All posts by Phoenicia

Do you speak your mind at all costs?

Even those of us who like to believe we are judgemental can struggle to contain our views and opinions at times. There are some who are able to hold their judgement as thoughts in their minds and others who will self combust if they do not verbalise them. Which best describes you?

Adults are expected to maintain a level of decorum on a professional and social level, using wisdom as to when to speak and when to remain silent. Many organisations run training courses which work to improve the way in which their employees communicate and interact with each other, clients and stakeholders. Author and speaker, John Maxwell quoted:

“People may hear the words you speak, but they feel your attitude”.

Children are known for speaking their minds. Their innocence and honesty means they speak as they see it, pure truth. As children, my sister and I were known for speaking our minds which often left my mum apologising on our behalf. Though embarrassed, she encouraged us to speak our minds within boundaries of course.

One day in the mid 1980s, my mum, sister and I were in WHsmith buying books and suddenly a strong fishy aroma descended upon us. We noticed a woman stood not too far from us. My sister and I locked eyes, held our hands over our nose and said in sync ” mum, that lady smells of fish!” My mum hurried us to the cashiers while trying to keep a straight face. Afterwards she spoke to us about being diplomatic when around others.

I come from a long line of women in my family who are and were outspoken and do not ‘mince their words’. For years, I would make excuses for speaking bluntly and matter of fact. Now I actively bring an element of softness and compassion into situations. It has made a significant difference to how others relate to me.

I have learnt over the years, not to verbalise everything I see and think. Some thoughts really are best left as such.

Do you often verbalise your thoughts?
Are you known as the friend who ‘says it as it is’?

Our desire for more

With many people having lost or being at risk of losing their jobs, one has to wonder whether we should be content with what we have. There is a desire in us, or at least the majority of us to want bigger and better; in terms of our home, careers, cars, clothes, furniture, holidays – the list is endless. It seems only natural that our tastes change as we grow older and our earning potential increases.

The clothes stores I frequented when in my 20’s and 30’s are not the same stores I wish to buy in today. I was at a different stage in life then, in terms of my sense of style and how I wanted to portray myself to the outside world. As a young adult I was into quick fashion whereas now I veer towards classic clothes and give thought to the fabric and fit.

Recently I considered buying a winter coat and decided against it because I own four coats which I have purchased over the last few years. I am desperately trying to gravitate away from this idea that I need more of the same, just because. I am slowly getting there……

As our salaries increase, our lifestyle changes in order to reflect this; our social life, hobbies, the area in which we live in, the car we drive. We are able to outsource tasks such as gardening, cleaning, ironing to free up our time to do as we would like. Some choose to send their children to prep and private schools to further enhance their learning and career opportunities.

It is guaranteed that there will always be bigger and better and when some achieve what is unimaginable to the majority, they will still push to move to the next level simply because there is more to be had.

The question is what have you marked as your point of ‘arriving’ or ‘making it’?

Do you see the world as ‘being your oyster’?

OUR EVER growing need to adapt

With our second lockdown in full throw we have adapted the way in which we go about our daily lives.

The first lockdown meant many of us worked from home, those with children were also responsible for supervising school work. Items such as toilet tissue, pasta and rice were in high demand and rarely on the supermarket shelves. We were advised to wear face masks in supermarkets and on the train. We had to remain in bubbles of six in and out of the house. It slowly became the new normal.

In July, lockdown ended and we had access to the hairdressers, beauty salons, shopping centres, pubs and restaurants. People walked with a spring in their step at the prospects of being able to finally do more than a walk in the park. The warm weather also helped raise our spirits. One day in August my family and I went to Greenwich Park for the afternoon. There was such a buzz in the air as people sat in their bubbles eating and drinking.

We are now in our second lockdown and though a little depressing being so close to Christmas, it has made us more resilient. We have been able to accept the new normal acknowledging the importance of adhering to the government’s policies.

It is unknown when the majority of employees will return to working in the office. Technology today means meetings can take place via Skype, Zoom and MS Teams.

For small business owners, change has not been as easy. Decisions will surely need to be made in the near future.

2020 will certainly go down in history!

When life takes a detour

It is great to be back on my blog after five long months!

Today, I will explore the challenge of when life does not quite go as planned, when you do not reach your goals as expected and when opportunities pass you by.

From the age of 15 or16, we are expected to know what college and university course we would like to choose and what career we would like to enter into. Some have a smooth linear transition from GCSEs, A levels, degree, masters and the ideal job which provides the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. Others will not get onto their desired course due to receiving lower grades, undergoing emotional or psychological trauma, suffering from depression or another set back. At the time of facing disappointment you will feel there is no other way in, the door has officially closed, your dreams are over – I have felt this on several occasions.

There is a point at which you accept you will have to take a different route, one you certainly did not plan for. It may take longer, offer no guarantees and leave you feeling discouraged. The flip side of this is new opportunities will arise, you are still enhancing your skill set, soaking up information and extending your knowledge base. Every sense of failure is an opportunity to learn a new lesson.

Whilst we would (well I would) prefer the option of moving smoothly from one step to another, life rarely operates this way. Challenges build our resilience, it means we work harder for what we believe we want and need.

As we grow older, we begin to learn more about ourselves; our strengths and weaknesses, our passions and where we fit in the world, in an organisation and within a team. We are able to use wisdom when making life altering decisions; looking at the bigger picture and not only the ‘feel good’ factor.

Allow the detours in life to help you grow, reflect on your journey and remain optimistic about the future.

Focus on what you can do!

At present there are many restrictions in place with what we can do, where we can go and who we can visit. Whilst we understand and appreciate the reasons it is frustrating and limiting. The plans we had at the start of 2020 have gone right out of the window and have been replaced with a level of uncertainty.

Worrying, sulking and living in disappointment will do nothing to change our circumstances. We must somehow try to manage our emotions and frustrations. Our world has suddenly become smaller, our social life has being greatly impacted upon and the home is now a place of work and play for many. A lot of changes have taken place in such a short period of time and for some it has been overwhelming and even traumatic. We have been forced to adjust for the present time – we do not know how long the current arrangements will continue.

While we cannot currently fly abroad, have a UK break or enjoy a night out (dining or the theatre), there are still a few activities we are permitted to do. We can exercise outside, cycle, visit local parks, bake and cook at our leisure. Yesterday we took the children for a picnic in our local park and we had an enjoyable time. I know a few people who have hosted an online party for their birthday celebration- different but fun nonetheless.

Finding alternative ways to have fun and enjoy life is important otherwise we can become pessimistic about the future and sink into a state of depression and hopelessness. This would impact on our mental health – not for the better.

Look at what you are able to do and try not to ponder on what is essentially out of your control. It will only serve to steal your joy.

How accepting are you of others?

Knowing we are accepted by others allows us to be who we truly are. We can reveal our flaws, shortcomings and quirky ways with complete confidence we will continue to be loved and embraced. When we do not feel accepted we tend to a) present ourselves in such a way that others will welcome us or b) draw back from others feeling somewhat rejected. Neither of these circumstances bring any real benefit to an individial.

Accepting others means we acknowledge they have different behaviours and a different mindset to us. We can like and/or love them understanding they are just the way they are. If we find ourselves trying to mould others or get them to see life from our point of view, we are sending a message that ‘our way is the way’. This is simply not true and can impact negatively on the lives of others.

I find people are often themselves when around family. They can be free to ‘let it all out’ because deep down they know they are loved. There is a safety net that cannot easily be broken.

People easily learn they are not accepted by the way in which others relate to them. Sometimes it is by a person’s body language or level of attention they are receiving. On occasions when I believed I was not accepted, I instantly drew back from people. I rarely said why and this later became a method of protecting myself.

As a teenager I was an introvert and had one or two friends at school as opposed to a large group of friends. I felt uncomfortable and out of my depth being in a crowd. In my eyes many of my peers were outspoken, confident, mature and the life and soul of a party. I was not made this way and therefore not easily accepted within social groups because I did not and could not conform. I remained being myself even when it was not perceived as particularly cool.

I believe we all come to a point in life where we learn to accept ourselves. Once we arrive at this place we are less affected when others do not accept us. We are at peace with ourselves and we like who we are as a person so the opinion of others tends to float off of us. We grow to a level of maturity where we are not willing to be tweaked and moulded into something else in order to be accepted. We are happy just as we are.

Communicating and relating to others

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way in which we communicate with others can either strengthen or deteriorate our relationships.

We should ideally choose to fully engage, giving the other person the opportunity to express how they are feeling. Their response will not be as we expect as they are not us and therefore do not process their thoughts and information in the same way.

We can easily fall into the trap of believing we know how someone feels or what they are thinking based on our own thought pattern. The number of times I have listened (at times half listened) to my husband express himself and I wrongly  respond with my take on what I believe he actually thinks and feels. How can I possibly know when we have different thought patterns?   I am learning to accept what my husband is relaying to me even when it does not line up with my own rational.  This helps to keep our lines of communication open and for him to feel respected.

In my various places of employment, I recall reading an email and completely misinterpreted the content because I had made assumptions on the first few lines I had read. I also recall several times being asked to see the director and assuming I knew what they were going to speak to me about. Rather than wait until the meeting I would over analyse past projects I had completed and conversations I had had, in order to feel prepared. What a waste of my energy!

I have an over active mind and it means I often over think scenarios and situations, giving them far more meaning than I ought to.

When we improve our communication with others we are in a better position to understand how they think and why they think in this way. They will find it easier to relate to us meaning they can be who they truly are without the need to over explain or tell us what they believe we want to hear.

Communicating well with others is important in all of our relationships, from marriage to friendships to working relationships. When there is a breakdown in communication, it benefits us to identify why and how we can improve upon this. As painful as this may be (to our egos mostly), this will help to heal the rift. Of course if the person does not wish to meet you halfway, there is little you can do. You have done your part.

Dealing with uncertainty

 

WE have been in ‘lockdown’ for weeks on end with no certainty of the end date. We are limiting who we come into contact with, how often we leave our home and where we go. Many have never experienced anything similar in their lifetime. We will long remember this pandemic and the impact it had on our society.

I commend the doctors, nurses, health care assistants, teachers and other public sector keyworkers who have gone over and above to ensure we are being looked after.

Often we believe we have far more control over our lives than we do and our current situation brings this home to me. Many will face cancelled training/conferences, holidays, birthday and wedding celebrations. Many 15 and 16 year olds will not sit their GCSE exams this year and instead be graded on their progress so far and teacher assessments. Though disappointing, our health and well-being is of the upmost importance.

We cannot be sure how long we will be required to continue living as we are. If we allow it the unknown can bring anxiety, fear and worry. We miss our freedom, our family and friends, our social lives and coming and going as we please. We have no control over what is to come but we can choose to accept that this is our way of life for the time being. We can choose to enjoy the activities that we are able to do; games time with family, cooking, baking, sewing, drawing, playing a musical instrument, reading – the list really does go on!

How are you coping with the restrictions?

 

Worrying serves no purpose

 

 

 

 

 

In these challenging and uncertain times, it is difficult to advise others to cease from worrying. People are panic buying foods and household goods, schools are likely to close as of next week, shops, bars and restaurants will also be closing their doors and the NHS is bursting at the seams with more patients than they can cope with.

Those who are more prone to worrying can easily grow obsessed with listening to and discussing the current pandemic. Others will ponder on it then move on in their thoughts. They may appear to be aloof and unphased but the fact is they simply process chaos and troubles differently.

Worrying does nothing to change our circumstances yet many of us succumb to it. Growing up when a situation affected me, I would think of it constantly until it began to consume my very being. I allowed worrying to take my joy and it meant I rarely lived ‘in the moment’. Instead, I would be out with friends enjoying myself to a point while a part of me secretly worried about one thing or another. I struggled to deal with disappointment as I hated feeling and being out of control.

I am due to go on holiday in several months and it could possibly be cancelled or rescheduled. Years ago I would have had an out-and-out meltdown. I would have telephoned the travel operator on a daily basis requesting updates and growing more and more agitated. Today, I am trying to take life in my stride (and sometimes fail) with the knowledge that worrying has no positive  impact on our circumstances.

Are you plagued with worry?
Please share your experiences.

Life is short – loosen up!

 

Life is short – loosen up!

Sometimes we do not realise how short our life on earth is. We put much effort into planning, worrying and saving for our future. Whilst it is advisable to plan ahead, we should also live with an open mindset that life is unlikely to pan out exactly as we would hope. We must live flexibly enough to deal the challenges, the hindrances and the detours.

Some may well live life according to text book; GCSEs, A Levels, degree, masters, then entry into their desired career. All by the age of 25 of course! Some may take several detours along the way due to circumstances outside of their control which means they enter their desired career aged 30. Some may not go through the typical education system at all whether they do not deem themselves academic, they have no interest in attending university, their desired career path does not require a degree, they need to work full-time on leaving college. The point is each person will arrive at their destination.

Life is for living and we owe it to ourselves to have an element of joy even if life is not exactly how we envisaged it to be. There will be seasons in which we will feel trapped, frustrated and challenged. There may also be little we can actually do about it (I have been there). However, we can choose to focus on the areas of our life that we can change, however small that change may be.

Wear the new shirt/trousers/lipstick/skirt to work. Why wait for a special occasion that may not arrive for months?  Live for today, feel good today, feel proud of yourself today with the intention of enjoying the journey.  Let us not become so preoccupied with keeping our eye on the end goal that we forget to live in the moment.