Toxic Friends

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The company we keep plays an important role in our lives. A good friendship should consistent of these overarching characteristics; supportive, considerate, trustworthy, generous, honest and understanding. Great friends growth together. They should make you feel good inside. They share moments of joy and are great support systems.

But what about if your friend/s are toxic? Unfortunately many of us have experienced a toxic friendship. If you have never experienced a toxic friend then you’re extremely lucky or…delusional lol! When a certain friendship becomes detrimental to your well-being and puts you in a negative space, you have to consider whether the friendship is worth maintaining or not. This is not an easy process especially when you extremely care for that person and once had close friendship.

This is something I’ve personally experienced. I found myself feeling like certain friendships became more like a chore. I never felt like they supported my endeavours and that they would project their insecurities onto me. Friends should never make you feel like you’re not good enough or that your feelings do not matter. I often felt compelled to maintain our friendship because they have previously shown me care and had them for a significant period of time. But when I started to attract people in my life that were loving, considerate and caring, I realised how dysfunctional a few of my  friendships were and decided that I had to make changes in order to preserve my well-being.

However, saying all of this I have also been a toxic friend! As painful as it is to admit it, I am guilty for the very things I’ve experienced. We don’t like to admit when we are the problem however in order for us to grow we have to hold ourselves accountable and live in our truth. I have been that jealous, un-supportive, bitchy, negative friend. The reasons why I was so toxic was because I was unsatisfied with the person I was inside. The way I treated others was mostly a reflection of how I felt about myself.  When you are a toxic person, it’s common to believe that you’re a great friend who does little wrong. It’s very important that we sit with ourselves and analyse how we interact within our friendships. Admitting that you’ve made mistakes is the first step for transforming yourself and becoming a better person and friend to those around you.

I’ve stood on both sides of the fence- being the toxic friend and having toxic friends. Because of this I feel like I can offer some humbling advice.

Your friend is Toxic:

Signs that they’re toxic: don’t support your endeavours, gaslight you, picks on your personality, thrives off of your insecurities, projects insecurities onto you, lack empathy, untrustworthy, gossipy, self-centred, stubborn, rude to you, doesn’t admit when they’re wrong.

Words of advice:

  • You deserve to have friends who genuinely supports and shows you love (not just says it). You are not obligated to settle for less than you deserve within your friendship. You shouldn’t accept abusive behaviour under the guise of ‘love’. Ultimately you get to choose the company you keep. You have agency over your life and get to either create a circle of friends who are helping or hindering your growth.

 

  • If being around them makes you feel negative then you need to seriously consider distancing yourself or removing them from your life. Growth takes some people time and your friend probably isn’t a bad person. In fact you’ve probably shared plenty of great moments together in the past. Experiencing good times with someone or knowing someone for a significant period does not give them an excuse to treat you badly. Your needs and desires come first and you should be selfish in preserving that. There’s people out there who will be loving, supportive and trustworthy, so you are not obligated to settle for those who don’t.

You are the toxic friend:

Signs that you’re toxic: you put your insecurities onto them, you’re not supportive, you gossip about them, you’re possessive, you’re unforgiving, you don’t admit when you’re wrong, you copy them, you don’t ask them how they are, you undermine their goals.

Words of advice:

  • When you put your friend down and have something negative to say about them, most of the time it’s only  mirroring your own insecurities. It might make you feel better finding flaws in someone so you don’t have to deal with your own insecurities, but you’re the only person who loses in the situation. The next time you find yourself feeling triggered by someone’s achievements, ask yourself whether you are 100% satisfied within that area of your life. Chances are you are not. Figure out what’s missing inside of you that’s causing you to act this way. What do you need to do more of to feel better about yourself?  If you truly love your friend and yourself, you’d take some time out to become a better you. Use those feelings as a guide to where you need to work and develop on yourself.

 

  • You are probably an amazing person deep down inside who is currently going through a difficult time. That being said, you going through something doesn’t mean you can’t apologise for the ways you’ve hurt others. If you’ve really hurt someone you should admit when you’re wrong and say sorry. Even if your apology is not accept by them, accept and forgive yourself. The best form of apology is by demonstrating that you can be better.

In conclusion

Ultimately the message is if we love ourselves more we will naturally treat others better and we would expect better from the company we keep. Keep people around you where love is reciprocated, where you both want to grow and glo together.

Questions to you:

Have you had a toxic friend?

Have you been a bad friend to someone?

I would love to hear your experiences & thoughts.

Love Ash, xx

 

 

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Lack of Self-Belief: Personal Confessional and Tips to Help

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Is your lack of self-belief holding you back? You might want to create a wonderful life for yourself but a part of you feels like you are not good enough to achieve it. As 2018 is coming to an end I think it’s the perfect time to talk about something that can really have an impact on the upcoming year.

Low self-belief comes from an overarching message that you aren’t good enough. Suffering from low self-belief takes different forms in a person’s life. For example; avoiding pursuing your dreams because you don’t believe you can pull it off or feel uncomfortable to talk about yourself at social events. For some of us, self-belief doesn’t come naturally and is one of our biggest obstacles coming in the way of manifesting the life we want.

A lack of self-belief does not come in a vacuum. Many of us who suffer or have suffered from low self-esteem can trace the root causes back to our childhood or a negative experience that has affected the way we see ourselves. This is definitely true from my experience. I can trace this back to my school experiences. I always I tried hard in school but I would never get the grades to reflect my efforts. I didn’t have the experience of teachers who believed in me- in fact, they would usually undermine my capabilities by giving me low targets to meet. I believed I had the potential to do really well but my efforts were never acknowledged nor rewarded. When you’re the only one in your corner fighting to be better, it can be isolating and debilitating to one’s self-esteem especially when you put effort behind what you want to do. This experience ultimately created a sense of doubt in my ability to pursue my dreams.

At the end of 2017 I decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery which became the catalyst for working on my self-belief. I wanted to be self-confident and have believe in my potential to pursue my passion. I began searching for information that would help me and I remember coming across a video. She said something so simple yet it shifted my way of thinking: “ No Matter What”. For me those words mean having unwavering faith in my potential and capabilities no matter what obstacles I faced.  No matter what means believing in myself when others don’t recognize my potential. Those words mean that negative experiences are simply adding character to my journey and not evidence against my capabilities.

I wrote down a few declarations at the beginning of 2018 to help me on my journey towards truly believing in myself and they’re working extremely well. If you’re currently going through this battle, they should help you too.

Here are three declarations to make to yourself:

  1. No matter what- No matter what you go through you have to believe that you will make it through anything and be victorious. You have to make a declaration that nothing is going to take you out of this thing called life, despite how painful and hard it can be at times. Even if it takes you a long time to achieve your goals, you will not give up on yourself and will continue to take steps towards manifesting your dreams. The failures that you experience are lessons and teach you important life lessons that will ultimately lead to your success.
  2. If others can do it, so can I- There’s so much information available now that you can create a life for yourself unimaginable before. There are people out there who have experienced similar obstacles as you but have still been able to live their dreams. Even if you’re still figuring out how (I’m in the same boat), just know that we all start somewhere and sometimes you’ve just got to do it anyways and figure it out along the way. You possess all the qualities within you to live your version of success and happiness. There’s room for all of us to win, and a spot has been made for you to fill, if you put in the consistency and patience required.
  3. I am deserving of a great life- You deserve to wake up every morning and feel grateful for the things you have in your life. You deserve to live the life you’ve always envisioned for yourself. This is your world! Look at all the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to this point. You’re not on this earth to suffer but to live your best life.

And finally…

Having self-belief certainly does not come overnight. It’s still something that I struggle with and just like any other part of self-development, it’s a process which takes time. If you’re struggling with this, I want you to know that it’s not too late to start now. Even if you don’t fully believe in yourself, try living like you already have self-believe and trust me your life will change. Why not try a new feeling outside of doubt, worry and lack of self-confidence?

10 Affirmations: 

  • I am my biggest supporter
  • No matter what happens in life I can handle it
  • Nothing is going to take me out of this race called life
  • I refused to believe I am on this earth to suffer
  • I am not going to stop until I live my purpose
  • My faith in self is too big for anything to stop me!
  • In times of uncertainty, I will allow my inner child to guide me into following my dreams
  • I am proud of all of my accomplishments, even when they’re small
  • No matter how it takes me, I will manifest the life that I want
  • I will move towards my dreams, even if it’s a crawl on some days

Have you suffered or are currently suffering from a lack of self-belief? What are your experiences?

What is your personal development goal for 2019?

Love Ash, xx

4 things you should know about your Toxic Family Member

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There comes a time when you start to analyze your family relationships and ask yourself whether they are fulfilling or not.  It’s painful to admit that certain family members are toxic and don’t always have our best interest at heart. You might have to make a decision whether to cut ties completely or maintain a relationship from a distance.

Speaking up about toxic family members is a very difficult. There’s an unspoken rule that some things are kept within the family. As a result we maintain unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships simply because you share the same DNA. But what’s the point of family if they aren’t compassionate, caring, understanding, kind and loving?

There’s plenty of conversations around toxic friends or partners but not enough about toxic family relationships. This is something I’ve been very reluctant to talk about because of the stigma I’ve placed around talking about family affairs publicly.  However I no longer believe people should be shamed for speaking their truth. I refuse to tolerate any abusive behaviour simply because we share the same blood. I don’t want to keeping hiding the fact that some family members have inflicted more harm than good and have negatively impacted my well-being. I came to the conclusion that if maintaining certain relationships means to compromise with own sanity and well-being then it’s not worth it. I know people close to me who are struggling with having toxic family members around them but feel obliged to put up with abusive behaviour.

For any one who’s currently stuck in a predicament where they feel obligated to put up with a family members abuse, i’m here to tell you that it’s not your responsibility to deal with their demons. You should not feel obligated to put up with abuse simply because they bear the title of your parent or have your last name.

4 things you should know about your toxic family:

1. If someone is abusing you they are not loving you. Love is not abusive. When someone is inflicting violence onto another, it is not a display of love. That family member may have treated you with care or could have even provided a roof over your head but that doesn’t excuse their abusive behavior. Bell Hooks summed this up in All about Love-

bell hooks

2. Putting yourself first is not selfish.  You are not obligated to sacrifice your peace of mind for your family. It can be difficult to release the notion that we have to be self-sacrificial for our family members, having to put our feelings aside to maintain the family image. However by doing this you compromise your integrity and normalise dysfunction that should not exist in the first place. Sometimes family issues make life more difficult and stressful than it needs to be. If they are affecting your well being and put you in a negative space then you have a right to keep your distance.

3. Quit trying to change them if they don’t want to change. You might have expressed  to them that you don’t like the way they treat you but they still have not corrected their behaviour. You can tell someone to change plenty of times but they won’t until they make that decision to change themselves. It might be time to accept them for who they are and lower your expectations that they will change. By lowering our expectations we won’t be constantly hurt by their wrongdoings and we find peace with our circumstances.

4. You don’t have to carry the burden of their issues. People who inflict abuse onto others have typically been victims of some form of violence themselves. Whilst we should acknowledge the reasons why people inflict violence onto others and the fact that they’ve normalised that said violence, we must not excuse their behaviour when it’s detrimental to our own well being. You can emphasize and understand someone’s pain but it can’t come at the expense of your own happiness. That person has some form of agency and ultimately you’re not obligated to coddle someone who cannot recognize the depth of how their issues affect others around them.

Have you experienced a toxic family member?

What advice would you offer someone going through this dilemma?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Love Ash, xx

 

 

 

 

Social Media is draining: How to preserve your energy and keep engaged online.

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Do you sometimes feel drained by social media? You experience days where being online felt more like an obligation than fun. However, it feels impossible to escape due to your personal and career goals. 

We all know the importance of online branding and posting content frequently to engage with other like-minded people. There’s a whole industry dedicated to helping people improve their online presence and becoming a successful brand. We are told that by constantly posting and interacting with others we can grow our brands and create a lasting impact on those who support us. However, this dependency on social media and this desire to be constantly visible can have negative impacts on our own well-being. Navigating in such a fast pace environment where it never switches off can be detrimental to our own inner peace.

If you’re someone like me who’s hyper-sensitive to other peoples energy, being online can sometimes be draining. I find this is especially the case with my social media accounts like Instagram and Facebook. To be honest, I’ve never experienced this with my blog and I think this is because I don’t feel the same pressures to be constantly visible like I do on other sites. Over the past year, I’ve actively surrounded myself with people who talk about well-being and self-care to help me on my own journey. However, I’ve found that so many of us offer a lot of advice to others but don’t talk much about our own self-care practices.  Or at least I find that there’s a lack of transparency when it comes to talking about how we cultivate the time to practice these things we talk about. It leads me to ask the question- If we are constantly posting and offering other people advice on how to practice self-care then when do we really get the time to practice these things ourselves?  

Recently I’ve made a commitment to use social media in a way that is better suited to my own personal needs. I love connecting with others and I want to maximize the benefits of social media. However, I want to be able to switch off without feeling guilty. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out and I don’t want to feel drained.  I’ve been practicing a few things over the past few months and they seem to be working well so far. For anyone who finds themselves in this dilemma, this list should be helpful to you. 

5 things you can do to not feel drained by social media:

1. Take breaks- Plan a day every month where you go completely social media free. If your brand/business is reliant on you constantly posting, then plan your posts in advance and set a timer to post them on that specific day. That way all of your work is done for you and you can enjoy your social media free day without feeling guilty. More importantly, taking breaks is good for your mental health. It makes you realize that there’s a life beyond social media to explore and needs nurturing.

2. Plan the amount of time you want to spend using social media- Prioritize certain time periods throughout the day or the number of hours you spend on your phone. Set yourself a maximum amount of time you want to use being online and aim not to exceed that limit. The chances are that when you’re exceeding that limit it’s because you’re wasting time aimlessly scrolling on your socials out of boredom.

3. Set times where you absolutely do not check social media- I have this rule that I don’t check any of my social media accounts first thing in the morning. In fact, I won’t check my socials until after 9:30am. I am a firm believer that what you consume as soon as you wake up can have a lasting impact on the rest of your day. If you’re feeling pressure to post or you see something negative first thing in the morning, you’re going to be anxious and overwhelmed. You want to start your day in the best state of mind possible. I’ve found that by implementing this rule especially I feel much more confident and less drained.

4. Have a hobby that does not involve using social media- I find reading and doing crafty activities keeps me grounded. It’s important to enjoy other things outside of being online. Imagine if the internet goes down for a whole week? You have to think about other things you’d enjoy doing and do those things on a frequent basis.

5. Decide whether being constantly active on social media is necessary- If you find being overly present on social media more draining than fun and you aren’t using it for business purposes or to push a greater cause then you should re-evaluate whether it’s necessary to use so frequently. I know there’s a lot of pressure to be on social media but you don’t have to use it because of everyone else. You are in control of how much you use it and you get to decide when you want to switch off.

Questions for you: 

How do you carve out time for yourself?

Can you relate to anything above? Or if not what is your perspective on this topic?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love Ash, xx

How to overcome feelings of Jealousy: Tips & Practical Steps

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Have you ever seen images or heard of someone’s success and instantly felt a wave of jealously overwhelm you? Has this made you feel inadequate and made you doubt your own accomplishments? Well you’re not alone. We all have our own demons and i’ve tussled with this one.

I’ve battled with jealous thoughts for years. I didn’t know how to reach out and talk about it to anyone because I found it quite embarrassing. No one want’s to be perceived as a “hater” so I suffered in silence. Over the years my jealous thoughts became self-destructive and severely affected my self-esteem. It evaded and destroyed all aspects of my life. I didn’t want to pursue my career goals because I felt like others were smarter,  more experienced and had better connections than me. Seeing other people pursue the career goals I was struggling to achieve made me insecure about my own capabilities. Being on social media sites, especially Instagram, made me more self-conscious about my body. I never really suffered from body insecurities growing up- I fell into societies perception of desirable ‘slim bodies’. Then slim-thick hourglass shapes became the new trend and now every image of this body made made me despise my own.

It affected my friendships. My jealousy inhibited me from being a supportive friend to others. If someone came to me with good news, i’d express how happy I was for them. However deep down inside my intentions did not match my words- I felt jealous and their success reminded me of the things I wanted in my life.  I think this was the most painful part of experiencing jealously. I couldn’t truly celebrate my friends as I was so blinded by my own insecurities.

I had a realisation one night after torturing myself with negative self-talk that if I continue to feel low about myself because of what others are doing, I would eventually destroy myself. Apart of me knew I couldn’t let it get that far. I wanted to unconditionally love myself and genuinely be happy for other people’s achievements.

I began my journey of understanding my jealously and getting to the root causes of it. I realised that the things that I envied in others had a direct correlation to my own personal insecurities. To defeat jealously I had to get to the root causes of the things that inhibited me from accepting and loving myself. This year I must say i’ve made significant strides with addressing this issue and it was only possible by doing a few things to help along the way.

If you’re currently battling with jealously here’s 4 practical techniques that might help you:

1.Writing- When you start to feel jealous, write down your feelings. You need to write unfiltered and get it all off your chest. Don’t judge yourself whilst you write. Once you’ve written your thoughts down, go through what you’ve written and begin to fact check everything. Ask yourself, how much of this is true? Am I being too harsh on myself or the other person? Begin to deconstruct what you’ve written and you’ll begin to unravel the reasons you feel jealous and might begin to realise that you have nothing to feel jealous about. I’ve written an example of how to do this below in ‘debunking your jealous thoughts’.

2. Affirmations- Affirmations are a great way to reprogram your mind to focus on positive and affirming thoughts about yourself. Part of the reason why we feel jealous is due to our own insecurities, so by reciting words that make us feel good about ourselves we begin to undermine our negative self-talk. I’ve listed a few affirmations below for you to use but I recommend finding ones that uplight and empower you.

3. Mindfulness- Go into a quite space and take 10-15minutes doing mindful meditation or breathing exercises. I find that when i’m overwhelmed by jealous thoughts, meditating allows me to think rationally and find peace with the present moment. There’s apps you can use such as Headspace if you aren’t used to meditating and need some guidance.

4. Stay in action- If you are envious that someone has achieved something that you want, work towards attaining that goal. For example, if you have a fitness goal or want to pursue a creative venture, work on getting better at your craft on a daily basis. If you focus your energy on being your own best version then you start to feel more satisfied with your own life.

Debunking your jealous thoughts:

1. You’re making the assumption that someone’s life is better than yours because of the ‘perfect’ images they display of themselves. You don’t know the struggle’s they’re going through or are currently experiencing. People aren’t going to post the ‘bad’ parts of their life. Begin accepting the fact that social media sites like Instagram are just filtered, distorted versions of reality. It only does disservice to yourself and that person when you compare your life to a filtered snippet of their life.

2. Their success does not undermine yours. You are jealous of someone making huge milestones (successful creative venture, popularity, career, physical glow up) and it’s making you feel like you’ve barely accomplished anything. Does that mean you’ve barely accomplished anything or that you’ve got plenty of things that you are yet to achieve? Don’t let other people’s timelines of ‘when’ you should reach a certain level of success deter you from achieving your goals. You might not be there yet but you certainly will be soon. The position you are in now is part of your journey and you should embrace it. All in good timing! Remember you belong in the realm of success just by virtue of being who you are. There’s room for all of us to win.

3. “They’re more desirable than me”- by who’s standard? You’re being harsh on yourself based on a standard that was not created to benefit you. You have to begin to create your own standard of what your best version looks like and live everyday being that person. No one can be better than you because you’re uniquely made.

Affirmations to use when feeling jealous:

1. Other people’s success does not diminish my own

2. I have all the capabilities within me to achieve greatness

3. I trust my own journey

4. I am uniquely made

5. I will focus my energy on abundance and being the best that I can be.

6. By virtue of being myself I am enough

7. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am powerful, I am talented

8. I congratulate other people’s success and use their journey as inspiration to develop my own.

 

Thank you for reading!

Have you ever experienced jealousy before? OR been the victim of a jealous person?

Let me know your thoughts 🙂

Love Ash x 

Downplaying Compliments and Low Self-Esteem: A confessional

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Do you ever receive a compliment and instantly deflect the conversation away from yourself? I can relate. To give myself credit, this past year I have made a conscious effort to accept nice things said about me. However, I still catch myself feeling uncomfortable or deflecting from compliments especially when I receive them in real life.

Just a little background into why I am talking about this topic. I was out one night with a few friends and one of my friends complimented my hair. I began to downplay it and ended up rabbling on about how I purchased the hair. She replied back to me and said: “take the compliment and go”. I was shocked at her abrasiveness but I’m happy that she said it as her words led me to certain revelations that I had not yet realised.

The resistance I feel towards praise stems from many years of low self-esteem. The truth is for a long time I never felt like I was enough and would always find fault in my achievements. When I receive a compliment it’s unfamiliar language to me because I’ve become accustomed to believing my negative self-talk. When I get told nice things I automatically want to respond by saying “are you sure you’re talking about me”. I know that sounds negative but this was my thought process.

Another reason why I don’t respond to praise well is that I hardly celebrate myself. Rarely do I say ‘well done’ or reward me for my accomplishments. For example, I didn’t go to my graduation despite doing very well and being the first in my immediate family to go to university. I didn’t even acknowledge the fact that finally got a new job, one which brings me more joy. Not once did I organize a meal or self-care days to really celebrate my accomplishments.

Another revelation I had was that I’ve somehow conflated self-praise with bragging. I steered away from publicly sharing my accomplishments because I didn’t want to be perceived as showing off. There’s definitely merit in celebrating privately and knowing that we don’t need to be validated externally to feel proud of ourselves. But I think that I was being unnecessarily unkind to myself by downplaying and hiding my achievements from the world. I’m starting to realize that you can be a humble person whilst receiving praise and celebrating yourself openly.

I’m trying each day to tell myself I deserve happiness. I deserve to be complimented. I deserve to receive and believe nice things about me. Irrespective of what I’ve done in the past, right here and now I deserve to be celebrated. Breaking this learned behaviour which I’ve become accustomed to is proving to be harder than I anticipated. However each day I commit to being more aware of my response to compliments and to consciously celebrate my accomplishments, right down to the smallest things.

A Question for you:

How well do you take compliments?

If anyone can relate let me know your thoughts x

Heyy I’m back from my blogging Hiatus!

Hey guys,

I’m not sure if anyone noticed but last month I took a break from blogging. I’ve spent the past few weeks in South Africa exploring the lovely Johannesburg and Cape Town! I’ll be totally honest, it was an unintentional break. Just as I was about to board my flight, I ended up breaking my phone (just my luck)! I was devastated however it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

There’s been a lot happening in my life lately, transitions I am going through and burdens I have been carrying that I had not giving myself the time to process. Not having my phone allowed me the space to address emotional needs and desires. I began to centre myself and delve into the personal issues that I realized have been weighing down on me for many years.

I learned this holiday how to switch off and truly unwind without the guilt of being unproductive. I realised that I am the most productive and in alignment with my purpose when I carve out time for self-care and prioritise my well being.

Not having my phone made me hyperaware of what I was experiencing, instead of focusing on capturing every moment digitally. I tuned into the different cultures, people, history, stories I was experiencing in South Africa. I connected with nature. I ate some amazing South African and West African food. I watched plenty of action movies. I immersed myself in the experience which is often missed when we are so focused on using our phones all the time.

Anyhoo I am glad to be back! I also want to say that I am so thankful for the support I’ve received since the beginning of the year. It warms my heart that I am able to connect with some amazing people on this platform. You all inspire me and reading your stories has helped me on my own journey. I do have a few new blog posts coming this month which I am excited about so stay tuned.

Do you take Social Media breaks? Do you think they are helpful?

 

love Ash x