Tag Archives: who am I?

Welcome to My Quarter Life Supernova

Bioblog pic

Saorla O’Dowd is a 23-year old aspiring writer who has just graduated from Trinity College with a BA in English Literature and Drama Studies. Part-time popcorn scooper and full-time procrastinator, she enjoys fanfiction, Feminism and finding time for alliteration. She also hopes to one day receive her Hogwarts letter, as it has clearly been lost in the post.

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I was never really a fan of geology. Whoever came up with the phrase “geology rocks” was a bit of a sadist, at least in my opinion; coaxing you into believing that staring at various lumps of granite is more interesting than it sounds. Still, one thing that stuck with me during that one year I studied college science – aside from all the super cool dinosaur stuff – was how the life of a star ends.

We all know what stars are – those tiny glowing balls of energy and matter you can see from your back garden, millions of light years away here on Earth. We look up at the night sky and think how beautiful they are. How very different from us mere mortals and our tiny lives.

But in reality, we’re not that dissimilar at all; stars are as alive as you and I. (Well okay, not exactly like you and I, but we’re made up of the same stuff – you see where I’m going here). And despite their putative eternal status, they don’t just stay up in the sky forever for us to stare at; they, too, must succumb to time and oblivion.

[Not to be a downer or anything, just jumping on the John Green bandwagon. Loved that movie: #YOLO etc.]

They die, just like us: a phenomenon known as a Supernova. The orb in question is pretty much sitting there in outer space, minding its own business, when suddenly BAM! its core collapses! Energy is released which shatters the star from the inside out, blowing it to smithereens, which are then flung into the surrounding area. And with a flash, something that was once so solid, so present, is gone forever.

To wind down a very rambling metaphor, that’s what graduating college has felt like for me. One big supernova. It’s been approximately 40 days since I moved back home, and I’m feeling very like Jesus in the wilderness. Since the moment I handed back my apartment keys, I have lost my roomie/confidante to emigration, returned to my job as popcorn scooper at the local cinema, and broken up with my boyfriend. In short, my life appears to have supernova-ed.

But it’s not a big deal, right? After all, nothing is set in stone (geddit?); life is a variable, not a constant. We change relationships, houses, countries; we change hairstyles and diets and cars. We tell ourselves that we’ll be fine, we can handle it. We’re creatures of habit and structure: just give us a plan and we’ll stick to it. Even if it isn’t what we really want.

Well, I don’t have a plan. Not anymore. A fact that is both liberating and terrifying with a capital T. Ever since I was four years of age there was always a plan – one which I generally had no say in: go to school every day (excepting holidays), go practically brain-dead after the Leaving Cert., and then go on to college. But now? Now I’m supposedly a grown-up and can decide grown-up stuff for myself.

I guess I do look like one; a grown-up that is. I mean, I rarely get ID’d anymore, and got called “ma’am” on the bus one day by the driver (WTF bus man – I’m only 23?).  I know I’ve apparently got one of those demeanours that makes me seem much older, but since I can’t yet pass for a pensioner and snag myself a free travel pass, I’m not feeling overly positive about my supposed ‘wise’ aura. Especially as it deceives others into thinking that I know what I want to do with my life. Here’s the truth: I don’t. And I still feel like a self-conscious teenage dirtbag, baby.

After all those years of doing what I was told, of doing what everyone else was doing, I’m at a complete and utter loss. For all the knowledge that college bestowed upon me (namely that one should always have a stapler handy), it never prepared me for ‘real life’; for that fork in the road with one signpost pointing the way to where you ‘should’ go, and other to where you secretly want to. For the moment when the panic, the fear, and the questions set in:

Who am I? What should I do? But more importantly: what do other people expect me to do?

In fact, nothing in my 23-year long plan has prepared me for the reality of being me. I’ve been told many times who I should be, a person who often seems very much at odds with who I feel I really am.

Because, to tell the truth: I’m a self-deprecating, pessimistic, procrastinating perfectionist who’s still trying to please everyone.

Welcome to my Quarter Life Supernova.

 

Have you lost your muchness?

I found this blog post in my old files! I’d written it over 3 years ago but I thought it was still relevant so wanted to share it with you now!

I watched Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp during the week. I’d seen it once before, but this time around one particular scene really caught my attention.

The Mad Hatter is talking to Alice and telling her that the last time she visited Wonderland, she was muchnesswide“much muchier” and now she seemed to have lost her “muchness.” I was intrigued. Muchness is defined as “greatness in quantity or degree.” What the Mad Hatter was saying in his own way was that Alice had lost some of who she used to be. Basically that she had forgotten who she truly was as she had grown up. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t picked up on that before.

How many of you feel that we have lost some part of ourselves as we’ve grown up? How many of you, as kids, were kinda afraid to grow up because you believed you would become less of yourself? I was afraid that I would become a boring, careful person who followed the rules and thought it odd to walk barefoot in the grass. But guess what? I grew up and followed the rules and thought it odd of people who walked in the grass barefoot! I was thinking, ‘do they not realise the amount of dog crap there!’ I’ve been trying to reclaim my muchness for years now!

When I think back to my childhood, I can see myself as exactly the same person yet at the same time, completely different. I feel quite lucky in the fact that I’ve always managed to keep some of my muchness, that childlike excitement, wonder and awe. However the bold fearlessness, perhaps ‘muchiness’ is something which I feel I’ve lost a lot of.

I was skiing earlier this year (2011!) and I had been really looking forward to it. I had been once before when I was younger and back then, on the first day, I had skied down the mountain with my older (but still very young) cousin. It was exhilarating and wild.

Back to present day, 26 years old, up a mountain with a pair of skies and a snail would have gone faster than me. I was terrified and I was really surprised. I suppose as I grew up, I had just become a lot more conscious of the fact that my body is perishable and can break. I was really disappointed that I held myself back so much whilst skiing this year and it’s only now I realise it’s because I had lost my muchness. (Possibly why I threw myself out of a plane and walked through fire since then!)

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to lose my muchness. I feel like it’s a huge part of me and that I have already lost enough of it. I find it scary that we lose a huge part of who we are, simply by growing older. I understand that we are going to grow up and there’s nothing that we can do about the passing of time however just because we grow older it doesn’t mean that we have to lose sight of who we used to be. Many of my clients often find their true passions and strengths when they remember who they truly are.

So, today I invite you to embrace and reclaim your muchness! Take some time to figure out what your muchness is and whether you’ve lost the essence of who you are as you grew up. When you get down the essence of who you were — the heart of who you thought you would be — what do you come up with? What of that essence have you lost? Contemplate the following questions and I’d love to hear your stories..

6 Questions To Reclaim Your Muchness

  1. What did I enjoy doing when I was a kid?  When you think about what you enjoyed doing you may be surprised that you still like to do those things. Often the things we enjoy as kids are things we enjoy our whole lives (A recent client of mine is making a career change from pharmaceuticals to fashion- she had been styling her dolls/ friends and making outfits since she was a child but was told it wasn’t a safe career. She is definitely reclaiming her muchness!!). Give this some thought and you’ll uncover a lot about the essence of who you are. What you liked to do then says a lot about the kind of person you were. (Not sure what to say to the people who used to burn insects under a magnifying glass!)
  2. Did I stop doing those things and why? Some people continue to do the things they loved to do as kids however most of us have stopped. Think about what you did as a kid and ask yourself why you still do it or why you have stopped?
  3. Who did I think I would be when I grew up?  Allow yourself to be completely honest here because when you think about who you thought you would be, you’ll learn about the things that were important to you as a kid. I know that some things may be a bit far-fetched, for example a Super Hero but… think about why you wanted to be that person? What did you think that would give you? Respect, Strength, Fitness. If you wanted to be a pilot, it could have been that you wanted to travel and see the world.
  4. How am I like my childhood ideal?  Take some time to consider how you might actually be like your childhood ideal. You might not be exactly what you thought you would be, but you may be closer than you think. For example, I always wanted to be a published author which at the moment I’m not, but I do spend a lot of my time writing!
  5. What attitudes and beliefs did I hold as a kid?  This is probably the most important question. Though it’s essential to examine what you liked to do and who you thought you would be, the most important thing to consider is what your beliefs were as a child. What was important to you? In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter believes Alice has lost some of her courage because she grew up. Consider how you may have acted as a child and then consider…
  6. How have my attitudes and beliefs changed?  As we get older, it’s no surprise that some of the things we hold as important change. But think about how your beliefs may have changed since you were a kid. What attitudes did you have then that you may not have now? If you witnessed an injustice, as a child would you have spoken up? Would you now?

The majority of individuals I work with are twenty-somethings and I believe a big reason why so many of us struggle in our twenties is because we have lost our muchness and it is incredibly frustrating. We can see what we want to do, be or have but we don’t the muchness to go after it. There’s something missing and we make the mistake of believing that it is something external but it’s not. Everything we need to fill the ‘emptiness’ or ‘the something missing’ is still within us, just hidden inside- we simply need to reclaim it!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress! Pop over to the facebook page and let me know if you feel you’ve lost your muchness and what you’re going to do to reclaim it!

Love Always,

Paula x

Do you know her?

She is a smart woman, she found school interesting and fun yet she would never let on! She always enjoyed exams and tests because she was able to stay calm. She accepted that what she knew then would have to be enough and she felt empowered. She enjoyed that feeling as she felt special, everyone else seemed to be panicky and stressed. Part of her misses that school but again, she’d never let on!

She gets an anxious feeling in her chest or around her heart every now and then, she’s not 100% sure what it is but it bothers her. It means that she knows she’s holding back from something- that there’s something that could be better but she’s too afraid to do something about it.

She’s a very open and warm person and tries to see the best in everyone. Sometimes though, she can be played and people take advantage of her. She doesn’t like to be angry and feels guilty at the idea of hurting someone else’s feelings. She would rather take the hit herself than to hurt someone she cares about. This causes her to numb her feelings quite a lot. As a result, she tends not to really know what’s important to her or what she really wants. She’s quite open to other people’s influences and suggestions.

She is curious and imaginative and loves new things, exploring, parades and gatherings of people. She loves having something to look forward to although she doesn’t allow herself to get excited until it’s actually happening. She has a bit of a short attention span and can get distracted easily. She will start new courses and projects, make big bold resolutions and then not follow through.

She speaks to herself harshly, she is her own worst critic and her own worst enemy. She is a sensitive soul and she needs to be alone every now and then to soothe her soul and recharge. She will get upset if she doesn’t have a chance to do this and the only reason she won’t get the chance is because she is too harsh with herself. She will look forward to a massage or something special for herself and then she won’t allow herself to do it or have it because she doesn’t deserve it, she hasn’t earned it.

In a relationship, she can be easily taken advantage of as she would never want to hurt someone she cares about and if her partner knows this, he/she can exploit that. She is very loyal and loving and will always try to help her partner as much as possible- often she would end up in a relationship with someone who needs a bit of help and support– a lost soul. She will always fight for the underdog and help make him top dog and it will be really hard for her when he turns and bites her. She is very low maintenance and easy going.

She loves the little things in life and in a relationship, the little things are just as, if not more important than any grand gestures. She loves to feel she can talk to her partner about anything. She wants someone who will treat her with respect but she would never demand it.

In work, she is really hard working. It is important that she feels authentic- it’s important that she knows what she is doing and feels confident. She suffers from imposter syndrome sometimes and is terrified that she will be caught out or that her boss or colleagues might find out that she doesn’t have the answer. Relationships in work are important and it is vital that she has respect for her colleagues and most importantly, she needs to respect and admire her boss. If she doesn’t, she will never feel comfortable or honest in her career.
If she finds herself in a career or relationship that doesn’t ‘feel right’ for a long period of time but doesn’t do anything, her self esteem and confidence start to suffer. Her values start to get fuzzy as well as her sense of who she is and what she’s about. Because she’s a sensitive soul, not wanting to hurt anyone else, it will normally take a lot before she does anything to change her situation.

The straw that broke the camel’s back is normally what happens for her. Something simple, something silly, something small- just a moment when she just thinks

“Oh my god, is this it? Is this me forever? Is this my life?”

Once she reaches this point, things start to happen. She rebels a bit, she notices that she doesn’t really care about certain things, she’s not really sure who she is anymore and starts looking for answers. She is entering a metamorphosis and knows that she needs to make some changes……

Do you know her?

She is me. I wrote this about myself a few years ago. If you’ve read up to this point, then I’m guessing she is you as well!

I’m often asked what I do and who I work with.

I work with her. I adore her. I work with her to help her find her own place in the world, to practice self love and self respect, to be real and authentic. I work with her to help her find her answers. To help her find meaningful work and loving supportive relationships. I help her to adore herself and be happy within herself.

I’d love to hear if you resonated with this! I really would love to know if you know her? Please drop me a line to paula @ myquarterlifecoach.com or pop over to the facebook page and let me know!

Here’s to her!

Paula xx

Where are you now?

An awful lot of women in their 20s and 30s will do absolutely anything to avoid stopping and taking stock of where they are at in their lives right now.

Why?

Because they know that they are a vast universe away from where they thought they would be at this stage.

We are the first generation of women who have been raised and told we can have it all. We can have the passionate relationship, we can have the nice house, we can have the college education, we can have the well paid secure job, we can have the family and we can have plenty of freedom, flexibility and fun. A few years ago, in your late teens or early twenties- that probably was the image that you held of your future. So, my question is again ‘Where are you now?’

For many of us, the image that we held of who we would be or where we would by a certain age, has faded away. That version of ourselves has moved into the shadows and an uneasiness and anxiety has taken its place. We start to tell ourselves that the reason why we didn’t get the life we had expected is because we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough- basically just not enough. After a while we start to really believe that we’re not good enough and it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – either way you’re right- Henry Ford

We don’t put ourselves out there, we don’t do the things that we could do to turn our situation around and take back control! We go with the flow and see what happens, hoping that things will just work out. Most of the time and for most people, things don’t just work out. We end up experiencing what is known as learned helplessness as we dramatically lower our expectations of life and abandon our dreams.

A bit morbid I know! But this is reality for so many women who don’t take stock, who are too afraid to face their own life and begin to self-direct. If you keep going with the flow, you will go over the waterfall or be washed out to sea. You need to take the oars and paddle. Every year, around the 1st January, we make wonderful plans to take control and begin  to self-direct which is brilliant BUT statistics have shown that by the 10th January, all of those wonderful plans fall by the wayside and we go back to our old habits and old patterns.

Come 31st December 2014, do you want to looking back over your year wondering where the time went and feeling frustrated because you’re still stuck in the same rut OR do you want to be celebrating the incredible progress that you’ve made in just 12 months?

If you want to set yourself up properly for a year of massive success and progress in all areas of your life; relationships, career, health and fitness and financial then join me on December 29th at 2pm for a FREE live webinar that will teach you the four steps you need to turn your New Year resolutions into Real Results! (Click on this link to register!)

This webinar will walk you through the four steps that you need to have in place to make lasting change in your life and help you create the momentum that will you drive you to get there!

You’ll gain clarity about where you’ve been, where you are now and where you want to go! I want to help you create a simple plan to set up your 2014 so that it excites you, compels you and is finally Your Year!

Make sure you’ve got a pen and paper handy and I’ll chat to you on the call!

P x

Please register for New Year, New You! on Dec 29, 2013 2:00 PM GMT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3180840215197156098

When you just feel raw and exposed…….

I had an incident the other week which was a real struggle for me! I’m talking about a wallowing, spiral of negative emotions!! Of course, needless to say, this pit of despair is not where I like to spend my time! I lived there years ago, but I managed to move and get a place that was brighter with a view and I haven’t really gone back to visit the pit, except for this particular incident!

Now, when you’re working as a coach there is a bit of extra pressure to avoid the pit because you’re supposed to have it all together! Luckily ‘having it all together’ isn’t my unique selling point and never has been! Being me, being real and facing up to what’s not working so that I can change it is what I try to bring to my coaching relationships. Being authentic and true to myself is of the utmost importance to me, whether that means that I’m strong and supporting others or if that means I’m in tears on the kitchen floor cuddling the dog!

So, let me paint the scene… I’m self employed and I work from my  home office on my electric blue sony laptop for about 8-10 hours per day, nearly 7 days a week for the past 2 ½ years. I’m not techy; I don’t know much about ‘cloud’ computing, backing up etc! All I do know is that when a blue screen appears on my laptop that says Incorrectable hardware error’ that it is bad. It’s the blue screen of death and I completely lost my mind when it appeared! I turned into a lunatic!

I was able to re-start the laptop and it appeared to be fine but I still went into panic mode. I hopped into the car, drove to the shops and 5 minutes later I was talking laptops to the salesperson. They didn’t have any more electric blue sony ones which made me sad but there were two others that seemed pretty good, a different Sony and a Toshiba! I took down the spec numbers; details, prices etc and I went home to chat to my Dad- the computer genius! We chatted about the Toshiba, he did his research and mentioned words like benchmark, processor and RAM, it went over my head but bottom line was he gave it a thumbs up! He said to leave it with him and he would do a bit more research to see if he could find a better deal. That was 8pm. At 8.15pm I was back in the shop (I think I was possessed!)

I wanted the Toshiba laptop right then, I didn’t need a better deal; I needed security. The fear and panic had set in again. I had to try and control the situation, I had to make sure I was covered, this is my livelihood and I was a business owner, an entrepreneur, a home owner, I’m responsible etc. I felt raw, exposed, stupid for not backing up and very vulnerable at the thought of losing all of the work I had saved on my computer- we’re talking everything!

Of course, they were sold out of the Toshiba. The salesperson offered me the Sony laptop, said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two and knocked 50 quid off. Sold! With a smile on his face and a debt over €1000 on my credit card, I left the shop feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Hmm, what now? Well, of course I didn’t take a deep breath and calm down.

I got home, opened the box and attempted to set up the computer. I followed instructions and entered passwords, then I realised it was windows 8. Ooops, Dad said ‘Whatever you do, don’t get windows 8’. Crap, the panic was back and it was now mixed in with fear, shame, anxiety and regret!

I sent my Dad an email with the spec of the Sony (the one that was now sitting on my kitchen table) and I asked him to check what it was like. I did not tell him I had bought it, opened it and messed around with it. He replied shortly afterwards using words like ‘benchmark, lousy machine, not good value, not even half as good, don’t even go there’. Unfortunately those words didn’t go over my head, they sunk right in and I felt like the biggest gambeen on the planet.

I was wide awake for the whole night with a tight jaw and an anxiety ridden mind. ‘What was I going to do?’ ‘How can I HIDE this?’ ‘How can I pretend this never happened?’ ‘What was I going to say?’ ‘They won’t allow me bring it back, I’ve opened it and I don’t think there’s any legal comeback for impulse buying’ ‘Dad is going to think I’m an idiot’ ‘I am an idiot’. Talk about a shame spiral, plus the whole I just spent over a grand on something I regretted! Ugh, horrible horrible feeling!

At 6am, after pondering and tossing and turning all night I sent an email to my Dad with the subject line ‘I f*cked up’. That was probably the hardest email I’ve written in ages, acknowledging that I made a mistake and needed help. I could not believe how hard I found it!

His response was great, he said ‘Shit happens, sounds like the salesperson took your buying intent for the Toshiba and transferred it to the Sony. You trusted him; he said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two machines which wasn’t true……. Come over to me in the morning, we’ll go back to the shop together and we’ll talk to the manager and see if we can get your money back. Stop beating yourself up! Love Dad’

 As soon as I read it, I grew up a bit. There was a part of me that wanted to hide behind someone else, point the finger, blame the sales guy and let someone else protect me and fix my problems! I just started laughing that this was the situation I had created- it had to stop! There was no way that I would/could do that, blame someone else and hide. It would really go against everything I stand for, being real, being authentic and to be honest, even if I got the result I wanted- I knew I would be ashamed at how badly I handled it. It was time to be a big girl again and to be honest it didn’t feel good!

 I called over to my Dad a few hours later with sausie sandwiches and I thanked him for his support and explained that I had to deal with it myself. I told him that my approach was to go back to the shop, and be honest. Tell them I had been in a panic and that I had made a mistake by buying the Sony laptop on an impulse and that I was going to ask for their help. He was proud of me but also tried to prepare me for the fact that I was going to be turned away. “You’ve opened it, there’s nothing wrong with it; you’ve just changed your mind. Legally, they don’t have to do anything for you. So don’t be disappointed…..”

Back to the shop I went, I found the sales guy I had dealt with the night before and I told my truth. My face was roaring red, the anxiety was eating me up on the inside, I wanted the shop floor to open up and swallow me whole, and my jaw was getting tight.

‘Hi Trevor, I was here last night and I bought the Sony laptop. I wanted to get the Toshiba but you were sold out so I took the Sony instead’. He nodded remembering me. I gushed ‘Well, I made a huge mistake. I’ve opened it and messed around with it but I really don’t want it, I shouldn’t have bought it. I should have just waited for the Toshiba and I was in a panic and it was an impulse buy. I need your help; can I please bring it back?

‘Sure’ he said. ‘Come with me and we’ll get the manager Andy to get you sorted out.

 Just like that.

It was an incredible lesson for me. I had been riding a train of thought that had brought me to places where I felt weak, small and vulnerable. Where I wanted to hide my mistake so that no one knew, where I wanted to blame the sales guy, where I wanted to be protected and where I lay in bed wide awake for a full night listening to mind monkeys chattering in my head. All because I didn’t want to say ‘I made a mistake and I need help’. It was a valuable and very uncomfortable lesson for me! But in the end, being truthful and allowing myself to go into a situation where I could be rejected and denied was the course I chose and after that experience, I learned that it will be the course that I want to keep on choosing.

I know that it’s difficult for us to acknowledge that we make mistakes and it’s also difficult for many of us to ask for help. We don’t like being seen as wrong, weak or vulnerable (or an impulse buying crazy lunatic!) but it happens. Engaging in life fully means that there will be times when we need to deal with these emotions, even when we don’t want to!

So I just wanted to share my experience with you for a few reasons; firstly that hopefully you find it beneficial and you can take something useful from it and secondly, for you to get to know me a bit better. I’m not the coach who has it all figured out; I’m a Paula and I can be raw, weak and vulnerable- just like you. I get myself worked into states; I fret and worry often- just like you! I get mind monkey attacks with that voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough- just like you. What you see is what you get with me. I’m real, I’m tough, I go after my dreams and I don’t give up on myself (I might have a rocky start sometimes though!) I love my work, I love coaching and supporting others to be real, to be tough, to go after their dreams and to never give up on themselves. I love it because I get it.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s issue of Progress, slightly different yes but hopefully you enjoyed it! I’d love to hear your feedback so feel free to drop me a line!

P x

 

Setting Better Boundaries

This is a work in progress for me! It’s something I’m much better at, but I still need major improvements. Every experience I have where I’m being polite and obliging when I feel frustrated, pissed off and a firey rage is slowly building on the inside is a ‘learning experience’.

 I had a ‘learning experience’ the other day!

 I pride myself on having a very free and flexible working life. I work from home and it’s fabulous. The problem is, sometimes it’s a bit too free and flexible. If I get a spur of the moment invitation for lunch, I would often say yes! A friend who has been away for a while was back home and text me to see if he could call over for lunch, I said yes; that I was working but was happy to stop for lunch with him. He said no problem, he’d be over in an hour for an hour. Great stuff!

He arrived anyway, 2 year old nephew in tow! We couldn’t really have a catch up, he was too busy running around after a 2 year old and I was running around after my puppy, Lilo, who was so liloexcited to have someone her own size to play with. (How cute is she!!!)

Ninety minutes into this one hour ‘pop in for lunch’ visit, we finally sat down and had a sandwich. At this stage, my shoulders were tense and I had that tightness in my chest where I could feel the rage rising in me.

The mind monkey chatter in my head was yapping away, having a great debate saying things like ‘Tell him to get lost, he’s totally disrespecting your working day’ ‘It would so rude to ask them to leave’ ‘what would he think of you if you behaved that way?’. ‘He’ll think you are a right bitch if you say that’ etc etc.

So, what was going on here? I was getting annoyed with myself because I was allowing my friend to disrespect me and my time. Oh yes of course, I wanted to blame him for the fact that he was hampering my working day and putting me under pressure. But it wasn’t his fault at all! It was all me. I was the one offering more tea, I was the one who wouldn’t speak up, I was the one who wasn’t setting clear boundaries, I was the one assuming that he would know that I was very busy. On the outside, I was a hospitable hostess. On the inside, I was a raging, irritated crazy psycho bitch!

As I said, I’m normally much better at this which is why I think today made such an impact. Because I hadn’t seen this particular friend for a while, I simply fell back into an old pattern of behaviour. I hadn’t clearly established my new boundaries.

I know this isn’t just me! I’ve had so many emails and questions from other women in their 20s and 30s asking ‘How do I say no without feeling guilty? or ‘How do I set clear boundaries and stop letting people take advantage?’

 So, why do we do this??

From the moment we are old enough to curl our hands and snatch toys from our fellow playschool companions, we are told not to be selfish. We’re told to ‘put others first and don’t be so greedy’ etc etc. It’s no wonder that we’re all so concerned about being perceived as selfish or mean; that we now feel terrible for ever having the audacity of putting ourselves first and saying no. We may win friends with our selflessness, but the damage this causes to our own self-respect is huge!

Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn! We might pick up pointers here and there from experience or through watching others. But for many of us, boundary-building is a relatively new concept and a challenging one.

Having healthy boundaries means ‘knowing, understanding and communicating what you will tolerate and what you will not.’ Here are a few tips on building better boundaries and maintaining them. (I’m reviewing my old lessons and journals to bring you these tips as I need them myself today!)

1. Tune into your feelings.

There are two key feelings that can be red flags that our boundaries are being crossed. They are: discomfort and resentment. If in any situation you are feeling strong feelings of resentment or discomfort, ask yourself ‘what is causing that feeling?’ ‘What is it about this situation or person that is bothering me?’

Resentment usually comes from being taken advantage of, disrespected or not appreciated. It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty or because someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us.  Women in general tend to have weaker boundaries than men due to our upbringing because we’ve been raised to be ‘good girls’, polite, respectful etc!

2. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls to setting boundaries. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member or friend. Many women believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a ‘good/nice person’, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

3. Make self-care a priority.

You need to make self-care a priority – this involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger. Self-care also means recognising the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.

Putting yourself first also gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them.” And when we’re in a better place, we can be a better partner, friend and co-worker.

4. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, seek some support! A great thing to do with friends or family is to make it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.

Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

I actually did decide to speak to my friend and explain how I had felt as a result of his visit. I took personal responsibility for my feelings and said that I hadn’t explained my boundaries to him but that it was really important to me that I honour my working day and structure even though I work from home. His response was

 ‘Awww, Paulie, I’m really sorry, I didn’t realise.

You should have just said!’

 

Do you treat yourself well?

I’ve just spent 4 blissful days in Connemara, completely disconnected from TV, phones and internet. I hate to admit it, but it did take a bit of adjusting!! (I hadn’t realised I had turned into one of those people who constantly checks her phone, who takes pictures and records videos rather than watching and experiencing for myself!) Lesson learned- for now anyway!

In my opinion, holidays are all about treating yourself but how to actually do that is another story! In fact I think that ‘treating ourselves well’ is a skill which we ladies desperately need to learn. What I’ve discovered from working with so many women in their 20s and 30s is that we don’t treat ourselves very well. We frequently put other people’s needs, wants and wishes ahead of our own. Yes of course, we will be good to ourselves occasionally- when we’re on holidays!

But honestly, how often have you denied yourself something you wanted because you felt like you didn’t deserve it, that you hadn’t earned it or that you weren’t good enough. I remember years ago, when I was going through a rough patch- I desperately wanted a massage. I needed it as I was so stressed at the time and just going around in circles. I booked in for a full body massage but in the hours leading up to the appointment time that inner voice started yapping! It said, ‘you haven’t done x,y,x, you’re a lazy bitch, you don’t deserve it, who do you think you are to spend €60 on yourself’. I cancelled the appointment.

Things like that happened so often, I’d see something I would like in Penny’s and feel like I haven’t earned it or deserved it so I wouldn’t allow myself to have it (or I’d buy it then return it). But if I knew that my partner, sister, friend wanted something, I would be the first person to go and get it for them. Interesting eh?

Because of who I work with on a daily basis, women in their 20s and 30s from around the world, I have seen that this is really common. We just don’t treat ourselves well. We feel that we need to have earned it, that we have to deserve it and the catch 22 is that the times when we need to treat ourselves well are the times that we’re feeling low, unworthy and deserving. Treating ourselves well and with compassion is the only way to lift ourselves up so that we can keep on keeping on!

Demanding more and more from yourself without ever giving yourself a break is unsustainable and will lead to complete burn-out. Often after the burn-out, you realise that you are a million miles away from where you thought you would be in life because you never stopped to give yourself a break or to check if you were actually happy!

What I found helps immensely is goal treats! So, without further ado, I have a 7 day treat challenge 7daytitlefor you!

Every day for the next 7 days, give yourself a really good treat: just because you are you. No excuses and no exceptions! If for some strange reason you actually enjoy being kind and compassionate with yourself then by all means continue!

It might seem strange or repellent at first but once you repeatedly associate treating yourself well, these treats will start to become comfortable and even indispensible. They have a very important function: they provide enough consistent short –term gratification to sustain trust and happiness when the going gets tough, the path to your vision looks scary or if you need to make a difficult decision. Giving yourself a treat a day is so crucial to making progress in your life. It’s all about treating yourself right!

Now, my definition of ‘treat’ is anything that makes you feel like smiling’. Some people think that’s a strange definition but I mean a real, genuine, heartfelt smile as opposed to the fake social smiles we put on which sometimes that makes us feel like we are violating our souls!

So, as an exercise I want you to compile a list of natural smile starters. You can start this simply by observing your behaviour for a day, what makes you smile? We know that every woman’s magazine on the planet will advertise things like massages, getting nails done, pedicures, hot baths, chocolate, candles etc and yes, they’re all lovely and great but I’m talking about a really custom made treat. Something that actually gives you joy, something that makes the smile start from the inside and you just can’t help but grin! Something that delights your senses!

I’m talking going to bed on a winter’s night with a hot chocolate, a great book and fresh sheets with the sound of the rain and wind banging against the window. That would be a treat that would actually get me excited! It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or cost anything at all! Anything that indulges your senses is definitely a winner. Think about it! What do you love the smell of? What do you love the feel of? What do you love the sight of? What do you love the taste of?

Decide if you will take me up on the challenge and make out your list! Share your list of treats on the Quarter Life Coach facebook page and if you find yourself resisting this terrible treat regimen, tell us and we will hold you accountable and if needs be, give you permission to treat yourself well, every single day until you learn to do it for yourself!

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress; that you got something valuable from it and could relate! Please get in touch on the facebook page and share your treat list!  I can’t wait to see!

Until next week,

P x

Do you know how to make yourself feel happy?

Do you remember when you were a child and you looked at life in total wonder and awe? Everything was magical and exciting and the tiniest things were so fascinating and thrilling! The crunch of an autumn leaf under your foot, bright shiny conkers, ladybirds, a pretty rock on the ground or even a cardboard box could fascinate you for hours. You would turn it into whatever it needed to be for you in that moment.

You were full of excitement when you lost a tooth and if you were like me, you’d try and stay awake all night to try and catch the tooth fairy! Don’t even get me started on Christmas, Santa Claus, flying reindeers and the magic that went with that!

 Do you remember? There were fairies and elves in the garden, pets were like people and kept all your secrets, your toys had personalities, they came to life when you were out of the room and they protected you when you were scared, wishes were made on the stars and dreams came true. Your heart was full of joy, your imagination knew no limits, and you firmly believed that could fly if you could just figure out the right jump and arm movement to get started – life was amazing and full of magic and awe. You felt good!

This is an exquisite feeling which most of had as children, even though we all had some bad times and bad experiences, we held onto the feeling that everything was good, that every day promised more adventure and wonder and that nothing would ever take away our joy of the magic of it all. But then we grew up! 🙁

As we grew older into teenagers, young adults and real life grown ups- responsibilities, problems and difficulties took their toll on us, we became disillusioned and the magic that we had believed in as children disappeared. I don’t know about you but I love hanging around kids, playing with them and I’m so fascinated with how fascinated they are. My 2 ½ year old nephew Jamie made a caterpillar out of an egg carton and I swear he delighted in it for hours! He named it, he talked to it, he played with it, he made it rawr and squealed with delight as we joined his games.

Obviously I wouldn’t be talking about all of this if it was never to be a part of your life again! The magic of life is real. You may not see reindeer fly or a bunny hopping over your wall but those feelings of fascination, wonder, awe, trust and magic are within you and you can let them all out to play again! When you do, life becomes magical!

We don’t see it, we feel it.

What I find so amazing is that we were taught this by our parents and society as well, but the real message got lost over the years. If you asked a child ‘What’s the magic words? He or she will easily say to you ‘please’ and after they have received, ‘What are the magic words?’ they will tell you ‘Thank You’.

That’s it! That’s how you bring forth magic into your life, you must say the magic words, ‘Thank you’. When we actually stop and acknowledge the wonder and abundance of the life we are living, when we are thankful for it, we shine. When we focus on the good stuff we have, we feel good, we feel happy and then it’s so much easier to trust ourselves and focus on the good stuff we’re headed for.

If you practice gratitude a little, your life will change a little. If you practice gratitude a lot every day, your life will change dramatically and in ways you can’t even begin to imagine! Try it for yourself, take a moment now and close your eyes. I want you to run through all of the wonderful things and people that you have in your life right now, feel thankful for what you have and smile. I honestly don’t know any better way to shift your energy and emotions from down and dull to happy and energised!

‘When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around’ Willie Nelson

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress; that you got something valuable from it and could relate! Please get in touch on the facebook page and share what you’re grateful for this week! Can’t wait to see!

Until next week,

P x

Who Are You in Your Relationships?

Myself and Colly were out walking the dog last weekend, chatting and reflecting on our relationship, 11218467_10153286501107893_778273589560183537_nour marriage, our daughter and our lives and how it’s incredible……….. and for both of us, that fact is still quite strange!

I do have to pinch myself every now and then to remind myself that I’m not dreaming! Personally, I know I have changed a lot in the past few years. I’m really me now, here and present in this relationship.

In previous relationships, I was who I thought my partner wanted me to be and I wasn’t even aware that I was adapting my behaviour to suit him. We would be watching a movie at home or at the cinema and I would keep glancing at his face to see whether he was enjoying it or not. If I had picked the movie and I could see from his facial expressions that he thought it was lousy, it would seriously take away from my enjoyment of the film.

It was all little things, his favourite food, his favourite hobbies, his favourite everything. His favourites that I had never really had any interest in; became a part of my life. All of a sudden I had sports jerseys as part of my wardrobe and I was shouting at the TV on a Saturday afternoon!

This was all good and fine and I’m not for a moment saying that it’s wrong to embrace your partner’s interests but what happened was that after 6 years of morphing into this person I thought I should be, I got dumped. By text message might I add!

Of course there was heart break and sadness and anger and all of those emotions but they weren’t a patch on ‘losing myself’. During the course of those 6 years, I had lost myself in the relationship or to the relationship. I had defined myself by it and by what we did together. Without that, I wasn’t sure who I was!

I don’t mean for that to sound as dramatic as it does, what I mean is that I really didn’t know what my own interests were, what I enjoyed doing, who I enjoyed spending time with, what I wanted for my future. I actually decided to start smoking again, an actual conscious decision because that’s what I did before that relationship! I had been a smoker! I was trying to find anything that would give me that sense of security within myself. Anything I could cling to that I could say ‘I am a ……..’

Just to top it all off as well, I was made redundant within a month or so of the dumping and then shortly after that my sister and I were told that we had to sell our home! So needless to say, I wasn’t in the best space!

I was absolutely broke in every sense of the word but with my redundancy cash, I invested in a life coaching course- for me. For a solid year, I worked so hard getting to know myself. It was difficult and uncomfortable at times but I got me back! I got a new zest of life and I was so happy being me again!

When myself and Colm started dating, I resisted so much because I was afraid of being hurt but most of all, I was afraid of forgetting all I had learnt. I was afraid I’d go back to my old ‘people pleaser’ ways! The question that I had to find the answer to was ‘how to be in a relationship and not lose myself?’ How to be part of a we without losing me?8dc683cfe1f05ea2c75ea144ad45bd27

The goal was to be close in the relationship but still maintain my own identity so I went out and found people who I thought had great relationships and I asked for their advice! Here are some of their strategies! Trust me- it’s good stuff!

Top 5 tips for a great relationship without losing yourself

1. Spend time with your friends.

It’s great when your partner and your friends get along, but your friends don’t want your other half all the time! The time spent with your friends is different when your boyfriend is there and it’s important that you still have your girls’ nights out, weekends away and giggles!

2. Identify the hobbies and interests that you don’t share

You and your partner aren’t going to share the same interests so it’s important to identify the things you don’t have in common and to continue doing it. If you love dancing but your partner has two left feet and would rather get a root canal done than go to a club, do not let that stop you. If he wants to go to support his team at an away game, you don’t need to tag along! Support each other’s interests.

 3. Express yourself.

 While committing to someone is a lovely thing, giving up your needs for that person absolutely isn’t. Never compromise or undermine your own desires just because you’re scared that you’ll lose him if you need something different. A healthy respectful relationship makes room for what both of you need, and your partner can’t know what you need if you don’t tell him directly (he’s not psychic!). If he walks away when you do make your needs known, that is a good thing. Trust me, better that than losing yourself to someone unwilling to listen to you and respect your feelings.

4. Don’t become too dependent.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook when it comes to managing yourself and your own life. It’s easy to look to your partner to protect you from the big bad world when everything makes you want to crawl under the duvet and hide, but continue to fight your own battles. When you have a bad day and want to talk, it’s nice to have someone who wants to comfort you, but make it clear that you don’t want your partner to ‘fix’ anything!

5. Never hold back in your own life

 Don’t resist further education, making more money, success or a promotion because of your partner. You should never need to boost his ego or spare his feelings by playing small in your own life. Someone who truly loves you and who is worth loving is secure enough to cheer you on.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress, that you got something valuable from it and could relate!

Until next week,

P

P.S My best selling programme ‘30 Days to Be Your Own Fairy Godmother’ is starting on the 22nd February and you could WIN a place! Click here to enter now! Winner will be announced on the 21st at 9pm!

 

Growing Pains at 27?

I came across an old diary entry last week which I had forgotten I had. The entry was over 18 months old and at the time of writing it, I was in Australia meeting my partners family for the first time. We were there for 3 weeks and there was such much stuff going through my head at the time. I was quite emotional while we were there; it was really unnerving that I wasn’t able to put my finger on why I felt so raw and just not myself! I was able to blame jet-lag for a few days but after a week I knew that couldn’t be the reason anymore so I went off for a long walk on my own, took my diary and a pen, grabbed a coffee from a little coffee hut and I plonked myself down and began to write.

 Here’s what I wrote:

“I’m very aware that a change is taking place. I’m holding onto the past I suppose. I’m growing up and it’s quite bittersweet. I don’t really want to – but at 27 years old, I have to ask myself is it not about time? Am I being overdramatic? To be honest, I don’t think so. I think that this is another part of growing up. It’s the in-between-y stage.

Obviously I’m not a child anymore but I really don’t feel like an adult. I have a bank account, pay bills, live with a boy, drive a car and have my own business which is all very grown up but the next big milestones and major events of my life –the traditional markers of adulthood like buying a house, getting married and starting a family are coming soon. I wonder if everyone experiences these feelings of apprehension and uneaseiness?

It’s kind of scary and I find myself looking back an awful lot. Being carefree, having fun, playing with bubbles and going to amusement parks and parades has always been a big part of who I am and what makes me smile but it’s all very childish- I mean does that all get left behind now?? I think it’s scary because I don’t know who I’ll be as an adult.

But in saying all this, I know that something great is coming- I feel like a caterpillar entering a chrysalis- she may know that she’ll emerge as a butterfly and be able to fly but I bet the caterpillar is frightened of losing herself in the process! I think that’s where I’m at.

When I think back on how far I’ve come, all of the changes I have made in my life so far, how wonderful things have been- there really should be no reason to be frightened so why am I?

I think it’s because I’m not focused on the future, I keep looking back instead of forwards. I know if I look forwards and direct my focus on where I want to go, it will feel lot more secure. Who do I want to be? “

 *******************************

 I find diaries really fascinating! I had no recollection of writing that until I actually read it again and immediately I was brought back to that moment! At the time, I really did feel nervous and anxious about growing up! I was having growing pains at 27 years old which may seem ridiculous, but at that particular time in my life, it was real and it felt scary! I had to accept it, embrace it and decide who I wanted to be as an adult! Interestingly, I got engaged less than 3 months after writing that diary entry and less than 12 months after writing it, I had bought my own house. Very grown up indeed! At some level, I must have been aware that is was on the horizon!

But anyway, I was very grateful to have stumbled across this last week and I thought I’d share it with you! I honestly would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Have you ever experienced anything like that? Can you relate to it? Please get in touch and share your thoughts and stories!

Until next week,

Look after you,

P x