What 5 days in the Arctic taught me about myself

Happy New Year my loves! I’ve been laying low from blog land for a few weeks as I’ve been travelling with my boyfriend while we had 10 lavish days off over the Christmas break. It was just the thing we needed and we’ve come back feeling fresh and excited for what 2017 has to offer!

Just before Christmas Eve we flew to Kirkenes in northern Norway (near the Russian and Finnish borders) to stay at the snow hotel there and have our first ever white Christmas!! That was super exciting because it was my boyfriend’s first time ever seeing snow (and my second!), but what was even more exciting was that it ACTUALLY snowed on both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day!!!! We were so beside ourselves with excitement that we got up in the middle of dinner, forgot our ski jackets, and ran around outside like little children chasing snowflakes with our tongues. The joy!

We did all the cool Norwegian winter activities as well, like Huski sledding, gorging ourselves stupid on King crab, riding snow mobiles in a blizzard on top of the fords, and of course quietly watching the northern lights in the snow (although they were faint they were still so beautiful!)

Our 5 days in Kirkenes were truely magical, with so many new experiences and sensations. It gave me a lot of space to reflect on 2016 and the crazy rollercoaster I’ve been on over the last 6 months since moving to London. There have been ups and downs, both within and out of my control, but having space in a big white wilderness, top of the world and away from the rat race enabled me to reflect on the changes I’ve experienced within myself.

It’s a hard pill to swallow when you realise your weaknesses and failures, especially as a perfectionist, and realising that you really aren’t that perfect. My first step was becoming aware of my downfalls, and this trip to the arctic gave me time and space to realise what they were, why they were holding me back and how I could fix them.

Realisation 1: I lacked confidence

As most of you already know, I suffered from crippling anxiety. I had general anxiety, social anxiety, work anxiety, phobias… and then all the other physical health problems that come with it. I thought the cause was because I was a perfectionist, and to some extent that does contribute to it. However the more I peeled back the layers in my head and kept asking WHY, I realised there was more. Why was I anxious? Why was I a perfectionist? I knew that I didn’t feel good enough for anything, and I knew I put an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on myself. Why? But I still didn’t have a clear reason.

It slowly became evident to me that the answer was my confidence. The anxiousness, perfectionism, pressure and feeling inferior was all pointing towards a low self-esteem. It was weird for me at first because I’d always considered myself quite confident, but somewhere over the years it had erroded, and I hadn’t even realised. This has been truely ground breaking for my on my mental journey because now I feel like I’ve gotten to the source, and can now work out how to build myself back up again.

Realisation 2: I am 100% accountable, and completely in control of all my emotions and feelings.

This was a weird one to accept and it took time, but my god it was so liberating to finally realise and accept that I am 100% in control of my thoughts, actions, and the way I perceived the world. When I was feeling down about living in London, hating on London, thinking of all the things that were wrong with London, I was actually in complete control of that thought process. But in reality, London wasn’t the problem, it was me and my thoughts. When I got anxious and had a meltdown, crying that I couldn’t do (whatever problem) anymore, there was no actual, immediate threat waiting for me in that moment, the problem was inside my head, and I was 100% responsible for creating it.

Which got me thinking, if I had the power to create these ugly, stressful, negative stories inside my head, don’t I also have the power to just as easily create beautiful, serene and happy stories from the same situation, and actually believe they are true? Life is all about perception – it’s about how our brain takes external information from our 5 senses, and converts this into internal meaning. And the way we convey meaning is from past experiences of similar situations and stimuli. So if we’ve conditioned ourselves to be fearful and anxious, this will only solidify the mental pattern, and we will continue to be fearful and anxious. However if I was in complete control of my emotions and feelings, then I also have the power to start a new thought process, and change the way I see the world. The biggest step was realising that I am the only one who has complete and utter control over my mind, (and its not everyone else fault). Now, I just need to figure out how to control it!

Realisation 3. I wasn’t giving myself permission to enjoy life. 

How many times do we moan about how busy we are. How we don’t have enough hours in the day, that we’re so tired and stressed. That every moment has to be filled with productivity and things to do. We play games of punishment with ourselves for overindulging. I know because I’ve gone through it all too. I’ve overbooked my calendar, I’ve gone all OCD on my life from food to exercise, scheduling everything to within an inch of its life and if I couldn’t be superwoman I was a failure.

I have become SO SICK of living life like this. I didn’t feel like I deserved to live the life I wanted to live because I was too preoccupied with trying to make everyone else happy. Balance is key. Saying NO is key. Putting yourself FIRST, is key. Taking back control of my life has been the most liberating feeling, and has built up my confidence and my self-esteem. I will drink wine, I will eat what I want, I will sleep when and where I want – no guilt. One day at the snow hotel we spend the entire day sleeping and watching movies. We had a whole winter wonderland outside and activities that we could or should be doing and for the first time ever I didn’t feel guilty. Sleeping and watching movies was all that we felt like doing, and so we did it – guilt free. A small but powerful feeling to harness and apply to other areas of my life. Because life is supposed to be slow and enjoyable. So this year I want to slow down, and enjoy it.

 

2 replies to What 5 days in the Arctic taught me about myself

  1. Another great piece Bron! X

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