The #1 lesson on acceptance that I learnt before finding happiness

And my message for you about acceptance.

Week 6

Acceptance is one of the things that can have the biggest impact on where you are now. Our life can’t always be how we want it, there will be good times and bad or there might be people that rub you the wrong way but how you feel about these things will shape your present life and how you ultimately feel on a day to day basis.

From my experience acceptance works hand in hand with forgiveness at times and I probably could talk about them together but I will discuss forgiveness next week, as in my journey there were many things I had to find acceptance for, before I could move to the forgiveness stage.

My lesson on acceptance

While in the relationship with my ex-partner I was not accepting of his behaviour and remember often referring to it as abusive. I vowed while pregnant with my daughter that I would not bring her up in that kind of environment. So at the first sign of it after her birth we were out. It was best for my kids and I. It was hard and while I had made this decision I don’t know that I had really accepted that this would be my life. I hadn’t intended to be a single parent and I had a view of how I wanted things to be even if this was to be the way it would be.

I think the first step in accepting this reality was to accept responsibility for my own life, for the way I felt and looked after myself and the way I behaved. I had to accept that I was 100% responsible for my own life (as The Happiness Hunter says). When I think about this concept I believe it’s what has contributed to my depression over my life and how I view the negative things from my childhood.

When you blame other people for the way that you feel or the way you behave, you’re putting your life in another person’s hands and saying that you don’t have control of yourself. Which is most definitely not true. But I do know, that is often the way it feels when you’re living in a domestic violence relationship.

You might not have a choice about what you wear, what you do, or who you see but you do have a choice about the way you feel about it and the way you behave toward it.

After leaving the relationship it was really hard to remember that I had 100% control over my life now. That I could do what I like, when I like, with who I liked. I distinctly remember feeling closed up in my home, we rarely went out and did anything. When I started my self-care habits that I talked about last week it helped to remind me that I had this control but I was also still living in fear and experiencing the cycle of violence on a regular basis. Why? Why was this happening, I couldn’t understand it. I had left to escape this and to live a free life.

There being one of the biggest and toughest lessons of acceptance I had to learn.

I had to learn and accept that he will never change. That he will always try to control my life, my emotions, my reactions and responses.

Remembering the old saying that “the leopard never changes their spots” was what has allowed me to find acceptance for this continued manipulative behaviour. And it’s made all the difference to my present happiness.

As you know if you read my story, I am a single parent, so I’m not saying that you should accept the behaviour as such. No Way! It’s not on and I will be the first one to tell you to get the hell out of there and never go back. Don’t by any means accept abusive, manipulative, controlling and narcissistic behaviour towards you. But you do need to accept that it may never stop! At least if you have kids it many never stop!

Once I learnt to accept this fact, I was able to work on myself, how I reacted to it, how I allowed my feelings to be effected by it and in doing this I also took that responsibility of myself that I needed to take.

How things changed with this acceptance

Since accepting that the cycle of violence will continue in our lives I have experienced it several times over, but I no longer get drawn in by the dramas he tries to create. The break through really came after a number of discussions with my counsellor and her repeatedly telling me to not respond to his text messages or comments unless they were specifically about the kids and access. Each time I had the discussion I became a little bit better at this. It took changing the message tone to something quite and putting my phone on silent often so I didn’t hear the messages, now I just close the messages without even reading them. But I always keep them just in case.

I realised after the initial round of shutting him out that I was actually holding on, maybe because I wasn’t sure how I would live without the drama in my life, maybe because I had hoped that things would change. But when I thought about it, I knew I needed to accept that I had made a decision, that it was a good one and that I really didn’t want to take it back.

I needed to accept that this was my life now!

That it wouldn’t always be like this!

That it will get better and that I will find happiness!

I needed to let go of him,

Of the family dream I had

And accept the reality of our situation!

I think it was about mid 2013 when this happened and I know that shutting him out but not responding to his messages was what freed up my mind to move on and turned things around for me. I read lots of quotes on Pinterest daily (you can follow my inspiration board here) and I returned to doing things I enjoyed.

 

Acceptance is not something that just happens on its own.

 

You may need to use forgiveness with it as I mentioned earlier.

You also need to be self-aware, to be able to recognise your thoughts, actions and feelings. To know when you’re being drawn in and dropping your guard or to know when you need to say to yourself that you are not bound by this but you will accept that this is the way it is/they are and you cannot change it/them.

You many need to create a little mantra that you say to yourself each time a situation occurs or every day until you believe it and live it. I know I used to say often to myself “he will never change but I can change how I let it affect me” and now I say “here we go again”

I might initially be annoyed or aggravated and emotional about it but often I’m just amused, I laugh out loud and I get on with my day and…

this is the ultimate goal behind acceptance.

Particularly in a DV situation, it’s to not have the manipulation and control ruin your happiness. For it to not consume every part of your being, for you to be able to move forward and put that shit behind you!

inhale-exhale

 

My message about acceptance

Learning acceptance for the rotten things that you might still encounter and being able to graciously and calmly put it behind you without it affecting your happiness is exactly what you want.

Non-acceptance causes anxiety because you are then always worried about what might happen. And this is no way to live. ‘Let it go’ I say whenever I find things taking over my thoughts and causing me anxiety.

I have realised this week just how grateful I am that I have this acceptance and how little his dramas mean to my life now and little I am effected by them. It may seem cold and callous to him but I am a warm loving mother and person, I just have no space in my happy life for him.

So my finally words are accept it, move on, stop blaming yourself, you don’t have control over others but you do have control over yourself. Refocus your thoughts away from the negative and let that shit go! It serves no purpose in YOUR HAPPY LIFE

Until next week…

Be happy!

 

why support is so vital to your happiness

Week 4

support-is-behind-you
Photograph 027 by Lauren Mancke found on minimography.com

Engaging support made all the difference to my life. It can change yours too!

It’s interesting when you start talking to people just how differently others view things. A persons view or understanding of support is one of those things and I believe it is often shaped by the type of support that they experienced when growing up.

As a single parent many people have often said “oh it must be hard” or things like “hats off to you” and “you’re doing a great job” but I wonder do they think about what it takes to do that job. I rarely find they ask if I have support and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for a lot of other single parents out there.

Because I am parenting alone I’ve had to put in place a support network of sorts to help me get by each week, because what if I get sick? How do I get my son to school, who helps me take care of the kids or give me time to get better? Reality is – if I didn’t have support – no one, I would just have to get by.

Recently when chatting with a group of mums one of them mentioned about how another mum – not present- had been quite unwell. That mum has moved to our area from interstate and has no family or previous friends here to help. It was stated how great it was that she had already made some friends who have been able to help her out with the kids as her hubby was away with work. He travels frequently and then she is essentially parenting alone. I thinks it’s great that people had offered to help so she could rest and get better. I’ve never had that kind of support from people around me and I mentioned it, maybe I shouldn’t have but it’s what sparked this blog post. One mum present said to me “but your daughter goes to daycare.” Does that matter, does it help, and is this her version of support? My thoughts are YES, and for me this works, but what makes people think that because my daughter goes to daycare that I am ok or coping any better. Parenting in any form is hard work and we all need support.

support-vital

Support might mean different things to everyone but I really believe it’s a vital part of our wellbeing and ongoing happiness.

I instinctively knew that I needed support after my separation and I know from personal experience that you can feel supported even without family or friends to help.

How do I know this?    Because…

In those darkest days I felt well supported due to the fact that I actively sort out the type of supports that would make a difference to my life.

  • I had a family violence support work who I developed a great working relationship with and I knew I could call at any time to talk things out.
  • I put my kids in daycare because I needed to (and that was ok),
  • I even engaged a family support work through ChildFirst, which was a really hard thing to do but it helped so much.
  • I got myself a great counsellor who I could see weekly.

And this was my support network!

It was enough to get me by and allow me the time to get better, adjust to parenting alone and navigate some of the challenges that you face after family violence.

Even though I am now over the trauma of the separation, I have continued to keep up some kind of support in our life because quite frankly it keeps me sane. The kids and I moved to be closer to my family for extra support in 2015 and I can say that I really felt it at times when the support was not there. I stopped seeing my counsellor because of the move and I have really battled at times with this and it’s meant I have done a lot of the work on my mental health alone. I don’t recommend this but if you have someone in your life that you can talk to and bounce ideas off then it might be ok. Without this little bit of support in my life I think I could quite easily slide back into depression because every day would be a struggle!

 

It’s really important to identify what your needs are!

Then to seek out the support in those areas. You can do it by understanding where you are at NOW!

If you go back and look at your life wheel, you can see the areas that need work and it might mean you need to find support so you can work on these areas to find more balance.

You need to look for the support you need, you need to ask for support and you need to be open to receiving the support. Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t see it as a weakness but rather as a strength because you understand your needs.

Make sure you also regularly check in to see if the support is working for you and meeting your needs. You will know if it is by the way you feel or manage day to day things. You will see a shift in the way you feel and if you don’t then the support is not meeting your needs.

In the end it is really important to your long term happiness as it allows you the time and ability to work on other areas of your life. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and if it’s not possibly right now, then look for something else that will make a difference.

Take the time now to think about how you could feel more supported in your life. What is missing, what do you need help with, what would make even the smallest difference for you and your family?

Sometimes it helps to talk things over with someone else, so if you’re struggling to pin point what kind of support you might need you can leave a comment here or email me and I will try to help.

Likewise if you have a story about how support has changed your life then share it here so others can see it does make a huge difference.

Until next week…

Be happy!

 

What is 2016 going to look like for you?

have a vision

I have VISION and I intend to follow it! Will you join me?

Having a vision is far more important to happiness than setting resolutions on New Year’s Eve. I’ve never been one for resolutions but in the past I never really went into the New Year with a clear focus on what I wanted to change or what I wanted to achieve.

Being in a relationship that didn’t allow me to have my own goals or achievements meant I stopped thinking about the future. I just lived each day as it came and all I wanted was for each day to be better than the last.

Looking back, New Year’s Eve has always made me feel optimistic about the future, yet I never knew what my new year would look like. I guess I had an idea of what I wanted for my life but felt it hopeless to dream about the future and the things I wanted for my family when I quite honestly knew it would never be that way in that situation.

Going into the new years eve of 2010/2011 I felt slightly more optimistic about the future than I had the previous 2 years, though the lead up to it was not great. I had had issues with my partner and had taken our then 18month old son away for a few days. He begged for us to come back and promised the world to us of course. We returned home and as a family went into the family fireworks to enjoy the New Year celebrations. It was a great night and it was preceded with a few great days. Little did I know that I had fell pregnant with our daughter during this time.

By the following New Year we had separated, our daughter just 3 months old!

After the separation I had a vision for how I wanted things to be with their dad and was still full of hope that we could put the domestic violence behind us. I think I wore rose coloured glasses. I hoped that we could have a connected family, that we could get along, communicate and parent sided by side even without being in a relationship. I guess I just didn’t understand the full impact of family violence.

My hopes could not be a reality in our situation.

By 2014 I had come to terms with this and had started focusing on myself and the future I could provide for our kids. My new year’s thoughts revolved around making life easier and better for us, about earning money and pursuing my dreams.

The ending of a close family friendship early that year turned things upside down a bit for me initially. I didn’t really have a set vision for my life anymore and I didn’t know where we were headed. I looked for opportunities to help guide the way. Later that year I decided to do further study and started my handmade business Remake It in the hope I could earn a bit of extra money. I thought I had it all sorted.

But by the middle of the year I began to feel the pressure of enrolling my son into school for 2015. It was something I just didn’t want to think about. The decision was too hard and I had to make it on my own. Would I get it right, did I want to live where we were for the next 6 years, would this be our life and so on, where the questions I asked myself. I talked with my counsellor about it but I couldn’t gain any clarity and months went by. Then I started looking at what I want for my life, our life, the life of my kids. What was important to me, what did I need to fill the gaps in my life. How could I get what I needed and achieve what I wanted.

today-tomorrow

I realised I needed to talk with my family about what support they could offer and I discussed moving to better our position, to provide my son with a better education. And this was when I started looking at New Year’s resolutions differently. It was about having a vision and setting goals or intentions to achieve that vision.

I looked at lots of things online about goals, intentions, making commitments and resolutions. The future was still a bit uncertain and I didn’t really know how the move would go but I decided that I needed to make the commitment to moving in order to make the changes for our life that I had visioned. I committed to having a red hot go at my handmade business for 12 months and I had the goal of making a small income from it by the end of the year.

It was quite surprising for me to read the initial goal I had written back at the beginning of the year to realise I have achieved that goal. My commitment paid off, and whilst I don’t actually make a living from it I am pleased with where I have come. I have made the most of our move, I have made friends despite thinking I hadn’t and I have had a fulfilling year volunteering my time at school.

I have a vision and I am working toward this every day now.

For 2016 my aim is not to just set a goal and achieve it but to actually pursue my vision and purpose in life more directly. I have looked at what I want to change about the future and I intend to set out to make those changes.

I’ve had so many things going on this year, I really spread myself to thin at times and I know with my plans for next year nothing will be to different but I want to be a more present and mindful parent, I want to make more connections and I want to succeed at my study and be able to spread happiness through life and this blog.

I have set the intentions, I have stated it to myself, I have written it down and before the New Year even arrives I will start working on them.

Here are the 3 things I have used this year to help get clear on my vision for 2016. I don’t get anything out of sharing them with you, I just think they are great, they have made it easy for me to think about what is important and I wanted to share them with you.

  1. Commitment – by Alexandra Franzen
  2. new years resolutions/goals – by 30 handmade days
  3. new years resolutions – kids – I did this because its more detailed than the adult version with a section to review 2015 and even though she calls them resolutions they are noting like the standard resolution such as ‘loose weight’ that most people tend to make.

I hope you enjoy them and remember …

Don’t set resolutions this new year, have a vision it will help you find happiness within!

Until next week…

Be Happy!

 

 

 

 

 

Why understanding my core values & beliefs helped shape my happiness

And how you can identify yours.

Week 2

I’ve really struggled getting started writing this post, I’m not sure why at the moment but I’m sure I will have clarity by the end. I have heaps of notes down about how knowing my values and beliefs has impacted my life but I am not sure how to bring it all together. Yet I don’t think that is what I’m struggling with most. Anyway…

your-beliefs-voices

They are the drivers in your life whether you think it or not. They are often so ingrained in us once we are adults that we just go about our lives not even realising they exist.

Both our values and beliefs come from our parents, family and childhood. This doesn’t mean to say that you will have the same set of values as your parents or a particular set of values because you were raised in a certain way, but it is likely that they will be similar or polar opposites from my experience.

Everyone has different values, sometimes we share a value with someone and that is why we connect and sometimes it’s our beliefs that allow us to get along. We all have a top set of values that show up in almost everything we do in our lives.

Do you know what your values are?

Values are things like acceptance, compassion, equality, respect, authority, honesty and the like. Whereas belief are things like: A child should be seen and not heard; or a woman’s place is in the home; or you are not smart enough to be a doctor. I would describe them as, beliefs are the thoughts and values are the feelings and they more often than not go hand in hand.

After leaving the relationship with the kids dad and moving into a new house I realised I had completely lost myself. I didn’t know what I enjoyed and I didn’t find joy in things. I had stopped doing anything that I had liked to do and I more importantly didn’t know what it was that I believed in.

I found the Pinterest app for my phone and that started the ball rolling with finding joy again. I loved that I could pin things for later reference and one of my early pins was about finding your core values. This is the link I pinned, http://jennyhoople.com/blog/how-to-find-your-core-values/

I pinned it because I didn’t know what my values were, I had entered the relationship with a mixed set of values and beliefs. I wanted to be a stay at home mum but I didn’t want to be a slave to the kitchen, I wanted to contribute to the house but not just in a motherly way. I loved raising my son and being his teacher but I didn’t see this as something I would do forever.

Once I became a single parent all those values and beliefs no longer seemed relevant. I had to make our life better, I couldn’t just sit around and have someone pay our way but everything was muddled up, how could I make the right decisions for mine and the kids futures if I didn’t know what I value and believe.

The exercise was a little unclear at this time, I didn’t really know how to pin point my values. I was still really foggy from the separation and the trauma but I think it always remained in the back of my mind, as many things came up that made me begin questioning my values and beliefs.

One such thing was a session at support group based around Tony Robbins theory of the 6 human needs. It wasn’t until looking at the homework question later on, that got me thinking about it more. Our peer educator asked us in the work sheet to “discover your priorities in life & how you can best fulfil them in a sustainable way.” She asked a few questions all relating back to the 6 needs and the final question was about which 2 needs are most important to you.

I think the core needs link to your values and beliefs as without them you can’t determine which need has a greater importance to you. I wasn’t able to determine the answer but I did take it with me to counselling and talk over it further.

It wasn’t until doing the parent manifesto program that I mentioned last week that I was actually able to pin point my values. It wasn’t that easy and when faced with a list like this I found it pretty hard to narrow it down. Parent manifest and most other people or programs with information on personal values suggest to pick 5-10 values. Jodie Benveniste reminds you to pick them based on what you DO value rather than what you think you SHOULD value.

personal-values-examples-list-download core-values-example-list

I saw this to mean that even though I got bought up influenced by the value of conformity say, that I actually value assertiveness. That even though I was in a relationship where Power was the greatest value at play, my values are deeply embedded in Respect and Equality.

When I finally finished this exercise (that was meant to be simple) a week later I had a top 10 list that looked like this;

  • Awareness
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Equality
  • Honesty
  • Patience
  • Reciprocity
  • Respect
  • Self-development
  • Supportiveness

I have since come to realise that this list for me is by no means fixed and there are things like independence, family, connection, commitment, contribution, persistence, open-mindedness and communication that come into play for me when dealing with life situations. Maybe I should change up my list but there is nothing on there that I want to take away.

The flexibility of my values comes down to my beliefs!

Some of my beliefs that have had significant impact on my life is that ‘women are equal.’ I think I believe in this because I was raised mostly by my mum who had fought for this as a young woman with studying and following a career rather than doing what was expected of her by society with the general belief that a woman’s place was in the home.

I value Equality because of these beliefs and from seeing that it can and does exist in both scenarios.

In relationship I particularly value communication. I do not believe that children should be seen and not heard so I get really annoyed when they don’t talk to me or can’t tell me how they feel because I want to hear them. Likewise with their dad I found it particularly hard when I knew something was up but he wouldn’t talk to me about it. I always get along with people who are good talkers and I find it a real struggle to make conversation with shy people. I believe that things, often important things get lost in a lack of communication.

A strong work ethic is something I have developed, I work hard no matter where it is I have made a commitment, be it a job, volunteer position or at home. If I have made a commitment to my family or friends I stick to it and I believe you should always put in 100%. I probably need to work on the commitment to myself though.

“Knowing my values and understanding my beliefs has allowed me to find myself again.

It gave me clarity around why I found things annoying, it made me understand why I thought the way I thought and behaved the way I behaved. Getting clarity on my values made me realise why and how I had gotten myself into a domestic violence relationship and it made me relieved that I had gotten out of that relationship for the future of my kids.

It hasn’t always made things easy though as I have a couple of really strong values that often conflict with each other and put me in a situation where I don’t like to be. I then feel down and have to work hard to pull myself out of that slump.

The positive is that now I can use my values and beliefs as a guiding light for turning that slump around.

I had good intentions of making a pretty poster for my wall and until today had never finished it but I do have my values in the parent manifesto book, in a journal and on the computer. I often look at them to remind me of what is important, to understand what is driving me in a particular situation or to remind me of what I need to improve on and I have added to the list as new values arise.

Having this list of values and knowing my beliefs has stopped me overthinking negative feelings or situations. It helps me to keep moving forward in difficult times. I think I have really only mastered this skill this year and its only because I have had issues with an intimate relationship and friendships that I have learnt to use it to turn the negative feelings into a positive via my values.

Have you gained any clarity about what your values are or those big driving beliefs?

I think it’s also important to recognise any negative beliefs you might have as well. If you have been in a domestic violence relationship often your partner will have put you down with comments about your weight or looks or even your values and beliefs. Don’t hold onto those negative beliefs, make sure when you assess your values and beliefs that they are your own. Don’t shy away from them, stand up and believe in them as they are;

What make you who you are!

What make you valuable!

What makes you worth knowing!

 

Are you ready to find your values?

If you are ready to identify your values you can use the list above as a starting point. If you’re not sure what a word means then looking it up in the dictionary can help. Ask yourself questions about situations that have occurred in your life. Dig deeper into them and look at what is at the core of it, like I have to understand why I think women are equal. Or for example with patience, it’s on my list because I am forever telling the kids to wait and not be in such a hurry, because I am able to wait in line or for the things I want calmly, because when I was at uni the international students would come to me for help and I was able to show them patience and because I wish I had more patience with my kids.

If the list is not extensive enough you can find more online and you can add your own words like I have done with awareness, confidence and communication.

When it comes to your beliefs consider what things where like when you were growing up, the things your parents used to tell you or the way they expected you to behave. Look at what you currently do in your life, with your children are you hard on them about certain things. Do you have people that rub you up the wrong way, why did you have an issue with the way they treated you or the way they behave. What is it that gets you down and what is it that you think when you are down. These things will likely be your beliefs.

I found it helpful to write everything that came into my head down and then over the week I went through them to narrow it down. I looked at what was really important to me from the list. I crossed out the one that didn’t get me fired up, that didn’t make me feel motivated, and that didn’t make me smile or feel good. You could write them on an A4 piece of paper and stick them on your wall for a few days and see if the really resonate with you as you go about your daily task. Don’t let it take over your whole being but perhaps at the end of each day take 5 minutes to reflect and think about what showed up in the things you did.

Remember it’s not set in stone, it’s not a tattoo, if you think something is not right then it can be changed and you might find like me that your values are flexible and ebb and flow depending on the day.

I hope that finding your values and understanding your beliefs can help you move forward in your life.

Until next week…

Be happy!

 

If happiness is a journey, where do you begin?

Week 1

Today!

right-here-right-now

It’s easy to just keep spinning along in life after a traumatic experience or when you feel depressed but from my experience I ended up feeling so overwhelmed by it. I could feel I wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t getting any better but I didn’t really know what to do.

I don’t remember now where it was first, but at both a family violence support group and during the first weeks of the Parent Manifesto program I was asked to evaluate my life, beginning where it was now. I thought

“this is pointless, I know where my life is now, there is nothing good about it.”

Both tasks took a different approach to basically the same thing. At the support group we used a life wheel approach like my one below and rated 8 areas of life out of 10. However Jodie Benveniste the author of Parent Manifesto asks you to write drown the things that are GOOD right now in the areas of love, children, family, work, friends, health, finances and leisure.

I don’t remember filing out anything on the worksheet from parent manifesto and as you can see in my sample the ratings weren’t great in areas either.

Though it was easier for me to give the areas of life a rating rather than finding what was good in my life at the time of doing the course in early 2013.  I didn’t really feel much gratitude for anything back then! But when I was doing the life wheel I was able to see that I had enough money to get by and that I was lucky to have a nice place to live in. So my life wheel below reflects my feelings about where my life was at, at that time.

my-life-wheel-2012
this wheel shows the comparison from late 2012/early 2013 to now. In week 9 I talk about reflection and will discuss the comparison

 

The best thing about starting the journey to happiness at this point, where you are now, using something like the life wheel or the weighing up your life exercise is that it allows you to see the areas of greatest need in your life.

For me I needed to improve my physical, emotional and mental health, I didn’t feel fulfilled just being a parent and I was a long way off my vision for life.

So this evaluation is where I began my journey. I didn’t take off running, trying to fix all areas at once though. I sat with it for a bit, I thought about what I could do to improve the areas. I opened my mind and my heart and I looked for things that would help.

I think doing this kind of evaluation is the best starting point for changing your life. No matter how you currently feel about your situation. It allows you to understand how you can move forward. It gives you insight and awareness on how you feel about where you are right now. And it’s the perfect place to start the happiness journey.

Are you ready to evaluate your life…

If you are ready, to evaluate your life NOW then you can use my life wheel below or find one that suits you on google. You could simply grab a journal and write the areas down and put a number next to them. Whatever you do, when you are ready too, keep it safe so you can look back on it later to review where you have come from and how far you have moved on your journey.

wheel-of-life-happiness-scale
download your copy now

 

 

Don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Instead focus on making one small change at a time. Over time those small changes will add up to big transformations. DON’T GIVE UP!  – unknown

 

Until next week …

Be happy!