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Why handbags and glad rags won’t fix the real problem.

Mar 22, 2021

With friends like that…

I was recently having a natter and a catch up with a good friend and she said she was considering having Botox to get rid of the lines on her forehead. Looking back, I wish I had MUMMSed my response and said something more considered like: “Really? Why’s that?” Instead, however, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, it felt like I leapt from event to response immediately and I said: “What?! Why?! Whatever for?! Are you mad?!”

At this juncture, I would like to make it clear that it’s not about judgement, and it’s none of my beeswax what people choose to do however, injecting what is essentially a toxin, albeit in small doses, into your face is not something I actively encourage my friends to do.

I decided probing deeper into this choice might be a better idea, rather than to just continue along the vein of lecturing…

My friend said that the lines on her forehead really bothered her (inwardly, I took a sharp breath. Winning Edgers will know that things cannot bother us, the nature of our thoughts means we allow things to bother us. However, this was not the right time to tackle this). Amy, we shall call her, said that every time she looked in the mirror, the lines just seemed to be there, staring right back at her.

We then got onto talking about Joe Wicks and that she’d signed up for his Body Coach App. She laughed and said finally my evangelising about his 90 Day Plan had worked and she thought she’d give it a go. Amy said she felt like a middle-aged frump and wanted to feel better about herself.

Ah! We seemed to be making headway (if you’ll pardon the pun. Lines on her forehead? Geddit?! Never mind. The editor will remove that baaad joke).

Then Amy admitted that turning 40 last year was awful, that she’d dreaded it and now she felt over the hill. Hence the Botox. I’m a few years older than Amy and she asked me if it bothered me turning 40. I replied honestly that no, not at all and I said in two years time, I hit the big 5-0! And I wasn’t bothered about that either.

Her response was priceless: “Well I think there’s something wrong with you.” Lucky we’re good friends eh?

I’ve seen the light

Why am I not bothered? Because the passing of time is a lighthouse – just as the immoveable structure that warns vessels away from rocks and the coastline cannot be negotiated with, neither can the passing of time, nor the weather. So, rather than constantly bang our little rowing boat against the rocks, we accept there is nothing we can do about it except to intelligently navigate our thinking around it

Any concern I have about getting older isn’t about lamenting how old I am, it’s more about reflecting how I use my time, am I living life consciously? Am I checking in on my values regularly to ensure they are consciously chosen and therefore there’s no friction or stress around the choices I am making in life. And am I seizing the day? Am I squeezing the juice out of it?

We cannot alter time and how slowly or quickly it moves; as yet there is no teleportation machine, nor a real-life Tardis. So, we work with what we’ve got. The alternative? To be miserable about something we can do absolutely nothing about.

The masquerade

Another friend of mine is a self-confessed shopaholic and during Lockdown, it reached fever pitch. She moved on from online High Street stores to Net-a-Porter and suchlike, and the Debit card that had taken a bashing, was superseded by her Credit card. All well and good if you have the funds but Lou was starting to sail pretty close to the wind. After chatting, she sought my counsel saying her marriage was in trouble and in fact, her spending was now contributing to this. Her buying habits were her way of deflecting from the situation. She could fill her head with styles and fashion, rather than to address the thoughts and feelings she had. Lou and her husband are now having counselling together and working through their issues. Lou is also working on her mindset – working hard on the nature of her thoughts which previously she felt were like spaghetti junction.

Very often, when we are obsessing about something which can be deemed as not particularly healthy for us mentally, it’s because at the core of it, the nature of our thoughts would benefit from going under the microscope. It’s not what we’re thinking about that’s the issue, it’s the way we’re thinking about what we’re thinking about.

When people don’t feel happy in themselves, rather than to address the nature of their thinking, they displace this and believe that buying stuff, or spending money on expensive holidays, or smoking, drinking, or any other form of addiction, can adequately mask the problem and those feelings of pleasure, will mean the emptiness disappears. Maybe in the short-term it will, but it's effectively a Band-Aid; in the short-term, it's fixed but only on a superficial level. Pleasure is time-related, happiness isn’t. Get as much pleasure as you can but pleasure doesn’t necessarily make you happy.

Perhaps we don’t feel worthy of happiness. Maybe past comments from someone which we’ve found hurtful now manifests itself as self-sabotaging behaviour; perhaps as a bully, it helps to cover up the fact you were bullied or are maybe experiencing it now. If we don’t feel we’re worthy of extraordinary and wonderful things, our thoughts, emotions and behaviours will prevent that from happening.

We may be under the misapprehension that our behaviour hides the truth but very often it can be transparent to those who know us.

Happiness is the result of the way we think.  So, it's down to us. And it’s so important we feel worthy of our happiness. 

Addressing the nature of our thoughts means we start to understand what’s behind the feelings, what’s behind the decisions and the choices we’re making. It all comes down to our thinking – nothing and no one else can make us truly happy. It is down to us.

Legend of a mind

Abraham Lincoln said: “Happiness is a state of mind. People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The question is, do you feel worthy of happiness? If your self-image doesn’t feel worthy, you’ll do what you can to sabotage your happiness, or you’ll seek a temporary fix.

It’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin and to feel happy with who you are, what you have and what you do. If none of these feel right to you, examine the nature of your thoughts. Where do the negative thoughts stem from and what can you do to reframe them to help you to move forwards in a more positive and empowering way?

In the UK, the cost of Botox injections can vary from around £100 to £350 for each treatment, depending on the clinic and the area being treated. The minimum a designer handbag costs is at least £500. As for a midlife crisis Harley Davidson… We can buy all these things but that’s like wearing rubber gloves to cure a leaky pen – it’s not getting to the crux of the issue, the fact is, it’s the mindset that needs addressing and that’s going to very often cost less and be far more sustainable in terms of the happiness meter! 

“Even if I were a bird, flying away wouldn’t help. The problem is in my head, not on a place."

Unlike the sentiments of this unknown quote, too many people are under the illusion that when facing major challenges, if they up-sticks and move away from their home or job, friends, maybe family, or displace their feelings by spending it on stuff they think will make them happy, then the way they're feeling will change and their quality of life will suddenly improve. This may not necessarily be the case. If you know deep down the problem lies with you, you are the solution too. Be it feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, deep-rooted anger, regret or guilt - only by addressing your mindset and the nature of your thinking, will you find peace and be able to tackle the things you find challenging. What’s in your head, stays with you.

If this sounds like your current situation, give some thought to your mindset. It’s very often the least addressed part of our being, and yet the part which affects everything else.

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Would you like help getting your mindset in check?

Do your thoughts feel like spaghetti junction? Would you like to address the nature of your thinking but just don’t know where to start to make sense of it all? The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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