Do you actually like your life?

This is a provocative question, I know, but it needs to be asked. Most people avoid thinking about it. One reason is that they’re afraid of what they might find if they start looking. Or they may believe it’s a waste of time. But not only is it not a waste of time – it’s the only way you can do something about it; to change how you experience your relationships and situation. Read on if there are parts of your life or relationships that you don’t really like.

"I really don't want this anymore!"

So here’s another provocative comment: You decide how you experience what you call your reality. The fact (yes, fact) is that very little has any meaning at all except the meaning you attach to something and what you do as a result.

Many studies of adult identical

Read moreDo you actually like your life?

Would you like to get out of the loneliness habit? Here’s how

Having felt lonely in my marriage for most of its 37 years and blaming my husband, Jim, for it, I discovered, when I finally reached my dream of having a home of my own, a home where I really and truly belonged, that I still felt lonely except now, I didn’t have him there to blame.

Because I really didn’t like feeling lonely, I decided to try and figure out how I was making myself lonely.  Yes, you read correctly – how I was making myself lonely.

"Thanks but I can handle it"

This is what I discovered:  I pretended to be a hero. 

My definition of hero is where I would

Read moreWould you like to get out of the loneliness habit? Here’s how

Are you the invisible woman?

"I love knowing I make a difference!"

Sounds like the title of one of those old films, doesn’t it?  But there’s nothing frivolous about the question.

When some of my older clients start working with me, they often say the same thing, “Now that I’m retired, I seem to have become the invisible woman!”

How does one become an invisible woman when, before they retired, they were out there, making a contribution, making a difference?

I have a friend, a very special woman.  She’s vibrant, alive, USEFUL!  She also has a close family and loving friendships.  She’s 87 years of age.  She told me recently, that there were some people who started asking her “When are you going to slow down?”  Her reply, invariably, is “Why should I?” and is genuinely

Read moreAre you the invisible woman?

Why being a giver is not always good news

Allowing yourself to receive is also an expression of love

Being a giver is always good, isn’t it?  You’re seen – and you probably see yourself – as a warm-hearted and generous person.  But there’s this hiccup: you give and you give and you give but you don’t get much back.  And, after a while, your inner engine drops to empty and you begin to feel exhausted and resentful.  This leads me to another point:  ‘receiving’. 

My Mum was a giver to a fault but would be horrified (yes, horrified!) when I wanted to give something in return.  “I don’t need anything!” she would exclaim!  “I don’t want anything!”

One day, after having been set back yet again I asked her “How do you feel when you give?”.  She replied, “I feel happy!”  So then I replied, “Why won’t you

Read moreWhy being a giver is not always good news

So you think you know how to love?

“I don’t think I can love”, Angela, a client of mine, recently commented.  I was shocked but kept my expression neutral.  I suggested she take a look at the word ‘love’, not as a noun but as a verb – ‘to love’ and that, between now and our next session, she make a list of behaviours that convey love – in such a way that the other person actually ‘gets’ it.

"I'm here for you"

She arrived at our next meeting having reflected on my question and showed me the two lists she had made – one for family and friends and the other for her partner.

As I went through them I thought these lists highlighted her confusion about love.

Under ‘family and friends’ she included things such as taking care of someone, visiting, meeting, texting and phoning, doing things for them and doing things together.

Under ‘romantic partner’ she included cuddling, kissing, making love, sharing stuff, telling them “I love you”, remembering birthdays and anniversaries, buying gifts and expressing tenderness through touch or eye contact

What struck me about her lists were two things:  what she had left out of both lists and what she had included in one list but not in the other:

What she had

Read moreSo you think you know how to love?

Are you really as loving as you believe you are?

A few years after I left my 37 year marriage having felt unloved and lonely for most of those years I had a sudden insight, as disconcerting as it was painful:  for many of those years I believed Jim didn’t love me which was, in itself, painful enough.  But several years after I left I suddenly realised that he did love me after all – just not in the way that resonated with me which, in the end, came to the same thing:  I just didn’t feel loved.

It wasn’t a huge leap from there to my next insight which was that, even though I knew I loved him, he probably didn’t feel loved either.

Reach out in the way that has meaning for them

My way of loving was to follow the example of my parents.  Sadly, none of those ways worked for Jim and I didn’t know any other way.  But that question never came up in my mind – you don’t know what you don’t know.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that there are a number of different styles of loving:  with loving and appreciative words, with thoughtful deeds, with affectionate and tender touching, with gifts, and so on. 

Over the years I changed in the way I longed to be loved.  When we were first married I yearned for him to say “I love you” or to say something that would make me feel ‘seen’ or understood.  Oh!  And I wouldn’t have minded a box of chocolates and/or a bouquet of flowers!

After a few years,

Read moreAre you really as loving as you believe you are?

“Love is all you need! Yay, yay, yay!”

"It's your fault I feel like this!"

Like the song says, “Love is all you need!” And that’s absolutely true but do we really know what that looks, sounds or feels like in practice? From my own personal experience and that of my clients and friends I’d say, “no, we don’t” which is why I’ve decided to write several blogs looking at different angles on the topic of ‘love’.

Today I’m starting with the most fundamental love of all: self-love. The term alone tends to raise eyebrows. Some people think of it as

Read more“Love is all you need! Yay, yay, yay!”

Staying in your comfort zone is safe and familiar

“When was the last time you set yourself a challenge?”, my friend asked me. “I can’t remember off the top of my head”, I replied cautiously. “Well then”, she said, “It’s obvious you don’t challenge yourself often enough!” I looked at her and said “I think you have something in mind”. She did. “How about you commit yourself to writing a blog every day for the next 30 days?”

My first reaction was that I was struck dumb. The next moment my anxiety levels went into overdrive. “How on earth would I find something useful to say every day?” And then I thought, “well, I’ll never know if I don’t try”. The next question I asked myself was: “what do I know about?” That question was a lot easier to answer. I know a lot about life.

At least I know where I stand
My reflections about not being sure I have something of value to share and being overcome with self-doubts raise an important question:

“Do I

Read moreStaying in your comfort zone is safe and familiar

What is it you’re not saying?

 About a week ago I received a call from the manager of the Spanish guesthouse Jim, my ex-husband, lived in the last several years to let me know that he’d died from a heart attack.

My first reaction was disbelief.  He couldn’t be dead!  He was only 78!  I felt numb for the first few days. 

What do I wish I'd said before it's too late?

I had left my marriage of 37 years 9 years ago shortly before I turned 60 but we remained in touch over the last few years, supporting each other in different ways – that would make it 46 years.

After a while I felt able to look back and wonder if I had anything left unsaid.  Were there any loose ends?  Did I have cause for regret?

For most of our marriage and several years after I left I’d blame him for my loneliness and unhappiness, for having felt unloved and unseen and unheard and just about everything else I could think of.

One day,

Read moreWhat is it you’re not saying?

Regrets? I don’t plan to have any

There’s a signature song sang by Edith Piaff  ‘je ne regrette rien’ – ‘I regret nothing’.  What an amazing way to live!  What an amazing place to be when you reach the end of your life!

The first 6-1/2 months (I thought I’d be really precise) have been really challenging for me, and I was feeling dejected and discouraged with some ‘anxious’ mixed in – not a particularly good recipe for living!  Even with all my life experience I had trouble extricating myself.  What kept me going was the love and support from my friends, especially their belief in me when I was battling self-doubt.

This is what it's like to feel liberated from regrets

And then – not two weeks ago – everything changed:

The back pain I’d been suffering with for most of my adult life has dissipated – well, mostly.  My energy levels have climbed to a new record so that I’ve become really productive and creative where before, everything was an effort and my creativity suffered.  New opportunities started coming up that are making my eyes go ‘pop!’

Yes, it’s a relief to be on the other side but an interesting question that’s come up for me was ‘Do I regret having gone through these dark times?’  And, for me, the answer is ‘No’.  Like the saying goes, ‘fire tempers the steel’ or, to put it another way, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and, I’d like to add, wiser.  So, no, as Edith Piaff sang so poignantly, ‘je ne regrette rien’.

If I had lived

Read moreRegrets? I don’t plan to have any

Grow Your Confidence and Fabulous Relationships will Follow