When we view our problems, the obstacles in front of us, as a huge boulder to move before we can get back on track to moving forward, it becomes, far too often, overwhelming. Instead, break down the problems into chunks, because that is usually what they are, an accumulation of problems that form into an unmovable boulder. So, break them down into smaller problems and deal with them one at a time. I know this sounds obvious, but after working with many clients, I see this roadblock to forward motion, over and over.
Every one of us have problems. There is no one that can say that their lives are perfect and that’s okay because if it was perfect all the time, we would not appreciate the good times, we would just take them for granted. We have a range of emotions for a reason – to give us variety so we can experience all sorts of feelings. If you feel your life is happening to you and not for you then maybe you feel you lack control over problems and circumstances? Maybe you feel helpless in your struggles and there is nothing you can do about them? Perhaps you feel a victim of your circumstances?
When you feel that your life is controlled from external forces (outside of yourself), you will always feel like a victim – feeling fearful and anxious because you blame someone else or bad luck for your problems and hoping someone will come along and fix it. The problem with this is, you are putting other people in control of your happiness. In psychological terms this is known as external locus of control (Locus of control originated by Julian Rotter 1954). Thinking this way causes negative feelings, pessimism, anger, resentment, low energy and even ill health. There are two types of locus of control and the other one is internal locus of control (inside of yourself). You feel that you are in complete control of your thoughts, feelings and behavior and the outcomes in life. You believe that life is happening for you and not to you.
Taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and behavior gives you complete control to act – your mental, emotional and physical energy will be focused on finding a solution to your dilemmas/problems. Responsibility is what separates the two types of locus control. Once we focus on what we are responsible for, we take action, the fear and anxiety dissipate because we feel in control of our circumstances. We are doing something about it and not sitting waiting for the worst to happen. It provides a great sense of relief and you gain clarity to solving the problem.
We can’t control everything in life, but we can control how we respond to them. Try to find the lesson in each problem and reframe your words – stop using the word ‘problem’ and change it to ‘challenge’ or ‘opportunity’. These are more positive words and don’t sound impossible to tackle.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein
Stressing about our problems causes us to react in habitual ways and we can’t access our internal resources to find the solutions. So, we need to respond skillfully instead of reacting mindlessly. The following mindfulness technique isn’t to change how you feel but to come out of automatic pilot and bring your awareness to things just as they are. It is to be fully in this moment and be in observation mode rather than reactive mode. Notice the sensation in the body, your thoughts, your emotions – have they changed? It’s okay if they haven’t, you are still doing it right. The idea is to notice and not to change the experience. Through this practice we move the locus of control from being outside of us back to ourselves.
Mindfulness exercise: STOP Technique
S- Stop: for just a moment. Don’t react. Give yourself the gift of brief reflection.
T- Take a breath: Breathe in and out. Track your breath. Sense the chest rising and falling.
O – Observe your experience: Notice the sensations in the body. Observe the thoughts or the story going through your mind and appreciate that thoughts are not facts. Explore your emotions and get a sense of where you are in this moment.
P- Proceed: Move forward in a way that feels right to you and is consistent with your values.
Remind yourself that you only have a problem when you can’t do anything about it. If you are not taking action, you may be making excuses to not do something about it out of fear and feeling powerless. Take your power back and take action. Trust yourself.
If you would like help in applying this to your life, personal or business - please click here to book in a complimentary call with me Schedule-A-Call
When problems appear to surround you, how do you react, what do you do to try to take back control of circumstances that are not as you would like them to be?
When we become overwhelmed, and all of us do from time to time, life can feel like its spiralling out of our control, we lean into our coping mechanisms. All too often, instead of confronting the problem, we distract ourselves by doing something that temporarily allows us to hide, to avoid having to face or deal with the problem. I’m talking about life situations like losing your job, financial worries, health issues, or family conflicts.
In my case, for many years I used cleaning as my distraction, it didn’t matter if the target was already clean. It was a way for me to feel in control, get busy tidying up, wishing I could do the same with my thoughts - put them away somewhere in the back of my mind for another day when I feel I can handle them better. Imagine a snow globe, when you move it quickly, scattering the glitter/snow everywhere in the globe, you cannot see anything in the globe. Similarly, this is what happens in your own mind, your worrying thoughts, like the glitter, fill your head and cloud your ability to think clearly.
Maybe you distract yourself with shopping therapy – you feel that going shopping for another pair of shoes will ease the worrying, the stress that you feel in your mind and body. It feels good to buy a new pair of shoes, a temporary high but by the next day, the bright shiny purchase (shoes) doesn’t sparkle quite so bright anymore and your financial problems, or whatever your problems are, are still there.
Perhaps you distract yourself with emotional eating, eating something sweet adds a little sweetness into your life in the short term. When we are faced with major stressors, we sometimes feel we need to have something to look forward to, a treat. For you it might be chocolate or a tub of ice-cream in front of the T.V. at night. It provides comfort, a distraction, we feel we need to soothe our worrying selves with food.
This survival instinct is deep in all our DNA’s, our brains have been hardwired this way since our days of having to run from Sabretooth Tigers. In order to survive, we learned to avoid things that threaten us and are painful. We move toward things that provides sanctuary, things that give us pleasure and a sense of security. Unfortunately, these distractions, mechanisms to provide temporary pleasure and avoid pain can cause us to live with problems far longer than we ever need to, often never dealing with the problem at all. The very things you use to distract you from your problems, can and often do, become their own problems.
So next time, you find yourself excessively doing any of the above,
1. What am I trying to avoid?
2. Are any of these behaviours helping or are they delaying me acting on the big issues?
3. What resources do I have to manage the problem causing this behaviour? – family, networks, skills.
4. What has worked in the past?
5. What is the hidden lesson behind this hardship?
Exercise: Make space
• Hold a book one inch from your nose – you have limited vision, right? You can only see the book.
• Now move the book to arm’s length – what more do you see? You see more than just the book, right?
The book (representing the problem) hasn’t changed, just the distance, the way you’re holding it – your viewpoint. What areas of your life are working, going well? How will this problem look to you in 6 months from now? 1 year from now? Change your perspective.
When you can create some space between you and the problem, your mind settles and feels clearer, just like the snow in the globe. When the globe is still, the snow settles, and it becomes clear again.
Meditating is another form of quieting and settling your mind down. Brene Brown in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” reminds us, we were made to think from a young age that if we were to stay calm and still it was because we were in trouble and it was a punishment – telling us to “calm down” or “sit still”, “stop fidgeting” were common instructions growing up. Is it any wonder we find meditation so difficult to practice? The payoffs though are worth it.
“You have been assigned this mountain so that you can show others it can be moved.” ― Mel Robbins
If you struggle with the above and need help to stop avoidance and escapism behaviour, please feel free to contact me: Rachel Whyte - ki4Life Coaching
Conflict is conflict, whether it is between a husband and wife, friends, co-workers, or teams, in life and in work, the underlying issues that drive and create conflict are fundamentally the same. In all cases, we are dealing with relationships, perceptions, and significance.
How is conflict broadly defined? Conflict is defined as “strong disagreement between people, groups, etc. that results in often angry arguments, and a disagreement between ideas, feelings, etc.” At its core, conflict is always seen through the eye of the beholder, whether individuals, or groups. Ultimately, resolution can only be found when there is some common agreement on what the problem is. This does not always mean that all will agree on the solution, but the process minimizes the negative aspects of conflict.
I want to talk to you today about how you can stop avoiding conflict, learn how to drive resolutions, and most importantly build better relationships, teams, and friendships.
When conflicts arise, our emotions are triggered and escalate. Our thoughts, feelings and sense of self go into fight or flight mode. When we are in fight mode, we immediately assume the other person is attacking us personally and they are wrong – us versus them mentality and leaves us sometimes misunderstanding the whole disagreement altogether. We can come across as controlling, dominating and lack flexibility. We may simply be unwilling to change.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin.
We all are unique and have different back stories (upbringings) and cultural backgrounds and some of us, have a passion for conflict. I know growing up in my generation we may have avoided expressing ourselves because of limiting beliefs - “Children are to be seen and not heard”. Conflict is not a bad thing. It’s how we react to it is the issue.
Conflict is inevitable both in work and in life in general. Communication is key in sharing our viewpoints and creating change. It should feel safe to express ourselves and have our opinions heard. The alternative, avoiding conflict altogether, creates resentment that builds over time, eventually spilling over. We all have and will experience conflict but rather than come from a place of fear and apprehension, trust in yourself to be authentic and confident in what you want to disagree on, and know it’s for the greater good of the company, relationship or family. Sometimes, a decision has to be made, and agreeing to disagree, respecting each other, but moving forward anyway is okay too!
“10% of conflicts are due to difference in opinion and 90% is due to the wrong tone of voice” - Anonymous
Engaging in conflict is also showing trust. It is leaving fear behind and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and trust the conflict will come to a resolution. It is also showing your family and co-workers that it is safe to engage in conflict and eliminates the eye rolling and avoidance around the topic to go on way longer than it should. Expressing yourself and not feeling guilty about it is the key to great communication and understanding.
Here are a couple of tips to use in times of conflict – these are equally effective in your work environments and in your personal life: -
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make a difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” William James
We all like to think of anger as a bad emotion but we all know that there are times when anger is good for us. Some get angry but quickly feel defeated, depressed or sad when something doesn’t go to plan, while others use anger to elevate them up and out of their problem or situation and use the adrenaline anger creates to give them the motivation to find a solution.
One is angry and soon becomes a victim while the other is angry at the situation they find themselves in but sees themselves as a survivor and is motivated to change the outcome.
The latter attitude is what makes entrepreneurs successful in their business.
“There’s nothing wrong with anger provided you use it constructively.” – Wayne Dyer
But what if your anger is something you feel you don’t have control over. Is your low self-control effecting your behaviour with others - judging, criticising, disrespectful remarks, lack of kindness and empathy, not listening, making impatient decisions at work – all these behaviours effect you being a successful professional at work and in your personal life.
I was listening to a podcast this past week with a Justin Coulson, PhD. – family psychologist, and author and he was discussing disciplining children – does it help or hurt them? I thought this was a good question to ask ourselves when it came to our low self-control around anger. Does is help or hurt the situation? How will my anger affect the outcome? Will my anger motivate others to work more efficiently? Will I get the result I’m looking for if I get angry over this?
“Never respond to an angry person with a fiery comeback, even if he deserves it...Don't allow his anger to become your anger.” - Bohdi Sanders
Sometimes, it is okay to be angry like I mentioned above but anger doesn’t usually resolve issues when it comes to our relationships with others. It can push people away, antagonise others to get angry too (defence mechanism). It can create fear, hostility and even destroy our relationships.
Self-control is about how we react to people and events. It also effects how others view and experience us and how we work with others. It can either hinder or improve our reputation in the workplace.
“Anger doesn’t demand action. When you act in anger, you lose self-control.” – Joe Hyams
The following exercise was suggested by Geetu Bharwaney in her book “Emotional Resilience”:
Even if you just accomplish the list, you will find you bring awareness to what makes you angry and instead of reacting without thinking, you will respond appropriately. As you can see from the exercise above, we can take back control by taking action. We don’t have control over how others think, speak or behave towards us but we do over ourselves.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems — not people; to focus your energies on answers — not excuses.” - William Arthur Ward
"If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal." - Norman Vincent Peale
I graduated from school in the 80’s in Ireland when unemployment and emigration was very high. At the time, our expectations were low when it came to finding a full time job. Most of my friends were older than me and I had already seen them get jobs but lose them just as quick. No fault of theirs but the economy was so bad back then, nothing was nailed down or permanent. I, like many at the time, left Ireland to begin a career overseas. But my expectations around making a great income stayed mediocre at best.
My expectations which turned into beliefs around money were not positive. I believed that to make great money, you had to have luck on your side, know the right people and be super smart but I also believed that “it was greedy to want money”, “money was hard to come by” (money doesn’t grow on trees) and “it was selfish to want a lot of money.”
However, if you grew up in the early 2000s, your expectations would have been high. Everyone appeared to be doing well. People expected more in their life and they got it, - company cars, family vacations, promotions, bonuses etc.
Maybe you grew up with parents arguing over money and now you believe that “money can’t buy happiness” or bring peace into your life? Maybe you have a fear of success but its’ not the success that you really fear but how your family or friends will think of you now that you have more money than them because you grew up with the belief or hearing someone else’s belief that “people with money are greedy” or you believe “I’m not good with money” so you avoid making more or pursuing more.
I’m here to tell you today, you won’t succeed holding onto these beliefs and having low expectations. Recognise what beliefs you have that are causing you money blocks – where did they come from?, who did you hear them from? Where is the evidence they are true? What new beliefs can you replace them with? Write them down and raise your expectations about what you can and are able to make financially so you can enjoy financial security.
You need to pursue your goals not with the sole expectation that you will make more money but with the expectation that you deserve more, you expect more from yourself to reach out and achieve what you want in life. Don’t allow others expectations of you hold you back and keep you small. Family and friends may mean well but their fears, judgements, opinions come from their backgrounds, their upbringing etc and they may not be the same as yours are today.
If you have goals for this year, take action each day on them and expect them to come to fruition. When you expect more, you will achieve more. A clear vision, a plan of action, and execution will get you there, but you have to believe it’s possible, so start believing today and take action.
You don't have to suffer with anxiety, where worry and fear is a constant, there are tools and techniques that can significantly improve your relationship with anxiety. I know, I suffered with severe anxiety, but I am blessed to have learned coping and management techniques to overcome it, and you can too.
When you suffer with anxiety on a daily basis, it consumes your every move. You hesitate on making decisions because you fear what the outcome will be before it even happens. You assume without hesitation that the outcome will not be good. It will cause pain, disappointment or regret. But where is the evidence to prove this to be so? There isn’t any. It’s all been concocted inside your own head! In your amazing imagination you have foreseen the worst case scenario.
So where did all this anxiety come from anyway? Work overload, stress, low self-esteem, diet, menopause, vitamin deficiencies such as B12, beliefs, autoimmune diseases, medications, past experiences, childhood, poor relationships. It can be any of these things, or many of these things. Some we cannot avoid, some we don’t have much control over, so how do we get control of our anxiety?
We can start by adding and subtracting certain things that we do have control over. For instance,
There are things we do that we are not consciously aware of and in my upcoming class on March 23rd, we will discuss what they are and what we can do about them.
Are you ready to really take back control, to learn how to take charge when anxiety tries to take over? I am running an Anxiety Management Workshop on Saturday March 23rd at 10AM – 12:30PM in Clontarf.
What you will learn:
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited of what could go right”
We all have attended an event where the speaker shouts out “let’s get energized” – right? Have you ever considered how important that is, energy?
What do we do when asked the question at the event – we usually start to raise our voices, clap our hands, and start to jump around. Movement is energy, and is key to all life. How do you feel emotionally when you get energized – pumped up, correct?
“Emotions are Energy in Motion."
Think about running water, full of vitality and life – very important to us, but what happens when water lies still and stops flowing – it becomes stagnant. Just like stagnant water, we become poisonous to ourselves, if we begin to draw in and or dwell in negativity. Our energy begins to ebb, and our emotions begin to change. We move from positive to negative – we attract negativity instead of positivity in situations and people around us!
Ever paced up and down on an important phone call, ever noticed that you sound more confident when you stand up on a phone call?. When you smile while on the phone – the other person can actually feel the difference in your tone – your energy is different – it’s positive! How does your energy change when you meet someone new, a new great friend, or you meet that someone special – it’s electric, isn’t it? Everything is energy, it is the universe and it is you.
Energy is motion and movement is a must. It is not required for all of us to run a marathon, swim the English Channel or climb Mount Everest, but we need movement. This is not just about physical health; it’s about our overall health, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Just as it is important to remember to quiet your thoughts and be mindful – movement is life, is energy and a key element to happiness.
“Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool”. – John Mason Good
Reflect back to the science you learned in school (however, long ago that was). Energy is made up of positive and negative ions but what we sometimes forget is that we have the power to change our energy. By making a concerted effort to move our bodies, we in turn are choosing to be more positive. It changes our emotions, it changes our focus in our daily life, on the world around us, on how the world sees us and experiences us. Movement fast tracks us into tapping into positivity.
If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, ask yourself:
“Life is like a mirror – smile at it and it smiles back at you!”
Relationships are one of the most complex situations we will face but they provide one of our top human needs – love and connection. Conflicts in relationships can quickly cost us our happiness and peace. We are responsible for the understanding or mis-understanding of our verbal and non-verbal communication with others to cultivate healthy relationships.
One of the main reasons that relationships suffer is that many people focus on their own wants, needs and preferences and don’t value the same for others. When two people that put their own needs first and are in a relationship with each other, they will find themselves in a power struggle and both will feel their way is the only way – to ‘be right’ all the time. These relationships will often be filled with conflict and misunderstanding.
“Attachment to being right creates suffering. When you have a choice, or to be kind, choose kind and watch your suffering disappear” – Wayne Dyer.
If both people in a relationship don’t commit to investing 100% into their relationship, what will happen is that one person ends up giving more and the other gets comfortable with receiving more which causes an imbalance. This imbalance over time, wears on the relationship, bitterness, resentment and mistrust can occur. There are simple practices that can greatly improve our relationships and they all start with working on ourselves first.
1. Communication such as active listening sends a direct message to the other person that we appreciate and value what they have to say. Some of us struggle with paying full attention because we are more focused on how we’re going to respond or on how the conversation is making us feel. We need to focus on the other person, not so much on ourselves. Having direct eye contact while someone is speaking shows we’re fully engaged. Listening to someone builds trust in the relationship and increases the other person’s self-esteem because they feel valued. Think of active listening like tuning into a radio station. If you don’t find the exact signal, you miss half or all of the message and hear white noise. We need to concentrate on what is said to hear the whole message.
2. Mindful speech is another area of communication that can be fine-tuned to improve our relationships. It is helpful to resist the urge to react mindlessly and immediately to things that others say and do. We are all guilty of saying or doing something wrong at times, and the same goes for others too. None of us are perfect. Instead, pause and reflect on what was said. Then choose your words carefully. Be sure to say what you mean and mean what you say. In some instances, it is better to say nothing than when you are emotionally charged and responding badly. Avoid doing the following:
Example, “you look frustrated”,
“no I’m not”,
“yes you are, it’s obvious”,
“what the hell are you talking about”,
“why are you raising your voice at me?”
“I’m not frustrated”
“stop shouting at me”
Whether you are working on a relationship with your partner, or simply looking to have better personal relationships with the people in your life, active listening, mindful speech and awareness are at the core of great relationships. If people want things always their way, it’s not going to work out, it is always about give and take, and always finding a balance.
Some of us need help in understanding what stops us from change and what keeps us on track to change and stay changed. If you would like help in applying this to your life, personal or business - please click here to book in a complimentary call with me Schedule-A-Call
Check out my Communicate with Confidence Class
“Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing.” – John C. Maxwell
Many of us are looking forward to making changes in 2019 and the start of a year provides great motivation in us to step up and challenge ourselves to try something new or improve ourselves in some way, but we need to have self-discipline.
When we are creating new habits like going to the gym, eating healthier or even trying to reduce our daily social media intake, they are not new behaviours that cultivate joy and pleasure in us. They are things we feel we ‘have’ to do or ‘suppose’ to do and cause us pain in the short term but deep down we know that they will have a positive impact in our lives in the long term.
So how do we create self-discipline and stick it out to the end to achieve these new habits of behaviour?
1. Firstly, we need to be emotionally invested. We need to imagine how it will feel when we have achieved these new habits, new behaviours. Imagine how you will feel having more energy. Imagine feeling more confident in a toned, healthy body. Imagine how your skin will feel and look with all the healthy food choices you are putting in your body? Imagine how much closer you will feel to friends and family when you are not distracted by looking down at social media during conversations or at dinner?
2. Reframe your reasons for your new habits - Remind yourself of why you are creating this new habit? Why you feel it will improve your life? why you want to be slimmer, fitter? Why you want to spend less time on social media?
3. Get organised - If you are planning to get fitter or healthier:
4. Review your progress: Check in regularly on how you are getting on with these new habits/goals. Are you sticking to your schedule? If not, why not, do you need to re-arrange your week? Are you sticking to your healthy eating? If you had an off day, that’s okay. Just start afresh the next day and carry on, don’t give up on the whole week over just one bad day. None of us are perfect so don’t expect to be when you are creating these new habits. It takes time and repetition for new habits to become embedded.
5. Reward Yourself: When we have achieved something in the past – whether it was at home, school, college, or work, we were rewarded for things that we accomplished. These rewards, be it a certificate, an award ceremony, a trophy or a plaque of recognition, all contributed to positive feelings about ourselves - our self-belief and self-worth escalated. They are memories we cherish, so it’s important to reward yourself even for the small gains, the small wins as you embed these new changes. You are creating new neural pathways in your brain for success. The rewards don’t have to be big. Maybe, have lunch out with a friend, have a spa night at home – bubble bath and relaxing music.
Self-discipline is the number one behaviour for success to achieve any new habit or goal. When you do the above, you reframe change from something you have to do, to something you want to do, and look forward to completing.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
Be kind, loving and supportive of yourself for 2019!