Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration, Youth Work

The Quiet Teenage Plague

There is a quiet plague that is infecting teenagers around the globe. It’s the festering combination of lacking confidence, conforming to look, act and feel a certain way and the pressure to achieve success in everything before you make it through puberty. All of these things have manifested themselves in a generation of quietly insecure, self-loathing young people afflicting themselves with self-harm, too much drug and alcohol abuse, ill-equipped with the life skills to grow up and make a positive contribution to the world.

What have we done?

I recently contributed to a workshop for the lower 6th form of an elite girl’s school. The room was full of bright, beautiful faces. These girls are well-educated and have many opportunities before them. Yet, when I held my session on First Impressions, I asked them if they like what they see when they look in the mirror. I didn’t mean just the outward appearance, but what radiates from within.

Much to my chagrin, only one out of the girls in the room held up their hand. I suspect a few more girls felt good enough to, but didn’t for fear of being labelled arrogant. Either way, it was sad. Just the question itself sent two girl out of the room in tears. This problem does not afflict girls alone, I’ve seen plenty of boys who suffer this dark lack of self-esteem as well.

This affliction goes beyond the turbulent norms of puberty. Their discomfort was palpable as was that we as parents, teachers, care givers and leaders in society are doing something wrong. Our message is warped.

Here are some ideas on positive reinforcement for our teenagers in times of negative influences.

Take some of the pressure off. It’s good to encourage your kids to do their best, but when their best isn’t good enough don’t criticise, encourage instead. Children come into their own at different times. Early achievers often suffer setbacks when they finally fail at something, while those left to develop at their own speed without constant parental pushing appreciate and thrive on success when it happens.

And when it comes to failure, teach your children not to be afraid, to learn from their mistakes, and try, try again until they succeed. Failure is not a badge of shame. Tenacity paves the road to success.

Teach your kids the power of ambition, not blind ambition for the sake of success alone, but passionate ambition led by value and belief in something they love. This is the honest route to happiness.

Whether they like it or not, sport is nourishment for the body just as much as food. Start young by engaging your kids in sports; so, by the time they are teenagers and decide that nothing is more important than their social life, they’ve experienced the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise and it has become routine. I cannot express enough the value of this. Participating in sports can help young people develop confidence, self-respect, the ability to work with others, leadership skills, positive body image and healthy eating habits. Don’t take no for an answer!

Communicate openly and often. Express love. Tell your children you love them. Hug them. It’s been scientifically proven that hugging someone for 20 seconds a day reduces stress. Comfort them when they are sad or worried. There is no substitute for a parent’s love. Even if they seem not to appreciate your efforts in the moment, they will appreciate you in the future.

Share your life experiences. Our children often think we had no life before them! Correct their assumptions and tell them about the good, bad and ugly moments in your life. Let them in on your successes and failures, your loves and lost loves. Share your foolishness and fun. Let them know you’re vulnerable, sometimes weak, sometimes strong but most of all human with feelings just as significant as theirs.

Don’t let your teens overindulged. They will no doubt experiment with drugs and alcohol just like you did. In today’s world of unlimited internet access, they are also sexualized at a much early age. It is our job to make sure they don’t develop a warped sense of right, wrong and the norm. I may be older but I’m not stupid or out of touch with what our kids see and do. As parents, its our job to continuously monitor their activities and make sure they have a healthy, balanced perspective. There is a fine line between respecting your teens privacy while making sure they don’t lose the plot. Yet, we must actively encourage common sense.

Whether it’s nature, philosophy or religion, young people should explore spirituality. It’s my belief that you are not a complete person without your spirit and your spirit needs nurturing. Living in the land of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and the rest can leave one devoid of the human spirit. Furthermore, fashion magazines and “Reality TV” are more corrupting to the human spirit than most things. Tempt your teens away from technology and towards a different kind of enlightenment. Life balance is the key to a happy existence.

Finally, tell your teens they are beautiful and clever, especially when they least believe it. Bang it into them as if you are tapping on your computer keyboard. With so much external negative noise we have to reinforce our positive message and encourage thoughtful behaviour if we expect them to have a positive outcome in their lives. It is hard work being a good parent, but it’s worth it.

That’s my good life advice.

50 & Fabulous, Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration, relationships

We All Need Heroes

 

The dictionary definition of hero is: A person who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great.

Where would we be without our heroes to inspire us, to motivate us, to help us realise what we can achieve when we follow our passions and marry them with our values and beliefs. A true hero never asks to be put on a pedestal. Their achievements are powered by a deeply imbedded desire to go above and beyond average to carry out something life changing and selfless that has impact on not only themselves but the greater human condition.

There are super heroes and everyday heroes. We can’t all be Oprah, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, or Dr. king. However, it’s my belief that we all have a hero within, but they manifest themselves in many forms. You don’t have to leave your mark on the world to be a hero.

An everyday hero is the parents who dedicate themselves to raising good, happy, morally conscious children with and a zeal for life. A hero is the teacher who inspires her students to value education and intellectual curiosity. A hero is the public servant who puts their life on the line for our well-being. A hero is the musician who creates beautiful melodies that can stir our emotions and imaginations. A hero is the doctors who dedicates themselves to life saving research or the spiritual guide who rekindles our faith and hope. There are so many different kinds of heroes.

You see we all have the hero in us. They come out when your passion for something is so strong that you’re compelled to act for the power of good. Never under-estimate the impact you have on others or the hero in yourself. You don’t have to touch the world to be a hero, just touching one person in a positive way can make any and all of us an everyday hero.

Confidence, Depression, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration

Top Tips To Beat The Blues

 

Like everyone, I suffer periodic lows and the bouts have increased with age and changing hormones. Thankfully they have never been unbearable. Nonetheless, there have been times when I’ve found motivating myself nearly impossible. Have you ever felt trapped inside your body on auto pilot and even the easiest tasks seem impossible to complete? Perhaps you just feel apathetic about everything. Are papers and unopened mail piling up on your desktop or do you have dozens of emails that need to be read in your In- Box? Ugg! Feeling low is such a bore and breaking through the haze is not without its challenges.

When I’m in a prolonged funk, I have some tried and true tricks I pull out of my bag to get my spirits lifted and my creative juices flowing. Before trying these simple steps, if you’ve been in the doldrums for more than a few weeks, I urge you to reach out to your GP for a once over. You could be suffering from proper depression and may need medicinal help to move you out of the dark and into the light – and there’s no shame in that.

Start by tuning out as much negativity as possible. That includes the news. Don’t count on the media to focus on the positive.  Shut out anyone who is an energy drainer and anything that gives you bad vibes.

Next, give yourself a swift kick up the backside with some brisk exercise. I know it’s hard but you can start by putting one foot in front of the other. Walk instead of ride when possible. If you can manage to drag yourself to the gym, that’s even better. Adrenaline will restart your flow.

Attack the clutter around you. Address your neglected responsibilities. Start with a ‘to do’ list and check off each job as you complete it. I guarantee you will feel better when you finish.

Temporarily cut out alcohol and sugar; you will feel a physical and emotional lift within days.

Do something nice for yourself, a massage or spa moment. Go see that play you’ve threatened to buy tickets for; try that new restaurant you read about. Do whatever floats your boat, just to something.

The thing to remember: life is a roller coaster. It is very rarely one long down hill slide.  So hang in there you’ll be back on top again. The key thing is you have to want to make the climb.

 

That’s my good Life advice

 

 

50 & Fabulous, Confidence, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration

Say No To Status Quo

As a coach, people often come to me when they feel they need to change. They feel stagnate in some way shape or form. Either it’s a pattern of behaviour, a plateau they can’t jump off or the everyday routine of life that makes them feel like they’re stuck in a groove.  As Deepak Chopra says “The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of need for conformity.”

It’s fine to operate within your comfort zone, but before you get too cosy, remember change is often a good thing.  Don’t conform to complacency. To make positive changes in life, you have to evolve. Don’t be ruled by fear. Step out of your comfort zone and take on things you find challenging.

Try something that you always wanted to do but were afraid to attempt for fear of failure.  Go for that job that you may not be perfect for on paper but know you’d succeed in if you had the opportunity. Fake it ‘till you make it! Invite someone out that you’ve been admiring from a distance but were scared to ask. You never know what impact they may have on your life.  Enlighten and empower yourself with knowledge.  This will inspire you to move forward.  Remind yourself of those less fortunate than you so that you don’t take life’s blessings for granted.

There’s comfort in routine and it plays an important part in a stable existence. However, routine shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. Don’t stagnate.  Life is too short for a long stall. Life is for living. Feeling like you didn’t live up to your potential can nag you for a lifetime.  Keep on Moving.

Good life advice powered by emotional intelligence.

Photo by Daniel Hermy

Confidence, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration

Great expectations-keep it real

Let’s say you’re eager to make your mark on the job and impress your boss. When the opportunity arises for you to get noticed, you go for it. However, before you turn into a ‘yes, I can’ person, remember to manage your bosses expectations by being realistic about your own. So many of us get caught out making promises that we can’t deliver and no boss will be impressed with that. “Let’s revisit this is six months” is not what you want to hear when you’re sitting in your annual review. If you want to hear the words promotion and rise instead, here are a few fundamentals to help you keep reality in check.

  • Clarity: Don’t assume anything. Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you when you take on a project. Be smart, take responsibility for getting the details right and making sure you and your boss are on the same page.
  • Don’t make any assumptions. If you’re not sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  • Know what your key objectives are and if it’s a big project set goals. If you are a manager, delegate some work to your team and monitor their progress up to the final stages of delivery. Remember, the buck stops with you.
  • Don’t go overboard. Do what’s asked of you and do it well. You can take the initiative to go above and beyond the call of duty, but run it by the boss first and only when you know you have the original task well and truly in hand.
  • Communicate your progress, concerns and successes. Keep your boss in the loop via emails, phone calls, meetings – whatever is preferred.  As long as you keep the lines of communication open you won’t get caught out.
  • Be flexible:  Being able to manage sudden change is a critical skill. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and problems arise out of the blue. Being flexible will help you take it all in stride and find solutions through inspiration or collaboration.
  • Plan B: Know what risks can stand in the way of your success. Always have a contingency plan. If you see things going wrong voice your concerns straight away while you have the opportunity to get back on track.
  • Quiet confidence is a virtue. It’s great to be ambitious but no one likes a show off.  Speak less and do more. Actions always speak louder than words.

Not living up to what we expect of ourselves can lead to stress, disappointment and sometimes depression as well.  That is why it is so important to have realistic, well-considered goals and plans. If you keep it real, time measured and let go of excuses you will live up to your expectations . Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as planned.  Everything happens for a reason, and if you believe in yourself, you will  end up where you’re supposed to be on your journey through life.  Besides, you can learn a lot from a detour. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.

Great expectations are not realised over night. They need nurturing, cultivating and steely determination. You may even find your expectations and destinations change along the way, because that’s life.

 

 

Confidence, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration

If you don’t succeed at first, do failure right

It’s my passion to motivate and encourage people to go get what they want in life and achieve their goals, but the fact is the path to success is not always a straight road. There is much to be learned from failure and it happens to all of us on occasion.  It’s best to take a hard look at our mistakes and learn from them to insure greater success the next time around.

  •  Don’t obsess over failing but do analyse your mistakes.  Did you do enough preparation and planning? Did you account for possible road blocks to your success?
  • Don’t let ego, disappointment and even embarrassment cloud your judgement about what went wrong. Use another person’s perspective to help you determine what you could have done differently in order to succeed.
  • Isolate the cause of your failure. Go back over your behaviour. Were you too talkative; Were you an active listener? Did you fail to make a good presentation; did you walk and talk with confidence; could you back up your statements with facts?
  • What was your mindset? Did you think you would succeed before you tried? You can’t expect to succeed if you’re defeatist.
  • Once you’ve reviewed your mistakes; make sure you don’t repeat them. It’s easy to fall into negative behaviour patterns.
  • Be a graceful loser; a bad loser leaves a negative impression that’s hard to erase.

Believe in yourself. Have the confidence and faith to know that there’s another opportunity waiting around the corner.

50 & Fabulous, Confidence, Life Coaching, Motivation & Inspiration, Youth Work

Time flies; got to move with it

1-4_editedIt’s that time of year when we send our kids back to school and anticipate clawing back a little more ‘me’ time. But, as our 17 year old daughter grows more independent, my husband and I are learning to let go. She is starting to make big decisions for herself and we are feeling a bit anxious not only for her but for us and our changing roles as parents.

These next two years are growth years for all of us as a family. While I have always tried to balance work with home life, soon I will have more time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. But, like all middle-aged woman navigating hot flashes and menopause, I have to ask myself ‘now what?’ Yes, I’ve done my best to maintain a career and reinvent myself but I still have questions about my purpose in life. Don’t most of us at this age? It’s natural. Many of us have put our dreams and ambitions on hold to dedicate our attention to nurturing families or perhaps we’ve put aside family life in favour of careers. Either way, I still feel a bit short changed because we can’t have it all…at least not at the same time. Maybe that’s being greedy and I certainly don’t want pity, but it is bloody true that a woman’s work is never done!

My female clients in transition suffer anxiety attacks, depression and often feel hopeless about the future, especially when their role becomes less defined. I say at this time in life, you have to take control of your own destiny. Sit down and mind map what you want your life to look like; look back on your achievements with joy and your defeats with grace then dust of the rust and get back into the big picture of life. Drink martinis, dance on the table and live a little. Consider it the next rite of passage. Feel empowered by the fact that you’ve actually made it to middle age bouncing with botox or wrinkled and ripe. Believe in yourselves, girlfriends, and don’t let some inevitable disappointments do your heads in. Life begins again at 50 and I can attest that it can definitely be fabulous, but you have to work at it,  you have to plan it and it has to be about YOU.

As a collective we need to support each other, listen to each other and encourage our sisters to go for it, to not be afraid of a new metamorphosis. After all, age is actually the mother of reinvention! If only we ruled the world. Go for it!