Emotions- how your brain’s prediction capacity may not always serve you

Do you find emotions challenging? Have you ever wanted to change your emotional response to something? Do you know your emotional reaction does not serve you but are at a loss as to how to change it? Do you find yourself reacting to things unconsciously and wishing you could behave differently?

Logic and Reason

To explore the profound contradiction of the human experience from a rational standpoint is like trying to show a bird how to fly by using diagrams and advanced calculus.

Most of us have experienced this at some time in our lives. Often you try to deal with your emotional state using logic and reason. Historically, philosophers, scientists and laymen have explained emotions through the lens of logic. Yet in the cold light of day, to explain something so irrational with logic and reason sounds ridiculous. To explore the profound contradiction of the human experience from a rational standpoint is like trying to show a bird how to fly by using diagrams and advanced calculus. It’s never going to add up. The experience of emotion is not logical, just like a bird does not learn to fly using a manual. It is feeling that marks the experience, which is an intuitive, instinctive response to a situation in the moment.

Emotions and Pain

Emotions are powerful and can leave us feeling totally overwhelmed. They can also be contradictory. All of this can be confusing and intense which makes emotions hard to process. Increasingly, we are getting less and less education about how to manage our emotions effectively. The rise of incidents of mental health and depression is staggering evidence of our emotional pain. It seems that we have been dealing with emotions in the wrong way for centuries. And this has been compounded by a lack of understanding of how our brains work. I think there is also a lack of knowledge about what emotions are for. We will look at each of these in turn.

How your brain works

I read a fascinating article about emotions recently. It has helped me put into perspective how emotions are created. It also shows what we can do to manage them. “How Emotions Trick Your Brain” was written by Dr. Lisa Feldman- Barrett, in the BBC’s Science Focus magazine (No. 321, May 2018 edition). She is a psychologist, neuroscientist and author of “How emotions are Made: The Secret of the Brain”.

Neuroscientists understand now that the brain is predominantly designed to predict. “Studies show that your brain spends 60 to 80 per cent of its energy on prediction. In every moment, your brain issues thousands of predictions at a time, based on past experience.” And it is this past experience that can be such a limiting factor in your growth, development and fulfilling your desire to move forward in your life.

“Emotions are your brain’s best guesses for what your body’s sensations mean, based on your situation” says Feldman- Barrett. In other words, your body has an experience and your brain interprets that experience based upon the past. The process happens quite unconsciously, beyond your awareness. The cascade of sensation to experience and on to behaviour is rapid. However, it is not always accurate, supportive or appropriate.

For example, I have a fear of intense emotion, particularly anger when it manifests as shouting. I notice that I retreat into myself. I become small, invisible and shut down to the extent that I do not say anything. My body becomes contracted. I hunch over, stomach tight, shoulders up. I feel fear and the desire to run away. Yet that response is one of a child afraid of abandonment by angry or disappointed parents. I would like to say here that my parents never abandoned me and rarely shouted. It is a natural response to the risk of removal of protection and nurturing. As an adult, I no longer need to fear these things. And yet I do feel these emotions and behave accordingly.

How can you change your emotions?

Feldman- Barrett comes up with three options:

• The first is “body budget”, giving your body the resources it needs like good nutrition, sleep and regular exercise so that the brain does not have to predict challenging emotions. You are more stable, balanced and positive in your emotional state. I might add things such as posture and energy vibration that make the body stronger and more robust as well. Those of you that have done the Mindful Movement workshops will know the power of Paul Linden’s centring exercises as well as the health benefits of positive energy to the body and mind.
• The second is your environment and being mindful of the impact your surroundings have on your emotional state. People and places that upset you or empower you profoundly affect your state of mind.
• The third is your predictions from past experience. As my mother is fond of saying “You cannot change the past.” What I have learned is that you can change the way you view the past. When you notice your body having a reaction to a situation that does not support your best self, you can use Paul Linden’s centring exercises. Use your awareness, posture, heart energy and radiance to change your body’s reaction to the situation towards something far more supportive. Your body literally cannot support this old emotion and behaviour and so you produce a different emotion and behaviour. One you hope is supportive of your best self. If you practice this you will get much better at it.

Back to the example of the anger and shouting. I no longer need to feel the contracted state of fear and the stress response. Awareness that I am having this experience means I can change my body’s reaction and so have a completely different experience around anger and shouting. From this new state of being, I no longer feel personally attacked or threatened. I am better able to remain present to the situation. I can interact with the person more effectively than before and co- create a mutually beneficial outcome.

Towards a fuller version of myself

I have always struggled to openly share my thoughts and feelings with others. In the past, my opinion did not stand for much in the grand scheme of things and so I learned that my opinion did not matter. I have become an adult carrying the same belief. I have made my way in the world speaking other people’s truths. On a retreat workshop I spoke my truth for the first time and found people to be open and receptive to that message.

Since then I have built my confidence in sharing my stories, thoughts and ideas. I experience the emotion of “my opinion does not matter” and the contraction that comes with that. Then I centre and think about the kind of leader I wish to become. I take a deep relaxing breath and I say my piece. Fear of rejection, humiliation and dismissal surface sometimes. Consequently, I acknowledge them and let them pass as I hold my vision of what the future holds. I have many teachers and mentors to thank for traveling that journey towards a fuller version of myself.

What is the purpose of emotions?

Put very simply, emotions are information. They are your body’s way of saying that there are things here you need to pay attention to. “I feel weak, threatened, attacked, rejected, humiliated, fearful or diminished.” “I feel happy, powerful, confident, strong, listened to, seen, supported or elated.” These are either “move towards” or “move away” from states that your body is flagging up to notice. Our general lack of comfort with emotion means we miss valuable information about our current state and so we are removed and disengaged with our present environment and how we can interact with it.

Presence is remaining aware of your body state and your interaction with the environment. Emotions allow you to know how you are interacting in this moment. Once you are aware, you have choice. Now you are empowered to choose an emotional state that supports your best self.

You do not have to be a victim of your past. Awareness is a powerful tool that allows you to choose how you respond to any given situation. Yes, you might react to a situation in a certain way initially. However, that does not mean that you have to continue reacting that way. What serves you? What reaction brings you closer to your desired goals? Who do you want to be? How do you wish to be perceived by others? These questions frame the context of your reaction. Through practice, you can train yourself to “be” and “do” differently.

Over to you

How do you feel about emotions? Do you find them challenging? Are you able to manage your emotional state? Now that you have tried these methods, have they made a difference? How have things changed? Does it help to think of emotions as information? How does that make it easier or harder to manage your emotions? Please share your thoughts and experiences. As well as deepening your own learning, sharing also gives other people permission to learn and understand better their own journey.

Pass it on

If you know anyone who might benefit from help to manage their emotional state, please send them the link to this blog. Emotions seem to be something we want to run away from. In fact, they are an intimate part of the human experience that keeps us healthy, sane and connected, to ourselves and others. Developing emotional intelligence is a part of the coaching journey, deepening self- knowledge and making life a richer experience.

What can icebergs tell you about your mind?

Do you find it hard to let your mind go quiet? Have you noticed that your mind jumps around a lot from subject to subject? Do you struggle to stay focussed on any given topic?

Can your mind start worrying about things and send you on a spiralling treadmill of stress or anxiety?

Are you sometimes looking for inspiration but it doesn’t come? Do you hope to have a great idea or answer to a problem and no matter how hard you try it eludes you? Would you like to be more intuitive, creative and imaginative?

Where do you place your attention?

It may seem strange but these issues and challenges are connected, in the sense that they are products of where you place your attention. By placing your attention predominantly on the conscious mind you therefore give energy to the conscious mind and the ways it works. These might include:

Logical thinking
Rational thoughts
Linear processing
Focus on detail

However, the skills of intuition, creativity and inspiration are products of the subconscious mind. By bringing your attention to the subconscious you direct energy towards these talents. As well as the above these might be:

Imagination
Big picture thinking
Seeing how things interconnect
Instinct
Gut feeling
Listening to your heart
Hunches
Sixth sense

Our society tends to favour training our conscious mind, choosing educational methods that promote conscious thinking.

This of course has great value. We need to be organised, keep to our diary, prioritise and think with our head sometimes rather than with the heart.

When the conscious mind is trained and used at the expense of using creative and intuitive subconscious skills, you are denied developing these skills. You are only able to use some of your mind’s full potential. Surely it would be useful to tap into more of your innate skills as well, many of which reside in the subconscious?

Icebergs

View of Iceberg showing 10% above the water ad 90% blow the surface of the ocean

The mind is like an iceberg

The mind is like an iceberg. About 10% resides above the surface of the ocean. This is the conscious mind. By contrast, 90% resides beneath the surface of the ocean. This is the subconscious. Notice how much larger the subconscious mind is? Perhaps tapping into the subconscious would make you even more resourceful, effective, creative and productive?

Our lives are predominantly oriented towards conscious mind activity, looking outward into the world through TV, books, magazines, internet, social media and more. These are not bad things in themselves yet our use of them is so engrained we find it hard to unplug from them. We move from conscious mind activity to conscious mind activity throughout our day. The subconscious mind barely gets a look in.

Subconscious attention

What would it look like to give our subconscious mind some attention? Activities like taking a walk or more vigorous exercise are good ways to connect. Have you noticed how you find solutions to problems during your workouts? Taking almost any break from your conscious mind thinking such as time in nature, gardening, listening to music, gaming, a relaxing bath or a good night’s sleep will do the trick.

Always make sure you’ve got pen and paper or some means if recording your insights with you though. You don’t want to miss any ideas that come bubbling up from the subconscious. Make that a habit. You’re unlikely to remember those ideas when they come, so record them in some way.

You can be more proactive about it. Free- writing is another method and you make notes as you go. The idea is not to edit what you write. It doesn’t have to be any good or even make sense or be legible. It is the process of subconscious connection that is key.

Games the Conscious mind plays

I had a client that wanted to be a photographer. He had saved up and bought the camera and believed he now needed a computer. Perhaps he did to process the photos as effectively as he might. But his conscious mind had decided he couldn’t take the photos without the computer. Therefore he was holding himself back from achieving his dream. More importantly he was delaying himself from readily connecting to his subconscious through photography. The conscious mind can play clever games.

Another message the conscious mind tells you about connecting to the subconscious is that you don’t have time, it’s not important, you won’t be able to, you’re too busy, you’re not good enough and my favourite, do it tomorrow!!!!

Benefits of Subconscious thinking

As I said earlier with our Iceberg metaphor, the subconscious is approximately 90% of the mind. As well as tapping into all these innate skills you are also connecting more deeply into yourself. Rather than being aware of more surface level qualities you possess, when you connect to your subconscious you become much more aware of what makes you content and fulfilled. With that knowledge comes a consistent peace of mind and calm the conscious mind cannot sustain. Making a habit of connecting to the subconscious has got to be worth that alone.

One final perk……. if each person is an iceberg then when people connect to their subconscious, they are in fact connecting to each other through their subconscious via the ocean. In this way, you become aware of people’s moods and emotions, can feel the atmosphere in rooms, be more empathic and have intuitive knowings and insights into people. This will improve the quality of your relationships both personally and professionally as well as your quality of life.

Over to you

How do you connect to your subconscious?  What regular things do you do to unplug from the monkey mind of conscious thinking and delve into the depths of your subconscious?  Do you find it easy to connect?  Do you find it a challenge?  Perhaps you would like to connect and aren’t really sure how?  If so, please get in touch and we can discuss how you might be able to do that.  As ever, I’d love to hear your comments, either in the comments box below or on social media.

The development of these subconscious skills is a large part of the Mindful Movement workshops content.  As well as balancing these qualities with the skills of the conscious mind so that you can access more of your potential and life with deeper purpose and greater fulfilment.  You can find out more here.

Pass it on

Why not share this post?  If you have found the ideas useful why not tell a friend?  Perhaps you came by this blog post via social media?  Then please share, like or retweet the post and spread the love.  Thank you.

What does a messy environment say about your mind set?

I’m late for a meeting and I’m looking for a book I need to take with me. “Have you seen my copy of The Seven Habits…..?” I shout across the house to my partner. “No!” a disembodied voice floats back. “Wouldn’t it be on the bookcase where you put all your books?” I run over to face the shelves and see a horrid melee of horizontal, vertical and diagonal books strewn all over the place. My stress rises and frustrated I storm out the house without the book.

Hours later I return home, go to the bookcase and find the book eventually. I resolve to tidy the bookshelves that night. Within a week they are back to the way they were, a mirror of my overwhelmed and stressed state of mind I was living with at the time.

Messy mind

Have you noticed how your outside world is a reflection of your inner world? Maybe your inner world is a reflection of your outer world? Or perhaps you live with a partner whose messy habits reflect their mind which leads you to feel stressed, unfocused and inefficient. Maybe it’s the other way around?

It seems pretty clear- it is a two- way relationship that suggests that your mind and the environment you live in influence each other.

Environment Issues

When I deal with environment on client calls, clients always report that they feel so much calmer in themselves when they have decluttered, organised their office, pruned their e- mail inbox or even tidied the bookshelves.

There is something inherently stressful about a messy environment. You can’t find things, there is no order, there is little or no space and the space itself feels unharmonious. The result is that you are less efficient and calm.

Because the mess creeps up on you over time, so too does the stress and pressure that comes as an outcome. You may not even notice it until you reach a crisis point and you want something at the last minute for an important meeting.

Now I am not saying that things need to be spick- and- span at home or work for you to enjoy peace and calm. The compulsive order of Julia Roberts’ character’s husband in Sleeping with the Energy is perhaps taking it too far. Some people prefer more order than others and for things to be cleaner and tidier than others. It is, as ever, about what really works for you.

Mess leads to stress

So, if you find yourself getting stressed because you consistently find it hard to find things, perhaps you want to look at your environment and see how you can be more ordered? And I do not only mean your physical environment. Any place where you inhabit space can be a source of order or disorder.

If your accounts or e- mail boxes are not organised they are also things that can prey on your mind and create discord.

This is really about taking care of the mind so that it remains as calm as possible for as much of the time as you can. That was certainly the mindset I arrived at that made me look at these sources of stress that were easy to dismiss. In fact, because they are so often out of sight, they remain out of mind so much of the time.

When you set aside time each week or month to do the books and keep on top of it, the mind can remain calm about how things are balanced.  It knows where the paper work is and that things are up to date. If you don’t, the mind keeps going back to it, telling you that “you really must do the books you know!” It takes up mental space.  That could otherwise be used more productively in creating more products or marketing material in business.  You could use it to enjoy quality family time.

In my own experience, I think it comes down to prioritising the environment you occupy to allow you to be calm and efficient. For many it just doesn’t seem important and so gets pushed down the priority list. Until it becomes urgent and then it is a stressful scramble to get it done.

Peace of Mind

Clients report that they feel so much calmer in themselves when they have decluttered, organised their office, pruned their e- mail inbox or even tidied the bookshelves.

I invite you to make your peace of mind a priority. It may take a little shuffling to make the time. In my experience it is worth it.

There is a saying that “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. The truth of this is because a busy person who is effective and efficient HAS to be organised and that includes the organisation of their environment.

Saving time because you know where your pens are or where that e- mail is or you can find your invoice or even that book saves you seconds that build to minutes, hours and days over time.  The peace of mind you maintain helps to keep you in harmony and tranquil.  A person who can be relied upon to be efficient, trusted and reliable.

A stressed and overwhelmed mind is more likely to be untidy and disorganised. A mind jumping from one thing to another never truly completes a task.  It’s deemed the tidying up unimportant because it’s already on to the next thing. To those with that mind set, keeping things neat and tidy is all well and good.  Who has the time? Often, it’s more like who can be bothered? Yet, you now know that if you take the time to organise things, it does reduce your stress and overwhelm which in turn impacts on your productivity and creativity. A mind struggling with long term stress is never as creative or productive as a calm mind.  When generally calm the mind may respond to short spikes of stress in a very creative and productive way.

A chance for compassion

I guess this gives us the opportunity to offer support and compassion to our partners and work colleagues. If you are less tidy and causing other people stress, perhaps it would be good for all concerned, including you, to be better organised and reduce your own stress as well as theirs.  If you share your life with someone less organised and tidy as you, perhaps you can approach the situation with more compassion.  Understand that they themselves may be stressed and finding it hard to cope. The mess and disorder is a by- product and so perhaps the stress itself can be dealt with first?

I am writing this because we have had our environment thrown into chaos. Damp proofing work has meant we are living and working on the top floor of our house. The mess we were warned would be challenging. Indeed, it has been. The challenge to our peace of mind has been quite something. Yet, we were prepared and organised.  We created an environment that allowed space for relaxation and work while the builders were in. It has worked really well.

It was only possible because we prioritised our peace of mind. In the past I have been frantic about the smallest things due to my lack of organisation and discipline to keep my environment in order. Having learned the lessons, I am more mindful about my environment.  As well as how it impacts my mind and so my productivity, creativity and wellbeing.

Over to you

What do you do with our environment to keep your mind calm? Do you notice how even things like a messy in box can impact your wellbeing? How does it feel to you to walk into a messy environment? What’s it like walking into a place that is clean and tidy? Please share your experiences in the comment box at the foot of the page or on social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pass it on

Know someone who lives or works in disorder and clutter? Perhaps you know someone who complains about never finding things? Maybe you know someone living with a partner or family where this is an issue. Or perhaps it is a work situation? Why not forward this blog to them and see whether it helps.  If you’re new to Potentiality Coaching and would like to sign up to the monthly newsletter you can do so here.  Thank you.

Intention and Expectation

Do you feel that things should go a certain way?  Does your intention involve detailed steps that lead to frustration if things do not happen as you plan?  Is there an expectation that your life should look a particular way? Does your life live up to your expectations?

The Power of Expectation

Expectation is a powerful thing. It can drive you to great success and it can lead to disappointment, judgment and regret. In my own life and the lives of friends, family and clients I notice how people paint pictures in their minds about how things are going to work out. Rarely if ever, do things work out how you imagine. If they do, you didn’t get there the way you expected. Expectation is a flight of fancy, a fantasy or dream. When life does not measure up to those expectations, you might feel disillusioned about your skills, abilities and talents and doubt whether you have what it takes to succeed in the way you want.

In my experience, the disparity between expectation and reality is a real one- common, realistic and to be expected. The disappointment comes when you have unrealistic expectations that things will develop as you imagine they will. The truth is they almost definitely won’t. Expectation is a rigid plan, based upon your current knowledge of the way things evolve and past experience. However, this situation is new or at least not identical to the past. Therefore things will evolve in new and unexpected ways.

A Need to Control

Isn’t that the way things go? Doesn’t that match your life experience? If so, why are you surprised when things do not develop as you imagine they will? The answer I think is because you want to be in control. That is certainly true for me. I want to know what is going to happen- the when, the how and the why. I focus on the minute details and start to worry (even panic) when things deviate from the plan. Is that true for you too?

It is convenient to imagine you are in control. I think the ego likes to think it knows how things will be. It gives you certainty, confidence and assurance that things will work out. It might give you the confidence to start something and take the first few steps.   Alternatively, it might tell you that you shouldn’t try. That your experience in the past has met with failure, so why bother trying to do it again.

Once you start, very soon, things begin to change. Depending on how hard you grasp onto the projected reality of your expectations, these changes might plunge you into doubt, anxiety and concern. You begin to expend energy trying to control what cannot be controlled. You end up at the final destination exhausted, anxious and in fear. This is not conducive to a mindset that makes the most of where you are and move forward in a positive way.

Rather, you are far from receptive to opportunity and the potential that might unfold from the situation. If you arrive where you are in a mindset of openness and receptivity, not only did you experience the journey in a more peaceful manner, you are also ready to take full advantage of the opportunities unfolding in front of you.

Expectation and Intention

I would invite you to exchange expectation with intention. If you view intention as a light focus on the journey and the outcome rather than a rigid and prescriptive path to the end result, you can more easily let go of the fine detail of how you get there. Instead, you can let things unfold- trusting in the knowledge that things evolve as they will.

What is the mechanism by which this works? If tight control has to give way to light focus, how can you make any plans or strive towards your hopes and dreams? There is something powerful about making plans. It gives energy to your path and direction and empowers you to take action.

There are many factors that contribute to any action. All you can do is take responsibility for your action. In taking action you are setting wheels in motion that send energy out into the world and influence things far beyond anything you can possibility imagine. Therefore you have to let go of control a little. Rather than focus on the minute details, take a broader view and look out for the opportunities that come your way. They may not come from the sources you predict or expect. Some may come from left field that really surprise and support you.

My Personal Journey with Intention

Let me give you an example. In 2015 I took a long hard look at my business and the legacy I want to leave behind. I realised that I had a lot to offer and contribute in the area of health, wellness and confidence. Therefore, I had to look at the way I marketed my business and my client perception as well as the manner of delivering my products. I also had to live my life differently. Rather than living in fear and doubt, I wanted to live with a more positive and trusting mindset. This was, if you like, my Intention. I had expectations about what I wanted it to look like, but not how it was going to happen.

Very quickly, the first step along the way revealed itself. I started a public speaking MeetUp to overcome my fear of talking to groups and began to devise content for courses and workshops that have become the Mindful Movement courses. I also joined and then headed up a Networking group that has brought me tremendous business mentoring and contacts.

My relationship with money needed to be improved and I was offered a free ticket to a money management course that transformed my financial situation and my perception about money. I have been introduced to all kinds of people that continue to support me emotionally and spiritually as I develop personally and professionally. As well as on- going life coaching that has helped me in all areas of my life I have had the good fortune to receive excellent training about marketing and training which has transformed my business visibility and reach.

Holding the Intention Lightly

Each step along the way was revealed to me in an opportunity, a hunch (“gut feeling”, “intuitive leap”, “felt guided to” are all ways of saying this) or a stroke of luck. By keeping my gaze on an open horizon rather than focused at my feet, I noticed the opportunities which took me closer to my goals. Did I miss stuff? Probably, but it seems this is not a one chance lucky dip. Opportunities keep coming. All of this allows me to live free of pressure and anxiety and that makes all the difference in the world. This doesn’t mean I live free of pressure and anxiety.   I realise it is self- imposed and that I need to do what I can and at the same time allow life to do its thing as well.

Co- creation is the Key

If I had tried to plot that course back in 2015, I would not have expected to be here and taken the journey I have. In my imagination it looked a lot different- not nearly as effective nor as much fun. It seems that the Universe has had my back all along. To allow that I have had to surrender control of the parts that are truly beyond my control. You have to be a willing participant in the process and co- create the life you want. It doesn’t happen without your active participation. My experience is that I play a very different role than perhaps I realise.

You do not achieve anything in isolation. Your journey depends on so many factors, such as people, timing, synchronicity and luck as well as intention, persistence and tenacity. There is only so much you can control. The rest you have to let go of and trust that things will either work out or they will not. When you speak to successful people, they all say how lucky they have been. They have been willing to go out there and make it happen and they have been blessed with good fortune. Mechanisms seem to happen in the background and the plan comes to fruition in time.

Satellite Navigation System

Satellite Navigation System in the centre of the dashboard of a car.

There is a Universal Satellite Navigation system. Just like your own Sat Nav in the car, once you put in the address, it plots your route.

Mike Dooley speaks about the Universal Satellite Navigation system. Just like your own Sat Nav in the car, once you put in the address, it plots your route.   Until you arrive at the destination, you have no idea that you are taking the correct route. You trust the computer software to get you there. The same is true for life it seems. Perhaps we give up too soon. Perhaps we take a wrong turn. As long as we keep going we will arrive at our destination. All we have to do is start the engine, decide the end location and put the car in gear. The rest unfolds one step at a time.

Over to you

That has been my experience. What is your experience? How have your plans and dreams unfolded? Have you tried to bully life into making things happen your way? Did you surrender control and trust that things would work out for the best? I’d love to hear your comments, so please do put your comments at the foot of the page or interact with me on social media.

Pass it on

If you liked this blog why not sign up to the Potentiality Coaching monthly newsletter and receive links to the newest blogs, videos and news as well as offers and courses available. If you know someone that would find this post useful, please pass it on and share. I hope the ideas and thoughts here have been of some use.

Energy Recharge

Do you find that you always have new stuff you need to get done and more responsibility to take on? Have you noticed you work longer hours and that the commute is longer than it used to be? Have you got to the stage that you have nothing else to give, you have no energy and that you are stretched as far as you can go? Do you feel that something has to change? Are you feeling stuck and unable to work out what to change? And if you do know what to change, are you struggling to put that change into action?

Having more time seems like a good way to try to fit more stuff in. Yet, even with more time, does that actually feel like a relief or are you piling on more pressure, stress and dis- ease?

How do you get more time? By sleeping less, seeing less of the family and friends, eating convenience foods, working out less, resting less, taking less holiday time and living on the move? Taking time is always a good strategy. When you do it at the expense of your health, wellness and life- work balance it can be a recipe for stress, burn out and poor quality of life.

We’ll come back to time later. For now I’d like to offer a solution that includes energy. How much energy do you have? Of that energy, what proportion would you say comes from caffeine, sugar and prescribed medication? What amount of your energy comes from deep restful sleep, good nutrition, rest, living on purpose, with mission and passion?

The Artificial Highs

Though artificial stimulants like caffeine and sugar seem like a good short- term solution, they have a severe impact on your health long- term. Our society promotes the use of these things to the point that they are normal and encouraged. In spite of their common acceptance, they drain the body of the energy it does have and then deplete it further. This in time leads to illness and disease. Think how much poorer your mood is when you have not had enough sleep? A day or two is manageable. After three or four nights of poor sleep, it is much harder to keep your mood buoyant. Your ability to cope and make decisions is significantly impaired when your energy is depleted through lack of sleep. Tiredness through over- exercise, excess work, insufficient food and lows after sugar and caffeine highs are all examples of your depleted energy.

Recharging the Healthy Way

The energy of the body works like that of a battery.  It requires recharging.

The energy of the body works like that of a battery. If you do not recharge it regularly, the body cannot use the energy to move, think, live, repair, learn, grow and heal. Therefore, good sleep and rest are essential. Balanced nutrition and hydration are important too. Living with a sense of mission and purpose are excellent ways to maintain energy levels.

Energy rather than Time

In the future, when one more thing gets added to your must- do list, instead of thinking about time, I invite you to think about your energy. Will this thing increase or deplete my energy? If it increases my energy, then that’s great. If it depletes your energy, have you got enough energy in the battery stored up to see you through in a healthy and manageable way? Those things that deplete your energy may still need to be done, but at least you can take care of your health and well- being around those things. By thinking about recharging and understanding that you can’t take affective action without energy in your battery, you can change your behaviour and still get so much done while maintaining your quality of life. Let me share some of my personal examples:

  1. I experience that putting things off is a huge energy drain. If I procrastinate, the energy I expend thinking about doing it is immense. It stops me concentrating on what is important now and wastes a lot of time as I spend valuable moments thinking about it. If I had acted as soon as possible, I would be free to think about life affirming things rather than life- consuming things. It feels like such a waste. As much as possible, I try to act as soon as I can rather than put things off.
  2. Make sure the important stuff is at the head of the list. What is important? The things you value the most like your health, enjoyment at work, quality time with your partner and the kids, time with friends, holidays and anything else that increases your energy. The important things that deplete your energy, try and get them done by doing a little at a time or giving them to someone else to do. That might cost you money, but if you can afford it, its better than putting it off and having to do a long stint with resentment and frustration in your heart.
  3. Making sure you get sufficient sleep. Most of us need about 8 hours sleep a night. Very often deadlines, travel, children, illness, caffeine drunk late at night, lights from laptops, tablets and phones, stress, anxiety and worry hamper our body’s rhythm to shut down and go to sleep. Therefore we struggle to go to sleep or we might wake up in the night and be unable to get back to sleep.  I went through a period of struggling with sleep. Finally reading Ariana Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution showed me the many small moves I could make to have a better night’s sleep.
  4. Rest.  I am a person who does what he loves.  I used to believe that rest wasn’t necessary. “Rest is for people who hate their jobs” was what I used to say. Nothing could further from the truth. Rest is important for everyone. It is different from sleep. Rest is unplugging, slowing the pace right down. It has the benefit of making the conscious mind a little quieter so that the big picture view of the subconscious can come through. Some of my most productive and creative periods come after a rest period in my working year. Meditation, exercise, socialising, playing games, art, music, writing and reading are all activities that can rest and energise mind and body.  Therefore I make sure I do as much of them as I can which boosts my energy further.
  5. The movement- stillness balance. As a society, we spend way too much time sat down. We spend 13 hours a day on our bums it has been estimated. As well as the cardiovascular implications, the body simply does not like to be still for too long. Every part of your body likes to move. The use of standing desks is a breakthrough in some working environments. However, a still body gets drained of energy just like a battery unused loses its charge. It’s just not what it’s designed for. Use your body actively throughout the day. The benefits are immense. Energy is just one of them. Exercise can really energise the body. Make sure you do exercise at a level that is in line with your fitness and health otherwise this can deplete you of energy. Light and regular exercise is better for you than a short, sharp blast. Building movement and exercise into your day if you can is a sure way of staying active and fit. Walking, cycling and roller- blading might be better ways of getting around than car, motorbike or public transport.
  6. The life- work balance. Life needs to have balance in it. If we do too much of anything, it begins to drain our energy. The Wheel of Life is a great example of demonstrating this concept. This coaching tool has you look at all the areas of your life from intimate relationships, finances, health, contribution, family and friends, work, recreation and more. By seeing how fulfilled you feel in each category, you can see where you might want to put your energy into creating more of that in your life. Consequently, you can create balance in all areas of your life so that you feel fulfilled throughout. Each area feeds the others and so you end up feeling more energised more of the time and your life can more smoothly roll towards your desired goals.
  7. Living on purpose. Purpose gives you a real energy boost. To feel that inner compulsion draw you towards your greater goal is like a surfer riding the wave to the shore. It is powerful, energising, compelling, motivating and thrilling. In part you are not in control.  You are pushed along by a force that is beyond you. Where your control lies is in staying on the wave and giving yourself to the journey. Some people become scared of relinquishing this control and become drained in their energy as they try to control things. I have struggled with this for years. More and more I am learning to trust and allow myself to be led. The journey on the wave is so thrilling and is a wonderful experience that I try to do it as often as I can.
  8. Nutrition and hydration. What you put into your body significantly affects your energy levels. Good quality food makes all the difference. Just that extra piece of fruit or veg each day adds to your energy in a healthy and balanced way. Drinking water is also really important. Hydration ensures the body works efficiently and makes you less susceptible to injury. One big tip…….. try to avoid taking big intakes of water at one time. The body cannot absorb it all and the rest goes out as waste. Instead, little sips throughout the day are best, keeping you topped up. Same with food. Eating smaller portions is easier for the body to digest and is less demanding, so that you are less likely to have that mid- afternoon energy crash.
  9. Charity and random acts of kindness. Doing something for someone else gives a huge energy hit. It lightens the heart and the mind and simply feels good. You may not get the reaction you were hoping for so make sure you are doing it from a place of doing what you can rather than with a sense of achieving particular results.
  10. Your living and work space as well as the people you connect with powerfully influence your energy. Some people and places drain your energy. Others energise you. Learn which feed you and those that drain you so that you can make informed choices about the places you go and the people you surround yourself with.

Self- Care

There are many more examples I can use, but these ten are a good start. Learning what energises you means you have more to give, and when you do give you can do so more fully. Prioritising what energises you in an act of self- care. Sometimes you have to do things that drain your energy: those boring tasks; meeting people you don’t like; the daily commute; perhaps work drains you because it is not in line with your values. If we can fill our lives as fully as possible with things that recharge our battery, we have the energy reserves to do the things that sap our energy and still have some left in reserve to make the small changes to remove those energy drainers from our lives in time.

Taking the Time

You only have a limited 24 hours a day. That time is precious. Time is the ONE thing you can never get back. Being energised allows you to live as many moments of that 24 hours as fully as possible and making each second count as much as you can. I know that balance is hard and I am forever getting the juggling act wrong. If you are at the point when you feel the pain of having too much to do and not enough time and energy to do it, taking the time is one thing and having the energy is another. Look after your energy and the time is easier to create. Take care of the time and your energy is easier to maintain.

Over to You

How are you about energy management? Do you actively work on maintaining your energy? Are you depleted of energy a lot of the time? What can you do differently to give yourself more energy every day? How can you build your energy reserves up so that you can deal better with the things that sap your energy? What things do you do to increase your energy? How do you avoid the affects of energy depletion? I’d love to hear from you so please post your comments in the box below.

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Archetypes- Jester

We all love to laugh. It is a universal human trait to have the corners of our mouths lift, the edges of our eyes crinkle into crows feet and the appreciation of humour bubble up from deep within, to create that unmistakable and delightful characteristic of fun, frivolity and foolishness. The laugh, the prize of the comedian, Jester, fool and joker, is a powerful leveler that brings humanity together as we marvel at our weaknesses, foolishness and strange rituals. It is also used to such good affect by school children picked on in playgrounds to diffuse potentially serious situations. Fast forward a few years and this person can develop into the heart and soul of a party in adult life. Humour is a tool that can turn darkness into light, ease the sting of pain through loss, hardship and anxiety and simply bring joy into every area of our lives.

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin and Robin Williams to name a few were excellent Jesters, comedians who studied human nature and continue to allow us to laugh at ourselves. The pain of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Therefore, it is our ability to be able to laugh at ourselves and life’s drama, that enable us to take the heaviness away and lighten the load that we have chosen to bare.

The Jester is no Fool

In resorting to humour and jokes, people mistaken the Jester’s behaviour as shallow or stupid. Yet the Jester is no fool. The insightful observations Jesters share make fun of our egos and mock society’s rules.  Consequently, they raise a mirror to our lives and show us our own foolishness. We can get so caught up in the seriousness of a situation that we lose sight of the larger picture. I remember having an argument with a partner many years ago about the correct way to place toilet roll on the holder in the bathroom. After twenty minutes a friend came over and burst out laughing at how ludicrous it was to be fighting over such a thing. Very soon, we were all laughing and that particular habit became a funny story to tell and it never caused us angst after that.

The Jester’s joy at making us laugh brings fun and lightness into the world. As Roger Rabbit tells Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit “Laughter is a very powerful thing.  Sometimes it’s the only thing we have.” A wise Jester indeed.  We need some of that in our lives once in a while.

Where did the laughter go?

Laughter is a very powerful thing. Sometimes it’s the only thing we have

I heard a statistic that children smile and laugh about 200 times a day. As adults we rarely reach ten. What has happened to us in that time? Why has laughter fled from our throats and smiles from our lips? I believe it is that we have forgotten that life is a game to play, to be enjoyed, explored, tested and challenged. The fear of making mistakes, getting things wrong and not being good enough leave a judge and jury to trial us at every step in our lives. No wonder we find it hard to let go and relax and enjoy the journey as it unfolds regardless of outcomes.

Recently I have begun to notice how little people reward themselves for simply taking action. The thought of enjoying the journey and taking the time to savour the moment is lost to many of us. It is more important to move on to the next thing rather than celebrate the last thing we have done. Yet we are motivated by reward- the feeling of pleasure and the chance to make life a joyous and enjoyable experience. We rarely make time for play. Perhaps we could find some time to be children again?

This type of humour is a powerful healer. The skillful Jester creates laughter to heal wounds that otherwise fester and pleasure to reward us for trying hard and doing our best. It makes us more resilient. We work harder, play harder, love longer, bounce back faster and deal with stressful situations better when we have been laughing and feel the lightness of life.

The Jester in Shadow

Yet, there is an under- belly to the Jester’s world that can be cruel and serves to diminish some, while placing others on pedestals. The Jester can act to harm, to belittle and self- agrandise. This is the shadow side of the Jester. We see this a lot in game shows on TV and in politics at work as well as governance. We must be careful not to turn this dark side in on ourselves, as well as others, for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The Jester can also get caught up in games and pleasure to the exclusion of important things.  If we are not vigilant, we can waste time entertaining ourselves and neglect taking meaningful action in our lives.  After all, we are looking for life balance (see blog on life balance here)- purpose and pleasure.

How does the Jester serve us?

As with all these archetypes, we are looking at them as tools to make the journey of life more manageable so that we may face life’s challenges with more courage and strength. The Jester is essential in this I believe. If we cannot laugh at ourselves then we are lost to compassion when we are being most tough on ourselves. To see our own folly is a potent healer. To smile at our mistakes takes the sting out of our failure and helps us to fight another day. We are more likely to learn from our mistakes in this mind set. When we are overwhelmed and under siege, the person that can laugh is usually the first to bounce back and find the way forward.

The Jester’s world is one of creativity, trust and a zest for life. This light, bubbly energy keeps our mood light. We are far more creative and solution focused when we think this way. That serious heavy mood brings us down and we cannot find a way out of it. Therefore, no solution presents itself. The Jester is not necessarily frivolous or time- wasting. The Jester chooses to see the funny side of all life’s situations and finds solutions that way. And if solutions do not present themselves, at least there is the consolation that we laughed through it. The heartache subsides much faster that way.

How do you court the Jester?

Smile. Place a smile on your face and your mood changes instantly. Someone just knocked on the door with a delivery for a neighbour. They disturbed my creative flow. Rather than be angry or frustrated, I chose to smile and we laughed together. The interaction could have been easily forgotten. Instead, it was memorable for me. I cannot say for the delivery- man. That is his choice and I leave it with him.

Watching other Jesters works well for me. By using TV, DVD or the Internet, a laugh is only a click or two away. Also, have those friends and colleagues that can help you see the funny side. Play frequently. Have those things that truly give you pleasure and remind you that life can be a joy. As an adult, things tend to be goal oriented. As a child play is often not driven by outcomes. Rather it is driven by pleasure, discovery and experience- the sheer creative flow of being in the moment.

It’s easy to give ourselves a hard time. Perhaps we could be less harsh on ourselves. As a result of its qualities, the Jester allows us to tap into that less serious side and find the pleasure and fun in every moment. After all, is not one of life’s great achievements to be able to say that you truly enjoyed your day?

Over to you

How big a role does humour play in your life? Do you use humour to lighten your mood? Can you relate to the Jester? Would you like more of the Jester in your life? Is there too much Jester in your life, leading to not getting enough done? What do you do to reward yourself for your achievements in life? How do you relieve the pressure of some of life’s situations? I’d love to hear from you and learn about your experiences of the Jester in your life. Why not share your experiences.  You may provide other people with insight and inspiration?

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Archetypes- Sovereign

When I speak to clients about fulfilment in their lives, I often hear them say that they fell into their careers, relationships and the places they live. The skill of making the best of what we have is an important one. We can create wonderful lives for ourselves this way.

Taking control

How about creating your life? How about taking control & being proactive?

Rather than always reacting to life, how about creating your life? How about taking control and being proactive in creating the career, life style, relationships and home etc. that you desire?

We all require self rule. To control our lives as we see fit and within the larger context of a global arena. In order to be Sovereign over your life, you want to take responsibility for your place in the world and the part you play in it.  To live confidently, with purpose, well- being and a sense of balance and harmony.  You also create and follow rules that allow your life and the lives of others to flourish.

If you do not do it, others will. Then, you become a pawn in the game of life. You may feel like a victim, disempowered when you see life’s events unfold against you. And when they are for you, you may feel no sense of power that you helped to create such fortune.

The Light Touch

To feel the weight of responsibility crushes some people and inspires others. Some thrive under the pressure of making sure people are cared for, that abundance flows in other people’s lives as well as their own. Standing in the Light of this role, they embrace the need to plan, strategise and take action decisively for the greater good. To own this responsibility is to take control of your life and plan for the future you dream for yourself and bring your friends, family, colleagues and partners along for the journey.

The Unsavoury side of Control

For those that do not embrace this role in Light, there is always the dark. Weak and manipulative, the Sovereign in Shadow is a tyrant. The school bully is a classic example, picking on the weak to demonstrate his strength.  This need comes from an inner weakness that leads to over bearing control, paranoia and cruelty.

As adults this can manifest as the dictator or the destructive leader who exploits others for his own gain. He takes the glory but never the blame. Modern rulers such as Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein are well known as tyrants. Anwar Sadat and Nelson Mandela might be considered leaders of benevolence.

Sphere of Influence

The archetype of Sovereign, the King or Queen, is a daily commitment to controlling the aspects of your life that are within your sphere of influence.  Consequently, understanding what is and is not in your control is the first step in leading with calm, confidence and effectiveness. To lead and give people autonomy comes from self assurance and humility. A great leader must have these qualities. He or she controls through freedom without fear of losing control.

The Sovereign applied

In coaching, it can be the Sovereign within the coach that guides the session towards empowering the client towards finding his or her own Sovereign.  As a result, the client has autonomy. This is how it should be. A client must feel totally independent to be fully empowered. Through this process inner transformation can be evoked. This is the true power of coaching.

Every week I see clients work at taking control of their careers, relationships, health and well- being, businesses, finances, education, personal development and more. And when life throws curve balls I see them working to create outcomes that serve them and the people in their lives.

One client for example was in a long career that he felt served him less and less. Through coaching he found a much more fulfilling career path in which he makes a huge positive difference to young people’s lives. That strength and resolve to take control and create a life of meaning, purpose and beauty is the Sovereign in action.

Over to You

Where does your Sovereign show up in your life? How can this be of benefit to your life? Can you see where your Sovereign might be over controlling or not controlling enough? If you’d like to take more control and create more of the life you want for yourself, why not get in touch and we can discuss your needs?

Pass it on

If you know someone who would benefit from this article, why not pass it on? People are just waiting for the right inspiration to take that next step forward in their lives. Perhaps this blog could be that inspiration for someone you care about?

Post Script

You are a complex combination of qualities, some of which are obvious to you and many others that are not.  The archetypes are a useful tool to explain and demonstrate how to bring these qualities forth and how they manifest in your life.  There are the qualities that are supportive of your best self (the Light side).  There are those that are detrimental to your best self (the Dark Side made infamous in the Star Wars series).  In my Mindful Movement Courses I work with the archetypes to bring forth the qualities that can be supportive to realising your best self.  There are many archetypes, too many to cover in a single course.  I have chosen six: Warrior, Lover, Rebel, Magician, Jester and of course Sovereign.  I hope by writing this series of blogs, I will be able to explain their power and usefulness to you in your life.

5 Tips to Overcome Procrastination and Overwhelm

Do you ever feel like there is so much going on in your head that you can’t focus? When you do try, do other things jump into your mind, distracting you? On those occasions do you notice that you don’t get anything much done? Do you experience mounting anxiety and frustration as time slips away and deadlines are creeping ever closer? Can this lead to overwhelm? When this happens do you ever feel like putting it off (procrastination) and writing off the day only to feel guilty for not sticking at it?

I hear these scenarios often from my clients. We explore strategies to overcome these feelings of overwhelm. We discuss how lists can help to prioritise what needs to be done. Clients discover better ways of working either to prevent these situations from occurring at all or to stop them developing and getting out of control.

I actually experienced just this scenario myself recently. As the weekend progressed, more and more things were cropping into my mind that I needed to deal with on Monday morning. By the time I reached the working week I was in a real panic. I had all these deadlines to make. As soon as I settled down to doing one thing, other important things jumped into my mind and took me away from concentration and focus. It spiraled into an ever- descending pit. Only when I calmed, centred and disciplined myself to focus on one task at a time did the flow and productivity return. Then the to- do list whittled down nice and fast as Monday progressed.

Based on discussions with clients and my own personal experience here are some tips to break the cycle of stress, anxiety and distressed thinking that can come from feeling overwhelmed and having too many thoughts in your head.

  1. Awareness: begin to notice the signs. You will have very particular clues that will tell you that you are reaching overwhelm. These might be: feelings of panic or frustration; having so many thoughts in your head vying for attention that you can’t focus or concentrate; chopping from one task to another as you realise yet another job you need to finish; mounting anxiety; realising that you are losing your calm and not recognising why; tension in your neck, shoulders, chest, back and stomach or combination of these; you are short tempered and snapping at colleagues, family and friends; you are agitated and over active or conversely lacking in energy. There could be many signs. What are yours?
  2. Choice: now that you are aware, you have choice. Will you choose to continue on this trajectory or will you change course and take control? For some people this cycle of mounting anxiety becomes addictive. There is something thrilling about the drama even though you know it is neither productive nor good for your health. Awareness is always the first step. Will you decide to stop the spiral of anxiety, doubt and frustration and take action towards calm, confidence and focus?
  3. Action: do something to break the cycle. Here are some ideas: make yourself a hot drink; go for a walk; workout; have an unrelated conversation with a friend or colleague; make a list and prioritise; do something else that is completely unrelated; discuss the situation with a friend or colleague who is willing to listen; position your body in a way that brings it to centre so that your posture improves, your breathing slows and your mind calms. Find the ones that work best for you. Your mind is feeling a bit dazed. Like a cat stalking a large flock of pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on. It might try and pounce on one. It will never succeed. Only by focusing will the cat have any chance of success. Your mind is the same.
  4. Prioritise: start the focus process by prioritising. If you haven’t already done so, write a list of all the things that need doing and then prioritise each one, the most important and urgent first and the least important and urgent last (or even cross it off the list!!!!). There is a lot to be said for lists. The very act of writing them down literally gets them out of your head and onto the page. Then, your mind no longer has to “hold” the ideas and is free to let it go and focus on one task at a time.
  5. Focus: pick one thing and complete it as fully as you can. If your mind throws up another thing on your to do list, add it to the list and let it go. Discipline yourself to stay with it. Feel your mind calm and your attention focus on the job at hand. Tick or cross off the jobs as you do them and congratulate yourself every time you manage to complete a task.

Like a cat stalking pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on.

One reason why you might find yourself in this situation time and again may be because you have the habit of procrastination or you bury your head in the sand. I am a sucker for that one myself. I know it leads to trouble for me later down the line, but when there are jobs I fear I cannot do, I believe they are hard or even just boring, I’ll put them off. Then they pile up and that overwhelming feeling starts to appear.

I’m learning through experience that this is not the strategy to have. It is important to do the important things and give yourself time and space to do them well. Some things crop up and are urgent, but generally if you can deal with the important stuff early you do not have to rush to get it done last minute. If you take the time to become aware of the strategies that truly work for you, you will feel inspired to act in a way that supports this awareness.

In short, your creativity and productivity work best when you are calm and relaxed. When there is the pressure to get things done and produce material, this pressure acts as an inspiration for productivity when you are calm and relaxed. It is a delicate balance of inspiration that does not fall into overwhelm. When you are tense and anxious your creativity cannot flow.

In anxiety, your whole nervous system (Sympathetic Nervous System) works to shut your body down. In relaxation and flow, your nervous system leads you to open up, productivity and creativity (Parasympathetic Nervous System). It is like a light switch. Either one is switched on or the other. Either you are in fight or flight (stress response) or you are in rest and digest (relaxation response). One is conducive to saving your life, the other to creativity and productivity. Overwhelm and agitation are symptoms of the stress response. If you use these tips and fine tune them in a way that works best for you, you will move into rest and digest and your calm, relaxation, creativity and productivity will soar.

Over to You

Do you experience overwhelm?  What sort of situations do you find overwhelming?  When you experience overwhelm, do you procrastinate and feel anxious?  How does procrastination work for you as a strategy?  What strategies do you use to overcome overwhelm?  Or do you feel powerless to change the feeling of overwhelm?

Pass it on

If you found this article useful and know people who might find it valuable, please send the link on to them.  Also, please share the content on social media.  If you’d like to discuss with me how we might work together to help you stop reaching overwhelm and therefore be more productive and creative why not e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk?

Archetypes- the Warrior within

How can Warrior help you in areas of your life?

There is so much more to us than we realise. How can we begin to access the strengths, wisdom and talents we do not know we possess? Archetypes are a way of connecting to qualities that are within us, even though we might not know they are there.

We tend to think of ourselves as having particular strengths and skills of which we are aware. You might notice that you have particular qualities that make you good at certain tasks or jobs that lead you towards a specific career or field. For example, I followed a career in science because of my logical and rational way of thinking, I am good at following complex instructions and I have great patience to repeat things many times.

In my experience though there are depths to us that are covered, which are yet to be explored. It can have great value to examine these areas of our being. We can surprise ourselves with qualities we never dreamed we had and get results in life’s situations that are beyond our expectations. We may even live a wonderful unexpected adventure because we have uncovered once- hidden potential. In my life I have grown to become a prolific writer and have the capacity to give people space and freedom to explore themselves, which I use with coaching clients and in my charity work.

 Archetypes introduced

There are many routes to accessing these subconscious qualities and develop them consciously so that they can be cultivated. One such idea is the archetypes, originally introduced by Carl Jung and developed in a number of ways by Joseph Campbell and Caroline Myss amongst others. Jung believed that archetypes appear across all cultures and throughout time as common features of the human psyche. They embody particular qualities in both the Light and the Shadow of the mind. Do not think of them as gender specific. Archetypes are beyond stereotypes.

I find them useful because they are instantly relatable. If you think of a warrior for example, you might visualise a man in armour, holding weapons, ready for battle. Perhaps Boudica, the Iceni warrior queen, comes to mind?  You might think him courageous, principled and ready to face death. When we find ways to relate to these archetypes, we can embody them ourselves. We can take on some of these qualities, feel them and use them to make us stronger if we need courage for example. I use the archetypes in some of my Mindful Movement courses as a means to access qualities in people that they might find useful in exploring themselves, over- coming barriers to growth and creating the life they want for themselves.

 How Archetypes are used in Mindful Movement

Being introduced to archetypes is like meeting old friends, some long lost, others very familiar. Accessing them helps us get in tune to parts of our character and personality that can be very powerful when used in the right way. There are literally hundreds of archetypes if you trawl the internet. I use six that allow people to rise to the challenge of:

  • living life on purpose
  • deeper relationships
  • personal responsibility
  • managing stress and relaxation
  • greater confidence
  • resilience
  • values- based living and more.

Let’s look at these six archetypes in turn and explore how they can make you more mindful about how you behave, the choices you make and the actions you take. We will start with Warrior.

Warrior

Think of warriors in popular culture and you might conjure up King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a Norwegian Viking, a Japanese Samurai or a Jedi Knight. Warriors are all about facing death and living life with principle and purpose. They are values- based people, here to protect what is most important to them. Warriors are about focus, courage and standing up to the plate. They possess great confidence through their long training and expertise. They prove their worth through battle in many ways. Hardship and going without (minimalism) are a way of life.

 Light and Shadow

The wise warrior understands that fighting is the last resort and that other strategies are best employed beforehand to avoid direct conflict. These great leaders stand in the Light. Conversely, the weak, masochistic or sadistic warrior acts through fear in Shadow. He will inflict pain on others or himself because he lacks the confidence and courage to stand shoulder to shoulder with others. He fears he is weak compared to them and so will act to cover his own weakness.

Warrior Embodied

The embodied feeling of the warrior is one of physical power and strength, icy focus and deep compassion or profound emotional detachment (depending on whether in the Light or the Shadow). Standing tall, in anticipation and eager to get going, Warrior’s responsibility is to protect at all costs. He takes his role very seriously. It is about win or lose and to deal with your adversary with respect and humility. To embody this, watch how the great Warriors of our modern day behave: athletes such as Mo Farrah and Jessica Ennis, leaders like Tony Robbins and Gabrielle Bernstein, politicians such as Barak Obama and Aug Sang Suu Shi.

 How does Warrior show up?

How does this manifest in your every day life? Clarifying your values, giving you focus on what is important to you so that you can priorotise is a powerful warrior trait. Dedication to life- purpose and living life on purpose is the warrior’s way. Warrior will support you in achieving skills for goal completion and ensure you adopt habits for success. The minimalist qualities of Warrior will help you declutter, simplify your life such as getting out of debt. Warrior will help you during that important interview, presentation and talk. Warrior will also support you when you need courage in challenging situations.

Be careful of less positive traits such as emotional detachment that can lead to hurtful behaviour towards others. Also, the antithesis of warrior’s can- do attitude could be taking a passive role in areas of your life so that you allow yourself to be manipulated.

Learning to embody this archetype has been invaluable to me over the years. It has given me confidence when I’ve needed it. Confrontation has not often resulted. Usually, I can see the trouble ahead and take action well before it gets to that. When I get that wrong, I know I have Warrior’s power to carry me through with confidence.  For my clients, Warrior embodies a particular energy that carries them through to completing their goals.  Playing full out to ensure total commitment can overcome obstacles that would otherwise get in the way.

 Over to You

How could Warrior help you in areas of your life? Do you recognise any of the traits listed in the blog that you relate to? Are there any areas that you could work on to strengthen your warrior that would enhance your life? Do you use Warrior in the wrong context? Where could you use Warrior more in your life? Do you think it might be better to use Warrior less? I’d love to hear your thoughts and notices in light of this blog. Please post your comments in the box below.

 Pass it on

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The Power of Yes

When you say “yes” to things that empower, you are saying “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Yin  and Yang of ” Yes” and “No”

This month’s blog is about “yes” and the power it can have in our lives. Everything works in balance. Last month’s blog we discussed “no”. Each time we say “no” to something we are also saying “yes” to something else. This balance is brought to light by Yin and Yang, the ancient Taoist concept of balance. It also illustrates how the birth of something is rooted in its opposite. “Yes” and “no” are an ideal example.

The Power of “Yes”

The things we say “yes” to have the potential to enhance us, diminish us and hold our lives in stagnation.

Stagnation

Very often we will say “yes” to things that keep our lives on the same path. We choose to do the same things, go to the same places, learn ideas that agree with our world view and mix with the same people. There is nothing wrong with this. It may be very powerful and rewarding to do things like this that keep us moving forward. It is when we stagnate that these things no longer serve us. This may be because we may be afraid to change. We choose to say “yes” to them to stay comfortable and unchallenged.

Actions that diminish us

We may say “yes” to things that diminish us because we think we are unworthy or undeserving. We may have that cigarette or that ice cream that we know are bad for our health. We’ll have them anyway even though it engrains habits not supportive of our health, dreams and success. This sabotaging behaviour can be tackled head on with coaching, supported by a strong and clear vision of goals. Saying “yes” to friends and family that do not support our growth can also be a challenge to our success.

Behaviour that empowers us

It is when we say “yes” to success that life moves into fulfilment and purpose. When we say “yes” to health and wellness we say “no” to cigarettes and cream cakes. When we commit to family we take time to be with them, nurture them and grow with them and “no” to always prioritising other things. This consistent and persistent behaviour moves our lives towards success the way we choose to define it. With that clear focus we can sometimes deviate from the path chosen. When we do we do so mindfully and we are not deviated from our overall goals.

Authenticity

There are times, however, when you say “yes” because you feel you should or perhaps because you can’t say “no”. Therefore you do not experience the power of an authentic “yes”. Neither does the person you are saying it to.

You may also feel disempowered by saying an unauthentic “yes” trapping you into a series of activities that feel progressively less comfortable and pleasing to do. You squirm as you do each thing wishing you hadn’t said “yes” in the first place.

I have been guilty of saying “yes” simply because I do not want to let people down by saying “no”. I have hoped people will like me for saying “yes” to every request. I used to get roped into things that I didn’t want to do, resenting myself and others as a result. It was really stressful.

The Power of “Yes”

When I began to say an empowered and confident “no”, I had found self respect and could tell people respected my answer. They do not like me less or think less of me. People appreciated the honesty. I was saying “yes” to my own boundaries, self respect and well- being. I could relax into myself and felt more confident.

Saying “yes”‘ is also about you. When you say “yes” to things that empower you it sends a strong message to your psyche. It says “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.

Over to You

The next time you have choice, think about what you are saying “yes” to. Is this serving you? Could there be a better way? Are you thinking about the bigger picture if your life context and what you like to achieve? If so does it make it easier to say “yes” with confidence, power and authenticity?

Pass it on

Will you say “yes” to passing this blog on to someone you know? It may get them thinking about what choices they are making and what direction they’re taking. Who knows where that might lead?

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