Posts

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.

Would you Know if you were experiencing Stress? Part 2- Awareness

Here are some of the signs to look out for that tell you that you might be experiencing stress

As I said in Part 1 of this blog series, stress is a natural part of life.  We all experience it.  If you think that you do not, perhaps you have a different word for it?  May be instead of stress you would say you are anxious, worried, excited, challenged, driven, focused, frustrated, upset, in anticipation, overwhelmed, exhausted, tired or withdrawn.  Whatever the word, my meaning of stress is that there is something in this lifestyle of yours that generates the Stress Response in you.

Are you experiencing stress?

The Stress Response is a term for a group of physiological symptoms generated when you are feeling threatened in some way.  You are getting ready to fight or run away.  So, you might experience quickened heart rate, dilated blood vessels and shallow breathing accompany increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones).  For short periods this is beneficial for your health and well- being.  Long term however, and the negative impact on your immune system, mental health, quality of sleep, productivity, overall resilience, creativity, relationships and vitality are immense.  Here are some of the signs to look out for that tell you that you might be experiencing stress (or whatever word you might use):

  • Do you find it hard to get to sleep?  If you wake up in the night, do you struggle to go back to sleep?  Do you feel tired in the morning?  Are you getting less than 7 hours sleep a night?  If you say yes to any of these, you may well be experiencing stress.  These may happen as a consequence of your stress.  They may also be contributing factors to your stress.  Either way, good quality sleep is essential for many reasons.  If you do struggle to sleep or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, this audio might be useful.
  • Do you eat a lot of sugary foods or foods high in fat?  Can you get through the day only if you have sugary and caffeinated drinks?  Sugar, fat and caffeine interfere with your body’s natural rhythms, disrupting sleep and other natural highs and lows of your day.  Many processed foods place your body under a lot of burden, damaging blood vessels, creating bloating and inflammation.  Not to mention the effect of artificial chemicals in our food that poison the body and bring it into imbalance.  All of this is stressful for your body and impacts on your overall ability to cope.
  • Muscular Tension. Light, regular exercise and movement leave the body feeling flexible, mobile and limber.  Sitting still all day, barely moving your body, makes your muscles short, tight and painful.  It puts the body under a lot of stress.  Think how lovely it feels to have a stretch at your desk after you’ve been working at your computer for a couple of hours.  Feels great right? Also, little body movement leaves people in “their heads”.  In other words, listening to the logical and rational part of the mind rather than balancing it with the instinct and intuition of which the body is a part.  Muscles also become tense due to unexpressed emotion.  Emotions are energy in motion.  If they are not expressed, they are internalised (in muscles and internal organs), another source of stress for the body.  Muscular tension from all sources pulls the body out of alignment, generating postural stress that can have long term impact such as shoulder, knee and hip replacement operations, diminished mobility, nerve damage and quality of life.
  • Suppressed Emotion. Are you the type of person who never feels or expresses emotion?  Or if you do it is usually fits of anger or rage?  Do you have a “stiff upper lip” or are you known as the “strong one” in the family/ relationship?  This can lead to a lot of stress in the body.  Gabor Mate, in his book “When the Body Says No- the cost of hidden stress”, explores the impact of suppressed emotion and how it can lead to many debilitating/ life threatening diseases such as MS, ME, numerous types of cancer, motor neuron disease, IBS and more.  In short, the stress on the body from unexpressed emotion is so great, it manifests over time as physical illness.
  • Grinding/ clenching your teeth. This is a sure sign you are experiencing stress.  If people mention that you are doing either of these, it’s a strong indicator you are stressed.
  • Holding your breath. Or breathing in a shallow manner.  This can be a response to stress.  It can also become a habit that keeps the body in a more heightened anxious state.  Learning deep breathing exercises will lower blood pressure, deactivate the stress response in the body and generally make you feel more calm, relaxed and mobile.  Belissa Vranich’s book Breathe gives detailed instructions and exercises about how to breathe more effectively for better health.
  • Lack of focus. The Stress Response makes you very insular.  Therefore, focus on other people, projects at work, problem solving and other things that require focus just doesn’t happen.  It’s your body’s way of saying “Stop paying attention to other things, I need some attention here!!!!”
  • Short temper and irritability. If your body is tired and debilitated by long term exposure to the effects of the Stress Response, you have no or very little reserves in the tank for additional stress.  My experience of this is that as a response to feeling powerless or out of control, we tend to lash out to protect ourselves.  This is a sure sign that you are reaching the end of your tether.  Consciously activating the Relaxation Response will give you more reserves to tackle any additional stress whilst keeping off “Red Alert”.
  • A little worry is healthy.  We can use it to assess situations and scan for trouble before the event.  Anxiety takes it to another level, assessing endless scenarios without resolution.  This is usually a clear sign that you are stressed.  There is a much calmer life for you to enjoy beyond anxiety if you can find the ways to manage your stress.
  • Feeling like life has no purpose or direction. Life without purpose has no direction.  Without meaningful goals, aligned to what is most important to us (whatever that may be), life can feel pointless and meaningless.  We can feel powerless and that comes with its own stress.  A lack of energy, vitality, engagement, power, strength and focus.  Purpose infuses our life with direction and meaning that gives momentum, energy, pace and vitality to life.

Natural Ways to manage stress

Please note, this is not an exact science.  There might be many reasons why you are experiencing these symptoms.  If you suspect stress at all, consult your doctor and a healthy dose of common sense and discover the ways YOU can undo the effects of stress.  Rather than pop a pill which might be the easiest way to deal with it, I invite you to explore more natural ways to manage your stress.  I am not a trained medical professional, so please do not take my word as gospel.  However, there is something empowering about listening to your body and intuition and finding the right answer for you.  Managing the stress is the key.  I discuss some of the strategies I have discovered on my travels with stress in Part 3.

Over to You

Do you notice that you often do not sleep well?  Perhaps you sleep very soundly.  Or maybe you are affected by someone who has disturbed sleep?  Are there parts of your body that get very tight?  Is that due to lack of movement, emotional stress, worry, anxiety or body misalignment?  Or is your body limber, relaxed and agile?  Would you say you were an emotional eater?  Do you find it hard to focus?  Or do you have laser- type focus and excellent concentration?  Are you more irritable than you used to be?  Perhaps you are more calm and unflappable than ever before?

Do you feel lost in your life and feel life is getting smaller?  Or is your life expanding and you are discovering new horizons?  I’d love to hear your experiences and grow this body of wisdom in the Potentiality Coaching community.  Please share in the comment box below or on social media.  Thank you.

Pass it On

If what I have been talking about sounds like someone you know, why no forward this blog to them and ask them to give it a read.  It might be the turning point for them to start listening to their body and recognise the signs that stress is present.  It’s so easy to deal with.  Awareness is the first step.  The next is action.  See you next time for Part 3.

Being stuck does not mean you have to remain stuck

What do you do when you feel stuck? You name it!!!

Petra came to me feeling in limbo. She felt no motivation to do anything. No inspiration came to her to move forward. She felt isolated, stuck, mistrustful and withdrawn from the world. She was also unsociable.

When we agreed to work together, Petra’s energy and vitality were at a real low. There was a heaviness around and within her. She said she felt tight and constricted. I mentioned that this heaviness and constriction reflected how she was behaving. Naming something can be a powerful tool in life coaching to highlight to a client what might not be so obvious to them. They live with it day after day and it can become invisible to them. This touched her deeply and she resolved and committed to getting out that first week for some gentle exercise and perhaps some social interaction. I invited her to notice how things changed for her and what felt possible from this new perspective. We left this external exploration for a short while to see how it evolved.

The Client is Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole

As an alternative focus, we looked at her inner world. By doing visualisations we tapped into inner wisdom and knowing, that directed Petra towards some deep insight and support. Over the next few weeks, Petra regularly did these visualisations, building a picture of inner strength, peace and presence. This taps into one of the corner stones of Co-active coaching which is that the client is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. The answers come from within, as long as the client is in resonance with their power, confidence and inner wisdom. This empowers the client to think and act from a place of “I know the answers” even when they feel lost and confused. It just takes a shift in mindset.

Authentic Confidence

What also came up was a victim mindset. A voice that was derisive of the values Petra was beginning to tap into. Unworthiness and playing small were big themes that had played out throughout Petra’s life. Most especially in her relationship with her parents and partner. She committed to creating a new story that she could repeat to herself. It would allow her to build a better future- something to begin to trust and believe in. She also resolved to understand her victim mindset and apply her new- found values to her own inner journey of forgiveness and understanding.

This was the turning point- the beginning of something child- like, spontaneous, creative and joyful. Putting on a brave face and appearing confident had been a hallmark of Petra’s behaviour in the past. This was accompanied by a sense of being a fraud. Now things felt very different. She said there was an authentic confidence that erupted spontaneously that she was no longer willing to censor.

Life builds from Resonance

Ideas for her life came spontaneously too. Holidays she had only dreamed of, retirement plans abroad and learning new languages. A refreshed vitality to life was beginning to blossom. And all from aligning and resonating with the fulfilment, purpose and meaning Petra was beginning to discover for her life.

What do you do when you feel stuck? You name it!

People can come to coaching in a deep, dark place. Yet, this first step of reaching out for support is so important and powerful. We did not need to dig around in Petra’s past to find the answers. It is a common question from prospective clients to ask, “What is the difference between coaching and counselling?” Put simply, counselling looks to the past to unearth the answers. Coaching looks to the present to see how the client feels here and now and then builds resonance with an empowering vision from which the client can build their future. Rather than look into her past only, Petra asked her present self all the questions and the answers pointed her to what she needed to move forward. Her willingness to go deep and stick with it was a testament to her commitment and resolve.

Forward the action, deepen the learning

She recognises that the journey continues to unfold. She has tools now she can take forward to tackle the challenges of the future and she will learn more as she continues the coaching journey.

From whatever point in your life you are, coaching can support you in building alignment and resonance with your vision of how you would like your life to be. It takes action and often some challenging steps to build that future. Petra is a testament to that hard work and commitment towards a new and empowering future. With every action step comes learning and deepening understanding. In time the client transforms into the person who IS living the dream they imagined for themselves.

Over to You

Are you willing to look at what makes a truly fulfilling life for you? Do you want to live with meaning and purpose? Would you like someone to be with you as you tackle the challenging emotions that ultimately lead to growth and transformation? Do you want to connect to your inner greatness and have that be an active, creative and nurturing part of your life? If you are wondering whether coaching can help you create more of the life you want to be living, why not get in touch?

Pass it on

If you know anyone who is contemplating a life coaching journey please send them the link to this blog and give them the opportunity to learn about co-active life coaching and how it can benefit.  Alternatively, if you know someone who is stuck in their life and would be willing to take this beautiful, transformational journey, please send them the link too- it might be the inspiration they need to take that first step.  Thank you.

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.

When your body speaks- the power of awareness

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

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

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

The Learning Cycle

You may know this cycle of learning:

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

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

Judgement Free

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

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

Awareness Applied to Public Speaking

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

How awareness influences conversations

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

Body as Tool Kit for Awareness

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

Over to You

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

Pass it On

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

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).