various DIY tools in an orange tool holder secured to a bare wooden wall
various DIY tools in an orange tool holder secured to a bare wooden wall

Your body is a tool kit that can be used to determine your state in any given moment, feeding back to you your state of mind and being

You cannot consciously and purposefully change anything without being aware of it first.  Awareness gives you power to choose your actions. It is perhaps the single most important aspect essential for personal growth.

The Learning Cycle

You may know this cycle of learning:

  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence and
  • Unconscious competence.

We start the process unaware of what we don’t know (unconscious incompetence). Then through guidance or insight we realise that we don’t know something.  We discover we need to improve (conscious incompetence). This spurs us to learn and consciously apply our learning.  Firstly in quite a crude and clumsy manner.  Then with progressively more skill as our knowledge and experience develops (conscious competence). In time we act with great skill without paying conscious attention to our behaviour (unconscious competence). Then the process repeats, endlessly growing our skill base and competence. True growth never stops.

Judgement Free

This is as true for our feelings and emotions as it is for our practical and intellectual skill. Emotional intelligence is an important part of our behavioural and relational repertoire. Awareness of how the body feels is a route into our state of being in this moment. We recognise tension, discomfort, relaxation or pleasure in the body.  That tells us valuable information about how our body responds to this current situation. It takes practice to notice these feelings in the body rather than think about them and judge the reaction. There is great power in noticing how we feel without judgement.  Then we are free to act from where we are emotionally. 

We can then make a choice about whether this response serves us and the people around us.  Mindfully we begin to take responsibility and make changes to alter the way we affect the outcome.

Awareness Applied to Public Speaking

Recently I had a public speaking engagement.  I noticed myself getting nervous, tense and shallow breathing developing into panic behaviour. As soon as I realised it I began relaxing and deepening my breath which calms me down. I was able to deliver the talk without any difficulty. Previous experience tells me that left unchecked this panic reaction leads to ineffective communication, forgetting my lines and not interacting with the audience.  As a consequence the attendees do not get what they came for. It was better for all that I noticed.

How awareness influences conversations

When we are having a conversation with someone, very often we pay attention to what is happening between us and them. Is the atmosphere calm and relaxed, charged and edgy, aggressive and threatening? That is one level of awareness. Another is noticing what is going on for the other person and how they are contributing to the environment. A third is how you are feeling and how you affect what is going on. Only by being aware of how you are feeling can you affect the space around you consciously. The onus is on you to notice and then take responsibility for your role in co- creating the outcome.

Body as Tool Kit for Awareness

Your body then is a tool kit that can be used to determine your state in any given moment, feeding back to you your state of mind and being.  Developing methods to increase your awareness of your body and its feelings is important for greater relaxation, confidence and well- being.  I cover these and many other strategies during my Moving Meditation Courses.
You can e- mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future events and  to discuss creating bespoke courses for your workplace.  We can also discuss how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out. Click here to find out about and book tickets for future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

How do you use your body to be aware of your state?  What do you find easy or struggle with about awareness?  Do you use your awareness of your body to adapt how you are in situations like the public speaking one I described?  Are you aware of how you use your body when you communicate with other people and yourself?  I’d love to hear from you.

Pass it On

Think this article or the Moving Meditation Course might be useful for someone you know? Why not send them a link to the blog or forward them the details of the course? I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

Woman sitting on a stool reflected many times in a series of mirrors
Woman sitting on a stool reflected many times in a series of mirrors

The relationship between mind & body is like a two way mirror. They both affect each other

Your posture in stillness and motion communicates to you and others all the time. The way you hold yourself is conveying to you how you feel and what is going on inside your body mentally, emotionally and physically. Your state of mind influences how you hold and use your body. Therefore, the body is a mirror to the mind.

A Mirror to the Mind

How does your body feel when your mind is focused? Perhaps it feels energised, calm, efficient, powerful, fluid, at ease or fast. Think of a word, group of words or phrases that describe the sensation. How does your body feels when your mind is distracted or confused by comparison? May be it feels agitated, uncomfortable, irritable, tense, unsettled or sluggish? Again, please think of appropriate words or phrases. Hopefully, this makes it clear that the mood of the mind affects the way the body feels and by extension the way it holds itself and moves.

Be careful to ensure you notice how your body feels, not how your mind is thinking when doing this exercise. Thought and feeling are very different. One comes from the mind the other from the body. It is a question of where you place your attention. Most people place their attention on the mind. This has its place. It is also of benefit to pay attention to what the body expresses- it is much more receptive to what is happening in the moment.

The Hips Don’t Lie

When I teach martial arts, I can tell whether someone is focused or distracted simply by the way they move. As you get to know someone you are able to discern how that person is feeling simply by looking at their body. When someone moves slower than normal or seems to look less vital than usual, it might illicit a question from you asking if they are OK? If their lips are pinched or their brow furrowed you might ask if they are worried or agitated about something. This type of awareness is familiar to most of us. When someone does not recognise the signs that another person is upset and interacts with them without regard for their feelings, you might be surprised or incredulous at their apparent insensitivity. Perhaps instead it is simply a lack of awareness of these cues that might require some training and practice.

A Two- Way Mirror

This mirror between mind and body is actually two- way. The actions of the body can be used to affect the mind. We know how much better we feel in our mind after some light exercise. Just the way you hold yourself can affect your mood. Research with MBA students showed that interviewees performed better when they sat straight (perhaps having a conversation with another person or doing some mindfulness activity) or moved around (standing, walking or using “power poses”) before the interview compared to sitting slouched (such as looking at their mobile phone or “weak poses”).

Martial arts students always say they feel more focused, confident and positive after the session, even one that is not very physical, just for some light movement and holding themselves in a more upright and confident way. This is not unique to martial arts. This is something we feel after a walk in the country or taking the dog out, a trip to the gym or a swim in a lake. It is the feedback the body is sending the brain that makes the mind feel more calm, focused, revitalised and confident.

Ways in which the body affects the mind

It is with this knowledge that we can use the body to purposefully affect the mind so that we have a mindset of focus, confidence and relaxation. Here are some ideas:

  1. Regular exercise

    Physical activity relaxes and focuses the system of the body so that we can be more productive and creative personally and professionally.

  2. Reduce artificial stimulation

    When we feel tired and lethargic we often reach for the high caffeine drinks and the high sugar and fat foods to get us through the day. This momentarily stimulates the body and mind but quickly leads to a crash. Being more organised about food through the day means you can take snacks that better fuel the body in a healthy way. For more information go here.

  3. Rest more

    Mind and body do not want to be stimulated all day, every day. They need rest to recharge. When your body is telling you it is tired, please listen and schedule some R & R into your week. Rather than struggle on regardless, take some time as appropriate and rest up. Have you noticed how you get ill after a long bout of late nights and early mornings? Your body battles through for you but the lack of rest and continued stress lowers your immune system and you become unwell. Ignore this long term and it may become more severe.

  4. Avoid continual stress

    Short- term stress is an essential part of our lives and our bodies respond well to it. However, continued stress without much let up has all kinds of negative effects on mind and body, including inattention, health issues, lack of productivity and effectiveness etc.

  5. Being aware of how you stand and hold your posture can have a huge affect on how you feel

    Long hours spent still and slouched over a computer, TV, books and meals leave the muscles tight, the breathing shallow and the body generally operating below par. This often leads to feeling lethargic, being unmotivated and reducing productivity and engagement or unnatural stimulation. Regular movement and better posture throughout the day lead to more energy, greater motivation, productivity and engagement because the body and mind are more active as a consequence of this two- way mirror.

How the body controls the mind

It is to this final point that I would like to focus lastly. Use this two- way mirror to control your mood. A confident posture creates a confident mindset and so you are able to portray a confident demeanor. Exciting the body through fast movement excites the mind as well, conveying a vitality that is attractive and engaging. Sitting still with strong posture makes the mind calm, making you more receptive to what is going on around you.

What do you need to convey to make this meeting go well or get the results you want from an interaction? Do the people around you need you to be confident, a leader, a listener, a joker or a guide? What does a situation require of you? Once you know that, then you can use your body to help you achieve the correct mindset. Communicate this to yourself through your body and your mind will follow suit. Not only that, the people around you will also feel what you are trying to convey and that can be invaluable in the many roles you play in your life.

This is one of many tools I use with clients to help with confidence, awareness and relaxation. I also cover this and many more during my Moving Meditation Courses. Please e- mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk to learn about future courses.  We can also discuss how we can work together to build your confidence from the inside out. Click here to find out about and book tickets for future Moving Meditation Courses.

Over to You

What do you notice about your breathing when you are relaxed and stressed? Do you find you experience shortness of breath? How do you control your mind and body when you’re in a stressful situation? I’d love to hear from you and learn about how you use your breath.

Pass it On

Think this article or the Moving Meditation Course might be useful for someone you know? Why not send them a link to the blog or forward them the details of the course. I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

A large seed on brown earth with a shoot sprouting out from it growing towards the sun

Like all life you start your existence as a seed in fertile soil, full of potential that may, or may not, be realised

How do you know what you are capable of? What qualities do you possess that lie within you unnoticed and unfulfilled? How are you going to discover these hidden talents? How will these talents manifest in your life? What difference will they make to your quality of life?  How will they affect your confidence?  Finally, what does personal growth look like to you?

Seeds of Confidence

Like all life you start your existence as a seed in fertile soil, full of potential that may, or may not, be realised. It is only through life situations that you discover your talents and so grow in confidence. Some you are placed in by chance and others by design. That design can be your own or others.

By chance or design these situations shape you, drawing out skills, qualities and talents that drive you forward, see you grow and make a contribution to the world. Both play an important role in ensuring your growth and improving your confidence.

Growth by Design

Firstly, it is in design that you take control of your growth. By placing yourself in the path of mentors, teachers and guides you are introduced to new things, made aware of previously unseen skills and encouraged and inspired to step out of your comfort zone and grow as an individual.

Therefore, I am constantly seeking support from people who can teach me to grow my business, show me new skills to cultivate myself and ways in which to help others. Life is a never- ending classroom that can lead to on- going growth and development of that seed into something magnificent.

There is also self- directed growth. Learning does not need only come from outside of you. It can also come from within. Through exploring a subject you can get beyond text books, courses and external teaching and begin the process of innovation, integration and development. Your unique journey gives you a unique view on all of life.  As a result, will you bring that unique vision to life and share it with the world, your community or family? Would you walk the path less travelled and forge a way forward that creates something new for you as well as the world around you?  Can you purposefully step into the unknown and discover what lies in the void?

Growth by Chance

Nevertheless, in amongst all of this design there is the chaos of chance. New and unexpected events, opportunities and learning will come your way that contribute to your growth. Some of it will be painful, much of it exciting and inspiring. This is the nature of growth. Only by putting yourself in the charge of guides and stepping out and creating your place in the world will you grow and open yourself up to chance and chaos.  The opportunity for growth, on- going development and fulfillment will follow.

How will you know which direction to go? You can take the advice of other people who have experience in the areas you wish to develop.  You can also follow your Intuition.  This means asking “What are you drawn to?” and ” What do you get the sense you are inspired to do?”  For years I have had a sense that I am drawn to help people discover their life- purpose.  At one time that looked like running a martial arts business.  I helped people with their self- confidence and trust in their own ability and intuition.  More recently, that has developed to include life coaching.

Chance and Design

I never expected my previous career in science to come in any use once I walked away from biochemistry and neuroscience.  Now I am drawn to using that expertise in helping people with finding their life- purpose as well.  I am currently exploring meditation and seeing how that can be incorporated into movement.  Together they help combat stress, tension and encourage relaxation, self- expression and creativity.  These are all key elements in living your life- purpose.  The journey unfolds one step at a time and help and support comes in many guises, both internal and external.

Consequently, many of my clients are taking the steps towards living with greater fulfillment. By a combination of trusting their own intuition, creativity and resourcefulness they become empowered to follow their life- purpose and reach out for whatever help and support will get them there.  By living in- line with your life- purpose you ensure continual growth and fulfillment.  See yourself flourish and thrive in such a positive and empowering environment and grow from a seed into a beautiful, healthy and vibrant plant: strong in its foundations; fruitful in its creativity and furthermore; unique in its shape and expression.

Over to you

What is your experience of growth? How do you live your life- purpose?  How do you continue to grow?  I’d love to hear your comments and offer inspiration for people who are travelling a similar road.

Pass it on

If you know someone who would enjoy this blog and find it useful why not send them the link? I’d really appreciate it.  May be they will as well?  If you’d like to receive a direct link to the Potentiality Coaching monthly blog into your in- box, why not sign up here and receive a free e- course on Confidence as well?

 

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.

What is embodied confidence?

Have you ever felt the confusion of not knowing how you feel about something? Do you sometimes feel blank when events happen?  When someone asks you how you feel, are you able to tell them?  Do you try to work it out in your head and draw a blank?  Do you experience strong feelings sometimes and find yourself unable to find the words to express them? Embodied confidence can give you insight into all of these questions.

Have you ever felt the confusion of not knowing how you feel about something?

We are emotional creatures, capable of experiencing powerful emotions ranging from profound love to deep hatred and everything in between. Often however, we become cut off from these emotions.  This can lead to us feeling numb, confused and disconnected from our self and others.  Reconnecting the relationship between mind and body, enables us to express the feelings the body experiences.  Then we can name, share, acknowledge them and move forward in maturity and fulfilled living.  When we become competent at this process, we are moving into embodied confidence.  It allows the on- going process of dealing with things as they come up in our lives and managing them in a mature and constructive manner.

Mind- Body Connection

Your body is the instrument that interacts with the world and creates feelings that are interpreted by the mind. Either we allow these feelings to flow in healthy expression or they become bottled up and we express them in unhealthy and sometimes destructive ways.  It is these feelings that we embody and express through emotion either constructively or destructively.  Awareness of what is happening in the body allows us to develop and use a vocabulary over time.  It permits us to show compassion, empathy, understanding, patience, love, intimacy and honesty in an open and authentic way.  It also allows us to safely express our anger, disappointment, frustration and vulnerability.  To be confident and strong in oneself is to be so in mind and body, the two are inseparable and go hand in hand.

What is strength?

I was brought up in a way that discouraged boys and men to show their emotions. As a result, it was thought of as showing strength when you showed no emotion unless it was a mild happiness.  Strong emotion of any kind was frowned upon.  Perhaps you can relate to that?  Yet, it is well acknowledged now that it requires great strength to show your emotions and requires little personal investment to hide how you feel.  What is important is that you choose an appropriate time to share them.  Ensure you share with the appropriate people.

In fact, the cost of smothering your emotions is vast. People tend to lack trust in those people that do not share their emotions.  This includes spouses and children to work colleagues at all levels.  Sharing your emotions engenders trust.  It is considered a powerful leadership quality whether you lead large teams at work or you are part of a small family team.  I am not suggesting regular bouts of tears or profound confessions.  Rather an honest sharing of how you feel to the people that matter or would benefit from hearing about how you feel.  It is this honesty that engenders trust.  A real self- awareness and inner strength are required to face that process.

The effects of stifled emotions

It is a very different way of being from the 1950s man who cannot own up to being a little nervous about public speaking or showing how sad he feels at the death of a loved one.  Locking it away does not require strength.  It shows a fear of facing the pain and an unwillingness or inability to do so.  Fear is OK.  Not facing it is a disservice to you and the people that love and want to respect you.  The consequences to your health are also severe.  Stored up emotion can be the cause of many stress related illnesses such as stroke, cardio- vascular disease, anxiety and depression as well as cancer, IBS, many skin complaints, fibromyalgia and more.

How does embodied confidence feel?

Embodied confidence is a new way of being for many people. It is that awareness of one’s inner state in this moment that allows you to be mindful of how you feel and be able to manage it skilfully, compassionately and powerfully.  It will improve the quality of your relationship with yourself and others as well as your health and well- being.  For me, embodied practice helps to give me more confidence.  I am more aware of how I feel each moment and so I am better equipped to walk into situations with more confidence.  It is not necessary to know every detail.  A further ability is to be able to adapt when things change or require flexibility.  I am better able to remain calm when before situations would have made me more anxious and stressed.  Generally, I am more relaxed, less stressed and more at ease.

I am grateful to the many embodied confidence teachers I have had over the years.  I’m proud to be able to share it for the benefit of others.  This includes life coaching, meditation, Moving Meditation and martial arts, all of which require some degree of embodied practice.

Over to you

Please share in the comments box below you experiences of living both aware and unaware of your feelings. How has this affected your embodied confidence?  What does it feel like?  How do you react?  What do you do to remain aware of your feelings and emotions?  What would you change in your life today to live with more awareness of your embodied confidence?

Pass it on

If you think this article would be of value to someone you know, why not pass it on? I would really appreciate it and so would they.  Also, you can find similar exercises and more in a free e- course on confidence available here (www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk).

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!!!!!!

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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"Am

When faced with the challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone do you worry about whether you are good enough? Does this worry stop you from trying and giving it your best shot? Would this mind- set help you rise to the challenge?  Would you do it half- heartedly because deep down you think that you’ll fail?

Self- limiting beliefs such as ‘Am I good enough?’ can really hold you back.  Consequently, you feel trapped in the cycle of ‘can’t do it’.  You feel like you’re over stretching your self and taking on more than is realistic. Both strategies lead to fulfilling the prophecy that you are not good enough. In a way you know it’s true.  That’s only what experience has taught you based upon the way you are approaching the situation. What I find fascinating and inspiring is that in spite of this self- created evidence, you still strive to be better and good enough.  How can you begin to build the evidence that tells you that you are good enough? How can you realise that you are full of the potential that you feel intuitively inside?

A new mind- set

What would help is a different mind- set.  A  perspective that challenges your old thinking and establishes new, empowering thinking.  As a result, you will grow and develop in the directions you choose.

Perhaps it might be useful to reframe the question? When you ask “Am I good enough?” I actually think people are asking “Can I do it perfectly?”  The answer to that, if this is your first time, is almost definitely “no!”  The expectation that you want or have to do it perfectly is the thing that stops you from trying at all. Perhaps that demand puts you under pressure.  So much in fact that the authentic and heart- felt delivery that would make it a success becomes stifled, tense and forced. You may have an idea of where this thinking comes from and that may be important for you to know.  In coaching it is more significant to notice that you are feeling that way in the moment of not feeling good enough.  This can empower you to think and act differently.

Where do you go from here?

By giving your self permission not to be perfect, you are setting up the opportunity to make mistakes, reflect on them, learn from them and act differently next time around. This is part of the growth mind- set that I have spoken about in another blog.

The iterative process of stepping out of your comfort zone, making mistakes, learning from them and altering behaviour accordingly drives you towards ever increasing excellence.

In my experience, this takes away some of the pressure I have placed on my self that actually leaves me stagnating and instead able to take action. I see clients empowered to try, cognisant that they may not be perfect (and to be at peace with that truth).  That those mistakes will be the stumbling blocks they will turn into stepping stones in the future.

With this mind- set, “Am I good enough?” becomes “I am good enough to start and get progressively better as I learn and improve”. My belief is that you are good enough, as are we all, to do excellently at whatever you choose. False expectations from out- dated beliefs will only keep you stuck and struggling to move forward and grow. Find ways to step up and grow your self. Believing that you have what it takes to be good enough goes a long way to allowing you to grow into that role and realise the potential within that lies dormant, untested, until you step up.

Over to you

Feelings of “Am I good enough?” are normal and natural. I hope this perspective has given you some food for thought.  That it challenges that question and gives you room to explore how capable and powerful you are.  As ever, I would love to hear from you.  I invite you to share your experience, observations and insights.  Fellow readers and people that share this path of uncovering their full potential will benefit. Please leave your comments below.

And if you’ve enjoyed this blog and think someone you know would benefit and enjoy reading it, please pass it on. You can also sign up to the monthly Potentiality Coaching Blog Newsletter here and be the first to hear about what is evolving in the world of Potentiality Coaching, including newly published blogs, new packages and coaching offers.

Being differently leads to behaving and living in a new way

Being differently leads to behaving and living in a new way

Deep powerful coaching is about evoking transformation. This is personal growth. It’s about doing things differently and being differently.

Doing differently leads to being differently. The converse is true too. Being differently leads to doing differently.

Being is a physical, emotional and energetic process that means you interact with the world in a certain way. What you do is driven by your state of being. What you do enforces your state of being.

Evoking transformation

Coaching works best when you have a willing client who is keen to evoke transformation in their lives. Usually that looks like doing things differently. By working with the client to bring about awareness of their values and beliefs, they are in a position to honour and challenge those thoughts consciously. Your state of being is fluid and you can take conscious control of that state so that you can do things differently in your life.

An American Indian Tale

There is the story of the man who found an abandoned eagle chick. He took it home and put it with his chickens to nurture it. The eagle grew up in the company of chickens and believed him self to be a chicken. Even though he looked different, he behaved as the chickens did. He pecked at seeds on the ground, he did not fly. He was content. Then one day he saw another eagle flying high above the coup and wondered how wonderful it would be to fly so high and free.

While the eagle was being a chicken in his heart and mind, that is what he would be and what he would do. He would need to change his perceptions of him self before he would be able to realise the potential that lay dormant inside him. And this is the key point. He had the potential.

What would Muhammad Ali say?

There is a school of thought I subscribe to that says that if you can conceive of a thing you can make it manifest in your life. The Brand New Heavies song You are the Universe advocates such a mind set.  Anything you conceive of you can achieve. Will you do all that it takes to make it real?

‘I am the greatest. I said this even before I knew I was.’ Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali spent years saying he was the greatest and proved it to the world early in his career. He was being the greatest long before he was. And once he became the greatest boxer he also became a phenomenal spokesperson for a generation and a nation.

What do you long for? How can you create the being state that allows you to manifest that truth in the world when you put your heart and soul into it? Even Muhammad Ali had a coach. He had to do the work, want it enough and it started for him by believing he was the greatest. He believed it authentically. What do you believe authentically that would be the highest version of your self? What mind- set can you create that means you achieve the goals you want in the manner you desire?

As promised…….

Last month I spoke about bringing awareness to a client’s inner being so that she could make choice about how to move forward. I promised to share the outcome. Remaining mindful of her chosen state of being, she was able to act from this place and achieve more powerful win- win interactions. With confidence and calm she was able to face all the challenges she met and come out of it with grace and integrity. Well done to her and thank you for allowing me to share your story so that I could share the power and strength of being.

Over to you

How has inner transformation changed your life?  What have you done differently that has made a powerful internal change?  How has thinking differently given you permission to act in a different way?  Gratitude is a huge change of state in being for me and it has altered the way I approach people and situations.  How has it affected you.

Next time

Continuing on this theme, next month I will be looking at the affect “lack” and “abundance” mind- sets have on our lives and the steps we can take to move towards greater abundance.

Why not………..

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.

Enjoy the process of expressing your talent rather than the outcome

Enjoy the process of expressing your talent rather than the outcome

The Little Signs of Greatness

Do you find that people have some really complementary things to say about you that you just don’t see?

When you compare your self- appraisal at work to others’ appraisals of you, do you find there is a gap?  Are there positive comments about your great results, innate skills and natural talents that aren’t in your self- appraisal?

Do you find that people suggest you’d be brilliant at such and such, yet you cannot see how you’d be any good at it at all?  Would people volunteer you for things you’ve never contemplated because they know you’d be great at it?

Do you find that people see qualities in you that you do not see in your self?

I see this time and again as a teacher, leader, mentor and coach. People are oozing their innate skills all over the place.  Very often they are totally unaware of the impact they are having.  Nor do they realise how they are using their skills to create productive meetings, meaningful connections at work and at home, inspired leadership in all areas of their lives and safe space for others to share, explore and learn.

In my experience, people do not recognise the true power of their innate skills and talents because they undervalue them. May be they have been told that these skills have no purpose or use or that they are inappropriate. Perhaps they exhibit skills and the outcome met with ridicule or punishment.

Maybe all that is needed is the chance to practise in a supportive and encouraging environment?

All skills have value, purpose and worth. Just because the value, worth and purpose of a skill is not seen instantly does not mean it is not there- it takes a wise teacher, mentor, leader or coach to take the time to find the true power of any person’s innate skills. Very often that requires you to take command at some point along your journey and take active steps to use those skills for a meaningful and compelling purpose.

From a personal perspective as a school boy, any attempts at creativity were laughed at to the point I believed I had no creative side in me at all. I busied my self with science and sport which I got better results at, thinking my creative days would never appear.

Yet, unnoticed by me, my creativity came out in play, inventiveness, problem solving and sparks of inspired conversation during self development training and workshop events. All this went unnoticed by me for decades, even though people would tell me otherwise.

Until one weekend workshop I was given the opportunity to write poetry. To my astonishment I really enjoyed the process. I was encouraged to continue enjoying the process without attachment  to how good my poetry was. That starting point has blossomed into published book writing, blogs and endless poems and stories I share with students, clients, family and friends over the subsequent twenty years.  That creativity has opened up other avenues in art, music, dance as well as continued exploration in martial arts.

So, before you dismiss these little signs of greatness, please consider these steps:

1). Listen to what other people say they see in you, especially the words of wise people whom you trust, respect and admire. If many people are saying the same things and you don’t see it, may be they’re onto something and you’re missing it.

2). Explore these possible talents without attachment to the outcomes. For an entire year I burned every poem I wrote without reading it- I’ve kept every one since over the last two decades.

3). Enjoy the process most importantly. It is the enjoyment that brings it to life and to light. The fun brings inquisitiveness, curiosity and exploration, encouraging you to delve deeper, learn and experiment.

4). Go with your instinct. This talent may blossom into other areas that feel even more fulfilling. In true self- exploration, the journey never stops as you uncover more and more talent buried deep within.

5). You do not need to publish, share, put on You Tube, do public demonstrations and speeches to own your skill. Yet I encourage you to own it by continuing to explore and develop your skill. Go public if you wish and remember it is the enjoyment and exploration that fuels the passion. It is your passion. Celebrate it in whatever way for feel inspired to do so.

Over to you

What skills are people telling you that you have? How are you cultivating the skills you do possess? What processes have you been through to develop your skills and talents?  Can you think of roles mentors, teachers, leaders of coaches have played in uncovering your talents. I’d love to hear your story and provide an on- line resource for people to find inspiration, support and guidance to uncover their potential and be all they can be.

Spread the word

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.