Overcompensating for low self-worth

Womanexhausted

Do you overcompensate because you don’t feel good enough?

Do you do too much, work too hard, clean too thoroughly or spend too long worrying about your appearance because you don’t feel worthy or acceptable as you are?

I definitely do.

Of course, this has changed a lot over the years. I have transformed. My self-esteem has increased hugely from when I was younger, and from when I began writing this blog, more than seven years ago. I’ve also become a lot more aware of the fact that I am overcompensating and of the reasons why. I was in denial before.

But no matter how much I’ve changed, I still have to supervise myself. My low self-esteem and my feelings of not being worthy or good enough go way back. They are deeply lodged in the primal part of my brain. They lie in wait, ready to get triggered, ready to sabotage my life.

Why am I writing this now?

It’s because I’ve done some overcompensating today.

I went to buy lunch for a coaching client who’s coming on one of my beach brainstorming days tomorrow. And I over-shopped. I over-bought. I over-spent. I overcompensated.

The little child inside me who doesn’t feel good enough and who is terrified of being judged, criticised, or told off led me around the supermarket at top speed, putting all manner of stuff in my trolley. It now won’t fit in the fridge!

Fortunately, on this occasion, I’m hosting the beach brainstorming day at the venue where I host my retreatsThe Artists’ Studio BnB – rather than at my home. If the client were coming to my home, I’d be cleaning like crazy right now, trying to remove every last speck of dirt.

I also work too hard and always have. This benefited a number of international news agencies and a few newspapers in my first career. It now benefits my retreat guests, workshop attendees and coaching clients.

I guess my tendency to overcompensate for my low self-esteem through working ridiculously hard and being a perfectionist took me far in my first career and no doubt will take me far in my second career as a coach, writer and speaker.

But at what cost? That has to be the question. At what cost?

See that woman in the picture? That’s how I looked much of the time in my news journalism job, until I burnt out and broke down. I’m still prone to pushing myself, but I’m determined to change.

I will always have incredibly high standards. I will always want to do my absolute best. I will always want my clients to love working with me or for my retreat attendees to have the most incredible experience.

But I want to do a really good job with balance and with self-love. I want to walk the walk, to be a role model to the women and men I am guiding along their own self-love journeys.

In order to do that, I need to let go of my compulsion to overcompensate. And in order to do that, I need to continue to build my self-esteem and strengthen my emotional core – or my inner oak tree, as I call it in my book.

I need to continue to heal my early wounds and to re-parent myself. I need to love myself and take care of myself. I need to believe I am enough and trust I am enough. And I need to trust my work is good enough, my house is clean enough, the lunch is tasty enough and that I look good enough.

How about you? Do you feel enough? Do you overcompensate for low self-worth? In what ways? I’d love to hear from you.

On a separate but related note, I wanted to share a few blogs I’ve written recently for Psychologies magazine’s Life Labs expert blogging platform.

How to let go of your unhealthy crutches talks about how many of us use food, alcohol, achievement, success, sex, drugs and other crutches to numb our feelings and to run away from ourselves. I share my own story of using crutches and how I gradually let some of them go. And I confess to what I’ve shared above: that I still work too hard and do too much.

If food is your crutch, read on for my How to stop emotional overeating London workshops and courses.

If you’re up for some more reading, you might also like this post on How to stay true to yourself in relationships or this one on Understanding the push-pull in relationships. Quite a few readers related to the push-pull post especially, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you a wonderful day x

 

*** Upcoming Events ***

Stop emotional overeating and lose weight for life. Four week online live video course with 1-1 and group coaching starts Nov 5.Evening London workshops on same topic on Nov 6 & Jan 16. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

Fall in love with yourself, with your life and with another. One-day workshop. London. Nov 17. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

For How to Fall in Love retreats in Dorset, Spain and Turkey in 2019, click here.

Let Go of Your Blocks in Life & Love. One-day workshop in Bournemouth. Dec. 1. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

Relight Your Fire: Find Your Passion & Purpose. Evening workshop, London. Jan 15. Use code SAVE10 for 10 percent discount.

For a free chapter of my book How to Fall in Love, sign up at www.howtofallinlove.co.uk

Free Facebook group for women: Being Real, Becoming Whole.

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Posted in Addiction, codependency, Eating disorders, Health, Perfectionism, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Am I childless or childfree?

Am I childless or childfree? Or am I neither? Am I somewhere in between?

I drafted this blog earlier this week but couldn’t finish it at the time. I’ve returned today to edit it and to share it with you ahead of World Childless Week next week, 10-16 September.

Gosh, this blog is going to a tough one to write. I wrote some of it in my head while running along the beach this morning and then while swimming in the sea, looking through my goggles at the shells on the seabed, diving down to pick one up that looked like a heart, running my fingers over its smooth surface, noticing the tiny crack at the top – the tiny crack in the heart.

The first thing that occurred to me as I ran is that I can have these wonderful, peaceful, solo mornings because I don’t have children. I can roll out of bed into my car and onto the beach. I can jog along the sand, allowing my thoughts and feelings to move through me with every stride. I can feel the cool water against my body as I swim.

What a gift. This life of mine really suits me.

But then I don’t know how it feels to be woken up by a child’s soft hand or flawless cheek brushing against mine. I don’t know how it feels to snuggle up to the warm body of a young soul I’ve created with somebody I love, or even on my own.

Of course, nor do I know how it feels to be woken up through the night by a screaming baby or a child who’s having nightmares – to feel like I haven’t slept for weeks, like I’m sleepwalking, like my brain has gone to jelly and my life is unravelling; to feel there’s a little person who depends on me but I’m barely holding it together myself.

Because parenthood is a mixed bag, so I imagine and so I’ve read. There are good days and there are days when you feel like you’re losing yourself, losing your mind.

Just as not having children is a mixed bag too – at least for me.

There are mornings when everything is absolutely perfect in my world, when I step onto the cool sand on an empty beach that feels entirely mine and my eyes prick with tears because I can’t believe how good this life feels.

Then there are days when I look at mums and dads with their children, laughing with them, playing with them, stroking their hair, bursting with pride, perhaps pinching themselves because they created this wonderful human being who will grow and mature and perhaps give them grandchildren. There are days when I show up to my Pilates class – which starts at 9:30 am after the mothers have finished the school run and rarely happens during school holidays – and feel so odd, so alien, because I can’t join in conversations about toddlers or teenagers. I can only stand, looking at my feet, adjusting my top, feeling separate.

There are days when I feel that the only things I ever have to shout about or celebrate are to do with my work – I got an article in a magazine, I got on the radio or on TV, I published my book. It feels like I’ve been doing this my entire life, celebrating work while everyone else celebrates a baby’s birth, her first steps or his first words. Fortunately, in recent years, I’ve had personal stuff to shout about too – a relationship, a home with my partner, an engagement. Hurrah. Finally, something to celebrate that isn’t work.

But these wonderful personal shifts sadly don’t stop me from gawping at other people’s lives and thinking they’ve got it right while I’ve got it wrong.

I do that often, you know. I stare at other people. I drink in their lives.

I examine how they look, how they’re dressed, the way they hold their partner’s hand, the way they chuckle with their kids, and I generally assume that they’re having a better experience – a better life – than me.

I feel sad to write this, and it’s so much better than it was, so much better, I promise you. I am so much more accepting of my life and able to believe that I am where I’m meant to be, thanks to years of personal development, mindfulness, therapy and the fruits of all that work: a lovely relationship; someone to cuddle on the beach; a job that I love. But it’s my truth. I’ve been staring at other people’s lives and assuming they’re happier than me for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a little girl. It’s a hard habit to break.

When I was small, I was absolutely convinced that other people – other children – were having a better experience than me. They had to be. It was obvious. I gazed at the lives of friends and strangers as though I was kneeling outside their windows in the dirt, looking in on some cosy, family scene straight out of Hollywood.

I observed unbroken homes, children who had mums and dads living under the same roof, apparently loving each other. I marvelled at kids who slept in the same bedroom throughout their school years and during university holidays – who didn’t move about to different homes or wonder where home was once they’d turned 18. I stared at these children for whom life seemed to stable and fair.

When we used to holiday in Abersoch in North Wales, I’d gaze at the people with their second homes by the sea and their bright white motor boats. My brother and I would crouch by the causeway, hugging our knees against our chests, gaping at the blonde-haired children who played in the back of the boats as their sun-kissed parents pulled them along in a Range Rover. It looked idyllic – and far removed from my experience.

I honestly never thought it could be any different for me. That’s the mindset I grew up around and developed for myself. A ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ mindset, as I wrote about in a previous blog. There were two camps and I would always be in mine. This was my lot and it would never change.

That’s what I thought about having kids too. I never dreamed that my experience of motherhood could be any different from my mum’s. I couldn’t imagine that it could ever be enjoyable, that I’d have a loyal and loving man to help who would stick around, that I’d have enough money to bring up kids without an almighty struggle, that it would be fun and rewarding rather than incredibly hard work, a ball and chain around your neck.

I thought I’d find it as difficult as my mum seemed to find it. I thought I’d feel trapped, imprisoned, caged, grounded, my wings clipped. And I so didn’t want that.

That feeling – that rejection of the life I’d seen my mum endure (she may not have endured it, of course, but that was how I saw it) – is, I think, a big reason why I don’t have kids. It’s taken me until now, until my 40s, until it’s too late, to understand that it didn’t have to be like that. That it could have looked very different for me.

Another reason is that for years now, I’ve been learning to re-parent myself, to nurture, love and care for the little child within, after years of neglecting her, berating her, punishing her with too much work and stuffing her with food to shut her up. I was too busy mothering myself to countenance mothering anyone else.

Unlike many women who are childless, I never tried to have kids. For many years, I ran away from it and avoided it at all costs. Then for a few years, in my late 30s, and early 40s, I panicked. It seemed that’s all I could think about and write about. Of course, I wanted to be a mum. Didn’t every woman? Wasn’t it the most natural thing in the world?

And then I did even more work on myself and understood how deep my ambivalence about motherhood went and how my desire for a child was tied up with how empty and lost I felt on the inside, and how lonely I felt without anyone to share my life with. I came to understand that a child wouldn’t necessarily fill that emptiness or satisfy the internal hunger, at least not for the long-term.

And then I chose to have a relationship with a man who didn’t want children. I actively made that choice. I could have chosen to keep looking for a potential partner who wanted kids. I could have chosen to spend all my savings, borrow money or sell my flat to finance solo IVF. I could have looked into adoption on my own. I’m an intelligent, resourceful woman. I make things happen. I could have made motherhood happen – somehow – or at least I could have given it my best shot. I didn’t. I chose to be with my partner.

Of course, my journey is much more complex than that paragraph, which is why I’ve written a book and am writing another, but that sums up a lot of it.

So I made choices, subconscious and conscious ones based on my upbringing, my childhood experiences and the messages I picked up. And not just based on my upbringing, of course, but on my parents’ lives, and their parents’ experiences and so forth, because my journey is irrevocably tied to the lives of my ancestors.

Yes, I can change the course of my life, I can let go of old wounds, heal and move forwards – as I have done with my relationship – but all that takes time. It takes time to realise where we are and how we’ve got here, to understand what lies behind our faulty thinking. At least it took me a long time. I’m 47 and I’m only really seeing now that I could have had a different family life to my own – I could have been a happy mum.

Living here, in Poole, parenthood looks so different to how it looked in 1970s Liverpool. Not for everyone, of course. There’s plenty of hardship here. But I don’t see that so much. Instead, I focus on the families who are doing life very differently to how we did it back then. The mums and dads with their kids – two, three, four or five of them – who go on amazing holidays and have boats and beach huts; with wealth, with time, some with nannies; with careers and freedoms. And they’re having fun, or at least that’s how it looks. They’re enjoying playing with their kids. Their children seem to enrich their lives. That’s not how it looked in my home.

In fact, these mums and dads seem to enjoy more freedom than I do even without kids, and that’s because my faulty mindset extends beyond parenthood to life in general. Part of me still feels that there’s a ‘Them’ and an ‘Us’ and I’ll never arrive in the ‘Us’ camp. I have all the external trappings of having joined ‘Them’ – the top-notch education, the high-flying career, the home and so forth – but deep inside, I still have the mindset of a little girl from a single-parent family in Liverpool who felt ashamed about receiving free school meals, who felt different, wrong somehow, who didn’t feel like she deserved abundance, joy, ease and freedom.

I am still attached in some ways to my old story, to the idea that life has to be a struggle, that it has to be miserable. So I make things extra hard for myself. I don’t believe in myself enough. I shoot myself in the foot. I self-sabotage. I don’t write my next books or shout about my courses or invest in my business so that it brings abundant rather than just about adequate returns.

Again, I am changing. I am growing. Things are different to how they were, but I still have a way to go.

So back to the original question – childless or childfree?

I am childless, but not because I tried to have kids and it didn’t work out and not because I failed to find a partner in time to have kids, although that would be a simpler explanation. It’s because of who I am, how I was made, where I’ve come from, the baggage I’ve carried, the time it’s taken to unpack that baggage and become aware that things could have been different. And because of the choices I’ve made, subconsciously and consciously. If I’d have had different life experiences, I might have made different choices, but I didn’t. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time – as you did too.

Or maybe I was childless, because now, at 47 and soon to be married, I would like to embrace being childfree. If you gave me the choice of having a child today, I’d probably say no. I’ve only just learned to parent myself. I’ve only just fallen in love. I want to enjoy my relationship without the stresses and strains of parenthood and I want to continue my journey towards a fully free, abundant life that’s beyond my wildest dreams.

But perhaps I’m neither childless nor childfreeI am simply me.

I prefer that idea, which is why I like an initiative that’s been launched by two wonderful women – Cherry Williams and Stephanie Phillips for World Childless Week – encouraging us all to take photos of ourselves alongside three words that describe our uniqueness. This is my picture:

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I am complex. I am unique. I am free.

I could add that I am always growing and learning. I am in love. Sometimes I’m in pain. I am on a journey. I am where I am meant to be.

You can read more about World Childless Week here and get involved if you’d like to, and read Cherry’s blog about the ‘I Am Me’ photos here. I won’t be around for World Childless Week, which is both a shame and a good thing – I’ll be on holiday with my fiancé, enjoying some of the freedoms of not having children.

How about you? Can you relate to this blog? Where are you on your journey? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for reading x

****

Upcoming events

After much procrastination, I’ve put some workshops, courses and retreats in the diary. Take a look at the links and get in touch if of interest – katherine@katherinebaldwin.com. If you’re an existing or returning coaching client or have been to a workshop before, I’m offering a 10 percent discount on the overeating 4-week course and on the all-day love yourself workshop. Email me for discount codes.

How to stop emotional overeating and lose weight for life – 4-week online, interactive course with group coaching via video, begins Nov 5.

Tuesday Nov 6 – Conway Hall, London, 7-9 pm. Evening workshop. How to stop emotional overeating. £20. If you’re taking the course, you can come for half-price. Email me for details.

Saturday Nov 17 – One Park Crescent, London, 10am – 5 pm. Fall in love with yourself, with your life, and with another. All-day, small group workshop. £98

Retreats. My October How to Fall in Love retreat is full but I’ll be running another one at the same venue in Dorset on February 15-18, 2019. Watch this space for further details or email me to reserve a place. I’m also hosting a How to Fall in Love retreat in Spain in May 2019 and in Turkey in October 2019. Click here for more details.

More workshops to follow! Thanks for your support.

Posted in Childless, Infertility, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Women | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

I love you but I have to let you go

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Breaking up is so hard to do

Have you ever loved something or somebody but had to let that thing or person go?

I imagine so.

We don’t get through life without loving and losing, without experiencing pain, grief and loss. Unless, of course, we choose not to risk our hearts. Unless we choose to close ourselves off from love.

Yesterday, I let go of something I truly loved, something that had served me incredibly well for 14 years, something that was a huge part of me and my story and that had played a leading role in a significant chapter of my life.

Scoots. Gorgeous Scoots. Pistachio green Scoots, with your rounded edges, indicators for dimples, big friendly headlight and cute top box.

A scooter, yes, but a special scooter. A scooter that gave me so much.

SEEKING SAFETY

I bought Scoots in 2004 after a run-in with a stocky stranger in a dark passageway near my London flat. The man put his hand on my bum and tried to grab my handbag. I snatched my bag back and ran for my life.

Around the same time, I spotted a few yellow police notices on my street, calling for witnesses. A woman had been robbed or attacked late at night, walking back from the station. I also came across a lady who’d had her phone snatched one afternoon.

I was already quite a jumpy person, after being mugged twice in Mexico, once at gunpoint and once with a knife. If I heard footsteps behind me at night, my heart rate would rise and I’d pick up the pace. With Scoots, I wouldn’t have to worry about walking the streets alone in the dark – she’d take me door-to-door.

Scoots would also give me the freedom I craved. In Mexico and Brazil, I’d had cars. They’d taken me around town and to the beach on weekends. But a car in London seemed ludicrous – the antithesis of freedom in my eyes. With Scoots, I could weave in and out of the traffic and avoid standing at bus stops in the rain with heavy bags.

Scoots suited my personality – I had a need for speed and thrived on adrenaline. And I didn’t like waiting around.

A RECOVERY VEHICLE

I bought Scoots just as I was getting into recovery for an eating disorder, which also forced me to look at my drinking. I’d had a few rock bottoms with booze in London, collapsing in my bathroom after a big night out, thankful that I’d said No to the bloke who’d wanted to come home with me but feeling sick and ashamed all the same. Hangovers generally prompted food binges too so I resolved I’d have to give up the drink if I wanted to stay clean around food.

Scoots provided the perfect excuse for not drinking as I got used to my sober way of life. Back then, I struggled to be myself around others or own my truth. Peer pressure was a big deal. Scoots was a welcome accomplice.

I remember when I spotted Scoots in a motorbike showroom at Vauxhall Bridge. It was love at first sight. As you’ll know from this blog, I struggle to make decisions but with Scoots, I had very few doubts. I knew she was the one for me.

Some friends tried to talk me out of buying a Vespa. The small wheels would skid in the wet, they said. Scoots would get nicked in London, they warned. Had I seen the crime stats? These naysayers tested my resolve. I have a history of valuing other people’s opinions over my own, of not trusting myself and of believing that others know what’s right for me. This is a legacy of my childhood. It comes from a poor sense of self and from low self-esteem, both aspects of my codependency.

But on this occasion, I trusted myself. I went with my gut. Thank God.

A TRUSTED FRIEND

Scoots brought so much freedom and joy. I rode her to the Houses of Parliament for six years and parked her in the car park beneath Big Ben, alongside politicians’ shiny black BMWs. I liked arriving on two wheels instead of the Tube, scootering past the policemen on the gates and over the cobbled stones. Scoots had style.

I also scooted to dates. I’m driving so I won’t have a drink, thanks, I’d say. Scoots kept me safe from the scrapes I often found myself in when I mixed alcohol and romance.

I rode Scoots over the bridges that cross the Thames, marvelling at London’s skyline, all majestic and lit up, smiling to myself at this wonderful life and this city I called home. And I’d scoot to the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath, getting there in 20 minutes, with my swimming stuff in my top box or under my seat, avoiding trains, buses and long hikes.

Then there were the dark times.

I remember scooting through Islington with tears streaming down my face, on the way to my job in parliament, knowing that as soon as I switched my computer on, I’d feel soul dead and trapped.

I remember the heartache and gloom I felt on the day I took the test for my full bike license. It was raining, grey and miserable and I was riding a motorbike on a busy dual carriageway on the outskirts of London, feeling vulnerable and terrified as huge trucks sped past, wondering how on earth my life had ended up like this. Why wasn’t I sitting in a warm, dry car with a partner and a few kids in the back? (You can read the full blog post about that day here, which is the opening scene of a book I aim to finish).

I remember other times I felt vulnerable in traffic when it was dark and wet and how cold I used to get, needing a hot bath as soon as I got back to my flat. And I especially didn’t enjoy hanging out in dirty gutters to put a lock around Scoots’ back wheel.

I also remember waking up to find Scoots had narrowly avoided an attempt at theft. And I recall the day after I bought Scoots, rushing to an appointment and squeezing the throttle by accident instead of the brake, watching as Scoots slid out from under me and under a pick-up truck. The damage was minimal but I was in shock. Scoots was so precious and perfect. I’d only had her a day and I had to take her back to the shop to get fixed!

MANAGING CHANGE

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A mini adventure

When I moved from London to the seaside, Scoots came along and she served me well for a while, taking me to Bournemouth University where I lectured, avoiding terrible traffic jams. But then I bought a car – a cute mini with her own natural curves and stripes to boot – and everything changed. Suddenly, I remembered the joy of owning a car from my days in Mexico and Brazil. I could throw everything in the back – my sports gear, my swimming kit, my work and my lunch. I could swim in the sea in the winter and then turn the heat up in the car to get warm. I could listen to the radio as I drove. I felt safe. I got used to leaving the house in the summer in dresses and flip-flops rather than jeans, shoes, a padded jacket and a helmet that played havoc with my hair. I enjoyed staying dry in the wet. Luxury.

My lifestyle changed too as my relationship with my now fiancé blossomed. Much of the time, I travelled as a two and although I was licensed to take passengers on the back of Scoots, I’d never tried it. Plus, my partner is quite a big bloke. So Scoots stayed in the garden while I took the car.

Unused, Scoots didn’t look quite so gorgeous – she got dirty and the split in her seat got worse, so I decided it was time to sell up.

To put this in context, I’ve never been very good at getting rid of stuff. I have made progress in this area but I still have a poverty mentality – an irrational fear that I’ll end up broke and sleeping on the streets. So I hang on to things because I think I’ll never be able to afford anything like them again. What if they’re useful? What if I need them in the future? I also get attached to things and people more deeply than others, which comes from having insecure attachments as a child.

But I’m on a journey around money and part of that journey is a commitment to get rid of things that no longer serve me and that are cluttering up my life. Sadly Scoots had fallen into that category. And I have so much more understanding now of how I attach, which makes it easier to let go.

So we fixed Scoots up, gave her a clean and polish and fitted a lovely new leather seat cover, at which point I fell back in love with her, of course. But I took a deep breath, put her up for sale and someone offered me the asking price.

It was time.

BEATING AMBIVALENCE

I confess I almost changed my mind. When my friend said he could deliver her this Monday morning, my heart sank. So soon? I’m not ready. I’m not sure. My characteristic ambivalence took hold. I felt strongly pulled in two directions, torn down the middle, split.

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One last ride

I remembered all the good times we’d had and I fantasised about more good times to come. I pictured us riding off into the sunset – me in a summer dress and sandals (when the reality is I always felt I had to cover up my legs in case I fell off). I took her for a long drive, took photos of her against beautiful backdrops. And I cried. Yes, dear readers, I cried over Scoots. I cried as I rode her around Poole Harbour, minutes before I had to drop her off for delivery. I can’t do it. I can’t let her go.

My patient partner listened to my ambivalence and heard my incessant self-doubt. He saw my pain, soaked up my tears with his T-shirt and eventually said he didn’t think I was ready to sell Scoots. And something in those words, in his understanding, his compassion and his permission to hang on to her, helped me to follow through on my decision to sell.

I loaded her into the van and we dropped her off on Monday at her new home – a good home, a family of people who, I discovered, are on a similar personal development journey to me, which made letting go of Scoots so much easier.

LETTING GO OF LOST LOVES

As I’ve gone through the process of saying goodbye to Scoots, it’s struck me that it’s similar to letting go of a relationship that’s no longer working. In the past, I held on to relationships well beyond their sell-by date.

I obsessed about the good times, forgetting all the bad times. I stayed with men out of fear that I would never find anyone else. I fantasised about our future together, imagining I was a different person and he was a different person and we could have this life together that bore no resemblance to reality. I decided to leave a relationship and then I doubted my decision. I felt stuck, incapable of making a choice.

The same with Scoots. I imagined scooting off with my swimming kit in my top box and parking at the beach, pulling up outside shops in Bournemouth and heading over on the ferry to the Purbecks. That all sounds perfectly feasible but the reality is that I’m always going to prefer the car, for the reasons discussed above.

So my relationship with Scoots had run its course, as my previous relationships had run theirs, but letting go was painful.

I felt some of that pain at the beach this morning after an early swim. I shed a few tears as I shared my sense of loss with a friend over the phone. Scoots represented a major chapter of my life – a chapter during which I was predominantly single, doing lots of work on myself to get to where I am today. It represented those years I worked as a political journalist in parliament and whizzed around London’s streets to the gym, to the shops, to bars and restaurants. It represented my London recovery journey. And it represented a pivotal moment in my life when I trusted my gut and followed my heart, despite what others said.

But I am writing a new chapter now. I travel by car or by bike. I am part of a couple. I will always be that free spirit, adventurous and courageous, but perhaps I’m a little more cautious than I was with a desire for a few home comforts. Maybe a convertible car is the perfect compromise – plenty of breeze but a little more safety and luxury.

SAYING GOODBYE

A friend suggested that I say thank you to Scoots for all the wonderful things it brought me to help with the letting go process. I wonder if this exercise could help you to let go of someone or something too.

Thank you Scoots for helping me to love and to let go; for reminding me that it’s important to hold on to things loosely in life and to let money and possessions flow through me to others; for reminding me of my free, adventurous, courageous spirit; and for reminding me that I am a sensitive person who attaches deeply to people and to things and who deserves to be gentle with herself and show compassion and acceptance.

Most of all, Scoots, thank you for showing me that I can trust myself; that even when people try to talk me out of things, I can trust my instinct and follow my heart. Thank you for confirming that when I do so, remarkable things happen. Thank you for being such a wonderful testament to my growth and recovery.

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The sun going down on Scoots. Gone, but never forgotten.

Posted in codependency, Eating disorders, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Trust, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving up on ourselves

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How can we keep the fire burning?

Do you give up on yourself? Do you let the energy drain from your dreams? Do you let the light go out on your ideas? Do you get all fired up and excited about something, then feel your enthusiasm dwindle away? Do you struggle to finish what you start?

Maybe you don’t even realise it’s happening to you. Maybe you just talk yourself out of your dreams in a seemingly logical way.

It was a mediocre idea anyway. It’s been done before. It won’t make any money. I haven’t got the time. Who do I think I am? That person is doing the same thing so much better than me. There’s no space for another writer/painter/coach etc. It just wasn’t meant to be …

I realised last weekend, on a much deeper level than ever before, that I have a tendency – or even a compulsion – to give up on myself; to give up on my visions and dreams; to talk myself out of doing the things that my heart longs to do. I have a long list of things I’ve talked myself out of over the years, things that I’ve hidden away from, and it makes me feel very sad to remember them all.

I used to work in Brazil as a foreign correspondent for Reuters. I had so much opportunity to write fantastic, creative features in an incredibly diverse and colourful country. The Amazon was within arm’s reach. Stories were everywhere. All I needed was a good idea and the gumption to make it happen. I had many ideas but I didn’t follow them through. The light came on – I got all excited – and then the energy drained out of me. I powered down.

Why?

The answer is FEAR. I was scared. Scared to move out of my comfort zone. Scared my work wouldn’t be perfect. Scared of being judged, criticised and humiliated, and therefore of being hurt. I had been hurt before – at a much deeper level and when I was a lot younger – and I didn’t want to feel hurt again. Pain was to be avoided at all costs. It seemed a much better idea to hide – to hide behind the boring routine of writing about Brazilian interest rates or inflation stats. Yes, I chose interest rates over jungle tribes. I chose a trip to the Central Bank over an Amazonian adventure.

For some, that wouldn’t be a bad choice but for me – a woman who’s always loved adventure and who longed to explore the jungle – it was soul destroying.

And I mean SOUL DESTROYING.

I might not have realised it at the time, not at a conscious level, but deep down, I knew that the choices I was making on a day-to-day basis were gradually killing off my soul and spirit. That’s one of the reasons I ate, or avoided eating. I sat in an office in Brasilia, drinking diet Coke all morning to avoid eating and then bingeing on food as soon as everyone had left the office and it was just me and the story about interest rates.

This is why I talk of feeling SOUL DEAD at the end of my Reuters career, when I was working as a political journalist in the Houses of Parliament. By that stage, I had been steadily destroying my soul for more than a decade at work (and much longer in life). I had consistently made choices out of fear rather than faith. On the outside, I was doing an amazing job, being perfect, getting everything right, enjoying the privilege of flying around the world with the prime minister. But aside from the adrenaline highs of travelling in helicopters or passing through war zones, I wasn’t enjoying my work because I was denying and hiding my true self.

I was ignoring that part of me that wanted to break out and break free; that part of me that no longer wanted to stay stuck in the safety of daily trips to No. 10 Downing Street to find out what the prime minister was up to or of reporting on the budget every year; that part of me that wanted to head off into the Amazon looking for tribes, or the British equivalent.

I’m sad to report that despite nearly 15 years working for two of the world’s largest international news agencies in Mexico, Brazil and the UK and on location in Sri Lanka, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina and Haiti, I can count the stories I’m truly proud of on one hand – the stories I created myself, from my own ideas, rather than the ones I reacted to or that were given to me on a plate.

Eventually, at what appeared to be the height of my news journalism career, I got to the point when I couldn’t stand it anymore. Depression set in and I got signed off work. My soul could no longer bear to be asleep.

That was 10 years ago. So what’s happened since then?

It’s a mixed picture. In the early days, terror gripped me. Without a steady job or income, I felt lost and I had an irrational fear that the money would run out. Without someone telling me what to write or when, I had no direction.

In many ways, the world was my oyster. I had redundancy money. I could have gone anywhere and done anything. I didn’t. I returned to the safety of a job that I knew. I even returned to my old company, albeit to a different department and to a role that was more aligned with my true self and appealed to my adventurous spirit. But there were many moments in that job when my soul was dead too – commuting into work on packed Tubes, sitting in a row of desks for too many hours staring at screens, coming up with great ideas and then feeling the energy drain away as I convinced my enthusiastic self to sit back down and shut up.

After a while, I moved on, into a well-paid political analysis job, but that really killed my soul, or what was left of it. By then, I had more self-awareness. And an idea that I was destined to do something very different. So it was more painful than ever to watch myself do work that made me want to curl up and cry.

Every now and then, I ventured into the world of freelance journalism, but believing in my ideas and then following through by pitching them to magazine or newspaper editors who I deemed to be scary and better than me was a terrifying prospect. On rare occasions, I had success. But I wasn’t consistent. I kept losing my nerve. I fell back on writing jobs that bored me but that felt safe.

And guess what? Depression soon took hold again.

Or was it grief? Was I in mourning for the soul and spirit I was killing off? Was I grieving the loss of my authentic self? Was I profoundly distressed because I wasn’t living the life I knew I was designed for, because I wasn’t using my God-given gifts, because the smart, creative, joyful, child-like soul within me had been quashed?

In both those cases – at the end of my Reuters career and in that political analysis role – the darkness I felt was a gift. Sometimes we have to feel really bad before we can make a shift. Sometimes we have to watch our life flash before our eyes and truly grieve all the things we know we’re missing out on in order to change. Sometimes it’s only when the pain is unbearable that we’re willing to do anything about it. When we’re sick and tired of feeling absolutely wretched, we might be ready to move on.

And what of today? How’s my soul? How’s my spirit?

Well, my authentic self is more alive and well than she has ever been. I am writing – writing this blog. I have written a book. They are huge positives.

But then I am not writing – I am not writing the book that’s half-written or the other book I want to write. Both those projects are at risk of ending up in the hall of fame of visions that never became a reality. But I won’t allow it. This time, I won’t allow it. I have to find a way to follow through. I have to find a way to keep my dreams alive. I have to find a way to keep the fire burning. The alternative is too dark to contemplate.

One big plus is that I am coaching and running seaside retreats and next year I’ll run my first retreat abroad. These are dreams that have come true. When I stop and think about it, this new career I have carved is beyond my wildest dreams and something I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I remember, back in the dark days of my final year at Reuters, going on a holistic holiday to Skyros in Greece. There, I signed up to a personal development course. I remember sitting in a circle under some trees with other attendees, looking at our group leader and thinking, I want to be doing what you’re doing. I want to be sat in your place. And I have made that happen, in beautiful, miraculous ways. And when I write that, I smile. I have run three successful retreats. I have almost sold out my fourth. I am exactly in the right place, using my true gifts. These words from Mandy, who flew all the way from Colorado to Bournemouth to attend my retreat in May, warm my soul and remind me to continue along this path, no matter how strong the temptation at times to give up:

“Thank you for facilitating this amazing, transformative experience. You are gifted at giving space for voices, encouraging women and fostering dreams. I’m grateful!”

But what about the other ideas? What about my vision to put my How to Fall in Love course on Udemy? What about my plan to create a course on how to stop emotional eating and to write a book on this topic, which is so close to my heart and affects so many people? (Watch my ‘How to Stop Emotional Eating’ video here). What about the online and face-to-face workshops I want to put in the diary this year? What about the other books, this blog and the blog I write for Psychologies, all neglected? What about my dream to speak my truth and share my journey in companies like Reuters – to talk about the risks of addiction, eating disorders, self-harm and over-work, and the benefits of helping employees work with balance, find their joy and follow their path? What about my vision to have a regular column in a magazine or online, or to write powerful articles for the press?

Yes, I’ve written for some of my favourite magazines. I’ve been on Woman’s Hour. But these moments feel like spurts of energy. Sudden highs. Where’s the follow-through? Why don’t I keep on pitching? Why don’t I keep sharing my ideas?

And what about all the time I still spend doing stuff that doesn’t float my boat. Yes, we all need to earn a living and my ‘Love Business’, as I lovingly call it, is a start-up. Growth is bound to be slow (or is that an excuse?). But the problem is that much of the stuff I do to earn a living doesn’t earn me a living.

I underearn. I give away my time for free or for pennies. I put in too many hours because I’m a perfectionist who deep down is a wounded child who wants everyone to love and affirm her so I try too hard, meaning I don’t earn enough, meaning I end up feeling exhausted and resentful, meaning I have these sudden urges to spend the little money I’ve managed to save on an expensive holiday.

Because there isn’t enough balance. There isn’t enough time for me. I’m too busy prioritising others and chasing love and affirmation – yes, even from complete strangers, from people I may not see again. Love me, please. Approve of me. Validate me. Tell me I’m enough. And whatever you do, don’t get angry with me. It’s sad. But it’s compulsive.

So how do we break these patterns? How do we throw off these chains?

Well, that might be for another post but I’m going to share a few ideas here.

Firstly, it helps me to write things down. So that paragraph of dreams above is my ‘To Do’ list or rather it’s my ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ list. Those are my goals. Written in black and white. Published on the internet. Committed to you all.

Yes, accountability helps. So please hold me to account. Please help me keep the fire burning on these dreams. Please give me a nudge when you haven’t heard from me in a while or when months and months go by and my love course hasn’t appeared on Udemy and my emotional eating workshop hasn’t happened yet. Please encourage me. Please know that I really want to do these things and I know they’ll benefit many people and bring in good money, but I’m scared I’ll get hurt. Please remind me that it’s safe to follow my heart and put my work out there into the world.

Because we all know what happens if I let the light go out on my dreams, don’t we? The darkness comes. My soul goes to sleep. It’s a very sad state.

What else? Well, I can find other people to be accountable to, people who are on this path, fellow creatives and dreamers who have goals that can feel outlandish but that are actually within their reach if they are able to keep the fire burning. We can email. We can talk on the phone. We can cheer each other on. We can ask where’s the book, or the screenplay, or the concert date, or the blog post, or the online workshop. We can be honest with each other about our struggles and hold each other’s hand.

And I can draw on some spiritual help. I can get on my knees and say: God, I can’t do this alone. Please help. I can go down to the beach and feel the presence of something so much greater than me when I stand on the sand or swim in the sea. I can look up and look within, to my higher self, to the bold child inside me who wants to truly express herself and be all that she can be. I can rest against a solid tree and feel the permanence of nature, allow it to hold me in its branches, allow it to nurture me as it nurtures the plants.

I can also remember that my work is service. That I am here for a purpose and that there’s a reason why I have these gifts and talents. There’s a reason why I can write 3000 words of a blog post in a few hours, or 70,000 words of a book in five weeks. There’s a reason why I can tune in to other people’s feelings and sense what’s going on beneath the surface, beneath their words, a gift that makes me a really good and intuitive coach. There’s a reason why I can communicate well in a number of languages, why I have the links and connections I have all over the world.

And most of all, there’s a reason why I’ve had the experiences that I’ve had – the good and the bad: the struggle, the addictions, the relationship woes, the periods of self-harm, the depression, the darkness, and the recovery, the personal growth, the ever-increasing self-worth, the love and the light. 

Wouldn’t it be a shame to let these gifts and these experiences go to waste? Wouldn’t it be a shame to let the light go out on my dreams and to watch the fire turn to ash?

And wouldn’t it be a shame for you to do the same? To ignore the calling that you hear, to silence the voice inside that tells you to write or sing or dance or coach or teach or draw or paint or speak or share your wonderful gifts?

Wouldn’t it be sad if you let your light go out?

Wouldn’t it be a shame if that tiny spark of an idea never became a raging fire, capable of spreading warmth all around and of touching people’s souls with its beauty?

Think about it. Are you prepared to let that happen? Or would you like to join me on this courageous journey? I can’t promise it’s going to be easy. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle either. Maybe once we get going, it’ll all fall into place. Things will flow.

Imagine that. Imagine having the momentum of a river, gushing towards the sea, rushing over rocks and taking sticks, leaves and any other obstacles with it. Imagine this river is you, moving towards your dreams.

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s do it. Let’s keep the river flowing and keep those flames alive. Who’s with me?

River

Upcoming events

Autumn How to Fall in Love retreat. October 12-15. Why do I doubt myself? Why do I question if I’m on the right path. I only have 2 rooms left and we’re only in June. Get in touch soon if of interest.

As for other events, as you read above, I have yet to turn my visions into a reality, but I have plenty of ideas so as soon as I get over myself and get out of my own way, I’ll have some news of my new Udemy courses on love and overeating, plus face-to-face and online workshops. In the meantime, I do have an online How to Fall in Love course available. And I do have my book!

Thanks for reading all 2996 words! x

Posted in Addiction, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Faith, Love, Recovery, Relationships, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emotional dips

Here’s one I prepared earlier … I wrote the bulk of this blog yesterday morning but was unable to post. My feelings change by the day but it feels important to share yesterday’s thoughts …

I’m in a dip – an emotional dip. One of those periods when the tears aren’t far away, when all it takes is a little nudge or a tiny trigger for them to start rolling gently down my cheeks.

It’s been like this for a few weeks now and I’m quite accepting of it. In the old days, I would have panicked. I would have tried to fix myself. I would have thought there was something terribly wrong with me and that I’d never be right again.

But I’m older and wiser now. I know these emotional dips are part of my life cycle. They are part of my journey. Part of me. And the good news is they usually precede a period of emotional growth. They are the growing pains that accompany a growth spurt.

I know what this dip is about and usually I bear my soul on this blog – but not when it breaks the anonymity of those I care about. So suffice it to say that another layer of the onion is peeling off. I’m experiencing a deeper layer of grief and loss – a new awareness about myself and my story, about the events that shaped me and made me who I am. It’s painful at times, but healing too. And I know it’s an important part of my process.

mepaddle

Getting away from it all

I’m not down all the time. There have been some ups in recent weeks, most notably the freedom and excitement I felt as I skirted around Old Harry rocks on a paddle board beneath clear blue skies and glorious sunshine this past weekend, or as I sat soaking up the rays with my fiancé beside me on an empty pebble beach on the other side of Old Harry as my kayak rested on the shore.

kayaks

These were the highs ….

These were highs – moments when the little girl inside me skipped with delight, when I felt so grateful for everything I’d made happen over the past few years, so grateful for my entire story, in fact, because we can’t always appreciate the highs without the lows.

Perhaps this emotional dip has happened now because I’ve slowed down. How many of us run and chase and constantly do stuff in order to escape from the uncomfortable feelings that inevitably surface when we pause or sit still?

I certainly do.

I feel like I’m coming out of a period of intense activity. This year, I’ve updated and re-released my book, I’ve run my second retreat, sold out my third retreat this May, coached a number of clients on love and life and started taking bookings for my fourth retreat in October. I’ve hosted a London workshop in partnership with Psychologies magazine and I’ve run two workshops in London of my own. It’s been full on. Not to mention a ski trip, setting a wedding date and spending time with my ailing mum in Wales.

And now I have paused. Well, I say that but I have just finished a BBC radio interview on love, self-love and my book (click on this link and go to 2:03:46 to listen back) and I have a talk in Poole next Monday (see the end of this post for more details or click here). But beyond that, I have nothing in the immediate future to ‘sell’ (how I dislike selling, but it’s easier if I reframe it as serving or sharing).

And I think this pause has enabled me to feel, to really feel. To embrace the grief, loss and emptiness that I often carry around, despite all the wonderful stuff that’s happened in my life.

It’s funny. I often use the phrase, ‘we take ourselves with us wherever we go’ with my coaching clients and friends. It’s relevant for anyone who’s considering moving city or country. It’s important to remember that we can change our external environment but our insides stay the same – unless we do some work on them.

The same goes for being in a relationship. Being in love and engaged is wonderful. It brings a real sense of peace and security and my partner is a rock, an oak tree. But I am still me. I have taken myself into this relationship. I haven’t left myself behind and miraculously turned into someone else – someone resolved, sorted and always at peace. I need to keep doing the work on myself. I need to keep clearing the debris from my past. I deserve to keep caring for my inner child, loving her, nurturing her, helping her to heal. I deserve to keep working on my stuff. Yes, I still have the capacity to feel blue, down, depressed, empty, even though I have a wonderful man to walk alongside me.

Maybe it’s in this pause and in feeling my feelings that I am able to create – to return to this blog after an absence and to return to another book that I have half-written and would like to finish this year (although I have to be careful about taking on another project if my mind and body want to rest). And it’s in the pause and in the feeling that I’m able to prepare, mindfully and peacefully, for my May retreat so that I can be the most empathetic, perceptive and intuitive version of myself for the lovely women who have put their faith in me.

Pausing like this has its downsides, however. My energy is lower than it usually is – because grieving and processing take energy. Have you ever noticed how exhausted you feel after a really good cry? That means I’m not as present in my Love Ladies community or in my Being Real, Becoming Whole Facebook group as I’d like to be. And I feel uneasy about that. If I were more organised, I’d have a system. I’d have scheduled upbeat posts for these low-energy times but I’m not that organised and also that wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t be authentic. I hope the members of my groups – I hope you, if you are in one or both of those groups – can forgive me. I know I’ll be firing on all cylinders again soon.

I also hope my pause and this blog can help you reflect on your feelings. I hope it can help you to slow down too and look inside. Is there anything you’re running from? Is there grief beneath the surface? Is there loss? Are you ‘using’ on frenetic activity to keep you ‘safe’ from your feelings, to numb out in some way?

Maybe the opposite is happening. Maybe you’re experiencing an emotional peak rather than a trough, and that’s wonderful. Enjoy it. Throw yourself into it. Enjoy all the energy you have. Soak up life. I know how that feels too and it’s a time to be relished. I’m looking forward to feeling that way again soon.

But if you’re running and hiding because you don’t want to feel, can I invite you to join me in a moment of slowness and stillness? Can I invite you to join me in seeking clarity about what’s going on beneath the surface and in connecting to whatever you find? Can I invite you to bring the darkness into the light?

The feelings won’t kill us. In fact, they’ll free us up to heal and to live wholeheartedly.

Thank you for bearing with me through this emotional dip. It’s an important time – one to cherish as it shows I’m in touch with my true self and because I believe it heralds good times.

As I write this, on a train to London with sun streaming through the window through the trees that line the track, I feel open, vulnerable and real. I feel soft. I feel light, relaxed and trusting. And then I close my eyes and breathe deeply and suddenly I want to cry. But instead of tears, there’s a smile. And behind the smile, there’s a knowing – a knowing that it’ll all be OK if I listen to myself and if I give myself the deep rest I know I need.

Maybe I’m coming out of it, out of the emotional dip. Maybe writing this blog helps. Writing has always been cathartic for me, after all. Freeing. As though I’m giving a voice to the truth trapped inside, as though I’m opening up my heart and letting the feelings flutter away like tiny butterflies.

Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for helping me to free my soul.

*****

Upcoming events

Go to www.howtofallinlove.co.uk for information on my book, love course, coaching and retreats.

I’m speaking in Poole, Dorset, this Monday, May 14th at the Live, Laugh, Love Ladies club about my journey from binge-eating political correspondent to beach-living love coach and author. Tickets here.

As I mentioned, my October seaside retreat is open for bookings – a few spaces have gone. I also have something cooking that I’d like to give you plenty of notice about – I am planning on hosting a How to Fall in Love retreat with yoga and meditation in Turkey in October 2019. If this is of interest, please get in touch: katherine@katherinebaldwin.com

Thank you x

Posted in Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Embracing ‘what is’

The truth is that nobody has a charmed life. Everyone experiences heartache and pain (some more than others, I grant you that). But we all have a choice as to how we live. The most important lesson I have learned is that I only have this life. There is no other. There is no ‘could have been’ or ‘what if’. There is only ‘what is’.

The above is an extract from the final chapter of the revised edition of How to Fall in Love, which sums up what’s on my heart right now.

womanstaringtoseaI think accepting ‘what is’ and letting go of ‘what if’ has to be one of our biggest challenges in life. I know it’s not easy, but if we can manage to embrace reality and let go of the fantasy of ‘what if’ or ‘if only’, I believe we’ll find peace, contentment, gratitude and joy. I believe we’ll be able to appreciate fully the miracle of our lives as they are today, rather than hankering after an imaginary existence in which we are younger, or slimmer, or had a different upbringing, or have children, or have a bigger home, or in which we made different choices. We’ll also be able to use all that energy we’ve saved by not dwelling on ‘what could have been’ to move forwards with our real lives and make wonderful things happen.

The benefits of embracing reality are clear, so why do some of us struggle to do this?

I believe that if we had a complicated childhood during which our natural, human needs for love, reassurance, security and safety weren’t met, we’ll have spent much of that childhood yearning for a different life, imagining a better existence, wishing our home was like our friend’s home, wishing our parents were still together or still in love like our friends’ mums and dads. We’ll have spent years living in a fantasy in our heads, imagining that all would be perfect, all our troubles would end and we’d feel safe, secure and good enough if we could just live there or have that.

I spent much of my childhood living in fantasy, peering through other people’s windows, wishing I lived in someone else’s home, wanting my parents to be like my friends’ parents – still married, still living in the same house, still loving each other. My mind constantly wandered to an imagined life, a life that looked nothing like mine. If I could just get there or have that, I wouldn’t feel this way, I wouldn’t feel so desolate. I wouldn’t feel so empty and broken inside.

In that imagined life, even I was different. My name was Karen (after a girl in primary school I so admired and wanted to be like). My hair was thicker, longer and blonde (Karen was blonde). My body was a different shape and size. My clothes were more stylish or fitted better.

The problem is when you spend so many years as a child longing for things to be different, looking at other people’s homes and wanting your home to be like that, believing that happiness lies over there in that life, you carry that into adulthood. You spend your time comparing and despairing. Nothing is ever good enough. You get something and you want something else. Something more. Something better. You pick holes in everything. You are not content.

This is an exhausting place to be, but it’s also dangerous. Because you can project that sense of nothing ever being good enough onto the people you love, onto the people who are closest to you, or onto the people you are trying to date. You can wreck beautiful relationships by criticising and judging and stamping your foot and declaring that this isn’t good enough and that if we could just have this or that or build a life like our friends’ lives, all would be well. You can frighten yourself with the depths of your discontentment and despair.

In those moments, you are back in your child. You are back being the little girl who felt lost, lonely and desolate and who imagined a different life, who believed that happiness had to lie somewhere else because it sure didn’t lie here. All the sadness and frustration and disappointment pour out.

And then you come out of that child state. You come out of your angry, desolate, disappointed little girl and return to being an adult. And as an adult, you talk to your inner child, you empathise with her, you come along side her and tell her you understand how she felt, how she didn’t feel safe or secure or loved or affirmed. You tell her you understand that living in fantasy and longing for a different life was a survival tool, a means of escape, a coping mechanism that served a purpose for a while but that’s no longer required.

Because there’s no joy in always wanting things to be different. There’s no contentment in hankering after someone else’s life. There’s no peace in comparing your home or relationship or status or career or childless/childfree state or parents or car or body or hair or clothing to everyone else’s. It’s a recipe for bitterness and resentment. It takes you away from the here and now. It blocks your enjoyment of all the wonderful things in your life today.

Acceptance is the answer. But acceptance comes much easier if we can understand ourselves, if we can connect with the child within, if we can soothe her wounds and hear her pain, if we can empathise with her and reassure her and love her and affirm to her that happiness is here, happiness is right here, right here and now, in this moment, in this beautiful life, in the sunshine and the green of the grass and the wildness of the waves, and in these tears, in these healing tears.

*****

Upcoming events

If you’d like to join me on this wonderful journey of personal growth and healing, I have two events coming up.

I have 3 spaces left on my How to Fall in Love Dorset retreat, May 18-21. Self-love, self-care, nurturing, changing patterns, setting boundaries, letting go, building a beautiful life. Small group. Wonderful accommodation minutes from the sea.

And I have 11 spaces left on my London workshop, Love Yourself, Love Your Life, Find Love on April 21. This is an extended, all-day version of the sold-out February talk I gave on the same topic in partnership with Psychologies Magazine and NOW Live Events.

 

Posted in Childless, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finishing what we start

finishstart

If you’re anything like me, you have lots of big ideas, lots of hopes and dreams. You write them in notebooks and draw them on big sheets of paper in coloured pens. They are the desires of your heart, or they are creative ways to expand your business, or to feel more fulfilled in your work or your life.

You get them started, knuckle down, put in some hours, do some really good work.

And then you stop.

You get distracted. You find something better to do. You start to doubt yourself. You begin to think your great idea wasn’t so great after all. You waste time doing insignificant things that are the opposite of your heart’s desires, that do nothing to expand your business or that leave you feeling dissatisfied with your work or your life.

You kind of give up on yourself.

I am prone to doing this. I always have been. But I’m learning to be different.

My book was a good sign that I’m learning to finish what I start. From the outside, it may look like I had a book idea, wrote the book and published it five weeks later. Then a year on, I updated the book and released it again. Done. Finished. Out there. Simple.

But that’s what you see on the outside. You can’t see the large perspex box in the corner of my office stacked high with notes and research from the other book that I had been trying to finish, or get close to finishing, for a number of years before I gave up and wrote How to Fall in Love. I do intend to get back to that book. I hope I can.

Nor can you see the scores of notebooks I have lying around with great ideas that I gradually dismissed or forgot about.

But I’m not here to be hard on myself. I’m here to celebrate another example of finishing what I start.

For many months now, I’ve been wanting to create a self-study version of my How to Fall in Love course – the course I first ran in January 2017, to lovely reviews; the course that created a small but extremely loyal following of women who are still in my Facebook groups today, still being coached by me, and who are beginning to date in healthier ways, pursuing their dreams, taking better care of themselves and moving in the direction they want to go.

I wanted to create the standalone course so that I could reach more people at a lower cost and so that I could earn something from all the hard work I had done.

My goal was to complete it by January. That goal then slipped to mid-February. That goal slipped too, but I’m delighted to say that I launched the course today. Hurrah! I finish what I start. I follow through on my ideas. I value myself.

It feels good. As I say on one of the steps in the course, it’s good for our self-esteem to do estimable things. Finishing what I start is an estimable thing.

If you’d like to take the self-study course or know anyone who might benefit from it, I have a very special offer of £9.99 for the first 24 hours of the course’s life – so that’s until early evening on March 1st. Click here to find out more or sign up.

Incidentally, if you’d like to take the version of the course that includes a Facebook group and coaching calls, that’s available too, starting March 19. Find out more here.

I heard something this morning that really spoke to me. I heard that we offer our work in hope. I offer my work in hope that it will touch people’s lives, that it will help people to see the truth and that it will help them to change if they need to change in order to feel happier, more at peace and to find love.

I offer this blog in hope too. In hope that my words touch you. In hope that you can relate. In hope that you can feel less alone. In hope that you feel inspired to honour your big ideas and to finish what you start.

I’d love to hear from you if this blog speaks to you.

Before I go, there’s something else I’d like to share. I did a vlog and blog for Psychologies magazine’s Life Labs site at the beach yesterday. It’s about vulnerability and how being real with ourselves and others can lead to transformation. Watch here.

I’ll sign off there but carry on reading for my upcoming events, including three workshops in London and a beautiful spring retreat at Bournemouth beach, which has just been voted the best beach in the UK.                       Earlybird offer ends in two weeks!

Upcoming events

Don’t forget to join my free Facebook group to be inspired and stay updated.

My Spring How to Fall in Love retreat is on May 18-21 in Dorset. Information here. Earlybird price available until March 16.

How to Fall in Love – Laying the Foundations. Saturday, March 24. 9:30-4:30. London. Tickets. Repeated on Saturday April 21. 9:30-4:30 pm London. Tickets. Watch this fab video to get a flavour of my face-to-face workshops.

How to Fall in Love – Challenging Fears & Changing Patterns. Tuesday, March 27. 7-9 pm. London. Tickets.

Love yourself. Love Life. Find Love. Saturday, April 21. London. Tickets. This is an extended, all-day version of my sold-out Psychologies event on Feb 12, which you can watch a bit of on this video.

 

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