When working with my female clients, I always made sure to maintain direct eye contact. I found it interesting how varied eye contact could be from client to client, but by keeping my own gaze level and my posture upright, it often calmed my ladies enough to get them to open up about any physical or emotional issues they wanted to work on during our therapy sessions.
I’ve attended numerous workshops and training sessions over the years where I’ve had to correct myself when I realised I had crossed my arms and/or legs. Notably, it was often when the topic was a difficult one to cope with. Folding in on myself was something I started to do long before I left my abusive marriage. Over time, I’ve learned how to open up my body language and slow my speech, although this is still a work in progress. By being responsive to the lessons all around me, I maintain my interest in the people I meet and the subjects I learn and teach.
One lesson that I found to be the most valuable was exploring my personal space. Blank pages don’t scare me, neither do empty rooms, or lulls in conversation. I’ve found the answers to so many questions within these quiet periods. That wasn’t always the case, though, and it’s only through identifying my fears that I’ve been able to reflect on my feelings about this. I challenged myself regularly at the start of my period of recovery and set goals accordingly. One of the challenges I faced that has since become a favourite pastime, was going to the cinema on my own.
Facing the world as a single mother (i.e.: alone) was frightening. It took a great deal of inner work to understand how I’d allowed my situation to control my actions. I was solely responsible for three small lives, but equally, I was responsible for creating my own happiness. I knew how important it was to change my thinking and set goals that were specific to my situation, manageable for a single working mother, achievable, realistic and timely.
I used journaling as a way to record my progress, and assess my achievements. This personal development tool is my main go-to method to this day. It allows me the space I need to evaluate my life. I am also able to reflect on my emotions when dealing with specific experiences.
My three children are all in their teenage years, which comes with its own set of rules! My middle son has a strong personality which can, at times, create conflict. I’m learning to set aside my personal issues so that I can focus on helping him become the unique individual I know he will be. Exam stress and hormones aside, he is a challenge for me, but a challenge I accept as he can teach me so much. He is an extrovert, whereas my eldest son and my daughter are introverts and my parenting skills are constantly put to work as I support their diversities. The quote ‘It is these characteristics and experiences that make a person unique.’ resonated strongly with me as my son is often reprimanded at school for being different (strong, verbal, and sometimes argumentative).
For my own part, I recognise how my behaviour could impact on their beliefs, and I’m also mindful of the various stages I have worked through on my journey; child, victim, anger, and denial.
By understanding these stages, I hope to continue supporting my children in the future. It is my wish that they take responsibility for their actions and maintain positive self-esteem as they become adults.
Raising self-esteem, however, is an ongoing work in progress for me. I have always been able to motivate my family, friends, and my clients, but when I need to turn that around to address my own needs, I often struggle. I’ve learned to stop berating myself and accept that I am doing the best I can. Setting goals, listening to my thoughts, and recognising any negative body language helps me manage my time, emotions, and goals.
Being organised and planning specific areas of my life is a valuable tool. I pre-plan meals and shopping lists to create a stress-free environment at home, as well as organising a household chore list, so the children are engaged in helping with the upkeep of their living space. We work well as a team.
As a writer, it’s imperative that I plan my writing time and stick fastidiously to the schedule if I hope to continue to produce two books a year. My livelihood depends on this, which acts as a positive motivator.
When I became ill a few years ago, I suffered from a severe lack of motivation. However, I gave myself permission to take a step back and think about my goals and action steps. Giving myself this space helped immensely and I could focus on the young adult fiction side of my business, losing myself in fantasy, until I felt ready to return to my non-fiction roots. Having another option kept my writing goals moving forward but gave me the breathing space I needed to work through the physical and mental issues I was facing at the time.
It would have been far too easy to abandon my writing altogether and disappear down the rabbit hole of despair. However, my goals were flexible, and I could tweak them accordingly to meet my new needs. Monitoring my writing sessions proved that I was still producing the necessary work.
Planning at that time enabled me to ‘get my mojo back’ without losing hope, or opting for unhealthy behaviours, and I have been able to maintain these positive changes and evaluate future projects and goals accordingly.
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