The Voice in my Head is Kind of a B&%#@!

The Voice in my Head is Kind of a B&%#@!

No, I am not crazy! We all have internal dialogue and what I have found is that most times this voice can be pretty nasty! I think the easiest way to gain more awareness of this voice is to look at it in greater detail.

 

Who is this voice?

Some call it our inner critic, some call it the voice of reason, some people even call it the realist. Whatever you call that voice, it is ever present and, in a lot of cases, holds us back. Whatever name it goes by and however it sounds to you, it is pretty much constantly talking throughout the day. It happily points out when we have made a mistake, how we have not measured up, how we could have done more. It is the voice of our ‘should have’s’ and ‘need tos’. Is this sounding familiar? It can often be found saying “Uh oh that wasn’t good enough”, “You need to be nicer”, “You should do this” and “You have to do this”.

When does it show up?

Well, as mentioned, it is always around and it has something to say about everything! Most times it is not pointing out the positive, rather it is chastising us for something or pointing out our perceived flaws and short comings.

It can be particularly loud when we are feeling low, it jumps on the criticizing band wagon and feeds on our vulnerability.

It also becomes really outspoken when we try to do new things or step out of our comfort zone. It tends to like the known and comfortable, so when we are contemplating something new it usually tells us “NO” and gives us a thousand reasons why “it won’t work” and “we can’t do it”.

The Voice in my Head is Kind of B&%#@!

What does it say?

The messages it sends are usually self-defeating and criticizing. Specifically, it says things like “You are not pretty, smart, friendly …. enough, you do not deserve happiness, success, fulfillment. You are a screw up, a loser, dumb, ugly, a failure, an imposter.” The specific words may be different, but the message is the same, generally in some way or another it is telling you, you suck!

Why do we have this voice?

So, the big question is, why do we have this voice? It is obviously not the nicest thing to have in our heads. The reasons we have this voice are numerous and unique to us. Its presence may be universal, but how it came to be, and our personal recipe for why we have this voice, is as unique as you are.

Oftentimes it comes from our belief system, our fears, our learned patterns and our perceptions. However, it came about in you. Most times its number one role is to protect us – sounds weird that a voice that degrades us is there to protect us. But the role of this voice is to keep us on a safe path, by either stopping us from stepping outside our perceived limits, or by saving us by preparing us for (its perceptions) of what others might be thinking or saying about us, kind of like a buffer.

The crazy thing about this is it keeps us playing small in our lives and most times it actually stops us from really living our lives. If you have ever worked for a hypercritical manager or have witnessed or experienced an overly critical parent, then you can see how this type of critical judgement keeps us stuck, most times in a life that is not all that it could be.

It is well documented that in order to support people to grow they need encouragement and that being extremely critical does not inspire people or motivate them, it actually does the opposite. Imagine if a child was raised being told that they were bad, a failure, not capable and all those negative messages that you tell yourself. Do you think that child would flourish? Of course not! They would be stunted in their development, not to mention they would be absolutely terrified of doing something new.  And really this is what this voice in our head does to us – it keeps us stunted in our development, too!

Now imagine the other side. What would we be capable of doing if we were supported 100% of the time? That would be amazing! We would feel free to risk and take chances and we would flourish!  If the message was you can rather than you can’t, you would believe that you could, and you would try and persevere because you knew you could. You would be unstoppable!

Sounds great right? Well, this is possible because this voice does not speak facts, but rather perceptions. And we do not have to take its messages as the truth. When you are able to recognize this and change this voice from self-sabotaging to self-promoting, then you have the power to choose a life that you love!

If you are interested in learning more about your internal voice and how to change it you can join me for a free online interactive workshop Beyond Belief: Take Your Life from Surviving to Thriving, Again!, where we will delve deeper into our inner voice and how to start changing it!

The Voice in my Head is Kind of B&%#@!

Is it a Message?

Have you ever had animals appearing in your life and wondered why? This is really common. I have had numerous conversations in the last week about what I refer to as animal messengers. My belief is that when we have different animals show up in our lives, they are bringing us a message from the Universe. I have had countless experiences with this and when an animal presents itself, I listen, because, to me, there is a lesson or message in their appearance.

Comfort from the Skies

I have held this belief for a long time but one of the most profound examples is the day that my husband passed away. I had returned home after leaving the hospital and was out in my backyard, still in a state of shock and really trying to process what had happened. As I sat there trying to ground myself, I heard this loud shriek. I had never heard it before and at first didn’t pay much attention to it, as I was consumed with my emotions. But it continued about every 20 seconds, and soon the shriek became my focus. It was frustrating and annoying, it just wouldn’t stop. The thought in my head was “Shut up, seriously I don’t need this”. The shrieking continued so I walked around my garden to investigate where it was coming from and at that point a bird flew from my neighbor’s yard to the rooftop across the alley. The bird continued to scream and as I looked at it I realized it was a woodpecker. Before this point I had never really seen a woodpecker, at least not that I could remember. I had heard them in the neighborhood pounding their beaks into the light posts but I had never actually seen them. I saw the long beak so, to me this was clearly a woodpecker!

 

Is it a Message?

 

At that point I couldn’t help but chuckle. See the thing is, my husband’s nickname was Woody and there, communicating with me in the garden, was a woodpecker. It was at that point I felt the grounding I was searching for as I realized he may not be with me physically, but he was still around. Since that day, I have woodpeckers show up in my life frequently and when they do, I know that my husband’s energy is around me and he is there to support me. I notice that the woodpecker usually shows up at the most opportune times – usually when I am struggling with something or just having a bad day. Now when the woodpecker shows up, it makes me smile and reminds me that I am supported. I am so grateful to the Universe for this sign.

I have shared the above story with others and when I do, the response is usually “I know what you mean”. I have heard countless people recount similar experiences of having an animal, bird or insect show up and remind them of a loved one that has passed. Their animal has shown up when they needed it and in some of the most bizarre places. This has only confirmed my belief that animals can serve as messengers for us. In this case, they are messengers that bring us comfort and a sense of connection to a loved one. What a beautiful message from the Universe and our loved ones!

 

Is it a Message?

What is Showing Up?

Prior to the woodpecker experience, I had already been aware of animals as messengers. I have always believed the Universe speaks to us in numerous ways so I try to remain aware and, when I notice a particular animal showing up repetitively, I get curious and investigate what energy this animal brings. A lot of the information available on animal totems come from Native American culture and there are many books and websites that have information on the different energies that each animal carries. So, when an animal enters my life, I look up what the message is and in every case that I can remember, the message the animal brings is exactly what I need. For me this has happened so many times that I do not question it, I just thank the Universe and take the message. An example of this is this weekend I was traveling with a friend through the prairies where I live and we saw three or four coyotes on the drive. Now, it is the prairies and it is not the rarest to see coyotes, but to see so many during the day is rather rare. Taking this as a sign, we looked up the energy of the coyote and, sure enough, it talked about bringing the balance between fun and work. This is something that I have been recognizing has been missing in my life. Therefore lately, I have been taking purposeful steps to increase the amount of fun in my life. I took the presence of the coyotes as a sign from the Universe that I was taking the right steps in restoring balance in my life.

Some of you may be feeling skeptical about this and that is OK. All I can say is try it out!

 

Is it a Message?

Be Observant!

It is really easy to test. First, be observant of your surroundings. If you have an animal that keeps showing up or that is drawing your attention, investigate. For example, perhaps lately you have been noticing more crows around you than usual. It may not be rare, but lately every time you are outside one flies by or you constantly hear them or, as I have experienced, they fly right in front of you so that you can’t possibly miss them. Take that as a sign. If there is a message for you, you will know it, you will just feel it! In my way of thinking, it is beyond coincidence that a specific animal is present at the exact time you are looking in that direction… like I said, to me I have no doubt it is a message. For example, I have deer that live in my neighborhood so it is not uncommon to see them around but there are times when the deer come up my driveway at the exact minute I am in my kitchen looking out my window. That is beyond coincidence to me! Even if it is an animal that is common to your area but suddenly you notice more of them or in different situations, then I challenge you to look up what message or energy that animal holds.

I by no means claim to be well educated in this area, what I do know is it provides me with another perspective on what is happening in my life at that time and that is always welcome. Here are some of the websites I use to decipher my messages:

What’s Your Sign

Spirit Animal

Spirit Animal Totems

But you can simply google “what does (animal) mean” and there will be numerous sites that come up. I have found that some do have different meanings, but after reading a couple I can usually decipher my personal meaning. I trust my intuition.

 

Try it! You may be pleasantly surprised at what you may learn. And what I have noticed is, the more I am willing to listen, the more messages I get!

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

One of the most overlooked and important lessons we can learn on our journey in life is the lesson of forgiveness. I recognize this is something a lot of people struggle with, but I believe that when we are not able to forgive, we are unnecessarily holding onto negative energy. This negative energy hinders our ability to create a happy life. Really, our lack of forgiveness, in my opinion, robs us of our happiness. Most times we chose not to forgive and hold a grudge because we believe we have been slighted in some way but, the crazy thing is, most times the grudge we are holding is only hurting us!

 

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

Why Forgive?

One of the biggest problems that I hear about forgiveness is that people feel that if they forgive someone then they are condoning what the person has done. This could not be further from the truth. When we forgive someone, we are not saying “What you did is ok”, rather we are saying “I don’t want to hold on to this so I am letting it go and forgiving you”. When we hold back forgiveness, what we are really saying is “I want to hold on to this negativity” and most times the other person doesn’t know or isn’t even affect by us holding a grudge, that means we are the only ones suffering!

Another reason we don’t forgive is that we are still feeling the negative feelings associated with the slight. We are holding on to feelings of anger, upset or betrayal. That means we are choosing to hold on to those feelings and that is not healthy for us. I do understand that there are things that may have happened that have hurt you deeply, but by holding on to those feelings you are continuing to harm yourself! As I have discussed many times holding on to negative feelings is toxic to our bodies, minds and souls. If you look at it from that perspective forgiveness starts to look like a better option.

On the positive side when you are able to forgive, you are releasing the negativity that is associated with the event. You are able to use your energy for more productive and positive things, things that bring you joy rather than reliving the pain. By choosing forgiveness we are also releasing all our judgements about the person that slighted us and are bringing more compassion and understanding in the world.

One key thing to remember about forgiveness is that we are not necessarily doing it for the other person, rather we are doing it for our own sense of well-being, and that makes it worth the effort! In fact, to experience the positive side of forgiveness we don’t even have to tell the other person we are forgiving them we can simply choose to let it go and forgive. If you do feel that you need to speak the forgiveness and share your feelings with that person, that is great too, but not a requirement.

Hopefully after reading this you can see that by holding a grudge you are harming yourself and that forgiveness is the path towards a happier life. If so, then you are halfway there and you have done the hardest part.

How to Practice Forgiveness

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

When you decide you are ready to forgive, there are some simple steps that you can take to practice forgiveness.

Forgive Them.

Come up with a formal statement that you can say out loud to the person or to yourself that expresses your forgiveness. For example, “I forgive you (name) for (perceived hurt)”. It may be helpful at this point to vocalize your experience of the event, something like “I was really hurt when you said that to me”, or “I was angry when you did that”. Be sure when you are speaking about your feelings that you own them by using “I” statements.

If you are struggling with this, here is something to think about: Most of the time, our anger or perceived hurts come from people not living up to our expectations of them and not really what they did. An example of this is if we believe that our spouse should remember our anniversary because it is important to us, then we expect them to remember the date and when they don’t, we are upset because we believed they should have. Usually when this happens we start creating a story around how inconsiderate he is and how much he doesn’t care about our anniversary because he doesn’t care about our relationship. The fact is they forgot a date, that’s it. And honestly who hasn’t forgotten a date before?

Beyond that, if you take the emotions and the story out of it and look at the whole picture from a place of understanding, then you may recognize there were other factors involved, like he has been preoccupied with a big project at work or he is never good at remembering any dates. All of these reflections on the situation can help you get to the point where forgiveness feels easier.

Forgive Yourself.

This step may come as a surprise to you, but a huge part of forgiveness is being able to forgive our part in the situation. At first look we may feel like we did nothing, but we played a part in the situation no matter how small we had a part in it. In the example above, your part may have been knowing that your anniversary is important to you and he always forgets. You chose not to remind him or put it on the calendar. Or maybe your part was that you had unrealistic expectations and placed a lot of emphasis on him remembering and that set you up to have hurt feelings when he didn’t. However small, recognize your part in the event and forgive yourself. Formally state “I forgive myself for (your part)”.

Most times when we hold a grudge we are also holding on to negative feelings around our part “I should have known better”, “I didn’t listen to my intuition”. I want to make it really clear that this is not about blaming yourself, rather it is about recognizing how your choices influenced the event. When we can recognize our part from a non-judgmental place then we have the power to choose differently next time.

Learn the Lesson.

Now that you have forgiven, the last step is to learn the lesson. Whatever information you have gleaned from your reflection on the situation can provide you with a lesson to avoid future hurts. Like in the above example, knowing that your anniversary is important to you and knowing that he forgets dates regularly, you can choose to arrange the date yourself and send him an invite or maybe you choose to plan it together around the dinner table, or maybe you recognize that it is really not that important and you decide to just let it pass. Whatever the outcome, you are making the choice from a place of clarity and that is empowering!

 

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

 

Once you have accomplished these three steps then you have been able to release the negativity associated with the event and you have practiced forgiveness. I know the example I gave here was a simple one, but you can use these steps for deeper hurts too. If you are a grudge holder then it may take some practice but start small and work your way up to the more significant hurts. If you regularly practice these steps they soon will become automatic and you will be able to forgive much easier.

Forgiveness may not always be easy when we feel we have been slighted, but the consequence of holding on to negativity is much harder in the long run!

Weathering the Storm!

For those of you who live in Southern Alberta you will understand where I am coming from. We just received an early, heavy winter storm and most of us were taken by surprise by the heavy, wet snow that blanketed our environment.  As I frantically worked in my backyard to save my tree from losing major branches under the weight of this heavy snow, I reflected on the fact that this tree and it’s struggle to hold the weight of the snow was similar to my experience in life in the past years.

I arrived home and went to my backyard and noticed that the single tree I have was majorly being pulled down by the weight of the falling snow. As the tree still had all of its leaves the accumulation was just too much weight for the tree to handle. I knew I needed to do something! I was feeling a sense of panic as it was still snowing outside and the tree was continually getting weighed down. I didn’t want to cut the tree… I had been nurturing it for years! I had rescued it from aphids’ infestations numerous times, brought it back from the brink, not to mention the countless arguments I had with my husband who wanted to cut it down. I had fought for this tree and I was not going to let it die because of this storm. This led me to the decision I had to cut off some of it’s beautiful branches in order to save it. I am someone who finds nature naturally beautiful and I do not like to mess with it unless I have to, so this decision was not an easy one for me.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

When I took the shears to the first branch I hesitated… I really didn’t want to do this but I felt like I had no choice. I had to cut. So, I did, …. SNIP…. and the first branch fell to the ground. As silly as it sounds I felt bad for the branch that now lay at my feet I had taken away it’s source of life and now it was doomed. Taking that in for a second I turned to the tree, sucked it up and made another cut, all the while still feeling this sense of urgency as the snow was still falling. The next branch I took on was a huge one. It took a lot of strength and effort on my part to get this huge branch dissected from the tree but when it fell, the main branch bounced back up. This was a welcome sight as I now could see the good that all of this tree trimming was doing for the tree overall. So, despite how it was losing parts of itself, it was gaining a stronger foundation. I continued with less hesitation now. Soon my mother arrived with a saw and we ended up taking off some huge branches and every time we made another cut, the tree bounced back against the weight of the storm. After an hour, I had pruned my tree taking off some major branches and overall, I had saved the tree. I was cold and wet from doing this work in the midst of the heavy, wet snowfall. There was a sense of satisfaction as I looked at the branches laying on the snow-covered ground but also a sense of sadness for the parts of the tree that were now dying.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

This experience really brought out a lot of self-reflection in me.  About how this tree is a direct reflection of my life over the past couple years. I too had been hit by a big storm, and in the midst of the storm and after the storm I had to make some pretty hard decisions on what I was going to let go of so that I too could survive. Even as I write this, I can see more correlations in this experience. It was like the universe had provided me with this opportunity of tree cutting to see my life play out and recognize that I had made the right decision. Trimming things out of my life that were dragging me down was the best thing that I could have done for myself.

When I started with trimming the tree and revaluating my life, it was not easy to let go of these old beliefs, these old patterns of behavior and these old stories. In fact, it was quite difficult at times. Most of them had been in operation in me for years and I had learned to accept them. They were functional or at least I had made them that way, but now I was given this opportunity to release them! They no longer served who I wanted to be – who I had really always wanted to be. This visual of the tree branches being pulled down by the weight of the snow was exactly how I was feeling in life I was holding myself back and weighing myself down by outdated stories that I kept telling myself. Just like with the tree, the first cut was the hardest but once I started and could see some improvement then it became a little easier. There were some branches that were really big as they were wound into so many aspects of my personality. These branches took a lot of perseverance and strength to let go of. Some of these things that I found the hardest to get rid of in my life took as much mental strength to let go of as it took physical strength with the tree.  And just like in my life, there were some branches I couldn’t do on my own. I had to put my trust and faith in others to support me and, luckily, I have an amazing support network that was up for the challenge.

 

Weathering the Storm!

 

Just like the tree, I was faced with something that could potentially have ruined me. But instead of just giving up, I grabbed the shears and started taking off the things that were holding me down. I am happy to report that my tree survived the storm just as I have survived the storm in my life. And both my tree and I are stronger now, probably stronger than we have ever been. As I stood there looking at the pile of cut branches and felt such a sense of accomplishment, I had saved the tree and I had saved myself! Sometimes the universe gives you a storm that looks devastating, one that looks like it could literally take you down, and in the end, it turns out that the storm was exactly what you needed. It was not something to fear or hide from but rather an opportunity to do some trimming!

I hope if you find yourself in a storm, that you take a second to realize that it may look bad at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be as devastating as we are anticipating!

 

 

5-Star Living

When I decided I wanted to pursue coaching it was for completely altruistic reasons. I had been in a helping profession for years and I had noticed the shortfalls in the system so I really wanted to help people on another level, a deeper one. A level where they could feel empowered in their own lives. What I didn’t realize is that it was going to change my life, too!

It’s Crazy!

I started out on this path a few years ago and, when I look back now, I can barely recognize the person I was back then. I have undergone such an amazing transformation, one that I never even realized was possible. When I started coach training, I was not only being taught how to help others, I also participated in the same activities. I was learning the same tools and having the same sessions as I now provide to my clients. In the beginning, I was under the impression that I was self-aware and pretty well educated in personal and spiritual growth – and I was – but now I have come to realize that I was probably only about 25% aware! There were so many things that I had just surrendered to as being a part of who I was, stories I accepted. What I know now is that theses stories, patterns, beliefs and thoughts were really holding me back in life and I didn’t even know they were playing out! Crazy, right?!

It’s amazing when I look back now on how I was participating in my life. I was completely oblivious to the potential and, to be honest, I wasn’t really in a bad place, I was enjoying my life… somewhat. So how do you know what you don’t know? What I mean is, how can we understand that something is not all that it could be when it is a part of the life that we live and that we simply accept as that…just life!

5-Star Living

 

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

I had a similar experience when I was first diagnosed with thyroid problems. I talked to doctors and they told me that with my levels where they were, my thoughts and body were in a state of hyper drive. Which was evident in the fact that my hands would tremble all the time, but I was used to it and it started so slowly that I just became accustomed to it… it was me. The thing is, it wasn’t until I started on my healing with my naturopath and my mind and body started to slow down, my levels started to come into a “normal” range, that is when I realized how fast things were before. And that ‘s the same experience I had with coaching. Like I said I went in it to help others and what I got was never even in my frame of reference. One of the strongest examples of this was my level of confidence. I thought of myself as ‘confident enough’, it’s not like I was completely shy, and I was ok with that! But now, looking back, I would say that my confidence level was at 10% and now I am more like at 85%. Back then, how was I to know that there was more? Sure, I saw and read about others who had more confidence, but I just accepted that they were anomalies or had something special that I did not possess!

Happiness

The same can be said for my happiness. Prior to coaching (and prior to my husband’s passing), I would have ranked my happiness at 75%, what I realize now I was functioning at maybe 15%, and presently I would say I am more like at 90%. What an unbelievable difference! But again, how do you know what you don’t know? Oftentimes we just operate on auto-pilot and, because things aren’t necessarily in a state of chaos or trauma, we continue to operate on auto-pilot, as it is serving our needs. That’s the thing, it is just serving our needs. There is potential for so much more, beyond just the basics. It’s like the difference between a meal at a 5-star restaurant compared to a fast food joint. The fast food is meeting our needs and is ok we are surviving but…WOW…the 5-star restaurant, now that is living!!!   And that is something I think a lot of us don’t realize – we are living the fast food life when we could have the 5-star life! I realize this now and most days I enjoy 5-star living. There are times when I slip back into fast food living but I have the tools, awareness, support and vision to move through this with grace and a sense of curiosity.

5-Star Living

 

That is the beautiful thing about life. The more aware you become, the more options you have and the more you want to learn and grow. It’s a pretty cool place to be in, for sure.

Coaching was the opening for me to create this life for myself, but that doesn’t mean that was the only way. I do feel though that coaching with a good, professional, aware coach is one of the most empowering experiences one can have. I know I have personally watched clients blossom into a life that was never even on their radars previously. It is such an honor to watch them claim their power and move forward in life with a passion, conviction and purpose! One thing I tend to hear a lot is “Why did I not know this before?” And I agree! Why are we not taught this vital information? It is an injustice for sure!

 

Reflection

Looking back now, I can recognize there was always this quiet whisper from deep inside me that I wish would have been louder. At times it would whisper “there is more”. It was because of that whisper I think I sought out the people living the 5-star life.  These inspiring authors, teachers and speakers told me I could have it all but to be honest I never really believed it. I had participated in their courses and read their books and watched shows that would give me a glimmer of this life, but eventually that glimmer would fade. I did learn from them, but it just wasn’t totally clicking. I was usually left feeling that this was just the way it was in my life. I didn’t doubt they had created this life for themselves, but I believed that was their life, obviously not mine.  I am by no means saying these attempts at personal growth were a waste of time, rather I think they provided a great foundation for me. The thing that I was missing was I was often in my own head doing the work, therefore stuck in the same old thinking patterns and that is why (I realize now) I wasn’t able to take flight. I am so grateful to all of those authors, speakers and presenters for their inspiration and laying the ground work because I finally get what they were all talking about! What I realize now is that I really do have the power within me to live that 5-star life, we all do!

Though I ascribe to a “no regrets” life and I recognize that things happen when they are supposed to, I can’t help but wonder where I would be now had I known all of this in my 20’s. Perhaps the seeds were planted in my 20’s and they just didn’t start to grow until now? Either way, I am grateful for where I am!

I am not going to tell you it is an easy path but really, in life, is anything worth the time and effort really easy? If it comes too easy then we are robbed of the opportunity to really enjoy the spoils of our efforts.

5-Star Living

My sincerest wish for everyone reading this is: No matter how you find it, I hope you find the thing that catapults your life from fast food to 5-star! And I suggest if you hear that whisper, listen and seize the opportunity, it’s so worth it!

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

We all have a comfort zone and, if you think about it, it’s kind of like an elastic band. Inside the circumference of the elastic lie the activities, people and situations that we feel comfortable participating in and with. This would include things like work, our circle of friends, our usual hobbies or activities, our usual restaurants and even usual places we travel. The things that lie in our comfort zone are things that – you guessed it – we feel comfortable with. They are known to us, we understand them and there are really no surprises with them, that is why they are comfortable. These things are great, but on the other side of the elastic lies the rest of the world. The people we don’t know, the activities we have not done, the situations we have not been in, as well as the things we fear or have avoided. Although it is vital to have places where you feel comfortable, there is a whole other world outside of that comfort zone. That other world has the potential to provide us with some amazing experiences.

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

My Realization

Recently I became aware that my comfort zone was shrinking and the circle of things I found comfortable was becoming smaller and smaller. The big eye opener for me was when I went to leave on a trip to Arizona with one of my dearest friends. When I booked the trip, I was excited as I love to travel and explore (or at least I had). But in the last three years my life has been full of changes, so I found comfort and solace in my home and near surroundings. I had been on weekend trips and a few other longer holidays but not much in the last year. As the day neared for me to leave, I observed that I was starting to feel anxious. I didn’t think too much of it, as trying to get things packed and sorted for a trip can sometimes be stressful. The day I was to leave on the trip arrived and a swell of anxiety filled my body. I was in what I would equate to a small panic attack. I did my usual grounding exercises and tried to feel into the emotions… nothing was working! To be honest, it got so bad I even contemplated cancelling the trip as the thought of leaving was so overwhelming! Thankfully, I had made a commitment to my friend and I take those pretty seriously. That value forced me to continue with the plan, despite the anxiety. As I drove to meet my friend, I was flooded with emotions to the point I started to cry uncontrollably.  I used my self- awareness skills to try and investigate what was going on and to get myself grounded, but it wasn’t working. So, I resigned to let the tears come and I cried for almost the whole drive. I’m not really sure what I was crying for, but it was there so I let it flow. During this time, my thoughts were swirling with self-doubt, guilt, fear and anxiety. On one hand, I felt silly because I knew that I wanted to do this, but on the other hand the emotions were just so strong. I found the further I got away, the calmer I started to feel. When I did meet up with my friend (whom is a great support) I completely broke down again. The first hour and half of our journey was spent by her supporting me and me releasing and speaking all the guilt, fear and anxious thoughts I was having. Then just as quickly as the tears came they dissipated. I was now feeling relief. It was at that point I realized I had let my comfort zone get way too small and what I was experiencing was the result of finally stretching my comfort zone.

I say all that to state that we have a comfort zone for a reason. But when that comfort zone becomes too restrictive, it’s time to start considering making some changes and stretch your elastic!

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

 

Stretch your elastic!

Stretching your comfort zone can be a scary thing. That means we have to venture beyond the known, beyond the expected, into unknown, unfamiliar terrain and that is anxiety producing. I think all too often our comfort zones stay stagnant or even shrink because we get busy in our lives. On top of that, I think that so many of us are stressed and overwhelmed in our day to day lives that just thought of adding a little more is too much. But the thing is, just like me, if we let our comfort zones get too small then we miss out on some pretty amazing experiences.

Since my realization of my shrinking comfort zone, I vowed to stretch it out! The experience served as a huge eye opener for me! Since then, I have started pushing myself to get out more and meet new people. Trying new things and having new experiences is pretty cool! I am now feeling much more capable of handling the new and much less stressed me when faced with new opportunities.

Expand Your COmfort Zone!

What Now?

How do we do it? How do we stretch our comfort zone? It’s easy, depending on the type of person you are. You can take baby steps or you can really push yourself as long as you are trying something new. For example, it could simply be visiting new restaurants, trying a new sport, participating in new social activities, meeting new people, volunteering…anything that gets you trying something new. And if you are really adventurous you could travel to new places, take weekend adventure trips to new destinations, join that yoga or art class that you have avoided, write an article for your local paper or maybe really challenge yourself to face something you are afraid of like swimming if you have a fear of water, or joining toastmasters if you fear public speaking. Whatever level you choose to stretch your comfort zone, any and all will help!

 

Expand Your Comfort Zone!

 

The Result

When we stretch our comfort zones we feel a rush of exhilaration, a sense of completion, a sense of accomplishment and a well-earned respect for ourselves. Even if the activity is not all you thought it could, be you still did it and that is the important part! Each time I go out of my way to stretch my comfort zone I realize how truly strong and capable I am and I am inspired to try even more new things. Once you start you just want to keep going! And isn’t moving forward and finding your happiness the point of life?

So, if you have found that your comfort zone is becoming too restrictive, believe in yourself! You have the courage to stretch your elastic band! Remember, an elastic band stretches before it breaks, so go out there and stretch it…even if it’s only a little bit!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

Coaching is getting a lot of attention lately. It is on the rise and, from personal experience, I can see why! This observation not only comes from my own personal experiences, but also from working with clients. What I have noticed is that coaching is extremely successful at moving people forward in their lives. Here are the top 5 reasons why I believe coaching is so successful at helping people move forward into a life that they love.

1. It’s your wisdom!

Coaching is not about telling you what to do or what not do in your life, rather it is about creating a safe place where you can explore yourself. Through thoughtful questions, a professional coach can listen beyond the words to hear your internal guidance or wisdom. What I mean by this is, coaches are trained to hear not just the words, but the meaning behind them. They grab those little pearls of wisdom that are hidden among the chatter that goes on in our minds. I once heard that our intuition (internal wisdom) is like a pebble dropping in the ocean. Amongst all the other thoughts that are running in our minds, it’s no wonder our intuition is so hard to hear. And that makes it difficult to hear. In coaching, the coach is trained (if professional) to listen past the noise and hear those pearls of wisdom and then feed that information back to you. So, when it comes to making decisions about your life, it is your own wisdom that is guiding you to the right choice. I have heard clients say, “But I don’t know the answer”, but in the coaching conversation with focused and thoughtful questions, the answers just come flowing out. Most people who experience this are surprised that they had that wisdom inside themselves. I believe we all do, we just need the tools to be able to listen past the other noise!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

2. Fill your tool belt!

Coaching provides you with tools that you can use in the future. It gives you insights into yourself and your unconscious programming to help you recognize them in the future. These tools are priceless! You become truly unstoppable when you are able to listen to yourself and recognize the ‘tapes’ that play in your head. You have the power to choose to listen to the ‘tapes’ or to change them. It is like being given a manual to your unconscious that you can use when needed. Not only do you understand yourself better, but you start to see the world around you differently. You are able to gain new perspectives on yourself and the world and that is powerful!

3. Build confidence!

I think one of the biggest things is the doubting mind that we all have. We can talk ourselves out of pretty much anything. Even when we know it is good for us, we have a million and one reasons why it can’t or won’t work out for us. We start to question our ability to make good choices, but what is really happening is we are losing trust in ourselves. Coaching is so successful because it is a starting point to rebuild that trust. When you no longer doubt yourself, you are much more capable of facing the challenges of life head on because you know you are capable. This is an empowering step in the coaching process when you begin trusting yourself, you become more willing to take risks to get the life that you want.

Being able to trust yourself is the key to building confidence and when you have the confidence that you are fully capable of, again, you are unstoppable!

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

4. Based in the present, looking forward.

The very nature of coaching is all about moving forward! It focuses on the present and the future – where you are and where you want to be – instead of where you have been.  The only time we look at the past in coaching is to see if the patterns and beliefs you have learned in the past are still serving you. This is very different from therapy where the focus is around healing the past. In contrast, illuminates how the past is replaying in the present. I have heard numerous times from people “I don’t want to focus on the past, I just want to move forward”. That is not to say there is no value in healing the past if that is what you need, but if you are wanting to move forward then coaching is the choice for you!

5. It’s all about you!

Coaching is like a dance between the coach and client. There is no preset formula, as everyone is unique, and coaching honors that uniqueness. This means that things move at your pace and it focuses on what is happening in your world right now and what is affecting where you want to be. There are times when a client may be on a certain path or have a goal for a session, but when the conversation starts it becomes clear that there is something else unfolding that is more relevant than the planned topic. In coaching, the coach follows along with the conversation to get to a desired outcome, based on the individual. This means that what is relevant to the client is the focus of the session, so whatever is stopping you from moving forward is addressed in the present moment.

Top 5 Ways Coaching Moves You Forward

Life coaching really is all about moving forward. It recognizes the contributions of the past and addresses the situation in the present so that you are able to move forward to reach your goals. If you have never experienced it, it is hard to explain how amazing this experience is. For me, it is because of the wonderful coaches I work with that enable me to get out of my own way and create a life that I want and love. The insights I have gained into myself are truly beyond anything I ever thought possible and the personal power and confidence gained from this has been beyond my wildest dreams.

Recognizing Compassion

With the natural disasters happening around the world, I am reminded this week of how we as a culture, and as individuals most of the time fail to notice the good and compassionate side of humanity. Most times, it takes a tragedy like what is happening for us to start recognizing the compassionate actions of others, this is especially true in the media. Saying this, I am not trying to minimize these wonderful acts of compassion, rather I am pointing out that it is really only in times of tragedy that we give these acts a lot of attention. I believe that, on a daily basis, all around the world there are similar acts of compassion happening yet we fail to recognize it. Instead, we focus on all the struggles and problems, rather than spending a minute to recognize all the good that is out there.

 

Globally

We do this on a global scale as well as on an individual basis. Why is it that we let the positive slip by us, instead we focus on the negative acts? On a global scale, you can see this daily by watching the news. They tend to focus on the negative acts of humanity and skim over, or altogether skip, the compassionate acts. This is why I choose not to watch the news! On the rare occasions when I do catch it, the stories focus on the doom and gloom and the negative aspects of humanity. I have even noticed when there is nothing new and negative happening, the stories then try to remind us something negative from history. This is crazy! It feeds our fears and negative bias, and we soak it up. No wonder there are so many of us that struggle with being negative! I do understand the need to be aware of what is happening in the news, but what I am missing is a balance. Because as much negative happenings as there are, in my belief, there are also equal or even more acts of compassion and positive humanity happening too!

Recognizing Compassion

Individually

That is on a global level, but looking at an individual level it is the same case. When most of us run through our  day, we focus on all the negative things that have happened… the person who has cut you off in traffic, the coworker who was rude, the partner who was insensitive and so on. We forget about the person who gave us their parking spot, the coworker who brought your favorite cookies, the spouse that made dinner so you could attend a yoga class. We take these things for granted and instead of celebrating the things that enriched our day, we focus on the things that went wrong.

If you need further proof, look at your casual conversations with others, for example, those who work in customer service. The usual conversations revolve around how bad the weather is and who is suffering because of the latest horrible act of humanity, or the suffering of others. I notice this all the time with others and have even caught myself doing it. However, I have now made a conscious effort to change these automatic responses.

With all this negative focus, no wonder so many people are in bad moods! Doom and gloom all around and we focus on it.

As I have mentioned numerous times, we are hardwired to notice the negative for safety reasons, but that does not mean that is all we can notice!

Recognizing Compassion

 

So, what do we do about this?

What would happen if we all made an effort to minimize the negative and recognize the positive? There would be a radical shift in our perspectives! If we all started trying to get a more balanced view of humanity I think we would see others not as someone who could potentially cause us harm, but rather as another human being who is capable of compassion.

Our view of humanity would shift from one of fear and negativity to one of inclusiveness and compassion. Think about it, if 75% of things you heard about a new coworker or neighbor was negative, how would you feel about this person? Well, of course you would probably be fearful of them to some degree. You would be on guard when you met them and chances are you would maybe even avoid them. This is exactly what happens in our world because we hear all these negative things. We expect that others can’t be trusted and we need to be on guard around them. What an epic change we could create in our world if we could all expect the best from others instead of fearing the worst!

If you want to make this shift, challenge yourself to start noticing the wonderful acts of humanity around you. Being aware and recognizing them will teach your brain to search these experiences out more often!

Challenge Yourself

On a personal level, you can remember to count your blessings, practice gratitude for acts of compassion, acknowledge the good in others and yourself. Acknowledge what you notice and talk about it often. If you find yourself going down that old familiar route of a negative bias, then consciously make the effort to recognize something good. I am not saying completely ignore the negative, but doesn’t it make sense to focus on what you want?  If you want a more positive life then focus on that. There will be negatives for sure! You will get cut off in traffic, someone will be disrespectful, there will be acts of aggression and examples of the harsh side of humanity. That is a part of life, but wouldn’t it be nicer to be able to let those events pass and instead focus on the acts of compassion you have experienced instead?

My heart goes out to all of those who are suffering now, especially all those affected by these natural disasters. May you find peace, compassion and healing!

Thank you! Louise Hay

I had a different blog planned for this week then I received the news that a woman I admired passed away. Louise Hay was an inspiration to myself and millions of others and I am sure her many works and foundation will continue to be for years to come. To honour her this week I decided to share my favorite Louise Hay quotes. If you have not had the opportunity I would highly recommend her books.

I hope you find these as inspirational as I do!

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

 

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

And lastly….

Thank you! Louise Hay

 

Thank you Louise Hay for all you have done for myself and the millions of others that have benefited from your wisdom. May you rest in peace.

A New Reflection – Transformation Mind, Body & Soul

I had an interesting experience in my yoga class the other week. I noticed my shadow when I was doing a pose and at first glance I didn’t even recognize it! I found this interesting, as over the past three years I have been doing a lot of work in the area of personal growth and spiritual awareness. It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t recognize my reflection because it was new, I was new!

 

A New Reflection

 

Looking back over the past three years I am proud of the steps I have taken to move my life in a new direction, a direction towards creating a life that I love. It has been a lot of work and at times it has been difficult but it has been all worth it…I have a new reflection!

Seeing this new reflection has reminded on a literal level how our bodies carry our experiences. What I have found is once I started to sort through all my old patterns and beliefs, my body physically started to change.

I see it clearly now that as I was physically, emotionally and psychologically letting things go, that no longer served me, I was changing., my reflection had changed!

On an emotional level, I used to get quite teary at times, it was like my emotions were pouring out of me. I understand now that as I was at maximum capacity for stuffed emotions and, when something happened slightly emotional (that really wasn’t that significant), my emotions would run over. I no longer do this! Instead, I have learned to feel through my emotions, I used to stuff them down, so as not to appear weak and emotional, I can see now how unhealthy for me that was. This is something I think a lot of us do. When we stuff our emotions, they don’t just go away. They build up in our bodies and, at some point, we just explode. Perhaps that looks like anger, maybe it’s self- abuse, a “nervous breakdown”, or maybe it is acts of numbing; which I think is most common. On the surface, we may look like we are coping, but really, deep down, we are suffering! Now, that I allow my emotions rather than stuff them, my reflection now shows a less stressed more flexible, happier person. And that is pretty cool!

 

A New Reflection

 

Perhaps the biggest way my reflection has changed is psychologically. I have learned to love and accept myself; this has probably been the hardest. I have learned that the thoughts running through my mind are not an absolute … I have a choice! I have learned that “I am who I am”. What I mean by this is I have learned to embrace the shadow aspect parts of me. The ones that I was previously, desperately tried to hide. I did this because I worried I would be judged and I was scared to show them. Now, I have learned to be compassionate with myself, to tame my perfectionist, befriend my inner critic and challenge myself. This awareness has been the most profound in my life. If you would have asked me three years ago if I even thought this level of self-awareness and happiness was possible, I would have doubted you! I believed this is just how life is but I realize now that this is just another story our minds tell us! It is not an absolute truth. I think a lot of us play the tape that there is something fundamentally wrong with us, and therefore we hide parts of ourselves and wear masks to try to prove to others we are OK. Without a doubt, this is what I was doing in the past, and it led to a very stressful, unhappy life. The thing is I didn’t even realize how unhappy until I started doing this work. When I stopped playing the tape that something is wrong with me, and I really started to see things clearly then I understood what real happiness was.

A New Reflection

So, going back to my new reflection I am proud of the work I have done, I am happier because of the work that I have done and I embrace this new reflection! I am now in a much better place in my life. I know that I will continue to grow and learn, but now I am doing it from a place of curiosity and strength rather than a place of thinking there is something wrong with me and “I need to be fixed”.

This voyage is something anyone can do! I am no different than any of you. If you are willing to put in the work, willing to dive deep into yourself and willing to question your perceived reality, then you too can have a new reflection! Trust me, it’s so worth it!

If you are ready to get a new reflection, join me for a supportive body transformation class. Over the 7 weeks, you will be to given the tools you need to build confidence, love yourself for who you are, and get a new reflection! Ready for your new reflection, just click here.