Be True! Be You!

Would you like to connect more deeply to your true self and be more ‘you’? I believe this is what everyone wants, deep down.

I believe in continually discovering and expressing who I really am and I love empowering other people to do the same, so I’ve taken almost three decades of life experiences, meditation, self-development books, audio programmes and videos, and condensed them into 16 of the most important things that I’ve learned – and have helped me – along the way… Here’s the result:

Be True! Be You! Simple strategies to empower you to connect to the real you and live from a place of total authenticity.

In this book you will learn: how to connect to your true self; why everything is OK; how to meditate and breathe; the ‘1% rule’; how to deal with negative thoughts; how to be kind to yourself; how to get what you want; and more! You even get a bonus poem!

Enough is enough!

A quote I remember hearing sums up the last few weeks for me. Unfortunately, the quote I’d remembered came from the mouth of the biggest drugs cheat that sport has ever seen! So I’ve cleaned it, stripped the tainted Tour de France titles from it, and prepared it for your eyes!

 

“There comes a point in everyone’s life where they say ‘enough is enough’.”

 

That point has come for me over the last few weeks. A few weeks ago, the world gave me a two-week crash course in “This is everything that’s wrong with your life and why” in the form of depression. Since that fortnight (which, at the time, felt like anything but a blessing), I have generally been on an upward curve. This was probably around the tenth bad episode I’ve had over the last six years or so, and it will be the last. I decided – I think a short while after I began to climb up from the depths this last time – that enough was enough, and that I was going to do whatever it takes to make myself happy. There was so much that each episode has taught me, but this one was slightly different. This one seemed to teach me all the lessons I’d learned from the previous ones, and more! It also importantly, and probably as a result of the severity and breadth of this one, made me decide that I’m finally going to do something about the messages each episode had given me.

 

The messages the depression had for me this time are irrelevant to the main point of this post, but I’ll write the main one anyway: I have to stop searching outside yourself for the answers and for happiness – only I can make myself happy. After having wrote it just now, it seems so obvious, almost silly. But I know that this is the most important realisation I’ve had in my life – I’d always known it, but never really realised it before. (There’s a big different between knowing something and realising it.)

 

Back to the main point: enough was enough. The time had finally come to make myself happy. In the last few weeks, the transformation I feel inside me is huge! I’ve managed to do everything that I know helps me be happy (yoga, meditation, and doing huge courage if I notice the demons coming back) and, more importantly, I’ve stuck to it. In the past I’d do a bit here, and a bit there. But I’ve realised that I have to do these things every day – and I have.

 

Where in your life could you say “enough is enough” and start making the changes you need to make in order to make yourself happy?

 

David x

Be kind to yourself!

Self-compassion is one of the most important tools I’ve recently learned – it’s taken 26 years but it’s been worth the wait. It’s taken sheds full of beating myself up to get there, but I’m on the self-compassion path now! The more compassion I show myself, the more I realise I could’ve provided all the props for the book Fifty Sheds of Grey – as long as they required sheds that were full of self-abuse, self-sabotage, and self-loathing! The reason I’m only just realising how hard I’d been on myself now is two-fold: firstly, I’m on the other side of the self-loathing now (or, at least, on the journey to the other side), and, secondly, the stream of negative thoughts was so constant, so engrained in my behaviour, that I just assumed that ‘that’s how things are’ and it would be impossible to change.

I see compassion as ‘active sympathy’ – taking action to try to soothe and understand a part of you or a situation you’re going through. Here are my tips to help you start, or continue, being kind to yourself:

  • Imagine someone talking to you the way you talk to yourself (when it’s negative); would you want them in your life?
  • Imagine that whatever you’re going through, your best friend or a family member is also going through. Would you talk to yourself the same way as you talk to yourself about what you’re experiencing?
  • Judgements and negative generalisations are a large part of being hard on yourself; we judge ourselves for so many things. We are ‘a failure’, or ‘a bad person’, we ‘should be slim’, ‘should (or shouldn’t) have said X, Y or Z’ or ‘shouldn’t be feeling like this’, etc etc – the list is endless! Notice the use of ‘should’ too – there’s no ‘should’! There’s no set way to live your life – you determine it. And remember, if it’s in the past, you did exactly what you could at the time, with the knowledge and emotional intelligence of that moment. Experience is something we get immediately after we need it, so you did the best you could at the time.
  • I mentioned negative generalisations; it’s important to recognise where you generalise things. As the saying goes, the only things that are inevitable are death and taxes. So if, for example, you have a recurring thought/belief that you are ‘a failure’ this implies that you are ALWAYS a failure. It also depends on your definition of a ‘failure’. There are also varying degrees of ‘failure’. My point is that the belief isn’t ALWAYS true; try to focus on the (sometimes tiny) evidence that the belief isn’t true.
  • Remember you’re doing the best you can. If you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s probably a build up of loads of things over time that have caught up with you – so feeling this way is not a sign that you’re weak, it’s a sign that you’ve just dealt with way too much than you can cope with.
  • Give yourself a break! Being kind to yourself on the inside is definitely the most important kind of compassion, but it doesn’t hurt to spoil yourself once in a while. You could get a massage, for example; just do something that you love doing that’ll reward you for all you’ve been through.
  • Take it slowly; if you’ve been beating yourself up about something (or everything) for a long time, just gradually ease in the compassion – don’t expect yourself to be able to instantly be kind to yourself about everything, just notice little victories and focus on them – they’ll soon turn into massive wins!

Go on – be kind to yourself!

David x

Changing Beliefs

Change is hard. There’s not much getting around that – it’s hard! The reason is simple: we are creatures of habit. And a high proportion of what we do in life is habit; some of our habits are positive and healthy, some aren’t.

I’m going to assume that you would like to be healthier in some way. This could mean you want to incorporate running or yoga into your life, or implement a daily stretching programme. It could mean that you want to change your diet in some way or stop an addictive behaviour like smoking or drinking. It could be a limiting belief you’ve carried around for a while that doesn’t relate specifically to what you’d call ‘health’. Whatever your goal, I hope that today’s post will help you achieve it.

Habits are formed by repetition, and are brought on by triggers. Each time a specific trigger is fired and an action is taken in response to it, a groove is formed a little deeper and the association between the trigger and the action becomes a little stronger. For example:

Trigger: feeling stressed.
Negative action/Habit: eating junk food for comfort.

If every time you feel a certain level of stress you reach for a chocolate bar or a take-away menu, a habit begins to form. If this has happened every day for the last ten years, a really strong habit has formed!

Your first job in changing your habit is to write down the negative behaviour you would like to eliminate, and the positive behaviour you would like to replace it with. It is sometimes easier (and definitely more beneficial) to replace a bad habit with something positive than to just get rid of it; the trigger will stay the same, but the action will be different. Next, you need to write down your triggers; what causes the action that you want to change? List as many as you can

Now comes the real work! Once you’ve identified your goal and the triggers that cause your negative habit to surface, you need to do your positive behaviour every time the trigger is fired for 30 days straight. This is how long it takes to form a habit. So let’s take the stress-junk food cycle above as an example . Here’s a simple outline of what your plan could entail.

Trigger: feeling stressed.
Negative action/habit: eating junk food for comfort.
Desired positive action/habit: 10 deep breaths (each lasting 10 seconds) and eating at least one piece of fruit (stock up in the morning and have your supply nearby at all times).

If you’re implementing a completely new habit (i.e. you don’t need to break a negative habit, you just want to install a new one – 10 minutes of yoga a day, for example), try as best you can to do it at the same time every day – it’ll help massively with creating a stronger habit that’s easier to stick to. You will also need to come up with your own trigger (as there isn’t one in place yet) – for example, cleaning your teeth in the morning could be your trigger for doing your 10 minutes of yoga. Again, this must be done for 30 days.

They’re the basics behind habits and change. Here are some simple (notice I didn’t say easy!) tips to help you make the necessary change in your life:

1. Choose ONE habit to focus on (you might need to make a priority list).

2.  Write down your motivations – your reasons for wanting to make the change.

3. Write down your obstacles to success – and your strategies for overcoming them.

4. Publically show your commitment (in person, phone calls, text messages, online) to your new habit by telling as many people as possible about your goal.

5. Find one person (more if you can) who will commit to being your supporter for each of the 30 days.

6. Come up with a consequence for each day that you don’t do it (parting with cash is a good motivator!).

7. Reward yourself every day and/or week that you do the habit (sweets and chocolate aren’t a good idea; consider a trip to the cinema or a sports event instead).

8. Tick off each day that you are successful on a large, visible calendar.

9. Try and catch yourself in the act of falling into your negative habit as early as you can, and take positive action before your negative habit kicks in.

10. Set your environment up for success; e.g. if you’re trying to start running every morning before work, get your running gear out the night before and put them in front of your bedroom door.

11. Be kind to yourself – remember that habits are hard to break and make so try and be gentle with yourself if you don’t succeed at the first attempt.

12. Find evidence that your new belief is working – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is. Even the world’s biggest snowball started off as a single snowflake!

The hardest step of all is the first one. When you take it, no matter how small it is, I will be cheering!

Good luck! Let me know how you get on.

David x