All posts by Phoenicia

How deep is your desire to belong?






PEOPLE like to feel a sense of belonging as we tend to thrive in such environments. Belonging contributes to us feeling wanted, cared for, important and valued. If our sense of belonging is questioned then we can easily lose who we are, the part we play, the impact we make and our overall significance in life.

Have you had a time in your life where you felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? For whatever reason you were not accepted and embraced. You felt out of your depth – whether in a new job, project, friendship group or a change of family dynamics. If we are not careful we can waste too much energy looking at our inner man and trying to identify why we are not a good fit. We can analyse and tear apart our character, mannerism, personality to try to make sense of it all.

Dr Brene Brown is a top researcher on vulnerability and empathy. I recently watched her Ted Talk video on Youtube and highly recommend it! One of her quotes stood out to me;

“No-one belongs here more than you.”

Simple but powerful.

There are many who are acutely aware when they are not easily embraced, listened to, given recognition and as a result they are likely to merge into the background. I have seen it and lived it first hand, more so throughout my teenage years.  I never felt a sense of belonging at secondary (high) school. It was like I did not get the script, did not easily gel with my peers, did not flow with the ‘street talk’.  I felt out of place, awkward and came to a stage where I just stopped trying.  It was liberating to finally not care who did or did not welcome me into their group.  I was at peace with who I was; an introvert who thought far more than she spoke, had her own mind and did not compromise her values in order to be accepted.

I have learnt that self-acceptance is the key to us having a sense of belonging. Only when we first accept ourselves, ‘flaws and all’, are we confident to bring authenticity to any environment we find ourselves in.

Instead of walking into a room and wondering who will speak to us, why not walk into a room and wonder which person  we would like to approach.  Same situation, completely different mindset!

Do you live for compliments and recognition?







WE all enjoy being complimented, whether we are sporting a new hairstyle, outfit, or just delivered an outstanding presentation at our place of work.  While it is feels great to receive compliments we step into dangerous territory when we begin to seek and live off of them. It can become like a terrible drug habit bringing high high’s and low low’s. I believe we give others far too much say over our lives if what they say and do (or not) has an impact on the way we perceive ourselves. We must be wary of granting others unnecessary control over us. The control may be unseen but it is very present in our minds.

There will be times in your life where you will have a hair cut or wear a new outfit and everyone you speak to that evening will fail to compliment you. It may be they simply have not noticed or have and are choosing to stay quiet. You know you have made an effort and feel confident in yourself so why do you require others to validate you? Surely what you think is placed on a higher standing than what others think of you!

There will be times in your life where colleagues will not appreciate the skill set you bring to your team or you will be overlooked for promotion. How would this affect your self-worth? Would you begin to question your skills and expertise when you previously knew you were more capable for the job and more?

Whilst taking on board the opinions and constructive criticism from others may assist with personal development, we need not allow it to shape our very being.

We should arrive at a stage in our life where we know who we are, like who we are and accept not everyone is able to ‘prop us up’. Whether they cannot or will not is irrelevant – the fact is they are unable to provide what you believe you need.

We can choose to compliment and be proud of ourselves. We can choose to control ‘our story’ rather than placing it into the hands of others.

What do you expect from others?
How did you feel when people were unable to meet your needs?

Allow your passion to be your driving force!







WE are all passionate about at least one thing in life. There is a subject matter that riles you up something chronic, whether for the good or bad. You could talk about this matter for hours and still fail to touch the surface. You may wonder why others are not equally as moved and even try and spur them on to no avail.

I am sure you can think of one friend or family member that once a topic comes up there is no stopping them! In fact you dread this particular topic being brought up as you just know where it will end!

One of my passions (I have at least three) is eradicating poverty. Poverty is responsible for so many wrongs in this world. Poverty causes people to take actions they would never ever have envisaged. Poverty means people are unlikely to have access to opportunities which would go on to enhance their lives. Poverty means children go to bed hungry, live in cold/damp conditions, are unlikely to step inside a theatre, own an item of clothing which is brand new, go on holiday whether in-country or abroad – the list is endless.

It saddens me that people, particularly children are living below the poverty line in a world where despite what we are being fed, there is more than enough to go around. For poverty to exist there must be inequality, extreme inequality.

One day I would like to:

1. Arrange a coach trip to take a group of disadvantaged parents and children to Hamleys in Oxford Street. Each child will choose one gift and we would all go onto a top restaurant.

2. Arrange a summer park event for the community comprising of dancers and singers, competitions, speakers and a limitless supply of hot and cold food.

Whether this money will come from my own finances or via a project fund, at this stage I do not know.  What I do not know is if you want to do something badly enough, you will find a way.

What is your passion?
What plans do you have to make a difference?
When we look back in history, change often began with just one person.

How much do your childhood experiences affect your behaviour today?






Statistics show that by the age of six we have already developed thousands of beliefs that dictate how we interact with others. These go on to form our core beliefs and are the strongest factor that influence our personality.

This therefore means our childhood experiences both good and bad, have a major influence on who we later become, how we perceive ourselves and how we relate to others.

It is possible to change our core beliefs but not without digging deep to discover how they came about. We cannot bring change without first going to back to our past. Many counsellors will advise that bringing up the past will cause emotional pain but it is necessary in order to move forward. From personal experience, counselling can make you feel worse before you begin to feel better.

Two examples of  how my past affected my future:

A female abandoned by her father is likely to grow up with an inability to trust men. As a result she may end up self sabotaging relationships assuming the men will walk away at some point anyway.  Within the first few years of marriage I struggled to accept my husband’s love and kindness.  Whenever we argued I assumed he would grow tired of me and leave.  He could not understand my way of thinking at all.  I was totally independent, particularly in the area of finances and disliked feeling I had to rely on my husband for anything. I learnt from a young age to be self-sufficient and strived to avoid being in a position where I needed anyone.

The eldest child is likely to take the lead and feel an element of responsibility even when it is not expected.  As the firstborn, I have always felt responsible and that it was my job to bring solution to  situations even when I had no power to. I  was sensible as a teenager, I rarely rebelled or had to be rescued.  I cannot recall spending too much on an item of clothing ‘just because’ or staying out and catching the last bus home because I was having too much fun. Looking back I really wished I had loosened up, instead I took myself far too seriously.

It has been somewhat therapeutic understanding the reasons for some of my behaviours. The more we learn about ourselves, the more power we have to make the necessary changes. Digging deep into our past is uncomfortable and it means we can no longer make excuses for ongoing wrong behaviour. Instead we should decide to take steps towards healing and changing our mindset to a healthier one.

Can you see an obvious pattern between your childhood experiences and your current behaviour?
Have you accepted these or are you working towards change?

Parents are only human……








Recently my son looked at me and said: “mummy you do not cry because you are an adult”.

Children tend to view their parents as only their parents, not as individuals with feelings, wants, needs and desires. I too looked at my mother in the same way as a child.  I honestly believed my mother was indestructible, that she was able to overcome all things. Though she gave birth to me at the age of 20 I looked to her to have my needs met. It did not occur to me that she was overwhelmed at having to be head of the home and make key decisions alone. I thought my mother had the answer to everything. How wrong I was!

My mother was a young mother of two children trying to balance home life, work life, her emotions and needs. Behind my mother’s smile and laughter, her pain, fatigue and loneliness were hidden from us. Perhaps she wept at night because I really do not recall seeing her tears as a young child. Though we had financial struggles we were happy at home.  We ate well, had clothes on our back and had treats here and there.

As I moved into my teenage years, my eyes opened and I saw that my mother was indeed human. She hurt, felt tired, had weaknesses and did not value her worth half as much as she should have.








The one of many great attributes my mother has is you know where you stand with her. She is direct which clearly rubbed off on me. Her yes means yes and her no means no. She was not the mother who smacked me then cuddled me a few minutes afterwards. She was not the mother who said no then changed her mind. She was consistent and put boundaries in place which in turn made me feel safe.

When I became an adult my mother revealed a number of things to me;

1. When she smacked us she so wanted to cuddle us afterwards but knew it would bring confusion and blur lines.

2. The hardest part of child rearing was making decisions alone; having no-one to share the challenges with. Knowing she had to live with the decisions she made which may not always have been the best.

3  When I had to walk my younger sister a mile to school from the age of 8, it deeply troubled her but she chose not to show me her anxiety and instead cried in private.

It was then that I saw my mother in a different light and realised she was not handed a book on how to raise children – nobody is.

Accepting our parents are human who make errors just as much as the next person, let us not have such high expectations of them. Let us choose not to hold them account to decisions they made in the past based on the knowledge they had at that time. The majority of the time our parents have our best interests at heart. Perhaps they do not show their love in a conventional way, perhaps they appear harsh, judgemental and controlling at times but when push comes to shove they would give their life for you.

How do/did you view your parents?
How has this impacted on your relationship with them?

When life takes a different turn…






The expectation of young adults is to leave secondary school with a handful of GCSE A to C grades, college with three to four A Levels and attend a recognised university. By the age of 21 you should be awarded a 1st or 2.1 in a BA or BSc Honours degree.

What about the young adults whose lives do not quite pan out like this? What if they do not make the grade required due to their mental health, emotional state, family pressures or for just not being highly academic?

The career plan I had for myself did not go according to what I had expected at all. A budding journalist (get me) who loved to write, I envisaged myself reporting at the scene of crimes, events and celebrations. I applied for a journalism course at Middlesex university back in the 1990’s. It was a beautiful campus with a structured three year degree course. I was promised entry into journalism via radio, newspaper or television. Long story short I required a distinction but received a merit and therefore was not accepted at the university. To my shame I was advised to go through the clearing system. I recall sitting around my mother’s dining table flipping through sheets of clearing papers to find a similar course. Nowadays young adults would simply search online. I found a media technology degree course which though proved beneficial, did not provide easy entry into journalism.

I cannot imagine the competition that exists today within the world of journalism. Imagine me competing with 20 and 30 something year olds, not to mention the paltry salary to start. A good plus to working in media is to have wealthy parents who can support you financially, AKA ‘the bank of mum and dad.’

I am enjoying working in my current role. One that I would never have considered had you asked me 20 years ago. The opportunities have been astounding.

Occasionally I feel a twinge of disappointment that I am not working in the field I studied for over three long years. Most of which were enjoyable as lets be honest university is never all work and no play!

Life has twists and turns, some arrive at their destination on time, others arrive late, others take a completely different route which can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It is important to enjoy the journey as there is much to be learnt and experiences to be had which remain with you forever.

How would you describe your lifestyle?









Just yesterday my sister and I had a discussion about lifestyles and pondered on how an individual would cope with having to suddenly survive on far less than they are used to. How much would their countenance change?  Could they genuinely be hopeful about their future?

We concluded that most would struggle with reducing their lifestyle leading to unhappiness and depression.  Generally it is in adversity that a person’s true character is tested.  Whilst we can try to imagine the financial challenges others face, we cannot truly empathise unless we too have experienced this.

There are many privileged people living in the UK. Those whose children attend top private schools, fly business class, live on beautiful roads in affluent areas, hire cleaners, gardeners and nannies (even when the wife is a stay at home mother). If their income was to take a massive drop, their lifestyle would surely be impacted upon and not in a positive way. Life would no longer look the same, people would no longer treat you in the same manner, you would have to move in a different circle.

Sadly a number of city bankers have committed suicide over the years due to being made redundant. I imagine the thought of having that difficult conversation with their spouse was too much to bear. Having to remove their children from private school, relocate to a house in a not so nice area, stop their long haul holidays, face their friends and family.

To a certain extent we all have comforts. One person’s may be flying business class only and another’s may be shopping at Waitrose as oppose to ASDA. (I am a Sainsbury’s woman myself!) We enjoy our lifestyle and believe we and/or our spouse work hard for it. If full-time employees, we spend more waking hours during the week at work than we do at home.

Many commuters routinely stop to buy coffee from Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Costa and independent cafes. They pay £3 to £4 for a hot drink they could easily make when they arrive to work. Perhaps the hot drink makes the commute more bearable. Either way it is not a necessity but a comfort they are willing to pay for.

Lifestyle is everything to some. It is expressed via work and leisure activities; attitudes,opinions, values and allocation of income. Lifestyle reflects a person’s self image; the way they see themselves and believe they are perceived by others.

What lifestyle are you working towards? What is your main motivation?