Stepping out of the situation

It can become very easy to be caught up in a situation, whether that be a relationship, a recreational experience, exercise, music, etc. Most people will tell you to live for the moment, grasping life with all four limbs, carpe diem – you know the rest. This is because, for the most part, the world has turned into a daunting and confusing place to be. We crave positivity in every aspect of life, so that we don’t feel we’re wasting what little time we may have. It can be unheard of to be told to “step away from the situation” and look at something with fresh eyes. Because that’s hard, right? If you’re in a hot and sticky moment with someone you’ve just met, do you just jump straight into it, because f**k it – yolo? Or do we still have brains left that are capable of moral or sensible judgement?

Maybe it’s the mundane or routine that has us stuck in our ways, with an inability to crawl out of the well and inspect the space we’ve made ourselves comfortable in. Or, if we’re uncomfortable, perhaps we think we’re deserving of this. There can be many reasons us human beings decide not to reflect on the people we have become. Sometimes it is simply that we are striving to be the best we can be, without realising you are simply you under all of the pressure to be prettier, more intelligent, fitter, and happier. Despite attempts at becoming better humans, we ignore the person who is there fighting, with a more positive image of ourselves projected in our minds. Is that living in the present?

Life can be hectic and stressful, and the inability to reflect on every single situation is understandable. Reflection is a valuable tool if we are to become the best versions of ourselves, though. Find some time for this. If you can find time to go to the gym daily, shower daily, commute daily, lay in bed post-sleep every night scrolling through social media, you have time for reflection. Some may call it day dreaming – I call it strategic improvement. Think of that disagreement you had with someone, without feeling angst or sadness over it – instead wonder how it happened, the baby steps that led up to it and how it may be prevented in future to save your relationship. Sorrys are all well and good, but that’s not a guarantee it won’t happen again. Think to the time you binged on fast food instead of sticking to your clean-eating. Rather than excusing it as a temporary lapse, or feeling guilty and doing 50 extra crunches, take yourself out of your current mind set and reflect – are you really that bad a person for giving in to temptation? Is there a real need to be conscious of others judging you for it? No and no, to both of those. Could you prevent this from happening in the future?

The variety of situations you may find yourself in, day to day, will be so diverse, no matter how much of a repetitive life you may think you lead. To find some tranquillity, big or small, take some time to reflect. A situation you’re in, or have been in, won’t necessarily seem so horrifying in the future. Rather than stressing, take some time to really live in the moment, by taking yourself out of the situation.

 

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Gratitude Tool

Some of us may have been there: disgusted at what looks back at us in the mirror, looking down and hating the lumps and bumps in various places that never seem to disappear, no matter how many crunches or squats you do, wishing for a different career, wishing for a real career, wishing your dream would come to you, hating yourself for the way you eat, wishing you could go out, but feeling a pull from the centre of your house attached to your brain, which tells you you’re better-off at home.

You’re not the only one.
Every human functions differently, but every single one of us has had doubts and niggling worries – they may seem huge to some of us and they probably are. Ever heard the saying, “You are your own worst enemy?”

Think about it.

The more you focus on, and aim negativity towards, your physical appearance, the less inclined you will be to make positive changes. Is it not true that when you look good, you feel good? Yes and no – good can radiate from the inside and glow on the outside. I’m not telling you to fake it by slapping on foundation (hey – women AND men!) and faking happiness (although if that makes you feel better, by all means). What I’m saying is probably what you’ve heard hundreds of times before, but it never made sense to me until I began embracing it.

Forget everything for a hot minute and think about why you’re on this planet.

A lot of people, myself included, do not have a definitive answer to that question. Yes, the species needs to be reproduced a zillion times over, yes, we need to preserve the planet at the same time, yes, we need to feel a sense of success and love and beauty, yada yada yada. But instead of feeling overwhelmed at something that isn’t in our direct hands, why not just embrace. Embrace the good and the bad, the smiles and the tears, the fat and the thin, the sweet and the bitter. We are a species capable of happiness and love, surely that is something to feel gratitude towards in itself? No?

Your “fat” may be disgusting to you, but there are people that can’t gain it. Your “thin” may be atrocious in your eyes, but some people would love it. Your stretch marks may be ugly to you, but some women would love to just conceive. Your crappy career or lack thereof may be getting you down, but some would love to have the time off. Your dreams may seem annoying and far-fetched, but some aren’t given the rights to dream. This is real gratitude. Chances are, the ability and affordance you have been given, just to read this blog, means you’re a lot better-off than millions.

Breathe in the good air, marvel in the green grass, really listen to the birds at dusk.

Next time you look in the mirror and feel disgusted, be grateful you have eyes.

What are you grateful for?

I Am Death

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In an attempt to juggle baby, university assignments, dog, boyfriend, house and the occasional trip out of it, I’ve been trying my damndest to start getting into the swing of reading again. I’ve done well – finished a whole book and around a third of the way through another – and it’s only taken the whole of 2016 to achieve this. Introduced to his work by my mother, Chris Carter seemed a hell-uv-a lot different to the likes of the Harlan Coben tales I’m more familiar with.

“I Am Death” is the only thriller I have read, where I’ve been able to guess the culprit of the crime – in this case, unimaginable torture to women and children. Especially women. A lot of them. Made me wonder how Carter’s mind worked, what horror films he’d been watching prior to writing the novel, or what he’d witnessed in his life as a psychologist (obviously a lot judging by the torture methods – humans apparently hold a capacity for evil like you wouldn’t believe). Back to the culprit. I’m not sure what it means that I was able to guess so far from the end of the novel – at least with Coben, we’re set completely off the trail. The lack of characters paired with us being stuck inside Hunter’s mind constantly, told me it had to be someone he knew. I wasn’t wrong.

Hunter’s Mexican side-kick wasn’t much of a thrill, either. The extent to which he was ‘dumbed-down’ saw Carter explaining clinical or criminal facts to the audience, which turned a novel into a sort of encyclopaedia. Yes, he’s a family man. Yes, he doesn’t possess the experience of Hunter. But he wouldn’t be paired with him unless he was at least somewhat of an equal. I didn’t get the feeling he was – the guy peeved me off a little, actually.

Overall though, as mentioned, I gained an insight into the minds of the mentally-ill. As much as it was disturbing, it was interesting. The little twist with Squirm was unexpected, though it felt a little rushed. I think if Carter had given more depth to that situation, I would have felt less confused by it.

Scrolling through Carter’s other titles, I’m not convinced that I would read anything else by him, at least in the Hunter series. They all seem to follow similar plots, with a worrying focus on the pain and suffering of women. Maybe if the tables were turned and men were hanging up to die at the hands of bitter old hags, with a personality-less cop and his dumb side-kick being made to investigate – maybe that would be a better read.

Rating: 6/10

At present I am reading “The Danish Girl” by David Ebershoff. No I haven’t seen the film, and when there is a novel in existence, I pretty much won’t. The reason for this is that The Da Vinci Code nowhere near lived up to expectations back in the day. Angels and Demons was OK, but still nothing compared to the genius of Dan Brown.

Ebershoff’s writing is simply exquisite, a work of art. It’s not smooth, speedy reading, but this is a good thing because we are able to take in every word and metaphor passed to us, and bask in them. For Eastenders fans, I can’t help but think of Les standing in his get-up when Lili’s name is mentioned. Aside from that, and as I’m only a part way through, I’m unsure who to ‘side’ with. I feel bad for Greta, because this is her husband and her life isn’t taken into consideration as much as Lili’s is. Einar seems a bit of a bore, Lili outrageous, but this is one of many discriminatory issues that needs to be thought of for a more tolerant world. Will Greta stick by Einar/Lili? No spoilers please!

Next on my list is probably something sitting on the bookshelf that I’ve been avoiding. Satanic Verses? Sharp Objects? Rebecca? May be all three by the end of the year…

Self-help books?

I’ve found there are two general opinions on the idea of self-help content. Consumers have either been sucked in by the “hype” – or as Wikipedia call it, the “post-modern  cultural phenomenon” of the twentieth century (were writers only just learning they could make millions from one of the body’s main organs – in more ways than one?) – or alternatively, there is a certain degree of scepticism surrounding this notion. I was one of the sceptics, in that self-help material sat in a similar category to hypnotic books telling me I could lose weight, become a CEO, stop my child from embarrassing me in front of other mothers and all the rest of it – nobody was telling my brain what to do! Note one word here: was.
After giving birth, losing sleep, friends and sacrificing work and play in the real world to work and play at home, the situation in my own brain began to change. My son is the purest, most joy enabling human being I have ever set my eyes upon. No matter how much he refuses to feed, or how many tantrums he has – yes they do happen at just five months old – I will always view him as a blessing. For as long as my back continues to break from lifting his growing body, my university assignments sitting uncompleted to show him love and play, the dog moaning and tugging on my other arm for want of attention, I will be thankful and amazed at having him as the biggest part of my life. Obsessively so.
So, what happened? Over thinking, mainly. I have never been the slim friend or the woman who could find her size in nice clothes easily – and if I did, I would believe I couldn’t pull them off. I’ve thought of myself as a wanderer, a dreamer, a chance-taker. I had a philosophy of always trying something once, keeping an open mind and trying as hard as I could to enjoy life. I wanted to travel the world. Then I began to feel cooped up, frustrated and ugly – disgusting, actually. I didn’t think I was good enough for the rest of the world, so I put off any social encounters, most of the time blaming it on the fact I wanted to keep up with routine, when in reality, I had developed a sort of social anxiety. I felt that low, that the books I had mocked previously, I purchased.
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The Confidence Gap” by Dr Russ Harris. The introduction alone promises the book is not like the rest out there, the ones that claim to change your world in a few simple steps, without really putting the hard work in. Still, the idea of this book is complicated to me. Surely, if you want to get away from feeling self-hatred, self-doubt, or self-whatever-else, you need to step outside your mind for a while instead of delving deeper into it. This is surely mine, and many others’ problem – over thinking. There have been times where, not only would I have loved a different body than my own, but I would have loved to have not been inside my own head. My thoughts haunted me, annoyed me to no end. Without reading the remainder of the book, I can work out that in order to live a fulfilling life, both externally and as your own person, you need to find strength all on your own. Forget exercises, suggestions and psychologists who will never know your most inner thoughts. These books attempt to banish any negative thought that passes through your mind’s channels. But are they not there for a reason? Are these thoughts not there for you to fight, thus forming you into a stronger person? In my situation, I feel not thinking about thinking works. I don’t want someone I’ve never met to guide me. I need to do that all by myself. These books will work, but only for so long.
Yours,
Someone sat on the fence
Neither cynic nor believer