3 Reasons You Are Miserable

Hopefully you’re sat there thinking “hey, I’m not miserable, I’m pretty happy really” and if so…fabulous! I would read on anyway…it’s very easy to fall into these few traps at any time.

1. Your expectations are too high

Your expectations are too high. Lower them. Lower than that. A bit lower. Are they on the floor yet? Once they get to the floor, kick them as hard as you can far far away from you. Having expectations about anything, or anyone, is going to make you miserable; simply because your expectations are unlikely to be lived up to.

On the face of it, such pessimism on a blog about happiness maybe comes across as a bit odd, but hear me out. When you have a set of expectations, it’s difficult to be happy when they inevitably are not met.

carolinepett.comHow much better to accept situations, and other people, as you find them? Meet every day with an open mind, and every person with an open heart and take things forward from there.

2. You’re too busy comparing

I imagine that cave men looked at their mates club and had to have one of equal size, they probably saw the neighbours showing off their new cave paintings and had to get bigger and better ones of their own. In the world of technology we live in, looking at what other people are doing has never been easier. Just remember, that just like you, no one shares their mediocre days on Facebook, or their double-chinned up the nose selfies on Instagram.

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When you step into the gym and see the ones on the treadmill, running full speed for what seems like hours without breaking a sweat whilst you’re on the floor having been flung off the back of the bloody thing trying not throw up after 5 minutes of jogging* remember they have been practicing longer than you. You’re on Chapter 1, they are on Chapter 15, there is no comparison.

*absolutely definitely not based on true events.
3. You’re measuring success badly

What does it mean to be successful? We all have different measures of success. Do you want a certain amount of money? Live in a certain place? Have a partner and 2.4 children? Get promoted?

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All goals people commonly have, and great things to strive for, but asking for misery if you’re pinning your happiness to them for 2 reasons.
Reason 1 – All of these goals have elements that are outside of your control. The financial markets could collapse leaving you with nothing. There could never be a house for sale in the area you want. Your partner could not want kids, or perhaps you’re not able to have them. For you to be promoted, the person currently doing the job you want needs to leave, it might not happen. If it does happen, you might not be chosen for the role.
Reason 2 – All these goals are finite. Once you have them, then what? Studies show that you won’t live happily ever after; even people who win the lottery go back to the level of happiness they had before winning within 6-12 months.
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Think about changing your measure of success to something you are both in control of, and can be successful at, but requires renewed commitment every day. Such as being in control of your finances/having a home you enjoy and take care of/being loving and enjoying to your family/being a diligent employee and improving yourself however you can.

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human Being, or human being?

It’s my birthday this week, and as I mark off another year, I’ve been thinking about who I am.
The question leaves me a bit stumped, which panics me slightly. Surely during my 30-something years on this planet, being myself nearly the whole time, I should be able to tell you who I am?

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I can tell you my name, where I live, where I came from, what I look like, what job I do, what I like (and don’t like) to eat.
I can also tell you what my relationships are with the people around me…I’m a partner, sister, daughter, friend, colleague and mummy to a fur-baby.
I could tell you some of my attributes, I’m kind, compassionate, honest, trustworthy and reasonably bright. I’m also moody (especially when hungry or tired), messy, a bit selfish and, I’m told, highly strung.
I could tell you some things I’m not. I’m not adventurous (as this previous blog post can attest). I’m not mean, or a bully, or a Corbyn fan. I’m not especially into music or films or video games.

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The problem with all of this is that none of it really sums me up, and is definitely not succinct enough to be a proper answer. It’s also too general; in some situations I may not be honest and I can be completely selfless.

Perhaps it’s a good thing. Knowing who I am might stop me from becoming something else…and sometimes what I already know about myself stops me from doing stuff I really want to do, for better or worse.
Perhaps if I “found” myself I would stop looking. Stop being open to new possibilities or ideas.

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So having set out to be more certain about who I am, what I believe and what I want, I have decided that the best way is to be utterly uncertain and open to modification.
Here’s to being a human being, not a Human Being.

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That’s not a Viking is it?!

I wanted to start writing a blog for about a year before I started this one. I always enjoyed writing. I was learning new stuff and wanted to share it with an audience, however small. A series of things got in the way, not having a professional looking photo, not knowing how to put together a website, not having an audience to share it with. The first two were easy solved, and the third would never be solved unless I started. Still it’s taken me a year. But why?

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Probably the same reason that I want to lose weight, but put it off until after my holiday/birthday/friends party/ dogs birthday/Christmas or why loads of us complain about our jobs, but never even get as far as sprucing up our CV’s, let alone actively looking and applying for something else.

It took me a long time to realise the honest reason for this, and I tried to deny it because it pissed me off. The true reason is that it hurts less to not have what I want because I didn’t try, than to not have it because I failed.

If I sit quietly and really pay attention, I can feel that squirmy, uneasy feeling in my gut telling me that’s right. That gut feeling is trying to protect me. The gut is the home of self-preservation, in a world where I’m not likely to be chased by lions or pounced on by marauding Vikings, my gut is protecting from my worst fear; looking like a dick.

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The gut is also where motivation and action stems from, so if I’m deeply concerned with looking like knob, I’m unlikely to ever get off my arse and do the very simple actions I know will move me forward.

Now what I try and do is have more compassion for myself, recognise the fear for what it is and act in spite of it. I realise I have to take action, however small, as soon as I decide to go for something otherwise I bottle it. Hopefully I can keep building on these small actions, keep paying attention to my gut instead of ignoring it and eventually get what I want.
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Rising Strong

Rising strong is Brene Brown‘s book about getting back up after you fall.

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The lovely thing is that it’s not just aimed at the big falls, the huge life changing falls, but also at your everyday falls, the ones all of us come across all of the time. Brene also doesn’t try to stop falling from hurting, she encourages us to feel the pain and face into it in order to move through it.

There are 3 clear steps in the Rising Strong process – a process that may take minutes or may take years – but it always starts with the reckoning.

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The Reckoning – walking into our story.
This is where we get curious about what we are feeling, and how that is making us behave. Trying to put a label on the emotion, even if it’s not quite right. And listening to our thoughts and conversations were having with ourselves.
I think that this very act of getting curious about what we’re feeling, or why we just did what we did, in a non-judgemental way, can stop negative emotions in their tracks. You can’t be despairing and curious at the same time.

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The Rumble – owning our own story.
Story is the key word here. All our truths are stories that we’ve made up based on what we’ve perceived. We add our own meaning to things, we don’t often get it right.            The book suggests writing this story down whenever possible – not trying to make it pretty or to please others – a shitty first draft (SFD) to get it all page in all its hideous glory.
There is a handy phrase in the book to help talk about your SFD with those involved in the story. “The story I’m making up is….”. I love this for allowing us to say what we are really thinking and feeling, without directing blame at anyone else.
The rumble is where we examine what is true, what we are making up and what further information we need.

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The Revolution – changing the ending
Writing a new ending to the story, with all our findings from the rumble. A new story that is more accurate, more empowering and allows us to be braver and happier.

If you take nothing else from this, take curiosity. Take stopping to ask yourself what’s going on, and why you feel this way. If the answer you get is (for example) “so and so is a dick”, ask again. The answer is never really about someone else’s actions, over which you have no control; it’s about why you’ve reacted the way you have, which you control completely.

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Imposter!

We were all set to fly to Las Vegas for our holiday. This year we managed to bag a bargain on first class tickets, a new and probably one off experience to us, so excitement was high!

In the airport lounge the staff kept having little sideways glances, but were very professional and served us graciously. Finally the flight was called and off we went to get on the flight. I showed my ticket to the attendant, who immediately called the supervisor. “I’m very sorry madam, there’s an issue with your seat, you’re just not the kind of passenger we allow in first class…I mean…look at you”.

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Ok, that obviously didn’t actually happen. The staff were fabulous and the journey very comfortable. But I didn’t feel good enough to be there, and I was worried about getting found out and being sent to my rightful place.

At work I worry I’ll get found out as just being lucky for achieving targets and getting good performance ratings, even though these results have been consistent for the last few years. The occasions something goes wrong or I fall below target prove I’m not really good enough.

When I go to training or networking events I fear my credentials will be questioned. I’ve got qualifications and certificates to back me up…but surely these people must be able to see I don’t belong?

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I realise this happens quite a lot, and is probably what stops me going to fancy restaurants or makes me feel awkward when talking about my skills and experience. I’m scared someone will call me out and expose me for a fraud.

It turns out that this is called imposter syndrome and around 70% of us will experience it at some point (or at many points!) And it’s more prevalent in intelligent women than other demographics.

From now on I’m going to catch myself when I hear my thoughts start telling me this story and question it.
I’ve paid for my ticket, I’ve as much right to be there as the other passengers.
I’m good at my job and my good results reflect that.
I work hard to learn and practice my skills, and they are enough.
That compliment was genuine, they weren’t just being nice.
Actually I am successful because I worked bloody hard.

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I realise that after a previous blog, I should have learned not to give a f**k about what other people think of me…and that it’s out of my control…but I haven’t mastered it yet, I’m still practising.

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Sticks & Stones

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a pile of bullshit.
Words hurt us all the time. Words make you feel small, stop you getting what you want and are probably the biggest cause of anxiety and depression out there.
It’s not the words that other people say to us that cause you the problem, because they are outside of our control, and as I’ve said before, we don’t need to give a f**k about what other people think. It’s the words we say to ourselves that are causing us the biggest problem, and most of the time, we don’t even know that we are doing it.

carolinepett.com words have power
I’ve recently become acutely aware of how people around me are talking about anxiety. Let me say right here, I believe that what these friends are feeling is real, and I’m not suggesting that it’s all semantics, but I also believe that looking at the vocabulary they use could help, even if just a little.
“I’m struggling with MY anxiety.” There is ownership here, MY pink jumper is 2 sizes too small, and has a bleach stain on one sleeve, it hasn’t been worn it for 3 years, but it’s mine so it’s still in my wardrobe. It’s much harder to let go of something you own. If you looked at anxiety in a shop you’d put it down again, the price is too high.
“Right now I feel a bit anxious” might work better – “Right now” puts a time frame on it…it’s not permanent. “A bit” quantifies the feeling, minimising helps a lot here….if you can down play the words you are using, perhaps the feelings will follow. A tad, a smidgeon, a soupcon anxious.
The thought of an “Anxiety Attack” scares the shit out of me – and no wonder! Attacks are never good…you don’t get chocolate attacks, puppy attacks or love attacks do you?! Attack is a violent and negative word. Attacks are out of our control and leave us battered and bruised with lots of healing to do.

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“A wave of anxiety” I find easier to handle. I know when a wave hits it’s soon going to get dragged away again. Sure my feet will get cold and wet and I might get sand in my shoes but I have the choice to walk away from the waves; back up the beach to get a 99 hopefully.

I’d love to hear how you would change the words you’re using to change your thoughts and feelings, leave a comment or get in touch!

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Where ever I go

When I plan a holiday I can picture the person I’m going to be while I’m there. I’ll be adventurous and try all kinds of new things. I’ll definitely be glamorous with beautiful hair and make up. I’ll be so calm and relaxed that everyone around will feel it radiating from me.thereyouare

Then I’m there…and it turns out I’m still me, only in a different place. I quite like trying new food….as long as it’s something I recognise and I think I’ll like.
I’ll never be glamorous, I don’t have the patience or the will to spend time doing things with my hair or putting make up on.
I’ll grant that I’m pretty calm…as long as there is a plan in place and everyone is sticking to it.slotzilla happy carolinepett.com

I’m currently in Vegas and I thought I was the kind of person who could face their fears and ride a zipline over Fremont street. Turns out I’m not that person, not on my own anyway. I reckon if someone else would hold my hand all the way I could be brave enough. However, it’s only me and my boyfriend here, and he isn’t the kind of person who does ziplines either, but he doesn’t give a f**k, he’s cool with that.

Home-Me isn’t an adrenaline junkie, I thought Holiday-Me could be…I forgot they are the same person.

If you’ve done Slotzilla get in touch and send me your pics, if you haven’t…just say hi!