Positive and Negative Stress

So I haven’t posted for a long time – but life has been busy and stressful – which leads me to my latest topic.

Stress is a serious problem. And we are the only ones who can solve it. As much as we would like our workplaces to hire more staff, fire all the difficult people, and give us more time off and better pay, it’s not going to happen. Work will always have some element of stress, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We need some level of stress to help us feel motivated and get work done. This is called eustress or “good stress”. We don’t want to eliminate this energizing stress at work because it keeps us engaged. In contrast, we do want to reduce the negative stress that work generates. Often good stress can shift into negative stress when there is too much of it. It’s great to have a project to work on and deadlines to work to, but it’s not so great to have five projects to work on and five impossible deadlines to meet.

Identify what your stress triggers are as well as what gives you energy. I love autonomy, creative work, helping people, and getting things done. These things make me feel energized and engaged. I dislike and am not very good at paperwork, logistics, or anything to do with technology. I can’t avoid those tasks as they are part of my job, but I can minimize how much time I spend on them. I lasted three months in a job as a receptionist because every task that the job required wasn’t a strength of mine. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing or the environment I was working in – everyone else was stressed out too. I quit, went back to school and found a different job. My new job was a better fit for my natural strengths and was far more satisfying.

It can be terrifying to quit but it’s worth it to find a job that is right for you. If you have trouble identifying what your strengths and passions are, an excellent and affordable tool to help you do so is the Gallup Strengthsfinder. It’s based on research, accurate and affordable.

Knowing your strengths and passions, and working with them, can significantly reduce your negative stress and increase your positive eustress. We need to pay more attention to our workloads and notice when our “eustress” starts tipping over into stress. Ideally, we want to pull it back as soon as we notice signs that we are feeling stressed out or anxious. The sooner we become aware of this shift, and seek to balance the situation, the easier it is to manage.

Most of us know our individual signs of a rising stress level – a kink in the neck, impatience, irritability, difficulty falling asleep, feeling cranky, or frequent headaches. Learn your stress signs, and when you start to see them, do everything you can to reduce your stress. Unfortunately, many people let their stress pile up and then they end up burned out and exhausted. There are negative consequences of ignoring your stress, including major health issues, relationship breakdown and job loss.

Working more than 10 hours a day is associated with a 60 percent jump in risk of cardiovascular issues. 10 percent of those working 50 to 60 hours report relationship problems; the rate increases to 30 percent for those working more than 60 hours. Working more than 40 hours a week is associated with increased alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as unhealthy weight gain in men and depression in women. Little productive work occurs after 50 hours per week.

Nothing is worth compromising our health or our relationships. It’s crucial that we recognise stress and act to reduce it, as soon as we notice that it is impacting us.

Work is only one element of life, and not the most important one. As one of my clients so eloquently put it, you can always find another job but you only have one family.

There are many sources of workplace stress: feeling overwhelmed, feeling disempowered, a lack of clear roles and expectations, an unrealistic workload, workplace politics and interpersonal conflict. It’s unlikely that you are going to eliminate all of these sources of negative stress. That is simply reality. Rather than hoping for some fantasy world where there is no stress, what we need are tools to manage these stressors so they don’t have as much impact on us.

If you find yourself dealing with overwhelming stress, speak to someone. A listening ear is always helpful and can provide advice or an alternative view to things.

Forget the obsession with our bodies

We are OBSESSED with our bodies.

Or rather, we are obsessed with everything that’s wrong with our bodies. We are obsessed with shrinking our bodies, toning our bodies, sculpting our bodies, getting lean and perking up, burning fat and slimming down, flattering our figures and flattening our stomachs, accentuating curves and disguising flaws, battling the bulge, beating the scale, dropping dress sizes, becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be! And for what? What are we in pursuit of when we do those things?

It must be something good, because those things are not fun. Ask anyone on day five of the cabbage soup diet how much fun they’re having, and let me know if you get out alive. Of course, we’re not supposed to admit how not-fun it all is, we even go as far as lying to ourselves – I really am enjoying living off cayenne pepper and maple syrup cocktails, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself! The facade begins to crack when we start crying over our friend’s pizza and wondering if tissue paper is edible, and if so, how many calories?

Why do we keep lying to ourselves? Why do we willingly inflict so much discomfort, even pain, on our bodies? What for? We do it to get the perfect body – flawless, unblemished, ideal.

Some of us spend our entire lives chasing the ideal body. The one that will finally make us beautiful; the one that we’re told will finally make us happy. We picture that body while we run desperately on the treadmill and our knees feel like they’re about to buckle. Just one more mile. We imagine that body when we say no, yet again, to our favourite dessert. That’ll go straight to our thighs. We have visions of that body when we step on to our scales and the numbers flash frantically in front of our eyes before they settle on our fate. Please, just two more pounds this week, we’ve worked so hard. And we have worked so hard. We starve, we sweat, we cry standing over those scales and fall to pieces at the sight of our naked reflection. We vow to be better next week. Everywhere we go we carry around our feelings of not being good enough. They weigh on everything we do. I can’t wear that at my size! I’m not hungry, I ate earlier, I swear! They would never be interested, just look at me. I’ll do it once I’ve lost the weight. Our entire lives get tied up in the chains of the ideal body, only to be unlocked once we’ve earned it.

Perfection is the key. And it’s always just slightly out of our reach.

There’s always another pound to be lost, another problem area to fix (they seem to pop up out of nowhere, almost as if someone’s invented them …). But we still believe that we can get there. We still believe after all this time that if we hate ourselves enough we’ll end up loving ourselves. We don’t realise that we’ve been tricked.

How did we get here? How did we reach a place where it’s 100 per cent normal to hate your body? Every female I’ve ever known has disliked some part of her appearance, or all of it. We’ve been convinced that changing the way our bodies look should be our ultimate goal in life, and although women have been the primary target of these messages for the past century, these days no body is safe. Men are increasingly being told that their value lies in their muscles, and that looking like anything less than the cover of a fitness magazine isn’t good enough. Thanks to toxic expectations of masculinity, they’re also being told not to talk about the body-image issues they’re struggling with.

Hating your body is the new normal. Most of us know someone who’s had an eating disorder. Someone who’s had cosmetic surgery. Someone who’s lost and gained the same 20 pounds over and over again. People of all sizes, all ages, all genders, all colours, and all abilities are being affected by body-image issues. We’re too fat, too wrinkled, too masculine, too feminine, too dark, too pale, too queer, too different. We’re always ‘too’ something, compared to the ideal body.

The pressure becomes too much for us to handle. Our societal self-hatred is spreading like wildfire, slowly but surely we’re all being set aflame in the pursuit of perfection.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this. You already know. You see it every day. It’s in the adverts for the new! Easy! Fast! Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days! Weight-loss plan. It’s in the sky-high posters of model bodies selling everything from perfume to burgers. It’s in the never-ending murmurs of how many pounds have been shed this week that you overhear on the train, at work, among friends. It’s in the TV breaks telling you how breast enhancement could change your life. It’s in the magazine pages you flick through to pass the time, raving about the latest juice cleanse or detox. It’s in the back-handed compliments about looking good ‘for your age’, and the concerned comments from family members about when you’re going to do something about, well, you know … It’s in the supermarket aisles you walk down filled with ‘guilt-free!’ reduced fat, sugar-free, zero carbs, made-of-nothing-but-water-and-air food products. It’s when you try to unwind with your favourite film or TV show and parading before you is a cast filled with nothing but thin, white, beautiful, young, able bodies. You might not even notice it, but you learn from it. You learn in millions of little ways every day that there is an ideal, and that you don’t match up to it. So that when you get home, away from the murmurs, curtains drawn against the pictures, adverts silenced and screens turned off, only you, your body, your mind, and the quiet … You still know, because there it is in your mirror staring back at you. Everything that you’re not. Everything that you need to change. All the ways that your body is wrong.

You know.

If you’re anything like I am then you’ve known for a long time. Ever since you were first old enough to take in the words, the images, and the lessons. The first time I remember thinking that I was too fat is when I was five years old. That’s all the time it took in the world to believe that I was too much. I was too big, too soft, too brown, too ugly, my stomach was too round and my hair wasn’t blond enough. I remember spending hours in fantasies of what I would look like when I grew up, grasping for reassurance that one day I would be beautiful. Beautiful meaning thin. Thin was the only option, of course that’s what I would become, that’s what all the representations of beautiful women around me were: Barbie-doll thin, Disney-princess thin, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe thin. To my five-year-old mind, that’s what women were supposed to look like. The fact that I was still a child didn’t stop me from comparing myself to them.

Recent studies suggest that children as young as three years old have body-image issues and at four years old are aware of how to lose weight. The biggest concern a child that age should have is whether they can do a cartwheel or memorise the alphabet, not whether they’re too fat or how many calories it takes to change your body. The obsession is starting earlier and earlier.

And this is what those thoughts grow into:

97 per cent of women in a survey conducted by Glamour magazine admitted to having at least one ‘I hate my body’ moment a day, with an average of 13 negative body thoughts every day.

In a survey of 5,000 women by REAL magazine, 91 per cent reported being unhappy with their bodies.

The Centre for Appearance Research found after surveying 384 British men, that 35 per cent would trade a year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight or shape.

54 per cent of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat, according to an Esquire magazine survey.

There are thousands of statistics and surveys showing what the real story of our body image is. That we spend every day picking out our flaws and tearing our reflections to pieces. That we put our entire lives on hold because we don’t think we’re worthy of living in the bodies we have. That we would trade in years of life, risk illness, pain, and even death to turn our bodies into something worth loving. And that we’re teaching our children to feel exactly the same way about themselves. Statistics are easy to glaze over, so here’s the simple truth: we are destroying ourselves for an unobtainable and unrealistic body type. The things that we’re willing to do for the ideal body speak for themselves. We go hungry, we deny ourselves essential nutrients and ignore our most basic needs. We push ourselves past our physical limits until the room starts spinning and we can barely move the next day. We spend hours applying lotions and potions with promises of miraculous results on the label. We stuff ourselves into elastic casings to smooth out our silhouettes or train our waists into shapes nature never intended them to be. We drink teas and take pills that make our heartbeats race and make sure we don’t leave the bathroom all night. We attend groups every week where we sit in circles fantasising about goal weights and pretending we don’t hear it when someone’s stomach rumbles. We live off nothing but juice, convinced that our bodies are full of evil toxins that must be cleansed. We pay people thousands of pounds to cut into our healthy flesh, lift it, pin it, tuck it, suck it, staple it, reshape it and stitch us back together again.

And it isn’t a select few people who are going to any lengths necessary to get the body of their dreams, we’re all doing it. The stay-at-home mum who lives down the street, the girl you went to school with, your old English teacher, the star athlete, the savvy businesswoman, the A-list celebrity, the millionaire entrepreneur. The pressure of perfection leaves none of us behind. And besides the physical lengths we go to, the things we willingly inflict upon our bodies, there’s an even darker side to our obsession with perfection, and that’s what it does to our minds. The real cost of a diet isn’t those irritating hunger pangs you have to ignore, it’s the constant preoccupation with food, the never-ending counting and weighing and bargaining that takes up so much mental real estate.

The hatred we have for our bodies doesn’t stop at our thighs. It takes over our entire sense of self. It affects our relationships, how we treat others and how we think we deserve to be treated. It seeps into our professional lives, determines what we have the energy to accomplish and the will to aim for. It saps our ambition beyond dropping dress sizes. You can’t dream of becoming an artist, an explorer, or a leader when your dreams are occupied by visions of thin. It makes us believe that we don’t even deserve to exist in the world, to be seen and heard and valued in the bodies we have. It takes away all of our power. If we don’t measure up to societal standards of beauty, we see ourselves as failures, burdens, and disgraces.

We don’t just hate our outer shells, we hate our whole selves. And it’s exhausting. I know I’m not the only one who feels completely worn out by it all. Those extra pounds we’ve learned to see as hideous flaws turn into the weight of the world on our shoulders. Do you feel it? That heaviness? That pressure? That’s the weight of all the ways you’ve been told that you’re not good enough. In our current cultural game of How To Be Beautiful, none of us are good enough. We keep playing by the rules because we’ve been promised that it’ll all be worth it in the end. Even if we stumble, fall off the diet, or regain the weight, we get up and try again because we can still see it. The image of the body that will finally make us happy.

Want to be in on a secret that nobody ever told me in all of my years chasing the ideal body: happiness is not a size. It isn’t a number on a piece of fabric, it can’t be found in a calorie count, and it sure as hell isn’t hiding in your bathroom scales. I know that’s hard to believe – after all, everything around us says otherwise. We’ve been told for so long that if we just work hard enough the ideal body will be within our reach. Once we’re there it’ll all be worth it, we’ll be beautiful, desired, successful, and, finally, good enough. Except by now you might be starting to realise that you’ve been playing by those rules for a long time, for as long as you can remember, in fact. You’ve tried everything you possibly could, you’ve sacrificed so much time, energy and life to get the ideal body and still you look in the mirror and see something so flawed. So imperfect. So human. How can that be possible?

Take that weight off your shoulders. If you’re reading this then that probably means you’re tired of chasing the impossible. You’re tired of waging war against your body and never ever feeling like you’re good enough. The problem is that you just can’t see another way. How do you let go of the rules and realise that you’re good enough already? How do you make peace with your body?

First of all, we have to unlearn all of the lies we’ve been taught about the way we look. Then, slowly, we can learn the truth instead. If it doesn’t happen straight away or if it feels like it’s too difficult, I want you to remember that you are fighting against a lifetime of negative conditioning about your body. It’s not easy to undo all of that and embrace a new way of thinking. So be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and most of all, keep reminding yourself that you deserve better. We all deserve better than spending our lives hating our bodies.

Lesson number one: the image of the ideal body you’ve been holding on to for all these years, is a lie. The images that fill our minds when we think about what’s beautiful aren’t creations of our imagination, they’re from the hundreds of media bodies we’re exposed to every day. With every magazine page, every film, every advert, every TV show, every music video, every time we turn on our screens or walk down a billboard-lined street we see it. We see her. The fashion model, the Hollywood star, the girl with the golden hair and honey smooth skin. Sometimes the hair is sleek and dark, the eye colour might vary and very occasionally the skin colour does too, but two things remain the same: she is beautiful, and she is thin.

If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, we now have the faces that launched a thousand diets, a thousand beauty regimes and a thousand different kinds of self-loathing. From seeing their bodies plastered wherever we go, we learn what our culture’s idea of perfection is, which bodies are celebrated and lusted after, what we should all be striving for. We’re never allowed to forget.

If aliens ever did descend upon Earth, and confined themselves to a small room with only a television and a stack of magazines in order to learn about humankind before integrating themselves into the community, what would they think? Probably that our women are all five foot ten, weigh about 110 pounds, with gravity-defying globular breasts, faces without a blemish to be seen, are naturally hairless from the nose down and that we pretty much all die out after the age of 35 (except the few that become mothers, cougars, or sad-looking old women). They’d probably also think that a disproportionate number of our men have rock-hard abs and dazzling white smiles, although they’d notice that men are at least allowed to age visibly, and have identities beyond how attractive they are. They’d probably assume that people of colour are a rare spectacle, and disabled people are far too rare to ever be seen in the outside world. And they wouldn’t have any idea that people outside the gender binary exist at all. Imagine their surprise when they leave that room and encounter us, women especially, in all our glory. After the initial shock, they might be quite confused about why our media chooses to constantly represent a body type that 95 per cent of us don’t have, and leaves the rest of us behind. They might even find it funny, seeing it as such an obvious distortion of reality.

The problem is, we don’t recognise the distortion. Instead of seeing a single body type everywhere we turn as inaccurate, misleading or manipulative, we see our own bodies as the problem. Why aren’t our legs that long and toned? Why is our hair so flat and lifeless? Why does our skin have lines on it? We compare ourselves with those images until we’re left feeling worthless. Those images are nothing like us. They’re not supposed to be. They’re supposed to be aspirational, superhuman enough for us to be in awe of, but with a beauty that we can still believe is achievable. That way, we can be sold the thing that promises to make us just as beautiful. We can buy the miracle diet pill that will give us the figure of our dreams. We can spend our money on the shampoo to get thick, flowing locks. We can splurge on that outfit that we’ve seen advertised on the most flattering (read: thin) bodies, because maybe it’ll make us look like that too! Maybe we can be beautiful too!

In all adverts we’re being sold two things – the ideal image, and the product to get us there. Want one? Buy the other. Female beauty ideals are the best marketing scheme in the world. What better way to make money than to make half the world feel ugly and then sell them the solution? Outside of advertising, the media makes sure we all get the message that the ideal body is the only one worthy of being celebrated, admired, or loved. When was the last time you saw a leading female character get a happy ending without first fitting conventional standards of beauty? You only get a happy ending if you’re beautiful, duh. When was the last time you saw a magazine cover with a red circle of shame drawn around a female celebrity’s ‘flawed’ body parts? Inside, the article suggests that she’s lost control of her entire life because her stomach folds when she bends over. She couldn’t possibly be happy! The next issue shows how she’s fighting to get her body, and her life back (cue eye-roll). We quickly learn that the only way to be beautiful or happy is to spend our lives chasing the ideal body. And it will be a chase, since only 5 per cent of us naturally possess the body type that the media loves so much.

Even those of us who appear to be perfect on the outside carry the same nagging insecurities about not measuring up. When we look in the mirror we don’t see ourselves clearly because we’re looking through a lens of every perfect body we’ve ever seen. Against those images, we are always too fat, too ugly, too dark, too imperfect. One study examining the effects of how seeing ideal female bodies on television impacts our own self-image found that 95 per cent of women overestimated their body sizes after seeing images of women with ideal body weights.

Meaning that when we constantly see images of the ideal thin body, we come away thinking that we’re bigger than we are. What we see every day is shaping how we see ourselves. We can’t see the beauty in everything that we are because we’ve been taught to first see everything that we’re not. All the rules of how we should look take the magic away from how we do look. We do this terrible thing where we look in the mirror or at pictures and we expect to see a thin model. Unless you are a thin model, THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. The second you start looking for you is the second you will start to appreciate what you are. Things get even more complicated when we realise that the perfect body we’re searching for in the mirror, the body we think we should have, the body we’re killing ourselves for, doesn’t even exist. The ideal isn’t a real woman, one with history that comes to life on her skin, one with a moving, changing body. The ideal is a creation of a Photoshop wand. Nobody looks as perfect as the person on the cover.

Not even the person herself.

Using colour to bring out your traits

These days, among other things, there is such a vast selection of clothing options that every one of us has the possibility of finding items that bring out the best in us. Despite this, however, so many of us find ourselves confronting the daily dilemma of “What am I going to wear today?”, and all too often our choices leave us underwhelmed or at least partially so.

We often see young women in the street wearing clothes that are perfectly formed for their physique, each one of them wearing up-to-the-minute fashion, and yet they are anything but alluring or beautiful. The reason for these failures lies essentially in the fact that when we follow the trends, we very often find ourselves forgetting the importance of sticking to our own style, which is fundamental if we want to craft an image that not only keeps us satisfied but also profoundly reflects us, highlighting our physique as well as our character. Only style, in the end, is able to fully bring out our best. As Coco Chanel said, “Fashion changes, but style endures”. And so it’s style, not fashion, that we have to follow.

Finding your own style is, at the end of the day, really quite simple. There’s just one key: truly embracing your own sense of femininity. In truth, there are many ways to be a woman, and each one of these perfectly corresponds to a well-defined style born from the fusion of our aesthetic taste and our own personality. It’s precisely because of this that we can say that it’s enough to simply reach into our own way of being a woman and our character to find the style that brings out the most in us—the one that fits us the best.

But what does that even mean? It means, in other words, that if we consciously gear our aesthetic choices toward styles that reflect who we are, with just a teensy bit of effort we will be able to achieve our most personalized style, which will have a double advantage.

On the one hand, it will help us make the most out of ourselves aesthetically, and on the other hand, it will help us understand ourselves even better, something that can only happen if our style is in sync with our nature. In selecting our look—for example, when we pick out our daily outfit—personality is of far more importance than the use of aesthetic ideals, which may be formally irreproachable but are not personalized in any way. I’m sure you’ve seen a friend for whom look is usually not of huge importance all dressed up for an important occasion and looking no more attractive than usual and even looking clumsy and impeded by clothes in which she clearly feels uncomfortable. This is the most evident proof of how important it is to always follow your own personal style, one that descends from your own inner nature and personality, pairing this rule with some necessary technical suggestions to enhance your physical characteristics.

In and of itself, as you can see, the concept is pretty simple. What’s a bit less simple is translating it into something that can be readily put into use. To better understand what this means, let’s try to shed some light on it with a comparison of the colour of a simple piece of clothing. Take an everlasting colour: blue, for example. Without a doubt, this is a classic colour that goes well with practically anything, one that everyone tends to like.

Each one of us, however, will use the colour blue in a slightly different way. This is because each one of us will chose a different tonality of blue, even if that hue varies only just slightly, and also because despite using the same colour, we will always choose combinations that will make it seem different. A woman with a more exuberant character will tend to prefer, for instance, more brightly lit tonalities, almost electric blue. The traditionalist wills her preference to the classic navy blue. A woman with a more romantic nature will match her blue with pink floral patterns, and so it goes. This selection process usually gets carried out in a completely spontaneous and unconscious way, at least for the simplest of choices, such as colour or pattern.

But if we apply it to our whole personal look in a deliberately conscious way, our decisions will have the effect of clearly highlighting what fits and matches us the best and what brings out the best in us. If we focus on the most significant aspects of our personality and our character and combine them with the choices that bring out the magic of our body type, we will then be able to zero in on the most suitable look for us, avoiding having closets stuffed to the brim with clothes that we will never even think about putting on.

The end result? Allowing us to have a curated choice rather than an unlimited one. A closet overflowing with clothes and accessories, rather than giving us the opportunity to have the most perfect outfit for every occasion, instead drains us of our energy as we waste time choosing and mixing up our ideas; it can leave us feeling indecisive.

In contrast, having but just the right amount of clothing for us allows us to always roll on the safe side of things and feel “right” in every occasion. The idea came to me while I was observing my dearest friends; I realized how for each certain type of character, there was a corresponding well-defined understanding of image and self-care.

As I mentioned at the start, the styles are not picked out like the typically understood aesthetic standards, but instead they should be seen as the many facets of the diverse ways of expressing your own femininity. For this reason in particular, they transcend the trends of the day and the passage of time. This allows us to be, in every moment and in all occasions, authentically fascinating and spontaneously feminine. Because it’s truly our femininity—and let’s not forget it—that at once contains and reveals the charme of every woman.

So in short, don’t dress to suit fashion. Dress the bring out characteristics of yourself you want to emphasise. And the way you dress can help you not only attract a future partner, but also help you advance up the career ladder too.

Handling a Breakup Positively

Brеаkuрѕ are ѕеldоm easy аnd rаrеlу hарру оссаѕіоnѕ. In thе bеgіnnіng, іt mау seem vеrу dіffісult tо get over but you dеfіnіtеlу wіll fіnd thе tіmе аnd thе reason. Tо hеlр you hаndlе a brеаkuр and lessen thе раіn аnd possible negative rереrсuѕѕіоnѕ, hеrе аrе ѕоmе things you can dо:

A gооd wау to hаndlе a brеаkuр іѕ tо keep thіngѕ аmісаblе. Brеаkuрѕ don’t hаvе tо bе mаdе up оf nasty fіghtѕ, hаrѕh words аnd rеvеngе рlоtѕ. If уоu саmе into a rеlаtіоnѕhір іn a good wау, уоu саn try to get out оf іt nісеlу. Dоn’t rub ѕаlt into аn already bаd wound. Wouldn’t іt bе bеttеr to lоѕе a lоvеr and win a frіеnd than losing еvеrуthіng?

Dоn’t play the blаmе game; this is nоt a good wау tо hаndlе a breakup. Blaming each оthеr wіll create nеgаtіvе fееlіngѕ аnd еvеn make уоu rеgrеt a lоt оf thіngѕ thаt you ѕhоuldn’t hаvе said in the fіrѕt рlасе. Tаkе rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу fоr thе раrt уоu played іn thе relationship, bоth for іtѕ ѕuссеѕѕ аnd for іtѕ fаіlurе, but don’t bе too hаrѕh оn yourself оr оn уоur ѕооn-tо-bе еx. Bу kееріng your ѕеlf-еѕtееm іntасt, уоu don’t leave rооm fоr bіttеrnеѕѕ аnd уоu will lеаrn hоw tо handle a break up properly.

Another way to hаndlе a breakup іѕ to аvоіd ѕееіng only thе hole in thе dоughnut. Rеlаtіоnѕhірѕ еnd fоr many reasons аnd whеn yours dоеѕ, don’t just fосuѕ оnlу on the bаd thіngѕ. Remember the things thаt mаdе уоur rеlаtіоnѕhір great аnd bе thаnkful you were оnсе a part оf it. Just dоn’t dwell on іt, thіѕ way уоu саn handle a break uр mоrе easily.

Don’t dо оr ѕау аnуthіng that уоu will rеgrеt lаtеr оn. Whеn emotions аrе hіgh, іt’ѕ a lоt easier tо lеt ѕlір сеrtаіn wоrdѕ or ѕtаtеmеntѕ that mау make уоu fееl bеttеr аbоut the breakup. Unfоrtunаtеlу, this fееlіng doesn’t lаѕt lоng and you mау rеаlіzе lаtеr уоu shouldn’t hаvе even bothered.

Handle a break up wіthоut аnу vіоlеnсе, vеrbаl оr physical. It mау seem the most lоgісаl thing tо do, especially іf уоu’rе angry but іt’ѕ best to аvоіd thеѕе situations. It wіll not оnlу mаkе your раіn wоrѕе, there іѕ аlѕо a possibility уоu mіght fіnd уоurѕеlf аt thе receiving еnd оf сrіmіnаl charges. Thе bеѕt wау to hаndlе a breakup іѕ to mоvе оn. Mоurn your rеlаtіоnѕhір іf you muѕt – thаt’ѕ normal and expected оf you. But dоn’t wallow іn уоur grіеf ѕо muсh thаt уоu fоrgеt уоu ѕtіll hаvе a lіfе tо lіvе аnd thеrе are ѕtіll people whо lоvе you for who уоu аrе. By moving оn, уоu acknowledge thаt the relationship hаѕ ended аnd that уоu аrе giving yourself a сhаnсе to fіnd hарріnеѕѕ аgаіn.

Whіlе уоu are trуіng to hаndlе a breakup, dоn’t аllоw yourself to bе too vulnеrаblе. Aѕ уоu mоvе bасk tо a single life, уоu mіght fееl a little too exposed. Fееlіng vulnerable іѕ nоrmаl – аll of a sudden you аrе back tо bеіng оn уоur оwn, dоіng things аlоnе. Fіnd ѕuрроrt frоm уоur fаmіlу аnd friends. Thеу wіll nоt only help you gеt bасk оn your feet again, thеу wіll аlѕо help уоu rе-еntеr the social ѕсеnе. Dоn’t fоrсе a new rеlаtіоnѕhір juѕt tо fееl lеѕѕ lоnеlу. It’ѕ not оnlу unfаіr tо you, іt’ѕ аlѕо unfаіr to the оthеr реrѕоn. In-bеtwееn relationships mау seem lіkе a terrific ѕtор-gар mеаѕurе and mау рrоvіdе уоu wіth thе kind оf соmраnіоnѕhір you just lоѕt, but thеу wіll nоt rерlасе your оthеr rеlаtіоnѕhір. Each rеlаtіоnѕhір is unіquе so dоn’t try tо fіnd уоur оld flаmе’ѕ qualities іn another реrѕоn. Yоu’rе bоund to bе dіѕарроіntеd аnd you mіght find yourself in a brеаk uр аll оvеr аgаіn.

Your lіfе іѕ tаkіng on a nеw turn. Enjоу it! Thіnk оf thе еnd оf a relationship аѕ a wау tо toss out old thіngѕ аnd аn opportunity to wеlсоmе nеw ones. Depending оn hоw уоu trеаt іt, сhаngе саn bе a gооd thing аnd іt’ѕ rеаllу up to you to tаkе thіѕ nеw dіrесtіоn аnd turn it to your аdvаntаgе. Hаndlе a brеаk up nicely, lеаrn frоm уоur past relationship and take a ѕtер fоrwаrd.

HANDLE A BREAKUP AND GET YOUR LOVE BACK

The way уоu hаndlе a breakup іѕ vеrу tеllіng оf where уоu are аt in уоur lіfе. Brеаkuрѕ аrе one оf the hardest things thаt happen іn lіfе. Romantic rеlаtіоnѕhірѕ аrе very hаrd to lеt gо оf. Wе hаvе our emotions аnd our hеаrtѕ involved and hеаrtbrеаkѕ аrе vеrу раіnful. It іѕ good tо know hоw tо handle a breakup іn a роѕіtіvе mаnnеr. Of соurѕе, your bасkgrоund, dеgrее оf ѕеlf-еѕtееm аnd your gеnеrаl state of wеll-bеіng рlау a key role іn this. But thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl things that уоu can dо tо hеlр уоurѕеlf, and fееl bеttеr:

Don’t blame уоurѕеlf or аnуоnе: Blаmе оnlу makes thіngѕ more раіnful and does nоt solve аnу ѕіtuаtіоnѕ. You can accept rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу fоr уоur part аnd fоrgіvе yourself. Mаkе uр your mind thаt уоu will nоt dwеll оn things thаt аrе dоnе.

Bе раtіеnt: Pаtіеnсе іѕ a great аllу at this роіnt, еѕресіаllу if уоu wаnt to regain уоur rеlаtіоnѕhір. Dоn’t trу tо push уоurѕеlf on thе оthеr реrѕоn; thіѕ nеvеr wоrkѕ. Give thе оthеr реrѕоn space.

Go оut аnd do thіngѕ: If уоu hаvе nоwhеrе tо go, go wіndоw shopping, but don’t ѕtау іn уоur hоuѕе juѕt thіnkіng about іt.

Bе роѕіtіvе: Bеlіеvе that the best will соmе оf thіѕ breakup аnd thаt thе brеаkuр itself is a роѕіtіvе thіng, whеthеr уоu get bасk together оr nоt. Rеаdіng uрlіftіng books and stories is great for уоur inner wеllbеіng.

Be strong: If уоu асt in wауѕ thаt аrе healthy аnd good, you wіll become ѕtrоngеr аnd уоu wіll lіkе yourself bеttеr. This wіll hеlр you gеt thrоugh thе tоugh moments, and you will build character.

Female attitudes in the workplace

Why do smart, capable women act in ways detrimental to their career mobility (not to mention mental health)? During my career, working with literally thousands of professional men and women and comparing their behaviors, I found the answer to that question through inquiry and study: From early childhood, girls are taught that their well-being and ultimate success are contingent upon acting in certain stereotypical ways, such as being polite, soft-spoken, compliant, and relationship-oriented. Throughout their lifetimes, this is reinforced through media, family, and social messages.

It’s not that women consciously act in self-sabotaging ways; they simply act in ways consistent with their learning experiences. Even women who proclaim to have gotten “the right”messages in childhood from parents who encouraged them to achieve their full potential by becoming anything they want to be find that when they enter the real world, all bets are off. This is particularly true for many African American women who grew up with strong mothers.

Whether by example or encouragement, if a woman exhibits confidence and courage on a par with a man, she is often accused of being that dreaded “b-word.” Attempts to act counter to social stereotypes are frequently met with ridicule, disapproval, and scorn.

Whether it was Mom’s message—“Boys don’t like girls who are too loud”—or, in response to an angry outburst, a spouse’s message—“What’s the matter? Is it that time of the month?”—women are continually bombarded with negative reinforcement for acting in any manner contrary to what they were taught in girlhood. As a result, they learn that acting like a “nice girl”is less painful than assuming behaviors more appropriate for adult women (and totally acceptable for boys and adult men).

In short, women wind up acting like little girls, even after they’re grown up.

Now, is this to say gender bias no longer exists in the workplace? Not at all. The statistics speak for themselves. Additionally, women are more likely to be overlooked for developmental assignments and promotions to senior levels of an organization. Research shows that on performance evaluation ratings, women consistently score less favorably than men. These are the realities.

But after all these years I continue to go to the place of “So what?” We can rationalize, defend, and bemoan these facts, or we can acknowledge that these are the realities within which we must work. Rationalizing, defending, and bemoaning won’t get us where we want to be. They become excuses for staying where we are.

Although there are plenty of mistakes made by both men and women that hold them back, there are a unique set of mistakes made predominantly by women. Whether I’m working in Jakarta, Oslo, Prague, Frankfurt, Trinidad, or Houston, I’m amazed to watch women across cultures make the same mistakes at work. They may be more exaggerated in Hong Kong than in Los Angeles, but they’re variations on the same theme. And I know these are mistakes because once women address them and begin to act differently, their career paths take wonderful turns they never thought possible.

So why do women stay in the place of girlhood long after it’s productive for them? One reason is because we’ve been taught that acting like a nice girl—even when we’re grown up—isn’t such a bad thing. Girls get taken care of in ways boys don’t. Girls aren’t expected to fend for or take care of themselves—others do that for them. Sugar and spice and everything nice—that’s what little girls are made of. Who doesn’t want to be everything nice? People like girls. Men want to protect you. Cuddly or sweet, tall or tan, girls don’t ask for much. They’re nice to be around and they’re nice to have around—sort of like pets. Being a girl is certainly easier than being a woman. Girls don’t have to take responsibility for their destiny. Their choices are limited by a narrowly defined scope of expectations.

And here’s another reason why we continue to exhibit the behaviors learned in childhood even when at some level we know they’re holding us back: We can’t see beyond the boundaries that have traditionally circumscribed the parameters of our influence. It’s dangerous to go out-of-bounds. When you do, you get accused of trying to act like a man or being “bitchy.”

All in all, it’s easier to behave in socially acceptable ways. This might also be a good time to dispel the myth that overcoming the nice girl syndrome means you have to be mean and nasty. It’s the question I am asked most often in interviews. Some women have even told me they didn’t read on because they assumed from the title that it must contain suggestions for how to be more like a man. Nothing could be further from the truth. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it literally five hundred times in the last ten years: Nice is necessary for success; it’s simply not sufficient. If you overrely on being nice to the exclusion of developing complementary behaviors, you’ll never achieve your adult goals.

Learn to have a wider variety of responses on which to draw. When we live lives circumscribed by the expectations of others, we live limited lives. What does it really mean to live our lives as girls rather than women? It means we choose behaviors consistent with those that are expected of us rather than those that move us toward fulfillment and self-actualization. Rather than live consciously, we live reactively.

Although we mature physically, we never really mature emotionally. And while this may allow us momentary relief from real-world dilemmas, it never allows us to be fully in control of our destinies. Missed opportunities for career-furthering assignments or promotions arise from acting like the nice little girl you were taught to be in childhood: being reluctant to showcase your capabilities, feeling hesitant to speak in meetings, and working so hard that you forget to build the relationships necessary for long-term success.

These behaviors are magnified in workshops at which men and women are the participants. My work in corporations has allowed me to facilitate both workshops for only women and leadership development programs for mixed groups within the same company. Even women whom I’ve seen act assertively in a group of other women become more passive, compliant, and reticent to speak in a mixed group. When men are around, we dumb down or try to become invisible so as not to incur their wrath.

Recognize these traits in yourself. And never put yourself down again!

Dealing with a breakup

Have you ever held a sprout in your hand? Besides a butterfly’s wings, it must be one of the easiest things to break with just two fingers. Yet, these sprouts push their way with all their might through ground that you would struggle to even dent with a sledge hammer.

When you deal with the anguish of a sudden breakup, remember the humble sprout and its inner strength.

To many, a breakup can seem sudden. For example, you had plans to see a movie and then have dinner with your partner on Friday night, but you received a phone call from your partner on the Wednesday evening saying, “Sorry, but I just don’t want to see you anymore”. You try to call your partner back to find out why after all this time this decision was made so suddenly, but he never answers. You drive to his home, thinking that perhaps if you confronted him face to face you’d be able to sort things through. But he’s not there. Before you know it, a week of phone calls and visits to your partner’s house has gone by, and you still haven’t managed to connect. You finally realize – perhaps you will never connect… again.

For others a breakup may be gradual. For example, one evening you decide to tell your partner about something you did when you were younger. For some reason your partner finds this terrible and seems to reject you for the rest of the evening. ‘This is strange,’ you wonder, ‘he’s loved me for five years already, surely my past cannot take away what we’ve created in those five years’. Yet over the next couple of days you find yourself getting one word answers from your partner. Eventually, you have a major disagreement and your partner says, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” And with that he is gone. Once again, your partner refuses to answer your calls or see you. Any attempts you make to put things right are rejected.

Then there’s the more common scenario, where your partner simply doesn’t find you attractive anymore and has found someone else. You discover this after he has been seeing the other ‘friend’ for a couple of weeks already. ‘He must be working overtime,’ you wondered when he never came home from work on time.

Regardless of how your relationship has ended, it hurts. You may feel there were no warning signs, but there always are. All you need to do is take a step back and think about your partner’s warmth toward you weeks before he ended the relationship. Can you remember? Think hard now. Ahhh! It’s coming to you. That night he chose to eat all the ice-cream without offering you any, or was it that morning he chose to go to work without giving you a kiss on the lips?

There are always signs, but they are seldom too obvious. Being wrapped up in a dream that you alone created can easily keep you from seeing the alternative reality, and this is probably what happened to you.

It’s easy to look at the dark side of things after a breakup. Depression, though something that you never thought you would suffer from, is just waiting for you in the corner. If you think that it’s weird for you to feel like that, don’t. It’s a perfectly natural reaction after a breakup. After all, you and your significant other have cut ties. You will no longer be seeing each other after doing so regularly for the past few months or even years. You will have to deal with telling friends that you’re no longer together. You may even have to deal with the painful process of moving out or seeing them move out of your apartment. To put it simply, it’s a very painful process and depression is the natural way for a human being to cope with it. However, even if a breakup can turn your whole world upside down, it’s an experience that you can learn a lot from. In fact, it’s something that can teach you to be a stronger and wiser person.

When you think about why breakups hurt so much, it’s sort of weird. This is especially strange since most, if not all, breakups happen after the relationship has already turned sour. This means that the relationship was already on the rocks, and that both parties may have already considered the possibility of a breakup.

So, why exactly does it still hurt even if both parties already know what’s coming? For starters, breakups are sort of like businesses that go bankrupt after struggling for many months or years. Sure, the owners already knew what was already coming, but the whole bankruptcy thing still hurts – a lot.

To put it simply, it represents a huge loss, not just of a relationship, but also of dreams, commitments, promises, and so on and so forth. With that loss comes the disruption of everything that was part of that romantic relationship. I’m talking about your daily routine: You waking up next to him. You waking up to his texts or calls. You going out with your friends with him. You going out with him. As well as many more things that both of you shared and did. After a breakup, you’ll end up wondering what life will be like without your partner. You’ll ask yourself whether or not you will be able to find someone else, and even if you’ll end up alone.

The breakup and end of a relationship may feel a bit like losing a limb – the neural connections are there, but the motor nerves have gone. Or it is like playing a musical instrument that has a part missing, like a violin with three strings.

Because of this, you may even wish that you were part of an unhappy relationship, because at least, you wouldn’t be alone. Sure, breakups are hard, but there is a reason why it happened. It may be because you cheated, or your partner cheated, or maybe it just wasn’t working anymore. It doesn’t matter what lead to it; what’s important is what you do afterwards. What you have to do is keep on reminding yourself over and over again that you can and will move on from this. Remember, the healing process takes a whole lot of time. Be patient. Don’t rush things.

You need to recognize that the slew of emotions you’re feeling right now is perfectly normal. It’s okay to be sad and happy at the same time. It’s okay to be irritable too. It’s okay to feel depressed, confused, exhausted and so on and so forth. Sure, it may be the first time that you’ve felt this way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not normal. While these emotions may come as a shock to you, you’ll eventually feel these less and less over time. If you don’t, then always take this as a sign that you’re just a person that once deeply cared for another person. While depression may last for years at a time, you should never let yourself be affected by it for such a long period of time. It may be easier said than done, but trust me, it’s all going to be worth it.

Women of Inspiration: Susan Carland

Susan Carland was born in Melbourne, Australia. A writer, sociologist and academic, Carland completed her PhD in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University in Melbourne in 2015. Her research and teaching focus on gender, sociology, terrorism and Islam.

The word I choose is hope – hope is a boat that we can get into when everything is difficult.

Q. What really matters to you?

What matters to me most – what drives me the most – is service. But I don’t believe service has to be grand; service is not only relevant on the scale of opening an orphanage, but includes those tiny acts of everyday service, whether they be to your own children or to your neighbour. Because the ultimately happy and content life is actually the life that you give away.

There’s a great quote attributed to Muhammad Ali that goes something like, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ That really makes sense to me and is something that I’ve tried to live within myself, though I fail regularly. I’m always telling my children to look for opportunities to help, even if it’s just when they see an older person struggling with a trolley in the supermarket. Because, in the end, a life of service is the only life that makes sense.

Raising my children with strong beliefs and values matters to me. I want them to be happy with who they are, but to never develop a sense of spiritual arrogance; I want them to see the core dignity in every human being and to respect that. It’s not about us and them – Muslim and non-Muslim – because we are all people and can only function as a society if we respect one another. I believe that every person is potentially good, so engaging with people with that in mind allows for respect; without respect, there’s an assumption of superiority – there is no dignity in an interaction like that.

It’s about giving people the benefit of the doubt, even when they probably don’t deserve it. It’s about dealing with people with compassion, even when we don’t want to. The challenge is to ask yourself what you can do to try and create the society that you want to be a part of and that you want to see flourish. We must deal with each other with compassion if we are going to counteract what is happening in the world.

I am Muslim. I had a very good experience in the Baptist church growing up, but, when I was seventeen I started to wonder why I believed what I did; I didn’t know whether it was the truth, so I started looking into other religions. There was a lot of noise surrounding Islam – the typical things Westerners and non-Muslims say about it being sexist, outdated and barbaric – but I realised that Islam was in fact the antithesis of what was being presented to me. And what was at the heart of it made a lot of sense. In fact, it felt like a continuation of what I was raised to believe.

After 9/11, I definitely started to feel the burden of the international representation of Islam. I remember people saying, ‘It’ll have to get better soon,’ but the negative representation hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s escalating. But, even when I engage with people who are incredibly rude, I try to remember to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know how often I feel I’ve been wrong or changed my mind, so I have the awareness that other people, too, can change their minds.

Q. What brings you happiness?

It’s when I feel most useful. We live in a society in which there is so much noise and so much pressure for self-promotion and narcissism: ‘Pay attention to me! This is my CV!’ But I find contentment in the quiet life of service, in any capacity.

Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

True misery is when people have no hope, when they are in a situation they feel they cannot change. But, people can endure anything if they feel there is hope; even in situations of horrific injustice, inequality and fear, if they have hope, they will get through it. And if they don’t have hope, then it’s our responsibility to bring them hope.

Q. What would you change if you could?

I would change inequality. If you look at every injustice, pain or hurt, it comes from a place of inequality, of people crushing other people on a big level or small – in fact, I would struggle to find any problem in the world that didn’t have inequality at its heart. If we could get rid of that, things would be so different.

Q. Which single word do you most identify with?

Hope. Although, if someone were to describe me, they would probably say ‘trying’ – the sense of never achieving and always failing, but of keeping going. But, the word I choose is hope – hope is a boat that we can get into when everything is difficult.

Romantic weekend? Stick to the traditional tried and tested

If your significant other were to propose a weekend away, what would come first to your mind? The traditional romantic getaway would be to sunny places and beaches, to lie on the sand, experience the call of the waves, wind in your hair, rays of the sun under a shade of a palm tree. According to the website blue-mist.co.uk, the town of St Ives would be your ideal location, with its harboured coasts and beaches. There are many things to do away from the coast, such as arts and crafts.

But what if you were looking for something different, but still wanted the option of the coast? Another location you might want to consist is Brighton in East Sussex, where you can see the British coastline, shaped by natural forces for over centuries. The website spooky origins of Brighton. Go on a ghost walk, and hold your hands tightly!

One thing you may wish to avoid is your traditional pursuits on a special weekend, no matter how enticing they may be. Yes, I’m talking about shopping. If you’re going to have a short break away, why waste two or three hours in the shops? Furthermore, it is a recipe for breakup, above all else.

My personal experience has shown that men are incapable of sustaining the shopping momentum for prolonged periods above an hour and a half. Now when you go shopping you need time to take in all the options available and make a decision. There is not much point looking on the internet beforehand because the true surprises aren’t listed there, especially for small shops who are more focussed on sales than maintaining their website. So you have to walk around to take in what’s available, hold it in your mind and then make a decision.

Unfortunately this concept cannot be grasped by the average man, a one-track minded individual incapable of multi tasking. The next time you go shopping with your other, watch what happens after the hour and a half mark. His concentration starts to wane, he becomes a completely different creature, borders on irritation, and then you are rushed into making a decision to placate him. The problem, as we know, is that rushed decisions are bad decisions, so we end up buying something else that in hindsight isn’t a good decision. And the other hand blows up when he realises it is back to the shops again to exchange for something else.

I’ve lost count of the many times when I’ve wanted to say “If you just gave me a few more minutes to decide, I would have bought the correct thing and we needn’t have gone back”. And spending time to consider all options isn’t something only women do. Ever followed a man to a computer shop to buy a laptop? The next time he complains about your shopping, tell him.

So, yes, shopping on a short weekend away is probably not a good idea, unless you were looking for a reason to break up with someone. It is better to stick with something traditional and safer!

A escape from the day to day needn’t involve much

Everyone gets this feeling from time to time – you know, the feeling of being overrun with work and other assignments or commitments? If you have family and young children to look after, you may find it fairly tiring to be moving from one thing on to another, ticking off the to-do list, which by the way, never seems to end!

But it is not a good idea to continually live under that kind of stress. You may enjoy whizzing by on the surf of the adrenaline rush, but one day that way will get too big for you, all your life may just come to an abrupt snap. We all hope it will never come to that, of course, but who among us is to say we have never experienced that kind of “losing it” emotion?

We can all sense when we are getting to that point – we feel increasingly hassled and fed up, we snap at the people around us, which really doesn’t do any good because it only creates an even more tense situation that ramps up the pressure.

So what can we do?

One of the things we could consider is just taking a short break. I always recommend two or three days. Of course I would recommend more if you could afford it – and I’m not talking about the cost. I’m talking about the time. Could you really afford more than three days away from work? If you are self-employed, probably not. If you work for someone, then you may have two weeks annual leave, but taking three days in a go means you have shorter periods for the rest of the year, which may mean you might be under pressure later on and have no avenue for escape.

A day break is really not a good idea. By the time you factor in the travel and all that, you might find that you really exerted yourself for an unrewarding few hours – you might have well have stayed home and done nothing.

If you live in the city, try heading to the coast. There are plenty of nice places such as in the beautiful seaside towns of St Ives, or Brighton. Just sit on the beach and chill, or do some arts and crafts; doing something away from the usual routine can give your mind some down time and a chance to feel refreshed when you get back to the daily life.

If you really can’t afford more than a day away, then maybe visit somewhere in your local town that you don’t usually go to. The spa? Pamper yourself once in a while. Or maybe simply head for a coffee in a quiet cafe and read for a couple of hours – losing yourself in a good book is a good way of not having to be too physically active; if you spend a lot of time running around, actually this rest might do you good!

You have to look after yourself so you can give to others more. This is especially true if you have children. Sure, you must run after them and they are your responsibility, but if you give yourself fully to your children and don’t reserve a tiny smidgen for yourself, you will be run down, ill, and have nothing to give – and no good to your children.

So take a bit of time for yourself. It need not cost much in terms of time or money. But choose activities that relax you, not ones that cause you even further stress. If a holiday de-stresses you, go for it. But if the packing and planning for the holiday causes you so much that the holiday is merely to recover from the planning itself, then try another activity instead!