Would you let a plumber fix your boiler if they had no qualifications or experience? Not gonna happen!
If you’re not going to let somebody play around with your boiler, how do feel about your state of mind and well-being?
I recommend counselling to anybody going through a difficult period. Communicating what’s on your mind is a BIG contributor to you moving forward and getting better. It always will be. Bottling things inside and pretending things are OK only lead onto more issues, like breakdowns.
You’ve got to be able to talk, and that’s where a good counsellor comes into play.
A good counsellor will not only listen to you but also have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through your tough time.
Notice I say ‘a good counsellor’.
Like with all professions, there is good, bad, excellent, and downright shouldn’t be in that professional at all!
Like a plumber and most other professions you can think of, a counsellor could set up their own practice overnight – without any experience or qualifications. The fact that somebody calls himself a counsellor doesn’t make it so.
We can all call ourselves whatever we like – it doesn’t make it the case.
If you’re going to let a plumber loose on your boiler, you’ll want reassurance he knows what he’s doing. (A big reason why the best tradesmen come through recommendation.) If you’re going to let somebody loose on your state of mind and well-being, you should also look for reassurance that they know what they’re doing.
It’s up to you to find out what experience and qualifications a counsellor has. Don’t take it at face value.
When I was dealing with high anxiety, I met with at least four different counsellors. Some were good, and some were not so good.
In hindsight, I should have moved on from the bad ones sooner. But I didn’t. Why? I thought I was the problem. I thought, surely somebody with all that experience and all those qualifications can’t be that bad – it has to be me.
I have lots of respect for good counsellors, so I want to clarify what I mean by a ‘bad’ counsellor. Having now had the pleasure of meeting some great counsellors, I can compare them to the not so good ones.
Here are a few defining signs of a bad counsellor, including things to look out for.
Guilt trips. Lack of confidence. Wanting to please others.
Just a few of the reasons why we end up saying YES to doing favours, working overtime and doing things we don’t want to do – even when we know we should say NO.
You’re a nice person. Nothing wrong with that. But if you find yourself saying yes to everything you’re asked, it won’t be long before the misery kicks in.
You’ll be burnt out, depressed, skint and desperate before you know it!
Here are five things to start saying NO to more often. When you say NO to these things more often, you’ll find you’ll take back control and your life will be much more bearable.
1. Other people’s BS
People will bring you great joy. But if you let them, they’ll bring you a lot of shit too! It’s time to start saying no to their BS. If they want to bring their toxic behaviour and drama into your life, say ‘NO’. Cut it out without hesitation. Let them know that you will no longer suffer fools lightly. They’ll soon get the message, and your life will be much better off for it. The next time the gossip comes up, or somebody is chewing your ear off with negativity, cut it out.
2. Constant favours
As I mentioned - being a nice person is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do nice things. But it does put you at risk of being taken advantage of. If somebody calls you at 1 am in the morning asking you to give them a lift home from partying all night, it won’t be long before they’re calling you at 4 am. Everybody has to have boundaries, including you. The next time the call comes in, say ‘NO’. The same goes for any favours that go beyond being reasonable including giving away your two most valuable assets: your time and money.
3. Being in places you don’t want to be
Life is way too short to put up with doing things you don’t want to do, including going places you don’t want to go. I’m not talking about being ignorant or selfish. Sometimes we’ve got to do things we’re not happy with – it’s all part of having good relationships. But if you find yourself constantly being in places you don’t want to be, hanging around with people you don’t like, say ‘NO’.
4. Going to a dead-end job
If you work full-time, you’ll be spending most of your life at that job. If you absolutely hate your job with a passion, it basically means you hate your life. When it comes to work, including toxic bosses and dead-end jobs, there is always a better option. Say ‘NO’, and explore what your options are further. If you’re feeling stuck, The Less-Stress Lifestyle will help.
5. Living in the past
Living in the past is causing you serious, unnecessary stress and anxiety. I know this because when we live in the past, it’s usually because of negative reasons. If your childhood was messed up, you made a mistake, or you regret something you did, it’s time to let go of the past and say ‘NO’ to it. Move forward with the lessons you learnt, and don’t allow the past to haunt you. The trick here is to learn from the past because if you don’t, you’ll keep making the same mistakes you always have.
Tired. Exhausted. Beat-up. Shattered. Worn-out. Knackered!
Just a few of the nicer terms we use when stress is beating us.
Well, it’s time to fight back and get some control!
It’s time to get back into a better mental place – to give us the very best chance of managing our stress properly.
Here are seven popular relaxation techniques you can use to beat stress and stop it controlling you.
When you practise deep breathing, you breathe in slowly and deeply, while expanding your belly, allowing your diaphragm to contract. Breathing in this way sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax, which makes it effective for dealing with stress. It is a simple and versatile technique that can be learned and used immediately.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a very effective technique for releasing tension in your muscles: you tense a muscle for a few seconds and then relax it. For example, try clenching your fist for a few seconds and then letting go, releasing the tension so your hand is as loose as possible. Your hand should feel relaxed after doing this a few times. You can use this technique on any muscle in your body, so if you have a particularly tense area, you can concentrate on that. The typical areas that affected many people include the neck, chest, face and shoulders. If you do this daily, you will condition your muscles to relax much more freely and naturally.
You need an outlet for your tension so it’s not trapped inside you and used to create more stress and negative energy. Physical activity is an effective way to release tension, due to the fact you burn energy and feel like you’ve accomplished something. Yoga and tai chi are known to improve breathing and relaxation and are therefore good for stress and tension. If you’re more of a football or boxing fan, join your local club. The aim is to find a physical activity you enjoy.
You can channel the release of tension through healthy mental exertion. I can, however, think of a few board games that increase tension rather than reduce it, so if it becomes counterproductive, avoid it! Sitting down to do a crossword is relaxing for some people, and stressful for others. Use your common sense: if it’s not helping you reduce your stress, try something else.
Although I don’t practise meditation, I make sure I find a moment to relax every day, especially if I’m busy and find myself dealing with extra stress. People have told me meditation has helped reduce their stress and anxiety, improved their mood, and been good for their insomnia – so it could do the same for you. Meditation takes time to perfect, but if it’s something you would like to explore, you’ll find apps and videos on YouTube that will help get you started.
Have a clear-out
It feels very therapeutic to have a good clear-out. The more possessions we have, the more emotional attachment we have to them. This emotional attachment isn’t always negative, and you’ll probably have possessions that bring you great joy and comfort, like your favourite jumper or chair. At the end of your clear-out, I don’t expect you to have an empty home! However, there will be some items you just don’t need (or want) any more. A good clear-out can make you feel lighter and clearer. I do it regularly. When I looked at my wardrobe I noticed I tended to wear the same selection of clothing all the time, so I packed up all the clothes I hadn’t worn for a year and sent them to a charity shop. eBay is marvellous for raising some extra funds from unwanted stuff. You might be surprised by how much you can raise. Maybe you could put the money you raise towards a trip, or course?
A change of scenery
If you’re constantly looking at the same four walls, talking to the same people, or doing the same monotonous tasks or job, you’re not presenting your brain with the variety and challenge it needs and deserves. Predictability is boring, and boredom leads to unwanted feelings, including feeling trapped, leading to stress and tension. So spice up your life a little. Take a relaxing break, change your scenery, and do something out of the ordinary.
These techniques are listed in The Less-Stress Lifestyle. Start improving your lifestyle and managing stress better today - check it out!
There’s nothing like sitting down and watching a decent film.
I like to take something away from every film I watch. I believe there is a message, hidden or otherwise, in all decent films.
If you haven’t switched the film off in the first few minutes because it’s rubbish, you’ll get something out of it. A lot of what you get depends on your mood, how you feel at the time, and what you’re looking for.
Here’s what I learnt from my top five films (in order of my favourite first).
#1 – The Matrix
What is there not to love about The Matrix? Putting aside all the Kung Fu and bullet dodging (which, don’t get me wrong, is brilliant), there is a serious message going on. For me, that message is quite simply: Wake the f*ck up! You are part of a system. If you allow that system to control you, it will. If you don’t take control of your life, you will drift. You will just survive, rather than thrive. To make changes in your life, you have to get educated and become aware. If you want improvements in your lifestyle, begin by getting educated. You can have more if you want it, but first, you have to wake up.
#2 – Terminator 2
I’ll also include the first Terminator film here. (Terminator 3 – not your best one, Arnie.) With the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence), who knows – the machines may well take over one day. But that’s not the defining message I got from the film. The message I got is about dealing with toxic people. This is what Kyle Reese says when he’s warning Sarah Connor about the Terminator: ‘Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop.’ Some toxic people in life are the same, and you should avoid them just as much as you would the Terminator.
#3 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio does an amazing job of playing a hedonistic drug addict. His outstanding performance is equalled by how good the film is. Anyhow – I’m not writing a film review – so back to the message. The Wolf of Wall Street perfectly sums up the fact that money will only ever get you so far. It’s a short-term view to think you can do what the hell you like for a few years and not have any consequences. At the risk of sounding like a complete killjoy, most things in life are OK in moderation, but what you’re doing today is shaping your future. As well as thinking about what you’re going to do today, start planning for the next five years. Otherwise, the future might not be so bright.
#4 – Catch Me If You Can
Another Leonardo DiCaprio film on my list – and what a cracker it is. Frank Abagnale (the con man Leonardo plays) fooled everybody – to the point of becoming a fake co-pilot, lawyer and doctor – all before his 18th birthday! (This is a true story!) The message? For me, a positive one. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Do you think Frank cared about the fact he might get rejected? Do you think he allowed the fear of people to hold him back? Not in the slightest. Although a lot of what he did was immoral, there’s a lot to be learnt and admired from what he did. The level of freedom you can get from not caring about what people think is immense. It helps you achieve pretty much anything you want, as demonstrated perfectly by Frank Abagnale.
#5 – Drop Dead Fred
I grew up as a Rik Mayall (Bottom) addict. He made me cackle just as much in Drop Dead Fred when he played an imaginary childhood friend to a miserable kid. Part of her misery was her control freak, OCD led mother, who was affectionately known as ‘The Megabeast’. So the first lesson – if you’re a parent putting too much pressure on your kids, you might also have an interesting nickname. The second lesson from the film is not to let the kid in you die. Life is serious enough. Don’t ever forget your humour. It shouldn’t take an imaginary friend you had as a kid to come back into your adult life to remind you. You can start having more fun today. It is a choice, and you don’t have to wait. What would the kid inside you do? Sometimes it’s worth paying attention to him or her – especially when anxiety and stress is biting.
If you want to know your future, I can read it for you.
I don’t need a crystal ball, and you don’t need to cross my palm with silver.
I’ll give you your reading absolutely free – and I don’t even need to meet you!
All you need to do is take a look at what you’re doing right now.
Here are some questions to get you started.
Are you growing?
If you’re not growing emotionally, physically, financially and mentally, you’re not evolving. Life is about growth, and you’re either growing or dying.
What are you eating?
You are what you eat – now and in the future. What you’re putting in your mouth today is not only affecting how you feel today but also in the future.
How often do you exercise?
If you don’t feel physically good today, you won’t tomorrow – unless you change your pattern and routine.
How much do you like / dislike your job?
How you feel about your job or career won’t change unless you change it. The career decisions you make today are shaping your future career.
How many hobbies do you have?
Life is about balance. If you’re not taking enough time for yourself, including having hobbies, you’ll feel the stress later down the line.
How much free time do you have?
Do you have enough time for yourself and your family? If you don’t, why not? Unless you begin to change that pattern, it won’t change in the future.
What are the people in your life like?
You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. They are a heavy influence on who you are today, and who you will be in the future.
Do you love your partner?
If you don’t, why not? Can it be fixed? If you don’t believe it can be fixed, how does that impact on your future self?
What are the relationships like in your life?
Do the people around you help you grow, or make you miserable? That won’t change in the future unless you change it.
Do you read books or listen to audiobooks?
Books and learning are one of your biggest sources of growth. What you’re feeding your brain today will influence what you say and do tomorrow.
How much time do you take to educate yourself?
Imagine how much smarter you’ll be in five years if you take the time to educate yourself today. Imagine the amount of growth you’ll miss out on if you don’t make learning a priority.
Do you invest your money, or spend it?
If you’ve got more money going out than you’ve got coming in, it won’t be long before the debt piles up. How will that debt look in six months, a year, or ten years?
Reading your future is easy. You just have to look at what you’re doing today.
When stress mounts up, it feels like a never-ending flow of one problem after the other!
If it’s allowed to, stress continues to grow until it gets to a point where we feel like we can’t cope. That’s when we walk around feeling as though a ton of bricks is on our back.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Nobody is immune to stress - no matter how strong, organised or capable you think you are.
Stress can hit anybody at any time.
Here are three things you can do to immediately stop the flow of stress pouring in – and protect yourself against it better in the future.
1. Take immediate control
We get stressed when we feel out of control. As soon as we feel like we’ve taken back control, the feeling of stress and anxiety subsides. That’s why taking immediate control of whatever it is causing you stress is the best way to deal with it. It’s also the reason why stress will quickly get out of control if you let it. Don’t sweep your problems under the rug. Those bills you put in the drawer aren’t going anywhere. Although you might get some short-term relief by pretending your problems don’t exist, the long-term effects are potentially a lot worse. A lot of stress and anxiety can be avoided when we get brave and deal with our challenges head-on by taking immediate control.
2. Break it down
The quickest way to deal with any problem is to break it down. When a giant problem hits your desk, your doormat or your phone, it will feel daunting. You’ll think to yourself: ‘How the hell am I going to manage this!’ By focusing on the BIG problem or challenge at hand, you’ll convince yourself that it’s impossible – and that’s when we feel like we can’t cope. Forget about the BIG issue for now. Instead, break whatever it is you need to do down into small pieces. Think about the next small step that you can take, and focus on that. When you get that done, you’ll go onto the next thing, and then the next – and like a snowball effect, your challenge is getting easier at every step – until you look back and all of a sudden, it’s done.
3. Stay on top
‘Staying on top of things’ is a commonly used saying, but have you stopped and thought about why we say it? What comes to mind when you think about being on top of things? It feels like you’re in control and dominant, doesn’t it? Imagine feeling like this from this moment forward. Imagine a life where you knew you could handle anything that came your way. The truth is, there is only one thing stopping you from feeling like this, and that is you. In other words, you can decide from this moment forward that you can handle anything that comes your way – and there is no reason why it’s not the truth. You’ve got through 100% of your challenges and problems so far, so what’s stopping you from knowing you can get through 100% more? Keep reinforcing this knowledge and belief, and you’ll stay on top.
From time to time, low mood hits all of us - some of us more often than others.
There are different levels of low mood, from having a bad day (which happens to us all) to the very extremes of contemplating suicide.
However you’re feeling right now, I want you to know that you always have options. There isn’t a situation or scenario that can’t be changed.
If you are even close to thinking about giving up, or you feel as though your low mood will never lift, I want you to consider these four important points.
Chester Bennington and Robin Williams appeared to have it all. Fame, fortune, family – everything that we perceive you could desire. But it wasn’t enough. They ended their lives by committing suicide. All the material possessions and money in the world doesn’t mean anything unless you’re filling the gap within you. And that gap is everything to do with your purpose. When you’re being true to yourself, you’ll discover what it is that drives you – that is your purpose. When you have purpose, you have everything to live for. Having purpose will lift your low mood much quicker, and feeling down won’t affect you as often. If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to find your purpose, a good start is to help others.
In some cases, when you feel as though your low mood has been around for ages, it’s easy to believe that it’s never going to go away. You feel as though your life will never get better, and you end up settling for the fact that things will never improve. But the fact is, low mood is temporary, however long it is. Just like problems – all problems are temporary. Remember that tomorrow is a new day – a new opportunity to do and be something different. You’ve already got through 100% of your problems. That means you’ve already proven your strength. Use this strength to remind yourself that how you feel right now isn’t fixed, and it can change if you want it to.
It’s time to beat away those grey clouds, and one of the quickest ways you can do it is by getting your focus right. When we’re feeling low, we focus on everything that is bad. When you consider that you’re going to get more of whatever it is you focus on, you appreciate that this is the reason you end up going around in a cycle of misfortune and bad luck. Ditch the ‘what ifs . . .’, and focus on the things you can control – the things that are going to push your life forward, and not hold you back with false beliefs. Focus on the things that count, like your goals and hobbies.
The cherry on top of all of these points is action. The one thing that took me out of feeling like shit is action. Plain and simple. If it weren’t for me taking action, I’d still be lying in bed anxious, worried and stressed about all the ‘what ifs . . .’. Taking action was the one thing that got me out of the mire. It started with me making a choice: either stay as I am or take action and do something about it. Taking action doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. It can be something small. The main thing is that you just take action, because like a snowball effect, it will lead to more action. Before you know it, your low mood (depression) no longer affects you the way it did previously. You’ll still have bad days (there is no getting over that – everybody does), but they will be fewer and far between.
Listen to my podcast on Getting Over Feeling Low.
A few days a go I was a pilot for the day and flew a small aeroplane. (The headphones give it away, right?)
It was only a few years previous that I wasn’t able to leave my home.
I also had a lifelong fear of heights – and there I was – 3000 feet up in the air, controls in my hand, with the Silverstone race track underneath me looking as small as a toy Scalextric track!
So, how did I do it?
How did I look at the small plane, barely big enough to hold two people, and pluck up the courage to get in it and hit the skies?
I USED A TRICK.
It wasn’t simple, but I use this trick for all things that take me out of my comfort zone and crush my fears.
It’s the same trick I used to help me get through the tough times when anxiety was biting hard – basic things, from leaving my house, to the bolder things, like standing on stage in front of hundreds of people.
This same trick can help you break through your comfort zone, overcome your fears and achieve things you never thought possible.
The method works by tricking your subconscious mind. When you feed your mind with images and scenarios, and you keep doing it, over and over again, it can’t distinguish these thoughts with what is real.
That’s what makes this trick so effective. You can literally imagine and think up anything you like. You can simply do and be anything you want.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself.
Here’s how to use this simple but highly effective trick in three steps.
Think about something you want to do. Something you’ve wanted to do for some time, but you haven’t quite plucked up the courage to do it. Some common examples are public speaking, asking somebody out on a date, or asking your boss for a promotion or pay rise at work. It can be as big or small as you like.
Find somewhere quiet and close your eyes. Replay you doing what it is you want to do in your mind, over and over again. Picture yourself doing it perfectly. Speak the words you would say. Imagine the setting in as much detail as you can, as vividly as you can. This step is as good as practising it for real, because like I mentioned, your subconscious mind can’t distinguish between what is real and what you’re telling it is real. The more times you can do this step the better.
Go and do it. Don’t pretend that you won’t feel any fear because you will. You need to feel nervous and have adrenaline to help you achieve what it is you want. Without nerves and adrenaline, you’re not human. The trick is to accept them and use them to your advantage. Don’t fight them, but embrace them. By doing the first two steps beforehand, you’ve made the task of doing what is it you want to do 100% easier. You’ve also increased your chances of doing it by 100%.
Keep listening to my podcast on ‘how big is your comfort zone?’ to help you with this trick, including breaking through your fears and achieving the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Listen To The New Carl Vernon Podcast: Talking About All Things Anxiety, Stress, Success & Wellbeing
I’m excited to share my new podcast with you – a new way for us to connect.
I love podcasts and use them a lot myself.
It’s not always easy reading a book or watching a video, and podcasts are perfect for when you’re on the go.
You can listen in the car, at the gym, going for a walk, at work – anywhere you can put your headphones in!
In this first podcast, we’re going BIG by covering the two biggest subjects.
I’m talking about my DP Rule, and how it can help you overcome your fears.
If you’ve read Anxiety Rebalance, you’ll most likely know about the DP Rule, and in this podcast, I wanted to give you a little more insight into how it helped me deal with my fears and overcome anxiety.
You can listen to it directly from here on SoundCloud. Or if you’re a proper podcaster (if that’s the proper term?) you can listen from iTunes and subscribe to my podcast on there – the link is below at the bottom of this post.
My aim is to get at least a new podcast out every week, and I’ll be covering lots of exciting subjects – everything to do with anxiety, stress, success and wellbeing – to help you break out of your comfort zone, make positive changes, and improve your lifestyle for the better.
Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, so you don’t miss out on future podcasts – click the logo below to go to my podcast and subscribe.
If you like what you hear, don’t forget to rate and review.
Thank you for taking the time to listen, and along with my other stuff, I hope my podcast helps you on your journey!
All the very best,
Yesterday, I watched the film, The Cat in the Hat, with Mike Myers.
If you’ve not seen the Dr Seuss classic, it’s about a big talking cat who turns up at a house with the aim of bringing more happiness to two miserable kids – you know – every day normal stuff!
To gauge how fun the kids are, he pulls out a big contraption called the ‘Phunometer’.
The cat plugs the Phunometer on the girl’s head, and straightaway, the gauge swung around to the least fun setting.
This is the bit that made me chuckle – what the last setting was.
For a kid’s movie, I thought that was pretty accurate!
Looking back at my most miserable times, when anxiety was biting hard, and stress had its grip on me, ‘control freak’ summed me up well.
I struggled to get enjoyment out of anything. I could be sailing around the Caribbean and still find something to be miserable about!
What are you like when it comes to wanting control?
Anxiety and stress will want you to try and control everything – it makes the job of keeping you safe a whole lot easier. Plus, an anxious and stressed brain doesn’t like unfamiliarity or change. It likes to keep things exactly as they are, even if it means being miserable.
But the simple fact is we’re not going to be able to control everything in our lives, and by trying, we’re only punishing ourselves.
LEARN TO LET GO
Take those white knuckles off the roller coaster you call life, and learn to let go!
Start embracing and appreciating the fact that unexpected things are going to happen. Expect change.
Take the frown off your face, unclench your fists, drop your shoulders and loosen that neck!
Take a deep breath, stick a smile on your face and put your favourite comedian on.
Do it, even if you don’t feel like doing it – that is kind of the point.
The tenser you allow yourself to get, the more anxiety and stress will continue to attack you.
Learn to break the habit by learning to let go.
Accept and embrace the fact that you don’t have full control. The instant feeling of relief you get from that alone is priceless.
With time and practice, the more you learn to do it, the more natural it will be for you to deal with situations in an entirely different way.
You’ll no longer hold onto the false belief that you can control everything in your life, and you’ll feel a million times better for it.
The best way to connect with Carl and join the discussion is on his Facebook page