Inner trash talk - and why its not ok.

Most of the women I know are successful, intelligent, attractive and deeply insecure. Read that sentence again, and think about yourself and the women in your own life. It’s rather sad isn’t it?

I can’t pretend that I’m in any way qualified to explain why this is the case, although there are as many theories as there are women. There is a wealth of literature on how women have been repressed, oppressed, liberated and glorified, all pointing to one reason or another for the downfall of women’s self-esteem.

What I do know is that no matter how intelligent, successful or attractive women are, too many of them feel inadequate and treat themselves as though they are second rate. And we do it all without even thinking. I cannot count the number of times I have heard friends make seemingly off-hand comments that are actually very destructive and indicate that they don’t have any faith in themselves. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve done it myself.

Imagine for a moment taking those comments we make about ourselves and directing them at someone else.

Actually, if you have a friend that will understand what you’re doing, try saying this to each other. “You have eaten like a pig this week and you look fat in that dress”.  Or try this one “you’re not nearly smart enough to be in that job”.  Absorb for a moment how you feel saying that to someone and consider your feelings on hearing it said to you.  Shocking isn’t it. I’ll bet that you cannot imagine actually saying this to someone without feeling like the most horrible person who ever lived.

 

And hearing it?  For me it’s a combination of “how dare you F#$&*ing say that to me!!” and a smaller quieter voice asking “is she maybe right?”. Would you be friends with someone who said this to you? I sure as hell wouldn’t be!

So if it’s completely unacceptable to say this to someone else, why do we allow this kind of self-abuse?

I completely believe that the very first step in overcoming feelings of inadequacy and repairing our relationships with ourselves is to stop with the abusive self-talk. The problem is not only that our subconscious absorbs whatever messages we give it, but it also starts a cycle of self-talk that spirals out of control really quickly.

But thankfully, it’s relatively easy to identify and slow down this horrific self-degradation.  Listen carefully to the things you say to yourself, not just when you’re upset but when you feel ok too, and ask “is this something I would feel ok saying to someone else?” If it’s not, TRASH that thought!! Whether it means stopping and saying to yourself, “no that thought is not valid and it’s mean”, or writing it in a notebook and then writing down why it’s not accurate, whatever works for you.

Often seeing it written down is enough to make you realize just how absurd it is to be thinking those sorts of things.

I know one woman who imagines the voice saying these nasty things to be coming from some hilariously silly cartoon character in a really high pitched squeaky voice.  I think the idea of a chipmunk telling you that you that you are boring and have no friends would put it into perspective for pretty much anyone!

Whatever method you find works for you is fine, but you MUST deal with negative self-talk.

Stop being so harsh towards yourself and be nice to you!

MindsetTarryne West
Real progress looks boring

Recently I had a giggle at a meme I saw on Facebook that went something along the lines of “There! I ate a salad! Am I skinny now?” I’ve had moments like that too, especially when I’ve been really good about being consistent with my yoga practice and thinking “surely I should be able to do headstands by now! I mean seriously! I’ve been working on them all week!!” When we set about trying to achieve goals or make changes to our lives, we often get caught up in the excitement and momentum of the change, hurtle along doing all the right things and then watch in disappointment as we slowly abandon all the new things we set out to do and fall back into old patterns and habits.

It’s very frustrating and is one of the most common things that people come to me to work on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had new clients say to me

“I did amazingly for like three weeks and then I just lost all will power. I’m just lazy and a failure.”

But what most people who set out to make changes don’t realize is that it’s not just about willpower, it’s about working WITH the way your brain functions, not against it. And to do that, you need to use the simplest and most boring tool that we have, the power of routine.

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As an example, which do you think is going to have a greater impact on your fitness, going to the gym for a mammoth session once a week and vegging in front of the TV the rest of the time, or going for a walk every day?

Not only does routine have huge cumulative effects, for example, the difference between caring for your skin every day vs doing nothing and trying to fix it all with a facial once a month. But it’s also closely aligned with the way your brain works best.

Our brains like to create patterns and put things on autopilot, which is why it’s so easy to slip back into an old habit as soon as we stop focusing on the new behaviour that we’re trying to create. Our brain, if given a choice, goes “Well this way takes effort and I already have a pattern for this so I’m just going to switch back to that one!” And the time it’s most likely to do this is when you’re stressed, or busy or overwhelmed. Which is why making a lot of big changes all at once is very exciting but unlikely to last.

This is why, if you want to really understand why your life is the way it is, have a look at the things you do every day.

Because our collection of habits and routines are what make up our everyday existence.

The trick to sustainable changes that create even bigger changes is to focus on shifting the routines and the habits that we have now, to more positive ones that support our overall goal. By focusing on the smaller steps, each successive supporting habit, we build our way more easily and with far less frustration and resistance to what it is we really want.

For example, my goal is to be more productive earlier in the day. Now I could set an alarm clock for 6am and drag my butt out of bed and then argue with myself and later get annoyed because I am inevitably going to hit snooze 50 times and keep sleeping. And repeat this pattern every day relying on willpower to try force myself into a new habit. (Which then becomes a habit on its own!)

OR

I could focus on building routines that allow the 6am wake up call to happen more smoothly. I go to bed 30 min earlier than usual so my internal clock starts to shift. I have a morning routine where I get up and take the dog outside straight away which helps me to mentally wake up. I plan out what I’m working on in the morning and in what order the night before so that I don’t even have to think. I can simply grab my tea and get started. Each of these habits once established, means that my morning happens on autopilot in a way that works towards my larger goals rather than against them.

If you’re trying to achieve a goal, whether it’s to exercise more or lose weight, be more productive or make more time for family and hobbies, have a good look at the things you do daily, all of your habits and routines and be honest. Are they supporting what you’re trying to do, or are they sabotaging your progress?

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MindsetTarryne West
Why beauty is important

There is a beautiful Chinese proverb that reads

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.”

This has always resonated with me as I strongly believe that beauty in our surroundings is as important to our health as good food. I know personally that I function better when my home is tidy and well presented. I always feel calm when the space around me has nicely coordinating or complimentary colors. I’m definitely happier when I’ve made an effort to dress in pretty clothes and a bit of jewellery.  One of my favorite things in the world is to walk in the front door and see flowers on the table. It may seem at first vain or superficial, but beauty for me is essential to my mental health.  Unfortunately it’s often the thing we let go of first though when things get hard.

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When you’re busy, stressed or feeling a bit low, beauty is often seen as far too much effort so we put it on hold. After all, the extra 10 minutes you need to put together a pretty outfit is time you could spend in bed.  And why would you spend $20 on flowers when you’re broke this week.   Who cares about the chipped nail polish on your toes, no one’s going to see it right?  I had a funny conversation with a friend just yesterday who was telling me that she puts away all her nice wine glasses for special occasions, so she never ends up using them.  I was visiting a friend recently who had the most beautiful candles with glorious smells, but she never burns them. She’s saving them, she’s not sure for what though.  They sit hidden on a shelf barely visible behind some books. 

I’m sure everyone has something of beauty that they never get to enjoy because it seems too special for everyday use but I believe every moment in life is worthy of being a special occasion and should be treated as such.

Every moment of beauty in your life that you sacrifice is a moment you lose to the mundane.

Still don’t believe me?

In this fantastic post Karen Maleck-Whiteley sums it up with this comment on a book called   “Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things,” where Don Norman presents his theory on why we chose aesthetics before function.

“He believes that beautiful things change your emotions in a positive way, making you feel happy and less stressed. Your emotional state then affects your perceptions and your effectiveness in completing tasks. When you are happier and less stressed, most things you do are easier.”

Try it for yourself. Today buy $5 worth of flowers and put them somewhere you can see them, be it your desk at work or coffee table at home. If you can’t do that, go steal some daisies from someone’s garden, or twigs of lavender from a hedge.  They don’t have to be grand or impressive, but the pop of color will make you smile every time you catch sight of them.

Next time you have a cup of tea or coffee, have it out of the prettiest or most colorful cup you can find. If you have a cute matching tea-pot somewhere, haul it out and use it!!

Got a pair of sparkly shoes at home? Put away your fear and wear them to work. Seriously. Sparkly shoes peeking out from below your serious somber black work pants? Brilliant!

If bringing these small flashes of beauty into your day doesn’t at least make you smile a little then I will personally deliver an enormous bunch of flowers to you while wearing a chicken suit.

And don’t forget, there is beauty everywhere you look.  It’s all too easy to tune it out during the hustle and bustle of your day. Once you start becoming aware of it, you’ll find it turning up in the most unexpected places.

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BeautyTarryne West
A users guide to toxic people
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I don’t remember who first said this first, but my grandfather once quoted to me, “You become the company you keep”.  I didn’t pay much attention to it until I began to notice that my life had become filled with drama and turmoil, some of it self-generated, but I had no idea why. It turns out, I was becoming the company I kept. I had managed to become attached to a Toxic. Once you start identifying the behaviour of toxic people you will start to notice them everywhere. And once you’re aware of it, you can actually see the behaviour seeping in and affecting the people around them.   

Think about people that you know who make you feel drained of energy when you’ve spent time with them.

The ones whose comments always feel a little backhanded or judgemental.  People who downright pull you down and leave you feeling worse about yourself. The ones who always seem embroiled in drama. Negative, needy, manipulative people who suck the happiness out of your day.  Women are in general very sensitive to the environment around them and will likely be taking on the negativity of a toxic person often without even realising it.

The simplest way to spot a Toxic? Watch to see who criticises and complains the most. 

Cheryl Richardson’s bookTake Time for Your Life. (yes it has a vile 90s self-help vibe but it's really worth reading) She writes a great deal about dealing with negative people and has some incredible insights into salvaging relationships when this is an issue. What makes her so brilliant is that she empowers you to grow beyond the behaviour and possibly even help the other person become aware of their own without creating confrontation.

She breaks them down into these categories

The Blamer  This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn’t working in his life and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you.

The Drainer  This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment. Because of her neediness, the conversation often revolves around her, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.

The Shamer  This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of your or your ideas in front of others. He often ignores your boundaries and may try to convince you that his criticism is for you own good. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before his.

The Discounter  This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position. It can be exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, so eventually, you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.

The Gossip  This person avoids intimacy by talking about other behind their backs. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest “scoop.” By gossiping about others, he creates a lack of safety in his relationships, whether he realises it or not. After all, if he’ll talk about someone else, he’ll talk about you.

Sound familiar? Does it even maybe sound like you?

Dealing with these people can be tricky as the easiest way is just to avoid them.  If you can’t do this, make encounters as brief as you can.   Unfortunately many times toxic people are unavoidable. It might be a friend within your social circle which can be tricky as you will have to find ways to either exclude them from gatherings or for a time being, exclude yourself. 

A strategy I have found successfully is to avoid larger gatherings and see your friends in smaller bunches of two or three at a time and phase out having that person present. When they are there, ignore all drama. Don’t take the bait to start arguments and don’t participate in negativity. Because they aren’t getting the response they need they will simply move on to someone else. Quite often you’ll discover that the other members of the group feel the same way but just don’t know what to do about it.

Sometimes your Toxic may be a close friend that you don’t want to have to cut out.

The only way to deal with this is by creating boundaries and being honest but gentle about their behaviour.

Don’t forget that it comes from a place of incredible insecurity.

The worst type of Toxic is one you have to work with. Being exposed to negativity, criticism, passive aggression and complains for 8 hours a day is enough to drive anyone to drink. My personal solution is to make it someone else’s problem. Sit down with your manager and explain your feelings and issues. A good manager will organise personal development or counselling for everyone involved until the situation has either resolved itself or gotten to a point where you don’t want to murder your colleagues with a stapler. A bad manager, who does nothing, means you are in the wrong job and should take your talents elsewhere!

However you decide to deal with your Toxic, you do need to take some kind of action.  The negative impact on your own life can translate into causing you self-esteem issues, difficulties in your relationships and friendships and just plain stressing you out!

Your life is yours to create so remember; you become the company you keep.

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MindsetTarryne West
On eating elephants
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Life is filled with moments where you suddenly stop and go “oh! I get it”. These moments are wonderful and inspiring and really make you feel like you’re finally getting somewhere. I often hear people saying, that it all just clicked into place one day, but on closer inspection that’s not completely true. If we haul out the various clichés about life being a journey and every journey starting with a single step etc., we can see how our greatest achievements are created by many tiny changes that lead up to the big AH HA! But often we become so frustrated with the apparent lack of progress that we give up and decide that whatever it is that we are attempting or what we want in life is impossible.

I’m very much a big picture person. I do love a grand plan and I’m perfectly able to envision the finished product of whatever I’m working on.  I can see quite clearly what I want my life to look like, but I am unable to see the process involved, and if I’m really honest, I’m impatient to see the end result.  Or rather, I used to be. I don’t yet have the “perfect life” (lets face it, nothing is perfect), but these days I’m certainly a lot closer than I once was. I’ve come to understand that in order to get what I want I need to focus on each tiny, seemingly insignificant step along the way.

Even a tiny step in the right direction

A quote that’s been popping up a lot for me lately is “We are what we repeatedly do”, and that’s exactly what the AH HA moment is all about.  Its about repeating a thought or an action until it becomes ingrained and you reach a point where you don’t even have to try. You’ve created a habit that’s a positive force and you ARE what you wanted to be. The best part? This principal can be applied to absolutely any aspect of your life. Marvelous stuff!

For example, when I still struggled with feeling anxious and having negative thoughts that ran away from me like a speeding train. I spent a few months consciously reminding myself that I was in control of my reactions and that I would be a much happier person if I made sure that I looked at things positively. It was a great deal easier than I thought it would be and I had an unexpected day where something happened that would normally send me completely off the deep end, but… Voila! Habitual positivity. I'm never going to be a perpetually happy bubbly positive energizer bunny (not all the time anyway people like that scare me!) but around 80% of the time I am a very positive person and, I hope, a positive influence.

Change is an extremely intimidating thing, but it is what we all need in order to be able to live the lives that we dream of. Very few people are able to change overnight without some massive motivational incident, but everyone can make one tiny change every day until you suddenly go “AH HA!”  Making the commitment to change is the hard part. The rest is just about making it manageable for yourself.

As my mum likes to say, How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.

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MindsetTarryne West
Being here when I'm here
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One of the things I’ve always noticed when I don’t feel like my life is working very well is that I’m thinking ahead with conditions attached. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes thinking forward is what holds you back. How many times have you thought to yourself “I’ll apply for that job when… I’ve lost weight / done a course / feel more financially secure / have a partner who can support me”.   I’ve done this too many times to count, with the result that I often feel I’ve missed out on so many opportunities.

Even with seemingly little things, “I’ll go to the races when I can afford a nicer dress/hat”, “I’ll be more social when I’m happier with my look”. “I’ll date when I’m thinner”. Sound familiar?  I remember being on holiday once with a friend who spent the entire time concerned about what her tan was looking like and taking photos of EVERYTHING so that she could show off when she got back to work. Yes, she wasted her whole holiday thinking about being back at work. Needless to say neither of us really enjoyed it. She wasn’t happy just being there.  I think Facebook has a lot to answer for in this department. So many people are more concerned about documenting how much fun they have on a night out, than actually having the fun!

Without hauling out the old blah of “it’s the journey not the destination”, there really does need to be a focus on the here and now. The more we think forward the more potential we have to put things on hold until we feel circumstances are “perfect”.  Part of this I’m sure if about fear. A fear of things not working out the way we had hoped.  A fear of being rejected because things (or we)aren’t quite right.  A fear that our life isn’t measuring up to our expectations so we ensure it at least looks exciting.

A character in one of my favorite movies says disparagingly to her mother when not allowed to go out, “I’m as likely to find a husband in my room as in any other part of this house!”. And it’s so true, well maybe not the husband part unless that’s what you’re looking for. Life will not happen if you spend your life planning what you might do and don’t leave the house!

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So focus on what’s going on right now. Of course if you give whatever you’re doing only half your attention and the other half concerning yourself on how much better it could be, you’re going to be frustrated and unhappy. Ever noticed how the first thing people seem so say when they've been zoned out is “what did I miss?”  You miss subtle pieces of life that are often really significant. (Laundry is the exception. I hate laundry. It has nothing to recommend it!) If you’re bored at work, stop ignoring everything around you while thinking “I’ll enjoy work more when I find a perfect job”. There is no such thing!  Focus on what makes your job interesting, put up your hand for new projects or focus on building relationships with your colleagues. Who knows where it might lead you.  Also, apply for your dream job! If you’re sitting around saying to yourself “I’ll go out more with my friends when I’ve lost weight or can buy nicer clothes”. Get your ass dressed and go out! Alternatively if you seriously cant face going out, invite your friends in! Dinner parties are wonderful. Promise yourself you’ll try not to think about any of the things that hold you back for one night (tequila helps here). I’m willing to bet you have an amazing evening even if you’re just going 10 pin bowling.  It’s that first step that creates momentum.  Get out there and live!

Essentially, focus on doing. Don’t worry about if it’s going to work out, don’t worry about what your friends might think. Let someone else document the chaos for Facebook. Once you’re on the move you’ll find that a lot of the things you worry about feel less important.  Be in the moment with whatever you’re doing and it will be so much more rewarding than worrying about what you will or might be doing.

That said, always make time to day dream.

MindsetTarryne West
What I learned from Disney
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I have a few friends who will probably murder me for this, but I learned a great deal about life from Disney movies. Today I was reminded of Aladdin, which has always been a favorite.  There’s a great scene in the movie where the Genie lists the rules of wish making, two of which are; I can’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else. I can’t bring people back from the dead.

Yup, even having a Genie can’t make someone fall in love with you.  While you may never really think about it, we all spend a great deal of our lives trying to make people love us. Its most obvious with romantic love because it’s the setting in which we let go of so much of ourselves and open the doorway to fear and self-esteem issues.

In yet another fairy-tale movie (yes, I’m a fan) the step mother says to her two daughters “Remember girls, we hide our flaws till after the wedding”.  While I know it’s just a movie, that kind of thinking is prolific and incredibly destructive.  Everyone wants to present their best face at the start of a relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are presenting a person that isn’t you, it’s easy to get sucked into a belief that the authentic you isn’t good enough.

People are often more intuitive than we give them credit for. A guy knows that you don’t really like rugby despite your stoic presence in the rain at matches. He probably knows that you don’t find his habit of falling asleep on your couch (which you will have to clean) covered in crumbs and sauce, as cute as you may say you do. Most of us make allowances for small lies like these at the begining but later on in a relationship when people stop trying to hide their percieved flaws, real intimacy develops and we are more secure, but more vulnerable. If that relationship then fails, it often sparks a belief that revealing our true selves was a cause of the split, after all who would love us as we are… right?

Sometimes no matter how much people care about each other, how well they get on, how “good” together a couple might be, it just doesn’t work.  I don’t think most breakups are about flaws or being imperfect. I believe that it’s about imbalance.  When a relationship doesn’t work it often means that one person is less invested than the other. One is putting less effort into the relationship.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about their partner, it means that being a part of that relationship isn’t as important to them as it should be.

We are so quick to look at ourselves and believe that we are not good enough. That in some way we have been found wanting, but is this really the truth?  How many times have you looked carefully at a failed relationship and honestly analysed it?

I have sat over many glasses of wine listening to friends wailing variations of “if I was sexier/more spontaneous/liked his interests more/complained less, then maybe we would still be together”.  I said these very things myself.  But what if we looked at a relationship and instead of placing blame on our imperfect natures, we said the things that deep down we know to be true. Think about your past relationships for a moment and see if any of these fit;

  • “I don’t think we were emotionally mature enough to commit”
  • “He cares about me but doesn’t provide what I really need in a partnership”
  • “We love each other but there isn’t enough effort put in to maintain our relationship”
  • “I love him, but I need to resolve my insecurities which lead to trust issues before I can commit”
  • "We are actually not a good match but Im scared of being alone so I keep pushing for it to be right"
  • “He’s actually just an assbag and I deserve much much better”

Doesn’t that make a great deal more sense than sitting around sobbing into your fifteenth martini that you’re not good enough?

Holding onto the past, is like holding onto

When we start to accept that we cannot be responsible for how our partners (or ex) feel and react, we can start to let go of the belief that we are responsible for not being loved enough (Exception: if you are going through his garbage at night and sending creepy notes with bits of your appendix attached… It may be your fault – yes true story). We can start to see that relationships are about more than good chemistry and shared interests. They take work, and that can be scary.

If your partner, or love interest does not genuinely want to be in a relationship with you, and won’t put in the effort required, that is not your fault. It is their own issue that they must grow to overcome.  Nothing you do or say can change that. Or maybe, you're just in the wrong relationship.

It does not matter who you are, what you look like or what your interests are, you cannot make a person love you.  Not even a Genie can make someone love you if they aren’t ready to love, and he can’t bring that love back from the dead.

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MindsetTarryne West