I Should What? Bigger, Bolder, Braver in 28 Moves or Less

Life doesn’t breathe because of the big moments. It’s about the small ones that collect together in unexpected ways and lead to something extraordinary – a conversation, a chance meeting,  an idea, a wrong turn, a deep breath in. It’s about that one moment when you decide you will – or you won’t – and that only ever happens in a moment. So here we are … at a collection of simple ideas that might lead to the one that matters. 

  1. Don’t pass by Mr Wonderful to keep looking for Mr Perfect – you won’t find him. He only exists in fairy tales and chances are he’ll judge you on your form in a glass slipper. What happens when, post wedding, babies and time for decent daily workouts, there’s no chance of you fitting that dodgy glass shoe? Mr Perfect will put rockets on his pricey patent leathers and he’ll be out of there. Mr Wonderful will tell you he’s always preferred you without shoes anyway – before laughing with you at the sanity of the fool who thought glass be a good idea for footwear.
  2. Mirrors, scales and size tags are dirty little liars. You’re so much more than a number. Always have been. Always will be. Remember that.
  3. Act as though you deserve to be here – you do. Remind yourself every time you walk into a room – it will change the way you feel and the way you’re seen.
  4. Speak as though you deserve to be heard. You don’t need anybody’s permission. Nobody is doing you a favour by ‘letting you’.
  5. Only kiss people who think you’re wonderful.
  6. Hang on to the one who makes you feel it.
  7. The one reason to stay – how he makes you feel.
  8. The one reason to leave – how he makes you feel.
  9. Say ‘thank you’ like you mean it. Few things will leave a bigger impact than letting someone know they’ve made a difference. Whether it’s a stranger, friend, lover, colleague or child – it’s a basic human need to know that what we do matters. The smallest act can have the most profound effect.
  10. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Don’t say things to yourself that you would never say to people you love, or to people who are not shy of venting on Facebook. You can be kind to yourself or not – they take the same effort but one will leave you feeling less than.
  11. Know that when you say, ‘No offence,’ or ‘I’m just being honest,’ you’re  not fooling anyone.
  12. Swap ‘won’t’ for ‘can’t’. Can’t speak French? You could if you put in the effort. Can’t sing? You could if you worked at it for long enough. It’s actual science that effort is more important than innate ability in determining how you perform. Effort makes a difference to everything. Everything. Except getting along with difficult people, which brings me to number 13 …
  13. No jackasses. Don’t be with people who shrink you. They’re looking for someone to be less than they feel. Don’t be their someone.
  14. Get out of your own way. Stop thinking of all the reasons you ‘shouldn’t’, because the one reason you ‘should’ is the only one that matters.
  15. Laugh. A lot. Especially at yourself – but if there’s nothing laugh-worthy there, funny Youtube clips were invented for the exact purpose of pulling a laugh. Good to know they’ve got your back.
  16. When your path is in need of roadworks – a break up, losing your job, wanting to break up with your job… the usual suspects – eat cake in bed. The potholes won’t look as vast the next day. (And if they’re still looking bad, there’s always leftover cake to pretty up the view.)
  17. It’s science that rejection from a long-term relationship triggers the same part of the brain as addiction, or withdrawal from addiction. Remember this and know it will get better. Science has proven that too. In the meantime, buy new linen, new pj’s and eat cake in bed.
  18. You know that feeling you have when the thought of somebody lingers in you and they have no idea? You’ve been that person to somebody. Probably to many somebodies. Know that you make a difference. And act like you do.
  19. Kiss slowly and kiss often. 
  20. If at first you can’t find it in you, look again. Always look again.
  21. Spend time with your tribe. They’re the ones who energise you, love you (even when you’re not that loveable), make you laugh, tuck your hair behind your ears when your face is wet from tears, bring you lemonade when you’re sick, hold you when your sad, and remove sharp objects and email sending capacity when you’re crazy with hate.
  22. Red lipstick will change the way you feel. Don’t wear it just for ‘special’. Wear it for the fun of it – to the shops, to breakfast, or to get a bottle of milk. It’s science that aspects of your physical environment (temperature, colour, light, smells, comfortability – to name a few) and aspects of your physical self (what you wear, the way you stand, sit, speak – to name a few more) has an effect on the way you think and feel. That aside, the day a girl can’t wear red lipstick for the sake of it is honestly the day I’m done.
  23. Have an open mind with everyone you meet. Everybody has loved. Everybody has been loved. Everybody’s been hurt. Everybody’s lost. Everybody has something to lose. Everybody. And everybody has a story to tell.
  24. That said, refer to point number 13. Your story has nothing to gain by letting jackasses write your script.
  25. Never take ‘No’ from anyone who can’t say ‘Yes’.
  26. Look after your body – it’s the only one you’ve got. It’s yours and it’s doing a mighty fine job. Love it, cherish it, respect it and pamper it. It deserves it. Share it only with those who agree. 
  27. If you’re in a room full of people and you know nobody, speak to the person on their own. They’ll be grateful and chances are you will be too. Out of all the people in that room, you’ll be the one that’s remembered.
  28. Remember birthdays and celebrate yours.

What are your rules for happiness?


This article has been written as part of a collaboration of diverse ideas from 40 different minds on ways to kickstart 2015. The list and the links can be found here. There are plenty of great ideas – but it only takes one to make a difference.

 

6 Comments

Alesha

Wonderful article; one that I’ll be printing out and putting in my wallet for the times that I get unhappy!

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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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