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Workshop case study- developing practical strategies to manage the pressures of everyday life

“David and I discussed at length how best to help staff to manage physical and emotional well-being, which is a key priority for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as without a healthy workforce we will not be able to deliver our ambitious agenda.” Louise Frayne

I was approached by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to do a workshop at their London offices.  The workshop was designed after detailed discussion with the Head of HR & Organisational Development, Louise Frayne, who was looking for content relating to stress- management, well- being and confidence.  We had “met” on an on- line discussion I was running about confidence.  Louise was intrigued about my use of the mind- body connection for greater confidence, managing stress and workplace wellness.  Because of my martial arts background, I designed a workshop that focused on mindset, body and posture.  It also centred around movement, connection and the relationship between mind and body.

“I contacted David to design and deliver workshops here at our London office to help staff develop practical strategies to manage the pressures of everyday life. David and I discussed at length how best to help staff to manage physical and emotional well-being, which is a key priority for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health as without a healthy workforce we will not be able to deliver our ambitious agenda.”  Louise Frayne, Head of HR & Organisational Development, RCPCH

Stress, Communication and the Body

We started by using the work of Paul Linden and gaining awareness of how the body responds to threat.  By eliciting a stress response, attendees paid attention to where they became tense in their bodies and how they moved when threatened.  Then they learned a centring technique by balancing and relaxing the body, bringing them to a calm and broadened awareness.  As a result, they responded to threat in a much more effective and confident manner.  We explored how and where we might use this in our personal and professional lives.

We extended this theme by looking further at posture and breathing.  How do they impact on our confidence and perception of the world?  Also, how that impacts the people we interact with. We practised scenarios and realised how some postures and breathing made for more receptive and open communication than others.  It was agreed that using these more open postures for meetings and general communication around the office and at home would be beneficial.

We continued the embodied theme by looking at boundaries and being able to maintain those boundaries in the face of challenge and conflict.  These challenges and conflicts can be external and internal, yet it is the person’s personal relationship with the challenge or conflict that is vital for success. Thinking about boundaries alone is not powerful enough.  Integrating the work in the body can make for much more empowered behaviours and statements.  Attendees chose challenges they wished to say “yes” to and “no” to. These were as diverse as requests from work colleagues, personal health challenges such as diet and exercise and behaviours that improve well- being such as relaxation.  Embodying and centring gave more powerful and assertive “yes” statements, giving inner confidence and resolve.  “No” statements could be said confidently and calmly so that it would not damage relationships.

Finally, we tied all these strands together with a communication exercise.  Using Aikido principles of flow, we built a metaphor for communication based on remaining engaged and curious in conversation through movement.  We explored the relationships between leading and following and coming to conversations with an agenda and being agenda free.  Also, we discovered that entering the relationship with our own personal confidence and strength gave us the ability to play our role well, contribute effectively and enjoy the process.  We used the centring, breathing and postural techniques learned earlier in the workshop to make for better communication in a range of relationships so that we experienced win- win outcomes.

Feedback and further workshop development

The feedback from this workshop was very positive:

“David’s wealth of knowledge and expertise was invaluable.  The first workshop introduced core principles of breathing and relaxation. Feedback was so positive that I commissioned two further workshops to build on the themes of the first workshop.  Take up by staff was enthusiastic. Feedback from staff who attended showed that they felt able to use the strategies David had shown them in a variety of settings and they particularly liked how David developed trust and rapport in the room, so everyone could talk openly, which is so important for this type of event to work well. I would have no hesitation in recommending David and his workshops to any organisation.”  Louise Frayne, Head of HR & Organisational Development, RCPCH

Louise and I discussed the content for two further workshops to be carried out the following year.

Presence, Values and the Body

We continued these themes in the second workshop six months later.  Our objective here was to explore values.  How do they impact on stress?  In what way do posture and energy affect our presence?  How does all that impact our relationships with others.  Finally, we looked at meditation for greater rest, resilience and relaxation.

Attendees noticed how posture improved responsiveness, agility, intention and commitment to values.  Focus led to more power, strength and resilience.  Combining these qualities, it was easier to express their individual values, stand up for them when challenged and work more effectively and productively when their values were aligned with those of the College.  We also drew on learning from the previous workshop, adding further strength and confidence to participants’ resolve, resilience and presence.

We finished this workshop with some simple relaxation exercises.  Requests for issues to be addressed included the negative impact the commute has on employees’ health and well- being.  I thought it would be useful to offer attendees relaxation exercises they could do on the train, in the car or while they walked to work.  These exercises could be used as a method to get to sleep or return to sleep so that they felt more rested.  We explored how breathing and muscular relaxation can reduce muscle tension, pain and discomfort.  They can also be used to calm the mind and bring mind and body to a centred space.  We also explored the build- up of negative energy in the body (through unexpressed emotion, lack of movement and exercise as well as compounded stress) and how that impacts health, well- being, relaxation, productivity and creativity.

Resilience, Emotions and the Body

The third and final workshop saw us look at resilience and managing emotions at work.  We used the metaphor of a bank account to explain how resilience works.

We focused the resilience exploration on three areas:

  • goal setting and the intention and focus to achieve those goals
  • effective emotional communication
  • how the body can be used to achieve these ends

We discussed goal setting and how it can positively impact resilience. We also looked at how set- backs and challenges can be dealt with more effectively and a more resilient mind set can be achieved through focus, commitment, body posture and intention.  In addition, we explored the power of surrounding yourself with people committed to and supportive of a similar goal.

The final section of the workshop looked at managing emotions, particularly anger.  The plan was to use the centring exercise from Paul Linden used in the first workshop, to show how it is possible to express and receive anger in a healthy way at work.  The attendees got a lot out of the different perspective offered.

In conclusion

The body is so often over- looked.  For many our primary concern is “the body beautiful”.  Perhaps that might extend to body health.  Yet, my hope is that these workshops presented new awareness of “the body powerful”.  That the resources of the body are so much more than how good it looks and physical health.  These are important factors in their own right.  And there are more.  The body can influence impact on:

  • stress
  • health and well- being
  • mental health and agility
  • living life on purpose and with meaning
  • presence
  • confidence
  • creativity and productivity
  • self- management and regulation
  • personal power and empowerment
  • employee engagement
  • communication
  • relationships with oneself and others

Caring for the body’s health increases its capacity to support us in all areas of our lives.  Awareness of our body’s sensations, feelings and emotions gives greater scope to explore the full human experience and perform at work and beyond in fulfilment.

If you would like bespoke workshops designed for you and your teams around stress management, resilience and well- being using the body, please get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.

Life Purpose- find Motivation and Inspiration for your life work

Do you lack motivation? Is inspiration missing in your life? Are you lacking the clarity in your focus to move decisively along your path? Or is that indecision only highlighted when you change course? Do you find yourself frustrated following the paths of others? Yet when you put your mind to it, you cannot think of what it is that YOU want to do? If you can say “Yes” to any of these questions, perhaps it is a question of gaining clarity on your life purpose.

Life Purpose that Lights you up

Life Purpose is your North Star on the Life Coaching journey

Does life purpose seem like such a big and grand topic? For many it feels overwhelming. For others the question of life purpose leads to blank stares or rolling eyes. Yet the benefit of gaining clarity on life purpose leads to a context in which important decisions can be made with insight, conviction and the confidence that this is what YOU want. Not goals imposed upon you externally that do nothing to light you up from within. You also have greater confidence that you are moving your life forward in a meaningful and fulfilling direction. Or at least as confident as you can be.

Life purpose does not mean you have all the answers. A ball park is a good start. A rough guide will do. You can fine tune as you go. In fact, you will need to fine tune as you go as you see things in keener detail the closer you get.

For many years I have loved helping people lead more fulfilling lives. Initially that involved martial arts and the self- development aspect that mental focus and intention bring. Now I include co- active coaching, giving more empowerment to clients than ever before to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Mind and body focused on deeply resonating outcomes make for an awesome combination. As my skill base has grown so my capacity to help others more deeply has increased.

Life Purpose- A Joyful Exploration

So how do you turn life purpose into a joyful exploration that empowers and motivates rather than overwhelms and leads to resignation? In the co- active model there is a process near the beginning of the coaching called the Discovery Session. This is a powerful process of gaining clarity about the things that are deeply meaningful to you so that these can be present to you in the coaching. It is fun, exciting, revealing, illuminating, inspiring, surprising and full of learning.  It reveals to you your North Star so that you can navigate clearly through your life coaching journey.

Losing sight of these parts of your life that bring fulfilment and purpose mean you may drift aimlessly or live in pursuit of less meaningful goals. Perhaps you know that feeling already? Is it time to stop? Are you ready to take charge?

By answering questions such as “What do you really want?” and “Look ahead six months. Where are you? What decisions would you make today to get there?” you can create a compelling vision that gives you energy and momentum, inspiring you to take meaningful action as part of your every day life. And you keep revisiting this and checking in with it throughout the coaching to make sure it is accurate, relevant and on purpose.

This is not about doing more. This is about doing different, thinking different and being different. It is about holding to that vision. Stop doing the things that detract from that vision and start doing more of the things that make that vision a reality.

Leading from Within

Very often I notice that clients are following a path set out by other people. Rarely if ever have they questioned what they truly want. What deeply motivates them from within that will enable them to live and work with passion, power and fire? When you lead yourself from within, stepping out into the world and leading others becomes so much clearer and a natural expression of your values.

Then, every step you take is fulfilling. Every decision and action is infused with meaning. You gain greater focus. You walk with more purpose. In your body you feel more energised, vital, directed and engaged. There is less room for playing small. And if you do play small you are more likely to be aware of it and more empowered to take action to live and act in your power.

Taking Responsibility

Co- active life coaching and Mindful Movement are designed to give the power and responsibility back to you. In so doing you achieve greater freedom- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yes, life purpose can be seen as a big subject, too large to tackle. But, by breaking it down into fun manageable steps it becomes an exciting vision that can infuse and inspire every area of your life. You are a constantly evolving being. Recruiting all your resources, energies and potential becomes much easier when you are clear about what you want your life to be about and make a commitment to achieve it.

All this talk scares some people. I appreciate that. To think of breaking free of the life that makes you feel safe and comfortable can be scary. But, are you at all dissatisfied, curious about what more life can be, what more you are capable of achieving? If so, this is another way of saying you wish to be more fulfilled in your life. If you want to feel that sense of fulfilment instantly, keep feeling it and enjoy the sense of purpose that comes with it, then perhaps you are ready to take the step into life coaching and learn more about your true potential.

Over to You

Do you feel dissatisfied? Are you curious about what more life has to offer? What more are you capable of achieving? Are you clear about what your life purpose is? If so, how does it inform your choices and decisions? Have you had to take a dramatic change in focus or direction in your life? What was that like to reorient yourself to a new purpose and goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please post below in the comments box or engage on social media about this post or any others on the Potentiality Coaching blog.

Pass it on

Why not share this blog or the posts and tweets for it with friends, family and colleagues? It might spur them on to take bold action and live with more fulfilment and a clear sense of life purpose.

Emotions- how your brain’s prediction capacity may not always serve you

Do you find emotions challenging? Have you ever wanted to change your emotional response to something? Do you know your emotional reaction does not serve you but are at a loss as to how to change it? Do you find yourself reacting to things unconsciously and wishing you could behave differently?

Logic and Reason

To explore the profound contradiction of the human experience from a rational standpoint is like trying to show a bird how to fly by using diagrams and advanced calculus.

Most of us have experienced this at some time in our lives. Often you try to deal with your emotional state using logic and reason. Historically, philosophers, scientists and laymen have explained emotions through the lens of logic. Yet in the cold light of day, to explain something so irrational with logic and reason sounds ridiculous. To explore the profound contradiction of the human experience from a rational standpoint is like trying to show a bird how to fly by using diagrams and advanced calculus. It’s never going to add up. The experience of emotion is not logical, just like a bird does not learn to fly using a manual. It is feeling that marks the experience, which is an intuitive, instinctive response to a situation in the moment.

Emotions and Pain

Emotions are powerful and can leave us feeling totally overwhelmed. They can also be contradictory. All of this can be confusing and intense which makes emotions hard to process. Increasingly, we are getting less and less education about how to manage our emotions effectively. The rise of incidents of mental health and depression is staggering evidence of our emotional pain. It seems that we have been dealing with emotions in the wrong way for centuries. And this has been compounded by a lack of understanding of how our brains work. I think there is also a lack of knowledge about what emotions are for. We will look at each of these in turn.

How your brain works

I read a fascinating article about emotions recently. It has helped me put into perspective how emotions are created. It also shows what we can do to manage them. “How Emotions Trick Your Brain” was written by Dr. Lisa Feldman- Barrett, in the BBC’s Science Focus magazine (No. 321, May 2018 edition). She is a psychologist, neuroscientist and author of “How emotions are Made: The Secret of the Brain”.

Neuroscientists understand now that the brain is predominantly designed to predict. “Studies show that your brain spends 60 to 80 per cent of its energy on prediction. In every moment, your brain issues thousands of predictions at a time, based on past experience.” And it is this past experience that can be such a limiting factor in your growth, development and fulfilling your desire to move forward in your life.

“Emotions are your brain’s best guesses for what your body’s sensations mean, based on your situation” says Feldman- Barrett. In other words, your body has an experience and your brain interprets that experience based upon the past. The process happens quite unconsciously, beyond your awareness. The cascade of sensation to experience and on to behaviour is rapid. However, it is not always accurate, supportive or appropriate.

For example, I have a fear of intense emotion, particularly anger when it manifests as shouting. I notice that I retreat into myself. I become small, invisible and shut down to the extent that I do not say anything. My body becomes contracted. I hunch over, stomach tight, shoulders up. I feel fear and the desire to run away. Yet that response is one of a child afraid of abandonment by angry or disappointed parents. I would like to say here that my parents never abandoned me and rarely shouted. It is a natural response to the risk of removal of protection and nurturing. As an adult, I no longer need to fear these things. And yet I do feel these emotions and behave accordingly.

How can you change your emotions?

Feldman- Barrett comes up with three options:

• The first is “body budget”, giving your body the resources it needs like good nutrition, sleep and regular exercise so that the brain does not have to predict challenging emotions. You are more stable, balanced and positive in your emotional state. I might add things such as posture and energy vibration that make the body stronger and more robust as well. Those of you that have done the Mindful Movement workshops will know the power of Paul Linden’s centring exercises as well as the health benefits of positive energy to the body and mind.
• The second is your environment and being mindful of the impact your surroundings have on your emotional state. People and places that upset you or empower you profoundly affect your state of mind.
• The third is your predictions from past experience. As my mother is fond of saying “You cannot change the past.” What I have learned is that you can change the way you view the past. When you notice your body having a reaction to a situation that does not support your best self, you can use Paul Linden’s centring exercises. Use your awareness, posture, heart energy and radiance to change your body’s reaction to the situation towards something far more supportive. Your body literally cannot support this old emotion and behaviour and so you produce a different emotion and behaviour. One you hope is supportive of your best self. If you practice this you will get much better at it.

Back to the example of the anger and shouting. I no longer need to feel the contracted state of fear and the stress response. Awareness that I am having this experience means I can change my body’s reaction and so have a completely different experience around anger and shouting. From this new state of being, I no longer feel personally attacked or threatened. I am better able to remain present to the situation. I can interact with the person more effectively than before and co- create a mutually beneficial outcome.

Towards a fuller version of myself

I have always struggled to openly share my thoughts and feelings with others. In the past, my opinion did not stand for much in the grand scheme of things and so I learned that my opinion did not matter. I have become an adult carrying the same belief. I have made my way in the world speaking other people’s truths. On a retreat workshop I spoke my truth for the first time and found people to be open and receptive to that message.

Since then I have built my confidence in sharing my stories, thoughts and ideas. I experience the emotion of “my opinion does not matter” and the contraction that comes with that. Then I centre and think about the kind of leader I wish to become. I take a deep relaxing breath and I say my piece. Fear of rejection, humiliation and dismissal surface sometimes. Consequently, I acknowledge them and let them pass as I hold my vision of what the future holds. I have many teachers and mentors to thank for traveling that journey towards a fuller version of myself.

What is the purpose of emotions?

Put very simply, emotions are information. They are your body’s way of saying that there are things here you need to pay attention to. “I feel weak, threatened, attacked, rejected, humiliated, fearful or diminished.” “I feel happy, powerful, confident, strong, listened to, seen, supported or elated.” These are either “move towards” or “move away” from states that your body is flagging up to notice. Our general lack of comfort with emotion means we miss valuable information about our current state and so we are removed and disengaged with our present environment and how we can interact with it.

Presence is remaining aware of your body state and your interaction with the environment. Emotions allow you to know how you are interacting in this moment. Once you are aware, you have choice. Now you are empowered to choose an emotional state that supports your best self.

You do not have to be a victim of your past. Awareness is a powerful tool that allows you to choose how you respond to any given situation. Yes, you might react to a situation in a certain way initially. However, that does not mean that you have to continue reacting that way. What serves you? What reaction brings you closer to your desired goals? Who do you want to be? How do you wish to be perceived by others? These questions frame the context of your reaction. Through practice, you can train yourself to “be” and “do” differently.

Over to you

How do you feel about emotions? Do you find them challenging? Are you able to manage your emotional state? Now that you have tried these methods, have they made a difference? How have things changed? Does it help to think of emotions as information? How does that make it easier or harder to manage your emotions? Please share your thoughts and experiences. As well as deepening your own learning, sharing also gives other people permission to learn and understand better their own journey.

Pass it on

If you know anyone who might benefit from help to manage their emotional state, please send them the link to this blog. Emotions seem to be something we want to run away from. In fact, they are an intimate part of the human experience that keeps us healthy, sane and connected, to ourselves and others. Developing emotional intelligence is a part of the coaching journey, deepening self- knowledge and making life a richer experience.

The Body in Movement

We spend so much of our day keeping our bodies still, that it is fast becoming a health crisis. Sitting may be becoming the new smoking.  Yet your body is designed for movement.

How does your body feel when you move? Perhaps it feels a little sluggish when you start? May be the muscles feel tight and the body heavy to begin with? As you continue to move, do the muscles loosen up and the body feels lighter? Have you noticed that when you get up in the morning, your body feels a little tight or stiff? After a long period sat down, do you notice that your body feels stiff, tight and sluggish?

The Body in Movement

These things are definitely true for me as well as the hundreds of martial arts students I have taught over the years. What I have observed is that people’s bodies move more freely and powerfully the more they move. When muscles loosen in movement they increase the range of movement of the body. Consequently the body feels looser and lighter. This is partly through:

  • blood flow
  • the body warming up as it generates heat
  • the muscle fibres running over each other as the muscles relax and contract
  • fascia moving (for more details on fascia see here https://www.drnorthrup.com/muscle-fascia/)

Be it walking, cycling, running, swimming, martial arts, yoga, tai chi or going to the gym, the body benefits from regular movement, keeping it supple, loose and flexible. In short, with regular exercise, the body feels more expanded, open and energised.

Mindful Movement

Not all movement is mindful movement. Moving with awareness increases your sensitivity to more of your body’s sensations.

There is also the additional quality of being mindfully in your body.   Not all movement is mindful movement. Moving with awareness increases your sensitivity to more of your body’s sensations, including:

  • your position of body in space
  • posture
  • economy of movement
  • spatial awareness
  • how your body feels
  • when the body needs stillness, rest, movement and exercise
  • non- verbal communication
  • emotional state and expression

As you exercise mindfully, your attention and awareness are in your body, which means you have a relationship with your body. This awareness can go far beyond movement. You can become attuned to the sensations, tensions and feelings in the body physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Because these four aspects of your being are connected, mindfulness of the body in movement can increase awareness of your whole being.

When the Body is Still

The converse is also true. When the body is still for long periods of time, the muscles begin to shorten. That is why you feel stiff after a good night’s sleep or a long stint in the car, at your desk or on the sofa. Consequently, the body feels contracted, closed and sluggish. If your life style is one of moving from bed, to car, to desk, to car, to sofa and back to bed (or some variant of that), then a whole day might go by when your muscles and fascia have not warmed up or moved to the full range of movement they are capable. Perhaps this has been the case all week or all month or all year?

Over time your body progressively gets more contracted, closed and de- energised. How do you think this impacts on your body, how it feels and what it feels capable of doing?   How do you think it presents itself to the world? What affect might this have on your mood, feelings, emotions, mindset and connection to you and the world?

Being in the Head

When you do not exercise, your awareness has little need to go to the body. Instead it remains in the head. You become disconnected from your body and the language it speaks. Therefore you may be less likely to notice the subtle signs your body gives you that things are not well emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually. It also does not tell you when things are joyful, powerful, exuberant and flowing.

This “being in the head” is a very common state of being in our modern age. People may even speak about thinking what their body feels like, as if the body is an abstract thing. Through mindful movement, exercise and living, I suggest that we live more fully and openly with a deeper sense of awareness in the body.

Body Wisdom

This makes us more present and aware of what is happening in our being moment to moment to moment. What is happening in your body IS the present. It is happening right now and so it connects you to a much larger present. I am not suggesting you live like this all the time. This would be impractical. Yet to practice the skill of mindful presence gives you the ability to move your awareness from your head to your body whenever you wish, opening you up to the wisdom and awareness in the body.

Stretching

So to start this process off I have five short videos for you. Watch all five in one go. Watch one ad come back to the rest later. Whatever works best for you. They offer some gentle stretches that can be done throughout the day. Please do not do these exercises if you are already injured. If you are in any doubt, please consult your doctor before embarking on any type of exercise, including stretching. The key is to be gentle and aware. Placing your awareness on the muscles and fascia you are stretching means you will not over- do the movement and injure yourself. It should never be painful. It should feel releasing, relaxing and rejuvenating. Give it a chance. The muscles and fascia need time to respond to your gentle attention. See how you feel after a week, a month.

  1. The Muscles to the side of the neck (see the video here)

These muscles get very tight over time when your head remains still for prolonged periods such as when working on a computer, texting or driving. By tilting your head gently to one side and then the other, you can loosen these muscles and remove the tension that builds up over time.

  1. The muscles of the chest and the front of the shoulder (see the video here)

Working at the computer and holding the steering wheel as you drive pulls the shoulders forward, contracting the muscles at the front of the body. Over time, this curves the upper back forward creating a hunched feeling. This communicates an inward feeling making it harder to embody a state of confidence, presence and power. This stretch can help with bringing the shoulders back in relation with the spine, opening up the chest and shoulders.

  1. Stretching the muscles around the upper spine and sternum (see the video here)

The top half of the torso can get very tight effecting the breathing as well as larger movements with the arms. Impaired breathing can severely affect your state of calm and confidence. Therefore, loosening the muscles involved in breathing is essential to help combat stress and anxiety. These are two of many stretches that impact the muscles involved in breathing as well as posture.

  1. Loosening the muscles in the forearms (see the video here)

Typing and driving can tighten these muscles a lot, especially if you have poor technique and do not use your body as it is designed. Regular stretching of these muscles can reduce tightness and discomfort and increase your productivity.

  1. Spinal twist (see the video here)

Your spine is made up of loads of joints between your vertebrae. Yet when we move, the tight muscles around the spine really restrict the range of movement of which we are truly capable. This stretch works the really deep muscles as well as massages the organs in the body increasing mobility as the fascia around the organs becomes more loose and flexible.

Over to You

I hope you find these exercises useful. I have done them for many years and always feel better when I do them on a regular basis. Sometimes I let it slip. I am human! How do you feel after doing the stretches? Which ones do you find easier? What ones are more challenging? Do they make your life style more comfortable? Are you generally aware of your body? If not, does the stretching help? How are things changing after doing the stretches for a week or more? Are you inspired to do more? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below. And if I can be of any assistance, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help.

Pass it on

A sedentary life style is incredibly common these days. The physical issues we develop as a result of these are widespread. Just because they are common does not mean they are right for your health and wellbeing. If you know people who are adversely affected by a sedentary life style and stretching might help, please forward this blog to them and help them get out of pain and discomfort. Thank you.

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…….

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