Explore deep inside your actions

I had an exceptionally shitty day one day some time ago.

You know, the kind where starting from the morning you can’t really seem to get out of bed for lack of motivation and then everything just gradually goes to crap from that.

I was tired, unmotivated and stressed to begin with, so every little mishap felt like a ton of bricks falling on me.

And the anxiety started growing with each little obstacle until such time I felt completely worthless, annoying to others and ready to burst in tears any second – which I did, by the way.

Lessons from within

I learned a valuable lesson that day though. Seems that my ego is a scared little child, that goes into complete “fuucckkkk” mode, when certain things happen and I’m not aware of my emotions.

First of all; I wasn’t invited to a meeting that morning, which I felt I should’ve been included in.

As someone who went through a couple of periods in life, where I was bullied at school – by excluding me from group activities and talking shit behind my back – I’m on high alert when I feel like I’m not part of the group somehow.

Next thing that threw me off was that I had given a certain task to handle and I wasn’t able to complete it, because no one knew the right answers. I got really frustrated, because I felt I was not taken seriously. Later I heard from a third person, that they were actually working towards a solution on this – but no one had bothered to mention it to me. The frustration that followed from this incident comes down to not only feeling excluded again, but also feeling like I am not treated as an equal professional.

And right there – there is another really familiar feeling to me, which throws me completely off balance. But this one is harder to figure out where it comes from. Why do I sometimes get the feeling I am treated like a five-year old? And especially; why do I stoop to that level and throw a temper-tantrum, because “oh, the world is treating me so unfair I can’t believe it!”

Compartmentalising the feelings

It’s not like I was able to analyze anything while I was having my hissy fit.

While it was happening I was just pissed and the only thing I could think of, was pouring my heart out to a friend, who has an uncanny ability to calm me down. Problem there was it made me feel even worse, dumping all that anger and frustration on someone else (even if I always tell my friends it’s exactly what we are in each other’s lives for!).

So when I had calmed down eventually, I started compartmentalising.

I use a technique learned from therapy, where I try to figure out after the fact, what I just went through. What happened, what was I thinking, how I was feeling and what my actions were. See here for a compact explanation of the technique.

Mind you, the point is not to stop you from having these feelings. The point is to start recognizing the triggers and learning to let go. The feeling may come, you’ll understand why it came and then you’ll adjust your actions in the long run.

That should hopefully lead into a situation somewhere in the future, where I won’t let one single feeling dictate the course of a whole day. Or at least that’s how I see this concept will and is actually already helping me.

So what?

I’m quite fond of my slightly dramatic nature, and would never want to stop feeling things deeply. But just every now and again I would like to get over the situations in slightly less time.

So if you, like me, have a tendency to get overagitated quite easily, it might be helpful to you(r bloodpressure) to try and dig deep behind your actions.

Chance is you’ll learn intresting things about yourself.

Nature always helps me calm down

When frienship ends

I’ve written about friends in the past and also my tendency to get attached to people quite strongly.

In life, things don’t always work out the way you planned them.

That in mind I wrote something to those situations, when a friendship ends abruptly.

I don’t care what the world sees as correct.

I don’t care if my aching soul is appropriate.

I say I’m okay

but with you far away

I feel something is missing.

And my mind, it is racing –

what if again

it was

all about acting?

It was all so very sudden,

you see.

My mind played a trick on me.

It had me convinced

this particular shade of grey

would never come my way.

A bit silly of me,

I guess –

but I wanted to believe.

Cause letting you go

killed a bit of me indeed.

It feels as though,

I’ve come

“From heaven on earth

to a world of hurt.”

Quote in the end is from a John Mayall song called “A World of Hurt”

End of the year

The end of the year is a time for many to reflect on the past year. Even though I like to consider myself as a rebel sometimes, I shall not make an exeption to the rule here, but instead reminisce about the past year…

Plans that didn’t happen

I wanted to make this year a Gretchen Rubin style happiness project. And I had a whole plan laid out for monthly goals. Nagging tasks, relationship, children, work, friends…

I had a good start to my journey, but pretty soon I learned something intresting about myself.

I can’t follow to do -lists! It was a surprise as I always took myself as someone who lives off ticking those boxes. But no.

It was all good, until I started failing on my goals and not ticking those boxes. It made me feel totally defeated and totally un-motivated to do anything.

I’ve never really been one for happy mediums.

It means that I sort of gave up on the whole plan as it seemed I couldn’t follow it anyway – instead of adjusting it somehow.

Perhaps this personality trait is one that I should work on next year!

Was it good for nothing then

Whether I followed any plan or not, the year has been such a rollercoaster ride, that I must’ve learned something!!

At least I’m not beating myself up for letting those plans go. That’s a lesson learned right there…

Which brings me to the twelve guidelines I had set up for my project.

I feel that even though I haven’t been following any kind of plan on my path to happiness, I actually have been following my guidelines.

  • So I didn’t follow my plan to make this a year of my happiness project. So what? No one is going to blame me for that, unless I do it my self; let it go!
  • I have been taking a lot of chances this year, things I wouldn’t have had the courage to do in the past. I think I have realized that here is now and tomorrow the chance might be gone.
  • This guideline I haven’t been excellent in following though. But I always knew it was going to be a hard one for me, because I am quite an impulsive and emotional person. So I still don’t have patience, at least not much.
  • If I have learned to let go, I think I have a little more mercy than before. This is especially in relation to myself. I’m actually quite forgiving towards other people – but I have very demanding standards for myself. So – more work on this coming up next year!
  • Just jumping has a great deal to do with the concept of being in the moment (“here is now”), a great many similarities with following your feelings and getting excited. This trio, I think, is the powerful driver behind many of my actions during the past year. As I have been getting in touch with my emotions more and more, I’ve had better opportunities in following that famous intuition. Sometimes I’ve almost left something undone, because I’ve been so damn scared. And sometimes I’m jumping all over the place in the excitement of finally being a bit more in touch with my inner self. And actually getting excited about things again. Like gitty kinda excited. It’s an amazing feeling.
  • One of the things I have learned most about is paying attention to the little things. So I’m happy to report that I now can see the trees instead of always just seeing the forest. And boy does that help bring a lot of happiness to my days! I take so much more pleasure nowadays from having a well made cup of coffee, a beautiful song, looking at the sunset or beautiful colors of the fall.
  • The hardest part about being kind is being kind towards myself. I find easily good things to say about almost anyone or anything else, but I still tend to talk down to myself. One goal for being kind, was to be kinder towards nature and animals too. I have switched my diet closer to being vegan, but I’m not exactly there yet. That’s a bit of a conundrum actually. Being kind to myself requires a bit of self-centeredness too. And I really hate cooking! Learning new things in the kitchen just does not make me happy. That’s why I’m still compromising on my diet. Because I just get super-frustrated when the food doesn’t get done easily enough.
  • Must love myself is one other hard guideline to follow. But I have started learning how to praise myself in job interviews at least. I still have a tendency to think people don’t like me very much, even if I would love them to bits. I don’t know why that is. Why should anyone spend time with me, if they hated me? If I have a bad day and, let’s say our kids are annoying the shit out of me, I blame myself for having those thoughts. As in “why am I not more grateful for having such a life. Why am I not happy as it is?” So you see, it is not easy, loving myself.
  • My favorite out of all the guidelines is this: Be an Optimist Prime. I do believe, that as I’ve gotten better with my other guidelines, I am closer to becoming this Optimist Prime. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like that on a lot of days, as it has not been the easiest of years. But more often that not, I seem to find the silverlining in things. I still have my fears and anxieties, but mostly I don’t let them stop me.

What the year has brought me, even without following the plan, has been pretty amazing actually.

I have made two friends, which I don’t believe would have happened without me growing as a person. Amazing times spent with old friends. Trust. Laughter and tears. Good music. Intresting conversations. Amazing tattoos. Opportunities at work. Courage to tell how I feel. Courage to voice my opinions. A sense of humor, that was lost for a long time. Mostly I just feel that I am back – the slightly crazy, and slightly awkward type, who is never lost for words.

Happy at work?

Gretchen Rubin states: “Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness.” (The Happiness Project)

When you think about how many hours in a week many of us spend working, if going to work feels like a chore itself, you’re bound to run into trouble eventually.

I like work.

Sometimes perhaps a bit too much even – but it hasn’t meant that I’ve always been happy at work.

Actually, for a long period of time with my former employer, I would rather have broken my arm, than gone to work. Perhaps if I had analyzed properly, what really annoyed me, I would have realized, that my problem was not so much what I did, than perhaps the culture of the company or the clients I worked for. But all I knew at that moment, a bit more than a year ago was, that I have to get the hell away from there.

I tried and failed in many things before going after any Business Analyst positions (which has basically been my role for the past 9 years) because I was so convinced, software development or being a BA was not meant for me.

Now, after spending an intense rollercoaster ride of a year with my new employer, I can say for a fact I was poorly mistaken about wanting a different career. Even though there has been many ups and downs – not once have I thought in the morning, that I don’t want to go to work.

Instead, what this year has taught me, is that I actually love what I’m doing.

I get an amazing high when we succeed together. I feel positively gitty, when I see the magic of a software being built happen before my eyes. I’m excited to be in control of things and being able to answer questions. I want to figure out the best approach for the software lifecycle. Hell, I even started coding in my free time again!

Working with highly skilled and motivated individuals is amazing.

My former colleague has reminded me on a few occasions that perhaps I did use to enjoy my daily chores also when we were working together. And thinking back, that really was a time work was fun. We made an excellent team.

I had a reminder last week about how it feels when you work really well together with someone. An annoying problem was solved in a matter of hours, deadline secured and everyone else’s work could continue. The moment was bittersweet because I know I will be losing my friend and colleague to another project.

So this year hasn’t been all fun and games at work either. But it has brought good things to my life too. Most of all a friend.

Along has also come a realisation that I am a software development geek for life – where said friend and colleague has been a great influence and incredible support. When he says I am good at what I do – I sometimes actually believe him. I feel I’m starting to find my voice – so one of these days I’ll hopefully know I am good at what I do.

Knowing in my heart, this is what I really want to do, is a hell of a good place to start.

Sometimes I work while being tattooed. I love the fact that it's possible

On fears, shame and being you

Funny how I never planned feelings to be my thing for the month, but how it has become so. It seems my subconscious is pushing this theme on me, whether I choose to deal with it or not.

I think one of my biggest fears, and so also one of the biggest influences in my life for some years now, is my fear of being abandoned. It makes you do weird things. You do not tell your closest friend important news for fear of making them angry. You make your boyfriend suffer all kinds of shit, to test his love, before marriage. It makes you kick into complete survival mode instead of admitting you are weak – because you’re sure everyone will leave if you show them you can be hurt.

I have told before that I’m a big believer in the healing powers of friendship. But the fear of abandonment has sometimes hindered my ability to get to know people. I’ve left it mostly up to the others to somehow convince me, they actually like me. At the same time, what I really wanted to be doing, is screaming “you are amazing! It would be such a pleasure to spend time with you!” 

Then I bumped into someone. 

Who, for reasons I can’t explain very satisfyingly even myself, has made me drop my guard completely. 

It’s been scary, it’s been liberating, it’s been strangely empowering. This person has had such a strong positive influence on me, that I’ve been pushing myself in their presence perhaps a bit too strong even…

Which leads me to shame, and being me. 

I’m a party girl. So I went to celebrate a birthday. I drank, possibly few too many, glasses of bubbly. And in the heat of that moment, it felt like an excellent idea to start writing messages to this above mentioned person. Quite innocent ones, in my opinion, but I guess it led to some issues at his end. 

I’m hardly ever so drunk, I would do something completely out of ordinary. And I do stand behind every word I said. But because it had caused issues, I felt ashamed. I probably also felt ashamed because it hadn’t occured to me at all, that it could cause trouble. Mostly though, I think I was ashamed for letting my guard down. For opening a possibilty to get hurt.

Essentially, I realized, I was blaming myself for acting like me. 

Because of those feelings of shame, I re-evaluated, if perhaps I was also regretting sending those messages. Or for being so open about how big an impact he has had on me. 

But I can’t say that I am. I regret the needless worry I might have caused to a completely innocent person. But I regret nothing I said. It was all true. And none of it was meant as a means to hurt anyone.

Acting like myself throughout this whole experience has taught me another valuable lesson, which I’ve really waited to learn. 

That is; 

you really can not take responsibility for other people’s feelings or actions. You think you are saying “hello”, but their own history, fears, egos and what not, can affect the situation so that all they hear is: “fuck you”.  

Because behind every action, I have been truly me, I can let go of my shame. 

Feelings – the good and the bad

I recently wrote about how you can’t really be happy, without being in touch with all of your feelings. 

Life has offered me an excellent week to try out this statement. 

I have been frustrated, angry, furious, uncertain, recentful, desperate and just basically on somekind of edge for most of the days. And let me tell you – it’s very uncomfortable. It seems I’ve gone from one end of the spectrum, where I was always nice to everyone, to the other end of the spectrum, where I’m yelling at completely innocent people. 

That is something I do not appreciate about myself. 

Then again, I have noticed that I’m also feeling overwhelming joy and pleasure again. I think I have got my sense of humor back. Finally! I am actually laughing out loud at jokes! 

Do you have any idea, how painful it is, not to be able to joke and laugh about things!? 

Because I do. It’s a weird fog in your brain that just makes everything… Flat. Unintresting. 

What is the best part about being able to feel feelings? Our kids are starting to feel like a source of fun in addition to the constant worry, and occasional headache they cause.

Perhaps it’s because for such a long time things were a bit… flat, that every feeling in want of being felt is jumping at the opportunity. Perhaps it’s because other people’s moods tend to still affect me heavily. I’m not sure. But letting all your feelings be a part of you doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. And I don’t want to be. 

Luckily Friday evening gave me a chance to spend some time on my own, so I was able to let off some of that steam. 

I attacked our stove and made it sparkly again. 

Then I sang some songs, very loud! And texted some friends about how to blow off steam when you feel that the anger and hate and frustration are trying to eat you up. Then I went to bed early enough, had a decent night’s sleep and woke feeling a thousand times better on Saturday morning. 

Saturday brought some more anguish though, that was almost too much to bear. There was an incredibly upsetting event in Finland on Friday, and the aftermath of that event meant so much anger in every possible media outlet, that I wasn’t able to shield myself (one of my survival tactics is not reading too many news, but this was unavoidable…)

Luckily Sunday saved my weekend (and perhaps the whole week) due to seeing and talking to an old friend, I hadn’t seen in a long time and having some new friends over for lunch. 

At least I bloody well can make the distinction between my negative and positive feelings, and am totally able to appreciate when feeling balanced, happy or excited even. 

“People want to feel very good all the time in Western cultures. Even if they feel good most of the time, they may still think that they should feel even better, which might make them less happy overall.”


Friends – a natural high

“In fact, a weak social circle is bad for your health, adds Barker. According to research from Brigham Young University, not having enough friends is the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”


As a kid I was the most open, approachable person you’ll ever meet. I had no trouble making friends, I cornered even the shy ones. 

Some experiences have led me to be more wary about people, so making new friends doesn’t come as naturally as it used to. It’s propably a mix of poor self-esteem and getting attached to people quite strongly – which always opens up a possibility to getting hurt.

Luckily despite all my issues, I have been blessed when it comes to friendships.

Laws of attraction

I don’t know that in my current life situation (work, two kids, marriage) I intentionally try to seek out people to bond with. But some just stumble on my path, whether I try to look for them or not – and I’m certainly not complaining.

Some of my friends I’ve known for so long (one friend 33 years out of 36!), I have no idea how we initially met, or how long it took for us to get a thing going.

What I do know, is that a certain chemistry, attraction is present in all my friendships. It doesn’t necessarily mean we were best buddies the second we met. Just that there was something that made us (or at least me!) want to swap more than a mere hello. 

Sometimes the attraction is so present, it’s almost tangible. In those situations I’m very adamant that a person belongs in my life.

Almost twenty years ago a black haired girl walked into our classroom. I can’t remember how she was introduced or anything – but I do remember thinking “She intrigues me.” When we finally hooked up through a mutual friend, we were an instant hit. And we really are like the sun and the moon, but I could never imagine my life without her.

Some friends feel more like family, even when they live further away. (I love the fact that whatsapp exists.) 

Some friends you don’t see in years, and still, when you bump into them, you chat like you had just seen them yesterday.

There are those friends that have stood by you every step of the way, helping, giving much needed love when you had none to give.  And they still keep on giving. Advice, laughter, experiences…

There’s even a friend who held my hand in childbirth and saw a baby come out of me – and it all felt perfectly natural. She’d make a perfect midwife by the way, even though she might not think so.

All friends so different, all contributing to my happiness in one way or another.

How to find friends 

I’ve managed somehow apparently! But I never had any kind of calculated tactic. Mostly I just try to keep an open mind. 

I’ve met friends through work, studies, hobbies… All quite natural places to meet people. I’m not picky about age or gender either – you never know who you hit it off with. 

I’ve met some really intriguing characters through friends of friends – so if I’m asked to join a party or a dinner for example, I try to go. Even if it scares the shit out of me (honestly, I’m no social butterfly…)

What if people feel like the scariest thing ever

If you feel like you need a bigger social circle, but you suffer from e.g. anxiety or depression or you’re just shy, meeting new people is propably going to feel daunting. I must confess I was lurking at home for quite some time.

But then I realized I could use our kid as a clever cover-up. I shamelessly used him as an excuse to meet people. Even then I didn’t join a moms group, but rather found out if any of our neighbours were home with a baby too. I just function better when there’s not too many people to talk to at the same time.

And as luck would have it, I found someone. 

The importance of having friends

It’s that age old wisdom about sharing. Share your sorrows and they will seem lesser. Share your joy and it’ll multiply. 

When my friends succeed, have happy events in their lives, are trying new things… I’m there to share the excitement. With a pure heart. I can be many things, but I’m not jealous. I feel their butterflies, their smiles and I’ll feel an instant lift myself. 

Admittedly, while not so strong myself, I propably haven’t been the best consoler to all those around me. I am there to listen though. Most of the time that’s really all any of us need.

Doing different things with different friends – all a bit depending on our life situations, history (or taste in music!) – just gives me so much. 

Friends, who know you like the back of their hand, friends who share your passion for books and writing, friends who understand your work life, friends who have that similar stage in life, friends who made it through school with you and those who will party with you all night long and have the courage to laugh at your ridiculous hangover. Then there are those new beginnings where you are cautiously figuring the rules of that particular friendship out. 

What it takes to be a friend

You have to work on your relationship. You can be insanely blessed, like I was, and get your friends back after a long silent period (because of a relationship by the way, not mental health issues) – but it doesn’t always work like that.

Like I said, I get attached to people, which also means that I’m fiercely on my friends’ side. 

My only fear is that I don’t always know how to show my appreciation well enough, remember to stay in touch often enough, or I leave something unsaid in fear of conflict, which may lead to weird situations.

Let opportunity knock

Seeing as how I’ve managed to quit smoking six years ago, I would think it a bad policy to let my social circle shrivel. 

So that in mind, being more open to people, and opportunities to meet people, is something I’m trying to embrace as part of my happiness project. I actually quite enjoy my me-time, but I would go nuts without my friends!

Famous Finnish comic strip. It’s a valentine’s day greeting from a friend. ❀