Something happened to me recently that reminded me of the importance of the 5 Languages of Love – and it got me thinking about how a lack of the right kind of love manifests itself and what you can do about it. Let me explain….
Since starting up my business, I have wanted to be featured in Muddy Stilettos (muddystilettos.co.uk), a brilliant local guide that started as a fantastic blog covering Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and that has now grown into a multi-territory UK franchise. When Hero, the editor, agreed to have a treatment with me to then write a review of my services, I should have been elated.
But I was terrified. What if she wrote something negative? What if a negative review destroyed my business in the local area? What if my services just weren’t her thing?
I felt so anxious about it that I nearly cancelled the appointment. But I thought about what an opportunity I’d be passing up if I cancelled, so I took a deep breath and went ahead. On the day I was incredibly nervous, determined not to say or do the wrong thing. But as we settled into our counselling work, I forgot that Hero was here to review my services. She simply became another client with whom I connected on a deep level. After our Reiki work, we even had a mini life planning session on the doorstep as we said our goodbyes. All my nerves had faded away. I could just be me.
A few months later, her review appeared. It was brilliant and I could not have been happier. When I read her kind words, it felt like it was my wedding day. I was buzzing! I hadn’t realised how much I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job. That’s when it hit me: my love tank needed topping up.
Feeling stuck in a rut is overwhelming, confusing, draining and extremely stressful. Sometimes its hard to imagine how we will ever get out of it.
The human ‘hierarchy of needs’ is a useful, simple and highly effective tool to help us understand why we are stuck, and how to move on. The diagram below shows our needs in order of priority (with our essential requirements shown at the bottom of the pyramid).
Unless those most basic of needs are met, we simply cannot reach the higher levels of self-fulfilment. And once we have reached a level, we may not always remain there.
MOVING THROUGH THE LEVELS: We can find ourselves moving down to the lower levels at certain times in our lives, as our minds may unconsciously abandon the level we are on in order to meet the lower needs.
For example, a major life event such as a redundancy, or a divorce may mean we have to refocus on our financial affairs and find a new home. A feeling of financial and domestic security are the essential building blocks of the pyramid.
The human race has evolved over the centuries, living in tribes and to this day, we still need the sense of safety we get from our ‘tribe’ of friends or family. We fear rejection and can find it difficult to cope with being alone.
It is so important not to underestimate this profound human need. Ultimately a feeling of ‘not-belonging’ can lead to a sense of loneliness or inferiority, which in turn can have a direct impact on our self-esteem. At one point or another we’ve all experienced a desire to fit in and be accepted by others. It helps us see value in life and cope better with life’s many hurdles.
Some of us meet this need by joining a church, taking up a social hobby, or spending time with family and friends. Social media can also help us feel connected with others (but digital interactions can never replace human ones). However, many of us experience emotional and physical loneliness throughout our struggles to discover our sense of belonging.
We may even end up trying to mould ourselves to suit someone else’s expectations, and consequently lose our own sense of who we really are. We need to accept that ‘belonging' is about having the courage to join in with others, whilst staying true ourselves. We should not have to adapt our behaviour to constantly try and please others.MY STORY
I want to share my own personal ‘belonging’ story with you. I grew up in France but moved to England over 22 years ago and in order to fit in, I had to work very hard indeed to learn English and build a new life here.
As our children approach the ‘exam’ time of year, it is crucial to keep an eye on their anxiety levels. Anxiety can lead to poor academic performance and under-achievement, even in the most capable of students.
When children get stressed and worried, their sleep can be disturbed, which leads to irritability and an inability to focus. This in turn can cause panic and has been known to lead to depression in some cases.
It is important to remember that this stressful period WON’T last for ever, and that once the exams are over, the stress will ease. It’s also worth highlighting that a moderate degree of stress gives us a rush of adrenaline which boosts our ability to get things done. However, it is all about finding the right balance and learning to manage stress effectively so that it doesn’t take over and have a negative effect.
We must also be mindful of our own stress levels and managing these for the sake of our own health, whether we have children going through exams or not.
Here are my top tips for helping to manage stress levels in both ourselves and our children. If you have children undergoing exams, please consider printing these tips and letting them read them for themselves, as this will be far more effective than trying to tell them what to do!
When we focus on something, we attract the subject of our focus into our lives. Focusing on the positive brings us great things, but focusing on all things negative attracts exactly those negatives into our lives.
I have experienced both sides of this particular coin, both personally and also with my clients. There is no escaping from the fact that the way we feel will ultimately affect the way we behave. Some of us have become ‘hard-wired’ to focus on the negatives.
The good news is that we can easily learn the skills we need to change our ways of thinking:
1. TURN NEGATIVE ENERGY INTO POSITIVE ENERGY. Find as many things as possible to be grateful for. Think about the things in your life that you like - both big and small. This could be your house, your bed, sofa, car, hair, nails, eye colour, how smooth your skin is, your children, partner, or even your dog….
Focus on your own personal list of positives, use your mindfulness skills and notice your breathing slowing down and your body letting go of all tension. After a bit of practice you will find your mind is more peaceful.
Our critical inner voice can have a devastating effect on us, leading to low self-esteem and a debilitated self-image.
It’s important to take a moment to reflect on how strong a critical inner voice we have. Are we permanently berating ourselves for our guilt, our shame, our wrongdoings - and how does this make us feel?
A critical inner voice is a bit like poison ivy, invading us on the sly and then attacking, blaming, comparing and criticising. It can be abusive and judgemental, leaving us with the overwhelming feeling that we are not good enough. We may listen to it for so long that we come to believe that we are fat, stupid, selfish, unlovable, ugly (or whatever it maybe telling us). We may even start to think that this is how others perceive us too!
Listening to this voice could be the only way we know to try and become ‘A Better Us’, or perhaps it's learnt behaviour from our childhood. Either way, we can become so accustomed to the negative things it tell us that our mind may believe what we are hearing.
Enough is enough! Now is the time to stop inflicting this pain upon ourselves, and to replace this old destructive habit with a useful new one. But how…?