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The Power of Yes

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

Yin  and Yang of ” Yes” and “No”

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

The Power of “Yes”

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

Stagnation

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

Actions that diminish us

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

Behaviour that empowers us

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

Authenticity

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

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

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

The Power of “Yes”

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

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

Over to You

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

Pass it on

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

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The Power of No

It is important to be able to say a powerful and meaningful “no”.

“No” is often such a hard word to say. We don’t like to disappoint people or let anyone down. And then there is the fear of appearing unreasonable, difficult or arrogant.

The importance of “no”

At some point in your life you would have had to say “no” to something- a job, a relationship, a plea for help, a client, a cream bun, a cigarette? In some way you know it is harmful to you, taking you in a different direction to the way you want your life to go.  Very often we do not find the resolve to say “no” unless we are clear why we are saying so in a way that feels really powerful from within. 

Recently I declined a workshop opportunity. I had run these workshops before and enjoyed them. It had been good publicity for the business. Now however, times had moved on and it did not serve the direction of business. I was heading into new territory and this would have brought me back to where I had been. As hard as it was I said “no” and it allowed me to pursue my new business direction more cleanly.

However, initially I said “yes”. Afraid to disappoint and let down people who were relying on me it felt wrong to decline. When I sat down and thought about it logically, strategically and from my heart I knew this wasn’t right for me. I felt conflicted. As soon as I told them my reasons why I felt much better, more confident and on purpose.

Three ways to say “no”

Depending on how resolute and confident you feel you might say “no” in a number of ways:

  1. You might say it loudly, aggressively or rudely. Perhaps even to the point where you might damage the relationship.  Saying it this way leaves people feeling like they cannot ask again. Coming from a place of weakness, doubt or a lack of confidence you might over- compensate for this lack by expressing yourself emphatically, even violently. You might feel your body go rigid, your breath quicken and become shallow, your stomach and shoulders tighten and your voice feel strained. 
  2. Conversely, you might say it softly, with doubt or a tone that says you are willing to bargain over this. Here, you are also coming from a point of weakness and you convey that doubt with a weak voice. Your body may also feel weak, with a sunken posture. You may feel like you are pulling away. Perhaps you have a sinking feeling in your stomach and you feel cornered and that you can’t say “no”. This leaves people thinking they can impose on you again and again and earns you no or little respect. 
  3. Alternatively, you can say “no” with confidence. You give a strong and resolute answer which leaves no doubt of your boundaries. People know where you stand and because you said it calmly, they feel happy in the relationship to be able to ask again in the future. You said it with a strong calm voice and your body was strong too. It was said without tension in it. You said “no” from a centred place coming from strength. 

Do you recognise any of these in others? Which of these do you do most often? “No” is an important word to say. Not just for your relationship with others. It is also really important with your relationship with yourself.

The inner power of saying “no”

To uphold your beliefs and values sends a powerful message to yourself and others. It says “I take care of myself first. I am better able to serve others when I am coming from a place of self respect and empowerment.”

An embodied “no”

This ability to say “no” is more than just an intellectual exercise. It is an embodied, integrated response that speaks volumes about your relationship with yourself. Because of the mind- body connection a strong body posture re- enforces a strong mental state to say “no” with confidence, authenticity and conviction.

Working on your body state as well as your mind set can free you from responding from a weak place of doubt and fear. You can say “no” from a place of strength, maintaining your values, integrity and self- confidence. 

If you’d like to work more on your confidence and your ability to say “no” with strength and conviction, please get in touch and we can speak about the possibility of working together.

Over to you

Do you find it easy to say “no”? Are you a “yes” person? Do you blur your boundaries and find it hard to reassert them? What do you experience when you do not say “yes”? Would you like to be able to say “no” with conviction, confidence and calm?

Why don’t you…….

Please write your comments in the box below this blog and share your experience. If you found this blog useful please pass it on. If you relate to anything you’ve read here and feel ready to work on changing that dynamic and relationship with yourself, please get in touch. You can do so here.

Body and Mind- a two way mirror

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.

The Power of Breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being

When was the last time you considered your breath? You take breathing for granted. As long as it is working so that you can work, rest and play you do not give it a second thought. From the moment you are born this essential process happens subconsciously, fuelling the body, feeding the cells the oxygen they need to perform their essential tasks to keep you alive and in good health and getting rid of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise build up to toxic levels in your system. On average, you take about 960 breaths an hour (that’s over twenty three thousand breaths a day). Until that moment when this process stops and your thoughts, emotions, feelings and awareness are no more.

The Power of Breath

The power of my breath was brought home to me most strongly when I as a teenager learning to SCUBA dive. Part of the training process is to learn drills should something happen underwater and you have to safely get back to the surface. One such drill is buddy- breathing. You always dive in pairs and if one of you runs out of air or your equipment malfunctions the other one can share their air while you both make a safe ascent. On one such practice dive, I was sharing my air with my buddy. As my buddy passed the mouth- piece to me so that I could take my 2 breaths, the instructor, unknown to me, turned off my air.

The feeling of trying to draw air and getting nothing in return sent me into panic. In fear I broke for the surface, which can be fatal for a diver, as the air is pressurised and expands as you rise. The instructor grabbed me before I got too far and got me to think about what I had to do to be safe. As I shared his air gratefully I felt the panic subside and clarity of thought return.

Needless to say, it was a dramatic lesson in how we are wired to take that next life- sustaining breath. I was also intrigued about how to control my thoughts, feelings and emotions in such a situation. Knowledge, practice, awareness and experience are all essential ingredients to success during an otherwise potentially stressful event. There are practical steps you can take to ensure you respond with confidence, calm, effectiveness and creativity.

The Relaxation Response

There are two strands to the way you respond to situations. There is either the relaxation response or the stress response. We are most familiar with the stress response: fight, flight or freeze. The relaxation response is less well known and is coined “rest and digest”. These two strands activate completely different parts of the nervous system.

When you are stressed and in the fight, flight or freeze response your sympathetic nervous system is engaged, driving your heart rate up, quickening your breath and dilating your blood vessels and muscles for action. This stress response is really important and useful in small doses. When your system is exposed to this long term, it can harmful affects on your mind and body, suppressing your immune system, making you irritable and aggressive, reducing effectiveness and creativity and much more.

Conversely, when you are relaxed, your parasympathetic nervous system is active, your heart slows, your breath slows and deepens and your blood vessels and muscles relax. You are meant to be relaxed for the majority of the time, promoting a strong immune system, a calm and relaxed demeanor, giving you resilience during stressful situations because generally your body and mind are not worn out by the excessive effects of long term stress.

The Power of Awareness

When you find yourself in stressful situations for much of the time, you can learn to engage the parasympathetic nervous system.  This promotes relaxation. You can learn to relax your muscles and calm and deepen your breathing so that you remain calm, attentive and aware throughout the day. The first stage to this is awareness. You have to realise that your body is reacting in a stressful way. Awareness exercises practiced regularly allow you to become more mindful of your state of mind and body so that you can recognise your state of being and consciously act to alter your state. They have the additional advantage of regularly relaxing your body system, keeping it calm for more of the time so that you enjoy better health and well- being. You will also interact with people better as a result and give off a feeling of calm and confidence.

Deep breathing in meditation and pranayama (yoga) practice is used to access spiritual connection, calming the body and allowing the mind’s brain waves to change to a beta state and even lower giving deeper rest, relaxation, awareness and realisation.

Controlling the breath

The breath is a powerful force. Not only does it keep you alive, it also helps you manage your mood and state of being. People tend to breath one of two ways, either by moving the chest or stomach. Chest breathing tends to be more shallow and is reminiscent of the stress response. Breathing from the stomach is much deeper and calmer. You are not literally breathing with your stomach. You are moving your stomach out, leaving room for your diaphragm to contract down, drawing more air into your lungs. This is much more healthy, calming and relaxing for the whole body. This is how you control your mood and response. Practice breathing deeply using the stomach and you can use this to activate the relaxation response during more stressful situations.

Moving Meditation Course

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

Is this article or the Moving Meditation Course useful for someone that you know?  If so, please send them a link to the blog or forward the details of the course. I’d really appreciate you spreading the word.

How can centring lead to greater relaxation and confidence?

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

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

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

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

Off- Centre

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

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

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

Balance and Centre

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

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

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

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

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

Awareness and Relaxation

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

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

Over to you

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

Pass it on

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

Self- Growth, Realising your Potential and Building Confidence

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?

 

Being in Your Own Skin

Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?

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

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

Conformity

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

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

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

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

Your Unique Voice

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

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

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

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

Comfortable in your own skin

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

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

Over to You

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

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Embodied Confidence

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).

How can I be authentic?

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

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

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

The Power of Masks

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

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

How do you access that power and potency?

This is what I have observed:

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

Call to action

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

Over to You

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

Happy New Year!!!!!!

How do I get over my nerves?

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

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

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

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

Threats of the modern world

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

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

What is that nervous feeling?

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

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

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

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

What are nerves telling you?

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

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

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

Over to you

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

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