Honestly Strong

Today’s Thought: You are strong enough to face it, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

How often have you been consumed by anxiety before a specific event and felt as though you can’t possibly survive it and then found that the event is over and you are absolutely fine?

Maybe this is a good time to reflect on all those times and consider today’s thought. Yes, every time the anxiety bites, it’s terrifying and you feel as though you could spontaneously combust. Yes, your amygdala is screaming at you to run away or freeze in terror and you couldn’t hate it any more than you already do. But guess what, you survived!

You are strong.

You are kind.

You are creative.

You are honest (because let’s face it, everyone else feels exactly the same, but they’re not letting on)!

Fear is a reaction; courage is a decision and every time you choose to carry on regardless of your fear, you are showing how brave you are. Recognise your fear, then strap on your cape of courage and go out and face the world!

Know Your True Self

Today’s Thought: Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be someone we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t- that you will truly succeed.

This week I have been worrying myself silly that I am not good enough at my job again; that someone I work with would be much better at it than me. I have been undermining my confidence and putting myself down to the point where I have been looking at other jobs to see if there is a viable way out! There isn’t! I have to face the challenges that are coming my way.

Luckily, I had an appointment with my therapist this week and when I told her how I have been feeling and how anxious I am about the heavy workload I have coming up over the next few weeks, she set me a challenge – to name all the ‘bad’ things about some of my colleagues. I had sat there listing all the ‘bad’ things about me, saying everyone was better than me but I hadn’t said anyone else was ‘bad’ at anything.

It was an moment of realisation for me – of course we all have strengths and weaknesses, that’s totally normal, but why was I only focusing on my weaknesses and everyone else’s apparent strengths? Sitting with my therapist, we listed all the weaknesses my colleagues have – even the kindest, most lovely of them had weaknesses – and we compared the weaknesses to my strengths and saw how they balanced each other out.

I am still anxious about the next few weeks; I am scared I won’t perform under the immense pressure that is to come, but I have made a decision: I am going to play to my strengths – one of which is encouraging others to perform at their best, by developing their strengths and supporting their weaknesses. I am good at this! I have colleagues who are good at the things I am less good at – this is why we have a team and why it’s important we aren’t all strong at the same aspects of the role.

The next time you feel inadequate or have an attack of impostor syndrome, take a few moments to list everyone else’s bad points (don’t make it public, maybe only do it in your head – you don’t want a situation where someone finds your list!). Consider how your strengths counteract their weaknesses and how their strengths counteract your weaknesses. See how you play your part then get out there and play it well!

You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be you.

Be Honest About Fear

Today’s Thought: Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.

This week I felt fear build following a difficult interaction with a client. They were furious with us and had planted a seed of doubt in my mind about whether we had covered all our bases when dealing with them.

I sat with the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty for a minute or two, then had a flash of realisation. I didn’t need to. There were things I could do to reassure myself and check our actions. As soon as I decided to follow that path of investigation, the fear seemed to shrink and shrivel.

Next time the fear creeps is. Explore where the feeling is coming from then ask yourself what you can do about it. Is there a way to check facts? Is there someone you can seek guidance from? Is there corrective action you need to take? This way you control the fear and it no longer controls you.

It will swell within you from time to time, but you have the power to diminish it, to put it back in its place. Fear: False expectations/evidence appearing real. Check the honesty in a situation and you will quieten the fear.

Honest Magic

Today’s Thought: Something magical happens when you’re completely honest with yourself. When that happens, no one can ever hurt you again.

I think this is true. If we aren’t honest with ourselves about why we are hurt; what has hurt us and how we are truly feeling, then we cannot start to heal. If we can’t heal, we can’t move forward and we will continue to hurt.

Look deep; identify the pain and be completely true to yourself about where the pain comes from. It will be uncomfortable and distressing, but you will then be able to find the antidote.

To begin with you will find the shame or anxiety or fear or anger is heightened and you will wonder why you ever started to pick away it it. Have courage. You are not alone and needn’t be alone. There are lots of helpers out there. Find yours and share your pain with them so your healing can begin.

You can get better. Never, ever give up, for you are loved; you are wanted; you are important and you are strong.

Honest Discovery

Today’s Thought: Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.

I can feel a change happening within me; it’s the beginning of a shift in courage and it is giving me the power to see things differently.

I have started to realise that I might be braver than I think! I haven’t turned into Winnie The Pooh, but I really believe that he might have been absolutely right with his wise words.

This week I wanted to do something at work and I needed to seek the permission of someone superior to do it. As I explained my idea to them, knowing that I was exuding the excitement I felt for the project, I could see fear form a shadow across their face! They weren’t excited; they were terrified. Terrified of everything that could go wrong and this is where their thoughts about the project remained. I was advised that it might be better the scale my idea down and keep it small and safe.

To begin with I accepted this, although disappointed, and just sat comfortably with the thought that I had obviously scared them with my courageous idea! This was enough for me. However, word of my idea reached another colleague, who spoke to my superior and said that they thought my idea was a good one and with some adaptations there was no reason we couldn’t go ahead!

This moment, along with others over the past few weeks where I have forced myself to do the things I am passionate about, that I feel are right for the organisation I am responsible for, are showing me that when I have the courage to be true to myself and therefore honest with those around me, things are more successful.

For this to happen, I have to keep my fear of judgement in check, my anxiety about making mistakes in check and give courage a chance. It’s thrilling and motivating and quite possibly addictive! It’s important, now, that I don’t allow this growing courage to become arrogance. Having courage doesn’t mean I will always win through; it doesn’t mean that I have nothing left to learn and will always be right. What it does mean, though, is that I can be truly honest with myself and those around me and I can be happy at the end of each day that I have lived well and done good things.

An honest life brings peace; it’s worth fighting for.

Honesty: Protection From Karma!

Today’s Thought: A clear conscience is far more valuable than money.

This week I realised that I had made a mistake at work. It was a genuine mistake, but it affected someone else greatly. As soon as I realised what I had done, I felt that stab of panic: ‘Oh no! This is my fault! What can I do? I don’t want to have messed this up for that person!’

For about a minute, I sat at my desk, penning a short email to the person who had reminded me of what I was meant to have done (the thing I had forgotten all about)! I initially thought I could write a half truth, claiming that I had only remembered to do part of it. Maybe saying that would enable the person impacted by my mistake to be less affected. I wrote the email and immediately deleted it. I wrote it again; I deleted it again. Something was telling me that this wasn’t the way to deal with this situation – an invisible Jiminy Cricket whispering in my ear!

I took a deep breath and went to find the person who was about to feel the impact of my mistake and asked to speak to them. I told them what I had forgotten to do and apologised and told them what I needed to do to put it right. I could see they were upset, but they didn’t shout at me and, just as important, I wasn’t sweating with the pressure of a half truth being told (and nor had my nose grown Pinocchio style)! Despite being genuinely sorry and embarrassed about my mistake, I felt confident in the conversation I was having.

As soon as I had finished confessing, I emailed the colleague who had pointed out my mistake and owned up to them as well. They didn’t admonish me, they simply asked me to keep them updated.

I was honest and the sky didn’t fall in, no one shouted and the problem was solved far sooner than if I had chosen to take the dishonest path.

Honesty – a magical and powerful character trait to calm anxiety and solve problems!

Be you; honestly.

Today’s Thought: The moment you feel you need to start proving yourself is the moment you need to be silent and walk away.

I have a break coming up and I am going to use it as time to become more comfortable with who I am. I am going to define my core values and begin the practice of living by them.

A lot of what I do revolves around trying to prove myself to others: prove that I am clever; prove that I am organised; prove that I have read the latest document or research; prove that I can use the right buzz words; prove that I can lead others and have an impact. No wonder I am exhausted.

All I really need to do is be myself; do my best and be kind. If that’s not enough, then maybe I don’t want to be that other person. If I cannot be who I honestly am, then I am living a lie and that doesn’t meet one of my core values – to be honest.

I have a challenge coming up tomorrow: I need to work with someone who I feel challenges my honesty value – I think they are better than me and they have a fierce nature at times and my natural default setting is to avoid confrontation, so I find myself bending to their will or being manipulated and I dislike the way it makes me feel. I feel twisted and concertinaed and ultimately unhappy with my choices and actions.

If I am going to practice my core value of honesty, I need to be ready to stand firm in the face of confrontation. I cannot let fear rule my decisions. I want to be a strong, honest and kind person – it should be easy, but it isn’t and I just have to accept that, put on some armour and get out there and fight for my core values so that I can be the person I truly am.

Honestly Approving Of Yourself.

Today’s Thought: A life spent seeking the approval of others, is a life spent without joy.

I have ended up in a job that destroys be because I have constantly sought approval of others. I do the job less well than I could do, because I constantly seek the approval of others. I have ignored opportunities that would have made me happier, because I constantly seek the approval of others. I am literally paralysed by the fear of disapproval.

How sad.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to work hard to approve of myself. Whenever that familiar feeling of discomfort creeps in; the one where I feel the terror of disapproval (that I am sure didn’t originate with me; I am sure it belongs in the past with an ancestor or two), I am going to stop, breath and see whether I am doing anything that really does warrant disapproval.

Seeing as I am doing my utmost to lead an honest and kind existence, there should be little that I disapprove of. I am hopeful that this will help me to build up my self-approval and in turn my confidence and courage to follow my dreams. The dreams that make me vibrate with excitement for the joy that they would bring – not just the dreams coming true, but the action of working towards them instead of living a half life governed by fear.

If you feel the disapproval of others and the restrictions it can bring, I urge you to analyse where the disapproval comes from. Is it valid? Obviously there are clearly actions and thoughts that it is appropriate and important to disapprove of – anything where another person can be hurt or belittled or tortured or marginalised in relation to things they cannot control or for the pleasure of others should quite rightly be disapproved of. However, if you feel disapproved of because you want to do things differently or be a different person to the one you are now, then that may not be valid disapproval. It’s OK to fight it – it may bring you freedom and best of all acceptance of who you are.

Honestly Unsuitable?

Today’s Thought: Leadership can be defined in hone word – honesty. You must be honest with the players and honest with yourself.

I had felt for a while that I was doing better with this, but just recently I can see the damage I have done by not being honest quickly enough. Problems linger; practice doesn’t improve and the outcomes are therefore poorer than the powers that be would like.

The problem I have is that I don’t always see the problems; I am so caught up in my workload that I don’t get out and about enough to check what is going on. When I do, I mostly feel everything is fine. It’s rare that I don’t. The issue is that when I don’t, I bottle it when it comes to telling the troops!

I am disappointed in myself; I recognise why I am gutless at delivering the difficult messages – I know everyone is working so hard, trying their best and I cannot stomach kicking them in the teeth by telling them it isn’t good enough. I know so much about them that I know if they are having a tough time at home or if they are struggling with their mental health and I feel so sorry for them – it just seems inhuman to bash them when they’re down.

It’s leading me to the conclusion that maybe I am just not cut out for leadership. I often hear positive comments about my leadership style; the problem is that if it doesn’t deliver the wanted outcomes then whether people like my style or not is irrelevant. I am questioning whether I want to live with the constant worry; constant self doubt and constant running to keep up with the ever changing goal posts. Maybe what I honestly need right now is the courage to make a change – a change that will lead to a happier life; a life that I find fulfilling and one that isn’t always tearing me apart.

I will continue to improve myself; improve my skills; practice delivering the difficult messages, but alongside this I will start to build a life that I want to live. A life without fear and a life more full of the creativity that sustains me and makes me buzz with the excitement that life should offer.

Honesty brings such clarity.

Honesty Vs Avoiding Confrontation

Today’s Thought: I respect people who tell me the truth, no matter how hard it is.

The institution in which I work is reaching a crucial point. Next year we will be inspected and it’s imperative that it goes well. I can feel the pressure building; the fear beginning to invade me and I wonder whether it’s all worth it. I have to make it worth is by bringing more honesty to the table.

One aspect of my role that I struggle with is giving people difficult messages about their practice. I like and respect my team and I can see how hard they try, so if they are doing something that isn’t as good as it could be, I struggle to give them the message. I know I have to change this as I am disadvantaging them. If they don’t know better, they cannot do better.

My growing courage now needs to turn its attention towards delivering difficult messages in an assertive, honest and kind fashion. For us all the be successful, I must start now.

To this end, I am going to set myself a goal for this week. I am going to deliver one difficult message and try not to cushion it in cotton wool. This is how the root of the message is lost; it’s how confusion ensues when the reality comes to light. My team will ultimately feel betrayed if I don’t start to tell them the reality of our situation now.

This aspect of being honest is less comfortable for me. My instinct is to protect others; to carry the burden and to try and fix everything myself. History shows me that this is not going to give me the results we need, so I have to change my approach.

If I can be honest with those that are superior to me and do so without the fear of judgement now, then I have to use that courage to be honest with those that I lead; ensure that they have the right weapons with which to fight and that means I need to tell them the hard truths as well as the easier ones.

Six months into my honesty quest, much is changing – some easy, some difficult but all better. I must keep this in mind as I take on this next honesty challenge.