All posts by Phoenicia

Dealing with discontentment

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are constantly bombarded with adverts and promotions informing us what we require to make life easier and more enjoyable. From billboards, to magazines and television adverts to pop ups on our smart phones – there really is no escape. I often wonder who are ‘these people’ who decide I need to purchase £150 Nike running shoes otherwise I will not have an exceptional running experience or I must buy Clarins beauty cream otherwise my skin will become wrinkled prematurely.  ‘These people’ are just like you and me employed to capture our attention with their excellent marketing strategies. ‘These people’ carry out thorough research.

The majority of us have desires, some are met and some are unmet.  Discontentment comes in when we do not have what we desire and we grow weary of having to wait for it. Unfortunately there is a period of waiting and if you are rather impatient you will struggle during this period. In some circumstances we may have unreasonable desires yet we continue to hold onto them with no actual plan of how we are going to reach our end goal. There must always be goals otherwise how does one intend to go from A to Z?

Whilst we are working towards our plans we must try to maintain a level of joy and peace in our lives. Being unhappy, bitter or resentful will bring us no closer to obtaining what we desire yet how many of us fall foul to this trap? I can put my hands up and state I have had periods of being miserable when an action has not gone to plan and I have to wait, wait in a place I do not wish to.  I had to learn the importance of appreciating what I do have – even whilst waiting for what I do not yet have.

I truly believe the rise in reality shows does not help matters, think Celebrity fly on the walls, The Houswives of Atlanta/Cheshire/New York and property programmes showcasing houses valued at £1M+. It leaves us open to constantly scanning the lives of others who are in very fortunate positions and comparing them with ours. There is no benefit whatsoever in comparisons as it steals your joy and heightens your discontentment. Nine to ten years ago I made a decision to stop buying magazines as they were full of adverts encouraging me to buy this, join this, live here, yada yada (they were also costing me a fortune!) These magazines advertised clothes that retailed at £350 for a top and £600 for a dress.  I admit that I was clearly buying upmarket magazines targeting a particular clientele in order to avoid ‘trash’ magazines.

In short we should take responsibility to ensure we do not place ourselves in positions where discontentment can grow and fester.  We must look after our well-being. If reducing your time spent on social media will help, then do so, if looking at property programmes is beginning to affect the way you view your home then switch off.

How do you deal with discontentment?
Are you quick to acknowledge when the feelings come?

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Step away from black or white thinking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being open minded in your approach and your thinking allows for more flexibility which is much needed in society today. There is more than one way to complete a project, run your business successfully and carry out a multitude of actions. The fact that we have lived life up until this point with a particular point of view or approach does not mean we should rule out alternatives. It may mean taking time out to adjust to a new process or changing our mindset.  Living rigidly does not give room for opportunity. It means we do things as we have always done them and receive the same outcome.

What if we could find a more efficient way of working; I often hear the term “working smarter” and I am a great believer in this.  With growing demands on us at work, in our business and in our home, we would benefit from strategies that can assist us with making the best use of our time. It always amazes me that you can have a team of colleagues carrying out a task and each one will have a completely different approach. No method will be wrong but I guarantee one will win hands up in the area of efficiency and productivity. Working together and sharing ideas helps to cultivate smarter working. Acknowledging each person has something of significance to add is also important.

I remember the first year I met my husband in  2004, he encouraged me to sign up to online banking. I told him I was happy going into the bank in person and could print off a mini statement if I wanted to check my balance.  I knew he meant well but the thought of having yet another online account did not sit well with me; having to go through a security process and create passwords was not at all appealing.  Later that year I signed up to online banking and it made my banking life significantly easier. I wondered how I survived having to go into the bank to do a transfer or to make a payment. Being online meant I could manage my account from the comfort of my laptop and now my smart phone.

We grow used to what we do and how we do it even if a better alternative exists. There is an element of comfort with regards to sticking with what we know. It is safe, it is guaranteed, we are familiar with it and it requires no further action.  The question we should ask is, does my current method still pay off or is it becoming redundant?

Do you tend to stick to what you know or are you open to new ways of working?  How has this impacted on your life?

 

How much pride are you secretly harbouring?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst it is important to acknowledge our achievements, we can fall foul of having too much pride. Pride can cause us to hold back from asking for help when we need it, pride can influence our feelings of self-righteousness – only seeing the wrong in others and being in denial about our own wrong doing.  Pride can creep in when we are not paying attention to our growing need to be right whatever the cost. Pride creeps in when we give too much thought as to what others think about us.

After graduating, I continued working part-time as a cashier at a well-known UK supermarket whilst looking for full-time employment.  I requested for overtime hours to increase my monthly income. Some of my shifts were during the weekday and I recall feeling anxious about bumping into an acquaintance.  What if they assume this is my full-time job? What if they assume I did not enter further education? All these thoughts consumed me all those years ago.  Pride was rearing its ugly head.  I was definitely insecure at this stage in my life and tended to over think far too much.  I knew what the issue was but was not emotionally  equipped to deal with it.

If pride is not dealt with, it can soon become a big part of you.  I can assure you I have had to deal with pride a high number of times since then. I recognised pride for what it was – denial brings no benefits to us.

How can we deal with pride?

1. Maintain a level of humility. Scripture Proverbs 27 verse 2 states:
“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”

2. Refrain from judging others who differ in opinion and lifestyle. This is easier said than done but there is something powerful about accepting others despite their differences.

3. Look inwards and work on your insecurities as often pride derives from these.

4. Encourage and invest in others taking the focus of self.

How have you dealt with pride in your life?
What advice would you give to others?

Do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it is a well known saying. If we are truthful with ourselves there are a number of goals we would like to accomplish; some we have shared with others and some we have kept to ourselves. What stops us from working on those goals? Fear, being time poor, feeling incapable, lack of support from family and friends, lack of finances. There will always be reasons NOT to do a thing. Life is demanding and distractions exist in every corner. It is all too easy to believe you cannot achieve what you want due to the obstacles that lay ahead of you. These obstacles are real but are they enough reason not to move forward?

When I look back at my life I have had a number of goals; some I have achieved and others are still outstanding. Writing a book is one of my main goals and I am determined to accomplish this despite the fact that I stopped at 8,000 words several months ago. I met an old friend from university last week. We studied the same course almost two decades ago. He remembered my love for writing and suggested I write a book – he had no idea I am already on the journey. His words encouraged and challenged me.

Sacrifices will need to be made if you are planning to take on a new project/business or course of study. It may be a financial sacrifice or there may be a demand on your time. If you are serious then you will be willing to make the sacrifices knowing the long term pay off it will bring.  Change cannot take place if there is no flexibility or adaptability. Our desire for comfort and pleasure can mean we coast through life, partly feeling a level of satisfaction and at times feeling sheer discontentment. Do not be the person who wanted to drive but did not retake their test after failing, do not be the person who desired to bake but talked themselves out of joining a baking class. Do not be the person who is no longer challenged in their job but does not apply for other roles.

We alone are responsible for what we accomplish. We cannot continue to blame others even if they did play a part. I remember an old saying;.

“If the door closes, find another way in”

We need to be aggressive and passionate about our plans. Nobody wants us to accomplish our goals more than we do.  We need to hold ourselves accountable and perhaps be accountable to a person we trust. It is not a bad thing at all for a coach/friend to challenge us and ensure we are on the right track. I have had a career coach for a year and highly recommend it.

Are you of the mindset of doing what needs to be done or do you procrastinate?
What or who have been your influences?

 

How tolerant are you of others?

 

 

 

 

 

Just the other day I was thinking about my tolerance levels and there is definitely room for improvement. Living and working with people we need a level of tolerance to maintain peace and harmony. Of course people grate on us in various ways but whenever thoughts and feelings come to me I quickly remind myself that I too irritate others.  Often we only see what others do and say forgetting that we too get it wrong and that we can be equally annoying. Choosing to accept others breaks down barriers and even allows us to accept ourselves.

Ever since a child I have been particular about tidiness. I recall lining up my toiletries on my dresser as well as my shoes and clothes in my wardrobe. I grew up in a small home but it was always orderly and tidy thanks to my mother. After marrying and having children I had to reluctantly let go of my ideal of a showroom house otherwise I would have spent the whole day tidying up. I maintain a level of tidiness but give the children room to play with their toys and do arts and crafts. Paints are left for the summer months when they can do art in the garden or I pile on layers of newspaper and plastic to protect our dining table.

Our choice of having two children was down to me knowing how much I could tolerate. Initially my husband had ideas of having four children and I had to lay out the realities of life to him; childcare fees, minimal free time, finances and did I say minimal free time? Here in the UK it is completely different to Nigeria where he was born and grew up. There are not multiple aunties and female cousins available to care for your children whilst you go out to work.  When the children are testing our patience I remind him that he wanted four.  He chuckles at the thought of two more. Our children are energetic, assertive and talkative – believe me they are more than enough!

We must learn to be flexible in order to get along with others otherwise our working relationships and personal relationships will be greatly impacted upon.  Being tolerant will mean at times laying aside what you would like, not working to your own agenda and acknowledging others have different opinions. When we are in our own environment we can decide how we would like life to flow but when we step into others, we need to be willing to be tolerant.

How tolerant are you?
Has this improved with age?
What life lessons can you share?

 

 

Making the most of your working life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I watched a recent Youtube video of a speaker encouraging us not to waste our lives in jobs we do not enjoy. At the start of the video I admit to having the following thoughts;

“Here we go again”

“How do you suggest we pay our mortgage if we stop working?”

I was surprised that he actually hit on some home truths and he gave me much food for thought. He did not touch on anything that I did not already know but it was the way in which he presented the information.

Assuming we live to 70 (which I certainly plan on doing as a minimum) we will spend the best part of 50 years working. Mothers will take a year’s maternity leave for each child and possibly some additional years whilst they are aged under five. We spend a lot of “awake” hours at work. Far too many to be doing tasks/projects that we have no interest in.  The career we choose should therefore be something we have a passion for or at least care for at the very minimum. We may want to work in a field completely different to what we would have chosen 20 years ago. Life changes, we change. What motivates us today possibly did not motivate us years ago.

The challenge is we can often feel stuck and unable to move for a number of reasons;

1. Family commitment
2. Financial commitment
3. Lack of confidence
4. Lack of skills/experience/qualifications in the field
5.  Lack of support from family and friends
6. Fear of the unknown

If you are considering moving to a new career path you will need to weigh up the pros and cons. It is a big change but one you may well need.  We can feel tied to our commitments and that our window of opportunity has come and gone.  Options exist but sometimes they are not always obvious particularly if we are not open minded or optimistic about our future.

Consider the following;

1. Could it be you need a change of environment?
2. Can you take a drop in salary? If so, how much?
3. Are there any luxuries you can drop in order to fund a course/training?
4. What impact would this change have on your family?

Have you made a recent career change? What gave you the push?
Have you always known which field you wanted to work within?
What advice would you give to others?

 

Do you actively listen or do you hear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving your full attention is important but how often do we do it? The temptation to tail off mid conversation is all too easy. In order to improve our relationships we must be willing to listen and repeat back some of what we have been told. This illustrates our core listening skills.

The majority of us enjoy being listened to as it makes us feel relevant and that we matter to others. It is disingenuine asking others how they are yet not being willing to stop and listen as they share their experience.  Asking others how they are has become a formality, something we say but do we truly mean it? Are we prepared to listen to their response or are we hoping they say they are fine and we can continue with our day? I guarantee you have found yourself in such situations and I doubt it left you with a good impression of the person.

We need to be real with ourselves and others. It does us good to check our motives as they are not always right.  I remember studying for my counselling diploma 12 years ago; I was not as good a listener as I thought. The practical person that I was (and still am), felt the need to find an answer, a solution, anything to improve the situation for the counsellee. I had to fight against being ‘a rescuer’ and simply listen.

We lead busy lives compared to 15 to 20 years ago. Apparently technology has contributed to making our lives easier but it has also opened us up to many social media platforms, many of which can consume our time if we allow it.  Our busyness can hinder us from investing “real” time in others.  Yes, Skype, Zoom and other video conferencing can be a good alternative when people are unable to physically meet but it should not replace human contact as a long term measure.

We need healthy relationships where we can discuss, debate and be real with one another. We need to be feel loved and cared for, knowing our concerns are of some importance to others.

How can we improve on our listening skills?

1. Resist the temptation to look at your mobile phone, watch television or do anything remotely distracting when being spoken to.

2. Do not try to find solutions for the person unless asked. Allow them to use you as a sounding board.

3. Allow enough time to listen so the person does not feel you have squeezed them in.

4. Refrain from bringing in your own experiences, particularly at the beginning of the conversation. This is about the other person and not you.

How would you rate your listening skills?
Is this an area you need to improve on?