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!

 

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!