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In the UK last year, around 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress or anxiety, and 23% of full-time employees reported feeling burned out at work all the time, according to the HSE. These are the signs to look out for
Burnout is a response to repeated, intensive activities that give sufferers no time to rest, recover or have fun in their lives. It creeps up without their realising, until the steady increase in their environment’s “stress temperature” leaves them like a lobster in the pot, “cooking in stress”, yet unaware of what’s actually happening.
In its more advanced stages, sufferers might struggle to think clearly, function normally, or even get out of bed, as the life they lead no longer feeds the soul but leaves them drained and empty. Usually associated with work, burnout can be a response to any activity where people dedicate intensive time, effort and emotion to a situation, activity or project. Students, parents, carers, employees, entrepreneurs and retirees can all be affected.
Signs you are approaching burnout include:
physical or emotional exhaustion
difficulty sleeping—and when sleep finally comes it tends not to be restorative
having dreams or nightmares, often about work
avoidance of reflection through external distractions such as watching tv or gaming
addictive behaviours including smoking, drinking, overeating, abusing drugs, sex or pornography.
physical illness, such as nausea, headaches, heart or breathing problems.
Alongside these symptoms are feelings of loneliness, isolation and inadequacy, either as an employee, friend or family member. Those on the way to burnout may throw sudden fits of rage, be argumentative, deeply cynical about themselves and others, and experience a sense of joylessness in which personal relationships and professional accomplishments no longer have any of the life-affirming delight they should have.
Chronic stress thins the brain’s frontal cortex, having a long-term effect on creativity and memory, and stress responses. In extreme cases, it has been known to cause strokes in young professionals.
What to do
There is a continuum from ordinary stress levels, right the way through overwork to burnout. Whilst stress in itself may not be burnout, if you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms above on a regular basis then it may be time to get advice from a professional.
Bear in mind, too, that this isn’t all on you. Studies have shown that conflict at work, poor managerial support, unclear job expectations and high workload combined with a sense of perfectionism can be drivers of burnout. You may need to learn new skills, but you may also need to change jobs.
Your therapist may ask you to prioritise your problems. Very often burnout sufferers feel a sense of helplessness due to overwhelm. Prioritising which problems need to be addressed first will give a sense of perspective and reduce overwhelm. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing I need to do? When do I need to do it? What happens if I don’t? Can I get more time? Is help available?
2. Cut yourself some slack
Burnout is complex and needs to be addressed on many levels. Psychologically, you will need to broaden your expectations and find new things to do. Many people who suffer from burnout goad themselves on because they are perfectionists who demand too much of themselves. Thus, one element of therapy is to challenge how you conceptualise success and failure, so you stop making impossible demands of yourself.
Meditation is a powerful tool to detach from the relentless spin of stressful thoughts that can lead to burnout. Classic mindfulness meditation teaches you to clear you mind of stress-related thoughts, so you are focussed solely on your present lived experience. A study in 2011 by Sara Lazar showed that an eight-week course reduces the stress-related areas of the brain and enables people to control their emotions more effectively.
As well as emphasising mindfulness, reconnect with your body more fully with exercise. The practice of yoga can build strength and stamina and requires full concentration to control breathing. Thus, you can combine exercise with active mindfulness during walking meditations, or yoga, which has powerful effects on stress and your sense of well-being.
5. Make time for yourself
For many people burnout is a sign they need to stop doing what they are doing now, rest, and try something completely new. Reconnecting with loved ones, with things you love to do and taking the time to enjoy yourself are vital steps on the way to avoiding burning. In that way, new opportunities and experiences arise to enrich your life and your relationship with the world.
6. Smell the roses
One of the best pieces of advice for the burnout sufferer is “don’t be afraid to take the time enjoy yourself”. That might include stopping completely what you are doing now. The relief you will feel from stepping away from a life that is making you ill will have long-term positives.
If that’s what’s needed, be ready to make that change.
Questions to ask yourself:
Do I make unrealistically high demands of myself?
What would happen if I walked away from what I’m doing now?
Do I have the support of the people around me at work and outside of work?
How can I reduce the conflict and / or stress I have in my life?
Bernardo Moya shares 10 business lessons he's learnt from motivational books .
1. Put the customer at the centre
One of the most valuable business lessons from a self-help book comes early in Richard Bandler and John La Valle’s book on selling, Persuasion Engineering. It is quite simple to make the customer the centre of the process. It sounds obvious, and yet many startups are so focused on making money they miss this crucial step.
Dr Bandler describes how one company boss told him. “We’re not interested in what the customer wants. We’re interested in giving our salespeople selling skills so they can sell more of what we already have.”
This naive and inflexible approach to sales is something you find in some companies that don’t understand the transactional nature of… transactions. They think of sales as a series of techniques which flip people into purchasing mode rather than a more complex, human interaction. Down that road, Bandler warns, lies buyer’s remorse, along with a poor reputation.
The big and obvious message is: “Think about what your customer wants, not what you want your customer to do.”
2. Visualise your endpoint
Change Your Life In Seven Days by Paul McKenna is essentially a crash course in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), an approach used in life-coaching, mentoring and therapy. Mental exercises give powerful lessons on taking charge of your life and are invaluable in enabling you to make your business goals happen.
By combining strong emotions of excitement and anticipation, alongside detailed steps to a desired outcome, you can set an expectation and a direction in your mind toward your goal. Paul advises first imagining in detail your endpoint, then working backwards from there, visualising particular scenes and filling them with sensory detail. In this way, you give your conscious and unconscious mind a direction to follow, and realistic steps to take. For those not used to planning, it’s a powerful tool.
It certainly seems to have worked for Paul, who has not been out of the bestseller list for more than a decade.
“Think about what your customer wants, not what you want your customer to do.”
3. Get proactive
In 3 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey makes a clear distinction between proactive people (who tend to have more success) and reactive people.
Proactive people aren’t dependent on the events and context around them, he writes, but on their own initiatives.
Reactive people respond to their environments and events and habitually behave in a similar way to the people around them, either because of a feeling of inadequacy or an unconscious desire to fit in. Covey says it is not simply what happens to us that holds us back, but whether we conform and consent to the events that happen to us. That is key to being reactive.
Covey observes that people spend their energies either thinking and operating in a Circle of Concern – which includes events and circumstances we can’t influence (such as war, weather, economic shock and so on), or in a Circle of Influence, comprising events we can directly affect, (such as deals, relationships, our health, etc).
The proactive person puts their time into the Circle of Influence, meaning they are continually operating with matters they can affect. Thus, they are engaged rather than passive and take more responsibility for their lives, rather than avoiding problems and thinking about matters they cannot influence.
It’s a useful tool to think about if you have a tendency to worry or waste time on matters you can’t affect, and by changing it, you will become more effective in your life generally.
4. Always think opportunistically
A really useful lesson from Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of attitude to the world. Think in terms of opportunities, he advises.
Rather than saying things like “I can’t afford this or that,” he encourages his kids to think “how can I afford this?”
This type of question makes people search for empowering solutions.
He also advises not to buy liabilities, but assets. If you buy a house, it may rise in value over time and become an asset. But if you want it to be an asset now, then rent it out. “The rich buy assets. The poor only have expenses. The middle class buy liabilities they think are assets,” writes Kiyosaki.
5. Start With The Why
Simon Sinek’s Start With The Why is a fascinating book. What it covers are the basic aspects of companies, the ascent and descent of major global brands. There are amazing stories of how companies lost their ethos and customers turned their backs on them. There are stories of how large companies reinvented themselves and how some became the sought-after employers that so many want to work for in the world—companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.
Sinek’s book and message is compelling because it’s also easy and clear, and applies to everyone. He argues that if you want to inspire others, you don’t start with telling them what you are going to do or how you are going to do it. These do not enthuse and motivate.
As his book title says, you start with the ‘why’, set a question that needs to be answered, identify a need that needs to be met first of all. Leaders throughout history use the same technique, communicating their vision by working from the emotional engagement of ‘why’ before the practicalities of how and what.
By repeating your goals to yourself every day, and engaging your passion and desires, you are setting a powerful direction to follow.
6. Avoid negativity
One of the big lessons in Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People is to avoid negativity in interpersonal interactions.
“Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain — and most fools do,” he ways. “But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
It’s fine for leaders to acknowledge when an employee or partner has not lived up to expectations, or to note the less optimal approach of a competitor, but it’s vital to acknowledge what is working and to authentically praise other people’s achievements. In this way, you will keep the mood positive in your business. You’ll eliminate resentment and get others to accept and share your advice, making them willing and happier to improve.
7. Don’t waste energy on the wrong client
Identifying and doing business with the right client is more important than all the techniques and tricks of persuasion you can use to sell is a key lesson that 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall teaches us. If you have the right fit with a client in terms of their ability to pay or their commitment to your company, then you aren’t wasting energy tracking down clients who aren’t right for you. Copywriting techniques, sales methods, negotiation tactics and all the rest of it are important, but sorting your clients so you are focused on those who are most profitable should come first. You can, after all, waste a lot of time trying to persuade those who don’t want to be persuaded!
8. Understand reciprocity
When you give something away, most people want to give you something back. This is a core lesson in Yes! 60 Secrets from the science of persuasion by Robert Cialdini. In a face-to-face context that might be something as simple as buying lunch, or offering a freebie. On websites, give people information, tips and ideas for free. Many visitors will remember where they got useful information and will feel predisposed, if not obligated, to come to you for follow-up services – especially if your information has proven useful.
9. Have faith in what you are doing
In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill advises you to convince yourself you can achieve your goal. Faith, he advises, can be engendered through self-suggestion and self-affirmation, and by reinforcing your belief through constant positivity, reaffirmation and avoidance of negative inputs and emotions. Hill also advises writing your goals down. By repeating your goals to yourself every day, and engaging your passion and desires, you are setting a powerful direction to follow. This is the heart of faith.
10. You’re not an imposter
Shed Simove shares an incredibly important lesson in Success or Your Money Back. He is the man who brought the TV show Big Brother to British screens. He’s also a serial entrepreneur and creator of novelty gifts. His often left-field ideas include a remote control helicopter in the shape of the word “F*CK”, which he sells with the slogan, “Now you really can give a flying F*ck!”.
Shed gives advice on Impostor Syndrome – that is, that feeling that one day you’re going to be ‘found out’.
Even after many successes, he still felt like an impostor – not an expert. Only when he realised that everyone is learning all the time and not working from a pre-ordained script did he accept that, actually, all you need do is appear as if you know what you’re doing and be confident with it. That, after all, is what everyone else is doing!
One dictionary definition of resilience is: ‘The ability to bounce or spring back into shape after being stretched, bent or compressed’.
There’s an old story of the Scottish rebel Robert the Bruce, who was in hiding from the English in a cave, where he took refuge and lived for three months. He had reached the lowest point of his life. His armies were defeated, he was on the run and the English were after him. Robert was alone when he saw a spider attempting to weave a web. Robert became increasingly intrigued by the spider that was climbing up one side of an opening to the cave and kept launching itself across the space, only to get blown back again. It struggled on for what seemed like hours, repeatedly knocked back down again. And finally, just when Robert was giving up on believing the spider could succeed, it did it. It leapt across the gap and began to weave a web.
Robert the Bruce was so strengthened by the sight of the spider’s eventual success that he vowed he would not give up his fight. A few years later, Robert the Bruce led his men against the English at Bannockburn, defeating them despite the Scots being outnumbered ten to one.
The moral of the story is often stated: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’
Whatever the truth of the tale, we’ve all seen or met those people who never accept defeat. They get knocked down, then ‘pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again’, as the old song goes.
Resilience is actually a mixture of skills.
In part, it’s about being able to reframe failure as a learning experience. It’s about ignoring frustration (which can so often lead to a sense of helplessness), and also changing despondency to something else —sometimes anger, but more usefully, determination.
Resilience is one of the skills mastered by people who handle stress well. They are able to get through difficult moments by making their emotions more manageable, by shrinking down the problems they face, or learning a mindfulness that enables t[Sin nombre]hem to transcend what they are going through.
The mixture of skills needed for resilience even seems to incorporate opposites. Keeping focused on the goal is one part of resilience, while being flexible is also vital. That means being willing to try new things to move on, not engaging in negative emotions, but keeping the positives in sight.
Whichever type of resilience works for them, resilient people bounce back from setbacks and are grateful for life’s simple pleasures, seeing them as evidence of eventual success.
Resilient people often reframe setbacks through their faith, telling themselves ‘everything happens for a reason’. For them, whatever event occurs, it’s a learning experience provided by the universe. That is a deeply empowering attitude.
Some people are resilient from an early age. Maybe it’s true to say they are ‘born resilient’. Nothing seems to bother them or deter them, and they have a natural way of getting the best from themselves.
But have no doubt, resilience is not just an innate trait, just as many other behaviours aren’t innate. It is a skill which some people adopt and learn from very early on. It’s a skill anybody can learn.
I believe resilience is the foundation for all other life events. It’s the iron and concrete you are made of. In my years of watching people succeed, I have not come across any successful person or game changer who doesn’t have it. Of course, there are those who were born into privilege and thus do not appear to experience setbacks—but then, those people are often taught resilience by their parents or at their school. It’s part of their early training for success.
Those who don’t master how to be resilient struggle. And that’s why, just like the privileged people who were taught it, it’s vital to learn how to do it.
Many of us don’t find out how resilient we are until we face a test or problem. We all have it within us, provided the goal means enough to us. I’ve never come across any successful person who hasn’t struggled and had to draw on their resilience.
If you are a parent, you know that you would do anything to keep your child safe. You wouldn’t be deterred or knocked down, but would get up again and again if your loved one were faced with immediate danger. The fact is, when push comes to shove you will do what it takes if the stakes are high enough.
And the best bit is that resilience can be learned, so you can use it when you need it. You just need to tap into it.
This is an edited extract from The Question: Find Your True Purpose by Bernardo Moya (published by Capstone, February 2019)
If you think better, you’ll feel better. If you feel better, you’ll do better.
Here are five free tips to building a life without limits that can aid you in eliminating barriers that may be holding you back from achieving even greater business and personal success. These are just a few of the nearly 60 tips found in the first course (of five) of our online, video-based, self-paced, easy-to-follow Success Empowerment Program.
1. Value who you are
You need to value who you are in order to be able to provide real value to others. If you suffer from a feeling of insignificance you need to understand you bring a unique value to those around you and to the world. You are the only you there is. You are unique, and you have passions, talents, and abilities those other people don’t have. As Malcolm Forbes, the entrepreneur most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine said: “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
Be sure to smile when you look in the mirror! That simple, free gift—from yourself to yourself—can work wonders on your self-image. Understand that what others think of you does not define you. You have an innate value that comes from within. You are here for a purpose, and other’s opinions are not a measure of how valuable you are. As Les Brown said: “Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”
Winners don’t have a positive self-image, high self-esteem, and a sense of significant self-worth BECAUSE they’re successful. Winners are successful because they know they have innate value (a sense of self-worth), they are happy with who they are (high self-esteem) and they have confidence in their ability to learn, grow, and continue to succeed—and thus they value who they are.
2. Stop comparing yourself with others
There will always be someone more successful, more accomplished, with more awards, more friends, and more money. If you constantly compare yourself with others you’ll never measure up. If you know your purpose and you’re pursuing your passion (which is covered in one of the lessons in the 1st course of the Success Empowerment Program) you will realize you don’t need to waste time comparing yourself to other people. As the actress, Judy Garland said: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
Also, be sure to practice some self-compassion and stop criticizing yourself. You’re only human, and no one is perfect. It’s our nature to make mistakes and learn from them. So, forgive yourself for your mistakes and move on to a brighter future.
3. Don’t fear discomfort — embrace it
Realize it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. It’s actually a GOOD thing because it means you’re willing to get outside of your comfort zone and put yourself in growth-producing situations where the things you don’t yet have can be found. When you stretch outside of
your comfort zone you will, of course, feel “uncomfortable,” yet that’s simply a sign you are learning and growing. When you feel uncomfortable just say to yourself, “Hey, this is great. I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m becoming a better person, and I’m going to have far more personal success as a result.”
As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck said: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when [or especially when] it’s not going well, is the hallmark of a GROWTH mindset.”
As I like to say, “Taking calculated risks can make all the difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life.”
4. Eliminate self-limiting beliefs, such as I can’t or I’m not
As Les Brown said: “Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.” If you accept a limiting belief it becomes a truth for you. To eliminate self-limiting beliefs (a) Write them down, because you can’t fix a problem you don’t know you have. (b) Acknowledge they are just beliefs, not truths. Say to yourself something like, “I have believed this about myself for some time, yet I now realize it was simply a belief and not true.” (c) Exchange them for the opposite beliefs the moment they crop up. The best way to do that is through the use of positive affirmations (which is covered in detail in the Success Empowerment Program). As motivational speaker Denis Waitley said: “Relentless, repetitive self-talk. . . is what changes our self-image.”
Here are a few sample affirmations to combat self-limiting beliefs:
I like and accept myself right now, even as I grow and evolve.
I am worthy simply for who I am, not what I do. I do not have to earn my worthiness.
I easily release negative feelings when other people blame or criticize me.
I learn and grow from my mistakes rather than deny them or use them to confirm my unworthiness.
I am kind to myself and I do not use “shoulds” and “oughts” to put myself down with value judgments.
5. Soar with your strengths
Paula Nelson and Donald Clifton, in their insightful book titled Soar with Your Strengths, noted that: “Excellence can be achieved only by focusing on strengths and managing weaknesses.”
What they’re speaking of is the value of learning how great you really are by focusing on and leveraging your unique strengths. Focusing on and leveraging your strengths can actually double or triple your effectiveness as opposed to beating yourself up about your weaknesses. I don’t mean you should not stretch yourself and test your limits, or that you should not expand your skills.
All I’m saying is if, for example, if you’ve never been good at math, or you always struggle with writing, then it’s okay to find and hire talented people who are gifted in these areas instead of beating yourself up about things that just don’t come naturally to you.
These are just a few of the nearly 60 tips found in JUST the first course of our complete, no-nonsense, self-paced, video-based, online program.
“Since the beginning of time, until the end of time, and all the days of our lives, our Creator has wanted us to have love, completion, truth and joy. To love is one of the most powerful experiences that has ever existed! That is a fact! It can bring you to life or kill your spirit! People do not understand why Soul Mates are so significant or why they exist. We are here to experience true love from our Soul Mates.
A Soul Mate is the one who is created specifically for you! One who is created at the very beginning of your first lifetime. That person is created for you so that you can have love, passion, happiness, harmony, peace, abundance, and true fulfillment in everything and in every way that you can imagine. A Soul Mate is the one you have a connection and link with throughout your lives. Whether you connect with your Soul Mate every lifetime doesn’t matter (depending on your past karmic debts). You will always feel a connection and a desire towards your Soul Mate. You and your Soul Mate will always have this magnetic energy. This magnetic energy constantly wanting to connect and have this automatic clinging together.
People often get Soul Mates and Twin Flames mixed up. A Twin Flame is a love relationship you had in a past life. Most people feel they were meant to be with their Twin Flame because this relationship is so familiar and on fire sexually. You feel a connection in this relationship. A Twin Flame is a lustful relationship which is focused on healing karmic energy from your past life. A Twin Flame always has to do with past life karma. Always! There is a sense of familiarity where you feel connected with each other. There is a feeling of complete desire of wanting to be with this person, a feeling of passion, but there is also this feeling that something is seriously wrong. And that something that’s seriously wrong is some type of karmic debt that is due from your previous life of being together. That is what a Twin Flame is all about.
When you are with your Soul Mate there is nothing that you do not know about each other. There is a constant knowing. Reading each other’s minds, reading each other’s actions, being on the same page in every area: emotionally, spiritually, desires, dreams, etc. You have a lot in common. It is like a mirror, however at the same time there is a bit of opposite energy. That small bit of opposite energy is significant because you both will simultaneously help to encourage and grow one another. When you are with your Soul Mate, you feel satisfied. You feel as though you are complete. Your Soul Mate is going to love you inside and out. They are going to feel this attraction to you and are just going to want to hold you and never let you go…
In the new issue of The Best You Magazine, we discover Meghan Markle Philanthropic Royalty, Oprah Winfrey for president?, 7 fast ways to boots your wellbeing, Life lessons from Warren Buffet and more. Enjoy!
If you’re finding yourself in a drought of no love coming, and the drought has been going on for more time than you’re comfortable talking about, it’s likely because you’re lacking in something I like to call “Dating Energy”.
So what is Dating Energy you ask?
I write a lot about this concept and have included it in my book Attract Authentic Love (available on Amazon) and speak about it often due to its’ great importance in the success of your dating life. Basically, the way Dating Energy works is kind of like a streak. Have you ever noticed that when you’re looking for a job, for instance, you either are having no luck at all and it seems that every door is closing in your face or you seem to be just irrationally inundated by offers? It sometimes doesn’t make any sense and you can’t really tell what exactly you’ve done differently to change your luck, but when it changes it’s incredible. You may have not even done any major change on your CV or anything really, but just one offer leads to another and another. Or you can have made loads of changes and things still continue as badly as they were going before.
Dating Energy is that amazing streak of great dates that you get just simply by starting the streak in the first place. What this means is that you first need to date pretty much anyone (yes I mean anyone) to start off the streak. Hence, one date (no matter how not great) then leads to more dates and to more dates, until you get that amazing date that becomes that amazing person that you want to keep dating exclusively. The only key to all of this is that you MUST ENJOY the dating process (no matter how little you want to keep dating the initial people you go out with). Have fun with it, get to know the person sitting across from you, enjoy the process of dating. Dating should be fun after all. Dating Energy begins with you going out and meeting perspective people to date. It doesn’t matter where and how you meet them by the way. I teach clients that you can meet someone fantastic anywhere and I myself (and most of my clients) are examples of this working successfully. If you really don’t have time to go out, there are plenty of online sites and apps that you can use to meet people. In fact, one of my most popular individual sessions is helping busy clients to set up a successful online or app profile.
Once you’re actively out there meeting people, you are likely to be invited out on a date. If this isn’t happening, sign up for one of my unblocking sessions (or come to one of my love issues undone workshops) to go through what might be going wrong and what you can do to improve your rate of success of what I call “closing the deal”. My advice to those who have suffered from a long non dating drought is to say “yes” to pretty much anyone who invites them out. Obviously, be smart and be safe and make sure to meet this person in a public place initially and for just a quick drink or coffee date to start with (ask me more about this by booking a free 30 minute call here https://juliakellerdiscoverycall.as.me/schedule.php).
Whether you like the initial people you date and whether you want to see them again is irrelevant. The most important thing initially is just to date, date, date and HAVE FUN! You need to enjoy the process and show up being your best self. Bring your smile, your good mood and your genuine love of and interest in people in general. Remember that dating initially is just a discovery of the other person and isn’t meant to be pressure to find your next husband (or wife) or the future parent of your unborn child. The person sitting across from you may end up being your future partner or he/ she could just become a friend or maybe someone that you introduce to a single friend. Anything can happen. Many of my past dates that didn’t work out are now good friends.
Once Dating Energy is well established and you’re truly enjoying the process, you’ll start to feel really excited about dating and your energy will show it. You’ll find yourself becoming way more popular than you’d ever expected and you’ll inevitably end up meeting that someone amazing that you really want to date exclusively.
Welcome to the latest issue of The Best You magazine. We bring you exciting news about The Best You Expo 2019, our brand new Legacy Club, and our online platform. These are exciting times in the world of personal development. Our politics might be dominated by division and confusion, but our drive to enrich the lives of others has never been greater, and we know you feel the same.
We are living in at time of great uncertainty as Britain’s official moment of departure from the European Union fast approaches.Society is more fragmented than ever, as economic, social and political changes push and pull us apart. In this issue we will also look at some inspirational stories that transcend borders.
We believe that education and personal development lead to empowerment, and that everyone deserves access to the tools that can transform their lives and make the world a better place.
For that reason, Meghan Markle is our perfect cover star. The Duchess of Sussex understands the universal importance of the need to connect and nurture, to help those less fortunate and lift each other up.
Experts say the endless pursuit of perfection is having a negative impact on our wellbeing. Perhaps the secret is to enjoy where you are right now. without the need strive for more
It starts during a bit of late night Instagramming of Copenhagen apartments.
First you’re scrolling through trailing houseplants, then screengrabbing Morroccan Berber rugs, and before you know it its 2am and you’re staring at photos of a stranger’s Italian wedding, making a list of things you need to make you life perfect.
Whether it’s chasing a promotion, buying our own flat, boosting our Instagram following, or finding the partner of our dreams, our goal-driven culture means chasing ‘perfect’ has become the norm.
Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman says that this quest for perfection isn’t just in our heads, it’s also pervasive throughout our culture.
“Today’s competitive world has led to us developing perfectionist traits,” she says. “It starts in school where you are rewarded for pushing yourself to meet targets.
“While it is healthy to have focus, you can put yourself under enormous pressure trying to attain unrealistic goals, whether that’s at work or in realtionships. This can become obsessive and unhealthy because you are concentrating not on something you have, but on a deficit.” Endlessly striving for more means we can never feel satisfied, and our ‘dream life’ remains frustratingly – and permanently – out of reach. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology found that women are more likely than men to experience feelings of inadequacy, and a larger proportion felt they failed to meet their own high standards.
According to Dr Spelman, feelings of inadequacy are intensified by the ‘compare and despair’ bred on social media. We are a generation who sees too much, with research showing we are exposed to more images of supposedly ‘perfect’ women in one day than our grandmothers saw in a lifetime.
Charlotte, 30, says that’s a part of the pressure she feels to improve her life: “It feels like everyone on Instagram is more attractive than I am, better dressed, having more fun, and getting more promotions. I don’t know why I follow some of the people I do. It’s as if I like tormenting myself.” Rationally we know that influencers are manufactured and monetised, yet Dr Spelman says that in our 360-degree feedback loop it’s difficult not to measure yourself against them. “It’s easy to lose your balance and feel sad about not having their seemingly perfect life. But desperately trying to ‘keep up’ can come at the expense of your mental health”.
There is widespread agreement among experts that perfectionism is harmful, and studies have linked it to the rise in anxiety, depression, anxiety, drug addiction and even an increased suicide risk. After British snowboarder Ellie Soutter killed herself on her 18th birthday last month, her dad Tony said the pressure she felt and fear of “not letting anybody down” contributed to her death.
But how can you step away from the pressure to be perfect? Ten years ago it was enough to get yourself to work wearing halfclean clothes. Now every aspect of our lives is public, with social media allowing us to measure ‘success’ through views and likes in ways never previously possible.
In response, the growing anti-perfectionism trend is helping to re-frame the way we look at perceived ‘failures’. Recent bestsellers The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Sarah Knight’s You Do You: A No-F**ks-Given Guide promote wearing our imperfections on our sleeves, as well as having the freedom to consider alternatives to what we had planned.
Katherine Ormerod is a former fashion journalist who says she “spent years putting on a great show that my life was pretty perfect, and it was exhausting. Then my husband left me when I was 29 and I couldn’t fake it anymore.
“All of my plans fell down like dominoes. But once you come out the other side of something like that you realise that amazing things can come from failure or from going off your planned course.” In Ormerod’s forthcoming book Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life she speaks to influencers who reveal what their lives are really like away from the glossy hair and #AD bikini endorsements.
“Often people don’t want to admit any weakness or vulnerability, but of course they struggle with the same things we all do,” says Omerod. “Life isn’t all beaches, parties and designer handbags.” Dr David Hamilton agrees that we live in a culture that glorifies success, and says the antidote to endless comparison is to look for positive, inspirational people to follow.
“We think ‘when I make my flat look perfect or get that perfect boyfriend then I’ll finally feel that I am ‘enough’”, he says. “It’s vital to stop viewing yourself as ‘less than’.
Wherever you are now is good enough, without any need for a new path taking you somewhere ‘better’”.
In the 1950s the British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott coined the phrase ‘good-enough mother’ to try to relieve the pressure mums felt to be perfect, and there is growing agreement that this ‘good enough’ concept might be the key to shaping a new way for us to live happy lives.
The central message of Haemin Sunim’s upcoming book Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection is accepting yourself instead of constantly needing to prove your worth or ability. Last year you couldn’t move for books about lagom – the Swedish concept of ‘enough’ – now we’re looking east to the Japanese art of finding long lasting contentment.
Erin Longhurst is the author Japonisme which explores finding fulfilment in appreciating life’s quieter moments rather than getting distracted by what you don’t have. “Perfection is an unattainable and unkind goal,” says Longhurst. “Instead, in Japan the focus is on finding your ikigai, or purpose. This is what makes you happy, and it’s different for everyone – for some its family, for others its being creative. It’s not about how much money you make, or what status you are trying to attain, but what you value. Being able to find that clarity and purpose is empowering.” Of course, we all have hopes and plans for the future, so it’s not about digging up the yellow brick road completely but making sure you step off it to enjoy what you already have. Dr Spelman says the secret is to be realistic, self-aware, and flexible – in case life unexpectedly takes you on a different path.
“There are so many things we have no control over,” she says. “Be kind to yourself and try to focus on the process rather than the end goal. That way you set yourself up for the best chance of happiness.
Perfectionists can never be good enough and are doomed to fail, so stop pursuing and start being.” Omerod is hopeful that the antiperfectionism movement is enacting change and helping people feel happier. “I do think things are changing,” she says. “Now perfectionism on social media makes you roll your eyes, you feel sorry for that person and all the effort they have to put in to keep up pretence.
“You have to steel yourself to admit things go wrong and to follow a different path to the one you’d planned, but its hugely liberating. If I was still putting on my fake social media show there’s no way I’d be as happy as I am now. Failure is part of success, and a happiness might actually look very different from what you presumed it would.”
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