Dramamine

I feel that lately dating is diluted by the ice cube that is your phone. Whilst you’re staring at it, someone could be trying to make a connection through one hell of an opening line (answers on a postcard please! – I’m still struggling with that!). Or even trying to drum up the courage to ask you out on a date. In the “good old days”, romance was buying a girl flowers, or walking her home. Now, I think I would vomit on my shoes if a guy bought me flowers on my first date.

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Let’s just think about this for a second. We live in age where “ghosting”, “simmering” or if we want to be all scientific about it “stable ambiguity” (Terry Real defined this with keeping a person hanging with keeping meetings postponed with excuses). By doing this people avoid commitment and loneliness. However, I feel this leaves us with this horrible feeling of emptiness, and uncertainty in the age of Bumble/Tinder.

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I’m not going to go on and say that we should get rid of internet dating or throw our phones out of the window in a huge statement. I am suggesting presence in the moment with people. (Let’s face it, if I go on a date and the guy doesn’t get his phone out I am IMPRESSED).

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Esther Perel hits the nail on the head:

“As we navigate this world of digital connectedness, we’d do well to remember that behind the screens lie the same sensitive human hearts that have always longed for intimacy, empathy, meaning and adoration.”

Romance, these days can be found in taking one small step behind the cushion of your phone screen. Ask the guy/girl out on a date! (I know I’m the absolute worst) Just call instead of text (baby steps maybe?!). It’s these small steps that I think make up romance these days. It shows that you have gone outside your comfort zone to change the dynamics of dating, for the soul purpose of getting to know that person. I really think if you say what you think then you’ll get more from the other person (in the long term).

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The worst thing that can happen is you waste your time. Not that you fought for what you thought you wanted at that point in time.

Time is more precious than pride.

 

Method Acting

As I walk sober through the crowded bars (now I’m not going to lie)… For a hermit like myself, its not my favourite thing to do. Actually, I think attending a family event with ripped jeans would be more favourable than walking up to a guy sober.

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One thing I’ve learnt is in order to do this I can’t just be ok with myself. I have to truly love myself (I know, I know your vomiting all over this page). But its true! You have to take time to fight those demons, and not let yourself feel shame for any mistakes that you have made. Mistakes are something that you will learn from and you will grow.

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What I have taken from this is that; I am extremely awkward with people I don’t know. I genuinely think my life is a series of embarrassing events, strung together by telling my friends about these embarrassing events. (For example: I just answered the door and a salesman asked if my parents were in.) I used to be so socially anxious. I didn’t go out. Now I go out… but I make fun of myself (baby steps). I don’t take myself too seriously, and I don’t dwell on any awkward interaction.

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What I love the most about people is that they all have these demons that they are trying to fight, and we have no idea. When you glimpse of these demons, that to me is an essence of who they are. That to me is true beauty. I love it when I see it.

Now that I feel ready for the world of dating me and my friend made a list of attributes… From my research… Worst idea ever. For a bit of colour I’ll share this with you:

  • Beard
  • Long Hair
  • Funny
  • Sarcastic
  • Smart
  • Has a good job (and ambition)
  • Kind
  • (Looks like Dave Grohl)

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The list goes on but we would be here all night. What Esther Perel (psychotherapist in sexual and relational health) has pointed out that when we were young we weren’t afraid to see where relationships would take us, and what stories they would write.

Now as an adult we come with these expectations, and these check lists (which don’t even work even if the guy/girl checks all of the above). These lists are anti romantic, and do not allow for surprises or stories to unfold. After all stories are what we tell every day, stories are what makes up our lives.

It’s ok if some stories are short, and some are long. Love stories aren’t about lists, pro’s and cons, they are about surprises and gut feelings. Follow your feelings and your story will unfold. 

We are Nowhere & it’s Now

Relationships are seen as the pinnacle these days. The constant rat race to pursue the perfect one. To feel the breath on the back of your neck whilst you sleep. The beat of reassurance that your mood is untouchable.

I feel that with age I’ve either become wiser with my choice (not likely) or more picky. It’s no secret that divorce rates are sky high, and people break up because they aren’t right for each other to begin with. So what’s the point? It’s the same point everyone is labouring…

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I hate this feeling of being forced to pick a man. When I go out its like I’m a rose in a vase. I’m not sure if I have a lot of water left… There are loads of other flowers around me… I just can’t be bothered moving face into the sun anymore.

I refuse to admit I have become a cynic. I want someone to laugh that I’ve put my underwear on inside out (it happens). I want someone to tell me to come home safe after travelling with work.

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Charlie Munger (American Investor) has some great thoughts about relationships: I’ve noticed in a long life time that the people who really love you are the people who help you during difficult times, and you jointly got through it. In the end these people will love you more, than those people who you’ve just shared an uneven prosperity through the whole thing

The truth is a good relationship works because they have got through something awful together, and are tied together with that bond. Its the crap relationships that fall apart at any hurdle (first hurdle to even get a text back!), or you don’t even share these hurdles with them.

I have come to learn to filter out people’s advice. I used to desperately seek it. I wanted someone to agree with my great desire to stay with this one man. To the point I was talking to online therapist from India (red flag right there!). I used to think he was “the one”, and I had to do everything to impress him. I swallowed any pain he caused. In the end I was using 95% of my time and the effort wasn’t producing 1% happiness. This switch in thought process, moved him from a sword in my side, to a thorn in my paw.

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One thing to have in mind is that everyone has different experiences and these are not your fairy tales to live out. You can build your own.

 

Blank Page Empire

Let’s just cut out this “New Year New Me” bullshit right now.

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Every year we have this quick scuffle to the gym, to try and lose some non existing love handles that no one else sees. Instead of enjoying what is awesome about ourselves, before girls use their tits as scarves, and guys have to use a little blue pill!

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Please stop the worrying about that box of celebrations you ate today, or the fact you went to the gym twice and not three times. Enjoy the moment, because these are the moments you look back on and think… “God I’m hilarious” (I am though!) or… “I was fit”… “Why didn’t I use my talent then when I didn’t have arthritis?!”

One thing New Year is good for is sparking the use of reframing a situation. Take this quote from Jane Hirshfield:

“I moved my chair into sun

I sat in the sun

The way hunger is moved when called fasting”

I do hate feeling at a loss of control in any situation. If I reframe it’s like suddenly realising I’m reading fact not fiction. Most of our lives our brains make up fiction. Maybe this year we can go through with it with a healthy dose of facts instead.

 

They Spun a Web for Me

Every once in a while, I (like other people) get caught in a web. Going over and over all the stupid things I’ve done. I found out recently (believe it or not) we are hard wired to be happy?!

Studies show three months after every earth shattering event (with some exceptions), it has had little effect on our happiness. Dan Gilbert talks about why we don’t know this about ourselves:

  1. We don’t see our minds doing this
  2. We are built to be strangers to ourselves (so we try to save our relationship or our job)

After the major life event, we “reframe” our views on the world for the better e.g. after breaking my leg I’m always thankful that I can run/walk/drive every day.

Whilst someone is in those horrible 3 months it is good to have someone to listen to you. Some of the best ever advice I have heard on active listening is below. This advice not only gives someone with depression/anxiety the space to heal, but it is great advice for two people with extreme views to communicate.

If you don’t get this right… Well I don’t think I need to explain…

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  • Don’t multi task; be present (no phones!)
  • Use open ended questions (who/what/where/when/how?)
  • Go with the flow (thoughts will come, let them go. Not everyone loves hearing about Dave Grohl)
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It is never the same.
  • Listen.

Celeste Headlee

I really want to highlight that no one’s experience is the same. If you are constantly outdoing each other with “who’s job is more stressful” you could be there all day and no one feels better for it. The greatest healing will come from that person from feeling fully listened to and understood.

If the person likes or respects you they will leave a forum for you to give you space to air your views/experiences.

Ps always remember your facial expressions particularly when listening to adverse points of view.

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What were we Talking about?

What is the secret to happiness?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found the answer the answer:

Hold on a second…There’s some science I have to tell you, so you can piece it all together.

“Our nervous system is incapable of processing more than 110 bits of information per second. In order to hear me, and understand what I’m saying. You need to process 60 bits per second. (That’s why you can’t understand more than 2 people talking to you.) When you are really involved in something you cannot feel that you are hungry, tired or remember your problems at home. Your identity disappears from its consciousness.”

This is called a “Flow” experience. Here are some examples:

  • Playing Music
  • Listening to Podcasts
  • Life Drawing (got to make sure I don’t make eye contact)
  • Looking at Dave Grohl (I get lost in his eyes)

 

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  • Writing a Blog
  • Making sure I don’t die at PE
  • Having that conversation about nothing and losing time

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Bin off your phone. It takes 20 mins to settle back into the activity/Flow moment you were in, once you have put your phone down. Was it life changing what you have just looked at? Did Geoff just text you? No! Should you care? No, he’s a massive bellend!

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Even if you aren’t an artist/muscian/gym goer/podcast listener, having these moments where you are lost in deep conversation are priceless. Your nervous system is lost in a sea of words, where it doesn’t feel hunger or sadness from your own life.

“When we worked so hard to pull all those weeds out, what were we talking about?”;  Neva Dinova

Hope

“It doesn’t matter to me
I tell myself repeatedly

What a nightmare it seemed
To honestly think anything

I won’t leave indentions of me
I won’t leave intentionally” – Manchester Orchestra

The above encapsulates how I really felt during the worst of my depression. I wanted all these horrible thoughts (I wasn’t even sure what they were anymore) to leave. I wanted to “reset”. How I wanted to reset, was the messed up part. I didn’t want to “leave intentionally”, but I knew when someone said “see you on Monday” I might not be around.
I’d smile and leave my friends and drive straight to A&E. Or I would spend an evening on the phone to the Samaritans being talked down from whatever state I’d worked myself into.
If you are going through this, then there is help. You can walk into A&E and talk to someone. You can call your GP and see them every week if you can’t get a therapist.

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The most important thing I learnt from this, is to always be kind, because you have absolutely no idea what is going on in a persons head. Also, the petty bullshit you deal with on a day to day basis… Does it really fucking matter?

“There’s a ghost and it knows what I know.
So I let it go, there’s no ghost, there’s no ghost” – Manchester Orchestra

After all this, I have learnt to let go (most, always working on it) of my anxieties. Like the rings I wear on my finger. I try to get through life with some “grace”, and I always have a “choice” in what I can do/how I act. No one can “make me feel” a certain way. I choose how I feel and react. That’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever had.

Come as you are

Since 1/3 to 1/2 of the population are introverts (and I’m 100% one of them) I feel we should talk about it. First off lets establish that an introvert isn’t someone who is “shy”. It comes down to one simple thing: stimulus. An introvert needs hardly any stimulus and an extrovert needs constant stimulus to stop them from falling asleep at their desk.

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So how do you spot an extrovert?

An extrovert would be talking really loudly on their phone, whilst listening to the Foo Fighters (we can all hope), texting themselves on the other phone, and trying to give you a hug. (You get the idea). An introvert would be trying to avoid their gaze (and any body contact), and hoping they go away as quickly as possible.

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In terms of a conversation between an introvert and extrovert:

Me (introvert): Yeah I spoke to Geoff, I think when you catch him on a bad day he can be a little difficult.

Dave (extrovert): That’s what I said, he’s a dickhead!

Introverts use more complex language, whilst extroverts are more direct.

So what does this all mean? Firstly, (as Susan Cain points out) all schools and work places are geared towards extroverts way of working. (open plan offices, pod desks) This doesn’t allow deep thought in which creative ideas are born.

FullSizeRender (27)Secondly, introverts can switch to become an extrovert for a short period of time. For example; I will do this blog and talk about it, or present at work. However, I will have to have a period in which I’m under-stimulated (sitting with my headphones in by myself). The only thing that allows me to do this is passion for what I believe in.

Some of the greatest leaders have all been introverts – Gandhi, Rosa Parks. They both have been noted to be softly spoken, but they fought for what they believed in. That’s what I feel makes an introvert as a valuable leader/manager/teacher.

Many of Horror

I tell my friends this quote all the time:

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Unfortunately there isn’t enough time to psycho analyse me, so we’ll just stick to the blog. Whether your last relationship ended because “you refused to be mine, but you made me yours” (Lena Dunham).

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Or for some other reason…

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We are all in this together. To illustrate this Helen Fisher asked two questions:

  1. “Have you ever been rejected by someone who you really loved?
  2. Have you ever dumped someone who really loved you?”

95% of college students answered: “Yes”

Clearly this effects a lot more of us than we may realise. Researchers in the State of Columbia University scanned peoples brains after unwanted break ups. They looked at physical, as well as the obvious emotional effects. The areas in their brain lit up similar to having a hot probe on their arm when shown pictures of their ex partners.

“These findings are consistent with the idea that the experience of social rejection, or social loss more generally, may represent a distinct emotional experience that is uniquely associated with physical pain,” Ethan Kross, an associate professor at University of Michigan told University of Michigan News in 2011.

Through all of this I really haven’t become a cynic (I promise). I will always fight for a relationship that I believe in. However, sometimes I am given some pain in a neatly wrapped bow. I go and hang out with the ones that make me smile (and forget about Geoff), in a little while I’ll be just fine. You will too (if not my door is always open)

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Everything’s Not Lost

From a young age we get taught that pain can equal love. Take my cat for instance, when he paws at me with his claws, that means that he loves me. Or if a boy pulls at your pig tails that means he likes you. It’s odd that from such a young age pain is taught to equal love.

This is something that was subconsciously etched into my brain from being so little. Ten years ago I tried to break up with my ex boyfriend, he got so upset I ended up being yanked out from underneath the bed – like a child who was late for their bath time. Before I knew it I was in a choke hold, and the finger mark bruises I traced on my throat in the mirror equated to the most peaceful feeling of slipping away.

For some reason I went back to him (until I realised he probably would kill me in the end).

Any relationship that I have formed since then I have been very careful with.

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Why didn’t I just leave? Well, domestic violence always happens in; intimate and interdependent relationships. Its incredibly dangerous to leave an abusive relationship. Over 70% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has ended the relationship (because what do they have left to loose?)

How didn’t I see it coming? At the beginning part of a relationship it’s the charm, the flowers etc. Then it’s the isolation.

What do people think? My personal experience was that people thought I was lying. Some people get branded as “Damaged goods”

So what can we do to change this? Well Esta Soler has already helped by outlawing domestic violence in 1984, which one politician called “Take the fun out of Marriage Act”.

To this person I have this for you:

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Abuse thrives in silence. So now like Leslie Steiner I am breaking the silence. I used to tell just close friends, now I’m telling total strangers.