How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

imageSelf-sabotage happens for a number of reasons: a lack of self belief and/or self worth, a fear of failure, feeling like the outsider, a consistent focus on perceived negative aspects of yourself. It usually appears in the form of what I refer to as ‘my demons’ – those pesky internal thoughts that creep in whenever a challenge, a plan or a deadline is presented:

You’re not good enough.

They don’t like you.

They’re not going to take you seriously.

That’s too difficult.

I’ll do it tomorrow – I’ll feel better about it then.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I left something to the last minute, or avoided putting myself forward because of a constant fear of rejection or failure. My daily routine involved berating myself for not getting something done the day before, or wasting my money on something that I didn’t actually want or need, only to struggle to pay for something important later on. I hated the fact that I had put on a large amount of weight, and yet consistently gorged on junk food every night until I felt sick. Continue reading

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Expectations of the Perfect Partner

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Our students participated in an interesting set of workshops today. They were all off their usual timetable, instead discussing issues surrounding physical, emotional, social and sexual health. I spent most of the day supervising the sexual health workshops, which were predominantly focused on personal relationships and the expectations that each individual has of them.

The facilitator set the kids a really interesting activity. They were asked to draw out a shape in the form of a gingerbread man on a large piece of paper, with the title, ‘The Perfect Partner.’ Around the outside, they had to write the physical attributes that they would like, and on the inside, personality traits.

By the end of the third workshop, I had developed so many ideas in my head that I did the activity myself.

This was what I came up with:

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I’m in a long-term, happy relationship with a wonderful bloke, but being Little Miss Cynical I found myself thinking that the activity was perhaps setting false expectations for the students – surely there is no such thing as the perfect partner because there is no such thing as the perfect person? I mentioned this when I had a conversation with the practitioner after the workshops had finished, and there was something that she said that stuck with me for the rest of the day…

“None of the things that they all listed were impossible or unachievable – nobody wanted a partner that could fly or magic money out of thin air. The idea behind it is not to give young people false expectations, but to have expectations in the first place. By acknowledging things that they want in a partner, it gives them a chance to focus on two things: that personality is far more important than the way somebody looks, and that they will only be treated in the way that they allow themselves to be.”

She was absolutely right. Their ideas were not anything unexpected. Initially, the boys thought more about boobs and large bottoms and the girls talked about the importance of height and blue eyes, but by the time everyone had finished they had all filled the middle of their diagram with lots of ideas that would make the perfect personality.

I asked some of the students after school what they had gained from the workshop. One of them simply smiled and said,

“I am going to go home and do the activity about me instead of my perfect partner. That way, I know what sort of person I want to become and then I can expect exactly the same of my future boyfriend.”

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A lesson well learned, I think!

What about you? What would your perfect partner look like?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook and Pinterest pages

http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks
http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

 

Sticks and Stones

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Bullshit.

Sticks and stones may indeed break my bones, but words have the power to stay with me forever.

Somebody from my primary school (children aged 4-11 for those of you outside of the UK) must have been in a nostalgic mood recently as they had posted up a selection of class photographs on Facebook, taken about 23 years ago. They appeared on my wall because one of my friends was tagged in there, and they instantly brought back a ton of memories.

Looking at those photographs, I can probably remember about 40% of those names, but there, right in the centre of one of them, was a little boy with tight curly hair, a pasty complexion and thick rimmed glasses. For the purposes of anonymity, I’m going to call him X.

I read through the many comments that had been written underneath by people that I hadn’t seen or thought about in years.

However, one in particular stood out.

I forgot that we went to school with Napoleon Dynamite.

Someone else had written something below about feeling guilt, but laughed about it all the same. My heart sank. I remember him, I remember his name and I even remember a cruel nickname that we called him. This skinny little boy was quiet and shy, and was bullied mercilessly to the point where he left the school because of the abuse that he suffered from so many. While I never considered myself to be a mean girl (although I wasn’t perfect), I remember one incident that still makes my stomach churn a little, all these years later.

Our primary school didn’t have a canteen, so we had to walk up to another building further up the road for our lunch, during which we were expected to hold hands in pairs. Nobody ever wanted to be near him, so he was forced to hold the hand of his sister, who was equally ostracised. I remember that they were walking in front of me once, and he turned around and looked at me.

“Eww, you’re kissing your sister,” I said to him, laughing with my friends and backing away so I wouldn’t have to walk near him. Even at that age, I knew what I had said was wrong, and I have no idea why I felt prompted to join in with everyone else. To my recollection that was the only thing I ever said to him during my entire school life with him. He didn’t say anything, he never said anything, he just turned around and carried on walking. I had no reason to dislike him – he never did anything to me at all, but I didn’t talk to him, I didn’t include him, I didn’t invite him to any of my parties. Almost nobody did – in my own little bubble he simply didn’t exist.

Karma came to bite me on the ass when I started high school. I was what my students would describe as a ‘boffin’ – I worked hard, was in the top sets for everything, played in the orchestra and band, was on the badminton team, and to my recollection received only one or two detentions throughout my five years at the school. Looking back, I was a bit of a know-it-all, I wasn’t considered to be as attractive and didn’t possess the same social skills as some of the more popular girls, but aside from getting involved in silly girly politics, I didn’t intentionally go out of my way to hurt anyone else and I had some friends.

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One boy in particular despised me almost from the first moment he met me, and he and his cronies tortured me for almost the entirety of my teenage academic life. He learned how to flick spit with the end of his tongue and he would frequently spit in my hair when stood behind me in a line. If I did or said something in a lesson he would go out of his way to tell the teacher to try and get me into trouble. He would concoct lies, spread rumours, and tell the older girls that I had said things about them to try and get them to beat me up. On several occasions, it almost worked, and being surrounded by lots of students while an older girl threatened me, screamed at me and pulled my hair because she had been told I’d been mean to her sister by this boy still remains one of the most terrifying moments of my entire life. He and his friends used to take great delight by repeating my name over and over whenever I would walk into a room, or would call me fat or ugly. When my friend tried to stand up for me, they did it to her too. Unfortunately, I was in most of my lessons too, and so it went on all day, every day.

At one point my father, who was a governor at the school, intervened, and this made it far worse. The boy started to use him as a way of trying to wind me up. However, what he didn’t know was the way my very angry and violent father treated my sisters and I when we were growing up, which was something I didn’t tell anyone until years later, so I couldn’t tell my father any more after this for fear of what he would do, both to me and to him. My father expected me to ignore it and would get angry and lash out at me when I got upset. It wasn’t as easy as that.

Looking back, many of these incidents were silly and childish, and nowadays wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, but I’ve always felt that my teenage years, while successful, were lived in fear. I cared so much about what my peers thought and adapted my behaviour to try to be accepted, and then spent many hours hiding in the music room during breaks and lunch times to avoid contact with people. I even attempted to befriend some of them, to be told “don’t talk to her, she’ll grass you up if you say anything about her.” Worse still, my self-confidence was on the floor. I believed that I was ugly. I believed that nobody liked me. I used to feel physically nauseous whenever I walked into my form room every morning because I knew what was going to happen. I was so stressed that I suffered from nose bleeds. I pretended to be ill so I didn’t have to go to school. I was the ultimate victim, feeling sorry for myself and constantly repeating different instances in my head until I had made myself feel anxious and depressed. I didn’t help myself in the slightest, but I didn’t deserve what I got. My saving grace was the fact that I worked hard, I got good grades and was able to get away from them as soon as I possibly could – while others were all crying and hugging on the last day, I happily skipped down the school drive knowing that I was going to be attending a performing arts college and would never have to see them again.

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I left school nearly seventeen years ago, and I’ve moved on – we all have – but I haven’t forgotten. Of the hundreds of people that I shared my lessons with, I am still very close to just one, and communicate regularly via Facebook with just two or three. I have a life that I am proud of, a supportive family, great friends and a wonderful bloke. While I don’t harbour any ill feelings towards them, I don’t wish to get in contact with any of those people I knew so many years ago ever again, and the photographs, and some of the comments written below them, served as a reminder as to why. I’m very sure they feel exactly the same way about me.

I take bullying extremely seriously as a teacher and am quite open in sharing my own experiences whenever I have had to deal with it. What I tell my students, and will continue to tell my students for as long as I am their teacher, is that the opinions of others don’t matter, especially those which have no connection to our lives and how we choose to live it. Some children are thoughtless and cruel and often they will continue to be just as awful in their adulthood. That’s their problem, not ours.

What matters is that we don’t allow ourselves to be the victim and, more importantly, allow those opinions to dictate what we do, who we are and how we act. What matters is that we can go through life being successful and happy, as kind and as generous as possible and be able to look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of each day and know that we have done our best. What matters is that we like what we see in our reflection. Karma will often take care of the rest.

To X, and anyone else I treated unfairly along the way, I’m sorry. I hope he doesn’t read those comments and that, wherever he is and whatever he is doing, he’s happy.

What about you guys? Have you experienced bullying at any point in your life?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

January Round Up: An Exciting Month for Suzie81 Speaks and Advertising Opportunities

imageJanuary is usually the most depressing month for me – after the excitement of my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve I often find that the start of a new year leaves me feeling as dull and cold as the weather.

I decided to approach 2015 with a positive outlook and  just one goal for the year: to take the risk. As Suzie81 Speaks does not have a theme or a niche, my posts have been eclectic and have reflected the thoughts and feelings I have experienced and the events happening at the time. I shared some blogging hints and tips for new bloggers, my ideas for beating the January blues, my thoughts on how to build self-esteem and confidence and highlighted a beautiful story that proved that there is still hope for humanity. I decided to have a bit of fun and shared stories of my dating disasters and experiences of working behind a bar. I also edited some of my photography – something that I haven’t done in a long time – and posted a beautiful poem written by Roger McGough. I have been amazed at the response that I have received to these and some of my earlier posts – my ‘Tale of a Sociopath’ post continues to be shared on StumbleUpon, two of my posts were featured on the Sits Girls ShareFest and Mumsnet Bloggers promoted my post on Fox News’s ridiculous report about the Muslim population of Birmingham as their ‘Blog of The Day.’

I also made a little promise to myself that I would develop the connections and friendships I have formed and give other members of the blogging the world an opportunity to promote themselves. I found that I had been falling behind with the comments that I received, and now instead of posting something on a particular day, I try and take the time to reply to every single one on the blog and all of the social media links that are connected with it. I have continued to host my weekly #SundayBlogShare on Twitter, which I started three months ago, and have been delighted that hundreds of people now participate every week, with over a thousand posts being shared. This week I am pleased to announce that I have a guest host for #SundayBlogShare – Gene’O from Sourcererblog (who was instrumental in the promotion of #SundayBlogShare in the early stages) has kindly agreed to look after you all this Sunday. (For those of you that are interested in participating, there will be a post later today with the information and rules).

While I made no resolutions, I decided to take Suzie81 Speaks to the next level and started advertising for sponsors. I had no expectations of the sort of response I would receive, if any at all, but within hours I was contacted by a number of bloggers. Consequently, over January I have featured both Jolene from Valley Girl Gone Country and Helena from Helena Turbridy and have been delighted by the feedback that I have received from them – both have seen a huge increase in their traffic… Even more amazing, February sponsorship is completely full and even spaces for some of March (and even a space in July) have been booked. Awesome.

Finally, to add the cherry on the proverbial cake, I was offered an really exciting opportunity the other day, which has cemented my decision to take the risk.

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My family, my friends and, of course, The Bloke has been absolutely wonderful throughout it all. As always, the blogging community has also been there every step of the way. I’ve been blessed to have received so much support from people that I consider to be friends and have been able to meet lots of new people who have taken the time to make me laugh, encourage me and have contributed to one of the best months I have had in a long time. Thank you.

Are You Interested in Being Featured on Suzie81 Speaks?

I have decided to expand this further and offer opportunities for sponsored one-off promotion for WordPress bloggers. Each Sunday, (when my own stats usually exceed over a thousand views during the day), as well as hosting #SundayBlogShare, I will feature a WordPress blog as the ‘Blog Of The Day.’ This will include a single post about the blog, a reblog of one of your posts and promotion through #SundayBlogShare. While I obviously can’t guarantee a huge increase in your traffic and/or following, I know that my sponsors have informed me that they have indeed seen quite a significant rise in their stats on days where I have promoted their posts.

For those of you who are interested in being my ‘Blog Of The Day,’ here are my details:

Cost: £9.00. This may seem like an odd number, but I have had to add on a little extra to cover the PayPal charges. (Please take into account that conversion rates may change in countries outside of the UK).

January Stats (at the time of posting): 17,265 views

Followers: 10,425 (6,126 on WordPress, 4,179 on Twitter and 120 on Tumblr). I also have 221 followers on my Facebook page. All are growing on a daily basis.

If you wish to be featured, please email me at suzie81blog@hotmail.co.uk

 

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and you don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Liking To Be Liked

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When I was in my teens, I shared a lot of mutual friends with a girl that attended the same sixth form college as me, and consequently we seemed to spend a lot of time around each other. This would have been fine, other than the fact that she really disliked me. It bothered me and I would go out of my way to talk to her, try and make her laugh and do little things that I thought might please her. It didn’t work – she continued to be cold and distant when she was around me and remained that way until we finished our courses and left. I haven’t seen or heard from her since. Looking back, I can’t believe I wasted so much time and effort – I didn’t actually like her that much to begin with…

The simple fact is that we all like to be liked, even by people that we do not like ourselves. We seek approval, validation and even empathy. We want to be understood, to be praised. Our social media activities are focused on the amount of ‘likes’ and followers we can gain, and the respect that we are often given in the online world will depend how big our numbers are. It’s an inherent, irrational human trait and the overall desire for approval from others can often result in a compromise of actions, behaviour and lifestyle. Indeed, I have compromised myself on many occasions to try and please those around me.  It took until I was in my late twenties to realise a few valuable things about people and friendships.

1. Regardless of who you are and what you do, there will always be those that simply don’t like you.

2. That’s ok.

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After years of bending over backwards for others I stopped being a people pleaser and started to focus on improving myself for me and me alone. I realised that I was the only person that would remain with me throughout the entirety of my life and that it was my own opinion of myself that was more important that those I spent time with.

Does the knowledge that you are disliked upset you? Here are a few questions you need to consider:

1. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are a good person?

2. Do you live life with morals that you are proud of?

3. Do YOU like you?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions honestly, then nothing else should matter. Go about your business, continue to be a good person, be there for others when they need it, but make sure you are content with yourself first.

And if others don’t like you? They clearly weren’t worth your time in the first place…

What about you? Do you go out of your way to please others?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Why Carrie Bradshaw Needs a Slap

As a teenager I loved Sex and The City. Living in Bolton (near Manchester in the UK) at the time was the polar opposite of the amazing lives of these four women and I desperately wanted to live in New York, wear fabulous clothes, drink cocktails and have a group of wonderful friends to share it all with.

However, as an adult, my opinion of Carrie and her escapades have completely changed. Before I continue, I realise that I’m discussing a fictional character that hasn’t been on our screens now for years, which may seem silly, but I really think that Carrie Bradshaw needs a slap. Why? Two words: Mr. Big. Continue reading