Coach Spot

 

Did you ever hurt yourself when you were little? And it was really sore? And all you wanted to do was cry and be comforted?

I did.

And then your Mom or Dad or a teacher came over and said –

You’re ok. Just dust yourself down. Come on – don’t cry now. It wasn’t that bad.

I remember distinctly holding back my tears. Swallowing my hurt or sadness. Putting on a brave face and pulling myself together to be ok.

Why? To make the adults feel better? To be less of an inconvenience? To not make anyone else feel bad? To not be a sissy? To not be a drama queen?

A more “adult” version of this is – “If the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Just suck it up. You’ll be ok. It could be worse. Don’t be so dramatic. Let’s just sweep every single shitty emotion you have under the carpet and pull yourself together and everything will be just fine. I promise.

I could carry on.

The world is focused on a quick fix. It has been for decades. Let’s focus on the positive and move on from the feelings of discomfort or angst. And you will never ever have to deal with them. Until maybe, you actually come to a breaking point one day. And then it’s a long way down.

Parenting is one of the easiest places to fall into the trap of just move on and make it better. Why – because so many parents have been parented this way by their own parents. And so many parents are unequipped with the tools to process and self-regulate their own emotions in a kind and compassionate way for themselves.

We have not been taught to handle our emotions with sophistication. And if we unconsciously repeat the pattern, we won’t teach our children to handle their emotions with sophistication either.

And it’s tough. Trust me. I have to catch myself often. My 21-month old toddler hurts himself all the time. He seeks comfort often. And it’s easy to say.

Ok ok – sssh ssssh. You’re ok now. Don’t cry – it’s not so bad. I love you. It will all be ok.

But instead, I catch myself. I go down to his level. I help him name his “owie”. I say wow that looks sore my love. I ask him if he’s ok? I kiss it better. I say I love him. I hold him if he wants to be held. I let him cry if he needs to. And I check-up on his owie throughout the day until it’s a game and it becomes less and less of an owie. We go through the pain. Because it is pain to him. It is a trauma to him. No matter how insignificant to me, relative to his world, it is a big deal. I validate that. Because as a parent, my job is to teach him his reaction is valid. He is valid. His emotions are valid. We go through his emotions. We don’t avoid them. And like that, we deal with them in the present moment. And they are over so much quicker than if we were to avoid them. Because one thing is for certain – what we resist will persist.

So stop right there. No, I am not saying your parents are awful. It’s important to remember in this space that we operate from a place of truth. And in observing the truth, there is no value judgement. It just is what it is. The reality of what happened.

Our parents did the best they could with what they had and the information and capability they had at that moment in time.

But that does not mean it served us. Or them. And as adults it is now our job to notice the spaces and places we were perhaps mis-parented, become conscious of the impact, and take accountability for our own lives, our own wounds, and our own healing.

Why?

Triggers. If you’re not conscious of what your wounds are, they will dictate the life you live. And we all have them – I promise. If you’re not conscious of them and you don’t do the work to heal them, you will consistently come up against the same problems – in different environments.

You can’t run away from yourself. Sorry. I’ve tried. Many times. And now I am here.

This looks like someone who says their work environment is toxic. But so was their previous work environment. And so will their next work environment be. Until they become conscious of their trigger.

This looks like someone who always dates the same awful person. They’re different people but they have the same characteristics. And they date them again and again and again. Until they become conscious of the trigger that leads them down this same path every time.

It’s a broken record.

But the good news is, you can step off the pattern. You can become conscious. You can heal.

But the accountability lies with you and you alone.

So instead of sweeping your anxiety, your slight unease, your overwhelm, your annoyance, your disappointment – or in short – yourself – under the carpet. Acknowledge your feelings. Lean into them. Be curious about what they are telling you.

One really beautiful tool I use is around breathing love, kindness and compassion in from the world for yourself and out into the world for yourself. Take a look at this video where I show you how.

It’s a small way as an adult you can start to learn to come back to yourself. Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. And acknowledge the emotions and feelings that are there to teach you, give you information and point you in the direction of alignment and living the very best life you deserve. And the only person that can make that happen is you.

All my love always. Would love to hear how this was helpful.

 

 

Running for beginners - who have a penchant for perfectionism

One of the hardest things to do in life is to look yourself in the mirror and admit where you have areas of development and where you are not serving yourself or others.

One of those areas for me has been my long-standing tango with perfectionism. In my younger days, I wore my pursuit for perfection as a badge of honour – never compromising, always pushing myself to the limit, never accepting less than 150% of myself.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie – the long and the short of it is such a pursuit will lead you to burnout, overwhelm and exhaustion – which I finally figured out in my early 30’s.

The important thing to understand about perfectionists is that they are extraordinarily hard on themselves. And as a result, they can often be pretty tough on others. I work in a profession where perfection is often the minimum requirement, and the A-type personalities that seek out perfection are drawn to the law.  We all gather together and create perfect opinions with perfect grammar and correct one another. It’s a very happy place for a perfectionist to delve deeper into the throes of unrealistic expectations.

But I have come to deeply understand that perfectionism is more often than not a fear-based response to the world. It may not feel like this at first, but when we really start to peel back the layers and take a long hard look at it – perfectionists are operating from a place of avoiding failure, rather than pursuing something beautifully perfect. And isn’t the intention of how we do things where it all starts?

The pursuit of not failing can be borne out of a place of insecurity and feeling unsafe in the world unless we show up perfectly. This can be triggered by an event or a repeated pattern in a perfectionist’s life, that in order to be loved or seen, they needed to be perfect.  The underlying narrative is usually something along the lines of by just being themselves – they were not good enough. This is of course not true, but there are SO many things that can trigger this narrative. A parent that didn’t hold a safe and enabling space for a child. A teacher that was overly critical. A friend who put you down for being a little unusual and not fitting the mould. It can come in many shapes and forms.

The important thing is to notice when and where it comes up for you. Because when we know better we do better.

I have personally done a lot of work on being a perfectionist myself. And I honestly thought I had this down pat – at least to some extent. But it still comes up when I find myself stretched. When I’m out of my comfort zone I default into unattainable expectation mode.

I am very mindful of how I show up with my perfectionist tendencies in my professional life as I manage a very talented team, many of whom are already hard enough on themselves and don’t need me adding any extra pressure. My job at work is to recognise and support talent and it is a space that brings me immense joy. Work is an easy place to be aware of how I show up and how I can be kinder to myself, and as a result, kinder to others.  I am able to meet my team in a grounded way with realistic expectations and see the value and talent they bring to their jobs.

But recently I came to the heart-stopping realization that my perfectionism was dictating how I go running! Just a simple jog – and I couldn’t get it right. I’ve put together a little YouTube story on my journey with running as a perfectionist which you can watch here. But in essence – the concepts of “that runner’s high” and “running as a stress release” were a mystery to me. I honestly didn’t get it. Running felt really hard. It always felt like everyone else was doing better than me with minimal effort. And it definitely didn’t feel like a stress-release, despite intuitively knowing I must be missing something.

Turns out I was missing a lot – and it took a long hard look in the mirror to realise that my perfectionist tendencies were holding me back from experiencing joy in a place that is really easy to access if you know how. This is what I have learnt and it has changed my running experience beyond my wildest dreams –

  • My mantra – every run has a purpose (thanks Coach Bennett) – see post here for more on the free resources I’ve mentioned previously;
  • What is the purpose – to enjoy THIS run and to want to run again after this run;
  • How do I do that – accept that I am not going to be a perfect runner from run 1, or even maybe run 4 or 5, and that’s ok – because that is not the purpose. I’m a middle-aged mom of one toddler and two cute but crazy Golden Retrievers with a full-time job, a husband, friends, and a coaching practice. There is honestly no need for me to be a perfect runner – yet 😉
  • How do I run – I listen to a meditation on running almost every time I go out for a run – because I’ve literally needed to rewire my brain and the narrative I’ve unconsciously attached to running. All of these meditations are along the same vein. Run easy. Run easy. Run easy.
  • What does run easy mean – run slower than you think you need to. Notice how your body feels. Stay in control of your breath. Always. If you’ve lost control of your breathe, you’ve lost control of your run. And then you can pull it back and go easier.
  • Celebrate the successes – in all it’s different guises. I put my shoes on. I feel good. I made it down a hill. I made it up a hill. I am present. I’m so thankful I can move (because I really really am after experiencing pregnancy and my lack of mobility).

Turns out the runners high is real. And the stress release is palatable. I’m by no means a perfect runner yet. But I am certainly perfecting my approach.

If this resonates with you – drop me a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!

Sending love always,

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Well hello there! I know – I’ve been MIA for a while due to becoming a parent (read shock to my system), a new (bigger than I realised!) job and running my coaching practice full-time on the side – which has been more actual coaching and less time here writing. Don’t read me wrong – I love all of the above. But even me and my perfectionist self have realised I’m only human and that sleep really is a priority with a small child around.

Every time though I manage to create space for myself in this busy life of mine and reconnect with the things that light me up, I land up here again. And now that we’re on #lockdown due to the Cornavirus pandemic and I’ve been working at home for a solid month – I’ve managed to create a little wiggle room in my usually manic schedule.

I’ve read such fascinating thoughts in this time, most specifically on mental well-being. And while our society continues to be obsessed with being happy and excelling in a time of dire angst and grief, I have been leaning into the feeling of the utter devastation of all that is not within my control and all the people I feel so deeply for in this uncertain context – especially in the context of the South African reality, where we have so many vulnerable members of our community.

The global pandemic has brought so much into sharper focus for us as individuals, families, workplaces, and quite frankly, humankind. But it can get overwhelming. It can feel insurmountable. And for many, the bedrock of their identity has been challenged. Whether that is your business as a small business owner, the loss of your job, or the fact that you cannot connect in the usual way with your family and friends that feel so much a part of your identity.

Through all of this, I can genuinely say our little family unit has thrived in the face of all the uncertainty. We have had more intimate and beautiful moments in the last month despite our concern for the outside world, our extended family, friends and colleagues. But there have also been sleepless nights that I have needed to learn the reason for and navigate. I have been in awe of my team at work and the incredible way we have forged through the lightening fast changes we have had to make. But I have also been exhausted by the weight of responsibility my job accounts to me – especially for a large team who I care about. And I continue to be privileged to walk the journey with my coaching clients who have used this time to catalyse even more growth and development in their journey. But I have needed to protect my energy, as an Extrovert there has been little stimulus given the lockdown status.

I thought I might share some day-to-day tools that have really helped me and may be of value to you – starting with this beautiful quote –

Now you see YOU

All we have is the present moment.

What does that even mean? And why is there power in that? Well – put simply – you have control over very little. But you do have control over how you show up right now. And the choice you make right now. Cue – quote above!

Lower your expectations – mostly of yourself

I really do my best to not swear on this forum – so please applaud me. I’ve unwound many an unconscious way of being, but my professional life has seen me “grow-up” amongst some pretty foul-mouthed lawyers and it continues to be a default for me in many instances. So believe me when I say before #lockdown I really did not enjoy running – nor yoga actually. And I’ve finally figured out how to do both during #lockdown. Not by trying harder. I don’t believe in harder (anymore!).

The two tools I’ve uncovered are meditating for runners through the app Headspace where the founder, Andy Puddicombe and Chris Bennett, Global Head Coach of Nike Running literally broke down my mental block around running. To date, I’ve been running hard, not easy (read perfectionist). I just love the lessons they embody and it can be applied to so much of day-to-day life. One of the most beautiful things I’ve learnt through that process that has really challenged my thinking is the multiple different ways to measure the success of a run – and it’s not just in the numbers. How profound is that. And how many other places in life can we apply that thinking? Really – take a listen if you can.

In respect of yoga, the practices that have resonated the most are those that show up authentically as themselves and demonstrate how to meet yourself in the actual moment without the pressure of perfect. Locally I’ve been following Tegan Burger – check out her Instagram for direction to her classes. She is just such a nice person with the most beautiful energy. And for the quick wins in between conference calls (of which I have too many!) I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene – I love that she’s not too yogi if you know what I mean, quite quirky and just the most incredible business woman. And there’s also a lot of choice to suit your mood of the day. I really love how accessible she makes the practice even for the most amateur of us attempting yoga.

It’s important to note that neither of the above were borne from an expectation of myself. If anything, they were borne from pure boredom of sitting at my laptop continuously. I did consider trying to learn Spanish for about 30 minutes (my niece is Spanish so this is a well-founded desire) – but I then came to my senses and realised the only thing worth “achieving” at the moment is to show up for myself in the moment – which brings me to my favourite tool of all.

Plan your energy, not your time

This is the most rewarding tool – which also means it’s often the toughest thing for many of my clients to do. This requires you to put down all your limiting beliefs about what you SHOULD be doing, to put some firm, self-care boundaries in place and meet yourself where you are at, without everyone else’s opinion weighing in and listen to yourself.

I’m not asking a lot…

This is tough for me too. And it’s not a cut and paste formula every day. But it has been so powerful for me in this time of #lockdown where I have felt my energy diminished for so many different reasons.  It requires you to take accountability for yourself instead of hiding behind taking care of everyone else. It requires brutal honesty with yourself in the moment and balancing the things you really need to do with the things that you have the energy to do. Deciphering what is going to serve you in the moment and sometimes doing the thing you really don’t have energy for, as it will serve you in the long run. It is all about the power of choice. Owning your choice. And living in the consequences of your choice.

The two tools that I find most helpful in making these energy decisions are quite simple –

  1. 3 deep breaths and coming back to my authentic, grounded self without any of the societal noise, where I have access to all my intelligence, intuition, wisdom, creativity and resilience; and
  2. writing a list of the 3 things I WANT to get done, and the 3 things I give myself permission to NOT get done – which creates so much space and is an instant injection of energy.

By way of example – this week I’ve cancelled all non-essential conference calls in my diary, and have managed to find the energy to reach out to the people I’ve been meaning to reach out to at work, but simply haven’t had the space or energy to.

I hope that helps you even a little in navigating this uncertain space we find ourselves. And I’d love to hear some of the tools you’ve been using or examples of how the above has played out for you?

Sending love always and wishing you and your loved ones health and well-being during this time.

xxx

 

 

 

Do you feel as if you live a really privileged life? And as a result of that privilege, do you feel you should be contributing more to the world? Are you a deeply compassionate person that feels you can help others who don’t seem to be able to help themselves?

Every client I have ever coached, including myself, hooks into this story at some point. And for many it is the mantra we use to deny ourselves the time, love and compassion so many of us require to truly make the difference in the world we so deeply crave to make.

No matter how under-privileged they have in fact been, no matter what hardships, or trauma or tragedy they have endured, human beings seem to have a common thread that there is always someone who is worse off than them and whose story is more worthy of love, care and compassion than their own. You may even be thinking right now I haven’t ever really experienced trauma. Really? Is that true?

So here’s the thing. The blatantly obvious thing you might think.

You need to put on your own oxygen mask when the plane is going down, before assisting children and other passengers.

Why? Because if you don’t put on your oxygen mask, you won’t be assisting anyone else for very long.

And here’s another thing – challenges, discomfort, anxiety, trauma and tragedy are relative to YOUR specific circumstances and journey. We cannot quantify one person’s experience over another. We all experience life, and each of those experiences are valid and true to where each of us are in our journey.

So whether it is a fear of heights, or a feeling of never being good enough, if that is your story, it is your responsibility to heal the parts of you that are broken or less than whole.

But surely a broken thumb is not as bad as a broken arm? Or a broken back?

Really? Are they not both broken? Can you heal others if you cannot even heal yourself? Maybe for a little while – but eventually reality will catch up. And of course, we are speaking metaphorically. This applies to grief, underlying fears of inadequacy, prejudice and every other human condition we prefer to sweep into the emotional black-hole.

Yes we can have compassion and empathy for others. But often this compassion and empathy for others is used to diminish our own experiences and to “put them in perspective”. It is almost always used as a tool to make us feel better about the really bad decisions we make. And it can go ever further, and make us operate from a place of self-righteousness, as if we are helping others, we clearly don’t need any help ourselves, do we now.

No I shouldn’t buy myself nice things, because there are so many people who have nothing. No I shouldn’t wallow in my grief, there are people who have suffered greater loss than me and have gotten on with it. I should be thankful for my job, no-matter how much I hate it, because the employment rate is so bad and I should be thankful I at least have a job. This leads us to the Karpman Drama Triangle. But more on that another time.

Do you think Richard Branson thinks like this? No.

And who is making a greater impact in the world? You or Richard Branson? One of the clearest messages that come from reading Richard Branson’s books is that he is extremely good at taking care of his own needs. Something he was taught from a very young age. And as a result, he has grown an empire, which has enabled him to take care of other’s needs in a very significant way.

One of my favourite things about being a coach, is I simply cannot coach others, if I haven’t done the hard graft of taking care of myself first. Being a coach ensures that I am at all times mindful of my own stuff going on, my own triggers, what it is that is holding me back, and where I need to shine a little more light in my own life. I need to take care of my own emotional needs, boundaries and energy before I can hold a safe space for you to do the same for yourself.

The same goes for you. Yes you can help others. By all means. But are you actually equipped to help others? Have you done your own internal work? And why are you wanting to help others? Is it from a place of groundedness? Or is it from a broken place. A place where you are actually seeking validation because you haven’t done the work to validate yourself from within?

World-care starts with self-care. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

Do you ever say to yourself:

When I have this sorted, I’ll do that.

When my partner starts bringing me flowers at least once a week, I’ll know for sure he really loves me.

When I’ve worked for this company for at least 3 years, I’ll be able to get a promotion to the role I really want.

When I have R1 million, maybe I can start my own business.

I call this the lotto mentality. If I win the lottery all my problems will be solved. Well – no actually. And while diving a little more into this thought concept, I also discovered that 70% of people that do win the lottery are bankrupt within 7 years. Isn’t that telling…

A very dear friend of mine said something so interesting to me a few weeks back, and I’ve been playing it over and over in my head.

If you’re not good enough without it, you won’t be good enough with it.

He was specifically referring to earning potential and progressing up the corporate ladder. But for me that is less relevant. This statement applies to so much more. It has almost become a daily mantra for me now.

That being said, disclaimer alert:

It needs to be cloistered in kindness, care, gentleness and sans value-judgement. By no means am I advocating you running around telling everyone, and most importantly not yourself, well shit, if you can’t make it without it, harden the @#$% up and make it happen.

No. Rather – in the softest, sweetest voice possible, I’d like to ask you – why are you waiting?

Spoiler alert. Everything you need is within. And the only thing that is holding you back is you.

So maybe you win R1million. Maybe R16 million?! And then – you’ll be happy?

But what if you never win the lottery? What if your reality remains as it currently is – reality. Are you destined to never realise your dreams?

What’s really holding you back is fear. I know, because I’ve been the victim of my own fear many times over.

As soon as I’ve read this post 10000 times I’ll post it. Mother of pearl if I make a spelling error or worse…a grammar error. People will then know I should not be writing a blog and wonder how I ever made it as a lawyer. Oh wait I didn’t make it as a lawyer? Oh my god – how did I leave my law job. My entire validation and self-worth is up the creek.

Actually, what I eventually realized, while desperately trying to be something that I wasn’t passionate about, is that my self-worth has to come 1000% from within. Not from my boss. Not from my husband. Not from my parents. The alternative, which so many of us unconsciously adhere to, is that our self-worth is pinned to others expectations and realisations of who we are and what purpose we serve.

And unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you view the world. The only way to overcome fear is to embrace it. Sit with it. Understand it. Get messy with it. And then take a big dose of courage and do the thing you keep making excuses about. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it.

Or you could just keep on doing what you’re doing. How’s that working out for you?

Let me know. x