Quote of the Day

There are two stories for every life; the one you live, and the one others tell ~ Mitch Albom, The first phone call from Heaven

Quote of the Day

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. 

You can read more quotes like this in The Little Book of Sparkle 2016: 100 quotes to motivate and inspire, when you subscribe (for free) to the Members Area of this website. 

The Tortoise and the Hare: why winners aren’t always who you think 

The story goes that the tortoise and the hare were in a race. The hare, a very confident and somewhat noisy fellow (so we’re told), decided he could sit back and wait until the last possible minute to cross the finish line. He felt, because the tortoise was so slow, there was no chance his competition would win. Unfortunately for the hare, he dozed off under a tree whilst waiting, and so he lost the race.

This childhood fable reminds us that it’s not always those you’d expect to win – the extroverts – who succeed, and it challenges us to consider whether it’s always the confident, loudest, fastest people who get ahead. Not only did the tortoise win, but his message to keep going even in the face of adversity, offered motivation for us all. In her book Quiet, Susan Cain explains that introverts can succeed just as well, quoting Albert Einstein and JK Rowling as two examples. (There’s more about this in my next newsletter).So what does winning mean to you – what would it look like? I’d love to hear what you think.

In the meantime, here’s some food for thought:

* We may associate winning with being loud and confident but, as I’ve described above, you don’t have to be noisy to get your own way. If you’re finding assertive conversations difficult either at work or at home, you could try preparing a list of things you want to say or the points you want to make, by writing them down and practicing them, perhaps with a friend before hand.  

* Knowing what you want in life to help you succeed can be hard, especially if things have been difficult for so long. Spend an hour imagining what life would look like if you were ‘successful’, to help you get in touch with what success means for you. Start writing a ‘to do’ list – make sure you add some timescales to help you make it happen. Ask for help, if you’re still not sure.

* Something like 50% of the population are introverts – if you’re someone who needs some time out, schedule this in your diary each week, whether it’s to read a book or just sit under a tree – it’s okay to be quiet! Every winner has scars, so whether you’d describe yourself as an extrovert or an introvert, everyone has fought quite a battle to get where they are. Time out is important though, so if you’re feeling the strain, make sure you schedule time to relax as often as possible.

Subscribe for your own slice of positive mojo straight to your inbox  and receive exclusive access to videos, mp3s and other cool resources in the members area. 

Susan Cain talks about the Power of Introverts at a TED conference. 

Blog Featured Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Quote of the Day

You’re off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way! ~ Dr Seuss

You can read more quotes like this in The Little Book of Sparkle 2016: 100 quotes to motivate and inspire, when you subscribe (for free) to the Members Area of this website. 

The Little Book of Sparkle 2016

The Little Book of Sparkle 2016 is now available in the Members Area of the website, a downloadable selection of 100 quotes to help motivate and inspire. If you’re not yet signed up to the Members Area just subscribe here.  It’s free to join (and all the stuff in the members area is free too!)  You’ll also receive regular, personalised, positive mojo direct to your inbox. 

Quote of the Day

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Quote of the Day

Goodbye is such a needless word when you love somebody ~ Mitch Albom, The first phone call from Heaven

Stress – the (not so) silent enemy

Samantha went out to work one day, even though she didn’t feel so good.  She’d already been to the doctors the week before (he’d said there was nothing wrong with her), but every day she felt more tired, sick, headachey and just…not really herself.  Her friend told her she’d snapped a couple of times, although Samantha didn’t remember it, and she’d become more withdrawn preferring just to crawl in to bed after a long day at work.

When Samantha arrived at work that day, she noticed she was a few minutes late.  As she got to her desk, she looked up and saw that her boss was looking at her, with what she described as an ‘angry look.’  Her ‘phone rang, her boss asked her to meet in the HR office in 15 minutes.  Samantha’s heart began to race, her palms became sweaty and her mouth seemed suddenly very dry.  “What is my boss going to say to me?”, she thought, “am I in trouble for being a little bit late?”

Samantha arrived in the HR office on time and was prepared to get in to a fight: how dare her boss criticise her for being a few minutes later than usual, she’s normally always on time and has been working all those extra hours lately!  That recent project seemed to be going really well – surely that counted for something! By now her heart was pounding, and Samantha felt her fists clench as she walked through the door.  “Hi Samantha”, said her boss, “thanks for coming in.  That project you’ve been working on has really taken off, so we’d like to offer you a pay rise and a promotion.  How do you feel about that?”  Samantha fainted.

This story is one I use on my workshops when I talk about how we respond to threats today – or at least, what we perceive as threats – as part of a natural response called ‘fight or flight’.  

In this hypothetical case, Samantha is like many people suffering with stress, and her body is telling her it’s time to do something about it.  The symptoms she had and the way she responded when under pressure – or what she saw as pressure – were a call for help, even though her stress was ‘silent’, in that she didn’t realise how badly she’d been affected.  We know that stress can have a huge impact, not just on our mental health but physical health too. It can take its toll and soon seem like the enemy.

Everyone’s different, and so we experience stress in different ways; what some people find stressful, others don’t.  Samantha had reached her limit. It turns out, so had her boss. The reason she’d given Samantha an ‘angry look’ was because she’d had an argument before she left the house that morning, and it was playing on her mind. Her anger had nothing to do with Samantha at all.

What can you do about stress?

Raising your awareness to what’s causing you stress can be helpful, but if you already know what’s causing it, you may need to start making a plan as to what you can do about it.

  • Visiting your doctor is a first step, so they can rule out possible causes of any physical symptoms you have, and then if they diagnose stress they may ask you if you’d like some time off to find ways to manage it.
  • Sharing the load can be useful.  You could try talking to your manager if you’re feeling over-loaded or reaching out to friends or family members for help, so you can have time to relax.  If you’re nervous speaking to your family about your mental health, Heads Together have some great tips for talking. Talking to someone impartial can also be useful. 
  • Finding ways to relax that help you are important – not everyone relaxes in the same way.  Whether it’s a bike ride or reading a book, find something that works for you and schedule time in your diary to make sure it happens. Mindfulness is a useful technique for reducing stress. 

How I can help

I offer stress counselling through 1-1 sessions as well as group training on stress and anxiety management. Send your enquiry using the button below or get in touch.

Calls and emails are answered during office hours.

©️ Delphi Ellis 2016-19

Mindful Living

Two travelling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across.  One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side.  She thanked him and went on her way. 

As the monks continued their journey, the one who had hesitated was now brooding and seemed preoccupied.  Unable to remain silent any longer, he spoke out: “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!” 

“Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side straight away, why are you still carrying her?”

Letting go isn’t easy.  Life can challenge us in many ways and the ripple effects of hurt and problems can stay with us for months or years to come.  Our time spent worrying about the future, or thinking about the past, can take us away from the here and now, and in doing so we miss the beauty of what’s happening all around us.  This is where mindfulness can help us focus our mind and our awareness in a way that can be good for us.

What is Mindfulness?

“Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is.  Mindfulness has to do with…questioning our view of the world and our place in it.  Most of all it has to do with being in touch.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn

Have you ever driven your car to work and not remembered the journey? This “automatic pilot” is what many of us have become used to, and it can stop us from living a fulfilling and rewarding life. We exist, rather than thrive. We get stuck in a rut.

Mindfulness is also about becoming ‘unstuck’. The teachings (which are over 2000 years old and which include those taught to me by a Buddhist monk) focus on bringing your awareness to your situation in a way that can be healthy and effective for you.

It’s about putting you back in touch with who you are, what you want, and helping you to steer in a direction where you’re in control.

Free factsheet on Mindfulness 

What are the benefits?

Thank you for listening to me, your calmness, your empathy and the techniques you taught me to help with my anxiety. They have been invaluable and I will continue to use them.  Thank you for helping me find my sparkle. ~ Debbie

The benefits of mindfulness are known to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and is also believed to help manage pain and stress (suitable in pregnancy).

I also offer Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a technique to help reduce stress, manage anxiety and live mindfully.

Group learning on this topic is also available for private and corporate clients.  You can use the form below to enquire about a 1-1 or group learning event.

Dear Delphi. Thank you for a fascinating session.  Will certainly try these techniques to help me drift off to a good night’s sleep.

How to book with Delphi

Please use the form below to get in touch. Clients who subscribe receive a discounted rate of £35 per session. (Before discount: £45 an hour).

There is also a guide about meditation in the Members area which is exclusive to subscribers who join my mailing list – it’s free to subscribe.

*NEW* Factsheet – What is Mindfulness?

There is also a guide on meditation in the members area, exclusive to subscribers of my mailing list.  It’s free to subscribe.

Aftermath – the dark side of confronting toxic parents

Jack was 39 years old when he decided enough was enough. He’d been bullied all his life. He was “too short” and “too fat” at school. He was in a loveless relationship for 15 years to a woman who cheated repeatedly. (They tried marriage guidance but apparently it was “all his fault”). At work, his boss would criticise and micro-manage. And, perhaps worst of all, his life choices were only ever good enough if he won his parents’ approval or sought their permission. He was under constant pressure, drinking heavily and gaining weight. Fast. 

One day he woke up and wanted a different life. So he asked his wife to leave, changed his job and prepared himself for the biggest conversation of all – to tell his toxic parents that he would no longer tolerate the emotional neglect and psychological abuse he had suffered from them for years.  His mother in particular, he described as a terrifying narcissist; a passive-aggressive, surly bigot.  She made no secret of telling him what she thought of the women in his life and would gossip for hours about people she would say she liked to their face but secretly hated behind their back.  She had something to say about everyone, had an opinion about everything and woe betide anyone who didn’t agree with her. Her idea of unconditional love was doing things her way or no way and she could shed crocodile tears at the drop of a hat. 

Like many clients I am aware of, including those affected by domestic abuse,  what made  Jack’s story so painful for him is not just that he had been suffering in silence for so long, or that his parents seemed blissfully unaware of his emotional pain. It was what came next when he found the courage to confront them: his mum and dad sided with each other and they set out on a path of trying to discredit and destroy him. They would deny actual events that had happened (known as gaslighting), make accusations of their own (with no substance) or ignore him and his concerns if he tried to reach out. It reminded me very much of typical perpetrator behaviour in a domestic abuse situation

One would have expected if not hoped that, when confronted, the parent least responsible would have taken their son remorsefully into their heart, promised to protect him and keep him safe from the bully or abuser who had neglected his feelings for years, and reassure him that this would not be allowed to continue. Surely, even at 39 years old, a child is still a child to their parent. But in Jack’s case, like many others, he was left out in the cold. 

One would have expected if not hoped that, when confronted, the parent least responsible would have taken their son remorsefully into their heart, promised to protect him and keep him safe from the bully or abuser who had neglected his feelings for years, and reassure him that this would not be allowed to continue. Surely, even at 39 years old, a child is still a child to their parent. But in Jack’s case, like many others, he was left out in the cold. 

Thankfully for Jack he managed to build a new life for himself, with the help of friends and someone to talk to, he was able to make peace with his past and walk away with dignity from those who’d hurt him time and again.  He lost weight, his confidence grew and he is now looking for ways to help others from the experiences he’s had.  He began to believe in himself, and started to realise, with help, that he had a right to say how he feels. But it’s not always easy when you don’t have someone to talk with or when you start to doubt your own value – or mind – when people you once looked up to let you down. 

There have been a lot of articles recently about narcissists and toxic family members but rarely is it acknowledged that for those who dare to challenge the people responsible for causing their hurt, that they may have to deal with this type of aftermath: of rejection from people meant to love them unconditionally.  One thing Jack would tell you now though, if you asked him was it worth it, challenging his parents’ behaviour knowing they’d reject him?  He would say absolutely, he’s happier now than he’s ever been. 

As I often do, I have quoted Desiderata, for those who question their value in the world: you have a right to be here. 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.  Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.  And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

If you or someone you know is being affected by the behaviour of others, you could encourage them to keep talking and reassure them they deserve to be heard and be happy. Encourage them to speak to their GP, the Samaritans or, in cases of domestic abuse, organisations like Refuge may be able to help. 

Please feel free to share your stories of toxic parents here. 

Footnote: the details of this story have been changed to protect the individual mentioned, the content and context is produced with permission. 

For more insights sign up to Sparkle, positive mojo direct to your inbox. 

%d bloggers like this: