You Review

Spoiler Alert: I’ll be talking about parts of the whole series so don’t read if you haven’t finished it yet.

I loved this show. It got me hooked and I made my way through it pretty quickly. The characters of Joe and Beck were intriguing and I always wanted to see more. But what I want to discuss in this post is Joe.

He is toxic, of course. He is violent, manipulative, and deceitful throughout the whole show. He has a dark mind and lack of remorse which is frankly psychopathic. And yet, some of us, like Beck, fell for him…but why?

Because people like Joe are very good at making you think that the terrible things that they do are for you. And therefore transform them into good acts of care and kindness. This can have an extremely bad effect on you if you then hold yourself responsible, as so many people in Beck’s case would do. But what I love about the way Netflix made this show is that they didn’t hide from it. They showed her falling for him and his pretence, and then implied at the end that he killed her. This is so amazing because it proves that he is still dangerous, even if he ‘loves’ you. If someone is an inherently bad person, you’re unlikely to be able to change them and it DOESN’T matter if you think they love you.

This show highlights the red flags that should be looked for so that less people can end up in toxic, abusive relationships. It once again doesn’t shy away when portraying the storyline of Claudia and Ron. It sheds light on why she feels she can’t get out of the relationship, and the things that can happen once someone is trapped in such a way. Again this can be used to help people look out for the warning signs; whether that be in your own life or in looking out for and reaching out to a friend.

Personally I really enjoyed this show and I’m grateful that it was made in the way that it is. Let me know your opinions on it too!

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

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#HomlessButStillHuman

Every year around Christmas time, my mum and the rest of our family had out gifts to the homeless people in Liverpool town center. This year I decided to pass that tradition on and mentioned this idea to the mother of the children I work with. She loved the idea so much that she cried, and so we all gathered as much as we could to give to those who need it.

We collected as much as we could think of- scarves, hats, gloves, socks, jumpers, blankets, even spare duvets. My friend and I also baked gingerbread cookies to give out. The generous family that we work with emptied their cupboards to give chocolates, and even baby wipes for them to keep clean. It was so heartwarming to see the young children want to give so much of their own belongings away. We evened out everything we had and made up carrier bags that each had roughly one of each item in. And then we added our final special touch- books. We all went through our own book collections and picked out the ones we can do without. I think occupying the minds of people who have to simply sit and beg all day must be extremely relieving for them, so I really loved giving out the books.

The smiles, thanks, and conversations that came from doing this were priceless. We were able to give them a bag of gifts, cookies and then show them a selection of books so that they were able to have a look through them and choose which one they would prefer to read most. Each and every person was so grateful and kind to us, it really confirmed my feelings that all homeless people aren’t just ‘scum’. Watching the children grow more confident and begin to hand the homeless people things themselves and speak to them was lovely, and I truly think that their family will now also carry on this tradition for years to come.

You cannot know someone’s circumstances. My friend and I stayed out later than the family, and the very last man that we gave gifts to was special. His name is Tony, and he is genuinely one of the most positive people I have ever met. Tony worked for 25 years, had a normal life and contributed to society just like you and I. Until his son, mother, father and sister all died in a very short space of time. Tony struggled to deal with this much loss at once, and turned to drink and drugs to get through it. This is how he ended up homeless, but with so much time to think he has completely turned himself around and has been sober for a year now. He sat and spoke to us for about an hour and his outlook on life truly astounded me. ‘If I go to Church and give 10p, and the guy next to me gives £10, he is no better than me. We have both given everything we have. For that reason if someone puts a penny in this cup I would say thank you, and if you put 100 pounds in this cup I would say thank you. If you cut us open we all bleed the same. We are all just trying our best. There are more good people in this world than bad, and there’s no other choice than to focus on the good.’ Those were just some of the things he said that really touched me and have stayed with me.

He confirmed that even if you have nothing to give, giving your time and speaking to people like Tony is the best gift you can give. He appreciated being spoken to like an actual human; that we weren’t too scared or too disgusted to sit with him. I tried my absolute best to show him that I genuinely care about him and wish that I could do so much more. He appreciated us so much and said ‘I can’t thank you enough girls, Merry Christmas, go and have a great one.’ I will remember the smile on his face forever.

Please, try to remember that not all homeless people are bad, and it’s not all their fault. If you see any homeless people before Christmas, maybe say hello and see where it takes you. Treat them with kindness and respect- they are human too. And if you have anything to give- it is FREEZING out there. I was only outside for about two hours in woolly clothes and a coat and I was shaking and in pain. If you are throwing away any kind of warm clothes (or books) this year please please consider going out and giving it to those who really need it.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Nana Tess

Today, it has been 6 months since we lost this beautiful, funny woman. Without knowing that it had been 6 months, I recently looked through one of my journals and found a quote in it that I had written down, said by Nana Tess. It read ‘everyday I wake up with new pain, but I’m still here kid, I’m still here.’

At first glance I read this and felt sad that she is no longer here. But then I realised, she always will be. At the time when she said this to me, I wrote her quote down because I was in pain myself and needed inspiration to get through one of the lowest points of my life. Her words helped to me get through it, and taught me to fight through the low times to reach the highs. In this way, her ethos will always stay with me, and she will always stay with me.

When we lose people it is deeply saddening and their physical presence is gone. But if they loved you and affected your life, they will always be present in the way you live your own life. I will one day teach my children the same ethos and it will hopefully spread down my generations of our lovely family. That way, Nana will live on forever.

I miss your hugs, Nana. But your words will always stay with me.

Sending love, Kiayah xxx

The Brink, Second Chances

‘The Brink is the best example of how amazing the city of Liverpool is.’ Independent Liverpool.

Image result for the brink liverpool

Today I want to talk about second chances. It’s contextual, but most people deserve them. The Brink is a ‘dry’ café in the heart of Liverpool City Centre (Parr St), which depicts exactly why second chances should be given. It has an enjoyable, friendly atmosphere, delicious and reasonably priced food, and even a piano and board games like chess inside. I particularly enjoy the pancakes and a smoothie! And the most special part of this café is that its a recovery social enterprise. This means that their profits are used to help local people recover from addictions, particularly alcoholism. As well as this, the staff team is made up of ex-offenders- given a second chance.

Having interacted with the staff many times myself, I can honestly say that they are a group of lovely, kind, friendly people. If it weren’t for The Brink, they would struggle to find employment. But some people deserve second chances. Addiction is an illness, which can lead to mistakes. But if you can be truly remorseful, and learn from those mistakes, you deserve a second chance. There is a whole life ahead of these people; a life that can be used for good and lived happily. The employees at Brink are using their lives to help others who are going through similar struggles to them. They would not be able to do this if it weren’t for second chances.

We all make mistakes. Imagine falling out with someone every time they made a mistake. I wouldn’t have any friends left. People are far from perfect, and everyone has a different life story that has lead them to where they end up. Try not to judge people before you know their story. If you live in Liverpool, try out The Brink for somewhere different. As the quote above says, it really represents the good qualities of Liverpool. We may be branded as robbers, but once you get to know us, and our city, you realise that there is a common bond- a love shared between scousers and the people who come to live here, that runs deep. A love that means we want to help each other, look out for each other, have each other’s backs. This is what The Brink is doing.

If there’s anyone in your life who you cut out because of one mistake, think about whether you could forgive them and reform the relationship. Don’t lose hope with people who suffer with addiction, and try not to take it personally when they made need more than one second chance.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Image result for the brink liverpool

Admitting When You Are Wrong

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Admitting when you’re wrong. This is something so many of us struggle with. Firstly, we don’t want to believe we’re wrong; but once we have had this realisation we most definitely don’t want to admit it. Generally, you make a point in a discussion because you genuinely believe in it. If you passionately put this point forward and then begin to realise you are wrong, it can be very embarrassing and difficult to fess up. But here’s why you should.

As someone who hates conflict, the most persuasive reason for me to do this is because it ends the argument. If you show someone that you have learned from what they have said and now understand that you were previously wrong, they are likely to happily stop arguing with you. There is nothing more to argue over. Spending yours and their time arguing when you already know you are wrong will rile both of you up even more. Nobody likes to waste time.

As well as this, it is an extremely attractive trait. It is infuriating to be around someone who thinks that they are ALWAYS right. It often gets to the point where there is no point discussing anything with them because they simply will not listen. The opposite applies when someone has the ability to admit and accept that they may be wrong. It is refreshing and calming to be around. It allows and encourages many discussions on interesting topics to be had, because you know you are both listened to and can learn from each other.

Leading on from that, one of my main mottos in life is that you can learn from everyone. If you have the closed mindsight that only your point of view is correct, you are preventing yourself these learning opportunities. Discussing and widening your horizon is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. Don’t ruin this for yourself.

It can be difficult, and I’m not telling anyone to be a pushover. Stick up for yourself when you strongly believe you are right. But there will inevitably be times when you’re not. Realising this can greatly enrich your life.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

coming clean

Coming clean to yourself and everyone else is purifying, cleansing and calming. But it definitely starts with you.

By coming clean, I mean being honest with yourself. If there’s something you oppress, try to hide from the world, chances are you probably try to hide it from yourself too. Push away the thoughts that creep up about it, quickly filling your mind with something else. This is harmful for many reasons.

If you can’t fully accept whatever it is that’s bothering you, you can’t accept yourself. You will end up with lots of oppressed emotion which builds up and can come out in hurtful ways. You may feel generally depressed, you may take it out on the people closest to you, which will only make you feel worse about yourself. Taking the time to think about this aspect of yourself and force yourself to accept it will benefit your mental health. Once you have accepted it, you can work on loving it.

Take a more trivial example like supporting a football team. If you have been raised to support Everton but actually want to support Liverpool (*cough cough* I’m talking to you mum😉), it will take a lot of energy to pretend you support Everton. Watching the Derby would be painful because you want to cheer when Liverpool score. If you accept that you’d rather support the Reds, you can tell your family and friends. Some people will be annoyed, but if they truly don’t accept you for who you really are then they don’t deserve you.

This obviously happens with much more personal things that are difficult to deal with. But it’s the same principle. Accepting yourself and asking your friends and family to accept you will strengthen the truest bonds in your life, and allow you to live freely. It’s a weight off your shoulders, and allows you to begin to love yourself fully.

In the words of Ru Paul- if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gunna love someone else? If you’re reading this and have something you’re hiding, take this as a personal nudge to try it.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Operation Christmas Child

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. There’s currently a lot of uni work for me to do, and my shifts in work have increased at the same time as the looming deadlines. One morning I felt particularly down about it all, and I was searching for things to make me feel better. In my state of panic and upset, I thought back to times when I have felt most joyful in life. I participated in Operation Christmas Child every year back in the school days, and I loved it. I knew this was a good answer to my quest.

I wanted to do it immediately, so instead of physically filling a box, I chose the online option. This is where you pay £20 to choose options such as ‘skipping rope’ or ‘football’ to add to your box. You can then add a picture and a message for the child or the family of the child to read. Personally, I chose this picture of my sister and I, because we are hugging. In the message I wrote that I was sending this hug to the child and her family. I wished them a Merry Christmas and told them that everybody deserves happiness, and that there is enough love in the world for everyone.

The difference that this can make to a child’s life is immense. Everyone deserves happiness. £20 is not a lot of money to make a child happy this Christmas. As well as gifts that they can play with, you can also send essentials such as gloves, hats, toothbrushes etc. Again, everyone deserves these things. We are all human, all the same, and we should all have a happy Christmas. If you don’t feel that you have £20, or even if you would just prefer to do it yourself, you can of course pack your own Shoebox. Including things like soft toys, toiletries, accessories, educational items. I do think there’s something nice about including items that you have personally chosen and packed.

Another way to contribute is through organisations that you are involved with. At my university, you can donate a single item or as many as you want, and then a team of volunteers packs, wraps and sends the shoeboxes. This is a typical representation of what happens in most organisations, such as schools, offices etc.

Giving what seems like a little to you, is a lot to someone else. I’m not saying that we should only give at Christmas, I’ve actually already written about giving all of the time during this post in summer (Giving Is Good). But Christmas can be a time of love and compassion, so why not use some of that. The thought of that little girl opening her gifts greatly lifted my spirits when I was feeling low.

Sending hugs, (literally this time), Kiayah xxx

You’re in Control

Do you ever feel as though you talk yourself into a bad mood? Overthinking, spiralling negativity, and all of your insecurities come to the surface and the end result is bad? I know I’ve done this, and I usually realise and then beat myself up for it- which is the worst way of dealing with it, woops. Today I want to share the idea that you CAN reverse this; you CAN talk yourself into a good mood.

During my Social Psychology lecture this week, we were discussing the fact that many of our ’emotions’ are actually just the release of the same chemicals in your body. It is only the labels that we give to them that determines how we then think, speak and consequently feel about them. This sparked a lot of interest about how we can have more control over our feelings and emotions (Valins and Nisbett, 1972). For example, when I drink coffee, it can sometimes make me feel anxious, shaky and jittery. If I think to myself ‘I have had a coffee and now it’s making me feel anxious’ I am likely to enter the vicious circle of being anxious about feeling anxious. Not good. Whereas, if I think to myself ‘I have had a coffee, now it’s making me shaky, but it will wear off soon once the caffeine effect stops.’ I have not mentioned the word anxious and therefore am much less likely to feel more and more anxiety. I will very likely calm down pretty quickly and be able to enjoy the rest of my day anxiety free.

This does not have all of the scientific proof you may need to completely invest yourself in it, but giving it a try won’t harm you. It is becoming more and more clear that the language we use with ourselves and others affects our thoughts, which in turn affects the way we feel. So the next time you start to feel angry, sad, irritated, etc. Have a think about exactly what is causing you to feel that way and re-label your mood. Tell yourself that the chemicals will stop firing soon and you can feel differently if you choose to. This technique tends to work best with in the moment emotions, not long lasting ones. But, the more frequently you improve your emotions in the moment, the better your overall mood will be.

Personally, I think the best part about this idea is that it actually causes a positive spiral. The more in control you feel, the more in control you will get. You are then more likely to practice the technique often, because you know that it works, which will make you happier overall. It additionally gives a great sense of self-satisfaction, just to add an extra sprinkle of positivity.

I hope you give this a try! Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Reference:

Nisbett, R. and Wilson, T. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, [online] 84(3), pp.231-259. Available at: http://people.virginia.edu/~tdw/nisbett&wilson.pdf [Accessed 19 Oct. 2018].

We all want the same thing

This week I have been inspired by my Community Psychology lecture on The English Riots in 2011. Many of you will remember when the streets of London and Manchester went up in flames and the Prime Minister lost his head. The aftermath of these events brought racism and classism to a front. David Starkey, for example, blamed the entire ‘black culture’ as the sole reason for the riots. This made me think about how prevalent these issues still are.

But why? We are all different. I understand that everybody has different preferences and therefore may have a natural dislike towards parts of some cultures etc. But that doesn’t mean we have to actively discriminate and hate others. When it comes down to it, we all have things in common. We all want to love and be loved. It may not seem like the closed off, macho man wants an abstract concept like love, or the that the ‘chavs’ and the ‘tories’ both want the same kind of love. But we all do.

It’s human nature. All of our hearts yearn to be loved, whether that be romantically, by friends or your family. So the next time you think badly of someone just because they’re dressed differently to you or have different coloured skin, remember that deep down they’re similar to you. Try to look past the things you don’t like and spread kindness. You don’t need to like the same music as someone to be kind to them. If we make kindness our default the world will be a happier place and we’ll all get the love we deserve just a little bit more.

Please try to remember this.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Let Go

In the words of James Bay (and Elsa), Let it Go.

I am back in university now, studying my second year of Psychology. This week I was particularly inspired when studying Embodiment. Philosopher Husserl, (1906) wrote about the way we experience life within our bodies. During the lecture we discussed the life of a monk, who lives very much embodying the moment of now, compared to that of a prisoner, likely to be living with the regrets of the past and the longing for the future hanging over them all of the time.

Which would you rather be? A monk, living peacefully and with freedom of mind and body. Or imprisoned by your own thoughts, by what has happened in the past? I would much rather focus on living in the now and enjoying each moment. I know that this is easier said than done, but I have taught myself to do it more and more, and you can too.

What happened in your past, be it good or bad, does affect who you are and how you live your life. But we can dispel that. You can acknowledge that bad experience you had as a child and still appreciate that it is in the past. Visualise it if you have to. Picture the bad experience on a piece of paper and tear it up, then watch it be blown away in the wind. Away from you, away from your body. Feel the freedom surge through your body as you are freed of your past. You deserve to appreciate each moment.

Next time you’re having a particularly good moment, take active steps to appreciate it. Think about how lucky you are to be seeing such an amazing view, for example. Take in the different parts of it you like the most- e.g. the colours mixing together in the water, the smell of the sea. By taking time to recognise what’s actually making you feel good about that moment, you become the embodiment of joy. You feel the good more.

And this can be done in the less spectacular moments too. For example, I had a double shift in work recently, of which I walked home quite tired and sluggish. But as I neared my house I looked up and saw that the sky was a beautiful picture of blues, pinks, purples and whites. I felt thankful for that beauty which made me feel happy, and perked me up after a long day. You can find little moments of joy like this every single day… why not do it?

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx