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  1. The core theme in all my current work comes back to one strong message – be who you are, love who you are.

    Working towards this one main aim covers all the topics I include in my painting and talk about on this blog and over in the Happy Mind Army facebook group – self confidence (and self-doubt!), overthinking, stepping out of our comfort zone, developing positive mental health, being kind to ourselves – all the things that can help, or hinder, us building a marvellous mindset and staying mentally healthy.

    And I think one crucial factor in us 'being who we are', is listening to our whispers, our niggles – those feelings deep down which tell us what we want to do and strive for in this one life we get. On paper, being who you are seems like the simplest thing in the world. Surely, just by waking up and breathing you are being you – but in reality, I think many of us get so trapped in the rat race of jobs, careers, paying the bills, even sometimes keeping up appearances, that often the 'real you' can get lost along the way.

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    I truly believe that ignoring these niggles can lead to a life of frustration – perhaps on a scale big enough to have an impact on mental health. And I believe that we can become so used to ignoring our own 'callings', burying them deep, that we even become frustrated with our own sense of frustration! We may feel unfulfilled or unhappy and we're not quite sure why. And unless we start listening and tuning into these niggles again, we can't do anything about them.

    So, my challenge to you is to start listening out for your niggles. You may already have a strong calling towards something, but feel it is so far-fetched that you try and hush it up – maybe it would call for a change of career, returning to education, a shake-up of relationships or even just a change of routine that would cause a few problems. Maybe you have been following the same old routine for so long that you can't even remember the last time you stopped to think about what you are here for, what would make you feel alive.

    But it is never too late to do it. Over in the Facebook group and in my social media this month I have been talking a lot about self-care and a big part of this is giving yourself permission to be who you are and to pursue things which fire you up. We are only here once (and who knows for how long) so we all deserve to live the life we are here to live – not someone else's version of life, but ours, no matter how different it is to everybody else's.

    Ask yourself, if you didn't have to worry about money, time, childcare or anybody else's opinion what would you do? Don't try and edit it or tone it down, answer honestly (you don't have to tell anyone else!) – and also allow yourself some time to find the answer. As I said, we can become so used to burying our niggles that we become numb to our own passions and interests. But when you do start to find some answers, free of limits and anyone else's opinion, somewhere within there might be a spark of something, a spark that can be the beginning of you coming back to life, or even just feeling back in control of life a bit again.

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    It might possibly be something that makes you reflect on huge areas of your life such as family, career, where you live, where you work - life-changing decisions can be made even when you think you are firmly embedded in a certain way of life. If who we are deep down, isn't in tune with the life we are outwardly leading then I really do believe this can be the source of deep unhappiness.

    But it doesn't have to be huge, life-changing decisions your niggles lead to. You might enjoy your job, be in a happy relationship and you may just uncover some small things, but small things that can have a huge impact on your happiness and sense of fulfilment. Maybe you will remember how much you loved performing when you were younger and it leads you to look at local Amateur Dramatics groups, maybe you acknowledge the frustration that you and your partner used to spend lots of time cooking together and now with work and family life you never do – so you vow to introduce a monthly evening where you bring masterchef back into the household! It could be that you remember how much you love reading, or that you've always wanted to learn to paint, to ride a motorbike or run a marathon! Whatever those niggles are, we need to stop hushing them up because life gets in the way and we need to start listening to them because they are in fact what makes us come alive.

    We owe it to ourselves, and our short time on this planet, to live our fullest life. To do the things which make us come alive and in turn make us more the person we were put here to be. Doing things which light us up is not selfish – ignoring them is to miss out on being who we are and loving who we are – and you know how important I think that is!

    So, turn up the volume on your niggles, get in tune with them and start having more than just any life, start living YOUR life!

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    MY QUOTE

     

     

  2. Changing your mindset, building a more positive attitude, conquering overthinking - they're all things that are achieved (and maintained!) over time by the repetition of small but powerful habits and techniques. There isn't usually a split second transformation which brings an overnight change but more a gradual shift of thinking patterns and confidence levels.

     A massive part of building a happier, healthier mindset is self-worth and self-value – recognising how amazing you are, giving yourself permission to be top of your priority list sometimes and accepting and learning to love yourself exactly as you are - all of these things have a huge positive impact on mindset and on your life!

    And increasing your own self-value can also start with small, simple habits which over time have a massive impact – and this is why I need to talk to you about your knickers!

    TALK ABOUT KNICKERS

    Have a think about what knickers you are wearing right now? Are they old, greying ones, with a little bit if loose elastic (come on, we've all got them – and we hope we never get run over by a bus while we're wearing them!) - or are they new(ish), well fitting and lovely and worthy of viewing by any paramedic? 

    It may seem an odd question but the answer is potentially more powerful than you realise. If your underwear today is only going to be seen by you, and it is of the old, maybe even holy variety what it is actually saying is 'it's only me so it'll do'.

    So I am going to ask you, from this point on, to wear your best knickers every day (and if you haven't got any, get some!). If every morning, you get dressed and you put on lovely underwear, not only do you not have to worry if you get run over by a bus (well not about your knickers being seen anyway!) but what you are also doing is sending a tiny, almost imperceptible message to yourself that you are worth it. Even if you don't realise it, the person walking around in nice knickers all day will have a different view of themselves than the person walking around in holy knickers all day!

    Remember, massive mindset shifts often happen through the repetition of small, even seemingly unimportant habits. And your daily choice of underwear is one of them.

     WASHING LINE KNICKERS

    So, whether you're going to work, doing some decorating, watching the telly or going to Aldi – get your best knickers on! You're worth it.

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    WEAR FABULOUS UNDERWEAR

  3. I've made some massive work decisions lately – things I have been working towards for a long, long time but which I have finally acted on. I am now going all out in my mission to use all my skills in painting, writing and teaching to help you move your mindset to marvellous and I couldn't be more excited – or more scared at the same time.

    You see, having a positive, healthy mindset doesn't mean never feeling scared, or overwhelmed or anxious – you still feel all these things, you just become better at handling them and overcoming them.

    Take this week for example. I launched my new website and sent out my first 'Monday Mindset Manouevres' email – both massive steps in spreading my word and ones which I can sit here and know are backed up with decades of knowledge and experience which I can't wait to share.

    Yet, as soon as they were out there – being seen by more people than just me and my trusted friends – the wobbles set in. And I have spent the last week being visited by a massive case of Imposter Syndrome – those thoughts that hound us when we push ourselves and put ourselves out there. Thoughts that make us question if we're good enough, thoughts like 'who do you think you are advising other people about mindset?' and 'you do realise people will just laugh at you?'

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    Imposter Syndrome is so common – you can bet that people you admire, people at the pinnacle of their career, also suffer from it. It can give us a wobble or left unchecked, it can be enough to make us give up, admit defeat and return to something less scary.

    Everyone has moments of self-doubt and an urge to run away and hide – what we have to do is stand up to these neagtive thoughts and not let them take over. And that's what I have had to do this week. And here are a few ways I have done it, and ways you too can help drown out Imposter Syndrome when it makes an unwelcome visit:

     

    1) SHARE HOW YOU FEEL

    One of the biggest challenges I still face in keeping a happy, healthy mindset is sharing my feelings. I have gone through most of my adult life putting a brave face on things, being stoic and wearing the 'everything is ok badge' all the time. I used to think this made me strong and brave but I came to realise this is actually the easier thing to do – sharing how we feel, especially at times when we feel vulnerable, is the strongest and bravest thing we can possibly do. So I shared how I felt to a couple of close friends who straight away reminded me why I am doing what I am doing and how capable I am – instead of the doubts staying in my mind and multiplying I got them out there and together me and my wonderful friends went about smashing them!

     

    2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE MESSAGES

    I am a very visual person and like to be surrounded by interesting and quirky things to look at. I also use this to make sure my overactive mind is fed a constant stream of the good stuff – I use little symbols, quotes and images all over my desk and studio to keep me feeling positive (below is just a few of them!) It is like being nudged throughout the day and reminded to keep going and stay confident. So use your own environment to cheer you on – an inspiring quote on your desk, a certain badge attached to your bag or change your phone wallpaper to something that will give you a boost every time you see it. (You could of course use any of my Mindset Memos to do this task perfectly ;))

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    3) REMIND YOURSELF IT'S NORMAL TO FEEL LIKE THIS

    The danger of the negative thoughts that Imposter Syndrome brings along with it, is that we take them as fact and listen far too much to them. As soon as we remind ourselves that this way of thinking is just a natural and expected part of us moving out of our comfort zone and doing something challenging and new then it begins to lose its power. Imposter Syndrome is actually evidence that something positive is happening – it just has a really rubbish way of showing it. And remember, we all feel like this sometimes – what Imposter Syndrome reminds us is that we are all human and prone to self-doubt.

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    So next time you get hit with a bout of Imposter Syndrome – remember these steps and remind yourself that the fact you're suffering with it shows that you're doing something new and you deserve applauding not discouraging. Whatever new challenge is giving you the wobbles – hang in there and stand up to the doubts. There are many times during the last week that the doubts in my mind were talking quite loudly to me and I felt like throwing in the towel and seeing what jobs were being advertised locally! But I didn't – I took the action above and kept going. Just like you can.

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    * The Happy Mind Army Facebook Group is a place you can come and feel comfortable in sharing your wobbles as well as your mindset victories – click here to come and join us. And sign up here to receive my weekly email full of advice and motivation to help move your mindset to marvellous *