For the past eight years, I’ve been helping people to understand unhealthy relationships and more importantly inspiring and empowering readers to change their relationship habits and improve their self-esteem over at my blog Baggage Reclaim. During this time, I came to realise that much of the pain we put ourselves through in life, is essentially built on bullshit (BS) whether it’s the stuff we carry around in our heads and our contradicting actions, or the BS that other people peddle us via their words and actions. Much of what I’ve talked about has been about getting people to challenge what they think, to get into reality, and to start thinking about and doing better, different things – basically to cut the BS because insanity is actually doing and thinking the same things and expecting a different result.

You may have also discovered if you have low self-esteem that you can actually believe that you’re doing things differently but because how you feel about you is the same and you’re not changing your mentality, that you end up with similar results.

BS and low self-esteem are intertwined. The more BS you have in your life is the lower your self-esteem will be and the more unhappy you will feel. Hence if you want to be happy, you need to go on a BS Diet.

Self-esteem is very much about how you regard you which is why it has the word ‘self’ in it and yet every day people seem to think that they can build their self-esteem off external sources such as people, things’ and even achievements that they don’t internalise. And then we wonder why we’re so unhappy when we base our identities not on our own values, which are our beliefs about what we fundamentally need to live our lives happily and authentically, but on what we think other people think of us or how good we feel off the back of external gratification.

This is all BS and one day after one too many times of getting our hearts broken, of believing in people that we have no real reason to trust, and of becoming ‘lost’ in the pursuit of our happiness and identity via external validation, we suddenly realise that we don’t have very much to show for it and that after all of our endeavours, it turns out that the person we need most in order to be happy both with ourselves and in our lives is…us.

It was only at the start of 2011 though where I started referring to the changes that we have to make to our mentality and actions as a BS Diet when I asked, Is It Time For You To Go On A BS Diet? and as I continue to realise the power of cutting the BS in our lives, I wanted to dedicate a blog and a new strand of work to helping people to get on their own BS Diets.

This blog is where I’ll explore ideas for cutting the BS and improving self-esteem inspired by own BS reducing endeavours and those of readers and what I come across in day-to-day life. As a mother of two daughters who I want to raise to feel not only loved but to love themselves and in a time when so much of what seems to take place in life is based on instant gratification, appearance, fakery, and things that distort intimacy and connectivity, I think it’s even more important that we start to challenge what self-esteem means and connect with the great people that already reside within us that are waiting to be acknowledged.

 

people on the beach complaining about their bodies

Last summer I went on a trip to Mallorca with a few friends and when we got down to the beach, the guys were carefree and enjoying themselves, whereas it’s not that we weren’t enjoying ourselves but, there was a lot of griping about lumps and bumps and my husband was appalled at the way we were talking about ourselves. Just a simple taking of photos was a right palava and I suddenly became acutely aware that we were talking about appearance far too much and giving ourselves a hard time.

None of us would agree with each person’s critique of themselves and yet we kept agreeing with our own.

A multitude of previous griping sessions flashed through my mind and it came to me.

“We talk about this stuff way too much.”

My friends agreed and one added, “This time next year I’m not going to be sitting here still taking about my weight. You watch me!” and over the past year she’s been going to the gym, has done a marathon and is gradually started to feel better about her body. We went away earlier this summer to Croatia and we hardly spoke about bodies. I caught myself a couple of times and reined myself in.

One of my guiding principles is actually to cut down on moaning and one of my chief sources of it is being critical of my post two c-sections stomach. Let me assure you, moaning about something, critiquing yourself, or even judging you harshly is not going to motivate and inspire you to do something; if anything it’s going to rob you of your energy and possibly erode your self-esteem. I should know – I had my first daughter six years ago and with the amount of time I’ve thought about joining the gym, or going jogging, or going downstairs and using the Kinect, or just flat out moaning, I could have exercised many times over. I also feel better when I’m not ruminating over my gut and putting my energies and thoughts into better things.

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Moaning is a bullshit builder.

It can as I’ve discovered, leave you feeling guilty (which is an emotion that can permeate a lot of things if you don’t get a grip on it) or have you giving your appearance a hard time, but I’ve also discovered that when you begin listening to your own gripes, it can also have you feeling a tad repetitive, which can show up a disconnect between what you say and what you actually do.

I say reduce – I think it’s unrealistic to never gripe about things and yes moan. I think that moaning, when you give yourself voice to vent, can when you’re willing to listen, give you a chance to listen to you, re-balance, and gain some perspective.

The uncomfortable truth is, I’ve realised that I moan because it’s a good conversation piece. I can end up laughing at myself or the situation which isn’t a bad thing. I also moan because it’s ‘easy’.

My blogging journey began with having a moan (in fact I’d been a “bad date clown” entertaining friends and family for years beforehand), it can be uplifting when you’re doing it amongst your closest friends and you all suddenly see the ridiculousness of what you’re talking about or have a somber moment, and because I work for myself or sometimes have almost entirely adult free days, it can seem more interesting to bitch about something than say “Well I did this, or I wrote that or achieved this…”

That was another thing I discovered – I forget to talk about all of the good things I may achieve, discover, or experience in a day when I opt for a griping session.

While having a good moan can make you feel better, not all moaning is funny or interesting, and it can leave you feeling down while sucking the good out of things and blinding you to what you can appreciate. It did give me an extended bout of niggling guilt that I had to knock on the head. I personally know some people who were shocked when they were described as “pessimistic” – it was the kick up the bum to change their moaning habits.

My husband is very different to me. He doesn’t moan very often so when he does have a vent or genuine complaint, I tend to sit up and pay attention. That said, I do make sure I prod him if I think he could do with a good venting session.

Moaning for the sake of it does have the potential side effect of clouding out the severity of a genuine complaint. People may get used to you sounding off and may not be able to differentiate between how you react to more minor stuff and the major stuff. I have a family member who has ‘one setting’; the same Dynasty levels of drama will ensue whether it’s trivial or serious and it’s exhausting!

I don’t think that my character is a moan-free one though and I’m OK with that.

I know that some people are of a sunnier disposition or are always trying to look on the ‘bright side’, but the danger with this is that you can end up silencing your feelings and pretending to be happier than you feel. That’s just not me. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. Next thing you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t talk about why you’re unhappy because you think you ‘should’ act a certain way or ‘people expect’ you to be and act a certain way, and then you wind up feeling depressed.

Reducing having a moan isn’t about faking happiness; it’s about recognising happiness and listening to you so that you don’t lose sight not only of the good things, but also of anything that’s a genuine concern that you may not be acknowledging.

I generally have a good sense of how I feel – I don’t when I become mired in my own gripes.

Now that I’m reducing moaning, injecting some more positive talk and perspective, and continuing to work on turning any repetitive complaints into action, I actually feel good.

Identify your chief moan triggers or your typical moan statements. One of my typical ones is, “I’m good. Knackered as usual. Need to clone myself.” Make a note of them and try to catch yourself when you experience these triggers or you go to say your usual thing.