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

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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

Learning through Difficulty

If you’re revising and finding it extremely easy, you’re probably not doing it right. It is pushing through the difficult times that help you to learn the most. And it’s the same with all other issues in your life. You have to face your darkest worries to push through them and emerge more clearly on the other side. As written about on BPS Research Digest recently, when you’re finding your work easy, you’re not truly learning anything new. Yes it’s important to repeat information so that you can remember it, but if you do this too many times it can be detrimental. We all know that it feels great when your studying and ‘doing well’, but shouldn’t we focus on the things we can’t already understand and remember?

Yes, yes we should. During the upcoming academic year, remember not to waste your time repeating too much. Remember to fill the gaps in your knowledge. If you don’t understand how to do Integration in your A Level Maths- force yourself to face this task. Find past paper questions on this topic and try to do them. Then when it becomes too difficult, either look up videos such as examsolutions, or ask your teacher to explain it to you again. The next time you do a past paper, you’ll get a higher grade, because you’ve faced your difficulties.

This, as many things, can be applied in ‘real life’. When you bury your head in the sand, hiding away from your darkest issues, they only get worse. For example, worrying about an upcoming job interview. If you don’t face it, and just bury your head in the sand, you’ll get to the night before the interview and try to cram all of your preparation in. You’re unlikely to get the job. If you face your fears the day you get the interview date, you have time to panic a little (let’s face it, we all panic a little bit) and then calm down and prepare for the interview by doing the relevant research etc. You’re a lot more likely to get the job. You’ve put your best foot forward and fulfilled your potential.

Those are just a few examples of why we should face our worries head on and deal with them. If you’re reading this and have something niggling in the back of your mind, this is me telling you to face it. Get help if you need to, speak to a friend about it, but whatever you do- face it.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Giving is Good

Stephen Post (2007) found that committing altruistic acts increased both the physical and mental health of individuals who did so. I’m not sure I believe that purely altruistic acts are a thing. But I do know that giving increases the happiness levels of those you give to, AND of yourself.

We recently had a skip outside our house, and went declutter crazy! This meant that we had a lot of spare stuff to throw away, sell or give. I won’t lie, my first instinct was to try to make money off it. We had so much stuff and I didn’t want to see it all go to waste. We paid money for it in the first place, so I wanted to see if we could make some back. My mum was having none of it. She immediately sorted piles of stuff that could go to many different people- some were family members and close friends, some to the charity shop, and some to a little girl she barely knows but wanted to give to. This really inspired me. Why not give?

Why not take the opportunity to better the lives of those around you? Especially with things that you don’t even want any more. We can give in even more generous ways than this. Giving your time and efforts to those you love (or even strangers) is so fulfilling. Personally, it makes me feel very good. This may sound selfish, but if giving to others is what makes you happy- you’re certainly not selfish. Today I’m going to give my childhood set of books to a family I know that has inquisitive children. I encourage you reading this to do something similar if you can.

Take every opportunity to better the lives of yourself and those around you.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

Post, S. (2007) Altruism and Health, 2nd edn. Oxford.

Helping yourself, helps others

The people around you, closest to you in every day life, affect you. They affect your attitude, your moods, your lifestyle and more. This is why it’s so important to monitor your relationships. I’m not saying that we should all turn our friends away as soon as they get sad. I would never do that. But that we should think actively whether our relationships are reciprocal and healthy in the long term. Psychologist Christian Jarrett recently wrote about how our friends and family can be ‘absorbed into our self-concept’. Our self-concept consists of the ideas that we have about ourselves, including what we think that others think about us. Jarrett (2018) found that we merge characteristics of our closest acquaintances with our own.

A very common example of this is when you hang out with someone for a while and notice yourself speaking phrases that they commonly use, or speaking in an accent more similar to theirs. But this phenomenon also occurs with things like emotional reactions. We begin to mimc the people around us, and can therefore actually be brought down by negative people very easily. If you have a friend who has an extremely negative outlook on life and moans about everything- you will likely find yourself seeing the downsides of many more situations.

The options you have once you notice that someone is a negative influence on you are either to 1) try to help them see the world more positively, or if that doesn’t work then 2) make an effort to distance yourself emotionally from this person. This may sound selfish but if you have really tried to help someone and they haven’t yet changed their outlook, it may be better for both of you to refer that person to get more professional help and then distance yourself just a little bit. If you don’t do this, you may be brought down by your friend and then BOTH bring each other down even further if you’re both feeling low all of the time. You can still be friends with that person and keep trying to help them, but meanwhile remind yourself that you don’t have to feel like they do. That way you are still able to be there for them when they need you because you have stayed positive yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes. The idea is also seen in the strict instruction to secure your own oxygen mask first- even before your children.

Thankfully, this works the other way too. If you have a friend who has a negative outlook and you begin to help them, it can result in a domino effect of bringing each other up. You help your friend to see more of the joys in life which makes him/her more happy; you then get more happy yourself because you are around a happy person. This in turn makes your friend even more happy and it goes on.

As I said, my advice is not to abandon your friends when they go through tough times. It is almost the opposite. To ensure that you can be there for your friends when they need you, remember to keep an eye on your own emotions and actively make sure that you are staying positive yourself. You can do this by actively taking note of the positives of each day, as mentioned in my other blog post on Gratitude. Or in many other ways such as arranging self-care days or fun dates to keep yourself feeling happy. However you choose to do it, know that you are helping those around you by helping yourself.

Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx

You can find Jarret’s article on digest.bps.org.uk

Face your Fears

Two years ago I was terrified of social interaction. Sounds stupid I know, but it’s true. I just wanted to stick to the friends I already had and was comfortable with, instead of facing the terrors of socialising within big groups to make friends.

But I did it. I forced myself into big group situations and made a lot of friends in the process who I now love and cherish.

I honestly believe that life is better when you just force yourself into situations outside of your comfort zone. I have friends from countries around the world now that I would never have made had I not pushed myself through the anxiety. I am about to move into a house and live with 8 other friends. I would never have dreamed of doing that had I not forced myself to face my fears.

Let’s take one of the most common fears- heights. If you let this fear stop you, you will stay on the ground and view the world from down there, getting the same view everyday that is bound to get a little boring. If you push through and climb the mountain, even though you’re scared, you will see the world from an entirely different perspective- a very beautiful one. Don’t let yourself miss out on seeing such beauty because you feel scared. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

I knew a boy who was scared of dogs as a child. To combat this, his parents bought a small and extremely well tempered dog so that the boy was forced to face his fears. After living with that dog and taking an immediate liking to her, he now absolutely adores ALL dogs. In fact, he loves his own dog more than his human family. I don’t know about you but I think doggos are one of the greatest joys in life. Imagine how much happiness that boy would have missed out on if he’d stayed scared!

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx