Tag Archives: over-thinking

Confidence Tricks

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Hello, lovely reader!  How’s your week been?

For those of you who didn’t catch my last post about active problem-solving, the main aim of this post is to report back on my first ever indoor climbing session, which took place on Wednesday.  I was accompanied by my friend Laura, who has been going mountain climbing since the age of three and a half, and who kindly agreed to teach me how to climb.  Needless to say, she’s a very brave and patient woman.

Despite my novice status – and predisposition towards swearing profusely when under pressure – we ended up having a great time, and have therefore decided to make the climbing a weekly thing. I look forward to learning a lot more about it.  In the meantime, here is a basic report of my findings thus far:

a) Chalk gets everywhere.  You need it to stop your hands from getting sweaty and slipping on the grips, but seriously.  EVERYWHERE.
b) The names for various climbing holds and techniques sound like they came from a Carry On script, “jugs” being the least outrageous example.  Which leads me neatly to:
c) You can’t climb and giggle at the same time.
d) As with many things in life, it’s best to be cautious without over-thinking.  Staring at a wall for ages and trying to work out your route is only going to freak you out, although obviously it’s important to be careful.
e) Speaking of which, the climbing centre went to a lot of trouble to remind us that CLIMBING CAN CAUSE SERIOUS CASES OF DEADNESS.  So be warned.
f)  Climbing is a lot easier when you have confidence.  If you don’t have actual confidence, pretend that you do.

I am genuinely starting to believe that the way to get things done is to lie yourself into confidence.  For example, when Laura gave me a short bouldering demonstration at the beginning of Wednesday’s session, I mentally freaked out because the whole thing suddenly seemed impossible.  Laura has been doing this climbing thing for years, but I’m old and set in my ways!  I’ve been abiding by the laws of gravity for twenty-five years – what on earth makes me think I can start defying them now?!  Confidence, that’s what.  Stubborn, bloody-minded, if-R-Kelly-believes-he-can-fly-then-I-believe-I-can-climb-a-wall confidence.  If Laura makes it look easy, then it must be easy.  (It wasn’t.  It was brilliant fun, but it wasn’t easy.)  The kind of confidence, in other words, which is only ever borne out of a negative or scary scenario and is almost entirely composed of self-deception.

This kind of motivation might seem silly or counter-productive, but it really does work.  It would be nice to spend our entire lives feeling constantly capable, meeting new challenges with panache and overcoming obstacles with the right footwear.  However, sometimes we have to accept that things are going to be difficult, or frightening, or involve an excessive amount of chalk.  In those situations, we need to know ourselves well enough to pull out all the stops.  Procrastinator, know thyself – and know how to trick yourself into feeling confident.

Sometimes it’s as simple as wearing clothes that make you walk taller, or listening to music that puts you in a good mood.  Whatever your tricks and treats are, make sure you use them whenever you have need.  Eventually, they will become second nature and you genuinely will feel as confident as you’ve pretended to be.

Have an amazing weekend.  Make sure you get a lie-in at some point.

Weird Wisdom

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Good morning, dear reader!  How are you doing?

Our lives are filled with wise and wonderful (and slightly weird) people.  My favourite thing about my weird/wise friends is the bizarrely pithy stuff they come out with from time to time, and today I would like to share a few of those with you.

My friend Lauren and I are very similar, particularly in terms of how much we worry about things (i.e. way too much).  She and I both have an unfortunate tendency to over-think stuff, which is both bad and good: bad because it takes up quite a lot of our time, but good because we never have to explain ourselves to each other.  Recently we were having a long, involved and fairly over-thought conversation about stuff we’ve said that we wish we could take back, and the idea that you can ruin a lovely situation by saying something prattish.  Lauren came out with this nugget of wisdom: “You can’t say something irreparable to the right person.” It’s true that we all say things from time to time that we wish we hadn’t, but Lauren is absolutely right: if someone really loves you and understands you, you can always fix whatever silly thing you’ve said.  If they won’t let you fix it, they’re probably not a keeper.

Another friend of mine has an incredibly scary, fraught and high-pressure job, and it is still a wonder to me that she doesn’t spend all of her free time drinking wine, muttering and rocking back and forth in a corner.  She is actually a very upbeat and lovely human being who is always up for new experiences, which produces very mixed results.  (For example, she’s just gone camping for a week, and I’m not convinced that she will have packed anything except coffee and sandals.)  I love that my friend is so good at seizing life’s opportunities, but I love this statement of hers even more: “I should really Google things before I agree to them.”  Shouldn’t we all?  Life is for living, but with a due sense of caution and a clear understanding of what the plan is.

Last but by no means least, one of my favourite things about living with a close friend is that we have learned to appreciate (or at least tolerate) all sorts of weird behaviour from one another.  We reached a pinnacle of love and friendship fairly recently when Ash gave me this (sort-of) compliment: “I really enjoy how sometimes you sound like a Greek man.”  I wasn’t aware that I did, but if I do, I’m glad that my best friend enjoys it.  It’s very important to surround yourself with people who enjoy the weird things about you.

Speaking of which, two of my friends stayed over last night, so I should probably go and offer them beverages.  Have a miraculous Sunday.  Surprise someone with a romantic gesture or something.

Face Value

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Hello, and a very happy May Day to you!  Did you know that 1st May used to be considered the first day of summer?  Yeah.  Apparently that’s why the summer solstice (25th June) is known as midsummer, even though we all know that it will still be cold and rainy at that point.  Ah well.

Also, this day always makes me think of an episode of Red Dwarf when two of the main characters get marooned and are discussing the distress signal:

Rimmer: I wonder why they call it ‘May Day’.
Lister: Eh?
Rimmer: The distress call.  I wonder why it’s May Day…it’s only a bank holiday.  Why not Shrove Tuesday or Ascension Sunday?

I digress before I’ve even begun.  ANYWAY, one of the slightly surprising side-effects of writing a blog has been my friends’ reactions to it.  If I’m being ambiguous about certain situations or what have you (mainly due to respect for others, privacy and suchlike), my friends tend to ask “was that post about such-and-such?” or “were you talking about so-and-so?”  Sometimes the answer is yes, but to be honest I’m not sure that it matters.  If it’s really important I’ll talk to my friends about it in real life, anyway.  We’re supposed to be going to the pub in about five hours, after all.  Plus it’s your round.

This is something that lots of people (not just girls, before you think I’m stereotyping) find difficult: accepting a statement at face value and not trying to find hidden meaning.  I am terrible for this, so please excuse the blatant hypocrisy.  (I’ll make it up to you with biscuits.  D’you like chocolate digestives?)  I over-think like it’s going out of fashion, so I am constantly asking in wretched tones “but what does that MEAN?”, and trying to determine people’s exact feelings about life, the universe and everything based on sentences as simple as “I’ll see you later”.  I’m a lot better than I used to be about this, but I think a lot of us are constantly dissatisfied with transparency and longing to find some obscure meaning in a bit of opacity.

Why do we do that?  Is it because we are genuinely convinced that every sentence spoken or written has an ulterior motive, a deeper meaning or a secretive subtext?  We do it with everything: text messages from the person we’re enamoured with, oddly formal emails from colleagues, passive-aggressive messages from friends with whom we’ve sort of fallen out.  Why can’t we accept things for what they are, and trust that what people say to us is usually what they mean to say?

I’ll tell you why: because we’re British.  We hardly ever say what we mean out of a neurotic fear of seeming impolite.  This is the nation that can make “sorry” sound like anything from a sincere apology to a vicious death threat, for crying out loud.  So I have a challenge for you, lovely people of this United Kingdom: cry God for Harry, England and St. George, and try to be a bit more open with people.  If you want to be able to take statements at face value then you have to start with the man (or lady) in the mirror.  Michael Jackson would be proper chuffed.

Have the kind of Thursday that would make an excellent movie