Pressure seems to be a part of modern life. There is the pressure to be successful in our relationships, careers and finances. There is the pressure to do the right thing and act the right way. Let’s not forget the pressure to look great while you are being successful. Much of our pressure comes from the society we live in. We receive messages about what is expected from the media, institutions and those around us but how much pressure do you pile onto yourself every day?
Have you ever noticed you telling yourself what you should and shouldn’t be doing? Maybe you told yourself that you should pull yourself together or shouldn’t let things get to you? These are the types of should or shouldn’t statements add pressure. They are a reflection of a judgement or a value we are placing on something. In my experience, the judgement is a critical one about how I should be more than I am. Do you feel the pressure like a hard lump in your throat that you struggle to swallow?
I often talk to clients who tell me who they should and shouldn’t be something other than they are. They should be stronger, braver, more grateful and work harder or faster. They shouldn’t care so much, let things get on top of them, take things to heart, or complain.
It can be pretty gut wrenching when we first notice the pressure we put on ourselves. Most of us would never ask anyone else to be more than they are and pile on the pressure in the same way. Why do we do it to ourselves?
Should and shouldn’t statements are often based on values and ideals which on its own isn’t a bad thing. What is bad is the judgement that we attached to it. When we judge how we are doing things and use it as a method of self-criticism. We use the words should and shouldn’t to imply that we are not doing something we are supposed to be. It adds a layer of pressure, of guilt and
We add a layer of pressure, of guilt and potentially shame as we internalise these ideas and what it means about us. For example, when I am behind on my writing and I tell myself that I should have written more, I feel guilty and lacking in my work (guilt) I could go even further by telling myself I am a bad writer (shame).
Can you notice the next time you are using should and shouldn’t to criticise yourself?
Are you putting too much pressure on yourself?
Should and shouldn’t statements can but are a powerful weapon used by our inner critic can you imagine how life would feel if you could stop craving to be different than you are. If you could believe that you do not need to be fixed.
You should not be any different to how you are. What you do is enough what you are is always enough.
The 14-Day Refresh is an email Programme that explores what self-care means to you. This course has been designed so you can make time for yourself in a way that suits you. You cannot be behind or late. There are no deadlines or targets. You set the pace for yourself. This is an opportunity for you to make some time for yourself and feel good about it!
You will receive a daily email for 14-days, each one is filled with exercises, inspiration, encouragement and activities designed to help you reconnect with what inspires and replenishes you. The 14-Day refresh will help you create a “self-care armoury” of activities, tools and techniques to help you combat feelings of stress and overwhelm.
The 14-Day refresh will help you create a “self-care armoury” of activities, tools and techniques to help you combat feelings of stress and overwhelm.
This course is yours forever, keep the emails so you can take this course whenever you feel the need to refresh!
I wanted to create something flexible and accessible for everyone, whether you are super busy or on a tight budget. taking care of yourself is important no matter how your life looks right now.
I used to spend so much of my time taking care of everybody else in my life. The thing is that I believed I didn’t have time to look after myself. It seemed like replenishing my energy levels or treating myself to the things I enjoyed was frivolous and a waste of time. Whenever I took time out, I spent so much of that time feeling guilty about not being productive.
Taking my self-care seriously has made a massive difference in my daily life. It changed how I approach that never-ending to do list and how I feel every day. I wanted to create a self-care course so that you can save yourself from all the exhaustion, guilt and pressure and cut straight to having fun and feeling good!
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I want to share my work with as many people as possible and one of the ways to do that is to create free items. This way I can show you all why I am so passionate about what I do.
How do you feel about your life at the moment? Do you feel satisfied, motivated and happy?
Do you feel satisfied, motivated and happy or unsatisfied and drained?
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What uses up all your energy?
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What does your inner voice tell you? Is the voice kind and encouraging or critical and harsh, or maybe somewhere in between? When you make a mistake or face a tough challenge what do you tell yourself? We often do not realise how we treat ourselves through self-criticism. Many of us are acting as our own harshest critic rather than our own personal cheerleader
Self-criticism can be viewed as being motivating, a way to push us into action. According to Kristen Neff, PhD studies show that self-criticism can contribute towards low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. In modern western society, we are often encouraged to think of being self-deprecating as a positive attribute which is preferred to being over confident, boastful or arrogant. I believe that showing yourself compassion breeds confidence, combats fear and anxiety and helps you face challenges.
We all deserve kindness.
I believe it is easier to face challenges when we are cheering ourselves on. There is nothing wrong with a bit of motivation, but how we motivate ourselves and what we tell ourselves is important. We often face challenges with a black and white outlook; the things we do are either good or bad, right or wrong, we pass or we fail. This outlook is pretty unrealistic and unachievable and it adds to the criticism we give ourselves. This is not motivating it is spirit crushing.
Imagine facing doing something you dread, for me, it would be anything involving public speaking. If I stand in front of the people that I want to talk to while telling myself that “I can do this” and that “I am going to do the best I can” then I think giving that presentation is going to be much easier than if I am telling myself “you’re going to mess this up” and “you are rubbish at public speaking”
A difficult situation feels easier to handle if you encourage and support yourself through it.
How to show yourself more compassion
Think of how it would feel to face life’s challenges with an encouraging inner voice rather than a critical one. Imagine the potential. What could you do if you were supporting and reassuring yourself along the way?
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Maybe you give up on the idea altogether. Did you promise yourself to start cutting out junk food on the 1st of January? Were any of you still eating Christmas chocolates on the 16th January? Was that just me?
Making New Year’s resolutions can seem almost pointless when they hardly ever seem to last. Despite this, I am not really willing to give them up. I love the feeling of making a fresh start on something and I love how it feels to achieve what I want, whether that be to set up a new business or commit to spending more time watching your favourite Netflix series.
So, yes, I am actually going to talk to you about making resolutions, when it is nearly February! I’m talking about it now because I don’t see why we can’t make resolutions any time. Why can’t we make resolutions in February or even June? Why not re-make the ones you have previously broken? I believe that you can make a resolution for yourself at any time. After all, a resolution is simply a goal, intention or wish. Even if you have tried and failed before, why shouldn’t you try again?
I want the resolutions that I make to be flexible. I’m going to make mistakes and slip up. There are times that I will set the bar too high or underestimate myself. I want to be able to change my goals as I learn and grow. Setting a flexible goal is about learning and adapting to find what is right for you. Promising myself that I will walk 5km every day, no matter how busy I am or how cold it is outside is just too rigid. I will never achieve that and ultimately, I don’t really want to do it.
I want to make achievable promises to myself. There is no point in me setting a goal that is so strict or unrealistic that I give up on the challenge. It is not me being weak, it is simply that my heart isn’t in it. If the goal is so difficult and hard to reach, I am setting myself up for failure. What is achievable to me is making promises that feel do-able and realistic. If I want to learn to run a marathon, I can’t just start running 42.195 kilometres straight away. I have to train my body and work towards the marathon by creating smaller, more achievable goals.
I want my goals for myself to be kind. The whole point of a resolution is to make a positive change that will benefit me, to make me feel good. If it doesn’t feel very kind, then my goal probably isn’t flexible or achievable enough for me.
Kindness is about reaching our goals in a way that feels good as often as possible. If you want to write a book for example, then setting a pace of one sentence a day will take a long time but it will still result in a finished book. Forcing yourself to complete entire chapters every day, regardless of how we feel, without a break will get the book finished a lot faster. This example uses extremes but which method do you think is going to be the most enjoyable process? When our resolutions don’t work out we often become unmotivated and feel guilty or we lose faith in our ability.
I have broken resolutions before and I am sure that will not change, what I want to change is not giving up on them completely. It is important to me to be able to remake my resolutions to myself. I want to keep trying till I find an achievable process that feels good while working towards my goal.
Have you any resolutions that you want to re-vamp? How does a kind, flexible achievable resolution look to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
The ideas discussed in this post were inspired by the work of Martha Beck, and her book Finding Your Own North Star: How to claim the life you were meant to live
If you told me five years ago that I would become a life coach, I don’t think I would have believed you. I used to try to be superwoman. I was always busy, rushing around doing two or three things at once. My to-do list was permanently massive. My biggest fear was things falling off that list, forgetting appointments, bills or deadlines. I motivated myself to just get past the next challenge, then I could relax, but there always seemed to be another challenge meeting me on the other side of the last.
I was completely exhausted and so sick of “adulting” but what choice did I have? Being busy all the time is just life, right? The was little time to consider my needs because I was so busy ensuring my family were achieving everything they wanted. I focused on ensuring those around me were happy and supported. I didn’t realise that I had accidentally given up on my own happiness and was prioritising other people’s needs before my own.
A few years back I became pretty low, I was diagnosed with depression. At first, I remember thinking that I didn’t have time to be depressed. My husband worked abroad, I had two young children, I had to get my sh*t together! It took me a long time to realise that the pressure I was putting on myself was making me miserable. It sounds weird to say it now but I am so so grateful that I became depressed. Don’t get me wrong, depression sucks and I have no desire to feel so horrible and empty ever again, but becoming depressed forced me to change things.
I am so proud of the journey I have made since and it’s made me happier and stronger. I still have days when I am rushed off my feet, I still have a long to-do list. That list, however, has more of the fun things that I need are thrown in alongside the “adulting”. During my recovery, I worked with a life coach, it was a lot of hard work but it really helped me to think of things in a different way. It helped me to feel ok about taking time out for myself. I realised that I prefer to pacing myself when I tackle the to-do list. (everything does not need to be done yesterday!)
So here I am with my own coaching business, specialising in helping people who find themselves overloaded, endlessly tired and overwhelmed. I want to work with my clients to create a sense of freedom and calm. I also hope that my work supports people to create time and space for themselves within their daily lives.
My coaching practice is inspired by the lessons I learned over the last few years. These lessons make up something I am going to call my manifesto for the exhausted.