How a conversation in the supermarket changed everything….

I just returned form the supermarket where I was dawdling around, pressing my lips tightly in deep thought over what I should make for dinner – when a group of three twenty-something girls gasped and one whispered to a level that was easily heard by most of aisle three “Oh – there she is!”. The three girls stopped in their tracks and looked back at me, one whispered to the other two “Do you want to get a photo with me?”.

I turned back – initially not sure what they were talking about, and caught them mid place looking at me and whispering to one another. I continued to check out the spice section and could see and hear them out of the corner of my eye whispering and staring and started to get a bit ‘nervy’ and had a few sneaky butterflies in my stomach, as I felt my cheeks start to blush and pulse start to raise.

 

I continued on as the thoughts started to race through my mind. Why the hell were they looking at me? What was I wearing, did it look ridiculous? (Surely they had seen a pair of running tights, runners and a white singlet before!!?). Had they seen me doing something somewhere and recognised me as a ‘wow – look at that weird’ passer-by? Had they known me from somewhere? (Kind of weird that they would want to take a photo with me if that was the case – a general ‘Hey there or Hi would have done!). Had they perhaps read my blog or followed my instagram page @_perfectlyshe_  and recognised me? (Don’t be so stupid – you are not a celeb lady, pull your head in!!).

It was puzzling me for the rest of the shopping trip (enough to the point that when I did eventually get home, I had forgotten half of the ingredients that I’d started putting together for tonight’s dinner – guess it’s stir fry with no noodles or tofu!!), and I remained in a state of wonder and anxious excitement, with a hint of feeling down in the dumps.

 

It did get me to start thinking about being more mindful of my thoughts, actions and responses. I had been working on trying to re-program my thoughts over the past few weeks to try and break out of the ‘instant negativity’ that had over-grown my brain like a crawling weed in my Grandma’s backyard. In this case – the girls were clearly looking at me and talking, which left me feeling really uncomfortable, particularly as I couldn’t quite hear the details of their giggly discussion.

My initial reaction was to think the worst as I felt my should start to lift closer towards my head, my body tense up and my expression turn to an almost tensely and over-concentrated look. I was so nervous and anxious to be honest!

 

Being able to step away from the situation and think about what happened, who they were, what they said, how they said it and how my body and thoughts started to react to it.

My brain instantly felt a sense of ‘safety’ in it’s usual way of thinking and told myself that it was definitely a negative perspective; they must of seen you do something stupid in the past or noticed that you looked or acted in an unusual ‘that’s different’ kind of way. Why would it be anything other than that?

The thing was – although it took me back and made me feel extremely uncomfortable and undeserving; who’s to say that they hadn’t read something I had written or posted? What gives my mind the right to take that excitement away from me and let me enjoy the moment of something that means a lot to me, that I have been working so hard towards building? Who says that I don’t deserve to keep a small (yeah, ok, VERY small!) positive outcome of the work I had been doing?

 

It’s funny – as a society, we are very quick to judge and to critique anyone who is either in the spotlight, who has achieved something or who is working they way into developing a brand or name for themselves (commonly known as ‘the tall poppy syndrome’). I’ve sat in a group and pretended to be a ‘fly on the wall’, as I just listened to the conversations others have had about certain people and things that they had done. It’s quite astounding how high the percentage of negative criticism takes over the large part of the conversation, compared to the one or two sentences that may be more positive, forgiving, realistic and reasonable, when much of the time that person of the conversation has done nothing wrong apart from getting their name to be hitting the line up of ‘dinner table conversations’.

I won’t say that I have never taken part in this type of conversation, it is partly human nature to be interested in delving into other people’s lives – but 90% of the time I am very conscious not to. The reason being – we have NO idea of how they got to where they are, who they are as a ‘real person’ and the hardships they may have come across to get to where they are now. Everyone has their story and deserves to be given the respect and praise that they have usually worked hard to develop.

Part of human nature and the way that we learn is through experience, so even if it was the case that the person did something in the past that wasn’t the ‘best’ option – who cares? Learn from it and MOVE ON!!

These criticisms have grown to not only be towards others in society, but how do we expect to think about ourselves in a positive light if we cannot do so for anyone else?

One thing that many of us have grown to learn is to never be ‘too confident’, ‘too happy’ or ‘too appreciative’ of ourselves. It’s terrible. And it is this thought process that leads many of us to develop huge confidence issues, mental health issues and an inability to trust ourselves enough to set challenges that we would never dream of. To think positively about your own self stems off towards those around you. Conversations turn from such negativity to more positive – including those conversations we have inside our own ‘crazy’ minds.

 

So – as I drove down the road home from the supermarket, I decided that I would take my last option of thoughts. I’d leave thinking that the attention was for something positive; maybe the development of my business (it’s funny, as I write this now I almost feel a sense of embarrassment, similar to that feeling of giving a speech in front of class at school!) and the related blog and instagram posts.

 

At the end of the day – not one other person knows what I am thinking. The person who benefits from this is ME. I would much rather go to sleep tonight giving myself a mini high five and feeling like a giggling school girl, than slouching under my covers of my bed in the fear of something that the girls (who – I don’t even know, so what right do they have in making me feel upset?!) MAY have said.

 

Be mindful. Listen to the thoughts in your mind and the physical response of your body – now focus on improving this. Before long, you will learn to do it naturally and let me tell you – a much happier, confident and better person to yourself and those close to you.

 

Sound familiar???

Get in touch – I’d love to coach you to being successful and in love with life!

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Ready to start being optimistic??

We all have the ability to be optimistic about life (and yes – that includes the grumpy old man who serves you your morning latte!).

Each each of us are born with an innate level of optimism, and throughout life depending on our environment and the experiences we go through, this optimism can turn into more pessimism – some developing into severe mental illness.

For many of us to be able to ‘re-shape’, ‘heal’ and in a sense ‘re-wire’ our brains to be more resilient and optimistic about life, we need to think about the following elements:

Positive emotions – Surprise; we need to experience more positive emotions to over-come the negative thoughts each day. 

How do we learn to do this to the point that we can self regulate?

Start by writing down 3 positive events that happened to you each day before you go to bed.

According to research, each negative emotion, we need to have 3 positive emotions to re-balance – the reason being that unfortunately negative emotions tend to hang around for longer.

So – get that gratitude journal cranking again! If you’ve had a bad day, I’d challenge you to think harder to write down more positive events to balance it out (I mean ANYTHING – e.g the weather, a smile from a stranger, you letting someone drive in front of you at the merging lane on the way to work, a nice, crispy apple you had today).

Practice makes perfect – so do this each day for a couple of weeks and reflect on the difference.

Engagement – The more regularly we engage in things that give us a sense of ‘flow’, the higher our sense of well being and outlook on life. 

When we engage in things that we find ourselves getting completely absorbed in, challenged, feeling as if we felt a sense of ‘hey – that was fun’ or ‘woohoo, when can I do that again?’, and something that giving us a sense of jumping out of bed each day to participate in – we’ve found our flow, similar to a passion.

It might be something that is totally irrelevant to anything else we do in our day to day things, but just something that we can lose ourselves in – and do it regularly! (Think long runs, writing, meditation, reading, singing……..).

Think about creating a ‘vision board’; and posting photos, images, quotes, words or mementos of the things you enjoy doing to get you to focus on the things that might give you your flow.

Positive relationships – Arguably the biggest and most necessary – the types of relationships we have in our lives can impact greatly on our outlook. 

Think about the relationships that are important to you; circles of friends, community groups, family.

Which of these generally make you feel good about yourself and are supportive? Which of these perhaps do you not feel supported by?

Is this a relationship you wish to continue?

Who do you look up to in your life and why?

Meaning – Meaning is how we make ‘sense’ of the world – finding this reason why we get out of bed and what makes us tick is extremely helpful in getting us to achieve the things we want because it gives them meaning and value.

Ask yourself – what really matters to you?

If you could do anything you wanted (with no financial, social, work etc. barriers), what would it be?

What do you hope will be your impact on the world?

When you think about what is important to your life, question yourself as to why it really matters?

Achievement – Having a sense of accomplishment and success in being able to reach your goals gives you the confidence to try again! The more success we experience – the more likely we are to feel optimistic about life and a greater sense of well being. 

Start by setting yourself one or two small, achievable goals each week to build your confidence in your abilities, your satisfaction with life and your place in the world. This could be something as simple as ‘I will have breakfast each day this week’, or ‘I will walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week for 45minutes at my lunch break’.

By working on all of the above regularly, we are more likely to be resilient when things don’t necessarily go our way, build on our own strengths and values, cultivate and enjoy the things that are going well in our lives, have an increased level of hope and optimism, have an increased sense of empowerment, and be more grateful for the things around us – positive and negative!

Sounds exciting doesn’t it!

It all comes back to the idea that we are responsible for our own lives and happiness, and can control the way we react to and think about life.

Love it or hate it – it’s up to us!

I know which I’d prefer!

 

**(www.positivityratio.com – a great site to test your in-built ratio of optimism vs. pessimism).

 

Ash Xxx

 

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