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Cat Rose Astrology

Cat Rose is on a mission to explore the big questions in life, and encourage you to do the same. This is a podcast for those wishing to deepen their understanding of traditional western astrology, discover why they are here and what path they are being called to walk in this life. Cat Rose is a practicing astrologer who specialises in the personal daimon. She has authored two books, and you can find her work at https://www.catroseastrology.com/
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Now displaying: November, 2018
Nov 29, 2018

Another esoteric experience for you today, my trip to a float tank.

This was my third visit to a float tank, though the first at this particular venue.

For those of you who don't know, a float tank or a sensory deprivation tank, is basically like a big bath tub filled with very salty water. Oh and the bath tub has a lid. So you're in total darkness and the water and air are heated to what should feel like exactly human body temperature. The effect should be that you're floating in... nothingness.

If you've seen the film Altered States, you may have slightly high hopes for float tanks, and if you've heard some people raving about them, you would probably understand why people like myself are shelling out quite a bit of cash - £50-60 is standard in my area - for an hour in a lukewarm bath.

Fun rating: 7/10

This wasn't especially challenging or exciting, but it was relaxing at least.

 

 

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, including a copy of my soon-to-be-released BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Live a Life You Love on Your Terms, monthly Masterclasses and much more. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

Become a supporter

Nov 26, 2018

Like so many fellow introverts, our podcast guest today grew up struggling with a deep lack of confidence and limited social skills. However, proof that these limitations are not permanent, Zach has since travelled to Asia, spending five months without staying in a single hotel- his social skills “paid” for accommodations.

I was super excited to talk to Zach, especially since I'm a big fan of solo travel and am currently planning a year of this for 2019. That said, I know travelling alone as an introvert has it's challenges, and thankfully Zach has given me lots of great advice - which you'll hear all about on today's episode.

 

Links mentioned:

Connect with Zach:

 

You can leave a rating and review on iTunes (here's how to do that) and I will be as happy as a kitten playing with a laser beam (or sob into my pillow, depending on what you write.)

itunes

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting the Creative Introvert podcast also gets you lots of goodies, from a Monthly Ask Me Anything to a copy of my soon-to-be-released BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Build a Business You Love on Your Terms. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

BECOME A SUPPORTER

Nov 23, 2018

We've got a bit of a repeat Year of Fun adventure today, but only in that I went to another book club earlier this year, but that was (1) ages ago and (2) a very different type of event.

What made this particular book club different is... that it was at someone's house. Which is definitely a push for many introverts - rocking up at a virtual strangers house, in order to not only discuss a rather meaty book with them and their other high-brow friends, but also to dine with them - and not make a fool of one's self.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty apprehensive about this. Thankfully, I had a fellow introvert to drag along, so I wasn't going alone. I will note that we'll be doing a much much more in-depth podcast about this event on my other podcast, The Seeker and the Skeptic.

I don't have a release date for that episode just yet, but if you listen to the kind of stuff we've been doing so far, and like it, then by all means subscribe, and you'll get to hear the full low-down on the juicier aspects of the book we discussed, which was Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life.

I'm going to focus on the atmosphere, the facilitation, the introvert-friendliness and of course the FUN of this event in this podcast. So, the first check box was how prepared I felt going for the first time. I was invited by an existing book club member, and had had some email back and forth with the host, John, a fellow introvert!

As an ISTJ, it's no surprise that he paid great attention to detail in making sure we were prepared, sending over questions we'd discuss in advance as well as an incredibly detailed summary of the book itself - so if you hadn't managed to read it, I reckon you could still have a really valuable evening.

I also understood the running order, and all round felt very prepared going in. And I don't know about you, but that's super important to this introvert. So if you ever feel extra nervous before going to an event, don't hesitate to ask for more information from the host. Luckily with John, I didn't have to.

So myself and Rebecca were a smidgen early, but we were warmly welcomed by John and his lovely wife, we chatted about books - including one of my favourites, The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin - and sipped wine.

The other guests started to trickle in, and I was pleasantly surprised I knew 4/5 of them! I guess I've done more networking in Brighton in the two years I've been here than I thought...

We sat down, plates loaded with delicious homemade lasagne, and started going through the questions. Again, this was all very civilised. Despite the book and moreover the author, old JBP, being somewhat controversial, we kept the peace. There were differing views sure, differing personality types (though nearly all of us were introverts) and everyone joined in.

I was a bit... awkward at times. I felt like my understanding of what Peterson is saying is a little more abstract than others, and that might come from me diving deeper into his overall work than some others had. But anyway, it gave me a lot to think about and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I didn't assume anyone was thinking I was saying anything totally stupid, and I felt like I could pipe up when I wanted.

I think part of this is down to my own passion for the subject, my own practise of talking in group environments (which does NOT come naturally to me) and John's excellent ability to facilitate a group and keep a lovely, safe environment.

Fun rating: 9.5/10

This had basically everything: challenge, entertainment, friends, dessert... it only lost points for me being my awkward self.

 

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, including a copy of my soon-to-be-released BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Live a Life You Love on Your Terms, monthly Masterclasses and much more. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

Become a supporter

Nov 19, 2018

What the heck is confidence, really?

Your confidence is made up of three areas:

1) Self esteem

This is our judgement of how valuable we are, and how comfortable we feel being our self. So you can imagine low self-esteem statements are things like ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I don’t deserve this awesome thing’ and you can also see it when people reject compliments or self-sabotage.

2) Competence

Sometimes referred to as self efficacy, this is how capable we feel at performing tasks, solving problems and achieving goals. So low competence might exhibit itself as imposter syndrome - so not feeling capable of the task at hand, feeling like you need MORE training or MORE knowledge or MORE skills. It’s different from low self esteem in that with competence you’re focussing on the skills or knowledge required, which are of course learnable - whereas with self-esteem, the feeling is deeper - more to do with your inherent worth as a human being.

3) Belonging

This relates to how well we feel accepted by others. This is more outward focussed, more to do with how others perceive us and how we ‘fit’ into society, our community or even a small group like you might find in a workshop or classroom.

Masterclass

It’s quite common that someone who is low in one of these areas tends to be low in the others, but it’s also possible to have low self-esteem but have high competence and/or a sense of belonging.

For example, as a ‘recovering perfectionist’ myself, and having spoken to many others this combination can pop up frequently. Perfectionists may be overly-critical and negative about their personal traits (low self-esteem) and yet see themselves as quite capable in certain areas (high competence).

A perfectionist architect might consider themselves competent at technical drawing, but feel unattractive and uncharismatic as a person. It’s easy for this to happen, because we might get encouraged in a measurable, outward-facing skill early in our lives, so we continue to excel at that because of the encouragement and validation we’re given.

But, we might not have been given or might not recognise all the positive reinforcement from the less-measurable, less-tangible qualities we have. Unconditional love is just love for the sake of love, not for performing at a certain task - is something we all need, and that’s what boosts self-esteem. The problem is, even if we have it, whether it’s from a parent, grandparent, lover or friend - it’s harder to spot.

Someone with high self-esteem can show up fully in projects and engage with people because they aren’t crippled with fear of failure or rejection. Of course they still get hurt and disappointed when things don’t go to plan, but their setbacks don’t diminish their sense of self. They are resilient, open to new experiences and relationships, have a higher tolerance to risk, and are accepting and forgiving of themselves and others.

If we hear encouraging words from those key care givers early on, whether it’s encouragement in certain tasks (competence) or in words of unconditional love (self esteem) then we can develop a strong sense of belonging. This is the only element in the triad of confidence that I can’t see being cultivated from within. This really is dependent on those around us.

Which is a bummer if you’re a highly independent introvert. On the upside, I’ve seen a STRONG correlation between raising competence and self esteem (even if that’s generated from within) and a rise in belonging. Why? How? Well, the more competent and sure of themselves a person is (er, to an extent) the more likely others are to approve of them. That’s how our monkey minds work.

It’s hilarious really, when you think of some of the ‘guru’ figures out there. Whether it’s a rock star or some spiritual leader, they tend to have an abundance of self-confidence, and that alone attracts people. Even if those guru characters are full of hot air in reality.

I’ve been trying to analyse what it is that draws me to certain thought leaders, and repels me to others. Regardless of their personality type or their talents, I have to admit they all have an air of confidence about them. However, this also comes with a limit. Someone who is overly confident and doesn’t back it up with skills (so high self-esteem without the competence in an area I can measure or observe) I’m repelled.

The thing is, this is all relative. My judgement of someone’s competence says more about my tastes and values than it does about that person. And naturally, someone could look at my work and deem me incompetent, and therefore see any self-esteem I show as unwarranted, and therefore they won’t approve of me. Therefore, I don’t get rewarded by that sense of belonging from them - they’re effectively saying: I don’t want you in my tribe, thank you very much.

How to have confidence

For this reason, my theory is that consciously or unconsciously, many of us more thoughtful, introspective souls try to purposely lower our self esteem in order to match the lowest possible opinion someone might have about our work - our competence.

If I take my sporting ability - which is unquestionably my greatest weakness in terms of outwardly observable skills, it’s safe to say I have low competence in this area. But if I use this as a measuring stick to assess my self-esteem, I end up with low competence AND low self-esteem. So when someone from another tribe sees me, they’ll likely judge me as a bit lame and insecure, and probably won’t give me much approval and acceptance. So, I don’t get my sense of belonging either.

Let me elaborate: if you tie your competence with your self-esteem, you’re in for a lot of trouble. You could end up like a guru or a narcissist, full of hot air because they’ve overinflated their self-esteem, and it’s NOT backed up by their competence. OR you risk lowering yourself to one of the few things you’re not so good at - we all have them. Either way, you’re going to alienate others, and that sense of belonging goes unfulfilled.


So what’s the solution? What’s the right balance? How do you boost confidence using this funky little triad of opinions and beliefs?

Well, for starters know that your self esteem is NOT dependent on your competence. I repeat: it doesn’t matter a dam how good you are at drawing ponies or how crap you are at maths. Each and every one of us is 110% deserving of unconditional love. And you can tell from that percentage how bad I am at maths.

The good news is you DON’T have to depend on others for this esteem. The bad news is: it sure does help. Of course it helps to have someone tell you they love you unconditionally. However, if you go through life depending on others for that, you’re likely to run into some real obstacles along the way.

Finally, your sense of belonging is not set either. It isn’t dependent on how much your parents loved you or how many or how few friends you had at school. The bad news for us introverts is that to find a sense of belonging, we need to put ourselves out there a bit. We need to give others a chance to see who we are, what we’re about and form their opinions of us.

And that is fucking scary. Of course it’s scary to risk disapproval. It’s the same fear that our ancestors faced when they were trying to please other tribe members, or risk being kicked out and thrown to the wilderness.

But unlike what our ancestors faced, this is not a life or death thing. Twitter can make it feel that way, but really really: it just doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t ‘get’ you. Or that someone doesn’t see your competence, or that they’re jealous of your competence and want to tear you down to build their own fragile self-esteem (this doesn’t work by the way, not in the long run.)


Now I think we’re clear on what confidence is made up of - self esteem, competence and belonging, and we’re clear on what the elements of this triad are dependent on and what they’re not dependent on - I’m going to round this up with some things you might want to try that will give you a little boost in all these areas, without faking anything or using the dark arts to boost your confidence. Your confidence will be built on strong, stable and sincere foundations. From there, over time, your confidence will grow up big and strong and carry you through just about anything you do.

How to Boost Your Self-esteem

1. Mindfulness

I know it’s not the most original recommendation in history, but my LAWD is it powerful. The truth is, we can’t change something if we don’t recognise what we can change. By simply becoming aware of our negative self-talk, we begin to distance ourselves from the feelings it brings up. The practise of mindfulness lets us recognise these thoughts and feelings, but more importantly, lets us DISTANCE ourselves from them.

Without this awareness, we can easily fall into the trap of believing our self-limiting talk, and our self esteem stays down in the dumps.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that — thoughts.”
~ Allan Lokos

I really recommend the Waking Up app, from Sam Harris. I find it non-cheesy, non-preachy, and suitable for the secular-minded. There are some really powerful though experiments there too, so be prepared to have your brain changed (for the better.)

2. Exercise

I told you sport is not my forté, but even I can’t deny the benefits of moving the old body. I’ve managed to find ways of exercising I do, for the most part enjoy, like yoga, walking and… well, that’s it. But even if these were a pain in the arse (and some days they are) I can’t deny how much better I feel about myself when I exercise.

I’ve left the days of using exercise to change how I look on the outside, and use it as a tool to feel better on the inside. And I don’t think it’s a placebo - many studies show a correlation between exercise and higher self-esteem, as well as improved overall mental health. It’s empowering to know you’ve done something good for yourself, and over time those little wins add up. Plus, the physical benefits like lower heart rate, higher happy hormones and better sleep, all help the self-esteem journey. You can’t simultaneously feel like crap when your body is telling you otherwise.

3. Share the love

David Simonsen, Ph.D., LMFT, says:

“What I find is that the more someone does something in their life that they can be proud of, the easier it is for them to recognise their worth. Doing things that one can respect about themselves is the one key that I have found that works to raise one’s worth. It is something tangible. Helping at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, giving of time at a big brother or sister organisation. These are things that mean something and give value to not only oneself, but to someone else as well.”

And it doesn’t mean your contribution has to be time consuming or expensive. Something i love to do is send random emails to people - authors, artists, podcasters - who have made some impact in my life, even if it’s mini, and I thank them. Weirdly, by boosting someone else's self-esteem, mine seems to receive an equal or maybe even greater boost.

 

How to Boost Your Competence

1. Assess yourself

As I mentioned earlier, you can’t change anything if you don’t know what you can change. Taking a kind of competence inventory is the first step towards this self-knowledge. This means making a list of the skills you have, as well as the skills you want to develop.

It’s worth noting that for each skill you want to improve on, note why you want that skill. There might be some skills you don’t have but have no real reason to improve them. So don’t! I have no ambitions to become the worlds first record-breaking 5’3” ginger powerlifter, so I’ll let that one go. I go through a process for spotting your Superpowers in the Masterclass for this month, Create with Confidence.

2. Make a mastery plan

Next, you can start to create your plan to improve on the skills you identified. If you’re feeling a little low in your competence at photographing your work, so you can post really gorgeous product shots on your Etsy store or Instagram, then google “product photography course.” I just dod a google search on that - and there are plenty!

OK so once you have some resources, decide how much time you’ll dedicate to that skill. An hour a day or a couple of hours a week? Or just a workshop next month? These are all little commitments you can make that will not only boost your competence - they’ll boost your self-esteem too because sticking to the promises we make with ourselves, is like rocket fuel for self-esteem.

3. Track your progress

On that note, to really get your moneys worth from all this skill development, make sure you keep track of your progress. I keep a yoga journal, since being told to for the teacher training course I’ve been on. I’ve noticed that writing about the classes I attend, what I’m learning, how I’m growing in my practise, is all really encouraging for my competence.

I feel like I’m making improvements, when I’ve kept a record. It means that if I have a day where I can’t hold Tree pose for more than a second, I can leaf back through my journal and remind myself that I am capable, I am improving overall, and it’s OK to have an off-day. Track your progress!

 

How to Boost Your Belonging

1. Find your tribe

I spent far too long as a freelancer without even trying to find my tribe. Ultimately, I created my own. You might have heard of it, or even be a part of it - the League of Creative Introverts. When I moved to Brighton, I started a meet-up group to meet other creatives, and co-hosted an event for other female entrepreneurs.

But I’ve also joined in with existing tribes. If I find something piquing my curiosity, it’s never long before I start looking on Facebook for a group around that topic, or for a podcast that delves into it. I recently found Yoga tribes, Astrology tribes, Digital Nomad tribes - and in every case, I’ve found like-minds who want to connect with others, and who embrace me with open arms, whether it’s in real life or on the interwebs.

Also, note that you don’t have to be super active or vocal in these tribes, especially not at first. There’s nothing wrong with being a Facebook group lurker in my books. What might help boost your connection to the tribe, is by contacting a few individuals, to warm up.

This also fits in my self-esteem boosting practise of emailing people I admire - this is a great first step to becoming friends with someone, telling them you love their work! As long as you mean it, that is. Or maybe it’s asking a question. Either way, those private 1-1 connections are not just more introvert-friendly, they’re also more powerful for forming real bonds, rather than superficial comments on an Instagram feed.

2. Get sharing

This means sharing other people’s work and ideas, yes - that helps people notice you and see you as part of their tribe. But… yes, it also means sharing your OWN work.

Stop protesting! If you aren’t doing this already, I implore you to start somewhere. A work in progress. Something you made years ago that’s never seen the light of day.

And please, whatever you do: don’t get discouraged if no one comments, or likes or shares. This isn’t an overnight thing. This isn’t a popularity contest either.

This is about the practise of letting yourself be open enough to the opinions of others - that means both their acceptance and their rejection - and over time, attracting your tribe.

Which doesn’t happen if you’re invisible.

3. Ask for it

Ask for what? Ask for feedback. Ask for shares. Ask for help. Ask for support. Ask for ideas. Ask for opinions. All of this helps the other quiet onlookers who might be your tribe, but who are also acting invisible, to pipe up and connect with you.

We need invitations. Kind of like introvert vampires. Your tribe are likely a lot like you. And if you don’t pipe up without an invite, it’s likely they won’t either.

The truth is, introvert OR extrovert, we like to take the easy route. I’m unlikely to spontaneously think of my friend who just released their book, and ask them to come on my podcast unless they’re reminded me and ask me if they can come on the show. I need prompting as much as anyone else.

I’ve got another post all about the Art of Asking, inspired by Amanda Palmer’s most excellent book.

In short: if you want a sense of belonging, you need to ask for it. And chances are, your tribe will be grateful you did when they find out what a badass creative introvert you are.


Before I go, I just wanted to tell you about something new I’ve created. It is a foundation on what we’ve been talking about today: the foundation of self-knowledge. It’s a Masterclass, which is made up of four mini-classes, all online + ready for you to consume at your convenience.

Each mini-class has action steps to go along with it, to really help you delve into the material and really start to understand yourself; who you are, where you are and what you want. From there, like I said, you can take the first steps toward making improvements, in the areas you decide.

Masterclass
 
If you’d like to know more about this Confidence to Create Masterclass, you can check it out here.
 
 
 
 

itunes

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting the Creative Introvert podcast also gets you lots of goodies, from a Monthly Ask Me Anything to a copy of my soon-to-be-released BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Build a Business You Love on Your Terms. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

BECOME A SUPPORTER

Nov 14, 2018

Oh man. I have a tummy ache.

I may have baked cookies. Shortbread, to be more accurate.

And I may have eaten more than my fair share.

I'm really not a chef, a baker or a candlestick maker - which if you've been paying attention to my Year of Fun adventures, you'll know.

But I've had this bizarre and persistent craving for shortbread recently - buttery, crumbly, preferably warm, shortbread.

And each time I attempt to satisfy that craving, I get left a bit disappointed.

Without giving you my full food critic reviews on the shortbread I've tried, I'll just summarise that store-bought shortbread, the kind that comes in a packet and is filled with preservatives and all sorts of shite, is... below average.

I even tried some festive flavoured ones from Tescos, and they were barely tolerable. I choked them down.

I will say that the shortbread in Pret a Manger is one of the finest you can get that isn't homemade, so props to Pret.

But I wasn't prepared to make a bulk purchase from the coffee shop chain, in order to get my fix on the daily.

So... that leaves me with baking my own.

And this was actually in my original list of things to do on my Year of Fun, I've just delayed it because I'm such a baking fail. I just can't seem to follow instructions.

And this was no different. I found a recipe online that involved just 3 (technically 4, but of course I left out the vanilla essence because... does anyone ever really notice the vanilla?) and they also fit my low-sugar, low-gluten diet.

This may be the first - and the last - time I ever stick a recipe on the blog, but here I go.

  • 250g almond flour
  • 85g butter (salted - use Kerry Gold!)
  • 100g erythritol

Makes 6 big-ass shortbread cookies.

I was meant to 'cream' the butter and sugar substitute together before adding the almond flour, but that takes either a power mixer or elbow grease, neither of which I have.

So I used my fingers. What? It totally worked AND was super therapeutic.

I think that's the part of baking that appeals to me most: the hands on bit. The getting slightly messy bit. The lick your fingers, lick the bowl bit. The don't-think-about-the-washing-up bit.

And that was it. Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees C. Bake for 15 mins, depending on how thick you made 'em.

Get your kettle ready for a nice pot of tea for when they're ready. My patience was really tested here as they come out of the oven too soft (and scalding) to handle, so I had another good 15 minutes wait to tuck in.

But OH how good they are.

Fun rating: 7.5/10

I'd give it a higher score, but my mild tummy ache is telling me to be honest. Next time I do this I'll pace myself.

 

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, including a copy of my soon-to-be-released BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Live a Life You Love on Your Terms, monthly Masterclasses and much more. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

Become a supporter

Nov 12, 2018

So I thought I’d read all the books I’d ever need to read on productivity, healthy habits and getting things done. That was until… I saw the cover and title of our guest today’s latest book, Volcanic Momentum. For whatever reason, it really spoke to me and I had to dive straight in - and have the author, Jordan Ring on the podcast today.

Jordan enjoys making weird faces, creating ridiculous videos, eating apples, and playing ultimate frisbee with his wife. He believes in taking action and taking accountability for his own choices, and has made it a life goal to help people reach their ultimate potential.

We’ll be talking about what he means by Volcanic Momentum - and how you can get some going in your life, as well as overcoming fears of paralysis analysis, fear of asking and how us introverts can maximise our energy to make our big dreams a reality.

I absolutely loved chatting to Jordan, and hopefully you’ll enjoy listening in on our chat.

 

Links mentioned:

 

Connect with Jordan:

 

You can leave a rating and review on iTunes (here's how to do that) and I will be as happy as a kitten playing with a laser beam (or sob into my pillow, depending on what you write.)

itunes

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, from a mention in my weekly Museletter, early access and previews of new products and access to monthly workshops usually reserved for members of the League of Creative Introverts only! Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

BECOME A SUPPORTER

Nov 9, 2018

This week I'm sharing my self-made writing retreat in Lewes that I took last weekend.

writing retreat lewes

I would say lovely Lewes, because I have - in the past - really enjoyed a little wander around the small town in East Sussex, about half an hour by bus outside of Brighton, where I am. But I will admit it let me down a bit on this trip.

When I was wandering around looking for a nice coffee shop to start my writing retreat, I was stumped. I could only find about 3 nice looking spots with seats, and they were rammed to the brim. The one place I found big enough to nab a seat, Trading Post, which also has an outlet in Brighton which I love, was filled with total jerks.

I remember watching one poor elderly lady hold a door open for about 7 people, without being thanked or relieved of her kind duty. At least she made a joke of it, saying something like 'I should get paid to do this!' but that was my experience too - a lot of miserable looking, rude people. Sorry Lewes, maybe I caught you on a bad day. Maybe Brighton has spoiled me with it's warmth and politeness.

Anyway, my thinking process was, when I chose Lewes as my writing retreat location, is that it's close enough to the countryside, the South Downs, that I could maybe take a walk - not the 100 miles I walked last year, but may be a brisk half hour jaunt.

That didn't happen.

I kind of messed up on my organising. The Airbnb I stayed in - which was absolutely lovely - was a little more on the outskirts than I'd have liked. By the time I faffed around waiting for buses that seemed to get cancelled or never arrive - I ended up walking to the house from Lewes town centre, and by that time I was too pooped to do any more walking. Silly me.

Next time I do this, if I do it again, I'll set off early, making sure I can check in my bags early, leaving plenty of time to go for walkies before I settle down to writing.

writing retreat lewes

The other mistake I made was that... I planned this earlier this year, thinking I wouldn't have finished my book, and that I'd need a lot more time to write.

I actually have finished my book, The Creative introvert: How to live a life you love on your terms - and now I'm just editing and sorting out the publishing part. Boring. Not exactly what I intended to be working on, but I suppose it was even better for me to be away from distraction in this lovely environment, so I could really crack on with that.

The Airbnb bed was also the most comfy bed I've ever slept on, hands down. And the host was so sweet - as were her two lovely labradors - and she even asked before I arrived what breakfast should she buy. How sweet! This is above and beyond what an Airbnb host needs to do, in my opinion, and I'm already thinking about booking again just for the change of scene.

Fun rating: 7/10

POWERED BY PATREON

This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, from a mention in my weekly Museletter, early access and previews of new products and access to monthly workshops usually reserved for members of the League of Creative Introverts only! Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.

Nov 5, 2018
I’ve been wondering for a while now, whether this podcast and all the work I do as the Creative Introvert, is in the intention of self-improvement OR self-acceptance. 
 
Because, I’m a fan of both - I love experimenting with ways to level up, grow or become a better version of myself… but I also know the value of settling into who I am, and maybe even loving that creature.
 
The problem I come up against is… which is it? Can You have both? How?
 
How can I love who I am right now, as I am - and also want to change or grow in some way?
 
Maybe you’ve run into this same dilemma. Maybe you’ve flitted between the two. On the first of January, you’ve been all about the self-improvement. Come the 15th of Jan, you’re all about self love and self care.
 
You might scroll through Instagram seeing messages advocating self-acceptance, love at any size, shape, colour, ability… and in the next moment, you encounter someone living their best life, in impossible luxury, with absurdly ripped abs and looking far too happy with their fiancee. 
 
It’a a bit of a mindfuck if you ask me.
 
Are we destined to pendulum between the two? Or do we have to pick a side?
 
I’m going to be thinking out loud as I tackle those questions today, and hopefully by the end of this podcast, we will have worked out a way to find a balance between self-acceptance, and self-improvement.
 
The case for self-improvement
 
A realisation I had long before I picked up - and chuckled at - my first book on self-improvement is that if you are complaining about something you have to options: either stop complaining and accept the situation, OR CHANGE IT. 
 
For whatever reason, the latter appealed to me much more, in most cases. Feeling a sense of autonomy over a situation, and having something to create or enhance - not to mention the satisfaction that went along with knowing I’ve made a positive change in my life or others - well, that’s a really addictive pursuit.
 
If I’m feeling down in the dumps, or snappy or if I start getting sick, I take a look around. What have I been doing recently? Or not doing? What actions, or lack of, have led me to this less-than place?
 
If I was only to accept the way things are, things could not improve - that stopped happening after I stopped being entirely dependent on my parents to wipe my bum or feed me or whatever else.
 
We have a responsibility: our lives. We don’t have the right to complain if we haven’t even attempted to improve our situation. So with the example of me being in a crummy mood, I might notice I haven’t meditated in a week. Or I haven’t left the house all day or spoken to a loved one recently. I might try to change one of those variables, and see how I go.
 
That’s all self-improvement is. Paying attention to your state of being, to your actions, and adjusting accordingly. It doesn’t need to be a palaver.
 
But I’ll admit, it’s not always easy. And it has it’s problems…
 
The problem with self-improvement
 
What if you were to tell a child, over and over again, that no matter what they did - they were utter failures? That they were incapable, stupid, clumsy and overweight? Pointing out only their weaknesses, and never telling them how naturally wonderful they are?
 
I cringe to think about it, but I’m sure you can imagine this kiddo is going to give up on themselves pretty fast. Without positive encouragement, knowledge of their strengths and - ideally - unconditional love regardless of what they do - they have no incentive to grow, let alone get out of bed in the morning.
 
The problem with self-improvement without self-acceptance is that it’s quite easy to spiral into despair. If you’re treating yourself like that poor child, berating yourself for every misstep or misplaced hair - you end up with no motivation to improve. If you can’t please you, why bother?
 
The self-improvement world is wonderful when we’re on the up… when we’re checking all the boxes, waking up before our alarm, hitting the gym… but when we fuck up? When life happens? When we listen to our intuition that tells us: mate, you need some rest… how do we treat ourselves then?
 
Another problem with constantly striving for new heights, is that we often fail to recognise how far we’ve come. We never let ourselves stop and soak up the thing we’ve been striving for… we just keep on chasing. And whilst I do believe on some esoteric level we’re here to experience the new and to evolve… it seems a bit of a wasted life if we never get to look around at the view from each and every peak.
 
I remember when I was in Japan, climbing up some god-awful mountain on Miyajima island, just off the coast of Hiroshima, I was told that there would be this amazing view of the ‘floating Tori gate’ - an illusion that gets created when the tide is in and you look down from the mountain to see this epic red gate.
 
So I ploughed ahead, never looking back, just focussed on my destination which I believed was the top of this mountain, to see this epic view.
 
And when I got to the top, I was met with utter disappointment. The views were nice, yes - but I’d MISSED the view I wanted, which was further down the mountain. A view I might have seen IF I’d taken the time to stop and look around.
 
D’oh!
 
This also works for a handy analogy to this self-improvement stuff: remember to look around on your way.
 
 
The case for self-acceptance
 
Let’s start by defining self-acceptance, which I’ve come to see as fully embracing who you are in the present moment.
 
Acceptance is not only for the perfect parts of us - if indeed we can spot those - because perfection is irrelevant. Who are we to judge what’s perfect anyway? We’re lousy judges. What is perfect one day, can be pitted with flaws the next.
 
What I love most about self-acceptance, is that it’s honest. It takes stock of who we are, what we are and where we are. It isn’t looking to the right or the left, above or below - it isn’t playing the comparison game with our neighbour, colleague or friend.
 
In self-acceptance, we can find an honesty. It asks us to look inwards, and get really honest before making any judgement calls. We don’t have to fight against our flaws, or pretend we’re something we are not: we can literally accept ourselves as we are. We can be ok with ourselves, no matter what. 
 
And that is a powerful place to be in. 
 
The problem with self-acceptance
 
The biggest problem I see with self-acceptance is that some people confuse it with waking up one day and just loving every little thing about ourselves, every crack and every flaw. You might have been sold this possibility, and maybe shelled out money for products that make you think it’s possible.
 
Unfortunately, as nice as that would be - it’s really fucking unlikely. Drugs help, and I’m sure some enlightened beings do feel that kind of ecstatic self-love 24-7… but to maintain that level of self-love is quite unrealistic for the vast majority of us. 
 
On the flipside, self-acceptance can lead us to stagnation. If we pull the blanket over ourselves and disregard the world falling down around us, sooner or later, the house is going to cave in on us. Not good.
 
Danger lurks when we get complacent. If you’ve ever ignored a rotting piece of food at the back of your fridge, you’ll know what lurks one day when you come to face it. Self-acceptance does not mean pretending everything is fine and dandy, when it ain’t.
 
 
 
So…We’ve looked at both sides of the coin now… My conclusion? we need both, in the right doses. Taken to an extreme, neither self-acceptance nor self-Improvement are going to help us live the best, most satisfying lives we can.
 
In that case, what can we take from either side to create one, well-rounded practise? Maybe we could call it… Self-Acceptprov?
 
It seems that we need self-acceptance to take stock of our situation, and determine what we want to accept and what we want to change. From there, we can get our self-improvement caps on and get to work. Regardless of the outcome, we always have self-acceptance to rely on. It’s a warm base to come back to. Knowledge that we’re always going. to be works in progress, and that’s ok. Because the progress IS the fun bit. As long as we stop to take a look around, see how far we’ve come - we get to enjoy all of that. Warts and all.
 
How to balance Self-Acceptance and Self-Improvement
 
Lets end with a few tips to round this up:
 
  1. Get clear on where you’re at. Acknowledge what’s working, what you wouldn’t change for the world. 
  2. Now think of what parts of your world do you want to improve? What in your life could be better? 
  3. Next, get clear on what you’re willing to sacrifice for that change. It’s useful to think of this in terms of time, because that will likely be a factor in most improvements we want to make. Some sacrifices aren’t worth our desired outcome. Sure, I know that when I eat cheese, I get rewarded with a nice big pimple on my chin, approximately 24 hours later. Do I sacrifice cheese? Most days, yes. But occasionally, no. The parmesan is worth the pimple.
  4. Whatever you decide to change, make sure you take it in incremental steps. Too big a change, and you might run out of steam. And eat ALL THE CHEESE. But incremental changes, coupled with patience from accepting where you are at each step, really add up over time.
  5. Finally, remember to set reminders to yourself to stop, take a look around and acknowledge how far you’ve come. Accepting where you’re at, maybe even loving where you’re at. Maybe. 
 
We all have growth spurts and fallow periods in our self-improvement journey. What doesn’t have to change is our acceptance of the here and now, and our knowing that we can create meaningful change.
 
I’ll end with a quote from the Dalai Lama: 
 
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
Nov 2, 2018

This week I'm sharing my trip to Cambridge with my dad, to meet 'the' dad: Jordan Peterson. 

Controversy aside, this was a brilliant experience - and I share some advice I got from my own dad at the end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awTgtA3BuRY

Fun rating: 8.5/10

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