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How to Stay Confident When the Odds Are Shit-Your-Pants Scary

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Fright!
There are many things in life that are shit-your-pants scary,

Quitting your job because you want to do something that actually amounts to something.

Committing to a new relationship even though you might just get your heart broken again.

Or admitting to yourself something you’ve dodged for years because it’s always been easier to avoid it rather than face it.

These things, and many more, are simple not to do. But tickle me unconscious and call me Susan if life doesn’t really come into focus when you’re willing to risk it all and take that step anyway, just because it’s who you are.

So, here’s how to stay confident even when the odds are shit-your-pants scary.

Smash a hole

Moving from existing patterns of thought straight to behaviour is how you keep doing what you’ve always done.

To do something new, or to consciously make the choice to do something shit-your-pants scary, you have to smash a hole between where you are and your next thought.

That hole can be as big as you damn well want, but all you need is a sliver of light to see by. Just something big enough to create a pocket of air between you and your default behaviour.

And in that space, you get to pause for a moment,
and maybe make a different kind of choice

Creating this space is a deliberate act.

Try it, now.

Sit back. Take a breath. Realize that you’re here, right now. Alive. Whole. Human. Your next move might be to stand up. Maybe you’ll go and do the dishes. Maybe you have a meeting to run to. Or maybe you’re about to hit the sack. Just be aware of that space between where you are in this very moment and your next choice. That’s a space where you can make any decision you damn well want to.

That’s where your power is.

Forget the climb and fuck the fall

Shit’s scary because of what might happen.

You might look dumb in front of everyone. Your parachute might not open. You might end up losing your shirt.

You make it all about what might happen, either the shit that could go wrong or how just how fucking hard it will be.

These thoughts create a tension between you and your future, stretching between your current circumstances and your thoughts about what might happen, and it’s a tension that urges you toward safety.

But when you deliberately choose to disregard a specific outcome and choose instead to engage in a process, something interesting happens.

That tension and the urge toward safety lose their power, because rather than obsessing over details of a wildly unpredictable and scary-assed future you simply trust yourself to complete one more step.

Then one more.

And then another one.

The process is what takes you places

Trust the process, not the outcome.

Find a thunder buddy

In the movie Ted, as Mark Wahlberg and Ted grew up together they were shit-scared of thunder storms. So they became “thunder buddies”; best pals who found a way to support each other when the sky was cracking open.

They since went on to refuse to grow up and do a whole heap of drugs, but let’s not dwell on that part so that I can make my point.

You don’t have to do this life thing alone, especially when you’re about to do something that’s shit-your-pants scary

Find yourself a thunder-buddy, someone who you can confess your fear to and someone who might share it. Maybe even someone who’ll join you as you take that first step. Maybe someone who you can support as they take their first step.

No man’s an island, unless of course you dig and flood a series of trenches, put up walls and fences and stay locked away in your “special place”. But that’s no fun. And it sure as hell won’t achieve or anything or give you any stories to tell.

Thunder buddies forever.

What I Want

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The back of a daisy
There’s a lot that I want. A new TV. A beautiful 1940’s chair. All the sex. Someone to fix my left shoulder.

But none of that really matters a whole lot.

None of that is who I am. And none of it represents what matters to me.

The things you say you want should focus you. What you do. How you think. Your next step.

If they don’t focus you, or if you focus you on things you don’t want, now’s a good time to ask yourself what you really want.

I’ve spent a little time thinking about that myself. Here’s a little of what I came up with.

I want to build something beautiful.

I want to laugh with life, not in spite of it.

I want to marvel at the underdog who tries for something that means the world.

I want to grow as a writer.

I want to look into someone’s eyes and get excited about the world I see in them

I want to just hold someone who’s in pain and not try to fix it.

I want someone to hold me in my pain.

I want to hear the discouraged.

I want to cheer the hopeful.

I want to make someone laugh when they think they’ve forgotten how.

I want to lay in a field and kiss someone.

I want to never not care.

I want to matter.

I want to help others see that they matter.

What is it you want?

Tell me in the comments.

The Undefeatable Underdog

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Swear To God
I get goose-pimples when I see someone look up with wide eyes and try for something better.

The hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I look at the odds, and see someone square up to them in all their shoe-shaking wonder.

And I get a little emotional when I see an underdog pushing for something that means the world.

I love it because it shouldn’t work. There are better players in the game and the game itself is crazy hard. But the underdog’s daring ability to dream something bigger than themselves and their decision to step into the ring regardless of the odds, is the stuff of legend.

Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t work.

But even though they feel hurt by what’s happened, the underdog will smile sweetly, muster themselves and take a hesitant next step.

It’s fucking beautiful

I’m constantly drawn to those who try and miss, rather than those who bounce from win to win to win. The beta folk, rather than the alpha. The graceful, rather than the forceful. The striver, rather than the hustler.

For me, the underdog is always the true hero.

If you can relate, I’ll want to hear your story.

Because I think you’re pretty damn awesome.

50 Best Confidence Building Tips of All-Time

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50
No lengthy pre-amble needed on this one.

Just know that these are 50 of the best damn confidence building tips in existence. Plus they’re in bite-sized morsels for easy digestion.

So now you have no excuse. Bookmark this one, and let me know which tips jump out at you.

  1. Reassure that voice inside you, the one that tells you to stay exactly where you are because you can’t have, won’t get or aren’t good enough to get what you want. That’s the scared, small part of you, but you don’t have to do what it tells you (i.e. nothing). Instead, respond by saying “Thanks for looking out for me, but you know what, I’m pretty good at this life thing and I’m going to be just fine.”
  2. Take a breath. You’ve come so far. You’ve done a heap. Gone through a lot. You’ve got so much more to do. So many more ways to grow. Feel that you’re here, right now, in the perfect spot to make your next choice. You don’t need anything else. Just this. Just right now. You got this.
  3. Confidence vanishes when you’re running on empty, and your responsibility is to keep yourself topped up and humming along by prioritising the nourishment of your head, heart and body. That’s just taking care of the basics, and doing one thing every day that truly nourishes you (yes, even when things are crazy busy) isn’t just a case of keeping yourself together, but is the practice of love and self-worth that fuels confidence.
  4. Try this simple exercise every day for the next 7 days and see what happens. Notice when you have an expectation about somebody else, whether it’s something you’re expecting them to do, something you expect them to think or even something you expect them to expect of you. Just gently notice it, and see that your expectation is just a thought in your head. Leave it be. Don’t let it determine what you think or do next. Then, with that expectation off to one side, over in the wings so to speak, what can you do now to help, enhance or delight the person you just had the expectation about or the situation you’re?
  5. Falling into roles based on who you’re with is just a learned behaviour that allows you to fly under the radar and fit in. Daughter, brother, employee, joker, lover, victim, manager, successful, underdog and a gazillion more. It’s freeing to strip away the different labels and roles–particularly the ones that don’t work for you–and just be you instead.
  6. Obsessing about making the “right” choice will have you second-guessing every move to try to figure out what that right choice might be. Sometimes, all you gotta do is make “a” choice and know that you can deal with whatever happens.
  7. The next time you start bitching, moaning and whining to someone – or even just in your head – take a breath and notice what’s about to happen. It’s tempting to dive right into a bitchfest, but interrupt yourself for a moment, and instead, look for a way to praise, empathise with or appreciate the situation. What’s a way you can find a thread of value in things, just as they are? What’s a way you can find a way to express thanks, however things are? Have that thread of value take centre stage. Have that be your experience.
  8. Don’t judge the shitty times for being shitty, and don’t think that they make you less than you are. Life always has its ups and downs, and confidence is sometimes simply a matter of being with what’s happening simply, honestly and bravely, and choosing to move with it. And that’s the interesting thing; simply embracing the the times when life sucks can be a comfort and a source of confidence.
  9. Use the things that are woven through you – the golden threads and things that matter most to you – to help you make confident, meaningful decisions that you can trust and get behind fully. With a firm foundation like that it doesn’t matter how things turn out, it just matters that you trust the decision you made.
  10. Change your physiology. Stand up. Breathe deep. Be tall. Standing tall and strong has been shown to make you feel more assertive, which can give you a confidence boost in the short term. Word of caution though, don’t mistake this temporary boost of confidence as anything other than a quick fix.
  11. Stop blaming the world for where you are or for what’s gone wrong in your life. That just strips you of any responsibility or power. Own it. Warts an’ all. Good or ill. You are where you are and the confident thing to do is to accept it, change it, learn from it or lean into it.
  12. Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance. They’re a whole world apart, and still people get them mixed up. Arrogance is noisy and needs other feeds from other people. Confidence is quiet and needs nothing other than trust.
  13. Stop beating yourself up for not being beautiful enough. In the well-known Dove video,  women were sketched by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora, one based on her own description and the other using a stranger’s observations. The results? See for yourself, and the next time you feel insecure in your appearance recognise that your perception is skewed and over-critical. You’re more beautiful than you think.
  14. Don’t ever think that having doubts means you’re not confident. Doubts are natural, because you can’t know what’s going to happen ahead of time and your brain just fills in those blanks with stories. Sometimes doubts can help you prepare by thinking through different scenarios. Other times your doubts are simply something you need to acknowledge and move with as you step forwards.
  15. Acknowledge your power to say Yes and No. You get to have a say in what you do and what you don’t do, and you have the right to express that. Not everyone has to like it, but you have to embrace it. Oh, this also includes being confident enough to change your mind rather than sticking stubbornly to your guns.
  16. You’re not alone. It doesn’t matter how far away the concept of “confidence” feels to you, how low you are or how powerless you feel, I guarantee that you’re not the first or last to feel that way. Life is a series of experiences, and wherever you happen to find yourself you can be confident that you’re connected more than you think you are. Trust your connections, whether to a family member, a friend, a pet or even with the knowledge that someone else out there is feeling what you’re feeling.
  17. Confidence doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Just like a muscle you have to apply it in the moments where it’s needed—that point where you can go one way or the other—or it will wither away like a puddle in the noonday sun. Use it, exercise it, stretch it; that’s how you keep a healthy, natural confidence.
  18. Stop making goals that leave you wanting. Setting the wrong goals will leave your confidence in tatters, making you feel like you’re not good enough or like you’re lacking something that everyone else has. For goals to work, make them from the inside-out, based on what matters to you and the kind of experience you want to have, rather than what you think you ought to do or want.
  19. The people who make you feel free are the people you need to spend time with. Surround yourself with people who poop on your party or tell you that you’re not good enough is never going to help your sense of confidence, so look for the people where you catch yourself saying “I like myself when I’m with you”.
  20. Instead of fretting, worrying and panicking about an upcoming event (a big presentation, a social event or a difficult conversation), realise that the real reason you’re worrying is because you care about what happens. You give a shit, and that’s a good thing. Caring doesn’t make you more likely to fail, so simply look for a different way to care that puts you at your best rather than your worst.
  21. Run experiments instead of committing forever. It’s easy to back away from making a decision when you invest your whole future in it. Instead, change one or two things and run an experiment to see what happens, Then, make a choice that’s appropriate to what you’ve learned.Knocking
  22. Imagine that a future version of you, a version who embodies a simple, graceful, natural and flowing confidence, is knocking on your front door. They have nothing to prove, they don’t have to fake anything and there’s a sense that they know they’re whole and enough, just as they are, without any smugness or self-satisfaction. In short, they have their shit together. This future version of you has come over because they have something important to say to you, something they’ve come all this way to tell you. What is it they want you to know?
  23. Don’t conflate getting something wrong or failing with being wrong or a being a failure. Things go wrong, and they’ll continue to go wrong. Don’t make it about your value or worth.
  24. When times are hard it’s easy to feel isolated or like you’re the victim. It’s the kind of thinking that’s nasty like an angry bear holding a shark and will tear your confidence to shreds, so always look for how you can give yourself support. What would make you feel supported? What would support look like now? Support is a mechanism you can employ to give your confidence roots.
  25. Give yourself some credit. Giving yourself credit doesn’t involve inflated ego’s or standing in the street yelling about what you’ve done to get recognition for it. It’s the honest acknowledgement of your own capability, and the quiet sense that you really do get to put your dent in the universe rather than leaving it to blind luck. It’s confidence.
  26. Some people wait patiently in line all their lives, but please know that you don’t have to hide yourself from the world. You’re not broken or fatally flawed. You’re not unworthy of love or belonging. You don’t have to hold back your gifts from those who need them. Letting people see you as you really are is nothing more than softening into the world as you already are. It takes courage at first, but what’s in your head and heart is nothing to be ashamed about.
  27. Move. Exercise. Use your body. These days we spend so long in our heads that we forget how our body feels or what it needs, and that starts to separate you from your experience. Exercising gets you right back into your body and releases serotonin and endorphins that give you that amazing physiological buzz.
  28. Accepting a compliment doesn’t make you a narcissistic asshole. You might want to brush it off because you feel like you don’t deserve it, but what if—what if—that compliment was offered because it’s true? A compliment that’s genuinely offered is an act of kindness, so entertain the fact that others might see you in ways that you don’t see yourself and learn to accept compliments.
  29. Let go of the need to fit in—that need to present yourself in a way that fits in with what others might expect. You can’t keep a puppy in a small box under your bed and expect the little guy to flourish, but the drive to fit in is similar in how suffocating it becomes. Fitting in isn’t a measure of success or popularity. Just like that puppy, the confidence to be yourself is really just a matter of playing as you already are.
  30. You might look at others and wonder how they got to be more successful than you, and the wiring to compare yourself with others goes pretty deep in your brain. So start noticing when you’re making these comparisons, and realise that everyone else is doing the same. Comparing how you feel on the inside to how you perceive other people to be is nothing more than fiction.Every picture tells a story (don't it)
  31. Every day you weave a story about your life, a story that puts you at the centre of all the stuff that’s happening. Sometimes, this story casts you as being small, weak or powerless; plot points that ignore everything you’ve got to offer and strips your confidence to the bone. Be aware of how the narrative in your head affects your experience, and let go of any story that disables rather than enables.
  32. There’s comfort in having answers, and it’s easy to become driven by finding the answers before you move forward. This is simply a way to avoid the discomfort you feel around uncertainty, so watch for the times when you’re plan-making rather than taking action and realise that you don’t need to have all the answers.
  33. Get stuck in dead-end conversations or find your confidence vanish when conversations dry up? Get some conversation starters and continuers here.
  34. Trust the process. Whether you’re starting a new job, facing a big challenge, making a new start or tackling a new project, trust yourself to take one step. That’s all. Then, when you’ve taken that step, trust yourself to take the next. You don’t need to know how to do something to completion or what’s going to happen. Trust that you can go from 0% to 100% one step at a time.
  35. Confidence isn’t always about strength. Sometimes it’s about holding on, standing up and sticking to your guns, sure, but other times real confidence requires a source other than strength. Confidence based on love is softening into acceptance, letting go of the need to be certain and knowing you belong in the world just as you are. This kind of confidence is a whole other world.
  36. Fuck perfect. Up there with using your own feet to flavour a home-made soup or watching 24-hour rolling news, chasing perfection is a spectacular way to ruin your life. Perfection is about doing everything you can to fit in and appease everyone else. It makes you feel like you’ll never be good enough. It’s the oppressor who never lets you be yourself. You’re already good enough; you don’t need perfect in your life.
  37. Let go of the need to be right; that will just get in the way of your natural confidence. Right is for chumps.
  38. Stop beating yourself up for being flawed. Everyone’s flawed, no matter how hard people try to not appear to be. Welcome your flaws and imperfections warmly and sincerely, because the alternative is judgement, conflict and feeling very much like shit. Invite your flaws into your home and be the best damn host you can be. These are your friends. These are your family. These are you.
  39. Confidence means giving a shit about the things that matter to you. So even when you find yourself somewhere unexpected or unwanted you don’t conflate where you are with your self-worth and you still get to honour what matters. Confidence means giving a shit about your heart and soul, regardless of your circumstances.
  40. Extroversion and confidence are a powerful combination, but don’t think for a second that introversion and confidence are mutually exclusive or any less powerful. Confidence doesn’t mind if you’re an introvert or extrovert, it simply makes it okay to lean into the things that make you feel whole.thumbs up
  41. If there’s something out there you really want to do, but haven’t allowed yourself to start; if there’s a way you want to feel about something or about yourself, but don’t feel like it’s within your grasp, or, if there’s something you want to believe about yourself but don’t think you’re good enough, take a look at what it would mean if this this thing—this action, outcome, endeavour, feeling or belief—came to pass. Paint a picture of what would be different if this thing became real, then grab a pen and a piece of paper and complete this sentence:

    I give myself permission to…, so that I can…

  42. Don’t let your weaknesses make you think that you’re less than – everyone has weaknesses. I can’t catch a ball; I have a chronic illness; I still find it hard to open up. Your weaknesses don’t take away from who you are, they simply give you the opportunity to apply your strengths.
  43. Confidence comes, in part, from getting involved in your life. So today, set an intention that honours, expresses or demonstrates that by picking one of the sentences below and completing it in a way that brings out your very best.

    Today, I intend to…
    Today, I’m honouring…
    Today, I show up as…

  44. Something nagging at you or draining you? Letting those thing slide makes you more and more powerless and strips away more and more of your confidence. But exerting a little effort to reduce, eliminate or manage your “tolerations” is how you get to create an environment that adds to your sense of self rather than taking away from it. A leaky tap. A cheap and uncomfortable office chair. A partner who puts you down. A cupboard full of cakes and salty snacks. A friend who sabotages. Untouched paperwork. Nagging back pain. A noisy neighbour. An unsupportive boss. No creative outlet. Do something about your tolerations.
  45. Get to know what it’s like to be at your best – when you’re buzzing, flowing, joyful and alive – and know that those things are right there in your bones. Roll around in that feeling, and when faced with a challenge take your next step from that place.
  46. We all have the fear of getting laughed out of the room for something we’ve said or done, but what if today was zero risk day? So for today, what would you do differently if there was zero risk of being laughed out of the room? Don’t just think about it, do it (even though it’ll be sorely tempting not to).
  47. What do you do in your life where you don’t even think about whether you’re capable enough, good enough or confidence enough to do it? What’s one thing you do where you just trust yourself to start and follow through (cooking a great dinner, laughing with your partner, writing a report, leading a team, going for a run, whatever). What do you think that means for you? What is there to learn about those moments that you could apply to moments where you don’t feel as confident?
  48. Let go of the need to have people validate how you express yourself and the expectation that you’ll receive recognition or status from the value you create. Let go of your need to prove yourself to anyone. Let go of your craving for approval. Let go of your intent to be seen as successful. This letting go is a skill that can be learned just as you practice any other, and the freedom that comes from letting go is totally delicious.
  49. Following the tired advice to “fake it ’til you make it” is what leads people into hubris and arrogance, acting in a way that they think is what confident people might do without requiring any real thought. Real, natural confidence is choosing to trust your behaviour because you’re already good enough, not pretending to be a certain way because you don’t feel good enough. Don’t fake confidence. You already have it.
  50. Casting fear as the enemy or as something to be avoided is a super-smart way to kill your confidence. Don’t turn fear into another problem. Make it just a thing that happens when there’s risk, change or opportunity in the air, and see it as an opportunity to step up, try something new, give it your best shot and maybe have a heap of fun. Fear isn’t the Big Bad. Avoiding fear most definitely is.

So, what do you think?

Shall we build some natural confidence now or what?

Get Kinky: 7 Ways To Confidently Embrace Your Kinks

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Get Kinky: 7 Ways To Confidently Embrace Your Kinks
Fifty Shades may be (IMHO) trash worthy of the North Atlantic garbage patch, but you can’t ignore its runaway success. Let’s face it, people are interested, fascinated even, by the kinky or fetishistic.

But if you don’t know one end of a ball gag from the other, how do you explore your kinks and how do you get to feel comfortable with your fetishes in a world that still judges kinky sex as “perverted”?

Here are some thoughts on how to confidently get your kink on.

1. The trust imperative

Imagine your partner’s told you something that’s secretly turned them on, only for you to laugh in their face and make them feel like something you’d scrape off the bottom of your shoe. Then imagine you’re on the receiving end of the laughter and disparaging. Doesn’t inspire you to open up, right?

No doubt about it, whether you’re into rubber, food-play or spanking, trust is imperative.

Kinky relationships often have more intimacy and trust woven through them than regular, “vanilla” ones, simply due to the level of vulnerability needed, an openness that can be easily masked or side-stepped otherwise. It takes guts to open up to your partner and gently ask if you can try something new, and it takes vulnerability to expose that part of you that you might have been suppressing or oppressing (or another of those ess words).

It’s likely that you’ll never ask—let alone do it—unless that trust and respect is there first.

2. No still means no

I’ve done some things that would make a drunken dock-worker or German Dominatrix blush, but I’d never even think about proceeding with any of it unless I knew I was safe and could stop things at any time.

When it comes to kinky sex, no still means no.

All the talk of BDSM being nothing more than domestic abuse is misguided, but entirely understandable. There are bad apples just like in any walk of life, but in healthy, kinky relationships consent is sought and explicit.

However you do it, whether it’s whispering “Okay, that’s enough”, using a safe-word or waving a brightly colored piece of foam, you have the right to say when enough is enough, and once that’s agreed it’s iron-clad.

You (and whoever else you’re with) need to have absolute confidence in the fact that you have a say in what happens, how far things go and what happens to your own body. Otherwise it’s just abuse.

3. You’re allowed to be different

Despite real progress around gender and identity—the recent news about same-sex marriage in the US and numerous examples of sexual identity being cheered rather than jeered (Michael Sam, Tim Cook, Ellen Page, Lady Gaga, Jim Parsons, etc.)—there’s still huge stigma and judgement around kink.

There is a pressure to conform, which is often at odds with the urge to explore something different, push at some edges and go to some new places, but you have the right to explore your sexuality just as you’d explore your career, your passions or your goals. These are all just different parts of who you are that already make you different from other people, just as they’re different from you (which is where that respect thing comes in again, right?).

There’s a level of self-awareness and self-acceptance with kink, simply because you don’t need permission or approval to be different. You can explore with a sense that you’re already okay rather than needing to make up for something you’re lacking.

4. Uphold your values

It’s in peoples nature to project, gossip and complain about things they might not understand or might disagree with, and because not everyone is into kink, fetish or BDSM there will naturally be misconceptions around it, just like people question climate change, religion or juice cleansing.

That works both ways, and your job isn’t to convince vanilla people that your way is better, it’s not to push kink in everyone’s face, it’s not to out other kinksters and nor is it to judge. Those things are done out of arrogance or insecurity, not confidence.

Fact is, confidently embracing your sexuality can only be done when there’s congruence with your values. Just as you’d confidently embrace any form of self-expression or identity, whenever there’s an incongruence or dissonance (lying to someone about what you like, judging someone for their preferences or respecting someone’s right to privacy) not only does it feel horrible, but you start chipping away at your self.

Personal values are an imperative, no matter what your sexual identity or interests.

5. You’re only “Bad” if…

You might look at someone who likes getting tied up and label them a “freak”, whereas if you like to get messy with food or role-play as doctor and patient and conduct all manner of inspections you’ll see it as just a bit of naughty fun.

Different strokes for different folks, right?

So what about those secret desires you have? Those unspoken, entirely inappropriate thoughts that get your strides a little steamier? These things are only “wrong” or “bad” for one of 2 reasons:

a: If you think they are. More damaging than casual judgements about others are the judgements you make about yourself based on your kinks and fetishes. You’re no more a bad person for wanting to spank your partner or play doctor and patient than a chocophile is for indulging in a gooey brownie. Trying something a little bit kinky or indulging a fetish doesn’t commit you to a “deviant lifestyle” any more than singing in the shower turns you into Michael Bublé.

Societal norms, dogma and your concerns about what your mother might think can easily make you feel like there’s something wrong with you, so watch for your own judgements and be honest with yourself above all else.

b: If you’re crossing the line. It should go without saying, but I’m going to spell it out anyway. If your “kinks” involve children or animals or non-consent, please, stop reading this right now and get some fucking help. Sexual identity is never an excuse for abuse.

6. If you’re single, connect

When you’re surrounded by devout, strictly missionary-only Catholics, so much as glancing at someone’s knee-pit out of wedlock is probably enough to get you ex-communicated.

Point is, it’s tough to embrace or explore your kinks unless you know someone who’s willing to explore with you. But opening up to another person about what turns you on? Scarier than a scary clown with a bag full of spiders.

You don’t have to feel alone in your desires, and it’s a safe bet that there are people near you, probably in your town or city, that share the same kinks and fetishes. Sites like FetLife are ballooning just on word of mouth, providing a safe way to explore a whole world of kink and find out what turns you on.

Connecting with others who get you rather than judge you can be incredibly liberating.

7. If you’re partnered, talk

Dressing up as a squirrel at breakfast and declaring that you’re a “furry” probably isn’t a great way to open up a discussion about your kinks, but fortunately for you, now that the whole Fifty Shades thing is out there, there’s a simple, go-to conversation starter.

So, what did you think about the part when x took the [object] and did [action] to y?

This comes down to opening up about what you want and what you like, and allowing your partner to do the same. Ask your partner about their fantasies, whether there’s anything they’d love to try or something that turns them on that might be fun. Gently test the water by saying how much you love it when they bite your ear / take charge / use the squirty cream / dress up as a duck and how it would be great if you could take that further. Dip your toe into the water, try things out, laugh together as you go and explore with a healthy sense of curiosity and playfulness.

And then, when you guys have established a level of trust, intimacy and vulnerability that comes from being open enough to explore kink and fetish, reading your partners body becomes another way of communicating and sensing what’s working and what isn’t.

Now that’s sexy as hell.

What to Do If You’re Scared of Change

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If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances
Every time I get a new freelancing contract in a new place, I get a little scared. What am I walking into? What if I hate it? What if it all goes tits up?

Every time I go on a date, I get a little scared. What if we don’t get on? What if they hate me? What if they find out I’m a dufus?

And every time life forces a change on me, like a health-blip or a financial shift, I get a little scared. What if I can’t do it? What happens if this is the one that breaks me? What if I’m not good enough?

Yeah, I’m one of those pesky human being things that’s busy making a pigs-ear of the planet. And as a human being I get scared. It’s part of the deal, because change is simply what happens when you live here.

You can no more avoid change than you can avoid death (perhaps the ultimate change), so that really just leaves you with one question to think about.

How can I be okay with the fear that comes with change?

Here, my friends, is what I’ve learned.

Look at how helpful that voice is being

That voice in your head that lets you know how scared you are is often about as much use a tit on a fish.

It tells you exactly why you need to be scared (because this shit could get real and you might not be up to it) and what you need to do (run like the wind or close your eyes and pretend it’s not there), but really, how useful is that to you?

If you can use that constructively or in a way that enables something else, perfect. But if you’re anything like me (and if you are, I hope you didn’t get my funny twiglet legs) that voice is often at odds with what I really want.

So ‘fess up when you hear that voice and see if it’s really useful for you to heed it.

Accept it as the way things are

Do you ever wonder when you’ll be able to just sit back a little and enjoy everything you’ve worked for?

Ever wonder why, just when you think it’s all coming together, something changes and pulls the rug out?

Or have you ever thought, Okay, things are pretty good. Now I just have to keep it all going.

This is probably where my clients get stuck most of the time. Thinking they can, you know, control everything that happens in their life and avoid change that’s “unwanted”.

Change is unavoidable. But it doesn’t stop you from painting a picture of how things should be and then getting upset when change comes along with a tub of potatoes and a load of paint and proceeds to put big red and blue splodges all over your beautiful picture. Silly change. Bad change. Go to your room.

But what if change wasn’t wanted or unwanted? What if it was simple something that happened and allowed you to make a choice?

Hell, doesn’t that sound better?

Think about what kind of person you wanna be

There’s a moment in every great story where the protagonist has to make a choice about what kind of person they want to be.

Cyrano de Bergerac. Alice. Frodo Baggins. Lizzie Bennett. Scarlett O’Hara. Peter Parker. Katniss Everdeen.

They all could have turned on their heals, stayed home and binged on Netflix if they wanted to. But they didn’t. They gave a shit.

They paused, just for a moment. They saw where they were and what was at stake. And then they made a choice that honours their best instead of their worst.

Of course, you’re not in a magical land, blessed with super-powers or striving to save your people like our favourite protagonists, so here’s the take-away for you.

Find the quiet spot underneath fear, and in that place, decide to give a shit.

5 Ways to Beat Self-Doubt

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should i?
Every project I take on, I wonder if this is the one that I crawl away from with egg on my face. Every article I write, I wonder “What if I have nothing to say?“. Every date I go on, I wonder whether this will be the one where they laugh me out of the room.

It’s not just me either. Whether you’re a circus performer, a Wall Street banker, a sushi chef, a submarine captain or a librarian, self-doubt will be a regular visitor.

There are people who doubt they can experience love because they don’t know how. People who doubt they can make the jump to being self-employed because they aren’t really a grown-up. And people who doubt they have what it takes to really “make it”, because they’re just way too fucked up.

Self-doubt is that horrible, gut-plummeting question of
whether you’re good enough

It’s a yawning, gaping lack of confidence in yourself and your ability that makes you feel small and alone like a scared penguin in a haunted tunnel.

So to hell with that. Let’s do something about it, shall we?

1. Check the evidence

You’ve had doubts before, right? Whether those doubts were about studying, relationships, new jobs or anything else, you’ve been there before.

And yet you’re here, now. You’ve come a long way. The evidence supports that you’ve survived this life thing so far, even with all those times you’ve doubted yourself. And as the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, it’s odds on that you’ll continue to survive, no matter how big the self-doubt.

The self-doubt wants you to feel small and it might even want you to panic a little. But as the facts support, you’re bigger than it will ever be.

2. What if it was there to help you?

Doubt can be bloody confusing. It spins around and makes you wonder which way’s up, where North is and whether you can trust the ground you’re standing on.

But sometimes, it’s there to help prepare you.

You don’t have to pander to it or do what it tells you, but what if the voice of doubt was there to help you?

What if it was there to highlight a way for you to get ready? What if it was there to help you prepare? Or what if it was there to make sure you get out of your own way?

Doubt can be more of a downer than a greasy weasel down a luge run, but taking something positive, helpful and enabling from it can be a surprising and wonderful twist.

3. Put on your lab coat

Doubt rears it’s head when there’s change, risk and possibility in the air, because it hates that stuff. So an effective strategy is one that reduces the threat level down to something that’s eminently manageable or doable.

TV’s Sheldon Copper would approach a challenge by breaking it down and running an experiment to see what happens. Then he’d learn from that experiment and conduct another one. Then he’d probably freak out that he was wearing his Tuesday socks on a Wednesday and secure himself in his room because the world no longer makes sense.

Maybe that’s not the best example I could have found, but the take-away here is that there’s something to be said about approaching things a little more scientifically.

Running small experiments is a fantastic way for you try something and see what happens. You get to change a variable and learn from what happens, without the sense that you’re irrevocably committed.

Reduce the perceived risks by running small experiments, and you simultaneously reduce self-doubt.

4. Swap to a better narrative

That voice of doubt is a cracking storyteller.

It’ll spin a yarn about how bad things could get and how horrible you’ll feel. It’ll regale you with tales of people better than you who’ve tried and failed. And it’ll tell you stories as you fall asleep of how you can live happily ever after if you just don’t do anything stupid.

They’re just stories.

None of us know what’s going to happen.

So you get to choose which stories you listen to, and which stories inspire you into action.

Choose a better narrative, one that sees you as whole and resourceful or one that sees doubt simply as a sign that you’re alive and well and striving, and see how that changes things.

5. Rally supporters

Trees have roots. Shoes have soles. Pies have pastry.

There will be times when the voice of doubt is so shouty and controlling that you need some external input to help you through. Your supporters—the people who want the best for you even when you don’t—are there to do just that.

This isn’t about throwing yourself a pity party or boosting your ego, it’s about asking for help and support so you can take your next step rather than sink into the mud.

So take a look around you. Your supporters might include old friends or new friends, a partner or a family member, a colleague, a coach, a priest or even a pet (yes, really).

You’re allowed to ask for help and support, and if the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn’t you want to offer that help and support to someone who really needed it?

When that voice of doubt has its teeth into you and you need support to feel strengthened, it’s time to call in your supporters.

How do you deal with self-doubt?

Ernest Hemingway, Confidence Coach

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"Era un vecchio che pescava da solo su una barca a vela nella Corrente del Golfo ed erano ottantaquattro giorni ormai che non prendeva un pesce. A quel punto decise che era giunto il momento di mangiarsi quei succulenti filetti di tonno in vetro..."
There were the the wasteland days when I couldn’t have gathered together enough confidence to smear over a slice of hot toast.

Then there was the slow discovery that there was something to this confidence thing that made all the difference to my coaching clients, and the digging deep into what confidence is, where it comes from and what stops it. And there’s the consistent unveiling of layer after layer of my own confidence and discovering more and more about what it means to be naturally confident in the face of impossible challenges.

Confidence is so multi-faceted in its application and in its value that I have different ways to talk about it in terms of beauty, gratitude, challenge, risk, joy and hardship. So when I stumbled on this quote from Hemingway, it was love at first sight.

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

The quality that enables all of those things that Hemingway so beautifully describes, and gives you comfort even when wounded or destroyed, is confidence.

It’s the sense that you’re already whole and can trust your behaviour implicitly, regardless of what happens.

What do you think―do you want to be one of the “best people” that Hemingway describes?

10 Reasons Success is a Dirty Word

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No cussing sign
Knob-gobbler.

Fucknuts.

Twunt.

Vulva.

Success.

5 dirty words.

Please excuse my potty mouth (actually don’t, it’s part of my English charm), but for me, the word “success” is becoming dirty like a ten dollar hooker at a mud-wrestling convention.

It’s just, kind of, bleurgh, right?

Insipid, vacuous and needy, I’m sure that hooker doesn’t like it either. Here’s why I’d like to get rid of the word “success”:

  1. It makes you wonder why you’re less successful than everyone else.
  2. It makes you second-guess yourself and which course of action will lead to “success”.
  3. It makes you invest in an assumed notion of success (from others, from society, from culture) without it needing to mean anything.
  4. The drive towards success gets conflated with your identity and self-esteem (if you’re not successful you feel like shit).
  5. Success is too often about “stuff”, not real value.
  6. An ill-defined notion of success will always leave you feeling unsuccessful.
  7. Chasing success implies that you don’t already have it, making you feel “less than” right now.
  8. It’s a moving target always founded on wanting “more”.
  9. Meaningful success is easily replaced with establishing the perception of success.
  10. Should you find some “success”, it’s easy for it to feel empty and leave you wanting more.

Think about it. How often have you worried about success? How many times have you been on a downer or beaten yourself up for not being successful? How does all of that feel?

Focusing on “success” will fuck you up like a
revenge-fueled, coked-up mob-boss

But if success is so horrible to us, why do we crave it? Why aspire to be successful at all?

I think it’s just in us.

It’s our nature to explore, grow and see what’s out there, but our parallel need for safety makes us project “safe zones” at the end of a journey where we anticipate the kind of illusory success that fixes everything.

That’s nonsense of course.

We go forth because it nourishes us.

We explore because we want to see what’s beautiful.

We try because we care.

It’s the going forth, the exploring and the trying that count, because those are the mechanisms for the extraordinary.

Assumed, fudged and meaningless notions of success just get in the way of that.

Drop success. It doesn’t mean anything. You don’t need it.

Replace it with going forth, exploring and trying, because that stuff is already in you.

Have confidence that that’s enough, and screw the rest.

Doesn’t that sound simpler?

Let Them See You

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Opposite
Being super-smart and insightful like you are, you’ll no doubt be aware that you’re staring into a screen right now.

Well done. You’ve passed the first test.

But close your eyes and that screen vanishes. What the fuck!, you might think, I swear I was just looking at this glowy screen thingy and now it’s disappeared!

Chances are it’s still there of course, you’re just not looking at it. Gotta wake up pretty early to get past you, right?

So let me ask you this. If a tree falls in a wood and there’s nobody around to hear it fall, does it make a sound?

Yes, of course it fucking does.

It’s a massive great big tree falling down; that shit is going to be noisy as all hell

Of course I’m being facetious and silly (it’s a talent), but choosing not to see something doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. Choosing not to hear something doesn’t change the fact that it makes a sound.

And here’s where we get to the meat and potatoes of the thing.

Sometimes in life you’ll prefer not to be seen by others, because there’s something you’d rather not see or hear yourself.

Perhaps something’s just gone completely pear-shaped and you’re ashamed. Maybe a dream feels completely out of your league and you don’t want to feel bad about not being up to it. Maybe you were rejected by someone and you’ve learned to hide to avoid getting hurt again. Or maybe you feel smaller than a gnat chewing on the ass of a cow in a field that you drive by at 80kph.

As long as you hide that part of you and hide the noise it makes, you think it will go away.

But it doesn’t.

Of course it doesn’t.

You just pretend that it does and work to obscure it like David frickin’ Copperfield using camera tricks to make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

All you do is deprive the world from seeing you, torch in hand, as you really are

More importantly, you deprive yourself from feeling whole.

I’m a big fleshy bag of contradictions just like you, and there will always be objects that create feelings of fear and unworthiness.

But for heavens sake, let’s not make that a problem.

If there was a guy among your circle of friends—let’s call him Kenny—who went around with his hands in front of his eyes pretending that people weren’t there, wouldn’t you want to slap him silly?

You call him up to see what he’s been up to, and all you get down the line is “La, la, la, la-la, la, la, can’t hear you, la, la-la…

Head out to a movie with Kenny, and he spends the whole damn picture with a bag over his head asking you what’s happening and whether Al Pacino’s in it.

And then at the end of dinner, Kenny squeezes his eyes shut and says, “Bill? What bill? I can’t see a bill.”

Let’s face it, Kenny needs a solid slap right in the kisser

You might not want to see what’s there, because it makes you feel bad. So it takes a little courage at first, to sweep back that curtain and see what you’ve been trying not to look at.

But what’s back there isn’t something to be ashamed about and doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s just a part of you that you get to say “Hey” to before going about your day as best you can.

And then, letting someone else see you is really just softening into the world as you already are.

I think you can probably see how drum-bangingly, toe-tingly, goose-bumpingly extra-fucking-ordinary that would be.

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