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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When you can’t cut out (their worries), add in (what they need for felt safety). 

Rather than focusing on what we need them to do, shift the focus to what we can do. Make the environment as safe as we can (add in another safe adult), and have so much certainty that they can do this, they can borrow what they need and wrap it around themselves again and again and again.

You already do this when they have to do things that don’t want to do, but which you know are important - brushing their teeth, going to the dentist, not eating ice cream for dinner (too often). The key for living bravely is to also recognise that so many of the things that drive anxiety are equally important. 

We also need to ask, as their important adults - ‘Is this scary safe or scary dangerous?’ ‘Do I move them forward into this or protect them from it?’♥️
The need to feel connected to, and seen by our people is instinctive. 

THE FIX: Add in micro-connections to let them feel you seeing them, loving them, connecting with them, enjoying them:

‘I love being your mum.’
‘I love being your dad.’
‘I missed you today.’
‘I can’t wait to hang out with you at bedtime 
and read a story together.’

Or smiling at them, playing with them, 
sharing something funny, noticing something about them, ‘remembering when...’ with them.

And our adult loves need the same, as we need the same from them.♥️
Our kids need the same thing we do: to feel safe and loved through all feelings not just the convenient ones.

Gosh it’s hard though. I’ve never lost my (thinking) mind as much at anyone as I have with the people I love most in this world.

We’re human, not bricks, and even though we’re parents we still feel it big sometimes. Sometimes these feelings make it hard for us to be the people we want to be for our loves.

That’s the truth of it, and that’s the duality of being a parent. We love and we fury. We want to connect and we want to pull away. We hold it all together and sometimes we can’t.

None of this is about perfection. It’s about being human, and the best humans feel, argue, fight, reconnect, own our ‘stuff’. We keep working on growing and being more of our everythingness, just in kinder ways.

If we get it wrong, which we will, that’s okay. What’s important is the repair - as soon as we can and not selling it as their fault. Our reaction is our responsibility, not theirs. This might sound like, ‘I’m really sorry I yelled. You didn’t deserve that. I really want to hear what you have to say. Can we try again?’

Of course, none of this means ‘no boundaries’. What it means is adding warmth to the boundary. One without the other will feel unsafe - for them, us, and others.

This means making sure that we’ve claimed responsibility- the ability to respond to what’s happening. It doesn’t mean blame. It means recognising that when a young person is feeling big, they don’t have the resources to lead out of the turmoil, so we have to lead them out - not push them out.

Rather than focusing on what we want them to do, shift the focus to what we can do to bring felt safety and calm back into the space.

THEN when they’re calm talk about what’s happened, the repair, and what to do next time.

Discipline means ‘to teach’, not to punish. They will learn best when they are connected to you. Maybe there is a need for consequences, but these must be about repair and restoration. Punishment is pointless, harmful, and outdated.

Hold the boundary, add warmth. Don’t ask them to do WHEN they can’t do. Wait until they can hear you and work on what’s needed. There’s no hurry.♥️
Recently I chatted with @rebeccasparrow72 , host of ABC Listen’s brilliant podcast, ‘Parental as Anything: Teens’. I loved this chat. Bec asked all the questions that let us crack the topic right open. Our conversation was in response to a listener’s question, that I expect will be familiar to many parents in many homes. Have a listen here:
https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/parental-as-anything-with-maggie-dent/how-can-i-help-my-anxious-teen/104035562
School refusal is escalating. Something that’s troubling me is the use of the word ‘school can’t’ when talking about kids.

Stay with me.

First, let’s be clear: school refusal isn’t about won’t. It’s about can’t. Not truly can’t but felt can’t. It’s about anxiety making school feel so unsafe for a child, avoidance feels like the only option.

Here’s the problem. Language is powerful, and when we put ‘can’t’ onto a child, it tells a deficiency story about the child.

But school refusal isn’t about the child.
It’s about the environment not feeling safe enough right now, or separation from a parent not feeling safe enough right now. The ‘can’t’ isn’t about the child. It’s about an environment that can’t support the need for felt safety - yet.

This can happen in even the most loving, supportive schools. All schools are full of anxiety triggers. They need to be because anything new, hard, brave, growthful will always come with potential threats - maybe failure, judgement, shame. Even if these are so unlikely, the brain won’t care. All it will read is ‘danger’.

Of course sometimes school actually isn’t safe. Maybe peer relationships are tricky. Maybe teachers are shouty and still using outdated ways to manage behaviour. Maybe sensory needs aren’t met.

Most of the time though it’s not actual threat but ’felt threat’.

The deficiency isn’t with the child. It’s with the environment. The question isn’t how do we get rid of their anxiety. It’s how do we make the environment feel safe enough so they can feel supported enough to handle the discomfort of their anxiety.

We can throw all the resources we want at the child, but:

- if the parent doesn’t believe the child is safe enough, cared for enough, capable enough; or

- if school can’t provide enough felt safety for the child (sensory accommodations, safe peer relationships, at least one predictable adult the child feels safe with and cared for by),

that child will not feel safe enough.

To help kids feel safe and happy at school, we have to recognise that it’s the environment that needs changing, not the child. This doesn’t mean the environment is wrong. It’s about making it feel more right for this child.♥️

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