Things I wish I'd been taught at school

Assume everyone will love me.

Now I am not saying for a second that I think that wherever I go people will love me. But there is a great deal to be said for learning this one single social skill of assuming that whoever you will meet and speak to, you will naturally get on. I think the technically correct terminology for this is 'assume rapport' and it is a really powerful tool for going into new situations such as meetings or interviews or even parent/toddler groups with confidence. I always struggle with the advice that you should try and picture people naked when you have to give a talk or do an interview - I mean what the heck is that about? Why would I want to have that image in my head? So so much easier just to assume that the situation will be easy and relaxed; you will be a success and that you are an instantly likable person. I find that when you truly start acting like you believe this, it will actually start to become a reality.

Hold your head up high

Twice in the last few months people have asked me if I was a dancer (which I wasn't) because of my posture. Now I don't think I have particularly amazing posture since I spend much of my evenings curled up on a sofa, but I do know the difference that holding your head up high can make. When I did gymnastics our coach used to make us stand in a line and she would walk up and down barking orders at us 'shoulders back, bum in, stomach tight, head up high' .... this advice has stood be in good stead because the second you do all this you will instantly look taller, slimmer and more confident. You will look like you believe in yourself and that you own the space around you. You don't just look more confident but you instantly feel and become more confident.

The power of the smile.

Now this one is a biggy for me. 'Paste on a smile' has been my life's mantra and has seen me through days where, by rights, I should have been far from smiling. Smiling really does have an amazing effect. For a start it is one of the first things a person will notice about you; it is one of the most effective forms of non-verbal communication. Smiling lifts not only your own mood but that of others around you. Smiling also has the power to bring calm to a stressful situation, to express sympathy and to show love. Smiling is a bit like yawning, one smile can trigger many more around you. I dare you to try it today - smile at a complete stranger and see what happens. The worse that can happen is that they think you are a bit odd, but then that's probably true. Or they could smile back -you may just have made their day. There are lot of people living around us who's only social interaction with another human being is paying for their groceries or collecting their pension. Try wearing a smile a little more often and see what difference it makes in your and other's lives.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make their mind up to be"

Abraham Lincoln
You are what you think

The Bible says "As he thinks in his heart, so he is" (Proverbs 23.7). Whether or not you believe in the Bible, this is very clearly a piece of wisdom that can transform your life. In other words you are what you think. Taking it a logical step further you can change your thinking to change who you are becoming. That is powerful stuff! Each of us has voices in our heads that we listen to - the question is which voice is the loudest? These are the voices that when you look in the mirror say 'looking quite cute today' 'wow you look really slim in that outfit' 'you can't do this' 'you'll never be good enough' 'you are so worth it' - whatever. We each have different voices and we need to choose to let the positive ones that build us up speak louder in our lives. Believe that you are amazing, lovable, confident etc and you really will be.

I'm just me and I make no apologies for it

'Be yourself!' How many times have we heard this piece of advice and wondered what on earth it actually means? I remember as a teenager thinking it's all very well but I don't really know who I am! I think the key to this is understanding who the real you is NOT.

  • Being yourself is impossible if you are constantly seeking validation from others. If your sense of self-worth and self-esteem comes from what other people think of you and gaining other's approval, your life will be one emotional roller coaster. Time to stop letting other people's opinions dictate your emotional and thought life.

  • Being yourself is impossible if you look at those around you and wish you could be more like them, have what they have, or achieve what they have achieved. Here's the deal, this is your life, this is your race. Let others run in their lanes and you stay in your own lane - with your head held high and a smile on your face.

  • Being yourself is impossible if you constantly live in regret of past mistakes. I left home and went to uni 15 years ago and I have become a very different person in that time - I have learnt to become and love myself. But I still struggle sometimes when I go back and see people from that time in my life (family not included!) who talk to me and treat me as if I am still that same person. I can even feel an invisible ceiling coming down over me and I shrink inside as inferiority and low self-esteem creep back. The thing is, that is no longer me and despite my regret for things I may have done, said or felt during that time in my life - I don't live in that regret, but I do learn from it and choose to be a different me now.

The title of the this blog is really a bit daft - because even if I had been taught all the above at school I'm sure it would have gone in one ear and out of the other. There are some things in life that you cannot learn until you are receptive and ready to change. And there are other things you can never be convinced of by any other means than self-discovery. Bring on the rest of my life!

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