Posts

Acceptance- blessing or curse?

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

Taking Stock

As I explore acceptance, I notice that people seem so focused on the next thing, they do not take stock of where they are.  The question is always, “What next?” rather than “Where am I?” or “What is present now?” or even “What have I achieved?”.  You might benefit from asking, “What is the truth of this situation?” or “What do I need to accept right now?”  Before you launch into the next chapter of your life, or the next part of the project that has your attention right now, why not take some moments to take stock of where you are, what you have achieved, what the learning has been and then……………. what is next?

Acceptance is so fruitful.  It gives so much information if you can accept the reality of where you are on this journey called career, relationship, parenthood, business and life itself.  Acceptance does not mean that you have to like what you see, but it is the reality check you want so that you can see what needs to change and be done differently.  Reality can be challenging to face.  And it is not always easy to accept.

Here are some personal and client-based stories around acceptance:

Accepting Collaboration

For years I have held on to the mind set that I had to work alone and do everything myself.  It was exhausting.  There was simply too much to do and it all took too long.  I was fed up with working so hard for very little movement forward.  The obvious answer to this was to collaborate with others.  I realised that I am better as part of a team, offering my skills for the benefit of the whole, while I benefit from others’ skills.  Once I accepted the reality that I struggled alone, it was easy to recognise that collaboration was the answer.

But what did that look like?  More acceptance work, as I fumbled around looking for my ideal collaborative co-creators.  I made some mistakes that I had to accept and learn from, so that I could find better collaborators.  A few years in now, and I am collaborating with people who are a great fit.  What we co-create is wonderful, and just as importantly, the enjoyment of our co-creation is a delight.  Collaboration has to be joyful.  Things are meant to be joyful.  If you can take a look at reality and accept whether what you are doing is joyful or not, it tells you whether changes need to be made.  Accept the truth of reality and move on.

So, acceptance is essential.  Without it, you walk in cloud-cuckoo land.  But once you accept, action is the next step.  There is no point in taking action without looking at where you really are.  Without that reality check, you do not have your feet on the ground.  You can take all the action you want, but you will get nowhere.  You’ll get very tired, use a lot of energy and waste time, but you won’t move forward.  Accepting your reality allows you to grow forward into who you are going to become.  Acceptance is essential on your journey of becoming.

Acceptance and Self-Limiting Beliefs

But just because you accept, does not mean you will move forward.  You might accept limitations that hold you back and prevent your growth.  Or you might stick your head in the sand and refuse to act on what is before you.  We call these self-limiting beliefs in life coaching.  You might hold the belief that things cannot be different, or ask, “Who am I to change things?”

Employed to Self-employed

Self-limiting beliefs show up all the time in life coaching.  One client example was a young man who believed that he was only employable in the advertising sector.  When he was made redundant, during the recession in the early 2000s, he frantically looked for roles in that industry even though he was not happy in that work.  We discussed this and identified areas that he would like to explore as possible new career pathways.  After a little trial and error, he found a business concept that really made him fly.  And he could use the advertising skills he loved to promote the business venture.

Agency and Self-Authority

A personal example is a long-standing self-limiting belief around agency and self-authority.  A childhood belief I accepted was that I give up what I want for others and not make a stand for what I want.  That belief was so ingrained that I came to adulthood without much sense of what I wanted and certainly not the spine to go out into the world and get what I wanted.  I was too scared to ask myself the question, “What do I want?”  So, I had a lovely life riding on the coat tails of others.  Doing what they wanted for me.

Until I realised what was going on.  Accepting that was like a bomb shell.  It met with a lot of resistance and still does.  The first thing I did when I noticed this pattern was ask myself the question, “What do I want right now?”.  The answer was a beautiful climber to walk past and enjoy the sweet fragrance for myself and others.

So, I bought a Jasmine plant and placed it by our back door.  In four years, it has taken over the wall opposite the entrance to the house.  The smell of the flowers is intoxicating in early summer.  Every day I go out through that door, and enjoy the beautiful smells of Jasmine, which remind me that I have authority over my life and that I can choose what I want.  In fact, I am the only person responsible for my happiness and fulfilment.  It is a good reminder.

Life-Work Balance

One of the jobs of a coach is to stop you from sticking your head in the sand about an area in your life that is important to you.  A client took me on.  She was married to her business.   It took up all her time.  She hired me to get her life-work balance in harmony.

The pattern of working at the expense of her private life was so ingrained, it took some time to expose the reality of her situation.  She kept getting caught up with what she wanted, rather than taking stock and accepting the reality.  We cut back to the harsh reality, took stock of the cost to her emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  She identified what she truly wanted and the risks she would take to achieve those dreams.  Acceptance was the first step towards breaking those self-limiting beliefs and taking action effectively and in a meaningful way.

Acceptance and Freedom

And then there is accepting circumstances as they are.  As I have explained previously, I have a weak left shoulder.  For many years in martial arts, I struggled to overcome this weakness but to no avail.  Finally, I had to accept that in that regard I was not on a parallel with my peers.  I had many other skills in which I excelled, but not in this area.  So, I accepted the limitation and worked around it, creating forms that worked to my strengths.  It was liberating to work with this new-found freedom that acceptance had given me.

Refusing Acceptance

Alternatively, you might decide not to accept things.  You might be so concerned about what you will find there if you look that you distract yourself with being busy without addressing the issue.  Or, in seeing reality, you might feel so strongly that you are inspired to take action and become a change maker.

Behaviours such as over eating or under eating, excessive alcohol consumption, over exercise, sex, gambling, recreational drugs, over work and gaming can all be strategies to distract you from looking at this issue you do not want to look at.  You may not be ready to look and that is OK.  When the time is right you will take the step.

I have stopped working with clients because they came to coaching for a particular reason.  But when it came to looking honestly at the situation, they could not bring themselves to take honest inventory.  The time wasn’t right.  And that is valuable information as well.  It is a kind of acceptance, which can be the most compassionate step.  I leave it with them that when the time feels right, we can resume.

Or, you might be ready for change.  Accepting the reality comes first and then you can take action because you do not accept that things will stay the same.    Like my example of working alone or my client’s career change, these were conscious decisions made because a more fulfilling life could be glimpsed.  Life is full of these opportunities to make a stand and create something new from this place of acceptance.  It is the road forward to an ever more fulfilling life.  Acceptance is the key.  Change and transformation the result.

Over to You

What role has acceptance played in your life?  Do you accept habitually?  Or is your habit not to accept?  How has acceptance served you?  Would you say that acceptance is a blessing or a curse?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Please comment below.  You might prefer to send me an e-mail.  If so, I’d be delighted to receive a message from you in my inbox instead.

Pass it on

Did you find this blog useful?  What are you taking away with you?  Do you know a friend, family member or colleague that would benefit from the same take away?  If so, please forward the link to them.  Let them know you are thinking of them and that you thought this blog might be of interest to them.  Thank you.

Archetypes- Jester

We all love to laugh. It is a universal human trait to have the corners of our mouths lift, the edges of our eyes crinkle into crows feet and the appreciation of humour bubble up from deep within, to create that unmistakable and delightful characteristic of fun, frivolity and foolishness. The laugh, the prize of the comedian, Jester, fool and joker, is a powerful leveler that brings humanity together as we marvel at our weaknesses, foolishness and strange rituals. It is also used to such good affect by school children picked on in playgrounds to diffuse potentially serious situations. Fast forward a few years and this person can develop into the heart and soul of a party in adult life. Humour is a tool that can turn darkness into light, ease the sting of pain through loss, hardship and anxiety and simply bring joy into every area of our lives.

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin and Robin Williams to name a few were excellent Jesters, comedians who studied human nature and continue to allow us to laugh at ourselves. The pain of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Therefore, it is our ability to be able to laugh at ourselves and life’s drama, that enable us to take the heaviness away and lighten the load that we have chosen to bare.

The Jester is no Fool

In resorting to humour and jokes, people mistaken the Jester’s behaviour as shallow or stupid. Yet the Jester is no fool. The insightful observations Jesters share make fun of our egos and mock society’s rules.  Consequently, they raise a mirror to our lives and show us our own foolishness. We can get so caught up in the seriousness of a situation that we lose sight of the larger picture. I remember having an argument with a partner many years ago about the correct way to place toilet roll on the holder in the bathroom. After twenty minutes a friend came over and burst out laughing at how ludicrous it was to be fighting over such a thing. Very soon, we were all laughing and that particular habit became a funny story to tell and it never caused us angst after that.

The Jester’s joy at making us laugh brings fun and lightness into the world. As Roger Rabbit tells Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit “Laughter is a very powerful thing.  Sometimes it’s the only thing we have.” A wise Jester indeed.  We need some of that in our lives once in a while.

Where did the laughter go?

Laughter is a very powerful thing. Sometimes it’s the only thing we have

I heard a statistic that children smile and laugh about 200 times a day. As adults we rarely reach ten. What has happened to us in that time? Why has laughter fled from our throats and smiles from our lips? I believe it is that we have forgotten that life is a game to play, to be enjoyed, explored, tested and challenged. The fear of making mistakes, getting things wrong and not being good enough leave a judge and jury to trial us at every step in our lives. No wonder we find it hard to let go and relax and enjoy the journey as it unfolds regardless of outcomes.

Recently I have begun to notice how little people reward themselves for simply taking action. The thought of enjoying the journey and taking the time to savour the moment is lost to many of us. It is more important to move on to the next thing rather than celebrate the last thing we have done. Yet we are motivated by reward- the feeling of pleasure and the chance to make life a joyous and enjoyable experience. We rarely make time for play. Perhaps we could find some time to be children again?

This type of humour is a powerful healer. The skillful Jester creates laughter to heal wounds that otherwise fester and pleasure to reward us for trying hard and doing our best. It makes us more resilient. We work harder, play harder, love longer, bounce back faster and deal with stressful situations better when we have been laughing and feel the lightness of life.

The Jester in Shadow

Yet, there is an under- belly to the Jester’s world that can be cruel and serves to diminish some, while placing others on pedestals. The Jester can act to harm, to belittle and self- agrandise. This is the shadow side of the Jester. We see this a lot in game shows on TV and in politics at work as well as governance. We must be careful not to turn this dark side in on ourselves, as well as others, for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The Jester can also get caught up in games and pleasure to the exclusion of important things.  If we are not vigilant, we can waste time entertaining ourselves and neglect taking meaningful action in our lives.  After all, we are looking for life balance (see blog on life balance here)- purpose and pleasure.

How does the Jester serve us?

As with all these archetypes, we are looking at them as tools to make the journey of life more manageable so that we may face life’s challenges with more courage and strength. The Jester is essential in this I believe. If we cannot laugh at ourselves then we are lost to compassion when we are being most tough on ourselves. To see our own folly is a potent healer. To smile at our mistakes takes the sting out of our failure and helps us to fight another day. We are more likely to learn from our mistakes in this mind set. When we are overwhelmed and under siege, the person that can laugh is usually the first to bounce back and find the way forward.

The Jester’s world is one of creativity, trust and a zest for life. This light, bubbly energy keeps our mood light. We are far more creative and solution focused when we think this way. That serious heavy mood brings us down and we cannot find a way out of it. Therefore, no solution presents itself. The Jester is not necessarily frivolous or time- wasting. The Jester chooses to see the funny side of all life’s situations and finds solutions that way. And if solutions do not present themselves, at least there is the consolation that we laughed through it. The heartache subsides much faster that way.

How do you court the Jester?

Smile. Place a smile on your face and your mood changes instantly. Someone just knocked on the door with a delivery for a neighbour. They disturbed my creative flow. Rather than be angry or frustrated, I chose to smile and we laughed together. The interaction could have been easily forgotten. Instead, it was memorable for me. I cannot say for the delivery- man. That is his choice and I leave it with him.

Watching other Jesters works well for me. By using TV, DVD or the Internet, a laugh is only a click or two away. Also, have those friends and colleagues that can help you see the funny side. Play frequently. Have those things that truly give you pleasure and remind you that life can be a joy. As an adult, things tend to be goal oriented. As a child play is often not driven by outcomes. Rather it is driven by pleasure, discovery and experience- the sheer creative flow of being in the moment.

It’s easy to give ourselves a hard time. Perhaps we could be less harsh on ourselves. As a result of its qualities, the Jester allows us to tap into that less serious side and find the pleasure and fun in every moment. After all, is not one of life’s great achievements to be able to say that you truly enjoyed your day?

Over to you

How big a role does humour play in your life? Do you use humour to lighten your mood? Can you relate to the Jester? Would you like more of the Jester in your life? Is there too much Jester in your life, leading to not getting enough done? What do you do to reward yourself for your achievements in life? How do you relieve the pressure of some of life’s situations? I’d love to hear from you and learn about your experiences of the Jester in your life. Why not share your experiences.  You may provide other people with insight and inspiration?

Pass it on

If you found this article useful and informative and would like to receive notifications of future blogs, please go to www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk and sign up for the newsletter. If you know someone who might benefit from the article why not send it on? It might make all the difference. I’d really appreciate it and so will they.

Life Balance

Life Balance is the art of keeping all the elements of your life in harmony

Life Balance is the art of keeping all the elements of your life in harmony

Life balance is an issue that will affect every area of your life throughout your life.  Do these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You work all the hours possible to be able to afford the opportunities your children deserve in life because you love them.  In doing so you rarely see them.  You do not have the relationship with them you would like
  • Are you running around from commitment to commitment, stressing out as you juggle your time between work, family, friends and DIY which means you are not sleeping well, eating well or having relaxing downtime
  • Are you feeling the pressure of keeping up appearances?  Do you live beyond your means, living the life of Riley without a sustainable income?

If so, there is an issue of life balance that you may wish to address. Focusing on certain areas can leave other parts of your life neglected and unfulfilled.

Only by taking a broad over- view can you begin to address the issues>  Then this will bring contentment, empowerment and vitality to every area of your life.

The Wheel of Life

A great coaching tool that can help with Life Balance is “The Wheel of Life”. Picture a wheel that is divided into sections. Each section represents an area of your life. You will choose the ones that are most relevant to you.  Some areas you might want to consider are:

  • career
  • family
  • your spouse/ partner
  • health, fitness
  • religion
  • finances
  • charity work
  • friends
  • a spiritual path
  • work in your community

You want all these sections to be strong within themselves.  Ideally, they will be in harmony with each other, giving you confidence, trust and belief in yourself and in life itself.

Working with “The Wheel of Life” highlights the areas where you want to bring your life into greater balance and harmony.

Values and beliefs

You build your reality- your thoughts drive the energy of your being.  How you approach any sphere of your life is centred around your thinking.  This in turn is shaped by your core values and beliefs.

Life success is achieved by working with values and beliefs that work well together.  They work for you so that you can achieve your goals.  You might be thinking this is obvious. You would be right, but time and again, I see how people struggle when they do not understand how the power of their thinking profoundly affects their life.

Life Balance

Let me give you an example. One of earliest clients was Peter (not his real name). He was struggling with his life situation since his divorce.  He wanted to improve things for the benefit of himself and his son.

Peter took on a Psychology degree to improve his earning potential.  He had part time work and a third storey bed- sit, the cheapest accommodation he could find, to make ends meet. He was getting D and E grades, missing classes, working long hours.  How was he to find the quality time with his son he wanted? Peter was trying to get all the elements of his life to work together.  That could not happen without the life balance to bring them into harmony.

He and I worked together for a month, just one hour a week.  We identified elements of his thinking that created barriers to achieving the life he really wanted to live. By the end, he was getting A and B grades.  He found new work that paid better for less hours and a ground floor apartment with a garden that was ideal living space for his son to come and stay and enjoy their time together.  The broad over- view “The Wheel of Life” offered allowed Peter to see what needed to be addressed.  He found the inner wisdom to discover how to address it instilling trust and belief in himself and his ability to tackle life’s challenging situations.

Is it time for you to take control?

Do you want to develop a sense of balance that comes from understanding your motivations and leads to excitement and fulfillment in all aspects of your life?

If it is, then I invite you to use the suggestions in this article and begin to take control and live the life you want to live.

Why not………..

If you found this article useful and interesting please pass it on to other people you think would be interested and spread the word.  I would really appreciate it.  And if you are new to Potentiality Coaching, why not sign up to the e- mailing list at https://www.potentialitycoaching.co.uk/ and get an e- mail straight to your in box when I post my monthly blog and be first to hear about news, information and insights at Potentiality Coaching.  I’d love to have you be part of the community.