All Posts by Tori

What to do when you feel stuck in life

Feeling stuck in life is suffocating.

When you’re stuck, without motion in your relationships, career or personal life, it can feel as though everything still moving around you is merely compacting the problem. Such is the case when we see no movement and yet our responsibilities continue to grow regardless. It’s no wonder the inclination arises to fold in on oneself and retreat as deeply as possible, both mentally and emotionally.

When most people retreat, they do it as a means to escape or hide, rather than to uncover a way out of their circumstances. Being mammals, we will always find some comfort in a dark, undisturbed corner, and from time to time we should allow ourselves this luxury. When we really want to solve a problem however, assigning our retreats as a time to explore our inner workings, beliefs and patterns, is its most effective use. Too often the solution to our disease in life is searched for externally, when what we need to do is step away, be still and ask ourselves some pertinent questions.

When you feel like there is no way forward for you, or as though you’ve exhausted all options, my suggestion is that you stop trying. Sometimes the act of struggling against life can in itself create so much internal resistance, that any solution will become buried in the energy of that struggle. By stopping and giving yourself space to exist alongside a problem, instead of inside it, you allow the possibility of realigning with the things that can help it. You stop drowning out your next best move.

In my experience, people are rarely, truly stuck. More often than this we are;

  • disconnected with our intuition
  • fearful of the options we do have
  • lacking awareness of a pattern or belief that is holding us back

The very idea of being stuck has a finality to it. There is no way in, except the way you unfortunately managed to find, and no way out. A useful exercise is to change your description of the situation and disassociate your problem from such a loaded term. For example, “I don’t know what to do about my career, I feel stuck”, becomes “I am unhappy in my job and want to find a new one”. One of these sentences opens a door to choices you can make, the other does not.

Describe your situation exactly as it is and should you need to retreat into yourself, do so in the search for both stillness and answers, not escapism. In stillness there is the possibility of resolution and at very least, respite. Escapism will simply give you a longer journey back to the same problem.

Why I set no goals this year

 

This is the time of year when every second or third article you read is about New Year resolutions. They’re either about how to make them, how to keep them or why they don’t work. I’ve written guides on it myself, along with ‘how to’ videos and easy to follow tips. This year however, my inclination to do so has been non-existent, and here’s why.

 

Every year since my teenage self became acquainted with the concept, I’ve set January goals. They’ve been the usual ones; get fit, eat better, travel more, save more, yadda yadda yadda. The time targets may have slipped, or the details changed here and there, but I would say most of the time they were achieved. That is, until a couple of years ago.

 

The two years of 2015 and 2016 I can honestly say were some of the hardest I have ever experienced. I’m not just talking about mega shifts in relationships, career, housing and health. I’m talking about every possible dynamic, that I either depended upon or took for granted, being radically overturned to become something new. In hindsight and now thankfully out the other side, I see how ingenious the universe is when taking complete charge of the control we all believe we hold so tightly. The level of change I was provided, so that I could achieve some of the life long goals that had frankly become stagnant, was nothing short of phenomenal. In the moment however, honestly, it was a fucking nightmare.

 

Having arrived, safely, at a place that is infinitely more peaceful, as stable as life gets and successful in all the ways that matter to me, I can confidently say that this year is not a goal year. I know what I want, yes, but it’s not about rigid plans, targets or clearly plotted outcomes. It’s purely about living, in the moment, taking time to breathe, letting go and making decisions based on current needs.

 

I may get to February and be unable to stop myself from mapping out the next few months, but in this moment not doing that feels like the best thing to do.

 

As a coach, I can and will spend all day extolling the virtues of goal setting and outcome focus. Some of my clients rely on these lessons and continue to have success with them year in and year out. An important addition I need to make very clear however, for anyone who’s missed it, is the need for balance.

 

There are some weeks, months, years when you are going to be overcome with the knowing that actually, taking a step back will give you as much fortitude, healing and learning as taking one forward. It doesn’t mean you stop wanting that family, that career or that security you have always craved, it just means that for a short period of time you focus on being. You focus on living a life rather than creating one and you consciously give yourself permission to spend time just going with the flow. This in no way means drifting, it means letting go, and there is a huge difference.

 

Remember, this is your year. It’s your choice to plan or not to plan, as you please.

 

How to reconnect with your intuition

There are moments in your life when you’ll intuitively know you’re in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. A large amount of people experience this most profoundly in the jobs that they work, sometimes as early as the application stage.

 

The way your own intuition talks to you will show up in different ways for everyone. It might make itself clear through a deep knowing that you’ve now trained yourself to ignore, or to rationalise away. It may be a sensory experience that you need to shake off or routinely distract yourself from.

 

Intuition is the inkling you get to not walk down an unlit street, when your thoughts are telling you that it’s a shortcut, it’ll be fine. It’s slowing down at the junction you always speed across, because something feels different today.

 

What’s important is that you learn not only how to recognise it and how it communicates with you, but also any strategy you’ve developed for not listening to it.

 

The first step to reconnecting with your intuition is to get comfortable with acknowledging that you have two captains sailing you through life. One being your soul (or whatever you wish to call it) and the other your thoughts. How are your responses to the two different and which, honestly, do you more often give the wheel to?

 

How has that worked for you so far?

 

The second step is to pay attention to how each of these captains gets you to do what they want you to do. Do your thoughts gently encourage you into action or, do they rule by fear and the opinions and experiences of others? Does your soul point out a way for you and ask you to trust it or, does it rule by only allowing your happiness when you follow it?

 

Which of the two leads you to experiences that take you closer to who you truly are, or who you aspire to be?

What sorts of strengths or sacrifices does it take to ignore each one, or to follow each one?

 

The more time you spend listening and feeling instead of dismissing, the more you’ll start to consider the varying levels of wisdom you have within you. You need to give your soul captain the space to breathe, to not let your thoughts suffocate it. The more space you give it, the more life it will have and the clearer its instruction and your intuition will become.

 

Think of it as a flame steadily growing. The third step will be to see what it lights up around it, it will start to show you the different options you have not for survival, but for living.

How much of a teacup are you?

Everyone likes change, even those who say they don’t are usually referring to the ‘bad kind’. The kind that is unpredictable or uncontrollable and which pushes them out of their comfort zone. The good kind however, like going from broke to having money, or being single to part of a loving relationship, isn’t always acknowledged as such. Things like these we confine to the category of luck.

Somewhere in-between the people who actively avoid change and those who welcome it, are a group that I want to spend some time bringing out into the light. They live and mingle amongst us with such dexterity, that sometimes we’re not even aware of the impact their middle-groundness has on our lives. I call these people theteacups, as in the funfair ride that goes around and around, but never covers any real ground.

Teacups are usually aware on some level that change is necessary within their lives. They talk about making improvements, they talk about their dreams and ambitions, they can even share your own motivation and desire to be better and to do better in life. The tell-tale sign of a teacup however, is that for the duration of your relationship, they rarely progress from the state in which you first met them. They still haven’t built that website, they haven’t left that woman, they haven’t booked that holiday or left that job. There is all of the animation involved in moving forwards, but it is in fact an illusion, a magician wildly waving his hands to conceal the real truth of what is happening.

We all have people in our lives like this, sometimes we even share the same goals and so feel understood better by our teacups. The relationship is harmless, we’re not really losing anything, so may as well entertain it, right? Well no, this is where you have to be careful.

If you share the same dreams as someone else, it can be likely that you also share similar fears or obstacles. Doubling any sort of fear or negative energy can become mutually restrictive, even when it cleverly masquerades as supportive.

Sometimes when you meet new people you’ll get an immediate sense of whether they’re a positive addition to your life. It’s a mix of body language, feelings and also what they say. Every now and then however, you have to reassess the people who’ve been around for a while and make sure they’re still bringing something truly wanted and healthy to the table of your friendship. Cheerleaders aren’t always what they seem, so it’s necessary to be mindful of the ones you have on your team.

If you think that you yourself might be a teacup but you aren’t sure, ask yourself this, does going around and around and back and forth feel familiar and safe, or does it just make you feel so sick that you have to get off and move on?

What do you need from your life, to have made it worth it?

There are people who will spend their whole lives with the unwavering knowing that they want and need more from the life they’re living. They’ll know, as well as they know their names, the colour of their skin, that to be happy and to be fulfilled means doing or being something more than they currently are.  But they will never achieve the experiences they crave.

The route to unravelling this problem and to achieving what you desire is one that so few people know about or, because of its ease, believe in. I’m not talking magic fixes, self help books or affirmations, I’m talking simply about clarity.

Amongst all the longing, wishing and hoping, the most common obstacle I see is a complete lack of clarity in what happiness or fulfilment means to an individual. There will often be a lot of doubt, always some limiting beliefs or action-paralysing self-talk, but rarely any clarity and very little focused direction.

So I’m asking you this:

  • Do you know, really know, what you want in your life?
  • Do you know, what will have made it worth living, for you?
  • Have you accepted that thing as your way to fulfilment, during you’re time here?
  • Is there a part of you that still wants more and if so, what is that more?
  • You need to get clear, to get down-and-dirty honest with yourself, until you’re right at the root of your needs.
  • What sort relationships do you want and with what sort of people?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • What hobbies do you want and how far do you want to take them?
  • What countries do you want to travel?

You don’t need to know the how, but you do need to know the what.

I’m by no means saying that the rest will be plain sailing after this, but clarity gives you something special. It gives you the space and knowledge to create a blueprint, from which to build the life you want.

Not all scars are from healing

I can guarantee you that right now you’re wearing the scars from some unresolved trauma in your past. For some of us those scars are physical, they parade themselves like bookmarks on the surface of our skin, real scar tissue borne of either accident or intent. For others, the trauma is worn spiritually. It’s our energy that seeps into a room 3 seconds before we do, or the hesitation in our speech that signals insecurities we try so desperately to hide.

As a species, we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that by not verbally communicating what really makes us depressed or anxious, no one will know the pain we’re in. How false this belief is.

Recently, I met a man who is one of the most intelligent and diversely creative men that I have ever known. Within ten minutes of speaking to him, of sharing space with him, it gradually became clearer and clearer that he was also one of the most tortured souls I had ever come across. And when I say tortured, I mean it in the truest sense of the word. Not disturbed or dysfunctional, but tortured, from the inside out. The energy of angst and the uncertainty of self that lay beneath his show of confidence was so strong, that I wasn’t even able to articulate it straight away. I had to retreat to my own space, to get quiet and to reflect on what I had just encountered. Not only was I questioning just what I had come into contact with, but also why, why now and why did it make me so uncomfortable.

What I found out was this. What I had come into contact with was a man so deeply scarred, emotionally and mentally, that it had become the driving force for everything good he tried to achieve. It sounds like a familiar scenario, it’s how a lot of people find themselves achieving greatness, but this case was different. It wasn’t the need to do good that motivated him, it was the pain of suffering. He didn’t live in a place of hope or of healing, he lived right at the very centre of his pain. It meant that everything he presented to me came with the flavour of desperation and an energy of negativity that had not yet been transmuted.

I saw that his need to change his small pocket of the world was a noble goal, but that every success or win would only strengthen the negativity within him, fuelling its own need to exist and be recognised.

My instinct was to help heal this man. Never before had I such an urge to help someone at such a core level, without the use of NLP or hypnotherapy, but by just by sitting and sharing space with him. His real space, beneath the show. What he needed was someone to be present enough with him in that moment, to help cut through the chords of pain that anyone with any sense of awareness could see cutting into his being.

In today’s world we’re under the illusion that scars are only the result of healing, that it’s a natural part and indeed the end of a process. We forget that sometimes, and especially on a non-physical level, they’re just the beginning of healing. Emotional scars can be just as visible as physical wounds. When we come across them in others we must treat them with as much compassion as we would someone who is openly bleeding, crying or in pain in front of us.

If you yourself have emotional scars, be aware that people will see them even when you think they’re hidden. They will sense the difference between what is healed and what is not and that is the looking glass through which your experiences with them may be shaped.

This man who came into my life was not a client, he wasn’t even a friend. I hope that one day he becomes one of those things with someone who can, and will, help him let go of the pain.

Feminine Power vs. Feminine Vulnerability

I work in the field of self-development, I live and breathe practical ways and theories on how to accept, improve, love and be honest with oneself. I interact with a diverse array of other professionals in varying fields of coaching, healing and training, all trying to help people in the many different ways that it’s possible. I’m telling you this because last week I received an invite to a webinar about reconnecting with my feminine power and my response to it was unusual. I did something that made me think really hard about who I am and the people I mix with. What I did, was instantly reject it.

 

My first response to this webinar was ‘Nope, not for me, I’m standing right in my feminine power.’ I could see the value in such an offering for the right woman, but there was no part of me that identified with her. Next, as I do, I thought about the other women in my circle, my close friends and family who might find the webinar useful. It was in this moment that I realised none of the women I knew needed a webinar about connecting to their power, what we needed was one about connecting to our pain.

 

I am surrounded by powerful women who after so many years of proving their strengths, their worth and equality, actually really need to take the time to reconnect with the things that make them human. I’m talking about the ability to express emotion without shame, to ask for help without fearing the consequences and to take a break from the quest of perfection.

 

Identifying and acknowledging the things that hurt or challenge us, namely our vulnerabilities, is a vital practise that needs to be retaught equally as much as how to realign with our powers. It’s essential that it’s reclaimed as part of a balanced and stable life.

 

Personally speaking, displaying my vulnerabilities as confidently as I do my strengths, goes against what feels natural and definitely against what is expected by others. It’s why I know it’s necessary. I suggest that anyone drawn to any of the ‘reclaim your power’ type courses, first makes a conscious effort to think about the opposite of power, and how they deal with this.

 

Sometimes, it’s the less obvious, less common lessons, that need the most attention.

Share your dreams wisely

I was in a coffee shop today, sitting next to what sounded like two work colleagues. They were both fairly young, discussing their futures and what their plans were for the coming year. Listening to them, as I worked, I was struck by how subtly one was dissuading the other, from pursuing his dreams.

The man wanted to work hard in the UK, buy a property in his home country Australia and start having some investments. The woman kept asking him Why? What’s the rush? Just enjoy life. She gave the example about how she used to be a broke student, never having any money to do the things she enjoyed. She said that the minute she got a job she had vowed to not save a thing for the first year and to just enjoy it. The only problem, she openly admitted, was that she hadn’t stopped thinking like this and 6 years later, still had no money. They both laughed.

Then the guy went on to explain more fully that his aim was to make X amount in one year, buy a one bedroom flat, rent it out and then come back over to the UK to work again. Of course, this was the woman’s cue to mention how hard it would be to try and maintain payments from a far, that the weight of it might be a bit of a drag, that maybe it wasn’t a good idea. And on and on.

Whilst I know nothing about the backgrounds of these two individuals, what I do know is that you have to be really frikkin careful when mixing with people who clearly have different goals and agendas to you. It doesn’t matter how much smiling and laughter is involved. Especially when they’re using their own experiences to advise you about your own life.

What you need are people who can see the positive in your choices, ask you questions about them and who will support rather than deter you.

We are all on vastly different paths and for some, just one conversation like this could be enough to throw you off course. So be vigilant. Share your dreams with those who appreciate you and if you must have lunch with people like this then you have two sensible choices. Either use the time to inspire them out of their own negativity or, just discuss the weather.

When The Date is Over

There’s a lot of information and advice written about how to find a date, where to have it, what to wear, how to present yourself or how to behave.  Yet sometimes, the most difficult part is none of those things.  It’s after a date that a lot of people can experience nervousness, usually stemming from uncertainty about what to do next.  What you do after the main event is over can be as important, if not more so, as what you do before and during.

Regardless of whether you consider your date a success or a failure, it’s always possible to have a post-date plan of action.  The great thing about this, is it means you always have a check point, one that stops you getting carried away or motivates you to be honest about your needs going forward. Our feelings are such strong drivers of how we behave, that leaving them to their own devices after a date doesn’t always play out well.

Don’t be ruled by your emotion

Sure, dating can be a very, very emotional adventure and even though we may not like to admit it, it’s a process that can leave us vulnerable.  When we arrange to go on a date, we’re openly admitting to the world that there’s a space in our life yet to be filled. Not everyone is comfortable doing this and after a date a couple of things can happen.

The first is that, joy of joys, the date went fabulously and we come away feeling the person we needed has arrived, that we have the answer we’ve been looking for and anything beyond this is mere detail.  It’s a wonderful feeling to have and we must enjoy it, but prematurely pinning all your hopes onto one person after one date, is dangerous to your emotions.  It is better where possible, to be thankful that there are people out there like this that do exist, not that you have met the only one. Use it to renew your faith in dating and not as reason to begin a plan of relocation or marriage.

The second thing that can happen is either your feelings aren’t reciprocated or the date doesn’t go so well and you slide the other way into anger or disillusionment.  This is really the more damaging of the two because it can introduce negative energy into your dating life, which may follow you into your next experience.  Whatever goes wrong or is a disappointment, always remind yourself of why you went on the date in the first place.  Do you still need or want that thing?  If yes, then you must create a plan in which self-pity, swearing off the opposite sex or general rebellion, is time-limited.  It might include watching a movie to unwind, listening to a song to reboot your motivations or simply exercising to burn energy.  Whichever you choose, it needs to be swiftly followed by some sort of action to keep your dating mojo fun and progressive, whether that’s changing your profile or being clearer about your needs.

Stick to your values

When a date is a success people can sometimes become so over excited that their relationship values and what they require long term from a partner flies straight out the window.  Compromises are made too soon and the wrong version of your ultimate relationship goal is communicated.

Let’s take an example; if as a woman it’s important that a man show interest before you reciprocate and that he be the dominant party, then after a date you may not wish to immediately initiate texting with times and locations of your next availability. Likewise for a man, if you want a woman who appreciates a slower pace of dating, then bombarding her with calls and texts the same night is going to set a precedent you may find difficult to maintain.

What you set into motion after date one is just as important to the course of your future relationship as anything else.  Don’t underestimate the power of a post-date strategy.

Article commissioned by elite match making service Berkeley International

Are you losing the competition against yourself?

 

There are many high-flying women out here who believe success revolves around taking one’s place within previously male dominated arenas. That it means getting the same roles, earning the same pay, being afforded the same or better opportunities for growth. With this, the collective advancement of our mindset has been extraordinary, achieving positions now that a few generations ago would have seemed impossible. This is undoubtedly overdue for us, but amidst our progress as a sex, how much are we paying attention to its impact on the individual? How, amongst the triumph stories and inspirational talks, do we stop from losing a core message that will serve us in all areas of our life, not just business? The message that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable of anything, and not that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable as men.

 

From a young age human beings are introduced to the concept of competition. Pre-school might have us intent on drawing the best picture or being the quietest at storytime. As we move forwards into school, it becomes about who’s fastest in gym or top of the class academically. Finally, we’re onto our careers and it’s now about being first in line for promotion or the most successful entrepreneur in our field. Of course it doesn’t stop there, our need to be better than others or at least equal to, also extends the rivalry into our friendships and family lives. As exhausting as it sounds, it’s true that a little competition can be healthy, but when one continually focuses on external motivations instead of internal inspiration, it’s not. It’s then that we create the perfect breeding ground for disharmony between our feelings and our ambitions.

 

The ‘lack mindset’

Constantly viewing yourself in comparison to, or in competition with, someone else implies that there can only be one type of win and space only for one winner. With this develops a belief that there simply isn’t enough to go around; not enough wealth, accolades, clients, time, press, recognition, *enter as appropriate*. Surely, with the amount of success stories we now hear daily, the number of businesses mimicking each other or offering slight variations of similar products, we’re able to realise that there is plenty for the taking. Take a look specifically at technology for example, the amount of social networks there are, bidding sites, dating sites, apps, games, the list goes on. No, they’re not all as well known or as high profile as each other, but the sheer number shows there is room for recognition or riches for anyone with an idea, drive and perseverance. The problem occurs when you believe results in life are in limited supply, this is the moment when something odd starts to happen.

 

It seems that when we see lack instead of abundance, by default we begin basing a majority of our decisions on fear. A fear of failure, missed opportunities, wasted efforts, the poor house. And sometimes it works, it gets the job done, but the issue is this: sustained fear is unhealthy, toxic even. Fear that unless you are in the boardroom you haven’t truly made it, fear that people will overlook you because you have children, are not sexy or smart enough, will keep you exactly where you’ve always been mentally, never mind the strides you might be making in the outside world. By using fear and competition as your guidance system, you run the risk of losing touch with your own, real and authentic inner compass for fulfilment and happiness.

 

Believe it of not, there is a simple remedy for this. Screw what you hear, what society uses as its marker of affluence and success. What is it that makes you feel successful and satisfied? What are your terms and conditions on your road to achievement? When you understand that as a woman, as a person, you are inherently enough, you will steadily begin realising that you have the ability to create the exact circumstances required in order to fulfil your goals. They are dependant on no one else.

 

It’s about being your best, not being better than someone else

Most people are familiar with the thinking that you get what you focus on in life.  There has been many a book written on the law of attraction, on matching your mindset and energetic frequency to what you desire in life. If you’re new to this, I urge you, explore it.

 

If you’re already a believer, keep this in mind and think about what happens when you’re constantly concerned with being bigger, better, faster than someone else. Focusing on competition, from a place of fear and not growth, means all you’re going to do is perpetually create more and more competition in your life. Beat one contender and before you have time to enjoy your victory, you’re looking around to see what’s next.

 

So, how do you know if you’re focusing from a place of fear or a place of growth? Here’s a thought, why don’t you ask yourself? Slow down, stop to consciously ask yourself the question. Are you fighting against something or gunning for something? Are you trying to beat ‘ the man’ to the top or, are you trying to be the woman at the top? The two are different. Take some time to think about the people of this world who have done great things, and think about the competition they had. Think Howard Hughes, the Wright Brothers, Rosalind Franklin, Helen Greiner, Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Stephanie Kwolek. If they had needed opposition or external competition in order to realise their every potential, how different might their results have been? Where would we all be now?

 

When you live in the fear that achievement is only possible if someone else doesn’t get there first or outdo you, there is a dis-service being done to your innate ability to do and be your best, no matter what. So, the next time you have your eyes set on a goal, acknowledge the others in your field, keep them in your peripheral vision, but be more inspired by your internal driving force. Be your best first and the best second. Your success depends on no one but you and you contain all the motivation you need.