"Look at what you bring to the world, not what you lack." - Miranda Kate

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Book Review: Listen Up! Your Heart is Speaking, by Robin Lee

Listen Up! Your Heart Is SpeakingListen Up! Your Heart Is Speaking by Robin Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Robin Lee for a few years now, so I was keen to get hold of her book. Plus when she saw me post about receiving it, she sent me a beautiful journal to match it, which I love.

The cover and design of this book are lovely, especially the illustrations inside dividing the chapters. Sadly I felt the font let it down a bit, it was large and not as elegant as the rest of the book - to my eye at least.

Robin provides an easy and uncomplicated way to listen and connect to your heart. There is a simplicity to this book that many in the self-help and personal development arena lack. There aren't masses of exercises to follow all the way through, and Lee doesn't pump the reader full of her ideas on how the reader should feel or think or her opinions on it all. She provides a simple, clear process.

The first part of the book talks about how to listen to your body and heart during day to day moments and talks about how to create the right mindset to ease the connection, and at the end of the book simple straight forward instruction is given on exercises the author uses, with some answers to FAQ questions.

I liked it and would definitely read it again. I have done a lot of reading in this area and also done some meditations on connecting to the heart, so it was simple for me to embrace it. For others they might want more depth. But it is a great starting point to get you connecting to your heart on a daily basis and relieve stress in your life.

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Book Review: #KnowTheTruth by Gordana Biernat

#KnowtheTruth: Why Knowing Who You Are Changes Everything#KnowtheTruth: Why Knowing Who You Are Changes Everything by Gordana Biernat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across Gordana Biernat on twitter, and her tweets really resonated so I bought her book in the print format. I love it's luxurious feel. It's a thing of quality - as are its contents.

I hadn't heard of Gordana before coming across her on twitter. Her main selling angle is that she is one of Oprah Winfrey's Supersoul 100 teachers. And a quick glance round the internet tells me that twitter is her main outlet. She does talks and interviews on other people's sites, but everything redirects to her twitter feed. It's where she posts most of her thoughts and knowledge.

And the book #KnowTheTruth is structured from the tweets. She has used them to guide the topics she then discusses more in depth. There are 231 tweets she elaborates on, and you can choose to just dip into this book or read it cover to cover as I did.

I felt there was progression through the book on the topics, so you could understand each stage and grow to the next one, so for me cover to cover worked best, but it is also a book that I will dip into time and again to refresh my thinking or to understand something again, or maybe look at it from another perspective.

It follows the truth about ourselves in terms of how powerful and limitless we really our, and how our thinking and conformity to social constructs restricts us. It holds answers to how you can free yourself mentally - and spiritually - and create a life you want to create, big or small. And it teaches how to appreciate all the tiny things and how to live in the moment.

It is tough to describe as I feel my description only skims the surface of the depths that it reaches. There is so much to think about and ponder and process.

I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to connect with themselves and within themselves. This book enables you to understand, in relatively simple terms, how to go about doing that.

This is not a book to be rushed, but to be savoured.

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Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Setting an intention: what it means & how to make it work

Image of coloured sail boats in a row on a river with the text Be Clear on your intention, commit to a direction, And set sailDo you have all these things you want to do but never get to them?

Do you want to feel more committed to the things you want to do?

Do you feel your attention is split and you end up wasting time?

Another topic that is spoken about a great deal in the personal development world is ‘setting an intention’. It is often spoken about in relation to ‘The Law of Attraction’ and how to attract the things you want to bring into your life. But, as is often the case, it is a very simple and easy concept that has been dressed up to be more than it is.

At its root it is about setting goals. Whether it is a day to day task, or a much larger project, an ambition or dream, it is about getting the idea in your head and defining it for yourself.

You can write it down, you can say it out loud, whatever works for you, but the very basis is stating it in some form so you are clear on exactly what you want, or intend to do, whether it is that day, that week, that month or even that year.

The focus here is in the act of actually stating your intention – that is ‘setting’ it.

By doing this you have a direction to move in, you have a purpose, an action to take, one that will bring you closer to what you want to achieve. Your mind can focus on the steps you need to take to complete it.

“Where focus goes, energy flows.”– Tony Robbins

For me, writing it down works. It enables me to refer to it as many times as I need and break down the steps into manageable chunks. If I get distracted or become unclear about what I need to do, I can look at it again. This repetition helps solidify the intention and set it as a foundation to build on – hence, the term ‘setting an intention’.

As a writer, I approach it like a story: I have a direction, a few scenes, and an ending in mind, which I move towards. Occasionally I get caught up in a character or go off into a side story, so I remind myself of my original plan, what my intention for the story was, the original core idea and return my focus to it.

But whether you are a writer or not, breaking it down into small steps – some of them small enough to do on a daily basis – makes it easier to see your progress and feel like you are getting somewhere and believe it is possible.  Decide on a physical action or on an amount of time each day you want to devote to it.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

And if you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what you are aiming for, or struggle to believe you can achieve it, return to the reason behind it – your ‘Why’. This helps refresh your motivation and the initial intention behind what you are trying to achieve. It will keep you moving forward, and keep up the momentum needed to hold on to the commitment you made to yourself.

Part of feeling you have achieved anything is trusting yourself and not letting yourself down; being proud of yourself for holding on and following through no matter how many times you feel you have failed.

You need to invest in yourself and connect with your truth – what you really want in your heart of hearts – to be able to succeed.

“Investing and Connecting is one of the key factors in turning any intention into reality”. - Rhonda Britten

The cross over with the ‘Law of Attraction’ is the idea that if you focus on the things you want you can ‘attract’ them to you. If you remain committed, you can make it happen. If you believe you can and remind yourself why you want to, and keep moving forward towards it with consistent, persistent action, anything is possible.

So, by ‘setting an intention’ of what you want to do, you are already turning your mind to it, you are already opening doors to it, and how to go about achieving it, actively looking for opportunities. This in turn will uncover them and you will learn new things, meet new people and keep progressing towards that intention.

“Our intentions create our reality.” – Wayne Dyer

So each time you have a bad day, or think you have failed in something you want to do, remind yourself of what you are trying to achieve; remind yourself of the reason behind it and commit to it again.

You can set an intention every single day.
You can write a new ‘to do’ list every day.
You can do one small thing towards your goal every day.

 It’s all down to believing that you can and then taking action.

That is what is behind ‘setting an intention’.

“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee 

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Book Review: Sex, Suicide and Serotonin, by Debbie Hampton

Sex, Suicide and Serotonin: How These Things Almost Killed And Healed MeSex, Suicide and Serotonin: How These Things Almost Killed And Healed Me by Debbie Hampton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is actually a 3½ rating.

*This is an in depth review, so there maybe be SPOILERS*

I was very interested in reading about what happened to Debbie Hampton after her suicide attempt and the brain injury it caused, but there was wasn’t the kind of detail I had expected.

The book didn’t run chronologically and kept skipping back and forth, making the timelines at the beginning and just after the suicide attempt confusing. There was a lot of repetition in the chapters too, making them longer than they needed to be, making it rambling, describing the same thing over and over. These things surprised me, as I would have expected an editor to have had some input in this being as it’s not a self-published novel. Being an editor myself, I tend to notice these sorts of thing more than others, but it really didn’t add to reader engagement, if anything it made it arduous to read and take in what Debbie was trying to impart – and she had a lot to impart, although most of it was right at the very end.

It’s difficult to review someone’s life story, as it’s not my business to critique their life and choices - plus they are already in the past, and I felt this was more of an autobiography of sorts, for the authors reference more than for the reader, maybe as a way to try and take in better what had happened in light of the brain injury and hold onto their memories. But these are the thoughts and feelings it arose when I read it.

For me, the structure of this novel affected how I felt about it. There was a detailed account of the aftermath of her suicide attempt and the injury, and then her relationships with her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend, prior to any discussion about her suicide and how she felt about that. I was not remotely interested in these men who had clearly mistreated her, and I found her detailed descriptions of them far too forgiving. There still seemed to be a lot of self-blame for how they had treated her, where she had clearly been disrespected, neglected and actually abused (verbally/emotionally). Although forgiveness is necessary, especially where children are involved, I felt that presenting them as good people who had their own issues and thus it made it okay, was not right. I didn’t feel either of them were good people – even though we do ‘teach people how to teach us’. I appreciate that often it is hard to think that we choose people that were wrong for us, that it can be seen a reflection of our ability to make good judgements, i.e.: ‘if I picked that person, what does that say about me’, kind of thing, but forgiveness is for ourselves, not for them. Forgive yourself that you let them treat you that way, but don’t justify their actions or make excuses for them. I wasn’t interested in their life stories and why they behaved the way they did. What they did wasn’t okay. But I understood in some ways that Debbie was writing this for herself, rather than an audience.

The discussion about Debbie’s suicide or suicide ideation was not what I expected and it left me feeling disappointed. There was a blaze, off-handed mention of the fact she had made earlier attempts in her teenage, which was sort of ‘standard teenage behaviour’ and that this was more of the same, yet, she did speak about hiding it from others. The focus was on the resulting brain injury as though that was something different, or a term that could be used instead of the term ‘suicide attempt’, to make it better and/or cover up what had actually taken place. And the description of it as ‘inherently selfish’ struck me as wrong and born of the conditioning that it is something to be ashamed of – having suicidal feelings – rather than an indication of an underlying problem, or mental health issue that needs to be treated with compassion and understanding.

Towards the end of the book Debbie speaks a little bit more about it, and about the treatment she pursued herself and retraining her brain, but it was skimmed over – her personal reasons – which is fine, but it made me wonder at the point of the book. The title indicates that it is about a suicide attempt – and it is – but it is more about the recovery of a brain injury that the attempt resulted in, than a recovery from whatever drove her to the attempt. There was no discussion about why she felt the need to make attempts in teenage and where that might be coming from. I couldn’t decide if that was due to the brain injury no longer allowing that kind of self-reflection or the desire not to dig that deep or share it – which is entirely up to the author, but leaves the reader wanting.

I was also struck by how little medical help was offered to Debbie – either with the brain injury itself or with the suicide. It was as though she was shunned due to the injury being caused by the attempt to take her life. Or at least it wasn’t written about in any detail, so I assumed it hadn’t existed. There was the mention of being committed to a facility immediately out of hospital, but it seemed more like a holding place rather than a treatment actively trying to help her. Debbie seemed left to her own devices to treat herself and understand alone what had happened to her brain and body, with no support from therapies either, which led me to the more incredulous (to me) notion that after just three months she had an expectation to have her children returned to her for full custody both after a suicide attempt AND a brain injury still affecting her every waking moment.

I was also surprised by the repetitive expression of her finding it heartwrenching to be away from her children, when she had planned to be absent from them permanently. I found it a strange juxtaposition. I understood she loves her children and her ex-husband was using them to be nasty and abusive (a common trait it seemed). I understood that her suicide attempt was in reaction to a feeling of failure after an abrupt end to a recent relationship, but then surely it would make sense to resolve some things within yourself and take a step back – although another strange twist was that if she hadn’t fought for their return she probably wouldn’t have had access or custody of them ever again, a strange twist in the laws of our society.

Although this book offers a great deal of information for anyone suffering from a brain injury and all the possible alternative treatments available, I was disappointed by the missed opportunity to talk about suicide and suicide ideation and tackle some of the taboos. However, I appreciated Debbie sharing this very personal event with the world.

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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Curious about The Law of Attraction? Here's what you need to know

What is the Law of Attraction?

Where does the term come from?

How can I make it work for me?

You will find untold articles on the internet about ‘The Law of Attraction’. It has become a big money maker in the Personal Development and Self-Help industry.

Here’s a little History: 

The concept is believed to have originated in the United States back in the early 1800s by a guy called Phineas Quimby, who led something called the ‘New Thought Movement’ of that time. And the term itself appeared in print for the first time in a book written by a Russian occultist called Helena Blavatsky – she used it in a context alluding to an attracting power existing between elements of spirit.

But the person who first articulated the Law as a general principle was Prentice Mulford, who was a central figure in the development of New Thought thinking. He discussed it in his essay ‘The Law of Success’ published 1886-1887. In the 20th century it became a much larger topic with many people talking about it, and growing the concept further, two significant books being: Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill & You Can Heal Your Life (1984) by Louise Hay.

Louise Hay certainly took it to new heights by starting a publishing company, Hay House Publishing, which publishes exclusively self-help, personal development, inspirational and transformational books, courses and products.

The ‘Law’ itself is simple. Here’s a few cliché descriptions: 

You get out what you put in
What you give is what you get
Like attracts like
You reap what you sow 

Yes, all of those are speaking about this concept.

And you can read endless books and even watch films (such as The Secret) which expand on the concept, and pull it apart and try and make it scientific. But the fundamental basis is that you create your own reality by what you think and how you perceive the world around you. 

‘Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about.’ - Stephen Richards 

If you feel unhappy about elements in your life (work home, relationships) and think about all the things that make you unhappy all the time, you are going to find even more things that make you unhappy. And the reverse is true: If there are lots of things that make you happy in your life and you spend a lot of time thinking about the things that make you happy, you will find more things to make you happy. Either way you will be inspired to search for more of the same whether consciously or not. 

“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” - Tony Robbins 

Take for example my stepfather, who believed that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, because he had a car accident on that day and date. So every Friday the 13th he believed that something bad was going to happen, so all day he looked for that bad thing. He was physically tense and uncomfortable all day, and any tiny thing, like dropping something or making a mistake, became larger than normal and he became super focused on it. He was looking for bad things to happen, so they did. He was distracted enough by this that he had another car accident on that date – despite it being minor. This fed his belief that it was an ‘unlucky’ day. 

‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.’- Henry Fonda 

There is a saying ‘you create your own luck’ and what this means is, if you are confident and sure you can achieve something, and have commitment and determination to achieve it, then you will. You will see any problems or obstacles as challenges and lessons. Continued persistence will result in success. Whereas, if you are uncertain and not sure it’s what you want, and at the first difficult step stop and give up, it won’t be successful. It doesn’t mean you are unlucky, it means that you chose not to continue to pursue it. 

‘The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.’ - Stephen Richards 

In terms of ‘the Law of Attraction’ the concept talks about ‘energy’ and ‘vibration’, putting it out to receive the same. I see that as our intention and commitment we set in our minds or speak out loud when we decide on something we want.

A lot of the books use the term ‘abundance’, which means success in money, work, love, or anything you desire. They use the term ‘lack of scarcity’ to express when we spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have or have not yet achieved. The idea being that if we spend too much of our ‘energy’ thinking about what we don’t have, we will only see those things and thus ‘bring’ into our lives – meaning that if we constantly think ‘I don’t have all this’ we create a negative feeling about it (despair, hopelessness, depression) and that will not help us, and may lead us to give up trying to gain them – a sort of negative spiral of thought.

Whereas focusing and seeing what we do have – the whole ‘being grateful’ and ‘living in gratitude’ that it spoken about in these same books – will bring positive feelings and thoughts about what we have in our lives, whether big or small. And the more we look at what we have, the more we feel we have. 

‘Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more?’ - Roy T. Bennett 

Then there is the Law of Attraction concept that applies to the experience of the negative person.

Most people don’t like being around someone who only has negative things to say, and complains about their lives: relationships, work, home. Trust me, I have been that person. They can’t be helped, anything anyone says is turned into a negative point. It puts people off. Their ‘negative energy’ contributes to the problem: people don’t want to be around them. So if they feel bad about themselves or lonely and isolated, they will only feel more of the same, as people find them toxic or unpleasant company and move away from them.

Whereas someone who is always happy, and always has something good to say, is welcomed by the people around them. They don’t have to be super bubbly or excessive about it, but if they are calm and positive about what they talk about – even with things that might not be great in their lives, people won’t turn away from them. Their mood or energy is attractive. People will return and want them in their company. 

‘When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the centre of every constellation, and people want to be near you.’ - Shannon L. Alder 

All of this applies to ‘The Law of Attraction’.

No matter how esoteric this concept may seem, or how elusive, this is the fundamental basis of the concept. And it comes down to changing your thoughts to enhance the life you create for yourself. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Mirroring & Modelling: how to change it to create a better life

Sun and clouds refelcting in a strip of water surrounded by trees. With wording: Mirror what you want to see, Model who you want to becomeDid you grow up happy? 

Did you have happy parents and a sense of love at home and connection and community around you?

Do you find it easy to create the same in your own life?

We model behaviour based off what we learn as children. We mirror what we see as we grow up and subconsciously copy it. Depending on what we experience, depends on how it will affect our lives.

“Children are great imitators, so give them someone great to imitate”. – Joy D Jones

I grew up with a sense of fear and dread. I didn’t feel connected to anyone, that I was safe, or that I belonged. My mother was negative about everything in her life: herself, her children, everything around her. She had been raised with the same negative toxicity and she created more by repeating that example.

I struggled once out on my own to stop myself doing the same, but it has taken many years. It had become so engrained and was all I had known all my life. I remember one defining moment, when a friend said to me ‘the only person you think is neurotic is yourself’.

From that point on I began to hear the negative self talk inside my head, which I reflected out into and onto my world, and began a long journey to break that pattern of thinking and create a new one, so I could create a better life for myself.

“Never use others as a mirror to judge yourself by, their view may be distorted”. - Unknown

The people we attract into our lives mirror ourselves, which in turn mirrors the people we are raised by, because we subconsciously copy the behaviour, reactions and actions of our parents. We repeat what was modelled for us and seek out people, subconsciously, that respond to us in the same way our parents did.

I started to find that my long-term relationships felt empty; I felt disconnected and unfulfilled. I didn’t feel that they were interested in me, or even liked me. I became angry, feeling hurt and disrespected. I didn’t think my partner cared. I didn’t feel listened to, emotionally supported, and I believed my partners were emotionally unavailable to me. This is how I felt as a child, in response to how my mother treated me.

Then I understood two things:
  1. I was empty, disconnected and emotionally unavailable myself – both to my own feelings and to those of my partner;
  2. My partners were mirroring my behaviour and responding to me the same way my mother did.

Not only did I mirror my mother’s behaviour in my own negative talk (both internally and externally), I was disconnected and had become emotionally unavailable to my partners and unresponsive. This was exactly how she had treated me when I was a child. And I demanded support from my partners, while at the same time rejecting it – just as she had done.

“Life, like a mirror, never gives back more than we put into it.” – Unknown.

And when I looked back on my relationships and my marriage, I realised that all the men I had sought and attracted had been emotionally unavailable. They treated me as I treated myself: they didn’t listen to me, weren’t interested in anything I had to say, and often ignored me, and especially my feelings - just like my parent had done.

Fundamentally I was trying to get my partners to fulfil something that was missing within me. I realised I was still seeking attention and approval I didn’t receive as a child. I wanted to be heard, and noticed and cherished. And I learned that to resolve this I needed to start giving it to myself.

When I started giving myself time and attention – listening to myself, my thoughts, my feelings, focusing positive energy on myself – I started to find what I needed. Self-approval worked to satisfy my needs.

And then once I stopped demanding all that time and attention from those externally, it gave them room to be who they were, and step forward and connect with me in an honest and authentic way, rather than being forced.

This really hit home for me when I became a parent, when I heard myself use the words my mother used, the behaviours she displayed and the actions she took. So many were unconscious, the most profound being that I had always felt like a burden and like a problem my mother wanted to be rid of. I became aware that I was beginning to treat my children the same: The more difficult I found them, the more of a burden they became.

But once I changed my perspective and dialogue with them, seeing them as people to be loved and cherished and that I wanted to connect with, they changed along with me, and everyone began to feel more secure and stable. And I managed to displace the sense of fear and dread I had started to mirror and model from my own childhood. I wanted to feel connected to them with a sense of warmth and love; to have a bond and a sense of belonging, and I managed to begin to create that and it felt a whole lot better.

“By being a living role model of what you want to receive from others, you create more of what you want in your life.” – Eric Allenbaugh

So when you find yourself modelling or mirroring behaviour that isn’t working for you, think about how you can change it.

The first step is becoming conscious of it.

The next is how you can change it: internally by changing your thoughts and perspective to what you DO want to feel and see, and externally in the ways you act and react. 

Attracting those that are the same – people that mirror us – means those people are often missing something too. This can cause difficulties, especially when we change. We either grow together or we grow apart. But either way you have to be honest with yourself if you really want to live an emotionally fulfilled life.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Book Review: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potentialMindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Carol S. Dweck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was not what I expected as the word Mindset can be used in a much broader sense and cover a lot more. This book covers specifically Fixed versus Growth Mindset.

The concept to me is not new, as really to overcome life's challenges and obstacles a growth mindset is the only way to gain ground. Being open and understanding that you can grow and that it requires effort on your part is one aspect, as well as understanding that your ability is not limited and you can develop it in any area you set your mind to. Sadly many people take issue with this concept as they relate it immediately to their lives and the material/financial aspects. To me this book relates only to how you chose to view any task your undertake, from minor to major or the broader spectrum of how you approach your life. I believe changing how you think and perceive things can alter your outcome considerably. I do believe we are limitless in our capacity and it is the very essence of 'belief' that plays a part in it - meaning that you what you believe you are capable of, is what you will achieve.

This book goes in depth in many areas to explain the concept of fixed versus growth mindset. I see this book as a tool for parents, teachers and anyone managing or training people. It provides example after example to enable the reader to absorb what the author is trying to say. It can be repetitive in parts, but the author herself seems new to the concept and learning as she writes about it. Even though she has done research into it for a decade or more, she seems surprised and excited by finding that in situation after situation the growth over fixed mindset can be applied and seen in the outcome.

Personally the very basis of success or failure in life in any area is down to your mindset, but I don't confine it to just fixed or growth. Fixed, the word, means inflexible and ridge; without flexibility and being able to adapt to the ups and downs of life can result in a greater struggle.

For me this book is a reference book, easy to pick up and find an example to remind you of what you can do to help yourself, or your child or a person you feel is struggling.

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