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What stops us from receiving?

Woman Saying NoAs you probably know by now, on Wednesday the 28th of March I took part in the global Pay it Forward Flashmob here in London.

The day was fantastic…it was gorgeous sunshine, I was with a group of fantastic people and we were passing on random acts of kindness…what more could you ask for on a Wednesday afternoon?

On the whole, the experience was incredibly positive. There were some lovely stories about people who seemed genuinely touched by the concept and were keen to continue it onward.

But today I wanted to share something that really saddened me about the experience.

Because there I was, in the middle of London, wanting to do something small, random and kind for a stranger…but many of the strangers who I came across quite simply didn’t want to know.

As anyone who knows me knows…I’m not exactly a scary person. It’s very rare that I don’t have a smile on my face, and (as my sister will testify) people have a tendency of starting random conversations with me when I’m out and about (probably because they know that I’ll talk back to them!)

But as soon as you even appeared to move in the general direction of a stranger in London, something very peculiar happens.

Sometimes without looking at you, always without listening to you and occasionally with a hand being put up in front of you…you are instantly dismissed.

In this situation, there are several things that take place.

All of these people avoid eye contact with you.

Some just say “No”

Some are kind enough to add a “Thank you” at the end.

Some actively run away.

Some even swear at you (as was the experience of one person in our group).

It never occurred to me that doing something nice for another human being could be so challenging!

Everyone was looking for the catch, the sale, the pitch.

What was sad was that there wasn’t one….and those people ended up missing out on something potentially life-changing because they assumed that it wasn’t for them.

Well as my Dad always used to say to me, to Assume is to make an “Ass” of “u” & “me”…

The Pay It Forward experience is a fantastic idea….it’s all about spreading a ripple of genuine human kindness around the world, expecting nothing in return other than for the recipient to pass it on to another.

But if people aren’t prepared to receive, then how can it work?

…and what’s sad is that this doesn’t just apply to strangers on the street.

How many times do we say “I’m fine” when someone offers us help? How often do we refuse to ask for help because we want to prove that we can do it all ourselves?

As women we are so good at giving to the people around us…but we aren’t quite so good at receiving in return.

Femininity is all about flow. It’s about giving AND receiving…and if you block yourself from receiving, you’re blocking this flow.

The thing is, if we react and say ‘no’ before we’ve even stopped to hear what the other person has to say, we’ll never get the opportunity to receive.

Instantly saying no is a habit that we’ve adopted over time…and it’s one that would benefit us to break.

So the next someone approaches you to offer something (whether that’s on the street, at work or in your personal life), I implore you to remember to be a S.T.A.R.

– S top – Stop before you react to the situation.
– T hink – Think about what they’ve said and how you would like to respond.
– A cknowledge – Acknowledge what they’ve said.
– R espond – Respond to what they’ve said.

If what they are speaking about is genuinely not of interest to you, simply say something along the lines of “I appreciate what you’re doing, but I’m not interested thank you”. If you’ve listened to what they had to say and are completely honest, that’s the end of the conversation…but at least you’ve been polite about it.

Remember to be kind. They might be doing what they’re doing because it’s their job. They might want to share something with you that is of great importance to them, and so they think if might be of importance to you too. They might have a gift to give you.

If you don’t stop for a moment and listen, not only might you miss out on something great, but you might also stop someone else from being able to share a gift.

…and trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to do something nice for someone else, and being rebuffed without even being heard.

If you are interested, then allow yourself to receive graciously…you’ll feel better for it, and you’ll allow someone else the pleasure of giving something to you.

Tomorrow is international Pay it forward day…so let’s make Paying it Forward a happier experience, together.

Pay It Forward is a really special idea…

…But in order for Pay It Forward to work….we must also be prepared to Receive It Forward too.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you expect too much of yourself?

SuperwomanDo you expect too much of yourself?

I suspect the answer is (as it is for most women) yes.

I don’t think I know any woman who hasn’t, at one time or another, expected too much of herself.

The question is, do you recognise it?

Do you see it happening?

…and if you do, do you do anything about it?

The reason I’m bringing this up today is that I’ve had an experience recently that showed that I still do this from time to time…and I wanted to share it with you to serve as a reminder to give yourself a break too! 🙂

As you know by now, the last couple of months have presented some challenges for me.

About 5 weeks ago, after a month that included a major breakup, a major event and the completion of a 30-day challenge, I wasn’t surprised when I started feeling a little under the weather.

I figured that it was perfectly normal for my body to have a physical reaction to everything that had happened, and I took things a little easy.

What started as an unidentified virus though, developed into something a little more disconcerting. For three weeks, I spent the majority of my time feeling like I’d been sat on the teacups ride…and that someone had cranked it up to triple speed.

The doctors informed me that I had a bad case of Labarynthitis…which to me sounded either made up, or like I should be serenaded by David Bowie and surrounded by muppets (for those of you who don’t understand the reference, this should help: http://youtu.be/WT_xpFZe20A). The reality is that it is an inner ear problem which can leave you feeling very dizzy…and can take some time to sort itself out.

I had a huge amount of work to do, but I knew that this was my body’s way of telling me that it needed a break…so I did the smart thing and rested.

For a day…

…a week…

…a fortnight…

I did the minimum that I could to keep things ticking over and spent the rest of my time listening to my body’s pleas for R&R.

After three weeks of taking it easy I was feeling that I was on the mend.

So I decided I had clearly rested enough, and it was time that I got back to living life ‘normally’.

So what did I do?

Over the course of a 5 day period I did an international radio interview, participated in a flashmob, had numerous meetings and calls, came in and out of London 3 times (which is a 3-4 hour round trip), celebrated a friend’s birthday, attended two friends’ leaving gatherings, went salsa dancing…all on top of trying to catch up on my normal business activities.

I was back!

I felt great!

On day 6 I was back on the teacups and the speed had been cranked up another couple of notches.

I felt awful.

…I then looked back on what I’d done and laughed at myself.

I’d gone from doing the minimum to keep things ‘ticking over’ to jumping straight back in at full force in the blink of an eye!

…and I’d expected my body to just keep up.

So, I took the lesson and returned to my rest. After another week I was able to start easing myself back into doing more.

So I’d like to remind you that when you think you might be expecting too much of yourself, break out the “STAR” acronym…only this time there’s a slight addition:

  • Stop – Stop and take a step back from what you’re doing, rather than just ‘keeping it going’.
  • Think – Think about what you’re doing, is it really reasonable? Are you looking after your needs? Are you expecting too much? Is there another way?
  • Acknowledge – Acknowledge if you are expecting too much, and what would be best for you in the situation.
  • Respond – Respond accordingly…take the action that is right for you.

…and today I’d like to add the final S to the sequence so that we can all be “STARS”!

  • See – See if it’s working. If it isn’t, that’s ok! Just repeat the “STARS” process again until it DOES work for you.

So next time you think you might be expecting too much of yourself…remember that we all want to be STARS…so that we can…

…Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

The Feminine Way to Business Success – Positive Feedback – Day 21 of the Youtube Challenge

Day 21 of the Youtube challenge!

As women we are so good at giving out…but when we receive positive feedback we can have a habit of dismissing it. Would you like to know how important receiving positive feedback well is to the success of your business? Watch the video to find out:

So, how do you receive positive feedback? What could you change it receive positive feedback better? What difference do you think it would make to the success of your business?

I’d love to know what you think about being a S.T.A.R., so leave me a comment below, drop me a message on Facebook or tweet me “@Feminine1st”.

Looking forward to sharing tomorrow’s tip with you…

In the meantime, Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

P.S. If you missed yesterday’s video on “Shoes!” you can find it here: http://feminine1st.com/youtube-day-20/

I'm fine

No thanks, I’m fine.

I'm fineHow many times a day / week / month do you say this sentence, or a variation of it?

It’s ok.

I’m fine.

I’ll manage.

It’ll be alright.

We spend our lives telling everyone else that we don’t need any help, assistance, guidance or support.

Often, when someone offers to help, the words of dismissal leave our lips almost before the suggestion has been made in full.

It seems that we are so used to proving to both ourselves and everyone else around us that “we can do it” and “we can cope” that we don’t even stop to consider the offer.

I feel we are so good at giving out and helping others…but not so great on the receiving front.

Well, the downside to that is that even the deepest of wells have a bottom at some point…and if you keep taking out, without putting back in, eventually it will be empty.

Us women are exactly like this. We give out, and out, and out, and out…but we forget that in order to have something left to give, we need to remember to replenish.

Receiving is a vital part of maintaining our feminine core…if we receive, we can continue to give.

Many years ago, I was the personification of the phrase “independent woman”. If something needed to be done, I could do it, I could handle it. There was nothing I couldn’t manage.

I would offer to help everyone else…with pretty much anything…but I didn’t like accepting help.

I didn’t want to put anyone out, or inconvenience anyone. I could do it….regardless of the fact that it might take me twice as long, or three times as much hassle.

When someone reminded me of two things:

If I kept giving out constantly…and never received…sooner or later there would be nothing left to give.

By not receiving myself, I was denying other people the pleasure of being able to give. Helping or doing something nice for someone else can really make your day…who was I to deny someone else that great feeling?

It was a major wakeup call.

I was chatting to a friend last week who was organising an event and having trouble finding a venue. When someone offered to help, her instinct was to say “No, don’t worry about it, I’ll manage”…when instead she found herself saying “actually, that would be great”.

Those 5 words saved her stress, hassle and extra workload which (given everything else that needed to be done) made a HUGE difference to her week.

The venue was sorted, and she didn’t have to worry about a thing…and the person who helped got to feel great about helping out someone they cared about.

It was a win-win situation…which wouldn’t have existed if she had insisted on proving that she could do it herself.

So the next time someone offers you help I’d like to ask you to be a S.T.A.R.

Stop – Stop first before saying anything. Be sure to respond to the offer they are giving you, not react to the fact that someone is trying to help.
Think – Think about what they are offering you. Would it help you? Will they feel good for being able to do it? Could you suggest a compromise which would work for you both?
Acknowledge – Acknowledge what they have said and thank them for their offer.
Receive – Receive the offer graciously.

If we all learned how to be stars…think how sparkly life would be! 😉

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x