An Easy Visualisation Technique to Deal with Negative People

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Earlier this year, I was having trouble with a particular person in my life - I would call him an ‘energy vampire’...

I wasn’t super close to him but had to have a lot to do with him on a week to week basis. In my eyes, he was very negative about life and I felt like I was a sounding board for much of this negativity.

Plodding along through everyday life, I thought the relationship wasn’t having much of an effect on me. I knew how our conversations would go and I would nod and sympathise, then move on with my days.

However at a session with my kinesiologist, the relationship came up as a big red flag in our discussions. Despite the nodding and smiling, underneath I was feeling incredibly drained and exhausted by the relationship and it was bringing me down.

My kinesiologist suggested a great technique that I used around this person from then on and I’ve shared it with clients who are in similar situations.

Whether you’re feeling drained by family, a work colleague or friend, this visualisation technique is designed to protect you from any negative energy while still allowing you to be there for people as needed.

You can do these steps before you speak to them next or during your conversation.

Picture your bubble

This will be different for all of us, but if you picture a bubble around yourself when in conversation with this person, what does it look like?

What is it made out of? Is it wet or dry? What colour is it? Is it round or does it run close to your body?

Let the bubble protect you

Once you have a clear picture of the bubble around you, you can start to imagine it as a sort of shield in conversation with this person.

As the other person speaks, you are protected by the bubble.

Do you see their words bouncing off the bubble? Do their sentences drip down the side? Does the bubble reflect their words back to them?

You can still concentrate on what they’re saying but in the back of your mind, visualise and know you are protected by the bubble.

Repeat

The key is to use this visualisation technique to protect your own energy as needed.

Without the bubble, it’s quite easy to absorb what someone’s saying, feel down about their struggles and leave situations with them feeling depleted.

Using the bubble lets you still hear them out, be there for them, but you know you are protected from any negative words or energy and can move back into your day without your vibe being brought down.

Let me know if you try the bubble technique with someone in your life. How did it work for you?

July Recap and August Intentions

And just like that, August is upon us…It’s the last month of winter here in Australia, but also usually the coldest month here in Melbourne.

I had a busy July, mainly due to work, and am glad to say things are quieting down on that front so I can get some more balance back.

So how did I do with my July intentions and what’s up next for me?

July Recap

Seek out winter warmers

As I looked over the last month, including my photos, I realised I actually had a lot of sunny memories.

We like to moan about the weather but chilly sunny days can be counted on here in winter and I can handle this season when there’s sun.

A weekend in Healesville was a highlight with country town fun including walks, wineries and a gin tasting - not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

I’ve also had some cosy dinners in the city with friends and even when it’s wet, Melbourne is still beautiful when slick with rain.

Put first things first

This one has made a big impact on my life in the last month.

As I mentioned in my habits post here, I’ve been planning my week and therefore having a much nicer balance of blogging, study, catch ups with friends and exercise (all alongside the busy work month).

I really encourage you to write down what’s ahead for the week on a Sunday, if only to get it out of your head and easily visible once the busy weekdays take off.

August Intentions

Interrupt the negative voice

Another habit I reinstilled during July was journalling before bed. It’s been insightful and slightly terrifying.

I’ve been tending to have (self-proclaimed) crazy ‘worst case scenario’ thoughts lately - mainly about what other people think of me and also around work situations.

I’m still not sure how to alleviate these negative thoughts but am going to do some digging this month and see if I can’t stop them in their tracks.

Up the training at work

Continued professional development has always been important to me, but it’s so easy for it to fall by the wayside in between the daily to do list and busy weeks at work.

We have a few products at work I’ve been meaning to learn more about for (ahem) over a year, so I’m going to try and be ruthless this month and block out time and headspace to up my knowledge.

What’s your intentional plan for August? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

The Genius of Brooke Castillo's Self Coaching Model

It's been a good few months for me and new discoveries. I spoke about my first encounter with Brené Brown here, and the other gem I've been wanting to share with you is the life coach Brooke Castillo

I discovered Brooke, as I do so many great authors and speakers, through The Lively Show, Jess Lively's podcast. Jess is a brilliant interviewer and always has fascinating guests on her show. I find lots of goodness through her podcast but rarely go too deep into the guest's work (remember my March intention to ditch too much personal development?). I only have so many hours in the day to read and listen, so I try to limit it to a few key people.

Well let's just say Brooke has taken over many of those hours. Her two interviews on The Lively Show (here and here) led me to Brooke's own podcast, The Life Coach School Podcast, which is full of so much goodness around managing thoughts, feelings and creating the life you want. 

Brooke's main principles are represented in the Self Coaching Model. Firstly I love the model because it, of course, implies you can do it for yourself. Secondly, it is genius and completely obvious and difficult and mind-blowing and crazy hard all at the same time. Let's take a look:

The model outlines the following (and excuse the dramatic examples but they're good to illustrate the cycle):

  • Circumstances are FACTS and everyone must agree on them being facts. e.g. I lost my job, I weigh X, I write this blog.
  • Thoughts are subjective and are what we create about our circumstances e.g. I am hopeless, I am overweight.
  • Feelings are vibrations (yes, just vibrations) in our body that result from our thoughts e.g. depression or guilt.
  • Actions are how we respond to our feelings e.g. I'm going to stay inside all day, I'm going to give up and eat a tub of ice cream.
  • Results therefore come from the preceding actions e.g. I remain unemployed, I gain more weight.

It may seem obvious but Brooke teaches that our thoughts really do create our reality and our thoughts are not necessarily the truth - they are just an interpretation of our circumstances.

As she said on The Lively Show,

“The world cannot cause our emotions. Our emotions are always caused by what we think.” 

Pretty amazing right?

So whatever situation you find yourself in - positive or negative - it is a result of the thoughts and therefore feelings and actions that you have created about a circumstance.

Brooke teaches that when we can learn to observe our thoughts, rather than take them as the absolute truth, we can really begin to create the day to day and ongoing life that we want - because we are in control. No one else. Awesome right?

I haven't nailed the model yet but am absolutely becoming more aware of my thoughts and feelings and how I get to choose my reactions to a circumstance.

...Now go and download Brooke's podcast and enjoy all the further goodness you'll get from it. 

Let me know your initial thoughts (pun intended) on the coaching model in the comments below. Are there any pressing areas of your life you can apply it to?

How To Deal With Negative Thoughts (My Review of The Happiness Trap)

I read The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris earlier this year, and it made such an impact on me that I’ve re-read it in the last month.

Based on the psychology of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), the book is centred on dispelling the widely sought after goal of chasing a constant state of happiness. It also addresses the belief that negative thoughts get in the way of happiness and need to be eliminated or controlled.

As the name suggests, ACT teaches us how to stop struggling with negativity and accept negative thoughts as part of the complexity of our minds.

Here are some revelations I had while reading the book, and strategies you can use yourself.

1. Your thoughts are not the truth

I literally shrieked this across the room to my husband when I read this (the things he puts up with…). The passage reads:

Thoughts are merely sounds, words, stories or bits of language. Thoughts may or may not be true; we don’t automatically believe them. Thoughts may or may not be important; we pay attention only if they’re helpful. Thoughts are definitely not orders; we certainly don’t have to obey them. Thoughts may or may not be wise; we don’t automatically follow their advice.

I think this struck a chord with me as I’d never really not trusted my own thoughts, even when I knew they might not be right. It felt great to acknowledge they are not the absolute truth and I don’t have to always believe or follow them.

2. Distance yourself from the thought

Dr Harris talks a lot about the ‘observing self’ throughout the book and I’ve found this one of the easiest strategies to implement.

When you’re in a negativity spiral take a step back and observe the thought from afar.

So rather than “I’m hopeless at XYZ” turn the thought into “I’m having the thought that I am hopeless at XYZ”.

It gives the thought less power and lets you view it in a more detached way.

3. Name regular negative stories (or give them silly voices)

Identify your mind’s favourite stories, then give them names, such as the ‘loser!’ story, or the ‘my life sucks!’ story, or the ‘I can’t do it!’ story.

Again, in the spirit of detachment (or cognitive defusion as it’s known), this is a good device for thoughts that come up again and again. Rather than following them down the rabbit hole, name the story. “Oh yes, the ‘I’m lazy’ story is back, I remember this one”.

Dr Harris also suggests giving your negative thoughts a silly celebrity or character’s voice.

When I use this one I put the thoughts to Eddie Murphy’s voice circa Delirious or Raw in the 1980s, and I literally cannot take them seriously anymore.

DR RUSS HARRIS

4. Make room for negative thoughts

The book goes into this in far more depth, but the purpose of this insight is not to fight the thoughts (as clearly that rarely works and they always come back).

Rather than denying the thoughts, acknowledge they are there and although you don’t like the feeling, make room for it. It will likely come and go if you accept it.

Basically, expansion means making room for our feelings. If we give unpleasant feelings enough space, they no longer stretch us or strain us.

5. Ask yourself these questions

Lastly, although there are many questions you can ask yourself when in a negative thought spiral, my two favourites are:

  • Is the thought useful or helpful?
  • Does it help me be the person I want to be?

If the answer is no (and let’s be honest, it usually is), I make room for the thought, give it the Eddie Murphy treatment and can often move on with my day.

Have you read The Happiness Trap? What strategies do you use to help work through negative thinking?

Five Ways I'm Failing At My Own Advice

 

Over the last few weeks, I've fallen off the wagon. Exercise has taken a back seat, my work stress levels have been ascending and the thought of meal prepping on a Sunday makes me want to lie down and take a wine-induced nap. But hey, that’s what this blog is about – being OK with where you are and taking it easy on yourself. It’s also about honesty and transparency, so today I present you with the five ways I've been failing at my own advice.

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Advice #1

When blogging about how to make the most of your commute, I offered catching up on emails on the train/tram/bus to really get you ahead for the work day.

Reality

I guess with this one I have been taking my own advice, but checking emails has been causing me more anxiety than is necessary. I’ll often see mail that I want to act on straight away but don’t have the right files available on my phone. Or I’ll see an email chain that’s taken place that I haven’t been able to chime in on, then start thinking about how I’ll word the email when I arrive in the office. Arriving at work flustered and stressed is not the aim, so for now I’m letting this activity go from my commute.

Fix

My work email is right next to my personal email so I've shifted it into a folder on my phone I never use (and is located on the last screen) so I can’t access it easily and I’m not tempted for a quick peek (this never works right?!). So far, so good, which makes me more relaxed on the commute.

Advice #2

Plan your work day ahead so you feel accomplished at the end of the day. Otherwise hours can slip away and you leave work feeling like you didn't achieve anything.

Reality

Um, totally failing at this one lately. I've been saying yes to a lot of meetings, putting out little fires everywhere and am glued to my email, rather than working on more important tasks.

Fix

I am totally guilty of this but I love to change the way I manage my to do list. Some weeks I like Outlook, some weeks I need to handwrite it and for the last few weeks I’ve been using Trello, a free online organiser. I freaking love it and I think it’s definitely made me more productive. I include all of my different projects or clients as lists, then add ‘cards’ for each task. I can add due dates, archive (so satisfying to move things off as you do them) and see that yes, I have a lot of tasks, but only some are actually urgent, not all.

Advice #3

Plan for a well-rounded week – allocate equal time to all the important areas of your life – career, relationship, friendships, family, leisure, hobbies.

Reality

Does coming home from work tired and watching House of Cards all night count as a well-rounded life? Yeah, the last month has not been great for this one. I've been letting exercise go, been zoning out in Instagram instead of talking to my husband and secretly feeling happy when plans with ‘semi-obligated-to-see-friends’ get cancelled so I can do nothing.

Fix

Turning this around is so important. Last week I made an effort to get to the gym two nights after work and I left with much more energy and motivation than I came in with. I've also been making sure to spend at least 10 minutes talking through our days with my husband in the evening, and have been going out with the friends that leave me feeling inspired and full. My mood and energy have definitely lifted.

Advice #4

Practise gratitude in the mornings – list five things in your head that you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up.

Reality

Or alternatively, pick up your iPhone, check your emails, hear the cat meowing for breakfast and before you know it you’re on your way to work.

Fix

Taking a few minutes at the start of the day is so important to me for setting up the rest of my day. When I start with positive thoughts, ease into the morning and do some yoga, I’m a much more relaxed human being. I feel less stressed, can plan my day better and am more zen all around. Time to get back to the morning routine.

Advice #5

It’s ok to feel negative emotions completely. When you’re spiralling with negative self talk, set aside time to feel it.

Reality

As with any new job, I've been suffering a little with imposter syndrome as I learn the ropes. I’ve also been focusing on plans for the year ahead (read: wishing I had more $$ to travel more and fulfil those plans) and sometimes I find myself in a real spiral. I push the negative emotions away and think ‘I should feel happy. I shouldn't feel like this’. And guess what? That doesn't work.

Fix

Read The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. I've had so many epiphanies while reading this book, I haven’t even finished it yet as I want to give sufficient time for it all to sink in (he also recommends this – reading and practising the theories bit by bit). The crux of the book is a number of behavioural techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Parts of it centre on allowing yourself to accept negative emotions and scenarios you dream up and accepting our thoughts for what they really are, just thoughts.

So although I’m revealing how I’m failing at my own advice, that’s really only a story I’ve made up. So here’s to accepting what is and making moves to get life back to where we’d like it to be – one non-judgemental step at a time.

To finish, a couple of great quotes from The Happiness Trap:

"The mind loves telling stories; in fact, it never stops. All day, every day, it tells you stories about who you are, what you’re like, what you should be doing with your life, what other people think of you, what’s wrong with the world, what will happen in the future, what went wrong in the past, and so on. It’s like a radio that never stops broadcasting."
"The bottom line is not whether a thought is positive or negative, true or false, pleasant or unpleasant, optimistic or pessimistic, but whether it helps you create a fulfilling life."

Have a great week lovely readers.

 

4 Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Like A Phony

 
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Imposter syndrome, your inner ‘mean girl’, fraud complex, your ego who is certain you’re going to be found out as a bogus sham – whatever you want to call it, it’s likely we all have a similar voice swirling in our heads. 

Being hard on yourself is not uncommon, but feeling like an imposter at work, in your relationship, or in a personal pursuit, is no fun for anyone, least of all you. Below are four reasons to help you make peace with that voice, or at least not let it take you down the rabbit hole.

1. People believe in you or you wouldn’t be where you are

This one often relates to career – many women I know are a bit baffled as to how they’ve made it to where they are. They are intelligent, hard workers but still hear internal murmurs that they’re not deserving or that they’ll be ‘found out’. When I became an editor many moons ago, I had a deep seated fear that someone would arrive at my desk and demand I complete a pop quiz on split infinitives and non-verbal clauses. Needless to say it never happened.

Don’t disrespect the judgement of those who have hired you, promoted you, given you good feedback and helped you get to where you are. The more people you work with and the more workplaces you work for, the less likely it is that it’s a coincidence!

2. We’re all playing roles in our lives

A dear friend imparted this advice on me years ago. We are all ‘acting’ in some capacity – sometimes my role is a project manager, sometimes my role is wife, sometimes it’s zen yogi. The principle is that you don’t have to know everything in all of your roles and you don’t have to embody all of the roles at once, 24 hours a day.

It’s ok to act as if you’re gorgeous and funny and deserving of your relationship. It’s ok to pretend you’re a high-powered, confident employee, even if the little voice is trying to throw you off track. The more positive talk you instil in your mind, the closer you’ll get to believing it and showing it outwardly.

3. Everyone feels the same

I promise, ask anyone and they have likely felt like an imposter at some point in their life (if not, day / week / month).

I remember having to give a nerve-racking speech a few years back in front of the CEO and MD of my company. A number of other people had to give a speech that morning, including an experienced publisher, who I looked up to as a kind of mentor. After revealing my anxiety, he admitted he felt the exact same way. I knew then that if someone with 30 + years experience was doubting themselves, it was totally ok to feel how I did and enlightening to know that I wasn’t alone.

4. It’s ok to feel negative emotions completely

This one is a struggle for many women. It’s much easier to favour the upbeat emotions and brush away nerves or sadness in an attempt to get back to brighter days. But if you never fully feel these emotions, it’s likely you’ll never actually deal with them.

When you’re spiralling with negative self talk, set aside time to feel it. If you’re jealous in your relationship, freaking out at work or doubting your creative skills, step back and assign some time to dwell on it. Just not at that exact moment.

Set aside 15 minutes that evening or the next day to let the negative talk go crazy. Chances are it will have passed or quietened down a little by then. Either way, spend some time writing down how you feel and what you’re afraid is going to happen. What is the absolute worst thing that could materialise?

Once the time is up, you’ll often feel better and can resume your day. What’s even more useful is going back and reviewing the journaling – did any of it come true? If it did, was it as awful as you thought? I hope not but I’m also pretty sure not too.

Tell me – how do you deal with your inner critic?

And in what area of your life are you afraid of being ‘found out’?