We Are Only Responsible For Ourselves

responsibility

Ok, I love this picture and everything it stands for.

Too often are we tricked into thinking we are responsible for the actions or happiness of others, when in reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure we have a responsibility to be aware of how our own actions will effect other people, but this is different from being responsible for their happiness entirely.

Family, friends and partners are the three most common sites of misplaced responsibility. Caring about the people you love and wanting to help them achieve what they are setting out to is great. I would encourage it, but you can’t make it personal if they don’t do well or are unhappy. That has nothing to do with you, if you make it your responsibility it will exhaust you. Not only is it impossible to control how other people feel but you will only end up hurting yourself in the process, especially when you realise that you can’t help everyone, you will feel as though you have failed.

We often modify our behaviour in relationships to try and please our partners, thinly veiled by thinking we are making a compromise. Compromising is essential in a relationship, don’t get me wrong, but you have to keep an eye on how much you are giving up in comparison to your partner, If the balance is unequal, you may be doing too much just to please them. This is unhealthy, you can’t change yourself to make someone else happy. Even if you do, a hard lesson to learn is that it will never be enough, if they want to change one thing about you it will snowball until you don’t really recognise yourself. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness because you are trying to please someone else.

What we need to focus on is ourselves. As the picture states, our actions, words, efforts, behaviour, mistakes, ideas and consequences of the above are the things that matter. If we all focused on these aspects I would wager not only would we be happier but collectively we would be doing better. Stripping away your preoccupation with other people’s feelings and actions, and putting all your effort into your own makes it easier to do better. A weight will be lifted off your shoulders and sort of free’s up space and time to do things you have been putting off. Take the time to focus on your body, focus on your mind, focus on how to help causes you care about. suddenly this all seems easy, you aren’t worrying about all the other things that don’t apply to you anymore.

This is not to promote being mean or selfish in any way, but just to stop wasting your time imagining you are responsible for other people. They are their own people just as you are yours. If they followed this advice then I bet they would be happier too!

 

Be Kind To Yourself

self love

When I do my daily binge of social media, I am accustomed to seeing many posts which present a thinly veiled statement of what the sharer thinks about them-self. It is sad but amongst the vanity and the delusion, the prevalent emotion is insecurity. This can manifest itself in many ways; Someone you know has put on weight only posting photos from a year ago,  a feed full to the brim of body selfies coupled with long ‘deep’ captions to try and imply they are more than the pair of boobs they just posted etc…

These are very common occurrences, and believe me when I say I’m not judging anyone for it, I partake in plenty of selfies too. But there are some people who bypass these clues and just come out and say it. They post pictures or upload stories outlining what they hate about themselves, once or twice I wouldn’t really bat an eyelid, but I’m talking every day. It really makes me sad.

I am a huge believer in how we are influenced by our surroundings and the people we spend time with. For this reason I advise people to carefully consider who and what they expose themselves to. If you are in an environment that promotes happiness, healthiness and ambition you are going to be onto a winner in most cases. However, sometimes that is not enough. Some people are their own worst critic and are unbelievably harsh on themselves. I would argue that this is unhealthy. As this picture states, be careful what you say to yourself, because if it is all negative, you are going to start believing it. Think of yourself as a sponge, we absorb what is around us and hold onto it until someone wrings it out of us. Awful metaphor aside, this is the season of wringing.

In 2019 I think we should all focus on self love and self improvement. I have seen some bloggers saying that the self love movement for this year could lead us into a selfish society, but I disagree. To say that we need to focus on our own interests and happiness does not automatically inhibit us from helping other people do the same, in fact I would encourage it.

The main thing is to be kind. To yourself, to other people, to animals it doesn’t matter, just be kind. Life is too short to be mean, especially to yourself.

Build your 2019

flowers

I came across this picture during one of my daily social media trawling sessions and it really made me smile. Not only is the illustration sweet but the message is surprisingly relevant and poignant.

Contrary to popular belief, the world does not owe us anything. We are not owed success, we are not owed happiness and we are definitely not owed an easy life. For the most part, how we progress in life is wholly dependant on us. And that is how it should be, it is our life after all. We basically live within a world of cause and effect; we get back what we put in.

There are so many things happening in the world which are bigger than the individuals. 2018 brought us the political situation in the U.S, the nightmare of the Brexit negotiations in the U.K and the natural disasters happening elsewhere in the world, so we should strive to take control of what we are able to and put our lives in the best positions we can.

Put your happiness first, it is so important and often treated as an after thought or a bonus when it is a necessity.

Work hard, your work is a reflection of you and thus should be approached with everything you have.

Strive to improve yourself in any way no matter how small, that’s the crux of what life is about to me; self improvement. Everyday you should go to bed a tiiiiiiny bit better off than when you woke up.

Be active, if you have been blessed with a body unaffected by ailments then pleaseeeee take advantage of it, use it, appreciate it.

All of these things are good for your health, your productivity or your state of mind and those are what we should be prioritising for ourselves in 2019.

This post feels kind of bleak and serious for a Friday but it is something I felt compelled to write this morning. I’m kind of impulsive. But even if only one person reads this and takes something away from it then that will be enough. Let’s get passionate about our lives again, take back control and don’t let our potential prosperity be over shadowed by things we have been made to feel are more important than ourselves. They’re not!

Let’s create the world we want to live in, it’s possible!

Let me know your thoughts on the picture/subject matter, I would love to discuss further.

J x

Your Resolution Remedy

Here we go, the glittering mirage of 2019 had arrived and so the rumbles of the oncoming avalanche of resolutions can be heard, if they haven’t already snowed your Facebook under. Strap in for the onslaught of ‘New Year, New Me’ and claims of 2019 being everyone you knows’ year.

Despite the above cynicism, I actually like the idea of resolutions, I think that they are good for us. What I don’t like however, is how people so easily forget about them when the weather gets better. By the time we get to September our social media feeds are once again filled with classic self-loathing memes announcing that there are 3 months left to 20whatever and you haven’t done anything.

The last time that I saw a meme like this I took notice that 47k had shared it, and that is just the one I had seen, there are countless which are essentially the same thing. Forty seven thousand people felt as though they could relate to not achieving things they wanted in the space of a year, it’s mad and sad at the same time I thought, before sharing it myself.

So, as I’ve seen January resolution posts steadily increase over the last few days, I started thinking about where people may be going wrong in their resolution making and keeping, and decided it needed to change. Thus, I am once again proving my talent at giving advice no one asked for but I think is pertinent none the less.

  1. Focus on your feelings

If you find it difficult to pick precise resolutions to work towards i.e. you aren’t sure what you want to achieve in terms of actions, then focus on how you want to feel by the end of 2019.

Ideally, this feeling would be something you don’t currently have. Our happiness is something we should all strive to keep going, but I’m talking about more specific emotions. For instance, do you want to feel more confident in your professional position? Do you want to feel as though you are challenging yourself more? Do you want to feel fulfilled creatively? Do you want to feel healthier? Ask yourself questions like these and then work backwards to see what you can do about it.

The physical actions we undertake to reach our resolutions can often be for the benefit of other people, or just so we can be seen doing something. If you prioritise your feelings when making your resolutions, you can be certain that the pay off will be all you.

  1. Tether your resolutions together

If you guys have read any of my other posts then you will be aware of my complete lack of faith in myself. Specifically in relation to sticking to things of course. Thus, I have devised an ingenious (in my opinion) strategy to force myself to fulfil my resolutions/dreams: LINK THEM TOGETHER!

Dramatic caps aside, I honestly believe in this approach. How many times have we been dead set on achieving something in January and sometimes even February, but by the time March rolls around we have become completely preoccupied with life? ‘Countless times, J’, is what you need not cry, because I know and this is okay, we are fixing it!

To fully ensure that you have your dreams in a chokehold, you need to stagger them. By this I mean that they sort of need to work like a flow chart in that the completion of one leads on to the next. For example; I have vowed that I will go away and experience Spain this year. However, this cannot be done until I have improved my Spanish, another resolution of mine. Therefore, I cannot go to Spain until I have gone to more Spanish classes effectively forcing me to be productive. It’s kind of like a resolution reward system, in any case, I did it last year, and it worked so I’m sticking with it!

Another way to achieve this step is to split your resolutions up into manageable bite size stages;

Think about running a marathon in 12 months. Terrifying, thanks for the offer but no thanks.

Now think about being able run a half marathon by July. Hrm, still scary but there’s an outside chance of success.

What about being able to run 7 miles in March? Stop wasting my time talking, I’ve got a chic and breathable outfit to buy!

  1. It’s all about quantity

I am a firm believer in hedging my bets so, in my opinion, setting one resolution per year is risky. You will notice I didn’t denounce quality in the heading of this point so please don’t think I’m condoning making any old resolution to get the numbers up. Promising to match your socks every day or something equally weird will not be blamed on me!

No, they should all be meaningful/improve your life in some way but don’t hinge all your self-worth on one behemoth when an army of dwarves can arguably have a bigger impact. (There’s a mental image!)

A larger number of resolutions leaves you some space to be creative. Just because I don’t want us being frivolous doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have fun with them. Think of things you have always wanted to do or, in contrast, things you have never considered trying and, for lack of a less Nike-y phrase, just do them!

No matter what you decide to do, just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Resolutions are supposed to be ways to get motivated and inspired whilst we are all drunk on the promise of a better year than 2018. They aren’t supposed to make you hate yourself if they get too hard or it isn’t the right time. If something isn’t working and becoming detrimental then leave it. If you follow my advice then you probably have too many as it is!

Lastly, if absolutely everything goes wrong and you can’t stick to anything, relax, there is always next year…

Thanks for reading

J.

Living a Life of Leisure (Centres)

In my previous posts, I have touched on two topics which affect my life: vanity and motivation, so it only feels right for the third post to combine them. In 2013, I left my life as I knew it and moved to Sheffield for University. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, I was leaving my body, as I knew it, at home with my parents too.

First year of living in halls is like living in a bubble. A bubble that apparently nutrition and wise decision making cannot penetrate. I estimate it took 3 months for my diet to descend into complete anarchy and by the second term I was trapped in a cycle of over indulging and under exercising. Predictably, I put on a noticeable amount of weight. However, it crept up on me so I didn’t notice for an alarmingly long time considering I was so self-absorbed.  Anyway, by the time I graduated and moved back home, the takeaways had taken their toll and I had to face the consequences of my eating in the mirror every day.

I ignored it for a long time but the last straw was about two years ago when I was in the bath and tried to avoid looking at my reflection in the tap. A definite low point for someone who stops to observe themselves in a car window. This acted as my turning point; I was unhappy with my physique, size 8 was but a murky memory to me and size ten was a couple of pizzas away from a similar fate.

Long story short, I joined the gym.

Over the course of the last two years I have been going to the gym at least 3-4 times a week consistently. Although my body is finally back to being the way I like it during the process of getting here I have encountered many of the common issues fitness faces us with. When you make the decision to change your lifestyle and get into the gym, you can always expect there to be growing pains (and actual pain in this case come to think of it). Now, as 2018 draws to a close, I consider myself to have become somewhat of a gym whisperer, and a generous one at that, so in preparation for the January resolution buzz, I have decided to offer some advice. I hope my hard earned insights can be of help to you all in your quest to become sickeningly healthy.

  1. Ladies don’t be afraid of the men

First things first; men do not have any ownership over the weights section. ‘Yeah, obviously’ I hear you cry, but trust me, when you get in there and your find yourself next to a behemoth dropping weights that are bigger than your head everywhere, you will seriously consider running to the safety of the cardio section.

It’s a weird feeling, considering it is the only place that people with less muscle should be, yet it is the ones already weighed down by theirs that are comfortable being there.

NO MORE is my plea to you.

The only way to start feeling at home in the weights section is to put some empowering music on your phone, strut in there, pick up the 4kgs and go for it. After a couple of weeks I promise that you will feel at home there and scoff that you ever felt differently. Before you know it, you will be telling Tim in his vest to move over, you want to flex in the mirror too!

In all seriousness though, cardio is good for losing an initial bit of fat, but to build the body you want and see plastered all over the place, you need to create some muscle. By doing so you can take advantage of perception. Want a smaller waist? Build your shoulders and bam, you have the illusion in all its tapered glory. Building muscle not only speeds up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories, but it will make sure you stay in proportion, or help you change your proportions if that’s your goal. You can build whatever kind of body you desire, just get in that weight section!

  1. Don’t rely on motivating yourself. You. Will. Fail.

This one sounds weird, but the reality is, that little voice in your head whose job it is to shame you for being lazy and force you to get up and do stuff, can be a bit lazy too.

Don’t be surprised if after a month or so your resolve begins to dissolve and you’re back to eating peanut butter with a spoon (a random example in no way related to my life…)

I combated my ability to down play how much I needed to go to the gym by following people on social media who make me hate myself a little bit. This sounds like a toxic piece of advice I know but it honestly works for me. If I am in bed scrolling through social media, it isn’t going to be one of my friends who sparks this reaction from me. I need to be bombarded with physical examples of what I want and, because I am still in bed, don’t yet have.

This works for me because I am depressingly aware of what distracts me on a daily basis. Therefore this solution is tailored to help me snap into action, the possibly attainable carrot tantalisingly dangled from the pull up machine. This can be changed to fit different people’s habits of course. If you honestly assess your habits and locate what is becoming a hindrance to your activity then you can create your own solutions. My friend, for example, leaves notes to herself and pictures of her ‘dream body’ randomly in the pages of books she is reading, because she knows books can swallow at lot of her time.

Do what works for you but do something because it is really, really difficult to keep your motivation up without a little bit of help here and there.

  1. You’ve got to organise to capitalise

This is a common tip you can find on most fitness pages which only serves to prove how true it is. Creating structure around your workouts and your diet helps immensely in your journey to becoming the envy of everyone you know. Many fitness influencers publish their own workout guides that you can purchase but I don’t think it is really necessary. I spent a lot of time on YouTube and Instagram finding people whose bodies I wanted to emulate and watching the movements they did in their videos. In addition to this, rather than pay for a personal trainer, I watched other people’s personal training sessions in the gym while I was there and basically stole their plans. #sorrynotsorry

By combining these two cheap and fool proof methods, I made my own plan until I became familiar with what each exercise did for my body and how they could be grouped, tweaking as I went. Now I split my workouts by muscle groups which I why I can go to the gym 4-5 times a week without damaging my muscles. This helps to stop your workouts getting too repetitive which limits your interest and enthusiasm for the gym but also your progress. Muscles get accustomed to exercises after a while and they become less effective, unless you are increase the weight constantly.

Organising your diet is also important I think. Go shopping with meals in mind and try to plan your week as best you can. I don’t like to do meal prep because I never know what I am going to feel like eating, so if you’re fickle like me you definitely need to make sure you have a few healthy options in the fridge waiting.  I would also recommend getting the MyFitnessPal app as well so you can track what you’re eating. I was horrified at the information that I had been eating pasta for a family of 4 with ease for the majority of my life. That being said, be mindful of what you’re eating and how much but don’t starve yourself, you need to eat to speed up your metabolism if nothing else. Eat a balanced, fresh diet and exercise regularly and you will be laughing.

There are many other things I could go into on this topic but these are the main three that I wanted to share. I could always write a follow up post to this another time if that’s what the people wish, let me know.

My last word on the topic is at least give yourself 8 weeks of serious training and commitment, once you see results you won’t need any more help.

Enjoy your journey to health, it’s horrible but well worth it.

J

Being Mildly Motivated: An Abusive Relationship with Yourself

One thing that I have learnt never to underestimate is my ability to avoid doing stuff.

These tasks are unlimited in their variety; all that is certain is that if I feel as though I ‘should’ be doing it, a lot of the time I won’t be. Not doing/starting/completing things is not especially out of the ordinary; many people don’t do stuff they know they ought to. However, what I find especially strange about my personal avoidances is that, at some point, they were all things I really wanted to do.

The feeling of motivation is an odd phenomenon I think. We often underestimate how fleeting it can be and how it’s potency in driving you to do something can evaporate the longer it is left unattended. I was inspired by this subject whilst working on the beginning of a different blog post. There I was tapping away, ruminating over all the subjects I wanted to tackle, when something caught my eye. “God, your hands look awful.”

And that was literally all she wrote.

An hour later I had little recollection of some of the ideas I had been so excited to write about and even less of the excitement itself. But at least I had a full manicure, better do my toes to match…I’ve found that there are endless distractions that we can busy ourselves with providing we want to be distracted.

But, inevitably, guilt rears its ugly, self-righteous head (usually when you lay yours down) and relentlessly reminds you that you should have been finishing what you gave yourself till today to do, rather than wallowing in the depths of your own laziness. However, the self-destructive behaviour does not end here. Often this situation will repeat itself for a few more cycles until finally, you do whatever it is you were supposed to do. And suddenly it’s as though the clouds part. You are hit with the intoxicating realisation that the thing you had been avoiding doing this whole time was actually really easy to complete. Not only was the experience totally painless, but you are once again filled with an enthusiasm and the promise to become more dedicated. From tomorrow you will begin working on your next task and will definitely not get complacent again.

But predictably, you do.

The mystery of this plot thickens further when we think about how humans, rightly or wrongly, often measure their sense of worth against their success. But how are we supposed to be successful when we avoid the necessary steps to become so? Our perception of how valuable a person we are/will be is entirely dependent on us. Which is great, right?

No, it’s terrifying.

This mind set is admittedly really hard to break but, in order to achieve what we are capable of, break it we must. The desire to become accomplished isn’t going to fade, so unless we take action, we are resigning ourselves to a lifetime of always knowing that we could have done better, had we just put the effort in.

That’s the thing however, which I think is a comfort to some of us and may on some level contribute to this behaviour. We have the potential to accomplish almost anything, if we try hard enough, care enough or put enough hours in. That’s why you hear so many people saying ‘I could’; in theory most people can. But it’s weirdly preferable to fail because of our own laziness than to have really tried and fallen short. It’s scary to try.

Some people are genuinely okay with putting some effort in and getting what that gives them. If that is you then fair enough, do your thing. But before you count yourself in this group, really have a think about it. Most of us fall prey to the three R’s; Reminiscing, Romanticising and Regretting, I know I do. Even if you look back to something as small as a subject in high school that you could have gotten better results for, this applies to you.

The behaviour of being motivated, but only mildly, is not easy to combat. But I genuinely believe that people like us will not be content with our lot in life unless we do. There is no magic way to shake yourself out of it however. Which is unfortunate. It seems fitting though that the only solution for your tendency to avoid things is to tackle it head on. Obvious as it sounds, everything would have been so much easier if we just did stuff. (Eat your heart out Nike)

One thing that has started to help me has been to focus on the fact that the only person who is being cheated in this equation is me. I will be the one to miss out, I will be the one left wishing it had been different and I will be the annoying person doing the Marlon Brando “I could have been somebody” speech at any and every opportunity.

I have realised that I cannot rely on something or someone else motivating me. It has to be me. Getting things in life easily is great, but nothing feels as good as reaping the rewards of hard work. Focus on the feeling of validation you get from that, and let it imbue you with self-worth and determination. And most importantly, hold onto it; don’t let it evaporate before you can act on it.

The only person who will lose out, is you.

Let me know if you guys struggle with motivation and how you combat it.

I am always taking tips.

J