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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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 ;)
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 :)
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.
Resourceful: 'having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.' antonym: unimaginative
I love the word Resourceful and was just reminded of it by an old blog here where I explored how to bring it into our lives more.
To me, being resourceful is empowering. It means taking responsibility and action in your life. It's not a passive word, it's not about sitting down and wallowing in our troubles, instead it implores that we use what we have and know to overcome our challenges.
In recovery and life in general, it definitely pays to be resourceful. Instead of accepting defeat, we decide to optimise our resilience and resources. We take control and ownership and find our own path through. We help ourselves create this path, using what's available to us in the given moment.
It's a valuable skill; a word that can transform obstacles into opportunities.
I left in the antonym of 'unimaginative', with the definition because blunt as it may seem, being resourceful also means channeling our imagination, our creativity and our curiosity. It means keeping an open mind and seeing possibility instead of problems. Being unimaginative makes me think of stagnation whereas resourcefulness promotes progression, development and change.
Today, use your imagination and a resolve of resourcefulness to seek your solutions. Take responsibility, power and control over making your own way through whatever challenges life throws at you 😊
As may be noticeable throughout this blog, Brené Brown has been a particularly inspiring influence to me. Since I first heard her Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability, I've sought out, enjoyed and benefited from just about anything she's publicly created. The work that she dedicates herself to is not only of great interest but also significant importance to anyone wishing to live a more whole, authentic life. Her natural flair for storytelling makes her years of thorough research easily accessible and her genuine, honest humanity always shines through to make her work relatable and applicable. So yeah, basically I'd recommend all of her Ted Talks and every one of her other books. But the one I'll stick the spotlight on for now is her latest which is titled, 'Braving the Wilderness'. Having just re-read her book, 'Gifts of Imperfection', I refreshed the concepts of embracing our imperfect, unpolished selves and knowing and believing that we are enough exactly as we are. This ties in nicely with Braving the Wilderness' call to become aware of our need to connect, genuinely feel as though we belong and have the courage to contribute. She defines True Belonging in Braving the Wilderness as: 'The spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.' We're meant to connect, to both ourselves and others and glean a true sense of belonging wherever we are. That can be such a tough thing to harness and I know I've definitely found it challenging to cultivate true belonging for a long time. But Brené beautifully shows how it's done and the path we can take to get there. As a bit of an enthusiast for words, I love her many definitions throughout the book too. She has a brilliant way of explaining her understanding and translation for the key concepts she uses. One of these lovely definitions was that of spirituality which I thought was helpful, as that can often be a tricky one to define: 'Spirituality is recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.' Her book calls us to become brave in finding our feet and place in the world we live in. She implores us to 'step out from the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild.' She makes a strong case for overcoming our differences, strengthening our capacity for compassion and ultimately finding a way to navigate through conflict towards connection. As usual she shares very relatable insight into our behaviour around belonging and loneliness, our unwillingness to lean into emotions and vulnerable experiences and the ways in which we can take the steps to overcome these. She encourages finding more helpful methods of communication - 'We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.' and 'the most courageous, is not only to be open-minded, but to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective'. The main ideas that emerge I think are authenticity, love and compassion, connection, open and honest communication, perspective taking, understanding and another beautiful definition in the form of civility: 'Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.… [Civility] is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and no-body’s is ignored.' Overall, I think again she definitely presents an important and necessary movement, one in which we could all very much benefit from investing in.