Tag Archives: resilience

Unshakeable

It’s Day 6 of Rejection Therapy and I’ve done the following:

  • Asked out an international superstar (no response)
  • Asked all 447 of my Facebook friends if they wanted to hang out with me (nothing came of that either)
  • Said hello to lots of strangers (all bar one said hello back)
  • Asked for a discount on the entrance ticket to a nightclub (my cheekiness didn’t pay off but I got a kick out of asking)
  • Chatted up a hot guy (it worked)
  • Texted aforementioned hot guy (no reply – more on that in a sec)
  • Struck up a conversation with a man who was waiting for me to finish with the parking ticket machine (he was very friendly)
  • And other stuff that I do anyway on a daily basis but I guess it still involves putting myself out there (adding friends on Facebook, posting revealing blogs on t’internet, opening up to my peers, asking people to do things with/for me)

In other news, the young lad got back in touch. I decided to react with integrity. I told him that I feel we’re not on the same page and I wished him luck. He didn’t respond. But I feel empowered. In Matthew Hussey’s words, I’m a High-Value Woman. I deserve better. And I’m sending out that message from now on.

As for the hot guy, he gave me his number and told me to text him. So I did. He didn’t reply either.

I have to admit, it stung. I found myself diving into a negative spiral of All or Nothing thinking. No guy ever wants to get to know/go out with me. I began to question the point of this whole Rejection Therapy game.

Moments later, I wondered what I’d do today in order to get rejected. And that was enough to get me back on that horse and stop dwelling on one guy I met once.

Six days in and I’ve learned that I’m human. I accept that I have an ego and that rejection hurts. But I can handle it. I pick myself up and I move on. And it does get easier.

Six days in and I realise that it’s the fear of rejection that stops us from putting ourselves out there. And if we allow ourselves to be controlled by that fear, we could be closing ourselves off to many amazing opportunities.

So maybe it is worth feeling rejected every once in a while if it means being open to an abundance of possibility.

As I drive home tonight, I have two big awarenesses:

  1. Because I presume I’ll be rejected, I close down. I don’t make any effort to connect, which likely pushes the other person away.
  2. I react not to actual events but to my beliefs. When I believe that I’m always rejected, I experience rejection. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does because what I believe is true for me.

So all I need to do is change my beliefs. For instance, when Hot Guy doesn’t reply, it doesn’t have to be because he doesn’t like me and no guy ever wants to date me. His reasons for not replying aren’t actually important. What is important is that how I feel about myself (that I’m beautiful and worthwhile) doesn’t change in accordance with Hot Guy’s actions.

All this challenge and introspection may seem like hard work but it’s strengthening my foundation of self-worth so that, pretty soon (hopefully), it will be, I will be, unshakeable.

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Are You a Pessimist?

Over the years I’ve noticed that any time I get into really bad form, it’s because I’ve started believing the thoughts that are telling me that everything has gone to shit.

I’m lazy and useless. I’ve gained weight. I’m ugly. I’m alone. I’ll never amount to anything.

Recently, I observed that I was slipping into one of those moods. Rather than dwell on it, I switched on an interview with Dr. Joan Borysenko, psychologist and mind-body medicine expert.

I was half-listening as I got ready for bed when I heard Joan speaking about pessimistic thinking. Joan says that you can inherit a pessimistic world view. This type of thinking happens when you lose hope and can’t see a way out of things.

When something bad happens, Joan suggests looking at your explanatory style. How do you explain this negative occurrence to yourself? Martin Seligman put forward the Three Ps of Pessimism. They are as follows:

1. You take things Personally. You blame and even hate yourself. You can see from above how I was telling myself that I was lazy and useless.

2. Your thinking is Pervasive. Nothing in your life is good. Relationships, family, work, body-image: all crap.

3. Permanence. You’re in a mental rut and you can’t imagine that your life could be any different. You feel stuck. I was telling myself that I’d never amount to anything and that I’d always be alone.

This was a revelation to me. I was relieved to realise that I am not alone in this type of thinking. And once I become aware of it, and own it, it immediately loses its grip on me. I can choose the way I think.

Joan suggests disputing what you say to yourself. When you watch your mind and witness your thoughts, you can see that you’re telling yourself a story, one that isn’t true. This creates distance from the thoughts so you can observe and even learn from them.

Joan explains the science behind all of this, which I won’t go into in detail now. Basically, she states that you can change your brain circuitry. Brain plasticity allows for the rewiring of your nervous system. So you don’t have to be stuck with pessimism for the rest of your life.

Joan doesn’t suggest shifting from pessimism to optimism. Rather, she speaks about the benefits of stress-hardy or I-can-do-it thinking, which is more realistic.

Suzanne Kobasa introduced the Three Cs of Stress-Hardy Thinking. They are as follows:

1. The stress-hardy thinker will want to rise to the Challenge.

2. Commitment. The person will stick with the challenge and see it through.

3. Control. The stress-hardy thinker doesn’t try to control the uncontrollable. Instead, they focus on what they can control.

And if you can’t see yourself making the leap into stress-hardy thinking just yet, Joan suggests a few quick and simple tips to calm down your fear responses. Deep breathing, exercise and just a five-minute meditation can be enough to bring you back from your pessimistic thinking.

Do you recognise yourself in any of this? If you get caught in a spiral of pessimism every now and again, don’t beat yourself up. You’re human. But you do have choices. Change your thinking, change your life. Are you up for the challenge?

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Gone fishin’

Online dating is becoming more widespread and accepted. If you’re single, you will no doubt be advised to set up an online profile. I’ve heard (and experienced) many heartwarming, hilarious and outrageous stories about the wild, weird and wonderful world of the online dater.

Online dating can be fun and exciting. But it can also be fickle and disappointing. The thing about popular dating website Plenty of Fish is that there are, quite literally, plenty of fish floating around cyberspace. And all these little fishies are hoping to fall hook, line and sinker (sorry, I couldn’t resist) in love or, for many, in lust.

The frustrating and often confusing aspect to online dating is that you could be exchanging flirty emails with a potential partner when he/she suddenly stops replying. You may have even arranged a date only to receive a last-minute cancellation text.

On the upside, there’s so much choice. The flip side is that you have no idea how many other fishies your charmer is chatting up and even simultaneously dating.

If you’re dabbling in online dating and are feeling fed up and let down, why not change tactics? Take all the good stuff on offer and use it to your advantage. Follow these seven tips to make the most of your online experience:

1. Be grateful that there are many interesting, attractive people out there who are single and oh-so-ready to mingle.

Also, give gratitude for t’internet. What a quick, easy way to meet new people. You’ll save yourself time, money and manys the hangover using this method of finding someone.

2. Have fun on your trawling expeditions. Think of your browsing sessions as shopping sprees. And if you happen to make a special connection with somebody, then happy days!

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s not just men who feel the pressure to follow up and settle down. First dates with a stranger can be nerve-racking. Will you fancy them? If not, should you give them a chance anyway? Will they want to meet you again? What if they try to kiss you or attempt to get you into bed? How will your in-laws get on? [Yes. Your mind manages to reach crazy levels of hypothesising if left unchecked.]

Take the pressure and expectation down a notch by mailing lots of different users and going on dozens of dates. It does get easier. And, even if you do like your date, it doesn’t mean you have to marry them. Now’s the time to enjoy and get to know one another. There’ll be plenty of time to get serious.

4. Enjoy meeting new and interesting people. If you stay present on your dates, you’ll see (and enjoy) how magnificent the situation is. Regale your friends and family with hilarious stories. Heck, write a book about it and make some moolah!

5. Give yourself a good pep talk. Eleanor Roosevelt said: “What other people think of me is none of my business.” It really isn’t you, it’s all about them. It only becomes about you when you react a certain way. They don’t know you so they can’t reject you. They may have met someone else more suitable to their current taste. Or you may just not be their type. We all have different preferences, thankfully. It doesn’t mean that you’re not gorgeous, loveable or perfect for your perfect partner. Also, if you think about the big picture, this perceived rejection could have spared you a terrible date or left you open for something better to come your way.

The other day, I had to stand in a long queue. Two toddlers met for the first time. Loudly and excitedly, they shared scooters and hugs and told one another that they were best friends. When one had to part, they cried and wailed. One minute later, a new toddler joined the line. The other child stopped crying, walked right up to the new kid and asked: “Will you be my best fwend?” Moments later, they were playing and laughing enthusiastically. We could learn a lot from kids, eh?

6. And finally, keep living and looking offline too. You could still meet the love of your life in a sweaty nightclub or in the café you’d always daydreamed about. Just because he/she isn’t carrying a banner including their stats and an ‘About Me’ section doesn’t mean they’re not available. Be sociable, live life and have fun. You’re most attractive when you’re happy with your life and who you are. So keep smiling.

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Hear, Say, Believe?

I’m having coffee with someone (let’s call her Person A) when she informs me that someone else (the imaginatively named Person B) said certain things that Person A took to be jabs at her and at me. I feel hurt and angry. Person A must sense this because she tries to change the subject and make small talk. I find it difficult to talk about trivial things at times like these. After a few moments, she asks if I’m okay. I tell her how I feel and say that I just need a bit of time and space and that I’ll probably be fine in an hour.

Afterwards I get into the car, put on the new Daft Punk album and take myself off for a drive. I am fuming and tears threaten an onslaught. I park in a quiet spot and sit with what has just happened. The only thing that would make me feel better would be to understand why Person B said those things and also why Person A decided to tell me. I take out a pen and paper.

I make three lists. The first list has the title: “Why Person B said what they said.” The second is called: “Why Person A told me.” I am fully aware that I am engaging in guesswork and mind-reading but understanding where these people may have been coming from helps me realise why they said what they said, which, in turn, makes me feel better. Some of the reasons include jealousy, worry, resentment, hurt, control, and even speaking openly without thinking of the consequences. Already, I feel better about the whole thing.

The third list I make is: “The benefits of this happening.” I manage to come up with eight of them. But what is most revealing of all is when I question what has actually been said. All I heard was what Person A had heard and internalised and then repackaged in her own fears and projections. Not only that, but then I had internalised all of that and sifted it alongside my own insecurities and sensitivities.

Fact looks very different from imagination. What had Person B actually said? Who knows if this person meant to cause any pain? And even if they did, that’s saying a lot about how they’re feeling. If it is important enough to me to find out, I can go straight to the proverbial horse and poke around in its mouth but, for now, this exercise has been sufficient.

This whole process has highlighted to me that I still have a bit of work to do on myself, especially when it comes to caring what my nearest and dearest think of me. I recognise that this area is usually quite challenging for most people. I give myself permission to have human emotions and reactions. I also understand myself more now and I realise that having a time-out is essential for me to process how I’m feeling, thus enabling me to learn and grow and have healthier relationships.

I close the notepad and, without even trying, I remember something that Person B did for me recently that was extremely thoughtful. Oftentimes, we’re so blindsided by something somebody just did that we obliterate his or her positive attributes. Or we fail to understand that sometimes people do things out of fear or insecurity or because they’re feeling so bad that they want someone else to hurt too. Other times, they are unaware that what they say or do can have a huge impact on another person.

I’m not suggesting that you should accept abusive behaviour but, in many cases, understanding where the other person is coming from and distinguishing fact from emotional hearsay can help make you feel better. Because they only thing you need to do is look after how you’re feeling. And everything else will come right in time.

“All that technology stuff, it’s horrid modern.”

Last Saturday, a couple of people advised me to check out Tony Bates (a clinical psychologist discussing resilience) on The Marian Finucane Show. Me being me (disliking pressure / rarely doing what I’m told / avoiding things that are probably good for me), I didn’t switch on the radio.

But then, me being me (seeing sense eventually and not being too proud to admit when I’ve made a mistake), I decided that I would have a listen. However, it is now Wednesday, four days since the piece aired. I’ve missed the proverbial boat. But not if modern technology has anything to do with it.

With a few simple clicks, I can dust off the podcast, and with another few clicks, skip right to the good stuff. With laptops and iPods and Sky+ Boxes, I can do away with time and chronology. I am living in a world driven by downloads and streaming and GPS. I can record my favourite programmes and choose to view them a year later. I can rewind live TV and fast forward the ads. I can listen to morning radio as I complete my daily walk, pausing Ray D’Arcy mid-interview as I pop into the shop to buy chewing gum.

Does all this mean we’re messing with the proper order of things and doing away with living in the present moment? I think not. These incredible scientific developments actually allow us to live more fully in the now. If I don’t feel like watching the weather report, listening to the news, or buying the paper right now, I can postpone it, without worrying about missing anything. I can pause Love/Hate to give my sister a buzz, pop to the loo, and make a cup of tea, before finally allowing Robert Sheehan to blink.

Modern technology gives creative folk a platform to showcase their talents. It’s what’s allowing me to publish my writing and to receive instant feedback from readers in Canada, Australia and Hawaii. It’s how I decide what book to read next, what movie would suit my mood, and where to go on holidays. It’s how I learn how to play the flute, cast on a stitch, and discover what the colour taupe looks like. It’s what motivated protesters to start up the Occupy Movement. It’s how I seek out what the newspapers aren’t telling me. Modern technology allows us to ignore what’s irrelevant and cut to the truth.

Have I listened to that radio show yet? No, I got distracted by the miracle of modern technology and then decided to share my random reflections with the world. Maybe I’ll put it on now. Or not.

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