It’s normal to feel anxious in a new situation … in a new job, at a party, or a social event. We know that first impressions matter … And so much hangs in the balance … And we want to seem like someone who is warm and friendly … And not like someone who is stupid, or some weirdo to avoid. Understanding body language is fundamental here … And the tips below can help you make the right impression.
1. Project an impression of openness: The number one key to appearing warm and friendly is projecting an aura of openness. This is usually achieved by using open body language - which basically involves the following:
· Don’t cross your arms; allow them to hang naturally at your sides.
· Similarly, if you’re sitting down, keep your legs stretched out and uncrossed.
· Lean forward to show an interest in the other person.
· Stand up straight; don’t slouch.
· Smile (that helps to put both you and the other person at ease).
2. Pay attention to eye contact: Making good eye contact is essential as well. It indicates you’re happy to be talking to that person, are comfortable and confident, with nothing much to hide. However, if someone won’t meet our eye, it makes them seem a bit more shady (or it can simply send the message that you lack confidence.) Also, try to be natural and don’t stare at the person, as they’ll feel uncomfortable and want to escape.
3. Adjust your signals to the other person’s signals: An astute individual is also aware of, and can read the body language, of other people too. For example, if their non-verbal language seems quite closed and defensive, you may need to back off and give the person space.
4.Engage in Conversation: To create a great impression, you really want the other person to pick up the message that you think they’re wonderful! The best way to do that is to ask them open questions – so you find out all about them, and the things that interest them. For example, what kinds of things are they passionate about? What are their hopes and their dreams for the future? Then respond to their answers with other open questions - to build a fuller picture of what that person’s like.
1. I accept that I’m not perfect, and there’s no perfect time – Too many people are hanging around and waiting for the perfect opportunity – or the time when they are perfect and have all the skills they need. But life rewards effort; so get out there and work hard … and eventually you’ll find that you succeed and reach your goals .
2. I can’t please everyone no matter how hard I try – No matter what you do or how hard you try there will always be someone who’s disgruntled or upset. So, don’t look for affirmation; just do what you think’s right.
3. I will participate in something I believe in – It doesn’t really matter what activity you choose, as long as it is something that ignites your passion … as this will bring fulfilment and true meaning to your life.
4. I will learn to prioritise and do what matters first – We all get distracted by what seems to be most urgent … or something that is fun and makes life less of a burden. But if you’re going to succeed you need to set priorities. Don’t allow what’s less important to distract you from your course.
5. I will be select when it comes to choosing friends – We’re influenced and shaped by the people we spend time with. Their impact is profound – even though this is subconscious. So be wise in who you choose to be your confidantes and friends. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.
6. I will be there for others, and will help them if I can – In life, we reap what we sow – and that’s a crucial principle. That means the more that you help others, the more they will help you.
7. I will choose to focus on the positives – Our thoughts affect our feelings and the ways that we behave. If you don’t expect success then it’s likely you will fail – in your work, relationships and life in general. So listen to your self talk … and straighten out your thinking … and start to focus on the positives!
8. I will true to myself – You can’t be happy living someone else’s life. You need to discover and develop your own authentic self. That’s when you’re truly beautiful, and life feels meaningful.
9. I will live in the present and enjoy the “now” – The past is gone and the future isn’t promised. Life is happening in this moment, so cease the day and enjoy “now”.
10. I will look for the good and be thankful for each day – Life is full of gifts, if we will only stop and notice. If we choose to be thankful, and treasure all life’s gifts, then we’ll find our lives are filled with joy and happiness – and the hurts and disappointments won’t weigh us down as much.
1. Questions your feelings of hopelessness: If you simply accept your thoughts of hopelessness then they’ll end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, start by accepting your assumptions could be wrong … then use that to experiment with acting differently – as if things might work out, or things might actually go well. For example, go out with your friends even if you’re feeling down and are tempted to just stay at home on your own. It may feel like a battle – but it’s worth a try as you may find you feel better for challenging your thinking.
2. Try something new: Although you might feel you’ve tried everything you can (counselling, therapy, different kinds of medication) it’s likely that there’s something you could still give a try. For example, there are different types of therapy – so try a different one. Have you combined medication with counselling? Have you changed your thought patterns for a period of a month? Have you joined a self help group to increase your support?
3. Identify the things that aren’t totally hopeless: Don’t get stuck by fixating on the things that you can’t change. Start to focus instead on things that you can change. For example, if you’re ex has dumped you and is now with someone else, think about the other things you can now do with your time, and the steps you can take to meet someone completely new. Don’t bang your head against a wall – look for a door that’s swinging open.
4. Realize that no one thing is necessary to be happy: If you find yourself thinking “I can’t live without him” or “if I can’t have x then there’s no point going on”. That clearly not the case as there once was a time in life when you managed pretty well without that person or thing. You can live without them now – and work on having a great life!
5. Learn to appreciate the present: The past has gone and the future isn’t here. So focus on your attention on the present, and this moment. Feel the air touching your body; smell the fragrance in the garden; notice the pattern of your breathing; hear the sounds in the room. Really live this moment … don’t try and rush ahead … and you may also find that the hopelessness subsides.
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.”—Joel Osteen
1. Make peace with your past so it doesn’t wreck your future. You are not who you were, or what happened to you.
2. What other people think is irrelevant to you. Don’t give them a thought. Go ahead and live your life.
3. Things will look different in a month or two from now. Just give it time, and be patient with yourself.
4. Don’t allow others to determine your worth. Believe in, and love, and respect yourself.
5. Don’t compare your journey with the journey of others. We start from different places, and everyone’s unique.
6. Try not to overthink things. It only keeps you stuck.
7.Smile, enjoy the moment, and live life to the full..
“The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”—Katherine Hepburn
1. The average person takes approximately 5 million breaths a year.
2. Months which start on a Sunday always have a Friday the 13th in them.
3. Your feet contains one quarter of the bones in your body.
4. If there was no colorant in Coca-Cola, the drink would actually be green.
5. There are no naturally occurring blue foods (Blueberries are purple, not blue.)
6. 11% of the world’s population is left handed.
7. On average, a person spends 2 weeks of their life waiting for the traffic lights to change to green.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”—Johnny Cash
“You can feel the whole world and still feel lost in it. So many people are in pain - no matter how smart or accomplished - they cry, they yearn, they hurt … We all want the same things: comfort, love, and a peaceful heart.”—Mitch Albom
We each have our own personality – that unique part of us that makes us who we are. It affects every aspect of our lives - from who we date, to what we study, to what we like to do. So what do we know about personality?
1. Birth order can affect our personality: We discussed this a bit in a previous post. There are traits we associate with being a first born (being bossy, motivated, high achievers or more driven); with being a middle born (being friendly, people pleasers, and quite skilled negotiators); and being a last-born (being amusing, more laid back, and also less responsible). Empirical research supports these norms and trends.
2. There are Five Core Personality Traits: These are measures of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.
3. Personality remains stable through life: The research findings are less conclusive here. It may be that some core traits are less susceptible to change. However, traits which seem less fixed and less stable over time include anxiety levels, friendliness and eagerness for novel experiences.
4. Certain personalities are more prone to disease: There appears to be a link between one of the “big 5 traits” (neuroticism) and proneness to developing headaches, asthma, arthritis, peptic ulcers and heart disease. There is also a link between having a Type A personality (and, in particular, scoring high on the hostility levels) and developing cancer and heart disease.
5. Our personality affects our personal preferences: The impact here is surprisingly far reaching. It includes: our choice of friends and partner, our taste in music, our political preferences, our career choices, our preferred holiday destinations and so on.
6. People can tell your personality from your facebook profile: Interestingly, although you might expect people to project an ideal online identity, research indicates that facebook profiles actually tend to convey our real personality. Sam Gosling, a key psychologist and author, has explained this in the following way: “I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways …First, it allows profile owners to let others know who they are and, in doing so, satisfies a basic need to be known by others. Second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information they glean from online social network profiles, building their confidence in the system as a whole.”
7. There are a number of factors that contribute to personality disorders: An estimated 10 to 15% of adults are diagnosed with at least one personality disorder in their lifetime. Factors contributing to the onset of these include: Genetics, relationships with family and peers, inheriting high levels of sensitivity, childhood abuse and experiencing a trauma.
8. Your pet may reveal your personality: Many people consider themselves to be either a “dog person” or a “cat person”? Research into pet preference and personality indicates that dog lovers tend to be more extroverted and greater people pleasers, whereas cat lovers tend to be more introverted and curious.
1. See it as a process, not a one time event. When you make a change in your life, there are lots of small adaptations to be made. It takes time to process and adjust to those changes – so be patient with yourself.
2. Change the way you think about change. Try to see it in a positive light. Even although there are lots of negatives and challenges, you’re likely to benefit in the end.
3. Face your feelings, and especially the negative ones. If you don’t, they’ll simmer beneath the surface and make it harder for you to cope. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They just are. If you feel bad, you feel bad!
4. Notice any areas where you have control as that will help you to feel less trapped or boxed in.
5. Pay attention to your thoughts and attitudes – and choose to look for the positives, and to frame uncertainties in a hopeful way.
6. Stay in touch with people who care, and can act as a support in this time of change.
1. Make sure you read and understand the Instructions: This is absolutely crucial. A lot of students are keen to rush ahead and so they quickly skim over the exam instructions. Then, later, they discover that they did it wrong! For example, do you have to do every question on the paper, or do you only have to select a certain number? Is there a penalty for guessing – so is it better not to guess? (For example, because you lose an extra point for each answer you get wrong).
2. Read through the exam and divide up your time accordingly: For example, make a note of the number of questions there are, and notice what the different questions are worth. This isn’t wasted time as reading through the questions will actually start to activate your memory. Then decide which questions will be easy, and which will take more time, and mentally allocate your time accordingly. Also, allow some time at the end to review what you have written, and do some corrections if you think you’ve made an error.
3. Work through each question systematically: Slowly read through the questions, and underline key words. Make sure you check to see if there’s more than one part. Make sure you’ve fully understood what you’re being asked to do then plan what you will do before you start to write things down.
4. Attempt every question: It’s better to do something than nothing at all. You might get a few marks for thinking along the right lines. If you’re running out of time, then resort to bullets points. You’ll cover more by doing that than writing complete sentences.
5. What if your mind goes blank? Take a few, slow deep breaths and try your best not to panic. It’s important not to let your anxiety take over. Take control of your thinking by reassuring yourself that will pass in a moment – and is natural in exams. Repeat true, positive thoughts like “you’ve worked hard and are ready” and listen for your breathing – as it starts to slow.
6. Review what you’ve written and make corrections if they’re needed: Leave some time to go over your answers at the end – but don’t change what you’ve written unless you’re sure it’s wrong. Also, look out for blank spaces, for question you have missed, and turn over the last page – in case there’s something at the end!
Emotional numbness is where we experience mild to severe feelings of detachment – so it’s hard for us to access normal feelings any more. This includes both negative and positive emotions as you can’t decide to shut just one feeling off. Common causes of emotional numbness include different stresses or traumas … from receiving bad news … to being in an accident … to recovering from the death of someone close … to a relationship breakup … to feeling deeply humiliated or ashamed.
So how do you overcome emotional numbness and live with emotional integrity again?
1. The first thing to do is to choose to respect and allow all emotions – no matter what they are. Also, try and grasp the fact that suppressing your emotions will likely lead to heartache and problems later on (as they’ll possibly resurface at inappropriate times.)
2. Try and understand that feelings and actions are two very different, and unrelated, things. That is, you can still feel angry without becoming violent – so don’t assume your feelings will affect your actions, too.
3. Try to figure out the message behind intense emotions. Are you angry because you’ve been hurt, used or abused? Are you sad because deep down you feel that you’ll never find true love - as you can’t believe that anyone will love you for yourself?
4. Take that risk – and find the courage to ask someone for help. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that there are those who genuinely love you like – like a true and caring friend. The important thing is not to try and isolate yourself, and to make the extra effort to prioritise self-care. You need other people to help you work through this.
5. Seek professional help if the symptoms persist. There are excellent counsellors and therapists out there who have the training and skills to help you to get free – so you can live a more fulfilling and normal, healthy life.
6. Be patient within yourself. It’s likely to take time – as you will need to learn to trust, and take some barriers down, so you can be yourself again (and that is often hard to do when you’ve experience hurt and pain).
“I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.”—Jeanette Winterson
Shame is a deep-seated feeling and conviction that something is inherently wrong with us. And although this FEELS true it is based on faulty thinking, and is therefore something we can challenge and change. To break free … take one thought (such as I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected) and then ask yourself the following questions:
1. What convinces me this thought it true?
2. What is the evidence against it?
3. Is there one time or occasion when it hasn’t been true?
4. Why was it not true at that time?
5. What would someone who REALLY knew me and loved me say to contradict that negative thought (the thought that I am defective, inferior, worthless or deserve to be rejected)?
6. Who would I be, and what could I achieve, if I let go of that negative thought?
7. What’s the worst that could happen if I let go of that thought?
8. What is the best that could happen if I let go of that thought?
1. Rather than listening to the voice in your head that is screaming “I hate this; I don’t want to do this” think about why it is a GOOD thing to do.
2. Instead of trying to pretend that you don’t feel this way, accept that you are feeling very blah and negative.
3. Don’t think about results and how well you think you’ll do, as this could raise your feelings of anxiety and fear, just think about “right now” and the first thing you can do.
4. Accept that life is tough, and is full of things that suck – but recognise that doing hard stuff is better in the end. You’ll likely have more choices and freedom, if you do.
5. Just do a little bit for now – then give yourself a proper break – then go back and do some more – and soon you’ll find you’re in the flow.
6. Don’t allow your mind to wander and think of other things. Stay focused for that short time – and then stop, and have fun.
We tend to focus on looking for love, hoping for love, and waiting for love. Yet if we look to others to meet that basic need then we’ll always be empty and unfulfilled.
That is, for others to love us in a healthy way, we must first be able to nurture ourselves … and to love and honour who we truly are. The steps below can help you work towards this goal.
1. Decide to treat others with love and respect: As you seek to bring joy into others’ lives you’ll find that they repay you with kindness and love.
2. Practice random acts of kindness: “Play it forward” by doing random thoughtful things. That will turn you into someone you respect yourself – and you’ll also find that others are more generous to you.
3. Let go of the past: What happened in the past is merely history now. Today is a new day, and you are starting a new page. Let go of disappointments, hurts and any grievances you hold against yourself, other people – or the world!
4. Forgive yourself: We all make mistakes, or we regret some bad decisions. Don’t ridicule, berate or criticise yourself for that. Instead, forgive whatever happened, and give yourself a break. It simply means you’re human – and are not infallible.
5. Practice positive self-talk: Write down and repeat affirming statements and truths … like “I am gifted” … or “I’m a true and loyal friend”. Post these statements on the mirror and repeat them to yourself.
6. Think through what you really want in life – You can carve out your own path and you choose your own destiny. Your life is a gift and you can choose what you will do.
7. Be persistent: Work wholeheartedly at loving yourself. If you’ve suffered in the past then be compassionate. Be ready to acknowledge and work through your pain. You deserve that respect – and it will help to set you free.
8. Celebrate your accomplishments: It’s easy to ignore or to downplay what we have done – but don’t be blind to your successes and accomplishments. They ought to be acknowledged as they’re part of who you are.
9. Think of someone you want to be like and emulate them: Doing that will build those qualities into your life as well – so it is easier to like, love and accept yourself.
10. Be yourself and trust yourself: Be true to yourself – and don’t care what others think. Learn to trust your instincts and to follow your own heart. Also, learn it’s OK to say “no” and to do your own thing … And you don’t have to feel guilty for not pleasing everyone.
11. Don’t compare yourself to others: Every person on the planet is different and unique. We all have different talents and different histories. Discover who YOU are and then invest in being you!
12. Work on receiving love: When someone pays you a compliment or tries to show you love, don’t quickly brush it off – but try and see it as a gift. That is, a gift that shows you’ve value and are loved, and loveable.
Although it’s normal to feel some anxiety when you’re preparing for, or taking, a test - too much can hamper you from doing well. Below are some tips to help you to cope with this:
1. Learn and apply proven studying techniques so you feel you really know the test material. This should help to improve your confidence and reduce excessive anxiety.
2. Work on staying positive while you’re studying. Think about doing really well, not always struggling, or even failing.
3. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before a test.
4. Don’t forget to eat right before a test either. You need protein to have enough energy to concentrate fully for the length of the test. Avoid junk food as that tends to lead to a high and then a low.
5. Try to calm and relax yourself as you enter the test room. Take a few slow, deep breaths. In your head repeat positive self-statements like “I am well prepared. I’m going to do a good job on this test.”
6. Don’t start to panic if the questions seem too hard. Just skip over the ones you can’t do, and keep reading until you find something you CAN do.
7. Ignore the fact that other students seem to be finishing before you. Take all the time you need and focus on doing your best.
8. Once the test is over, try and forget about it. There’s nothing you can do until your mark is returned to you … and maybe you’ve aced it, or done really well!
“And to the casual observer it looks like I have moved on since I go around wearing my little happy mask all day. I smile and laugh and carry on like my heart’s still in one piece, but beneath it all, I am dying.”—Melody Carlson
“That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.”—L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
1. Have a good core group of friends.
2. Build some adventure into your life. Don’t fall into “the same old, same old”.
3. Research confirms that “stuff won’t make us happy” so clear out the junk – and only keep what you love.
4. Work on establishing balance in your life. Don’t be too busy or you’ll wind up depressed.
5. Give in to temptation every now and again. Too much discipline is boring in the end.
6. Like and appreciate yourself. Take time to notice and affirm your strengths.
7. Start living in the moment – don’t doubt every move. Accept your decision as the best one right now.
“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, you must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life.”—Mary Manin Morrissey