Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Category Archives: The Importance Of Valuing Others

What role do those nearest to you play in your life? How willing are we to listen to others, and change how we behave as a result?

Thank you for being my friend.

what are the best things about your friends?

What are you thankful for about your friends this week? Next week is the fabulous American celebration of Thanksgiving, and a good time to think about what we are thankful for as we muse on what it means to be a friend and to have friends.

When I think about the friends who share my life, I am thankful for those who

  • make me laugh until I cry
  • show interest and support in whatever I am up to
  • encourage and challenge me to be the best version of me
  • are vulnerable with the hard stuff they are facing, and expect the same of me
  • share in or tolerate my bonkers sense of humour
  • share in the mundanities of life
  • listen without agenda when I need to process stuff out loud

They come in all shapes and sizes, and have been around in my life for varying lengths of time. But they enrich my life, bring me joy, nourish my soul and make me want to be all of that for them too.

This week, I am going to make a point each day of thanking one of my friends for a specific characteristic about them that I value.

Why not do the same? To whom could you say “Thank you for being my friend”?

Want some more tips about how to deepen and enrich your relationships? Sign up for your free Self coaching guide here!

Thank you for your time and attention

A thankful time of year

Thank you for your time and attention.

Have you ever ended a letter or email like that? If so, what lies behind the words?

Perhaps you might have said “Thank you for your time and consideration” or similar.

Sometimes we use phrases like that in anticipation of the attention, time and consideration that we are hoping the reader is going to extend to us. In other words, our thanks is conditional on help or input we are wanting from the other. And in a business context, nothing wrong with that, we all do it.

We’ve been thinking about friendship over the last few weeks and I wonder, are we sometimes guilty of the same kind of attitude with our friends? Perhaps the time, attention and consideration we offer to others is in the hope of receiving the same in return. And of course friendships do work like this – give and take, mutual respect and affirmation. But conditional time, attention and consideration leads to the risk of conditional friends.

What would it look like instead if every day this week you offer unconditional attention and consideration to those you call friends? To pay an unexpected compliment. To listen without an agenda. To do a random act of kindness. A spontaneous hug.

Not in anticipation of what they might do in return, but simply because they matter to you and you want to say, thank you for your time and attention in being my friend.

What shape is friendship to you?

 What shape is friendship to you?

What does being a friend mean to you?

And what kind of friendship would you want to be on the receiving end of?

In thinking back over the last week in our household, the lowest common denominator in all of the interactions and conversations has been friendship.

For elder daughter, this has involved stepping out into new independence with friends, and establishing new friendships and all the dancing-around-the-edges that this involves.

For younger daughter, the absence of her big sister in her new found freedom means a change in shape of that friendship,  and the need to grow in her own self reliance.

I have been blessed by a lovely gift from a good friend, rich and nourishing conversation with a cherished friend, and honest accountability from a long distance friend who is in a really tough spot. I have been reminded over and over again that without such close connections, life would be intolerable. Watching my own children journey through friendships and the soul-warming joy and the crushing heartache that can accompany that (remember the playground, and who was who’s best friend or not? Painful, painful) reinforces the understanding that what is worth investing in most often also comes with the highest cost.

Who are the people in your life this week that you can seek to be a friend to? What ways can you show friendship, and how can you express your appreciation of those who enrich your life?

Are there people around you that you could reach out to with friendship?

Perhaps there are friendships where there has been a rift, a drifting apart, and an accompanying grieving for what used to be. What would it take to reconnect, to reach out in vulnerability and say, hey – can we start again, you are too important to lose from my life?

Friendship – what would your life be like without it? How can you enrich your friendships even more this week?

 

 

Be a friend or seek a friend?

If-You-Are-Looking-For-A-Friend-Quote-From-Zig-Ziglar

We have been thinking over these past weeks about where we want to be, and who we want to become. This involves accepting ourselves, understanding who we are at our best, and choosing every day to live as that person.

Often we get it wrong.

Often we make mistakes.

But every day we can choose again to be more of who we want to be to those around us.

I came across this quote on friendship and it struck me as being exactly what I have been thinking about – we don’t seek to get, or even do, we seek to be. In being a friend, we gain friends –

our perspective changes

we look at what we can bring of ourselves to the other

we seek to bring out the best in the other

we choose to display more of the best characteristics of ourselves.

This week, who can you be a friend to?

How can you be more of the best of you to your friends?

And how can you seek to bring out the best in those around you?

 

 

What evidence of love do you display?

images

How do you value and cherish those nearest-and-dearest to you, day in day out?

In both the mundane and repetitive, and just down-right dull, and the exciting and life-changing and thrilling, whenever those days come along?

Well, you know the answer I guess – one step at a time.

These past three months have seen us celebrating at three weddings, and two significant wedding anniversaries (as well as our own recognition of 21 years married – less note-worthy but still special for us).

The above quote really made me stop and think. We say we love those nearest-and-dearest, those we share our lives with – our partner/spouse/cherished friends. But what evidence can they see in the way we treat them to support our profession of love?

How much do we value them? Listen to them? Prioritise them?

Oooh, a tricky one – how often and how quickly do we apologise to them when we get it wrong?

So this week, just a wee thought to mull over – what evidence do those you love have to support that statement? How can you show them?

Half a century together in small steps

Celebrating small steps together   Imagine spending half a century with another person.

50 years.

2600 weeks.

18,250 days, give or take the odd extra one for a leap year.

That is an astonishing amount of time to remain with the same person, committed through thick and thin, joy and grief, mundane and monumental. This week, in our household, we are celebrating my parents achieving just that – their golden wedding anniversary. And as we ponder the question of how to change the world, and other such seemingly impossible accomplishments, it occurs to me that the only way to arrive at that milestone is one step at a time.

Think with me about someone significant in your life – be it a spouse, partner, or cherished friend. Now think about not only how much that relationship means to you, but how important it is to sustain and nurture that relationship for the long haul. Of course this is not always possible, and life sometimes intervenes to truncate precious relationships. But for now, today, I simply want to think about the little steps we can take daily that build over the years into a long-lasting, satisfying and significant relationship.

In each little step, do we choose to value the other, to respect and affirm them?

In each step, do we seek to listen more than we speak?

Do we choose to laugh more than we rant?

Do we work to understand the other, and what really matters to them?

At the other end of the spectrum, we also witnessed this week the most joyful, excited and fabulous wedding of two friends. They are just starting out on their journey together, and 50 years from now is a long way away!

But those years are composed of 26,280,000 minutes – each one an opportunity to stop and savour the moment, to value the other, to learn how to communicate. Whether they have been in your life for 50 years or 50 minutes, how can you this week show your precious folk that they really matter?

And if you want more ideas and tips on how to invest in your relationships, sign up for your free coaching guide and newsletters here!

 

A people centred world?

People at the centre

Who is at the centre of your world? As we think about the enormous question of how to change the world, the people who make up your world is what I am musing on this week. Rich relationships are a source of real blessing to me, and good friends, family, people who inspire and believe in me make up a central portion of my world. And of course right in the middle of that group, are my nearest-and-dearest.

For them, this week has produced massive change. Elder daughter is now at secondary school, and troops off by herself every morning to meet her friends (wonderful folk who have been at the centre of her world right through primary school) and walk in a long ambling crocodile to school. Everything is big and shiny and new, and the pressure to be ‘on’ all the time in meeting and sussing out so many new classmates and teachers is taking its emotional toll.

Younger daughter is now at school without the security of her big sister, and also getting to grips with a new class, new teacher and bucket loads more work. Her way of expressing the emotional and mental impact on her young, vulnerable self is very different from that of Elder daughter.

And of course, therein lies the challenge for us as parents, to know them both well enough to provide appropriate support, reassurance, space, TLC, encouragement without annoying the socks off them.

My tendency would be to take a “just get on with it” approach, and worse, not really listen to what they are – and crucially – what they are not saying as they deal with all this change. My own busyness, my own agenda could squeeze them out of the centre of my world, causing me to not pay heed to them and be distracted. And in so doing, come back to a familiar place of taking them for granted and not being fully present to them and their needs whilst simultaneously citing them as the most important people in my world. Ho hum.

So for me this week, in my world, I am choosing to take the step of putting what I am doing on hold and being fully present to them when they need me. Full stop. No qualifiers. Communicating to them how much they matter, how significant what they are experiencing is, and that home is a safe place where they are fully heard.

What about you – what steps can you take this week towards the people at the centre of your world?

 

Grow happier with a friend alongside!

it's good to work together!

Persevering with implementing changes in our lives towards becoming happier is tricky – there is much we can do on our own, but the secret is in having someone

believe in us.

Someone who knows us, believes in what we are doing, and knows that we can get there.

We were made to be in relationship with each other, we were not created to be an island. It is not only ok to ask for help, it strengthens our relationships and creates interdependence – together, we are much more than the sum of each of us separately. On our quest towards happiness, as we consider how we can implement ideas raised in considering the 10 Steps to Happiness, having a friend alongside makes the whole challenge more achievable, and perhaps more fun.

So this week, who could you ask to hold you accountable and encourage you as you make and keep changes in your life?

And who could you do that for?

Relate your way to happiness

relating to your favourite people makes you happier!

“Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self-worth.” And therefore make us happier – the second key to a happier life is Relating. Relationships with our nearest and dearest, relating to our friends and wider family, our colleagues and neighbours – our connections to other mortals on this planet are at the heart of what makes us happy. So say many psychologists, scholars and scientists, who quote much research that shows a strong link between the quantity and quality of our relationships, and our health and longevity, as outlined by the Action for Happiness folk.

Now clearly, it is possible to be relating to our family and social connections a lot, but doing it badly. Sometimes when life is very busy and we are consumed with non-stop-treadmill-running, or we are in a bad place, or tough things are going on, our relationships can become functional without closeness, or characterised by anger, judgement, criticism, despair or disappointment.

Sometimes we just don’t listen properly, or are so consumed with our own situations we can’t see beyond the end of our nose.

We take others for granted, or only see what irritates us about them.

We keep meaning to phone that friend for a proper chat, but somehow never get round to it.

Sometimes we simply lose sight of what it is to have fun with our friends and nearest-and-dearest.

So what can we do about this, and improve the happiness of ourselves and our social connections in the process?

Here are some very simple suggestions to try over the next week:

  • Spend at least 10 minutes every day talking and really listening to your other half, or a close friend. Not just the functional “How was your day?” and “Can I have the car tomorrow, and it’s your turn to take the rubbish out”. But asking them how they are, what they are enjoying about life just now, what they are feeling.
  • Phone or Skype a long-distance friend for a chat, telling them why they are a special friend and what it is you value and miss about them.
  • List your top 10 favourite people, then text each one to say hi and that you love/like/value them.
  • Have a group of friends round for a board game.
  • Provide a listening ear with no agenda to a friend in crisis (and maybe some cake, see last week)
  • Invite a neighbour in for a drink or a coffee, rather than simply standing in the hallway or outside on the street blethering.
  • Tell a work colleague something about them that you appreciate and why you enjoy working with them.

What else can you do to strengthen your relationships? How can you improve your relationships and move to a happier life?

If you tried some of these ideas, let me know how you got on and what the reaction was. 

What are the 10 steps to happiness?

I'd like to be given these!

How happy are you just now? And how on earth do you measure happiness? There is much interest in happiness in the media currently. Last month, a poll commissioned by Action for Happiness found that 87% of UK adults “were found to prefer the ‘greatest overall happiness and wellbeing’, rather than the ‘greatest overall wealth’ (8%), for the society they live in.” What would you have said? And what makes you happy? Of course, happiness can often be thought to be quite a superficial concept –  a product of our external circumstances, with little bearing or relevance when life is really tough. Words like joy and fulfillment carry more depth, and suggest an inner contentedness that provides stability and peace despite any external storms and challenges. 

But there seems to be more to happiness than perhaps we think. In a series of programmes on the radio this week, entitled “In search of Ourselves – a History of Psychology and the Mind”, the presenter is exploring the UK government’s plan for a national ‘happiness index’, including looking back over history to the roots of our search for ourselves. Well, to me this is just fascinating and right up my street!

So I dug a bit deeper, and found via the Action for Happiness site, 10 steps to happiness. Fabulously, they spell the acrostic GREAT DREAM – some very clever people have worked hard to come up with that – and the list is intriguing. So in my quest to encourage you to think, be your best self and life a full life, I thought it would be fun to expand on the steps over the next ten weeks,  give you practical ideas to try each step out, and see how your happiness indicator changes over that time! 

Step 1: Giving.

Random acts of kindness, giving of ourselves in lots of different ways, helping out others – all of this makes us happier and healthier. This probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but equally, how much fun to do, and how easy to start incorporating into your life right now. You can give money, time, help, yourself:

  • buy someone a wee unexpected gift, treat a friend in need to something delicious (I would love to receive these tasty morsels!), help someone out with a bill
  • help someone declutter part of their house that has been getting on top of them
  • phone an elderly relative for a chat
  • provide a listening ear to a friend in difficulty
  • play a game with your children on their terms
  • give someone a big, unexpected hug (Younger daughter excels at this)

What could you do? How many other ways of giving can you think of and put into practice over this next week to become a happier you?

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