The Four Horsemen of Negativity

It was Dr John Gottman who coined the phrase the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and related it to negative behaviours within relationships.

We can take this model and equate the Four Horsemen of – Monotony, Tiredness, Complexity and News to having an impact upon our perception of wellbeing and happiness.

According to Andy Cope, author of The Art of Being Brilliant each of these areas add a bit more stress and negativity to our lives.

Monotony

Although at times we can do with a quiet life, going through the same routines, eating the same food, doing the same work with the same people can reduce our experiences and sense of living and enjoyment.  Monotony can limit our potential and we may never find out what we are truly capable of doing and being until we step out of our routines.

Tiredness

There is a huge array of research on the importance of sleep and most of the time it may not be of concern but when we become tired and struggle to replenish our energy we can become increasingly more stressed and irritable.  This in turn can impact upon the people around us and may lead to conflict.  Focus and concentration are affected along with our sense of humour and capacity for tolerance.

Complexity

We may think that life is never simple but sometimes we are our own worst enemy and make things more complex than they really are.  How easy is it to get fixated and hung up on small stuff that in reality really doesn’t matter?  With our truly wonderful minds and belief systems we can “make a mountain out of a molehill”, we can make assumptions or jump to conclusions thus increasing the complexity of a situation.

News

In today’s world we are bombarded with constant information and have access to world news 24 hours a day.  It is good to be informed but remember that the news we hear is already being filtered, someone else is choosing what we hear or read or in some cases making it all up.  News can be depressing and therefore can affect our mood and wellbeing.

So what can we do to get ourselves away from these Four Horsemen of Negativity?

  • Change habits, do something different, become mindful of what you are doing and give yourself choices.
  • Listen to your body clock, go to sleep when you are tired and get up at a regular time.
  • Reduce the complexity of situations by deciding whether you can change them or need to accept them or are able to let them go because in the long run they are not that important. “Don’t sweat the small stuff”!
  • Turn off the news at least three times a week, avoid listening to it or buying a paper and do something else that is rewarding and enjoyable.

Ride away from negativity and reclaim you health and wellbeing!

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Neutralise Thoughts

I came upon this article recently in the Boots health magazine talking about how it is so easy to make judgements of others in comparison to ourselves and how we can lessen that impact.

We know that our thoughts have a huge impact upon are emotions, mood and ultimately our behaviour. What we say to ourselves, how we perceive situations can be beneficial or destructive.

Just changing a thought to a more positive one is definitely not as easy as it sounds and sometimes it doesn’t ring true for us.  We can certainly challenge our thoughts and check out the reality of them or the evidence that supports them but then we still need to replace them.

We can help take the power out of thoughts by first recognising it and then choosing to “turn down” the impact of it by thinking about something else.  If you have a constant inner critic step aside from the thought and consider what makes you unique, what makes you special and different, because we all are! Ask yourself if others were to identify my strengths, attributes and good points what would they say?

If you find yourself comparing yourself against others is this helpful or motivating?  If it is not helpful– no point doing it!  Neutralise the thoughts by acknowledge what the other person may have without judging it as good or better eg “She is so slim” to “She is slim” – just one word has taken away the judgement.  If you see others as being “cleverer” than you, neutralise the thought by saying something like “she can do maths” or “he understands ……. “ – try to leave out the judgement and the comparison.

If you are critical about your body, appreciate it for what it does for you. Do your legs get you from A to B? Are your arms able to hug others? Does your mouth smile?  By taking away the judgement we are neutralising the thoughts which makes them less powerful over our mood and self –esteem.

So why not first thing in the morning wake up and thank your kidneys, heart, lungs, muscles, brain etc for working and being there with you for another day!

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Time to Take Play Seriously!

If you ever watch children you will notice how spontaneous they are in how they make themselves feel good – through doing a cartwheel, making up games or just skipping and jumping just because they can!

Having fun is so important to our wellbeing but how often do we experience it?  Do we have a moral responsibility to be happy? I think we do and bringing fun into our lives increases our chances of feeling happy.

Realistically we have to work, be responsible adults (at times) and cope with everyday chores and stresses but can we squeeze in a bit more fun?

Research is showing that having fun in your life contributes greatly to overall health and wellbeing.  Fun activities can increase bonding and closeness with others, release endorphins, increase longevity and lower stress.  Animals use fun and play for not only developmental growth but to increase a sense of belonging and explore their abilities and possibilities in their world.  Lack of fun and play, for a child, can lead to deprivation and under development of social and cognitive skills.

As adults we can choose how much fun to bring into our lives, we can choose our attitude and we can decide whether to live our lives fast or well!

Often the best things in life are experiences so fun doesn’t have to cost much. Remember the fun things you did as a child, did that cost much money?  My childhood was often playing in the woods, rope over a stream or cycling with friends.  It may be board games that you played whilst on holiday with your family or dressing up and playing “pretend”.  Just rolling down a grassy slope or picking flowers to press were all part of fun, enjoyable times.

You may not be physically able to roll down a grassy slope now,  (it may be worth trying!), but you can still do activities that make you smile, laugh, enjoy company of others or just for the sake of it be really silly.  All you need is your attitude, intent and willingness to let go and enjoy.  Remember that on average we have 4,000 weeks do we want those weeks to be of mediocrity or fun?

So why not for the rest of the year, whatever the weather, bring some fun, laughter and joy into your life.

 

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing” George Bernard Shaw.

 

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“But what if……?”

What if?

This question can raise doubts and uncertainties but also wishful thinking and desires.  So which one do you tend to lean towards?

The “what ifs” that came from uncertainty do a great job of increasing anxiety and holding us back. We can get caught up with imagining the worst case scenario and then we panic, avoid or withdraw, never taking the chance to test the waters.  This type of thinking can be our default setting keeping us firmly stuck, not going anyway, too afraid to try things out. We make assumption about things that have yet to happen but take action upon those assumptions often in fear and anxiety.  These two words can be incredibly powerful and can really hold us back.  They have a lot of backing from our past experiences and belief system making it easier to let the “what if” rule our life.

So how can we reduce the power of these words?  As with most changes we need to be in a place of awareness.  We need to capture our thoughts and listen to what we are saying in our heads. Once we realise we are saying “but what if?” then we have the opportunity to challenge.  We can challenge the thought by directly asking the opposite “but what if it DOESN’T …..?” By doing, this we give our self permission to think that there may be alternatives to our worst case scenario.  That with every possible negative outcome there is also a positive one and it is ours to choose. Which option would give us the greater enjoyment/achievement/happiness? Am I willing to take that risk?  That is for you to decide and to make clear rational choices that are not hampered or influenced by the “what ifs” of the past.

You can turn the not so helpful “what ifs” into empowering and liberating thoughts, allowing yourself the possibility of success and achievement.  Dare to dream the “what ifs” free from fear and low confidence, worry and doubt. When you get to this stage in your thinking you have already started to unshackle the chains of negativity and have given yourself permission to explore the endless possibilities that await you.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Being a huge rugby fan I am often encouraged to see the respect that the players show the officials and referees. Rugby is a complex and physically hard game which requires discipline from both teams to make it as safe as possible. To allow the game to flow and for players to play at their best requires adherence to the rules.  I have seen many games in which a player has been sent off to the sin bin for 10 minutes without any fuss or disagreement.  At times tries have been disallowed and accepted as such, even though later evidence may show otherwise. Players accept that the referee is doing his or her job to the best of their abilities and show the respect that is due even though they may disagree with decisions or outcomes.

Respect is a sense of worth and value that you attach to yourself or others. The rugby players value the skills of the referee and of each other.  However respect has to start with you, the value and worth that you have for yourself. It is about accepting responsibilities, listening, valuing your attributes and skills and recognising that you are just as valued and important as anyone else.  In a team sport such as rugby no one person can ever win a game, every single person is important.

Within a team, players can make mistakes, but you don’t see any blame – players just carry on with the game. In life not everything goes our way and although we don’t necessarily agree with decisions we can still respect how and why the decision is made.  Blaming others for mistakes is neither useful nor helpful.  Blame may help us to feel superior or to shift focus away from ourselves but it is not constructive in helping us move forward or deal with the situation.  It may seem an easy option but in the long run nobody benefits from blame.

Whether you are a sports person or not take a leaf out of rugby’s ethics and conduct to show respect for yourself and others alongside valuing your own unique attributes and skills.

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Never Stop Learning!

As the saying going we never stop learning!  As very young children we seem to just absorb and learn from what we hear, see and experience.  Going into our school years there is structure to our learning which has certainly greatly changed from when I was at school!  In my 20s and 30s I was in work coming up against different situations in which I learnt from my colleagues, clients and managers as well as attending workshops and courses.

Now that I am self-employed my learning hasn’t stopped but has gone in very different directions.  It is more self directed and seems to be more organic and experiential rather than formal and structured.  Even now, when I teach, I plan a lot less and trust to instinct, insight and awareness that what I need to teach will happen.

I have become more involved with people who share their knowledge freely; learning is often a group activity of sharing and supporting each other.  With my colleagues of Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) we meet monthly to discuss cases and to share information about this intervention.  Similarly Reiki Shares and Qualias offer a supportive environment to learn.

I am currently doing a two year Shamanic Healing course which is hands on experiential as well as reading books in order gain greater awareness into the subject.  Although I have always loved reading I do struggle with having to read “work books” so self discipline for me is key and I often write down the information to help me retain it.

A business course that I have nearly completed is online and includes exercises to complete.  This works for me as by “doing”, I am more likely to engage and recognize the application for my own situation.

We all learn differently and can be classified as visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or reading/writing learners.  Which one are you? This article explains more about learning styles and how to enhance your learning

With learning also comes questions and challenges, how do I make sense of what is being taught, do I believe it?  How does it fit in with what I already believe?  In this day of mass information it is important to sift through and only accept what feels true and right for you.

Research into old age indicates that learning something new like a language or dancing enhances your mental skills, may keep cognitive decline at bay, decreases social isolation and maintains physical health so we are never too old to learn!

Although we continue to learn through situations that life brings to us, it is also important to stretch our minds, our understanding and bring in new skills, awareness and beliefs that keep us engaged, interested and challenged.

If you are interested in the workshops and courses that I teach you can find more information here.

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Staying Focused & Motivated

As we approach the second month of the year how are you doing with your plans for the year ahead?

It may be that you started full of energy and determination but then life got in the way!  If we all got what we wanted with very little effort then I expect we may not value it or become easily bored.  To get to what we want to be or have takes effort, commitment and patience.  The worst thing to do is to beat yourself up about not achieving or giving up.  The testing time for me is often when I am seeing results so I take my foot off the pedal and before I know it I have come to a standstill.

 

Here are a few tips that can keep you going to get back on track again.

  • Refresh your memory as to why you set the goal in the first place. What inspired you?  What will you gain from it and why is it important to you?  90% of achievement is due to knowing why it is important to you, the 10% is how you are going to achieve it.
  • Give yourself a break. Plan some time away from it but also set the date that you will return to pursuing your goal.
  • Keep breaking your goal down into small chunks and look at each one in turn. Only go onto the next one once you have completed the step before, this prevents feeling overwhelmed or procrastinating.
  • Before you go to sleep each night, in your mind, go through what you are wanting to have or be. Don’t think how you are going to get there but just say “I want…….” and let it percolate into your subconscious.
  • Be flexible in your approach towards achievement. Learn from mistakes, tweak your strategy and if need be take another direction.
  • Just keep moving forward in any way you can and recognise or give yourself a treat/reward each time you have taken another step further to you goal.
  • Talk it over with supportive friends/family and ask for their support and encouragement.
  • Be mindful of any excuses or judgements you make in your mind. It is SO easy to persuade ourselves to take the easy option or to give up that’s why it is really important that you know what difference this achievement is going to make to you.

 

 

Good luck and keep going!

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