Posts

This Valentine’s Day will you be having a love affair with……… Yourself?

What are you doing to celebrate this year’s International day of Love, that special day when we are meant to prioritise and honour our most intimate relationship with another?
And yet, the most intimate relationship you can have is with yourself. When do you celebrate that? How do you prioritise that intimate relationship with yourself? What special events do you create to let yourself know that you are loved and appreciated by you?
Just like a loving relationship with another, you don’t have to limit showing your affection to one day a year (see last year’s post on Valentine’s Day).  Show yourself as often as you can how much you love you.  Here are some things you can do to show yourself how special you are.  You might do it on Valentine’s Day, but you could do it throughout the year and celebrate that most intimate of relationships- the one with yourself.

Date Night

When was the last time you went on a date with yourself? Have you ever had a treat for yourself? Don’t you deserve that special time? Time away from your spouse, kids, family and friends just to be with yourself. It could be a walk alone. And it might be a weekend break in a five star hotel in New York or deep in nature. Or it could be night in.
Whatever lights you up that shows you that you care about you. You appreciate how hard you work and the effort you make. And even without that, you are worthy of some special care, affection and joy.  Why not take some time out and do something that you love for you. That might involve others. Or not. What’s important is that you recognise that you are doing it for you.
Because you are worth it.

Self-care

Make time to show yourself how much you care

I listen to people tell me how they bully themselves into working longer hours, getting up earlier, going to bed later, driving themselves at the desk and the gym regardless of how they might be feeling. As if to listen to your body when it is tired or in need of a break is a weakness. And then it is no wonder you get knocked sideways by a cold or backache that has you in bed for a week. Or a more serious medical condition.

Self-care is perhaps the most loving thing you can do for yourself. You would care for another. Why would you not care for yourself?
One of the toughest lessons I have learned has been self-care.  I used to drive myself all the time and all it did was satisfy my sense of taking action…… and make me exhausted, irritable and not much fun to be around.  I had to relearn that the relaxing bathes at the end of the day, a sleep-in when I feel I need it, a walk in the fresh air as a break, a two week holiday (or more), healthy food, a good film, time with friends, nice-feeling clothes, a treat day alone or with a special someone were important for my well-being and actually increased my capacity to work and LIVE well. These are all events you can make time for to show yourself that you care.

Fun

Games and fun are not something you can do as a kid or with kids. Sure, you can make life all serious. But if you can find a way to enjoy what you do, have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself, life becomes enriched and more rewarding. And don’t you have more fun with the people in your life you love most?
It is a rejuvenating thing to have have fun with friends and family, but when did you have fun or pleasure on your lonesome? When did you last go for a walk alone for pleasure? Or a cycle or drive? If there was a film you wanted to see but no one else did, did you go alone and enjoy it? Or the pleasure of reading, listening to audiobooks or music. Cooking alone, gardening, making or building things. Or just dancing your heart out alone in your living room when you were in the house on your own?
Fun helps to build that love affair with yourself, just as it does with another person. Invest that time in whatever way you enjoy and see how your love blossoms.

Celebration

When was the last time you celebrated a win? We are not encouraged to celebrate our successes. Is it arrogance? Self-indulgence? Once we have achieved something we will often just move on to the next thing. We might reflect on it to consider what we could have done better. There is benefit from that and great learning. Less likely is a conscious celebration of a job well done. There is great learning in that too.
Try it. The next task you perform, be it as mundane as the dishes, celebrate whatever you did that you are proud of or pleased with. If you need something bigger, celebrate your contribution to a project. What did you do well? What comfort zones did you step out of or challenges did you overcome? Are you pleased how you responded to this person or that conflict? Did you surprise yourself with your leadership, presence, confidence, humility, patience, drive, insight, support. Did you get it in on time or early? Can you celebrate your perseverance?
Whatever you celebrate, take time to savour it. Let that good feeling linger. Perhaps do your celebration dance and reward yourself with a treat- what will make you feel good and valued by you for the effort and hard work you dedicate yourself to?

Gratitude and Appreciation

So often, we are driven by our inner critic. As humans we seem to have learned that chastising ourselves is a way to get better results out of ourselves. To me this seems like a cruel regime that would be better approached with kindness, care and love.
A few years ago when my inner critic was rampant, I started with a gratitude journal. Every night I would write, or simply think, what I appreciated about my day: the kindness of people, the sun, nice food, a pleasant walk or cycle, particular people in my life. I struggled to get five in the list. But soon it grew to 10 and then 20 as I began more and more to see what I was grateful for. And then I had a further breakthrough………. I added myself to the list!!!! I appreciated the effort I made, how I tried and never gave up and so on.
That gratitude diary changed my relationship with myself as I learned to see myself with pleasure, respect, appreciation and even awe. I have developed a love for myself. Not in a narcissistic way. Rather in a manner that I am a cheerleader and advocate for myself. Some days are better than others and I just stick to the list of five. More often than not it is much more than that.

Coaching

One of the most loving things you can do is speak to another about what is most important to you.  To have a meaningful conversation in which you feel heard, seen and supported in a non-judgemental way.  Where there are no holds barred and you are open so that you can benefit from your truth and vulnerability.
Friends, family and colleagues can be a place to do that.  But sometimes it is not always appropriate and people close to you have all kinds of involvements and stakes in your life that can make it challenging to be non-judgemental and listen without assumptions or prejudice.  Sometimes you need a dedicated person, time and space to speak freely.  A client recently said that coaching was “me time”. A place to think, talk and plan. It is also a space to learn, reflect, challenge and grow. Don’t you deserve that too?
Coaching is great for supporting you in living that beautiful quality of life you desire for yourself. Assigning that hour every week or so is sacred time to focus on what you want and need to make life better for you and those you share it with.
Sometimes that means standing up for what you believe in. Other times it requires you to say “no”. Sometimes you’ll see patterns and preferences that no longer serve you and hold you back from achieving your dreams. And you’ll cultivate resources that make you more confident, stronger, more focused and more compassionate with yourself.
All to say that you will live more fully the life you want and deserve. What a gift? You deserve to be fulfilled and live a life that feels like it has meaning and purpose. How would that be for a Valentine’s gift for yourself?

Over to You

How do you show yourself how much you care?  When do you make time to cultivate your relationship with yourself?  When was the last time you did something you really wanted to do?  How was it?  Are you craving some personal time and self-care?  What do you need to do to make that happen?  What excuses do you come up with to stop yourself?  How would life be different if you took time out to show some appreciation and gratitude for yourself?  I’d love to know what you are doing to show yourself how much you care about yourself.  Please share in the comments or if you prefer, you can e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk

Pass it on

Know someone in need of some self love?  Why not forward this blog to them to remind them how important it is to show yourself love.

Opening doors to Freedom and shining your Light on the World

Are you searching for more meaning in your life?  Would you like to live from a place of purpose and meaning?  Are you looking for work that touches your soul, heart and spirit?  Do you have a sense of what that might look like?  Or are you baffled by these questions?  Are you keen to discover YOUR answers and open the doors to your full potential?

I believe that to feel complete and whole is what drives us.  To come to terms with the pains and wounds and shadows of our lives and find healing for them.  You may not say in those words, but there is a search for freedom- from pain, doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity.  And your wounds are the routes to that freedom.

Each person’s journey is unique and brings with it, unique challenges.  This discovery leaves us with questions about why we are here, what is fulfilling and meaningful to us and how we can bring this meaning to fruition for the improvement of our lives and the lives of those around us.  And perhaps even the world at large.  It doesn’t have to include your paid work, but I think that you would enjoy greater fulfilment in that work if it was aligned in some way to what has meaning and purpose for you.

Closing doors, turning off the lights

Annette Simmons explains it in Quantum Skills for Coaches like this.  I paraphrase: you are like a house with many rooms.  Each room represents a part of you: joy, love, curiosity, humour, playfulness, worthiness, confidence, truth, belief, trust, speaking up, integrity and so on.  Every room had its door open and the Light on, at some point in your life.  You were free to explore every inch of that house and you did.  You visited regularly and life was a joyous adventure.  Therefore, your Light shone on the world the way young people’s Light shines spontaneously, unapologetically and fiercely.  However, some rooms you ended up closing the door to and plunging it into darkness.  And so, your Light on the world became dimmed and your power and passion were diminished.

We get shamed, humiliated, hurt, disappointed, abused, violated, made bad or made wrong and we shut off to ourselves.  It could be a harsh word, or a cruel action, a leaving, an absence, a lack of communication and many other things.  It could be many small things over time, or it could be a single defining moment.

However it happens, we reach a point where we believe we have done something wrong and we hide that side of ourselves away in darkness.  You might have been told off when you expressed unabashed joy at something, so really letting your joy show becomes unacceptable- so much so that you may not even allow yourself to feel joy or find joy in others unacceptable or wrong.  Or perhaps adults in your youth did not keep their promises and so you find it hard to trust others?  Maybe a parent did not show you love and so you think you are unlovable?  Perhaps you had to step into the role of carer for parents, siblings, grandparents or yourself too soon and now you always prioritise others’ care rather than your own.

Follow your Bliss

Life then becomes a journey of rediscovering those rooms, opening the doors and turning the Lights back on.  You do this by “following your bliss” as the great Joseph Campbell said.  And the interesting thing about following your bliss is that you love it because it is longed for.  Perhaps it has been missing or you did not have enough of it in the past.  This longing leads you to one of your rooms, perhaps to many.

One example of this is from my own childhood.  Talking openly was not something that happened in our household and so I have a longing for transparency, openness and truth.  I see this in many people who had similar experiences to me.  As a result, I believe, I have developed a fascination with philosophy (literally meaning “love of wisdom or truth”) and developed keen listening skills to help myself and others come to their own truth and wisdom through life coaching and facilitation.

Opening doors

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

Campbell’s full quote is “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”.  This has been true for me as I have found healing through discovering the truth about my past and present which allow me to build a future of my own choice.  I have clients who have known abuse in childhood and infidelity in marriage leading to disabling limitations.  And yet, explore that pain and wounding and on the other side has been the path to self-love and the joy of living the life they feel they truly deserve- fulfilling, love-filled, meaningful and on purpose.

The path to your bliss usually comes in unexpected ways.  It is not what your “head” would normally identify as the proper path.  Typically, it leads you towards all kinds of opportunities that seem out of the ordinary.  In my life, I had a career in science mapped out.  However, my intuition or “gut” took me toward martial arts and within a decade I had ditched the neuroscience career and was teaching people Karate, Aikido and Iaido and how to apply those principles to have greater success in business, relationships and life in general.  That opened doors to life coaching and workshop facilitation as well as volunteering for Samaritans.  As Campbell said, “we must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

The doors to freedom

Those things that you seek to recover that make you feel whole, are often those things that you fear.  To survive without them, you make them wrong or bad or fearful.  Yet you feel like something is missing and so you go in search of them.  You become caught in this interplay between moving towards what you seek and away from what you fear.

It takes great courage to face these challenges.  The last quote from Campbell, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek” points to this truth.  If you want your life to flourish, you cannot settle for survival.  You find a way to allow yourself to thrive.

This has always been the narrative of the Hero’s Journey- think Star Wars or Harry Potter.  The Hero’s Journey is not only a modern theme- it is as old as humanity.  You’ll see it in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism and The Tale of Gilgamesh from Babylon.  You are the hero of your life- the only one who can set you free from the fear that currently holds you back from living that fulfilling life.  The same life that finds its meaning in facing these fears.  In facing your fears, the clarity of your purpose begins to coalesce.  Your Light shines brighter and brighter as you face more fears and rediscover the house that is you, illuminating your way and allowing you to share your gifts with the world.

Gifts to the World

Find whatever means you can to bring your gifts to the world.  They are sorely needed and in living them, you will live the fulfilling life you dream for yourself.  There will be challenges.  There may even be dragons.  And there will be Princes and Princesses, Kings and Queens, adventures and miracles.  Life is not complete without the Light AND the dark, pain and joy, love and fear.  Learn ways to embrace the Light, find the joy and allow the love to flow.  Pain, fear and darkness are always present.  In your Light the darkness is banished, the fear becomes manageable and the pain you feel a product of the power of your love.  So, seek the Light and rediscover the house that is YOU.

Over to you

If you’d like to rediscover your Light and find your purpose to make life more fulfilling and meaningful for you, why not contact me and we can discuss how you can begin to make that a reality.