All posts by Phoenicia

Get some order in your life!

The majority of people I meet all seem to have one thing in common – there are simply not enough hours in the day.  We can underestimate just how much responsibility we have on a day to day basis; running a home, working, running your own business, raising children, being a carer, church ministry, voluntary work, administration and so on. In all of this you really can lose yourself and feel utterly exhausted too.

I have woken on many a Saturday mornings and felt completely overwhelmed with the number of tasks I have to do. Generally I use my Saturday mornings to clean and bulk cook. If my Saturday is full on, I will clean on a Friday night and bulk cook on a Sunday.  Working full-time with a long commute means I have little time to do more than a quick tidy up each evening. The same goes for my husband who regularly falls asleep holding his work laptop in the late evening. He knows he is tired but is over optimistic about logging on to finish up on a few tasks!

One could suggest you cut down on the number of activities you do which will work for some and not so much for others. Those who cannot “drop” any area of responsibility may feel trapped, lose hope and accept they will be run ragged for years to come. 

My suggestions for keeping everything in order are;

1. Hire a cleaner
2. Hire someone to iron your clothes
3. Hire a gardener

I am totally serious! Whatever you can offload to save you time – do it! I have considered it and when childcare commitments are no more (cannot bear to calculate the years we have left), I will be onto it without hesitation. I have spoken to several friends who outsource household tasks and they cannot recommend it enough.

If the above is not feasible, there is no need to lose hope. I have listed nine tips;

1. Identify a day/time in which to thoroughly clean your home
2. Identify a day/time to iron
3. Bulk cook your meat and fish for the week and place into separate containers.  Prepare rice/pasta salad/vegetables on the day
4.Tidy up as you go along – never ever leave mess to mount up
5. Have a place for every single item in your home
6. Do at least one load of washing a day
7. Declutter every month
8. Read letters and invitations as they arrive then;
A. File
B. Take photograph and bin
C. Note in your diary and bin
9. Ensure you note all appointments in your phone/diary and your spouse or partner has the exact same information

(This list is in no way exhaustive)

How do you maintain order in your home and work life?
What are your views on outsourcing tasks?

 

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Do you self-blame?

Recently I drafted an itinerary for an event. I checked it several times before confirming it was finalised. On the day of the event there was a little confusion with which session would take place next as the timings were slightly out of sync.  I felt a little embarrassed and took a long look at the itinerary to identify if I had indeed made an error. I had not but it brought something to light. I have a strong tendency to assume I am to blame if something does not go to plan. Without knowing why, where, how or who I quickly point the finger at myself and leave it there until I can gather substantial evidence to prove I was not in the wrong. It does not matter how many people are involved, I instantly volunteer to take some of the blame. I feel responsible and have the desire to find a solution.

Whilst it may be seen as commendable not to run away when you may have a part to play, there is also something quite damaging about self-blame.   People who self-blame tend to live with guilt. They feel guilty even when everything is running smoothly. They tend to assume the worst whether there is any evidence of wrong doing or not.

I have in the past attended ad-hoc meetings with my managers and wondered what on earth they needed to speak to me about. I would wrack my brain trying to recall any incidences or exchange of words that may have taken place. Did I speak to someone out of tone, did I display an attitude without realising, am I underperforming? Nine times out of ten, they wanted to discuss a matter the  complete opposite of the thoughts running around in my head.

Where did these thoughts come from?
Why was I so open to thinking the worst?
Why do I self-blame?

There is always a root and it is our responsibility to find it.  Until we find this root, we will be unable to deal with the problem.

As a child I had a constant feeling of guilt. Guilty for being born to a young mother of 20, guilty for being raised in a single parent household, guilty for my mother’s struggles – both financially and emotionally.  I also felt I was a burden and was to blame for everything that did not go according to plan.

So, how can we work on minimising self-blame?

1. Accept that you will make mistakes and it is okay to do so as long as we do not consistently repeat them.

2. Avoid taking responsibility when it is not yours to take

3. Setting boundaries for yourself – at work and with friends and family

4. Arrange to speak to a counsellor or therapist to talk through your feelings and explore where the self-blame started

Have you battled with self-blame or do you know someone who has?
What advice would you offer?

Do it scared!

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The presentation to 50 colleagues, a job interview, holidaying alone for the first time, sitting an exam – all of these can be daunting. It is perfectly okay to feel nervous about stepping into unknown territory. I would have thought each of us become a little wobbly at times – it may not appear so to outsiders but the feelings are certainly there!  Personally I believe a little nervousness helps to keep us on our toes. How easy it would be for one to grow arrogant if they did not experience fear or apprehension from time to time.

I remember watching a film in which the storyline focused on a publisher and speaker. Just before he entered the doors to the large conference room, he took a deep breath, got his thoughts together all with a rather fixed and worried face. As he entered the conference room he instantly beamed from ear to ear whilst looking left to right at his audience – I expect this gave him an element of confidence. Looking directly at your audience, connecting with them even before you present.

The first time I was due to give an exhortation at church, I felt nervous.  I prepared beforehand and read through my notes again and again. On the morning I led praise and worship with my fellow worship team as usual but felt anxious about giving the exhortation. As I was called forward my stomach did somersaults – actual somersaults.  The exhortation was not as painful as I first thought – sure I could have looked at my audience a little more as well as slowed down my speech but I survived.  I have improved on my public speaking since then by taking up opportunities that come my way. 

I tell myself what is the worst that could happen?  It helps to put life into perspective. Choosing NOT to step out would have a far more detrimental effect on my life, my progression and the way in which I view myself.   I refuse to allow my insecurities and sometimes irrational thoughts to hinder me from doing what I know I should be. 

Will you?

Do you put yourself forward for opportunities?
Do you allow your fears to hold you back?
What advice would you offer someone who struggles to step out of the boat?

Wait joyfully or miserably- it is your choice!

Nobody likes to wait, not really. I certainly do not! Everything moves quickly these days and is available at our request. People send emails and expect a response within minutes, people shop online as it is faster (and more convenient).  When food shopping with my husband we stand in two separate queues to identify who is likely to be served first. One of us then gravitates towards that queue.  I do not enjoy food shopping at the best of times so try where possible to go first thing in the morning or in the evening when it is so empty you could do cartwheels down the aisles!

Waiting for ten minutes or an hour just cannot be compared with waiting for days, months or even years. We all have wants and needs that cannot be met in a short space of time perhaps because of circumstances or timing. We can allow this to consume our lives and fail to see the areas in our lives we should be thankful for.  It is interesting that we tend to focus on what we do not have and completely overlook what we do have. 

Choosing to be miserable whilst waiting will suck the joy out of your life.  You will struggle to be happy for others when they have good news, you are likely to isolate yourself from family and friends and you will not feel good about yourself.  My view point is you may as well wait with joy because either way you will be waiting.  You cannot claim back the time you have wasted being miserable and it is unfair to the people who have to be in your company.

I recall allowing my circumstances to dictate my mood. When I desired a thing, it consumed me. I questioned why I was unable to receive it now as oppose to waiting. I actually questioned whether I deserved to have it – that perhaps I was punching well above my weight.  It was a self destructive way of living and was slowly destroying me. I cannot recall the point at which I decided to be thankful for the many blessings in my life. Of course, I still have my moments from time to time but am quickly brought back to reality.

Have you mastered the art of waiting patiently?  Is this a learned behaviour?
What advice would you give to others who struggle to maintain good character whilst waiting?
 

Tell self-doubt to leave!

This is a subject matter rather close to home but I feel it is important to draw on my personal experiences when writing. 

Self-doubt often accompanies a lack of confidence. It forces one to question themselves; their thoughts, actions, capabilities and interaction with others. Those who self-doubt tend to over think and worry unnecessarily.

Those with self-doubt are likely to feel inferior to others and be reluctant to put themselves forward for opportunities believing someone else is probably better suited.

I remember being in the last year of primary school – a long long time ago. Our topic for the term was “fires”. We studied, received visits from the local fire brigade and watched videos on how quickly fires escalate. It totally freaked me out. For at least the next year, on going to bed at night, I took all plugs out of sockets in the kitchen. On jumping into bed I questioned whether I had truly taken them all out so I jumped up to take a second look. Of course I had!

As a teenager I constantly doubted myself.  I went over conversations in my mind. I worried about how I came across to others. My thoughts included;

“Was my quietness annoying to others?”
“Why do I struggle to speak to people especially in large groups?”
“What was it about me that made me appear strange/awkward?”
“Why can I not be like everyone else?”

Whilst I excelled in English and History, I needed to work much harder in Maths and French. Some of my peers were fluent in French and excelled in tests and exams. I just could not get the hang of it.  I wondered why I could not grasp learning another language or pick up algebra. I began to question my learning abilities. I remember entering my maths class and seeing “What is z when y is 7 trillion by 4 trillion?” I felt like telling the teacher I am not enjoying this journey and would he mind if I got off!

I am an ordered person who likes everything in its place. So much so that I check and check again. On occasions, I have driven my car, parked up and locked up without much thought. When walking away from my car I wonder if I locked up or put the handbrake on. These are actions I take automatically so it just does not register. In case you are wondering I have walked back to my car to find I have locked up AND put the handbrake on. I felt such a ninny!

See below for a few tips to reducing self-doubt

1. Where does your self-doubt stem from – always go back to the root.

2. If you are a “checker” ask a family member to check the back window is locked/laptop is switched off. You are more likely to take their word for it and the responsibility is no longer yours but theirs.

Have you suffered with self-doubt?
What methods did you use to overcome this?
Were you able to identify the root of the problem?

Stop settling for less

Why do ‘we’ as in people in general, settle? Comfort, fear of the unknown, self-doubt, lack of confidence, laziness? I am sure there are many more reasons which I will not list today.

Settling means we are aiming too low, at the point at which we can do it with our eyes closed.  Settling means we are aiming for less than we deserve. As the saying goes if you expect less you will receive less.  Why should a person have less than they desire? If it were your friend or family member I guarantee you would encourage them to punch above their weight and not below it. Yet how often do we go for less and talk ourselves out of what we really do want.

We all have the ability to learn, granted some faster than others. Whilst one person will apply for a job knowing they do not meet all the criteria, another will only apply for jobs in which they meet every single one. Person A probably has the intention of learning the skills required in advance and on the job. Person B is not confident enough to put themselves in a position where they have to learn new skills.

What if they are too slow?
What if their colleagues discover they are less informed than they showed at interview and on the application?
What if they fail?

What they should be asking is;

What if I soar?

In relationships including platonic friendships, one can choose to settle for less by not addressing issues when they arise and for tolerating unreasonable behaviour.  I have been in this position and over time my eyes opened to the fact that I deserve to be in the company of those who add to my life and have my best interests at heart. In turn, I am the same with others. Whether a friend or family member, as an adult you have the right to decide who you wish to be in your life.  When one believes their feelings, opinions and general well-being does not matter they are likely to undervalue themselves. This then manifests itself in the dynamics of their relationships – usually “all give” and “no take”.

Tips to stop settling;
1. Be honest with what you desire – there is no need to discuss with anyone just write it down
2. Be willing to learn whether on the job or self-taught (so many free online courses)
3. Aim higher – if you are sitting an exam or test aim for the maximum score
4. Set yourself goals and identify the time frame in which you will meet them.

So whether you want to finally pass your driving test, learn to speak in Italian or move up to a more senior role take an action today which will bring you closer to achieving this.

Can you think back to a period in your life when you settled?
What encouraged you to come out of your comfort zone?
What would you advise someone who has a tendency to settle with less?
 

You are enough

In life we can feel we are not good enough because of our current circumstances, words others have spoken over us or simply having a constant “glass half empty” mindset.  We are wired so differently, some of us are thick skinned and can easily let negative feelings slide off of our backs, others can sit and churn over these feelings for weeks, months or even years.

It is our responsibility to fight, yes fight off the feeling that we are not good enough, that we do not belong, that we do not enhance or bring anything to the table.  It is damaging to our self image and personal development.  It can mean we do very little whilst maintaining a “what is the point” attitude or way too much in the hope of someday arriving at the point when we feel we are finally enough.

I have definitely felt I was not good enough at various stages of my life due to a number of factors; the most prominent two being, having an absent father and being verbally bullied in secondary school.  As a child and teenager I often wondered why my father chose not to play a part in my life. It made me feel inadequate, rejected and misplaced in society.  I wrongly assumed I was not special and therefore did not expect to be treated as such.  I wondered why a few of my peers gave me nicknames and enjoyed humiliating me in class. I was a shy, awkward looking teenager who steered away from large groups at school and instead hung out with one or two friends.  I blossomed late (17/18) and looking back was definitely not the epitome of “cool”.  For years I carried guilt, shame and an extreme inferiority complex. 

One day, I cannot recall when (I was definitely a Christian though), I made a decision to like myself. It probably sounds bizarre but throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I did not like who I was, what I looked like, the fact that I was shy and an introvert.  When one does not like themselves they tend to overdo everything in the hope of feeling they are just as “good”, “special” and “important” as another. In my case, I did not require recognition from others but from myself; I craved to have the feeling of waking up and going to sleep knowing I was enough. You see, the battle was happening in my mind not with anyone else.

It is fine to strive for progression in our lives but not because we believe this is what will make or define us.  We must avoid the temptation of living a life of constantly proving ourselves to ourselves.  It is exhausting and soul destrying.

How can you begin to accept yourself?

1. Think about your motives. What drives you?
2.  Think about what you enjoy doing and take this up as a hobby.
3. Treat yourself once a week – a new book, gadget, nail polish, coffee and cake in a “nice” tea shop.
4. Surround yourself with people who encourage and inspire you and in turn with those you can inspire and encourage. It is a two way street – we should aim to give and not only to receive.

Have you ever battled with not being enough?
How did you overcome this, perhaps you are still on the journey?
What advice would you give to someone facing this challenge?