Friday, 23 February 2018

3 Steps to Conquer Comparison

Comparison is an insidious, unhelpful pattern of thinking that we can often resort to when we don't feel good about ourselves. When we feel down or unsuccessful or uncomfortable in our bodies, the world can quickly become a catalogue for comparison.

'Comparison is the thief of joy', is seriously such an accurate quote. I can tell you from experience, it simply does not serve us to be trying to measure up to others, to put anyone on a pedestal and in turn put ourselves down.

There's nothing to be gained from engaging in this kind of thinking; it just ends up shaking our own self worth and leading us into a negative mind set, believing ourselves to be less, not good enough or beneath others.

Whether it's on social media, on the street, in our work or wherever, cascading into comparative inner conversation has no place in helping our self esteem, worth and confidence thrive. It's usually just charged by our own insecurities anyway purely attempting to confirm or re-enforce a negative, 'not good enough' self image.

Personally I can unfortunately​ say I spent an excessive amount of time negatively comparing myself to others and all it did was make me miserable. I can't be anyone else. I can't possibly switch lives or nick someone else's skills or appearance, and trust me, it's exhausting to keep beating myself up because of that.

So I've found​ an energising and rejuvenating practice to invest in instead, is actually celebrating myself - seeing who I am and knowing that that's what matters and what's worth admiring. And at the same time I can see the worth and beauty in others, without it threatening my own self worth and security.

When it comes down to it, all I or you can do is be who we are, so why not start to actually enjoy and appreciate that?

Maintaining comparison as a practice in our minds is only going to jeopardise our inner security and capsccap to feel strong in who are. And that's just not on.

So, here's how we can put a stop to comparing and harness a more positive, joyful thinking practice instead:


Stop yourself the minute your eyes or mind wander towards making a comparison. Automatic thought processes like this need to become conscious for us to catch them so first, we need to start stopping them in their tracks. Anytime you notice yourself measuring up to another, in any way, stop it.


After stopping the thought, we need to intercept the usual pattern with something new. So instead of comparing qualities, we'll acknowledge our own. Replace the stream of 'theyre so much more x,y,z than me', with an acknowledgement of your own qualities. See your own beauty, talents, uniqueness, mind - shine a light on what's good and valued within you.

Acknowledge that everyone is different and that we cannot base our opinion on others or ourselves merely on appearances and assumptions.

Acknowledge that everyone has something amazing to offer, so yeah you're going to see incredible or impressive people, but you're actually a part of that too.

Acknowledge and affirm the strengths and attributes that you uniquely hold, all of the authentic and endearing substance that makes you You.


Appreciate what you have that makes you who you are. We all are so different and while that may sound cliché, it is true and it is amazing when you begin to celebrate that fact. Own who you are. Be entirely authentic and cultivate a comfort and confidence in the person you are - exactly as you are right now.

Appreciate the qualities of others too. Where before a particularly attractive person might instill intimidation and comparison, learn to appreciate what you admire in them. It's a much warmer way to approach others, with no need for competition or comparison. Others can look great or have great lives without affecting our capacity to look great and have a great life too.

Life is not a competition. Our worth is not constantly at risk based on who's around us or what everyone else is doing. Letting go of comparison enables us to embrace our differences, validate our individual identity and put ourselves on a level playing field in the world around us.

Recovery Awareness Week

This year, NEDA's eating disorder awareness week kicks off on the 26th February and for that whole week, Dare to Live will be raising awareness of #edrecovery here and on the blog.

Recovery from an ED was the most beneficial and life changing journey I'd say I have ever chosen. It completely transformed my life and my capacity to experience it. It was an incredible, almost inexplicable, gift and it's one that I very much want to encourage everyone in need of it to give themselves.

Full recovery from an ED doesn't get enough press. Too often the sensationalism of self destruction is at the fore; the struggle rather than the survival taking centre stage.

We're led to believe that it's not for everyone or that it's not possible or that we have to learn to live with ED - we absolutely do not, no one does and that's what this week is about. These misconceptions keep our recovery out of reach, when realistically it's any of ours for the taking.

Recovery is for everyone who chooses it. Full recovery. No terms or conditions or ifs or buts, just real and complete freedom from ED. So we're going to raise awareness of what it is and isn't - what it really means and can be. Because, when you think about it, how can we get something we don't understand or even believe in?

This is our opportunity to create a true meaning of what recovery is. This is our chance to build that image strong enough to motivate and carry us through this journey. It could be the beginning of creating a life without ED.

What you focus on grows.

Let's focus on what we want, let's focus on a life of freedom, let's fight for the recovered life we dream of - because each and every one us deserves and is capable of attaining it 💜

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Set. Rest. Rise.

Set, rest, rise again.

In this process it transforms, dissolves, descends -
its undoing, an art in itself,
Built on brushstrokes of goodbye,

The composition illuminates the fiery sky -

A bold farewell to the day.

No concern for what has passed, unencumbered by what may be.
The day is settled.
The sun's job for now, complete.

Set, rest, rise again.

Its return, is another exquisite piece,
Dictating to darkness that now it must cease
Emerging gently, gradually creating its display
A dynamic kaleidoscopic embrace -

Though a repetitive routine, never a repeat

Each new rising unveiling its own expressive feat.

Set, rest, rise again.

Relish in the spectrum of each,
Partake in the process, from dark to peak
Encourage the beauty of transience to speak 
Naturally lilting from dark to light,

Tirelessly seizing the chance to shine bright.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Cementing Self Security

It's come to light more and more the insidious hold insecurity has on us as a society these days. Sadly, it's as though it's become normalised to just not feel good about ourselves; we put ourselves down in feigned modesty or 'politeness', we feed into the pursuit of a perfected image, we try to be someone or something we're not, we're more jealous and anxious, lost and unsure.

You can see it everywhere; in the messages we're receiving, the actions we take, the behaviours we engage in.

Many of us just find it impossible to believe or feel that we are actually worthy, deserving or good enough as we are at any given time.

We mightn't even realise how deep it runs either, but it could definitely be affecting our day-to-day in a profoundly negative and sabotaging way.

Personally, I've had enough of seeing the effects of the 'not good enough affliction'. I've had enough of seeing beautiful, lovable people completely oblivious of their worth, impressionable youth feeding into poor self image, people of all ages not pursuing their true potential - the list goes on and insecurity is the suffocating weed choking our lives' roots. It inhibits our growth, our capacity to truly flourish fully - ultimately, it does not serve us whatsoever.

Think about it: When we're insecure and feel unworthy, do you reckon we pursue our dreams? Do we speak up? Do we think we can do what we really want to do? Do we let ourselves be vulnerable, loved, included? Do we feel good about ourselves, enjoy self confidence and fulfil our needs? Do we trust, feel safe, feel comfortable? Do we feel like we belong, make a difference or have a place?

I don't think we realise how many avenues of our life the absence of self worth and inner security affects. It's a huge issue and it can trickle throughout our life experience as much as we allow it. Relationships, work, career, goals, purpose, meaning - all of these can become blighted by the burden of negative self belief. 

When it comes down to it, anything that diminishes our self worth, esteem and confidence will keep us at a distance from our own lives.

Living with the belief that we're not good enough prevents us from really daring to live - fully, wholeheartedly and contentedly.

And that's simply and absolutely not good enough.

So we're changing that now. Here on Dare to Live we're committing to cementing a strong sense of self security. We're going to look at what we can do to release the debilitating grip of insecurity and build a solid foundation of self worth, security and confident enough-ness (maybe not a word but definitely a feeling!) 

We're going to swap self deprecation for self appreciation, comparison for contentment and insecurity for inspired, unwavering and impenetrable inner security.

Because we are good enough and its time to start living like we believe that.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

11 Ways to Enhance Experiences

As you might know, I've spent the last year on a working holiday in New Zealand (hence the lack of posts and load of instagrams 😁) . For 8 months of that, I've had the pleasure of living and working in the 8th Wonder of the World, Milford Sound.

This has hands down been one of the most amazing experiences I've gotten to enjoy; being immersed daily in this stunning place with amazing people and countless new experiences and adventures. I honestly couldn't have asked for more from it (not even better functioning internet or mobile signal!)

As with any new experience, particularly for the sensitive souls like myself, it has definitely come with new learnings, the occasional challenge and some acclimatising, but ultimately these all just came together to give a wealth of thorough enjoyment.

New environments and new experiences can bring different things depending on our mindset, perspective and attitude at the time. If we're showing up to these for example with a self we don't really care for, the outcome will be different to showing up with solid self esteem and self love. Likewise, there's a number of different ways to ensure we get the most out of these experiences and keep ourselves free and present in the process.

Here's what I've learned along the way to enhance experiences:

1. Choose Compassion 

Opt for compassion as often as possible for yourself and for others. When we lose compassion we find ourselves in judgement, resentment and irritation. Let yourself be tired, let others be annoying and let yourself choose compassion towards these things.

When we get too bothered by things we can't control we lose our capacity to indulge fully in experiences. We get caught up in the noise of stuff that doesn't really matter. Find compassion to be patient with yourself as you begin new things, find compassion to allow yourself adjust and choose compassion whenever judgement or expectations wish to raise their voice.

2. Keep the playing field even

Remember that you deserve and have a place anywhere as much as anyone else does.

'Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission.. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world.. No one belongs here more than you.' Brené Brown

Sometimes in new places around new people we get the measuring stick out and start comparing or putting others up on pedestals which in turn means putting ourselves down. This is a fantastic way to ruin an experience. Keep the playing field even and stand your own sacred ground as part of the team.

3. Be a part of it, all of it

Immerse yourself in moments, feel them in your bones, be truly present. Engage your senses and really feel everything you experience. Learn to become mindful of what's going on around and within you. Stay awake and aware and you'll begin to garner the benefits of each magic moment you get to be a part of.

This enhances the memories you'll take away with you too as you've become part of them; your image of the experience will be clear and whole and all yours. Everyday in Milford I was wowed by my surroundings, I loved taking every sight and sound and sensory experience in. It kept it fresh, real, enjoyable and breathtakingly beautiful.

4. Take Note

Oddly for me I took heaps of photos and wrote very little about the experience - I guess that goes hand in hand with being a part of it, not wanting to disappear away to write my diary - but still, whatever form it takes, take conscious note of your experiences. 

These will serve as incredible memories in the future and it's so lovely to look back and recall the adventures. Even during the day, make a mindful note of where you are, what you're up to and how it feels. It's easy to get carried away or try to tick the boxes but do try to give every moment its time to be yours, give each noteworthy experience its opportunity to be noted.

5. Go For It

Decide what you want to do and just do it - what are you waiting for? Time moves whether we choose to move with it or not so we've got to take responsibility for making things happen. 

When we realised our end date was fast approaching we finally made a list of things we still wanted to do before we left and started getting out there and doing them. But it's definitely something that could have been started sooner! 

We don't know what could happen, we don't know how long we'll have all the resources we need - we need to just get out there and go for it. Ask if others want to do it too, put yourself out there, seek out what you need - make it happen. Our experiences can only be as big and as full as we make them.

6. Forgiveness

Forgive yourself and forgive others. When things don't go as we planned or as we would've liked them to, ensure to exercise forgiveness. Don't waste time getting down on yourself, feeling bad or engaging in any negativity really. That's not what you're here for.

Let go of the little niggles and keep moving forward, remembering compassion along the way. Embrace the shaky steps that come with beginning something new and gift yourself with a patient, forgiving attitude.

7. Travel Light

Abide by emotional and mental baggage allowances along your journey. Whatever doesn't fit comfortably in your mind has to go. There's neither the space nor energy to weigh yourself down when you're on an adventure. Learn the liberating practice of letting go and do it regularly. 

8. Be Yourself

Don't give this experience to someone you're not, this is for you - take ownership of it. You cannot enjoy it fully if you're trying to be someone else, it's just not possible. That's all I can say about this one really, just be authentic, true to yourself and give yourself the chance to enjoy it entirely. And in turn, this gives others the privilege of meeting who you really are.

9. Don't give insecurity a boarding pass

Insecurity is a powerful and insidious affliction. It has no place in any experience that you'd actually like to enjoy. Anytime you notice it rearing its head, you owe it to the experience to overcome it. 

Respond to whatever it says with a strong, solid affirmation of self worth. Don't give in to it, entertain it or believe a word of it. It does not have the required paperwork to be with you on this adventure, leave it behind and immerse yourself in self loving statements instead.

10. Respect your boundaries 

Don't forget in all the excitement that you're still a human being with needs and feelings and limits. Respect what you need, when you need it. 'Burnout' is not exactly a classic experience enhancer! Take what you need to keep a balanced level of self care amidst the fun and shenanigans.

11. Get amongst it

One of the team's stock phrases was 'Get amongst it!' and that's probably one of the most important things. Get right amongst it, get deep in the experience, let go and just jump right in. Sing, dance, laugh and throw yourself out of your comfort zone. You'll only get to do this exact experience once, so make it count.

Make it memorable, make it yours and enjoy the magic.

And don't forget to be grateful along the way because I genuinely believe that an attitude of gratitude will keep these amazing experiences flowing to you!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

5 Habits of Hygge

Having come across this word some time ago, I recently finished a book that's all about it and wanted to share some of what it taught me. Hygge was a recent word of the day over on Facebook for anyone who's missed it and the beautiful definition of the word that I got, came directly from that book:

'Hygge is the removal of things that cause stress in our lives - it is the ongoing pursuit of a simpler, healthier, more fulfilled and happier existence.'

42 Habits of Hygge is Helena Olsen's easy to read guide on incorporating hygge into daily life, through easily applicable five minute habits.

Funnily enough, a significant amount of these are ones that I have the pleasure of being able to practice everyday living in Milford Sound without realising their contribution to my general sense of contentment. It's cool to see just how easily these can add up to create a strong sense of hygge. And of course, anyone anywhere can begin to adapt these hygge heightening practices, so here's just some of those suggestions to consider:

1. Decluttering

Clutter to me is chaos. I genuinely find it irritating and stressful to be surrounded by clutter or excess. So this makes obvious sense to me - decluttering will bring clarity and space and a more relaxed environment. The Minimalists and those with similar thinking of course have popularised this increasingly recently and it's not surprising to find that it's also recognised as pertinent to a more hyggeligt lifestyle.

Get rid of clutter, let go of anything that is not adding value to your life and wellbeing. This may not just be physical items either - social media, email subscriptions, toxic relationships - these can all add up to an overwhelming culmination of chaos. Take the time to trim the excess wherever you feel necessary, challenging though it may be initially, it's actually a very liberating process and can give a wonderful feeling of lightness and thus contentment.

2. Reading

I was a serious book worm as a child. Piles of books would return from the library and within little time at all, I was eagerly awaiting more. I always loved exploring the writing of others, delving into new ideas, worlds and the minds of those who are experts in their fields. But, when stress and a distracted mind came into play, the books went by the wayside, ironically at the time when I probably could've done with their stress-relieving capabilities most.

In the last year I've managed dive back into reading and can definitely advocate the benefits, I'm delighted to be enjoying again.

Reading is a known relaxing habit and with the above definition in mind, a clear way towards hygge. In whatever form it may be - novel, blog, autobiography, poetry or textbook, give reading a chance. Let yourself get truly immersed into a good book and see how it feels. It's such a solid source of learning, idea-inspiring, mind-opening, calming and enjoyment - once we give it our focus and commitment.

3. Music

Listening to music is something we may not consider to be overly important, but again it's actually a proven stress reliever and can have powerful effect on our emotions and mood. Spend time just listening to music, but give it that valued attention, engage mindfulness and thoroughly listen to and enjoy it.

Another practice that I particularly enjoy from this book that ties in here, is singing and dancing. Genuinely, not a day goes by that I don't burst into song or bust a few moves wherever I am (neither of which I have any actual skills for) but it 100% improves my mood, my day or even just gets my energy up. Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, both of which lower stress levels. And dancing, regardless how it looks, feels good, reduces anxiety and stress and can boost self esteem. Get the tunes on and get into it, in the name of hygge ;)

4. Gratitude

In probably anything I've indulged in that has the pursuit of happiness at its core, gratitude will be a part of it. When something comes up that often, it is obvious that this is one to take on board. Active practice of gratitude is something I'll always recommend and stand by. It'll only ever have positive results.

An easy habit to begin that will have profound effect is to kickstart a gratitude journal. This need not take any more than a few minutes each day, but could have the potential to significantly transform our mindset. It doesn't require any elaborate explanation or even that many words but just a conscious acknowledgement of 3+ things we're grateful for each day. It can be done mentally either any time, anywhere. All that's required is to start - choose to adapt an attitude of gratitude and contentment will no doubt begin to soar.

5. Connected Time

One of the standout messages I got about hygge is the value of togetherness and connection. There's a strong value in social interaction, belonging and community. This is crucial for any of us to give more of our time to. We get so easily caught up in busyness, loneliness or screen time that we forget the fundamental grounds of connection and belonging.

Whether it's family meals, playing games together, socialising, laughing, telling stories - all of these are hygge habits we need to ensure to include. Be present and truly connect with those that are close, give them time and attention and regain enjoyment of the company of others. Be a part of the interaction, include yourself and let go of whatever has been keeping you away.


There are so many things we can do to enhance our own feelings of hygge and these will likely be quite personal and individual too, but these are simply some to get started with and try to boost all those positive feels in our lives. 

Others I particularly liked in the book are; watching wildlife, using photos as decoration, having hot drinks and lighting candles - they all just remind me of the true contentment and warmth that comes from connecting to our senses and world around us. Pick and choose and see what works, and remember that habits require repetition to form.

Most of all enjoy it! And feel free to let me know how they work for you or if you have any habits of your own that have worked the same magic :)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Belief in the Blue

The lashing lullaby put me to sleep
The rainforest's favourite composition
A gentle roar, impossible to ignore yet by no means an imposition
Its energy seeps through its Sound, recharging the slumbering soul
Unmatched in its ability to dissolve the day's tiring toll.

Awakening to a softer silence, the sun radiates through,
An open armed embrace of the sky's beautiful blue
The backdrop of a happy commute,
Illustrates the resolve of the night's dispute -
Nature's message as usual, ringing true -

Gently reminding us to continue that blue sky pursuit.