Choices blog

How much is control taking over your life?

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This month in my Fresh Air Fridays sessions we have been talking about the subject of control and how much this influences our lives. I know that personally when I have a good plan in place for my day, I feel in control and it gives me confidence to get things done. What doesn't work so well is if I attempt to place other people into my plan without consulting them and finding out what works for them, or even worse try and make their plans for them. Some of the things I've learned from looking at this topic this month are:
1. Not worrying about things I can't control, for example the weather on the day of my session in Silchester. I wanted it to be a lovely sunny day as I was using a new and beautiful location and had some people coming for their first experience of Fresh Air Fridays. I couldn't do anything about the weather, but could be prepared by wearing the right waterproof clothing and keeping a positive mindset. Everyone coming to my session came along well prepared and we had an enjoyable time; this included seeing a tiny frog during our tea break.

2. Notice when I'm taking on too much and start to feel overwhelmed as this leads to me feeling anxious, then stressed and out of control. This month I've been actively taking some time away from my desk and going for a walk when I feel things starting to become too much. This has given me space to think and often given me new perspectives and ideas on how to do things in a better way. I recently went along to an event called 'Comms Unplugged' which was held in Dorset for communications professionals. They were taking some time out from their often stressful and busy jobs to unplug from social media and take some time for themselves. As part of this they had a taster of what Fresh Air Fridays can offer, the feedback received was very positive.

I went from Comms Unplugged to spend a couple of days with my daughter who is currently training to become a teacher. We took some time to walk along the Weymouth sea front during which she shared with me everything she must do as part of her training. As her Mum it was so tempting to start telling her what she needed to do to get her work done and look after herself after all I'm her mum and am used to controlling her life. Instead I decided to listen to her as she told me how she was organising everything so she could still get to the social activities she loves and stay on top of her workload. I knew that if I had stepped in and taken control we would have ended up having a tense afternoon with her feeling untrusted and me getting frustrated. I learnt to start letting go of control when she was 16 and decided to go to a boarding school for 6th form. At the time she was recovering from serious illness and it seemed impossible to me for her to go away from home, however she was very determined to make it happen so we supported her as much as we could. The moment I had to learn to let go of control was when I had booked a day off work to drive and collect her for a long weekend break only to be told, 'No mum, I'm getting the train home with my friends, please let me be independent like everyone else'. It is hard to let go of control when our children are involved, after all as parents we spend many years keeping them safe from harm and teaching them how to do many things. There comes a time when they need to learn to make decisions for themselves and make their own way in the world. It is not easy to let go but by doing this and adopting an attitude of knowing they will call if they need us, has allowed all of us in the family to be less anxious.
What will you be doing to notice and let go of control in the coming weeks?

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Managing your Self- Talk

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This month in my Fresh Air Fridays community we have been exploring self belief, how we feel about ourselves and how we talk to ourselves. When first looking at the theme during our monthly meeting for facilitators I spent some time with one of my colleagues talking about my self-talk. What I noticed is that my self-talk is very critical and full of language about not being good enough. I was curious and fascinated by this as having done many hours of self development and worked on this before. I know how to re-frame my thinking into positives and use affirmations to create lasting change in my thinking.

So with all these tools at my fingertips, why was I still telling myself I'm not good enough?

What has emerged through thinking about this and discussing it during the Fresh Air Fridays session, is that I have a very deep rooted belief about myself which comes from childhood. Outwardly, I am an adult making grown up decisions about my life and sorting out challenges as they arise. Inwardly, however, there is still a small child there who is lost, unsure and full of fear. What this means for me is that I need to keep working on my positive affirmations particularly when I feel stressed and overwhelmed. The week leading up to my Fresh Air Fridays session had been particularly difficult and challenging; this gave my old self-talk habit of not being good enough an opportunity to start shouting. A walk in the forest with the supportive and like minded friends at Fresh Air Fridays has enabled me to recognise my behaviour, give time to myself to reset things and get back on track.

At Fresh Air Fridays we have three core themes which we touch on every month in addition to our monthly theme. One of these is gratitude and I started with gratitude to help me let go of the self-talk about not being good enough. I've been considering every day what I can be grateful for and this has helped me to re-train my thinking. In addition I've been going out for a walk every day and taking time to appreciate my surroundings, this has helped me with staying in the present and not dwelling on negative thoughts. Finally, being out moving my body and having a more open posture has led to a more positive mindset. The mind and body are very closely connected so changing my body into a postive and open state has an immediate impact on how I'm feeling.

Like our physical health where we have to focus on creating new patterns for excercise and healthy eating if we want to make a change to our bodies; we have to practice and repeat new behaviours daily to establish a new way of thinking and looking after our mental health.

Join me at one of my Fresh Air Friday sessions in August where we will be looking in more depth at our habits, discuss how we can let go of habits that no longer serve us and put in place strategies for creating ones that will serve us.

More detail can be found here

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