I by nature am a listener and observer when meeting people and being in the background offers a fantastic opportunity to get an interesting view of others, their body language and conversation long before they care to present to me their acceptable selves – that façade used at a first encounter. In many instances I find myself sad when I hear how easily excuses fall out of mouths, how people actually talk themselves out of doing things or think their way away from dealing with situations. My my, how we sabotage outcomes by negative thoughts and excuses!

Convince: cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of something or someone.

We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty – Marcus Fabius Quintilian 

Being in a comfort zone (i.e. doing something the same way as we always have) means that we are more or less content with our life the way it is presently. There is no reason to change because change means that we have to upset the balance we carefully protect – our comfort zone. Why would we want to mess with this safety net? Well, it can be a desire to learn a new skill, move to a different part of the country or world, start a family even change your hair colour we all have goals that we would like to achieve not so? I doubt that we are all complacent and just let life pass us by… we all have some dream we would like to pursue.

So what process do you do follow when you have decided to do something new? Plot a mind map? Write it down? Tell a friend and ask for assistance?  Daydream and list all the possibilities?  Research the subject?

Now that you have the goal set, it is time for action. Action means that we have to physically start the process. Hmm feels a little awkward doesn’t it? Suddenly reality sets in and we realise that things are busy changing and this is scary. Do you know what happens when we are afraid of change? We want to turn around and hightail it back to our safe place! I hear so many excuses given whilst in actual fact we are too scared of failure, hard work, what we would have to give up in order to make space for a new activity to name a few.

I’ll tell you what makes us so afraid, so hesitant – it is the influx of negative thought either of our own doing (we think we are not clever enough perhaps) of the influence of those close to us (they think of everything that can go wrong, have their own ideas of how things should be etc). If we all had a huge helping of good self esteem and an extra serving of courage, new adventures would be a meal to be enjoyed every day. Sadly some of us have grown up sheltered by paranoid parents who used fear as a disciplinary tool. Some of us have been severely punished when we have strayed from the accepted societal norms. Some of us have tried a new thing and have failed and now have a perpetual fear of failure. Some of us live our lives according to the direction and advice of others and never know what it is like to be their own person… we are all stuck somewhere for whatever reason!

So given a little thought, we will realise what it is that makes us afraid. What is it that keeps us there? Ah, yes it is the list of excuses we have come to realise work for us! These excuses are quite believable and plausible, valid perhaps in the eyes of those we choose to give them to. We become quite skilled at lying and or convincing. We use really good ones on ourselves so that we don’t have to be accountable for the consequences of failure. We can pretty much think ourselves out of anything we don’t think we can or want to do by using negative thought. So what to do?

Our minds are powerful tools and if we can convince ourselves of reasons NOT to do something, then surely we can convince ourselves that we CAN! You know the saying goes you can do anything if you set your mind to it? Well it is used rather lightly in conversations but how often have we actually put it in action? Can we put a filtering system in place whereby we cut out the excuses, the fear, the negative thoughts and influences of others? I can tell you this: if you have friends that help you constructively, support you positively then you are truly blessed, for when our faith is failing they put us back on track! If we only have those that are sympathetic and negative, then throw them out the window. Read books that encourage you, watch DVDs that inspire you, listen to audio tracks on positive thinking so that you flood your mind with the good so much that it drowns out the negative. Let’s try not to sabotage ourselves anymore. Let’s take this life we have and learn how to fly!  
Thoughts this week have been on those that have been in any kind of abusive relationship whether it be recent or in the distant past. Abuse is abuse and sadly we carry the burden throughout our lives.

“Overcoming abuse doesn't just happen, it takes positive steps everyday. Let today be the day you start to move forward.” Assunta  Harris

There is no excuse for abuse, no explanations that can justify it either. The abuser usually comes from a loveless home where they themselves were abused. Understandably so, this seems to be the only way that they can get some sense of control over their retarded self esteem issues. Hurt and rejection, a sense of belonging was never attained and the adage of a catch 22 situation ensues. Unconsciously perhaps they need more love and acceptance but they act in a manner that makes them unlovable. So the cycle begins and continues throughout their sorry sad lives.

The unfortunate thing is that their victims carry the damage with them forever. Unless of course they take positive steps to stop the cycle of going back into the past and re-hashing and re-playing each scenario in the hope that they can find some closure or justification to what happened. Retribution and revenge can feature highly in these emotional moments. This is absolutely normal – to want to make things different, to make that pain go away, those demons from taking over the striving towards a happier existence.

I have been there, and let me tell you that it is not an easy road to walk. I used to feel that my life was torn, ripped apart by an uncaring other who only had their needs inside their head. I turned every scenario upside down to try to make sense of it all. Why me? What had I done to deserve this terrible mountain of awful memories that I carried with me all the time. It marred my days, it tainted every beautiful sunrise or sunset. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, checking in every pair of eyes in the hope that I could see the next abuser coming so I could run away. I hated his family for a long time – why didn’t they tell me what he was? Why didn’t they get him some help? I hated him, hated myself and resented friends for not doing something to help. Living a haunted life was my every day existence. Just before my 30th birthday I realised that I had to change something. I hated all the negative thoughts that consumed my mind – it was a poison that I drank day after day.

So I chose a new path. I decided that every day I would do my best to be careful of the thoughts I allowed myself to think. Reality is that neither you nor I can change the past. We cannot go back and fix anything. What is done is done and the only thing to do is move forward and make today and tomorrow full of new happier experiences and memories. Someone once said to me that they see me as a survivor...I rather choose to think I am an overcomer. I went through it and came out a better person.

Yes, we can overcome; we can view the hard times not as a victim rather as a victor. We are stronger, wiser and can help others in the same situation take the reins of their lives and choose a better way of living. Let’s move on each day with new cleaner thoughts and happier attitudes. It is a long road to recovery no doubt. Why don’t we choose to live life in the now? Why don’t we choose to show the abusers in this life that we are not a product of their abuse by breaking the chains that bind and living a fuller successful life no matter what the past subjected us to?

Come on ladies – let’s put our big girl shoes on and show the world what we are made of?
It has been said that we cannot love someone else, unless we first learn to love ourselves. This concept eluded me for many years as I was under the distinct impression that self love was selfish, the way to self destruction which shows a lack of consideration. I was taught that to give time, attention and love to others was the way things should be done therefore I put everyone’s needs above my own in an attempt to feel whole.

Embrace: An act of accepting something willingly, to take or clasp in the arms and press to the bosom.

“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” Martha Graham

Little did I realise that this very act would be my Achilles heel. I was known as a people pleaser, and quite well liked and recognised as a person who would go out of their way to assist. A dependable friend and colleague – the rock they needed. But who was I really? I had taken others truths as my own; I had no direction as I was always showing others the way. When asked what was it that I wanted out of life I had no concrete answer that felt truthful to me. I stole ideas from those around me and used them to define myself. I owned their goals; I owned the labels they used to describe me. However I was pretty lost and in a deep abyss – a non-entity. I could use all sorts of excuses to explain the way I was: upbringing, teaching, bad childhood experiences, bad relationships...yes valid as they are, they were my crutch, my reasons to feel like I needed to do more in order to feel more worthy. The only way to describe myself was an empty vessel, giving to others what I didn’t have. This was a catch 22 situation and to say the least it was definitely not serving me well in my walk through life.

While in a deep valley of despair, I realised that I had to acknowledge my contribution to this world if I were to ever grow and become more than I thought I was. It was as if the clouds moved away from the sun and I could finally see clearly when the realisation set in. I decided to travel a path to find out what made me motivated, inspired and energised. I had to start loving every aspect of ME and only me. May I say, a few bitter pills had to be swallowed - proverbially speaking, when I had to deal with the not-so-nice side of myself and, not getting too ahead of myself and egotistically riding on the positive aspects. But there is something wonderful about finding yourself at last. I found out that life was not about others, it was about ME being genuine and unadulterated with myself so that I can unconditionally love and accept another. It was about learning to love myself enough so that I could learn how to love and give love to someone - to give from a jar that was full not from an emptiness I needed others to fill.

I know that many of you have been and perhaps are still in the same situation I was: where your self-worth is left in the hands of someone else. Not to make light of the positive effects we derive from gratefulness, appreciation and acknowledgement as these are the motivations you so often need to feel accepted and loved. However you must realise just how important YOU are. That you DO matter, you DO count and there is nobody on this earth that can fulfil your role. Nobody can be YOU better than you yourself. And you owe it to yourself and those around you to be the best YOU you can be. The mere fact that you are alive is reason to believe that YOU are a cause for celebration! How about starting today with a new lease on life? Embrace yourself, love and cherish yourself. Find what moves you, discover the little nuances that make you unique and build from there. Break free of the boundaries of negative self talk by seeing a new way ahead.

This week I would like to challenge you to stop people pleasing for just a few weeks so that you can give with a heart full of love and worthiness and see what the reaction will be. I guarantee that your new found confidence will radiate to everyone that comes into contact with you. Best of all you might start loving and enjoying life – and will that be a bad thing? I think you owe it to yourself to try, try and try again – and as the cliché goes –YOU ARE WORTH IT

The summer hovers just in front of us which should be a reminder that there is always something beautiful, some awakening that is about to take place that could change our lives for the better. The season is painting a new picture, if you take the time to look. Too many of us have convinced ourselves that to be settled and contained is the way life should be.

“Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves – or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.” Ayn Rand

There so many reasons why we should start right away with the business of having fun but we find so many excuses why we shouldn’t.  My circle of friends has sadly been reduced by death of late, which has prompted this Thought today. The question I ask myself is whether I’m loving my life or am I plodding mundanely day in day out?

There are many who prefer consistency, happy to have things stay the same. When circumstances throw them off kilter they start to panic and can only gain equilibrium once their upset life stabilises again. Granted, there is a sense of serenity to be had when they know that certain things happen at a certain time and that fact cannot be negated. But if you find that all you have is routine, can you say for certain that you are doing justice to your life on earth?

I understand that some of you would like to do more but perhaps finances do not allow. Maybe you have small children or elderly parents and don’t feel that you have the freedom or time. Careers can be so demanding that you do not have the energy to get out and immerse yourself in fun. Your body may not be as able as you would like –too old, too fat, too thin or too disabled.

Notwithstanding responsibility or limitations, life offers us a canvas and we need to use all the colours in our palette to paint the best picture we can. What if I tell you that all your arguments of why you cannot do more to find fun in your life, are invalid? What if I told you that your cocoon you think is so safe is paper thin? What if I remind you that only your thoughts limit your dreams to that which you know? What if I suggest that even though you may feel limited, your fears limit you the most? Am I asking you to be radical and impulsive? If I were, would that be a bad thing? Are you limiting your experience of this wonderful life by allowing others to choose your colours and paint brushes?

Time is passing us all by, minute by minute and yet we all think we have a tomorrow that’s guaranteed to happen. This is an illusion.. a nice thought to have and plan for. So are we going to wait for tomorrow to come so we can live? Impromptu picnics with the family do not cost a fortune. A spontaneous hike up your nearest hill to watch the sun rise or set wont upset your apple cart. Driving to the coast just to have a swim in the sea with friends cannot be bad. Playing wheelchair rugby might just be the passion you never thought you had. Snorkelling may open up a whole world you never imagined. How will you know if you never try? How will you try if you never dreamed a dream bigger than you allow.

Come on people, at the end of your life wouldn’t you love to say that you have ventured beyond what you thought was possible? Don’t save your dreams, happiness or greatness for another day. Decide today to pursue that which moves you to paint, to create a new picture. Let us say as we rest our heads on our pillows that today was a day filled with brilliant vibrant colour!