Grab a coffee, pull up a chair. Let’s sit down and let’s have a little chat.
What I want to talk about is stepping stones. What do I mean by that?
I’m talking about that transition.
Imagine that here you are, before any kind of menopause or perimenopause. You’re just trogging along(a Shirley word for calmly getting on with it) in life. You’re kind of coping, spinning a few plates here, a few there. You have ups, you have downs, but basically you’ve got a handle on this thing called life.
And then, you start to get into the choppy waters of perimenopause.
You may start off thinking, “Oh, it’s just a shallow pool. I’ll be off and out the other side before you know it. Bob’s your uncle. Few hot flushes, done.”.
And then, like jumping in a puddle that you thought was just a puddle, you discover, ooh, it’s a lot deeper than you thought.
And not only that, it’s as if the far shore is getting further and further and further away. In fact, now you can’t even see the far shore and you’re precariously teetering on a few of these stepping stones, but they don’t seem to reach as far as the other bank. That far bank is your post-menopause.
And post-menopause is the place where you expect to feel like yourself again. It’s the place where you rediscover that, actually, you are capable.
You are competent, you are brilliant and amazing and can remember things, and can concentrate, and can focus, and can still do presentations, and live videos, and set up businesses and operate at an optimum level. And still be a mum, and a daughter, and a partner. You can do all of that.
But that seems a long way away.
So, what do you do?
What are the core stepping stones to get you from here (lost and feeling s***) to there, that nirvana place that you’re beginning to doubt exists?
One of the first steps is around what I describe as insignificant moments of joy. And it’s the kind of thing you’ll be familiar with.
It’s about paying close attention to those little tiny moments that make you think, “Oh, that was nice.”
It could be nothing more than finding a background that you like on Zoom, or someone sends you a message when you’re feeling really bleugh. and you go, “Oh, that’s nice.” Or you look out of the window and there’s snow on the ground and it’s exciting.
Or the sun’s come out and you think, “oh, the prospect of spring!” and there’s little buds and little snowdrops and birds.
It doesn’t matter what it is.
This is the first stepping stone. It is nothing more complicated than mentally collating (or journalling or photographing) these little uplifting moments and, thereby, paying closer attention to them than you otherwise would have done.
Once you get into the habit of the first step, capturing those little insignificant moments of joy, you’re actually priming your subconscious mind and laying down little markers for new positive neural pathways to be created.
To being with, they’re nothing more than markers. There’s no clear neural pathways or route. There’s no obvious connecting dots. They’re just neurons firing, going “Oh, that’s nice, that’s nice.”
And there’s one over there, and there’s one over there, and there’s one right here.
But there’s nothing really connected. You’re just beginning to lay down little markers, putting flags in the ground.
Keep going and here’s where it becomes interesting.
The more of those markers you lay down, by paying closer attention, the more you start to accumulate the beginnings of new positive neural pathways that connect them.
However, those early markers are probably external to you. They’re things that happen, that make you feel nice, but they’re still outside of you.
The second step, and the most important step, is switching that appreciation, that gratitude, that paying attention to the insignificant stuff, to yourself. This creates a huge shift.
Suddenly, those stepping stones spring up faster than you can say fast.
And this is both the simplest thing to do and yet the trickiest.
Let me backtrack for a moment and take my day as an example.
So, it’s Monday. I woke up, I did some good things. I got up early as normal, I did my exercise, I had my cold shower, I did my meditation, I had a plan for the day. It was ‘nice’.
And then I started to feel a bit sad about my mum, who died last year. You know, grief’s like that. It just suddenly goes, “Ooh, hello, I’ve come to have a visit.”
So I took it easy. Yes, I did my podcast and I took a call from a client but I also went for a walk, I called my son. I didn’t do too much…and I certainly didn’t do everything I had planned.
And that would have been okay. Except then I was feeling guilty about the fact that I was taking time off and telling myself I should be planning a talk that I’m giving on Wednesday.
And all the negative talk started coming in and threatened to derail me.
The old version of me stopped by for a visit.
(You may be familiar with this version of yourself too). You know, the version who’s in that place of massive self-doubt, where nothing goes right. It zones in like an Exocet missile on all of that bad feeling of what is going wrong in your day. ,
“Oh, I haven’t done that. I was gonna do that presentation, I haven’t done any of it yet. I haven’t done the blog that I wanted to do. I was gonna do my face and do a fantastic video, where I looked amazing. And I was gonna do this and I was gonna do that. And I haven’t done any, blah, blah, blah, blah.”.
That’s what we tend to get caught up in.
But the real place to find the following stepping stones, to join with all those other little flags in the ground, is to flip it.
Just switch the direction of your thinking from what you DIDN’T do to what you DID do, and go, “Hang on a minute. Look at me, I did all this!”.
So, taking my day as an example, I flipped my thinking to what I DID instead of what I DIDN’T.
I got up. Well done me.
I got up at a reasonable time, I exercised. Well, double well done me.
I had a cold shower, treble well done me.
I meditated, oh, quadruple, ooh, we’re running out of fingers on one hand now, nearly. Well done me.
I did the podcast when I didn’t feel like it. Well, actually that’s worthy of a double well done me, because I didn’t even feel like it.
I took a call from a client not in the best frame of mind. Mmm, yep, well done me.
I went for a walk in the sunshine. Well done me.
I posted a letter. Well done me.
And then I recorded the video of this blog LIVE. Well, bloody hell, well done me!
This blog isn’t about me.
This is about demonstrating to you where you don’t give yourself enough credit.
If you were with me right now and told me there were 99 things that went wrong today and only one that went right, I’d say, “Great! One thing went right. That’s one more than none.”.
You have to start by just thinking, “Brilliant. One out of a hundred, I’ll take that. High five, that’s for me. I got one thing right out of a hundred”. And mean it.
Because as you do that, you start to educate your mind to focus on what works. Describe it in any terms you like, but notice it and recognise it and appreciate yourself for it, whatever it is.
There’s a thing know as the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain that basically filters the world according to what it perceives that you want to focus on.
By consciously choosing to pay attention to the moments of achievement (on your terms, not anyone else’s), the RAS adjusts its filtering mechanism to draw your attention to more of the same. And the more you notice it, the better you feel.
That’s when you start to make the connections, the synaptic connections that build the neural pathways that are positive neural pathways, that are your stepping stones, that get you to the other side of this abyss, this chasm, this gorge, as someone I’m connected to on Instagram calls it.
You know, if you’re having a rubbish day, that’s fine. We all have rubbish days. But discover where was there something in that day that you could just grasp onto and celebrate.
The practice of noticing one positive thing in that day is the equivalent of doing, for example, one bicep curl, and then another, and then another, and then another. Before you know it, ooh, you have trimmed arms and toned arms. Only in this case, it’s a calm and focused mind…and you’ve laid the stepping stones that take you safely to the other side of menopause.
Want a quick and easy way to access calm (which makes all of this soooo much easier)?
Click on the button below to access ‘Calm in 5.’