Monday, 10 December 2012

Paying Attention to the impact we have....

It is interesting to me to 'simply notice' that we all (sweeping generalisation) go about not really thinking about the impact we want to have.  No really, in every interaction you are having with everyone you are with, everyone you talk to, or not, you are having an impact - don't you think that it would be powerful to be conscious about the impact you want to have?  I quote myself from the realisation I had of this, I said 'I'm having an impact anyway, I may as well be conscious of what I want that impact to be!'.

So, why don't we do this? What stops us bringing a positive energy into the discussions we have with loved ones, for instance? I know for me personally, I am more likely to think about it before I do my work, before a Coaching call or before leading a workshop and definitely before I go to an important meeting.  Yet, when it comes to the people I love, rarely do I think about the energy I want to bring into those discussions.

I wondered for years about 'unintended impact', is that about me? or is it about the other person? does it matter if its not intentional? and what became clear to me recently is that it really does matter, and not just with the interactions with other, but also with the interactions I have with myself.

If I am at peace with myself and being kind, loving, nurturing and nourishing to myself, physically, mentally and emotionally then the energy I bring to my relationships with others, is kind, loving, etc etc... and I can be less conscious because I know it is my 'way of being', if however, I am not being all those positive things then I will bring another kind of energy to my relationships!

How are you in relationship with yourself?
How do you talk to yourself?
How balanced is your life? and I don't just mean work and home...
How do you nurture yourself and nourish yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally?
What energies do you bring to those around you?
Are they intentional energies? Or unconscious?
What is your intended or unintended impact?

Dig around, see what you find.  Be curious about what you become aware of, don't judge yourself - it is what it is.  The real question is, What do you want to do about it? Or even how do you want to BE about it!

Sending love to you all and as we prepare for Christmas around the world, bring positive loving energy to those you love, take care of yourself and love and nurture yourself and those around you.  As you do this 'simply notice' the impact on yourself and others........Rx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

What have your created?.... and more importantly, is it what you want?

Where do I start with this topic, it has been brewing within me now for weeks and I have been unable to put finger to keyboard.
So, lets start here - What is the life you have created?
Is it alive, do you feel the blood pumping through your veins every day and think YES! this is exactly the life I want to live?
So, if not, why not?
As I said to a client the other day, If not YOU, then WHO and if not NOW, then WHEN?  Well?
So what are we waiting for?
What's stopping us?
Let me have a stab at answering that question from my own personal perspective... and let me say at this stage, that I have a great life, I travel, I have great friends, I fantastic job, wonderful experiences and there is still one thing missing!
So, here is what I know about me - what stops me in having the life I want, is the patterns and behaviours and traps of the past which I keep repeating over and over again in my life!
Yes, and you guessed it, of course, I keep blaming other people for them or worse than that, I don't actually take personal responsibility and take a stand for myself and say, OK well if this is what you truly, then what is stopping you having it.
And, we all know it's not that simple either, there are mortgages and bills to pay, kids to educate and feed blah, blah, blah, blah.  Most of them are Gremlins anyway...... typically.
I have been saying for the last 10 years of my life that I want to have a Partner who will love me and trust me and live life to the full with me and, as yet, this superman has not materialised.  I wonder why?
Well let me tell you why, because I keep being tempted back into and old relationship, which does not serve me, which is not healthy for either of us and which does not fulfill either of us.  Why do I keep going back? Because, it’s familiar, I know how to be in it, the brokenness of it's circumstances are cosy. 

So, I am breathing now because I want to share with you a discovery I made this week about my own personal behaviour which has 'blown my socks off'. I realised that because of my interpretation of the way I was brought up, I created a belief around love and connection, that means (up until now) it is my responsibility to make sure that I ensure harmony, personally, in any loving relationship that I have had, and, that it is not a dual responsibility, that it my sole role.
It comes from having a Father who was not emotionally intelligent, who was educated by his parents that, if you wanted kids to do as they were told, you just stopped talking to them and engaging with them when they did something bad.  And, that you only reengaged with them when they had pleased you enough that you knew you were back in charge and that they wouldn't do that thing again, at least, not for a while anyway.
Can you imagine how frustrating that was for me as a Child, when all I wanted to know was why this? or why that? how does this work? how come that family is different to ours? one of the unwritten rules was you never ask questions like that, you know, the ones that are hard to answer.

I was christened Kissinger by my family when I was in my 20's because I was the one who always made the peace in the family (or at least this is how I remember it), between Brothers and Sisters, Husbands and Wives, Kids and Parents etc. until I reached the point where I was exhausted and I refused to do it any longer.  Little did I know that by then the 'seed' was planted and I was going to do that in all my intimate relationships for the foreseeable future, or the next 30 years to be precise!
What was the question that uncovered this 'little gem' for me?  I asked myself, why it is always me who reaches out to people to resolve conflicts, and where did that come from?  There were a lot of  conflicts in our house.  Not the useful ones, where you are embrace each others difference, and create some new understanding from that, the ones where one person was right, (usually the older one or the one who could shout the loudest) and the other was wrong.  That was, of course, just the opinion of one person in the discussion but it seemed to create a false sense of achievement to them that they had 'won' something or achieved something my pretending that them perceiving themselves to be right had actually made any difference in resolving anything.
Anyway, don't get me wrong here, I know my Parents did the best job they could, under the circumstances, and I love them dearly. Where I am pointing you to look, is where you did, like me, take on a belief about something that actually does not belong to you and was never yours in the first place.  And, if you find that belief is stopping you being fulfilled, keeping you in a relationship you don't want or a job you don't enjoy or a career that turns you cold.  Then ask yourself, what am I waiting for? What's stopping me?
And if you need one, or haven't already got one, then go get a Coach or someone who can help you dig into this self limiting belief so that it stops having such a hold over you.  
Why? So, that you can create the life you really do want to lead.
Don't do like I did and wait all these years to work it out!  
I feel like I have freed up 30 years of 'being stuck' around this topic, quite an amazing experience!
There is a lot more I could say around this discovery and suffice to say, I think I have said enough for you to get the gist of where I am pointing you.  
Wishing you happiness and joy!

Monday, 16 July 2012

What is Emotional intelligence and why does it matter?......

Good question eh? So, when you read the books it says it is our innate or inbuilt ability to feel, manage, articulate blah blah blah our emotions and that is true. The point that many of the text books miss out on is that we are not trained to be emotionally intelligent, we all (or most of us at least) have the inbuilt ability to access and practice this intelligence and yet we do not know how to use it, in a life affirming, adult way.

So, it feels like time to make some distinctions. Emotional intelligence is our ability to RESPOND, as opposed to REACT or be triggered. If we are to respond we have to be conscious and be in choice about how we want to respond. If we react usually we are in habitual motion or unconscious, and not in choice about how we react or what the impact of that reaction is.
To respond we need to be open, available, alert and centered, when we react we are usually closed, protected, tense and unbalanced.

Just a side note here to say that lots of people will do anything to avoid emotions full stop. Bad habits around smoking, eating, drinking and working typically come from the need or desire to avoid emotion. It is meant to move of flow e-motion, energy in motion or life force.

If we are to be in our Self-Authority (or Authentic) we consciously know that are authors of our own lives, we can decide how we respond to external events and we can choose the impact that external events have on us. Once we really start to author our own lives we become much more aware of how important it is to care for ourselves, each other and the environment around us.
What good are we if we give all of ourselves to others? Eventually, we become empty with nothing left to give - like a dry or empty well. Nurturing yourself and refilling your well is important if you are to be of service to others.

In order to choose consciously you have to do your own work around what triggers you? Where do you loose consciousness? What are the circumstances where you get triggered? Emotional Intelligence is about having a healthy relationship with your full emotional range, so that your emotions are stable and flexible all at the same time.

As leaders we need access to our full emotional range, so that we can have the impact we are meant to have. What do I mean by that, OK well, lets say I can't be with arrogance, my own or other peoples, so what do I do when I come across arrogance, well if I can't be with it I will do anything to avoid it or people or situations where it shows up. So, then arrogance chooses for me. However, if I can be with arrogance (I don't have to like it, just have the emotional range to be with it) then when it shows up, I can still function and I can choose my response to it, it might be to meet arrogance with arrogance, it may be to choose some other way of responding.

It is critical that we stay in choice around our emotions, if we are to live 'on purpose' and have the impact we want to have in the world. If we want to have a big impact then we will come across hurdles and situations and people that stretch us emotionally and we need to know how to consciously choose our response to those situations.

I had a similar situation myself in this last week, and I know that breathing helps too!
Enjoy exploring your triggers and what they cost you, with a view to doing your work to expand your emotional range. Please do not judge yourself or what you find. This is powerful and gentle work. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Taking responsibility and noticing the traps you create.....

I am currently at the start of one of the 'biggest' leadership training programmes of my life. I have specialised in this work for nearly 10 years now and each step I take is bigger and deeper than I ever imagined. In a way I wonder if I am losing touch with the 'real' world, you know the world where all that matters is status, power, material belongings and who is 'right' all the time.
The world where what we are 'doing' is more important than who we 'being'.

We are so attached to 'doing', it's like success is measured on ones ability to do loads of stuff. If you've seen Brene Browns latest TEDTALKS video you'll know that the biggest cause of 'shame' in the western world today for Women is when they are not able to get everything done, around the house and at work and still look great, be slim and not even break out in a sweat whilst juggling all of that stuff. For Men it is all about not showing weakness, and us Women are the biggest cause of Men not wanting to show weakness, because we want them to be strong for us, for the kids, in order to make the family feel safe. It's all about doing and looking great all of the time.

Well, I'd like to offer another perspective on the world. What if we spent more time focusing on who we are being, rather than what we are doing. What if we put our energy into be open and available, to being in relationship with our family and friends, getting to know colleagues or neighbours or even better, those we don't call friends and neighbours, those who piss us off, or make us angry because they are reflecting a part of ourselves right back at us that we are not willing to own. What if we really took responsibility for the lives that we are creating every day and stopped blaming other people for what has happened, and stop trying to change everyone else!

I was recently introduced to learning around 'traps', the thinking is that we all fall into them and ideally we should notice we have done so, try to get out and then take time to reflect on how it happened so that we can change our behaviour in order not to fall into the same trap again. Simple, right? The other thing to add is that if we don't take time to reflect and learn and adapt our behaviour then we shouldn't be surprised if we keep falling into the same traps over and over again... Have a think about it in your own life... where do you keep falling into the same patterns and blaming others for the circumstances you find yourself trapped in? If there is a lesson we need to learn, I'm pretty sure that those circumstances will keep happening until we have learned how to avoid them.

So, here's the deal. Stop blaming others, either change the circumstances or change your attitude towards them, otherwise you are keeping yourself stuck and miserable and I can't imagine for one moment that that is much fun!

I can think of a situation in my life, which is a trap - at this stage I have decorated it, I have curtains, carpets and even wall hangings! For 10 years I keep walking right back into the same trap, these days I do it consciously and I don't blame anyone else for creating it. Can you believe that I keep expecting things to work out differently and guess what, they never do. This is last time, is the last time (I do say that all the time, just a word of warning) that I am falling into the trap.

What about you, what traps do you keep falling into?
Are they getting bigger and bigger?
What are you meant to learn?
What will have you stop and take stock and change your behaviour?
And yes, of course these are exactly the questions I am holding for myself.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Top 5 Regrets....

Top Five Regrets, a colleague sent this to me today and I thought I would share it with you all ......

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.

Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the
life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply
regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a
work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may
initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly.
Choose happiness.

Monday, 6 February 2012

What is it to be present, without judgement?

I'm just back from leading a Process Coaching weekend and I have been 'struck' by how hard most of us find it to 'simply be present to the moment that we are in'. It sounds simple doesn't it... So, lets give it a try.

Firstly, find a time when you know that you won't be interrupted and you have a couple of minutes to just be. Now, find a place where you can just relax, you can be seated, lying or standing, it matters not a jot. So, find your place and your body position and start to get present to what is in the here a now, notice your breathing, is it shallow or deep, as you notice it and get present to it you may notice that you automatically start to breathe more deeply. Now, focus your attention on your breathing and simply notice the path of the air as it travels into your throat, past your larynx, down your wind pipe, through your chest, behind your heart and into your lungs. Continue to follow the path of the same air at it travels in the reverse direction back out of your body. For a simple and more detailed version of this see 'Taming your Gremlin' by Rick Carson, page 35ish.

Now you should be present, so scan your body and put your attention on (or be present) to what you notice, from the top of your head, imagine that there is a body scanner slowly scanning the whole of your body, what do you notice about your brow, your temples, your nose, your jaw, your teeth, the skin on your face, are you relaxed or tense? As you notice any tension you might want to breathe into that part of your body and just let the tension go on the out breath.

Continue to do this exercise and travel down the whole length of your body. The art of this exercise is to move your attention from in between your temples and focus it on your body. Get out of your head and into your body. Simply notice what you notice and without judgement, it is what it is..... and what it is, is just fine. Remember judging it, doesn't change anything at all. What it does do, is take you out of your body and into your head. Although 'heads' are lovely things, they are overrated in my opinion, we spend far too much time, judging and making things wrong or right, having an opinion etc on thing that don't actually matter.

Practice being in the moment every day, the more your practice the easier it gets, you have to do something 28 times to create a new habit, and for 10, 000 hours to become masterful (or something like that) so, don't just stop when you have tried a couple of times and it doesn't seem to be working. Have tenacity and keep going, I promise it will get easier the more you practice.
The thing I want you to notice most of all is how your body feels when it is stress and tension free and know that, this is how were are meant to live our lives. This is our natural state of being and we create all the stress and tension ourselves from not being present to the moment we are in and judging ourselves and others to be good or bad, right or wrong, hard or easy etc etc.

Here is an inquiry for you, What is it to be present? How would your life be different if you were present in each moment? To your kids when you are with them, to your work when you are doing it, to your customers, to your lover, to your friends and more importantly to yourself?

What if, instead of judging yourself, you just noticed, what is going on with me? What am I noticing about myself right now? How is this working for me? Is this serving me or not?

What do I mean by is this serving me or not.... OK is this working for me, is it helping me to stay calm and present, or am I making myself wrong, or anxious or stressed. If its the former, I would say it's serving you, if it's the latter I would say it may not be serving you.

The present moment is rich and fulfilling and changes from moment to moment. In my experience the biggest gift we can give ourselves is to practice being present and 'in the moment'. Being in the moment does not require any preparation, being in the moment, you don't have to get it 'right or wrong' you just have to be.

There is a reason why someone coined the phrase 'practice makes perfect' and for that matter 'analysis paralysis'. Take some time to practice being present and simply notice the impact it has on your life. If you get the urge, please let me know what you notice.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Are you conscious of the beliefs that drive your behaviour!!

What do you want? A simple question isn't it? Yet most of us are much more able to articulate what we don't want... I promise you, if you work out what you want and put your energy into that, your life will be so much more simple.

What I am about to say may sound patronising, it isn't meant to. What I am trying to do here is to draw a distinction between two things that could sound the same, and yet they are very different.
So, here goes, this is about directing your energy towards what you do want....
I want to be slim as opposed to I don't want to be fat
I want to be look great in the summer, as opposed to I don't want to look fat in my bikini and so on, and so forth.

After 10 years of doing this work and after writing my last blog I found a new Gremlin who created some amazingly logical self limiting beliefs for me. What I will say, is that my thoughts around this were pretty habitual and I wasn't very conscious about what I was thinking and the beliefs that were affecting my behaviour.
So, meet my latest Gremlin - he's called. You'll never be slim again.. (add a frown for good luck).
Here are the beliefs he made up....
I can't workout without an instructor
I have to workout with specific instructors (that I like)
(making sure I never find any new instructors, as I didn't go to their classes)
It's hard to lose weight over 40, so you'll just be fat and 40+
I can't run
I'll never be able to run
I can't workout on my own
I can't create my own workout plan
(I used to be a personal trainer and Aerobics instructor!!)
He is also lazy and told me that if I worked out 3 or 4 times a week that I could eat and drink what I liked... he was trying to be kind to me.... (or maybe not).

So when I started thinking about where I had been putting my energy, I noticed that I was putting it into creating the work I wanted to do, travel, friends, creating the experiences I wanted to have in the future and not into what I wanted right now, which was not to carry so much weight, (that was taking lots of thought pattern and lots of internal dialog).
I decided to change the 'not carry too much weight' into being focused on getting fit, eating healthily and creating a sustainable diet that will mean I get into a specific pair of jeans that I love within the next couple of months. Sounds so simple doesn't it, and yet it has taken a lot of effort to, firstly realise what I was doing to myself and secondly, create the shift that really energised me into putting my energy into what I want.

So, now I go to lots of classes at the gym I never went to before,
I run on the treadmill for 30 mins about 3 times a week
I have found new class instructors that I really enjoy working out with
and more importantly, I feel great.

So 2.5 weeks in, I am 8lbs lighter (3.6ish kg) and am feeling great. It is six years this year since I stopped smoking and it is time to put my attention back on getting slim again. There is still a long way to go and I have my plan, it is not too ridged, as I find going from one extreme to the other doesn't work for me any more, so I have been out with friends, had the odd glass or wine or G&T when I wanted it and eaten some food which is not ideal and I've done it consciously and the weight is still coming off.

So, over to you, where do you have a Gremlin that creates self limiting beliefs for you and therefore creates behaviour that Sabotages the things that would make you happy?

Take a few minutes and ask yourself, what do I want? and am I putting any energy into it?
What are the Self Limiting Beliefs that stop me?
Do you want to choose something else?
I can't tell you the conversation I had with myself when I got onto the treadmill for the first few times (my Gremlin wanted me to get off, he didn't like it) and I just held on to my mantra - put your energy into what you want... that's what I kept thinking to myself and also I envisioned my 'target' Jeans. Classic Gremlin Taming I think you'll find... I can't believe I found a new one after all this time.....

So, over to you. Let me know what you find and how you get on. Most of all ENJOY!