Fear and Excitement

The chemical release that triggers feelings of fear in our bodies is also responsible for triggering feelings of excitement. Fear and excitement are different sides of the same chemical coin. The label we choose put on a feeling therefore depends upon whether we have a positive mental attitude and are open to new experiences. If our self-esteem and confidence are low, we may feel afraid in the face of new opportunities, instead of the excitement we could be feeling if we have faith in ourselves and our ability to succeed.

We must practise seeing opportunities instead of obstacles. We must try to be excited instead of afraid.

Rising above mean people

In my varied experience, mean people all have one thing in common: they are all petty, insecure, miserable human beings who are fixated on taking their unhappiness out on others in a desperate attempt to make themselves feel better. The truth is, when we are happy, we are motivated to share our happiness with those around us. We might smile at people, brightening up their day. We might offer to make someone a drink or perhaps let them out of the carpark ahead of us. In short, we can afford to be kind. This is because kindness is more readily displayed when we have inward feelings of contentment, peace and happiness.

Conversely, mean people are showing everybody just how rotten, barren and negative they are on the inside. Of course, not all unhappy people are mean. But I believe that all mean people are fundamentally unhappy.

A classic example is of a mean and petty boss who chooses to focus on the small things that you didn’t do that week and to overlook the many great things you did do. This simple choice of dwelling on the negatives and dismissing the positives is representative of a mean-spirited mentality. We might ask ourselves why he chooses to be so negative and unhelpful – remember, it is a choice. The answer can be reduced to the fact that he is unhappy. He is unfulfilled in his work life, social life, love life and family life. As a result of his overall lack of success in life, he tries to elevate his sad, lowly existence by being mean to those around him, especially those whom he considers to be in a position of less power. This is his best effort to try to drag people down to his level of dissatisfaction.

This example of the petty boss is an incredibly common scenario, yet it often still affects us. Some of us might get angry, some of us might get upset, some of us might laugh it off. How we deal with another person’s meanness towards us can be a very powerful indicator of our inner strength and ability to rise above negativity. We must always challenge and usurp any attempts which aim to lower our quality of life or self-esteem.

We are in control of who can enter our mental and emotional space.

We can choose to welcome people into our emotional space who will improve our physical and mental health. Likewise, we can bar the windows and bolt the doors to those odious individuals whose sole aim is to drag other people down into their own pit of misery. Each and every one of us has the power to patrol our personal portals.

In my experience, mean people can’t stand to be around happy, confident and content people. However well mean people may (or may not!) try to mask it, there is always an undercurrent of jealousy and spite that provides the constant fuel for their meanness and negativity. For the unsuspecting happy, kind-hearted person, this can be hard if not impossible to detect. Instead, we might start to question our abilities or to doubt our judgement, or even begin to wonder if the mean person “has a point”. This is the turning point. In these situations, we need to take a step back and take time to do something we enjoy. This might be exercise, cooking, painting or anything that brings us satisfaction. When we are in a space of neutrality, we can then reassess the situation. Whatever conclusion we come to, we should trust our gut instincts because they are always right. If we feel that we are being treated unfairly, it is because we are. If, after 2 hours in the gym, we look back on our day at work and conclude that our line manager’s actions were motivated by jealousy and spite, it is because they were. The important question is: where do we go from here? How do we move forward in a productive and confident manner that protects our wellbeing? The answer is that we need to ensure that we have enough self-confidence and emotional resilience to rise above any meanness or negativity that comes our way. We cannot rely on others to regulate or protect our happiness.

Anybody who is trying to bring you down is already beneath you.

In the face of meanness we must hold on to our dignity and remind ourselves what we live for: our family, our friends, our hobbies and any simple pleasure that puts a smile on our face. Anyone who chooses to fester in their own negative energy, cultivating and spreading meanness like a bacteria, we must always keep at a safe distance.

Once we become aware of the true motivations of mean, petty people, we can choose to laugh, pity or simply to be indifferent towards them. It is important that we do not allow them to take anything from our reserves of happiness, confidence or contentment. We can and we will progress, achieve and succeed despite the efforts of others to pull us back.

Achieving daily clarity

When we have fewer options, decisions are easier to make. Keeping life as simple as possible is the key to retaining mental clarity and enabling ourselves to focus on what really matters. When we focus on what matters, we allow ourselves to let go of petty worries and to dismiss insignificant distractions.

The busyness of the world around us can trick us into thinking that life is a race. But life is one of the finest examples of quality triumphing over quantity. Taking a few minutes in the morning to focus on what we want out of the day is a great way to set our minds on the right track before we become swept away by the priorities and agendas of others. Our eyes and ears are easy targets for media and social clutter, from advertisements to idle gossip. Taking a few minutes in the afternoon to recalibrate allows us to assess our actions: is what I am doing right this minute contributing towards my daily goal? Is what I am doing right this minute contributing towards my wellbeing? If we have let distractions or negative thoughts creep into our day, now is the time to eliminate them. If possible, try stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, looking up at the sky and focusing on the vastness of the universe. This is a great way to get a snapshot of the ‘bigger picture’ and to put our daily stresses into perspective. Alternatively, closing our eyes for a moment to revisit happy memories with friends and family or beautiful places we have been – triggering good feelings – can help to alleviate the chaos and pressure that develops during the day.

Taking time out to reflect on our actions allows us to wipe the slate clean and to finish the day in the positive and purposeful manner in which we started it. We should strive to make sure that the last thing we do in our day is aligned with what we set out to achieve. That way, a day will never be wasted and we will never feel dissatisfied with our efforts. Added to this, we will have the peace of mind and satisfaction that we are in control of our lives, taking responsibility for our own welfare and productivity.

Radiators and drains

Sustainable Giving for Radiators

It is often said that there are two types of people in life: radiators and drains: those who give and those who take. Natural radiators are often magnets for drains, who sense our warmth and energy and come flocking to drink it up. This, of course, can be very draining. So what can we radiators do to protect ourselves against depletion?

It is very difficult for any of us to change our fundamental nature. For radiators, the natural desire to give is spontaneous and overriding. As such, we can often find ourselves having already given away too much of our resources before we realise it. It’s therefore important for radiators to learn to recognise and anticipate situations that can potentially lead us to being bled dry. This way, we can take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves from overuse, helping to maintain a healthy, happy and balanced life. As radiators, we need to ensure that whilst we love to give, we are still able to retain a little heat, warmth and energy for our own needs.

~ Invest Your Energy ~

Investing our energy into positive projects that benefit multiple individuals can be an efficient way of helping others, without using up all our resources and leaving us feeling sapped at the end of the day. This might take the form of a motivational blog that can be accessed time and time again, featuring Daily Quotes to inspire and support others, whilst simultaneously serving to replenish our own mental reserves. Another type of positive project might be investing in a charitable cause that we believe in, something that is both sustainable and fulfilling. These are just two examples of how strategically directing our energy and resources allows us to regulate our expenditure. This type of regulation is useful for those of us who are drawn to committing too much of our physical and mental strength to fixing other people’s problems, at the expense of our own wellbeing. Yes, it’s good to give, but we can only successfully give from what we’ve got. Situations in which we’re giving from what we haven’t got is not only detrimental to our welfare, but invariably leads to feelings of frustration and resentment, both towards ourselves and towards those who are draining us. Overall, our health and happiness depends upon our ability to identify times when we are in a position to give and times when we need to step back and refuel.

~ Signs Of Depletion ~

For radiators, it is often difficult to recognise when we are being bled dry. Our loyalty and commitment to significant people or causes in our lives, combined with our tendency to want to help, can sometimes affect our ability to give sustainably. Nevertheless, there are some telltale signs that we are expending more than we have, which, if we heed them, can help us to apply the brakes before we crash and burn. These include physical and mental fatigue, headaches, tense muscles, tight chest, irritability and avoidance. These physical and emotional reactions represent the stress, imbalance and discontent that we feel from overuse, which if left unaddressed can lead to more persistent and pervasive problems. It is therefore crucial for radiators to adopt strategies that guard against depletion in a fast-paced world that is filled with thirsty drains.

Radiators are like the sun, naturally generating warmth, light and energy for the benefit of those around us. However, unlike the sun, we are not indefatigable. This truth never occurs to drains, who are only ever concerned about what they can get. Achieving balance as a radiator means taking positive steps to protect ourselves from exploitation. This does not mean that we should withdraw our emotional or other support from friends and family, but rather we should learn to recognise when we are running low on reserves and be cautious about supplying energy to drains when we are most vulnerable. Drains, by their nature, are never fully satisfied and will always want more. To prevent becoming exhausted, we radiators need to be in control of our giving. We must learn to recognise when to reach for our own stop taps, in order to ensure that we have enough supplies left to meet our own needs. Knowing how and when to say “no” at times when we are less equipped to support others is key to managing our energy reserves and maintaining balance and contentment in our lives.

 

Surrounding ourselves with the right people

Surrounding ourselves with the right people is one half of the recipe for leading a happy, balanced and successful life. The right people are those who have our best interests at heart. These people value us for who we are as human beings, not because of what we do for a living or what favours or status we can bestow upon them. They will always be prepared to tell us what we need to hear, and not just what we want to hear. They will not attempt to undermine our achievements, nor to belittle us in order to make themselves feel better. Surrounding ourselves with these people will enable us to grow in confidence, to learn from our mistakes and to share our best moments with those who really appreciate them.

The world is full of people who make empty promises to satisfy their own agendas. Whilst it is “as well to know what tunes the devil is playing” (Jeeves and Wooster, Comrade Bingo, 1992), it is vitally important not to get carried away with them. Be mindful that work and wellbeing do not always go hand in hand. What appears good for us professionally may not be good for us personally. This is where surrounding ourselves with the right people becomes crucial.

 

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

 

A friend may be a colleague, but not all colleagues are friends. Even those who we are friendly with and with whom we have established good working relationships do not necessarily want what is best for us or wish us well. In fact, if we are in any way competition for them, it will typically be quite the opposite, despite appearances. This is why, as we progress through life, it is essential to maintain a solid network of friends and family who do have our best interests at heart and who will give us good advice when our own judgement is clouded by a difficult situation.

Maintaining healthy relationships that benefit our wellbeing requires mutual effort. Nowadays, friendships are more fragile than ever, as people move around for jobs and work much longer hours, including evenings and weekends – prime social times. Before we know it, weeks have passed by and we still haven’t got round to having that Skype chat, coffee date or park walk – and nobody is happier or better off because of it. We can believe that we are in touch with people through social media, which serves its own purpose but is no replacement for regular real life contact with the people who are good for our souls. Without these connections, we can begin to feel isolated, lonely, emotionally less resilient and consequently downright unhappy. Human beings are social creatures. We have developed unrivalled communication skills for a good reason and we must remember to use them to benefit our wellbeing as well as our careers.

 

“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said I’m here for you, and proved it.”

 

With the pressures of the working world seeming to increase year by year, friendships can suffer from financial and temporal restraints. “I haven’t got time” is an all too familiar excuse for many of us. However, if we stop to reflect on how we choose to spend each moment of our 168 hour week, we may find that we do actually have time for a coffee or a phone call, if we learn to prioritise. We must ensure that those people who are essential to our wellbeing always remain a priority. Yes, this might mean pulling out of work drinks, or switching off our favourite television series, but these are small sacrifices for maintaining special relationships. Spending quality time with someone who values us is priceless. As such, we should be very careful not to marginalise these opportunities as life becomes too busy. Instead of neglecting friendships in the assumed certainty that they will still be there when we really need them, we should try to focus on investing in them regularly, so that we can draw upon the positive energy that they generate, which can help carry us through the challenges of the week and ensure that we come out smiling at the end of it.

The essence of this article is perspective. The pace and fashion of modern living has allowed us more easily to adopt insular lifestyles, losing sight of the importance of real life contact with those individuals who enrich our existence and who encourage our personal growth. If we stop to think about the last time we actually saw the face of, or even heard the voice of,  someone we consider a good friend, we might be surprised. Whilst it has become normal to maintain relationships through social media, there is a visceral nourishment to be found in the tones of a friendly voice or the warmth of a loving hug that cannot be communicated via a tweet or a post. As sentient, social beings, we crave this human contact, and the longer we deprive ourselves of it, the more likely we are to feel lonely and isolated.

So what are we waiting for? Pick up the phone, make that call, schedule that coffee, turn the television off, go for that park walk and show the important people in our lives how much we truly value those relationships. Good, positive relationships can act as a buffer between ourselves and the pressures of the world. Putting effort into securing them is essential if we are to maintain healthy, balanced and happy lives.

Taking back control

Controlling people pervade all walks of life. We may know them through business, social or even family connections. It is often difficult to recognise when someone is trying to exercise control over us and our choices, as their words and actions can be cleverly disguised as thoughtful advice or mutually beneficially recommendations. However, exposing our unprotected selves to the control of others can have an extremely damaging effect on our self-esteem, confidence and sense of identity. Over time, controlling people can erode our self-worth to the point that we begin to question our instincts and no longer trust or value our own judgement. This results in a very unhealthy state of being that can impact upon all corners of our existence.

 

Never compromise yourself

 

Spotting when someone in our lives is being controlling can be very difficult. We may have known the person our whole lives and have firmly established relationship dynamics with them. Contrastingly, they may be a work colleague, whose own lack of self-respect and dissatisfaction drives him/her to exercise a petty reign of control over others. This latter situation can be tricky to deal with, especially if we are new to a job and are trying to get along and impress. However, it is always worth remembering that nothing and no-one deserves compromising our self-worth for. 

It is a fact that there will always be people willing to take their insecurities out on others, who try to stop others from reaching their full potential and who enjoy minimising others’ achievements in order to boost their own ego. It is therefore essential to recognise when people are behaving as such, so that we can flourish and succeed in our own right despite their resistance. By asserting ourselves against such people, we are reestablishing our independence as a free-thinker and autonomous individual, thereby defining boundaries which serve to protect our wellbeing.

 

Reestablish the dynamics

 

Controlling people are often jealous people. One way to spot them is by their unwillingness to “let” us organise and keep our own social engagements, to develop and maintain our own social networks, or to take responsibility for things that do actually concern us. For example, a senior work colleague not allowing us access rights to information or equipment that would actually help us to do our job better. Instead, they insist that we go through them every time we need something. This is a clear display of someone attempting to control the power dynamics in a relationship. A completely different scenario might be that of a close friend, relative or partner who chooses when to invite/exclude us to/from their social engagements, but insists on accompanying us to all of ours without first asking. These types of situation can lead us to feel alternately dangled on a thread and smothered, without us necessarily recognising that we are party to a controlling relationship.

When the controlling person is someone we are emotionally connected to, for example, a friend, relative or partner, it can be much harder to assert ourselves. Particularly when the dynamics of the relationship are already established, it can seem awkward or unnatural to start to voice our thoughts or objections. However, if we don’t stand our ground in the face of controlling people, we risk being taken advantage of, agreeing to things we don’t really want to do, that aren’t in our best interests, in order to maintain the status quo. It is our reluctance to change the flow and pace of the relationship, combined with their unwavering belief in their ability to always get their own way, that controlling people rely upon. Breaking any cycle of control, no matter how established the relationship dynamics, is therefore essential if we are to operate freely on our terms.

 

Protecting our reserves

 

In real life, controlling people cannot be avoided. However, we can be ever mindful that they exist, taking heed of the signs and developing strategies to prevent their intrusion upon our personal rights and sense of value and identity. Remember that the people who really care about us will respect our wishes and needs, and will be able to take “no” for an answer. Petty work colleagues who rely upon futile regimes of control in order to divert from their own lack of achievement should always be recognised as such, and exiled from our emotional reserves. Being confident in prioritising our own needs above the demands of others is one way of protecting ourselves from the claws of controlling people. Sometimes, simply saying “no, that doesn’t work for me” can be a powerful defence mechanism. Knowing that we have the right to our thoughts, opinions, decisions and actions, and having the confidence to assert that right in any given situation, is key to preserving our wellbeing, dignity and happiness.