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Couple Christmas Kissing

Last Christmas?

Couple Christmas KissingI love Christmas time.

It’s all about fun, family, friends…a season of magic to warm up the chill of winter outside. It’s a chance to be a big kid (not that I need any excuse!) and indulge in all the things that we spend the rest of the year saying “oh I shouldn’t…” to.

It’s also the time of year where you get to hear from people that you haven’t heard from in the last 12 months, and often haven’t seen in much longer.

When the Christmas cards start appearing, it’s great hearing all the little bits of news that get included with the greetings inside.

A couple of years ago, however, one card had some news that we weren’t expecting.

News that came as quite a shock.

A family friend wrote and told us that her son lost his battle with colon cancer in the November before.

He was 30.

Now…this might sound like a bit of a depressing topic to be sharing just before Christmas…but bear with me…there is a string of festive fairy lights at the end of the tunnel, I promise.

I would like to say that Steven is the first person who I have known who has parted this life early. Unfortunately I can’t.

I lost a dear friend from university to cancer in her early twenties, one of my parents’ closest friends lost his wife to a sudden brain haemorrhage, my sister lost a friend from school to cancer, and a few years back a friend and shining light in the salsa dancing community was taken from us in a car accident at the age of 24.

This recent sudden loss cause me to reflect on this a lot…and it occurred to me that none of the people I have mentioned here would have had any clue that their last Christmas, was their last Christmas.

If they had known, if their families and loved ones had known, what would they have done differently? If they had the chance to have another ‘last Christmas’ what would they do to make it the most magical of all?

Now, I hope for myself and each and every one of you that we will all live long and happy lives into old age, spending many Christmases to come filled with fun and laughter, surrounded by friends and family all driving us crazy and creating more special memories together.

But if this were your last Christmas, what would YOU do to make it the most magical? What would you make sure you said to the people you love? How would you enjoy every single moment?

What are the insignificant niggles that you would let go because they just don’t matter? What are the moments that you would take a mental photograph of? How would you make every minute with the people you care about most matter? What could you do to make it the best Christmas you and your family and friends have ever had?

As some of you know, when I was doing my marathon training a few years back I had a revelation which totally changed the experience of running for me.

I realised that there must be hundreds of thousands of people in the world who would love to be able to experience what I was doing on my morning run, but couldn’t (for whatever reason). So I began running for them.

Each session was dedicated to someone else who couldn’t run for themselves…and when I ran, I ran the way I imagined that they would if they had the opportunity to run just once. It was a total game changer for me. Something which once felt like a chore became an incredible experience filled with gratitude and fun.

Now I know, that every single one of those people who didn’t realise that they were experiencing their last Christmas would LOVE the opportunity to have just one last festive season with their closest family and friends, and their family and friends would give anything to have one last Christmas with the person who’s no longer here with us.

A couple of years ago I took this message to heart and added a new tradition to my Christmas celebrations. I wanted to take the festive season as a prompt, a reminder to tell the people closest to me how I feel about them, to say thank you to them and to let them know how much they mean to me.

Christmas Thank yousSo every year, normally on Christmas Eve, I take the time to sit down and write a personal thank you note to each of the members of my family. I remind them of fun times we’ve had together, of memories from my childhood, of moments we’ve shared in the past year. I let them know how grateful I am for them, for the relationship we have and how much I love them.

I always shed a tear or two of love and appreciation when writing these letters, and the response they get always touches my heart. My 85 year old Grandmother is not normally one for sentiment, but she has often said how those letters, reminding her of special moments we shared when I was young, taking a moment to say all the things we forget to say most of the time, really mean something to her.

What started off as a single piece of inspiration, is now a Christmas tradition…and one that I always look forward to as I know every Christmas my family and loved ones get to hear, from my heart to theirs, just how much they mean to me.

So maybe this year as well as all the boxes and presents under your tree there could be a few simple envelopes that contain in them a gift that is priceless, for the people you care most about?  Hearing in your words how much they mean to you.

I’m sure that every single one of us knows someone who didn’t know they were having their last Christmas with someone special, whether they are the person who is still here, or the one who left before they expected to.

So how about this year we choose to celebrate this Christmas in their spirit? Enjoy every moment of this Christmas season the way that they would if they had the chance to do it again. To soak up every second and make memories which we will all cherish.

…and why not celebrate every special occasion…even every day like it were our last? We would focus on the best of each moment, and instantly dismiss any minor frustrations which don’t mean anything when you look at the big picture. What memories we would create!

I don’t know about you…but if my lifetime is going to be the long and happy one that I fully intend for it to be, then I want it to be filled with THOSE kinds of memories. 😀

How about you?

I wish every single one of you a Christmas celebrated with the people who you love as if it were the last you were going to get. One filled with happiness, laughter and love.

With Love,

Claire x

Why Does Heartbreak Hurt So Much?

Broken-HeartLast week I shared that December is known as the annual breakup season, and a lot of people shared how the article had come at the perfect time for them, because they were dealing with a recent break up themselves.

When I started hearing this, it took me back to some of my own personal experiences of heartbreak.

If a relationship has ended, at some level it wasn’t working. If you’re truly honest with yourself, I’m sure you don’t want to be in a relationship where you’re unhappy and unfulfilled or in a relationship where the other person is unhappy or unfulfilled, for whatever reason, because we know deep in our hearts that neither of those scenarios make for a good relationship in the long term. But that doesn’t stop it from hurting….and hurting deeply.

I know. I’ve experienced it first-hand many times.

…and I can vividly recall the times where I’ve felt like the bottom had fallen out of my world.

My experience with heartbreak…

Those moments in time where it felt like an effort just to keep breathing in and out.

The pain, the sadness, the numbness, the confusion, the fear…the complete and total overwhelm of experiencing so many emotions and thoughts at the same time, and not being able to make sense of any of them.

Mind and heart reeling, with no way out, only through.

When I brought these moments of my life to mind, I started to think about heartbreak, and why it hurts so much. As soon as I asked this question, two answers came to me.

The first you’ll no doubt have heard before. The second may be a bit of a surprise…

So why does heartbreak hurt so much?

So the first answer that came to me is that we’re experiencing a loss, which brings with it a sense of grief.

Whether a relationship has come to an end because we’ve chosen to end it, because someone else has chosen to end it, or because it’s been mutually decided that it’s for the best, we are still losing something.

We may not be grieving for the relationship as it was, but instead for the relationship that we thought it was going to be, the relationship it had the potential to be, or the relationship we wanted it to be.

It might seem strange to be grieving for something that you’ve never actually had…but losing the POSSIBILITY of something, is still a loss, and we still experience a sense of grief when the possibility appears to be no more.

We miss the other person…or maybe we don’t, maybe we miss who they used to be, who we thought they were, or who we thought they would become.

Whatever it is that we’re losing, whether it’s was something we had, something we thought we had, or something we thought we were going to have, it’s important to honour the fact that we will experience a sense of grief when the loss becomes a reality.

Most people have heard of the 5 stages of grief (or the Kübler-Ross model) where you go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance…but what most people don’t know is that the best way through all the stages, is to fully experience each stage, feel complete with it and then transition through to the next stage…in the timeframe that is right for you.

Do you allow yourself to ‘go through’ heartbreak?

When it comes to heartbreak though, a lot of people don’t allow themselves to go through this grieving process fully…they expect to just ‘feel better’ at some point, get told to snap out of it by someone trying to ‘help’, or distract themselves from really experiencing the feeling because it’s uncomfortable (whether that’s through alcohol, TV, another relationship or any other way to avoid the feelings)…and therefore get ‘stuck’ in one stage.

As I’ve said before, when you’re in this kind of emotional experience, the best way out of it really is through it…allowing yourself to fully feel each aspect of what you’re experiencing in order that you can then release it.

So if you’re in it right now, start to notice where you might be wanting to avoid or distract yourself from how you’re really feeling…because that in itself can be keeping you ‘in it’ and preventing you from moving through it to the other side.

The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” hit me hard.

Because it was probably one of the hardest things for me to understand and begin to accept about my own experiences with heartbreak…and it was also the single, most powerful realisation that transformed my experience with heartbreak forever.

So join me again next week where I will be sharing the insight that changed how I experience heartbreak…and which helped me reach the point where, I began to eventually be able to see each one as a gift.

…and if you’re currently dealing with a break up and you’d like to find out how I might be able to help you through it, then either send me an email: claire@lovepolarityandpassion.com or book a discovery session here to get some help and support when dealing with heartbreak during the holiday season.

With Love,

Claire x

Would you like to know how to avoid the annual breakup season?

breakupThe festive season can be wonderful.

…it can also be a really challenging time of year.

Family commitments, present-buying, Christmas parties, money-worries, end of year deadlines…

It’s a recipe for a stress-cocktail.

It’s no surprise that according to Facebook, December is the month of the year with the highest number of breakups.

The problem with stress is that we have a tendency to take it out on the people who are closest to us. They are the people who see every side of us…the good, the bad and the very ugly.

We don’t put on pretenses for those who are closest to us…and we don’t tend to pull our punches.

You see, when we’re under stress our bodies jump into fight or flight mode.

Why is this the annual breakup season?

We learned our stress responses many years ago when ‘stress’ was caused by coming face-to-face with a saber-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth. It was a matter of survival. Us or them.

Unfortunately our stress responses have not evolved with our lives…so we get the same rush of adrenaline and hormones when dealing with an urgent deadline as we did when being considered as a Paleolithic beast’s lunch.

So when we feel stress we see the world as a threat…including our partner.

When we see someone or something as a threat, all compassion and understanding tends to fly out of the nearest window. We have two go-to responses; protect & defend ourselves, and attack.

…and when one person gets defensive or confrontational, the other person often isn’t far behind.

So how can we avoid the stress-loop that often leads to a breakup?

The biggest problem when we enter this stress-pattern is that we forget that we are on the same side.

We’re on the same team.

They aren’t your adversary, they’re your team-mate.

Think about a football team. How successful do you think a team would be if they spent all their time tackling each other rather than focusing on the opposition, or the goal?

Not very.

You see, our response to stress often has us drawing battle lines against the person with whom you could instead be creating a battle strategy WITH.

So if you notice yourself dropping into ‘confrontation mode’ with your partner, here are a few simple steps to help you get back in each other’s corner again.

  1. Stop – So many of our troubles at this time of year start because rather than responding to what’s happening we react. We fire right back at the moment we feel upset or triggered without taking a moment to stop and consider how we want to respond, or the consequences of our reaction. Take a pause…it could make all the difference.
  2. Breathe – Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to let go of some of the tension in your body. When we go into fight of flight mode our muscles tense in order to be ready to swing a right-hook, or run for the hills. Taking a deep breath and shaking out your body can release some of this tension and help you to relax.
  3. Ask yourself a question (or two)…(or three) – When we feel this way, it tends to be because we’ve attributed a meaning to our partner’s behavior (what they’ve said / not said / done / not done) that might not be in-line with the intention behind it. So ask yourself “What else could this mean?”, could there be another reason than the one you’ve got in your mind? The other question to ask yourself here is “What is my outcome?” what do you really want in this moment? Do you want to be right? Or Do you want to be happy? Do you want to fight? Or do you want to build a bridge with the person who is usually your biggest ally? The final question to ask yourself is “How do I REALLY want to deal with this?” Your reaction has the potential to create a battleground or a dance floor, to fire an attack or wave a white flag, to metaphorically slap them in the face or reach out to connect with them. This is your moment to choose how you show up, which has the ability to completely transform the situation.
  4. Apologise – At this point you may be a little confused. Apologise? But they’re the one who’s upset me! While that may be true…step back a little bit. Is there something that you’ve said or done (or not said or done) that might have caused a reaction in them? Might they have misinterpreted your actions or words? If you can see how they might be upset, apologise for your part in what’s happened, without reservation, and without bringing how you’re feeling into it (for now).  When you do this for another person, they go from attack and defend mode to putting both their weapons and their defences down. This is the first step towards working together to find a solution.
  5. Ask for their help – This situation could simply be happening because they don’t really know what you want or need, and how to give it to you…so the easiest way for them to be able to do this is for you to tell them. But barking instructions at them is probably not going to help them feel you’re on the same side. Instead ask for their help…ask for what you want and need, show them how to help and support you.
  6. Remind them (and most importantly yourself) that you’re on the same team – Remember that you’re on the same team.  Remind them (with kindness) that you’re on their team…and that you know that they’re on your team too. Just verbalising this can make such a difference to how you both perceive what’s going on. It might be a misunderstanding, it might be a difference of opinion, but if you’re on the same side, you can figure it out together.

When you’re on the same side, dealing with the stress of the season seems so much more manageable…and you know you’re not dealing with it alone. Navigating your way through the festive period can both pull you together, or tear you apart…choosing to be on the same team can make it more likely to be the former.

…but what if you do breakup?

If you do break up this time of year, there are a few things to bear in mind.

If the choice to separate wasn’t yours, then the other person has done you the favour of walking away from you. You want to be with someone who chooses you, who sees you, who values you…who wants to be with you. If this person has made another choice, you deserve more.

But knowing that doesn’t make the process of dealing with it any easier…so you might want to check out a couple of these articles to help you through the process:

The new year is a good time to move start afresh, to go through the process of letting go of the past and to begin to attract and create the relationship that you desire and deserve.

…and if you think the advice in this post could help someone you know, I would love for you take a few seconds to share it.

Would you like some help in navigating the annual breakup season?

Often when we’re dealing with relationship challenges, whether it’s stress, money, arguments, worries about trust or infidelity, it can be tough to do it on your own. It can feel isolating and lonely, especially when everyone around you seems to be enjoying a challenge-free festive season with their loved ones.

Or maybe you’re single and worried about how to enjoy the festivities without a special someone to share it with? Maybe you’re worried about the comments or questions from family about ‘When are you going to find someone?’ Maybe you’re just fed up of the thought of another Christmas and New Years Eve on your own?

So if you’d like to find out how I might be able to help you with your specific relationship concerns, worries or challenges at this time of year, then either send me an email: claire@lovepolarityandpassion.com or book a discovery session here to find out how you can avoid or reduce the relationship challenges that most people face at this time of year.

It can be a tough time to navigate, and it’s so much easier when you know you’re not doing it alone.

With Love,

Claire x

When to say "F*ck That" to Gratitude

When to say ‘F*ck That’ to gratitude

When to say "F*ck That" to GratitudeI’m all for an attitude of gratitude, in fact I’ve spent a lot of time blogging about it over the past 3-4 years.

If you’d prefer to read a nice, happy, focus on the positive blog post to celebrate this day of thanks, then my advice is to cut your losses now and head over to one of these other posts:

http://feminine1st.com/life-as-a-woman/the-attitude-of-gratitude/

http://feminine1st.com/life-as-a-woman/can-you-always-find-the-gratitude/

http://feminine1st.com/life-as-a-woman/grateful-things-dont-work-way-planned-expected/

http://feminine1st.com/life-as-a-woman/how-often-do-you-thank-you/

If you’re looking for a real, honest, pull no punches, I wanna get down to the nitty-gritty post, keep reading.

As we know, gratitude is a game-changer.

It’s the antidote to a lot of the emotions we label as ‘negative’.

It’s not possible to feel gratitude and fear at the same time, it’s not possible to feel gratitude and anger at the same time, it’s not possible to feel gratitude and judgment at the same time.

In fact a good old dose of gratitude can pretty much help you feel better in the midst of any emotional challenge.

…and therein lies the problem.

Feeling authentically grateful, because that’s the emotion that’s primary in your life at any point in time is wonderful.

But the challenge for a lot of us is that we try to use gratitude as a tool, to avoid, or distract ourselves from the other emotions we’re feeling and experiencing. In short, to make ourselves feel better when we’re really feeling something else instead.

I mean, who’d want to feel angry, if you can go for gratitude instead?

Who’d choose sadness over feeling grateful?

Who’d opt for disappointment over being thankful?

When we are faced with the alternative of something that, let’s face it, feel’s pretty crappy, why would you feel that over something that feels so much better?

Well, the answer is, because every emotion serves a purpose. It’s our body’s way of processing the experiences that we’re having. If we feel angry, there’s a reason for it, something has happened to trigger anger in us and it’s important for us to allow ourselves to be in the emotion, to feel the anger fully, in order that it can serve its purpose and we can learn from it and let it go.

If we don’t allow ourselves to feel it, we don’t ever really process the situation, instead we end up holding onto it (and the emotion), and it just sits deep inside us festering and fermenting away until one day it pops up unexpectedly out of nowhere and rears it’s ugly head.

Because now we’re not just dealing with the emotion, we’re dealing with the emotion + interest.

Being thanksgiving, I was going to write an article today about gratitude.

I had a few options available to me.

Maybe a piece about how shifting to a perspective of gratitude towards your partner instead of focusing on their shortcomings can transform a relationship (which it can, by the way).

Or a nice article on how feeling grateful for our heartbreaks can transform the experience and help you to see how each one has given you something and contributed to your learning along the way (again, a very valid topic), along similar lines to the final section in this piece: http://feminine1st.com/relationships/changed-experience-heartbreak-forever/.

Or perhaps a blog about how being grateful for yourself is the first step to having a better relationship with anyone (another important thing to know).

And then I realised that there are a million articles like that out there (especially today of all days) but not very many that actually give you permission NOT to be thankful when you’re actually feeling something else.

For example, I do genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason in life. I do believe that every heartbreak taught me something. I do believe that each broken heart ultimately was a gift. It was something to be grateful for.

But in the moment, at the point at which you can feel your heart shattering into a million pieces, if someone comes along and points out that it’s for the best and one day you’ll be grateful that this has happened, your first instinct is to say “F*ck That!”

Not “I don’t feel that way at the moment,” not “I’m sorry, but this feels crappy and I’m not ready to see the silver lining yet,” but literally “F*ck That.”

The F word has a certain power to it. If it’s used all the time, it can lose that power and just becomes another word in your vocabulary. But if it’s used sparingly and only when that level of emphasis and charge is needed, it can be very cathartic.

Because trying to make yourself feel better when you’re in the midst of a painful experience is an insult to your emotions. It diminishes and dishonours what you’re going through.

And if anyone is trying to diminish your emotions and your experience (whether it’s you or someone else), the “F*ck that” response says: That’s not acceptable. I will not allow it. No.

That is a response you have every right to, because this is you respecting yourself, respecting your emotions, respecting your experience and taking back your power.

Not only do you have every right to say “F*ck That,” but it’s actually preferable.

Because you can’t get to genuine gratitude unless you go through the emotions first.

And at that point, at the point of pain, the situation just plain sucks.

It hurts.

It’s not good.

There seems no reason good enough for the fact that you’re feeling the way you feel.

You don’t want to feel it.

You don’t like feeling it.

But doing anything else is ultimately doing yourself a disservice.

So cry. Wail. Shout and scream. Sob into a cushion, and beat the crap out of a beanbag (my personal favourite in situations like these).

Talk to Friends. Spend a day under the duvet.

Be with it.

Be in it.

Feel it.

Experience it.

And when it’s served its purpose, you then have the choice to be able to release the emotion and let it go.

Then you can begin to think clearly about it.

You can begin to get some perspective. You can start to look for the lessons, the learnings, the gifts.

At this point you can allow yourself to step into gratitude, and step into it fully, completely, unreservedly and whole-heartedly.

So the next time you find yourself feeling a strong ‘negative’ emotion, you have my full permission to say “F*ck That” to that false, distracting gratitude, and instead allow yourself to actually feel what’s there first.

Because when you go through the emotion first, you can actually get to the other side, after which you can get to genuine gratitude.

Put simply, saying “F*ck that” to false gratitude is the path to experiencing REAL gratitude.

…and there are very few things more powerful in this world than genuine, from the heart, I feel it in my soul gratitude.

I invite you to Tweet the Love… Saying f*ck that to false gratitude is the path to REAL gratitude @LovePPassion

Now I’d like to know what you think. Have you learned to say “F*ck That” to false gratitude? Have you experienced it as the path to real, genuine gratitude? Does it feel like an edge for you? Does this resonate with you? Or do you think I’m totally wrong? Is it something that feels uncomfortable? What have YOUR experiences with this been?

And on thanksgiving I give you permission to say “F*ck That” to cheap imitations of gratefulness, the ones employed to distract, avoid and ‘make us feel better’, and instead to make the powerful choice to only embrace and express gratitude that is real.

In the short-term it can feel like it sucks, but in the long-term it’s the key to real, genuine emotional freedom.

And there’s no other feeling like it.

With Love,

Claire x

P.S. If you’d like some free tips and advice on how to create your perfectly imperfect relationship, pop over here now and check out our free video series “The First Steps to Transforming Any Relationship”