Posted in Real Life

The one about the Inner Critic and the Inner Coach – weekly update #3

Happy Friday!

So this week’s little victory is an interesting one. Anyone who knows me most likely thinks I am super-confident. I know I’m a good communicator, good mate, good Mama, I like people and am an eternal smiley optimist. I have an opinion on most things and I’m not shy about sharing it. However, I lack confidence and always have.

As is the case with most things that make us who we are it’s probably a throw back to my childhood. I do remember constantly seeking approval from my parents and friends. Doing my absolute best and hoping it would be good enough. I expect it was for the most part but it often didn’t feel that way. As a result I became a bit of a perfectionist as I sought reassurance and approval.

Being a perfectionist doesn’t necessarily mean life has to be perfect (because it just isn’t) but it does mean that sometimes the anxiety about the things you do being good enough can be overwhelming.

As a child I was a gymnast. I loved it. I was the best in my school, the best in my club and the best in my borough, winning every competition, and yet I always felt it wasn’t enough.

As an adult I’ve achieved lots of things, the most recent being I wrote some short stories and a novel. Despite winning a competition and getting the most glorious feedback, I have always felt a bit embarrassed and that none of it was professional enough. I felt like an imposter saying I was an author or writer and even though a mainstream publisher showed significant interest the pressure to perform was too much. Self-doubt crept in and the first ten chapters of the new novel have been abandoned.

For no apparent reason, this popped into my head this week. About 15 years ago I booked a motivational speaker for an event (Paul McGee author of Shut Up Move On, absolute top bloke). One of the best things I learned that day was that everyone has an Inner Critic and an Inner Coach. Basically, the Inner Critic is the voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough. The Inner Coach is the voice in your head that tells you that you are. I listen to the Inner Critic ALL the time. The Inner Coach is mostly crushed and sits quietly on the sidelines because the Inner Critic’s voice is sooooo annoyingly loud.

My problem with listening to the Inner Coach and enjoying a moment of self-praise is probably due to the fact that I’m waiting for everyone else’s opinion before I can allow myself to feel anything (there’s that throw back to childhood of approval seeking) ….. and then even when I get great feedback I’m speculating whether it’s really meant or whether it’s just kindness. Take my new hobby for example. I’ve made a few Christmas cards. They’re not professional. I’m not even sure about sending them (be gone Inner Critic). Hubby says they’re great and the people I know best also say they like them but still there’s something in me that thinks they’re just not quite good enough. Argh! Inner Coach where are you?

So, despite my battles with the Inner Critic lately I do have a little victory to share. We’ve been looking for a nice piece of wall art to put in our bedroom. I’ve relentlessly searched t’internet for the perfect painting or framed print and finally came across a series of photographs of our favourite place in Cornwall. And you could get them enlarged and framed. Hoorah! Imagine my delight.

I showed my husband and he said …….. ‘Why don’t we get one of your photos done? They are as good as those and apart from anything else it would be YOUR photo, our experience together, what could possibly match that?’

So without having purposely sought feedback, there it was, unsolicited but better still, something lovely happened. The Inner Coach crept back into my mind pushing the Inner Critic to one side, as we spent a couple of hours going through the photos of our last trip to Cornwall sharing our memories and choosing our favourites. The Inner Coach reminded me that what matters most is how I feel about something, it’s about my journey and the enjoyment I get from things.

We found a website that would print and frame an enlargement of a stunning, unfiltered Cornish sunset (featured photo), and before I knew it, we’d created a project, framed it and bought it. It should arrive in a week or so and I absolutely cannot wait to get it and see it on the wall. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect. It’s mine and I love it.

And so I’ve finally realised that what other people think matters less than I let it (although in this case it definitely helps that hubby likes the photo that he will have to look at every night and every morning!). The feeling of receiving praise and approval is lovely but waiting for it and hoping for it isn’t. So it shouldn’t mean so much.

What matters is being happy and healthy and fulfilled and satisfied – and I am lucky enough to mostly be those things right now. I am beginning to get to grips with the fact that what other people think is their business and not mine and sometimes I need to let it go, to care less.

So my little victory is that I realised this week that I am good enough and that when I need it to be, the voice of my Inner Coach really can be louder than the voice of my Inner Critic.

Have the best weekend. Big love.

Jules x

Posted in Real Life

The Life Balance Chair – weekly update #2

This week I actually made it into the gym EVERY DAY and so that is my little victory for this blog posting. We are lucky enough to have a gym in our garage with a treadmill, punch bag, multi gym and exercise bike. You’d think it would be the easiest thing in the world to pop on some gym kit and wander in. Not so. You really have to want to go in and part of that is remembering the great feeling of getting a little gym time in.

Part of my success with the gym this week was having a training partner. My younger son Connor had a week off work and is a huge gym enthusiast. Making an agreement with him and spending some quality time together in the gym really helped. So much so I thought I’d use this week’s blog to share his thoughts on maintaining a healthy life.

So he calls it the ‘Life Balance Chair’. Imagine a chair with four legs. The legs are made to fit the chair perfectly. They are equally strong and together they enable stability, comfort and balance to the structure of the chair. That is until one or more of the legs become unstable or wobbly.

Consider that in life we need four core things (the four legs of our personal chair) that enable stability for our bodies and minds.

  1. Physical Strength. This is about maintaining an active lifestyle to promote good physical health. It doesn’t mean being the strongest person or giving yourself a difficult goal it means doing some exercise, being mobile and keeping flexible and supple in a way that helps you to live from day to day in a physically healthy way. For me that means doing some stretches in the morning, spending time in the gym regularly (not just staring at the equipment) and walking the dog.
  2. Biological Strength. This is the one I probably struggle with the most. This one is about eating well enough. This is not about dieting or going crazy but more about eating a balanced diet and looking after what’s on the inside. Perhaps taking a multi vitamin or some vitamin C, getting a flu shot in winter, eating good (but not excessively naughty) food, eating more fruit and vegetables and cutting back on alcohol, sugar and carbs.
  3. Psychological Strength. This one is so important as it allows you to not feel guilty about spending time on your well-being. It’s about good mental health and self care. So in short, doing things for you. Just you. It might be getting your nails done, taking up a new hobby or spending time meditating or watching your favourite film. It might be admitting when you’re struggling and allowing yourself to talk it through or get help. My plan is to use the Calm app to promote a better sleep pattern and to calm anxiety through meditation and deep breathing. I’m also thoroughly enjoying my new card-making hobby, which provides an outlet for my creative side.
  4. Presentable Strength. I love this one, perhaps because it comes more naturally for me, and probably most of you than some of the others. This is about using your strengths to help or better others. It’s about sharing the things you’re good at, being a listening ear or a good friend, spending time with people and being encouraging. It’s surprising how good this makes you feel and has a big impact on your Psychological Strength.

So those are the four legs of the ‘Life Balance Chair’ and when Connor and I were talking about it I suddenly realised how important it is to have each of these areas of my life in balance. If I neglect a strength (or chair leg) then the chair becomes unstable and wobbly. If all four legs are neglected then the chair is no longer fit for purpose. It no longer provides stability comfort and balance. In effect I’m running on empty.

So here I am taking care of my Presentable Strength by sharing a special moment between my son and me. Which happened while I was taking care of my Physical Strength during a gym session. I’ve just finished making some Christmas cards, thereby adding to my Psychological Strength by taking time to do something I really enjoy and in just a moment I’ll be going out for a nice meal this evening with my husband when I will of course be thinking about my Biological Strength and will only have one glass of wine (because I deserve it) ….  instead of a bottle!

I really hope that this blog post resonates with you the way it’s helping me. Have the most splendid of weekends and a healthy happy week ahead.

Big love, Jules x

Posted in Real Life

Getting Started! Weekly update #1

Good Morning, happy Saturday!

A day later than planned but here’s my first weekly update. I thought I’d use this opportunity to explain briefly what I’m trying to achieve.

Each week I will post an update on the happenings of the week, mostly focussing on little victories, those little things that I’ve achieved which make a day feel like it’s been worthwhile. It might be success in gym challenges (any time I spend in the gym being active is a gigantic victory tbh!), it might be cooking delicious healthy meals, celebrating doing something new or just having a good day. So this blog is mostly for me because how can I expect anyone else to be even vaguely interested in my personal weekly small achievements? However if one person reads it and finds one post interesting or uplifting that that’s another little victory for me. Committing to writing a weekly blog also means I am more likely to achieve the things I want to during the week ….. because who wants to be left with tumbleweed for a picture and nothing to say?!

So whilst I’m lucky enough never to have experienced periods of deep depression, like most people, I’ve had challenging times in my life. I’ve always managed somehow to battle through. Lately and I’m going to be completely honest here, I’ve felt a bit redundant at home.  I’m now over 50 (where the hell did all the years go?), my children are grown ups and they need me less. And because we live in an era of ridiculous house prices and rental costs my two have not fled the nest. I do endeavour to give them the space and privacy they need to be as fully independent as they can be whilst still living in the family home. However, that leaves me with less to do, less to worry about (which is lovely but unnerving) and with lots of time on my hands.

So with that in mind the first thing I’m celebrating in this post is spending less time during the day watching an endless stream of quiz and home improvement shows (although Phil and Holly will be forever on in the background with This Morning) and more time starting a new hobby. I’ve decided on card making because it satisfies the creative in me. How long it will last and whether I will be any good at it is anyone’s guess. However, I’ve absolutely loved spending time this week mooching around Hobbycraft and picking up pretty things to decorate cards with.

I’m a complete and utter beginner and am already enjoying doing lots of research on techniques and materials to use. I’ve even started making (see main photo). The aim is that this year all our friends and family will receive ‘lovely’ home made cards and if they aren’t all that lovely or perfectly finished at least they have been made with love!

So that’s post #1 and my first small victory – starting a new hobby. It’s a good start right?

Thanks for reading. I’m excited about the future, about sharing my little victories with you and kick starting a new period of my life in the most positive way I can.

Big love

Jules 🙂 x