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Why your New Year's resolution is doomed to fail (and what to focus on instead in 2018)
Jan 07

Why your New Year’s resolution is doomed to fail (and what to focus on instead)

By Dr Berni Sewell | Transform your life

Since the birth of my little one I have tried to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy.

And every year I make a New Year’s resolution. With great hopes and motivation. This time I will succeed. I will do whatever it takes. I will stick to my diet and reclaim my body.

But, the truth is, I hate every minute of it. I crave carbs and chocolate, I detest kale and beat myself up for never making it to the gym. The constant feeling of hunger makes me grumpy and bitchy. And every minute of every day becomes a struggle to keep myself committed.

Usually, after a month (at the very most), I give up. Finding myself at the same weight I started within weeks.

Another failure. Well done me.

And I am not alone. Research has shown that, on average, 88% of New Year’s resolutions crash and burn. Most of them within the first month. And almost everybody cites “lack of willpower and control” as the reason.

Leaving millions of us to feel like failures. Believing that we just aren’t good enough to lose that weight, stop smoking and drinking, get that shopping habit under control or declutter the house.

The good intentions of the New Year’s resolution become more proof of our perceived worthlessness and weakness. The failed attempt to improve our lives makes us feel worse about ourselves than ever.

But it’s not us who is wrong, incapable or flawed. And it’s not willpower we need. It’s something else altogether…

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How to overcome fear of judgement
Dec 27

How to overcome fear of judgement

By Dr Berni Sewell | Overcome your fears

My husband recently acquired a new Christmas jumper. Yes, this is him modelling it in the picture! He wears it everywhere. Dropping little one off at school, to shopping, to the cinema, at restaurants. EVERYWHERE!

And not only is the jumper visually…well, let’s say flamboyant, the eyes also light up and it plays the Darth Vader theme. I kid you not!

A few years ago, I would have been mortified. Incapable of walking alongside him while his belly was trumpeting the Imperial March.

A few years ago, I would have been so embarrassed that I wanted to crawl and hide in a hole somewhere. My face would have been bright red with shame. I would have looked around anxiously, horrified of the judgement in the eyes of the passers-by.

And I would have been furious with my husband for putting me through it all. Intentionally! I would have blamed him and resented him for my suffering.

But today, I think it’s hilarious. I am actually considering getting one for myself. Because I learned two crucial truths in the past 10 years that made all the difference.

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How to boost your self-worth (by getting rid of your shoes)
Nov 19

How to boost your self-worth (and get rid of your shoes)

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth

Imagine for a moment hitting yourself unconscious with a shoe periodically throughout the day.

You get up in the morning, first thing you do, WHAM! Shoe on the head! Because of this, you are unconscious most of the morning. As soon as you come to your senses, WHAM! There we go again.

And so the day goes by. One blow to the head after another. Until it’s time to go to bed. Last shoe of the day. WHAM! Good night!

If you’re now thinking “What’s the point of this? This is crazy talk. Who would do that to themselves?”

The answer is you! And I! And over 95% of the population of industrialised countries. Let me explain.

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A peaceful way to restore emotional balance
Oct 27

A peaceful way to restore emotional balance

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

“The neighbours will call the police if you don’t stop screaming!”

My boyfriend was gripping my wrists. He pinned me into a corner of his bedroom. I could see the concern in his eyes. And the disbelief.

I tried to clear my head. It felt as if I was waking up from a nightmare. A tsunami of self-loathing and shame washed over me. What was going on? What was wrong with me?

Tears streamed down my face. My throat was sore because I had been screaming for minutes. My hands were bruised and aching where I had punched my fists against the walls.

I didn’t even know what had triggered the outburst. A small, innocent remark? A tiny criticism?

My boyfriend was the most caring, gentle and patient person I knew. He didn’t deserve this appalling behaviour, the emotional abuse and heartache.

And it wasn’t the first time either. For the last weeks I had lashed out at him whenever we met. One moment I was fine. The next I was overpowered by all-consuming anger and aggression. Without apparent reason.

Was I losing my mind?

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How to stop beating yourself up
Oct 13

How to stop beating yourself up

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

(WARNING: You will have to lose your mind!)

This morning I took little one to school. In the school yard, parents were chatting in little groups while waiting for the doors to open.

As we arrived, my mind whispered: “Nobody will want to talk to YOU. You are an outsider.”

To prove it wrong, I joined a couple of Mums. But as I tried to contribute to the conversation, they talked over me, taking no notice of what I was saying.

“See?” My mind gloated. “They don’t want to have anything to do with you. You aren’t interesting enough. People will always ignore you.”

As the children swarmed through the school doors, the two Mums wandered off, still chatting, without acknowledging my existence.

“I told you so”, my mind confirmed. “You are an impossible person to like. People just don’t click with you. You are too boring, odd. Just not good enough. You have nothing to offer. You will be alone for the rest of your life. You pathetic loser!”

A few years ago, this experience would have thrown me into a bottomless abyss of self-punishment, self-loathing and self-pity. For days I would have beaten myself up for being unlovable, unpopular, worthless.

But today I wasn’t bothered. The school yard experience didn’t affect me at all. I didn’t lose another negative thought on it. I went on with my day feeling happy.

So, why do I react so differently now? What happenend?

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How to embrace your introvert nature (even if you feel uncool and boring)
Sep 29

How to embrace your introvert nature (even if you feel uncool and boring)

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

All my life I felt torn. I hated the hustle and bustle of shopping centres, bars and pubs. I loathed the unbearable noise and suffocating crowds in discos and at concerts.

I felt grumpy and irritated all day if I had to go to a party that evening. And once there, I wished I could be home in front of the TV with my latest needlework project.

While I loved my uneventful hobbies and never was bored myself, I felt that other people judged me: Look at that superbore! Could she be any more old-fashioned, dull and uncool?

I lived in constant fear of humiliation, ridicule and rejection. It hurt when others made fun of me. At times, I felt isolated and lonely because I didn’t socialise enough to meet new people. And my aversion to everything cool, hip or “in” suggested that something was seriously wrong with me.

And, back then, I only saw one solution to the problem…

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5 easy tactics to combat negativity
Sep 13

5 easy tactics to combat negativity (even if it’s in your nature)

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

Yesterday, when I picked my 4-year old up from nursery, she wanted to go and play in the park. I said no as we had a dentist appointment which triggered a minor tantrum.

As little one whimpered and complained, her best friend turned around and said: “You are being very silly!”

The moment she said it, I could see little one’s heart break. She collapsed on the floor, burst in tears and wept inconsolably until we got home and bribed her with a gingerbread man.

We went on to have a lovely afternoon. Lots of fun and games, stickers, compliments and laughter at the dentist and loads of cuddles.

When I tucked her in at night and asked whether she had a good day, she replied: “No! Celeste said I was silly!”

And it made me wonder. Why can a whole day of positives not outweigh one negative? Why do we focus on the negatives so much?

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The secret to reclaiming your life from anxiety
Aug 10

The secret to reclaiming your life from anxiety

By Dr Berni Sewell | Overcome your fears

In 2003, my life had shrunk to the size of my one-bedroom flat. I was stuck in a prison of my own making. Paralysed by fear, insecurity and anxiety.

I felt like life was running away from me. As if I was standing behind a giant window, a one-way mirror, watching other people move by. I witnessed their adventures, failures and successes. I saw them laugh, cry, love and grow.

They had happiness and fulfilment. They had fun, enjoyment, freedom. They lived.

They were oblivious of the pathetic, shivering creature observing them from the dark back room. The terrified bundle of misery that envied them, wondered how they did it. How they could be so care-free, light and joyful.

To me, every aspect of life was a threat. I was traumatised by the past, horrified by the present and petrified of an uncertain future. Fear, anxiety and panic determined my every move. And I knew it had to change. I had to reclaim my life.

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Dear guilt-ridden new Mum struggling with the change
Jul 20

Dear guilt-ridden new Mum struggling with the change

By Dr Berni Sewell | Love yourself

Can you remember the magical feeling when you looked into your newborn’s innocent eyes for the first time? When you instantly forgot the pain and exertion of childbirth and an all-encompassing wave of motherly love flooded your heart?

When tears of joy streamed down your cheeks as you marvelled at the beautiful, perfect being in your arms. And you knew that your life was complete and you would love this tiny creature beyond your last breath?

Well, I can’t.

I remember 16 hours of labour pain, 2 hours of pushing and the feeling of desperation over yet another unsuccessful attempt to get the job done. I remember an injection needle and scissors appearing between my legs and an episiotomy that still hurt months after the birth.

And I recall my first thoughts when the midwife finally placed the blood-covered bundle on my chest: “What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing now? Can’t somebody else take it, please?”

No instant overwhelming rush of love. No motherly feelings. No happiness. Just exhaustion, anxiety and the ineffable dread of the unprecedented change my life was about to undergo.

But I am still a good Mum. And here’s why…

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