Sunday, July 28, 2013


Ego, a short word, a pleasant word to say. But ego is a word heavy with meaning. Depending on which school of thought you follow (or which Google link you choose) it can mean simply the definition of 'I', the separation of the person from the rest of the world, an understanding of self. It can also mean something so complex that my brain hurt just reading it. Essentially (I think) it is the conscious mind that moderates the primal instincts of the id - that part of the person that is the basic instinctive drives. The ego is itself moderated by the conscious - that part that knows right from wrong. It got really complicated after that and it is not really the point of this blog so I was pleased to abandon my studies there. Ego is also self-esteem and self-image, and in inflated cases, an exaggerated view of ones own importance and that's my subject for today.

A healthy ego is important. Self esteem is necessary to get by in a world that is often cold and hard. An over inflated ego however is destructive in the long term, nobody likes somebody who has an overly high opinion of him/herself. So the trick, and the point of this blog, is to find that healthy balance of ego, in the definition of self-esteem.

Some people seem to be born with a healthy ego. They float through life, making friends easily and finding their path with no apparent effort. They accept that people like them without expecting people to like them. They take chances and if they fail they pick themselves up and try again or take a different path. They are optimistic and because of this approach life is kind to them.

Other people struggle with self-esteem, feeling unsure about their relationships with people, about their life choices. They second guess everything, over analyse everything. They cannot believe that anyone would truly like them and because of this belief they often make the negative things happen. They are so sure that nobody could like them that they make self destructive choices and drive their friends and the future they want away. This reinforces the low opinion that they already have of themselves. Why some people have a low opinion of themselves is something I don't know. Maybe environment, maybe life experiences, maybe they are just made that way. These people struggle in life, struggle to try to build their self esteem and it takes very little for them to lose it again.

Then there are the people who are the other side of the coin, the people that have such a high opinion of themselves that it is a wonder they survive to old age without someone throttling them! They are the ones that believe they know better than anyone, even an expert. They take over conversations, shout down an objection to their way of thinking, rather arrogantly expect everyone to think they are amazing. Usually such people are very thick skinned (maybe the have the extra skin that the easily hurt low self esteem people lack) and do not even notice when people find them difficult and downright annoying. They are so full of themselves and their perceived importance that they do not notice the negative reactions of the people around them.

A healthy ego lies somewhere in between these two extremes. But it's hard to achieve. I'm one of those with low self esteem and I've experienced losing something because of my self destructive behaviour. It hurts, and sometimes it's the kick start needed to change thinking. When you change your thinking you change everything about you, in time and with determination. For me, it was the catalyst for me to start exploring not only what is wrong with me but what is right. To read about ways to change my thinking and my approach to everything in my life. In a way I have changed my ego - but in a complex manner. I have low self esteem, but I also have too high an opinion of myself in that I think about myself too much. That's not healthy.

So in a way I have lost all of my ego. I have lost my vanities, my self obsession, my fears. I have replaced them with a brand new me (yes I know it's much harder than that but I'm finding the tools to help me). I don't want to have low self esteem, but more than that, I don't want to be always trying to control the people around me because I've learned that I do that to try to avoid hurt. But people are not characters in a book, they are not predictable, they can't be controlled. When I try I usually make the thing I fear happen.

What I have learned is that the only way to change the things about yourself that you don't like is to completely change the way you think. Find the tools that work for you, apply them and try every day to improve who you are. Don't be too hard on yourself if you take a step backwards, it's hard to change years of conditioning. People with low self esteem and people with an inflated opinion of themselves share a common denominator - they spend too much time thinking about themselves and that's not healthy. Learn to put your focus outwards more. Introspection is important to understand yourself but destructive if it results in thinking about yourself too much.

I have learned that I have to change the way I think, and that's as easy and as difficult as it sounds. I'm using my tools - meditation (euphemism for study my belly button with my mind for five minutes and then go to sleep), exercise and writing. I'm also reading books that inspire me to be a better person. In the process I have in effect lost my ego and restarted it. In nerd terms, I have done a factory reset. I have lost the human vanities that I had, the belief that I could control the people in my life. People are not characters in a book (dammit) and they are unpredictable. I have learned that trying to control them usually means that I bring down on my head that which I was trying to avoid. In other words, the harder I have tried to avoid what I fear, the more likely I am to make it happen.

For me, letting go of control is always the hardest thing, but now I have finally done it. No control, no attempt to control people or even events. Life will unfold as it should and I will go with it. It's both frightening and liberating and I'm facing it head on and with hope :)

On another, completely unrelated topic, the Werewolf book is going well. The other night I had to get up in the middle of the night and I got as far as the kitchen before a scene I had written before going to sleep came into my mind. I became so freaked that I had to turn on the kitchen light and be sure that werewolf wasn't in the room with me! It's got to be good when you scare yourself with your own writing, right??

When you change the way you think, you will change the way you feel. When you change the way you feel, you will change the way you act. When you change the way you act, you will change the way you live. When you change the way you live, you will change your world.

~Author unknown

Pretty much the image I had from the scene I wrote :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lessons not learned

So here I am, actually I'm sandwiching this in between writing tonight. The werewolf book is motoring along now, after I went back to the beginning and did some major changes. I'm writing this blog mainly because the ideas are coming faster than I can type, so that my mind is pages ahead of my fingers and I get a little panicky. That's when I take a break for a little bit. So tonight my break will be a different type of writing.

It's been an eventful time since my last blog. I've had my eldest son having a minor operation that did not turn out anything like it was supposed to, but it's all good now. So I've been away with him at another town where the operation took place in the larger and better equipped hospital. Given that I was there because of the operation it was decidedly not a holiday. Spending all day and part of the night waiting around in hospital is definitely not a choice way to spend time. And the youngest was with me too, as well as my oldest's girlfriend. But it was a great time for introspection.

I'm always one for that, I'm an introspective introvert. Of course I am also the one to over-think things and make myself a nice big mountain with sharp unfriendly peaks out of level ground. So of course before I went away I did just that, and got myself all stressed and upset. Totally forgot my positive thoughts only rule, and also totally forgot my 5 year rule. Out the window with the first hint of over-thinking.

So I was not in a good place when we went away. That the operation did not go smoothly only added to my distress. But it all worked out in the end, and I was able to relax. And in the time away I was able to think clearly. I expect being away from here, where there are so many stresses, made it easier for me to un-muddle my thoughts.

I was really cranky at myself for diving down into the pool of negativity again. I thought it all through with a clear mind and saw what I had done and was so very annoyed at myself. Further thinking made it clear to me that I can't just jettison negative thinking, it's a very difficult habit to let go of. I need a plan of action. And I have one now.

Every day I will write, that is the most important part of the plan. Writing grounds me, makes me feel fulfilled and gives me a sense of satisfaction that is very close to joy. It has the added bonus of clearing my head of some of the clutter so I can think more clearly. Also each day I will exercise. Exercise is also a great way to relax and release endorphins that keep negative thoughts at bay. Finally, each day I will attempt meditation. You will note I say attempt. This is because in all the many many times I have attempted meditation I have not yet succeeded. My head is too full of words and thoughts. And that script running through my head strongly resists having no words on it. Yet my attempts have helped me to think more clearly, so I will continue to attempt it. Maybe one day I will actually succeed!

While away I also read several books on my kindle app. The ones that resonated with me the most were the ones by Paulo Coelho. This man is a deep thinker,a very spiritual man. His philosophy on life is simple and direct, and something we should all try to apply in our lives. If you haven't read any of his books, do so. They will change the way you think.

 So I am back on track and following my dream, knowing that it will be difficult but that I really should not give up. And I am also remembering that worry solves nothing at all. So whatever will happen in my life, worrying about it will only make me feel worse, it will not solve the problem or make the issue go away, or anything that I am trying to achieve. Of course I know all these things already, but it's always very hard to remember when the pool of negativity is just waiting for me to jump in and take a dip.

But the pool of negativity is not a place I should go to ever again. Every time I go in there, I lose something. Sometimes it's time itself - time spent being miserable and feeling sorry for myself is time I will never get back. Sometimes I lose a friendship because who wants to be friends with a depressed negative person. The pool of negativity is a taker, and it never gives back.

So I will remember my readings, do my writing, exercising and meditation, and maybe not be so hard on myself. We all get to where we are supposed to be in the end, just some of us take the hard road.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Don't sweat the small stuff

First, apologies to anyone who checks in regularly, for I have not been here for some time. This is mainly because my boss at my work, who is also my friend, has had a lot of physical problems that have landed her in hospital and that means she will not be able to go to work herself for some time. So I and my work colleague have been doing extra hours.

This means two things - 1) a shortage of time and 2) a mind that is stuffed full of words so that I find it difficult to focus. Because I also have not been able to write and that has had the usual effect on my brain. I was becoming rather stressed about that, and about the issues in my personal life. Then I remembered words somebody said to me many years ago. At the time it was after I had a fight with a boyfriend and I was upset. A woman I knew said I should think about it this way - will it matter in 5 years time? If it will, do something to make it right, if it doesn't, let it go.

At the time, I applied it to the fight - it wasn't going to matter in 5 years so I let it go and felt so much better that I have never forgotten those words. Over the years I have applied this to many situations and it is surprising how much clarity it gives me. But I forgot to apply it to my current situation until yesterday.

When I did, I had a rather surprising result. Since my entire life is in a state of flux, I can't say that anything I am currently worried about will have any bearing on my life in 5 years. Everything single thing that I am currently losing sleep over can be put into the file labelled Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, because it really won't matter in 5 years time. Even the big issues, in 5 years will for sure be sorted out. So losing sleep over where I am to live, where I will work, if my new book will sell, if I will ever find the time to finish it since my timeline for that has not been achieved is a pointless activity.

Worrying is always a pointless activity, it achieves nothing and wears a person down so much that there is a real risk of becoming ill. Constructive worrying, where solutions to problems are found is not the same thing - I call it constructive worrying because I am still stressed but I am actively searching for solutions.

But in my current situation, worrying or constructive worrying is not really going to achieve anything. I have to take each day as it comes, do the best I can and have faith that it will all work out in the end. I'm kind of a pessimistic optimist. I worry, stress and freak out, but there is always that tiny core of optimism that is struggling to get out and tell me it will be ok. That's why I try to be positive and have only positive thoughts, that little bubble of optimism says it's important to attract only positive energy. Now, applying the 5 year rule, I realise that worrying is not only pointless but not even necessary.

I have no idea where I will be in 5 years, I have no idea what I will be doing with my life. But everything I am currently stressed about will not matter then. So why stress about it now? This is freeing, I feel much lighter and I am sure I will sleep better. I have been trying to apply my rule of positive thinking but of course at 2am that's always very difficult to do. Those monsters always look more frightening at that hour of the morning. However, the 5 year rule makes worrying unnecessary, in fact even in 6 months all this worry will be a wasted effort.

So I won't worry any more, I will accept that control freak me actually can't control anything right now. All I can do is roll with it, make what plans I can, and have faith that I will end up in the right place doing the right thing for me. And not sweat the small stuff. And right now, in a very real way, even the big stuff is small stuff because everything in my life is changing.

Identify your small stuff, and be prepared to be surprised, for in 5 years time, even the big stuff now will be small stuff then. Of course sometimes the big stuff now has to be sorted to make it small stuff in the future. But always remember to use the 5 year rule because it helps to identify what really needs to be dealt with and what truly does not matter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

time - it's all relative

Time goes by so fast sometimes, and if the day to day routine is the same, it can just disappear like dust in the wind. For me, I have not been able to get to my writing for some days now, for a few different reasons, and I was rather shocked to realise how long it has been. One reason for this is that insomnia and I have developed a pretty close relationship. I think any day now insomnia will present me with a black ring set with a red stone and I will become Mrs Sleepless, set to rule over the awake and resentful of that fact. I will prod them at the edges of their consciousness so that they jerk awake from just on the verge of sleep. I will fill their heads with all kinds of thoughts that take on a life of their own at 2am. I will be the queen of the sleepless, dressed in a glorious black lace dress with blood red underskirts.

Lack of sleep means that when I do have time to write I am so tired that what I write I delete when I read it again the next day. It's not exactly writers block, it's more just exhaustion making my mind too foggy to work properly. The thoughts are there, but they are not arranging themselves onto the screen properly.

Another reason for not writing is simply that I have been working a lot more lately, and sadly housework, washing and grocery shopping do have to be done. Also, it is school holidays. This means that the youngest is at home. It is completely impossible to write with him at home. He talks, and talks, and talks. I lose track so frequently that it is better not to even start. Add to that the seemingly endless texts from people that clearly have radar and start texting as soon as I open up the book file, and you can get the gist that I am feeling rather frustrated.

It is only temporary I know, so I will just focus on the near future when I can get back into it. Positive thoughts only, negative thoughts are not allowed (especially difficult at 2am but I do try). I do believe that positive thoughts lead to positive results. And you only need to look at countries like Egypt and Brazil to see this put into effect.

In Brazil the population went into the streets to protest a ruling class perceived as self-serving and corrupt. They didn't just complain to each other, they got together en masse and did something about it to effect change. And they have had world wide support and promises of changes within their country.

In Egypt the population has also gone into the streets to protest the current president. This is the first freely elected president, but the people of Egypt are not happy with his performance and they are not happy with how the economy is performing. They did not feel sorry for themselves. They went out in their millions to protest publicly, and on the whole peacefully. These people have created positive energy, they have acted to bring about change.

I have enormous admiration for the people of Brazil and Egypt. They are focused, determined and thinking positively. They have energy and they have belief that they can make a difference.

And that's what we should all try to do. With belief and focus and determination, anyone can do amazing, astonishing things. Apathy should be only a word, not a mindset. Negative thoughts should be banished (and yes, there are friends who will read this who will be saying to me do as you say woman!) Negative thoughts are terribly difficult to let go of. There is a kind of masochistic pleasure to be got from sinking into despair and misery. And of course dark thoughts feed on each other.

But positive thoughts also feed on each other. The first step is believing that you deserve good things in life - surprisingly hard to do! Banish every negative thought even as it tries to derail you (I'm talking to my niece about trains as I write this) and only think positive thoughts. See where it takes you. That's what I'm going to do from now on. And if the negative thoughts take over, I will banish them and I will forgive myself for having them instead of being angry at myself. It really is time to live in the light instead of the shadows :)

Today's pictures are of myself and the youngest going to the movies today, it was a good day and a good reminder to be positive. The other is of the crowds of people out on the streets in Alexandria in Egypt, also a good reminder to be positive.