Real Talk · Uncategorized

stop being such a doormat.

It’s nice to be nice. It’s nice to do nice things for others. However, when nicety is unreciprocated, taken for granted or turns into an excuse for others to be dismissive of you as a human being, then it becomes a problem.

It occurred to me a couple years ago while I was in the process of letting go of a really toxic friendship, that I was held in a very different regard by others to what I had always assumed. Activities and meet-ups often involved multiple changes that would inevitably make it way more inconvenient and expensive for me. I spent hours waiting for people to turn up. I was repeatedly interrupted whenever I’d speak. I was owed money. It wasn’t uncommon for me to receive messages or have conversations that did not began with a phrase that I have come to loathe:

Can I ask a favour?

The favour. The seemingly easy and straight-forward request that would always turn into a complicated mess and leave me feeling stressed and resentful, particularly when there was no acknowledgement or thanks afterwards. And yet, the one time I remember needing help which would have meant someone having to go out of their way, not a single person responded. Not one.

Of course, being kind, having empathy and sympathy for others and doing our bit to make someone else’s life should be a natural part of our existence. I like doing things for others to make them feel better. I like surprising those close to me to make them smile for no reason. Nevertheless, I’ve found that, for self-preservation and self-care purposes above all, clear boundaries have to be put in place for the more high-maintenance. This isn’t because they are bad people, they are simply used to Becca: The Lapdog.

I decided to make some changes and use words that I had previously found difficult to use:

No, thank you.
I can’t. I’m afraid, I’m busy today.
No thanks, it’s not really my thing, but I appreciate the offer!

At first, it was really interesting. What I discovered was that my ‘no, thanks’ was not considered to be my final answer. It actually caught some people off-guard and surprised them. Often, a conversation would ensue as to why I wasn’t available or couldn’t do something. As if an explanation was required. I would be asked the same thing multiple times in the hope that I would change my mind, only for it then to be passed off as a joke if I made it clear that I wasn’t impressed.

However, over a period of time my consistency started to pay off and now I feel confident enough to understand and verbalise what I will and won’t accept, which is something I would never have done in my younger years.

Here are things you can do to make your life a little easier:

1. Learn the power of no and stick to it. Don’t permit yourself to become involved in what I refer to as a ‘bartering’ style discussion ie. ‘How about you do this and I’ll do this…’ or ‘What about if you do this instead?’ The answer is no. No no no. No. There’s isn’t any need for nastiness or negativity while you’re saying it, but stick to your guns. No.

2. Don’t be afraid of a potential disagreement or verbalising your boundaries. It’s perfectly OK to tell someone that consistently showing up 45 minutes late is unacceptable, unless it’s an emergency. If plans are frequently changed, it’s OK to tell someone why it has become less convenient for you. Don’t negate your own feelings to accommodate those of others if it means you are left feeling upset afterwards.

3. Remove your expectations. The primary cause of my disappointment was that I had an expectation of how someone would feel and behave, or that they would be willing to help me out in the future in return. It was wrong of me to make those assumptions.

4. Avoid explaining yourself in too much detail, but remember that you don’t have to be nasty about it. An ‘I’m really sorry, but I’m busy’ should be more than enough.

5. Pick yourself up from the floor, stand up tall and realise your self-worth. You are a good person. You have your own life. You are entitled to an opinion. You deserve to be treated with the same respect and consideration that you show others. Start reminding yourself of this regularly.

6. Learn from your experiences and avoid repetition in the future. I don’t hold grudges, but I don’t forget either, following the ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ idea. It works.

7. Try to avoid feeling guilty. Guilt is the primary reason for many of the ‘favours’ I have done over the years, and became the aftermath after saying no. You’ve done nothing wrong, therefore have nothing to feel guilty about.

8. If necessary, distance yourself. Don’t make yourself as available.

9. Stop apologizing or accepting blame! I’ve written a number of times about this. You are allowed to feel the way you feel about something.

10. If all else fails, get rid of those causing you distress. Harsh, but necessary in certain circumstances.

Remember: You are only treated in the way you allow yourself to be. There is a difference between being easy going and a doormat. Set your boundaries, remove your expectations, build your confidence and live life for your own happiness and not just the happiness of others.

And life will be much better for it!

What about you guys? Do you find your good nature being dismissed or taken advantage of?

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Real Talk · Uncategorized

check in on your 2020 self.

There’s a very good chance that a large majority of you with me on feeling you are 100% over any resolutions you made at the start of 2020. Given everything this year has brought, I don’t blame you at all. In fact, if you have been around for awhile, you’ll remember this post and what my thoughts are around New Years resolutions. But that was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to write this post! It’s during the times we want to quit most, that we should take a second to reflect on why we should keep going, right? Or something like that at least.

For real, though, I do hope if you’ve been feeling down about how this year has played out (and who isn’t?), that this post will in a way give you permission to just breathe and reset. I know my goals and things I wanted to accomplish this year need some tweaking, so let’s dive into how we can all approach and check in on those 2020 resolutions, shall we?

Reflect back on what you thought this year would look like.

First things first, think all the way back to where your head was at the last week of 2019 or the first week of 2020. Maybe you were planning your dream wedding for this spring (I was) or planning to move across the country or travel the world for a few months. Even if what you had in mind for 2020 wasn’t quite as big as these things, chances are you definitely didn’t take a worldwide health pandemic into consideration, so if your vision for the year looked a lot different back then compared to what it is now, that’s OK! Don’t shame yourself for having plans and things you wanted to do that didn’t happen. And speaking of not shaming yourself…

Give yourself grace.

This is something I’m reminding myself of constantly! Even when I do accomplish things or follow through with a hope I’ll ask myself if I challenged myself enough. Like, if I was able to actually do it, was it hard enough? Does anyone struggle with that? In the case of resolutions and goals for 2020, I’d say double the amount of grace you extend to yourself (and others!) because to say the year hasn’t gone as planned is an understatement.

Mentally reset based on where you are NOW – not where you thought you would be.

OK, now that you’ve had a minute to reflect back, it’s time to think about where you are right now! One of the things I’ve kept in mind the last few months, and have heard others talk about, is to focus on the things I can control. I can control how often I exercise and move my body, I can control how much I eat/drink, I can control how much time I spend on things, etc. So even though there are tons of things I can’t control, I want to edit my goals and personal desires based on what I can. Focusing on this will help transition your mind from where you thought you’d be on this day, to where you actually are and how you can move forward given the current circumstances.

Also, take this time to acknowledge any successes you DID have in the last few months! Maybe, despite everything, you were still able to stay on track with your savings goals or you’ve been more consistent with working out. Whatever it is, freaking acknowledge it! You deserve to give yourself a pat on the back so be sure to take time to do that!

Brain dump.

This is my favourite step because you KNOW I’m obsessed with a good brain dump. If you don’t know how to do this, I have a big post on it here, but it’s so simple! And is the perfect way to get everything out of your head. It’s the best way to clear your mind so you can refocus for the last and final step on checking in with your resolutions!

Edit your resolutions.

You’ve reflected on where you were in life when you originally wrote your 2020 wants and goals, you’ve taken into account all the unexpected things this year brought and given yourself grace for doing the best you could. You acknowledged some of the wins you still managed to get, you’ve reset your mind and got everything out… and now it’s time to actually edit your resolutions and give yourself a fresh start for the remainder of the year.

This step will look different for everyone. Maybe you simply adjust timelines and tweak expectations of your original resolutions, or maybe you say, ya know what? Life is just too different now than what it was when I wrote these, and you start a brand new list! Personally, instead of writing down all these new goals and such, I want to find a word or a vibe that describes the kind of attitude I want to have for the rest of 2020. Like maybe hopeful or positivity. And then work toward maintaining that mindset and give myself reminders that no matter what happens from here, that’s where I want my mind to be.

Listen, this year has been a JOURNEY. But it’s not over yet so let’s try to make the best of it that we can!

If you’ve had an accomplishment or ticked off a goal this year, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Real Talk · Uncategorized

9 ways to survive Thanksgiving.

Usually this post would be about mouthwatering recipes or cute outfit ideas to wear for Thanksgiving, I know. We always host Thanksgiving at out house so I usually avoid the awkward family drama but staying busy in the kitchen and making sure everyone is looked after. Today, I want to talk about Thanksgiving from the flip side – as a guest and these are my 9 tricks to surviving Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the time of year when you think of all the things in your life that you’re thankful for. Often this list includes family though you may not realize it when you’re in the middle of the annual gathering of relatives from near and far. Fear not brave holiday celebrant, for there are ways to survive this festive occasion!

1 | Pass on the cocktails.

This may seem counter-intuitive since your primary urge is to knock back a few glasses of wine or dip into Uncle Henry’s vintage scotch collection. Think of it this way though: once you hit the point of intoxication, you’ll end up saying or doing something that will likely be embarrassing and that will become fodder for the next (and all future) family gatherings. Don’t do this to yourself. Have a cocktail when you arrive to calm your nerves and a glass of wine with dinner, but limit yourself to these two drinks.

2 | Prepare to deflect.

You likely already know several of the topics that will be discussed during your Thanksgiving event, and many of the questions that you’ll be asked by well-meaning relatives. Don’t go in blind – instead, arm yourself with a few responses and diversions before hand. For example:

  • “No, I’m not currently dating anyone. I just haven’t found a man that measures up to Dad/Grandad/Uncle Henry yet.”
  • “My job? Well, actually I… oh, you look like you could use a refill on your drink! Let me get that for you.”
  • “Oh, you feel that way about the pandemic? How interesting. That’s a lovely watch – where did you get it?”

3 | Take a few shots.

Tell your family that you’re thankful for them and that you want to get some special Thanksgiving photos of them all. Offering to be the family event photographer slash videographer for the night will give you a few advantages.

  • First, your relatives can’t grill you if they’re posing for a photograph.
  • Second, it gives you an excuse to leave a conversation at any time, because hey look, Cousin Sarah is doing her Lady Gaga impression again and someone needs to get this on tape!
  • Third, if you find that you really need a break, you can find a quiet corner to bust out the camera bag and pretend to clean your lenses.
  • Finally, you can kill a lot of time by arranging for goofy shots arranged by family/marriage.

4| Spend quality time with the littles.

If there are children in attendance, you can give yourself a break from interacting with the adult members of your family by spending time with the younger generation. Have a conversation with the shy cousin who seems to be holding back, or jump in and play hide and seek in the basement. Of course, there will eventually be a temper tantrum or two and the kids will bicker over things that you likely think are inconsequential. Basically, it’ll be like spending time with the grown-ups, except that it’s socially acceptable to leave a group of squabbling kids without having to apologize and make excuses. We don’t have any littles around at our Thanksgiving but we do have plenty of 4 legged babies around which do the trick too.

5| Make yourself useful.

Whether it’s before or after the big Thanksgiving meal, there are plenty of jobs large and small that need to be done. Offering to help with these chores not only makes a good impression on your host, but it also keeps you busy and gives you something to focus on other than Aunt Margie’s weird new hairdo. Of course, many hostesses will decline your offer of assistance, so here’s a refusal-proof response: “Nonsense! There’s got to be something I can do, and this way I can spend some extra time with you.” And just like that, the next thing you know, you’re wiping crystal drinking glasses with a soft cloth and avoiding most of the crowd.

6| Give them something to talk about.

Most people enjoy talking about themselves and telling stories about their pasts. If you find yourself in a situation where you either don’t want to talk about your life or you’ve run out of safe subjects to discuss, then ask a question that requires a story as a response. It helps a great deal if your question has something to do with family history, since others can join in and add to the conversation. Be careful though – only ask questions that you’ll be comfortable hearing details about. Asking your grandparents how they met, for example, is much safer than asking them to tell you about their honeymoon. There are some things that you just can’t un-hear.

7| Dress for success.

Face it, no matter what you wear, someone will comment that you should have opted for something warmer, something more formal, something less baggy or something less revealing. You can’t please all of your relatives all of the time, so dress in an outfit that makes you happy.

  • Go for something loose around the waist because…pie. Only the men of a certain age can get away with popping open the buttons on their pants to make room for more.
  • Wear an outfit that makes you feel confident, so that when you find yourself explaining (again) why you haven’t yet made partner at your firm or why you haven’t settled down and got married or moved out of your small apartment, you can tell yourself, “At least I looked good!”

8| Share the joy.

If you’re married then this one’s a snap – you and your spouse will have plenty to talk about and rehash after the festivities. If you’re single, consider bringing along a sympathetic, well-behaved friend who doesn’t have other Thanksgiving plans. Preferably one who doesn’t mind fielding personal questions from strangers, doesn’t drink too much, and has promised not to share embarrassing stories about you. This ally will commiserate with you after the shindig, and during the gathering he or she’ll take some pressure off of you. That is until the relatives start to ask whether your friend is actually a casual acquaintance or if there’s something romantic going on – be prepared for this and respond accordingly. (See tip #2.)

9| Have an exit strategy,

While you certainly don’t want to be rude and offend your hosts, you’ll want to have a plan in place to extricate yourself from the festivities when you’ve had enough. You don’t want to be stuck without a few previously thought-out options, because you’ll end up saying something like, “I’d better get going, uh, because, um, I think I left my curling iron plugged in.” It’s tough to bounce back from that kind of lameness. Instead, employ one of these strategies:

  • Make plans before the big day to drive one of your elderly relatives home after the meal. Just make sure that returning to the family celebration afterwards isn’t a stipulation.
  • Volunteer somewhere that will benefit from your being in attendance late in the day. You’ll be doing good work, and your relatives can’t argue that you’re leaving too early without looking bad themselves.
  • Apologize and say that you need to be up extra early the next morning. When asked why, explain that you’re picking a friend up from the airport, need to finish a paper for school/catch up on work, or that you’re planning an epic shopping excursion for Black Friday so that you can get great gifts for your family. The downside to that last one is that you then have to give your family some epic Christmas gifts this year, but the payoff might be worth it.

Refrain from using the “not feeling well” excuse. This can trigger all kinds of sympathy aches in your relatives and this is not the year to fake illnesses, and will eventually lead to them blaming the chef for under-cooking the turkey or the dreaded c-19 word. You don’t want that on your conscience.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize.

No matter how apprehensive you are about spending time with your family this Thanksgiving, remember at some point in the day to be thankful for them. As some of them might already be reminding you, they won’t always be around – and when that happens, you can strive to be the annoying relative that everyone else complains about!

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