How to Manage your Energy?

How do you manage your energy? ⚡️

What energy? I hear some of you say. 🙋‍♀️

Have you ever even thought about what type of energy you have. I hadn’t until I came across Human Design. The system identifies people as falling in to one of 4 energy types.

We are all conditioned to believe that we all have unlimited supplies of energy and that if we don’t then we’re just not doing something right.

Let’s look at the 4 types.

Manifestor – The manifestor energy type accounts for about 9% of the population. This type has a lot of energy (mental and physical) but it is used in short bursts. It is not a constant source. Periods of intense energy usage are followed by a period of recuperation. Ideally manifestors should aim not to exhaust their energy supplies every day as this can lead to poor sleep quality. They are best going to bed before they get too tired.

Generator – The generator energy type axrjally accounts for 70% of the population, and as the name suggests, capable of generating a constant stream of energy output. People with this energy type are meant to be active and to use up all their energy (mental / physical) in the day and then recharge over night as they sleep. Going to bed feeling tired is optimum. Generators have seeming endless energy for whatever they choose to do with it.

Projectors – The Projector energy type only accounts for around 20% of the population and is actually not an energy generating type. This energy type is dependent on the energy of those around them. So, for example, they need to be careful to not get carried away when surrounded by generators as it can lead to burn out for the projector who isn’t designed for sustained long term energy output. Projectors need to make sure they get enough rest and should try to get in to a routine of lying down and relaxing so that when they feel sleepy they are in a state to do so.

Reflectors – Just 1% of the population are reflectors. This is another non energy type. Like the projector, people with the reflector energy type have no internal energy motors and they reflect back the energy of the environments they are in and the people they are with. It’s very important for reflectors to be around the right people. It is also very important for reflectors to take conscious time to rest and replenish their energy supplies as they don’t have much control over how much they may need day to day.

How this has helped me?

I found out I was a Manifestor energy type, with a fluctuating energy source it made total sense. I have bipolar disorder and in essence this is a disorder of fluctuations in energy. I have intense periods of high productivity and then periods of very low energy. It’s given me an entirely different way of seeing my journey of finding balance.

Find out your Energy Type by downloading your free Human Design Chart here…

I offer 1-1 Human Design Chart readings to help you unlock the wisdom within your chart! Contact me to arrange a session.


Why My Second Brain is Replacing my Paper Diary / Planner

For anyone who has followed my posts you’ll know i’m a HUGE fan of journaling and using planners and organisation strategies to gather and reflect on lots of different important areas of my life. It’s been vital to the improvements in my mental and physical health and I will always say, if there is one habit you should definitely try to adopt, it’s the habit of having a daily journal practice.

I’ve always been a huge fan of paper planners and notebook systems (like bullet journaling) because it’s always been the best way for me. There is a lot to be said for physically writing things down to help memorisation and information processing BUT in this digial age i’ve been acutely aware that paper planners & diary systems are flawed. A few years ago my daily planner was lost after my bag was stolen and suddenly all my stats and analysis and thoughts and plans for that year had just gone. I’ve known that i needed to move to online capture and have dabbled in the past at a few different options for To Do lists and spreadsheets but it never seemed to really work.

I think that is about to change. I’ve recently come across the concept of building a second brain. A concept championed by Tiago Forte. This basically consists of coming up for a strategy for your personal knowledge management. It’s about building a framework which may consist of one or many different platforms that integrate with each other so that your captured information becomes interconnected in a way that makes sense for you and what you want to achieve.

I’ve recently started building the architecture for my own Second Brain project and so far it’s looking like it’s going to fit all my needs.

Will I still be using notebooks? Yes! (Which is good because i’ve been a notebook hoarder forever!) There is, of course, still a place for written journaling and so for more stream of conscious and therapeutic journaling, I will stick to pen and paper as that is the sort of stuff that I don’t necessarily ever need to read again and certainly don’t need access online. I’m going to be using notebooks now more for on the fly idea capture rather than my day-to-day planning. When it comes to my daily plans/task, my projects, and my daily data journal logs, they will all now be done online. This means that data lives in the cloud and is easily accessible on any of my devices.

My current Tech Stack for this is going to be:

A project management and note-taking software platform where you can have multiple databases which can all be interlinked.

  • Instapaper

Instapaper is a social bookmarking service that allows web content to be saved so it can be “read later”. You can also use it to highlight relevant info. It’s important to distill new info in to the most important points to help with info overload.

  • Gmail

Emails that need actioning can be forwarded in to Notion via Zapier to make sure the tasks are linked to the emails.

  • Zapier / IFTTT

No code rules engines to help with data transfer.

  • Readwise

This is a tool which imports in any highlighted notes I make from any Kindle Books I read, and pulls in favourited tweets and social posts and exports
them to Notion.

What this all means is when I find something that is interesting in one of my key areas of interest I can capture the bits that are most thought provoking, I can link that piece of info directly to any current projects as resources. I can also link my day to day tasks and data to my calendar which creates a web of connected knowledge flow which is much more organic than ever before. With my paper journals I could have a contents section and note down page numbers or places to find info in other journals but it was far from instant and in the evenings I found my notebook/planner stack consisted of 5 different books which needed updating. I can do this all in one place now in Notion each evening.

If anyone is interested in this as a concept feel free to reach out. You can also find some great You Tube videos by Tiago Forte, or find out more in his book “Building a Second Brain“.


How your ego and personality have you trapped

As most people know I’m really passionate about the topic of ego and personality and the importance of spending time getting to know our personality patterns.

When it comes to ego/personality all have one, some of us vaguely understand what we mean by ego and personality and what purpose they serve and most people have no idea.

Why should I put in the work to find out what my ego/personality style is?

You need to know because you are unwittingly caught in a trap. If you are unaware of the ego defence patterns you are applying liberally throughout your day to day life you don’t realise how much you are limiting your view or the world.

Our egos and personality formed in very early life. We adapted our behaviour and preferences, and formed our beliefs to fit in to the world as we saw it as children and we then fail to update those beliefs and behaviours when we are older because they have become so unconscious we just do them over and over.

What happens when you build up your behavioural defence mechanisms is that we learn to identify yourself with certain values / behaviours and you by consequence disown other behaviours/values because you don’t feel they represent you and you fob them off as things that other people do.

I want to give an example from my own life.

I use positivity and being up beat as a defence mechanism. My childish thought was … If I’m happy then everyone else will be happy. It’s not ok to be sad / down / moody.

Now let’s take that in to my everyday adult life.

I identify strongly as someone who is upbeat and happy and can always raise a smile for everyone around me. I do not identify with negativity and sadness. The problem comes when I’m not feeling good. Life is 50/50 good and bad. I spent 10-15 years struggling with depression but because of my drive to appear happy and ok I learnt to put on a good act when at work etc. When I wasn’t ok in work or in company people soon notice the absence of my up beat nature and the questions start flooding in. “What’s the matter”, “why are you in a mood”. I’ve created a situation where I literally can’t let my upbeat energy drop without it becoming an issue for others. I mean, I can go for months and months playing the person who is always happy and then I just become so exhausted that I crash. That is where my depressive periods in my life have become problematic. Behind closed doors I need to crash but I have to do that in the moments I can have on my own as I’ve disowned that sad part of myself in public and even at home.

I’ve recently been doing inner work to look at this. Of course I would get utterly drained… nobody can remain positive 100% of the time. Nobody should set that as an expectation of themselves or others. This year I’m leaning in to being ok not being ok from time to time. Im learning to re-own my right to feel sad or tired or down when I feel like that.

What ego behaviours have become a trap for you?

I am certified as an enneagram coach and the key value of the enneagram is all around the ego and the defence mechanisms. If anyone would like to talk about this topic I’m always up for a chat!


In love there should be no rule book

One day, over a decade ago, I was going through a list of reasons why I thought my relationship was going to come to an end. I had a list of things that just weren’t right.

He should be more …
I should be more …
He makes me so …
I shouldn’t feel so …
He could be less …

I looked at the list and realised I’d written a rule book for how our relationship “should” be.

We all have these rule books, consciously or unconsciously, they’re there. We have them for all our relationships. They are there in the should and could statements we make all the time.

What I had lost sight of at this dark time in our relationship was that we were together because we loved each other. When our relationship began all those years ago that was all that mattered so what had changed?

The answer was nothing! We’d just lost sight of the point of choosing to be with someone. The only point is to have someone there to love. To have someone in our lives that we can love. When you buy a dog or a cat, you don’t require them to fulfil your needs for you, you buy them to shower your love on them. It is the same for the partners we choose in life.

So what did I do?

I threw away the rule book and concentrated on just loving my partner for who he is and for how I feel when we spend quality time together. Sure, life is messy and we can’t always be in sync on everything, but the question should always be… do I still choose to love this person?

This Valentine’s Day, make a list of all the things you love about your partner. The silly things! Look at them and remind yourself that they are in your life for you to love, and vice versa, that is all. Love is the only requirement.


Compliant, Assertive or Avoidant

I want to introduce a fascinating piece of psychological observation from the works of the German Psychoanalyst Karen Horney.

Horney observed that people fell in to three categories when it came to how they approached getting their needs met. The categories were: Compliant, Withdrawn or Assertive

Compliant Types:
People who move towards other people in hopes of eating what they need. Compliant rules tend to be loyal, dutiful, hard working, and responsible due to their reliance on others feedback & reassurance.

Assertive Types
These are people who are the most independent when they are going after what they need. They tend to move towards the source of fulfilment of their needs without the need for permission or acceptance from others.

Withdrawn Types:
People who tend to move away from others and prefer to be introspective when they have unmet needs, needing more alone time.

Which of these 3 groupings do you most identify?

For me it was the Assertive grouping. Whenever I have had a need for anything I’ve always felt an inner drive to go straight for that thing. Looking back I can see that at times I’ve accidentally bulldozed past people around me to get to what I needed. I can also see how other people in my life fall in to the other categories. My father was very much in the Withdrawing stance. He would prefer to be alone when stressed or in conflict. I also have loved ones who are very much in the compliant stance and are so inclusive and caring and other focused. It explains so much and is a comfort to know if you are one way and another loved one is another way, neither of you are correct as there is no right way to be in the world. We all have needs and our own strategies for being in the world in relation to others.

These three basic categories of people map very accurately on to the enneagram type theories.

Enneagram types 1, 2 and 6 map with the Compliant grouping.
Enneagram types 3, 7, and 8 map with the Assertive grouping.
Enneagram types 4, 5 and 9 map with the Withdrawn grouping.

If you want to know more, I am available for coaching.


The MORE trap

On my journey of self enquiry i have noticed several themes which crop up over and over again in my thoughts. These are “issues” that never seem to get solved. It’s no surprise that we often have these but resign ourselves to them being part of who we are… but I have learnt on the way that this is not true. Our job is to recognise these patterns and then address them and it is absolutely possible to alleviate some of the pain they can bring.

One of my issues is with the theme of wanting / needing MORE.

-More experiences
-More possibilities
-More knowledge (this is a huge one for me)
-More freedom
-More resources
-More time

Yes, I actually cried last week when I tried to explain to Andy that I was sad because I could never learn all the things I want to learn in a lifetime 😂 There are so many courses I want to take. There are so many hobbies I want to take up! There are so many books I want to read… and so it goes on.

It really is an exhausting mental conundrum. We live in a world with more possibilities than ever before. We can learn pretty much anything we want via courses which are now mostly online so travel isn’t even a problem. There are books on every topic imaginable. We could all set up businesses without the need for much in the way of resources in today’s digital age. We can get jobs anywhere in the world as we can often work remotely. The world is a huge and exciting place and all of these possibilities are endlessly tantalising.

I’ve spent most of my life looking for ways to satiate all my mores and have chased a fair number of rainbows only to see a more attractive prospect on the other side of the proverbial fence. The greener grass of a new shiny project… yet last weekend, as I say, I sat feeling sorry for myself at all the things I’ve not achieved/read/done yet.

So why the existential angst Helen?

Well… it’s too much. It’s simply not possible and it’s unrealistic to even contemplate it all. So suffering this is not helpful.

I often talk about this notion of some thoughts being “not useful” even if they seem true.

If I spend my time sat thinking of; the things I might be doing “if”, the things I’ve not achieved, the things I might never have the time to learn, then I’m spending valuable time on a pointless chase. It is not a useful thought. It’s time that could either be spent further enjoying the many many things I do have/ or have achieved/ or know, or I could be just carrying on doing a little bit here and there to keep growing that knowledge.

I’ve spent a lot of time giving conscious energy towards being grateful for all that I have. Especially in the times we are in now where we are limited / restricted. To get out of my funk last weekend I spent this week listing the things I am already doing that bring joy to my life. Thinking of all the knowledge I have gained and how much joy I get from using that. Thinking about the fact that if I cut out the pointless existential angst and longing for more I could be doing more and giving myself not inconsiderable time back!

As cliche as this has become, it’s useful to sometimes acknowledge that WE ARE ENOUGH. Just because there is more out there doesn’t mean they are all rainbows worth chasing! Learning to truly love what you already have around you now, even though you may perceive it to be less than you might like ultimately, is an expansive thought which when practiced is way more freeing than the endless mental search for more.


Who am I, if I’m not this?

When I say that I specialise in working with who feel like they are struggling with their identity some people aren’t sure what that means. Surely we all know who we are!?!

At the age of 35 I discovered I had no clue who I really was. I had just found out I had been living with bipolar for 15 years or more and that I could infect get help for what I thought was a hopeless battle with depression. I felt like that depression and my emotional instability had become a big part of who I saw myself as. I saw myself as hopeless, broken, damaged.

At this time I also came to realise that my dream career was not in fact what I wanted at all. I had become over identified with my job title and moving away from that left me feeling like I didn’t know how to introduce myself or talk about myself anymore. I thought what I did was the most interesting part of who I was.

At that time I also identified as being a wife but felt like I was failing at that too because I was so lost I couldn’t bring anything to my relationships because I was spending all my energy just trying to work out who I wanted to be. I had also let myself believe that I was someone who couldn’t have the body I wanted (I was 4 stone over weight and unhappy in my skin).

This is what it feels like to lose your sense of identity.

We all have stories we tell ourselves about who we are but sometimes life events come up which show us that those things we think are true definitive things about our identities are in fact not true at all.

When I realised this I asked friends and family how they would identify themselves I saw them listing similar things. Jobtitles, relationships, behavioural tendencies… all transitory.

I realised that we all need to build a firmer foundation when it comes to anchoring something as important as our identity in order to avoid hitting the wall in the way I did.

How do I now describe my identity…. I now talk about my identity in terms of my values, my strengths, my motivations. By the less transitory aspects of my being. In doing this I realised I could go in so many different directions and find happiness in whatever I decided to put my energy and focus on.

If you have experienced a similar identity crisis I’d love to be able to help if I can. Dm me if you’d like to chat, or leave a message. I offer free 30 minute coaching discovery calls for anyone interested in finding out how to find themselves again.


The number one habit you can build, to change your life!

I was asked the other day, what I thought was the one habit I think might be the most useful/life changing one that I have made. My answer is this…


I believe this has been my most powerful habit change to date.

Why? Because it is all about getting in to the habit of checking in on your goals DAILY! It therefore keeps your goals at the very front of your mind and it also makes you accountable to yourself! I know many people like to buddy up with others for accountability but if you can learn to be your own accountability partner you will never have to be reliant on others again to move your own goals forward.

How to journal…

I say this every time I write about this topic, but Journalling does not have to be a long form / time consuming, “dear diary” entry, as the name suggests, but rather a quick logging activity. All you need to start Journalling is a notebook!

I have found these Journalling methods to be the effective for me but there are other practices out there.

Journal Prompts:

Everyday I answer a set of journal prompt questions with short answers (an exercise that takes me no longer than 5 mins at the end of each day). I designed the questions to help me assess how I’m doing in relation to any goal I have set at that time.

Here are some of the questions I set myself to answer daily to help you see what I mean:

“What activities did I complete today”

“What would the next most useful task be to move me toward my goal?”

“How did I feel physically today?”

“How did I feel emotionally today?”

“What was I grateful for today?”

Habit Tracking:

I also have a list of the behaviours I am hoping to adopt and I tick them off if I have engaged in said behaviour that day. (This activity is habit tracking, you can use a habit tracker grid and you can download a template grid from my website or just write yourself a checklist).

Personal Data Gathering:

Then finally I spend a few minutes checking in with some data/stats to see how I’m doing in a few key areas for me. I collect a lot of health data, mood data for my bipolar and fitness data as i have some fitness goals.

Here are some of the stats I check in on daily.

Sleep Total.
Sleep Depth.
Exercise Calories burnt that day.
Body fat.
Mood on scale 1/10.
Symptoms check list.

I check these things daily so that I can see any trends forming before they become issues, especially in regards to my mental health! These numbers are NEVER used to make myself feel bad, they are just numbers which help me see where I am.

Journalling is the habit which makes building all my future habits possible! It has got me to where I am now and I can depend on it.

Taking 5-15 mins a day, reflecting on your day is all it takes!


The definition of insanity

This quote is a classic! How many of you have heard this before and nodded in agreement, liked and shared and thought, yeah it would be pretty stupid to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over wouldn’t it.

But we ALL DO IT! More than we would care to admit!

Where in your life does this actually apply?

Have you found yourself signing up for yet another gym vowing that this time you’ll definitely use it and get in to the habit of going regularly?

Have you decided to sign up to WW or Slimming world for the 5th time, to shed those extra pounds in the hope that this time it will work and you’ll lose them forever?


The truth is our minds like patterns and easy solutions, and to go to things we’ve tried before because they feel/sound safe and familiar.

It goes even deeper as our very personalities are developed and based around habitual thought patterns and behaviour loops.

When a way of thinking for one situation works well for us, or a behaviour has the desired effect we bank that experience, thought or behaviour and reuse it again and again but just because it worked once, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work again, and it often doesn’t but because it’s familiar we go back to it.

I encourage us all to look for these patterns of thoughts or behaviours and challenge them!

For me I recognised the following loops!

– When I was younger, I kept going for the same types of jobs and expecting to find them more challenging/interesting. What I had needed to do was to go for the more challenging roles and to get out of my comfort zone and find places where I’d learn new skills.

– I kept signing up for big chain gyms where it was down to me to motivate myself and I just couldn’t, so I’d fail after a few weeks and give up. What I really needed was more 1-1 work outs. The right class environments where I felt supported and challenged and wasn’t allowed to slack off 😂. Light exercise was definitely not getting me anywhere.

– Personality wise, I realised (through working with the enneagram) I was fixated on ideas and behaviours around freedom and variety and the need to feel positive about everything, and what I really really needed was to implement more structure and routine in my life and to learn to lean in to the other (less constantly positive) side of the human experience.

A great exercise is to ask yourself … Am I doing this over and over and still not getting what I want?

What haven’t I tried yet?

New is of course more challenging and our brains don’t like the unfamiliar but 9/10 if you’ve been stuck in a loop, the unfamiliar and unexplored is probably where the answer lies.


How to take the suffering out of Depression & Anxiety

After 15 years of living with depression and undiagnosed bipolar disorder I decided to take my life apart to see what I could find to fix and came to a frightening conclusion. I had become identified with my depressed state of mind.

Depression had become a huge part of who I saw myself as being.

Depression and anxiety can have many causes, some chemical, very many triggered by external factors but in both cases we can get enmeshed with these conditions and feel that they are a part of us, so much so, that we don’t feel we can ever get over them.

I may be controversial here but I know I can say it as someone who has bipolar disorder, depression had become a bad habit in my life. When I went through depressed phases of my condition, it was so familiar that I would cling to those behaviours and thought patterns and I’ve realised that I prolonged my own suffering on many occasions because I thought that was just how it was supposed to be. You know, for a depressed person.

Since learning how to analyse my thought patterns and sticking to a daily regime of mental checkins and habit tracking I can say that I no longer let those emotions take root to the same extent they used to. I still get depressed from time to time but because I have healthy thought habits built in to my life I can ride those waves much more quickly and I don’t feel I suffer depression any more. I co-exist with it but I have separated that experience from my being.

Where the real suffering comes with these conditions is the mental struggle against them.

The feeling that it’s unfair that we have to carry these burdens.

The feeling that we should be happier or less anxious.

But fighting the reality of a medical condition is like fighting anything else that that is partly out of our sphere of control.

Learning to accept we may have a chemical imbalance but that that is also part of being human. We were never supposed to be perfect! Perfect doesn’t exist. We were all made wonderfully diverse and neuro-typical doesn’t mean normal.

We need to recognise that life comes with as much negative as positive and we are able to co-exist in both states. A certain level of self compassion is needed, and a certain strictness in monitoring our mental health constantly, and learning to stop prolonging the feelings with thoughts that fuel more of that behaviour.


I lied, cheated and deceived to get what I wanted

If anyone asks me how I managed to get to where I am right now, my answer would be this…

I lied, cheated and deceived myself until I got here, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

But those things are all bad things aren’t they?

Not when used to help you get something good for yourself.

I was living an unhealthy lifestyle. I was doing zero exercise because I found it so uncomfortable. I was comfort eating all the wrong things and I thought it was just impossible to change, I wasn’t even sure the changes I wanted were possible.

In this case I used a few simple things I’d learnt about the human brain to help get me to my goal of better mental and physical health and fitness.

  1. Our brains don’t like change or the unfamiliar.
  2. Our brains will try to protect us from things we think are hard/stressful.
  3. Our brains don’t know the difference between a thought and reality.

When I looked at the brain and realised my body didn’t want to exercise because I was stressed even thinking about it. I was so unfit and it was so uncomfortable so my brain would tell me it was ok to start doing it when I felt a bit stronger or when I’d lost some weight.

I realised my diet was mainly down to the bad habits of eating too much and not enough of the right things. It was all too familiar for me to order a takeaway, or make a huge bowl of pasta. It’s what I’d done for the last 5 years.

My brain was doing what it should. It was conserving energy by repeating my familiar habitual comfortable patterns. It was trying to keep me safe from the discomfort and stress of exercise.

So I had to get my brain on my side!

And so I started lying to my brain! Yes it’s possible.

The first day of my new diet routine I nearly cried. Salad for lunch. Yuck! I hated salad (or so my brain believed!). When I realised it didn’t taste so bad after all I started telling my brain each day before lunch! “I’m hungry and really looking forward to my salad”, “Salad is great, I can eat loads of it and it is what my body needs”. It didn’t take long for me to start believing these things! My brain took the bait.

If it worked for my food, how about my exercise.

I started telling myself “I’m really looking forward to going to the gym after work.” Or when I started to want to make excuses I’d remind myself how amazing I would feel afterwards. I stopped allowing myself to think how uncomfortable or hard working out felt and just focused my mind on the benefits. Naturally it did still feel hard work at the time but the more I thought about how much I was enjoying it the more I actually started to believe it.

What are you wanting to achieve but are struggling with?

How is your brain trying to avoid the the unfamiliar?

How is your brain trying to protect you from perceived stress/discomfort?

What can you decide to start telling your brain to get it to believe you really want to do this thing and that it’s not scary or unfamiliar?

If you’d like any help with this process let me know!


Emotions are the things that connect us not separate us.

If, 10 years ago, you had asked me, or those I had worked with in business or in my operatic studies, (as I was in music college at that time), what my biggest weakness was I think the answer would have been my emotions. My overly emotional nature. Specifically my inability to hold back tears.

I have always cried a lot. I was embarrassed greatly by it. I felt ashamed by it. I’d joke that I had leaky eyes!

I remember crying when asking my dad for help with homework even though it was a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do.

I was the girl who cried at parties. Alcohol was not a friend.

I would cry when I was frustrated or angry, in fact I think my tears came more from this energy more often than not.

Tears were just how my body seemed to want or need to responded to any internal build ups of negative emotion.

When I was a lot younger I would often cry in work appraisals when I felt passionately about something that was bothering me, and I was called weak by several bosses who said I needed to toughen up, which in turn frustrated and angered me.

At music college I felt like I pretty much cried for 2 years solidly. As a passionate performer of opera and classical music I thought I was in exactly the environment I wanted to be in, to be surrounded by that music that felt so life giving, to be allowed to feel it deeply. When I performed in classes in college I would test my emotional boundaries as I performed, because after all isn’t that what rehearsals and learning environments are for. It turned out not to be that safe place but actually a place where real emotion wasn’t encouraged.

On one occasion I was performing a piece, in a competition, about love and loss. This was after having recently got married and after the recent loss of my dad. As I performed the words, the meaning struck so deep that at the end, in the postlude, I lost my emotional composure for a second and afterwards I had criticism from several people / teachers / mentors for letting my emotions out overtly. “It might make the audience uncomfortable”. Heaven forbid they might confront the reality of grief.

After years of being made to feel broken I decided to take back control of my emotional world and I embarked on a journey to improve my general mental health, and on that journey I realised I had been suppressing my intrinsic emotional nature because I felt, and had been told by the world that it was shameful or embarrassing or inappropriate or uncomfortable. No wonder it had kept bubbling up to the surface.

If you think about your emotions like an air filled ball on water. If you hold the ball under the water it takes a lot of effort to keep it under. You can do it for a while but at some point it always explodes out from under you, with a seemingly great force.

Since confronting my emotional nature, I’ve realised that what society, or business, or the music industry think about it is irrelevant. I am an emotional being. It makes me who I am. I feel things deeply and unashamedly.

When I perform music written with great passion and emotion, it deserves that passion and emotion to be communicated fully. When I sing a piece of oratorio, I let it move me physically and mentally so I can move the audience. I don’t sterilise it. If a few tears fall, it makes me human.

I feel like since I made the choice to lean in to my emotions and to make peace with them, they have become my greatest strength. I give them permission to exist and even welcome them, the good and the bad. So now I don’t get blind sided by them so often. I don’t feel like they control me.

I see a lot of people struggling right now. Not sure how to feel. Not sure if what they feel is appropriate. Don’t feel comfortable admitting they don’t feel in control of their inner world. I see it and I feel it and so I have chosen to write about it.

I feel compelled to talk about these things. Like it was the reason I am am who I am. I want to talk about the difficult things, the struggles, the pain, because life is 50/50 good and bad.

We are NOT SUPPOSED to be happy all the time. We NOT SUPPOSED to be able to cope with what we are experiencing. We NOT SUPPOSED to be anything but human beings with feelings. I’m writing about it because I want to let people, who might feel the way I did, to know that it’s ok to feel any emotion.

Emotions are human.

They need to be expressed.

They aren’t shameful, or inconvenient or weak they are human!

If you deny them you are denying part of your humanity.

Emotions are the things that connect us not separate us.


How I use data to change my life

When I started a daily journaling practice back in 2015, I started tracking data about myself in lots of areas in my life because I started to see patterns in behaviour and in my moods that proved vital to me on my journey back to mental and physical health.

Mental health is not something that is isolated to just your brain. I used to think so. I thought I could work on my mental health without taking my body into account which was so wrong.

While excitedly going through my very first full years worth of data, in my then bullet journal, I found lots of things that should have been obvious to me but which i’d just not processed before. Partially because I am quite a visual processor and need to see something done or something down on paper for me to be able to take in. I’m hopeless with verbal instructions without making notes on it.

I had started all this by tracking my mood (which was a requirement due to my being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015). Each day I’d put a total mood score for the day out of 10. This was kind of helpful as I could start to see patterns. If i had 2 or 3 consecutive days of very low or heightened mood I knew I had to step in and try to do something to stop either end of the scale spiralling.

Because of the focus I now put on my mood, I saw in my notes that my sleep really a the key stone in my sometimes fragile mental health. Sure, i’d been told that sleep was important but I’d never considered it an issue as, believe me, I can sleep! I would often happily boast that I could sleep until after midday most weekends, as if that were a good thing. However, when I started looking through my mood tracking data I saw that too much sleep was as detrimental to my mental health/mood/energy levels as not enough sleep. So I started tracking my sleep with an app which I logged in my daily journal and the patterns correlated well with my daily mood scores.

Then I saw that my sleep would be really poor for up to 3 days after having alcohol, and way after the physical hang over, I would have prolonged spikes of anxiety which seemed unconnected, but these patterns were now visible on a page in hard data.

To help regulate my sleep and my mood I knew I needed to start to exercise so that I would actually get more physically tired as opposed to the constant mental tiredness I felt (and mental tiredness in my experience never actually helps me sleep!). When regular exercise was introduced back in to my life in 2017/8 I saw a huge shift in all areas of my life. My physical and mental energy was higher but my sleep was deeper and higher quality, meaning my mood was higher but my anxiety was lower. Yes I know we’ve all been told this stuff but if you’re like me, sometimes it takes you to have to physically see the evidence there on paper for it to seem real.

As the amounts of exercise I started doing increased, I found myself wanting to eat better, so I started tracking and logging my food and looking at my nutritional macro levels. Just by trying to keep these things in balance I found that i could easily maintain my weight or lose body fat or gain muscle more effectively by watching these numbers and making sure I was eating enough of the right things.

I found that weighing myself every morning first thing and tracking it showed me how my body has natural increases and decreases in weight, most of which are WATER levels fluctuating. I stopped worrying about weighing myself. I had previously put it off and off over the previous 10 years, knowing that it was increasing. I had placed a huge amount of emotional weight on to those numbers on the scale. I had tied a lot of my lack of self worth down to those seemingly ever rising numbers. Once i started looking at the numbers every day I realised these natural fluctuations were happening and I started to stop worrying about the individual weigh in numbers and started looking at the trends. When I started to see an upward trend over a few weeks/months I could head off any issues at the pass and put some (more often than not minor) corrections in place, diet wise, to turn those trends around. I stopped being mean to myself if my weight went up after a great meal out with friends, or after the occassional takeaway. I saw that my body might take a few days to process any excess but that it was never a reason to panic. Weight which goes on very quickly will more often than not come off very quickly.

In 2018 I gave up alcohol as part of a fitness challenge for 12 weeks, at that point my weight started an irrefutable downward trend which is still continuing 3 years on! It turns out alcohol had been the main reason why my weight had been hard to control in previous years.

As you can see, all of these data items, that I had started tracking, were all interlinked. If I had just tracked one of these things… if I had just tracked my mood, I may have had some way of trying to balance out my highs and lows but that data in hindsight would have meant very little without the supporting evidence I now have.

Is doing this obsessive? I have been criticised by people for saying I weigh myself daily (never mind the rest of the stuff I track) but it’s not an obsession, it’s a really healthy thing for someone to do as long as they are also doing the work to realise that numbers don’t represent your self worth. They are just data points which can help guide us to better decisions. Yes I can see how this could be taken to a dark place but the goal for me is to move myself towards an ever improved state of mental and physical health. These stats don’t just tell me what not to do, but also when to back off the training and take a rest, or when to have a lie in to catch up on missed sleep.

What do I track daily now?

Over the years i’ve increased what I track as part of my daily journalling practice and currently this is the information that works well for me. I stopped bullet journalling because I wanted my data to be more interactive. I wanted to be able to make graphs and charts and analyse that data more thoroughly so now I’ve invented my own daily spreadsheet.

I gather the following data daily:

The Amount of Sleep (total/quality & deep sleep in hh:mm)
Medications I take (Bipolar medication, ventolin inhailer usage, steroid cream usage for eczema, any other medication I might take)
Overall Mood (1-10 scale)
Specific bipolar key indicators (Depression 1-5, Anxiety 1-5, Hypomania 1-5, irritability 1-5)
Time of the month (Menstruation tracking due to the effects this has on mood/weight etc)
Workout activity (what activity I do & notes on how I felt during workout)
Exercise Calorie Burn
Total Calories consumed (Macros for Fat, Protein, Carbs)
Weight (I have scales which split weight in to Fat, Muscle, Water %’s as well as total)
Body Fat % (this is because i have a current goal to drop 10%)
How did I feel Physically today? (in text/journal style)
How did I feel mentally today (in text/journal style)
Wellbeing Activity Checklist (I have a list of vital areas for general human wellbeing and I check them off if I did any activities that day which fed in to these areas: Social, SelfCare, Creativity, Work, Learning, Relaxation, Family, & for me Music)
What did I achieve today? (a list of tasks I have completed)
What was I grateful for today (I list at least 3 things)
What did I do for fun/relaxation today?
What could have made today better?
Screentime (daily check in to see how long I have spent on my phone/social media)

What could data tracking do for you?

I’m actually considering working on getting an app built where you can design your own daily tracking log to fill in each day (and you can add remove sections when you want. I find so many existing products limit you to cetain questions, information and we are all individuals with different tracking needs.) Would you be interested in your own data tracking app/platform to use as a form of daily checkin practice? What would you like to track?


I recommend jumping up and down and shouting a bit

A long time ago, I was talking about my inability to express anger in anyway other than tears and someone said to me that I mustn’t have thrown enough tantrums as a child. I had no idea what they meant!

(I’m sure my mum will comment and put the record straight (I probably expressed more anger as a teenager)

Today something clicked in my brain…

😡When I am angry I go in to my head (I’ve said before that I am thinking dominant and am more in touch with my thinking than my sense of feeling or my body).

😫Something triggered me today which sent me in to a head spin. I turned up to my work out and I was not physically there.

🧍I started my warm up and we always do some star jumps and Andy once commented that I look stupid and kind of floppy doing my warm up star jumps 😂. Imagine a kid who hates doing PE half heartedly flapping their limbs. That is me in my warm up star jumps some days.

Then i realised that I do this when I’m not physically in my body yet for the session and on those occasions it takes me the 5 mins of warming up to literally shake my muscles in to action.

🧒 The act of jumping up and down is kind of like a typical childhood tantrum. When a child can’t process their emotions they often let that anger physically manifest it. And they tend to shout or cry, which again is a physical emotional release.

After my work out today, once I’d jumped up and down and released my breath I felt so much more able to process the anger I had trapped in my head. I could let it go.

So I recommend we adults take a few lessons from children. When you are angry and frustrated take some time (I suggest alone 😂) to jump up and down and shout a bit! A kind of adult tantrum! I should start adult tantrum therapy classes!

Or even better, use exercise sports as a more socially acceptable version and let that feeling go and get those thoughts in to your body and out of your brain!

(Ps.I’m singer I don’t do shouting and I even refrain from making gym related grunting sounds to protect my voice but singing is also basically controlled shouting so maybe we should jump up and down and sing Opera!)

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Your Strengths and your Weaknesses are the same things

⁣This concept blew my mind but proved so insightful for me.⁣

⁣Whenever I ask people, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” their answers seem to fall in to two categories. Those who know their strengths but struggle to list their weaknesses or those who are locked in to their weaknesses. I have rarely met any who can can articulate both with ease and I think I know why. They are the same thing! ⁣

⁣I found it incredibly hard to articulate my strengths. Sure, I knew I had some skills which I could list, but my personality strengths seemed to be clouded by a big long list of weaknesses.⁣

⁣- In ability to focus on one thing for any length of time⁣
⁣- Difficulty finishing projects⁣
⁣- Overly emotional (to the point where it interferes with my image in the work environment)⁣
⁣- I wanted to do everything on my own and with my own resources and didn’t like help.⁣
⁣- I’d read too much in to what people said/did⁣

⁣ And this list went on and on ⁣

⁣The way I went about discovering my innate personality strengths was via different personality typology models. I took every test out there, MBTI, Enneagram, The Big 5, Strengths Finder… and all sorts of other models. ⁣

⁣I collated the data I got back from all of these models and I looked for patterns and for those things that felt true.⁣

⁣My most reported Strengths came out as:⁣

⁣- Curiosity / Exploration⁣
⁣- Social Intelligence⁣
⁣- Emotional Intelligence⁣
⁣- Independent ⁣

⁣These things correlate directly to the weaknesses I was seeing/feeling.⁣

⁣- My curiosity and desire to explore new ideas /topics / projects meant I would often struggle to finish things and get bored and want to move on. ⁣
⁣- The emotional intelligence means I am very connected to my emotions and because of my bipolar they would take over if I didn’t regulate them properly. ⁣
⁣- The Independent tendency turned to a weakeness when I refused to let others help me.⁣
⁣- My Social Intelligence and curiosity combined would lead to me over thinking or reading in to what people did/said if I let it go unchecked.⁣

⁣All of these things were always there I just could only see how they were playing out in more disordered ways in my life but now I know how to see a weakness and recognise that is it just likely being used incorrectly and that it is also one of my biggest strengths.⁣

⁣Are you someone who struggles to see your strengths or do you struggle to name your weaknesses? ⁣

⁣Write out a list of either your strengths or weaknesses and then look at how they play our negatively and positively in your life. ⁣

⁣If you are struggling I can recommend some excellent personality typology models that can help! ⁣

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Your mental health is not something you can afford to be complacent about

If you struggle or have ever struggled with your mental health at any time, you need to hear this.

Mental health is not something you either HAVE or DON’T HAVE. It exists on a scale which continually fluctuates. As long as you have a functioning brain, you have mental health to think about!

You don’t achieve mental health and then leave it alone.

As i talk about a lot on here, I had a 15 year battle with poor mental health, caused mainly by undiagnosed bipolar disorder, but also, because of a lack of understanding of healthy emotional regulation. In 2015 I was diagnosed as bipolar, which gave me a lot of insight in to what had been going on for me for the past decade or so, but the battle didn’t end there. I then had to find a way to stabilise the condition with medications and (perhaps most importantly) better monitoring of my thoughts and emotions and my habits!

I proved to myself over the next few years that followed, that it’s possible to manage a condition like this and to live relatively problem free providing I monitor my mental health and my thoughts/actions/habits DAILY! 

I feel that in the not so distant past, when I was feeling happy/positive, I would back off from monitoring things and that would allow little bad habits of thought or action to creep back in and then when my mood started to dip i’d start it back up again and pick up all the good habits again. I’ve known now for probably the last 2 years that that is really foolish so now I check in on my mood, habits, thoughts, behaviour and look for clues as to how I’m doing. 

Yesterday was a good example and this is why i’m writing this post. 

Yesterday was a really good day. 

At the end of the day, I picked up my journal to do my daily check in. 

Was my mood in a good range (on my 1-10 scale) ✅
Had I exercised for at least 30 mins ✅
Had I eaten well ♻️
Had I had enough sleep the previous night?✅
Logged my Feelings/emotions and gratitude for the day ✅

All good! 

Then I went through my Tah-Dah list (this is a list of things I’ve DONE/ACHIEVED that day that I use as it works better than a to do list for me.) ⚠️

The list was a whole page long!!!

I had worked a full (and busy day) of my day job. I’d done a weekly shop. I’d Batch cooked for the week. I’d Done laundry. I’d Written a blog post. I’d made several Tiktoks to cheer up a friend. I Finished another piece of my knitting project, I’d Updated my website, I’d Done some coaching….

This is a big red warning sign for me. ❗️

For people with bipolar, hyper productivity can be a sign of tipping towards mania (or in my case hypo-mania as I have bipolar 2). 

Once I noticed that as a flag I knew to take a few minutes to just stop and feel what was going on IN my body and notice my mind and thoughts. 

My thoughts were indeed racing. Yes they were positive/productive thoughts but they were definitely speeded up.

In my body I noticed the very very slight feeling of dizziness that I sometimes feel when I have forgotten to take one of my medications!

It can be so subtle a feeling that I just don’t pick up on it and I hadn’t.

I am so well practiced at taking my medications that forgetting seems almost impossible but i thought back to the time in the day when I usually do this ritual and I remembered looking for my pills in my bag and then remembered I was distracted by something and I must have just forgotten to follow through on the action. 

I know for a fact that past me would have been happy to ride this wave of productivity and positivity but I know better than that now. 

Once I noticed this I had to start to put in a plan to counteract this trend. 

– I logged that I’d missed a dose of my meds.
– I knew from experience that I would struggle to sleep because of my thoughts so I made sure I did some breathing exercises to help me get to sleep.
– I made a note to consciously slow down the next day and to check in hourly to just make sure I was breathing and centered and not burning up excess mental fuel.
– I needed to watch caffein intake today

I know a lot of this is specific to my condition but how can it apply to your mental health?

Do you know what your warning signs are?

Do you have plans in place to deal with these things?

Do you try to stop issues before they become problems?

For me, journalling has been the tool that has helped me most in monitoring my mental and physical health.

I’d love to know what you all do?

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The people you choose to have in your life are not there to fulfil your needs, they are there for you to love.

This was a life changing piece of knowledge for me and I hope it can help you too.

Around 5 years ago I was suffering from an expectation hangover regarding my life, my career, my health and my relationships.

I had been married for 7 years and we had got to a point where, because of various issues, we had stopped communicating properly and had forgotten that, first and foremost, we were together because we love each other and that we were supposed to be best friends.

This is easily done! Part of the reason this happens is because over time we build up expectations of the others in our lives. We have ideas in our heads of the types of things they should do or say or how they should behave; and when it doesn’t fit our needs we start to try to manipulate them to change.

Yeah, manipulation is an ugly word but so many of us do it all the time.

Whenever you tell someone they are making you FEEL ———— when they do/say/ ———-, so they should stop/start doing ———— instead so you can feel better! That is emotional manipulation.

If our needs are going unmet we often expect others to change to suit us better but guess what…. unless you are the parent of a small child, it’s not your responsibility to take care of the needs of anyone in your life except yourself.

I realised I had subconsciously created a rule book in which other people in my life were responsible for making me…

Feel significant
Feel worthy
Feel happy (or any other emotion)
Feel cared for
Feel secure
Feel loved
Feel appreciated

Those things were never their jobs!

It is not your husband’s/son’s/daughter’s/mother’s/father’s job to make you feel any of the above, their job is just to be in your life and to be who they are and your only job is to love them.

Though I am lucky to have people in my life that do help with these things from time to time those things were always mine to fulfil!

By expecting others to fulfil these needs I was leaving myself powerless to create all those things for myself! They had always been my responsibility!

I’m not saying that our partners shouldn’t help reinforce some of those feelings with their actions because if you are lucky you may have people in your lives that do all of the above, but beware, if their actions and words are the ONLY source of your self esteem/worth/worthiness then you have outsourced a job entirely to an external source and that isn’t guaranteed to be a never ending source! You need to generate those feelings for yourself and within yourself.

Ok, so if you are self sufficient in fulfilling these key needs, what are the relationships we have in our lives for? Why bother looking for a partner. Why keep family members in your life? Why invest in other relationships at all! What are they there for?

The answer is to be loved/appreciated for being who they are!

We choose to keep people in our lives because we love/appreciate them for who they are and not for what they can do for us! If we don’t want to love/appreciate the people in our lives then we can choose to not let them in or at least to not let them have agency/power in our lives.

When I looked at my close relationships and I thought about what expectations I had been projecting, and I learnt to release those projections and get back to the essence of those relationships, I saw those people for who they were and for what joy they brought to my life just by being them!

It made me stop focusing so much on the little annoying petty grievances we all have with loved ones / family. With the petty foibles that just happen to be part of who they are. I realised that If someone isn’t fulfilling a need of mine I can talk to them and explain how their behaviour might be affecting me but ultimately my feelings about anything are always my choice and I can’t expect people to change.

How could these thoughts transform your relationships?

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All Human Problems come down to the fulfilment of 6 Basic Needs

All the problems you have in your life come down to needs that you have that are going unmet or that you are meeting in unhealthy ways and there are only 6 basic human needs! If you can pinpoint where the problems lie then you can easily start to find a solution.

This particular model of 6 human needs links to theories such as Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.

Here are 6 Baisc Needs that ALL HUMANS HAVE!!

  • The need for CERTAINTY

Certainty encompasses the needs to be sure you can avoid pain and gain pleasure! The knowledge that you will have shelter and food and security and that you’ll be able to get enough food and take care of yourself and loved ones.

  • The need for UNCERTAINTY / VARIETY

Though we need certainty we also crave stimulation and for that we need some level of variety. We don’t like boredom/stagnation.

  • The need for SIGNIFICANCE

We all need to feel like we matter! That we are important / needed / special in some way!

  • The need for LOVE & CONNECTION

As a species we have a need to connect to others. To belong to societies/cultures/groups and to form close bonds and to reproduce.

  • The need for GROWTH

We all have a need to keep developing ourselves and our capabilities and our knowledge!

  • The need for CONTRIBUTION

We all need to feel we can bring something to the lives of others! That we can serve, support, educate, care for others.

We spend our lives basing our decisions building our personalities and our behaviours around trying to get these needs fulfilled.

We can fulfill these needs in positive / useful ways or in negative / problematic ways!

When we have recurring problems in our life it is usually because we have a need going unmet or we are trying to meet one or more of these needs in problematic ways!

I used to feel like I was a failure because I changed careers a lot and never felt happy with what I was doing. When I dug in to this I could see that I was bored (lack of uncertainty) and I didn’t feel like what I was doing was significant or that I was able to make a meaningful contribution. The way I dealt with that was to hop from job to job hoping to find something that worked for me but really what I had needed to do was to slow down and deal with the needs one by one to pin down a career path that could satisfy more of these key needs!

Write down a recurring problem that you have had going on in your life.

Look at the 6 needs and see if any of them are going unmet?

Are you dealing with those needs in healthy or unhealthy ways?

Once you know what needs are going unmet, how could you make changes to fulfil those needs in positive healthy ways?

If you can’t work out how this is working for you I’d be happy to discuss this with you in a coaching!


Resistance Really is Futile

Resistance really is futile

I’ve been pondering this phrase this week as I marked a mental milestone in my personal journey back to mental health and fitness.

This week I realised that there was no longer any mental resistance (or very little) to me doing my daily exercise routine. I have been exercising daily for nearly 2.5 years now but it’s taken all this time for my brain to finally give up on the repetitive resisting thoughts that would come up as I arrived at the gym, or as I was getting changed for a class. Those thoughts of “I’m tired”, “I can’t be bothered”, “I can’t wait for this to be over”.

It took less time for me to commit to and build the habit of physically getting to the gym everyday which is why I’ve been successful but i still has these lingering thoughts which seemed to come up to test my resolve.

We often hear the phrase “resistance is futile” when it comes to trying to resist pleasurable things. Like having to try to resist having a slice of that delicious birthday cake someone brought in to the office. But I think I understand now that the real futility of resistance is the mental battles we have to push through to do the hard things.

What mental battles of resistance go on in your head on a daily basis?

Perhaps your mental resistance is around exercise, or keeping a healthy balanced diet, or around taking action on something that makes you uncomfortable.

Imagine how much easier it would be if that mental battle just went away and we could just DO the things we plan to do without it!

I’m here to say, if you are aware of your mental resistance and if you can push through it and recognise it for what it is, its resolve does weaken and one day, you might have a realisation that that battle has finally been won like I did.

Mental resistance IS futile and you can over come it with self awareness!

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How your brain is like a computer

I’m loving this analogy right now! Imagine that your brain was your laptop computer. It has hardware. The mechanical side of things. Then you have your software programs running on your computer, these are the things you interact with daily. They are a bunch of tools that solve problems.

Our values and our beliefs are programs that run in the background, like the operating system. There are many different operating systems as there are many different ways of seeing the world, all are valid and do a similar job but in their own way.

Then we have our memories, which are like the files you have stored in your computer, and we have our active thoughts which are like the software we run or the browser windows we have open.

Now why is this analogy useful.

Most of us, except for the computer engineers amongst us, have very little understanding of how the hardware/operating systems on our computers works, we just rely on them to work (our reptilian brain functions are very automatic). We all know we have an operating system (windows 10/IOS/Linux or in this case our values / beliefs) and software but we rarely need to think about how those programmes work unless they go wrong!

Then we have to start asking questions.

My computer has crashed, what do I do? Or as an example for your brain… I have anxiety and I don’t know what is causing it?

Most of us, in these situations will look for a simple solution.

On the computer we may try Switching it off and switching it back on again, or giving it a whack! We do the same with our brains. We might switch off by numbing out the anxiety with drink or food, which in both cases sort of works but is only temporary and doesn’t involve getting to grips with the real underlying issue.

Just like we can run virus scans on our computers to look for potential issues. We can run our thoughts through models to look for errors in our thoughts, but most of us choose not to until we hit problems.

What I discovered on my journey was that getting to understand your brain and your values and beliefs and then monitoring the thoughts that run through your brain is really vital. You have more control over these things than you know. Most of us choose to just let things run, don’t update things, and hope for the best but like when your computer crashes and you need professional help, fixing your brain is also hugely costly!

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Letting go of expectations

We all have a lot of expectations…

Expectations of how we think the world should be.

Expectations as to how our futures should look.

Expectations about how other people should behave.

Expectations of life being fair.

We write our own expectation rule books which are based on our values and morales and experiences of the world, but they can weigh us down because no matter how we THINK the world or other people SHOULD be, we have little control of anything external.

That’s not to say that we can’t fight for causes we believe in, or that we can’t try to make change in the world with our actions, but I’m talking about how we need to become aware of the expectations we have which consistently set us up for disappointment.

This situation has really brought that home to me.

What expectations did you have which are now proving not to be reality?

If you had asked me in January, if I expected to be living my life like we are doing at the moment, in quarantine, with very limited free movement and not being able to see my family, Of course I wouldn’t have had imagined such a scenario.

I did, however, have an expectation that my life would stay very similar. That my everyday routine of, get up, to to work, go to the gym, nip to the shops, come home etc would be a constant.

It’s this subconscious expectation that makes us suffer when expectations don’t turn out to be as expected.

We get this all the time. Sometimes people let us down, but all they are really doing is not meeting our expectation of them and that expectation is just a projected image in our minds based on our subconscious values/beliefs. It is not a projection of truth.

Right now we are suffering / grieving because we have an expectation hangover.

“Things are not the way they SHOULD be right now.”

But in reality those things were never guaranteed. They were just external projections of the future which gave us a sense of control.

Is it possible to let go of expectations?

I’d say no, because as humans, we have the capability to plan for the future but we could all do with loosening the grip on those expectations.

When we become aware of our expectations we can start to become aware of how we are trying to control the future which is not in our control.

Notice when you use the phrase “this / that / they SHOULD be XYZ”.

If something should be a certain way, know that it could very easily NOT go be way and make peace where you can with a certain level of uncertainty.

Yes, we can take actions to change the likelihood of something happening or not happening but ultimately it isn’t possible to predict the future with certainty so look out for the expectation hangovers you are setting yourself up for.

I should be working now.

I should be at school.

I shouldn’t be facing financial problems.

He shouldn’t be doing that.

We shouldn’t have to….

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Worried and Afraid but Courageous and Resilient

Are you feeling Worried, Terrified, Stressed, Anxious, Uncertain?

We will probably all be feeling some level of all of the above in the coming weeks/months, and I don’t want to tell anyone to stop looking at the negative of this because the fears are real but if I could recommend anything to you right now, it’s that you consciously give some air time in your mind to the other truths or possibilities that exist in such times.

You can feel worried but can also acknowledge that you are also a very capable person who is resourceful and adaptable.

You can be feeling afraid but also recognise that you are resilient and that you can come through this.

You can feel freaked out but still show up and do your bit (even if all you are allowed to do is stay at home and keep others safe).

You can feel terrified but also recognise that there is always hope. Nothing is certain.

You don’t need to be either positive or negative, you need a balance of them both. It’s what makes us human!

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Thought Work in Challenging Times

In my previous post from earlier this week I talked about how it is important for us to acknowledge and to experience all of our emotions. This is because they are very important parts of being human.

Our lives are going to be 50/50 positive and negative emotions and it is important to allow both emotions.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t have any issues with feeling positive emotions in our lives, but we could all do with a bit of help with the negative ones.

We often try to put off / delay or avoid our negative emotions completely but it is a bad strategy as by doing this we are just putting off the impact, we don’t actually escape them.

I have created a little check list of things to do when you are going through some negative emotion in your life.

When you are feeling a negative emotion:

  1. Stop and describe the physical sensations that are present with the emotion you are feeling?

i.e my stomach feels knotted, my heart is racing, I want to run away

  1. Name the emotion if you can. Some of us are better at this than others but it becomes easier with practice.
  2. Ask yourself, does this emotion make sense right now in relation to the situation I’m in?

i.e If you had just lost someone you love, then to be feeling grief would make perfect sense. If you have lost your job then it would make sense for you to feel uncertain or anxious.

  1. Have compassion for yourself. Have patience with yourself. This is what it feels to be human.
  2. Choose to stay in the moment, in the emotion, knowing that it will pass. It will feel uncomfortable but it is just a feeling and it can’t harm you.

But what about when negative emotions are just too overwhelming? What then?

Though it is good/healthy to feel all of your emotions, there are times when these emotions can cause us problems.

  1. When you are stuck in a negative emotion that won’t pass.
  2. When what you are feeling doesn’t seem to make sense in your given circumstance?
  3. When your emotions are stopping you from living your life.

There are times when we simply can’t understand or we can’t shift our emotions and they become problematic.

This is where my next sentence can change everything.



This has been the single most powerful thing I have ever learnt, and at first I didn’t believe it could be that simple.


How can this be true?

I am scared right now because of the Corona Virus!

I am angry right now because people are panic buying and stock pilling and not taking things seriously enough.

The corona virus and other people’s behaviour are both CIRCUMSTANCES and circumstances can not directly make us feel anything, only our thoughts about those circumstances can make us feel anxious or angry.

Circumstances (such as other people or facts about the world) are ALL NEUTRAL. Neither good nor bad. Neither right nor wrong. It’s what we think about them that give them power.

Still not convinced?

Here is a little thought experiment:

Circumstance = A man has died

Feeling = How do you feel?

How you feel depends entirely on what you THINK about the circumstance.

If, you think “that man was my grandfather and I loved him”, then you would most likely feel sadness and grief.

If you think “I did not know that man”, then you would more than likely feel neutral or perhaps empathetic or sympathetic.

You see, the circumstance needs context (in the form of a thought) for it to make you FEEL anything.

We have a choice over what we think. We might not be aware of it, but we can choose what thoughts we let control our lives and therefore our emotions.

But I have thoughts all the time that I don’t choose to have?

Well this is partly true, we do have thoughts that seem to come up from nowhere, and which are almost automatic, but if we take care to monitor our own thoughts and to question the thoughts we let multiply in our minds then we can learn to identify thoughts that are problematic.

What is a problematic thought?

Circumstances drive our Thoughts, our thoughts drive our Emotions/Feelings and in turn, our Emotions/Feeling drive our Actions.

When I am feeling extremely afraid, it is because my survival drive is being triggered by my thoughts and then my actions will tend to be very limited. We go in to one of the following behaviours/actions fight/flight or freeze. If the thoughts that I’m allowing to linger in my brain are making me run away or freeze and not take actions in my life because of them then you could say that these thoughts are problematic.

When you are having a negative thought, as I mentioned earlier, it’s good to analyse if the feelings we are having (and the actions we are taking) appropriate to the circumstance we are facing, i.e are the thoughts we are having about that circumstance producing the desired actions?

Let’s say you have been listening to the news about COVID-19 and the thoughts that are coming up for you are “We are all going to die”, and you are feeling extremely afraid, and then you are taking actions which aren’t helping you i.e not able to function because of the fear. You need to assess if the thought you are having is appropriate?

Ok, it is true, we could die, but right now we are unable to take any action because this thought is paralysing you then you need to look at your thought and adapt it in order to change your actions.

I’m not talking about flipping a negative thought to a positive thought? I’m talking about de-weaponising the thought so that you can take the action you need.

This is where you get to go in to the thought changing room.

Did you know you can try on a thought like you can try on an outfit.

Let’s try it…

What would I need to think in order to not feel so paralysed by my fear about this current situation?

What if, instead of thinking “we’re all going to die”, you think “this is a very serious situation and I just need to do everything I can to make sure I play my part to try to keep myself and people safe?

Say this thought to yourself and then imagine how that thought will make you feel as opposed to the first one?

Does it feel better or are you still feeling triggered?

If it feels like it will help you to think that thought then you need to repeat this thought whenever the old thought comes up.

If that thought doesn’t work, try another one?

In the next week I am giving free coaching sessions away to anyone struggling with negative emotions at this time of stress / anxiety and uncertainty. If you would like help finding thoughts that will work for you in this time, just message me.

This is the biggest gift I can give to you. The freedom to realise that you control what you choose to think about! If you can learn this now, you can use this for all aspects of your life to help you keep taking action and manage your negative emotions.


Dealing with Difficult Emotions

At the moment I think it’s fair to say that the world is dealing with some very difficult times and that is meaning that many people are feeling some very Acutely difficult emotions.

We are feeling frightened because there is a virus out there that could kill us or one of our loved ones?

We are feeling afraid that we won’t be able to cope financially because we have lost work or had our wages cut?

We are feeling uncertain as to how to act, in a situation that we have never experienced before.

We are feeling overwhelmed by news which is designed to trigger fear and spread panic (because the news media know that this sells).

We are feeling isolated because we have to distance ourselves from our loved ones even though we know we are doing it for the right reasons.

We are feeling disappointed that things we had been looking forward to have had to be cancelled. Weddings/Holidays/School/University/Work/Events.

I just want to say that all of these emotions are valid and we NEED to be allowing ourselves to feel them.

We seem to spend our lives trying to avoid negative emotions and trying to numb them or escape them or deny them but that won’t help us. What we need right now is a lesson on how to feel these negative emotions because they (like it or not) are just as important as positive emotions.

To have emotions is to be human, and that means all the positive emotions life has to offer (happiness, joy, pride, gratitude, excitement …) and all of the more negative or difficult emotions (grief, fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, uncertainty). Humans evolved to have these complex physiological responses which we have come to call emotions/feelings.

They evolved in alignment with our main instinctual drives which are:

Self-preservation – the drive to preserve the body, our lives and the functions of the body. Which is linked to emotions such as fear, anxiety.

Sexual instinct – the drive connect with others to further the species. Which can be linked to emotions such as love, lust, passion.

Social instinct – the drive to get along with other people and form secure social relationships and bonds. Which can be linked to emotions such as: loneliness, grief, belonging.

Can you see how the scenarios facing us right now are like a perfect storm! We have a virus that could kill us (which will trigger our survival instincts and emotions) and we are being asked to isolate which goes against our social instinctual drives!!! No wonder we are all feeling so much right now!

When we say we feel afraid, what are we really describing?

We are describing certain physical feelings in our bodies which we have learnt to recognise as fear. These can vary from person to person but there tend to be very common traits that we can recognise as fear in ourselves and crucially in others as well! So for me, and most other people, fear tends to feel like… an increased heart rate, a feeling of tension in the stomach, a rush of adrenaline, a desire to run/get away from the situation/perceived danger (fight or flight).

Sadness/depression can be recognised by a heavy feeling in the heart/stomach region, a frown on the face, a slowing down of physical movement, tears…

Joy often feels like a lightness in the body, a smile, a rush of positive energy and positivity.

I could go on and on…

Feelings in themselves are harmless. They are just physiological responses which come and go and they pass through the body in waves. Grief for me, taught me this more than any other emotions. The intense feelings of grief would literally feel like giant waves that welled up inside of me and would overwhelm me but then they would pass through and I’d feel ok again until the next wave hit. This is true of all emotions though.

Nobody minds feeling positive emotions. In fact we all seem obsessed with feeling more positive emotion and less negative emotions but I have to tell you that this is not realistic. The human experience comes with both the positive and the negative and we need to be willing to feel both types.

What happens when we are NOT willing to feel something?

What if, right now, you are feeling anxious and afraid because of the corona virus but you didn’t want to (because hey, who would want to), what could you do to avoid this emotion?

You could, distract yourself with some activity, such as binge watching a series to literally divert your mind from the feelings. You could turn to eating or drinking, which is really common, because you get comfort from the feeling of having a full stomach or from the pleasure of eating chocolate or the numbing properties of alcohol. Yes, you could do these things (and most of us do) but what happens to the feeling of fear. Has it gone away after you have finished eating or after you wake up the next day with a hangover?

The answer is no. You have just put that feeling on hold and as soon as the thing you used to cover it up is gone it will resurface.

A nice analogy for this is thinking of your negative feelings being like a football and when you deny / avoid your negative feelings it’s like holding that football underwater. You can keep pressing down on it but at some point the air in that ball is going to force it to resurface and if you’ve done this before, that ball will explode out of the water. Avoiding feeling your negative emotions will not work as a long term strategy and will lead to much bigger problems as you chase them down the road.

So what am I supposed to do?

The answer is to acknowledge your emotions in the moment. That means, for example, when you feel your stomach tighten and your heart beat racing, you consciously recognise that you are feeling fear and then you allow yourself to feel those feelings in your body, knowing that they can’t harm you, they are just physiological sensations.

Next, and this is huge, you need to have compassion for yourself. Be kind and patient with yourself. Know that what you are feeling is a human response to something that feels threatening to your instinctual human drives. Of course you are scared of dying. Of course you are afraid of your loved ones getting sick. Of course you are afraid you won’t have enough money or food or work.

Next you need to breathe, slow down, let the feelings pass through your body and then try your best to carry on with your day.

I know this sounds simplistic and not at all easy, it isn’t easy at first but the more you do it, and the less you try to escape your negative feelings the better you will feel in the long run.

There are lots of memes out there saying things like “I’ll either come out of self isolation 3 stone heavier or 3 stone lighter 😂” which is of course saying, I’m going to avoid my negative emotions by over eating or starving myself and to me that is just poor emotional management.

I used to eat when I was bored (which for me is a very triggering negative emotion) so I learnt to acknowledge boredom as boredom and to allow myself some time to feel it (what am I feeling in my brain/body right now) instead of immediately heading to the fridge for something to eat, and then once I had recognised the emotion I would feel compelled to find something to relieve that boredom in a constructive way!

Some of these negative emotions are massively useful as they serve as warning signs that you need to do something/change something, so my boredom tells me I’m not being mentally stimulated enough and I need to find something more interesting.

So today I want you to feel compassionate for your body and mind for the negative emotions you are feeling right now.

What do you do when you are having too many negative emotions and are struggling to function?

As I’ve said, you do need to allow your emotions and to let them pass through you, but what do you do when those negative emotions don’t pass through, they seem to take root and you can’t shift them! Then, my friends, it’s time to do some thought work and I’m going to do a session (a follow up post) on thought and feelings tomorrow!

I hope you found this of some help today. If you would like to have a free coaching session with me I’m offering free sessions for the next month or so to help anyone who is really struggling. Now is the time to get our mindsets in a healthy place so we can face our negative situations and come out of this stronger / more resilient and more compassionate human beings.


The Enneagram, and how it can change your life!

What is YOUR type? 

The Enneagram has been the most powerful personal development tool that I have learnt in my coaching journey.


The enneagram is a personality typology system which looks in to our core motivations. 

The system says there are 9 different core motivations that we all fit in to, but the system is not there to put us in to boxes, it’s there to show us what boxes we are already in and HOW we can learn to move past the fixations of our type. 


I use this system with all the people I Coach because it gives you a really great roadmap towards self improvement.


– It’s shown me that I’m not alone in some of my life views. I often felt like I was broken because I saw things differently to many people in my life and I realised that was because I have a different underlying motivation. No one type is better than another, they are just different. 

– It’s changed my relationships to friends and family because knowing their type means I can understand them better. Imagine if you could learn to literally see the world in the way, say, your partner does?  My husband is a type 6 and 6’s have a primary focus on Safety and Security. I used to think that my husbands ocd like attention to certain things around the house were ridiculous and frustrating but now I can see WHY and how it could be that he sees certain things the way he does and I have more empathy for his point of view.

– It’s allowed me to let go of some of the issues I’d often get fixated over and which caused me much frustration. I have always been obsessed with freedom and not feeling fenced in. My type helped me see why. I now know what to do when those feelings come up. 

I would love to chat type with any of you that are interested. I am an Enneagram coach so can explain the system and I have work sheets I can send out if you want to know more.

Take the Test using the link below!

Make sure you screenshot your results!!!


Find out about your type here



Why We Should Be Talking About What Good Mental Health Looks Like

If I were to ask people if they had Mental Health issues most people would say no.

They would say no because our society gives out the message that if you are not mentally ILL (with a recognised problem such as depression, anxiety, bipolar etc), then you are mentally healthy.

But the truth is, it’s just not true.

Would you say that someone was physically healthy just because they didn’t have an illness or disease?

Probably not, because it’s more obvious that physical health exists on a scale. Some people are much fitter than others, for example.

We’ve recently realised our society is hurtling towards massive physical health problems because of obesity and inactivity. We are now, quite rightly, bombarded with education
about how we should all be moving more and eating less.

If you go to the doctor for a general checkup it is fairly normal for them to tell you you need to work on your physical health but when was the last time you went to the doctor and they told you you needed to work on your mental health?

An absence of mental illness is NOT the same as mental healthiness.

We all know how good physical health should basically present itself; A stable healthy weight, regular physical exercise, good diet etc.

But do you know what excellent mental health looks like?

Does anyone teach that?

If I were to ask you to describe a mentally healthy person, what would you say?

Social media seems to say a mentally healthy person is HAPPY! All the time.


Negative emotions are as much part of the human experience as positive ones.

A sign of a mentally healthy person is someone who can deal with negative emotions. It’s unhealthy to be telling people that if they aren’t Happy then there must be something wrong with them.

Here are the things I personally think constitute a state of EXCELLENT MENTAL HEALTH.

1. Emotional Balance

The ability to be willing and able to process positive and negative emotions and being able to take responsibility for how we feel.

2. Appropriate Internal Control

The absence of externally controlling behaviour towards yourself or others. You can’t control others. You can ask others to change but you can’t force it so trying to is not healthy. You also shouldn’t try to control situations which are out of your control, it just leads to mental anxiety. This can have knock on effects on your physical as well as mental health.

3. The Absence of Avoidant Behaviours

Not choosing to indulge in behaviours that help us avoid feeling negative emotion. We might over eat, binge drink, get addicted to drugs or sex or gambling. These are temporary distractions and false pleasures which ultimately lead to problems. You need to deal with the causes of the negative emotions.

4. Your State of Mental Health Should NOT be Dependent on External Sources.

If you feel you are mentally healthy because you have a great job or a fantastic family / relationship, what would you do if that great job or loving relationship was no longer there? You need to be able to generate your own feelings of self worth/value, confidence, self esteem and love. That way you will be more emotionally resilient when one of life’s inevitable storms hit.

5. Future Planning

People with future plans and goals to work towards are proven to have better mental health.


What is your Why?

I wrestled with this question for many years. If you ask most people what their why is they will tell you they live for their children, or they live for their work, or they simply don’t know… I was in the don’t know camp.

I love singing opera, I love being a test analyst, a photographer, a blogger and embroidery artist but couldn’t honestly say I live for any one of those things.

I don’t plan to have any children because I my partner and I made the decision years ago that that wasn’t something we felt we wanted. 

So what is my why? Why am I here…

I feel it’s important for us all to take the time to work out their higher level purpose because human beings need to have an aim. If you have no aim then it doesn’t matter what you do and that breeds apathy. 

I’ve always believed It’s better to have an aim and miss than to have no aim at all. 

So how did I find my why, and how can you find yours? 

Find out on my latest blog post. Follow the link in my biog!

Why not carry on the conversation on this and other topics on my Facebook Group MEology Life (you can find a link on my blog page) 

– – – – – – – – – 

How did I find my why? 

1. I wrote down all of my strengths, talents, skills, attributes.

2. I identified and wrote down my highest held core values.

3. I looked for patterns and connections between all of those things.

What did I find?

I found that what links my passions for music, performance, opera, photography, embroidery art, and psychology was story telling and communication. 

I realised that my WHY was all about communicating the messages that are important. 

– To tell my story about my journey with mental health, my fitness journey and to help others find themselves and to find joy after living with depression or anxiety.
– To communicate the beauty, power and emotion of music.
– To help others understand their narrative.

If I am doing these things I know am living my life purposefully with real authenticity. 

What doing “the work” really entails

When people say they are “doing the work” what does that mean.

When talking about doing psychological and spiritual work we are talking about shining a light on to our behavioural and thought patterns and how and why they manifest.

I’ve been actively engaging in this as a priority for the last 5-8 years now through my work with the enneagram. I’ve been gradually bringing more and more awareness to what I do habitually out of ego and digging in to WHY.

I just wanted to give an example of what this can look like.

Recently I came to the realisation that I’ve been carrying a self imposed need to be upbeat, happy/ok and positive for most of my life. (As and enneagram 7 this is very typical). I’ve realised that the reason I need alone time so much is because it gives me time to just be how I actually inside instead of being whoever the people around me are used to seeing… the upbeat, energetic, happy person. Who’s fault is it that everyone expects this of me? It’s mine! I’ve set this as the default for myself and others have learnt to identify happy positive and upbeat with who I am. Naturally when I’m not, then people notice.

I have come to the conclusion that the reason I fell in to a really deep depression when I left home and went to university was partially this. I was in a situation where I could be whatever I actually felt. People didn’t know me as anything else. So they got to know helen as someone who wasn’t always ok… in fact who had a lot of pain.

Of course I didn’t know that then, and when i came back from university It was back to my family and friends and my old persona.

My twenties were punctuated with periods of me becoming down/depressed and I can see now that the effort involved in maintaining this positive optimistic front is actually exhausting and when we become exhausted we end up having to recuperate and relax in order to recharge. I think my depressive episodes are just that. Times when I physically have to slow down. I can emotionally reset and recharge so I’m ready to go again.

I noticed a few years back that I tend to crash in February and August each year for no real obvious reason until now. It seems I can maintain my egoic self for 5 months at a time then I need a reset.

It is February and I am in need of a recharge/reset. So I’m allowing myself to not be fine for a week or two. Which means I’m just going to spend more down time where my energy isn’t needed to be projected outward. This has to be something that I allow for more often than once every 5 months. I am going to start talking more about this with friends and family so they understand when I’m not bubbly it doesn’t mean I’m not ok, it just means I have finite energy that I need to ration it out better.

Doing the work is painful but it really is worth it. If going forward I have a much more healthy energy balance then I am going to benefit from the mental health improvements. We all have to look in to our shadow if we want to minimise it’s effect on us.

Anyone looking to do some more inner work I am a certified enneagram coach

Giving something up doesn’t always have to be difficult

I’ve had to give up quite a few old behaviours and habits in the past 5 or so years on my journey back to mental and physical health and so I’ve had to create strategies for creating habit behaviour changes that have really worked for me.

This year I decided I need to give up drinking diet sodas. They were the one “bad” thing I really clung to after changing my diet and my fitness routines. I did it because it felt like a naughty treat and hey, there are no calories in it, so it was just my thing. That was ok but I was drinking A LOT of it and I’ve known for quite some time that this wasn’t great. So I decided 2022 was my year for giving it up.

So I have employed my usual 4 step method for effective habit change!

Giving something up used to feel so difficult because I would think of how deprived I was going be of not having that thing I so enjoy … knowing my willpower is not very strong I needed some tools to help me and this is how I’ve reliably been able to do this kind of thing!

  1. I make a list of all the reasons why I should want to give this thing up?
  • ZERO nutritional value
  • Fake sugars potentially linked to diabetes
  • Possible carcinogenic ingredients
  • Possible weight GAIN caused by body’s reactions to fake sugars.
  • Expensive

2. Make a list of all the reasons why giving this thing up will be good for me

  • Prevent possible health issues due to unknown effects.
  • Prevent tooth enamel damage
  • Prevent unnecessary weight gain/retention

3. Envision specifically how you will FEEL when you have successfully changed this behaviour

  • I will feel healthier as I’ll be drinking more water
  • Less bloated
  • I’ll be less worried about possible side effects

4. When faced with the choice in future, recall the answers to 2 & 3. Repeat them to yourself before you make your choice.

The aim is to no longer WANT to choose this thing. People rarely struggle to say NO to things they DON’T WANT.

This is how I ended up giving up alcohol and when I applied the formula again this month I’ve doing giving up drinking diet soda so easy.

Yes it involves some thought practice at first but changing your thoughts is a lot easier than trying to use willpower to resist something that you are still clinging to mentally as something you want or need.

What I learnt from my past New Year Resolution Failures

On this day in January 2015 i declared that I was going to get back in to my wedding dress by that summer.

Spoiler Alert 🚨

It didn’t happen!

I think we’ve all been here all too often. Feeling like we should be making an effort to be fitter / happier / more productive but not really knowing how or even why sometimes.

This resolution was wishful thinking. I remember feeling so low about my appearance. My weight was going up and up, I was having to cover my hair to stop me doing more damage with my hair pulling disorder and I just wanted to hide away. I wanted a magic wand to be waved and for me to somehow go back to a previous version of me.

So why did I not take action? Why did I not change my eating, drinking, start exercising … I mean that’s HOW you lose weight, just the simple math of calories in calories out, so why did it not happen?

It didn’t happen because I hated myself. I hated what I looked like. I hated my body. I hated my thinning hair and self destructive habits. I hated my blotchy skin. I hated that I couldn’t eat what I wanted and lose weight. I hated how alcohol made me feel but I needed it to get through the discomfort I was feeling in so many areas of my life. Life wasn’t fair. I wanted an easy and quick fix. So yeah, it didn’t happen.

Why did I hold out hope for an easy fix? Because I thought change would be too hard. I thought building healthy habits would mean giving up what little joy I had in life. What I wasn’t factoring in was the fact that the way I was living was already hard on me mentally and physically!

It wasn’t until 2017 that I first started to see how I was going to get to where I wanted to be. I realised that what I was going through already was hard. Over eating and over drinking was my lifestyle and that was causing me the pain of looking in the mirror and hating what I saw. The other alternative was to swap some of the the over eating / drinking for 30 mins or an hour in the gym a few times a week and then looking in the mirror and seeing someone who was still not satisfied but someone who trying!

It seemed like a fair exchange and worth giving it a try. So I cut out some of the takeaways and reassessed my portion sizes a bit and tried a few spin classes, and I remember starting to look on the mirror after these classes when I was bright red in the face but feeling alive and thinking, “I’m doing it”.

It took me a year of doing that before I realised that I felt ready take things further. I signed up for a 12 week fitness challenge at my local gym, something I had thought was way too extreme for me just a year earlier. I simply promised myself that I’d turn up to the prescribed number of sessions and see what happened.
To my great surprise I found myself following through with that promise.

For me the trick was to make the right promises. I didn’t promise myself I would lose 3 stone in 5 months like I had in my 2017 New Years resolution. I simply promised to show up for myself. I wanted to look in the mirror and give myself that pat on the back for “doing it”.

The results just kept coming. The stones fell away. I ended up voluntarily giving up alcohol because of how good I felt, and I found myself with a whole new way of living with myself and it didn’t suck! In 2019 I fit in to my wedding dress from 2006. I had forgotten that it was even a goal but I found my dress while trying on some other things I had forgotten I had in my wardrobe. I might have taken a lot longer to get there, but I’d done it the right way.

My biggest take aways, that I hope I can pass on are these:

  • If you’re suffering now, the pain of making a few changes won’t mean you’ll be suffering more, and the results will hopefully alleviate suffering in the long run.
  • You can do hard things, and you can celebrate your wins all the way! I still thank myself every-time I do a thing I didn’t want to do, knowing that I’m banking some good stuff for future Helen.
  • The aim should be to love yourself more, not to hate yourself less!

Finding a Missing Piece of the Relationship Jigsaw

Today I think my husband and I found a huge missing piece from our relationship jigsaw. We all have disjuncts / missing pieces / things that just don’t seem to work and you can’t see why.

We have had a lot of issues when we had conflict where communication would just break down. When very frustrated he would blow up. Project a lot of verbal anger in my direction and this made me physically and mentally want to withdraw. It would actually trigger my fight / flight responses and of course this would cause him to think I didn’t want to engage in the issue.

We had had a conversation at the weekend about our childhoods and I had said that when my parents had been angry / frustrated with me. My dad would tend to give me the silent treatment as a way of showing disapproval. Knowing that his approval mattered to me. Words would be exchanged but never expressed as anger. Anger was never really shown/displayed except in very rare possibly dangerous situations and that would of course stick out as being appropriate. When my husband was young if he said that If he did something wrong his parents would get angry as a way of discouraging that behaviour again. So of course he learnt that if you shout then it will emphasis just how strongly you feel about something. This was part of a longer conversation so I didn’t quite make the connection to how this was already at play in our relationship.

Today he got angry with me due to being frustrated at an issue at work. His raised voice sent me in to withdrawal and I immediately said he needed to back off (energetically) and that of course made him think I wasn’t listening. Then it clicked! We were both behaving the the ways we had learnt via the behavioural models we were taught as children.

Once this clicked I decided to address this. I reminded him of our conversation from the night before. I said, can you see how I withdraw because I never had that intense anger in my childhood when my parents were frustrated angry, so I don’t have an emotional defense for it. I do care about what is being said but I need to intensity to come down in order for me to process it properly. He did see what I was saying. He agreed that it was his automatic response to go in to “kill it with fire” mode and turn the intensity up to get his message across as that is what he knew. We both agreed that neither of the models we were taught as children was right or wrong but they were just different ways of dealing with these emotions. We agreed that this had been a big gap in our communication and that going forward we need to agree to meet somewhere in the middle. I have long known I need to become better acquainted with being able to get angry and bring more intensity to some situations is relevant and he can now see how he who shouts loudest doesn’t always get their message across effectively.

It feels like a huge breakthrough.

Marriages are always a work in progress, ever evolving as we evolve as people. It is a fascinating life long journey and I’m so glad we are in the place now in life to step back and look at our behaviours with self awareness.

If you have a missing piece somewhere in your relationship consider having a conversation about how that particular emotion or topic was modelled to yourselves as children. Always remember there are many different ways of interpreting the world and there isn’t always a right way and a wrong way. There are just differences. It’s in the differences where the answers lie, and in finding a middle ground.

Don’t wait for the motivation, start and it will catch you up

I didn’t want to work out this evening. After a busy day I was knackered and flopped on the bed and shut my eyes for 5 mins! Dangerous! I’m bad at napping!

But, I know that 6:30 is exercise hour. I dragged myself to the garage where I work out. I had no physical energy and my mental energy was even lower. I had no motivation, all I had was this habit I’ve instilled in myself.

I put my metcons on, I got my weights set up and turned on the rock music playlist that I love to work out to. Then I very unwillingly started to warm up and get it over with.

Skip forward past the sweaty mess I was during the work out… at the end I felt I had a whole new lease of mental and physical energy. I feel so alive and rejuvenated by it.

My point here is that often we don’t do the thing we know we should, or that we want to do, because we don’t feel motivated that day. Hell, I waited 20 years of my adult life to feel motivated to get healthier. The truth is it never actually arrived until I started on my journey… all being unwillingly at first. I’d drag myself to the gym and hope I’d make it out alive.

It didn’t actually take me long to realise I had been waiting for motivation but actually you have to start something and the motivation will catch you up!

What if the world was exactly how it should be right now.

I see a lot of people “shoulding” and “coulding” about how the world should or could be right now.

We shouldn’t be having to deal with this.
We should all be able to be together.
We should be able to work.
We could have been on holiday now.
We could have avoided brexit if…
We could have stopped corona if…

But what if what IS is exactly as it should be.

I didn’t like this concept when I first heard it. I, like most people had a list of coulds
and shoulds a mile long, but all you are doing when you project an idea of what could have or should have been on to the present moment, is that you are suffering in the moment something that might never have been anyway.

Coulds and Shoulds are just thoughts. Your thoughts are based on the way you see the world, they aren’t the truth. What if things actually were supposed to be this way. If you knew that it had been pre-destined, how would you feel differently about the now? You may still have disagreed with how things are in this moment but you wouldn’t be suffering the shoulds and coulds of what might have been. We don’t have the comfort (or discomfort in some cases) of knowing if things were predestined but it’s a lot easier to learn to accept the moment you are given and to move forward from there without the emotional weight of a now which doesn’t exist.

When you learn to live in the present with all that that brings you learn to accept reality, not without judgement, you will still have thoughts about that reality and things you might want to change about that reality, but right now it IS how it is supposed to be.

Confessions of an Emotional Eater

Hi my name is Helen and I’m an emotional eater! I’ve been “in recovery” for several years now but it’s still a daily battle.

Up until a few years ago I used to eat my emotions on a daily basis. Meaning, whenever I felt emotional discomfort I would turn to food to provide comfort. I was eating because I had emotions.

I’ve always been quite an emotional person and it spilled over in to most aspects of my life. Having had severe depression and bipolar for 15 years (undiagnosed) I just didn’t know what to do with all of my emotions and would do whatever brought immediate relief (or whatever seemed to distract me). If I didn’t know what to do with an emotion eating something felt filling and comforting.

It was no surprise that over that time period my weight crept up and up and up.

Eating is pleasurable (for most people) but it is evolutionarily designed to be that way so that we want to eat/fuel our bodies, because if we didn’t enjoy eating we might just… not! This evolutionary trick works against us when we live in a world where food is overly abundant for a lot of people (which is of course a privilege) . It is also made and marketed to taste amazing and not necessarily be good fuel for our bodies. We’re told to treat ourselves and to indulge/enjoy. We bake cakes to celebrate every occasion, we give chocolates to show love/thanks. Everything is geared towards us thinking of excess food as being something we deserve.

At 4 stone overweight, I realised I actually deserved to be treating my body better and not filling it with excess calories and sugars and non nutritional extras because it was actually damaging my health. I had to change my mindset completely. I had to start seeing food as a fuel again. A fuel that is enjoyable but better when balanced. It took a while, but the changes have been massive.

It wasn’t/isn’t always easy as old habits and programming die hard, and it’s an on going process but I wanted to just talk about what that daily process is for me.

It is mainly a self awareness exercise but one that is really useful.

When I feel the urge to go grab a snack that is the trigger for this process.

  1. I ask Am I Hungry? Physically hungry. If yes of course eating is appropriate but I might want to make sure what I eat is nutritionally of substance.
  2. If I’m not hungry, what is the feeling I am trying to satisfy/comfort/dampen?
  3. Name those emotions. Today I was feeling tired, sadness, existential angst.
  4. Are these emotions appropriate to what is happening in my life right now? It’s important to ask as sometimes we can experience emotions that can seem to come out of the blue and not have any link to our circumstances. I say seem because it’s very rare to have an emotion that isn’t somehow linked to our circumstances but it’s a flag for us to investigate properly.
  5. I confirm that how I’m feeling is in fact related to XYZ and NOT because my body is hungry!
  6. How can I allow myself to feel these emotions in a better way? I.e how can I deal with the issue without trying to distract from it with food/alcohol/etc… and would it not be better to just allow the emotion and to let it exist knowing that a feeling is just a feeling, we don’t always have to do anything about them other than acknowledge them and realise they are part of being human.

In this case I knew I wasn’t hungry. I’d just eaten breakfast. I knew the feelings I was having were understandable and very human. I knew I couldn’t control the circumstances that were triggering the thoughts I was having so I decided to write a few paragraphs on how I was feeling in a notebook. It was a healthy way to honour the emotions while letting them out in a more healthy way.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when, I’m feeling sad/mad/angry/bored, I think “no I’m not hungry” but I am going to choose to eat this yummy chocolate bar anyway! But I also know that that will become energy I will need to expend at some point later that day/week to bring nutritional balance back because that has become really important for me and my physical health / mental health.

For me this is just another self awareness exercise which has become so helpful to me, I wanted to share it in case it helps anyone else!

How do I want to feel about Covid?

I teach a lot about how the world outside of our control, the circumstances in our lives are ALL neutral. They are not good, they are not bad they just are:

Now I came up against a thought the other day that I was having about covid because I was feeling stressed/anxious/dispondent about it and realised that though I choose to see covid as a bad / negative thing, covid is actually a circumstance and it is neutral and I needed to remind myself that what I decide to think about covid is totally up to me and 100% in my control.

Believe it or not there are people out there who think covid is a good thing… yup those people exist… anyway.

The question I needed to ask myself was, what do I want to feel about covid?

Well, the answer is I choose consciously to feel that it is a negative thing in my mind because of the impact and potential impact it could have on loved ones, and on work possibilities and on everyday life, but what I needed was to look at the exact thoughts I was having because as I teach, the thoughts we are having about the things that are happening around us have a DIRECT impact on what we feel.

I knew I didn’t want to feel hostage to this circumstance. I knew I didn’t want to feel stressed by this circumstance so in order to do that I wrote down the thoughts I was having about covid.

“Covid is making it impossible to get work singing which makes me really sad and demotivated in my practice and I’m even struggling to listen to music at times”

“Covid is endangering the health of my loved ones”

“Covid means at any time our gyms, or other amenities I depend, on could be shut down and it would be disastrous for my mental health”.

So that is what I think about covid and it’s clear why I feel like I do so the question is, what do I WANT to feel about covid?

I want to, and feel it’s right for me to, feel a healthy caution and appropriate level of anxiety about it because it is a real possibility that it could be spread to vulnerable people in our lives, but I don’t want to feel physical fear/anxiety because when I am physically gripped by it so that it paralyses me or makes me avoidant.

I want, and feel it’s right for me to acknowledge the heavy heart that I feel about not being able to do any singing work but I don’t want to feel so low that I can’t find the energy to still keep working on the music I love.

I want to feel caution and preparedness for the fact that gyms could be closed but I don’t want to put the heavy burdon of thinking my entire mental health depends on it. I want to feel prepared to

So how do we achieve this…

We go back to our thoughts and see what is triggering the stronger negative or counter productive feelings/actions that are happening right now.

If you look at those thoughts you’ll see words like “dangerous”, “Worrying”, “Impossible”, “disastrous”

These are very emotion triggering words. Our brains react to language very physiologically. Merely thinking about something being a “dangerous” can trigger cortisol responses!

So the next step is to revisit those thoughts and neutralise the strong language which is most triggering.

“Covid is making it much harder (not impossible) to get work singing which makes me really sad and demotivated in my practice and I’m even struggling to listen to music at times”

Just by tweaking the sentence and changing impossible to much harder means it feels less pointless for me to keep working on what I love and I’ll be more likely to be pro active.

“Covid is a real concern (instead of dangerous) for the health of my loved ones”

Here I would just take our dangerous. It is important to keep that feeling of vigilance and care but without the cortisol inducing danger element.

“Covid means at any time our gyms, or other amenities I depend, on could be shut down and it wouldn’t be ideal ( not disastrous) for my mental health”.

Here I swapped out disastrous because in reality that is too strong a word. I coped in the first lockdown without any mental health disasters, I adapted my exercise routine best I could and though I’d really rather be able to work out in a gym I must give myself some credit for mental resilience.

So this is what I call THOUGHT WORK.

It’s about looking at the thoughts we let live in our heads. Thoughts which we repeat subconsciously and don’t realise we are triggering unwanted feelings.

It’s NOT about flipping a negative thought to a positive one but sense checking whether the result of a thought (I.e the feeling you get from that thought) is serving you! Our thoughts very often keep us stuck.