Bullying…Why don’t people stop? 😡

 

Today I will be exploring one of the more darker and sinister sides of human behaviour.

Ever since we formed civilisations and communities; bullying has existed.

If bullying is relentless and consistent it acts as a brainwashing technique and after a while, the person on the receiving end believe this behaviour toward them is justified. This gives the bully more control and the power to enforce intimidation and abuse, which crumbles the person’s sense of self-worth.

Bullies will also employ other people to antagonise the person, to strengthen their ‘power’ and to convince the person they deserve this nasty treatment.

We will be exploring why people bully? What behaviours can be classified as bullying? And what we can do to put an end to this horrific behaviour?

 


 

In recent years we have identified the different forms of bullying. It was once thought that bullying remained in the playground and consisted of stealing lunch money and name calling. But we’ve now realised that adults can be broken down and bullied in many of the same ways.

Bullying can occur pretty much wherever there is human interaction such as work, relationships, friendships and even by strangers. The reason I say strangers is because in this new age of social media there has been a new level of malice called ‘Cyber Bullying’.

People in the public eye seem to be one of the main targets of cyberbullying. It’s easier than ever to have direct contact with high profile people minus the Managers and PR people that normally protect them. This leaves the person exposed to the wrath of the general public.  It’s a snowball effect. It often starts with one person sending a critical or even downright evil message to the person in question and then another person sees this and gets involved and then another and another. This is called the ‘Pack Mentality’ or ‘Herd Mentality’. Some people base their opinions and actions on what other people think and do. The targeted person tries to defend themselves but the overwhelming pack mentality can be relentless and bombard the person until breaking point. It’s one thing taking on one person but taking on a group can be almost impossible.

Bullies will often recruit others to do their dirty work. They don’t always reveal themselves as a bolshy, nasty people surrounded by a posse. Sometimes they can come in the form of your best friend or even your partner.

 

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This type of Bullying goes unnoticed for long periods of time as it relies on subtlety. The person on the receiving end of the abuse no longer trusts their own instincts, their self- esteem crumbles and they become a shell of the person they used to be.

That friend who always serves you a barbed wire compliment or the boyfriend who isolates you from your friends or criticises what clothes you wear are all bullies. It’s hard to spot because it doesn’t come in the stereotypical ‘form’ of what we imagine bullying to look like. We all know the classic ‘Frenemy’! Bullies often have a preoccupation with you, watching your every move, it’s weird.

 


 

My experience of Bullying:

I have experienced bullying in many different forms. It started not long after I lost my Mum, in middle school instigated by someone I used to be best friends with. The girls who did it were blonde, confident and nasty (well to me anyway). I was geeky and unsure of myself and obviously, my demeanour encouraged them to mock me, put me down and generally all round feel bad about myself. I was also probably quite damaged from the recent bereavement and I guess they picked up on that. I would stick up for myself, but again when you’re taking on a gaggle of girls it’s difficult not to start believing them.

My next encounter was in High School. Again I was that lanky, awkward girl who had braces, dyed black hair and to be honest was not the most popular person in the world. This time the bullies were male… no matter what I did or said it was ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’. They often found it funny when I got angry or upset, one time I remember one of them stuffing leaves down my top which really hurt. It makes me sad to think about what I went through at that age as I felt people were telling me there was something wrong with me from all angles.

I went to South Africa to see family one Christmas and when I came back I was tanned, blonde and had a new attitude. The bullying stopped, but only for a short time. It was a superficial way to make the mocking stop.

When I moved to London at 16 years old; the years of being told I was crap burned inside me and ignited my ambition or ‘need’ to show people I wasn’t what they said I was. Through work, I gained success and admiration. Finally, I’d shown them that I wasn’t this geeky awkward girl, but inside that still how I felt about myself.

Even though people from my past seemed to back off and have even graciously even gone as far as to throw me a few compliments here and there, the scars were still there. I seemed to attract the same types of personalities but with different faces, which often happens when you’re subconscious is running the show. I’ve realised I encourage processing trauma and tackling the critical voice but actually, I’ve neglected the other side healing which is building confidence and discovering goals and qualities about the self we like.

Bullies are not happy people. When people envision insecurity people often think of a person hunched over, unable to look at anyone in the eye. When in fact insecurity can present itself as grandiosity, narcissism, control and bullying. Think about it why do you feel the need to antagonise someone who has done nothing to you? Why do you care? If the only way to feel good about yourself is to victimise other people than you have a problem. I’d compare it to a poisonous codependence.

I saw this case recently where a young girl encouraged her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself, not suggested it, but actually BULLIED him to do it. You can watch the story here. She tried to blame it on her mental illnesses and change of medication but luckily the Judge saw through her Bullsh*t and sentenced her. It really annoys me when people blame mental illness on their evil actions. They have nothing to do with each other! It just breeds stigma and contempt from people who don’t have a strong understanding of mental health.

 

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When we were kids our self-esteem and sense of self-worth is determined by the relationship we have with our parents. When puberty starts the validation seeking switches from parents to peers. It’s paramount we ‘fit in’, and be accepted by other children. We crave independence from our parents and start to form a personal identity that’s not reliant on Mum and Dad. So anything that makes us ‘different’ is a source of shame for the child because it means they are not ‘like everyone else’. For me, it was mainly because I was awkward, tall and had a funny sounding surname. I hated these things about myself and even developed a bit of a hunch to stop attention being brought to my height.

Now I love being tall, its one of best physical features. I love my awkwardness I think it makes creative and think outside the box. And my surname… well I half South African and proud. Go to South Africa and my surname is like ‘Smith’ over there.

During our teens, it’s all about the opposite sex. We care about being attractive and being desired and it really stays that way throughout adulthood. You could say some even look for validation from their children later on down the line. But in general, that’s the natural order of things.

 


 

Main Forms of Bullying:

Violent:

Physical forms of abuse include hitting, scratching, spitting and can even sexual dominance or abuse. This can be seen in school children wearing extra layers to hide the evidence of their attack. Or wives who claim the bruise on their eye was caused by ‘walking into the door’. It can also be used when describing the destruction of one’s property. Ie) Destroying items that the bully know means a lot to the victim.

Social:

This is when the bully will use other people to help them make the person’s life a misery. It includes spreading gossip or rumours; otherwise known as character annihilation, encouraging others to socially exclude them, mimicking or playing nasty jokes, sniggering behind someone’s back when you know it will upset them and so on. Through doing this the Bully can hide behind other people, thus not having to take ‘full responsibility’  and the face the consequences when discovered. It also makes the victim feel that it’s not just one person that has such disdain towards them, its everyone.

Verbal:

This is an attack of words which can cut really deep. It chips away at the person self-esteem and worth. The person becomes vulnerable and makes it easier for the malicious words to penetrate. Typical verbal abuse consists of shouting, patronising, insulting, name-calling, abusive remarks about someone’s gender, race, sexual preference etc… making someone the butt of the jokes, humiliation, the list goes on. The old ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is an old-fashioned saying, but it holds very little water because words can sometimes be mentally more damaging than physical abuse, especially over long periods of time.

Cyber:

This is a relatively new one. And has reared its ugly head with the rise of social media; ‘trolling’ has become a millennial epidemic. This is a real nasty one as again it relies on the pack mentality. It’s often said that if people were on their own they wouldn’t behave like that, but when they are in a group something happens. The group can attack not only the victim but other people involved in the person’s life like friends/family. The bombardment of internet messages can overwhelm the victim and has even been reported to cause the person to self-harm or even worse take their own life.  The internet is so vast that any wrong or malicious information can be escalated by vindictive people who don’t even know you, making it their life mission to spread as much hate as possible. This can also take the form of ‘Revenge Porn’, a scorned ex-lover putting a video of you in your most intimate moments for the world to see… creeps, family and friends…anyone. Its purpose is to cause maximum humiliation; thank God at least that’s now illegal.

 


 

Why do people Bully: 

I try to be diplomatic when it comes to explaining the reasons behind peoples atrocious behaviour as I believe we are not born ‘bad’. There are normally reasons why people behave the way they do. But when it comes to bullies, I find it challenging.

When it comes to children, I understand they don’t know how to express themselves properly. They may be bullied at home by siblings or adult family members and the only way they know how to deal with this is to make others feel bad about themselves. I understand this, it doesn’t make it right though. I would encourage the school to get involved with not just the victim but the bully as well. I suggest their circumstance ie) home life and mental health are analysed and be sent to see a counsellor.

Or if they are relatively ‘fine’, I’d say we need stricter punishment so the Bully does not carry on acting out into adulthood. Protection of the victim needs to be made an absolute priority as well as the after-effects of the abuse, this goes for adults at work as well.

Adult bullies, however, I have no sympathy for. To continuously hurt someone who is innocent (and I use this word because no one ‘deserves’ abuse) is bordering on Sociopathic. Maybe insecurity is driving it, but it’s what you allow your behaviour to be that really determines who you are as a person. Bullying can be a sign of jealousy, the victim has something the bully wants. In their twisted minds, they think if they pull that person down it will give them power, control and self-esteem. This may work for a short time but as we know it’s impossible to get validation from the external it will always be conditional. After a while, they may even get a kick out of doing it, to me, this is sadistic.

Having said this bullying also exists in the animal world. Obviously, animals aren’t doing it to be a dick. Although I’m sure there are animals out there who can be ‘so and so’s’ but I’m pro-animal so they can’t really do any wrong in my eyes. Any bullying behaviour would come from a place of survival as against nastiness. For example, the Omega Wolf is the lowest ranking member of the pack. The animal may not possess the right qualities to lead the pack and this will be a threat to the pack as a whole, so the Alpha Wolf dominates.

This is not to say the person being bullied is weak, but they may be smaller in stature or in some way vulnerable. Your vulnerability can be your biggest strength, it’s people’s ignorance that they think they can dominate you because you are shy or sensitive is a true sign of the bullies weakness. You are strong you just don’t realise it yet. The amount of bullies who have tried to suck up to me on Social Media since we left school is quite pathetic really. Shows a real defect of character.

 

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What are the signs of bullying?

From what I’ve experienced and researched there are certain signs. They may be subtle or obvious. I’ve experienced bullying even in acting/writing courses that were meant to be fun!  Great time that was!

  • If you dread going somewhere because certain people will be there. That’s normally a red flag that bullying is occurring.
  • It seems to be you vs the rest of the group and you feel singled out. You may feel like you’ve done nothing to encourage this treatment.
  • Everything you do is ‘wrong’. Things you say/do. They may question why you did this or that a certain way making you doubt yourself constantly.
  • You may hear rumours about yourself. Or some people could be really nice to you and then get involved in the ‘pack mentality’ against you. It’s often people who are malleable who tend to be easily swayed. They are incapable of having their own opinion.
  • Someone who criticises you constantly. And then often tells you you’re being paranoid. This is what’s known as ‘Reactive Abuse’. People taunt you or bully you to get a reaction out of you then label you as aggressive or crazy or whatever when in fact you were just reacting to their abuse or defending yourself.
  • Your instincts are usually spot on. If someone makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to put up with it just to keep the peace.
  • Mocking … again this goes with the last comment if you feel it’s done in a malicious way you are well within your right to call this behaviour out. They may tell you to not be so sensitive but this is also a manipulation tactic in order to make you doubt what you know is wrong.
  • When having a disagreement with someone, they use aggressive body language or start trying to dominate you. If someone tries to ‘intellectually dominate’ you watch out for this as it’s a form of bullying.
  • If someone who is nice to everyone else but pretends you’re not there then this again is bullying albeit a subtle form. They may exclude you from events that everyone else is going to. Or give you the short straw ie) knowingly overwhelming you with paperwork, and then criticising you for not being able to keep up.
  • Laughing can be used as a way to humiliate. So if you feel someone is laughing at you and not with you this is normally a red flag.
  • Nitpicking, again this goes with trying to make you feel like ‘everything you do is wrong’.

 

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Fighting Back: 

I don’t suggest fighting fire with fire, try water. I’ve acted aggressively towards the perpetrator in the past and it’s only escalated things. You can fight back from a place of strength and genuine power. You may want to ‘show them’ you are more than what they say. But this will all come in good time, trust me from experience.

Here are some tips:

  • Bullies are looking for a reaction. Don’t let them have one. Show their opinion of you is worthless. I know it’s hard, and even if you want to burst out crying right there and then (which you can do when you’re on your own) be strong and know you are taking away the bullies power.
  • Tell someone! Tell a person who has your best interests at heart. Sometimes in the workplace, it can be difficult as the bully may be your Boss! There is always someone more senior to tell. If the person is reprimanded then they will normally blame you. Know this is only because they are scared of the consequences in store from them, which they absolutely deserve. Even if you are worried people will think you’re exaggerating, just know bullying is bullying and you don’t have to put up with behaviour on any level.
  • Keep evidence. Start building a case against the bully. When you do tell someone they will be able to take stronger action if they have your evidence to back up the story.
  • Start building up a support group. I don’t mean a posse, because you’ll find some people don’t want to get ‘involved’. But a support system of friends who can help you and support you day to day whilst this is going on.
  • Do your best to realise that this has nothing to do with you. It’s them who have something wrong with them. Not you!

 


 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Bullying is thankfully now being taken more seriously than it was in the past. It’s important we recognise the detrimental effect this kind of abuse can have on people whether they are a child or an adult.

People are speaking up on a massive international platform and this behaviour is no longer being tolerated. I think sometimes victims of bullying don’t realise the severity of their situation. They think they deserve this treatment or it may be in some way their fault. This is why we need to vocalise the signs and symptoms so people can recognise those insidious traits in the perpetrator, and take action to get out!

 

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If you want to read more posts like this don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. I’ll be writing a new post every Friday.

 

Warmest Regards

 

 

Happy belated Birthday Madonna! And btw what’s the obsession with women and age?

Happy Birthday Madonna!!

Sixty years old!

An Icon, a Superstar and the ultimate Game Changer!

Since before I existed Madonna has been performing and wowing audiences on a humongous international level. Love her or hate her she is still one of the most famous women to ever grace the modern pop culture era and is still going strong!

But as she hits another birthday milestone one of the hot topics that has come to light recently is her age. I can’t help but feel this opinion seems to be flavoured with a hint of judgement.

It seems her male counterparts are praised for their golden years; they are thought to be in their ‘prime’. We speak about people like Mick Jagger ageing but it’s something that’s considered a celebration rather than a criticism and he’s 15 years old than Madonna!

It’s not only the Celebrity world which is affected by sexism and ageism. We deal with it on a daily basis through off-handed remarks, social media, family, old-fashioned opinions etc… But why should we be ashamed or embarrassed about our age!? We shouldn’t feel like need to lie about our age.


 

A lot of women say they are actually happier with age and experience behind them. They know themselves, care less about what people think and are no longer concerned with conforming to what people expect of them. This sounds like bliss! I’d take this any day over my teenage years of insecurity, hiding my face full of makeup and never being thin enough … despite being considered ‘lanky’ at the time! Whenever I look back at pictures of my younger self I wonder ‘What was I so worried about?’.

 

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Madonna has always pushed the boundaries of what’s considered appropriate so why should she stop now? Who decides the age limit to be able to wear certain attire?

The male equivalent of the shaming ‘Mutton dressed as Lamb’ label seems to be the middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis; buying a motorbike and leaving his wife for a younger woman. So I wouldn’t say the obsession with ageing is just catered to women but it does seem to be more publicised and stigmatised when it comes to the ‘fairer sex’.

Mother Nature lacks a bit of compassion in this area too. As women approach 30 pressure from society and her own body clock to enter into Motherhood becomes a constant niggling anxiety for a lot of women. Nature dictates we can’t wait as long as men can but if someone isn’t ready to have a baby or isn’t interested in being a Mum surely that’s her business?

Men can Father children well into their 60’s, even 70’s and women are judged for having a baby in her 40’s. It feels like an unfair advantage that men have. And if a woman does choose to have a baby later in life the claws come out just like they did for Brigitte Nielson when she revealed she was pregnant at the age of 54.

Just like Brigitte, Madonna is in an industry that monetizes on beauty, youth and some could even argue the insecurities of women. Madonna refuses to care what the critics say and continues to wear the same attire that would be considered risqué for even a 25-year-old to wear. In my opinion, I think this is a great political statement and takes serious balls to break the mould; maybe we could have taken a leaf out of her book when we were younger instead of bowing down to other people’s opinions.

Personally, I wouldn’t wear the clothes I did as a teenager because a) they were a mismatch of things I thought looked good and b) as I’ve got older my taste in fashion has changed. I’ve never been too comfortable showing off my body, preferring to go for comfort rather than fashion; that’s just how I am. Now I’m older I figured out I can go for both; I’m more the demographic for ‘Zara’ than ‘Forever 21’ nowadays. But also I would like to think if I did have a complete change of heart and dress more extravagant I could do this without feeling like I’m ‘not allowed’.

I also appreciate a beautiful woman no matter what her age, I even think some women look better with a bit of age.  I prefer how I look now compared to how I looked when I was 17 years old with puppy fat around the edges. I know what suits me instead of trying to copy what my friends wore and what suited them.

 

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Women are also more prone to invest in surgical procedures to stay ‘youthful’ and ‘attractive’; although saying this in recent years it seems more popular for men to go down this route as well. Beauty Brands exploit women’s insecurity surrounding age to make money. They strategically market their products to have the ‘magical formula’ that will apparently take years off ‘Death Becomes Her’ Style. I don’t think I’ve actually used a product where I thought ‘I look younger!’. If I ever have thought this it’s when I’ve had more sleep and was eating healthier.

 

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In recent years going grey has taken the fashion world by storm. It’s mainly sported on younger women, but there are definitely some older women embracing their silver hair.

I remember the women in my family desperately trying to cover up grey hairs with blonde boxes of ‘Wella’. Whereas men were seen as ‘sexy’ flaunting the silver fox look. But saying this let’s not think about those cheesy commercials enticing men to dye their hair charcoal black.

 

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Meet Eveline Hall a 72-year-old Classic Model signed to the prestigious ‘Models 1’  Model Agency. She has worked with plenty of renowned fashion brands internationally, jet sets across the globe and has a job most twenty-somethings could only dream of! How admirable is this for a woman who is monumentally past the discriminating ‘shelf life’ stage!

A lot of women fall into the status quo by settling down and working a 9 -5 to help pay off the Mortgage. Nothing wrong with this but some may only find out what they really want when they’re older. We shouldn’t have to deal with a ‘missed opportunity’ culture that discriminates against people finding their passion later in life. At least female models are getting some kind of break with agencies expanding their categories to ‘Classic’ and ‘Curve’ instead of just ‘Main Board’ and ‘New Faces’. What this means is that the world now realises that you can be beautiful, even if you’re not skinny and/or younger.


 

Even though I am not overly thrilled about some of the ways society is changing; I am however noticing a new age where a celebration of one’s self is being recognised. So when I see derogatory comments about someone’s age, sexual preference, gender etc… it tells me we have some way to go before we are all considered ‘equal’ in societies eyes. There’s a change occurring in the way people think but I also fear that things are still the same just on a more subtle level as they know they can’t be as expressive with their judgement as they may have once been allowed to be, so it goes on in more of a devious way. But as long as it’s not the ‘norm’ and they have an element of fear about their prejudices we are making progress.

I think there’s more to a woman than her age. Confidence, kindness and wisdom are all just as beautiful as a wrinkle-free girl with toned abs, if not more.

Let’s celebrate age, and not give ourselves a time limit to feel beautiful and desirable.

This is your life you only get the one. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, live it as you please, you always have the right to feel good about yourself.

 

Warmest Regards

What I learnt from my 6 month Social Media detox 📱

It was difficult!

At times I literally felt myself in withdrawal.

I made a list to remove unhelpful things from my life.

It looked a little something like this:

  • Alcohol.
  • Meat (Ethical reasons).
  • Toxic People
  • Social Media
  • Jobs that I no longer enjoyed

etc…

Social Media was actually one of the worst. A clear sign I had an addiction. And I’d consider myself a moderate user!


Like most Millennials; Social Media has infiltrated my life. Admittedly I’m more of a Social Media Voyeur than a Poster… but I do go through phases where my virtual friends are probably bombarded with my posts. Sorry!

I’ve even tried removing myself from the online forums but constantly felt like I was missing out on everything. There seems to be an unwritten rule that you are some how ‘outside’ if you don’t use Social Media. Even work expects you to be virtually ‘present’.

During my detox I witnessed the corruption of Facebook, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Law take effect. This makes me feel so much safer because it gives everyone the right to ‘disappear’.

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Negative Aspects of Banning Social Media:

  • Constantly feeling like you’re missing out on something.
  • Losing work… especially if you’re Freelance.
  • Losing ‘Virtual Friends / Followers’.
  • Missing out on events.
  • People getting irritated because they think you’re ignoring them.
  • Unable to share news on a large scale.
  • Not being able to keep up with recent news about what people are up to.
  • Having access to larger amount of people to talk to.
  • Reconnecting with people from the past.
  • Not being able to Virtually Network.

Positive Aspects of Banning Social Media:

  • Having ‘A LOT’ more free time.
  • Feeling like you don’t have to compete or compare with others.
  • Feeling more present in my own life.
  • Building stronger connections with my true friends.
  • Concentration improved.
  • Being more satisfied with my own life.
  • Getting more things done.
  • Actually physically meeting people instead of hiding behind a Virtual Avatar.
  • Less lonely.
  • More peaceful.

As you can see Social Media obviously has it’s good points. Especially for work. I don’t think it’s detrimental to your business not to have Social Media but it does have it’s advantages. On the contrary having to find work the old fashioned way has helped me build more authentic contacts as I find on Social Media you can convince people you’re whoever you want to be; which means more Bullsh*ters.

One thing I also realised was that a lot of people who were on the verge of ‘stardom’ disappeared. As soon as I logged out I didn’t really see them anywhere, it was all online. This is not a dig as I know there’s lot’s of famous Vloggers whose main platform is Social Media. It was just an observation.


I still want to create a business and work in a Freelance capacity just in a different area.

How do I do this without conforming to the addiction?

Boundaries.

Looking at the list Pro and Against Social Media I can see it’s healthier to be offline. I still want that level of satisfaction and gratitude for my life without falling into that all too tempting spiral of Compare and Despair.

A few years ago I decided not to stalk ex’s as it just ended up annoying me, and you can’t really see what’s real as like everyone they put up their ‘best life’. Though annoyingly this doesn’t stop them contacting me out the blue! I really don’t like it! I don’t like how Social Media provides a way for them to see what I’m up to. I’ve done the whole ‘blocking’ them on every app, but they still find a way to contact me online. It creeps me out to be honest. Should have put that on the list!

Sorry went on a bit of a rant. Back to more important issues … Boundaries!

So as I mentioned I do think it’s useful to have Social Media in you’re life especially if you’re a Freelancer.

But let’s not forget there’s darker side of the internet.

It’s believed 87 million were affected by the Facebook Scandal. Information about users was purposely divulged without the users consent.

It’s also been suspected that Social Media hacks the microphone in your mobile to listen into your private conversations in order to pick up on keywords. The theory is they do this so they can target you with suspiciously specific advertisements. Not sure if this is true or not.

But check this out.

And what’s scarier is that if you have open privacy or accept requests from people you don’t really know then it could be someone more dangerous than a stupid ex watching you.

I know a lot of my friends post proud pictures and video’s of their children running around having fun just being a kid; sometimes in their bikini or PJ’s. And it’s great they want to share these cherished moments with friends and family. But be aware you are putting these pictures on the internet. ANYONE can get hold of these pictures even if you are being cautious.

Million’s of video’s are shared each day containing abuse of a person who is underaged. And that’s only one’s that we know of, which actually sends chills down my spine.

Blake Lively is an Ambassador for Child Rescue Coalition and this is what she had to say.

DISCLAIMER: Please note some of the issues she talks about are disturbing.

I’m not pointing this out to upset anyone. I just want children and parents to be safe. That’s what I’d want for my child, and any parent I know would want the same.

Here’s my tips on using Social Media safely and constructively:

Safe:

  • Instead of putting pictures online. Maybe create a WhatsApp group with Friends and Family where a large group of people can see pictures of you child. This is what a friend of mine does.
  • But if you do want to upload make sure you know everyone on your Network. I’d say something like Facebook is easier to use as with Instagram/ Twitter anyone can follow you. Unless you have a locked account.
  • Make your account private.
  • Steer clear of uploading pictures of your children in bikini’s or anything like that. There are predators out there and they are very smart and will be drawn to pictures like this. Unfortunately this is the world we live in.
  • Be careful of checking in. This could encourage stalking or for people to know you’re not at your home to protect it.
  • Personal details… emails, phone numbers…. credit card details! Keep it to yourself.
  • If your child has their own account. Be aware of who their talking to. Predators often disguise themselves as the same age as your child. And what’s scary is that predators can also be young. So it’s difficult to distinguish.
  • They can also coerce your child … making the child besotted with them. So be aware for any behavioural changes in your child when they use Social Media.
  • Check on the types of photo’s they are posting. It may seem innocent to them but maybe catnip to a predator.
  • If you’re dating online. Make sure you properly research the person, ask around if you have mutual friends. Let a friend know where you will be if you meet up with this online person. Because most of the time they are a complete stranger.

Again I’m not just trying to be dark. I genuinely think Social Media can be fun, but let’s not be naïve.

Constructive:

  • It’s easy to scroll and scroll and then realise 4 hours have gone by. If you are going to scroll one tip that helped me was to set a timer. Therefore you can moderate the time you’re on it without wasting too much time.
  • Write a list of what you need to do online and do it. It’s the prerogative of Social Media to distract you. You’re about to do something then something else pops up with pretty pictures then you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of online timewasting.
  • Research people who could help your business, write down their name/details then log off. See is you can email them directly or If you have to message them online do it then log off. Don’t sit there and wait for a reply, it’s too temping to scroll.
  • With Facebook there’s a separate app ‘Messenger’ which you can use to just talk to people without physically going onto Facebook. There’s nothing more depressing then going online and seeing you have a tonne of notifications only to realise it’s all irrelevant.
  • Post what you need to and log off. Don’t wait for a comment or keep checking. This creates ‘Validation Seeking’ which is harmful to your self esteem.
  • With my Blog I’ve found a way to connect my posts to my Social Media. So it means I don’t have to physically go on each site and post. The blog posts it on all these platforms for me, so it prevents me from going online and checking. Obviously it’s nice to see comments but no comment has been that miraculous it’s worth losing my inner peace for. The checking is a compulsion that must be controlled; otherwise it controls you.
  • If you really can’t control your need for Social Media. I would suggest a cold turkey ban. I know it feels like you’ve gone to live on Mars but I promise you, you’re rarely missing much.
  • Get a friend to post for you. Therefore you can’t indulge.
  • Have a purpose. Write down all the things in your life that are suffering because of your online addiction. Maybe there’s a book you can’t seem to finish. Or an unfinished project etc…
  • Delete Apps and always be logged out. This will make it more difficult to just log in as you have to go through the hassle of going to the website, typing in your password etc…

So my post went a slightly different direction from what I expected it to. But nevertheless I felt it was an important message to convey.

I would recommend anyone who is worried about an addiction to Social Media to give yourself a limited break. Make sure you have a set date when you can go back on … trust me it will make the withdrawal easier. Let people who you want to keep in contact with know what you are doing, or you could even announce it in your status. Depending how you feel.

I would really recommend it. After the initial shock I felt so much happier and felt I could easily never log in again. It was interesting as soon as I started flirting with the idea of being virtually present that obsessive, compulsive side started wanting more and more. So this is why I’ve had to have strict boundaries to ensure I stay present in my actual life instead of my virtual one. And share my life with people who I want in my life instead of a load of strangers.

Hope you enjoyed my post. If you would like to read more articles like this please make sure you subscribe to my blog to read my latest posts.

Stay safe!

Warmest Regards

Part 1: I want to lose weight but I don’t like exercise and love food too much #Help !! 🍦🍔🍟

This has been a lifelong dilemma.

And to be honest I think it has been for most women.

So what do we do if we haven’t got a naturally super fast metabolism? Apart from cry….

 

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The problem:

I used to work at a Gym. And what I saw was a lot of clients regularly attending the gym with militant discipline; even spending a small fortune on trainer’s with minimal results.

Why?

I think one of the main reasons was black and white thinking. They separated their life from exercise. I’ve been guilty of this in the past; not believing in the power of small changes. They take the lift, think they can be slack with food because they work so hard in the gym 3 x times a week. Unfortunately it doesn’t;t really work like that.

For me, I can’t think of anything worse than being constantly active. I’m already running around like a headless chicken with stress draining every bit of energy I have.

What used to annoy me was some Personal Trainers lack of ability to consider peoples lifestyles. They had a ‘if you really want it attitude that was more judgemental than helpful. I’d like to see exercise as much as they do with a demanding full time job in another field and even children!
Lifestyle:

You think the way I run around I’d be skinny as anything but I’m not. In fact I’m the biggest I’ve ever been (Size 12 pushing size 14). I’ve always had child bearing hips which the modelling industry hated, but unfortunately I can’t slim down bone.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with food and my body. I’m not good to my body, I’ll be the first one to admit it, then I criticise it for not being how I want it.

I’ve denied myself food in the past. Especially as a kid, I was referred to as lanky. But then I moved in with my Dad who was a big foodie and I could eat anything I want and all hell broke loose. I went from the strict upbringing from my Grandparents to the chaotic lifestyle I lived with my Dad. Funny enough this is the relationship I have with food… all or nothing.

I don’t really think London is healthy. I live off sandwiches and sushi and find I’m hungry again in an hour. There is a theory that a lot of fast food chains are in cahoots with diet/slimming companies as keeping us in the gaining weight/loosing weight cycle makes serious bucks!!

The constant buzz means stress levels are constantly high, and stress burns energy so we need more food to just keep going. Stress also releases cortisol which makes it almost impossible to shift that tire around your mid section.

Watching Netflix until silly o’clock in the morning disrupts sleep, spiking cortisol contributing to the Michelin Man look.

Coffee spikes your insulin resulting in a hunger crash. Your body is constantly running on empty so it’s trying to hold anything it can to keep you going.

And you wonder why you’re not losing weight?

You go hours without food, then stuff it in like it’s the last supper. And then that creates a habit for binge eating as you probably don’t know what feeling full really feels like (and no I’m not referring to feeling like your about to combust, I’m talking about feeling like you’ve had sufficient).
Methods I’ve tried:

I’ve tried pretty much everything!

Consistency is my issue.

I’ve spent many years in the gym realising I don’t actually like this. I like the feeling after and feeling motivated but it’s quick and easy to go back to old habits. Actually yes, it’s part discipline and part not having a purpose. I would rather read or write then put myself through pain. And what’s the point I’m not training to be an athlete nor am I about to be on the front cover of Vogue… so what’s the point in putting myself through this torture?
Slimming Pills:

Yes. I got super slim off them, I was also early twenties and didn’t know they were basically speed! My hair fell out, I kept getting bites that were quick to get infected. I was cold not matter how hot it was and I was constantly in a fowl mood (the model agencies loved it!)

As soon as I stopped my course, the hunger came back with vengeance! I abused McDonalds and just could not get enough. My body literally took over my will. It was then I realised it was all good and well losing the weight, but not I realised I had to keep it off!

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That pose! Eek! 😣

Trying to keep up an unrealistic lifestyle:

I was surrounded by Personal Trainers and Models all giving me extreme weight loss advice. I began a cycle of rebelling and bingeing, then punishing myself at the gym. Only now do I realise I had/have bulimic tendencies. I wasn’t throwing up so I didn’t see it like that. The more I was ordered to loose weight from agencies the more I got scared and ate more. I should have realised then my heart wasn’t really in it.

I normalised these extreme lifestyles and berated myself if I couldn’t keep up. May I add a lot of these people (not all) had some kind of ‘help’ in the form of slimming pills, detox teas, fat burners or in some extreme cases steroids.

This lifestyle was not for me. I might have been a lot slimmer but I was miserable.

Quick Fixes:

Ok so no pills.

But I can drink warm water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon instead of food right?

Wrong. You’re supposed to do this for a few weeks, I got to two days. It was awful! And at the end just lost water instead of fat, and was more hungry than I’ve ever been so started eating twice as much as before.

I hear baby food works?

Tried it. Apart from it being gross, it has no nutritional value. I’ve recently learnt if you don’t give your body what it wants it keeps sending the hunger pangs until you do. That’s why even though you feel full after a whole day of carbs your appetite will increase because A) You’re eating more to compensate and more eating will lead to eating more and B) Your not helping your body so it starts nagging. If you want your body to help you, you have to help it.

A few of my friends have tried detox teas and pills that make you drain out the fat when you go to the loo (eww). I was always too scared and yes they had some public accidents… so I really REALLY don’t recommend this!

Psychology books:

I liked this as it got to the root cause of my erratic eating patterns. I also think there’s an underlining belief women shouldn’t have a healthy appetite. I know there’s a lot of men who like but I’ve had experiences where some men have made comments, that I think were used to shame me.

‘Mind your fingers’

‘You’re not still hungry are you?’

‘Gosh you like you’re food don’t you’

‘Are you really getting more food’

‘You don’t have discipline’

‘That’s a lot of food you have on your plate’

I will eat however I bloody well like, and it’s not for you to make comments!

One of the books suggested really listening to your body to see when it’s full and to stop there even if you haven’t finished your food. I HATE seeing food to go to waste! As a kid I didn’t care, I left what I didn’t want…wish I could do that now. Think that comes from too many years of being guilt tripped about all the starving children there are in the world. That’s quite a lot to put on a child. I wish I could go back to my natural hunger thermostat.

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The Solution:

I’ve come to realise it’s not all my fault. I’m not giving myself a get out of jail free card I admit my motivation and discipline could be worked on. Lets concentrate on what we can do.

Over the next year I will be experimenting from a more self compassionate approach and see how this works. This isn’t to say I’m going to be over lenient with myself I will still have boundaries (with myself), I’ve tried being hard on myself and all it does is demotivate me and makes me reach for the chips!

Sleep:

I’m going to start with the basics. I haven’t got a work routine at the moment so I have to make one for myself. I need to get to know myself properly and what works for me, and what changes I need to make. For example, I only watch what I eat when I’m exercising otherwise what’s the point (needs changing).

Sleep is so important. We can survive days/weeks without food, but sleep more than two night and we start going mad. Even that’s a stretch!

Exercise increases our energy levels. But the first hurdle into exercising when your already burn out is exhausting and I think tough on the body. So how do we get new energy to exercise? More sleep.

I’m guilty of this electronics keeping me awake, my stupid phone beeping to tell me I’ve got a new junk email or what the weather is going to be tomorrow. Turn it all off. I know it’s boring and tempting to what more episode, (I’m not denying that you need some winding down time after work or school).

Make sure you got to bed at a certain time each night. This takes practise, even if your are going to bed most nights on time, that is good enough. I understand this is especially difficult with kids.

I’ve come to realise anything you put before your mental and physical health you ultimately lose. For example, putting work before your health can make you sick. You get sick you cannot work.

If your anything like me, my mind is constantly racing and my body is constantly exhausted relying on caffeine to get me through the next hour. This is not uncommon for Londoners.

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So this will be my first step is to sort out my sleep.

Tools:

I’m not a big fan of cooking, but I’m easily infuriated by the food prices in London. How is a Sandwich close to £5. It’s ridiculous!

List:

  • Grill Pan …. I bought this as you can through on some salmon or meat with some vegetables. It’s quick and easy especially if you want a nutritious healthy meal that’s quick!
  • Frylight ….This is 1 kcal per spray. I love Olive Oil and it’s somewhat healthy for you, but just in the beginning it’s best to start with something lighter.
  • Tupperware….You’re going to need a lot of these. I suggest 1 set of different sizes, and a few set’s of the same size. Preferably one’s you can carry around with you.
  • Trainers … I used to run a lot and ended up getting Shin Splints if you want to know what they are click here. It’s really painful and are normally caused by ill fitting or old trainers. I recently started getting pain at the side of my legs and when I went to buy some new trainers in ‘Lilywhites’ they had a device where you stepped onto it and it told you where you put the most pressure on your feet and presented me with the perfect trainer to solve the problem. My foot arch is really high so I over compensate by putting all the weight on the outside of the foot causing a ripping pain on the outside of the leg.

That’s about it really.

Next step is to find out what you enjoy. This will give you a taste for exercise in an enjoyable way. The subconscious is programmed to want more of things so as soon as you get those endorphins going the brain will want more. And you start seeing results, the brain will want more.

I like walking so I’m going to try and incorporate that more. I also use a website called ‘Borrow my doggy’ where you can borrow an owners dog in your area to take out for a while. I fell in loves with Alaska, she’s a 3 year old Siberian Husky !

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I check my phone after and I’ve normally done about 20,000 and not even noticed!

I’ve always wanted to try dance, so I’m going to give that a go. Also if you like running maybe you could do it with a friend. Or even swimming? Anything to get you interested again.

If you suffer with depression I know exercise is the equivalent to an anti-depressant but depression itself is starting to be recognised as a physical illness. It drains your body of energy and makes you feel like your being dragged down constantly.

Don’t feel bad if you can only do a small amount, this isn’t suggested because your not capable. It’s suggested because like anyone with a chronic illness it’s a sometimes a little bit more difficult, and it’s not fair as your not always starting at the same place in the race as everyone else. Trust me I should know.

Sometimes I see if anyone’s around to go for a walk with. Or I walk and treat myself at the end with a coffee. Because even though it seems like a small step, the way your body is, it would probably equal to someone who isn’t suffering with depression going on a 30 minute run! There’s actually I great app I sometimes use that builds up your fitness over time. You actually start with mainly walking! It’s called ‘Running for weight loss’ and because it’s interval training it builds up your fitness gradually, which is actually the key for consistency.

Being Realistic:

I’m never going to have the body of Pussy Cat Doll because I don’t have a Nutritionist, Personal Trainer on hand as well as probably doing 10 hours of dancing a day. I’m always going to be curvy and have soft parts. There’s a saying that goes …. ‘I wish I could be fat like I was at 25’. This is so true! I’ve always seen myself as over weight even when I was actually clinically underweight. And this is because you really can’t have an objective view of yourself as you see your body in your minds eye.

For example, if I always see myself as over weight, my brain will think that’s my natural state. So it will self sabotage to ensure that internal image is matched with reality. That’s why it’s really important to recognise and celebrate your progress. Taking photo’s helps.

Just a note: Don’t be too discouraged by the first picture that comes out. Remember weight in transient. Granted we all have different genes, lifestyles, metabolisms etc… but things like appetite, health and weight are adaptable. Weight should have no attachment to your sense of self… easy to say I know. But it shouldn’t. Also remember not all of this is your fault there are many factors that contribute to your weight stress and life events, bad quality food that’s too easily available, marketing ploys to play on your hunger, energy levels, criticism from the external etc….

Also if you look at any ‘diet’ it comes down to the same.

Healthy Eating + Exercise = Weight Loss.

I will obviously document my progress through out with photographs and evidence. I’m going to give myself a year because I think that’s how long it takes to make something a lifestyle choice. Some people may do it in a shorter time, and after a month it does become a habit but a real consistent lifestyle, for me, take around a year.

This blog also gives me a purpose to keep motivated. As I know how horrible it is to hate your body and feel trapped in this cycle of always being starving followed by guilt and shame. Something’s got to give!

I hope you can take away some tips and motivation from my posts.

Here we go!

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Warmest Regards

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‘Sometimes you simply cannot save people from themselves’ – Reta Saffo (Kate Spade’s Sister)

The world is still reeling from the shock of losing one of Fashion’s biggest icons.

On Tuesday the 5th of June 2018 Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur Kate Spade was found dead. Her body hanging by a red scarf in her New York Appartment, she was aged just 55.

I’m not sure if there’s a rise in suicide or if there is just more awareness surrounding the issue as it’s normally people in the public eye who draw attention to an already ongoing problem. But it seems more than ever people are starting to realise the drastic impact Mental Health issues can have on a person, which fingers crossed is a sign things are changing. I pray this encourages understanding and compassion and is no longer a taboo subject.


The will to survive is in every living creature. So it seems to be going against what’s natural to take your own life. The desire to end life must be so strong it overrides the inbuilt survival instinct which is in our DNA.

It’s always a bit more of a shock when someone who seems to ‘have it all’ takes their own life. There’s an assumption that if we have money, success, family, marriage etc… we will be happy, it’s the ‘lack’ that’s the ‘problem’ we convince ourselves. Kate’s case goes to show this is simply not true.

‘Peace comes from within. Do no seek it without.’

– Buddha

There’s truth in what Kate’s Sister said. I have never committed suicide, obviously, but I have been tempted in my darkest hour. For me personally ‘hope’ got me through. And a faith that things would get better.

It’s possible to say that when someone takes their own life, all hope and faith has been extinguished. Ultimately it is your choice to go through with the act, no matter how much loved ones try to convince you otherwise. You have to believe you have something to live for in order to survive.


People who we’ve have lost to suicide in the last few years:

 

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Robin Williams:

Renowned Actor & Comedian.

Known for his exceptional talent and lovable personality.

Born: 21st July 1951

Died: 11th August 2014

 

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Avicii aka Tim Bergling:

Swedish DJ/Musician

He was only 28 y/o at the time of his death.

Born: 8th September 1989

Died: 20th April 2018

 

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Chester Bennington:

Lead singer of American Rock Band ‘Linkin Park’.

One of my favourite bands growing up!

Born: 20th March 1976

Died: 20th July 2017

 

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Stevie Ryan:

American YouTube star and Comedian.

Beautiful, witty and funny.

Born: 2nd June 1984

Died: 1st July 2017

 

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Alexander McQueen (CBE):

World famous Fashion Designer and Celebrity.

Talented, young and at the Top of his game.

Born: 17th March 1969

Died: 11th February 2010

 

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Kate Spade:

Famous Fashion Designer and Business Entrepreneur.

Mother, Wife and Business Woman.

Born: 24th Dec 1963

Died: 5th June 2018


Looking from the outside, I’m sure you’ll agree all these people had everything to live for. So what goes on in the mind to make suicide seem like the only option?

A friend of mine Jonny Benjamin who is a Mental Health Campaigner, Author and Vlogger; made an incredible Documentary about his experience with suicide and mental illness.

The Documentary follows Jonny as he searches for ‘Mike’ a random member of the public who saved his life that early morning in 2008.

Jonny who suffers from Schizophrenia, was loitering around the edge of Waterloo Bridge in a very bad way. Totally ignored by the tyrant of people hastily trying to get to work in morning rush hour. One man stopped. This man was ‘Mike’ aka Neil Layborn. He convinced Jonny to step away from the edge. Thankfully Jonny listened!

He didn’t know who this kind stranger was, so he named him ‘Mike’ and set up a Campaign called ‘Find Mike’. This was a nationwide search to find the Samaritan who saved his life that morning.

You can watch the full documentary here:

Stranger on the Bridge – Jonny Benjamin

Jonny, like myself, believes in challenging stubborn stigmas surrounding mental illness. Unfortunately there are some people who cannot seem to pull themselves out of the dark ages. They believe mental illness is only for the ‘weak’, when actually it takes a monumental amount of strength to carry on when your brain is trying to destroy you, every….single….day!

Some also believe ‘Suicide is selfish’. I’m sorry but this angers me! Its short sighted, simplistic thinking and just plain ignorant! Yes, I feel sorry for the person who has to find the body, but I also feel sorry for the person who was in so much pain that they believed the only way to make it stop was to die!

Advice for people contemplating suicide:

  • The mind is an extremely power entity. Mental illness is a disease of the thoughts. It intertwines itself with your sense of self, forcing you to believe a distorted reality. This illness wants to destroy you. You are more than just an illness.
  • Chronic thoughts circulate themselves over and over and over again. I know this is torture and can be like listening to a tap drip for years on end. But there is help out there, and maybe you have tried many therapies and it’s not worked. It’s normally to do with connection and the relationship you have with your therapist. The right one will make you see what these thoughts for what they really are…edited, biased bullsh*t versions of the truth.
  • Try and hang onto that little bit of hope that has seen you through so many times before. Hope is truth.
  • Sometimes you may not even want to die you just want your mind and pain to stop. The sick part of your mind tells you that there is no other way out. And worryingly this sick voice can disguise itself as the voice ‘trying to help you’. Anything in your mind trying to convince you to cause you harm is not on your side!
  • You’re not alone. Coming from someone who is still grieving the loss of my close family (especially my parents) I can relate to what true loneliness feels like. What kept me going was thinking about how much my Mum wanted to have me, and how heartbroken she would have been if I’d gone through with any sinister plans. I have a duty to keep the legacy of my parents alive. If your family are alive, just think about the pain you passing away would cause. Even after an argument, for example, you may feel vengeful and impulsive. There is no coming back from that decision. Is the value of your life worth that little?
  • Suicide is never a pleasant experience. I don’t think people understand how much the body fights to survive. I’ve heard of overdoses that can leave people in agony for days before they die. Or you may survive and end up with brain damage. Also a lot of people flirt with suicide without actually wanting to die, but things get out of hand and they can actually kill themselves without meaning to.
  • Build a strong support network around you. This is difficult to do, especially in cities. Which is why I attend a support group full of like minded people who understand, it’s important to find your tribe. You’re not alone, no matter how much your mind is telling you that you are.
  • Gratitude lists. In moments of immense pain your mind only focuses on the negative and catastrophises everything that is ‘wrong’ with your life unable to see anything good at all. Looking at the things you like about your life will stop you drowning in dangerous thinking. Gratitude lists can help you see things with a more balanced view.
  • If things are getting out of control call an ambulance. Your life is in danger, just like it would be if your body was hurt.
  • There’s always a solution to every problem.
  • Night time is never a good idea to make decisions about your life. Wait until the morning to see how you feel.

Helplines:

Samaritans: 116 123

Papryus: 0800 068 4141

Maytree: 020 7263 7070

I also discovered this website which I thought was really good. It’s letters from people who have experienced a range of different Mental Health issues. One of the main things to realise is that you can be helped, no matter what’s happened or how weird and painful your thoughts are; you’re not the only one in this boat facing the storm.

http://therecoveryletters.com/

There have been times when I’ve not believed things would ever change or get better, and I will be destined to continue to think in this horrible way 24/7 forever. Even worse what if these thought are true!? They’re not.

If you have survived suicide or lost someone close to you by suicide there is help for the aftermath:

http://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/

http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/

https://uksobs.org/

Three D’s:

If you can relate to thoughts similar to the following I’d say you’ve spiralled into a dark, deceiving mood.

DOWNING: ‘Everything is hopeless. You’ll never get to where you want to be. Everyone else can do everything and you can’t because there’s something wrong with you. In fact everything you’ve tried has pretty much been a f*ck up. No one will ever understand these weird thought’s I’m having I don’t even understand them… I’m incurable and will always have to suffer’. (Sound Familiar?).

DEMANDING: ‘Look how old you are, you should be successful in your career/relationships/ personal life by now! Why haven’t you ever got the energy to do anything your so far behind everyone else you can’t even get to work/school on time! Why are you never happy you should be grateful! Why can’t you keep to anything to set out to do! You should be exercising but your too lazy!’ (Ergh go away you horrible F%4*6!rd voice).

DISASTERISING: ‘You’re going to turn up at that event and so and so is going to be there and you won’t be able to handle it! I bet he still thinks about his ex, and wonders why he is with you! I’m never going to be able to start this way of thinking! And then I’m going to have to go on benefits for the rest of my life because I’m too ill and won’t be able to hold down a job! Oh no I’m going to end up with 100 cats when I’m old… who would want me.’

And you wonder why you’ve had enough…

It’s a well known saying that ‘Confidence is quiet. Insecurities are loud.’ There’s something in you that believes things will get better, it’s the same voice that has carried you through all these years. This voice is to be trusted, no matter how small and quiet it is at the moment… it’s your strength.

 

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Let your faith by bigger than your fear. And be kind to yourself. You’ve been through enough.

Get help. Don’t always trust what your mind is trying to get you to believe. Don’t become another statistic. You’re not alone.

Take care of your beautiful, unique self.

Warmest Regards

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