How I Burst My Twitter Bubble

Twitter is a microcosm, yet unlike real life, it comes with a mute, block and unfollow button. Three buttons which in all honesty I rarely touch anymore. I use the mute setting to silence TV show spoilers, I block creeps who DM me and I only tend to unfollow accounts which are gagging for attention.

I’ve debated this heavily with a number of people and it turns out there are some varying opinions on whether we should mute what we can mute. The internet is full of people with some very extreme opinions and when you’re feeling low, the last thing you want to see is something that’s going to upset you. You only have to set foot on Twitter to see a racist, transphobic or homophobic comment and that’s never good for anyone’s wellbeing. But equally, life is full of these people too, so are we allowing ourselves to pretend that these people don’t exist by muting them? I’m still not sure about this.

When I first started using Twitter properly for blogging, I would mute anyone that I thought warranted it: people who promote themselves a million times a day, people with poor grammar, accounts with varying political opinions to me. And as time went on, I noticed that other people were doing the same thing. When the Brexiters won the vote in 2016, I was shocked. How could so many people have voted for this when everyone I interact with believes the opposite? I was for want of a better word, bamboozled.

When you live most of your life on the internet, it’s really easy to just mute people who you don’t agree with. You can block the homophobes and the racists because obviously no one wants to see profanities all over their screen, and with a mute button right there in front of you, it seems ludicrous not to use it. But shortly after Trump won the presidential election, I realised that what I was really doing was muting out real life.

I was only seeing the people who I agreed with so I wanted to burst my twitter bubble and engage more to understand different viewpoints, even when they are poles apart from my own. So I unblocked and unmuted all the accounts I had previously hidden from view.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy. I’m a really sensitive person and seeing people tweet things that I’m so against has probably caused me more rage than is necessary, but it’s helped. It’s helped me to understand where people are coming from with their varying opinions, and to get a better understanding of a huge amount of disillusionment that I was previously unaware of.

Something else that I’ve become acutely aware of from my bubble bursting adventure is that just because someone has a viewpoint different to mine doesn’t mean that there is nothing that I agree with them on, or that they are always wrong. Yes, the source of an opinion is important but don’t just assume someone’s viewpoint is ridiculous before thinking about it yourself.

I know that for some people, muting and blocking is a great way of stopping upset and seeing triggering content, but right now, for me it’s been really helpful in quashing the idea that everyone around me shares my opinions, just because an algorithm shows me what I want to see.

Do you find blocking Twitter accounts useful, or do you prefer to see everything? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

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Twitter is an Angry Place

This morning I scrolled down my Twitter timeline as I do every day when I wake up. It didn’t take me long to find an angry tweet – something about the blogging community being divided. You know the kind of tweet I’m talking about.

Normally I roll my eyes, and carry on down my feed. But today I didn’t. Something about the tweet really riled me up but instead of just letting it bother me I’m trying to channel it into this post.

Now I’m absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t be posting any kind of negativity on Twitter. I can definitely be a negative Nancy at times, and it’s really important that we don’t only post the highlights of our lives.

But this constant division of ‘writers’ and ‘bloggers’ which I’ve seen growing and growing in recent weeks, as well as the inevitable ‘Just @ me next time’ tweets have left me feeling disillusioned and confused about whether I want to be using Twitter at all.

Most of the people I have on Twitter are over 18, so why are we all acting so childish? Cliques will form inevitably, but the mentality of ‘If my best friend doesn’t like you, I don’t like you,’ is ridiculous. Form your own opinions. Don’t judge based on interactions that you haven’t seen for yourself. Arguments escalate on Twitter far more quickly than in real life and users are so quick to jump down someone’s throat.

Just remember that people make mistakes when they’re tweeting. Opinions don’t always sound the way they were intended and it’s so easy to get the wrong end of the stick.

So remember what your mother taught you: Think before you speak and If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Rachel x-x-x

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Self Love in Relationships

If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?

It might be a quote from RuPaul but this pretty much sums up my attitude towards self love in relationships.

First of all, I’m not saying that to be in a good relationship you need to love yourself 100% and be completely satisfied. It’s more the idea that if you are willing to learn to love yourself and can acknowledge that self love is important, your relationship will blossom.

Have you ever been mean to someone because you were insecure about yourself? I’m certain that at some point or another, we all have. But have you ever done it in a relationship? Only for it to spiral, lead to an argument, and end with you feeling like you are flawed and unworthy of being in a relationship? It feels rubbish, doesn’t it?

Self love is vital in relationships, whether they are romantic relationships or otherwise. In this post, I’m just talking about romantic relationships because there’s way too much to get into with friendships!

Here are some of my self love commandments for people in relationships:

Thou Shalt Not Lose Thy Sense of Self

This one is so important. I know so many people who have been in long term relationships, only to break up with their partner and not know who they are or what they actually enjoy. Obviously, I’m not saying you need to have hobbies ‘just in case’ you break up, but it’s really important that you know who you are.

My boyfriend and I spend every waking moment that we can together but that doesn’t mean we always spend our time doing the same activity as each other. Sometimes it’s just enough to be in the same room together while we’re doing our own thing because we have different hobbies and like to spend our time differently.

Acknowledge what you enjoy. If you love going to the cinema and your partner hates it, you don’t have to give that up. Just find other ways around it.

Thou Shalt Not Depend on Thy Partner for Happiness

It is no one’s responsibility to make you happy other than yourself. The moment you relinquish your power over your happiness to someone else and allow them to solely make you happy, you are giving them the power to make you unhappy too.

Don’t let your partner be your only source of happiness. Chances are you were happy before you got into this relationship. What did you enjoy then? Who were your friends? Think about the things you can do to find happiness that doesn’t rely on your partner.

If you find this difficult, start small. Run a bath, read a book. Find little tidbits of happiness throughout your day and expand on them.

Thou Shalt Acknowledge Why Thou Art Loved

If you’re in a loved-up relationship, then think about why the person you’re with loves you. Take some paper and write all those reasons down. From the smallest ‘They love me because I make good coffee’ to “They love me because I’m kind.” Think long and hard about these reasons because it’s so easy to dismiss your good qualities when you struggle to love yourself.

When you’ve got your list, put it somewhere that you won’t forget about it, so that next time you feel like you aren’t worthy of love you can look at the list and realise what your partner sees in you.

Thou Shalt Forgive Thyself

If you find it difficult to love yourself, it’s really easy to assume you are always to blame when things go wrong in your relationship. If you argue, do you assume that it’s solely because of something you did? Because that’s unlikely to be the case.

The best way to combat this is to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you have low self-confidence it can be hard to just shrug things off. If the issue is in the past, try not to dwell on it. There is nothing you can do to change things now.

Finally, talk about it. Talk to your partner about all the pent up feelings. The argument might have happened weeks ago and you’re still beating yourself up about it. Share your feelings and this will help you move on.

Do you think loving yourself in relationships is important? What do you do to practice self love in relationships? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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The Book I Didn’t Know I Needed – A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled

Mindfulness is a huge buzzword in the mental health world, but when it comes to professionals, there’s quite the divide. FYI, I’m firmly in the ‘mindfulness is a real thing and it does work’ camp, as opposed to the ‘mindfulness is bullshit, you need medicating’ camp.

In spite of this, I’ve never ‘done’ mindfulness properly. Yeah I’ve sat and tried to meditate but I’ve never made it past 5 minutes before I was hungry or bored. And I’ve tried to bring myself ‘into the present’ etc, etc but it all felt a bit like airy fairy crap.

Anyway, I was slightly sceptical about Ruby Wax’s new book A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled because when I’ve seen Ruby talking about mental health, she always seems to feel the need to throw some sciencey bits in to make it sound like she knows what she’s talking about. And the book kind of did do that but I got over it.

On the whole I really enjoyed the book, I skipped the parts for parents and teenagers, but I think they’d be really useful if you fit in either of these categories. My favourite part of the book though, was where Ruby actually wrote about HER experience. Being a mental health nursing student I already know a fair bit about the history and science behind mindfulness but what I really love is some lived experience and Ruby’s mental health history was no exception.

What I always like to focus on when I read is what I took from the book. Did I learn anything? Did it make me feel?

And yes to both of those things.

When I made a list of the things that make me ‘frazzled’ it turns out that a lot of those things are me. They’re not external forces, they’re my own doubts, fears and insecurities.

And the things that ‘defrazzle’ me? I made a list of those too:

  • Baths
  • Listening to Norah Jones
  • Watching old, classic films.
  • Play board games.
  • Reading.

So thank you Ruby Wax for making me realise that the things that help me defrazzle are concrete actions that I can take. And the things that make me frazzled are mostly in my own head and I’m sure that a more concentrated approach to mindfulness will help me at least begin to shift them. Because, as Ruby says in the book, mindfulness isn’t ‘becoming nothingness while sitting in your underwear.’

Rachel x-x-x

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My Favourite Self-Improvement Books of 2016

2016 was the year I really veered from reading solely fiction to the world of non-fiction. Almost everything I read last year was some form of self-improvement book so here are some of my favourites.

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It’s All In Your Head – Suzanne O’Sullivan

I’ve been interested in psychosomatic illness for a while now, so much so that I think it’s an area I’d love to work in during my career. Psychosomatic illness is often referred to as ‘imaginary illness’ but it’s so much more than this as O’Sullivan delves into in her book. I was so taken in by the short stories of people convinced that they were suffering from serious illness or even having seizures with no evident cause. This is a great book for people interested in psychology or mental health and it has really spurred me on to find out even more about it.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck – Sarah Knight

I needed this book this year. After reading the incredible Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes in 2015 I vowed that 2016 would be the year I said yes to more things whilst knowing when it’s okay to say no! Sarah Knight suggests creating a Fuck budget which is what I’ve done. Here are a few tidbits from mine:

More Fucks:

  • My Diet – I eat badly and because I don’t pile on the pounds, I don’t give much thought to what I put into my body.
  • This blog.
  • Saying yes to good opportunities.
  • Instagram (I refuse to be beaten by that algorithm!)

Less Fucks:

  • Opinions about my blog
  • Comparing myself to others
  • People who don’t make the effort to maintain friendships.

Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin

Okay okay this has been my favourite book this year. If you’ve spoken one word to me about self-improvement books this year then I’ve definitely mentioned this to you. I’ve forced my boyfriend to read it, I’ve tried my hardest to convert the bestie to Gretchen’s podcast and now I’m attempting to force it on you.

I first heard about Better Than Before on Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast and I knew I had to get my hands on the book. Better Than Before isn’t your average self-improvement book. It doesn’t tell you to change your habits or become a new person. Instead it focuses on how you already are as a person and play to your strengths.

It asks questions like “Are you an ‘Abstainer’ or a ‘Moderator?’ in a bid to find out what will help you most to better yourself.

You’re a moderator if you…
– find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure–and strengthens your resolve
– get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…
– have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
– aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits

It’s a great book if you feel like you want to understand yourself better and find out how you can help yourself to excel.

Radical Self-Love – Gala Darling

I’m not going to lie, when I read the blurb of this book I really wasn’t feeling ready for some airy fairy nonsense about loving yourself. But actually this isn’t what it’s about. Radical Self Love is more about creating the person you want to be, listening to people that matter and being strong enough to walk away from the people that don’t. It’s about being your best self and I think we can all take something away from this book.

Each chapter ends with a little bit of homework – something you can actively do to improve yourself. It’s great for anyone looking to add a bit more sparkle to their life.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

This book was recommended to me when I asked my Twitter followers what their favourite non-fiction books are. Most people know Cheryl Strayed from the book Wild but Cheryl was also the agony aunt fronting Dear Sugar, a column on The Rumpus. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of letters Cheryl receives and her answers. Some of the letters are funny, others tragic but they’re all meaningful.

I haven’t actually finished this book yet because I haven’t wanted it to finish so I’ve been treating myself to 4 or 5 letters a night before I got to bed.

Although it’s not necessarily a self-improvement book, it’s given me a lot to think about and reflect on and I’ve loved every page of it.

What were you favourite self-improvement or non-fiction reads from 2016? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Blogvember Day 3 // Things I’ve Learnt From Being An Introvert

I am an introvert through and through. In fact, I’m probably as introverted as they come. So, in today’s post I wanted to share some things I have learnt in my almost 24 years of life as an introvert.

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I don’t dislike people.

Honestly, I don’t. (hahaha) No really. I don’t dislike people at all. Actually I love them. But it might make sense to say that I love people from afar. I love hearing people’s stories and finding out their idiosyncrasies, seeing what makes them tick. But when it comes to actually being a part of the conversation, I’d always rather keep my distance helpful resources. Kind of like I’m the viewer and they’re on the television.

I get my energy from being alone.

Something I always hear about extroverts is how they get their energy from being around others but I never really hear the opposite about introverts. So I’m hear to tell you it’s absolutely true. I never feel more energy than when I am on my own, working on one of my own projects, whether it’s uni work or my blog. Whatever it is, I’d rather be doing it alone because that’s when I feel most creative. I find people exhausting to be around. Give me half an hour, maybe an hour on a good day but then I’m going to need to go home and recharge because being on my own gives me something that being around company never can.

People think it’s weird to do things on your own.

Often I feel more confident doing things on my own than I do with other people. I will happily take myself for a coffee or a meal or to a museum and I’m totally fine with that. Other people though? They don’t seem to get it. They will question why I didn’t ask them if they wanted to go so that I didn’t have to go alone? Awkward when you have to say that actually you were perfectly happily going it alone.

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I overanalyse everything.

Because I spend so much time on my own, it gives me time to over analyse every little thing that I’d ever said or done. If I have a busy day surrounded by people I really notice the difference because I don’t go home feeling anxious as I just haven’t had time to think about it. But if I spend all day alone, you can bet I will ruminate on a tiny facet of my life for hours and hours.

Introverts are lonely people.

If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s lonely. Why? Because I absolutely love being alone. I’m probably in the minority of people here but I just never get lonely. My boyfriend thinks this is super weird. I could probably go days on end without any human contact and I’d be mighty fine in my own little world.

You won’t change me.

I’ve had a lot of people make assumptions about why I do or do not like certain activities. I’ve been told that the reason I do not like going to clubs is because I have a boyfriend. Incorrect. The reason I don’t like going to clubs is because I am an introvert, and honestly spending the whole night with a group of people in a room of a bigger group of bigger is my idea of hell. Yes, I’ll come out every once in a while but I’ll probably go home early so that I can curl up in bed with a book.

Even if I feel more self confident throughout life, I think I’ll always be an introvert and that shouldn’t really matter to anyone else.

What do you think? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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