Do you only allow yourself to feel good when you’ve ‘done good’?

do good to feel good checklistI don’t know about you, but I like feeling good.

In fact I LOVE feeling good.

But why is it that ‘feeling good’ is something that we feel we need to earn?

In order to give ourselves the time and space to feel good, we first feel that we need to do something, achieve something or accomplish something.

We allow ourselves to relax after a hard day’s work.

We say we’ve earned a break, a holiday or even something as simple as a good cup of tea (!) when we’ve been busy.

We feel the need to cross so many items off our to-do list before we feel entitled to some ‘me time’.

So many of us jump out of bed at the start of the day and so begins the incessant ‘doing’, the completing of tasks that will mean that come evening time we’ve done enough to warrant sitting down and relaxing.

Now all of this is well and good…if it actually works for us…but what so many women don’t realise is that for the majority of us, it doesn’t.

What do we need in order to feel good?

Because when we start to understand the motivations, needs and desires of the masculine and feminine, we realise that we’re fundamentally and dramatically different when it comes to the areas of ‘feeling good’ and ‘doing good’.

  • The masculine needs to ‘do good’ first in order to feel good.
  • The feminine needs to feel good first in order to ‘do good’.

As with most key aspects of the masculine and feminine, we are once again equal and opposite. Neither way is better, or worse, right or wrong, it’s just what works for us individually.

The masculine, being goal-orientated, focused and driven to accomplish, needs to feel useful. He needs to feel that he has done his work and achieved some results in order to be able to relax and enjoy feeling good. A masculine man who has not accomplished anything for a period of time will start to feel restless, dissatisfied and less in touch with his masculinity.

The doing can take many forms, going out to work, projects around the house, working on the car, exercise, even helping his partner ‘fix’ her problems (which can be the source of many misunderstandings and relationship challenges!) As long as he can put a check in the box, and feel he’s done a good job, he’ll then be able to relax, unwind and enjoy feeling good, knowing he’s accomplished something.

For the feminine, it’s ‘feel good’ first…

On the flip side however, it’s a different story. The Feminine woman isn’t driven by goals, results or achievements. She’s inspired by emotionally connecting, building relationships, nurturing, communicating and being in flow. As a lot of these aspects require her to give something of herself, in order to bring the best of herself (and ‘do good’) she first needs to fill her own cup, nurture herself and give to herself first in order that she can give the best of herself to others, and create the kind of effect that she wants to for the people around her. Simply, she needs to first feel good, in order to really bring the best of herself when she is ‘doing’.

The thing is that so many feminine women have spent so much time in ‘masculine mode’, that we’ve got into the habit of doing it the masculine way, without ever stopping and questioning whether it actually works for us.

We pay our dues, we do our work, we check off our to do lists, and then collapse in a heap, exhausted – our downtime becomes more about recovery than relaxation.

But if you were to try a different approach you might be surprised with the results.

Have you tried ‘feel good’ first…’do good’ second?

Take today for example. Wednesdays are a busy day for me. Every Wednesday I need to edit and produce two different videos, get them uploaded, put out two blogs, send out several different versions of my newsletter, keep up with my correspondence, take any client calls that are scheduled in and tick off any other urgent items on my to do list that need doing.

Today was a particularly busy day and when I woke up I was feeling the pressure to get started right away. I knew there was a lot to do and I wanted to start to feel like I was making a dent in the long list of tasks I had.

It was very tempting to skip my morning routine, the one that fills me up and nourishes me for the day ahead, and just get started.

But I didn’t.

I took the time to do my goddess yoga practice.

I did my meditation.

I made myself some breakfast…and just before I was about to jump into the shower my partner made a suggestion.

“Why don’t you have a bath?”

Now for me, baths are indulgent time to relax. They are a way to unwind, forget the world and just focus on myself. I normally read in the bath, and so they are not a short affair.

But in spite of the fact that the little voice in my head was saying ‘No! You need to get to work!” something told me that a bath was the perfect way to begin my day.

…so I grabbed my book and disappeared into the bathroom.

A couple of hours later, relaxed, and feeling great I began to ease myself into my day.

I still had a lot to do, but the ease with which I was able to do it was palpable.

Not only was it easier…I was more effective.

I had a potentially difficult customer service challenge come up due to a technical glitch…but I was in a better space to be able to effectively deal with it. In a way that made me feel good (and that I was looking after my customers in the best way possible) and resulted in a satisfied customer. I received a lovely email in reply thanking me for responding in such an upstanding way and saying how refreshing it was to see such good customer service online. In their words “Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone makes an effort that is real to handle them”. I was able to better serve her needs because I was in a good space myself.

I then had a consultation with a potential new client, and because I felt so grounded, relaxed and filled up I was able to serve her even better than I would have been able to had I not taken the time to look after myself first.

I completed all of the ‘tasks’ that needed doing, but rather than feeling stressed and pressured, I felt relaxed and I enjoyed it more!

…and I am ending the day typing this article to you from a deck chair on the balcony, enjoying the beautiful blue sky, the warm breeze and the setting sun.

If the masculine approach to doing good and feeling good works for you, then stick with it – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 🙂

But if you find yourself more often than not drained at the end of the day, feeling tired and stressed with your work and like you spend more time recovering than relaxing, then maybe give this alternative approach a try.

I know as a feminine woman it works best for me, my customers and the people around me – I’m more relaxed, feel more filled up and can therefore can give the best of myself to them.

If you’re tank’s running low to start with, it won’t be long before you’re running on empty. Try filling up first…you might be surprised at the difference it makes.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Have you been trying to be what you think other people want?

Have you been trying to be what you think other people want?I’ll hold my hands up.

In my past I’ve had a habit of being a bit of a chameleon.

Rather than being true to myself, I’ve been who I thought other people would want me to be, who other people might need me to be or who other people would like best.

I’m sure we’ve all done it at times, because wanting to belong is such a fundamental part of human nature.

It’s hardwired into our DNA.

Why do we worry what other people want?

Way back when we were hanging out in tribes and still chasing after wilder beast for our evening snacks if we didn’t belong, the consequences were severe.

It could cost us our lives to be cast out and rejected by the people in our tribe, so learning to adapt and be what the tribe needed us to be wasn’t just good from an emotional point of view…it was a means of survival.

It’s no wonder we’ve got so good at becoming what we *think* other people want, like or need.

In the past, I was totally focused on being what other people want…

I spent much of my teenage years and early 20s hanging out with different groups of friends all of whom would get a different ‘flavour’ of Claire.

They were all aspects of my personality, just not the whole me.

Some of them I drank with, a lot. Others I didn’t drink with at all. Some I was quieter around, others more talkative. Some I would talk about spirituality and growth with, others would be about computers and hardware as I studied IT.

I was continually working out who I thought I needed to be to be accepted by those around me…and quite frankly, it was exhausting!

The challenge that this approach of adapting the parts of us that we’re sharing brings is that our interpretation of what other people want, like or need and the reality of what they want, like or need are not necessarily the same thing.

By being what you think other people want, you might be doing them a disservice..

I had an amazing experience last year that really demonstrated this beautifully and showed me that even when I think I know what someone else wants, likes or needs, that being the true me can give them a gift I didn’t even know they would be open to receiving!

It was last autumn and I was in San Diego visiting friends and I was looking at ways to get up to San Francisco where I would be spending a few weeks with one of my closest friends.

Someone who I’d only known a couple of days connected me with a girl called Andrea who was looking to hire a car and drive up the pacific highway as she was also meeting someone in San Francisco, and was looking for someone to share the car hire and driving with.

The friend who connected us told me that Andrea wanted to do lots of (and I quote) “Nature Stuff” on the way. She wanted to enjoy the scenery, see the ocean and enjoy all that nature had to offer on the trip.

I was more than happy with this, as I love nature, especially coastal areas…but there was one little additional thing that I wanted to do along the way.

I’d made a commitment to myself as my social circle’s resident Cupcake Queen that on the way up I wanted to stop in Los Angeles and visit the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the last lovely link below and all will be revealed!)

Now, that’s not really enjoying the best of nature, but I said to Andrea that I’d love to visit some beautiful natural spots on the way up, and I would also like to visit the cupcake ATM in LA. We agreed that we’d like to go together, and set off to hire a car.

We had a beautiful journey up the coastline, stopping to see beautiful vistas, wild seals hanging out on a beach and took some great photos.

When we got to LA, we had a wander down Venice beach and then after a relaxing afternoon we decided to stop into the Sprinkles ATM on our way out of the city and up to San Luis Obispo where we were stopping for the night.

The only flaw in the plan is that we didn’t realise the time. We started heading into LA at 5pm…rush hour.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or experienced LA rush hour, but it was like London rush hour, multiplied by 10. It was gridlocked.

We were going nowhere fast.

After 30 minutes in which we moved no more than a couple of hundred feet I began to question whether this was still a good idea.

After an hour of going not much further, my brain was kicking into overdrive.

Here I am, sat in a car with a girl whose only intention was to enjoy nature on this trip, dragging her through LA rush hour to go and visit a cupcake ATM?!

All I can think is that she’s going to think I’m crazy. We’ve got all this beautiful coastline to see, and I want to wade through gridlock for a cupcake (albeit one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted…and that’s saying a lot!)

So we stick with it.

A journey that should have take around 20-30 minutes ended up taking over 3 and a half hours!

So we finally get to the cupcake store, and I’m thinking I need to be as quick as possible, but I promised several people that I’ll get a video of me using the cupcake ATM, so I have to ask Andrea to be my camerawoman while we’re there.

So this crazy woman who’s insisted we go through LA rush hour then asks her to take pictures of me and my travelling companion Bubba with the cupcakes, I then um and er over which cupcakes I want to purchase, and I then ask her to hold my video camera while I get a video of the cupcake ATM in action.

I’m even feeling that maybe I am a little crazy by this point.

But then something magical happened.

After laughing and giggling my way through the video and the purchase of several incredibly yummy cupcakes, we get back into the car and she turns to me with a big smile on her face and simply says, “You’re so much fun to travel with!”

Not only that, but when she tried the delicious cupcakes that Sprinkles has to offer, she even requested that we stop at their sister store in Palo Alto on the way up to San Fran!

I couldn’t believe it!

Here I am thinking I’m probably driving this nature-seeking girl crazy, when actually by being my true self I help her to experience a fun side of travelling that she otherwise wouldn’t have experienced, and really enjoyed!

If you scroll down to today’s last lovely link you’ll get to see the video masterpiece we created together (and yes, that is Andrea giggling in the background!)

So for this week I want to invite you to let go of the idea that you need to be anything or anyone for anyone else, and just be you.

You, the whole you, and nothing but the you.

…and see what your experience is…

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

How do you deal with overwhelm in a feminine way? – Part One

Women overwhelmDo you ever find yourself in overwhelm?

Overwhelm has a nasty habit of sneaking up on us, especially at this time of year.

We’re now a week into 2013.

Goals and intentions have been set.

…and now that you have them, and you’re looking forward at everything you would like to do this year, it can feel a little daunting.

OK, a lot daunting.

OK, downright overwhelming.

We look longing back at the Christmas season, because then we had an excuse for not doing much, it was the holidays, we are all supposed to relax and just have fun.

But now we’ve shifted gear.

It’s New Year…time of New Years Resolutions or “New Year, New You” messages that have ben springing up all over the place.

The party is over, and now we’re all about getting on with creating the year ahead.

…and we want it to be amazing, awesome…the best ever.

No pressure or anything…(!)

…and we wonder why at this point in the year we can be feeling a little nervous, anxious, filled with a sense of overwhelm with one single thought ringing in our ears…“How am I going to do it all?!”

…followed swiftly by “Where do I start?”

It’s these thoughts alone that are responsible a whole raft of familiar feelings and behaviours…

…the undeniable desire to go and hide under the nearest duvet and just ignore it all.

…the persuasive voice inside your head that encourages you to ditch your New Year’s Resolutions and just let yourself have one glass of wine / chocolate bar / other naughty treat (*delete as appropriate)

…the urge to begin organising, sorting out, keeping busy with a variety of simple, seemingly important tasks to distract you from getting to what you really want to be working on.

How do we deal with this sense of overwhelm?

So how do we, as feminine women, make it to the end of January without barricading ourselves in our bedrooms, eating every chocolate bar in sight or having a mini melt-down?

The first step is simple.

Breathe.

Take a few deep breaths in and remember, you’re not alone…there are plenty of other people feeling exactly the same way (I know, I’ve been hearing from several of them!)

The next step is to focus on how we can handle this overwhelm from a feminine perspective.

It’s so easy at times like these to jump into our superhero outfit, slap on our masculine masks and proclaim to the world “I can do it all…just watch me!”

Well…you can do it all, we know that…but I have a few questions for you:

  • Do you have to?
  • Do you want to?
  • Can you do it all without burning out?
  • Do you have to do it all now?
  • Are you trying to do it all perfectly?
  • Can you do it all and still stay true to the real feminine you?

So how do we approach these thoughts and feelings of overwhelm, and keep going in a feminine way?

I know what overwhelm feels like, so today I thought that I would share with you my top ten ways to deal with overwhelm in a feminine way…to keep you feeling feminine, no matter what you’re facing.

1. Ask for help – We women are great at trying to prove that we can do it all by ourselves, especially when we feel the sense of overwhelm creeping in, and this approach automatically puts us into more of a masculine mode.  One of the masculine traits is competitiveness, and that can relate as much to yourself as to other people.  So the feminine approach is one of collaboration…understanding that you don’t need to do it all alone…and that asking for help when you need it is actually a sign of strength.

2. Allow yourself to receive help – Asking for help is one thing.  Allowing yourself to receive it is another entirely.  As we know, flow is a key trait of the feminine, and flow happens in two directions…both giving AND receiving.  How many times has someone offered you help and you’ve responded with either:

  • No thanks, I’m fine
  • I’ll let you know
  • That would be great (and then haven’t followed up to actually receive it)

So allow yourself to receive the help that’s offered when you feel that sense of overwhelm, you’ll feel much more feminine and supported…and the person giving will also get to feel great at being able to help…it’s a win-win!

3. Just focus on the next step – Aiming for goals like this is a bit like running up a hill, if you focus on the top of the hill, or the huge distance you need to climb it’s easy to get a huge feeling of overwhelm or to get disheartened.  But if you just focus on the next step before you know it you’re over the top of the hill and running down the other side! Because the next step is always doable, it’s always within reach.  Before I was injured last year I was training for a marathon…and writing a blog about my journey.  If you want to know all about focusing on the next step, check out this post about “The girl who went up a hill but reached the top of a mountain”.

4. Avoid comparison – It is so easy to compare ourselves to others…and often the media doesn’t help, with the criticisms and comparisons that are broadcast in magazines, on TV and online.  But there are real problems with comparing yourself to other people…primarily because you are comparing yourself to your perception of who they are, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it…not the reality.  How many times have you been having a challenge in your life, where you’re feeling that familiar overwhelm and yet you’ve shown the outside world your ‘I’m fine’ face?  Well this is often true for other people as well.  When we compare, we are judging ourselves by other people’s standards, experiences and behaviours, and other people by our own.   Remember, the only person whose reality you can really know is your own…so accept that we are all different, we all have different strengths, weaknesses, challenges, gifts and experiences…the only person whose matter are yours.

Check out next week’s newsletter to find out the last six of my top ten ways to deal with overwhelm in a feminine way…

…and I encourage you to try at least one of the four ways I’ve shared here this week…to keep you feeling feminine, no matter what you’re facing.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

Click here to jump to part 2 of “How to deal with Overwhelm in a feminine way”

 

Over-think things? Me? Never…

ThinkingWe all do it.

We know we do.

We get caught up in our heads, over-thinking things and analyzing them to the ‘nth’ degree.

As women, we have a tendency (in general) to do this more than men do…as men have the ability (as alien as it may seem to us) to do the ‘thinking about nothing’ thing.

I’ve yet to meet a woman who has mastered this skill.

If you saw the link in last week’s newsletter to the hilarious video from Mark Gungor on the difference between men and women’s brains you know exactly what I’m talking about! (If you missed it, you can find it here clicky.me/71dC)

We’re intelligent people, so it’s natural that we would want to use our brains.

We want to work out the answer, solve the problem, find a solution.

But at what point does thinking become over thinking?

Where we analyse EVERYTHING before we say or doing anything.

Where we try and find every single possible permutation of a situation, every possible outcome so that we can ‘be prepared’…regardless of what happens.

As many people say…we get caught in the paralysis of analysis.

One of the main problems with this is that we get so caught up in the thinking that we never actually get to the doing.

When it comes to femininity and polarity however, the challenge with over-thinking is more fundamental.

Because although there are things that you can do to feel more feminine, there are things you can think, even things you can wear…at its core it is a feeling.

A sensation, an emotion, an essence.

A way of being…not of thinking.

If we get caught up in our heads too much we are actually moving away from the essence of what femininity is all about.

So this is just a little reminder.

To get out of your head and into your heart a little more often.

Focus on what you feel, not on what you think.

If you’re ever in doubt over what to do or how to proceed, go back to the core.

Turn down the volume on that little voice in your head (which is probably driving you crazy anyway!) and turn up the volume on your heart.

There are a number of ways to do this, but the one that I always recommend is an exercise at the end of my free MP3 audio program “The First Steps to Femininity”.  If you’ve not yet got it, pop over here now to get your free download: http://feminine1st.com/free-gift/

It only takes 8 minutes, and having you’ve done it once with the audio, it’s really easy to do any time, any place.

When you’ve reconnected with your heart, from THAT place ask yourself one simple question.

What is my intuition telling me?

How do you know?  It’s easy.

When you’re in this space, feeling really connected, ask yourself the question that you want the answer to, and the first thing that instantaneously comes to mind (before your brain has a chance to kick in and complicate matters!) is what your intuition is telling you.

As we know, femininity is all about authenticity, it comes from the inside out.  The best way to find that authenticity is getting back to the heart and working from what you feel, not necessarily what you know.

So, when your brain runs riot and gets carried away…tell it to take the afternoon off and spend some quality time with your heart.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

The dreaded S word

The dreaded ‘S’ word – Part 1

The dreaded S wordWe all know it.

We all use it multiple times a day.

It’s the “S” word that is dominating our lives.

No, it’s not “Shoes” (although they do play a major part for me!)…No, it’s not Sugar (though many of us do indulge from time to time I’m sure)…No, it’s not S&@t!

It’s “Should”.

How many times a day do we use the word “Should”?

“I should lose some weight”

“I should clean the house”

“I should have done that faster”

“I should have remembered that”

“I should eat healthier”

“I should drink less”

“I should exercise more”

“I should be doing something which is fulfilling”

“I should be a better mum”

“I should be doing better at work”

“I should see my friends more”

Should, Should, Should, Should, Should.

In fact, it’s fair to say that we spend a large portion of our lives “Should-ing” all over ourselves.

The question is…”Why SHOULD we?”

Is it because other people think that we should? Is it because we have been told that we should? Is it because society says that we should? Is it because we have the words of people in our past echoing in our heads?  When we say that we “should” whose standards are we using to decide this?

There are really four elements to this “Should” situation.

The first is that so many of our “Shoulds” aren’t even ours, so many of them come from other people – Partners, Parents, Friends, Media…we are being influence by those around us all the time, even if we’re not consciously aware of it.  Let’s be honest, how many of us would feel such an intense pressure to lose weight if it weren’t for the hundreds of images of skinny celebrities, pop stars, and actresses we are being bombarded with every single week? How many of us have heard friends or family who don’t seem to have an ounce of fat on them say “Oh I really have to lose a few pounds?”  Or have heard one of our girlfriends say of someone else “Ooh, she really shouldn’t be wearing that”? Every time we hear someone make a statement like this, our brain takes note and questions whether or not we SHOULD be thinking the same thing.

How about “I should be doing better at work”…where does this come from? Is it from your boss? Your co-workers? If this belief has appeared because you have a boss whose expectations are completely unrealistic, who is so out of touch with what you do that they have no clue what is feasible with the time and resources you have (sound familiar ladies?)….then why do we take it on?

The really interesting thing about statements like “I should do better” is that when we look at it closely, we don’t even know what it really means. Better than what? Better than who? How will we know when we’re doing “better”? In spite of this, we still repeat statements just like this to ourselves on a regular basis. It could be argued that we’re setting ourselves up for a fall…

What about the phrase “I should have done that faster”? Rather than focusing on what could have been improved, wouldn’t it be better for us to take a moment to recognise and acknowledge the fact that we have completed a task which was on our “to do” list? If we recognised and rewarded ourselves for things that we have done well (or just for things that we have done!) rather than focusing only on the negative aspects then who thinks that we might be enjoying life a little more…?

You see the challenge with the word “should” is it implies some sort of deficiency. If you use the word “should” you are suggesting that there is something wrong, and that you have a reason (no matter how illogical or unreasonable) that the situation has to be different….which often leads to guilt…and in the case of us ladies, a lot of it.

If these “shoulds” aren’t even ours, then why do we spend so much time feeling bad about them?!

So step 1 in solving our “Should” problem is first, to work out whether they are actually ours. Our beliefs, our thoughts, out standards.

Next time you hear yourself say the word “Should” (whether it’s out loud or just in your head), ask yourself honestly “Why Should I?” Do I really think I should, or am I just repeating someone else’s words?  Does it really matter to me, or am I doing it to please or appease someone else? Make sure that the standards that you are holding yourself to really are YOURS.

Join me tomorrow for steps 2, 3 and 4!

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x