Wednesday, 25 July 2018

How to stop hurtful remarks breaking your heart

I remember the first time a hurtful remark really broke my heart. I was about 8 years old and my biggest dream back then was to become a vet. When I was little I often joked that my ideal occupation would be to work in a sweet shop "so I can eat all the sweets", or a hairdressers "so I can cut everyones hair off for a laugh" and so on. Becoming a vet was the first serious dream I'd ever had. I'd always been a bit nervous around dogs and I knew a big hurdle in becoming a vet would have to involve me conquering that stumbling block, not to mention my struggle with Maths and Science at school. 

The hurtful remark came whilst we were visiting a friend of my mum's at the seaside and I had her dog on a lead. The dog started getting excited and looping around me in circles, barking. My panic became obvious and my heart broke when my mum's friend yelled: "For God's sake Sophie, get a grip! You want to be a vet when you're older? That's a joke! How the hell are you going to cope if you carry on behaving like this?" 

I couldn't believe how cruel she was being, the comment cut me straight to the core and left me reeling. She knew how much I wanted to be a vet. I hoped my mum might leap in and defend me, but, ever the peacemaker, mum stayed silent on the matter while I focused on keeping bitter tears at bay.

Criticism I faced in childhood 
During childhood another cut to my confidence would come when people commented on how rubbish I was at Maths. My dad is a doctor of Mathematics; he became a Geologist and flew all around the world giving talks and speeches in many different countries, especially America. He worked extremely hard to get his PhD and I'm very proud of everything he's accomplished. He's won awards and honours, invented a formula and contributed to published scientific papers. He's the last person to ever boast about any of this, or to ever make his daughter feel like a failure for being - quite frankly - crap at Maths. But I've lost count of how many people would say "You didn't inherit your dad's intellectual brain then?" or "His Math's gene obviously missed you and went straight to your cousin!" Those little digs made me feel for all like I had the words "f*cking failure" stamped on my forehead. 

To make matters worse an annoying little swat at school would always come over and tease me about my struggle with Maths. "What's the square root of four?" He'd patronise, insinuating that I couldn't even answer the simplest of equations."Oh God, not that pompous little prick!" My best friend Rae and I always joke when we get on the topic of ex classmates we couldn't stand. It's good to laugh about him now, I can shake off the fact that I'm rubbish at Maths and probably always will be. It certainly isn't my forte and I've long since made peace with that. But at the time these comments definitely paved the way for low self esteem and inner-criticism that made me apologise for who I was and what talents I lacked for years afterwards. As I reached teenage hood, the dream of being a vet naturally fell away and I lost interest. Cruel words during childhood can contribute to cutting so many dreams short.

How many times have you been hurt?
I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that if you're out there somewhere reading this, you've probably been hurt dozens of times throughout your life by hurtful remarks, right? Someone has drowsed one of your biggest dreams in doubt. Made a bitchy, blasé remark served like a metaphorical slap across your face. You've been stung or wounded by a remark so critical that you've been rendered speechless with shock. Cruel comments can ruin an otherwise carefree day, pour poison on any crusade of confidence we might currently be riding and really awaken all the little insecurities and anxieties we thought had long since set sail. They can get us questioning ourselves and spiralling  downwards in a trail of low self-esteem. If only people could think before they speak....

Cutting comments made by family members... 
If you read my blog then you already know that I've experienced a lot of cutting comments from work colleagues in the past, but I think sadly the majority of past hurtful remarks aside from work colleagues have come directly from my own family. Not all family members, but some. From my experience, families tend to think they've got every right to inspect your life with a microscope and point out any flaws, incapabilities or mistakes they see fit. I'm a very private person and honest in the fact that I don't really feel like I fit in to my family. I don't want to justify or talk openly about my life with them, because we don't really have that connection.

Comments in the past from family members have ranged from judgements on "isn't it strange that at your age I'd already had a kid and got married?", to "she doesn't smile in her blog photos", to "you could never be an estate agent, that job is made for confident people and you have no confidence". I've had unwanted criticisms and suggestions, guilt trips and general scorn. Harmless, perhaps. Hurtful? Definitely. However well-meaning, I don't want to connect with people who say such blasé things with little thought for how it actually makes me feel. Who are always quick to judge my life choices and steer me down the path they feel is more suitable. If I'm being honest then I've always believed that family is who you feel most at home with, not who share DNA with. I want to be surrounded by people who make me happy and get me without even trying.

Heartbreaking to hear
Although I'm very close to my mum, she's often said a lot of hurtful things to me over the years (and of course, I'm not innocent in this; I have to her as well I'm sure). It took me years, years to pluck up the courage to tell her I was writing my first novel. When I finally sat down to tell her the reaction I got was "It probably won't get published, you can always keep it in a drawer somewhere for just you to read and be proud of.". This hurt like hell. Although never her intention to hurt me, such a comment really was heartbreaking to hear. Since then I've published short stories on my blog that mum has read, meanwhile two close friends of mine are kindly reading my novel and giving me their feedback, which has made mum realise my dedication and determination. Graham is also kindly proof reading my book too, and the support I've received from so many readers, friends and those closest to me has shown mum that I'm serious about getting it out there and won't stop until it's a published book lining the shelves one day. Mum and dad are nothing but supportive, I couldn't be writing my novel without them and mum's attitude now is "It's definitely going to get published, I can't wait to buy my first copy". 

So, how do you stop a hurtful remark breaking your heart? 

Confront the hurtful remark head-on
A lot of hurtful remarks seem to come straight out of the blue; unexpected and sharp, like a slap to the face. It makes it very difficult to confront them head on when you're left reeling. Many remarks get brushed off or we deem ourselves/get deemed as "overreacting" or "being too sensitive" when in actual fact, any hurtful remark aimed our way shouldn't just be overlooked or put to rest. Confront the person making the hurtful remark if you can. Explain how it's made you feel and try to get them to view it from your state of mind. Twist it around and ask them "how would it make you feel if I said this to you?" Hopefully with a bit of insight on your part, they'll realise the damage their comment has done and refrain from being so tactless in the future. 

Realise the root of the comment
Is the person making this hurtful remark mega successful themselves? I'm guessing not. A lot of people try and destroy other people's dreams because they never had the courage to follow their own. I've never once witnessed or heard of a happy, successful, fulfilled person ever bring negativity towards someone else with a hurtful comment. Most people who make hurtful remarks are either horrendously tactless or just plain bitter about their own lives. They don't deserve your attention.

Don't take it personally
I remember an ex work colleague who used to make the working environment hell for many of us, especially me. She'd often go off on one and blow up whenever something didn't go her way. She made many hurtful remarks my way (including comments about my weight), but after a while I learnt that she was desperately unhappy in her marriage. Her husband used to treat her like trash at home and she'd come into work and take out her pent up anger on us instead. Believe it or not, hurtful remarks aimed our way aren't usually personal. Most come out of anger, bitterness, cynicism and pessimism. These feelings are just an indicator of how some people heap their hell onto other people in the hope of feeling better about themselves. We don't deserve to let those kind of people steal our joy, or worse, pour their toxicity on our dreams and hopes. We just need to pity these kinds of people. 

Set yourself free from the hurt and move on
However hard, eventually we can either let cruel comments rip us to shreds, smash our self-esteem and wreck our self-worth or we can move on safe in the knowledge that we deserve better than to suffer due to someone else's low opinion of themselves. People who make hurtful remarks are none the wiser and will carry on with their day while yours has just been shot down and ruined. The pain we feel when a hurtful remark is made can leave a scar, but it's important that after a bit of rumination we forgive, forget and move on and away from the upset. You don't deserve to waste a moment of your precious life casting caution to someone else's misguided remark. Remember YOU have the power to define your self-worth. YOU hold the keys to your success. You are the only one who can control your happiness, head and heart. And those negative naysayers don't deserve any access to the remote. 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Beach summer style: rainbow cami top + sunshine yellow shorts

Summer style is my forte and beach fashion my bliss, so I thought I'd bring you this bright outfit post between changing tides and shifting sands. Rocking rainbows is always a pleasure, so as soon as I set eyes on this Topshop rainbow striped camisole top I knew it was pure love. I also wanted a similar rainbow dress Topshop released recently but sadly it flew off the shelves before I could snap it up for myself. The Missguided yellow high waisted shorts beamed some sunshine into the look and I styled the finishing touches with sunset-orange Quay Australia shades and my trusty metallic gold wedges. A bright, colourful look is always my go-to, but summer makes a bright outfit all the more fun to style, right? 

I'm going to go ahead and mention something I've been musing for a while which is that I'm feeling like an old-fashioned girl in a modern day world. Why do I feel old-fashioned? Well, I don't need Netflix for a start. I've no interest whatsoever in getting gripped on all the TV shows everyone else goes on about; it makes for limited conversation when people ask you what you're currently watching... but I honestly have zero interest. And music! Don't get me started on the music on the radio these days. All I want to hear is the Isley Brothers on repeat, timeless talent; music with heart and soul. Slow jams that make memories. Music that brings sunshine and kindness. Lyrics that tell a tale instead of blurred beats that all sound the same and pump into nothingness. Failing that, Craig David's Rendezvous or Artful Dodger's twenty-four-seven. 

It breaks my heart a little to see kids playing with tablets instead of toys, the amount of people that walk into you in the street - all because they can't tear their gaze away from their phone screen. Dating apps terrify me, if I wasn't paired up in this day and age then I honestly think I wouldn't want to go near them - perhaps it's a bit blasé of me to say but what happened to meeting someone "in real life"? Books scrolled down a screen bear no meaning to me, it's a real novel in my hands or nothing. What I'm trying to say, is, that in this day and age I guess I'm a little out of touch with everything modern and new, but that's okay with me. 

I'll tell you what I love to watch the most - old Emmerdale episodes on VHS from 1999 - repeats I taped back in 2003 because my favourite character, Biff Fowler was soon to be leaving the show and I wanted to record as many of his episodes as I could before he left. Emmerdale was my favourite show back when Biff was in it, it had heart, humour and drama. Cutting comedy and classic characters.

Biff Fowler was kind of Emmerdale's answer to baywatch in the 90s - way before Zac Efron rolled up on Miami beach on his bike last year! Biff was a great character, one that showed a lot of heart and charm, a "true gentleman" as someone else said to me when I mentioned Biff in a conversation about ex-Emmerdale characters. Despite having a lovely smile, a kind nature (who else would go on a reluctant shopping spree with Butch or think to bring Kathy a jigsaw during her hospital stay?) and a good heart, Biff wasn't scared to throw a punch or two and occasionally got into trouble in his younger years. He had some of the best Emmerdale storylines and was often seen revving through the village on his bike. Sadly he left the village in 1999 after jilting his wife-to-be, Kathy, at the altar, when he realised she had feelings for creepy Graham instead 💔.

Nearly 19 years on and it's heart warming that in regards to this post a few fellow Emmerdale fans reached out to me on twitter and shared their memories of Biff and why he was their favourite character too. Yep, sorry Brad Pitt but you've got nothing on Biff! The show and the characters have a massive place in my heart, and I thought now was the time to finally mention it. My promise for 2018 is to stop saying sorry for living a life you love - and that includes my love for Emmerdale back in the 90s! 

Almost 19 years on and Biff is still my favourite ever Emmerdale character, there was something special about him and the show was never the same for me after he left on his bike, riding off into the sunset.... my tapes often jump and the screen fizzes; my modern day heartache equivalent of someone reading the latest GOT spoiler, surely. Maybe it's not very forward thinking of me, but I'll be reminiscing about Biff Fowler and playing The Isley Brothers while the rest of the world tunes into 2018....