The Top 3 Personal Development Books That Drastically Changed My Life

The Top 3 Personal Development Books That Drastically Changed My Life

Just over 1 year ago I was a severely depressed, recently separated, father of one, who had smoked marijuana regularly for over 20 years. I had no hope and dreaded the future for myself and my then 9-year-old son.

Today I don’t even recognise the man I was then, or in the years previous. I am full of optimism, hope, and self-belief. And there’s not a drug in sight.

More than anything I can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

I credit two things for making that change possible. Exercise and Personal Development books. I’m not saying it was easy. But I am saying it’s possible. I’m not special, or different. I’m just like the rest of us. If I can do it. Anyone can.

Of all the books I’ve listened to. And I’ve listened to a lot. There are 3 that stand out as the ones that had the most impact on me. ¬†(By the way I recommended Audible as it allows you to listen wherever you are. Whilst driving, exercising, doing your chores).

 

  1. Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S.Dweck, Ph.D.

There’s a reason I have this book as my number one. It’s the book that really set me off on this path of being better. This book more than any other made me believe that change was possible. Not only that, it showed me that it was as straightforward as changing how I think. As I was quite lazy then it seemed the least effort to implement. It was.

It’s about going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. From a mindset that tells you you can’t change (this was actually said to me by my ‘wife’ shortly after she left) to a mindset where you recognise that not only can you change but that anything is possible.

For example. For a good few months after my ‘wife’ left I found having to do all the chores in the house was starting to drive me crazy. As any single parent will tell you it’s relentless. There’s the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry. And it all feels like it’s never-ending.

By simply changing my thoughts from ‘having’ to do things, to ‘getting’ to do those things, made a remarkable difference. I am now happy I get to make my son’s food. I get to wash our clothes. I get to keep the house we live in tidy.

Getting to do those things makes me recognise the blessing of being in such a position. Not many separated fathers are that lucky. It’s amazing how changing simple words can affect your outlook.

2. The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success by Darren Hardy

If you were like me you might not have heard of the compound effect but once you know what it is you can see it at play in your life. It’s basically a start small to make it big idea.

How small actions done consistently over a period of time can have big effects. Like a guitar player who practices every day with no real noticeable improvement but who then, after a certain time, feels something fall into place and is able to play a tune. Or a smoker who doesn’t notice any daily change but after a few years has more wrinkles and yellower teeth. The compound effect doesn’t discriminate between good or bad habits. It takes effect either way.

This book presents you with the best way to make it work for you. There’s lots of helpful guidance and examples. It provides a clear path and illustrates the steps you need to take to better yourself.

I was once asked to recommend a book to someone who wanted to get into personal development. This was the book I choose. It’s the best for a good all-round approach to getting your life together.

3. Be Obsessed Or Be Average by Grant Cardone

This book is not like the others. It hasn’t provided me with any real practical advise. Well, none that I haven’t already encountered elsewhere. Like writing down your goals each night. And really it is geared more towards sales. On the face of it. It’s not really my cup of tea. And I love tea.

The one thing it does give me though. The one thing I don’t really get from any other book. Motivation. And lots of it. The message is simple. Be obsessed with everything you are doing. Push and keep pushing. Be relentless in whatever your pursuit is. Be determined and persistent. And when you think you’ve done enough. Do more.

This is the book I listen to if I need a lift. Need a little kick to get going. I don’t even necessarily agree with everything he says and some chapters I skip. But it still inspires me to get moving. I view this book as my own personal preacher.

Notable mentions: A key thing in improving yourself are the habits you have. The things you do without thinking. They are paramount in being able to better yourself. The two following books are the ones I found most helpful in this regard:

Atomic Habits: An Easy And Proven Way To Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do And How To Change by Charles Duhigg

To anyone out there who is trying to improve themselves. Change their lives for the better. I won’t wish you luck. You don’t need it!

All you need to do is believe that whatever you are trying to change is possible (It is!) and that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your background is, that you have the power to make these changes. You have more power within you than you imagine. It’s there waiting to be found.

Now go get the life you want for yourself! You can do it!

P.s. If anyone wants to know more about my story or thinks I might be able to help you just ask? I’ll be more than happy to talk with you.

 

(This post and blog has affiliate links. This means that if you purchase anything after clicking on a link I receive a small percentage)

Dwelling In, Then Dealing With, Depression.

Dealing With Depression

Depression is a sadness that sucks all the life and light out of your existence. A sadness that can even make you question that very existence. At times like that all you can do is hang on. Cling to what you can and do whatever it takes to get through your day.

A dark day that might turn into a dark night and may just be followed by more of the same. When you are in the midst of it, it seems like it’s impossible to get out of. In fact you can’t think a world even exists without it.

I’m writing this post to you because I realised something about my blog today. I realised I started this blog when I was in a good frame of mind. I realised that mostly I’ve written about the things that have helped me. The outlook I now have. The hope I see in the future.

Oh I’ve written about the odd hiccup that has come along. The days I’ve just fumbled through. The days that have been harder than others. There’s a little bit here and there alluding to how I felt before all this.

I think it’s time to give you a bit of clarity on that. I think that in order for anyone who is in a difficult position. Is feeling depressed, lost, or confused. Is in the midst of their own black, seemingly endless, cloud. That can’t see the forest of hope because of those damned depressing trees, then you need to know this.

First off. If you are depressed or grieving get help. I didn’t. But that’s only because I’ve always had a bad habit of not doing so. It’s better if you do. This is only how I dealt with mine.

Secondly. I know when you’re in the middle of it you feel helpless. Someone telling you it’ll be ok doesn’t help at that time. Hearing everything will be ok will probably annoy you (It will be though ūüôā . ¬†If you haven’t already read my post: Everything Will Be Ok…Or Will It? https://potheadtoprovidence.com/2019/02/20/everything-will-be-ok-or-will-it/ )

Here’s the reality. Well, here’s what my reality was. The reality before things got better. Before I started working on my mind and body. Before I got myself to the position I’m in now.

A position of hope, belief, and wonder, for what lies ahead. A position were very little depressive thoughts even enter my mind.

That reality was…I cried. I cried a lot. Matter of fact for months all I did was cry. Cry and listen to music. Mostly sad songs by the way.

Thing is, I’m a grown man in his 40s. The society I grew up in puts a stigma on that. It shouldn’t. But it mostly does. Oh it’s alright if it’s at a big sporting event. A favourite team has just won an important game. A famous player has died. But crying out of weakness. Because of emotions. We can’t be having that. Sometimes our hypocrisy stinks.

From the moment my ‘wife’ walked out the door. Leaving her son and I behind. I cried. I cried and carried an emotional hurt that was so bad I felt it. It was a physical pressure on my chest. A tightness that wouldn’t seem to leave. I felt confused…actually, I can’t really explain how I felt.

Let’s just say it sucked. It sucked a lot. It sucked more than the suckiest thing that has ever sucking sucked.

I did my best to make sure my son didn’t hear or see me when I was like that. I always tried to put on a facade for him although I knew he felt it too.

I cried when I was making dinner, when having a shower, when cleaning the house, when driving to work. Frankly I cried every time my son couldn’t see me. There was nothing else I could do. I was consumed by feelings of worthlessness. I felt hollow and empty. A failure of the highest degree.

I worried about how my son felt too. My ‘wife’ had only left me after 13 years together. She had left him after his entire life. It was all his world had known and now it was broken. Shattered into a million depressing pieces.

At that time I was struggling to pick up my pieces nevermind his. Hell, I couldn’t even see where they were.

Oh did I say that I was also smoking serious amounts of marijuana at the time also. I always used to smoke on a regular basis. But this was something else. Snoop Dog wouldn’t have had a look in. If I’d lived in Amsterdam or any of the legalized states in America there would have been none left for anyone else.

From a long time ago I’ve always found solace in music. Whether happy or sad. I’m the type of person to play a song on repeat for a ridiculous amount of time. Whatever catches my mood. The song that just seems right for the time. I will listen to that. Over and over and over again.

During those first couple of months all I could do was smoke and listen to music. There was a period of weeks where the only songs I listened to were the Imagine Dragon’s Nothing Left To Say and Alexiane’s A Million On My Soul. I listened and cried, I listened whilst crying, then I listened and cried some more. At that time those songs spoke to me like no others.

I felt lost, alone, hopeless. The house my son and I lived in, the house that we once called home, contained us in our misery. When I wasn’t off crying we sat together on the sofa. Hours, days, weeks, we spent there sitting close watching tv. Then we went to bed (He had moved into my room the night my ‘wife’ left) and he snuggled tight against me.

I would wait until he fell asleep and would get back up again to smoke and cry some more. Listening to songs that reminded me of her. Songs that spoke of love when I had none.

And the mornings. The mornings when all I wanted to do was pull the duvet back over me and ignore the world. The mornings that made me feel my own sad reality over and over again after a forgetful sleep. The mornings where I would wake to see my son’s face and not my ‘wife’s’ and be reminded of the loneliness that the day would bring for both of us. The mornings that set the tone for the rest of the day. They were the hardest.

I knew I couldn’t live like that. I knew my son deserved better. I deserved better for myself also but I couldn’t see that at the time.

I can’t pinpoint when things changed exactly. There wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment. I didn’t wake up one day feeling bright and happy. Happiness is still a work in progress. Thankfully it’s winning out more often than not.

The important thing is things did change. I made them change. I made them change by focusing on my mind. Being conscious of my thoughts. By changing my mindset. By accepting the negatives and trying to replace them with positives. By starting to exercise. I believe movement is a great help considering that when you are depressed it’s usually a struggle to do anything. You just want to lie about and dwell in your misery.

Get your body moving and your mind will follow.

Of course at the beginning it was only little by little. The crying eventually getting less and less as I learned to focus on what I had to do rather than what I had lost. Focus on making things better for my son which also meant making things better for myself.

Look, the reason why I’m telling you this. The reason I’m baring my soul to you is just to show that no matter how low you feel, no matter how helpless your situation, no matter how dark your days are. There’s always hope. You can’t see through that darkness when you are in it. But just because you can’t see a way out, a way to a better life, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Sometimes all you can do is cry. Be consumed by that hellish hole of non-existence. If that’s all you can do. Do it. That crying will help the time pass. It will sooth the part of you that’s hurting. It keeps you alive.

As for me and my son now. He’s getting better. His mother and he are rebuilding their relationship. They are waiting to see a counsellor. He seems to be getting a bit happier as time goes on.

And me? I’m not the man I used to be. I’ve never felt as strong, as optimistic, as positive as this ever. And there’s not a drug in sight.

I don’t even recognise the person I was before all this happened. The person I was for decades. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m living. Truly living. If something important scares me. I face it. I’m seeking life’s challenges. Asking it to give me all its got. Gee’s I’ve even got goals and aspirations.

Those dark days have passed away into relative obscurity. They have passed and the light has come shining through. I’m almost blinded by its brilliance. I feel it in me, around me, lighting up my path.

So when it’s dark and you can’t see just do what you can to get through those days. If all you can do is lie in bed. Do that. Just don’t do it forever.

If those dark thoughts are all there is. If they consume your mind. Just remember that your time will come. It won’t always be that way. There will be a moment you say to yourself that this can’t go on. That things have to change.

When that time comes have courage, have faith, have whatever it takes to make you move. Move and keep moving. The miracle won’t happen overnight but that movement will take you forward into a life you have yet to imagine. There is always a way forward. It might be clouded, hidden, concealed. But it’s there waiting to be found.

You can be the person you need to be to find the path to your happiness or at least lift you out of the abyss. It will take time. It will take effort. It will take you to make a decision for yourself. A decision I once heard in a movie that has always resonated with me. The decision to ‘get busy living or get busy dying’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Person That Limits You The Most

The Person That Limits You The Most

Limits. We all have them. Sometimes it’s a limit that is put on us. By friends. By family. People we meet. Maybe even our circumstances. There is however one person that limits you the most. Yourself.

We think we can’t do something before we’ve even tried. We think we can’t do it after not trying enough. We think too much.

We might have a fear. It could be a lack of confidence. Whatever it is it makes us limit ourselves. We limit and keep limiting.

Here’s the thing. The thing that should tell you all about limits that you need to know. It’s not a thing actually. It’s an event. The Paralympics.

A sporting event where people of a range of disabilities compete against each other. There are many shining examples of overcoming limits to be found there. Basically everyone taking part.

There are runners who don’t have legs. I’ll write that again so it sinks in. There are runners who don’t have legs!!! Can you imagine how boundless their imagination is? Can you imagine the determination they have? They are limited by their own body and that still isn’t enough to stop them!

What’s your excuse for limiting yourself? And make no mistake. It is just that. An excuse.

Look, before you start feeling bad about yourself just remember you are not alone. We all do this to ourselves. Most of us are confined by the limits we set. I know I am. I¬†know that’s why I’m not exactly living the life I want to. I know that’s why I’m doing a job where I’m not using the gifts I have. The abilities I possess.

Why? Because I lived a life of limits. Not feeling I was ever good enough. Not having enough self-confidence, self-belief, or the courage to go out there and do what I need to do.

Ok, maybe I haven’t been clear in just what I wanted to do. Maybe I’ve been afraid to chase the life I’ve really wanted. Most definitely¬†I spent too much time smoking marijuana. Trying to dull the pain of my failures.

Thing is, I know, as you do too (whether you’ll admit it to yourself or not), you are where you are mostly because of yourself. Because of the limits you have imposed. I know that’s not good enough. Do you?

I’m writing this post to try to shed some light onto just how much we hold ourselves back from the life we want. I’m also trying to explain some changes that I don’t even understand. This is a new one for me. Bear with me. I normally have my posts well analysed and understood before I write them down. Not this one. It’s more of a go with the flow type of post. It’s me trying to understand if I’ve been limiting myself too much.

This morning I did something I have never done. It didn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why I did it. I just felt an impulse. An impulse that made me raise my two hands in the air, wide open in a beckoning manner, and shout at the universe to “Come on!”. It wasn’t in a pleading mercy kind of way. It was a ‘I want the most from life’ kind of way.

If I think about it, it seems strange. I’ve never done such a thing before. Thing is, it felt right.

Now to back up a bit.

This week has been something else. I can tell something has changed. Something that is bigger than the limited me I used to be. I know I recently talked about what I believe. That belief isn’t set in stone though. It’s also evolving. Growing. Becoming a more powerful force than I imagined. I’m even starting to believe my imagination was the thing that was limiting it.

There have been a few synchronicities¬†this week. Things that have happened and been said to me. Things that have even baffled my logical thinking side. Thankfully I also have a side that’s as mad as a box of frogs that’s ready to accept the strange and unusual. There’s always room for more frogs ūüôā

I’ve been listening to a book by Jen Sincero called You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life. Basically it’s a Law of Attraction type of book. I have ignored this book many times when it has appeared in my Audible recommendations. The title made me think it was a book geared to women and also a bit silly for my liking.

This week however I decided to read the reviews found under it on Audible. The second review was someone saying that they didn’t consider reading this book because of the title. That they only did so because it had been recommended to them by friends so much. They then said it was one of the best books they had read. I felt that review was speaking to me so I used my monthly credit on it.

If there was ever a book I needed to listen to it was this. Not just because the author is funny and insightful. Not just because she too was in her 40’s before she really got her life together. But because it has helped set a change in motion. Another shift in my mindset. But one that is a bit more out there than say the difference between the fixed and growth mindset that first set me on this path.

The funny thing is since I have listened to this book I have noticed a real shift, not just in me, but in the world around me. Things are happening. Strange things like money appearing in my bank account that I wasn’t expecting. Like me secretly wishing for something and then it happens.

Is it the Law of Attraction (I’ve never really believed in such a thing). Is it something else? Is it just me letting go of certain limiting behaviour? Opening myself up to a world of limitless possibilities?

Now combine this with the fact that two people this morning called me one of their favourite bloggers. That another person suggested an avenue I should pursue in my life outside of blogging (Something I have been thinking about a lot myself) and that another person told me yesterday I had helped uplift and motivate them. And that another person said I had made their day.

The amount of love and positivity that has been received the past few days has been unreal. Frankly more than I’ve had in years. I also received 3 blogging award nominations in 2 days.

Oh I also appeared in 3 local newspapers in relation to my blogging. (That I can rationalise. I’m not great with social media. But old school press releases I can do. So considering a few people have told me to get myself out there more, get marketing. I did so. I made up my own press release and sent it out. Lo and behold it worked).

What is going on? I don’t understand it. Is it coincidence, serendipity, or the Law of Attraction. Is it because I have been working my ass off. Trying daily to dispel any feelings of unworthiness. Trying to break the conditioning that has been put on me by myself and years of negative thinking. Trying to create a better life for my son and I. Trying constantly to take this life and make what I want of it whilst spreading as much joy, love and positivity as I can along the way. Trying to break my limits.

Truth is, I don’t need to understand it. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that I’m not putting limits on myself anymore. And you shouldn’t either!

Whatever this is I’m in. Heart and soul. Full tilt into the unknown. Leave your limits behind and join me. A new world, a new life, awaits you. What are you waiting for?

P.s What do you think? It is the Law of Attraction (Does such a thing exist?) or something else? Is it because I am being more meaningful in my thoughts and actions? Is it just coincidence?

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Why Adversity Isn’t All Bad

Adversity

We’ve all got it in our lives. That something we have to overcome. The challenge, the obstacle, the barrier in the way.

Each person’s is unique to themselves. It’s your own problem. A problem that can only be surmounted by you.

From an outsiders view we have a tendency to downplay some people’s adversity. That difficult or unpleasant event or situation for one person may not seem so bad for another.

We have this attitude of looking at someone’s issue and saying: “Is that all your worried about?”. “I wish I had your problems. “Look what I have to deal with”. That attitude is dismissive, disrespectful and ignorant.

If someone is facing a problem which to them feels like the biggest issue in the world. It is.

It doesn’t matter what you or I think about their problem. It doesn’t even matter if we don’t even think it is a problem at all. The fact it is a problem for them is all we need to know.

Of course there are some problems that would be difficult no matter what your perspective.

I read a blog post this week that was the most moving, heartbreaking, and the most inspiring thing I have ever read. It was a blogger telling the story of a part of her life. The things she had to endure as a child. Things that no child or adult should really have to endure. An adversity we could all agree on. One we would all have difficulty overcoming. If we could have at all.

Do you know what the beauty of it was though? At the end of the post this blogger was speaking of hope, inspiration. That child she was, the child she described as a ‘lonely bird with no wings’, had blossomed into a soaring eagle.

I have communicated quite often with this woman. She is strong, direct, truthful, whilst still being caring, compassionate, understanding. She is inspiration personified.

Why I am telling you? It’s simple really. It’s to show you that whatever adversity you have to overcome. Whatever challenge lies ahead of you. It’s not all bad. It’s actually way more than that.

Yes, whatever your issue is, whatever you have to face, whatever you have to deal with, can be really difficult. It might feel like it pushes you to the edge. It might feel like it will break you. It might have broken you a bit already.

But, and it is a very big but, when you come out the other side, when that adversity has been surmounted, when it is falling behind into nothing but memory. It will leave you with a gift.

It will give you a greater strength. A strength that has always been within you but that maybe you just weren’t aware you had. It will provide you with a greater understanding, a clearer insight, and a feeling of self-belief. It will give you power.

It will give you more than it has taken away. A gift not just for you but something you can share with the rest of the world.

Some adversity we create ourselves. Some arises from within ourselves. Some is thrust upon us. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.

It matters what you do with it. How you deal with it.

You will learn from it. It will help you grow. It will help turn you into something more beautiful than you already are. It will help you become your own eagle and fly.

 

P.s. Here is a link to the blog in question. It’s a two parter. I highly recommend you read it. Be warned. It is quite harrowing in places but definitely worth reading to the end.

https://huguetta.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/a-bird-without-wings-in-the-big-jungle-1-2/

https://huguetta.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/a-bird-without-wings-in-the-big-jungle-2-2/

 

 

Does It Matter What You Believe In?

Do You Believe?

A lot of us believe in something bigger than ourselves. We believe in a God or gods. Some external force that can help with the perceived wrongs in our life. Some people believe in the fact they don’t believe anything.

But what if it doesn’t matter what you believe in? What if believing itself is enough?

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and belief. About people who believe in one religion or another. Most times it’s about trying to find an answer outside yourself. About giving yourself up to something greater.

The thought that I can’t seem to shake about it all is that predominately what you believe in is preordained by where you were born. The influence of your family. The society you grew up in. The education you received.

Here in Northern Ireland the most followed beliefs are Christian. A majority of the population is divided into being either Catholic or Protestant.

In India, the birthplace of 4 of the world’s major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism Jainism, Sikhism), Hinduism is the most popular. In the Middle East you have the birthplace of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Islam being the most widely practiced.

The 2 most popular worldwide are currently, in order, Christianity and Islam.

Whilst these religions are great for establishing some sort of moral foundation. For giving direction and guidance in how best to live your life. To live in harmony and humanity with each other.

There is also no denying that amount of conflict and strife, the amount of wars fought, in their name. Surly with all these different beliefs worldwide they can’t all be right, or wrong?

Like Trinity said to Neo in The Matrix movie. Let me tell you what I believe.

To be clear. I am not detracting from anyone’s belief. What faith they have. What they choose to believe in. That fact will become clear shortly.

The way I see it every belief system has something in common. Let’s not get caught up in the many different ways that different people, in different countries, over the ages have tried to make sense of it all. Interpretations are wide and varied.

Let’s instead look at the one thing they have in common.

The thought of belief.

Having a faith in something that is outside the grasp of logical understanding or argument. Although my own direct experience has mostly been with Christians. Those Christians have all said the same thing when talking about their God. You just have to believe.

And they’re right. You do just have to believe. I just don’t think it is necessarily a deity that you have to believe in. I don’t think it’s just an external force.

An idea had come to me when developing my blog. I was trying to find the right way of summing it up. Initially it was just Being Better. But that is fairly well used. I couldn’t find a good web address for it as they were all used up.

I then thought some more about who I am, what I’m about. An inspiration came to me. When I searched it up I found it was available as a web address. The idea was about growing. Moving from darkness to light. From a lack of belief to an abundance. About going from a pothead (Marijuana smoker) to something more. Thus pothead to providence was born.

When people see providence it evokes a religious connotation. In many dictionaries providence is defined as: ‘God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny’ (Merriam-Webster), ‘The proactive care of God or of nature as a spiritual power’ (Oxford English). However my personal favourite is found in the Collins dictionary: “God, or¬†a force which is believed by some people to arrange the things that happen to us“.

Here’s the thing. I am not religious (even though technically I was raised as Catholic). I don’t believe in God or gods. I don’t follow Buddhas teachings. Matter of fact I don’t follow any spiritual teaching at all.

I do believe though. I believe there is a force that arranges things to happen to us. I believe that force is within us. Within all of us. I believe we are that force.

I believe that within us lies a guiding compass. A compass that points to the right path. The right way to live. It’s specific to us as individuals. Whether we follow that compass is another story.

With all this talk about religions I think it’s time to bring in some science. They’re often seen as direct opposites. You’re either for one or the other. Even though there are many religious scientists.

It’s one experiment in particular. An experiment in quantum mechanics called the double-slit experiment. The most famous example being the 1998 Weizmann experiment.

The results of that experiment led to the popular belief that a conscious mind can directly affect reality. Another variation of the experiment in 2015 by researchers at the Australian National University led them to the conclusion that at the quantum level reality does not even exist if you are not looking at it.

Combine this with the knowledge of the principle of mind over matter. Where the power of the mind can overcome a physical condition like extreme cold for example. Like the Tibetan monks who can control their blood pressure and body temperature by meditating.

Then there’s the placebo effect where people have believed they are receiving treatment for an ailment but were just given a fake. And it still worked.

Do you know that the placebo effect has also been shown to work even when those getting treated were made aware that they were taking a placebo!

My point in telling you this is to make something clear. The mind is a powerful thing. We still don’t, and may never, understand its true capabilities. Using that mind to believe something, can make that something real.

What I am saying is that it is important to have a belief. Belief is what can give you purpose. Belief can change your reality to what you want it to be.

If having a belief in a God is your thing? That’s great. If it’s a belief in some other higher power? That’s equally as great. If it’s a belief that we can manifest our own reality. That’s just as good. Even if you believe in nothing. You are still exercising belief.

Your belief is what will carry you through your darkest days. That belief can also elevate you to the loftiest heights. But why just look outside of yourself for that belief? Why not look within? Maybe it’s in both places. Maybe it’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Maybe it just exists when you believe in it.

Look at the all the people who are considered successful. Not just in wealth but in achievement. They are just the same as you or I. They are not any more special than the rest of us. They don’t have some hidden secret or magic powers. They are all human beings. They are all made of flesh and bones.

What they all had, or have, was a belief. They believed what they were doing what the right thing for them. They believed that they could make a difference, even if it was only in their own lives. They believed in something more than themselves. They believed in a purpose that drove them. They believe they could find the answer to their questions.

They believed. I believe. Do you?

 

 

 

 

When Your Worst Critic is You (The Blame Game)

When Your Worst Critic Is You

Who else read that title and said: ‘That’s me’? I know I did. And I’m the person that wrote it.

How many of us lie in bed at night thinking and dwelling on something we said or did that day? How many of us wish that we might have behaved differently in a given situation? How many of us have said something in a conversation only to question internally mere seconds later as to why we said it?

We beat ourselves up over things that have passed. We beat ourselves up over things that have yet to come. We beat ourselves up.

The real question is though, when thinking on those times, are you being too hard on yourself? Are you blaming yourself too much? Possibly even for something that no one else has given a second thought.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because of something that has been said to me by 2 different people in as many days. One of those people even asked me if I was ok? The implication being that she was worried I was depressed.

The reason they said it to me was because they were reading my blog. See, I’ve went a bit public with it. It’s no longer something where I feel anonymous. It’s not just to strangers on the internet. It’s to people who know me. People from my past, people from my present, people who have known me all my life.

The thing is they weren’t questioning my development. They weren’t questioning the progress I have made and will continue to make. They weren’t questioning the sense of vigour and drive that now propels me. They were questioning my view of past events. Basically my married life.

Both people thought I was being too hard on myself. They actually know me very well. I would confide, and still do, in one of them quite a lot. She knows almost every detail of my life story.

Both of them thought I was painting a bleaker picture of myself than I deserved. That I was painting myself in too harsh a light. That I was accepting too much of the blame in the breakdown of my marriage. That I was being too critical of myself.

It set me thinking. Gees what doesn’t. We always hear about not blaming others. How it’s the best way forward. Accept responsibility for your actions. Then move on.

But what if we take that too far. What if we don’t blame others but instead end up blaming ourselves too much. Isn’t that equally as damaging?

So that set me off on a quest of Googling blame. The essence of being too hard on yourself.

I’ve found information on why you shouldn’t blame yourself, why you shouldn’t blame others, why we blame society, why we blame victims, why we blame God or a higher power.

That set me thinking again. Why do we feel the need to blame at all? I can’t find anything about that. I even searched the direct term ‘why we feel the need to blame?’. There was one link with that specific line. Turns out it was about a specific thing. Not the need to blame in general.

So where do we draw the line? At what point can we say it’s not someone else’s fault. It’s not our fault. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just one of those things.

When do we stop being so critical of ourselves, of others? When can we learn to just let it go? Give ourselves some peace of mind. Let us fall asleep without running through all those unnecessary scenarios where we are overly critical about the things we have said or done. When do we stop beating ourselves up?

Is that a place we can reach? Or do we just end up blaming our own minds for everything instead?

 

p.s. If anyone has further clarity on this please let me know. Can we really be ‘blameless’? Have you felt the need to blame today?

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Is You

The Power Is You

We all have something we are not happy with. Something in our lives we might wish to be different. It might be ourselves. It might be the situation we are in. It doesn’t matter what it is because we all have the power to do something about it. The power that’s in you.

You have the power to change. All it takes is a decision. And then action. Instead of waiting for a change. Choose to be the agent of that change.

It was just over a year ago that the life I had known for almost 10 years ended. It was traumatic. I was devastated. My son was devastated. For weeks all I could do was cry.

I cried almost every night when he was asleep. I cried when I was making the dinner, doing household duties, driving to work. Matter of fact almost every time I was by myself I was crying.

It was a Thursday morning when my wife, my son’s mother, left our shared home. She seemed a bit off. I asked her was she alright. She said she was leaving. Then she left.

Our son called for his breakfast from the living room as I struggled from the pain in my chest, reeled from the heartbreaking news, and just wanted to crumble on the kitchen floor. I was hurt. I was afraid of how it was going to affect our son. I was afraid of what the future now held.

I don’t blame her for anything. Yes, I was saddened that she just gave up and walked away. But I don’t blame her.

Back then, as in many years previous, I was in a deep rut of my own making. I had no spirit, no belief, no energy, no ambition. I was a negative space.

I was spending at least £50 a week on marijuana. I did very little. Oh I went to work and made sure to spend quality time with our son but other than that I just watched tv, movies, surfed the net. Passed time doing nothing of importance.

I was also sick a lot. I had stomach problems, bowel problems. There was nearly always some sort of issue with my health. Physical and mental.

The first while after she left was a very low period of time. If I had to pick a colour for it. It would be black. Not just ordinary black. Vantablack. The one that absorbs practically all visible light. The one that doesn’t really reflect any back into the world.

Somewhere along the way, I can’t pinpoint exactly, but something changed. A determination arose. A strength and power I had never felt previously. A conviction, a belief.

Like a cartoon character from the 80s called He-Man I realised something profound. He used to transform from a mild prince into a strongman with superhuman strength after he held aloft his magic sword and said: “I have the power”. I didn’t need a magic sword. I just felt it within myself. I had the power. The same way you have the power. The power that lies within you. That lies within us all.

The power to be the change in your life.

As I am writing this the amount of change in my life has been astonishing. I am now a person who lives with purpose. I exercise regularly, almost daily. I don’t smoke any marijuana (after a 20 plus year habit), I’ve only been sick once (It was bug going around), I am learning Krav Maga (self-defence), I think I can consider myself a blogger (I’ve written over 40,000 words in 3 months), I actually have goals that I want to achieve (I never did).

The best of it is, I feel this is only the beginning. I’m not absorbing all the light. I’m shining it out there instead.

Now my situation hasn’t really changed. In some ways it is a bit more difficult. I’m now a working single father trying to raise my son with very little outside support. A son who sometimes still struggles with his mother’s departure. My financial situation is fragile.

I know it’s ok though. It will always be ok. Actually, it will be more than ok. I’m going to make sure of that.

Look, the reason why I am telling you all this is to show you that your power to change is a powerful thing. You don’t have to wait for it to come to you. It’s there already just waiting to be called upon.

If it’s something about yourself you are not happy with start taking steps to do something about it. If it’s something that is outside or beyond your control. There is still an answer. If you can’t change what’s without. Change what’s within instead. Change your attitude. Change the way you think about things. Change what you must. It’s all possible.

All it takes is the right belief, the right mindset, then the right actions on that. It won’t always work out, at least how you hoped. You’ll still have days where it feels a bit too much. Days that are tougher than others. There will be constant challenges and difficulties.

In actual fact if you’re doing things right there should be constant challenges and difficulties. Change is possible. I never said it would be easy.

But just remember. Nothing is going to face you that you can’t handle. Just find your strength. Find your courage. Find the power. The power that is you!

Suicide And Hope (Why I’m Glad I Failed)

Suicide And Hope

For some people life can get overwhelming. Be a bit too much to bear. Death feels like the only way out. Times like that you need hope. It can be hard to find. This is for you. It’s a message of hope. From someone who once had none.

Sometimes when you feel like killing yourself the only thing keeping you hanging on is the thought of how a loved one would feel if you were gone. It might be a parent, a brother or sister, a good friend.

Thing is, if you were like me, there’s probably¬†only that one thing keeping you hanging on. And what seems like a million other reasons telling you to give up. One against a million, like a sand bag against a flood, isn’t going to hold on forever.

I know that for a long time the only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t want to put my parents through the pain of losing a child. That’s the worst thing any parent has to endure.

And that worked. For years. But as the years passed, the emptiness got bigger, the darkness deepened. The black fog continued to consume me.

Until one particular night. It actually wasn’t any different a night from any other. I was just overwhelmed by the thought that although I loved my parents. They couldn’t live my life for me. They couldn’t lift the dark heavy cloud of depression that always hung over my head. They couldn’t answer the question that had been running through my mind for years. A simple question. A question with no singularly correct answer. What’s the point?

I couldn’t see any. And nobody else seemed to know either. Oh everybody has their ideas and theories about life. But they are all just that. Ideas and theories. There is no concrete answer. Nothing definitive. The point is….The question remained unanswered.

So I wrote a note. Put Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird on repeat. Loaded up on painkillers. And lay down for my permanent sleep. That was that. Job done. Game over. Bye world. It hasn’t been nice knowing you.

At least I thought that was that. It obviously wasn’t.

I can’t remember when I started being violently ill. I can’t remember how long I was being sick for before my parents came into my room.

I remember the look in my mother’s eyes when she saw the note though. I remember the guilt I felt. The shame.

An ambulance was called. I was taken to hospital. It turned out I was on the brink of liver failure. The next few days were a bit of a blur.

I spent 2 weeks there. They put me in a ward with an old man. It was just him and I.

Turns out he had cancer. He was dying. He used to look out the hospital window towards the direction of his home talking about how he just wanted to get back there. He never did. He died before my 2 weeks were over.

During my hospital stay I had to see a psychiatrist. He would ask how I was feeling. I would lie. I would say I was feeling fine. That what I did was a huge mistake. I would never try that again.

Only the last line was true. I would never try again because after seeing my mother’s eyes that morning I knew I couldn’t do that to her.

The real truth was that I felt as depressed as ever. Only now that depression was further compounded by the guilt and shame I felt. At that time I felt like a failure, a let down, a disappointment. I was such a failure I had even failed at killing myself.

I was 21 then. I’m 43 now. I’d like to say that I eventually got help. That my depression just went away. That everything has been fine since. I’d like to say that. But I would be lying now as I was then.

I didn’t get any help. I never talked to anyone about it. I even found it hard to look anyone in the eye who knew what I had done. I felt people, including my friends, treated me differently.

The one thing I did do was to resolve to myself that no matter how bad things got. No matter how sad and utterly depressed I got. No matter how pointless things seemed to be. Taking my life would never be an option.

It’s been a long time since. Another lifetime really if my life had ended then. Happily I can say there have been many joys in my life. Joys that I would have missed out on. Like the girlfriend I had who made me believe in love at first sight. Like my niece taking her first steps while we played together. Like meeting the beautiful and caring woman who would become my wife. Like the birth of my son. I could go on…

But let’s get real here. In between those times there have been difficulties and struggles too. My biggest struggle at the moment was that aforementioned wife leaving a year ago. How it has affected both my son and I.

Those storms of sadness sometimes still come around. There might be a reason. There might not. But storms pass. Sunshine will come shining through. The two go hand in hand. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s dark clouds and manure too.

You won’t always be happy. At the same time that means you won’t always be sad.

And the answer to what’s the point? I can’t answer that for you. No one can. The reason why there are so many ideas and theories about it is because you have to find your own answer. Find your purpose. And don’t worry if you think that will never happen. Your thinking can change. It will change. You can even make it so.

While mental health now doesn’t carry the same stigma as it once did. And while there are so many services out there to help people who are suffering. Back then it wasn’t readily available.

I never talked to anyone about how I was feeling. I always kept it inside. Tried to deal with it myself. I was wrong in doing that.

If you’re feeling suicidal. Talk to someone. And if you feel they aren’t listening or can’t quite grasp how difficult you are finding life. Or think you’re being silly or overdramatic.¬†Keep talking. Keep talking until someone hears you. Keep talking until they understand. Make them listen. Scream it if you have to. Whatever you do, don’t give in.

Then get help. There is no shame. There is no weakness. Asking for help is a far greater thing to do than not. I know I should have. It would have made things easier.

Remember you are not alone. Others have suffered too. There are others suffering right now. There are also others who have come out the other side. Others who have passed through their darkest periods of life. Others who are more than happy to have done so.

Look, I get it, sometimes it feels there is no other way out. Sometimes you might think this world would be better off without you. That you won’t be missed. That there is no hope. Times like that, hope is hard to find.

Even hearing someone talking about hope makes you balk. Yeah, it’s easy to talk about it when you don’t need it. When you need it the most it’s the most difficult thing to find. I know, I was the one who once had none. And for a long time.

If I can give you anything it’s this. My story of going from hopeless to hopeful. You might not believe this right now but there is something special within you. A gift you might not yet have discovered. A strength within that is just waiting to be called upon. A strength that will change your life.

Find faith. I’m not talking about faith in some deity. Although if that’s what works use it. I’m talking about faith in yourself. Faith that if you keep moving on, keep facing each new day, something will change. And it will. You might even make that change, be that change.

The world is constantly revolving. Everything is in a state of motion. You are too. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. With movement comes change. It’s inevitable. Just hang on until the right change happens. Hang on for all your worth. Just hang on. Even if that’s all you can do.

There will come a time when the good outweighs the bad. Where the weight of your sadness is lifted. Where you’ll look back and be glad you found a bit of hope to keep you going. Keep you alive. You never know what beautiful and wonderous things life has in store for you.

Just look at Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Eminem, Billy Joel. All these people attempted suicide before we even knew their names. Look at what they and the world would have missed out on. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity of finding out too.

That failure of mine has turned out to be my greatest success. It’s a failure I am proud of. It’s the failure that has kept me here. Kept me living. And despite all my problems. The difficulties I have and will continue to face. It has kept me alive long enough to realise what my point is. My answer to the question that plagued me for years. It’s worth hanging on to find out your answer too.

Find your hope. In hope lies your life.

 

P.s. ¬† I don’t think I stressed this enough. If you are feeling suicidal get help.

 

 

Separation And Children (A Message For Parents)

Separated Parents

When a couple with a child or children separates it is a terrible thing. There are no winners in such a situation. There are only losers. The people who lose the most are the children.

Normally the decision to split is made by one person. They have reached a point where they feel they can no longer go on as a part of that couple. It is not an easy decision. Much thought is put into it. It is a decision that isn’t, and shouldn’t, be taken lightly.

Just to be clear. I am not discussing people who made the decision to get away from an abusive, unhealthy, relationship. The person that was the abuser was the one that put them in such a difficult position and as a parent our natural impulse is to do what we must to protect ourselves and our children. I’m truly sorry for the people with children who had to get away from such a situation.

I’m writing about ‘ordinary’ couples. Couples who, for some reason or other, have fallen out of love, have drifted apart, lost that connection they once had.

For the couples that fall into that category, those that had children. I have one simple message. One that will help you in the long run. Help you do what is best for your children. That message is this: Get Over Yourself!

There’s no sugar-coating this. If you are a parent who genuinely loves your child or children then always remember to put their needs first. Look, it’s bad enough that the only world they probably have ever known has fallen apart. You do not need to add further hurt to their lives.

At the end of the day, regardless of how you feel about your ex-partner, the father or mother of your children, remember that your child or children still love them. They might be confused and upset. They most certainly don’t understand the complexities of an adult relationship especially if they are young. They just know they love them.

I know it is not easy. Especially for the partner left behind. There is a lot of hurt, anger, resentment. You’ll probably want to punish them in some way. Make them suffer as much as you are. Do you know who is suffering more? That’s right. Your children!

When we are on that subject. You better make sure you tell them it is not their fault. Keep telling them if you have to. They need to know they are not to blame. They need to know their parents still love them, and will always love them.

Stop thinking about your own selfish needs. Never fight in front of your children. Never use your children against each other. They are going to feel bad enough without you making them feel they need to be more loyal to one parent over the other. Don’t add to their already overburdening worries.

Both you and your ex are going to have issues. There are going to be complications. You might end up completely resenting each other. Just don’t make it obvious to your children. If you have to fight. Do it out of earshot and eyesight. And that’s only if you have to.

What you really should be doing is behaving like the adult you are. Be respectful and rational no matter how much your emotional impulses might be driving you not to. Keep remembering what is really important. Because regardless of how you feel about each other. Regardless of how much you have drifted apart. It is the one thing you should still have in common. Doing what’s best for your children.

 

 

The Easy Life? Is There Such A Thing?

The Easy Life

The easy life. A lot of us think we want it. You probably even dream of having it. But is there such a thing? Does it even exist?

We all have this image of an ideal easy life. A life where you have untold amounts of wealth and spend your days doing whatever you feel like doing. Living your life like a holiday. Lazing on a beach. Letting someone else do all your work. Just sitting back and relaxing your life away.

First off. I think there is no such thing as easy. Easy is an illusion. Matter of fact I would argue it is more of a delusion. Anything that comes easy has no real reward, no real benefit. Nothing is learned from easy.

There might be the lucky few who win financial jackpots, like lottery winners. They think they have it made. Think they have found the easy life. But what happens? Some lose that money because they weren’t financially savvy. Some have their marriages fall apart. Some suffer from family breakdowns. Some fall victim to addiction.

The problem being that money doesn’t solve some people’s problems. It might only magnify them. Their life doesn’t just magically become ‘easy’ because of it. Just Google unlucky lottery winners to get an idea.

‘Easy’ was all I ever wanted. I lived my life the most comfortable and easy way possible. Seeking to do as little as possible, and as often. I thought that was the way life should be.

I spent countless hours smoking marijuana, watching television, surfing the net. I worked jobs I had no interest in. And for a minimal wage. I got by. Always took the path of least resistance. I put little effort into everything. Being a good parent being the only real exception.

What did I get for my efforts, or lack thereof ? Nothing of note. If anything I only lost out. I lost my wife. I’ve never succeeded at anything. I never really felt happy or content. That supposed easy life I had was anything but.

So what about the people who we think are living the easy life? The millionaires, billionaires, those with untold wealth. Well for a start do you think their lives are easy? I can assuredly say that everyone of those people has worked hard and continues to do so.

Their lives might be considered easier than they used to be. Maybe they have private jets, chauffeur driven cars, housemaids, nannies. Maybe when then go on holidays they can stay in five-star hotels, take more than a few weeks off.

But the fact remains, you just have read about them to see, most of them are up at dawn’s first light, maybe even before. Many work long hours. 9 to 5 doesn’t exist to them. Without a doubt they have put a lot of time and effort into getting where they are. It certainly hasn’t been easy.

With all that said it is possible to have an easier life. Not easy. Just easier.

Paradoxically it requires you to work hard. Like the aforementioned millionaires and billionaires. The thing about working hard. The thing I wish I had learned years ago. When you start working hard, putting more time and effort into things, it actually gets a bit easier. Makes your life a bit easier. Oh you will always have problems to overcome. There will be highs and lows. Such is the nature of life. But the more consistent you are at working hard. Both in your career and your life. The less hard it seems to be.

For example, long before I was married and had my son even doing a 9 to 5 job was an effort. Before that going to school from 9 to 3 was a struggle. Doing anything remotely like work in the evening after those was out of the question. And don’t dare suggesting doing work at the weekends. It just seemed like it required too much time and effort. I had the attitude of just wanting to enjoy my life. To do what I wanted with the time I had.

Little did I realise then that the work you put into whatever it is you want to do might be harder at the time but in the long run, in the years later, it makes things a bit easier. It gives you more options. Maybe lets you find a job that provides a greater amount of financial stability. A job you get more satisfaction out of. Lets you lead the type of lifestyle you want.

Not only that but as you put more time and effort into the things you need to do you will actually find doing those things easier. You might even find you are capable of doing more than you imagined, than you even thought possible.

Currently I am a working single parent. I come home from work and spend a few hours doing household work, dinner, dishes, laundry, cleaning. Then it’s out to my little gym for a quick workout. Then, depending on what my son is doing, I either spend time with him or work on my blog or towards my other goals. If I don’t get my blogging/goal time, I wait until he falls asleep, then get back up and make sure some work gets done on them.

If you had asked me to do all that, even as early as just over a year ago, I would have been exasperated. I would have complained. Made excuses as to why that wasn’t possible. My first excuse would have been that I had been working all day. That I needed some time to chill.

That was the ‘me’ who wanted what I thought was an ‘easy’ life. That ‘me’ honestly didn’t have a clue. Didn’t realise the benefits of working hard. Both for the moment and for the future.

Now I not only relish the thought of what I have to do. I wish there was more I could get done. It never seems to be enough. I’m doing more than ever. Still I want to do more.

So please. Don’t learn your lessons the hard way. There is no such thing as an ‘easy’ life. It doesn’t exist. You can make your life easier but it takes hard work. But that hard work doesn’t seem as hard the more you do it.

It’s up to you and the life you want to lead. Just remember. ‘Easy’ doesn’t get you anything.