Category Archives for "My thoughts + philosophies"

This is why you push love away

There is a phenomenon in the dating world that can leave some people puzzled with themselves and occasionally the actions of others. It happens when we meet someone who appears to be a perfect fit for us but for some reason we a) ignore the connection b) focus on something petty or c) outright push them away.

Let’s talk about one of the reasons we do this.

The most damaging reason we do it is out of fear. Fear of being hurt (again), fear that it’s too good to be true (and so we’ll end up hurt), fear that it is true and we’re not ready for it, fear that it’s true and we’re not good enough for it.

You’ll see the theme here is fear.

I want you to think of fear as a lodger in your home. Some of us have lodgers who are always out and who never give us any trouble. Others have lodgers who are home for every meal, waiting to be fed, awake into the very small hours, loudly playing indecipherable music.

It’s your job to take control of your home, to take control of the people you allow to enter it and to stay.

When you push someone away who deep down you know is good for you, take it as a crystal clear signal that you need to heal. Specifically, you need to heal the part of you that is unready for your own greatness.

So what are you going to do about it?

There’s a huge difference between a person who rejects Mr or Miss Right because they’re not yet done playing the field, and one who rejects them because they fear some aspect of a good relationship.

Be honest with yourself about which one you are. Recognise that you have underlying beliefs or traumas that are steering you.

Deal with them, and stop playing the cards they’re dealing you.

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“No man will ever be good enough for my daughter.”

I heard a father today tell his very young daughter that no man will ever be good enough for her. The sentiment behind the remark was heartfelt, I could tell it emerged from a place of love, of caring, of protection. It went something like this:

 

‘No man will ever be good enough for you, my girl. They’re going to have to get through me first, and I’ll be armed and ready.’

 

The man said this with pride. As he spoke, you’d be hard-pressed not to envy a daughter with such a caring male figure in her life. What struck me however, was the message being planted, ever so subtly, into her precious mind. A mind still collecting the data needed to programme its thought processes and beliefs, for the rest of her life.

 

The message, taken at face value, was this:

 

‘There is no man in this whole, entire world, that is really good. He will always be lacking something, or have too much of something else. And if you think he’s good you’re wrong, because I’m your father and I know, it’s just not possible that he’s good enough for you.’

 

Wow.

 

Wow. Wow. Wow.

 

If this were true, by any stretch of the imagination, does it then follow that our daughters are destined to settle for someone inferior? Perhaps they should not even try too hard, because actually, whomever they bring home is going to cause friction and ultimately, they won’t even be worth the trouble.

 

Messages like this, no matter how common, or how innocent, are ones that I would not tolerate around a daughter of mine, or a son, if the situation were reversed.

 

I would not tolerate it because I am a woman and I have found a man who is good, period. On top of that, he is most certainly good enough for me. I would not allow the belief that the man, or men, who will love and cherish my daughter, support and respect her, simply don’t’ exist. If this were true, what would it say about my relationship with her father, maybe that he was the best choice of a bad bunch?

 

Words are such powerful tools. We need to be mindful of the impressions they leave. Repeating things because it’s just what’s said is, at best, lazy and at worst, potentially damaging. By telling our daughters that no one will ever be good enough for them, what we’re really trying to say is something else entirely. I would like to believe, that it’s something closer to this:

 

I love you so much, my girl, that I can’t imagine watching you be with someone who doesn’t deserve you. I love you so much, that I will always do everything within my power to protect you. I love you so much, that if there is ever any reason for you to doubt your worth or your significance in this world, I will be right there to remind you, as well as whoever made you question it in the first place. I will do my best to ensure that you have the tools to choose your partners well, to tell bad from good, and to learn from it. I love you so much, that no matter whoever lets you down, you can always trust that daddy will be here for you.

 

We need to remove the threats, the machismo and the implicit violence that familiarises our daughters with the idea of men as possessors, rather than sharers in our freedom. Once we do this, the message changes to one of pure love, self-respect, the setting of standards and trust in themselves.

 

Let’s just say what we mean, and show them that’s okay too.

 

Why we should love fear

Fear tends to get a mixed reception in the world today, with opinions largely depending on the circles in which people spend most of their time. There are some for whom it’s perceived as the gatekeeper to everything they want in life, others mark it as little more than a warning sign, instructing them to avoid something completely or to take an alternative route. Rarely do the masses acknowledge fear for fear’s sake, or recognise it as a state in itself, rather than a means to an end.

 

The perceptions of fear as gatekeeper or warning signal, whilst highly effective, carry with them an element of sadness not always fully appreciated by those holding the perceptions. They do so because they fail to recognise fear as the marvel it is, the wondrous tool that our mind and body use to communicate with us. Once we step back and detach fear from everything we so easily link it to, only then are we able to study it for what it is. Only then is it possible to appreciate fear as the true gift it is.

 

A hello from fear

The type of fear being discussed is not the sort found on a bungee jump or diving out an airplane, it’s not orchestrated or invited in as a thrill. What we’re dealing with here is the fear that shows up unexpectedly, in situations over which we have little control.

 

As with all feelings, fear will present itself in extremely different ways, depending on the individual experiencing it and the situation they’re in. Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, immobility, aggression, tears, hyper-ventilation, vomiting, shaking, these are some of the more obvious physical expressions we may encounter.

 

On the flipside, it can be as subtle as voices in our head telling us we’re not worthy of something, or not good enough for an opportunity that comes our way. Often it will show up under a guise of self-protection and self-preservation, for reasons more rooted in evolution than the present moment. When it does this, it leaves us grateful to it for not allowing us to fail, be wrong, or make a mockery of ourselves. This can often be a huge detriment to our lives and the experiences we need in order to grow.

 

Becoming friends with fear

Learning to become familiar with your own symptoms and fully immersing yourself in them, instead of immediately trying to escape, can be the beginning of understanding yourself on unprecedented levels.

 

It’s true that the hardest action to take sometimes is to sit inside a feeling or emotion, especially if it’s painful, traumatic or challenging to your fundamental sense of safety. Having said this however, just as you might sit silently and patiently with a raging lover or a distressed friend, by simply holding space and remaining present it’s possible to deepen your bond. You can also deepen the knowledge about yourself and the relationship you share. Give fear the same time and patience as you would any other good friend. Use all the strength you have and know it to be worthwhile.

 

The intentions of fear

Every feeling that we have serves a particular purpose in our evolution as individuals and consequently our wider consciousness as a species. If we can accept that love enables internal growth, then fear could be seen as enabling huge internal communication. Both are on a scale that is difficult to surpass. The difference between them is that the fear isn’t something we speak about fondly, as we do love.

 

Unless we’re already tuned in to the importance of fear, it’s not something we genuinely seek out and in fact it usually finds us unawares. To begin to build a relationship with it rather than in retaliation to it, one needs to learn to treat it like any other communication we might encounter. In the same way it’s advisable to be fully present and conscious when we engage with others, for example, the way a person moves, their pauses in speech, their intention, so too should we be aware of all the elements involved in how fear chooses to communicate with us.

 

Working with fear

The best way to use any feeling is to fully embrace it, to learn all the different strategies, tools and skills that are helpful when exploring it. There are few hacks to fear that will serve you half as well as aiming straight through the heart of it.

 

When you find yourself in a place where you’re either feeling your usual symptoms or anticipate the onset of them, take an active part in the communication and begin a conversation with yourself. Ask, what does this feeling say about who I am, in this moment in my life? What is it telling me that I’m missing or have too much of? Where are the vulnerabilities in my mental or emotional armour that have allowed fear to shine through so brightly? What is it showing me about my psychological and physiological make up? What is it showing me that I have forgotten to remember?

 

For a moment, forget about escaping the distress and make a study of yourself. Go deep enough, for long enough, until you’re able to separate the fear from its message. Recognise they’re separate things, in the way that the love you experience with a person is different from that person.

 

Respecting the relationship

If love is what keeps us all connected and is what makes the world go round, then fear may be described as what keeps us disconnected and stagnant in life. Whilst there may not seem like much to respect in a feeling capable of this, without it we would lose a key player in our survival kit.

 

Fear has, since the dawn of our time, had the key function of keeping us safe. Although some of its manifestations can now be somewhat extreme in contrast to the moment at hand, learning to respect it and become familiar with its purpose does make fear, ironically, something to be less afraid of.

 

To begin your relationship with it, on equal and mutually beneficial terms, take a moment to sit alone with yourself and ask, what are my usual fear symptoms? When did they last show up uninvited and how did my body and mind react to the moment? Start the dialogue and see where it leads you. Stay as much in your body as you can and draw your answers from the feelings evoked.

 

7 tips for when you’ve moved on and someone can’t accept it

We have all, in one way or another, at some time or another, moved on with our lives. It could be leaving behind an old way of thinking, behaving or moving on from certain people and situations. It can be easy to do, and it can be the hardest thing in the world to do, especially when there remain around you people who are intent on keeping you rooted in the old version of yourself. The version they alone are happy and familiar with.

When you are faced with this predicament, you should remember that honesty and directness will go far in limiting confusion and misinterpretation. You’re not always duty-bound to explain the decisions you make, but when you do feel you must, there are definitely good and bad ways of going about it. Some quick tips below:

  • You need to be really clear with those around you about how you’re different, why and what it means for your relationship with them.
  • Silence can be a fuel, so when you skirt issues, are vague or become primarily concerned with people’s reactions to your truth, you’re simply fuelling any reason they have to fear your decision.
  • Make no apologies for your actual choices, but express empathy at their hurt or upset if it’s genuine for you to do so.
  • Don’t load yourself up with their grief, acknowledge it from a distance.
  • Focus on what your new situation needs for it to be successful.
  • Burning bridges isn’t always necessary. Sometimes they just need to be dismantled and the pieces stacked away in a place you rarely visit.
  • Disengage from conversations intended to punish or shame you for your choice. Do not be a vessel for someone else’s issues or fears. But remain open-hearted, lest you become like them.

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.

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.

Say What You Need To Say

This is a super quick post about saying what you need to say in life.  Maybe you’re in a relationship where you hold back on communicating how you feel, or you have a boss that you think should give you a pay rise or a friend you walk on eggshells for.  Whatever the circumstance, if you’re struggling to say things that you know should be said, think about using the below two pieces of advice as your starting block.

 

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DETACH YOURSELF FROM THE OUTCOME

Sometimes in life we hold back from saying things because we’re afraid of the response that we’re going to get.  People hold onto things for years because they’re fearful of not being understood, of upsetting someone or being vulnerable.  Practice the art of speaking, only this time without requiring a certain response from the listener.  Speaking your truth is more important than how people respond to it.  Be authentic, be kind hearted, intend for good and then say your piece.

 

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DON’T LOSE THE MESSAGE IN THE DELIVERY
As well as finding it difficult so say the things we want to say, likewise when we hear things we don’t like we can go into defence mode and make people regret having said them to us. It’s important to remember a couple of factors here.  Not everyone is able to communicate effectively or as well as the next person and sometimes we can be more sensitive to things than we should be. Learn to recognise the difference between the messenger (who is speaking), the message (what is said), the delivery (how it’s said) and the intention behind it (the purpose of the message).  The more conscious you are of all these things, the better able you’ll be to share your own message in an effective and thoughtful way.

Self Sabotage

So, there’s this thing. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, perhaps even a very long time. I’ve been thinking about it, contemplating the various possibilities, the ultimate outcomes. I’ve been excited, ‘moved’ one might say, there has even been a touch of Brontë-esque longing involved. It’s all well and good I told myself, this is natural, this is how people behave when they anticipate wonderful events.

But then something shifted. As the time drew nearer, a strange thing happened this morning. I started to get a little, uh, defensive, even provocative, scouting out a chink in this shiny armour of splendour about to visit my life. I began looking at the situation from a different angle, seeing that actually what I’m about to do is really quite pointless. From a logical perspective – because all life-changing events are driven by logic – it’s not going to amount to much. There’s no way it could, don’t be a fool!  In fact, this is gearing up to be one heck of a momentous and disappointing waste of time. Sure, things will go okay for a bit – possibly – but ultimately it’s not going to workout because it can’t. And if it did – on the off-chance – it would present a whole host of different issues, and frankly, I can’t be assed with those either.

 

And so on. And so forth.

 

It was at this point, most likely only a couple of minutes into my mental dissent and the symptomatic precocity it manifested, that I realised what I was doing. Even as I dug myself deeper into the hole – a text message here, a little scowl there – I saw I was setting the wheels in motion for that big Trojan horse of self-sabotage. This idea that if I deal with all the crap now, if I own it now, BEFORE it happens, wholly and fully aware, then I am ‘safe’. I am protecting myself from the real and inevitable disappointment that lays waiting. Because it is waiting, right? It has to be. Yes, though I consciously and clearly knew what I was doing, it still took mental brute force to snap out of it. I still wanted to be negative, because it was something I had control over. I still wanted to push people and things away, you know – just get on with it and speed up the impending and guaranteed car wreck.

 

♠♠♠

So this my friends, this is why self-awareness is so key to everything we do. There was a time years ago when I wouldn’t even have recognised my behaviour as self-sabotage. I would have continued on for a lot longer, provoked myself and others, on and on until I got the reaction I needed, the reaction I created. Until I had fulfilled my prophecy and could move on thinking what a close shave I’d had. Phew, thank God I messed that up before it could go wrong!

 

♠♠♠

 

Now, however, it’s different. Now, it still happens from time to time, but I’m able to catch it very quickly. And more importantly, in that moment I’m able to make a choice about whether I want to stop being a bit of a d*ck to myself and anyone else involved or, if I want to continue. As you can imagine, it’s really hard to continue – because no one likes hanging around with a d*ck, even if it’s yourself. So, if I can offer one piece of advice, should you find yourself repeatedly experiencing disappointment in your life, it’s this:

 

Listen to your thoughts when something possibly amazing and life changing is about to occur. Watch your behaviour, feel any levels of resistance or assistance you have within you and acknowledge the reality you are actively creating. Ask yourself, what am I protecting myself against, and is that any worse than the outcome of what I am replacing it with, by acting this way?

On holding space

I have lived intimately with someone who suffers from mania. Onsets would emerge with an almost audible buzzing, detectable only by those familiar with his other day-to-day vibrations. Behaviour would change from a temperate desire to keep everything in its place, to devastating the house in an 8 hour blitz of – what looked like – utter chaos. I would leave to run errands, and return hours later to find floorboards invisible beneath ‘stuff’. Stuff I had not seen in months, sometimes ever. Watching him, his physical body, being led by an invasion of something alien into his mind, was like watching a butterfly repeatedly metamorphose – but only occasionally emerge as something more beautiful. This massive clear-out and reorganisation was choreographed by him from an almost out-of-body view of what would ‘work’. I could suggest, voice my own ideas, but soon learned that this was not the realm of reason. Not the realm where blocking a window up because it ‘felt’ right could be subject to everyday concerns. The person I knew was no longer there, replaced by someone inconsolably less compassionate, less obviously reachable, less everything I knew and so much more at the same turn. The change and the distance used to frighten me, because I am someone who is adept at reading people, who can sometimes from a mere few minutes of conversation, know your inner make-up better than those who have known you years.  Part intuition part skill, I only ignore both if I agree to all possible consequences of doing so.  And so it was because I knew this man, that I made the choice to do just that, face the threatening unpredictability. I let myself go and I dived in with him. I got involved as much as I could without either grounding him prematurely or encouraging a spiral further into his vast mind.  I knew if interrupted or pushed too hard, the chaos we were both immersed in could last days, if not weeks. Reality here was not a friend, it was a significant hindrance to his recovery. And the flipside to this mania was a place so dark, so bleak, that I am to this day unaware of how he managed to surface – scarred, bruised, exhausted – when it went wrong, time and time again.

I bumped into the mirror image of that person a few weeks ago. Everything, everything about them was similar.  I saw it immediately. It was like a physical jolt just meeting them, and I must admit, I stumbled when assessing the situation and defining my role with them. The coach, the compassionate human being, the listener, the friend – all of these things reside within me, but I know the energy needed to fully be of service to this type of challenge, and the first instruction my mind gave me was ‘No, you’ve done your time here.  You’ve done your time’.

So I didn’t jump in, and nor was it appropriate to do so. I didn’t jump into their world with them, I did the next best thing almost without thinking and definitely without planning to. I opened myself up.  I opened myself up fully, and I became the space they needed, the space their rational, reality-bound self could rest and watch from, without fear of becoming lost to what this other invading ‘thing’ within them would have them become entirely.  What this person needed was for me to – temporarily – be their presence. A space they could be with, a space they did not in that moment have. I needn’t speak, or understand or even feel their pain, I just had to know it and hold space for the part of that person which needed to remain separate in order to come back from the illness.  I had to know – with them and for them – that on some level we were unbreakably connected and that soon, today or tomorrow or next week, we would both be back, in the same space again, all of them and all of me.

I have been taught a valuable lesson by these and other experiences, that even when it appears easier to dive into a person’s grief, suffering, fear – and it can be losing a loved one, depression, a break up – we must instead try to hold a space for the afflicted.  Whenever we can, we must resist the urge to immerse ourselves unless it is genuinely for our own growth and healing as much as theirs. Instead, we need to guard a space into which they may either return or grow into – guard it with compassion and care, when they cannot.