5 ways to inspire others

inspire“Success isn’t about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do” – Unknown

When I was 20 years of age, I worked at Scotland Yard for the Metropolitan Police.  One of my first job roles was to answer 999 emergency calls. It was a fast paced, interesting and very demanding job. I loved it.  After a few years of answering the 999 calls, I progressed onto the role of radio dispatcher, deploying the police emergency response vehicles to the scenes of serious incidents. It involved a great deal of training, focus, and if I am honest, in the initial stages, a lot fear.

I remember, before my official training started, I had a few days of ‘live shadowing’ with a very experienced police officer. I  basically spent hours listening and watching, how he directed, controlled and deployed police units all over London, sometimes to really serious and distressing incidents.  Bob was a policemen in his 50’s. He was clearly passionate,  kind, funny, knowledgeable and exceptionally skilled at what he did. No matter how urgent, demanding or dangerous an incident was, he always remained calm, focused, authoritative and in control. His peers in the control room, quite obviously respected him, and the units on the ground, whom he spoke to over the radio, clearly trusted his directions and support.  He must have looked upon me as this young, inexperienced rookie. Naive and a somewhat clueless, yet he spoke with such enthusiasm, interest and character, I was absolutely fascinated by him. He told me stories of his early days in the job, when he had been a similar age to me, and he spoke with interest about the role he now had.  Most of all, I noted how he was dignified, always speaking without ego.  I can remember leaving work on the last day we had spent together, feeling completely inspired by him. One day I wanted to be like Bob.

Nearly twenty years on, just this week, my spa was named in the top 10 most Inspirational Spa’s in the UK and Ireland by Professional Beauty magazine, one of the leading governing bodies for the industry.  We had been voted for by other industry professionals and spa owners. On hearing the news via Twitter, I sat in my office, utterly delighted and also truly humbled.  It is an incredible feeling to be told, that what you do, actually inspires others. As I reflected on the news,  I also found myself remembering Bob, my own inspiration.

Be true to your passion – in truth, we can all be Bob, we just need to tap into our passion and then share that passion with the world, in a way that ignites the same passion within someone else. What is it that you truly love? What is the one subject that makes the fire within your heart roar? Do you want to raise money for a charity? Do you want to inspire others to get fit, or eat more healthily? Do you simple wish to share the joy you find in your hobby, or are you passionate about others find their own talents and gifts?  Whatever it is, embrace it with vigor and enthusiasm and then think about how to can share that passion with the world.

Share your story openly and honestly – People like to hear stories that are spoken in truth. A few months ago I shared an honest account of how I developed my business to what it is today. I spoke of the times I have experienced periods of utter joy, but also the periods of utter desperation and despair. Inspiring people isn’t simply about sharing all your good experiences, it’s also about sharing the more difficult periods of your life. The challenges you have managed to overcome and tackled head on, no matter how hard they may have been at the time.

Have a deep desire to help others progress positively – I find great pleasure in helping people overcome their own fears. Watching someone grow, by having the courage to do things they may have felt were in fact out of their reach or even impossible, proves as inspiring to me as it is for them. When you genuinely possess a desire to help others live a more positive life, magical things can happen, for you both.

Remain humble and speak without ego – No matter how successful you may be, it is always wise to remember from where you once came.  Take time to remember your own journey, how it was to walk up the mountain and then look back down. It is always a good way to keep your ego in check. The more you speak without ego and remain grounded, the more people will warm and relate to you.  Lets face it, nobody likes a know it all.

Remember your journey is a continuous one – Everyone of us will continue to grow and learn, through our experiences and challenges. A continuous learning cycle until we leave this earth plane. Inspiring others, is also about embracing your own journey through life. Remind yourself that the learning never ceases, be mindful to walk your path with an open heart and a kind mind. When you do this,  you will continue to attract your own inspiration from others.  And so the cycle to continues.

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10 Mindful Tips On Being a Great Boss.

keep-calm-and-lead-the-way“To become truly great, one has to stand with people not above them” – 

When I first became a manager at the tender age of eighteen, I found the whole experiencing very exciting but also extremely daunting. What I lacked in life experience I certainly made up for with enthusiasm, and as I grew and improved as a person, so did my managerial skills.

For some,  leadership comes very naturally but for others it proves to be quite challenging.  Over the past 20 years of being in a managerial role of some form or another,I have done some things well and others not so well. The stress of meeting targets, working very long hours, having responsibilities and managing staff with an array of different personalities, strengths and weakness, can often prove exhausting but also very exhilarating. The biggest lesson I have learned over the years, is that a good manager always continue to keep learning themselves. It doesn’t matter how many years experience you have, things will continue to be sent your way to teach you and help you hone your leadership skills even more.

For me, a good leader should be knowledgeable at their skill, confident, a fantastic communicator, hardworking and above all, they should be kind, compassionate and supportive of their team. As a leader you set the example to your staff, respect should be gained through your interaction with your colleagues, not simply through the job title you hold.

Always be mindful of the fact that being skilled and knowledgeable at your trade, doesn’t automatically make you a good manager – I am very lucky in the fact that in my job role I get invited into other people’s beauty businesses, to asses and offer advice on how to improve the business’s performance as a whole.  One of the first things I always do is assess how strong a manager the business owner is.  In our careers we have all been managed by some good leaders, one’s that have inspired us and made us want to work harder simply through our respect for them. And then there have been others that we have considered to be weak leaders, or aggressive and domineering, or just plan lazy and uninterested in what we do or what we have to offer.  Yes, of course good managers should be good at what they do on a technical level, but managing a business or team, goes so much further than that.  Once we acknowledge and accept this is an integral part of how we perform on a managerial level, we can begin to start looking honestly at our own strengths and weaknesses and see where we can improve and learn from them.

Acknowledge the fact your business is as much about your staff as it is about you – The more we focus on helping our staff grow and develop, the more we grow and develop alongside them. It’s very easy to get bogged down with what we want to achieve in our  own career path and in our own business, that sometimes we forget, as managers, part of our role is to actually help others grow and progress too.

Always be truly present – it’s so easy to get distracted with all the responsibilities a managerial role entails. We have emails to answer, phone calls to take, business meetings to attend, targets to reach and clients to see.  Ensure you take regular moments out throughout the day to remind yourself to be truly present. For me, I like to get outside in my lunch break and sit by the local river near my spa. I take time to focus on my breathing and tune in to the sounds of nature around me. This helps to keep me grounded, connected and truly present.

Find out what motivates your staff – People are motivated by very different things. For some its money, a good financial reward or goal will keep them happily plodding along each day, working at their best. For others it could be recognition, or their own personal career development. Some may find motivation by being given responsibility or even having the opportunity to teach others.  Don’t assume that everybody is motivated by the same things as you.  Once you have discovered what motivates each and every member of your team, you can then set tasks, goals and rewards to keep everyone working towards something that is actually important to them.

Always be kind and compassionate – This may sound like the obvious, but at times, some find that remaining calm and compassionate in challenging situations at work, can actually be very difficult. As a manager, you will no doubt sometimes come across staff who you may deem as being difficult or challenging.  How many of us have seen those hot-headed type bosses, the ones that raise their voices a lot, and feel like there is nothing wrong in being openly irritated in certain people’s company?  When ever you find yourself in a challenging situation, remind yourself you should be setting an example to other members of your team.  Take a moment to step back from the situation and view it from all angles. Why does this staff member behave like he or she does?  Is it a regular occurrence or fairly rare?  How will your handling of the situation affect everyone else in the office? Easier said than done sometimes I know. But possessing the ability to always be calm, collected and compassionate, no matter what is thrown at you, is a great attribute to bring to the table.

Don’t take the actions and wants of others too personally – When I first started out as a manager, this was something I found really hard not to do. I wanted everyone to be as passionate and enthusiastic as I was. I longed to create a working environment for my colleges that would help them want to achieve the best they could in the company, and help obtain the same motivation and drive that I had. Obviously, this would often leave me feeling frustrated and disappointed.  The fact is a good manager has to be respectful of the fact that everyone is on a different journey and everyone has different goals, motivations and ambitions to where their life should be going.  As a business owner, it can be difficult to see staff come and go, especially when you feel you have worked so hard to create something that you think is truly special and you believe to treat your staff well.  But life is life, things and circumstances change, and what once suited your employee’s one day, may actually change the next.  I always tell my staff the same thing, that they will be with me as long as we still both need to learn something from one another, and we can continue to grow from that knowledge and our relationship.  And at the time someone decides they want to leave my spa, I will wholeheartedly respect and support their decision, because it is obviously the right decision for them and it is at that point, our mutual lesson has been learned.

Be aware of your personal energy – Happy, enthusiastic and joyful leaders, in general, promote the same kind of feelings of happiness and joyousness to their staff.  How hard is it to be grumpy and unmotivated by someone who can continually make you smile or even laugh?  It’s in our nature to want to seek and experience happiness, it is a natural human desire.  So every time you walk into your office or working environment, no matter what is going on in your personal life, try to exude the same positive, happy attitude you would love your staff to reflect back at you.

Always make time to listen to your staff – Many of my staff have been with me for years and no matter how well I think I know them, I always schedule in personal one on one time throughout the year, to give them the opportunity to simply talk to me and for me to simply listen. It may be in my office, over coffee or lunch, or even in the pub (if they are lucky enough!). Letting your staff know you have time for them, and that you truly do care about their happiness within the work place, goes a long way. It’s simple, happy staff are more productive and more loyal staff.

Give praise when praise is due – When my staff have done well, or have gone above and beyond the call of duty, I will always ensure it is acknowledged and let them know that I am grateful for it. It may be a simple thank you suffices, or a small gesture like a box of chocolates or bottle of wine shows an extra element of appreciation.  We are now in an age, where too many people are working longer hours, with more responsibilities and are receiving very little thanks in return. The global recession has left many  people fearful of losing their jobs, and it has most definitely increased the pressures that we have all experienced at some time in our working careers.  It doesn’t take much to let your staff know you have taken on board how hard they are working, or that you have noticed that they have stayed late a few nights to get a job done.  People need to know when their efforts have been noted, a heartfelt thank you can mean a lot to someone sometimes.

Be the inspiration – Great leaders inspire people. Be passionate, be ethical and be kind.  Share your knowledge to the best of your ability and have a deep-rooted desire to help everyone that wants your help, to be the best they possibly can in life. A great leader teaches the pupil, with the hope that one day, that pupil will go out and far surpass everything he has been taught. Support, motivate, encourage and then sit back and with joy, watch them spread their wings.

8 Holistic Mood Boosting Tips

happiness-quotes“Happiness is not something ready made, it comes from your own actions” – Dalai Lama 

Happiness is something we all seek, an inner warmth that ignites from deep within our soul and radiates out around us.   When we are happy, we see the world as a loving and vibrant place, but when we find ourselves in a space or cycle that brings feelings of discontent, the world suddenly becomes cold and cruel. The fact is we are soley in control of our own happiness, much of how we view our own inner peace and our role within this world is created within our own minds. I wrote a blog post last year ’11 Things To Give Up To Step Closer To Happiness’ which tackles this issue.  But there are also many physical things we can do, which will help boost our mental happy juices.

Start your day with positive thought –  It’s very easy to lay there in bed, mentally grumbling away at the alarm, wishing you could just smuggle a few more moments under a warm cosy duvet.  But occasionally, it’s really helpful to set the alarm just 10 minutes earlier than normal and take this time to really be present.  Spend a few moments  feeling your body waking up, take several deep cleansing breaths, stretch out your arms and legs, and listen to the sounds around you with deep concentration.  Really see the daylight in all it’s beauty and mentally tell yourself, that you that you are going to have a really productive, meaningful and enjoyable day, making sure you radiate kindness and compassion to everyone you meet.  Some times we have to physically take the time out to remind ourselves that our life is very precious, and no matter what is going on around us, we should be thankful that we have it.

Pack your day with serotonin boosting foods –  Without a shadow of a doubt our body can only function properly when we treat it with kindness. I see many clients in my spa who seek various healing treatments due to suffering conditions like depression and anxiety. One of the first questions I always ask them is about their diet. The foods we eat have a direct impact on how much energy and vitality we have. 90% of the happy hormone serotonin, is actually produced in the gut, not the brain as many people think. It is then chiefly metabolised by the liver. So in short, if we aren’t feeding our body with the kind of foods that support the production of this hugely important hormone, how can we expect to always feel balanced and content?  Some of the best serotonin boosting foods are nuts and seeds, Omega 3 fatty acids, avocados, eggs, chickpeas, leafy green vegetables, bananas, apples, butternut squash, spelt, barley, brown rice and dark chocolate.            

 Infuse mood boosting Essential Oils in your house or work place – I’m always burning essential oils in my home, office and treatment room. Smell is the strongest of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. Olfactory bulbs are part of the limbic system and directly connect to the areas of the brain that process emotion and learning. Inhaling essential oils activates the hypothalamus, the area of the brain which sends messages to other parts of the body. The simple inhalation of certain oils can actually make changes in the body, including activating the immune system, affecting blood pressure and stimulating digestion.  Some of the most effective mood boosting essential oils are lemon, lavender, jasmine, rosemary, cinnamon, grapefruit, ginger, bergamot and peppermint.  Just place a few drops of your chosen oils in a oil burner and mix with some warm water, or if you don’t have one, just fill a bowl with some hot water and add the oils to that.

Keep hydrated – I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep yourself hydrated.  Our bodies are made up of anything from 60%-75% water, every muscle and cell needs fluids to function properly. Even the mildest of dehydration can make you feel lethargic and tired.  A doctor once told me, if you feel thirsty your body is in fact already dehydrated.  Try and sip filtered or fresh spring water throughout your day to help support your body’s need for it.

Try drinking green tea – Green tea contains an amino acid called theanine that may affect secretion of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, including the calming neurotransmitter GABA and the activating neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. It also packed full of antioxidants, so is good for the skin too.

Try adding some mood enhancing crystals to your home – Obviously as an energy worker I am open to the positive effects that crystals can have in our homes and offices. Crystals have an energetic vibration, just as we do, and incorporating that vibration into our living or work space, can often bring us benefits.  I always have points of Rose Quartz ( Rose Quartz has high energy, but its vibration is also calming and soothing. It opens the heart to compassion for self and for others. Rose Quartz also helps balance the emotions, lowering stress and bringing peace), Moonstone (soothes, relieve stress and banishes negativity), Amethyst (heals negativity in the home) and Green Adventurine (a stone of luck, abundance, and positive energy) in various rooms in my house.  I am also a huge lover of Clear Quartz, which is deemed as the master healer of crystals.

Try listening to some music to help balance the Chakra’s – According to ancient Tantric and yogic tradtions, Chakra’s (Sanskrit) are seven energy centres that serve as junction points between the physical body and consciousness. These energy centres help receive, process and express our vital Chi/Ki/life force energy and enable it to flow freely through the physical and spiritual body.  When any one of these Chakras become blocked due to stress, emotions or our life experiences, we may develop physical complaints or illnesses, or we may find ourselves feeling emotionally unbalanced and out of sorts. In certain traditions each Chakra also has a corresponding mantra and sound vibration. There are many different ways to help support these vital energy centres, but one simple way is to listen to some music which resonates with the sound vibration of each centre. One of my favourite pieces of music to do this is by the renowned international spiritual tutor Deepak Chopra.  This CD is uber relaxing, easy to listen to and at the end of the CD Deepak explains a little bit about each Chakra and how they correspond with how we interact with the world around us, both on a physical and emotional level.

Walk in bare feet or lay on the grass – recently I have been reading about the scientific studies around ‘Earthing’.  Earthing is the practice of connecting the body with earth by touching skin to a conductive material such as grass (preferably wet), wet sand, a river, lake or sea.  Apparently when we haven’t directly connected to the earths natural electrical vibration for a period of time, our bodies carry a positive voltage in relation to the earth, which makes it harder for our bodies to tackle free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules within the body, which lack electrons (energy sparks), although our bodies do need free radicals, too many of them can cause disease and are also known to accelerate the ageing process.  So if the human body has a positive charge on it, reconnecting to the earth allows the earths electrons to flow into our system, and in theory, they can neutralise overblown free radical and inflammatory damage. So not only is connecting with nature exceptionally relaxing, which in turn boosts the feelings of well being, there are now scientific studies to support the fact that connecting with our planet, also helps fight disease.  An English medical Doctor by the name of Dr Biffa has written a very honest piece about Earthing and the studies surrounding it.

10 Tips on Healing – A Holistic Healers Approach

healing 1“The pain you feel today, is the strength you feel tomorrow” – unknown 

Healing is a very personal process,  acknowledging that we are wholeheartedly in control of our own individual healing journey can be a frightening and difficult concept to grasp, especially if we have undergone something quite traumatic and sad. In time however, If we are able to do this, we are often in a better position to regain a little control and understanding of this deep process.   Healing starts from our thoughts, actions and how we honour our own needs during times of pain.

As a qualified healer and spa owner, I welcome people onto my treatment couch daily, many of whom are amidst their own personal turmoil and walking tenderly on their own healing journey.  Every time, without fail, I want to make things better for them. But one of the most important lesson I learned early on in my career, is that, as a healer you have to accept and honour the fact that you cannot control someone’s own healing process, you cannot heal them, they have to walk the healing path themselves. Each individual will heal when they are good and ready to, and when they have learned what ever it is they needed to through the whole experience they have faced. All you can do is support them during the time they are in your treatment room. Providing them with a safe and secure space to relax, breathe and maybe let go a little.

I like any other person, I have undergone periods of deep healing. I have been the victim of  domestic violence in a dark controlled relationship, lost loved ones to terminal illnesses and had moments in my life, where I have truly struggled to regain just some element of normality.  When I look back I realise I needed to experience such deep, uncontrollable pain, to enable me to empathise with others, in my new healing role. I believe a healer that has walked a deeply healing path themselves, is one that can share elements of wisdom that they have gained from their own healing process.

Do not force the healing process, healing takes time – Healing is a deeply personal experience, every person and every event is different. Do not rush your healing journey, it doesn’t matter if it takes weeks, months or years. Only you will know when you have truly healed, and only you can decide when this happens.   When we are consumed with fear and worry, we tend to run scenarios in our heads of how life is going to turn out. This actually just increases our fear and worry. Try and take each hour and day as it comes, live fully in the present moment, not the past or the future. When we successfully manage to get through that hour, and then that day, slowly little by little, we can start to release some of the pressure and control that we are unwillingly placing on ourselves. Healing takes time, honour that process wholeheartedly by taking baby steps every day.

Embrace the pain, do not fight it – to really work through something we need to feel it fully. Breaking down into a sobbing bundle of tears, is sometimes what we need to do to work through our feelings of sadness and grief. I remember when I lost a dear loved one three years ago, I literally walked around in a blur of sadness and tears for weeks afterwards. I honestly felt completely numb, like a part of me had actually died with that person. I couldn’t function properly at’ll, it was as if I was on auto pilot, and I didn’t care about anything in this world apart from this huge hole that was suddenly in my heart. People told me that in time it would get better, but I didn’t want to hear that, I didn’t think they could possibly know how I was feeling. Of course in time it did get better, but I needed to fully feel the pain I was experiencing for myself, I needed to allow every inch of my mind and body to wallow deep within it’s sadness, to finally enable me to work through it, slowly one day at a time.

Bathe in or diffuse essential oils in your home – as a holistic healer, I have had the pleasure of witnessing over the past 15 years, the incredible power that essential oils can play during someone’s healing process. Many scientific studies have now proven that essential oils can actually make both emotional and biological changes to the human body.  Essential oils can effect brain chemicals, which in turn can promote feelings of peace and relaxation.    I have actually recently devised a skincare range (which is launching later this year), that has been 100% inspired by my clients, people I have had the pleasure of supporting through their own healing process.  My favourite oils to use to enhance relaxation and promote feelings of calm are Vetiver, lavender, geranium, jasmine, orange, benzoin and bergamot. (Please always check you are able to use any of these oils topically prior to use).  You can purchase many pre blended bath oils too, I love Aromatherapy Associates range.

Quieten the mind to allow the body to start to heal – Meditation is a hugely powerful tool when it comes to supporting your own healing process. When our mind is a whirlwind of turmoil and sadness, we are constantly preventing our physical body from slipping into repair and renewal mode. Try and allow yourself just 10 mins of ‘quite time’ every morning and evening. Many studies have shown that meditation actually helps treat depression and anxiety, as well as boosting your immune system.

Get out amongst nature, particularly trees! – Nature cleanses our aura and helps to balance our own harmonic energy field . Taking ourselves outside amongst trees, grass, foliage and nature provides us with a sense of oneness and can instantly promote feelings of calm and healing.  I live right near Greenwich Park, and despite my busy schedule I always try to make sure I have periods of time in the park throughout my week. I personally find it refreshing, calming and it really does give me a sense of reconnection during times of uncertainty.

Affirmations and positive thought – Some of my clients have found the use of affirmations particularly helpful during times of stress.  When I first bought my spa, and we thought we were about to lose everything due to the economic turn-down, including the business and our home,I had a little sign that I put in my office that read “My income is constantly increasing”. Despite how bad it got (sleepless nights on a friends floor as I couldn’t afford the petrol costs to get me home), every time I read that sign it gave me a point of focus and hope.  It drew my sometimes negative mind, back to something positive and gave me a sense of direction.  I also found this scroll written by the Dalai Lama in a shop during the same period it my life (see picture below), it still hangs in my office to this day. A constant reminder that life can be a struggle, but we should never give up.   Occasionally turning our mind to a positive thought, even for just a moment, can help give us a little hope and clarity on our onward journey.

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Tap into the healing power of music – This is something that purely works for me, so I wished to share it in case it works for someone else.  I find music deeply healing.  Sometimes, when I am overcome with grief, doubt or sadness I will listen to some classical, or deeply moving music. I become completely engulfed in everything about it, every note and every chord.  I am still, I am quiet and I just simply listen, allowing the thoughts to come and go in perfect synergy with the piece I am at one with.  It maybe that upbeat music works for you in this way, give it a go and see if you experience any emotional connection or benefit.

Go and book a massage – Massage is clinically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and increase the mood enhancing hormone serotonin, it also lowers blood pressure and induces a deep sense of relaxation. Many massage therapists are also natural healers, much like some nurses. In my experience, the aura’s of massage therapists are often various shades of blue and turquoise, a healing shade. If you have never had a massage before, ask around for a good, reputable therapist and go and get a treatment booked. Massage is a fantastic way to treat depression and anxiety, and many of my clients over the years have found it exceptionally beneficial to experience a treatment during times of stress.   When cortisol levels are lowered in our bodies, we are able to repair and renew more effectively.

Tap into the healing energy of crystals – As a holistic healer, I am open to the healing benefits of many things, yoga, therapies, food, meditation and also crystals, to name just a few.  It is my belief that everything is energy, and therefore crystals have their own harmonic frequency, just as we do. Many crystals vibrate with a healing energy. There are some fantastic online crystal stores out there, or you can go and visit a qualified crystal healer.  It’s believed when certain crystals are placed on various corresponding points of the body or Chakras, (the energy centres of the body), they in turn can promote a deep sense of healing and overall balance.  This is now a widely accepted therapy found in many high street and larger corporate spas around the world.

Be safe in the knowledge you grow from every negative experience – In my twenties I used to often take the ‘why me’ approach to the challenges of life. Further along my own spiritual journey, now in my late thirties, I no longer have that out look on life. Life is simply that, life. From the day we are born, we aren’t given any guarantees that we won’t ever experience pain, loss or unhappiness. In fact, lets be honest,  it is more of a guarantee that you will experience all of these things at some point on this earth. We all do, every single one of us.  Now instead, with every challenge or period of sadness sent my way, I have been taught by my own spiritual tutor, to go inward, to explore those feelings deeply and thoroughly, and live in the knowledge that in time, through the tears, frustration and unhappiness, I will gain a new wisdom and an inner strength, that maybe in time, will possibly help someone else along their own healing path.

12 Tips On Letting Go Of Love

letting-go-quotes-13“Sometimes love means letting go, when you want to hold on tighter” – unknown

Learning to let go of someone we love can be one of the most difficult and challenging experiences we may face in life, especially if we believe that person is our soul mate.  It can send us into a spiral of different emotions, ones of pain, grief, frustration and unhappiness.  Sometimes it is even harder to accept that someone doesn’t love you as you love them, or that they have decided their life would be a happier place without you in it.  The most challenging thing we need to remember, is that we should never lose ourself, just because someone is prepared to you lose us. Life will never be simple, and learning to love even when the outcome may not be what we had hoped for, is simply another lesson for us to embrace, learn and grow from.

1. Accept and embrace the moment fully – Feeling and accepting pain is hard, but to truly work through something we have to feel it fully. Don’t fight it, the more we try to fight and stifle our emotions, the more we can unintentionally prolong our feelings of negativity and sadness, this in turn can cause us much unnecessary stress. Suppressing grief and anxiety can also eventually start to manifest in our physical bodies and in time, this can in fact make us quiet poorly.

2. Don’t continue to dwell on ‘what might have been’ – simply because it isn’t. You are not serving yourself well, the more you play scenarios in your head about how a relationship may have turned out. Remind yourself you are no longer with that person for a reason, and continuing to romanticize about something from the past, is preventing you from living in the present moment.

3. Remind yourself how awesome you were before the relationship – a breakup can often leave you with feelings of self-doubt and insecurities.  Take a moment to remind yourself of the person you were before the relationship occurred. This can help refocus your attention to the positive things, about you and your newly single identity.

4.Don’t compare yourself to someone else – If your relationship has ended because your partner has found someone new, refrain yourself from making comparisons to that person. You may believe you are a better person, a kinder person, a funnier person, or a more suitable partner, but constantly making comparisons to someone else, someone who your ex is now happier with, will only leave you with feelings of frustration, anger and sadness. Stop trying to walk in your ex’s shoes, remind yourself their life isn’t yours to control.

5.Allow the tears to flow – Crying is an integral part of the healing process, it releases feelings of fear, unhappiness and grief. Don’t be angry at yourself for wanting to have a good sob. Embrace the feelings of sadness, and ride gently on the waves of your tears.

6.Be safe in the knowledge you will experience love again – When we lose someone we loved with all our heart and soul, often we are overwhelmed with the fear we will never love again. When these negative thoughts engulf you go and sit somewhere quietly and write in a journal everything you know that is good and positive about yourself. Do you think you are a kind person, hard-working, understanding and compassionate?  You can try calling a friend to see if they can help you out, if you find it a hard task to do on your own.  Switching our focus to our positive qualities, can in turn help negative feelings into more hopeful ones.  Everyone has unique and beautiful qualities, we sometimes just need to take the time to remind ourselves of our own.

7.Identify what the relationship taught you – this can be hard to do early on, but once we have had a little time to heal, often we can look back on a relationship and see what that union taught us. I strongly believe everyone we come into contact with in our life time has been sent to teach us something, and in turn in some way they will help our soul grow. Years a go, I was in a very controlling and negative relationship. My partner at the time was a very insecure and aggressive man.  Years on I can now look back and see that relationship taught me patience, how insecurities can effect others and how I should only be in relationships that serve me well, because I deserve nothing less. At the time, it was a very painful experience, but now I realise it had great value to the person I am now, and also how I now treat others.

8.Don’t cling on to something you didn’t own in the first place – We experience love, but we do not own it. People fall in and out of love all the time, sometimes we change or our partner changes. Sometimes our circumstances alter and this affects how we feel. It may be we still love one another, but in life we want different things. Love is a wonderful emotion, it is the foundation of our soul, but remind yourself love isn’t ours to own like a nice car or a big house, it isn’t a possession. Love comes and goes as it pleases, it cannot be forced or locked away so it can never escape.  Don’t turn love into an attachment, embrace it wholeheartedly when it’s appears, but also let it go freely when it asks to leave.

9. Don’t view your entire identity on being loved – You are you, in your truest form. You don’t need to be in a relationship to have your own identity. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you who you are. Remind yourself of this every time you start to feel negative or sad about being on your own.  Once we let go of the notion we need a partner to make us whole, being on our own becomes a little easier. You are complete simply as you are, just as you were the day you were born.

10.Create and embrace your single identity – Start to empower your single status. Go to the gym to feel good about yourself. Spend quality time with your friends and family. Delete any emails or texts from your ex and stop stalking them on social media sites, just to see what they are ‘up to’. The less time you spend in the past, the more room you give to your future.

11. Do not have regrets – You cannot change your past. So stop living like you can. Regrets never serve you well, we don’t have the option to turn back time and do things differently, we can only learn from our past experiences and move on from them.

12. Acknowledge the experience and bless them on their journey – even if a break up has been a very painful one, after a period of healing, I always take the time to meditate and explore what the relationship taught me. I then visualise that person in my mind, I surround them with love and bless them wholeheartedly on their journey. They may have only been with me a while, and at times it may not have been a very beneficial relationship (after all we broke up for a reason), but for me it’s a point of closure.  We served each other in what ever way we needed to at the time, and taking a moment to acknowledge, honour and respect that fact, helps me process the experience and move on from it.

The Noble Art of Wise Selfishness

RelaxBeside the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone” –  Lin Yutang

I have always been a bit of a grafter. I grew up in a typical working class family in the 70’s and 80’s. My father worked long hours, travelling around the country whilst my mother stayed at home and looked after myself and my sister. From a very young age it was installed in me, that if I wanted to achieve in life, then I had to be prepared to work hard and keep focussed.

At fifteen I had not one, but two jobs. On Saturdays I would work at my local hair and beauty salon, washing clients hair and keeping the salon tidy. On Sundays I got up even earlier and worked at a cafe at my local airport, flipping burgers and making salads. Every Sunday evening I would come home reeking of chip pan fat, and my mum would literally dunk me in the bath as soon as I stepped through the front door.  Some of my friends thought I was crazy, they were always out having fun, shopping, partying and enjoying themselves. But many of them were very fortunate in the fact their parents could afford to buy them the latest trainers or mobile phone.  They didn’t need to ask if they could be treated to a ticket for the latest party or to get ‘that’ dress.  My parents were in a very different position, money was frugal and It was apparent from my early teens,  if I really wanted something, then ‘I’ needed to work for it myself.

This work ethic has stayed with me ever since, and I believe it gave me great grounding in appreciating the value of money from a fairly young age.

In 2008 I left my very secure and well paid job in London to embark on a new business venture. I had trained as a therapist many years before and my dream had always been to have my own spa.  I had found a wonderful little beauty business in Kent, it was a little run down, and I could see it needed a lot of love and attention to bring it back to life, but I knew the potential was there, and I was prepared to work hard to achieve what was effectively my dream job.

Unfortunately soon after acquisition of the business, partly due to my naivety of the legalities and risks of buying an ongoing concern, but also partly due to my trust in others,  a series of events propelled me into two years of what I can only describe as hell on earth.

Shortly after we opened the business we discovered the previous owner had been less than honest about the accounts, the business wasn’t turning over anywhere near what she had declared and the first six months saw the bailiffs knocking on our door almost every week looking to take our equipment in lieu of the money she owed.  To add to that, the staff we had inherited were somewhat problematic, to say the least.  One was exceptionally volatile and another turned out to be a thief.  A third stayed with us for a few months, listened intently to the vision we had for our spa, only to leave to open up a new salon down the road trying to emulate everything we had planned for our own spa, from its theme, to its decor and treatments. To add insult to injury, she also helped herself to our ‘confidential’ client details before she left, and then promptly starting calling our clients offering to do our treatments at half price from her new premises.  The whole event left me feeling very hurt, angry and in truth, a little in despair. I honestly felt I had treated all my staff with fairness, kindness and compassion, and I was finding it so difficult not to take the whole experience personally.  Three months later, to add an extra element of challenge to an already very challenging situation, the worst recession the world has ever seen hit the UK.

I was suddenly working an average 80-90 hour’s per week, and I wasn’t taking a penny from the business. I suddenly had a mound of bills to pay, the salaries of my staff, plus my bills at home and I wasn’t earning a penny. I felt I had been cheated by certain people and was angry at my own naivety of giving up a well paid job, only to find myself struggling day-to-day, with the awful possibility that I could ultimately lose my house and everything else I had worked so hard for.

I honestly couldn’t see a way out. I was seeing clients every waking hour, because I felt I had no other choice and most mornings I was in the office at 5am and wasn’t leaving until gone 10pm, to ensure all the admin and behind the scenes work was being done on time.  On top of this I had a long commute from my spa back to London, plus I still had a house to keep clean and a family to care for. I was too tired to do anything, and I mean anything. Sometimes I was honestly to tired to even eat.  I couldn’t afford to go out, and even if I could I was too tired to string a sentence together. My husband lost count of the amount of times he found me asleep in my coat in various positions around the house, where I had literally walked in and collapsed in a heap of exhaustion. The sleepless nights were plenty, I was beyond stressed, and I wasn’t doing anything but spa work, house work, and sleeping. Life had suddenly become truly miserable and I felt as if I was putting everything and everyone before my own needs. In short my business was controlling my life. I felt guilty that I wasn’t seeing my friends or family and guilty if I wanted to go home early from work, as I felt my staff really needed my support and encouragement.

This continued for 2 years, the struggling economy wasn’t making things easy and finally my body started to show signs of fatigue. My back ached constantly, my asthma was more irritable than ever and I suddenly developed facial eczema like never before.  I was so exhausted, I was literally running on air. The balance of a working life and home life that I had once found so easy to maintain, had suddenly vanished into a blur of non-existence.

The fact is you don’t need to own your own business to find yourself in a similar position. We live in a society that places so much emphasis on material gain, and a successful career and family life.  So many of us often feel ‘inadequate’ if we can’t juggle our family relationships and our working life in perfect synergy. We are constantly on the go, constantly striving to achieve the next best thing, wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side. We pack out diaries full of social events, working events, our children’s events, family events…. the list is endless.  Many of us feel guilty if we don’t place the need of those around us, before the needs of ourselves.

Obviously, I couldn’t continue the way I was, and eventually, following a rather ordinary  sneeze, I found myself flat on my back with two bulging discs sticking out of my vertebrae. I literally couldn’t move an inch without an excruciating amount of pain and discomfort. My body had literally forced me to stop.

I stayed like that for 3 weeks solid, feeling immensely sorry for myself and beyond frustrated.  I felt as if I wasn’t in ‘control’ of anything. By the third week of activity ‘lock down’ something began to change.   Despite me not being at my spa, it was becoming apparent that my staff weren’t going into melt down as I had feared, and despite me not being able to do treatments, our clients did not stop coming to spend money with us.  At home, although I wasn’t physically able to whiz the Hoover frantically around the house every two minutes, or do the washing up or feed the husband (or the cat for that matter), I wasn’t finding myself living in a complete and utter mess and the RSPCA weren’t repeatedly knocking on my door asking questions about a rather skinny looking cat.  Despite me being completely bed bound and unable to control anything, the world as I knew it, still happily continued to tick along nicely around me.

What my temporary condition did, was pull my ego into check by showing me that every time I insisted I needed to be ‘doing’ something or controlling something, that this was in fact a state of mind.  I was utterly convincing myself that I needed to do everything when I wanted to or felt obliged to, because if I didn’t, in my little head life would never get better.  I felt the need to control, in order to control everything in the here and now, believing that in turn, I could in fact control the outcome.  It was ‘me’ that was in fact putting everyone’s needs before my own, not the other way round.

A few weeks later, I was fortunate enough to go and see his Holiness the Dalia Lama speak in London. The whole experience was inspiring, enlightening and even quite emotional. During his presentation he spoke of the noble art of what he called ‘wise selfishness’. The art of taking care of oneself on a physical, emotional and spiritual level as primary importance.  He advised when doing this and doing it well, you are then in a much better position to take care of others.  He spoke of many rich and powerful friends of his, that had on many occasions actually confessed to him that they were very unhappy and incredibly stressed. They had placed so much attention on material gain and financial success, that they now found themselves in a bubble of unhappiness and worry.   As I sat there and listened I honestly felt as if he was talking to me in person. With every softly spoken word, I felt a lump of emotion start to well up in my throat. I was kicking myself that I had been so stupid to have lost sight of what was really important in life. The penny had finally dropped, and it had fallen from an almighty height.

Dalai Lama quote

What it taught me was, that I needed to have structured time throughout my week, year and life for me. I needed to stop feeling guilty about wanting to have time to indulge in things that had once made me happy. I needed to stop focussing so much time on worrying about the financial success of my business, and learn to let go of the control a little.  I needed to start treating myself as I would my own best friend and honour myself with the love and compassion I actually deserved.

Three years on my life has more balance, my business is thriving and most of all I am much happier. All thanks to a set of rules I slowly implemented to help me maintain that balance in life I so desperately needed.

Don’t be available 24/7 – I now have a rule, after a certain time in the evening I don’t answer my phone, unless I am expecting a call. All my friends and family know the best times to call me, and it gives me some much-needed time to wind down after a long day at work. My staff knows not to texted or call me on my day off, unless it is really urgent. They respect I need time away from work just as they do.

Switch the Computer off by 7pm – Back then I would often find myself bleary-eyed, tapping away on my laptop until gone midnight. Now I have a rule that the laptop is switched off at 7pm. That way I’m not tempted to work for just another few minutes, which would often end up as hours. With the computer off I often find I will end up listening to music or reading a book instead. The things I used to love doing until the new age world of computers took over life.

Meditate – I now meditate every single day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes in the morning and evening. It helps me focus in the morning with a calm mind, and sets me up well for the day and in the evening it helps me let go of all the hustle and bustle or stress of the previous few hours. This alone has made a huge difference in my life and my stress levels. Meditation helps put life back into perspective.

Exercise – I try to exercise three times a week, even if it’s just for 30 mins.  I do some yoga, or take the bike out or I go for a walk. You don’t need to be a member of a gym to do this, be creative and try to get your family or partner to join you. It can be a fantastic way of relaxing together and will help you sleep better at night.

Indulge in the pleasures in life and savour the moment – I used to feel so guilty about spending money when I didn’t have any. But small pleasures in life really don’t have to cost a lot and when you are working really hard, every day, you do need to reward yourself occasionally and not feel guilty about it.  I love going to the super market and purchasing a lovely treat for dinner, or taking the train up to London and walking along the Thames in the sunshine.  Buy yourself a magazine and savour some time in the garden reading in the quiet or go to the local park and lay on the grass in bare feet and breathe in the fresh air.

Have structured time with family & friends – Life can so often get in the way of life, and many of my friends and family often say they wished had more quality time with the ones they love. Make structured time to see your friends and family, but don’t book so many social events in one week that you then feel overwhelmed. Remember, this time should be time for you, as well as those you are with to relax and rejuvenate. I have a large wall calendar in my offices at the spa and at home. This enables me to see my month ahead laid out as a whole, with all my commitments written in large red pen. This may seem a little controlled for some, but it helps me ensure I have quality time with everyone, plus my me time, rather than cramming my weeks with lots of events, to only feels exhausted by the end of it with no rejuvenation time before the next month starts all over again.

Be silent – Our life is crammed packed with noise, televisions, radios, social media, phones…. the list is endless. With these constant distractions forever interrupting our daily living, sometimes just enjoying the peace of stillness is incredibly soothing and calming to the soul.

Remember what you loved doing as a child and re-embrace it with adult eyes – As a kid I loved to draw and write, I could literally lock myself away in my bedroom and sketch for hours or write a twenty page story about something that was incredibly exciting for an 11-year-old.   As I got older, adult life and it’s responsibilities took over and sadly I lost those passions. Last year I decided to try to reignite the flame, so I started this blog and purchased a new sketch pad.  I can now again write for hours, and I find it truly relaxing and enjoyable.  My husband loved swimming as a child, and recently he joined our local pool, he readily admits he wished he had done it sooner.  So often we lose sight of the joy we found in simple things in our childhood, and making the effort to reconnect with those activities can highlight those pleasures again.

Honour your body – I learned very early on that as amazing as the human body is, it needs to be looked after.  We will often offer the advice to others that they need to ‘slow down’ or ‘take better care of themselves’ but how often do we follow that same advice ourselves?  Eat well, take some vitamins and ensure you get plenty of uninterrupted rest.  Go to bed when you are tired, don’t force yourself to stay up to watch television. When you experience tiredness your body is letting you know it needs sleep to help restore energy and renew essential cells.

Be honest with yourself or your boss – If like me you find your work is taking over your life, you really need to regain some balance and remind yourself  that no job is worth being ill over.  I of all people understand that sometimes you need to work harder than the regular 9-5pm, but you can’t sustain this for long periods of time.  Stress causes high blood pressure and places a huge amount of pressure on the bodies systems, it can even lead to strokes or heart attacks. When work starts effecting your physical or mental health, it’s time to evaluate what is more important to you, keeping your boss happy or potentially ending up in hospital very sick?  Be honest with your boss if you start to find things too over whelming, take the courage to admit you need some help. Struggling along in silence will just cause you even more stress, angst and unhappiness.

Remind yourself money isn’t the key to happiness – A recent scientific study has shown that 3-5 months after lottery winners have collected their winnings, they are on average only 5% happier than they were prior to receiving the money, despite whatever their previous circumstances were.  I find this truly fascinating, because although I don’t believe material gain is the key to happiness,  I am sure the majority of my friends and family would all agree they would envisage themselves being happier with a little more money, as this would surely take some of financial pressure of everyday ‘living’?  Which reminds me of the Dalia Lama’s tale of his financially successful friends being some of his unhappiest friends. I now invite you to re-read the previous chapter on being honest with your boss.

Don’t feel guilty about saying no – This was a biggie for me. I like to help people in any way I can, I don’t do it because I think it makes me a better person, I do it because it makes me happy. What I learned when I opened my business, is that I didn’t have the same amount of free time that I did prior to having it.  So although in the beginning I still did all the little errands and favours I had always done, those, on top of the increased hours at the spa started to take a toll on my body.   I had to learn to have the courage to be honest and admit I just couldn’t do everything any more.  I had to acknowledge, times had changed and I simply didn’t have as much time.  In short, I had to learn to say no and without feeling guilty about it. Which of course is exactly how I felt after the first ‘no’.  In time I started to realise that those that mattered understood, and those that didn’t, well they probably didn’t matter as much as I thought they had.

So the next time you are feeling unhappy, stressed, under extreme pressure or just simply exhausted, ask yourself, like I did three years ago,  is it time to evaluate where your life is at? Is it telling you, that you too need to start studying the art of wise selfishness?

Six Tips on Dealing With Insecure People

“A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.” – Lazurus Long

Feelings of insecurity, we have all experienced them at some point in our lives.  A jealous feeling deep within our being due to an experience we felt was out of our control.  A moment of fear when we believed someone may have been talking negatively about us. A deep-rooted worry that a partner may no longer love us.  Look back, we have all been there and it is never a nice place to be.

Feelings of constant insecurity and doubt about our worth and value, is nothing short of destructive to our peace of mind and ultimate happiness in life.  Being in a relationship of some sort with someone who is very insecure can also be draining and challenging for everyone involved.

In my career as a manager and business owner, I have had the challenge but also pleasure of managing some very insecure people. In my early years I would find peoples insecurities frustrating and even tiresome. Now I try to take pleasure in helping these type of people acknowledge their insecurities and then try to help them to embrace these feelings, with the view of growing and reaching a new-found wisdom.

The need to control. Insecure people can often have an over whelming desire to control the relationships around them and situations that are be presented to them. Insecurities can make a person feel as if they are constantly walking outside of their comfort zone, and we all know how that feels. Because of this, they will often desperately try to control the views, opinions and actions of others.  Try to acknowledge this when you see it happening, and rather than become frustrated with the other person, empathise, but do not let feelings of sympathy allow the controlling action to continue.  What you don’t want to do is encourage controlling behaviour, because if you do, their behaviour will never alter and ultimately you will be helping to feed your friends/partner insecurities even more.

I was once in a relationship with a really insecure partner. He didn’t like me going out on my own with my friends, dressing in a certain way or even meeting new people. It was the most suffocating relationship I have ever been in, and when I realised I was changing who I was to please him, it finally dawned on me that it was time to move on.

The need to always be right and never wrong .  Insecure people will often need to have the last word and will sometimes find it hard to accept others views or opinions, often believing their view is the only ‘right’ view point. They will also often get very frustrated if you express a different opinion or even challenge their own beliefs. Again be mindful if this kind of situation arises, there is no point becoming angry or frustrated. I will gently challenge someone’s opinion if I disagree with it, yes, but would never get into a heated discussion.  If someone really isn’t listening to you and you are finding yourself with feelings of frustration, you can gently divert the conversation in another direction, or even take a moment to be silent.

Finger pointing and fault-finding.  Insecure people will often blame others for their own unhappiness and insecurities. Secure, happy and confident people, may not always be happy with a certain situation but they won’t always be looking to point the blame at everyone else.  This is something I have dealt with on many, many occasions as a manager.  The classic excuse of  “It’s so an so’s fault I’m unhappy because he/she didn’t do this or that”.  Again, I do not tolerate this kind of excuse finding behaviour if it is unwarranted. I will always point out gently and with kindness and compassion, why that clearly isn’t the case and offer a positive solution of how that person can start to take responsibility for their own actions and happiness.

Not wanting to share your happiness or success. This is a common cause for friendships and partnerships to breakdown, when one persons insecurities inhibits their ability to be happy for someone else’s good fortune or success.  You may have been friends with someone for a while, or in a relationship that was ticking along nicely, and then suddenly your situation changes, and your partner or friend begins to find it difficult to share your happiness. You may get a new job, find a new boyfriend, buy your dream home and before you know it your friend, for no ‘obvious’ reasons no longer wants to spend time with you.

This can be hurtful and confusing for all of those involved. Your partner/friend may be struggling with such feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness and jealousy, that she finds it really difficult to see you spending time with your new man, enjoying your new job etc. For you, it can leave you feeling really hurt and confused that your friend, who you valued, suddenly can’t be happy for you.  Insecure people can feel threatened very easily, and will often struggle to keep the upper hand when it comes to their careers, relationships and personal life as this gives them a sense of worth. Insecure people can also often ‘shut down’ and appear to ‘turn on you’ for no real valid reason. Finding it increasingly challenging and difficult to deal with their negative feelings and emotions.

A few years ago,  I had a female colleague that I truly cared for as a friend. I had worked with her on a professional level for some years, and really valued her talents. We worked really well together, until I suddenly noticed that she was beginning to show signs of insecure behaviour. She became almost paranoid about other professional women in our field, and she truly thought that people were ‘against’ her in some way. Everything was becoming a bit of a drama.  The more successful she became the more irrational her behaviour grew, until one day, she actually turned on me. It was unexpected, unnecessary and quite honestly it was unkind.  Her insecurities had caused her to become over analytical and judgemental of people and situations.  This in turn caused her much internal unhappiness and anger.   At the time, it was a situation that caused me a great deal of angst and sadness. Years later, I can see the value of the lesson through much wiser eyes and a more open heart.   Deep inside she was hurting, and was desperate to find a deeper sense of happiness. Her problem was she was looking at recognition from her career path to do this, rather than from deep within her soul.

Bouts of Anger or Frustration: In all my years as a manager I have seen that many insecure people carry a lot of anger and frustration. Ultimately insecurities are formed from our childhood experiences and situations that we have faced in our younger years, experiences that we are still holding onto which are affecting how we interact in the world as adults. Because of our insecurities we may find it difficult to extend love, and instead we choose to extend anger and frustration.  We return to child mode.  In these types of situations,  ensure you don’t return the persons behaviour with your own anger, instead you should act with compassion and an open heart. Of course this may be a challenge to you, especially if someone has been rude or hurtful towards you. The fact is, you can still be firm and get your view-point across but you can do it in a way that diffuses the situation completely and actually deflects the anger away from both of you.  More often than not, when you respond in such a way, the other person involved can start to see that their own angry outburst was wrong and totally unnecessary.

Encrypted Social Media Rants.  I suppose I am not surprised at the amount of people who turn to their social media sites to post encrypted rants about things they are unhappy with, but I really don’t see how it benefits anyone.  Other than getting a few things off of your chest in a public forum, for the world to see, how does that serve anyone well?  I personally feel, if you have a friend or partner that feels the need to do this, do not get into a conversation with them about it online, or comment on their post. Encouraging such negativity in fact just feeds their negativity, and in turn empowers it even more.  Secure, confident people, who value your friendship, will have the decency to talk to you face to face about something you may or may not done that has caused them upset.  Not feel the need to write some random coded status update on Facebook or such like.  Random ranty posts are just screaming for attention. Ignore them.

Secure, confident and happy people will generally be unfazed by others insecurities, approaching them with an open heart and a wise mind.  Secure people also rarely experience feelings of jealously or anger due to someone else’s good fortune. Instead they will wholeheartedly embrace the happiness of others and look within to be grateful for their own.