Confident Beginnings

Confidence is a tricky thing, isn’t it? Like Goldilocks people can have too little or too much. Either ends of the scale are limiting and not particularly attractive but getting it just right? That’s the hard bit.

Milk
Colin’s Fridge and The Three Milks by Alasdair courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/zCANY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I recently watched a documentary where psychologists were monitoring young children in a play and school environment. Two children stood out and seemed to strike up what, on the face of it, was an unlikely friendship. One was overconfident, a thrill seeker who sought out danger and constantly pushed boundaries. The other was a boy who excelled at maths but who was generally frightened by life and shied away from anything he perceived as dangerous. These two boys, despite their obvious differences in personality, seemed to gel.

Friendship
Friendship by Tomvdh1 courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6zvfWy https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

When the psychologists put up ‘Danger – Keep Out’ signs and taped off one of the children’s favourite pieces of play apparatus – a play house reached by a ladder – the thrill seeker immediately wanted to investigate and go into the play house to see what the danger was. The nervous child hung back. So upset at the prospect of his friend doing something that was forbidden, the nervous boy told him that two adults were coming his way, even though no adults were in the area. The thrill seeker reluctantly left the equipment alone and the nervous boy had, in his eyes, protected his friend from danger. One had regulated the other’s actions.

Yin and yang
Yin and Yang by Rolf Dietrich Brecher courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/Xpv3X1 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Later, these same boys were confronted with a tarantula spider in a case. When the handler asked if the children would like to hold the spider, the thrill seeker was one of the first to put up his hand. The nervous boy, seated next to him, had already professed a fear of spiders. He hung back and moved away but was still fascinated enough to watch his friend handle the spider and allow her to walk over the back of his hand.

A few minutes later after another couple of children had handled the spider, the nervous boy asked if he too could have a go. At first, he was still too scared to hold his hands flat on the table to allow the spider to crawl over them and was seeking assurance from the handler that the spider would not bite or claw him. Once that assurance had been given, he had a go. Wonderfully, his thrill seeker buddy put his hand flat on the table first and the nervous boy put his on top of his friend’s and the spider then walked over both of their hands.

The nervous boy was delighted that he had faced and conquered a fear and the thrill seeker was pleased that he had coaxed his friend to try something new.

Though very different I could imagine this unlikely pair growing up to be firm friends for life. Operating at either extreme of the confidence scale, you could see how they could help to pull each other further into the middle ground of ‘just right’ thus enriching each other’s lives immensely.

friendship2
Friendship by Alex Isse Neutron courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by Public Domain 1.0 https://flic.kr/p/CwP7Zz https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

For those of us who do not have a friend at the other end of the confidence scale to help push, guide or protect us, we have to learn the hard way by life’s experiences. That’s why older people are a lot less bothered what others think of them than their younger counterparts. They have learned that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Confident beginnings are wonderful but for the rest of us it’s not where you start but where you finish that’s important.

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Forgive Yourself

I recently blogged about the Beauty of Forgiveness.

https://ellieholmesauthor.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/the-beauty-of-forgiveness/

That blog spoke about the need to let go of anger and bitterness because nursing old hurts and grievances reverberates negatively within us and ultimately hurts us far more than the original hurt perpetrated against us.

This week I want to talk about forgiveness again but this time a different aspect – forgiving yourself.

We all have instances in our lives where we wish we had said or done something at a particular time but, for whatever reason, we did not. The guilt associated with missed opportunities particularly involving loved ones who are no longer here can be sharp. We know if they were here they would tell us not to worry about it and yet we still beat ourselves up.

Negative Emotions
Emotions Explained by GollyGForce courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/jp8Yf4 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I am not a person who generally holds grudges or nurses bad feelings. I am quick to forgive and yet I do not tend to offer myself the same compassion for my own misdemeanours and transgressions.

Compassion
And May They Rise Up #compassion by Leigh Blackall courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/uwZgLu https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is because I hold myself to impossibly high standards. I always expect to excel and should I fall short, I berate myself about it:- I’m not good enough, I didn’t work hard enough etc.,

The trouble is I always reach for the stars and because I am only human, I am consequently setting myself up to fail more often than not. Why is it I always think I can cram so many things into a limited number of hours and wind up feeling tired and dispirited when I haven’t ticked everything off my stuff to do list for instance? Sound familiar?

So I have decided to make a concerted effort not to be so hard on myself in the future, to be a little bit more compassionate and kind to myself as well  as to others. We all fail and make mistakes. It’s how we learn to become better people.

Forgiving myself for such mistakes is a small step but an important one.

Begin Again
Buddha Quote by Hartwig HKD courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/dtMGUq https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Beauty of Forgiveness

We have all been in situations were people have treated us harshly. Sometimes we deserved it. Sometimes we didn’t. It is only natural that we are going to react defensively when we perceive someone is attacking us, even if it is only with words. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up and anger kicks in.

But this is not a state of mind or body we should hang on to. Holding on to old hurts, nursing those grievances for weeks, months or even years, is always going to hurt us more than it will ever hurt the perpetrators of the original hurt.

Forgiveness
Forgiveness by Susan Ackeridge courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/GgrwVn https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

We cannot all exhibit saintliness and constantly react well to bad situations but the art of moving on quickly is the key to our own health and happiness. Nurturing anger, jealousy or hate will only reverberate negatively within us. Make peace with your anger and let it go. Try to understand that the person or people who have done you wrong were probably hurting themselves, lashing out at whatever was in front of them, weighed down by their own troubles. Few people in the world are truly evil. Most have simply had the odds stacked against them since birth and are overburdened by the memories of traumas we could not imagine unless we walked in their shoes.

Forgive2
Forgive by MeganLynette courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/8Rjhee https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

Love isn’t…

love2jpg
Love by Franck Mahon courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/64sSdo      https://goo.gl/OOAQfn

  1. Love isn’t buying petrol station flowers at the last minute
  2. Love isn’t buying chocolates from the supermarket
  3. Love isn’t buying schmaltzy cards
  4. Love isn’t booking a table in an overcrowded and overpriced restaurant
  5. Love isn’t a sentiment to be packaged and wrapped
  6. Love isn’t saying ‘I love you’ because you think it’s what the other person wants to hear
  7. Love isn’t about making a grand gesture whose sole purpose is to get you what you want
  8. Love isn’t something you should ever take for granted
  9. Love isn’t guaranteed for life
  10. Love isn’t easy
love
Love by Carolina Melo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/4mP5Zo         https://goo.gl/VAhsB

Love is…

  1. Love is taking time and making the effort
  2. Love is putting someone else first
  3. Love is action not words
  4. Love is wanting something for someone else more than you want anything for yourself
  5. Love is de-icing a car someone else is going to drive
  6. Love is a lifetime in a heartbeat and a day in the blink of someone’s eye
  7. Love is going to the shops for the person you love because they can’t
  8. Love is stroking someone’s back when they are ill
  9. Love is seeing that film or visiting those relatives when you’d rather be doing something else
  10. Love is twenty-four-seven
love3
Love locked? By Chris Shervey courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/gBeUb3   https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

The art of listening

listen
Listen by Jim Linwood courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/a95gvY   https://goo.gl/RFmrDT

I have a friend who came to me recently wanting my advice. We met up for a drink and she talked me through the situation she found herself in. I nodded as she spoke, asked questions were appropriate but mostly I just listened.

She gave me a potted history of what had led up to the latest drama, where she was at now, what the problem was and what the possible solutions were. I interjected very little letting her give full vent to her feelings. I got the distinct impression she had been putting a lid on her feelings until she met me and so, like a pressure cooker that has had the lid firmly clamped on for a little too long, once the pressure was released and she was in a safe environment where she could talk without being judged, she rattled away, letting off all that pent up emotion.

pressure-cooker
Pressure Cooker by David Reber courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/7cVLPz  https://goo.gl/0OxDcj

I have had a lot of experience of the ups and downs of life but I am no wiser or better informed than the next person. I am as capable of stuffing up as everyone else. I could offer no dazzling insight or straightforward solution just a dollop of common sense. But as it happened, I didn’t even need to give that because my friend, as her discourse was winding down, reached that conclusion herself without any prompting from me.

Looking far happier by the end of our time together than she had at the beginning, my friend gave me a hug. “I knew you’d be the right person to talk to about this. You always give good advice.”   I felt flattered by her comments but thoroughly undeserving of them. I had hardly offered any advice during our time together, good or otherwise. I’d barely got a word in.

Sometimes all you have to do is listen.

Gossip Girls
Gossip Girls by Nicola Romagna courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/7bBkbi   https://goo.gl/Wzk7vN

 

 

Even the strong need to be weak sometimes

strength
Strength by Michael Havens courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/vAX44i   https://goo.gl/aJSpTq

Are you one of those people who others turn to in times of crisis? Are you the shoulder to lean on? The one who sorts things out and makes people feel better? I am one of those people and I like the fact that others feel they can rely on me and that they see me as someone who they can trust to help them. But what happen when it’s you who needs the help?

It is one thing to give help to others, it’s quite another to accept help in return or even to ask for it. To those of us who think of ourselves as strong it’s hard to let go and admit there are some things you simply cannot handle on your own.

cant-bear-to-look
Can’t bear to look by Rennett Stowe courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/5YyXJW    https://goo.gl/aJSpTq

Strong people often take pride in their strength and their ability to cope. They feel sorry for those weaker than themselves who cannot ride the tides of life quite so well. But even for the strongest amongst us, life can sometimes drag you down to your knees and when it does it takes a different kind of strength to reach out and grab the hands being offered to you.

Lemur giving hands
Lemur Giving Hands by Tambako The Jaguar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/dFqy4S    https://goo.gl/VAhsB

So next time life batters you around the head don’t let pride stop you asking for help, give yourself permission to be weak, just for a little while because the real strength is in knowing you don’t have to be strong all the time.

 

Alone in a crowd

When people think of indie publishing they think of one person multi tasking, swapping between being a writer, being an editor, being a formatter and being a promoter. There are some writers (and I take my hat off to you) who do all those things themselves. Most of us have a team we rely on to help us do the jobs we cannot do ourselves or don’t have time to do.

But beyond that group of people are a wider support network which form such an important part of an indie writer’s support system and most of them the writer has probably never met. I’m talking about the online support groups. Most writers belong to a few of these. They can be enriching, entertaining, informative, sometimes frustrating but always worthwhile – at least when you find the ones that suit you best.

support
Support by Igor Grushevskiy courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/aWNwU2   https://goo.gl/euu9DW

And that’s the beauty of support groups – there are a lot of them out there and every writer will be sure to find at least one group they feel comfortable with. As with other aspects of life, one man’s meat is another man’s poison and just because your writing friend raved about a particular group doesn’t mean you will find them worth committing time to.   You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince (sorry – blame the romance writer in me for that analogy!).

good-advice
Good Advice by Brett Jordan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/oVWkqU   https://goo.gl/euu9DW

One group I was fortunate enough to discover very early in my indie writing career was the Alliance of Independent Authors. If you are not familiar with Alli and are an independent author I strongly suggest you check out the Alli site. If you need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new in independent publishing, best practices and so much more check out the link to their website below:-

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/

If you have a favourite writing based group you belong to, why not tell us all about it either in the comments section below or perhaps in your own blog post and send me a link. Why not share the love?