The archetypes are a map and model of personal growth. They point to your qualities and greatness and the pitfalls you might encounter that hold you small, in limitation and fear. And they offer a way out of that fear and into choice, freedom and expansion.

Are you a life coach?  Or a person looking for life coaching?  Either way, archetypes are an excellent model to work with to access the deep potential available within the coaching session and within you as an individual- both coach and client.

How can the archetypes support you in your leadership? There is self-leadership and leadership of others, as well as collaboration- leadership with others. Archetypes can inspire you to great leadership in all these areas as an individual, and as a parent, partner and work colleague.

Relationships are the most fulfilling part of life.  And simultaneously the most challenging.  How you show up in your relationships is essential to your life success and your personal sense of connection and belonging.  Be it at work, relationships at home as partner, parent and sibling, or with friends, archetypes can help enrich all your relationships.

If you are interested in personal growth, be that for business or career development, or simply to be more content and fulfilled in life, you’ll understand the significance of remaining positive.

One of the key factors contributing towards your growing positivity is being discerning about who you spend your time with.  As one of my great spiritual teachers told me, “You are who you sit with”.  Jim Rohn said it this way, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

Blessing or curse?

What are your views on acceptance?  Are you able to roll with the punches?  Or do you wrestle for control?  Do you see acceptance as a weakness?  Or is it a strength?  Is acceptance a blessing or a curse?

What is your relationship with Intuition?  Do you doubt that you have intuition?  Do you second guess intuition and find yourself plagued with doubt, indecision and confusion?  If you get that intuitive hit, how does it come to you- through words, pictures, thoughts or feelings?  And when that hit comes, do you act on it, or do you ignore it?  Perhaps it scares you, or you don’t like what it says, think it’s mundane or pointless?

Intuition and Transformation

When a coaching client connects to their intuition, listens and takes action, it can be one of the most empowering transformations they can make.  Suddenly, they move from needing advice and support from others, to independence, self-sufficiency and clarity.  Advice and support have their place, but when they stop a person from trusting themselves and undermine their sense of autonomy, they become disempowering.  The client becomes small in their body through lack of confidence, plays small in their life by acting without courage and feels small in themselves by staying inside their comfort zone and resisting risk and failure.

Building trust in Intuition has become an important part of the work I do with clients.  And I have begun to run training to empower people to connect to Intuition, learn how to use it, listen to it and act from that place of inspiration.  In collaboration with Thea Allison and Catelijne Coopmans, we devised a series of five sessions focusing on Embodying Archetypes for Personal Growth.  These were part of the Embodiment Circles Online in 2020.  This blog focuses on Magician.

Intuition and Magician Archetype

The Magician archetype is an excellent way to access these inherent skills and build trust in imagination, creativity and vision making.  Magician is not an illusionist.  It is a transformer and synthesiser that brings things together to create something new.  It creates from the ether, sensing that which is beyond the senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell) and bringing it to life.  Magician captures dreams (like the Big Friendly Giant by Roald Dahl), creates vision, senses what is on the verge of becoming and helping it manifest.

One Magician in our modern day was Steve Jobs.  He sensed that people wanted a computer that could be used easily, intuitively, immediately and would not be a struggle to learn.  And so he created the Macintosh and computing, animation, publishing and education have never been the same since (see this article Giving People What They Want Before They Know They Want It for more information). Jobs instinctively knew how to listen to Intuition as do many actors, visionaries, authors, musicians, thought leaders, artists, trail-blazers, entrepreneurs and anyone who uses imagination to create a solution.  Stephen Hawking, Paul McCartney, Lin Miguel Miranda and Banksie are all 21st century Magicians.

How Intuition Speaks

We are all born with the instinct to listen to Intuition.  Many of us unlearn that skill.  Fortunately, you can relearn it too.

Intuition communicates with you predominantly in one of four ways:

  1. Words- your inspiration comes in individual words or phrases. Less often it might come as a sentence or perhaps a stream of words.  If it does flow, it is usually because you are writing it down or saying it out loud in some way.  Once you act on the individual word or phrase, you may receive the next step on the journey.
  2. Pictures- flashes or glimpses of insight come to your mind’s eye. Or you may get a moving image like a film playing in your head.
  3. Thoughts- you’ll get an idea jump into your mind or the thought to call or reach out to a specific person.
  4. Feelings- intuition often speaks through the body. A gut reaction, your heart skips a beat, you feel an urge to take action in some way.  Perhaps you’ll meet someone and take an instant liking, or disliking, to them, without having spoken a word.  Or that urge to eat a particular food or be clear that you don’t want to eat something.  You might be inspired to speak your truth.

Bolts from the Blue

Intuition speaks to us through these means.  Most people have a dominant one or two ways, but we have all four.    The one thing they have in common, is that the insight is usually out of the blue.  It has no reference to what you may have been thinking about beforehand.  To the point where it seems weird or freaky.

As an example, I was at a particularly low ebb one New Year’s day.  I felt lost at that point in my life and was wondering what I could do to change it.  A person’s name, someone I had not thought about in months, sprang to mind.  I reached out to him and he helped guide me back on track.

One of the reasons I work with archetypes is because Intuition keeps bringing me back to them as an answer to my questions in life.  When opportunities for new and inspiring work come up, archetypes come, unbidden, front and centre in my mind and workshops and seminars come together with ease.

I will plan what I am going to say when I present workshops or give seminars, but often the script goes out the window when I get an intuitive push to approach the work differently.  In the moment, I’ll change tack and go with it, because I trust my intuition- at least much more than I used to.  Every time, without fail, I ask for feedback and participants say the material was just what was needed.  When I suggest I could have done it differently, hinting at what I had meticulously planned for the event, they always shake their heads and say what I did was better.  I can’t explain it, but it works every time.  I know it works and I have learned to trust it.

Learning to Listen

There are many ways to cultivate your relationship with Intuition.  Over the years I have practised many forms of spontaneous creative output including writing, movement (dance, martial arts), music, play (such as comedy improvisation or playing with children) and public speaking.

Here are a couple of ways in which you can connect to Intuition from the Embodying Archetypes for Personal Growth series about Magician:

1. Meditation to Access Intuition

One of the reasons you may not hear Intuition is because your conscious, logical and rational mind is so busy, it is a distraction. It’s so loud and consistently active that you rarely if ever hear Intuition.  And the world is a busy and loud place too.  Lots of distractions there as well- TV, internet, social media and so on.  You may not know it, but Intuition is reaching out to you all the time.  For most of us in the modern world, our focus is towards the busyness and loudness of life.  Intuition often does not get a look in.  Sometimes, its messages get through the cracks when there is a pause- like when you’re taking a shower, running, driving, day-dreaming and so on.

If you want to access Intuition more purposefully, take time to remove some of those distractions from time to time and learn to recognise when Intuition is communicating to you.  Ask for the answer to something about a relationship, a business challenge, health concerns, problem solving and Intuition will give you the next step.  This video is a guided visualisation that will give you a chance to connect to your intuitive voice:

Guided Visualisation

The key is to go with the thing that first comes to mind.  Don’t second guess it.  If you don’t like what you hear, don’t waste your time listening out for something different.  It might be scary, mundane, obvious, not glamorous or glitzy enough for you.  But if that is what Intuition says, then that is the message.  So often, Intuition has me stepping out of my comfort zone that feels great once I’ve done it and isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  Or doing the mundane things like keeping the house tidy or organising my accounts.  It means that I can relax, which feels good and allows me to focus on more important things for my development.  Important things that without that organisation, I wouldn’t have the time or space to do.

Intuition isn’t some woo woo hocus pocus.  It is eminently practical and useful and very often flies in the face of logic, reason and common sense.

2. Embodying Intuition

The Magician in you nurtures your natural ability to go into the unknown, using imagination and intuition to seek new understanding and wisdom to be of service in the world.

Magician can hold itself in the practical, real world, and also transcend the physical to allow valuable information and guidance to come through.

As individuals we access intuition differently. This movement practice, devised by Thea Allison*, uses three different, embodied techniques to access intuition to test them for effectiveness and appropriateness to you personally.

Using the over-arching question What am I here to learn and share? we explored these three embodied enquiries:

1. Transcendence Pose.

We used the Embodied Yoga Principles pose of Transcendence to experience that lift into the higher, into the airy realm of intuition and vision. Standing on tip toe, with your arms straight up, your palms facing each other a shoulder width apart and your gaze going upwards. Holding the question, we used movement to reach out, plucking ideas and possibilities from the ether and intuitively putting those ideas into the body, wherever it felt true to ‘land’ them. Like plucking apples from a tree, or the stars from the sky.

2. Circles

Using circles is an ancient intuitive technique. Create or imagine a circle and define that space to suit your needs, for example, my true vision, or clarity on this project. When you connect with, or step into the circle you will have an experience of how you have defined it. We walked around the edge of the circle, holding the question ‘What am I here to learn and share?’ purposefully imagining the circle to be empty and free of other influences. Stepping into the circle we waited to receive whatever information came.

3. Centring

We went through a simple centring process.  Starting on the external environment by feeling our feet on the floor, standing tall, becoming aware of the feeling of the air on our skin. Moving internally, we noticed our breathing and relaxed our core – eyes, mouth and jaw, down to the belly. With relaxed breath, in this centred state, we asked the question and listened for what came. (Based on ABC Centring technique as taught at The Embodied Facilitators Course.

Intuition is a natural gift that can be practised and nurtured in all of us. We all have aspects of the Magician to call on. The important thing is to find the best way for you to be in the unknown, free of the normal layers of conditioning and bias that direct your thinking, and then hold onto the first thing you get.

To complete the session, we continued walking while considering three questions:

  • 1) Where/how do you experience intuition in your body?
  • 2) What was your reaction to the first thing you got (e.g. reject it, want something more, want something less, doubt it)?
  • 3) What can you do now to make this information useful?

Over to you

How is your relationship with Intuition?  What practices do you have to connect to it?  Were the two offered here useful for you?  What is Intuition telling you?  How will you use Intuition in the future?  If you did use Intuition, how would your life look different in a year from now?  Or five years from now?

We will be creating and delivering further sessions and courses on Embodying Archetypes for Personal Growth.  If you’d like to know more about future content and dates with the interest of possibly attending, please e-mail David at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk and I will contact you with additional details as we publish them.  Alternatively, you can subscribe to my newsletter on the right hand side of this page.

Pass It on

Did you find this blog valuable and gain something from it? Do you know a friend, colleague or family member who would find it valuable too?  I’d really appreciate it, and I’m sure they would too.  Thank you.

*Thea Allison specialises in teaching people to use intuition and embodiment to create what is most important to them. She put together this simple exploration of intuition and embodiment.

What do coping and being resilient mean to you?  What does coping actually look like for you?  And what does it feel like?

For many people, I think there is still the Victorian Britain image of coping.  The stiff upper lip, being a rock, shouldering the responsibility, putting on a brave face and so on.  These expressions all smack of isolation.  They imply going it alone, not sharing with or burdening others.  They epitomise the strong person, be it the father, mother, business owner, manager, leader or carer for example, who always has the answer, doesn’t reach out for help and never shows their emotions.

Behind the scenes, however, all is not well.  It’s just that you’re trying to make it look like all is well, that you’re coping and you’ve got it covered.  So, what is actually going on for that individual when they are putting on a brave face and not burdening others with their problems?

Lonely

Well, from personal experience, it feels lonely.  When you think that you cannot turn to anyone for support, you take on the responsibility of finding the answer alone.  And you might not turn to others for many reasons.  You may feel ashamed for not knowing how to solve the problem.  For making a mistake or not being able to handle it on your own.  Perhaps you’re stopped from asking because you imagine people will think you are stupid, ineffective, irresponsible or incapable.  Maybe you are concerned for the impact it will have on your marriage, career or relationships with your kids, friends and family.  Or even the future of your kids.  And so maybe that makes you feel guilty.  Perhaps you are held back by the stigma of failure or appearing weak?  Shame can play a big part in staying silent and “coping” in quiet desperation.

Stuck

I also felt stuck.  If you cannot go to others for advice or support, it is often difficult to find new perspectives and approach the challenge with fresh eyes.  Therefore, you get stuck in a rut and keep doing the same things and hoping you’ll get different results.  That feeling of “stuck” and perhaps feeling hemmed in, restricted or confined is debilitating.  It makes you tense, frustrated, irritated and anxious, which affect your concentration and focus.  In this state, it can be hard to sleep.  And you may be distracted and distant with those closest to you.  Which impact on your relationships, work productivity and engagement as well as your health and well-being.

You might experience tension headaches or migraines, tight shoulders and chest which could lead to shortness of breath and a sense of panic.  You might have low energy and diminished sex drive.

Defensive

And I was on the defensive.  You’ll tell everyone that you are fine or great and how well things are going.  And with every false truth you utter, a little part of you dies inside.  You’ll try to divert people’s attention away from too much detail so that they don’t find out.  You hold your body tense, armouring yourself against threat or attack, as if by not acknowledging it, the house of cards will not come tumbling down.  Yet, every moment you spend not creating an effective resolution, the house of cards gets closer and closer to collapsing.

That tension you are holding has its advantages.  It stops you feeling the full force of your discomfort.  Which you might also hide by drinking alcohol excessively, over working, keeping your distance (perhaps physically and emotionally) from those most impacted by this situation, recreational drugs, gambling and so on.

Sticking your head in the sand

This is a worse-case scenario.  But, if you notice yourself employing distraction and diversionary behaviour, feeling isolated and any of the possible symptoms mentioned above, you could be in a state of coping which isn’t really coping at all.  It’s sticking your head in the sand.  And while you might be busy doing things and hoping it will all sort itself out, the situation gets worse over time which makes you feel more stuck, isolated, desperate, lonely and defensive.  And so the spiral continues downward.

But it won’t sort itself out.  While you remain stuck, you are stressed, anxious and tired.  Therefore, you are not in a place to create an effective solution to the problem.  That stress and anxiety has your body set up for fight or flight (known as the Stress Response).  Which is actually the opposite of what you need to get out of the rut you are in.

Most people, particularly men, will wait until the final straw before they will reach out to others.  Stigmas, such as “asking for support shows you are weak and not a real man”, mean that people avoid asking for help so much longer than necessary.  So much stress, anxiety and heartache could be avoided if stigmas like this could be challenged.

Coping redefined

So, I’d like to redefine what it means to be coping.  Coping is not desperation or isolation.  And certainly not devastation.  The Cambridge English Dictionary defines coping as” dealing successfully with a difficult situation”.  There is nothing successful about that Victorian Britain definition of coping.  I believe therefore, that coping redefined wants to look more like resilience.

**Which means connecting to four key aspects of your well-being:

  1. Self
  2. Other
  3. Nature
  4. Meaning/ Purpose/ Spirituality

Self

One of the reasons people find it hard to cope is that they may not realise they are struggling.  They lack a degree of self-awareness that means they do not notice they are expressing signs of stress and anxiety.  You may know people who are telling you they are not angry as they yell at the top of their voices.

Mindfulness and embodiment exercises can develop that self-awareness so that you can notice the signs of struggling earlier and do something about it.  Also, the earlier you tackle the problem, the less off the rails you are and so it is easier to rectify.  The longer it is left, the more work you have to do to get back on track.  Which is more stressful.  Engage a little in the pain you are in.  The sensations are full of valuable information that can tell you where you want to head and how to take the first steps.

Other

Having relationships with a wide range of people means you have a broad support network to call upon when you realise you are struggling.  To be resilient it is best to have at least one person you can go to for practical advice, someone else who is an inspiration for you, another who makes you laugh at yourself and the world, a fourth that acts as a mentor or elder, a sexual partner or someone who gives you touch and finally someone who is a listener.  These six people collectively support you in your resilience and your ability in coping.  A single person definitely shouldn’t be all six of those things to you, but someone might cover two, maybe three roles.

Nature

A regular connection to nature is a great resource for coping.  The calm of the natural world will bring you to a calmer state if you allow it to nurture you.  Immerse yourself in the wilds, take a walk in a park, or even walk on the streets and take the time to look at the trees, clouds, the sun, birds and anything else that connects you with nature.  It might take some time for the effect to take hold but, do what you can and notice the impact.

Meaning/ Purpose/ Spirituality

When you are aligned to what is most important to you, you have access to power and confidence that has you working at a much higher level.  Compare that to when you are conflicted, second guessing yourself, confused and consumed with doubt or fear.  The power of your clarity, focus and fulfilment are second to none.  Living your purpose has a hint of stepping outside your comfort zone, discovery and creating something new.  It might feel challenging, risky and a step into the unknown, but here you are alive and vital.

You might feel stress, but it is not overwhelming stress.  It is stress that has you raise your game and perform beyond your expectations.  You feel of use or service in this place, contributing towards something larger than you.  Perhaps giving something that only you can give.  That sense draws you forward while you are oriented towards an inner compass point that feels fulfilling, meaningful and on purpose.

Dealing successfully with a difficult situation

If you listen to your body, it is telling you the answers.  Those urges to speak to someone, reach out for help, take a break and align yourself to what brings you joy are your body saying you need to do this so that you can cope.

When you take the time consistently to cultivate your resilience, your capacity to cope with life’s challenges dramatically increases.  So, rather than trying to cope by shutting down, withdrawing, digging your heels in and numbing the pain and suffering, you can reach out for as many of the resources that develop your resilience as you want or need.  So that rather than be stressed, anxious and tense you can be relaxed and at ease and so more inclined towards creative solutions, cooperation and collaboration.

There is even evidence to suggest that when we are stressed, our bodies release Oxytocin so that we are more inclined to reach out for support from others (the second on the resilience list).  You can listen to a TED Talk about it here.

So, there is no need to suffer.  And there is definitely no need to suffer alone.  In fact, when you get this right, overcoming the challenges and reaching your goals in life can come with remarkable ease.  If you listen to your body, it is telling you the answers.  Those urges to speak to someone, reach out for help, take a break and align yourself to what brings you joy are your body saying you need to do this so that you can cope.

Nothing in nature remains stuck.  Everything is in a dynamic flow that moves, changes, adapts and evolves.  If you are digging in and getting stuck, you are going against nature.  You are going against your nature.  Reach out and help things flow.  The answers come much sooner and the joy of relief more quickly.

Over to You

How are you coping?  What do you do to build and maintain your resilience?  What is your definition of coping?  How might it be different after reading this blog? What will you be doing differently as a result of reading this?

Pass it on

If you have found this information useful why not send the link to a friend in need?

 

** I have taken this information about resilience from Mark Walsh’s lecture on Four Types of Resilience from Integration Training’s Resilience Day on April 30th, 2020.

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?

Do you find yourself putting off those jobs you do not want to do?  Does fear get in the way of doing those important jobs that would forward your career, grow your business or improve your relationships?  When fear and self-doubt rear their heads during these challenging times, what are you doing to manage the situation?  Stick your head in the sand?  Procrastinate?  Take action in fear, doubt and worry?

These are challenges I face daily.  And you do too, I imagine.  When I speak to clients, they have similar issues.  And I find myself wondering, “Is there a better way?”  When we are dominated by fear, doubt and worry, we live the resulting frustration and paralysis.  And while that fear is in the driver’s seat, in control of your life, that life is not going to change in a positive and significant way.

If we can learn to get that negativity out of the driver’s seat and replace it with positive, life-affirming thoughts, we will take confident and empowering action and change the landscape of our lives towards something more pleasing, pleasurable, fulfilling and meaningful.

As I contemplate the question, “Is there a better way?”, here are some thoughts that come to mind:

  1. Practice thinking feel-good thoughts.

If you are in the habit of thinking negative thoughts, you’ll think them more and more.  Have you noticed that when you wake up in the middle of the night and you start thinking negative thoughts, that those negative thoughts get stronger and faster?  Before you know it, a thought about an up-coming bill that needs paying turns into declaring bankruptcy and losing your house.  Most of those fear-based thoughts are just that- fear.  Your mind will work with that and create more of it, the more you practice.

Instead, practice thinking positive thoughts.  When you do, you’ll notice that you will think more positively, more of the time.  To start, it may well be a challenge, as you are re-wiring your mind and body to think differently.  You will feel the immediate benefit and it will take time for your biology to catch up for it to become a consistent habit.  So, practice, perseverance and patience are important.  These old patterns of thought are well-engrained.  Be purposeful and conscious about setting aside time through the day to practice positive thoughts.

The Power of Gratitude

Take time to think about how grateful and appreciative you are about anything in your life that you genuinely feel gratitude for: a tree in your garden or at the park; the sunset out your kitchen window or on the drive home; a dog gleefully running out on its walk with its owner; a kind gesture or comment; feeling good during or after a workout; pleasurable-feeling clothes; nice-tasting food.  Allow yourself to feel the feeling.  So often I have found myself thinking that this is a pleasurable experience rather than feeling the sensations of pleasure as a result of the experience. It’s a powerful distinction that has you directly connect to something rather than be removed and distant from it.

Don’t try to make yourself feel grateful for something you are not grateful for.  Make it genuine, authentic and legitimate.  Perhaps you’ll notice that feel-good feeling in your chest or you’ll break out in a smile.  Or maybe you’ll laugh or get a buzz of excitement through your body.  This is your body resonating with the positive thoughts you are consciously choosing to have.  It is a purposeful process, that changes your biology to create feel-good chemicals.  Over time this has a profoundly positive effect on your well-being.  In the moment, you feel great, or content, or elated, or happy or satisfied.

You can do this at the beginning of the day, in anticipation for the day ahead.  Or, you can do it at the end of the day and think back at what the day brought, for which you are grateful.  Either way you’re practising feel-good thoughts.  Another method is to take a moment before or after a meal, meeting, journey or some such part of your day and take time to be appreciative of it.  This is similar to Abraham Hicks’ Segment Intending (really good YouTube video here) that can so powerfully influence how you move through the world.  Whichever method you use, you are taking a moment to pause and decide to be grateful and appreciative for the moments ahead.

  1. Do not practice negative thoughts.

Sometimes, negative or anxious thoughts are so powerful, you cannot think yourself out of them.  Like waking up in the middle of the night, if those thoughts get too negative and too fast, you are better off doing something completely different to distract yourself.  Perhaps you need to make some prospecting calls and you are working yourself up into tizz about it or;  you have a report to finish and your mind is too preoccupied with worry or; you’re in the middle of a disagreement with your partner or kids and you are too angry to think straight.

Take a break.  Go for a walk.  Sleep on it.  Go for a workout.  Create some distance and distract yourself from your emotional reaction which is not serving you well in this situation.  Give your biology a chance to get back to balance and then try to re-assert a positive mindset about it (as we discussed above).

Even if it feels like you’ve got to make that call, have that meeting or complete that conversation, it’s probably going to do more harm than good if you do so when you are anxious, worried, stressed or angry.  Do something to take your mind off it and come back to it later with a fresh perspective.  Have you noticed how different you feel about a situation once you have some distance from it?  I’m not saying don’t do that thing.  I’m suggesting you do all you can to be in the best head space when you do it.

Turning the doubt and fear around

And some days you may find that you have climbed out of bed on the wrong side and nothing you do is going to shift that negative or abrasive mood.  Let it go.  Don’t make the calls, avoid having those important conversations and don’t make any important decisions about your business or life if you can avoid it.  You may feel you are being lazy or should have your sh*t together.  The reality is, some days we are not at our best and tomorrow, or the day after, will be a better day.  As the saying goes, to build a reputation takes years, to ruin it takes seconds.  Give yourself a break and have some compassion.

At any time you notice you are having negative thoughts, gently changing your tack can move your thoughts towards something more positive.  For example, I wanted to make a prospecting call to a long-standing client.  On that day, I was making up that he was busy, that he wouldn’t want to talk to me, that I would not be able to speak with confidence and in a professional manner.

So, I turned it around.  I went for a walk and had a conversation with myself.  “He’s always been friendly before.  If he’s busy he won’t pick up so don’t worry about that.  We enjoy each other’s company.  I’m offering a great service, my service has been of benefit before.  I know he is keen to take me on for further business, I am always professional and courteous when I feel confident and so on.”  By the time I got back from the walk, I was feeling far more positive to make the call.  I felt nervous as I dialled which faded away as we began to chat and talk business.

  1. If you can’t do it, get someone else to do it

If you don’t want to do something, delegate it to someone else.  Or, if someone is doing a task they love, they will do a much better job than you, if you dislike doing it.  Rather than make prospecting calls, which I dislike doing and frankly find distressing (you might have guessed from my example above!!!!), I hire a professional to do it for me.  I also hire a copy writer and a graphic designer.  They’re better at it than I am and will do it in a fraction of the time.  It stops me being a block to my business’ growth.

If you have a gap in your knowledge about something, fill the gap by reading a book, asking for some advice or going on a course about it.  Skill up.  Your growth is the key to your business’ success as well as your life success.  And you might discover talents you did not know were there.  I can learn how to build a website.  But frankly that is not my forte and I’m better off giving that task to someone else.  Alternatively, learning to cook has been a wonderful new avenue into creative cuisine and maintaining a healthier and more balanced diet.

I sucked at Tango, so I’ve put that to bed, and as a result, I have a greater appreciation for Tango dancers and dancing in general.  Being organised is a skill I have taken out of the closet.  Since I abandoned my career in science, I thought I could leave organisation and being systematic could go out the window.  It turns out it’s a skill that can be applied to all kinds of life situations (surprise, surprise!!).  So now I find myself being a little anal about accounts and e-mail boxes, bookshelves and kitchen cupboards.

And having those difficult conversations, once so hard to do, are easier, now that I have learned better how to communicate, listen and pay attention to my feelings and empathy for others’.

Over to You

So, in summary, I think there is a better way to manage ourselves when we are faced with those challenging situations that we want to put off, sweep under the carpet and feel too overwhelmed to face.  These three broad perspectives seem almost too easy and simple to be the answers to such challenges.  For a great many years, I believed there had to be something more complicated than this to overcome these life-limiting challenges.

And yet, stopping those negative thoughts and making a habit of having positive thoughts can be really hard to do.  Continually educating and improving yourself can also be tough.  As can passing the task to someone more capable and skilful at that task.  Yet, these are the only ways I have found to take on those jobs I don’t want to do and overcome the fear I have about them.  What do you do?  How do you get out of your own way on your journey to success?

Pass it on

Know people who stick their heads in the sand about important things?  Or people who get in their own way repeatedly?  Why not pass this blog on to them and give them a chance to feel more empowered?