Resilience in Lockdown- what is your emotional response?

Covid-19 and lockdown are both emotional subjects for a lot of people.  I am noticing that there are many emotional responses as individuals, families, businesses and communities come to terms with the impact this pandemic is having on all our lives.  This varied emotional response is completely normal, natural and healthy.  And you should expect your emotional response to change over time as circumstances change.

Expressing your emotional response

Lockdown- what is your emotional response

When people take the time to speak about what is happening for them emotionally right now, the emotional charge decreases.  This alone can make it easier to manage.  Speaking about your concerns, fears and worries can help to reduce the stress, anxiety and fear you might be feeling.  Holding it in and bottling it up only exacerbates the problem.  As I said, your concerns for loved ones, finances, health, uncertainty about work, isolation, grief and loss are normal and natural emotions to have at this time.

They do not mean you are not coping.  And they do not mean there is anything wrong.  Any situation in life that leaves you with uncertainty, doubt, fear and confusion, you will have an emotional response.  But, if you do not find a way to express that emotion in SOME way, it can have an on-going negative impact on your well-being.**  Which can affect your resilience and your ability to manage the challenges you face- and that includes lockdown and Covid-19.

For many, the normal structures and habits you have in place to manage your emotional and mental well-being are often out of reach.  Speaking with family and friends over the telephone or on Zoom is not the same as being with them in the room.  And there is no substitute for a real hug or the comforting touch of a loved one.  The social joys of getting together for a drink at the pub, a coffee in town or a meal out are currently not possible.

How are you managing your emotional response?

Our minds and bodies, in response, begin to become more on edge, stressed, tense and anxious as the restrictions continue and show no signs of abating.  Which is as it should be, as the global population does what it must to contain the spread of the virus and together, we look after the health of everyone on the planet.

Without your typical resources available, perhaps it is time to explore new resources that can help support you?  It seems that these are some of the areas where people are struggling:

  • Reduced exercise and movement mean that muscles are getting tight.  Tension also comes from holding the emotional tension of stress, anxiety and worry
  • Lack of touch and the guardedness of social distancing creates its own anxiety that leads to more tension
  • Unfamiliar feelings and sensations in reaction to these unprecedented times which are challenging to express.  Such as lack of freedom, health concerns, uncertainty, more free time, overwhelm, boredom, job and financial security, isolation etc.

Here are some opportunities that I am involved in that might help to calm your anxiety, support your connection to others and share in safe and confidential spaces:

  1. Embodiment Circles Online:

Since the beginning of lockdown, I have been involved with Online Embodiment Circles.  Very quickly it has blossomed into a global community online, with over 80 one-hour sessions every week.  Most circles are in English, but there are some in other languages.  Circles were created to support well-being, learning and connection. They are practical and accessible, with three sections to them.  The first is a light, non-athletic movement session (accessible yoga or dance for example).  The second, a secular, body-based meditation.  And lastly an opportunity for sharing.

In fact, this third section is perhaps the most effective and powerful part of the hour.  People take the opportunity, if they want it, to share a little about how they are fairing right now.  Every circle addresses the three challenges I mentioned above.  So, if you’d like to be with others in a positive virtual environment, reduce your stress, and move a little to support your health, then join in.  Groups use Zoom and are free of charge.  You can find out more on the Embodiment Circle Online website.

  1. Processing on the Run

I have been an active volunteer of the Samaritans for over two years.  And now, there are also a number of organisations I am involved with on a charitable basis, including Project 5 for NHS staff and Spotlight, offering coaching for actors, give the people in these professions, the opportunity to process their emotional state on the run.  This helps them remain more resilient as well as be more present and productive at work.  It also means they can transition to and from home life more easily.  And therefore be more present to partners and children.

The benefit of speaking about how you feel

Both in the Samaritans and coaching, I see the benefit to people of expressing the emotions they feel in the moment.  Before they have the opportunity to express them, they are often agitated.  They also find it hard to concentrate and focus, feel withdrawn or find it hard to connect with others.  If they have been carrying that emotion for a while, it can impact their resilience to cope with life’s challenges.  It also impacts their creativity and productivity at work, presence at home and their ability to focus on solutions.

From personal experience as well, that inability to express emotions negatively impacts your ability to create, sustain and build relationships.  All of which are essential for thriving through these challenging times as well as in life in general.  I have noticed my improved ability to express how I am feeling makes me a better father, partner, person in business, family member and friend.  And life is just more fun, and rich, with the freedom to express how I feel.  When life is more challenging, sharing how I feel means those challenging times are easier to cope with.

A limited, free coaching offer

Therefore, I am offering individuals a single free session of life coaching to provide a safe space to explore and express their emotions or to work out how best to move forward through the pandemic.  If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, please contact me here: david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk

  1. Stress Management for Healthcare Professionals

If you are a healthcare professional, or know someone in the healthcare profession, Covid Calm is an online session, sharing tools to manage stress for medical staff under pressure.  This is a free initiative, run by volunteers who are very experienced stress management facilitators.  Each 30- minute session takes participants through the A.S.S.E.T. toolbox, which includes:

  • ABC Equilibrium Technique
  • Stretching, shaking and tapping
  • Sitting Mindfulness
  • Empathic sharing
  • Thankfulness and gratitude

These are all evidence-based techniques shown to resource people to more effectively manage stress.  You can find out more at the Covid Calm website and in this LinkedIn article, which also highlights some of the research-based evidence out there to support the effectiveness of these techniques.

Over to You

So, these are some of the things I am offering and involved with that can support people in sharing their emotions.  Allowing them to manage their stress more effectively and develop greater resilience.

Please share these initiatives where you can.

And if you would like to support Project 5 (which offers coaching and tiered psychological support for NHS staff), you can donate here.

Thank you.

** Speaking about how you feel may not be your bag.  Although it is useful to be able to express your feelings in words so that you can communicate with the people you share your life with.  Having said that, painting, drawing, dance, movement, music and poetry can all be ways in which you might prefer to process your emotions.  Having done that clarifying work, it can be easier to talk about what is going on for you.

Lockdown- Resistance and Acceptance in our Coronavirus World

How are you doing as lockdown progresses?

Are you resisting the slowing down, or the speeding up, of your life?  Do you let the sense of limbo frustrate you or are you letting it go?  Are you being drawn further into your screens and out of your body, or is it the other way around?  Do you enjoy the stillness?  Or is it driving you crazy?

I am noticing a shift in myself, and other people, as this enforced lockdown, globally, is encouraging us to say “no” to the rat race and the relentless pressures of growth, expansion and competition.  It is also giving us the opportunity to say “yes” to being more present and mindful with ourselves, others and the world around us.  It opens us to being content with what we have as well as connecting to and sustaining community.  What gifts these things are.

Resistance

At the beginning, I also noticed an initial resistance.  Maybe you felt it too?  Or perhaps you are still resisting the inevitability and uncertainty of this Coronavirus situation.  It manifests as a “I can’t believe this is happening” or “What will I do?” or “What can I do?” “How will I cope?”  The tension that comes from worrying about money, business, family and friends is another sign of the resistance around having to give up control.  And frustration that so much is on-hold: house moves, career progress, business growth, birthdays, family and business events, weddings, schooling, funerals.  “When will things return to normal?” and “How long will I have to wait?” speak to that anxiety as well.

As a society, we are in pain over the loss of our old lives and the way we used to live.  Our resistance, though understandable, only leads to suffering as we grasp for more of what is not available to us right now.  Some of our old ways may never return and we will have to make our peace with that.  But, in the short-term, resistance prevents our ability to adapt, be flexible and creative.  The tension resistance creates stops our minds from finding solutions to the problems and prevents our bodies from living in peace and harmony with the landscape of ever-changing challenges.

Acceptance

But, if you can let go of the resistance and allow it to give way to acceptance, you can let go of this struggle that is beyond your power to control.  The questions then shift to “How can I make the best of this situation?”  “What are the advantages and possibilities?”  “What can I create from this?” “Where are the opportunities and how can I make them happen?”  People are adapting to a new normal.  They are appreciating that they could use their time differently.  That this way of life might have unforeseen advantages that could be sustainable in a post-Coronavirus world.

The impact of resistance on the mind and body is one of stress, anxiety, tension and dis-ease.  In contrast, acceptance leaves the body and mind at peace, ease and tranquil.  It’s just more pleasant to live through the Coronavirus experience this way, if you can.  Let go of what you cannot control, accept the reality of your situation, pay attention to your breath and notice your body.  Then, from this grounded place, take action.  Here is a video on these four points:

Here are 4 things I have noticed in myself and my community (both on- and off-line) that have come about as people have let go of their resistance and opened to acceptance.

  1. Opportunity

Your life was going in a particular direction and focused in a specific way before Coronavirus appeared.  And now, much of that is on-hold.  Others are completely blown out of the water.  Some things are accelerating.  This is an opportunity to pivot or change direction completely:

  • Working from home, shifting face-to-face meetings and training to online platforms.
  • Now you have time and space to create new projects and complete them, perhaps start new types of work or revenue-generating opportunities.
  • Many of us are travelling less and enjoying the extra time that gives to sleep longer, exercise and move more, connect with your loved ones more frequently and deeply and enjoy your local environment.
  • Old hobbies can be done in a different way now and with the additional time you have, why not take on a new hobby? Learn a language, develop a skill, try something you’ve always wanted to do or something completely new.  The opportunities are endless.
  • We are collectively taking a breath- humanity and the planet. As we pause, new insights come to us and we can embrace the potential opening.  This is a valuable opportunity to make slight and gentle adjustments that could have profound positive impact ten years from now and beyond.  Already the air is clearing, the oceans and rivers are cleaner and wildlife is safer to roam.
  1. Community

People are being so kind.  Reaching out to acquaintances and strangers to help and support.  We are reaching out to friends we barely speak with normally and building new relationships as people come together for a common cause.

We are, for the first time in human history, united under a common threat.  Imagine that?  Many of the differences that usually divide us are being put to one side so that we may come together and collaborate and help each other. Giving us the opportunity to come together and connect regardless of faith, gender, colour, nationality, sexual orientation or political persuasion.  Humanity is coming together as one and that is priceless.   What if we could keep that going once this threat is over?

This is also an ideal time to connect to people in your personal and professional networks and cement those relationships.  And, by opening new ventures, create new relationships that might breathe new life into your business or life in general.

  1. Simple Pleasures

Hasn’t life become much simpler suddenly?

We are being given the chance to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: walking, cycling, running, the natural world, cooking, gardening and conversation to name a few.  Life was so complex before Coronavirus that many people didn’t pay attention to these things.  You may have done them.  But you may not have been as attentive as you might have been while doing them.  Rushing to move on to the next thing?  Or thinking about the future or the past rather than paying attention to the present?  These are common ways of doing things in our modern world.

Coronavirus has slowed things down.  There is less of a rush.  Less of a drive to push that extra mile or two all the time.  Without that pressure, we are better able to enjoy each task as we are doing it.  Now, in the simplicity of life, there is a mindfulness that perhaps was not there before.

Taking time to notice the simple pleasures makes tasks that feel mundane when we are rushing, more pleasurable, purposeful and powerful when life is slower and simplified.

  1. Being Present

The opportunities, the connection to community and the simple pleasures allow us to be more present.  The slowing down allows us to take notice.  There is so much you could worry about for tomorrow, but you cannot answer or control those things.  So, let them go.  The slowing down means there is less to preoccupy your mind.  If you let it.  You could always let yourself worry more and more about the unknowns and the things out of your control.  But, when you let go and only focus on what is in your sphere of influence, you realise that, for now, there are only certain things you can do.

I have heard many people say that they are on their hamster wheel of worry and concern.  When I probe deeper, they say that they are thinking about things over which they have no control.  Nor can they answer the questions they are posing.  Lockdown is imposing a long horizon.  Much of our worlds are on-hold, an enforced stillness that we can either fight and know turmoil and distress.  Or let go into so that we might know greater tranquillity and peace.

So, allow yourself to be present in all that you are doing during the Coronavirus lockdown.  Allow these special moments to keep you present with what is in front of you.  Bask in the immediacy of what you are doing.  Know that there is no rat-race today.  There is nothing to chase.  Enjoy the reprieve that Coronavirus has given you, if you can.

An Invitation

Will you accept or resist?

This enforced lockdown has encouraged these behaviours.  Whether you are doing these things or not is a choice.  Perhaps the events are making that choice easier?  But never forget that it is a choice.

My invitation is to ask you to decide which of these choices will you chose to keep after Coronavirus.  When lockdown is done and the threat to our health is significantly reduced, what of this will you decide to maintain?  Here’s an earlier blog on what you might want to be thinking about when you are making choices.

When the world changes back, if it changes back, what will you commit to keeping the same?  The community?  The presence?  Your simple pleasures?  The opportunities?  Something else entirely?  If enough of us commit to keeping some of these things, perhaps the world will not go back to how it was.  Perhaps our working lives will change so that we commute less or connect more online at work.  Maybe we’ll socialise with our friends, family and communities more?  Perhaps we’ll travel less and care for the environment more?  Maybe we’ll reassess what productivity means and what a healthy economy and financial system looks like.

I don’t know.  But something is changing for the better in amongst all the pain, fear and anxiety.  What will you change and take into your new future?

Coaching to Freedom

Are you regularly set back from achieving your goals?  Do you make choices that move you away from what feels right to you, good to you, fulfilling to you?  Can you ask for help when you feel you need it, want it?  What are the costs to you for living this way?  Your well-being, freedom, isolation, fulfilment, pain, suffering, physical and mental health? And what are you tolerating while you live this way?  Would you like it to be different?

 

The purpose of coaching is defined by ICF (International Coaching Federation) as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.”

For me this means raising clients’ awareness so that they see the truth of their potential as well as the truth of the ways in which they may limit themselves from living that potential.

Coaching brings the Truth to the Fore

This is true for all my clients. One in particular that illustrates this well is Judith who, from session one, had spoken about herself as one who wished to help others.  Even though she didn’t call it this, she identified with the Mother archetype so strongly- nurturing, supporting, togetherness, inspiring, teaching, wisdom, compassion, mentoring and nourishing towards others. This is what she wanted to do at the very core of her being.

She had tried this role in many areas of her life previously.  But had been knocked back every time. Consequently, she shrank inward and settled for a less fulfilled version for herself.

Coaching brought this truth to the fore. She wanted life to be different and found it hard to ask for help and support. She needed space, quiet and time to self-resource and so she had to ask for that space, quiet and time. And this was something she found hard to ask for.

Asking for Help

Not asking for it meant that she became angry and frustrated because she did not feel like she had the capacity to be that nurturing Mother archetype she wanted to embody.

It would be all too easy for her to see that anger and frustration from a place of negativity and self-judgement. By taking responsibility for how she chose to view this situation, she could choose to see it through the lens of love and self-appreciation/ gratitude or negativity and self-judgement. She was free to choose.

She noticed that if she chose one path, she felt bad about herself and she was caught up in anger, frustration and self-recrimination. This led her to play small and be dominated by fear. When she chose the alternative, she showed up with more confidence, power, love, calm and connection. And she gave the encouragement, inspiration and role-modelling she wished to give, hoped to give.

Choice leads to Freedom

So, she practised choosing. And found that when she was choosing love and gratitude for herself, she was showing up as the nurturing woman she wanted to be. At home and at work, she was offering guidance and support from her strength and confidence and it came very naturally.

By seeing her truth and acknowledging how she was limiting herself, with compassion, she was able to lovingly give herself choice and freedom over how she was being at any given moment in her life. Suddenly, at work she had shifted from an angry colleague to one who engaged with and wanted to be involved in the improvement of what happened at work. She found herself taking the initiative and seeking support from other colleagues to help her fulfil her desired roles.

She had moved from disempowered and struggling to inspired and leading. Seeing the truth with love and compassion had given her freedom. These three are the foundations of any spiritual practice, regardless of religion, tradition, culture, place or time. Therefore, coaching and, in particular, listening, are spiritual acts for me. They open the doors for people to become their full selves. With that inner guiding light, a person can guide themselves towards greater and greater freedom.  As well as role-model and inspire others to do the same.

Over to You

What are you doing to live your full potential?  Are you allowing your self to take the options that are disempowering and unfulfilling?  What would life look like is you made choices that reinforced your love for life and passion in your work?  Are you willing to look at the truth of your situation and make choices that move you towards that potential?  What would life be like if you carried on as you are for the next ten years?  And how would it be different if, for the next decade, you made choices that aligned with your truth?  I’d love to know your thoughts.  And if you would like any support with exploring your truth and how to live it more fully, get in touch and we can discuss how to make that happen.

Pass it on

Like this post?  Then please pass it on to anyone you know who would benefit from it.

Saboteurs- are you listening to those negative voices that stop you achieving your dreams?

Do you have an inner voice that tells you are not good enough?  Or declares you will not get a better job, or lose that weight you so desperately want to shift?  May be that voice says you’re not intelligent or talented enough?  Perhaps you have an inner voice that says you just need to go on one more course before you’re ready to get that promotion, write that book, or start that business?  These inner voices have many names- saboteurs, gremlins, the committee, inner critics, demons.

Whatever name you give them, you probably face these voices many times a day.  From getting out of bed on time to eating healthy meals and working out to getting your filing done, your saboteurs have a lot to say about what you do and think and what you don’t do and think.  So, if you are finding these saboteur voices are particularly loud, especially during this new year resolution period, here are some things to think about to help you manage your saboteurs more effectively:

Recognise the voice and the feeling of your saboteurs

When that negative voice starts talking, how does it make you feel?

When that negative voice starts talking, how does it make you feel?  Low? Lousy? Depressed?  Negative? Does it make you feel like giving up or not bothering?  Are you focused on the problem or the solution?  Do you feel particularly creative or inspired?

When the saboteurs have their grip, you feel heavy, low and uninspired.  It’s not a great place to be.  It also makes your body feel lethargic and you may experience tension in you stomach, chest, shoulders, neck or other places.  You might be confused, conflicted and find you are second-guessing yourself.  Worst of all, you don’t have clarity and you feel stuck.

The saboteurs use words like “can’t” such as “You can’t do that!”, “should” like “You really should do it this way!”, “shouldn’t” for example “I shouldn’t make that phone call………”, “would” such as “I would do it this way rather than that way”, “wouldn’t” for example “I wouldn’t do that”, “ought to” like “I ought to do what he wants”, “don’t” such as “Don’t do it like that!”

Saboteurs hold you back and stop you moving forward.  When there is any growth, your saboteurs are there to stop you taking risks.  The bigger the risk, the louder and sharper the voice, the heavier the feelings.  The voice and feelings are designed to get you to take notice, shrink back and stay well inside your comfort zone.

What are the embodied resources to counter your saboteurs?

Like any superhero movie, there is the hero and the villain.  In fact, you cannot have one without the other.  They are the yin and the yang, opposing forces that keep things dynamic and flowing.  If your saboteurs are the villains in your tale, who are your heroes?

The heroes to counter-balance and hold in check your saboteurs are the positive voices and feelings that make you feel empowered.  While the embodiment of the saboteurs is usually contracted, small and reduced, the embodiment of your inner heroes is expanded, large and takes up space.  When you were a kid and pretended to be Batman and Tarzan or Xena warrior princess and Electra, you felt invincible.  You could achieve anything………….. and often did.

Simply envisioning yourself as this character (putting your big boy/girl pants on) can be enough to feel more confident and do something you wouldn’t ordinarily feel willing to do.  If TV and movie characters don’t work for you, why not try a mentor, sports personality or a person in history you respect and emulate the qualities you admire in them.  You are not trying to be them.  You are embodying the qualities they possess that bring you confidence and an opposing voice to the saboteurs.

If that doesn’t work, stand and move like them. When I feel the grip of one of my saboteurs, one of my strategies is to go for a fast and determined walk, which breaks the lethargy and gives me more energy, focus and determination for the task ahead.  I call it my “fire walk” as it gets me all fired up and I stop listening to the limiting voice of my saboteur.

What is the 2% truth?

What is the truth behind what the saboteur is saying?  Saboteurs will take the smallest grain of truth and blow it out of all proportion.  When you can see the core of the truth, you can dismiss the rest and you can deal with the truth of the situation more effectively.  For example, I don’t like calling people.  My saboteur tells me that they are busy, or they do not want to talk to me and that I am wasting my time.  Then, when I call and they do not answer of brush me off, my saboteur then says “I told you so” and tells me not to bother and makes up stuff like “they don’t like me” or “they are not interested in the work I’m doing” or that my work is pointless and useless.  And even worse, that I am pointless and useless.

See how insidious these saboteurs can be?  Maybe you relate to this direction and momentum of thought?  When I can look at it clearly, I can see that being rejected or ignored are possibilities when I call, and that has nothing to do with me.  The rest is make-believe.  Sometimes it’s easier to stop that train of thought than others.  The key is to catch it early as your thoughts have less momentum.  With greater saboteur awareness, the sooner you can head it off and with greater ease.

What do your saboteurs look like?

Rather than a disembodied voice, it can be easier to work with your saboteur when it has a face, body, clothes, habits, character and personality.  Create a stereotype of your saboteurs.  Have fun creating a caricature that gives you a more manageable perspective on your saboteur.  One of mine is The Drill Sargent, like the one from Full Metal Jacket.  He shouts and rants and raves at me, saying that I’ll amount to nothing and give in.  Another is The Sex God.  I’m sure you can imagine what negative and undermining things he says to me!  But, when those voices have a comedy caricature, like a cartoon, it makes it easier to dismiss them and even send them somewhere so that I am apart from their negative influence.

Saboteurs are trying to help

As frustrating as they are, saboteurs are actually created to keep you safe.  Though you may want to change and do things differently, your saboteur is designed to stop you failing, being humiliated, getting hurt and taking risks.  The truth is, change involves risk and failure is possible.  So, learning to manage your saboteurs for the sake of change, growth and evolution is important.

It seems our habit is to fight our saboteurs.  We push against them, refuse to accept them, tense up and rant and rave in the face of them.  And all that does is make them come on stronger.  It’s human nature to push against what pushes against us.  So, rather than steam roller him, try thanking him.  That’s right.  It’s not a type-o! Thank your saboteurs for trying to help and explain that while you understand they are trying to keep you safe, you no longer want to act and live like this, so it’s time to change.  I was amazed how well this worked the first time I used it.  Faced with lots of negative talk about growing my business, I continually thank my saboteurs for their input and respectfully say that I choose a different way that I believe will get me the results I want.

Because of their helpful nature, I’m not sure we ever stop the saboteurs’ voices.  Perhaps they become easier to manage.  And remember, the bigger the risk you take, the louder the voice they have.  In a way, we don’t want them to stop- as they tell you that you are on the right track!!

Another useful tip given to me by my coach was the more saboteurs you have and the louder they speak, the bigger the dreams you have and the more capable you are of creating them.

Over to You

So, there are five strategies to manage your saboteurs.  Use one, use all, use them in different scenarios.  Work with what works best for you.  Do you recognise the voices of your saboteurs?  Are there more than one?  How do they sound different?  Have you noticed how you stand and move differently when you are lacking confidence and in the grip of a saboteur, compared to when you are feeling like a superhero?  Can you see the truth in what the saboteur is saying and separate it from the lies?  Will you face that 2% of truth and let it teach you what your next moves need to be?  Does it help to personify your saboteurs?  What becomes possible when your saboteurs are no longer holding you back?

Pass it on

Saboteurs are active all the time, not just when new years resolutions are at the fore front of your mind.  Whenever change is afoot, saboteurs are there to hold you back and keep you safe.  They are there to stop change.  So, if you know someone who is struggling with making changes, perhaps their saboteurs have got a hold of them.  Maybe this blog could give them some insight that could make all the difference.  Why not send it their way?

** inspired by personal life events, clients’ conversations and Taming your Gremlin by Rick Carson **

Opening doors to Freedom and shining your Light on the World

Are you searching for more meaning in your life?  Would you like to live from a place of purpose and meaning?  Are you looking for work that touches your soul, heart and spirit?  Do you have a sense of what that might look like?  Or are you baffled by these questions?  Are you keen to discover YOUR answers and open the doors to your full potential?

I believe that to feel complete and whole is what drives us.  To come to terms with the pains and wounds and shadows of our lives and find healing for them.  You may not say in those words, but there is a search for freedom- from pain, doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity.  And your wounds are the routes to that freedom.

Each person’s journey is unique and brings with it, unique challenges.  This discovery leaves us with questions about why we are here, what is fulfilling and meaningful to us and how we can bring this meaning to fruition for the improvement of our lives and the lives of those around us.  And perhaps even the world at large.  It doesn’t have to include your paid work, but I think that you would enjoy greater fulfilment in that work if it was aligned in some way to what has meaning and purpose for you.

Closing doors, turning off the lights

Annette Simmons explains it in Quantum Skills for Coaches like this.  I paraphrase: you are like a house with many rooms.  Each room represents a part of you: joy, love, curiosity, humour, playfulness, worthiness, confidence, truth, belief, trust, speaking up, integrity and so on.  Every room had its door open and the Light on, at some point in your life.  You were free to explore every inch of that house and you did.  You visited regularly and life was a joyous adventure.  Therefore, your Light shone on the world the way young people’s Light shines spontaneously, unapologetically and fiercely.  However, some rooms you ended up closing the door to and plunging it into darkness.  And so, your Light on the world became dimmed and your power and passion were diminished.

We get shamed, humiliated, hurt, disappointed, abused, violated, made bad or made wrong and we shut off to ourselves.  It could be a harsh word, or a cruel action, a leaving, an absence, a lack of communication and many other things.  It could be many small things over time, or it could be a single defining moment.

However it happens, we reach a point where we believe we have done something wrong and we hide that side of ourselves away in darkness.  You might have been told off when you expressed unabashed joy at something, so really letting your joy show becomes unacceptable- so much so that you may not even allow yourself to feel joy or find joy in others unacceptable or wrong.  Or perhaps adults in your youth did not keep their promises and so you find it hard to trust others?  Maybe a parent did not show you love and so you think you are unlovable?  Perhaps you had to step into the role of carer for parents, siblings, grandparents or yourself too soon and now you always prioritise others’ care rather than your own.

Follow your Bliss

Life then becomes a journey of rediscovering those rooms, opening the doors and turning the Lights back on.  You do this by “following your bliss” as the great Joseph Campbell said.  And the interesting thing about following your bliss is that you love it because it is longed for.  Perhaps it has been missing or you did not have enough of it in the past.  This longing leads you to one of your rooms, perhaps to many.

One example of this is from my own childhood.  Talking openly was not something that happened in our household and so I have a longing for transparency, openness and truth.  I see this in many people who had similar experiences to me.  As a result, I believe, I have developed a fascination with philosophy (literally meaning “love of wisdom or truth”) and developed keen listening skills to help myself and others come to their own truth and wisdom through life coaching and facilitation.

Opening doors

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

Campbell’s full quote is “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”.  This has been true for me as I have found healing through discovering the truth about my past and present which allow me to build a future of my own choice.  I have clients who have known abuse in childhood and infidelity in marriage leading to disabling limitations.  And yet, explore that pain and wounding and on the other side has been the path to self-love and the joy of living the life they feel they truly deserve- fulfilling, love-filled, meaningful and on purpose.

The path to your bliss usually comes in unexpected ways.  It is not what your “head” would normally identify as the proper path.  Typically, it leads you towards all kinds of opportunities that seem out of the ordinary.  In my life, I had a career in science mapped out.  However, my intuition or “gut” took me toward martial arts and within a decade I had ditched the neuroscience career and was teaching people Karate, Aikido and Iaido and how to apply those principles to have greater success in business, relationships and life in general.  That opened doors to life coaching and workshop facilitation as well as volunteering for Samaritans.  As Campbell said, “we must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

The doors to freedom

Those things that you seek to recover that make you feel whole, are often those things that you fear.  To survive without them, you make them wrong or bad or fearful.  Yet you feel like something is missing and so you go in search of them.  You become caught in this interplay between moving towards what you seek and away from what you fear.

It takes great courage to face these challenges.  The last quote from Campbell, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” points to this truth.  If you want your life to flourish, you cannot settle for survival.  You find a way to allow yourself to thrive.

This has always been the narrative of the Hero’s Journey- think Star Wars or Harry Potter.  The Hero’s Journey is not only a modern theme- it is as old as humanity.  You’ll see it in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism and The Tale of Gilgamesh from Babylon.  You are the hero of your life- the only one who can set you free from the fear that currently holds you back from living that fulfilling life.  The same life that finds its meaning in facing these fears.  In facing your fears, the clarity of your purpose begins to coalesce.  Your Light shines brighter and brighter as you face more fears and rediscover the house that is you, illuminating your way and allowing you to share your gifts with the world.

Gifts to the World

Find whatever means you can to bring your gifts to the world.  They are sorely needed and in living them, you will live the fulfilling life you dream for yourself.  There will be challenges.  There may even be dragons.  And there will be Princes and Princesses, Kings and Queens, adventures and miracles.  Life is not complete without the Light AND the dark, pain and joy, love and fear.  Learn ways to embrace the Light, find the joy and allow the love to flow.  Pain, fear and darkness are always present.  In your Light the darkness is banished, the fear becomes manageable and the pain you feel a product of the power of your love.  So, seek the Light and rediscover the house that is YOU.

Over to you

If you’d like to rediscover your Light and find your purpose to make life more fulfilling and meaningful for you, why not contact me and we can discuss how you can begin to make that a reality.

What is life coaching- and what can it do for you?

Have you ever wondered what life coaching is? Or perhaps what it isn’t? The word “coaching” is used so broadly it can be a little confusing what people mean when they say “I am a coach” or “I offer coaching”. One of the first questions prospective clients ask me is “What is coaching and what can it do for me?”

What is Life Coaching

From my understanding, the roots of coaching are firmly embedded in sports performance. Timothy Gallwey may well have written the first life coaching book with The Inner Game of Tennis.

He talks about using the body to learn new habits, embodying the feel of movement to create great, high-level performance. It’s a short step to embodying any new habit, including feeling confident, empowered, powerful and engaged in any number of daily life situations.

Any high performing athlete needs a coach to motivate, inspire, guide and improve physical and mental performance. So why not any person who wishes to perform at a higher level in any area of their life? Success is not assured, but the likelihood of improvements and achieving desired goals is highly increased.

Life Coaching for Everyone

The parallels with everyday life are massive. We all have goals. We all want to improve our performance, be it at work or in our private lives. Mind sets around showing up in relationships and creating the life you long for are essential for success. Life-limiting mind sets keep you stuck in old patterns. Finding mind sets that are aligned to your goals and values make success more likely.

Now, there are many ways to make this happen. There are books and courses and retreats, webinars and seminars, both on-line and off-line. There are executive coaches, therapists, financial coaches, counsellors, relationship coaches, consultants and life coaches.

When the word “coach” is made to mean the same as “consultant“, you might get an expert in a particular field. The client or coachee is expecting input from the coach/ consultant based on their experience in business say to advise and guide. Incredibly useful. I myself have used business coaches at certain points in my business development. This type of coaching or consulting is a step-by-step, incremental development as the client grows in knowledge and experience.

Co-active Life Coaching

The kind of life coaching I do, co-active life coaching, is transformational. Rather than step-by-step, incremental growth, the client experiences transformation. Evolving from caterpillar to butterfly.

For over 20 years I have taught martial arts. The Japanese word for that role is “sensei”. That roughly translates into English as teacher. Yet, as is so often with different languages, the work “sensei” means much more. It is one who cares for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of those that are supported by him. There is love, patience, compassion and a fierce longing for their true strength and power to reveal itself and manifest in ever area of their lives. It comes to each individual in its own time. Yet the sensei never stops longing for that truth and working with them to make that real in the world.

When I went into life coaching, I felt a natural affinity towards this type of coaching. It was a great fit. An extension of my “Sensei” role. And I could bring physical embodiment to my life coaching and greater emotional intelligence to my “Sensei” role. You can learn more here.

Life Coaching and Transformation

An example of this transformative process with one of my clients follows. Changes in perception and perspective in almost every call lead to massive shifts in action that gave new and exciting outcomes. The client’s life was literally transformed.

“I have been lucky enough to share a coaching journey with David that has been and still is a transformational experience……….What David brought to the game that was priceless, was an in depth exploration of these ideas and plans to put any changes into daily action. That’s where the real power of coaching is and with this depth has come great personal rewards….. I found that the positive benefits of exploring these concepts actually manifested themselves very powerfully after the sessions and are still going on now.

“David is an empathic and passionate coach who held my wishes as a client foremost in our relationship and gently but very firmly held me to my decisions and personal promises without distraction. It’s not new knowledge that to change old habits, reach new heights and achieve ones goals, powerful and sustained focus on them is required to empower them, but theres a vast difference between just knowing how to do it and actually doing it, David helps make it happen.”

Evoking Transformation

The caterpillar needs to dissolve away old ways of being and doing that support old goals. Instead, embrace new ways of being and doing that are aligned to new goals. The shift is not incremental. It is transformational. New perceptions and perspectives that drive deep, inner change.

That is what I want for any client that comes my way. If I know I cannot walk along side them to support that change I will suggest appropriate coaches I think can. Then the client can decide. And if I can, I will use all my love and compassion to evoke transformation in my client. An on-line dictionary defines evoke as “bring or recall (a feeling, memory, or image) to the conscious mind.” Coaching tools delve into exploration and awareness. As you become more aware, you have access to inner resources previously unavailable to you. Those inner resources ignite new levels of consciousness or being which result in different doing.

Over to You

On and in it goes, revealing more potential at every exploration. If you would like to make those transformational shifts, perhaps you are ready for co-active life coaching with me and bring new inspiration to your career, relationships, health, wellness and life as a whole.

Pass it on

If you know people who want to make transformational change, please forward them the link to this blog. Alternatively, if this has inspired something in you, please get in touch and we can have a conversation about how we might be able to walk the path together towards a more fulfilling life for you.