The 3 Ways My Ideas Die

ideas by emiliokuffer, on Flickr

Original Photo © Emilio Kuffer, emiliokuffer on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Sometimes I grow tired of the constant hum of random failure. Most of my dreams end up as flops. I’m sure I’m not alone in this—we all struggle with the guilt of not finishing from time to time.

It might be unambitious, but occasionally I think it would be nice to fail more predictably, so I’ve been searching for patterns in how my ideas fizzle out. What’s different when I persevere, and when I don’t?

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How to Change Your Life with One Small Move

IMG_1760 by Robert Couse-Baker, on Flickr

Original Photo © Robert Couse-Baker, Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Recently, the principles of Feng Shui—an ancient Chinese art which advocates a system of placement within a space to harmonise various energies—became incredibly important to me.

(By sheer coincidence, there was an unpleasant job I didn’t want to do, and spending the afternoon rearranging my office seemed preferable.)

After some time browsing Feng Shui websites, I ended up rotating my desk 90 degrees. From now on, I would sit in what one of the websites referred to as the “position of command.” (Basically, my desk would face the door instead of the wall.)

To my astonishment, this actually helped: Continue reading

Mental Health Awareness Using Humour (I’m Scared)

Mental Health week, DCU by Marie. L., on Flickr

Original Photo © Marie. L., Marie. L. on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

I’m doing something scary.

(Technically, living with anxiety makes lots of things scary, I guess. BUT this is actually terrifying.)

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A Simple Idea to Help With Repetitive Anxiety

[content: a quick tip for repetitive anxiety]

In the past, I’d regularly get trapped in the exact same worry over and over.

Often, it would be health anxiety. For example, I’d experience a symptom of some kind. And I’d immediately imagine that this symptom was coming from the worst possible cause. Perhaps a pain would be in my leg, and I’d think “that’s a blood clot, travelling to my lungs to kill me”.

For the rest of the day—week? month?—I’d struggle to concentrate on anything else, constantly fighting to keep my attention from the impending doom.

After years of living through this exact cycle, I realised I wasn’t learning anything. It was just the same thing, over and over and over again.

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How to Recover After a Setback

wer glaubt dass schweigen probleme löst by Daniel Wehner, on Flickr

Original Photo © Daniel Wehner, Daniel Wehner on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

This year I’ve experienced a constant stream of setbacks, of varying degrees of seriousness: minor administrative life hassle, major family tragedy, missed career opportunities, painful emotional entanglements, idiotic breakages, unexpected financial demands.

At times, it’s felt as if the universe was sending me regular doses of deliberate punishment.

Each problem on its own wouldn’t be so bad. Especially since I recognise that I’m actually pretty lucky—I have my life mostly together, along with strong coping strategies and a solid support network.

But when problems come thick and fast—and, this year, another one kept appearing before I’d had time to process the last one—it can be too much for anyone to handle. When you’re already struggling, the smallest setback can tip the scales and dump thousands of final straws onto the camel’s back*.

*with hindsight, putting all those straws on scales above a camel was an avoidable mistake

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Why Goals Aren’t Enough—You Need to Set Directions Too

Directions by Luis Marina, on Flickr

Original Photo © Luis Marina, Luis Marina on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Recently, I caught up with a friend I don’t get to see often enough. Neither of us were in a Major Life Crisis, so we were doing that thing where we swap minor problems back and forth—everything from busyness to boredom to the various ways our ageing bodies are mysteriously misbehaving.

Naturally, we share that delightful human instinct for wanting to share solutions we’ve found. But after the conversation, I reflected on the advice we’d swapped, and I realised we had mostly both been talking to our past selves, rather than each other.

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Exhausted and Unproductive? This Might Help

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

As a kid, I never understood why adults were so slow. Surely it would be more natural to run around and bounce and clamber – what was wrong with them? Why were all adults so lazy?!

Now I’m (allegedly) an adult, I get it: We’re not lazy… we’re just exhausted.

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How Tiny, Unconscious Habits Can Lead to a World of Pain

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

“Look after yourself,” suggests a well-meaning friend.

“Um, thanks…” I respond—but privately, I bristle. What else am I going to do?! Not look after myself?

And yet… I absolutely need to be told this, because every single day I fail to take care of myself through dozens of poor, tiny decisions.
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What I’m Doing in July 2018

[post status: a brief life update]

When  Walking on Custard came out in 2015 (aside: I cannot believe that was three  years ago! What on EARTH is happening to the flow of time?!), I needed some sort of online home.

I considered all kinds of wild, imaginative ideas, like interactive websites which would act as companions to the book, somehow procedurally generating both entertainment and life advice…

… but in the end I realised that simplicity was definitely the best option in this case. So I set up this basic WordPress site, and voila: a place where I can muse about anxiety and life without having to put in much effort.

A simple blog that exists is better than an all-singing, all-dancing web experience that doesn’t.

And this place has served its purpose well!

I’m constantly surprised at how many people manage to stumble into my little corner of the internet, AND at how many of those people bother to send me lovely emails about articles which resonated with them. (They can’t ALL secretly be my mum, right?!)

Anyway… Continue reading

You Probably Need to Do This One Thing More Often

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Do your attempts to be kind to yourself ever backfire?

I’ve noticed lately that my moments of self-generosity are occasionally actively unhelpful to me:

“Fine, I’ll watch another episode.”

“I’ve worked hard, I don’t need to exercise today.”

“If I eat a second dessert… then I can free up the time that I would have spent eating it later! Genius.”

None of these things are bad, of course. (In fact, I am a tremendous fan of being entertained, resting and eating sweet treats –  and I’m even happy to multitask all three, if necessary.)

However, there’s a common theme here:

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