Articles

Emotions & Resilience

Lessons from Anger Management: The Strength of Commitment

anger tired dragon buddhist death life rebirth
The tiger and dragon are symbols of the journey through spiritual life, death and rebirth.

I began supporting young adults in Anger Management courses back in 2011. The groups ran for 6 sessions, mixing lifestyle choices, peer-support and neuroscience in the education aspects. Practically speaking, we led mindfulness exercises, drew on flip charts, and used boxing gloves.

This was the job where I truly learned the power of mixing education and theory with practise and guided support. During one session, a phrase about commitment came up, which I have carried with me over the past seven years:

“I’m more committed to being happy than to being ‘right’. That’s all you’ve got to do; be more committed to making your life work than being right. It’s your choice.”

That comment, made by a teenager who had chosen to attend these voluntary sessions, followed me, and my own anger around for a solid year after. At first, I found its truth annoying: I’d almost go as far as to say it haunted me.

Anger thrives on a sense of control, a sense of ‘righteousness.’ It’s a strong, natural response to a sense of threat, and yet, in the modern day, not every ‘threat’ requires the physical response.

Conditioning from Childhood Experiences

The house I grew up in had a very specific atmosphere. Being different was being wrong, which was also “ridiculous”, “stupid”, and often, “was something everybody knew was stupid/ridiculous” (except me). A lot of my “I must be right” was a form of OCD-like perfectionism drilled into me from a young age, propelled by fear. 

I didn’t know any different, following the path, where people who were right, people who could see those wrong things were obviously stupid could be aggressive and feel justified in that act of oppressing others.

Each of us has some experience of conditioning, and the first step towards balancing that experience is reflection. By recognising that this was a very one-sided view. I co-facilitated that programme for two years, and each time, I found myself delving deeper into those core beliefs, the background assumptions and the threats which arose for my brain.

But through running that group programme, I was also making a choice. 

Each week, I showed up to teach theory and practical exercises, hear anecdotes and support 16-25 year old’s with their anger and anxiety. I worked with over 35 young people, from homeless bullies, to those in care, misusing drugs or supported by the youth offending service. 

If these young people with minimal education, disabilities, were bullies or were on probation could learn to manage their anger then I, a Master’s student, had to have faith in myself.

I made a choice to help these people, to learn from them, but also to face my own anger in an open and safe space.

This was my first taste of redefinition: of the chance to make active choices to map out a potential I sought. 

Making a commitment is strong. With each new group of participants, we made a group agreement, stating boundaries around physical violence, swear words and treating other members of the room. It was an open commitment we all made.

But the commitment about being happy was a real motivator for my journey towards reaching for my potential.

The tools of awareness, of realising we can change – is a key foundation of the process of redefinition.

The secret of finding awareness is the present moment. Each moment is another chance for that reminder –

“We are committed to this relationship working.”
“I can choose my response to this action.”
“I have a commitment to being a kind and compassionate person.”

Whatever the goal, there’s a choice, a decision made and a commitment to keep.

Making The Decision

Even as an adult, I find myself redefining myself. When I left home at eighteen as an angry, verbally aggressive, being I took everything personally and was terrified of being wrong.

I still struggle with emotions sometimes: I am, after all, still human. Sometimes, I do still struggle with being wrong, and I can be strong-minded about certain views. The difference is that those views are now relatively well-researched from both sides. What time has done is give me a large perspective, a softer viewpoint. A safer space.

Emotions & Resilience

How to Use Visualisation and Perception to Redefine Anxiety

My tools involve making a map of your future, or using your imagination to create.

Despite beginning my journey down the self-development path in 2004, I didn’t know what the destination would look like. In fact, I really struggled to picture my future.

As a young adult, I had no career calling to me, and thus looking at job adverts was like looking over a menu where all of the food includes something I “don’t mind” and nothing I truly love. Nothing jumped out at me and I couldn’t make a choice.

The Map and Compass

It’s clear to me that without a direction, without any idea of where we want to be, we can be lost. Without a destination, we can’t access or even create a map.

So, I began to pick out future events I’d like to happen. I pictured me-in-five-years, and she had a house and was writing her novel. I couldn’t tell if the novels were her full or part-time work, but they existed in the future. It was a tiny sign to step towards.

Through knowing my novels were important enough to still be in my life in five years time, I learned the importance of devoting time to writing “in the now”. If I had stopped writing completely back in university, I wouldn’t be that “me-in-five-years” who is a writer. And I knew I want to be that future writer.

Our imagination is a wonderful tool in the journey of development. You can redefine your future by acting in certain ways now. And the best part is: no one can read your mind. So you can redefine life as it happens to you, too.

Imaginary Panic Weasels, Redefined

Ellie Di has written before about anxiety and worries as “the panic weasels”.

She once defined panic as: “a dozen weasels. Now put them in a dog crate. Now give them PopRocks and Coke, shake vigorously, and open the door. That’s what happens to my brain, my heart, and frankly, my whole day when overwhelm and stress meet in a shower of shit I just can’t handle.”

When I first read this idea, I found it charming. A way to re-define our mental state, a way to shift our perception.

But nowadays, when I experience panic or worry, being able to shift those thoughts into a mental image gives me a little control over my mental situation.

Enter the Ferrets

Thinking of a crate of weasels running around the safe space in my head, I get to work on my imagination. I sprinkle them with water until they hide in a corner. I put up cardboard barricades which led from the wall to the patio doors. I sent my ferrets after them. When they left, I tried to shut the doors, and when they tried to get back in, my imaginary cats guards the door.

I had no idea I had inner kitten and ferret guardians until Ellie gave me the tool to frame my anxiety as a weasel. But the imagery really works for me.

Think it’s a bit weird? I guess it is. But you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it. You can cultivate some lizard guardians if you’d prefer.

It’s Not Exactly Science…

But there is evidence that our brains can’t tell ‘reality’ from imagination.

When we watch a scary movie, we experience real fear.

When you imagine running into that person you like, you feel the butterflies in your stomach.

And when you see the panic as weasels, you can pick them up by their tails and chuck them out, or you can visualise ferrets chasing them away for you.

The calm that follows? It’s the brain’s way of saying “phew!” because the anxiety is gone from conscious thought.

And it’s in your control.

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If you’re up for trying this, head over to grab the free mapping workbook bundle to craft your own system towards making progress on your personal quest, build up your own connections and feel fiercely resilient. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

The Mindset Breakthrough: Shifting from Guilt to Gratitude

Over the festive holidays, I visited my in-laws to reflect on the year, open presents and share good food. I find spending time with people over the holidays always sparks great conversations, because they often have a different view from my own experiences. Conversations are great for questioning our mindset.

While discussing a soon-to-born-baby in the family, my mother-in-law said something that really got me thinking about the self-development idea of ‘shifting your perspective’ and re-framing in general.

An Emotional Situation

The story was of two pregnant women, with similar due dates. They bonded on the shared milestones and supported each other throughout the pregnancies.

When the first lady gave birth, one of the second lady’s response was “she’s got her baby, I want mine now. I’m tired and exhausted and I want to hold my baby now like she can.”

We are trained to compare and contrast experiences: it’s how we learn.

But this friend’s baby as unwell. It had been born prematurely, and the child actually died young due to a medical condition. When the second lady had her baby: a healthy boy, she continued that friendship with the other mother; yet there was obviously a difference in the milestones and experiences.

Through this story, sitting with a warm tea on a cold winter’s day, I shivered. My brain instantly rushed forward, imagining how that relationship must have brought such guilt at having a healthy child when this lady did not.

But my mother-in-law didn’t say that. She smiled, looking at an image of her sons, and simply stated: “It made me so grateful for my baby’s health, and I never forgot, never took for granted that my family was healthy.”

Whoosh.

Where my mindset labelled “guilt” and my stomach felt uneasy at the awkwardness of such a friendship with continue holding… her mindset only saw gratitude. I could feel it, of course any mother would be so grateful for their child’s health when she’d experienced that.

Perspective is Not About Lying to Yourself

This is not “oh, I should feel grateful. let me re-frame this horribly uncomfortable situation.” This was her natural response. And having not experienced childbirth myself, I can only imagine those kinds of experiences. But from visualising the guilt and unease, I found myself really able to listen to her viewpoint, and focus on how she expressed the situation.

And that unease in my stomach, just dissolved. 

I don’t instantly believe anyone can just think there way out of illness or focusing their thoughts will make them win the lottery. But my thoughts about this event were causing my body discomfort and my heart pain.

Yet, guilt in this instant was not a fact. Focusing my attention on the gratitude completely shifted my experience of the situation, although all I actually did, was shift my mental focus.

Sometimes, shifting our attention can really cause a change in our feelings. It’s just a case of perspective.

Empowerment & Seeking

Create Successful Systems with Neuroscience and Cats

There are hundreds of tools, tips and techniques to succeed in your goals and reach your potential… I’d even recommend some of them, but one thing I have learned is that alone, no single tool will meet every requirement of each situation.

But having a system in place can make things that bit easier…

Case in point…

I hiss at my cats.

When we were planning pet adoption, I researched a little bit how best to train animals, since language and that whole ‘other species’ thing is kind of a barrier.

One recurring theme in the books and videos was that cats are innately wary of hissing noises. Theories link this to snakes, which makes sense, since you kind of want to back off if a snake is nearby, and you’re a fluffy cat.

Our Munchkins: The Cats

When we adopted our little munchkins, Smoke and Ember, they were 18 months old. They’d lived with their mother, and a forth cat alongside their human owners. They had different names, and were specifically introduced to us as nervous cats with one of those lovely “will need patience” labels the rescue places often use.

It took a good few weeks to get them to come out of the ‘cat room’ we created for them, and even 12 months down the line, Ember still freaked out at strangers/new noises way more than she should.

But once they’d settled in with us, we began training them with a low, soft ssssssss responding to any behaviour we were aiming to discourage.

Only twice have they ever been scared by the hiss, which have been used in a loud, sharp manner only when they have caused physical harm. Normally, it’s a low warning hiss, and both cats do that slow turn to look at me, as if to say: “Hey, I’m on the table, oh you’re doing that hiss, really, can I be bothered to take you seriously… one more step… okay the hiss is getting louder and longer… I don’t like it, I’ll get down and sit on the carpet like I was always planning to do that.”

Kids, eh?

This is our current behavioural training technique, and it works 9/10 times. Which, having worked in social care, I’m aware is pretty good odds for any behavioural technique!

Why Does This Matter?

Because back in 2012, I worked in a nursery. And I tried to teach myself not to swear. I had moments of winning. And moments of failing. I felt guilty. I felt like a failure. All the usual, standard goal-setting stuff we humans tend to respond with when things don’t quite go our way.

About a month ago, I picked up a plate that was too hot, in someone else’s home. And I hissed.
I instantly felt guilty that I may have scared the cats, only to realise they were 50 miles away, back home.

It appears, I have created a system.

The Theory

Behavioural Psychology has known for decades about pairing things to create a rule or system the body follows subconsciously. For example, training a dog to salivate when it hears a bell.

But the key concept in habit formation and learning is a phrase that was practically breathed throughout my Master of Science:

“Cells that fire together, wire together.”

I practically dreamt that phrase the year I completed my Neuroscience degree.

In general terms, that means that actions, behaviours, thoughts and experiences which occur together build their own connections. Thus, building a system of those web connection involves completing the same two actions together, regularly. In my case, I basically hiss whenever I would normally be primed to shout or swear.

It’s a conscious decision around my cats, unless I’m being mauled (seriously, that only happened once) but those behaviours have ‘fired together’ regularly for two years, and I haven’t really hissed outside of that scenario.

Consider Your Own System

What creating a habit or crafting our map forward, it’s important to consider the whole system of our actions, situation or experience.

  • What environmental cues are you experiencing while trying to change your habit?
  • Is there a specific sound or movement you could save for ONLY using with that habit?
  • How can you use other, already-formed habits to ‘scaffold’ a new idea onto?

Again, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a system that supports you, but there’s always a combination that will work for each of us, at least most of the time.

We just have to craft it mindfully.

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New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to craft your own system towards making progress on your personal quest, build up your own connections and feel fiercely resilient. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Reflection & Patterns

How to Train Your Brain Like you Would Teach a Child

A few years ago I worked for Children’s Services as a Family Support Worker. I taught boundary-setting skills, educated parents and schools on brain development, and essentially used all the brain-training hacks I’d learned in my degrees.

I didn’t have children at the time, but I was paid to support parents with… parenting.

Let’s say I met quite a bit of resistance, but I did my research and I knew my ‘stuff.’ My colleagues, with children of their own, or even just looking old enough to have children, were not questioned as I was. These days, I would let the results speak for themselves, but I’m a bit of a scholar. So instead, I did the research, and I quoted it at them.

But the more experience I have of living as a human being in this world, the more connections I see between the “how to parent” advice, and the neurobiology of a human thriving at *any age*… So many of those “hack your goals” or “habits of highly successful people” follows the same patterns of the behaviour I was trained to encourage as a support worker.

So. Let’s think about how this can be applied to brain-training in your life.

Applying the Lessons

For example, a key focus in parenting classes for toddlers and school-aged children is that of structure and routines: of giving the child some sense of stability and predictability.

No humans like uncertainty, and the way we slowly forget to give ourselves at least some semblance of structure always fascinates me.

Think about your general daily routines.

brain-training-teaching-child

Do you have a ‘bedtime’ aim? Do you have meals around the same time? How about a set of tasks you do the same each morning to get ready for the day?

Yet, programming our bodies with these kinds of primers can be so helpful in feeling well, rested and balanced across our days.

Of course, we all have different levels of structure that works for us. Some people are night owls while others are morning larks, so it pays to reflect on which routines will best support you in your daily life.

Similarly, when you make goals, do you give yourself reminders, reward the positive actions, and review your progress regularly, like you would with a child’s sticker chart? Do you renew your commitment often? Because that seems to be one of the most common themes in the science of success.

Physical Space

Everything from setting daily routines to how we organise our physical space to can be applied to adults, and although the aspects often have different names, the concepts are often shared by highly successful people.

I’d like you to think about a pre-school classroom. If you’ve not seen one lately, any school setting from a movie should do the trick. 

What makes it easy for the children and teacher to navigate the space?

Often, there might be set “zones” for items. The dressing-up clothes are in a carpeted area in the corner, beside… you guessed it… the dressing up clothes.

In order to make things simple for a child, there are set rules and structure to their day:

  • Time for Dressing Up
  • Area to Dress-up In
  • Dressing up items kept in/near to that area
  • Defined end-point of Dressing up time
  • Expectation and clear space to put clothes away

Computer Simulations

I’m old enough to remember the original Sims video game, where you would ‘play god’ for some unsuspecting humans, choosing how they spend their days and trying to keep them healthy and happy (at least, most of the time).

One of the key understandings to make that game less stressful, if trying to keep everyone in a positive place, was the idea of flow in the house, which benefited the character’s energy levels.

In the kitchen, for example, I would follow the following order:
Fridge, workspace, cooker, workspace, workspace, sink, with the bin close-by.

Why does this matter?

Because if the simulated characters couldn’t do the next “task in their to-do list” it expended extra energy, and they became grumpy.

The typical ‘cooking’ act following the same steps:

1. Remove item from fridge

2. Chop items on work surface

3. Boil items in pan

4. Serve on plates (workspace 2)

5. Stand to eat/eat at table, then return to put dirty dishes beside sink (work space 3) or immediately wash up.

By organising the environment around my characters to follow their ‘flow’ of the tasks, I could keep them happier and more energised.

Flow is Important

We think about this with children, and with electronic people… why don’t we consider this idea for ourselves? Across the brain-training manuals, goal-setting worksheets and my neuroscience degrees, this wasn’t a clear area mentioned to consider.

How can we harness this?

  • Firstly, consider where you want to improve your flow, what aspect of brain-training you want to alter.
  • Place similar aspects together: put your gym bag by the door so you don’t forget it, or set a reminder to review your goals when you’d already be looking at your phone.
  • Consider how you arrange your physical and digital space. Re-arrange the furniture, if necessary, and watch how your sense of flow changes.

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New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. Build up your sense of fierce resilience, from 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Pause Overthinking with Colour
Emotions & Resilience

Pause Overthinking in Under a Minute

We all get overwhelmed, panicked, exhausted, yet breaking free of that state sometimes feels impossible. In that state, how many of us know how to gain some mental space?

Many years ago, I read a post by Havi Brooks about some ways she manages being triggered. This is my version of her “name everything you see” exercise explained in that post.

The Five-Things Tool to Pause Overthinking

Look around you; wherever you are right now.

Can you see anything with a bit of blue on it? 

Currently, I can see a blue plastic basket, the board game Mouse Trap (blue box), a magazine with a blue stripe over it. That’s three…

We’re looking for five items. 

Now I have to look a bit harder. A book cover in that bookcase is navy blue.

Finally, I settle on the curtains: something I barely register any more.

Count them out “1. 2. 3… 4… 5.”

Feel any different?

Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way to pause: find what works fr you. Sometimes I find 5 things that are red or yellow.
Other times, I name 10 things of those three primary colours, and 5 things that are secondary colours: green, purple and orange.

Sometimes, I let myself count something with 2 colours in both colour lists.
Equally, I often set the intention of finding separate things for each list.

The key to this technique, is to create a space between all the ruminations, worries and ‘overthinking thoughts’, even if only for a few moments.

Sometimes I look for numbers:

  • This crisp packet says “2017” in the corner
  • That box says “100 board games collection.”
  • The video on youtube I’m watching has 34,000 views and 898 likes…
  • That chocolate box says “8 famous brands” in the subtitle [If you allow the ‘words’ of numbers, then ‘After Eights’ count too]

Sometimes, I focus on sounds instead:

  • I hear a bird singing.
  • My cat is scratching the carpet post.
  • I’m listening to a youtube video.
  • I’m humming a song from Moana
  • The wind is battering the window

What Does This Do?

When we feel overwhelmed or panicked, the result is often because we’re thinking about things too deeply, or without the facts.

Counting things in our environment has multiple functions. It:

  1. Distracts our mind for a few moments, creating a breathing space
  2. Tends to calm our emotions a tad: this is, for most people,  a ‘neutral’ activity
  3. Uses different parts of our brain -> thus distracting more than one ‘part’ [visual, counting, hearing, language]
  4. Is a ‘mindful’ activity: focused on this very moment, not the past or future.

Now, this is not a therapy tool or the be-all-and-end-all of ‘fixing overwhelm’, but it’s a simple, accessible tool, as long as your have a sense to use and an association to ‘label’ that experience “bird song” or even “magpie noise” if you’re good with your bird songs.

It won’t make the problems go away, or change any situations, but this technique can shift that habit from overthinking to breathing. At the end of the day, give it a go, and if it works for you, add it to your list of techniques that helps you. If it doesn’t, no harm done.

You need no extra tools, and it can be done without anyone else noticing.
If nothing else, it’s a technique you can keep in your toolkit; just in case you need it.

Want more techniques like this? Sign up for the free resource library here, or pause your thoughts with some cute cat pictures over at my instagram.

Creative Tools, Empowerment & Seeking

12 Quick and Simple Acts of Self-Care for 2018

This is part manifesto, part skills-training and part to-do list for feeling good and staying mentally well in 2018. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a starting point, and I’ve tried to include a few “less often shared” ideas for self-care. There’s also a free 18-page workbook available at the end of the post covering each step in more detail, with space to write your own answers in. 

I know all of these things, but sometimes I forget about them.
And self-care sometimes feels like just another item on the to-do list.

The Self-Care Checklist

So, I thought I’d make a little list and figured, if I struggle to remember this, and I teach it; what are the chances you could do with a reminder too?

This checklist is designed to give you a little guidance for those moments when you don’t have a lot of energy or time, but want to make a tiny positive step to improve your day. Because baby steps add up.

Let’s do this.

 

Put On Your Signature Costume

No matter what we’re doing, feeling comfortable and “okay” about ourself really makes a difference to how we feel.  Apply whatever armour will make you feel confident. For a lazy day, this is my jeans, tank top and all of my rings. For a work-day, it’s my favourite earrings, a really subtle bracelet I can play with, and a bit of eye-liner.

Breathe In

When we’re stressed or on autopilot, we tend to change our breathing. Try to breathe out slightly more than you breathe in, and as you exhale, relax your shoulders. Take a moment of space whenever you remember. Put a reminder on your phone if it will help.

Physical Health

The mindset of looking after ourself has a ripple effect on our mood and how the day feels. Make one ‘healthy’ choice. That could be drinking a few sips of water before lunch. Perhaps do 5 squats in the loo cubicle before you return to your desk at work. Maybe the above breathing technique is your small healthy step.

Make Progress

As humans, we thrive on a sense of progress. It doesn’t matter how big or small: just tick something off your list, or make some kind of progress towards a goal.

Wash up one cupSend that email that’s worrying you. Take the rubbish bin out. Put the clean washing away in your bedroom. Then counting “putting it away in the wardrobe” as a second task: and a second tick.

Connect

Disconnection and Loneliness is killing us. Connect with anything and anyone. Pet the cat outside. Smile at the person walking past you. Text a friend “how’s it going?” Tell someone you really appreciate the help they gave you last week.

Be Spiritual

Or make a personal, inner connection, somehow. For some, prayer is an option. For others, stand barefoot in the grass outside. Hug a tree. Care for something: water a plant.

Labels

We all want to feel seen and recognised. Label the thoughts and feelings in your own mind to help soften their shouts.

“This is fear. I’m worried about paying my bills this month. I feel tearful.”

This won’t make the worries go away, but that sense of “Hi brain, I hear you. thanks for letting me know. I’m working on that” can sometimes take some of the pressure off those negative thoughts.

Sound a bit weird to you? Try it. What have you got to lose?

Mental Blocks

Equally, distracting yourself from those thoughts can be healthy in small doses. Dance, run, watch a comedy DVD or name 5 things you can currently see which are blue. Take a break from your thoughts: they’ll still be there when you get back.

Grow

Again, we’re looking at that sense of progress. We thrive on growth, on learning, on understanding.

I grew up with this quote by Gail Sheeny taped to my ceiling:

If we don’t change, we don’t grow.

If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

Inspiring

In this modern day, we spend so much time going through the motions: we exist rather than experience.

So this step focused on re-connecting with who you are and that feeling of being alive. For you it might be volunteering or donating to charity. It might be listening to classic audiobooks. Watching war films.

Maybe one of the earlier tips automatically ticks this off: I love dancing to violin music, standing with bare feet in my back lawn and reading autobiographies. They connect me to other humans, to the world around me and remind me how it is to feel alive.

TA DA! List

A fantastic tip I first saw from Ellie Di Julio, rather than a list of pressures you have to do today, reflect on what you accomplished. What’s on your “ta-da!” list today?

Motivation

Finally, one of the key issues with making changes is that lack of motivation. One of my favourite ways to combat this, is to find a “big why,” to identify a quest or value that will motivate me whatever the weather. What’s your personal quest? What are you here to do; what’s your legacy? 

Will you Prioritise Self-Care this Year?

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. But it does give us a few things to think about. Baby steps add up, and some only take a few moments each day. And in time, that effect is cumulative.

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Download the free workbook with space to write in your own answers to these well-being ideas? Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. Youll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to grab yourself a copy of the 2018 Resilience Check-list! 

Emotions & Resilience

No Reason: The Problem With Asking ‘Why?’

I was browsing some social media groups for business owners this week, when I saw a comment asking how people find their own sense of power when they’re struggling. This is something I feel I can offer support with, so I clicked the comments, and saw two responses essentially stating: “Ask yourself why. Get the root of the problem to solve it.”

The Core Reason

Now, if you know what has triggered, brought up or caused a particular obstacle of difficulty, that can be hugely useful. I would never say that seeking that possible trigger or core reason is unhelpful in the first instance.

However, the human existence isn’t quite that simple, and sometimes, asking ourselves ‘why’ can dig us deeper into the hole of frustration, low mood or stress. In short, sometimes there isn’t a definable reason.

The Effects of Questioning

When we question, or even make a judgement on how we’re thinking, feeling or behaving, we sometimes end up dropping further into that spiral which has a hold on us.

Partly, we feel there should be a reason. Which makes not knowing it very distressing or frustrating. Equally, when we can’t find it, we feel useless or defeated, we feel victimised and perhaps even out of control.

When there is a reason, its good to reflect, to recognise it. However, this reliance on believing there must be a reason can also be unhelpful.

The Alternative Path

We deep thinkers are often caught up in the shoulds, and it’s definitely a hard habit to break. But it can be done. When I’m focused on an emotional state, I complete three steps.

  1. Check you’re not in horrific danger.

This is a grand move for those of us who are prone to pockets of anxiety. I ask myself three questions, to check I’m okay:

  • Am I physically injured? Essentially, do my five senses still work, and am I in pain?
  • Am I breathing? Can I still breathe?
  • Is the earth still under my feet?

If the answers are all yes, then I know I have time to deal with whatever’s going on. If not, I assess the most important next step. But in that case, ignore this advice because it doesn’t apply, and panic away!

  1. Reflect on whether there is a known or recognisable reason for how you’re feeling.

As I said, it doesn’t hurt to ask this question once: sometimes knowing why you feel as you do can take all the pressure to “not feel this way” and can stop us from searching for “a reason.”

  1. Finally, DISTRACT. Seriously. 

If there ISN’T a ‘core reason why’, accepting it and not giving it any more of your precious energy and attention is key.

Distractions may include:

  • dance to happy music
  • do 10 press ups
  • play with a pet
  • draw a silly stick-figure doodle
  • count backwards
  • name five things which are green in your environment

If you don’t have a clear reason, then you won’t gain anything else in continuing to focus on the unhelpful feeling.

~

New to Map Your Potential? Welcome. Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. From 30-second mindful moments to managing imposter syndrome and dealing with overwhelm: we’ve got you covered. You’ll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up!

Empowerment & Seeking

Dealing with Criticisms: The New Year’s Resolution

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions. Then I used to spend December reflecting and consolidating the year gone, ready to plan “thorough goals” for the new year. Then I stepped back, and chose a “Word for the Year” instead. Finally, I used a guiding word to ‘theme’ my goals for the year, broken into sections.

But equally, I see all this “Forget the new year, it’s meaningless.”

So I’m beginning this post with a disclaimer (and a free worksheet at the bottom to help you find out which method works for you).

You do not need to wait for New Year’s Day to have a fresh start.
If you find the buzz and shared support of the community starting all together helpful, Go For It.

There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to make change.
And telling other people what will or won’t work for them doesn’t benefit anyone.

Right. Now we’re clear on that.

~

That was kind of the point of this post, but it’ a tad short. So here’s a little reflection on what works for me. Maybe it’ll be useful to some of you.

The Revelation

In 2011, I chose the word “Strength” to guide my year. By February, I had split this into 3 categories: Sprint/Mind, Energy/Diet and Exercise/Physical. But what made this year the most powerful for me in terms of the results, wasn’t in what I achieved. It was about the motivation to carry the word with me throughout the year.

So many statistics talk about how many people give up on resolutions by the end of January. But I reviewed Strength every single month, and somehow, managed to do *something* for each category each month.

How To Stay Motivated

This is not a new concept, but until I’d seen it work in my life, I didn’t really take the idea on board. It’s somethign that threads all the way through Danielle LaPorte‘s Firestarter Sessions and Desire Map [Affiliated], it’s an underlying theme of creating a vision board, or using the law of attraction and visualisation.

For many of us, motivation is not driven by an end goal of accomplishment, but rather a sense of being: an experience of feeling.

At the beginning of 2011, I wrote out a little paragraph about why I’d chosen Strength as my word.

Inspiration Leads to Desire

Without bringing the tone of this post down, I grew up in an environment which primed me to fear being weak.

So in a way, this had a deep underlying factor. I wanted to be a “skilled, strong woman. To have the knowledge and ability to heal, teach and advise. I want to train my mind-body connection.” 

Even reading that back, I get slight chills.

I thought back to the heroes of my childhood: Piper Halliwell, Xena the Warrior Princess, the Amazon Myrina from Theresa Tomlinson’s series. I am called toward my ‘personal quest’ of being the advisor; the medicine woman; the teacher and guide.

I’ve talked before about building a strong motivation for change, and this is where I really learned that lesson first-hand.

If aiming for a set accomplishment or goal doesn’t work for you, or if you don’t KNOW where you want to b at the of end of 2018, this might be something to try:

Find the core desired feeling or value you want to have.

One of my clients spoke about wanting to map her potential, but not knowing which direction was right, and not knowing how the destination might look. So we spent a session focused on the values that had guided her to now, and how she wanted to feel in the coming months.

When I look at 2018, I’m focused on the ‘attributes’ I admire. On the values I really… well, value. I focus on how I want to feel.

For now, I’m just reflecting on this year, reminding myself of these motivations, and giving myself space to wonder where 2018 could lead. Focused on the possibilities of how I could experience it.

~

If you are goals-oriented, or you’re clear on those attributes and want make a solid plan, pick up my free worksheet on successful goal making which combines these methods. Youll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up for the Successful Goal Setting Worksheets!

Creative Tools

On Soothing the Fear of Imposter Syndrome

Psst! At the end of this post is a link to my free worksheets on managing those imposter syndrome fears, so you can make progress on your personal quest.

As human beings, we worry. Our minds focus on the problems we might be faced with, and try desperately to do fix problems before they arise. We plan for conflict, or confusion. We question what we’re doing, and if it’s okay to be doing it. Especially when thinking about starting or transforming our lives or business.

That voice creeps in, sometimes amidst the excitement of expansion. At other times it lurks in the back of your mind as you stare up at the ceiling.

We ask ourselves “What do I have to offer?” or “Why would anyone trust me?” We worry “Can I really deliver what I promise? What if they don’t like my work, or feel cheated?”

The Imposter Syndrome

Fears of not being good enough, or feeling like an ‘imposter’ can change our behaviour from self-talk to the way we act. This often results in down-playing what we do, and missing out on opportunities.

Often people worry about not living up to a set expectation, fearing they actually can’t do what they’ve said they can, or just don’t know what to expect of a change.

But these thoughts are just that: thoughts.

And our thoughts are not facts.

Honest.

And not only that, but we actually have some level of control over how we think and what we say to ourselves or other people. Let’s get started:

  1. What are you afraid of? Define the worry that is holding your fear hostage. When we know a specific concern, it’s much easier to really question it, and make a balanced judgement.
  2. Is this worry ‘real’? Ask yourself if there is some truth behind the concern. Have you let people down before, or received negative feedback that you haven’t analysed and made changes based on? What evidence is there behind the thoughts?
  3. Is there another side? Our thoughts do come from something, so it’s likely you found some evidence for that concern — but we often forget to look at the whole picture. What evidence do you have against the concern? Have you ever completed a task or created something that you didn’t feel ‘qualified’ for, and it didn’t go entirely wrong?
  4. If this worry came true, how bad would it be? Often the worries we have are quite out of proportion to the ‘realistic’ outcome. If the event were to go badly, or someone didn’t like it, would it really be as bad as you think?
  5. Balance it out. Use the evidence you’ve found to balance out the worry. “Although I may not be an expert, I can definitely help my client improve in this skill, which is all they are asking for.”

Our imposter worries come from a place of self-preservation. After all, we want to be liked, which is especially useful in business. We want our clients to be happy with our work to buy from us again!

Therefore, it’s good to remember that these concerns aren’t ‘bad thoughts trying to harm us’ but actually a tiny worried voice that just needs some reassurance.

And if we befriend that concern, taking on board the truths behind it, our mind becomes a uh more pleasant place to spend time.

~

Want to download the free worksheets on actually working through these Imposter Worries? Grab the free mapping workbook bundle to make progress on your personal quest, one step at a time. Youll also get monthly email updates and special list-only offers. Click here to sign up for the Managing Imposter Worries Worksheets! 
This post was originally published on Her HustleIt’s been refreshed and re-shared here for your enjoyment, with a link to it’s new companion worksheet.