Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Dream Bigger than Getting Smaller.

As the New Year quickly approaches, it can be challenging to escape the 'resolutions' chatter. People take the change in year as an opportunity for growth and to create new habits to bring into the new year... and they like to talk about it too. Social media for example, is quite likely to be rife with the newfound commitments to diet, fitness and various other means of self 'improvement' in the next few days.

While self improvement is always admirable, it's important to ensure that the actions to achieve this match your values and you know why you're doing what you're doing. For me, I don't want to lose weight or suddenly become a gym member from January 1st because quite simply; I don't want to promote a value in thinness. I don't want to feed into an industry that makes money off our insecurity and it's important to me to take that stand and not tumble into the 'diet starts tomorrow' crew.
But I can't say I'm in the majority.

It's a time of year where there is pressure from all angles. Pressure to make such a commitment, pressure to value those things, pressure to even have an answer prepared when someone asks that question. We don't need a single ounce more pressure on ourselves, so we need to protect ourselves.

When you're in recovery, or working on yourself, you're making these kinds of decisions all the time. You're seeking self improvement and methods of personal development, so January 1st is just another day to keep practicing your positive habits. You're already a step ahead, but because you may not be shouting it from the rooftops, people don't always realise.

That being said, it can be motivating to have things to look forward to in the coming year. You can create a picture of what you would like, without the pressure of 'having to succeed', or jump on the 'New Year - New me' bandwagon, just some things that you think would be nice to have in life.

If you change the word 'resolution' to 'dream', what could you come up with instead?

How could this time next year be?
What would I like to do more of this year? 
Would I like to go to scenic places, teach the dog some tricks, start a craft, learn to bake...
Would I like to write more, read more, make recovery more of a priority, go out more...
Would I like to discover more about myself? Would I like to mend some relationships?
Is there any events coming up that I would like to attend? 
Would I like to travel this year?
Would I like to do a clear out of my room? Would I like to take more photographs?

What would you like 2015 to bring?

If you allow yourself to dream, what does your mind come up with?

2015 can be what we make it, there's potential in every new day but ensure that what you say you want is really what is coming from the heart. Don't deny yourself the action of dreaming.

Dare to dream...

Dare to Live.

pic from http://www.pubzday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/new-year-quotes-on-life.jpg

Saturday, 27 December 2014

So.. What now?

Well, the big day has come and gone. Regardless how it went, the remnants of Christmas will stick around for another little while yet. Whether it’s the endless leftovers causing anxiety or the decorative reminders or even just the fact that work or education hasn't recommenced it can feel like a messy time. Lack of structure and an excess of triggers can leave us feeling a little lost and craving routine and solutions.

Quite often we spend so much time preparing for the challenges of that one difficult day that as soon as it’s over, we can crash. Getting through Christmas Day is certainly an achievement but what about the following days? Are your tools just put back into the toolbox or are you keeping them in hand, ready for more?

In the days after Christmas, it’s good to keep the following in mind:

  1.  Credit. Give yourself credit for getting through a challenging time and acknowledge your strength in doing so. I've definitely found that a deficit in credit will almost certainly pave my way to a bad day. We have no problem in picking up on all of our perceived shortcomings, so why not start to pick up on all our actual successes instead? Which do you think will motivate you more?
  2.   Stay engaged. Recovery or working on yourself or whatever you’re doing doesn't just end with Christmas. It’s a constant process of bettering your reactions to life. So keep working at it, keep doing the actions that need to be done and speaking to the people that are involved in guiding you. It’s important to stay committed and see this through regardless how you think you've handled the festive season. It ain't over til it's over!
  3.  Self care. Christmas can be overwhelming and even if we don’t really realise it at the time, we expend a lot of energy trying to stay on top of it. When you’re sensitive; the lights, the noise and some of the people can be draining, so it’s vital to take time out to recharge. Go for a walk or out for fresh air, listen to music and reconnect with yourself. You have to make time to get your strength back up, no one will do this for you.
  4. Take everyday as a new opportunity. Christmas is also something to look forward to and when it’s over it can feel a bit like your balloon is popped. All the excitement and preparation is finito and well, now what? Make your days special, choose activities to inject more fun and give yourself more to look forward to. If you have time off, why not make the most of it and collect happy memories and experiences.
  5.  Protect yourself. If you’re sensitive to negative body chatter i.e the barrage of blathering about diets and weight loss coming up to the new year, you need to protect yourself now. A lot of people like to talk about ‘indulging’ at Christmas and then weight loss in the New Year and this kind of talk can be both challenging and unhelpful. It’s imperative at this time to hear your own recovery voice and stand by what you value. Be the change you want to see and aim to be a role model rather than a sheep. You need to support yourself in staying strong and tuning out any messages that contradict your recovery language. Let your voice be louder.

From my own experience Christmas time is just getting better each year. It has been extremely challenging in the past and I can honestly say that many of the previous anxieties around it have melted away this year and last year. In the past I found it impossible to imagine it any improvement, but it does and has and is continuing to do so.

That improvement is there for the taking for anyone and this time next year could be a completely different experience. It's up to us to create that reality. 


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Day Helpline

Christmas can be a challenge for some of us, but as with every challenge There is Always a Solution.
For any feeling that Christmas may bring up - positive, negative, strong or faint - it can be good to have someone to share it with. If you're feeling like that pair of ears may be lacking, Dare to Live SOS will have ours open to you;

On Thursday, December 25, 2014 - 12:00 to 15:00


Even if you just want to say hello, or connect with someone and melt that feeling of loneliness, there will be someone to listen.

The blog will also be a resource if you just want a source of inspiration, you can search through the posts and find something to give you that lift. 
Twitter is also a good source of quick tips and motivation or even just a quote that could turn your thinking around.
 Twitter: @SurvivalOS
Christmas can be a wonderful time even if the wonder comes in mere moments, you can still enjoy it and be a part of the celebration, you just need to find your own way of helping yourself do that. Use the resources, believe in yourself and know that it will get better.
Have a very merry Christmas :) 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Keep Believing in Recovery.

Who is this person who walks by my side?
Who is this person who no longer wants to hide!
Who is this person who now wants to be
Alive and healthy for all to see.
Who is this person who can hold her head high,
Who is this person who no longer wishes to die,
Who is this person who now says I CAN
Who is this person who is willing to learn!.
This is my daughter who has reclaimed her life,
from emotional distress and all its strife!
This is my daughter, alive today,
to prove that HOPE is here to stay.
Congratulations to everyone who fights this fight,
It is not easy when you can't see the light.
But be assured its there for you all
Just learn to take steps, learn to walk tall.

A beautiful poem, from a beautiful carer who has seen recovery in progress and how a life can change for the better.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What’s even going on? The importance in gaining clarity in life

Whatever way we choose to phrase it; finding our feet, figuring it all out or just plain trying to grow up, certain periods of our lives can be times of constant learning. There are often more questions than answers, more options than decisions and more things up in the air than within our grasp.

Relationships, careers, and our dreams for the future are all left to hover around us like unfinished sentences, beginning with enthusiasm but trailing off when reality rudely interrupts. It’s like we know how we’re supposed to start but we’re not sure which words come next. It’s not exactly a period in our lives where we’ve ironed out all the kinks and our plans are crystal clear. We may not even be fully settled within ourselves, so how are we supposed to be establishing our place in this hectic world?

Half sentences and cluttered minds leave little room for clarity. In the last year or so the idea of clarity is one I’ve really begun to value. I’ve realised that I just don’t like not knowing what’s going on in my life, where I stand and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I get that I may sound like a control freak right there, but really it’s just because I spent a lot of time not caring or being able to see any potential in my life, so now, I want to be spending my time where it’s worth spending and working towards goals that I have a clear idea of. And if I’m unsure about these, I want to make sure I’m en route to an answer.

I liked a definition that I read that defined clarity as ‘freedom from ambiguity’. Ambiguity has it’s positives of course, I’m not saying not to leave space for a little mystery in our lives, but there’s places where it can just keep us off track and in a mental muddle. If our paths are surrounded by vague plans and half-hearted commitments, how are we going to get where we want to be?

If you don’t know what you’re chasing, how will you ever catch it?

Say what you mean and mean what you say

Be clear in the messages you’re putting out and practice clarity right from your own mouth. It’s frustrating enough trying to filter out the nonsense in society’s false promises and mixed messages so there’s no necessity to add to it. Commit to what you say, follow through on promises and don’t lead people on. It’s natural sometimes to want to say what people want to hear, or to want to talk ourselves up.

But why not just simplify it and cut out the crap. If you mean what you’re going to say, then I want to hear it. Otherwise, don’t waste your breath and our time. Likewise, try not to talk in circles to avoid getting to the crux of an issue, say what you mean and people will know what you mean. Confusion in communication can create all sorts of avoidable headaches.


Following from the above, real pure honesty will lead to clarity. This is mainly about being honesty with yourself. You’ve got to know when to call yourself out on your own rubbish. You can hear your own excuses and the lies you tell yourself and you can either ignore them or translate them into truth. But think about it, if someone keeps lying to you, how hard is it to get to know who they really are?

Getting an articulate awareness of your life will begin with figuring yourself out and you can’t do that without being honest about what you truly want – from yourself, from relationships, from friendships, from jobs, from basically everything in your life. A bit of inward insight can turn your outlook around and open your eyes wide to your own potential plans.

Get Curious

The thing I found about gaining clarity was that it begins with a lot of questions. I’m still seeking plenty of those answers but at least I have a direction that I’m looking in. Ask yourself those questions that you might be avoiding. You know, those ones that could trigger change that you may feel unprepared for? Such as… Do I even like this course? Why am I doing this? Do I love them? Am I just afraid? Do I actually really want this?

When you have raised a few questions, start to break them down further and further. Get specific, almost interrogating the initial question. Going from ‘what am I doing’ to ‘what would I like to be doing’ and the all important ‘why?’ unleashes a whole new barrage of bewilderment. But I swear, that’s a fantastic start. This is where your direction will begin to take a more defined shape.

To get a clear picture of your life is like throwing those questions as paint on a canvas. Splatter them across your mind, adding more and more depth and colour. It’ll most likely be a mess at first but every single wayward splash of paint is still creating something.

Put yourself out there:

This is where everything culminates. When you get to really know yourself, you start to have your own back. Putting yourself out there gets things done. It clears uncertainty up and shows that you’re unambiguous about what you want. You believe in what you’re saying, doing and representing.

For me, gaining clarity remains a work in progress and it always will because life simply isn’t clear cut. But having elements of clarity and knowing that it’s important to me helps me to speak up when I need answers and gain perspective where it’s lacking.

Clarity is the difference between a heavy fog and a cloudless sky, I don't need to understand the weather to know I can find my way easier when the fog clears.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Be your own best friend

Learning to be your own best friend is one of the biggest know cures for loneliness. I know it sounds a bit mad, but read on before you make your mind up.

You have been in your own company since that moment you took your first breath. You'll be there when you take your final breath. Apologies for getting a tad morbid, but if you think about it- you are the only true constant in your life. But right now, is that a self-supporting constant or are you being a big bully to yourself?

While you are still breathing you have the very best friend a person could ask for. You know your own secrets and you laugh at your own jokes.

Now I'm sure I'm not the only one who had a rocky time with other children while growing up. The girls on the street, and boys actually, had a particular dislike for me which my mother put down to the very non-progressive idea that they were just jealous. I struggled to see what they could be jealous of, and subsequently spent most my childhood indoors while my sisters played outside.

So now that the sob story is out of the way, I wish I could tell you how much I want to go back in time and tell Little Me that there is a best friend right there for her- herself.

Often the reason we can be so lonely is because we struggle to be in our own company. It's a lonely place if the only person you're with, is insulting you and telling you how worthless you are.

Imagine if you decided to embrace the idea of being your own best friend? What would you do? How would you spend your day?

I bet you are capable of being wonderfully supportive of others. I bet you do kind things for other people all the time. I bet you often advise friends and family members. Well, what about showing yourself the same treatment? What about treating yourself like the precious person you are?

Here are some tips and ideas to get you started: 

  1. Get to know yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? What are your favourite movies, books, places and people? Look inwards and explore. There's no right or wrong answer. 
  2. Start doing things you enjoy. No seriously, go out into the Big Bad World and do the things you love to do. And do them alone! Forget about everyone else. Life waits for no one. Go now. And if you're not sure what you'd like to do, then look to the previous point. 
  3. Treat yourself well. Take care of yourself the way you would if a friend was visiting. Use the best teacups. Run yourself a bath. Buy yourself flowers. Light a candle as you watch TV. When you treat yourself with respect you'll start to feel a bit better. 
  4. Go on a date with yourself. Yes you read that right. Why not? Forget about what other people think. Is there a movie you want to see? Is there a show you'd like to go to? You'd be surprised by the number of people to be found on their own at these sort of events. It's a lot less strange than you think!
  5. Encourage and praise yourself. If you did something well, then tell yourself so. If you had a hard day but made it out in one piece, then tell yourself well done. Only you know how challenging some things can be, so sometimes you're the only one who can encourage and praise yourself. 
  6. Compliment yourself. I know this can be tricky if your self esteem isn't the greatest. But focusing on the positive is always a helpful thing!
  7. Lighten up and take yourself less seriously. You're not the ogre you think you are at times. You're just a human being, bumbling along like the rest of us. Cut yourself a break. You don't hold your friends to impossibly high standards, so show yourself the same kindness!
  8. Remember to depend on yourself. You are a very capable human being, with lots of great advice, wit and wisdom. I'm not saying to run off to cave to live on your own, but what I am saying is that you are the one thing in your life that you can always depend on to be there for you. You are your rock. And the sooner you realise that, the sooner you will feel free. 
  9. Learn to self-soothe. You can comfort yourself in times of upset. And protect yourself in times of attack. You can speak softly to yourself when you feel afraid and you can hold your own hand through difficult times. 
  10. Remind yourself you're investing in the friendship of a lifetime. The effort will pay off!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Press Restart

Regardless what we’re recovering from, the journey we have embarked on is often a tediously long one. It’s not a straight line, it’s not a quick fix and this can be a severe headache to anyone on it. Sometimes the finish line seems to be nowhere in sight and when the process isn’t exactly progressing smoothly; we can wonder are we even still on the right track.

However, as the saying goes, ‘what’s worth having doesn’t come easy’ and with so much to learn throughout this journey, it’s incredibly rewarding to do whatever you can to stick with it. It will get better and the entire trip will help to shape the recovered person you’re en route to being.

As with any journey requiring this level of dedication, we need to accumulate a pretty hefty box of tools to assist with maintenance along the way.

One such tool is to: Press Restart

One of the things I’ve found helpful throughout my own journey, is just restarting.
At any moment, we can simply start again.
I know from my own experience that during difficult days, it's so easy to make sweeping statements that make restarting the furthest idea from mind:

‘I’ve ruined the day/week/recovery’
‘It’s just a bad day.’
‘The whole week was a write off’.
‘I can’t do it today/this week/at all’.

These kinda leave little wiggle room for improvement don’t they?

Don't commit to such big statements. I’ve been there, I would have the entire week (and subsequently, myself) marked down as a failure due to a few bad ‘days’ which in reality were really only a few hours in the day and these days could have been improved with a quick restart.

Through doing this, we can inject a bit more hope, we can stop the negative thoughts, and we can remember why we even want change. It doesn’t matter the time of day, week or whatever reason we’re using to keep stuck, always take a minute to restart.

Restarting can just mean: 
-         Regaining focus: Take a moment to recall why you are recovering. Consider what’s not helpful right now- what can you do to change it?
-         Retraining our thinking. How is your self talk? From now on how would you like it to be? Which thoughts could you do without and which would you like to add more of?
-         Rebuilding our strength: Put energy into supporting yourself, going easier on yourself, improving your self care.
-         Resuming our fight: we might have gotten disheartened or de-motivated but it’s always a good time to resume the fight.

Aim to see the full picture and let go of slip ups, don't allow them to keep overflowing into the next hour or day, end their reign with your new start.

Remember it's up to you; do you want it to be an entirely bad week or would it be preferable to start again whenever you feel the need?

If you press restart at any time of the day you encouraging a new lease of strength into your day and trust me, this journey needs to see as much of your strength as possible.