Category Archives for "Connect with Yourself"

2 Suze Kenington Mindset Coaching Living in full colour

Are you are clipart or full-colour 3D version of yourself?

Suze Kenington Mindset Coaching Living in full colourHave you ever talked to someone many times and yet still have no sense of who they are? Or maybe you have had a 5 minute conversation with someone else and you would invite them to your next birthday party – right there and then?

The lights are on but nobody’s home

The weird part is that the ‘who are they’ person is not just a certain personality type ie. shy – they may be loud but you still come away none the wiser.  Same goes for the ‘forever friends in the first 5 minutes’ person – they may be quiet but you get a strong sense of who they are. I think that might be the clue we are looking for – they have a strong sense of who they are too.

Magnetic attraction

I have never considered myself an ‘in crowd’ type of person – more of ‘toe in’ but certainly not more than a digit or two. Maybe because of this I am fascinated by why some people are have a magnetic quality about them. Now I am older my discernment for what I want to be ‘in’ has certainly grown. One difference now is that I am much slower to discount my first impressions because they are most often made up of non-verbal clues that are on the money in the long run and I know I have been ‘sweet talked’ into going against my better judgement in the past.

Shifting through these observations, like a gold-miner with a sieve hunting for nuggets of meaning, I came up with the idea that:

‘It’s all about boundaries. If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe from the outside world, you don’t feel safe showing yourself to the outside world’.

I believe we need ‘boundary holding’ skills to have a strong sense of who we are and feel safe to show our true selves to the world.  Why would we have a skills gap in creating and maintaining boundaries?  Did our parents model good boundary holding within and without the family for you to learn from?  Did they respect your boundaries or lecture you for hours disregarding your feelings?

Boundaries 101 – skill gap

Before we dive headlong down the ‘all my problems are my parents fault’ victim slippery slide let’s just call it a skills gap. The old adage that ‘a child is raised by a village’ seldom applies anymore, so we don’t always have access to someone with high emotional intelligence that can teach us the ABC’s of emotional literacy such a maintaining loving boundaries. No wonder parenting can come as a bit of shock… (sure did for me!).

If we want to close this skills gap we best have a look at the ways we can hold our boundaries.  Let’s think kings, queens, knights and castles. We can use swords and spears (picture opinionated delivery of strong words that attack others for their conflicting points of view) or a moat (energetic equivalent of living like a hermit keeping everyone away aka dissociation or ignore dissenters). The last alternative is to calmly hold our ground on issues that are important to us with equanimity – not making anyone wrong if they don’t agree yet not rolling on our backs with our ideals in the air at the slightest sign of conflict.

Throw a shrimp on the bbq mate

I am lucky enough to have some really kind and compassionate people who give me a safe space to practice loving boundaries.  In turn this gives me confidence to show my true self to the world but sometimes I still squirm like a shrimp on a bbq when I meet opposition, criticism or even incongruent behaviour (say one thing – do any other).

My stuff or yours?

Some of the best advice I ever heard was ‘what other people think of me is none of my business’ – this is not an open ticket to be an arse but rather a reminder that often the issues they have with me is their ‘stuff’, not mine.  If I worry too much about the opinion of others they I am living ‘outside in’ rather than ‘inside out’ ie. I am prioritising how I may be perceived over how I feel.

Live large

I invite you to live in full colour with a laser light show and music blasting – no one else can fill your space like you do! Clear boundaries create a safe zone for your to be yourself and calmly choose what we want in our lives and happily say ‘that’s not me’ when something doesn’t fit – no guilt, no shame, now worries!

Please share with your friends as they may need some boundary skills and a reminder to shine brightly for all they are worth too.

5 Upsurge Coaching wrestling reality

Wrestling with reality? – pick your battles

Upsurge Coaching wrestling realityIf I am in a funk (and I don’t mean the musical kind) I often find that I am arguing with reality. Take last week for example – lots of work I wanted to do but my son was off all week with a barking cough that would set off the neighbour’s dog. Previously I’ve been known to stomp around for an hour or two running a loop of reasons why this is so inconvenient around and around in my head but this time I didn’t.

Why eat wasps?

Because running the ‘life’s unfair’ loop just keeps me trapped in my head – it’s an exhausting, counter- productive and a futile waste of energy. Not to mention the impact it has on my gorgeous little man – nothing unconditionally loving about being picked up from school when you are sick by a Mum with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp! So what did I do different this time?

I got present – yep that old cure all.

Cognitive fusion reactor – she’s gonna blow

Have you ever heard of ‘cognitive fusion’? FYI – nothing to do with nuclear power. It describes when we over-engage with negative thoughts ie. we actually begin to believe our internal verbal abuse. So next time you feel yourself ‘fusing’ with the ranting of your inner critic try ‘diffusing’ by saying to yourself:

‘My mind is having a thought about …’.

This can give you the space and distance to tear yourself away from the horror movie of your imagined short comings and return to a more balanced and present state.

You’re not a teenager anymore…(thanks grandma)

Lately I’ve been realising that I have a limited pool of energy (not like when I was in my teens and I had more energy than I knew what to do with) and it’s up to me to be discerning about how I invest it. So I play a little reality game called:

‘Put up or shut up’

  • Accept it and make the best of it (Jack and I played some fun games in between him watching a video and me doing some work)
  • Take action (if I am not prepared to take some action then I lose all rights to whining)

Self-compassion sundae

Now this may not sound very self-compassionate at first glance but in reality it is double-scoop with sprinkles on top compassionate because the rest of my body doesn’t have to endure the rantings of my ego entranced mind.

Just a short one today because I have a few things to catch up with from last week!

Please share this with your friends and don’t get fused!

UpSurge Coaching - break free from your habits

Are you a prisoner to your habits?  Plan a break out

UpSurge Coaching - break free from your habits‘If you want a better life – develop better habits’ sounds so simple but habits are tenacious little blighters.  They become so familiar that we don’t even notice them anymore.  I’m not just talking about the little things like clicking your pen during meetings (isn’t that so annoying…) or rolling your towels up rather than folding them but thinking habits that can shape our entire lives.

Take how you deal with new experiences for example – you might embrace it and think ‘yah – this will be interesting’ or you might shrink away from it thinking ‘I will just make a dork of myself’. Our habits can become our ‘thought and action prison’.

The pinball wizard

Life is a bit like a pinball machine where we bounce from ‘Feel-Think-Do’ or ‘Do -Feel-Think’ or any one of the 6 permutations of these pinball targets  (do you remember the permutations without repetition formula from maths – 3x2x1 =6? Big admission – I actually like maths because you can get it completely right – not like this head and heart stuff – so full of grey areas…).

We can bounce off Feel or Think or Do first and ricochet into any one of the other two next.  Let’s take smiling as an example:
1. Do (smile at a stranger) – Think (most people are friendly) – Feel (a sense of belonging)
2. Feel (calm) – Do (smile) – Think (we live in a beautiful world)

For the sake of simplicity let’s say Feel = heart, Think = head and Do = body.  It makes it easy to see that we are not a Lego figure made up of different parts that don’t communicate, even though sometimes our heads would lead us to believe that our heart and body wisdom is flawed.

Brain bypass

When we are living on auto pilot with our habits running our lives we sometimes bypass ‘Think’ and just ‘Feel’ then ‘Do’. Now don’t get me wrong – we need habits and useful ones free up thinking power to contemplate more important things but limiting habits take away our freedom.  Investing creative thinking energy into how we brush our teeth is unlikely to change our world for the better.

Resilience is usually a good thing but we can become resilient to the discomfort caused by our limiting habits that we no longer notice how disempowering they really are.

I always thought it would be fascinating to jump into someone else’s body and experience life through their feelings, thoughts and actions, but we would probably crumple to the ground or go a crazy because we hadn’t built up resilience to their physical discomfort and negative thought patterns.

Work your ‘Ahhhhhhhhh’ moments

So if some habits are pervasive and limit our freedom to make better choices in our thinking and doing, how do we escape their clutches? The usual answer is mindfulness and presence but I would like to add ‘moments of clarity’ to this.

Moments of clarity are akin to the clouds parting and a bright shaft of sunshine coming through (optionally accompanied by angels singing – ahhhhhh).  These are the times when all the challenges we are facing seem very surmountable and we see the beauty in all things (more or less anyway – I would still struggle to see the beauty in a gorse bush – might be great in Scotland but nothing but spiky and invasive in temperate New Zealand…but I digress).

These ‘ease and grace’ moments give us a great opportunity to make plans for when things are murky and you feel like your path through life is uphill, in deep mud with a sleety head-wind (Am I the only one who has these days?  Thought not.)

Be prepared – Scouts honour

‘Make a plan while you can’ (sounds like a Girl Scout motto) faces the fact that sometimes life feels hard and you’re all fresh out of sunshine and lollypops and moments of clarity are few and far between. Be prepared!

For example, if you are installing healthier eating habits and you know yourself well enough to realise you reach for chocolate when you are disappointed or sad (I ate half a big block the other day before I felt sick and finally gave my disappointment the attention it craved – jolly fascinating that half a block of chocolate couldn’t ‘sweeten’ a bitter experience, whereas just acknowledging my feelings was instantly comforting).  Anyway lost my train of writing thinking about chocolate – emmm chocolate, but back to making a plan!

When we have the days where the 20 things on our checklist almost seem to check themselves off, our energy is high and our mood buoyant we are able to access our greatest creative thinking powers.  Therefore what better time to make a list of all the things you could do to comfort yourself instead of chomping chocolate eg. Go outside and listen for birdsong, 10 belly breaths, look at photos of your family, phone a friend, hangout with a beloved pet for 5 minutes…  These are all great ‘state changers’ that interrupt our sucky, I mean limiting, habits.

Action Stations

Next time you are having a moment of clarity (sometimes we may even have a whole day or week of clarity – cue Lego Movie music ‘Everything is awesome’) write down a few habits that don’t serve you and what you could do differently.  Here’s one of my crappy habits to get you started:

Situation: getting kids ready on time for the bus
Feel: frustrated when the kids won’t eat, pack their bags and do their teeth quickly
Think: the kids are doing it on purpose to wind me up, I am a disorganised and grumpy Mum
Do: rush around and bark orders at them – unpleasant for everyone!

Alternative Do: get up half an hour earlier, don’t go on facebook until the kids are on the bus (an ipad is great but a bit too convenient at times)
Alternative Think: I love this opportunity to set the kids up for the day by providing a fun and loving morning atmosphere, I am a great Mum
Alternative Feel: calm and loving

Please share with your friends as they are likely to be imprisoned by some of their habits too!

Is there anything to fear about fear

Is there anything to fear about fear?

Is there anything to fear about fearFear’s a feeling many of us would lump into the ‘undesirable’ category.  We’ve all felt it but would rather not feel it too much thanks very much.  But what if we didn’t categorise feelings into good and bad – what if we just called them all ‘information’? So what could fear be telling us?  Linda Kohanov has a great way of looking at the messages behind feelings.

Fear calling – is anyone home?

The message of fear is ‘intuitive, focused awareness of something that is a threat to our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being’.  It is telling us to identify the threat and decide what action we need to take to move to a position of safety – that doesn’t sound like something to be afraid of – it sounds vital to our survival!

It doesn’t mean you have to run every time the hair on the back of your neck stands up – it just means you need ask yourself if you need to take action.  This could be gather more information before you move ahead, move ahead but at a slower pace, change direction slightly, set a boundary or sometimes get the hell outta there.

Are you brave enough to be scared?

Our social conditioning can give us a hard time around fear – ‘scaredy cat’, ‘get hard or go home’ and ‘fear is for wimps’ and other thoroughly unhelpful macho insults.  So is it cowardly to feel fear? I actually think it’s very brave to admit you feel fear when you are likely to get ridiculed for it.

If you don’t listen to it you can never get the wisdom it holds. There’s a funky saying ‘what you resist persists’ (wouldn’t want to have to say that quickly after a night on turps…). So if we resist fear how does it persist? Linda reckons it intensifies into a number of feelings – not surprisingly none of them very pleasant.

Fear on steroids…

Would you like to upgrade your fear to a dose of worry and anxiety?  Or maybe even panic and terror?  Or would dulling your senses culminate in dissociation (cut yourself off from the sensations of your body) work better? If that’s not to your nervous systems liking then we could just go for confusion.  Emm, now you mention it facing your fears here and now is sounding more and more enticing.

I’ll have ‘fight’ thank you waiter

Our nervous systems have their preferred default – mine is ‘fight’. This means I get really focused on a solution eg. research, comparison of options etc – information gives me comfort.  I also like a dollop of ‘flight’ which comes in the form of numbing through busyness (it’s a warning sign when I start doing lots of housework…).  My husband is more of a ‘freeze’ man where he becomes immobilised into procrastination.  You will have your favourite too – do you know what it is?

Travel once, travel well

Our feeling will nag us, but once they feel heard they back off.  Lean into them.  If you imagine leaning into fear is a bit like driving to the shops to get something you really need. If you turn back half way you will just have to start all over again.  It’s better use of your energy to just go the whole way once and get the message your fear holds and come home to emotional balance.

If you choose not to listen when fear has something to say it will only increase the volume – no one likes to be ignored when they’re only trying to help. So next time fear comes and whispers in your ear don’t spiral down the rabbit hole of self-judgement or metaphorically clap your hands over your ears and say ‘la la la la – I can’t hear you’ – just take a moment to listen.  Your fear is on your side.

Please share with your friends – no need to be fearful!

2 UpSurge Coaching Motivation

What get’s you out of bed in the morning?

UpSurge Coaching MotivationDo you know what motivates you?  A lot of people think its money.  But money is just a symbol of energy exchange – you can’t eat it, cuddle it (well not entirely true – Uncle Scrooge from the Donald Duck cartoons used to) or have a great conversation with it (pretty one sided at best…). Are you more motivated by the anticipated pay-off (sense of satisfaction etc) of doing something or the anticipated consequences (shame, criticism etc) of not doing it?

My system is nervous

Motivation is a fascinating topic and I think we are motivated by love or fear.  But what’s the cost of motivating yourself with fear rather than love?  I like to look at this from our nervous systems point of view – so let’s have a little science 101.  We have two modes:

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – home of fight, flee or freeze

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) – home of rest, digest and repair

Our nervous system is controlled by our subconscious brain so we can’t tell it what to do with our conscious thoughts – which is great in one sense – what if we forgot to tell our bodies to digest – could get very messy… In another sense it is tricky as we can be flogging our bodies with a chemical cocktail of adrenaline and cortisol without conscious awareness.

Perception rules

Modern life means we have far less physical threats (I haven’t ever been chased by a sabre-toothed tiger) but we often live in a SNS dominant state due to ‘perceived’ psychological threats. I say perceived because what constitutes a psychological threat is as individual as your fingerprint. If you are terribly shy then walking into a public space is ‘perceived’ as a threat, but if you are an extrovert it is not. If you don’t have a loving relationship with your body then swimming at the beach is hell etc.

In our image obsessed culture we are often taught to prioritise what we look like over who we are so this really primes us for SNS dominance. Our nervous system hasn’t kept pace with the changes in our way of living so doesn’t know the difference between physical and psychological threat therefore it reacts in the same way to both.

Run Forest!

What’s this got to do with motivation?  Heaps, because threats create fear. If we are motivated by the fear we are inviting our nervous system to ride the fight, flight or flee train.  Unfortunately going through life running on our SNS we are also shutting down our creativity and higher thinking skills.  It’s a chemical thing – our body is busy keeping itself alive so it deprioritises writing fabulous fiction or an extension to the theory of relativity.

Motivation smog

Being motivated by fear is akin to using fossil fuels.  It depletes our natural resources, leaves toxic waste in our bodies and blocks us from coming up with cleaner alternatives.  Don’t get me wrong – fear as fuel can be very potent.

I spent the first 40 odd years of my life being motivated by the fear of not being enough – constantly perfecting, performing and pleasing (as Brene Brown so nicely puts it).  It got me a first class honours degree, a high paying job and world travel – can’t fault the payoff but now I’m working through the hangover… a hangover that includes letting go of people reactions and focusing on how something makes me feel.  It can take a bit to ‘un-numb’ when you have spent years denying your ‘feel-sense’.

Motivation Biofuel

So what’s the alternative? Were The Beatles right – ‘love is all you need’? Life feels very different when you come at it from a place of love.  Your decision criteria changes dramatically as does your nervous system response. The rest, digest and repair PNS branch of your nervous system is your ‘safe’ place.  Safe to be yourself – all of your awesome self.  You are free to do what you do to express your unique skills and talents without any comparison to anyone else.

What you think of me is none of my business

You can educate, entertain and inspire people without worrying about others reactions (emm bye bye  stage fright) because you love what you do and you aren’t living to please someone else – you prioritise INTERNAL rather than EXTERNAL feedback. That’s the beauty of being motivated by love – you can get over yourself because it’s not about you – it’s about what you want to contribute to the world – you become the delivery person.

Taking our fuel example – love is biofuel.  It works with your body and enhances your well-being without the side effects.  The fastest way to switch from SNS to PNS is through slow abdominal breathing – and it’s FREE!

Hey, hey, you, you, get off of my cloud

What about the real world with school fees, mortgage payments and food bills? Yep, I live there too not in UpSurge Utopia. What if you don’t know your unique talents and skills? What if you do know them but no one wants to pay you to share them? Good questions.  But I have a couple for you. Do you really want to live in fear? Do you want to survive or thrive? The only person who knows what makes you thrive is you. Go inside for the answers rather than take a poll from the crowd.

UpSurge Mindset Coaching Soul-Sustenance

Are you ‘snacking’ on Soul–Sustenance?

UpSurge Mindset Coaching Soul-SustenanceBefore we go any further let’s check that we agree on soul-sustenance. For me soul-sustenance is anything that brings joy and joy is the feeling of ‘smiling on the inside’. Kinda like your cells are having a party.

Do you have ‘fine dining’ soul-sustenance standards?  Do the stars have to be in alignment, the moon cycle in perfect spot, wearing your favourite outfit, having just had the best haircut ever whilst sitting with your beloved watching the last rays of sun drop below an expansive and exotic coastal horizon? Ahh…all is right with the universe.

Or are you more of an ‘eat on the run’ type?  If your socks match or you hear bird song or your favourite biscuits are on special – tick – that’s enough for you to feel good about the world.

Snack for emotional, spiritual and creative health

When it comes to your physical health constant snacking is not a good idea – but when it comes to your emotional, spiritual and creative health it’s essential.  We seldom get three square meals of soul-sustenance a day which can leave us starving and our resilience very depleted.

If we can only rejuvenate our souls during weekends and holidays then everyday life can sure grind us down.  Be warned though – there may be a small subconscious voice inside of you saying ‘soul-sustenance is for weaky diddums – I don’t need all that woo-woo stuff – I’m tough’. Ten foot tall and bullet proof until you get an illness that forces you to realise how depleted you are. Or a divorce. If you are in a relationship do you ever ask yourself if you would like to live with yourself? When we are depleted we are often irritable and short-fuses get even shorter. We can become a bit of a fizzer on the fun front without even realising it.

Shit happens at inconvenient times

I would like to introduce another argument for soul-sustenance grazing – shit happens. And not just on Monday and after holidays.

2014 has delivered more grief to my life than any other year. As trying as this has been it’s given me some wonderful firsthand ‘experience’ what it is to live beyond my ego – or live ‘raw’ as I like to call it.  From this place I couldn’t put on a brave face – I couldn’t even remember what that face feels like. I have had no choice but feel the tidal wave of sadness sweep me off my feet  and grind me into the ocean floor, but I have also learnt that I don’t drown there – I do resurface and that I can trust that ebb and flow.

Nah nah nah-nah nah – can’t catch me

My relationship with sadness had been similar to a child with their hands clamped over their ears saying ‘la la la – I can’t hear you’ but instead of my hands over my ears I just stayed so busy that it had no time to catch up with me – I tried to outrun sadness. Rubbish plan!!!  The universe put on a burst of speed and it caught me alright.  Lucky for me.  Ha? Lucky?  Yep, lucky – because now I don’t have to keep running.  What I didn’t realise was that I was also outrunning a whole lot of soul-sustenance (you thought I had gone off on a personal revelation tangent never to return again didn’t you?).

Precious about precious moments

So given shit happen (and grief is only one example), we can’t afford to be precious about what ‘fills us up’, we need to notice and treat anything that ‘fills us up’ as precious (isn’t that a funky little double meaning – maybe I’m the only one that gets a chuckle from that – my husband often says ‘crack yourself up why don’t you’).

Doctor and lawyer free-zone

Humans are fuelled by love – it burns much cleaner than fear.  If you are not giving it to yourself and topping it up with a high quality supply from others then your engine will falter sooner or later. Everything is energy and gratitude, kindness and forgiveness are some of the most potent ‘brands’ of soul-sustenance so snacking on these everyday will keep the doctor away (and the lawyer).

Please share with your loved ones – shit could be happening to them right now and most probably is.

4 UpSurge Coaching Pursuing Dreams

Do dreams have a ‘use by’ date?

UpSurge Coaching Pursuing Dreams
Have you ever given up on something you really, really, really wanted to do saying you are too old/busy/shy etc? The list of why we give up on our dreams could fill a whole blog post! Let’s look at the cost of this – both to you and to those around you.

C.S Lewis said “You are never too old to get another goal or to dream another dream” – here’s a real life example I was lucky enough to hear about recently. Hand on heart folks this is no urban myth – this is the story of a brave lady who decided her dream came with ‘Use by Date : My Last Breath’).

You never know

Once upon a time there was a 63 year old lady who has always dreamt of being an air hostess. Her husband said she was too old, her friend’s husband rolled his eyes in that patronising ‘silly woman’ kind of way and her kids thought she was mad. Luckily the heroine of our story was brave and determined and had the support of a very well organised and kind friend who had a ‘we’ll show them’ attitude.

She wrote her CV with the help of her dear friend. She went to the first interview after carefully choosing just the right outfit with the said friend. She went to the second interview buoyed by a pep talk by her friend.  She went to the third interviews knowing her friend was cheering her on.  She was offered the job on the condition that she could swim 50 metres.

Oh crap – she had never learnt to swim! Undeterred she found a pool and an instructor. With much trepidation entered the pool for the first time.  Two weeks of dedication later, literally exploding her comfort zone in the process, she held her 50 metre swimming certificate aloft. She had achieved her lifelong dream of being an air hostess.

But wait, there’s more, you also get…

In true TV marketing style – but wait, there’s more, you also get…

  • Her husband, who has suffered for years with debilitating depression who was so inspired that he has applied for a new job himself. Their relationship is very different now that he sees her as the powerful, brave and determined woman she always was.
  • Her friend feeling so proud of her and really enjoying being appreciated for believing in and supporting her.   Along with the added bonus of watching her nay saying husband having to eat his words.
  • Her son having a new found respect for his mother.
  • The airline passengers getting to enjoy her kind and bubbly personality which helps make their flight more pleasant.
  • You and I also getting to share in the story of her triumph and whatever feelings that may have brought up for us.  Personally, ‘age is just a number’ comes up for me and self-empowerment in action gives me the kick up the butt (in a loving and compassionate way of course!) to push beyond my comfort zone.

High cost of dream denial

If she hadn’t followed her dream, the cost to those around her seems pretty high don’t you think? What a ripple of inspiration she set in motion!

I can only guess at the cost to her personally of not pursuing her dream, but I would imagine she sees herself quite differently after making her dream a reality.

Is dream chasing selfish or generous?

We can feel selfish pursuing what we really love.  We think about the impact on our partners, kids, friends and finances. But I like to turn this around – what energy would you put out into the world if you followed your dream versus the energy you would put out if you didn’t follow your dream? Let’s throw some words out there.

Scenario: Following your dream
Symptoms: Fulfillment, joy and empowerment
Added Benefit: You shine brightly and you inspire those around you to shine too.  Potential dream Dominos – you pursue your dream which gives someone around you just what they need (action and energy – you say just what they needed to hear with just the right energetic charge to spark a ‘can do’ revolution inside of them) –  to follow their dream and when they follow their dream they give someone around them just what they need to follow their dream and so on and so on. Go the knock-on effect!

Scenario: Not following your dream
Symptoms: Resentment, bitterness and victimhood, gnawing yearning, nameless loneliness, defeatism, become a dream killer to others
Added Cost: You radiate ‘life sux’ through your words and actions potentially dragging others into your vortex of hopelessness. If anyone shares their dream with you, you rip it out of their heart and trample it into the dust. Maybe un-pursued dreams go toxic and start eating you up from the inside? A bit farfetched?  Maybe, maybe not.

Emm – who would you rather hang out with?  Who would you rather your kids were raised by? Which life would you rather experience? Check the fine print – it’s gotta be your dream – not your parents, music teacher’s, golf coach’s, lecturer’s…

Peer Prison

It’s not all one way traffic though. Our peers can have us neatly slotted into their mental and emotional maps and when we re-position ourselves we often encounter resistance. Pause to ask yourself who are you pleasing by giving up on your dreams? The people that want you to stay stuck are doing it for their sakes, not yours.  Where does your loyalty lie – with yourself or with others?

Carve out a ‘me’ shaped hole

It’s exhausting trying to be a round peg in a square hole so how about you use that energy to create a hole that fits you perfectly.  I am not saying it’s easy, I am just saying you’re worth it. No one else can do it for you.

If you still struggle to do it for yourself – then ask if you’d rather create a ripple of inspiration or defeatism.

2 Potential for Happiness Hierarchy

Do you rank experiences using a ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’?

Potential for Happiness HierarchyDo you ever get caught up in a ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’? This is a little experience ranking game our ego plays where we only get a ‘hit’ of happiness from situations it deems ‘important’. Our ego can be a snob in that it will deem certain experiences ‘beneath’ you in terms of delight potential. Our ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’ is as unique as we are and can give us a fascinating insight into how we want to be seen in the world aka the ‘persona’ or mask we wear to make us acceptable in our own minds (of course we couldn’t just get the thumbs up by being utterly and unadulteratedly our true selves…).

For example, doing an outstanding presentation at work may rank a 10, whereas having a fun game with the kids may only rank a 1. The flip side of this is that our ego also invites us to feel very unhappy when we don’t shine in ‘important’ situations. 

Double, Triple, Quadruple Standards

The other stinger of living with a ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’ is that it holds us to different standards of conduct in different situations. It’s as if our ego decides it’s only worth bringing our ‘A’ game to situations where there are people we want to impress eg. work, community service etc. Conversely, our egos can reckon we are somehow off duty in more mundane situations which can lead to sad scenarios such as a ‘pillar of the community’ being a tyrant in their own home.

Hardcore Happiness

So if we live by an unconscious ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’ what are we giving up? Do we become Happiness Junkies who can only get a ‘fix’ by getting more and more and more of our chosen hardcore happiness drugs? Only going for top shelf happiness comprised of promotions, accolades and public adoration? Would we become immune to simple acts of kindness, smiles and the smell of freshly mown lawns?

Bring on your ‘Best self’

I don’t know about you but I love the concept that we have a ‘best self’. When I am embodying my ‘best self’ it’s effortless to be patient, generous, kind and calm.  Being fun, supportive and compassionate is a breeze. I have clarity and a balanced perspective on situations and can embrace the ‘grey’ in life without getting lost in the fog of nuances and different points of view.

I would love to live as my ‘best self’ all the time – but I don’t. Is this a choice i.e. do I lack necessary willpower? Or is decent into my ‘lesser self’ an opportunity to learn about my blind spots i.e. the parts of my self that bind up energy carrying unresolved resentments, rejections and regrets?  If I resolve these blind spots is that energy then freed up to used for an even more loving ‘best self’? Sounds good to me!

Not this old chestnut again

When I have the privilege of working with someone in the longer term we invariably reach a point where they express frustration that they struggle once more with something they have struggled with in the past – a ‘we’ve sorted this – why am I feeling like this again?’ moment.  This is a test where we can choose to stand alongside ourselves and say ‘this is hard – take a deep breath – you are gonna be ok’ or stand over ourselves and say ‘you are useless – you are never gonna to break this pattern so you may as well give up’.

If you choose to stand alongside yourself you realise that the lesson has very little to do with the actual situation you are relating to – it’s far more about how you relate to yourself. Are you able to be gentle and compassionate with yourself when you are struggling? Do you trust your judgement and intuition? Do you unconditionally love yourself?

Judgement Free Zone

Buying into a ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’ is a symptom of not unconditionally loving yourself – you will only give yourself permission to feel happy if you ‘perform’ well enough to gain the approval of ‘significant’ people.  What a rip off – by doing so you are giving away your power by prioritising ‘external feedback’ rather than ‘internal feel feedback’.

By letting go of your ‘Potential for Happiness Hierarchy’ we can also let go of judging other people and ourselves – what a relief! We are also open to so many more opportunities to sip, slurp and guzzle happiness – delicious stuff!

2 UpSurge Coaching Emotional Balance

Is your ‘Emotional Balance’ flat-lining or roller-coastering?

UpSurge Coaching Emotional BalanceIs your ‘Sliding Scale of Emotional Balance’ working well?  This reflects how easily we can hold our emotional center when we are being buffeted by life.

 Do Feelings = Emotions?

If we are going to talk about emotions best we define what they are. Do you think feelings and emotions are one and the same? Something I find useful is to accept feelings as uncontrollable and always valid – they show up uninvited and can be vague or very definite, persistent or fleeting and I don’t get to choose them.

Our bodies are our feeling feedback center – our gut may churn, our heart rate increase, our hands get fidgety and sometimes we have the urge to get the hell out of somewhere or never leave because it feels so safe and pleasant. Our heart and our gut have an intelligence all of their own and our head can be left thinking ‘what the hell is going on?’.

Having respect for our feelings will often give valuable insight into ourselves. If we come from a ‘stiff upper lip’ culture then we may stuff down our feelings until the dam breaks drowning all within earshot – pretty messy.

E-motions are ‘energy in motion’

Emotions on the other hand can sometimes be reasoned with. When you break it down to ‘e-motions’ it becomes ‘energy in motion’. We can have some interaction when comes to emotional responses eg. If I feel fearful I can ask my body ‘What is the threat? What do I need to do to get safe?’ rather then just screaming the house down. That said sometimes a good cry is the most useful way to put our energy in motion.

The pregnant pause

There is a moment of separation between feeling and emotion where we can choose how we respond and with practice we can expand this moment so we can feel our feelings yet not immediately display emotion. We become better at leaning into the discomfort of difficult feelings and understanding their messages.

Not everyone takes responsibility for their emotions and it can be a pretty grey area when it comes to what is a feeling and what is an emotion but as we gain emotional agility we get better at honouring our feelings and controlling our emotions.

The good, the bad and the ugly

When our emotional balance is working well we don’t over identify with our ups or downs – we just see them as part of life’s rich tapestry (cliche factor 10!). A few things can happen when our ‘Sliding Scale of Emotional Balance’ needs a little repairs and maintenance: (you can see I am a visual communicator – if graphs make you think of a mean maths teacher then picture them as Emotional Terrain pictures with mountains, valleys, flat lands…)

  • On the back foot – starting well into the minuses makes for a long journey to the pluses eg. we generally feel irritable even when things are going well
    Emotional Balance - on the back foot
  • Over reaction – 0 to -10 in the blink of an eye or a dog peeing on the carpet or a glass smashing
    Emotional Balance - over reaction
  • Never good enough – emotional range of 0 to -2 eg. acknowledging your exam results will make you lazy
    Emotional Balance - never good enough
  • Wallow – we get ‘stuck’ eg. we sulk for days after getting ‘feedback’ at work
    Emotional Balance - wallow
  • Ping pong – flip from ‘Over the moon’ to ‘Devastated’ multiple times a day eg. drama queen
    Emotional Balance - ping pong
  • Flower power – drift around in a haze of ‘peace and love’ eg. denies fear as valid biofeedback
    Emotional Balance - flower power
  • Comfortably numb – the lights are on but nobody’s home. eg. distracted and numb using alcohol, drugs, masses of coffee, junk food, constant shopping, living on facebook, obsessive exercise…
    Emotional Balance - Comfortably Numb
  • Watch your back – don’t get too happy or we’ll jinx ourselves eg. don’t celebrate doing well at sport or you will fall over next time
    Emotional Balance - watch your back

I doubt whether there are many people who can’t identify with some if not all of these scenarios at some time in their lives – I know I can! This is not a blame and shame game – just an invitation to bring awareness to the difference between feelings and emotions.

We all need nurturing

Our emotional balance is effected by how well we nurture ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Some things we have more control over – how much sleep we get, what we eat and drink, who we spend time with, what we read and watch, whether we make time for exercise etc. Other things we have absolutely no control over ie. cursing the rain seldom mades it stop…

How sensitive is your joy detector?

When we struggle to balance our emotions it’s hard to be present which means we forego being moved by the simple things and gorgeous little moments. Like seeing a stranger help an elderly person put their groceries in the car, noticing that wet leaves under a bright moon look like fairy lights (thanks Mark x) or our kids with chocolate icing on their noses. Personally, I want to be open to getting a top up of joy from all things great and small.

Next time your Emotional Balance needs a little work look for ways to nurturing yourself. Constantly traversing mountainous emotional terrain can be exhausting for us and those we love. Conversely a never-ending flat emotional plain can put you to sleep. Break up your emotional journey by stopping often and take the time to look for little loveliness-es.


Break out of the 'Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness'

Are you stuck in an ‘Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness’?

Break out of the 'Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness'

Are you getting dizzy in the ‘Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness’

Do you ever have the feeling you are perpetually preparing to be happy? Putting in the hard yards before you get to reap the rewards of your efforts. Do you hear yourself say things like “When I get through [fill in the blank around learning, illness, busyness etc] then I would be happy” or ‘If I just [lost weight, had more money, found the perfect partner etc] then I would be happy’?

So many moles, too few hammers

If this rings bells for you then you just may be caught in what I call the ‘Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness’. Round and round you go always having just one more project or challenging period in your life to get through before you can be happy – but hey presto – you get through the last challenge and low and behold if something else doesn’t pop up like that game ‘Whack-a-Mole’. It’s not very PC walloping moles with a hammer as fast as you can but for the sake of an analogy let’s put animal rights to one side. Sometimes we can get caught up constantly whacking moles, aka challenging life events, in the vain hope that they will go away but the little blighters keep popping up…

Emm, the hammering moles theory of happiness would suggest our approach is flawed – the moles are just gonna keep on coming. So if we accept this how do we escape our ‘Infinite Loop of Conditional Happiness’? How about if we gave ourselves permission to happy regardless of the size, frequency and persistence of our moles?

Making molehills out of mountains

I have a beautiful friend who has faced so many challenges around her children’s health and yet the first thing she says is ‘I have nothing to complain about’. She is still smiling despite standing there with vomit on her shoe after her little man was sick getting out of the car and not having had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in over a month. She is truly inspiring – her happiness is not conditional on the events in her life – she unselfishly radiates fun and vitality to the world and sees her challenges as another bump in an otherwise wonderful road. Her attitude makes molehills our of mountains (ok, I will stop with the mole theme – I think I’ve pretty much milked that one…).

Ditch the retirement plan for happiness

Putting off happiness until life’s challenges pass is like investing in a bogus retirement plan – you forgo happiness today hoping to have lots later but there is no payout at the end because you never meet the criteria ie. life will always have challenges.

Take ‘Perspective’ rather than Prozac – no side effects

I am not saying that some events aren’t really challenging and that we just knock back the Prozac and slap on a smile. To feel is to live. But we can help ourselves by doing a bit of expectation management. There will always be challenges and we can look at these situations as growth opportunities or injustices. Our lived experience depends on our perspective.

“All situations are invitations to feel what it is to live and to see ourselves reflected in the eyes and actions of another. “

Personally, I want don’t want to give away my power to be happy to a bunch of moles (opps, I was going to move on from the mole fixation – I keep coming back because it reminds me of a couple of girls I was bullied by at school), after all they are inevitable. How about next time you find yourself surrounded by moles, look at them as opportunities to learn about yourselves and develop grace, resilience and kindness (and other yummy qualities that we admire in ourselves and others). This way you can practice living in an ‘Infinite Loop of Unconditional Happiness’ – now that’s a loop that is worth being stuck in!

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