All posts by Phoenicia

Do you empathise or sympathise with others?








Do you think it is truly possible to empathise with a person if you have not experienced what they are currently going through? Do you have enough self awareness to give all of yourself when listening to someone’s troubles?

Logic tells us that a person can empathise easily with another if they have experienced the same trauma.  An example can be a woman who loses her child to an illness and feels an immense need to set up help group sessions for women who have also lost children.  Let us say a woman felt a burning desire to set up a help group session despite NOT losing a child, would she be able to connect with the grieving mothers in the same way? Would she be perceived as authentic and in touch with their feelings?

My opinion is you can relate to others if you have the desire to, if this is truly your calling. Passion and purpose are important factors and will ensure you stay true to yourself even when self-doubt comes along. When I studied for my counselling diploma over ten years ago, I was required to undergo counselling as well as give counsel to my peers.  I was reluctant to ‘let go’ at first as these were people I studied with after all. I wondered what I would share – enough to be deemed as transparent but not too much that I felt completely exposed and vulnerable.  Clearly I had trust and control issues. I was most surprised that my counsellor was very present when I shared.  She was with me all the way.  I am unsure if my counsellor experienced what I had so cannot rule out whether she was able to relate to my issues.  I do know that the woman I counselled shared issues that I had not experienced but I was still able to recognise and share her pain.  I was able to ask inviting questions to enable her to explore further and stay connected whilst she spoke.

I learnt much about myself whilst on the counselling course; my fears, my hang ups, my trust issues and my expectations from others. I learnt that I care and have a heart for helping others and this was not restricted to those who have had similar life experiences to me.

What are your views on empathy?
Can you easily separate empathy from sympathy? 






How do you deal with your insecurities?








We all suffer with one insecurity or another.   How we deal with these insecurities greatly impacts on our outlook on life as well as our behaviour towards others. According to when one suffers from insecurity they have a lack of confidence, lack of assurance and self-doubt.

Insecurities can derive from the following;

1. Having a negative mindset.  Negative thoughts come to your mind and you allow them to take residence there. You begin to believe the words spinning around in your mind.

2. Having negative words spoken over you as a child by parents, family members, peers, people in authority.  Growing up and believing you are less prettier/handsome, academic, talented than another.

3. A child hearing their parents/guardians speak negative words about themselves. The child then starts to believe they too are unworthy.

What are the effects of insecurity?

1. Lack of trust in yourself.  Self-doubt will reign in your mind causing a hindrance to decision making however big or small.

2. Lack of trust in others. Believing people do not have your best interests at heart. Believing people have a motive for befriending you. Expecting people to disappoint and let you down.

3. Low expectations of life in general.  Second guessing everything you do.  Doubting what you are able to achieve in your studies and career.

4. Becoming a people-pleaser due to believing the lie that you are not enough. Therefore you need to go over and above to sustain any form of relationship.   You continue to feel insecure in these friendships as you do not know if people are with you because they value you or due to all that you do.

I could write all day and night about the insecurities I had due to negative words spoken over me.  They consumed me and I trusted very few people. As an introvert I kept my feelings to myself and they tormented me.  I believed the lies that rushed through my mind. Whenever I faced challenges I would relate them back to past situations in which there was absolutely no connection. I truly felt nobody cared and if they did they could do little to help me.

I had to battle through my insecurities to be where I am today.  Negative thoughts still come to my mind but I have to bat them back as I cannot afford to go back to being that person bound by words, what people thought of me. It was crippling and I honestly lived half a life.

How can you work through your insecurities?

1. Write positive affirmations and speak them over your life daily.

2. Identify the root of your insecurity and come up with coping mechanisms to help you when your emotions get the better of you

3. Sign up to counselling sessions

How did you overcome your insecurities?
What advice would you offer to someone who struggles with insecurities?





Dealing with jealousy…








JEALOUSY is a touchy subject- very few admit to feeling it but most do at one time or another.

I will first state the difference between jealousy and envy as they are often confused. Envy is the emotion you feel when you want what someone else has.  This may be completely irrational as you may not be in the position to have it despite wanting it. Jealousy is the emotion you feel when you may be replaced in the affection of someone you love.

I will be vulnerable and give two personal examples; both were when I was a teenager.

Situation one
I had a friend, let’s call her A.  A girl named B moved to our school and became friends with us. She got along much better with friend A and I slowly became jealous that our friendship was changing. I was not the most confident of girls and I had very few friends at school. I worried that friends A and B would become best of friends and I would be the third wheel to the friendship.  The end result was friend B relocated to another school soon after. In all of this my behaviour did not change towards friend B, though I worried endlessly deep inside.

Situation two
My father was absent for pretty much all of my life and my friend’s father was very much in her life. Though her parents had recently divorced they would still spend time together; days out, weekends away and holidays. Whenever my friend mentioned her dad I would feel a pang of envy. One day whilst at her home, her father visited and checked her homework. I clearly remember looking on wishing it was me sitting there with my dad. I was envious that her father took that much interest in her whereas mine was completely removed from my life. I was insecure and regularly questioned my worth in the world and to people.

We find ourselves in situations almost daily in which we can feel either of the emotions. Sometimes we may feel ashamed or embarrassed that such feelings arise especially if involving people we love and like.  Feelings will come and the important factor in all of this is if we choose to act on them.  We are mature adults and should therefore have the ability not to allow these feelings to control how we act towards another. We need to own these feelings. We cannot blame others for what we do or do not do. Acknowledgement is the first step of moving forward; admitting we have a problem and identifying how we can overcome it.

Burying these feelings will not help matters. You can lie to the world but not to yourself.







A few tips on how to deal with jealousy and envy:

1. Choose to congratulate and celebrate someone each and every time.  It takes NOTHING away from you.

2. If you suddenly feel dissatisfied with your life, identify what steps you need to make to move forward.

3. Seek counselling or find a confidant to share your feelings and explore the root of the issue.

How do you deal with negative thoughts?
What advice would you give to others?





Despite the ‘sticks and stones’ quote, words do hurt..









“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

How many times have you heard this saying? I remember hearing this a lot as a child and to be honest it did not make much sense to me. Negative words DID hurt.  Of course being hit or punched hurts a person physically but words penetrate deep within. Words remain long after the situation has ended. Words remain even when the person is no longer in your life.  Words (if you allow them to) assist in defining who you are. If positive then you will be encouraged and believe you can go on to do anything. If negative they can weigh you down and rob you of your self-esteem.

Children and teenagers have different levels of resilience. Some are confident in who they are and their appearance which may (or not) be a product of their home environment. Others are more sensitive and take things to heart.  Therefore it is important to build resilience and confidence into a child before they start school.  This will then give you as the parent/guardian the control to influence how the child views themselves, their values and their outlook on life. Waiting until after children start school brings the danger of their peers, teachers and support staff defining who they are.  Waiting until a situation arises is a little too late.

Children need to be prepared to stand tall and show an inner strength even if inside they are unsure of themselves.  Children need to be taught that not everyone will take to them and this is actually okay. Children need to be taught they will not be included in everything and this too is okay.  What is not acceptable is physical and verbal bullying whether from family members, peers, people in authority.  Children need to be confident and safe to confide in you if they are vulnerable and the subject to any kind of abuse.

Adults can also be victims of verbal abuse; in the workplace, in the family home. In this case the adult chooses to accept this behaviour as their confidence has been broken. Perhaps they feel ashamed that this is happening to them and therefore are reluctant to confide in anyone. Perhaps years of criticism from a child to an adult has left them vulnerable which shows.  Perhaps they believe the cruel words that have been spoken over them and have no more fight left. The reasons will be different for each person but the outcome is the same; low self esteem and a feeling of helplessness.

The abuse can be dealt with in the following ways;

1. Removing yourself from the situation (in the safest possible way)

2. Reporting the individual(s)

3. Confiding in someone you trust

4. Counselling

Abuse of any kind can make one feel isolated and rejected and more likely to draw back from everyone around them.  Resist the urge to do so as you will only feel further alienated which of course is the main reason people abuse.

What are your experiences of verbal abuse?
What advice would you offer to those raising children or trying to overcome their own past abuse?


There is no use crying over spilt milk!








As a child and young teenager I could not stand being told “there is no use crying over spilt milk”. At the time I would have been upset over one thing or another and felt my tears were valid.  I was of the mindset that if you were upset you had every reason to show this.

I struggled to deal with anything that jeopardised my plans and with disappointment. I recall receiving earrings for my 13th birthday and the clasp broke soon after. I was completly inconsolable and upset for most of the day. The damage was done and I felt disappointed and angry in myself. Looking back on my life, I often blamed myself even when found in situations that were not of my own doing.

The term ‘ there is no use crying over spilt milk’ simply means there is no use getting upset AFTER something has gone wrong.  It cannot be changed therefore it should be accepted (taken from website).  In theory this makes sense but the reality is far from different. We respond to challenges and disappointments in varying ways depending on our resilience, our life experiences and mindset. Some quickly bounce back whilst others allow it to consume them.

Several times a month my train is cancelled or delayed. Initially I would grow frustrated at the thought of adding to my commute which was already long and for being late to work.  My mood then impacted on the first part of my day.  I would question my life and my tiring commute (ever the over thinker)!  I slowly came to the realisation that I had to learn to deal with disappointments otherwise they would have a hold over me. I now board my train at an earlier time than necessary, in the case of delays/cancellations I can take the following train and still be on time.

Worrying or over thinking adds nothing to our lives yet so many of us do it.  In some ways it gives us the go ahead to maintain a negative perspective on life, a reason to be miserable.  This is living half a life and not at all recommended.

What are your views on not crying over spilt milk?
What advice would you give?


Do you truly make good use of your free time?

Recently I have been thinking more about time.    How little it seems we have compared to how much needs to be done. We all receive 24 hours yet some appear to accomplish much in this time and others very little. I think of world leaders, politicians, producers and the like who more often than not achieve their objectives.  I presume they go to sleep just as you and I do therefore they have no additional hours in the day in which to function. Having said that they may well limit their sleeping hours. I read the late Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister 1979 to 1990 slept for just four hours a night. Clearly she was able to function with minimum sleep!

In order to achieve your desired outcome on a project or process, you need to focus and shut off any distractions.  TV and social media are major culprits in taking up our time but only if we let them.  We are in control of what we choose to give our time to.  It is our responsibility to make good use of our time.

Around three years ago I made the decision to stop watching UK soap operas. For those in the UK I am referring to Eastenders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street.  My daughter was six year old and slowly becoming consumed by the storylines which were usually rather negative. I decided there and then I did not want these soaps acting as any form of influence in her life so stopped watching them- just like that! I did not miss them at all and even better I got back 1.5 hours of my life every evening to carry out far more constructive activities such as reading, jotting down ideas for my blog and networking on LinkedIn.

Perhaps watching television may not be an issue for you but I have listed some tips below;

1. If you find you spend an hour or two on the telephone each evening, consider making calls during lunchtime or on your commute.

2. If you find you waste time on the internet, consider allocating specific time slots to do this or log out of particular sites making it less easy for you to mindlessly surf.

3. Be confident in declining another ‘night out’ if it will mean you can spend time on a project or task. Whilst socialising is important sometimes you have to weigh up which will bring more value to your life.

So to end, there will be a continuous string of events, people and circumstances wanting to utilise your time.  It is unlikely you can juggle them all therefore you will need to prioritise and prioritise some more.

How do you manage your time?
How do you find the balance between work, business and leisure?


Introvert or extrovert- which are you?

I am sure many, if not all of you know of the term introvert and extrovert.  However, I have  given a brief outline below.

An introvert is someone who prefers solidarity to spending time in large groups. They feel more energised after spending time alone.

An extrovert is someone who finds energy by interacting with others. They prefer to be in the company of others than be alone.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not necessarily shy or unassertive. If they are it is not a prequisite of this trait. Extroverts too may not be loud or even confident, they just thrive off of spending a lot of their time with others.

I am an introvert and always have been.  As a child it would take me at least an hour or two to settle into a new environment.  I recall my mother urging me to go and play with the other children when we attended parties.  I preferred to stay on the outside observing from afar.  My younger sister on the other hand would jump straight in!

I was content being an introvert as a child but felt it was a major hindrance once I hit my teenage years. I had one main friend in and out of school and did not desire more. I was friendly with a few peers but always avoided large groups. I felt uncomfortable being surrounded by a lot of people – almost as if I could not be myself. I was too self conscious and not at all confident which doubled with my introvert ways was rather crippling. I yearned to be outgoing and the life and soul of the party but it was just not part of my make up.

Looking back to my college and university years, I tended to have one friend and rarely hung out in groups. On occasions when my friend was absent, I would happily spend my break times alone. I did not mind as by this time I enjoyed my own company. Back in the early 1990’s I listened to music on my Walkman – who remembers these?

Even at my place of work, the majority of the time I take lunch breaks alone in an office or go for a walk.  I use this time to recharge and gather my thoughts.  I embrace the introvert in me and accept this is who I am.

Though I enjoy spending time alone, I am sociable when out at events or occasions. However, I can guarantee that I will spend at least an hour unwinding on returning home regardless of how late it is. My husband finds this most baffling!

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, learn to accept yourself. There are advantages to both traits and in my opinion, one is not better than the other, just different.  There is a need for both introverts and extroverts in friendship groups, families, organisations and businesses.

Are you an introvert or extrovert?
At what stage in life did you realise this?
What do you feel are the advantages?