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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Sometimes needs will come into being like falling stars - gently fading in and fading out. Sometimes they will happen like meteors - crashing through the air with force and fury. But they won’t always look like needs. Often they will look like big, unreachable, unfathomable behaviour. 

If needs and feelings are too big for words, they will speak through behaviour. Behaviour is the language of needs and feelings, and it is always a call for us to come closer. Big feelings happen as a way to recruit support to help carry an emotional load that feels too big for our kids and teens. We can help with this load by being a strong, calm, loving presence, and making space for that feeling or need to be ‘heard’. 

When big behaviour or big feelings are happening, whenever you can be curious about the need behind it. There will always be a valid one. Meet them where they without needing them to be different. Breathe, validate, and be with, and you don’t need to do more than that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days and some things are rubbish, and that sometimes those days and things last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. 

But the learning comes from experience. They can’t learn to manage big feelings unless they have big feelings. They can’t learn to read the needs behind their feelings if they don’t have the space to let those big feelings come back to small enough so the needs behind them can step forward. 

When their world has spikes, and when we give them a soft space to ‘be’, we ventilate their world. We help them find room for their out breath, and for influence, and for their wisdom to grow from their experiences and ours. In the end we have no choice. They will always be stronger and bigger and wiser and braver when they are with you, than when they are without. It’s just how it is.♥️
When kids or teens have big feelings, what they need more than anything is our strong, safe, loving presence. In those moments, it’s less about what we do in response to those big feelings, and more about who we are. Think of this like providing a shelter and gentle guidance for their distressed nervous system to help it find its way home, back to calm. 

Big feelings are the way the brain calls for support. It’s as though it’s saying, ‘This emotional load is too big for me to carry on my own. Can you help me carry it?’ 

Every time we meet them where they are, with a calm loving presence, we help those big feelings back to small enough. We help them carry the emotional load and build the emotional (neural) muscle for them to eventually be able to do it on their own. We strengthen the neural pathways between big feelings and calm, over and over, until that pathway is so clear and so strong, they can walk it on their own. 

Big beautiful neural pathways will let them do big, beautiful things - courage, resilience, independence, self regulation. Those pathways are only built through experience, so before children and teens can do any of this on their own, they’ll have to walk the pathway plenty of times with a strong, calm loving adult. Self-regulation only comes from many experiences of co-regulation. 

When they are calm and connected to us, then we can have the conversations that are growthful for them - ‘Can you help me understand what happened?’ ‘What can help you so this differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right? Do you need my help to do that?’ We grow them by ‘doing with’ them♥️
Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare

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