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?

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?

Inspire the dream in others

149       Who has inspired you this week? And who have you inspired, told them that you believe in them? In thinking about this, I am more aware than ever of the people in my life who have supported me, encouraged me, believed in me and enabled me to keep being and going and doing.

Friends who have held my cherished dreams tenderly and reminded me of them or listened as I rehearsed them again to become re-envisioned when I might otherwise have given up.

Friends who have affirmed me in what I am doing, and who I am becoming in the process.

Friends who have given feedback, challenged me, read things, commented on things, responded to requests for help, pointed me towards useful information and new ideas. People who have worked with me who have told me I am not completely bonkers when it came to jumping off the cliff of change. And of course, my nearest-and-dearest who have been part of the process of change and without whom I couldn’t do what I am doing.

So if you are reading this and you are one of the aforementioned, a huge thank you for who you are and what you bring to my life. And the challenge in this is to think, for whom can I be that person? Who can I affirm, encourage, inspire this week? Whose dreams can I show interest in that prompts the dreamer to more self belief and possibly action?

None of us is an island, we need each other in this tricky, complicated world and who knows, you might be just the person that someone else out there needs today to bring that word of affirmation and encouragement.

Choosing to love not regret.

DSCF5885        Imagine reaching the end of your life and looking back – what would cause you the greatest regret? That might not be a very cheery thought for Valentine’s day, a day on which we are encouraged to think about our nearest-and-dearest and celebrate love in all its many forms.

But perhaps that is exactly why today of all days (if we can get past the commercialism) is the ideal day to think about how our life choices impact on those we love. It is an oft trotted out cliche that on our death bed it is unlikely we will wish we had spent more time at the office. But knowing this, recognising where there might need to be changes made, and then actually MAKING those changes is another story, and much more difficult. Last week’s poll of challenges for this year may have started you thinking, along with the New Year new you food for thought. The first step to making positive change in life is to recognise where you are starting from – being aware of what your life is like at the moment. The next step is painting a picture of where and what you want your life to be, as this can start to inspire you towards your goal of not having those regrets at the end of your life.

Inevitably there will be a gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and that middle bit is where the fun starts – starting to make small, achievable changes to every day choices you make that will gradually lead you to where you want to be. For me, my first step is to choose to affirm my nearest-and-dearest today, and at least once every day for some specific and positive thing I love and value about them. What will you choose to do that will ensure you do not get to the end of your life full of regrets? 

 

Cherishing the Important

DSCF5447         Sometimes we lose sight of not only what is important, but who is important. Imagine going to meet a friend you have not seen for a while. What preparation would you make? In this situation, I would probably make an effort to look nice, would look forward to the meeting, would be excited to see that friend. I would ask them all about how they are, what they had been up to, and want to share life with them. There might be laughter or a sharing of harder times. There might be honesty, encouragement, affirmation – a reconnection at a soul level. All good, and all important to sustain our emotional and mental wellbeing. But now consider for a moment – how often do I make that kind of effort with those closest to me, my nearest-and-dearest, those right under my nose? And if I am honest, how often do I take them for granted, giving them the least and the worst of me? And how much do I, and they, suffer as a result? Our lives are full of people who we know for lots of different reasons and at different levels of friendship. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we lose sight of which of those relationships are most important. Who is it that really matters to you? How much poorer would your life be without them? What steps can you take to make sure they know regularly how significant they are to you? Little things make all the difference in communicating to them that they are a rich blessing in your life, and that they bring you joy.

Celebrating others

This has been a week of connecting with precious friends, lovely folk who have known me years and years, have seen me change and become more comfortable in my own skin, and who have remained faithful friends throughout that (often prickly and difficult) process. Friends who really listen. Friends who do get inside my skin and walk around (not literally, or all at the same time you realise – that would be truly revolting). Friends who challenge me, encourage me, laugh and cry with me, don’t let me get away with being stubborn or trapped in my own head for too long. Friends who encourage me to be my best self. And friends who, yup, you guessed it, allow me to see my own world with fresh perspective. Our lives are so enriched by friends like this, who bring joy and depth to our world. And how much do we need to be this kind of friend to those in our lives who would call us friends. How often do we stop to appreciate them, tell them we love them (how un-Scottish), and affirm them for the role they play in our lives? How often do we stop and say, d’you know what, I wouldn’t be who or where I am now if it wasn’t for you? Try it – it’s fun! 

Walking around in someone else’s skin

I have two Primary school age children. Last week, we were discussing their school work with their teachers, and it turns out that our 8 year old (that’s her, leaping for joy on the beach at the top of the screen – she is a really exuberant character who experiences life to the full daily) is very good at seeing things from someone else’s point of view.

According to her teacher, if there is a bit of bother in the class, or one of her classmates is behaving badly, our worldly wise little one will stop and wonder what might be going on in the life of that individual that is causing their behaviour, and not just jump straight into an argument or get annoyed. We are heartened and pleased by this, as we are trying to bring them up equipped to see the world from different perspectives.

My favourite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and probably my favourite quote of all time comes from Atticus Finch:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

Have I mentioned that I like perspective? Maybe a few times? Really listening to someone (see last week’s entry) often starts when we get into their shoes and to try and understand how they feel, how they see the situation, what their perspective is.

There’s that word again.

 

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