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Are you obsessed with praise and criticism in your career?

Oh, how I loved the words ‘Well done!’. I was a total sucker for those words. Approval was like a drug and it made me feel warm and cosy inside. Anything from doing a painting to acing a spelling test to just being a good girl- I was hooked on praise! It was easy to get as well; the rules were clearly defined and established. Keep your head down, stay quiet and be good.

As I got older and moved through secondary school, the rules seemed to change but no one told me. The praise wasn’t as forthcoming and what took its place regularly was criticism. There wasn’t any excitement or celebration from doing something right anymore- that was now just expected, but there was such a sting from making a mistake. I started worrying was I good enough? Am I smart enough? What do my classmates, friends, teachers, parents think of me? Do they like me? I had really enjoyed learning but there came a point in school when I gave up and stopped going. Every time I attended class, I was craving that hit of praise but what usually came instead was criticism and an overwhelming feeling of not enough that stayed with me for decades. I thought that it was just me, but it isn’t.

We are a generation of women who are over-attached to what people think of us.

When I started working as a coach 9 years ago, the majority of women I worked with had a similar story of their fixation with praise and criticism. Most of the time, it started at a young age in school but it was a story that was still playing out decades later in their career. Strong, intelligent, capable women who were feeling stuck- because of a fear of criticism and desire for praise.

There are 3 main ways in which this shows up in our career:

1. Being obsessed with praise- this is perfectionist tendencies, being the ‘good worker’, having few or no boundaries in work, changing yourself to fit in with what you think is expected, over performance. If you’re dependant or desperate for praise, you simply can’t fulfil your potential. If you’re constantly looking for other people’s approval, you can’t take risks, you can’t do something different and you can’t be authentic. You can’t be the real you.

2. Avoidance of praise- Interestingly, the opposite is also true and this shows up so much with my clients. If you’re avoiding praise, avoiding the limelight, not taking ownership of your ideas and successes because you are uncomfortable with receiving praise, then you also can’t fulfil your potential. You won’t be showing up fully, sharing fully and you will be actively making yourself smaller in work so as not to be seen. Often, this is what happens when an individual realises that they have been hooked on praise and/or criticism in the past and they’ve tried to correct it- but they overcorrected.

3. Fear of Criticism– when this is a driver for you in work, you stay quiet and small. You don’t take share your ideas, you don’t innovate, you don’t contribute, you don’t challenge ideas or projects that you believe won’t work, you don’t do anything that will get you noticed!

No matter where you are in your career or what you do for your work- I’d be certain that you have a relationship with praise and criticism but I’m curious as to whether you are aware of the extent of the impact it has on you and your work. When you think of someone criticising you or your work- what is your reaction? Do you play small and stay safe, sticking with work and projects you know you can excel in and therefore receive praise? Are you feeling stuck or unfulfilled because you’re afraid of trying something new and not being able to do it perfectly?

So many people are aware and can sense the potential they have to do, be and have more in their life. It gnaws away at their soul, making their chest and jaw tight every time they keep their head down, stay quiet and tell themselves that they can’t or that they’re not ready. We constrain ourselves and put ourselves into a box when we’re dealing with this dual addiction.

So how do we learn to savour praise and not be dependent on it or driven by it? Here are my top 3 strategies to loosen the grip:

1. See it all as feedback-

Tara Mohr author of Playing Big has a great strategy on this, she suggests ‘ to always look at feedback as giving you information about the person or people giving the feedback, rather than information about you’. The example she uses is imagine an artist shows her painting to 3 people- 2 people like it and 1 person doesn’t. Does that tell you anything about the quality of her painting? No, it tells us only of the preferences of the people looking at it.

Feedback gives us the opinions and preferences of the people giving the feedback. It doesn’t give us any information on our worthiness. It’s not there to give us ego boosts or wounds- it’s simply feedback and when we understand this, we’re free. The key is to then take on board the feedback that is useful and let the rest go. Important questions to be asking here are ‘what feedback do I need to take on board  in order to be effective in moving this project forward?

2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

One of the most important mindset shifts we can make as women is that criticism doesn’t mean we’re doing something wrong. It’s simply part and parcel of putting yourself out there, doing your work and being visible. Have a think about women you admire who have put themselves out there, who are playing big in their lives and careers, who you think of as being courageous and confident.. Does everyone love them? Are they adored by men and women everywhere they go? No, of course not. They will have both critics and raving fans. It’s so important to have role models to look up to- it could be a friend, a colleague, a celebrity or a politician. When you find yourself on the receiving end of some tough criticism then ask yourself ‘How would she handle this?’ Would this stop her? The answers and wisdom that you will be able to tap into by doing this will give you inspiration on how to move yourself forward regardless! The more you practice leaning into the uncomfortable feelings, the easier it will become.

3. Know what is most important to you.

As odd as it sounds, but I adore learning, studying and writing. I really love it. Back in school, when I got so obsessed with avoiding criticism, I stopped going to school. I forgot that what I loved was the point, not what other people thought. So many of us have gotten so sucked into the obsession of wanting praise that we have forgotten the real point of why we do what we do! So it’s time to ask that question ‘what is most important to me in my career? ‘  When I ask this question of my clients, the answers that come out the most are; ‘being myself, making a difference, fulfilment, doing what I love, setting a positive example for other women, inspiring people, liking myself, feeling proud of myself, making things happen, acting with integrity, being on my own side, getting my message out, being brave’.

Interesting isn’t it? What would your answers be? In your career, what’s more important to you than praise?

Loosening the grip of the obsession with criticism and praise is one of the most important steps that you can take in growing and developing in your life and your career. So, make a pact with yourself. No one else is going to build the career and life that you want for you. No one else will even know what it is you desire. No one else knows the incredible potential that you know you have within you. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Love Paula

P.S If you’re interested or curious about working with me, please book in for a FREE 30 minute clarity call here to see if coaching would be beneficial to you

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball?

Most of the decisions we make on a day to day basis are simple and straight forward: we decide on what to wear, what to watch on Netflix, what to eat for lunch etc. They don’t cause us too much stress or inner turmoil- most of the time!

However, the prospect of having to make career decisions can leave many people feeling completely stuck, powerless and scared. Our career is such a big part of our lives that ultimately, a new decision in this area will actually change your life.

 No pressure right?

Should you move city for work? Do you take that promotion? Do you walk away from the industry you’ve been in for years and start something new? Do you start your own business? Do you go back to college?

Making big decisions can be quite tough because the fact is that we don’t know how things will work out. We don’t have a crystal ball that we can wave our hand over into and see that 6 months down the road, everything has worked out well, we’re ridiculously happy and incredibly successful! None of us have access to that level of certainty when making new decisions yet we crave it.

So many of us crave that absolute certainty so much that it stops us from making any decisions at all So what’s going on here? Why do so many of struggle with making decisions, especially around our career and relationships?

What I’ve seen from my work is that so many of us don’t trust ourselves. If we find ourselves in a career that we’re not happy about and are stuck there for a while, we start to believe that we aren’t qualified to make decisions for ourselves in that area. The self talk goes a bit like this ‘well, at the end of the day, it was me who accepted this lousy job in the first place so who am I to choose better next time?’ What often happens then is that we bring out our inner pollster and before we know it, we’re quizzing friends and family, posing the question ‘what do you think I should do?’ and listening to everyone else’s opinion.

What’s really going on here is that by doing that is we’re telling ourselves that we aren’t good enough, that our own judgement isn’t enough, that we’re not capable of making decisions on our own lives. We’ve lost trust in ourselves and fail to show up for ourselves in our lives and careers.

One of the biggest influencers in my work over the past few years is Brene Brown, a researcher and author and her words ring true here ‘You don’t want to be at the end of your life asking yourself ‘What would have happened had I shown up for myself?’. We need to be able to make bold decisions and trust in ourselves, without the safety net of certainty. So let’s break this down and a bit and explore trust.

First of all, what the hell does trust mean anyway? It’s such a vague concept!

Brene Brown quotes Charles Feltman, author of ‘The Thin Book of Trust’ who describes trust of others as ‘choosing to make something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions’. Think about this for a second in relation to your career decisions? You are choosing to give your time, energy, passion, commitment, growth, development, sweat, most of your week to a particular company or role. These are things you value so trust is an incredibly important factor in your working life. However, what we’re focusing on in this article is self-trust and your ability to make decisions so let’s deep dive a bit more. In her research, Brene has uncovered the ‘Anatomy of Trust’- what needs to present for trust to exist and the ingredients are summed up with the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G

B.R.A.V.I.N.G in depth

B: Boundaries

 I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them and you’re clear about my boundaries and respect them.

R: Reliability

 I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do, consistently.

A: Accountability

 I can only trust you if when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize for it, and make amends. You can only trust me if I can own it, apologize for it, and make amends. No accountability? No trust.

No accountability? No trust.

V: Vault

 What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence.

I: Integrity

 I cannot trust you and respect you if you do not act from a place of integrity and encourage others to do the same. Choose courage over comfort, and choose what’s right over what’s fun, fast, and easy: practice your values, don’t just profess them

N: Non-judgment

 I can fall apart and be in struggle and ask for help from you without being judged by you, and you can fall apart and be in struggle and ask for help without being judged by me. 

G: Generosity

 A relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviours. If I screw up, say something, forget something, you will make a generous assumption about me. 

So, flip this over to you now and it should shine a light on the exact reasons why you may be struggling to trust yourself to make decisions right now. Make a note of what resonates with you most.

Boundaries – Did I respect my own boundaries in my working life?  In my current or last job, was I clear about what was ok and what was not ok?

Reliability – Can I rely on myself? Do I do what I say I’m going to do? Do I follow through on my boundaries and decisions? Do I put other people’s needs ahead of my own?

Accountability – Do I hold myself accountable when I make a mistake? Do I take responsibility for it, own it and make amends or do I try to hide it, feel shame or blame other people? Remember, no accountability? No trust.

Vault – Do I respect the vault and share appropriately? Do I share my story with people who haven’t earned the right to hear it? Do I gossip and share other peoples stories?

Integrity – Do I act from my integrity? Am I honouring my values? Do I even know what is most important to me in my career? Where is the line? What are my deal breakers? How do I behave when something is in conflict with my integrity? Remember, choose courage over comfort, and choose what’s right over what’s fun, fast, and easy.

Non-judgment- Do I ask for what I need? Do I judge myself for needing help or for outgrowing a role? Do I judge myself for my own desires? Do I judge others for following their dreams?  What triggers judgement in me?

Generosity – Am I generous towards myself? When I’m fearful or scared or having a rough time- do I attack myself or do I practice self-compassion? 

When we have big decisions to make, there will always be uncertainty and learning to lean in to ourselves and trusting ourselves is the most powerful tool you can possess to enable you to move forward. Trust is a vague concept however Brene Brown has done a wonderful job in breaking it down so we can pinpoint exactly where we have breached our own trust in the past. From there, we can immediately understand it and start to make amends. Know who you are, know what you’re about and start to work on building up your self-trust and your relationship with you. You still won’t the crystal ball but you will have everything you need to make the next decision.

Now, I’ve written this with a focus on career but this is relevant to so many different aspects of your life, and in particular this often comes up when I’m working with clients on their relationships and love life. I hope it helps!

Love Paula

P.S If you want to work on this topic- trusting yourself and having your own back as well as much more- then join me and a wonderful group of women for my online group coaching programme All You Need is Love starting Monday 1st July. This is the beginning and you are so worth it. It is your time and you are ready for this. I’m here to support you!

How to Make the Right Decisions for You

This is one of my favourite topics and the reason why about 90% of my coaching clients come to me for support! Decisions! It’s the core of the quarter life crisis- some of the biggest decisions that we make in our lives happen in our 20s and 30s in relation to travel, love and dating, career, where we’re going to settle, what we’re going to do with our lives. It’s overwhelming for so many people because a) there’s so many choices and b) we don’t know how to make decisions!

What happens then is we tend to get quite paralysed, get into cycles of over-thinking, start feeling anxious and feel unable to make a decision out of fear of choosing the wrong thing. So many of us are so terrified of making mistakes that we’re searching for absolute certainty in our decisions- which simply doesn’t exist. So we end up feeling powerless, unable to decide so we stay exactly where we are and wonder why we’re not making any progress on the big dreams we had for ourselves.

So if you’re struggling with making decisions or is there’s a big choice that’s keeping you up at night? Then this will really help you make better decisions. I’ve loads of tips to share with you.

1. Head or Heart

This always comes up and I know you’ll understand what I mean. This is when everything looks good on the surface and on paper BUT you know in your heart that something isn’t right. This could be a decision you need to make about your career, a relationship or  travelling etc.

Your head is telling you that this is how it should be, you are where you’re supposed to be but your heart is aching knowing that you’re truly not happy. Do you hand in your notice and do the scary thing you dream of? Do you have that difficult conversation and end the relationship even though you’re comparing yourself to all your friends who are engaged, getting married and having babies. So- do you make decisions from your head or your heart?

I believe you should always make decisions from your heart. Absolutely make use of your head- use it for the practical planning, the maths, the logistics. But for happiness, your bigger picture and the feel of the decision- always go inwards and check with your heart.

2. Lean into how the decision feels

When you think about the decision ask yourself ‘ Will this expand me, will this help me grow, will it expand my future, will it expand my possibilities, is it in alignment with my values- with what’s truly important to me?’ If the answer is Yes, then the decision is Yes no matter how terrifying or out of your comfort zone it may feel.

Ask yourself ‘Will this make me smaller, will it silence me, will I be holding back part of myself, will it shrink me, will it inhibit me or my growth in any way?’ If the answer is Yes, then the decision is NO- no matter how safe or easy that path may feel to you right now.

3. Understand The Long Game

The short-term impact of heart based decisions

This is a really important aspect to decision making which is often overlooked. When faced with a decision, often we just think of the immediate impact and feeling. Think about it- a relationship that you know isn’t working and you know your heart is saying that it’s decision is this relationship needs to end. If you just focused on the short term impact and emotions- it would make it more difficult to make that decision. Often the short term impact of our heart based decisions are terrifying because it means change. It means starting something new, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, going into unchartered territory or having really difficult conversations with people. These things are always uncomfortable so you need to brace for impact, get some support and practice self care as you’re going through it.

The long term impact of heart based decisions

This is a whole other ball game! If you allowed yourself to visualise and really picture the long term impact of a heart based decision- it can really be a game-changer. This is where all the good stuff comes from, it shapes us, it shows us that we are courageous, that we value ourselves and our happiness. This is where your best life will come from- living a life that is true to you not one that you just ended up living because it was safe.

4. The Power Of Objectivity

This is like a Jedi mind trick- it’s basically the ability to make a decision from a 3rd party perspective. You know the way we’re all great at giving advice to others? Well, there’s a reason! When you don’t have a direct emotional tie, the decision-making process can be much clearer. And research backs this up–we make better decisions for others than we do for ourselves!. So the solution here is  to take an objective, zoomed-out, third-party objective stance on the decision to be made.

Think of someone you admire- what would they do in this situation? If it was a friend in this exact situation, what would you advise them and why?

5. Take time to reflect but don’t agonise

Your life comes down to the decisions that you make. I’m not joking. We make, on average 35,000 decisions each day. Most we’re not even aware of, but yet some we agonise over for weeks, months and even years. It’s important to reflect and take time on big decisions that will impact your life but set a deadline on it. Get support if you need to so that you can make the decision and start making progress in your life.

6. Learn who you are and what’s best for you.

I wrote an ebook years ago about this, it’s called ‘The Secret to Quarter Life Happiness’ and you can get a free copy from my website. Most of the time, we ask ourselves ‘what do I want?’ but we’re not sure so we either start polling other people, we look at what others are doing and we make our decisions from that space. Then we put our heads down and get on with it- we choose a particular degree because that’s what our parents wanted us to do etc. The biggest reason why so many people struggle to know what they want is because they don’t know who they are.

It may sound dramatic but it’s the truth. So many people don’t know what they believe in, they don’t know what’s important to them, what their values are, they don’t know how to recognise their successes or praise themselves, they don’t know what energises them, they don’t know how to say yes to what feels good and how to say no to what feels bad. We don’t want to be rude, we don’t want to put people out, we don’t want to have difficult conversations so we bend, shift and contort ourselves into the shapes of who we think we’re supposed to be- into who we think society wants us to be. Then we try to make a decision for our own happiness and we get stuck…..

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to spend some time getting to know yourself, understanding your likes, your dislikes, your passions, your pet hates. Get on your own side and learn all about you because it’s when you really know yourself, you’re in a much better position to decide what’s best for you.

Love Paula x

I’d love to chat to you about how we could work together so please book in for a free 30 minute discovery call here!

What love language do you speak?

(The secret to great relationships)

Myself and Colm have a great marriage and we’ve had an amazing relationship for almost a decade. Obviously we do of course have arguments and frustrations and I want to slap him when he’s snoring and keeping me awake- but for the most part we’re a really good team!

One of the things I credit with that, is knowing each other’s love language. Many years ago, I came across a book called the ‘5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman’ and wow- it made so much sense!

Imagine you’re in a relationship, you’re dating or you’re married- you know that there is real love and connection there but why oh why do they irritate or frustrate you so much at times? Why are there times when you feel disconnected or unloved?

Most likely- you speak different love languages.

There are 5 love languages and they are:

  • Words of Affirmation– this would consist of compliments, heartfelt spoken appreciation and acknowledgements, deep conversations about your relationship, life, love etc
  • Quality Time- this is exactly what it sounds like. It’s undivided attention, no phone, no TV, no distractions, just you and your partner together doing something that you enjoy.
  • Acts of Service– sounds odd but this means doing things that you know your partner would appreciate- picking up something you know they need when you’re on your way home, sticking on a wash for them, picking them up from a night out
  • Receiving gifts– again, exactly what it sounds like but it doesn’t mean it has to be expensive things. It can be a token that shows ‘I saw this and I thought of you’
  • Physical touch– this can be affection, holding hands, kissing, hugs, cuddles and of course, sex.

According to Gary Chapman, we all have a primary and secondary language in which we express and feel love. My primary love language is ‘Words of Affirmation’ and my secondary is ‘Quality Time’. And Colm… he’s completely different!

The key thing is that we all tend to give or show love the way we want to receive it. That’s what feels natural to us. If our love language is different to our partner- we can run into challenges.

 What are your thoughts- would you have an idea as to what your primary love language is based on the above?

So, even if you can identify your own love language- how do you know what your partners love language is?

The advice given by Gary Chapman is to really pay attention to how they’re naturally drawn to expressing love and bear in mind, it could be completely different to you! It’s about paying attention to their needs, their wants, what they’re asking for and what they give out about as well!

The secret to a great relationship is communication and you need to know your partners love language in order to communicate love to them.

I’ll give you an example…..

When Colm and I first met, it was the typical dating/start of a relationship. We spent quality time together, we bought each other little gifts, we did nice things for each other, we affirmed each other with our words and we were physical. All of the love languages were demonstrated at the beginning…..

But when that honeymoon period wore off and we were living together and had our normal day to day life- there were challenges. Yes, we would have loved to be able to stay in that care-free honeymoon period but that’s not real life! He annoyed me with what once was his cute quirks and vice versa!

 To me, Colm was prioritising getting things done more than having those long, late night chats that I loved. He was doing all these things for me because his love language is ‘Acts of Service’ but to me, him doing all these things meant absolutely nothing to me, it simply wasn’t important so I didn’t feel as connected to him. And I, at every chance I got, was trying to have a meaningful conversation with him as an expression of my love but it just frustrated him! Sounds like the beginning of the end right?


I’d forgotten about the love languages but I brought them in and everything made sense. I realised that for Colm to feel love, I had to express that through ‘Acts of Service’ and for me, he had to express it to me through ‘Words of Affirmation’.

It completely shifted everything.

I started doing more of what I know is important to Colm- little things like looking after admin, booking his car in for a service, anticipating things that he would need to do and looking after some of them for him. And he started using words of affirmation to express his love for me. So we thrived.

It took/takes a lot of work and we have to stay on top of it because it‘s not natural for either of us but we know it works.

So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, my advice is to spend a little time exploring what your love language is and what it means to you.

If you’re in a relationship – get curious about what love language your partner speaks. If they happen to be the same as you, then you’re a lucky duck and you probably won’t have a hard time feeling loved by one another!

And if they aren’t the same, then like myself and Colm- you’ll have to work at it as it won’t come naturally to you. But it’s such a great opportunity to learn how to love each other better, meet each other’s needs more and take your relationship to a new level.

If you’re single, start loving yourself more based on your own love language! Talk to yourself in a loving way, book a regular massage, go away by yourself for a couple of days, make yourself a gorgeous meal each week, declutter your environment or buy yourself a gift because you’re you and you love you!

However you approach it, you can only win!

Love Always,


Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Get in touch and let me know your thoughts on this! Do you know your love language? Do you want to explore it more? How do you think it’s impacted past relationships?

Also make sure you book in for a free 30 minute discovery call with me to explore how we could work together to help you show up with more joy, courage and confidence in your life and work. Book in here and I look forward to chatting with you!

Why you should stop trying to have and do it all…..

Sounds like a strange statement for a life coach to make but trust me on this…. For the past 8 years, I have supported thousands of women and men around the world who felt stuck, uncertain, at a crossroads and trying to figure out what their next step would be. The problem always came down to these three things:

  • Conflict of desires
  • Lack of self belief
  • Personal resources of time, energy and attention

We’ll start with conflicts of desires.

We all have things that are important to us, things we want to do, be and have this week, this year and in our lives. Often, and I mean really often- the things that we desire are in conflict with each other.

For example: I want to be here with my family and friends but I also want to travel the world and have adventures. I want to be a stay at home parent and have that time with my kids when they’re small but I also want to be my own person, have my own career, go to work and honour that side of me. I want to start my own business doing something creative and holistic but I want to feel secure and know with certainty exactly how much I’ll be earning each month. I want to meet a partner, fall in love but I want to keep my heart safe and myself protected from potential disappointment and heartache.

It’s so normal to have these internal conflicts and a lot of the time, we’re not aware or we don’t use the word ‘conflict’- we just think we’re nuts because we keep going around in circles and don’t make decisions on anything.

We have this expectation that we should and could be able to do it all- if only……

If only we were good enough, more efficient, smarter, fitter, more confident, better with our finances etc etc. We look at the highlight reels of other people’s social media accounts and we end up feeling like crap- she can do it – why can’t I? There must be something wrong with me. I’m too lazy, not disciplined enough, not pretty enough, not old enough, not young enough, not smart enough etc. I really want to call BS on this.

We have all been conditioned from an incredible young age to value certain things- marketers and advertisers have invested billions into making you think a particular way, feel particular feelings and desire certain experiences and products in your life. But when you break out of the brainwashing, do some deep personal work and detach from external expectations- you find that what you truly desire stands out more. The fog lifts and the truth hits you right between the eyes. You’re clear on what you want because you know, you truly know what you value. Can you imagine that- feeling crystal clear on who you are and what you will create your life around?

Then, once you have the clarity. Then comes the next obstacle!

Lack of self belief or confidence

So, you know what you want. You know what would make your heart sing and bring a big smile to your face BUT it’s really scary. Who are you to think you could do something like that? It’s too different.. It’s risky…. I could be hurt or disappointed……What will people think??

I find it interesting that when people have a big dream combined with bucket loads of fear- that they manage to tell themselves that obviously the dream isn’t meant for them. If it was, they’d just go and do it and not be afraid. They take the fear and resistance as a sign that this isn’t their path. Again- I’ve to call BS on this. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing so get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to have a life that excites you and brings you new experiences.

We all have stories that we tell ourselves about who we are. A lot of the time, these are old stories that we’ve been carrying with us for years- allowing them to shape our beliefs and decisions in life. If these stories aren’t serving you well or if they’re holding you back- it’s time to look at them properly and challenge them. When did you start telling yourself that you’re no good at x,y,z? When did you begin to define yourself with limitations? What happened that caused you to stop showing that side of yourself to the world?

When self belief or confidence is lacking- you need to lean deep into your courage instead.

You will have a choice: You can stay where you are… Or you can be brave. Practicing courage means you may feel uncomfortable and vulnerable but that you are moving forwards. It doesn’t need to be leaps and bounds- just small steps closer to the truth of what you’re about and what you desire.

As the brilliant researcher and teacher Brene Brown says ‘Courage is a heart word.’ The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’- being clear on who you are and showing up as that person each day.

Let’s look at the next reason why we should stop trying to have and do it all.

Personal resources of time, energy and attention

I want to shine a light on this issue as it has comes up regularly for both myself personally and for my clients. I’m talking about taking ownership of our personal resources of time, energy and attention in relation to our desires and priorities.

We can have as many goals and dreams and desires as we like, but we cannot have unlimited priorities.

 Our goals and dreams need our attention, they are worthy of our attention. What we forget is that the personal resources of time, energy, money and attention that we have- has limits. I’m not saying this to rain on your parade, I’m saying this because this is one of the main reasons why life tends to get messy and frustrating, especially for women.

You see, often, we give away our personal resources to others without thinking of it or blinking an eye. We take on extra work to be helpful even though we’re already a bit swamped, we help our partners sort out their careers even though ours could really do with attention as well, we babysit and help out family even though we say we never have time to go out and meet someone. Far too often, we give away our time, our energy, our focus and our attention and have little left for our own dreams, desires and plans. Like it or not, but we have been conditioned to do so and we barely realise.

 No more sweetie.

It’s time to step up and I’m challenging you to hold your personal resources of time, energy and attention as sacred. I’m not saying don’t be kind or helpful, but don’t be a pushover. Put boundaries in place and protect your own dreams. It is your time to pay attention to you, to spend your resources on you, to be aware, to be brave and to activate your true desires.

I am challenging you to hold your personal resources as precious – if you’re going to make changes and waves in your life in 2019- you’ll need to have your back. You are worthy of taking the time you need to create the life that you desire and it will take time, it will take effort, it will take attention and you need to be prepared to give yourself the resources you need.

I could talk for hours on this topic alone but just know, if this resonates with you that you are not alone. Self sacrificing, attending to other people’s needs, helping, supporting, nurturing those around us comes naturally to us as we’ve been raised with certain gender and cultural expectations and pressures. Now I’m asking you to shine a light on this, be aware of it and practice courage and self compassion if you need to make changes in that area!

Just be aware that if you get to the end of 2019 and are scratching your head wondering where the time went and wondering why you haven’t made any progress on your own desires- giving it away does tend to be the common culprit!

So, stop trying to have and do it all, simply for the fact that if you look deeply- I bet that a lot of what your energy and attention is spent on; isn’t actually important to you.

So get clear on what you desire, on what you value and set your goals based on that. Lean deep into your courage, sit with that vulnerability – it’s meant to feel uncomfortable and understand that you cannot have unlimited priorities. Be wild. Be bold. Make yourself and your hearts desires your top focus this year.

Love Always,


How to Have More Productive & Meaningful Mornings

The following story is one that’s been circulating for awhile.

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They laughed and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.

If you put sand into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same can be applied to your lives. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

Pay attention to the things in life that are critical to your happiness and well-being. Take time to get medical check-ups, play with your children, go for a run, write your nana a letter. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, or fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first – things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.

How to Be Have More Productive and Meaningful Mornings…

How we start our day tends to set the tone of the hours that follow. Regardless of your obligations and responsibilities, we can all make tweaks to our daily routine so that we can pull as much joy, meaning and passion from our day. I’ve compiled a list if tips that I’ve embraced over the years and have shared them below. Even if you take one that resonates with you and leave the rest, it’s a positive change.

1. Plan your day the night before

I would be lost without this and I’ve been doing it for years. Each evening, I would set out what I need to do the next day, so I set my priorities. You decide what your own priorities are but pay attention to what you’re planning- is it all pebbles and sand or are you prioritising the truly important things like your health, your rest, your relationships, your joy?

If you’re finding at the end of each day that things didn’t work out, or you didn’t get the time you wanted to work out, or have some time alone, or whatever it is that you wanted for yourself- that’s ok. The key is about awareness, understanding why and what’s happening and then what you can do about it or tweak moving forwards.

2.  Be realistic about your time in the morning

So say you want to have some quiet time, have a shower, eat breakfast, do a yoga with Adrienne YouTube class, prepare a healthy lunch or put dinner in the slow cooker- how much time realistically will it take to do those things?

Most of us don’t set ourselves up for success in the morning, we’ve a vague idea of what we need to do but then if we oversleep by 10-15 or 30 minutes, that’s everything out the window and before our feet even touch the floor, we’re behind. We’re lacking, rushed, haven’t done enough, aren’t enough.

So be realistic each day- if it’s 12am, you’re still awake and you’re planning to be up at 6.30am – just check in with yourself and see if this is realistic. Don’t beat yourself up about it either, learn from it and what needs to change.

3. Prepare your food, your clothes and what you need the day before

This is a huge time saver in the morning. Choose what you’re going to wear and lay it out- everything from your bra to your socks to your mascara. If you have kids, do the same. Get everything ready the night before that they’ll need. If I do this in the evening, it takes 5 minutes. If I do it in the morning with sleepy brain fog, it takes about 3-4 times as long!

Same with food.  Get your breakfast sorted, set the table, soak the oats, prepare a fruit salad. That way first thing in the morning you’re starting the day with clarity around what you’re wearing, what you’re eating and instead of rushing, there’s much more ease to the start of the day.

The same goes for lunch- prepare it in advance. If you’ve kids, do theirs as well and pop it in the fridge.

Whatever you need for the day, set it up the night before. Pack your gym bag, put your laptop in your bag, check your purse and keys are ready, schoolbags are packed, forms are signed. Imagine putting your hand to absolutely everything you need in the morning with ease..

Doing all this the night before will free you up in the morning.

4. Get to bed early enough to get the rest you need

How much sleep do you get? How much do you need? Or do you even know? This is where so many of us trip up. We go to bed far too late and are too tired in the morning. So, set a realistic bedtime for yourself and decide to stick with it at least x numbers of times per week (be realistic again). Even if you’re awake and you’re reading, that’s so much better for your wellbeing than watching Netflix.

5. Engage in something that lights you up

In the morning or even on your way to work, find something that lights you up and makes you feel alive! It could be your favourite coffee, it could be hopping off the bus one stop early and walking though the park, it could be a phone call that you make to a friend, a sister or a parent during your commute, it could be listening to a podcast or a ted talk that inspires you. For me, it’s music. Putting on my spotify playlist in the kitchen is an effortless way to increase my joy in the morning! Try something!

I hope you found this helpful! I’d love to hear your tips on what you do to have more productive and meaningful mornings or what you’re going to try from this list! Pop over to Instagram or facebook and let me know!

Paula x

Coming Out Of The Broom Closet

Happy Halloween!

I’ve always loved Halloween! I was 8 when the movie Hocus Pocus came out and I was obsessed with it! My mam came home from work one night with a gorgeous deep purple hooded cloak because I loved the witch Sarah from the movie! That’s who I dressed as for about the next 3 years straight! I loved the idea of witches, magic, casting spells and being able to make things happen!

As a kid I would study wise women from times ancient times- intrigued by how different things were then. Seriously, like when the internet became a thing- this is what I searched for……Gods, Goddesses, Magic….Back then women were different, or at least society was because men and women were both seen as equal. If anything, society was more matriarchal. The earth itself, nature was seen as feminine ‘Mother Earth’ and as women brought forth life, they were respected and revered.

I learnt about and adored the idea of sitting in circle, of sharing wisdom and the ‘moon tents’. Did you know In many ancient cultures, a woman’s cycle or “moon time” was considered sacred and she took time to rest, renew, and regenerate. Women gathered in ‘moon tents’ or ‘red tents’ because their cycle was often in sync with the women close to them and in sync with the moons cycle. In these places women slowed down, nurtured themselves and each other, took time to reflect on their lives, listened to the wisdom of the grandmothers who came to counsel and support the younger women; and looked forward to the coming births and the coming of age ceremonies for the girls. How amazing would that be? Could you imagine doing that now?

They were wise women, wild women and empowered women. They drew strength from within and the natural world around them. They worked with the earth and paid attention to their bodies and intuition. They were in touch with their power and they shared their wisdom.

Sadly, over the millennia things changed and because of war, greed, religion- women lost their place as sacred and became seen as property and subordinate. The passing of ‘wicce’- meaning ‘wisdom’   between women would see them hung, burnt or tortured for witchcraft -meaning ‘craft of the wise’. It was no longer safe for women to be powerful, to speak up or share their wisdom so we didn’t and so it was for generation after generation and the fear of being seen, being yourself, being real still remains for many women.

I’ve always been fascinated with this because I’ve always been scared to allow myself be myself. Always playing small, hiding part of myself, scared of what others may think of me if I allow people to see the real me. Through my personal development work over the past decade, it’s getting easier but even sharing with you guys my fascinations and interests is a bit scary.

But the truth is, I do believe that women are incredibly powerful. I do believe that the majority of us are playing small. I do believe the majority of us are afraid at some level to be ourselves, to fight for ourselves, to look after ourselves (in case someone calls us selfish). We spend so much of our time, energy and resources on morphing ourselves into what we think we should be, how we think we should look etc. Or maybe we don’t do that anymore, but we used to and the memory remains.

When I was pregnant with Sarah in 2015, I was so fucking lost! I was terrified, I was scared and felt incredibly restricted and controlled- I kept being told what I had to do, what I couldn’t do, I was SO tired and uncomfortable but societies message to me was ‘you’re not the only woman who’s been pregnant’ – basically ‘man the fuck up’ so I tried that, I dug in deeper, pushed myself harder and ended up having a panic attack outside the hospital on the day of my big 20 week scan, pre-natal depression and physical damage to my body which I’m still trying to repair. I wasn’t allowing myself to be a woman- strange as that sounds! I was pushing myself with masculine energy instead of allowing myself to be softer, gentler and more nurturing with myself.

My saving grace was going to a Women’s Circle on the Hill Of Tara in 2015 where a ceremonysurrender to support called the ‘Mother Rites of Danu’ was being performed under the full moon. I had NO idea what to expect but I went and for me, that experience felt like coming home. Finally! It was different, it was a rite of passage into the role of ‘Mother’. I sat in a circle with a small group of women(complete strangers!) and each of us spoke about what ‘motherhood’ or ‘birthing children/ideas/businesses’ meant to us.

We spoke of our hopes, our fears, our expectations and we were heard by each other, we were seen by each other and we were simply held in a safe space by each other. We laughed, we cried, we drank tea and had some biccies and it was an amazing few hours of my life. It changed a lot within me as it showed me a different world- it showed me the world that I craved does in fact exist in the here and now.

Over the past 3 years or so, I’ve been exploring it more and more deeply, allowing myself to be more myself. Allowing myself to tap into my natural wisdom and intuition that bit more. Knowing if I feel unwell or have cramps, that lighting candles, putting essential oils in my bath, making tea, going for walks- all with an intention of healing and self care- makes a huge difference. The same with anxiety or any other worry I may possess- I know that there are certain rituals that I can do to help me progress in my life. By the way, we all know what we need to do. This is our natural wisdom- our instincts, our self trust, knowing ourselves, saying no to others, yes to ourselves and allowing ourselves to be who we are. We just have been so conditioned to repress our natural wisdom and trust in ourselves because in the past it wasn’t safe for us to be vocal and visible. We kept our heads down, avoided eye contact and spoke quietly.

Thankfully, times have changed. It’s never been a safer time to be a wise and powerful woman. So why then do so many women still feel powerless? Why are we fearful that we won’t be able to make ends meet, why are we so afraid to be ourselves, why are we holding back, not speaking up and not coming close to reaching our full potential? And why do so many of us struggle with the concepts of ‘self-love’, ‘self-worth’ and ‘self acceptance’ and yet constantly carry around the weight of feeling ‘not good enough’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘unworthy’?

I honestly believe that it is because women have lost touch with their natural wisdom. We keep seeking approval and validation from everyone but ourselves, so much so that we’re unsure of our own minds, we don’t trust our own intuition and we’ve forgotten how to tap into our inner strength – in short, we’ve lost touch with our feminine side. And don’t even get me started on comparison and social media!

I’m still learning how to reconnect with that stronger, wiser part of myself but it’s been an incredible journey so far. I’d love to help teach you parts of what I’ve learnt so far, I’d love to hold a safe space for you to talk about this, I’d love for you to explore who you truly are at the core and allow your wise inner self to come out to play. Do you need to come out of the broom closet too? It’s a big dream for me in 2019 to start holding my own women’s circles- to hold space for real talk, truth and honesty and exploring everything we’re craving to speak about but don’t.


But for now, I’d love to offer to you my 30 day programme called ‘All You Need is Love’ and it’s the foundation piece that needs to be in place for everything else. We start on the 8th November. We’ll be exploring what proper self care looks like and how it differs from self comfort. We’ll be looking at the inner critic – that voice in your head that makes you hide, play small and hold back and we’ll be learning how to relate to that voice from a more nurturing perspective. We’ll also be looking at how to tap into that wiser part of you- that’s deep within and teaching you how to recognise her voice. We’ll be exploring the idea of ‘confidence’ and what that truly means. We’ll be looking at how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to confidence and that is why a lot of what you tried in the past hasn’t worked. Finally, we’ll be looking at how to integrate all of this new knowledge and wisdom into your day to day life so that you get to experience lasting change.

It is ‘hard/heart’ work but I know you’re ready for it.

Love always,

P x

6 Steps to Overcome ‘That’ Fear!

Ok, so in coaching we talk about fear a lot! Fear is what holds us back, makes us hesitate, procrastinate, put off and ultimately kill our dreams. I’m sure you’ve read plenty of things about fear and I know you’ve felt it lots of times too!

Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret and that is; Fear has Layers. Often if you think you’ve overcome your fear, what you’ve actually done is overcome a surface fear but underneath that, something else can be lurking there much deeper. So I thought with Halloween coming up it , it’s a good time to explore fear a bit deeper and today I want to talk to you about not being good enough at ‘it’

The Fear of Not Being Good Enough at ‘IT’

IT is different for everyone. Now, with this fear I’m not talking about the normal thoughts and fear we have around ‘not feeling good enough’- I’m talking about what happens when a fear of not being good enough becomes a habitual way of thinking aka a ‘fixed mindset’.

Let me explain: I used to do cross country and 100 metre running in school. Primary school sports days- I loved them! Within the first few weeks of secondary school, I had the nickname of ‘Sonic’ yes the hedgehog, yes I realise now it was lame but back then, I was just so proud of it and having that label pushed me into running faster. Then started the competitions- county and country competitions. All of a sudden I wasn’t the best anymore. In fact, I was pretty average and insignificant. My ability wasn’t good enough. What was the point then?   My mindset shifted quite quickly from ‘This is fun, I’m really good at this’ to ‘I’m not good enough anymore so I’m not interested.’

Truth be told, it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, I desperately was but up until that point it had just been so easy and natural for me and I never learnt to work at it. Bottom line was I quit, and I started smoking to double up on the excuses.

This particular mindset of ‘not good enough’ in relation to my fitness stayed with me for years and it still my default setting. If I go to a class or a boot camp or anything, and it doesn’t come naturally or feel fun or feel easy- the urge is to walk away. But I KNOW it’s because I never learnt how to work at it, that I never learnt that effort and practice is more important than immediate results- does that make sense? I know it logically now which it why I have to push myself to follow through, to do it even when I don’t feel like it.

So, I’m curious- where has this story been playing out in your life?

What doesn’t come naturally to you anymore so the default behaviour is to avoid it or procrastinate? For many people I work with it’s in relation to their health, weight and fitness goals. Similar to me- it used to come naturally and easily until all of a sudden it didn’t and now that area of life just sucks! And no matter what meal plans you come up with, or what exercise regime you sign up to- you never follow through and stay consistent!

Or how about in work- do you remember when you used to do your work and you’d get a grade? You’d get clear comments- well done, needs improvement, good effort etc but then when you entered the ‘real world’- just crickets. No feedback, no praise, no ‘well done’. The rules are different- instead of waiting to be asked for your input, you have to speak over everyone else- maybe even interrupt others mid sentence. It feels hard, it feels uncomfortable so what’s happened for many people is that you back off, stay quiet, you don’t progress as you had hoped you would and your confidence and self esteem gets chipped away at a little bit more each day. The big dreams that you had for yourself and your life aren’t featuring in your thoughts anymore. You start believing that you’re not ‘good enough at it’ – whatever ‘it’ may be so it’s better if you just keep your head down.

The point I want to hammer home is that we avoid, deny, procrastinate, don’t follow through and don’t reach our dreams because we’re afraid of trying in case we find out that we’re not good enough at ‘it’. It’s easier to keep something as a wish or a dream that we can fantasise about rather than putting the effort in to make it happen and discovering that we’re not good enough (or so the fear will tell you!)

What I’m saying is that is just your current mindset.

You just haven’t learnt YET how to do it to get the results that you want. What I’m saying is that everything you could possibly desire is possible for you- it’s just that you haven’t learnt how to get it YET. You need to change your way of thinking to a growth mindset.

So be honest- what’s your big goal or dream? What is your ‘IT’? What is it that you desperately want but you’re telling yourself that it’s scary to try for in case you can’t do, be or have it?

Here are your steps:

Step 1: Identify your thing

Step 2: Identify the story you’re telling yourself about it

Step 3: Make the decision that you will go after your thing but be realistic. Give yourself the time to learn, give yourself the real time it would take to actually see results, give yourself milestones and measures, find someone to be accountable to or hire a coach. Start taking baby steps

Step 4: A simple way of starting to develop your growth mindset is asking the questions ‘What did I learn from this?’ ‘ How could I improve on this?’ ‘What would I do differently next time?’ each time you progress towards your thing

Step 5: Track it- Actually write it down somewhere- if it’s your fitness- track your distance or reps you can do so that you can see the progress. If it’s your weight, track it and what you’re eating. If it’s finances you want to get to grips with, start tracking your income, outgoings and savings each day, if it’s your confidence to speak up in work- track how many times you speak up and when. Where you put your attention is where the magic happens so whatever area of life you want to see improvements- start to track it.

Step 6: Be kind to yourself- this is hard and it’s something you’ve been putting off so go gently with yourself and manage your expectations. It’s not going to all fall into place, there will be a learning curve, it will take time and it will take effort. But if you keep on keeping on and keep your eyes on the prize, you will get there!

Until next week,

P x

Check out my Best Selling 30 Day programme ‘All You Need is Love’ where we ensure that the relationship you have with yourself is healthy and solid. This is the foundation to everything else you want in your life. We deep dive into your mindset and thinking as well!

Why You Don’t need Motivation

Do you ever feel like you’re simply not moving forwards? That you’re just not making any progress on your goals- be that your financial and savings goals, your fitness and weight goals, your relationship goals, your career goals. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially when we know EXACTLY what we need to do BUT we just couldn’t be arsed.

I just need motivation… that kick up the ass…. when I feel motivated and ready, then I’ll do it….

Sound familiar?

I can’t tell you the number of times I convinced myself that ‘tomorrow’ I’ll be ready. Monday I’ll be ready. Next week I’ll be ready. I lied to myself constantly (I didn’t realise it at the time of course- I thought my logic was sound) I bought into this myth that someday I would feel braver and more confident to make the changes that would enable me to be a better version of me, to live up to my potential.

But the reality was that the magical day of feeling ready and motivated never came, it just got pushed out further and further. Time passed, days passed, weeks passed. months passed and nothing changed.

Knowing you should do something and consistently NOT doing it chips away at your self-esteem over time.

I realised it was bullshit and that I WAS NEVER GOING TO FEEL READY OR MOTIVATED.


Because of science. As human beings,  our brains are wired and designed so that we avoid doing things that are uncomfortable, scary, hard or different- things that could lead to failure, disappointment, uncertainty or rejection.

  • Going back to the gym after a year
  • Applying for a promotion
  • Speaking up in work
  • Saying no to people and protecting your time
  • Giving up sugar
  • Doing up a budget and sticking with it to save money for a house
  • Moving out
  • Taking the next step in a relationship

While  all of these things seem like normal things that people do every day, they can also be uncomfortable, scary and hard enough that we want to feel ready and motivated before we start. But we never do. It’s a catch 22 situation.

When I feel ready and motivated, I’ll start speaking up and being more assertive in work BUT while you’re waiting and continuing to not speak up or be assertive; you’re actually chipping away at your confidence and self esteem which then makes it feel even harder to start and makes you crave the readiness and burst of motivation even more.” And so the cycle continues

The magical day of confidence, courage, motivation and self belief is not coming.

I hate to break it to you but honestly, deep down, you know this.

In order to make the changes you need to make and want to make, in order to set up your own business, in order to be the best version of yourself, in order to change your lifestyle to a healthier one, in order to be the best mama you can be, in order to get to where you want to get to and do all of those amazing things that you so desperately want to do with your life- you will HAVE TO DO THINGS THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE, SCARY, HARD AND DIFFERENT TO WHAT YOU’RE USED TO.


That’s the truth! You’ll never feel ready or feel like doing it. If you do manage to motivate yourself to start- from your own experience- how long does that last for you?

So if motivation doesn’t work, what the hell do we do when we need to psych ourselves up to make changes?

As Nike says- just do it.

The way to make the progress we desire to make is to begin- even when you don’t feel like it or you don’t feel ready. Mel Robbins talks about the ‘Habit of Hesitating‘ that we all have and I couldn’t agree more. When we have the thought to do one of these little things that we know will positively impact our lives- we hesitate. Even the teeny decisions we make on a daily basis- buy the thing we don’t need or save the money; eat the soup you made last night or order in; go to bed early or keep scrolling. We hesitate doing the small things we know we should do and we succumb to avoidance tactics. We’ve been hesitating for so long that it’s become a habit.

So take back control and when you feel yourself hesitating, take action instead. If you simply do that, take one baby step instead of hesitating and waiting, you will move forward on your goals so quickly you will astound yourself. This is Patricia’s experience of taking action:

” I don’t feel ready or motivated but instead of hesitating at the meeting, I spoke up and got my point across. I didn’t die, people didn’t mock me and the world didn’t end. My boss thanked me for my input. It gave me a bit of a confidence boost, even though it still feels uncomfortable and scary. I’ll definitely do it again next time’

The more you take action instead of hesitating, the easier it will become, the stronger you will feel, the more confident and courageous you will become.  You’ll also be building up your self esteem and your self belief that you can DO IT and you have the evidence!

Until next time, stop hesitating and do it.


Check out my best selling 30 Day Group Coaching Programme ‘All You Need is Love‘ starting on the 8th November!

How to Prioritise Yourself in All Relationships (And Why!)

“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development.

I used to say, “If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.

“Now I say, I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.”

Jim Rohn

This is a difficult lesson to learn as it’s the polar opposite of what we’ve been taught for most of our lives. We’ve been raised to share, to give, to look after others. Really we’ve been raised to be caretakers, to our detriment. Many of us have been conditioned since we were toddlers to sacrifice our own needs for the benefit of others. This tendency is often so much a part of who we now believe we are; we don’t even realise when we’re engaged in this type of detrimental caretaking behaviour. But we do it often without noticing- we frequently give up our wants, our desires, our energy, our power, our ideas, our time and dreams; telling ourselves we’re doing it out of love  and compassion. But really it’s conditioning and habitual behaviour and thought processes.

If you feel like you’re drowning in the needs of others; you feel that way for a reason and you probably are.

I’m sure reading this that you can recall numerous times when took care of someone else to your detriment- perhaps it was an ex who you felt needed you so you stayed longer than you should, perhaps it was a boss who demanded ridiculous things from you and you worked and worked and worked until you burnt out – physically, emotionally or both; perhaps it’s family drama and you have been the designated mediator since you were far too young; perhaps it’s showing up in your dating life, going for guys that need to be minded, fixed or looked after- we do it because it’s familiar.

I’ve done all of these and much more.

Sacrificing my own needs for the benefit of others so trust me when I say it’s not a healthy place to be. I suppose personally the most recent challenge has been motherhood. Now I’ve done a lot of work in terms of boundaries, putting myself first etc but holy shit, a baby is a whole other story. I had pre-natal depression when I was pregnant (yep it’s a thing!) and I also ended up with post natal depression a year after Sarah was born and it hit me harder- probably because there had been warning signs for the year of detrimental caretaking which I had been ignoring. Cue burnout/breakdown and having to put myself back together again gently- with even more boundaries and self care in place so I know what I’m talking about and this is why I’m so passionate about it.

Taking care of yourself first Versus Selfishness

This is a huge fear- I don’t want to be selfish and by prioritising myself- is that not being selfish. Great question and a valid one but the answer is definitely not. If this is your fear then my guess is that you actually care deeply about others- so much so that you have made given up a lot of time and energy for them, and neglected yourself. This without a doubt leads to imbalance in relationships and can show up as bitterness, resentment, guilt, and feeling like you’re stuck. We end up hurting ourselves and sometimes even the people we care about.

You know the way when you get on a plane and the flights attendants go through the safety demonstration. Do they say ‘In case of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you. Please look around and make sure that everyone else is safe and has their mask secured before you look after yourself?’

No, they don’t.

Why not?

Because everyone would be dead.

So, what to do and how to turn it around:

  1. Recognise that there is a problem and how it started

This sounds strange but it’s a really important step and it is Acknowledging that you have a Problem! If you’re in denial or don’t think that there’s a problem, then you’re not going to do anything to change your behaviour. So ask yourself ‘Am I a people pleaser?’ ‘Do I give more than I get in relationships- in my love life, with friends, with family, in work?’ ‘Do I feel guilty when I try to set boundaries?’, ‘Do I feel selfish when I try to do something for myself?’

If the answer is yes to these questions, then it’s likely you’re engaging in detrimental caretaking in some areas.

  1. Decide if you want to change it

So, if you do think you have a bit of a caretaking problem- it’s totally up to you then if you want to do something to change it. But if you do, it has to be a conscious decision. And with every decision we make, our lives are defined just a little more, because decisions ultimately shape our path.

  1. Put boundaries in place

To start putting boundaries in place, you need to practice self-awareness. For example, pay close attention to the situations when you lose energy, feel a knot in your stomach, or want to cry. Identifying where you need more space, self-respect, energy or personal power is the first step.

So finish off the following statements with whatever comes to your mind.

In order to protect my time and energy, I will say yes to…….

In order to protect my time and energy, I will say no to……

People may not………..

  1. Start taking care of yourself

Start with baby steps and consciously do 2 things every day for yourself. Martha Beck came up with this idea ‘Your Catalogue of Sensory Delights’. The idea is to finish these statements by coming up with at least 5 answers for each one:

  • I love the smell of…….
  • I love the sight of…….
  • I love the sound of……
  • I love the feel of…….
  • I love the taste of……..

Then you incorporate these little pleasures into your day. They’re tailor made to you and you can mix and match them to create a really joyful and pleasurable self care experience for yourself. So for example, I love the smell of apple spiced Christmas candles, I love the sight of the ocean, I love the sound of the rain outside, I love the feel of new sheets on the bed and I love the taste of chocolate- any chocolate! Or strawberries!

Now, this is pleasure not necessarily proper self care but it’s a great starting point if you’ve been neglecting yourself.

  1. Have a plan in place to deal with your emotions

If you start to do these steps, it’s likely you’ll experience a lot of resistance from either yourself or others (Or it’s likely that you’ll create resistance! I used to pick fights with Colm when I was learning to state what I needed). But the emotions that tend to come up here are either feeling a lack of worth aka ‘I don’t deserve’, feelings of guilt or feeling you’re being selfish. Expect them and be ready to remind yourself that you’re putting on your own oxygen mask.

  1. Get Support

I know that I could not have learnt how to take care of myself without support. From my sister, my friends, from counsellors when I was feeling depressed and from my own life coaches to help me set up new habits and behaviour. You have to invest in your own personal development, it has to be important to you and having someone holding you accountable for the changes you want to make is priceless. ❤️

If you want to work on this and more- then join me and a wonderful group of women for my online group coaching programme All You Need is Love starting Monday 1st July. This is the beginning and you are so worth it. It is your time and you are ready for this. I’m here to support you!

All You Need is Love