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

If you think there is material in this blog that would be useful to someone you know, why not forward them the link and get them engaged in the conversation?

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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How can centring lead to greater relaxation and confidence?

Find the point of balance and relax into the calm experience of the present

Is relaxation a stranger to you?  Do you find yourself getting irritated at the drop of a hat?  Is long- lasting contentment something that eludes you?  Do you struggle to experience true peace in your life?

Does your body feel tense most of the time?  How is your posture and do you experience aches and pains in your body regularly?  Do you find it challenging to adapt to change?

If your response to these questions is “yes”, then you might be struggling with remaining centred.  Centring affects all four of your states of being- the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  When you lose centre you give away your power physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Off- Centre

In martial arts we speak about being centred. This means keeping your posture well balanced and strong, moving from that place of strength and continuing to move from that place of strength, regardless of the situation you are in. 

This is a metaphor for all life situations. When you are off centre you do not feel strong. You feel doubtful, unsure, lacking confidence, strength and power. 

In a physical context, being off- centre means you do not move well and you lack strength. Emotionally, when you are off centre you react poorly to situations. You might over- react or give an inappropriate response. You may shut down and struggle to express your true emotions. Mentally, you might be rigid in your mindset and so find it hard to adapt to changing conditions. Spiritually, you may find yourself guided by your conscious, logical mind consistently, rather than by your intuitive, relational, creative subconscious when it would better serve you.

Balance and Centre

When you find your centre all of that changes. To do that you need to bring your awareness to your body, mind, emotions and spiritual energy, find the point of balance and relax into the calm experience of the present. That is at least how I experience it.

Once you find your centre you are physically more confident. You stand taller, stronger and more present. Adaptability, versatility and spontaneity are more easily achieved. You are less likely to injure yourself, eat poorly, remain inactive too long or over do yourself physically.

Emotionally, you are better equipped to experience your emotions and express them in an appropriate way.

Mentally your mindset is more fluid and at the same time you are more confident to argue your case without being defensive and aggressive.

Spiritually, you realise your life experience is not a solo venture. It is a co- creation with all the many facets of your life and existence. You are not a lone wolf, you are part of an indivisible whole.  And you are on your unique journey that contributes to that whole that only you can do. Therefore, it serves you and everyone else for you to be centred for then you can share your unique gifts with the world.

Awareness and Relaxation

Keeping centre is a matter of awareness, balance and relaxation. Tension takes you off- centre. Walking through life asleep keeps you off- centre. You remain out of balance when unaware and so sustained centring is impossible to achieve. You might stumble upon it by chance, only to lose it moments later.

Practice centring throughout your life. It is an essential ingredient of confidence. Make it a life- long study in all 4 areas of your being- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual- and see your confidence soar.

Over to you

What is your experience of being centred? Has it been easy? Do you find it a struggle? How does it affect your well- being?  When centred, do you find relaxation and balance easier to sustain?  Please share your successes and challenges in the comments section below and help bring the world to centre. 

Pass it on

If you know anyone who struggles with confidence or centring please think of sending this blog to their e- mail inbox. If you’d like to know more about centring and work with me on building your confidence from the inside out please get in touch.  Alternatively, you can sign up to the Potentiality Coaching monthly newsletter and receive a free e- course on confidence here.

Being in Your Own Skin

Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?

Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? Are external validation and seeking praise from others things you wish for? Does your confidence sink or rise on whether you are accepted? Would you not speak your mind for fear of being ostracised?  Is conformity a driver for you or is expressing your uniqueness more important?

The expression “being in my own skin” speaks to me of authenticity. I think there is a powerful force in human nature that challenges authenticity and that is the need for conformity.

Conformity

From an early age we conform to family values, patterns and behaviours so that we fit in and feel like we belong to our tribe, the group that raises us, protects us and nurtures us. We fit in to ensure that we are loved and looked after.

Later on we go to school and learn to conform to school rules and playground rules so that we have friends, feel safe and become an accepted member of the community. If we do not fit in with the majority, we find a minority to be with. If we cannot be accepted by some group or other we can feel lonely, ostracised and isolated.

This dynamic plays out in our working life as well. As a result, we try hard to conform, work long and hard hours to be accepted by the boss, manager and team. We seek acceptance from those we are surrounded by.

Throughout our lives it is an important dynamic. For all its benefits, there is one huge cost conformity may make us pay: the expression of our unique voice.

Your Unique Voice

In denying our true thoughts and feelings so that we can fit into some group or clique or other, we do not listen to ourself and do not take the time to understand our motivations, feelings and urges. We become a stranger to ourself and do not know what we believe and value at our very core. We feel lost in a crowd, alone at a party of friends unable to explain why we feel as we do when to the outside world we appear to have all we desire.

External conformity can lead to internal estrangement. When people reach a crisis point in their lives it is often a catalyst to looking inward and discovering what we truly think and believe. Much of the inner transformational work is understanding this process and finding your unique voice as part of that journey.

Suddenly, you come to an understanding as to your true self and feel happy expressing your deep thoughts regardless of the crowd. It becomes important to say what you think and feel rather than fit in with the crowd. For some it marks the beginning of a new career, hobby or even a new relationship. For many self- employed people, it is the drive of their unique voice that inspires them to step into the unknown and do what they love, confident in the knowledge that doing what brings them joy will bring with it the motivation, determination and love that will make it a success.

Some people will not like the change in you. Others will love it and many will accept it. At least they see the real you rather than a false image. At least you can express the real you too rather than hide behind a mask.

Comfortable in your own skin

The bottom line is that you feel comfortable in your own skin. A peace and certainty comes over you as well as a confidence. No amount of conformity will allow that. What little confidence and certainty conformity may bring is short lived because you are always measuring yourself against an ever- changing external benchmark. It is the difference between external validation which the conformed seeks and internal validation which the authentic seeker longs for.

If you are happy within yourself then you can weather the storm of those that disagree and do not support you. When you are confident in your own skin, the line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” rings true: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same …….. You’ll be a man my son”. It is not a question of manhood for this applies to men and women, young and old. It is a quality of selfhood, the challenge to be all that you can be and fulfil you true potential.

Over to You

As ever I would love to hear from you and discover your experiences of becoming comfortable in your own skin.  Do you feel comfortable being yourself?  What is it like for you being on that journey?  Do you struggle feeling comfortable in your own skin?  Please share your experiences so that other people can gain motivation, consolation and inspiration from your words.  It might make all the difference in the world to someone you never meet and inspire them to take the step that makes them feel happy to be themselves.

Pass it on

Please pass on this blog to anyone who you feel would benefit from it. If you’ve come across the blog while browsing, why not sign up to the monthly newsletter here and receive an e- mail straight into your inbox with a link to the most recent blog as well as news from the world of Potentiality Coaching.  If you would like to receive a free confidence e- course you can sign up to that  here.

How can I be authentic?

Use your authenticity to animate the masks you wear for roles you have in life

Authenticity is an essential part of confidence. If you’re going to be confident, then surely you want to be confidently your self, not some constructed mask you imagine you should be or others expect you to be? What is authentically you? How can you allow that to shine through and at the same time be professional, mother, father, partner, friend, colleague etc?

When I work with clients I notice they are at their most animated, powerful and confident when they are being their self. They speak about what they are passionate about in a way that expresses that passion. Consequently, they use words, gestures, body positions and energy that uniquely expresses them. When you tap into that, it animates the mask of professional, father, daughter and partner with your own authentic energy and power.

The Power of Masks

Some people feel more comfortable hiding behind a mask that does not show their real self. I understand that.  To leave your self feeling vulnerable can be very threatening, particularly when life experience teaches you that vulnerability leads to pain, suffering and humiliation.  Some people think they have to be a particular way, fit into a mould because that is the way it should be done.  Perhaps it has always been done that way?  I understand that.  To break with tradition can be threatening, challenging and can lead to change.  Perhaps you don’t have the confidence to do it your way, so you play it safe using other people’s methods.

When I started teaching martial arts, I basically copied my teacher. I did the best to do it the way he did it.  It got good results, even though I felt a conflict inside that I had to be a certain way.  In time I have learned to modify the model, so that my authenticity shines through in the role that I play.  It is a choice.  John Grinder and Richard Bandler, the co- creators of NLP (Neuro- Linguistic Programming), studied the qualities of people with success and found a way to get people to embrace those qualities and at the same time be their authentic selves.  Learning from others is essential, yet you want to take the time to integrate the learning so that you can be you.

How do you access that power and potency?

This is what I have observed:

  1. Be honest. How you feel about something is powerfully authentic. Be mindful how you express those feelings. Needless expression that upsets others is not your best self. Find a way to express your experience of things that shows your human- ness. Your life is full of joy, pain, fear, moments of pride and so much more. Share that.
  2. Live passionately. Find the things that light you up inside. It doesn’t have to be about your career, it can be about any aspect of your life. Passion in one area leaks into all areas. And for those areas that you struggle to find passion in, try and find or create at least one aspect that allows you to feel and express your authentic passion. If that doesn’t work, let the passion from the other areas of your life flood in. That will help to get you through.
  3. Know thyself. This ancient aphorism has challenged people throughout time. Yet, if you can go through the process of getting to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you begin to accept your full self and develop a handle on your authenticity. Play to your strengths and work on developing the other areas of your character. Dr. Martin Seligman, a key researcher in Positive Psychology, speaks about working with your innate strengths as a way of developing happiness in your life.  Conversely, all the other qualities you need to do your job well or be a great parent or partner, you want to nurture, along with your innate strengths.
  4. Be brave. It takes courage to be authentically you. To be visible and vulnerable can be a real challenge. Even to be honest with your self can be hard.       To do so in front of others can be tough. Yet, in my experience, people appreciate and respect you for your vulnerability because they know how brave you have been to be so authentic. The experience can be quite liberating as you step out from behind the false façade and show the truth.
  5. Practice. Like a sapling or a shoot, the first tentative steps in growth can leave you feeling weak and exposed. As you push through the process and continue to grow in this way, you grow in strength, confidence and belief.  You have all the qualities required to live the life you want on your terms. Those qualities you don’t have and you require, you will learn your self.  Or you will bring someone else in to do it for you. In that you become a leader.

Call to action

So on the eve of this new year, please consider your authenticity and share it with the world. Humanity does not need a clone of another person, it needs you.  It wants you to be your greatest and fullest self.  You can contribute something magnificent and unique to the world.  You are doing it already (for more see The Little Signs of Greatness).  I invite you to embrace that and share in your greatest in 2017 and beyond.

Over to You

How do you show up? How are you authentic in the world?  Do you struggle with authenticity?  If there was one authentic act you would do this year, what would it be?  As ever, I would love to hear from you as you offer your experience, advice and thoughts on claiming and expressing your authenticity to create an on- line resource for people who are sharing the journey you are on.  If you know of anyone who would enjoy and benefit from this blog please pass it on.  You can also sign up to the Potentiality Coaching monthly newsletter to get news, views and ideas from the world of Potentiality Coaching.  Also, you can sign up for my new Confidence e- course which is free and full of exercises, resources and videos to help you do the work to grow in confidence.  You can sign up here.

Happy New Year!!!!!!

How do I get over my nerves?

Nerves are a green light, not a red one, a sign that your body is getting ready to deliver on something, perform well & do the best it can.

Nerves are a green light, not a red one, a sign that your body is getting ready to deliver on something, perform well & do the best it can.

Do you let nerves get in the way? When nervousness strikes, is that a green light or a red light? Do you see nerves as bad or that something is wrong? Are nerves something only people lacking confidence feel? Are confident, powerful people without fear?

Nerves are something I have struggled with for many years and many of my clients find that too. For a long time I thought nerves were a bad sign, a red light, telling me to stop, when in fact they can be a green light, a signal that you are on the right lines, that you are doing something important, significant and meaningful.

Threats of the modern world

Let’s look at what the biology tells us about nerves and fear. At a primal level, your brain is programmed to do one of two things.  Either to move towards something that brings benefit and pleasure or to move away from something that is dangerous and may harm you.  In the caveman’s world, this was the difference between survival and extinction.  In the modern world, there are shades of grey that the brain finds difficult to distinguish.  When you feel threatened by something, no matter what it is, your brain kicks in this primal programming to stay and fight, or to run away.

Yet, there are many situations that may feel threatening in the modern world that you neither need to stick around and fight over, nor run away from, even though your brain and body might be reacting that way. Now it comes down more to what you perceive as threat, so that you have choice over how you respond.

What is that nervous feeling?

“Nerves” is a common name used to describe a physiological response to threat. Clammy hands, racing heart, quickened breath and a sick feeling, are common symptoms.  Usually you experience these when you feel at risk or threatened.  You are about to:

  • have a challenging conversation with someone
  • step on stage and perform
  • speak in public
  • compete in a competition
  • give someone bad news

Will you make mistakes, make a fool of your self or fail? People may think badly of you, dislike or hate you, think you unprofessional or incompetent? Will you be laughed at, ridiculed or even humiliated?  All legitimate fears, worries and concerns based on previous experience.

Something that to a greater or lesser extent, we all experience, no matter how seasoned, no matter how confident. I have always been intrigued by the fact that performers of all kinds say that they are nervous before they go on stage and that makes them perform better.  Without nerves, their delivery is flat.  So what is that?

What are nerves telling you?

I believe that this thing that makes you nervous is important to you. It is important to get it right.  Your body is doing whatever it can to help you with that.  Nerves is a sign that your body is getting ready to deliver on something, perform well and do the best it can.  So please do not think this is a bad sign, it is a great sign.  This is the green light you want.  Now you want to learn how to manage that feeling so that you don’t let it take over.

Here are 7 suggestions that work for me. There are many more so don’t see this as a definitive list.  Look around for your own answers and above all, learn from experience.

  1. Prepare your self adequately. Do your best to prepare what you are delivering. If it is speaking in public, know your subject, having practiced many times before (don’t learn a script word for word though- more on that later). Is it a challenging conversation?  Rehearse it as best you can, be aware of the key points. If it’s a competition, knowing your routine, knowing you’re fit enough, strong enough and capable is essential.
  2. Deliver with authenticity. Speak and perform from the heart in a way that feels like you. There is nothing worse than trying to be someone or something you are not. Even actors connect to their own authentic experience when portraying a character or an emotion. Do not regurgitate a script, know what you want to say and then speak spontaneously. More of your genuine self will come across and people will see the real you.
  3. You won’t please everyone. Not all people will like your message. Of course it hurts when you become aware of it. Don’t let that contribute to the nerves. I have heard that in any audience, you will have a 40%, 40%, 20% breakdown of people: 40% will love what you’re saying before you start; 40% are open and can be won over and; 20% will disagree. The figures may vary, but in essence there will be those that do not agree with your view. Know that and allow it to be OK.
  4. Managing how far this situation takes you out of your comfort zone can help you control nerves. I have written about this before. The rule is, playing it safe never produces nerves and so never your best performance. Pushing too far out of your comfort zone rarely brings great results.   Only by managing your self just outside your comfort zone will you challenge your self enough to get the best from your self.
  5. How does your body help you deliver your best results? I am a physical person.  Doing martial arts for over 25 years, my body likes to move. I find clarity and stillness in movement. Often when I speak in public or brainstorm ideas in a meeting, I am moving and it helps my mind create answers and perform well. When I am listening to others such as when I am coaching, it works better for me to be still, allowing me to be receptive. These are two of the ways my body helps me. I know other people who have to be still to be creative and brainstorm ideas- it is as if the stillness of their body allows them to be become aware of what is happening in their minds. I do not work that way. It can be helpful with nerves to recognise the strategies you can use with your body to help deliver.
  6. Get going. Just start. So often the anticipation of something is more nerve racking than the event itself. Once you get into the flow, the nerves take a back seat. You might be aware of them in the background and they may come to the fore from time to time. If so, have ways to get you back on track. Use bullet points to remind you and other memory aids. I find transparency helps a lot as well. Just own up to the fact that the nerves have got the better of you and that can have a calming effect.
  7. Have conviction in what you are saying or doing. You have the right to be heard and seen. Your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. One of the voices of your saboteur is to question “Who the hell are you to say……?” This makes you nervous as you move towards self- doubt. Yet the truth is by speaking or acting with authenticity and having belief in what you are saying or doing or being, you are fully justified in being there and saying your piece.

Over to you

What is your experience of managing your nerves? How have these points helped you in dealing with your feelings of nervousness?  What other suggestions would you add?  As ever, I would love to hear from you so please post your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.  By sharing your experience, you can contribute to an on- line resource that can support people as they learn to manage their nerves and overall confidence.

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