Month: March 2016

Adult Survival Guide

It’s hard to pin point when exactly this happens, but somewhere in your twenties sh*t gets real.

Life steps up a notch, things become more serious, and there is no turning back…

So when you are busy working hard, being responsible, and dealing with the curve balls life throws at you, what do you need?

In no particular order…

1. Friends! Other people going through the same stuff as you, mates you can enjoy the ride with and learn from when they do something first! They’re awesome.

2. Alcohol! Come rain or shine your favourite tipple will be there to help you celebrate, commiserate and relax (especially after a hard day’s work). Remember though: drink responsibly. The hangovers aren’t worth it past a certain age…

image

3. Help! Sometimes you will need some support, guidance, advice – all kinds of help. This is totally normal. Parents are good oracles – try them first. Plan B: Google.

4. Holidays! For the love of your wellbeing, make sure you book regular holidays. Whether you have a staycation, a weekend break or an epic adventure. Sunbathing, skiing, walking, relaxing, sightseeing – all great antidotes to life stress.

5. Love! Finding a team-mate for the game of life is an excellent idea. It might take some research to find someone to imperfectly compliment you but once you do the adult world is your oyster; you can have fun, buy houses, and make babies 😉

6. Hobbies! Pursuing a range of interests is good for the soul. Anything from horse-riding to yoga, from blog-writing to marathon running! They make your days better; do them, do them often.

7. Money! It makes the world go round, but it doesn’t grow on trees… but you do need it. So remember to save so you can afford adult stuff. Easy on the credit cards, they’ll bite you in the bum later.

8. Family! Your (quirky) family members love you, keep you grounded, and support your aspirations; your roots are with you wherever you go. The rest is up to you!

9. Humour! Much needed, always appreciated. Laughter is the best medicine for a reason…

image

Take care 😉

N

Advertisements
Wishful Thinking (Part 2)

Wishful Thinking (Part 2)

Before I start this post, a quick recap of Part 1 (click on the link to read it in full):

  1. Wishful thinking alone will not achieve positive results
  2. Wishful thinking is futile when it comes to wishing someone else will change purely because you want/wish them to.

Today I would like to explore the fine line between reality and fantasy.

The way we wished things would be, and the way things actually are.

In 2011, I was recommended a book to read: The Reality Slap. The book provides insights on how to live a fulfilling life, despite the curve balls life throws at you. It acknowledges and validates the hurt, disappointment, frustration that comes in the aftermath of an unexpected life event. It encourages you to be kind to yourself, accept what cannot be changed, and live your life with purpose; this guidance can be applied to life events, big and small.

My perspective is, in life we have a mixture of:

  • Expectations
  • Events
  • Reactions

Rewind to when you were a child…

What did you wish for yourself? Were you influenced by fairy tales? Did you wish to follow in the footsteps of one of your parents? Did you have high or low expectations for yourself? Did you visualise yourself going to college or university? Did you see yourself having a successful career? Did you imagine a happy family life?

These expectations set you up in life; your aims and goals provide a starting point for your entrance into the adult world at 16 or 18.

*

We experience day-to-day events, and bigger life events. Holmes & Rahe compiled a list of stressful life events ranging from bereavement to change in sleeping habits. Their research found if too many events happen to you at the same time, you become susceptible to illness.

Top 5: Most Stressful

  1. Death of a spouse
  2. Divorce
  3. Martial Separation
  4. Imprisonment
  5. Death of close family member

Kanner explored the impact of ‘daily hassles’ on our stress levels; he found these daily hassles often cause more stress than other life events, such as:

  • Home maintenance
  • Concerns about weight
  • Too many things to do
  • Health of a family member
  • Rising prices

Looking at both categories, some of the events we have control over, some of the events are out of our control. Whatever influenced them, each event forms part of our reality.

*

In a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach, our reaction to an event or situation determines how we feel emotionally. Often our initial reactions are:

  1. Our cognitive reaction – our thoughts on what happened
  2. Our behavioural reaction – our behaviour as a result of what happened

How we react to the event, and how we perceive the event compared to our expectations, has a big impact on how we feel and what happens next…

*

Where does wishful thinking fit in?

I believe wishful thinking can affect both our expectations and our reactions. Regular optimism can enhance expectations, and soften our reactions. However, I’m concerned with how wishful thinking can prevent us accepting our reality. If we do not accept our reality, we risk living in a fantasy land where you are susceptible to hurt, disappointment, and frustration on a regular, circular basis.

Example # 1

Expectation: I’m going to be healthy until after I retire

Event: Treated for cancer aged 40

Wishful Thinking Reaction: The cancer was just a one-off, I’ll have no more health issues after this.

Acceptance Reaction: I am more susceptible to cancer now I have had it. I better review the ways I can look after myself better e.g. healthy eating, exercise & lifestyle choices

Example # 2

Expectation: I’ll always be able to manage what life throws at me on my own

Event: Build up of events culminating in time off work due to stress

Wishful Thinking Reaction: Nothing will be stressful like that again in the future

Acceptance Reaction: I’m not immune to stress, I need to re-evaluate my approach when I have several demands at once e.g. time-management, prioritisation & relaxation time

Example # 3

Expectation: I’ll get married by the age of 27

Event: Break up with long-term partner aged 25

Wishful Thinking Reaction: It could still happen, I need to find someone quickly!

Acceptance Reaction: I want to get married for life, so it would be better to let go of that expectation; I’ll get married to the right person, at the right time, whatever age I am

Example # 4

Expectation: I’ll have a beach holiday every summer when I have children

Event: Prices of flights in the summer holidays are extortionate

Wishful Thinking Reaction: We can go in term-time, no-one will mind.

Acceptance Reaction: We can afford summer beach holidays every other year

Example # 5

Expectation: My close friends will be always be there for me

Event: Friend drifts away

Wishful Thinking Reaction: They’ll come back & it will be just like old times

Acceptance Reaction: Some people are in your life for a set amount of time, that’s OK

*

When we have a blank slate we can fill it with wishes! As our life progresses, we have to acknowledge the events that happen to us. We cannot wish them away, deny they happened, and carry on regardless. It is healthy and helpful to take stock once in a while. To readjust any unrealistic expectations, especially in the aftermath of a stressful life event; to reset your goals, if your life path takes an unexpected turn.

a1e0970a6e6af8b9874415af8b4c36b2

A fantasy life is just that, a fantasy. Let go. Your life is now. Your reality surrounds you as you read this blog post. Your friends are who you saw at the weekend. Your reflection is YOU. Your career is thanks to your hard work. If there’s something in your life you want to change, that’s possible to change, change it;  if it’s not, accept it. Let your life be a reflection of who you are, not who you wished you were or what you expected before you knew better.

Focus on what is possible for YOU, despite what has or hasn’t happened to you.

By accepting your life exactly the way it is and accepting yourself exactly the way you are, you can embrace:

*Gratitude*

*Fulfillment*

*Contentment*

Sounds good, right?

Take care,

N

 

 

 

 

 

Wishful Thinking (Part 1)

Wishful Thinking (Part 1)

I wrote a post a few months ago about optimism, which captured the essence of what drives me as a person. There are definite benefits, which I can attest to, of thinking positively, being optimistic and feeling hopeful; I hope you have experienced this too 🙂

Recently I have been wondering more about hope and optimism, considering whether there are any  disadvantages to having this type of mindset; how easily does optimism turn into blind optimism? When does hope become wishful thinking? 

Collins (the dictionary) is going to help me start my exploration:

Optimism – “confidence about the future or the success of something.”

Hope – “a feeling of desire for something & confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment”

Blind optimism – “to be optimistic without any rational reason”

Wishful thinking – “the mistaken belief that one’s wishes are in accordance with reality

From those definitions I can immediately take three things:

  1. Hope & Optimism related to XYZ are fundamentally supported by confidence in the possibility that XYZ could happen.
  2. Blind optimism related to XYZ involves expressing confidence, and expecting favourable outcomes, without any evidence to back it up.
  3. If you engage in wishful thinking related to XYZ – you may have a desire to believe XYZ could happen, but such an outcome would be highly unlikely.

Optimism and hope are perhaps more grounded than they sometimes appear; as more often than not, there is actual evidence to inspire confidence in positive outcomes.

For example: As a well-qualified woman, with a great track record of securing jobs following interviews [evidence], she was optimistic when she began searching for a new job. She increased her chances of securing an interview by submitting several application forms that matched her skill-set [positive action]. When she was offered an interview, she presented herself well, as she believed in her ability to do the job [confidence]. She was hopeful based on her performance in the interview that she would be offered the job; when they called to hire her she accepted immediately.

Change a few fundamental details in the case-study and you would quickly be dealing with a case of wishful thinking.

We often see wishful thinking personified on ITV talent shows. A member of the public stands on the stage, and they proclaim their wish to be as successful as Taylor Swift. They open their mouths to sing, and all we can hear is the sound of a squealing cat. A swift no from all four judges, and their dreams have been dashed. Question: was it realistic they would go on to win the show when they were unable to sing – how could there be genuine confidence in that outcome? 

Optimism becomes blind when rationality goes out the window

Of course, there is nothing wrong with aspiration and dreaming of wonderful things happening to you. So long as you know when and where to draw the line for yourself.

*****

In lighthearted situations engaging in wishful thinking is harmless. When, deep down, you know whatever you’re talking about or aiming for won’t happen or is highly unlikely, it can be amusing to even consider the possibility that it could!

An exciting experience at a National Speed Awareness Course – haha!

People dream big every week when they buy a lottery ticket. The odds are well-known to be slim, but it could be you! So as long as your expectations of becoming a multi-millionaire match the likelihood of it happening, you’re golden; disappointment crisis averted.

Collins’ back…

Disappointment – “sadness caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations”

Despair – “the complete loss or absence of hope”

These two bad boys are the two major disadvantages I can see of stepping over the ‘hope’ line, and venturing into wishful thinking. 

All of us have expectations, specific personal expectations have been discussed in a previous post. It can be common for people to feel disappointment in themselves when they do not live up to their expectations, especially when they are unrealistic. For a depressed person or a person experiencing a difficult time the absence of hope can feel very real. One way to manage the more typical disappointment people feel, is to lower the expectations you have for yourself, and remember to be kind to yourself about it.

Though adjusting personal expectations is challenging, it is within our power

A danger-zone when it comes to wishful thinking is when it is applied to other people. At least when you are wishing something for yourself you have some control over it. When you are wishing someone else would say, do, be something different to usual, and they have never demonstrated the capacity to change in the past, you’re likely to end up disappointed. Some people have ingrained patterns dating back years that they are not even aware of, never mind motivated to change.

As we can never be 100% certain of anything, there is always some room for hope. In fact, we can make a big space for hope in our hearts and minds when we want to, no matter how much evidence we have to the contrary; we might even make hope a cup of tea and encourage them to settle in with us.

Hoping is much better than accepting the facts, right?

The reality is the likelihood of a person changing a drastic amount during their lifetime is limited, especially if they don’t want to. I’m not saying this as a pessimist, as I’m a natural optimist, but for one of the first times I’m concluding this as a realist. Of course, you can highlight it when someone’s behaviour or attitude affects you in a certain way, and people can learn to change. I have to emphasise again here: they have to want to change for change to happen. You may have some influence over this – but this just might be hope talking.

The very people who are disappointing you, who are not living up to your expectations or who you despair of at times – they could very well be, and probably are, absolutely fine with the way they are and the way they behave.

The only person that is upset by this type of wishful thinking is you.

Instead, perhaps your energy could be better spent wishing for…

  • The serenity to accept the things you cannot change
  • The courage to change the things  you can
  • The wisdom to know the difference

 

Look out for ‘Wishful Thinking: Part 2‘ next week.

Take care,

N