You might have noticed that all has been quiet on the Happy Chanter front for the last couple of weeks. My excuse for that comes in the form of my lovely friend Emily who came to visit for the holiday season, kicked up a party storm on the island, and left a series of hangovers in her wake. To be fair, I welcomed the opportunity to consciously step back from anything resembling work and have a bit of a holiday myself. Days, evenings and nights spent on the beach, basking, swimming, singing, eating, drinking, dancing… It was an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t change any of it. Well, except maybe that last SangSom bucket on Saturday night… That was the final straw as my body finally gave up, said NO, and the 6 day party binge left me suffering from vertigo and fatigue for 4 days in the run up to New Year’s Eve. That part wasn’t quite so much fun.
My sickness-induced downtime left me thinking a lot about my lifestyle here on Ko Lanta. While last week was certainly more intense than usual, I can’t deny that life in general here has been more social than productive. It has been wonderful and rewarding to meet so many amazing people through KoHub, the co-working space here, but looking back, I realise that I don’t necessarily need to be front and centre of every social occasion going – and that doing this isn’t really looking out for my own best interests.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a naturally social person. I like to meet people, share a few beers, and have a good time. But I’m realising now I don’t always have to be the party animal with a Chang in my hand. Sometimes I sacrifice what I really want or need in favour of going along with the crowd, or not letting someone else down. I ignore my own instinct, that inner voice that whispers “Why don’t you take it easy tonight?”, because there’s people going out and fun to be had. I yearn to be included, accepted, liked – at the expense of really treating myself well, and focusing on my own passions and the work that I came here to do.
And so I’ve decided that this year will be my year. I will still socialise, do whatever I can to help out others if they need it, have some fun – but I will start being better at putting my own interests first. As a natural people-pleaser, this feels almost selfish and I’m sure I will struggle along the way, but I’m finally recognizing that it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to prioritise my own happiness, well-being and success.
So with that in mind, here are some of the habits I will be adopting as we kick off 2016 – why don’t you join me in making some changes to put your own Self first?
I guess some of the reason I put myself out there so much comes down to a deeper insecurity about how attractive or likeable I am. While I generally like what I see in the mirror, sometimes when I’m out and about I can’t help comparing myself with others and coming up short. I become painfully aware that I’m slightly chubbier than other girls, my hair more closely resembles a bird’s nest than that sexily dishevelled traveller look I was going for, that spot on my cheek just Won’t. Go. Away. We’re all human and have flaws, but we forget that these are usually far out-shined by our awesome qualities. David Hamilton, in his fantastic book I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love*, presents a ton of scientific evidence that positive and negative feelings about yourself can actually directly affect your brain and body chemistry. It’s literally good for your health to love yourself! Not in a narcissistic selfish way, but simply liking who you are as a person. Make a point of looking at yourself in the mirror and consciously noticing your good qualities – maybe you have lovely smooth skin, or a great smile, or killer abs. Appearance aside, I’m sure you are also kind, generous, loyal or funny. There is always something, so give yourself a big smile and appreciate your loveliness!
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Following on, you want to take that love of Self outside to the big bad world where your (mis)perceptions of what others think of you can affect how you feel. One of the best nuggets of wisdom from David Hamilton is that your brain chemistry adjusts to what your body does. So one of the best things you can do to improve your mood or your self-image is to act it out, even if you’re not really feeling it at that moment! He advises striking a Wonder Woman-style power pose – head up, back straight, hands on hips – or whatever pose you generally feel exudes confidence. Striking that pose and holding it for two minutes will actually cause you to feel more confident and powerful. Keeping up a habit like this consistently is key for rewiring your circuitry – I’m gonna try this one as a regular morning mood boost, and you should too.
Just Say No
I guess you’ve already figured out that this is one of my biggest problems. Between wanting to please people and general FOMO, I hate to miss out on fun times. Even if I’m tired and would much prefer an early night in bed with a good book, I usually accept whatever invitation is going for that evening. But it’s time to understand that turning people down isn’t going to turn them against me. We all have individual needs, whether you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and need to give yourself a break, or you really need to stop faffing around and get to that project you’ve been putting off – and you need to start putting those needs to the top of your list. I sacrificed yet another night out to say goodbye to a departing KoHubber (sorry Ed!) because I knew that if this post didn’t get written today, it never would. Putting yourself first sometimes means that others miss out, or even that you sometimes miss out on one thing in favour of a better thing – and that’s okay.
Don’t Give Others Power Over You
So often we allow others to influence our moods and energy to the detriment of our own happiness and well-being. My most pertinent example of this relates to the age-old dance between boys and girls (or boys and boys or girls and girls…) I met a boy. I liked the boy. It seemed he liked me. And so the dance commenced. What followed was a series of miscommunications, silent periods and eventual honest dialogue, until we finally managed to come out the other side as friends. Despite the ups and downs, I am grateful for having met him, and even more so for what the experience with him has taught me about myself.
The most frustrating thing throughout the whole situation was how I was allowing him to directly affect my mood and how I felt about myself. When he gave me attention, it boosted me. When he ignored me, I felt deflated. Despite the fact that in retrospect we weren’t even that compatible, my internal dialogue always revolved around the question of “Does he like me?” rather than really examining “Do I even like him?”, or better yet “How do I really feel about myself?!”. It’s not just me; I’ve noticed a common thread in recent conversations with some girlfriends here about their own boy troubles. We allow our perceptions of what others think of us to drive our own sense of self-worth, when it should be the other way around.
It doesn’t have to apply to a romantic situation, but for you it could be a friend, a family member, a work colleague. The point is to build up a secure base of self-love, and then you realise that as long as you are happy to be you, it matters less and less what that guy or girl thinks of you. And the beauty of it is that when you are happy and secure in your authentic Self, that guy or girl will be drawn to that natural confidence you exude. Then you decide what happens next… Win win!
Trust Your Instincts
We all have an inner voice, a Soul Self who always seems to know what’s best, even if we don’t want to admit it. I mentioned earlier that sometimes I ignore my own instinct in favour of fun times, but it’s also gone the other way. A few weeks ago, there was another fun night out planned, but from the moment I got up that morning there was a part of me that just wasn’t into going out. I couldn’t quite muster up the enthusiasm for it. I spent the whole day basically trying to fight that intuition – washing my hair in the morning so it would be nice if I did go out, trying to convince myself that it would be fun, trying to justify going out because “sure, so-and-so is going”, or “oh that cute guy might be there”. I remember talking with a friend that day about how indecisive I was being about the whole thing, that I couldn’t just make up my mind if I wanted to go or not. I realised later that this indecision stemmed from my attempt to ignore the very clear voice in my head that was saying “No!” I ended up staying home, finishing and posting a blog post, and even better, my musings in the quiet of my own home led to insights for 3 more separate posts! Deep down, a part of you always knows what the best course of action is, so tune in and pay more attention to that little voice inside.
If we put ourselves first, we can come at life from a more secure base of confidence and happiness and this will ultimately improve all aspects of our day-to-day experiences and relationships. So for this new year ahead, let’s all set the goal to be good to ourselves, treat ourselves well, love ourselves.
Wishing you all peace, happiness and love for 2016 🙂
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