heap of self pity and fear.  The lists above only cover a minor amount of the things I  am currently focusing on and trying to change, the list is ever growing and I'm happy about that; I just need to make sure that the Problems list is decreasing as much as the Progression list is increasing.

'The Future depends on what we do in the Present' - Mahatma Ghandi.


'The best way to predict your Future is to create it' - Abraham Lincoln.

When it comes to looking at the future you have the 2 T's, Trepidation and Thirst.  You look to the future and fear what could be or what could happen but also yearn for a new you or a new path to open up at some point.  Both of which only you can conquer and create.

When I think of the Future I think of the following:

After all this time I fear losing the people I love.
After all this time I fear death.
After all this time I fear I'll never fully complete my life goals.
After all this time I need to tell him how I feel or move on.
After all this time I fear I'll never find love.

After all this time I'm learning to live with no regrets.
After all this time I'm learning to get over my fears and just go for it.
After all this time I'm learning that my comfort zone is a non moving forward zone that I should get out of as much as possible.
After all this time I finally have a place I can call my own.
After all this time I can finally say I'm happy with my career choices.
After all this time I finally believe in myself and am living my dream life. 

'Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything' - George Bernard Shaw.

You look at the Past experiences as a basis for learning, you use them to compare yourself with your Present circumstances to see whether the things you Regret are still occurring in your day to day life, if so, why?  Only you can answer that.  Then it's up to you to change the Future, create a list of possibility, a list that combines the Past and the Present 'After All This Time's' to create a Future you can be proud of.   There are always going to be elements to the Future that you fear and in some cases these are unavoidable but it's most definitely about using these as ammunition to focus on the Now, to focus on making time for those people in your life that you love, to take up the hobbies that you've always wanted to do but doubted you'd have the time or be able to do them.  It's about building on what you've got now and pushing to solve the current problems in order to create the Future you've always yearned for.

'The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams' - Eleanor Roosevelt.


'If you are depressed, you are living in the Past. If you are anxious, you are living in the Future. If you are at peace, you are living in the Present' - Lao Tzu. 

So you've thought about your Past and you're thinking of all the things you want to change, you're then hoping for the Future to do things differently - all you've got is Now and it's up to you to make it count. Learn from your 2 R's, Live with your 2 P's, and Prepare using your 2 T's - Repeat. Only you know how you can change things or what you can do to rid yourself of the current Problems you're facing in life. I'm really beginning to realise that life is all about growth. It's about learning that some things take longer than others to move on from. It's about learning that putting things off will only bring negativity in the long run, just do it now. It's about learning that you shouldn't care about what others think about you and should live your life for you. It's about learning that the most important person to rely on in every aspect of your life is yourself - your family, your friends, your colleagues, your partner are all a part of your daily life and are a part of your support system but they're not a crutch - it's down to you to succeed and it's down to you to live a life you know you're capable of.  It's down to you to figure out how to use your past experiences as a learning experience to ensure you're living in the now and not still stuck in the past to allow yourself to create a better future. There may be obstacles along the way sure, and of course everyone's life path is different but we all have dreams right? We all have goals, however small and only we can make them a reality.

'Who controls the Past controls the Future. Who controls the Present controls the Past' - George Orwell.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

For Better, For Me (A): About Time.

Time is a funny thing really.  We're always rushing around wishing we had more, wondering where the time went or saying 'it's fine I've got plenty of time'.   We're always looking to the past and wishing we could go back, regretting the mistakes we made or wishing that we could do things differently, choose a different path.  We're always saying we're too busy and that we don't presently have the time.  We're always putting things off until tomorrow or some time in the future.  We sometimes feel that we waste time or are judged for our use of time and yet simply put, there is no we, it's up to you and you alone how you use your time.

'Time is what we want most, but what we use worst' - William Penn.

Time is ticking by as I type this. Time is infinite.  Time is limited.  Time is just plain strange.  Deep, right?  I was sitting in my garden one morning, looking at a bright blue sky with the sun heating up my face and yet still condensation coming from each breathe I exhaled.   The remnants of 2015's Winter still amongst us as we ready ourselves for Spring - another method of time visualisation if you think about it.   I sat there quite content for around half an hour just watching the world pass me by.  The birds going about their business, chirping happily away, my neighbours letting their dogs out or opening their windows to let in the new days air - using up their own time by going about their daily routines. I was just unknowingly taking the time to think; to think about who I used to be, who I currently am and who I want to be; to think about how my life is currently being run and essentially 'who' is currently in control - me or my fears.

'Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you' - Carl Sandburg

The world and its goings on never stop just because you've taken a moment to; and that moment shouldn't make you feel guilty or that you're wasting time, sometimes it's just what you need to take a deep breath and prepare yourself for your own daily routine already planned ahead or to give you that little bit of time to think things over, see where you're at and what you need to change to progress.   However, sometimes that moment becomes an hour, becomes a day, becomes a is unfortunately that simple and again it's up to you to change that or else you might face someone else or something else doing it for you, making the plans for you, or worse you're left in the same spot you started in.  I'm writing this 'letter' to myself I guess as well as to others if required.  I have so many goals for my life just like everyone else, but just like a lot of others too I procrastinate, I find the fear or the excuse and both consciously and subconsciously I let the could bes and the  do it anyways become the should have beens or the what ifs and to be honest? I'm sick of it.  This year I decided to take action, I've given myself 10 main goals to complete in 366 days as well as little monthly goals or minor challenges, some more important than others but all challenges to myself that I've been putting off for what feels like a lifetime.  No time like the present though, right?  However, one of these goals was to finally blog more and again this year we're already in April and this blog has been sitting since January all 'shiney and new' and ready to be used again but constantly being put off until 'Monday' or 'Next Weekend' or 'The First of the Month' and so on.  Why you ask? I ask myself the same thing.  I had already started this blog 5 years ago on April 23rd 2011, 5 years to the day this 'new start' of betterment posts begins but this time I guess there's a difference.  This time it's for me.  It may have taken me four months to finally come to that realisation but in the end I did and to me that's all that matters.

'You may delay, but time will not' - Benjamin Franklin.

Now delaying things can be looked at in two ways, the first being building up the knowledge and skills to be able to take on that task at a more successful rate or the second, waiting for a moment or a time that will never arise unless you make it.  Looking for the right time or the right moment to say those words or to take those actions might lead you into a path of constant hesitation.  It might lead you to a point of constant fear, constant regret whilst time is still passing by in the background underutilised.  I've been recognising time and its elements a lot lately even to the point where I've noticed the amount of watches my dad has lying about the house.  There's one on the dressing table in my parent's room, there's one in the bathroom, there's one sitting on his side of the couch, there's one in the hall and there's one in the kitchen, all ticking away, which on a normal day to day basis would go by unnoticed but recently all I hear is that tick, tick, tick of the seconds passing by.  It's like I've finally come to notice that it's there following the same path as I am, sometimes slower, sometimes faster but now I feel we're possibly about to start walking side by side.
'Fear stops a lot of people.  Fear of failure, of the unknown, of risk; and it masks itself as procrastination' - Lisa Anderson.
I've procrastinated a lot over the years.  I've found it so easy to put things off, to leave things to the last minute, to make excuses and let my fears run my time and take control of what I say and what I do.  Once I get into the procrastination trap I find it so difficult to get back out of it and so difficult to find the motivation to push myself forward and past my fears with my main fear being judgement.  I've been scared to write for fear of someone from my past, someone currently in my life or someone yet to enter it saying something to put me off, saying something insulting or saying something negative about my choices and about my use of time but at the end of the day I've grown as a person and know now that life's too short not to love what you do and too short to let other people take control of your thoughts and life choices.  It takes a lot of growing up to come to terms with who you are and what you're passionate about and how pushing yourself to achieve your goals should become such an important part of your day to day life no matter anyone else's opinion, the main opinion that should count is your own.  Sure in certain occasions someone's constructive criticism can be a huge help but if it is something that makes you happy has a positive impact on your life then surely it's something that you must continue to focus on and progress in?

'When you came screaming onto this planet you were truly a bundle of joy, a wide-eyed creature incapable of doing anything but being in the moment'- Jen Sincero

We start off in this world as having no words to say, no opinions to be made and no concept of time going on around us - we live in the 'moment'.  But, as time goes on we create our own being with our own thought processes, passions, hobbies and life goals that simply living in the moment for the rest of your live will never allow you to achieve.   You need to start to adapt to the time around you and utilise every moment instead.  This is easier said than done when your biggest set back is your fear of what the other 7.4 billion people think about you, those 7.4 billion people who on most occasions couldn't care less about you and what you're doing as they themselves are focusing on their life and their goals or fighting their own demons.  In the end, you realise it's not these people at all but yourself, your own judgements and your own fear of just plain fear itself.  Your first initial years are pre-planned for you, then suddenly you realise you've become an 'adult' and are now a part of that huge world out there full of opportunities and with only one person able to fully grab those opportunities for you - that person being you.   You could be gone at any minute and what you've truly got to ask yourself is, would I be happy with how I spent my life?  Would I be happy with the choices I made, the people I spent time with, the memories I've made?

'Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.  Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices' - Betsy Jacobson.

The choices you make could define your entire timeline, your entire life path.  Each decision you make could affect the next as well as your life as a whole therefore it's important to ensure that the choices you make and the outcomes that follow are ones in which you've planned for and not allowed others or fears to negatively influence beforehand.  It's about putting up a different kind of barrier, the kind of barrier that deflect fears rather than positive opportunities, the kind that allow you to fully become aware of your next moves and where your life is heading with the possible ability to take control of all possible aspects and actions.

'One must work with time and not against it' - Ursula K. Le Guin.

Leaving things to the last minute increases stress levels, it makes you complete your work or your choice at a quick pace under pressure and not to the best of your abilities.  It can leave you feeling regret about the quick decision you made or the outcome it provided.  Beginning to notice your procrastination levels and trying to conquer them before they reach the point of no return is something that is a must! A pre made plan for each week should be made if necessary, writing down the three main tasks for each day that has to be completed.  You can't just leave it to chance or next Monday or next week because then what's the point? You're left with less than successful progression and just simple regret which in itself is completely pointless and meaningless.
'Time = Life.  Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or, master your time and master your life' - Alan Lakein.

I published my first post on this blog 5 years ago on 23rd of April 2011, with all of the hopes I do now, of finally making good use of my writing and finally putting it out there but for half a decade I haven't, I've unfortunately let other parts of my life take over, my fears take over or not used my time wisely.  I don't want to be that person any more, I know I'm not that person any more, but I guess now it's time to prove it to myself and finally do it, for better, for me.

There is only one time that is important - Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power - Wayne Dyer.