How To Save More Money!

I have touched on Minimalism in the past, but it’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life – a lesson worth learning.

Based on the Myers-Briggs personality test, my personality type – INFJ – is one of the least likely to be financially successful. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw yourself into a category and believe you are destined to only achieve so much, it’s probably quite accurate.

Those of us who make creativity a priority are unlikely to strive for much in the Corporate World of business and making money from our passions is not always easy, or possible, despite what all those self-help guru’s suggest. Many of us work just because. Many HSPs really struggle to hold down a job, always searching for the perfect fit.

I have certainly found working to be quite strenuous and uninspiring thus far in my life. Minimalism is excellent in this regard, because it helps you to take a step back and to question whether you really need something, and whether it will really add any value to your life.

Let’s face it – If you struggle to make money, and don’t enjoy doing what has to be done to make that money, then money is especially valuable to you and should only be spent on things that create joy and excitement.

Without wanting to repeat myself like a broken record, I used to spend most of my income on material items. I built up a large collection of DVDs, Blu-rays, Books & Video Games. I have come to learn (the hard way) that you cannot buy happiness. Happiness really is a feeling generated within. You may have noticed that on some days, playing a video game or watching a TV show make you feel really content and peaceful. You aren’t worrying about achieving loads of goals, and you don’t want to be anywhere else. These feelings may be rare, but they go to show us that things are not the answer.

In fact, things often just get in the way of our happiness and leave us feeling like we never have time to do anything important. If you have lots of subscriptions, like Netflix, Kindle Unlimited, WWE Network, Xbox Live – whatever, and you are also are a member of a gym … maybe it’s time to step back and ask yourself, ‘Do I need all of these outgoings? Am I getting value out of my spendings?’

So many people join a gym with enthusiasm and desire, going 4-5 times a week. Then life gets hectic and they struggle to make an appearance even once a week.

The richest people in the World can still feel very insecure and unhappy. While it’s nice to get away from a job you detest, extra money and extra stuff is unlikely to make you any happier … It’s like with food. When you have eaten and are no longer hungry, it loses it’s appeal. If you were a Millionaire, you would probably get very bored and only then would you realise a brand new car is not the answer …

I made a short YouTube video talking about this in more depth, so if you want some inspiration for saving your money (and using it more wisely), be sure to check that out here:

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this Blog.

I will see you in the next one.

~ Stefan.

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Are you having fun yet?

Stefan 5

Hello and welcome to another post.

My last post on Veganism did surprisingly well, receiving many more views and shares than usual. That was nice.

I have been doing some thinking.

About what I should do with the rest of my life. I have too often given into fear and plodded along, feeling safe but dreadfully uninspired and listless – ‘going through the motions’, as they say.

Ever since I left High School at 16, I have felt lost and worked in jobs I despise. All for that small paycheck each month. After High School, I went to College and studied Business and Finance. I only picked the subject because it sounded safe and usable in the real World. Not to mention, I had no idea what else to do. I thought about doing Drama and Film Studies … that kind of thing. But the realist in me said it’d be a waste of time and would get me nowhere.

I did tremendously well in the Business & Finance course (a BTEC National Diploma), getting top grades, but I felt no sense of achievement because it was all meaningless and I was too busy worrying about my health and feeling depressed (having reacted badly to the medication, Roaccutane).

It is surprising how fast the years can go by. Let’s face it – there are things along the way that are changing and keeping you busy, so you don’t always notice what is happening and where you are headed. Suddenly it’s the start of another year, or your birthday, and you realise you are wasting time …

I have been working within Insurance for the past 3 years (working for 3 different employers). I can do it, easy enough. But the repetition, the stress, the workload … where is the pay off? What’s the sodding point?

I realised that part of the problem is feeling stagnant. I am no longer learning and I am terribly bored of it all. A job can suck all of your energy if it isn’t right for you and so I realise it is time to get my act together, before I end up trapped forever.

So, whilst I don’t have a precise plan yet – and I really should have figured all of this out sooner – I am going to learn new things. I am going to follow my heart, because I have rarely done so and it has left me a shadow, barely living.

I think my options are as follows:

  • Study part-time, selecting an Open University course. This would take six years.
  • Or – going to a University and getting a Bachelor’s degree. This would take three years.

I think I prefer the sound of Option B.

So, the next question is what would I study? It’s got to be something I actually WANT to learn and use. I am going to dig deeper, but my interests (that I think I could get a job out of at the end of it) are:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Work
  • English (Writing)
  • Journalism
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Animal Science

I think Psychology or Philosophy are the two that stick out the most for me. I don’t really know what job I could get from Philosophy, but I am very interested in ideologies surrounding our existence and around ethics. As I have explained before, and as you may gather with me being a HSP, ethics are very important to me.

But that’s good isn’t it? …

I’m thinking now. Instead of feeling like I can’t make a decision or feeling like my only option is to do what I have always done, I am actually looking into my options. I used to hope that there was an easier path. One where I didn’t have to study. But any time I look at jobs being posted, they are all … ahem, crap.

Without a degree, I can easily get a job in retail, insurance or admin.

But life is too short to sell your soul for a paycheck. I crave meaning and I want to care about the work I do.

I want to make a difference.

If I have to study for a few years in order to secure a better future, then so be it. And I am still terrified. I can still over-think it and worry that a degree isn’t enough to find a job afterwards. Or that I’ll struggle. Or people won’t like me on the course.

But sometimes you have to tell that cynical voice to keep it down and focus on what you want. And you need to have a bit of faith in yourself.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

~ Alex.

Like my Facebook page for updates: BOOM!

I have been struggling with Depression.

Never Again

Hi.

I am writing this before I head off to work.

I slept badly again. I didn’t get to sleep until around Midnight and I woke up – wide awake – at around 5am. That’s not nearly enough sleep for someone who is burned out with adrenal fatigue. If I could just get a good night’s sleep, or a few in a row, it would help massively.

While at work yesterday, I couldn’t have felt any worse. I had also got a bad night of sleep the night before. So I emailed my HR contact and basically said I can’t do the job anymore – at least not full time. I didn’t care anymore what would happen to me, because I was at breaking point. I kind of wanted them to tell me to go home and not worry about coming in again.

I started this job just 7 weeks ago and have struggled to cope with the pace. It’s ridiculously busy, with emails constantly pouring in throughout the day, the phone ringing intermittently and various files to follow up on urgently. The role is car insurance and my stress is worsened when I spend much of my time sitting on hold to other insurers (I literally can be on the phone for an hour waiting for someone to answer) and it is impossible to catch up.

Everyone else in my team is in the same position, but they care more about the job than me. They have ambition around Insurance. Some of them have studied or taken exams and want to make it a career. I am not like them.

The rest of my team seem in no rush to leave at the end of the day. When it hits 5pm, I am ready to get the fuck out of there. I am spent. The noise and the stressful environment have taken their toll, and I am weak. Throw in the lack of sleep and subsequent lack of energy and it’s a recipe for disaster. Often my colleagues stay to work over-time. I turn down the offer any time I am asked.

The stress of the job has been creating a lot of anxiety for me and is the reason I can’t rest well at night. So I needed to speak to the lady in HR.

Instead of 9-5, I will now be working 10-4 (5 days a week). While this is an improvement and will help me, I will be losing money each month and I will still have an insane workload, because the company doesn’t want to pay more money for new staff. But fuck it. I don’t care anymore. That’s their problem. If I can’t do all the work, despite pushing myself to the max, it’s not my issue.

I still need to get out of this place, because I have been doing insurance for a few years and I’m completely sick and tired of it.

No wonder my health seems at an all time low.

I walk around like a zombie, wondering why I shouldn’t just give up entirely and end my misery …

But that’s no way to think. When you die, it’s over for good. I feel inspired to do whatever I must to leave this industry. As a HSP and INFJ, I need purpose. I have a lot of passion in life – about injustice, animal welfare and fighting the bullshit we call normal and acceptable. I need to center my career around something I care about.

I was looking briefly at Open University courses, but on a part-time basis they take 6 years to complete. I would be 32 when I was done if I started the course now. I’m not sure I have the patience to wait 6 years to live my life.

So I still have no idea what I am going to do. This life can be very testing for those like myself who don’t just want to fill a spot and work for money. We spend most of our lives at work, so if we had our jobs we need to change them.

I would love to hear from you. I am sorry I haven’t posted much in the last week or so. I hope I feel stronger soon.

Thank FUCK it’s Friday!

For those who haven’t achieved anything…

I, too, have got into the mindset where I feel I have done nothing of value with my life.

That if I died tomorrow, I would die without having anything to show for it.

And maybe that’s because we idolize Film Stars and Musicians, who have a a host of glamorized achievements under their belt. Or maybe we see inventors like Steve Jobs, or authors like J.K Rowling and we just cannot live up that level of success and contribution.

And, of course it is extremely unlikely than anyone can! Let’s be real for a minute.

But just because you haven’t walked down the red carpet to screaming fans, or got a number 1 record, doesn’t mean your life is meaningless. It doesn’t mean you never achieved anything.

For example, you might drive a car. That’s impressive – even though some driver’s make me wonder if the test is still too easy. But really, something as simple as passing a driving test shows what can be achieved with practice and dedication. I passed my test on my forth attempt. That sounds bad, and I used to get really nervous because I don’t do well in situations where I am being observed closely, but I have never had an accident in the almost 7 years I have been driving. And hey, I could have quit after 3 fails – But I got there in my own time.

Some people might pass their test first time round, but then rush into a sense of immortality and invincibility. And then they have an accident or, worse yet, die.

This has gotten a little dark, as is usual for me.

But let’s think about something else you might have achieved. How about passing your exams in School? Sure, maybe you weren’t a straight A student. But if you tried your best and didn’t end up unemployable afterwards, that’s worthy of a pat on the back.

And maybe you think your job is a bit shit. Maybe it’s dull, or a monkey could do it. Maybe you are right. But, in time, you can get where you want to be.

Also, we don’t need to see success in the same way we always have. Maybe success is being a good person who does good things selflessly. Maybe someone who looks after the sick and vulnerable is the real success. Maybe that’s what should be valued, instead of good looking people on the TV.

Because there are a lot of rich and famous people in the World who are fucking assholes. They have betrayed people, or maybe exploited people/animals to get where they are now. Like, there are a lot of rich farmers. And Steve Jobs is responsible, in part, for slavery and human rights violations. Think of all the overworked people in China, getting paid fuck all so Apple can reap ridiculous amounts of profit. And I might be a hypocrite for saying that, because (like most people) I own an iPhone. Though I didn’t actually buy it. It was a hand-me-down.

But maybe we should look beneath the surface instead of focusing on the iceberg (or Success) that we usually zone in on.. Maybe some people’s success is a veneer of shit, decorated in some shiny glitter. Maybe all that money is the product of blood, sweat and tears.

And, ultimately, whether you die a Millionaire or a struggling single Mum on benefits, you still die. Your body still gets buried in a hole or burnt to ash (pretty nice thought, isn’t it?).

So, if you want to achieve more, be reasonable. Life gets in the way and we are all trying the best we can (well, not everyone is, but those reading this Blog are the one’s who are in touch with their desires). If you want something bad enough, I believe you can get it. Refuse to quit and don’t give up when success doesn’t come quickly.

But also remember to take a chill pill and lay off the pressure sometimes.

~ Alex.

P.S. I set up a Facebook page, so give it a LIKE 😉

 

How To Deal With Anxiety (HSPs).

Matrix

This follows on from my last post, where I talked about why anxiety is common among Highly Sensitive People.

You can read that post HERE.

After living with Anxiety (and Depression) on and off for 10 years, I wanted to share what I have learned and how I deal with my crazy little mind.

I spent a lot of money on supplements for a long time, because I was convinced my anxiety and depression were related to a physical problem. I’m not talking about serotonin – I am talking about the negative side-effects I experienced following treatment with Accutane (as previously discussed). I figured I was only depressed and anxious because I felt weak and tired a lot of the time. Or that my body was over-run by toxic medicine residue.

Did any of those supplements help? No. I literally pissed away thousands of pounds and noticed absolutely NO changes. And when I say supplements, I mean I tried like everything. Ancient Chinese herbs, multi-minerals, other herbal remedies (specifically made for me by a Herbalist). All kinds of nasty stuff, like ‘Chinese Bitters’. Holy cow, they were bad!

At one point, I literally put Coffee up my ass!

Don’t judge me! I was super desperate to feel better and even though I knew it seemed like a long shot, I was advised that it’d help cleanse my liver of toxins. To be honest, it felt quite nice (haha) though those days are now ‘behind’ me.

Get it? ‘Behind me’ … like my butt.

Anyway … it’s totally true that there is a mind and body connection. Stress can literally kill you if you don’t take it seriously. At times, I wonder how the f*ck I’m still alive. Like, I’ve been through some deep shit, man. How has my body not just given up? How have I not got cancer?

Despite some ongoing health issues – which I will touch upon in a future post about Health and High Sensitivity – I am very lucky to have not been struck down with anything life threatening.

But if you lack energy, motivation and generally feel a bit naff, it could be that your mind is having an effect on your body. Just in case anyone is still in doubt or somehow thinks this sounds New-agey, it is pure science. The placebo effect has proven how our mind can influence our body. There are plenty of metaphysical books out there about healing. People claim to have beaten Cancer and other incurable diseases by changing their lifestyles and their minds. I for one believe them, because life is too bizarre to be a mistake.

I don’t think we are supposed to just die for no reason, having not achieved the things we are capable of. Although, having said that, this World is obviously very mysterious and, at times, frustrating and brutal. People die because of other road users, or terrorist attacks, or sociopath cannibals. It is hard to give meaning to some things.

Can you tell I am just writing without a thought? This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but I’m in the zone!

Let’s get to the point though. Anxiety is a big problem. If you are anxious (or depressed, or just generally feeling like crap) a lot of the time, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. I’m sure you have heard this before. The whole Caveman thing, where we are faced with a Lion and our adrenal glands are put to work. Everything is put on hold, resulting in susceptibility to illness, a low sex drive, digestive problems and a bunch of other weird stuff. Your heart might race. You get a throbbing headache. Maybe you feel dizzy.

Here is what I can tell you …

  • The more you fight to change the anxiety response, the worse you feel. Because it doesn’t work like that. You are anxious because you are stressed out and resisting what is your current reality. Continuing to fight, while seemingly noble, will not change anything. If you enter a situation where you feel fear, do not try to change your reaction. You can’t! Allow the anxiety to remain there and slow down. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to just stop caring for a minute. I mean, Jesus, you can’t carry on living like this all the time, right? It can be hard when you are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need to get away from the situation that’s bringing you down. But sometimes, you need to accept your limitations and shift your focus.
  • The more grateful you are – for the things that are awesome about your life – the better you will feel. There are some Millionaires who are less satisfied with their lives than those who can’t even meet their basic needs in Eastern Countries, stuck in poverty. Often, what we focus on is what we feel. So choose to be grateful for the things that are good in your life. I guarantee you have plenty to be grateful for. Your current mindset may say otherwise. Don’t believe a word. It’s easy to keep saying you will be happy when you quit your job, you find a loving partner, you go on holiday or whatever. But sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes dreams remain dreams. Sometimes a holiday is not forthcoming. So look around at what you have now, in the present. Nothing can last forever, so remember to enjoy the things that surround you at this moment in time.
  • Exercise is so important for the following reason. Anxiety and stress cause your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol (hormones). This is okay in moderation, but if it keeps happening you wind up feeling like a deflated bag of potatoes. Exhausted. The best way to release that pent up tension is through exercise. Like, for me, I do get stressed more easily than some people. If I don’t get away from the office during my lunch break, I can start to feel more and more pissed off. I need to have some alone time and space from people. I need to get away from buildings and cars. I get to a spot of nature and it helps. Maybe I still feel fed up afterwards, and want to go home, but it’s the best thing I can do. Combine nature with exercise and you’re onto something good. For me, gyms are ugly factories filled with steroid-injecting, mouth breathing meat-heads, so I avoid them.
  • Anxiety is normal. We can’t feel great and relaxed all the time. And our World promotes anxiety through the negative stories in the news – and there is always a new one. The trashy magazines that tell you how you should look are nothing but poison. People on Social Media can seem so happy and all-together. Remember to keep a realistic perspective. Some people like to make our they are fine when they are really not fine. Not everyone in the streets is a murderer. Celebrities aren’t flawless and pictures are heavily edited. Most of all, accept that with this life (that we have been GIVEN) we can’t always have it our way. Appreciate the good times and carry on when things are hard.

Because I guarantee you, if you feel beaten up at the moment, you will feel better and will have a smile on your face again soon. Anxiety cannot survive if you have hope and love in your heart. So choose to believe there is a reason for all of this. Look for the good in things and if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to take the reigns and create change.

I wish you all a wonderful week.

Please share this blog post if you enjoyed it. It isn’t easy trying to reach people when you are only just starting out.

I would love to hear from you. What makes you feel most relaxed? What are your anti-anxiety tips?

Peace and love,

~ Alex.

How I discovered I was a Highly Sensitive Person.

I first discovered I was a HSP several years ago, when I stumbled upon the World renowned book by Elaine Aron.

I remember it coming up as a book linked to others I was searching for on Introversion, as I had began to realise there were other people like me.

I always knew there was a reason for the way I felt. I just didn’t know what that reason was yet. I thought I’d tell you a bit about my life story … Buckle in. It’s not straight forward or short, but I promise you that it will be an interesting read.

***

I had always been shy as a little dude, thinking about it now. I have some vivid childhood memories, in which I felt scared and alone. Stuck in my imagination, I worried a lot about things that could happen. About things that might go wrong. I will save some of those details for another post I have planned on growing up as a HSP, but I was a happy child, I would say. I had friends, but I was afraid they would leave me. At times, I was afraid I didn’t have enough friends, or didn’t quite fit in. I felt like I would be everyone’s last choice. I felt very unsure of myself when I was on my own.

But the lines became blurred as I grew up. I didn’t know why I was the way I was. At 15, I developed a bad case of Acne and became much more self-aware and lacking in confidence, which I suppose is understandable. No conventional treatments proved to be of any use and I ended up taking a serious, powerful medication called Roaccutane (known as Accutane in The US).

Suddenly, I found myself to be very unstable. I was deeply affected by the side-effects of the drug and I became very emotional. I would cry hard and long … really sobbing, and I would have no idea why. Because, if anything, I should have felt happy that my skin was clearing up and I was looking less like a Pizza.

I had moments of pure rage where I was afraid of myself and the thoughts running through my head. I thought I was going to end up hurting someone, or myself, although I never did. All of this was completely out of the blue for me, and so I was determined Accutane was to blame for my problems with depression and anxiety.

I quit the drug after being on it for 5 months, but my mental (and some physical) struggles persisted.

I spent years obsessing about what the drug had done to me. It was all I really thought about. I would be on forums late at night talking to others who had been negatively affected by the drug. For hours we would try to grasp what sounded like a logical theory of what the drug had done to us. We were desperately seeking a magical supplement or diet that might help us recover our health. Some people tried fasting for 3 weeks. Some people went for colonic irrigation, as if that would reverse all the damage. Others cut nearly every food group out of their diet. All in an attempt to overcome the various issues, like Chronic fatigue, aching joints, dry mouth/dry eyes, low (or no) libido and deep depression.

I myself spent thousands of pounds on different supplements and saw various health specialists. I had numerous blood tests, all of which came back as ‘normal’. I was losing my mind because I just knew that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal. I had gone from being super horny and athletic to someone with no desire for sex at all and I felt very weak, physically (and mentally).

None of the supplements made any difference, by the way. And the forum post, which I started, now has over 1,000,000 views. People there are still confused as to what on earth happened. I haven’t been involved with any of the discussions for a few years, but I did partake in a BBC documentary about Accutane and it’s link to Suicide.

But not for one moment during this time did I consider Accutane might not be the only factor in the struggles I was experiencing as I entered the adult World or work and responsibility. I felt certain that it was the culprit. I would have bet my life on it.

And yet, growing up is hard for nearly everyone and all of this happened during a time of massive change. From Boy to Man. From Student to Employee.

During the years after High School and my treatment with Accutane, I felt totally lost. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt tired – constantly. I had social anxiety and I would get depressed often, though the crying for no reason went away quickly after ending treatment. I became very introverted and split off from my friends and family. I spent most days worrying about what the heck was wrong with me. I also thought about killing myself, a lot. Because the emotional turmoil I was going through every day was too much to bear. I felt numb. Completely and utterly worn out. I felt like the best years of my life had been stolen from me and that my life was over.

***

But as the years went on, I realised Accutane was not to blame for all of my problems. I had always told myself that everything was super perfect – and then I took an awful medication.

But was everything perfect?

Would I really have been all that different if it wasn’t for that drug? I’m not saying Accutane isn’t terrible, because in my experience it absolutely is. There is a strong link with suicide and depression and the creators of the drug will continue to deny so, because they want to make money. Billions of pounds.

But I think part of the reason I fell prey to its effects so strongly is because my body is wired differently to most. I can’t drink coffee, I can’t get away with drinking alcohol and I certainly can’t get away with taking a risky, controversial medication.

So, to sum up, taking Accutane was a bad idea. A mistake. But I believe I would still be struggling now (though perhaps less so) if I hadn’t of taken it, or got Acne in the first place.

Because I have always been Highly Sensitive. I was born this way, baby. And it can be hard to navigate through our World as a HSP. I am still trying to piece things together and find my place.

Anxiety and Depression are common, though. This World can create a lot of suffering and the people in charge of this broken system which encourages sitting down at a computer for 8 hours have a lot to answer for. I no longer feel the need to blame Accutane for everything that is wrong with my life, because I know that sitting in an office all day and commuting through traffic are the current problems I face. I cannot change what has already happened but I can play a part in how I spend my precious hours now.

Acne and a traumatic experience with Accutane certainly were added baggage that I wish I could have avoided. They delayed my discovery and understanding of the HSP and Introverted world, because I thought my emotions could be cured with a super healthy diet, or special supplement. But I know I am capable of being happy, because when I am in my element, I am happy as Larry.

And Larry is a happy guy.

I apologise if this post was a bit depressing. And God knows it was LONG. I said previously that I would be brutally honest and open about some of the things I have gone through and continue to go through.

If you made it this far, I want to say a big Thank you. And if you did make it this far, leave a comment saying ‘Santa Claus’, so I know who the extra awesome ones are.

It took time to understand that I was a HSP, and I think it is very common for people to go down a whole bunch of roads before arriving here. Hopefully in time people will find the answers they seek and realise they don’t need antidepressants, because they are not broken and antidepressants will not change your inherent nature.

Sometimes, we need to take a look around and realise WE are the sane ones. Drugs and other substances can numb your sensitivity, but do you really want to be one of them?

I would love to hear YOUR story. How did you come to understand your own nature as a HSP? I look forward to talking to you in the comments!

~ Alex.