Acceptance, Essential Self, Habits, Life Enhancing, Personal Power, Self-love

Three ways to connect to your inner life force

For many years my life was my battleground, until, I decided to stop allowing it to be one.  This was not some overnight transformation, but something I learned over time, through clear intent to do something different, to see life differently, to respond to life’s challenges in a more positive and mindful way. I believe that this is possible for everyone and that was one of the main motivations for writing about it in my first book.

I was born to Irish Catholic parents in Birmingham.  The youngest of 4 surviving children, with a neurotic mother, an alcoholic father and a sister with Autism; we lived in a chaotic and highly charged family home. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to see that there might be alternatives to the way I was living. I could make choices not only in how I lived, but also where I lived.  I made the decision to leave Birmingham and my childhood influences and took a live-in position at a country hotel in the Cotswolds.

It was there I was to meet the love of my life. Despite considerable resistance to our relationship and having to deal with the disapproval of my parents, the loss of my live in position and being shunned by friends, because my partner was also female, I never once doubted the choice I had made. It taught me some incredibly important life lessons about facing difficult decisions with courage, being open and authentic about who you are and learning to accept yourself with love and compassion.

Later, after having a very successful career as a consultant, I was suddenly struck down with a serious illness whilst in Africa. It was another moment in my life to take stock, observe and choose my response. After innumerable doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and tests after tests to define what was wrong with me I became exasperated that I would never feel well again.  Until one day I realised that nothing was wrong with me.  Not in the most essential level of my being.  With the help of a doctor who was also an energy healer, I started to realise that healing and harmony are as much about state of mind as they are about our lifestyle choices.  When I could accept that at my most fundamental level, at the centre of my being, all was well, the healing of my body could take care of itself. Through my own healing journey and the road back to health, I learned to connect with my inner life and connect with the energy which is the life force inside of me.  I saw the illness as a lesson in how to slow down and appreciate life more.

 

Three powerful practices to connect to your inner life force

Three very powerful practices have helped me in dealing with my life’s challenges. If you do nothing else but these, you could find that your life goes through an extraordinary transformation in a matter of weeks.

The first practice is meditation. This is incredibly powerful as it helps us to observe our thoughts, slow them down and even turn them into more positive inner dialogue.  When we are feeling that life is against us, we often create a victim voice in our mind.  We will say things like ‘this is always happening to me’ ‘why do I always feel so tired’ ‘life is so unfair’.  This kind of dialogue is life sapping and sends signals out to the universe to deliver more of the same.

Through the regular practice of sitting quietly and noticing your thoughts, you can become aware of the messages that you might be giving to yourself and sending out to the world.  Doing this on a daily basis, even 5 minutes per day can make a big difference.  Over time you will learn to quieten the constant chatter of this incessant and negative voice.  The art and the practice of putting distance between you the observer and you the internal saboteur is the first step towards raising your awareness and choosing your thoughts more wisely.  It was the late Louise Hay who said ‘Change your thoughts, change your life’, and science is finally catching up with her and proving this to be true.

The second practice is equally simple and brings enormous benefits if done on a regular basis.  Journaling involves writing down your inner thoughts and observations. It has some similarities to meditation and can be practiced alongside or as an alternative approach.  It too allows you to express your thoughts, emotions and ideas in a very concrete way.  Sometimes the very act of writing something with no set idea of what it might turn out to be, allows our sub conscious to communicate with us in a way that our talking voice never can.  We don’t know why this is the case, but it is another powerful way we can learn to notice our thoughts, connect with our dreams and passions and learn to release negative and blocked emotions.

The third practice is gratitude.  When we are grateful for the many good things in our life and are thankful when we see the little blessings that come our way, we open the door for more of the same to come our way.  If you are struggling financially, but learn to say thank you when a bill is less than you expected, or you get a great discount on something, you are sending out positive vibes about money.  This can help you change a difficult relationship (with money) into a positive one. You can do this with just about any area of your life: your health, your body, your relationships, your career.  All you need to do is start the day by declaring your gratitude for all the things that you have in your life and close your day by being thankful for all the things you experienced.  You shouldn’t have to look too hard for little blessings or gifts that made your day go well and the more you do it, the easier it is to live from a place of gratitude.  There is nothing more powerful than gratitude to turn your fortunes around.

No one is likely to go through life without the odd challenge.  Life’s knocks help us to become stronger, build our resilience and teach us valuable lessons along the way.  I learnt to appreciate every moment, live in the present and express love and compassion all around me.  When you connect with your inner self and that wonderful reservoir of happiness within, then I know you will too.

If you would like to attend one of my workshops, find out more about up and coming dates here

You can find many tips and exercises to hep you in my book Coming Home to You, Available at Amazon and other booksellers.

Acceptance, Gratitude, Habits, Happiness, Life Enhancing, Personal Power, Personal Transformation

Starting a happiness habit

 

When you hear the word habit, I bet your mind automatically starts to think about all of the bad habits that you have developed and how difficult they are to break.  Well let me bring you some good news.  You don’t need to dwell on your old habits.  If you want to make changes in your life, you can focus on creating new and more life-enhancing habits instead.

Many of the habits we form are to make our life easier and to stop us having to think about endless choices.  They tend to be actions with little conscious energy attached to them and therefore are the easy option.  But if we do not review our habits regularly and question whether they are serving our best interests, they can become our prisoners, stopping us from being able to move on and find new ways of expressing ourselves.  We can consider a habit as bad for us, when we know it leads to feelings of unhappiness, worthlessness or dissatisfaction.  Whatever the reason for the compulsion to follow an unhealthy habit, we need to find the will to create new ones to take their place.

What new habits could you start today?

The good news is that habits can be very easy to create.  We need to focus less on the effort of breaking bad or unhealthy habits and more on creating new ones, which will no longer be compatible with the old ones.  This is a much gentler and supportive way to bring about change without using a negative or judgemental inner voice, which is often applied to ‘break’ bad habits.

Ask yourself what one thing can you start to do for yourself today, which will make a big difference to you and your life?  If it is achievable and you can see a definite reward in doing this habit, set your intention to start it straight away.

Whatever area of your life is asking for your attention, commit to a new habit to support it for three weeks. If it hasn’t worked, don’t get disheartened or give up; simply try a different habit! Keep going until you find one, which works for you and when it does work, stick to it. Over time you will see that crowding out the old habits with the new habits is the best form of change you can make.

Here are some simple habits that will help you

  • Write down your goals. This simple act of writing something down gives it a solidity, that we cannot achieve by merely thinking it.  In the same way as we might write down goals for work, we need to write them down for life.  Target 2 – 3 goals that you would like to achieve over the next three months.
  • Start a gratitude Journal. Being grateful for the little things in life, opens us up to receive much bigger benefits.  We don’t know exactly how it works, but the theory runs something like this: if we give out the frequency of gratitude to the universe, it responds by giving us more and more things to be grateful for. Now what greater incentive for a new habit do you need?  This one is a win/ win.
  • Start your day as you mean to go on. One of the most influential times to set our thoughts, emotions and habits in train for the day is when we first wake up. Just as we transition from dream state to our waking state, our ego mind wakes up and starts babbling lots of thoughts about what we should, could or will do for the day. Instead of allowing your mind to go on to auto-pilot in this way, stop, breathe and set your intention for the day.  Intend a positive day by repeating a phrase such as:  ‘Today is going to be a great day’ or ‘I will take every opportunity to make this a happy and positive day’.

 

If you’d like a little more help in developing some new life-enhancing habits, download the worksheet below that will help you on your way.

Acceptance, Change, Personal Power, Resilience, Self-love

Using compassion to deal with bullies – the Four S Approach

I was asked by Kindred Spirit magazine to outline how we can use compassion to deal with bullying.  I have learned from a lifetime of dealing with bullying, first as the victim and then as the strong advocate of anti-bullying workplace cultures, is that the bully is as much imprisoned by their own actions as their victims.

Bullies are always wracked with uncertainty and anxiety, which is often what drives their behaviour. They have very little belief in themselves, which is why they can show very little belief in anyone else. By understanding that you are dealing with a deeply insecure individual, it can help you to feel more secure in your own ability. Sticking to what you are good at and not giving ground, you can show that you have the skills and confidence to deal with a situation which will ultimately minimise the impact of the habitual bully.

The other thing to remember is the power of your own thoughts. Our thoughts create our reality, and if you allow these thoughts to be created, shaped or controlled by the bully, you will certainly find yourself playing the victim very quickly. Keeping strong positive thoughts in your mind, especially during a bullying incident is highly effective in minimising its impact.

If you are the victim of a bullying in your home or work life it can be very undermining and make you feel isolated and unhappy. Using compassion to tackle bullying does not mean being weak, in fact it means the very opposite. We need to connect to a stronger sense of our love and compassion for everyone, even the bully, in order to transcend their effects on our well-being.

One of the most undermining things that a bully can do is to infect us with their own lack of belief. Every time you start questioning ‘Is it me?’, stop that thought in its tracks and hold on to a mental picture of all the times you have handled the situation perfectly well before the bully came into your life (or when you were outside of their influence).

The only way that a bully can belittle us is when we start to accept their view of the world, with all its projected anxieties. If you have a sustained and long-term bullying situation, start to use your own mindfulness practices with strong affirmations of your own ability to minimize any caustic effects they may be having. The ultimate act of compassion is towards yourself, and if you know that the situation is not going to change, then seriously think of removing yourself from it.

Try the Four S’s to bring more compassion to a bullying situation:

  • Show concern. Even after an aggressive outburst by the bully, show concern for their well-being. Share your observations that they seem upset, angry, tired or unhappy. Ask them if they want to talk and offer them some time if this feels right.   If they continue to behave inappropriately, tell them you are there for them when they are ready to calm down and then gently extract yourself from the situation.
  • Smile. This one simple act has an immediate effect on our own sense of well-being and a positive impact on our relationships. For the bully that seeks to belittle or undermine, the smile can be very disarming.
  • Speak up. Bully’s get away with their behaviour precisely because people are afraid to speak up; yet you take away their power by doing exactly that. If you cannot address the bully directly, then start by talking to someone you trust. Many organisations have a welfare line to report the incident, or talk to your local HR who often have policies that will help to address the situation. Or if its at home, start to share your issues with a trusted friend.
  • Say thank you. Although this sounds like the very last thing you should do, saying thank you for the person’s feedback and telling them you will bear it in mind, gives the bully and their bluster very few places to go. It’s hard to keep going on at someone who appears to have agreed with you. You have done no such thing of course, for you have only thanked them for the feedback, not agreed with their comments, but you have used gratitude to stop them in their tracks.

Remember that everything we experience in life brings important life lessons our way. When we explore more mindfully what we might be learning through this situation, it can help us to navigate and overcome the effects of bullying.

 

Change, Coming Home to You, Mindfulness, Personal Power, Resilience, Self-love

How to be resilient, when thing go wrong. Recent Feature in Irish Times

Resilience is the art of bouncing back when setbacks or challenges come our way. There will be many times in our life when we are beset by failures, painful situations or conflicting priorities and these can really undermine our self-confidence and belief. Yet resilience is like a muscle that we need to build and test over time so that we can become more and more honed in life’s forge, like a master blacksmith will temper a great sword, so that we can arise stronger each time.

Sometimes when we are in the midst of hardship it is hard to see any silver lining, yet if we persistently focus on the negative and reinforce our undermining self-talk, we are likely to find our self-confidence dwindling before our eyes.

But with practice, we can build our resilience and learn to take life’s knock backs in our stride.

There are four steps we can take to build our resistance:

The building blocks to resilience

Having a healthy belief in ourselves
This is the cornerstone to building resilience. We cannot achieve anything if we do not believe in who we are and what we stand for.

Staying connected to the present moment
Resilience comes from understanding that the only moment that is real is the present moment. By connecting to this through our breathing and through our awareness that all moments will pass, including the present one, we can learn to release difficult and painful experiences more easily.

Learn to take criticism well
Nobody likes being told that their idea is rubbish or their plan is unrealistic and if we are caught up in the excitement of our own ideas we tend to shy away from getting any realistic feedback. Yet criticism, when offered constructively, can help us to avoid pitfalls and failures which come down to our own lack of experience.

Be realistic
Learn to be more self-accepting and more gentle with your inner thoughts. A harsh inner critic is hardly motivating if you are trying to pick up the pieces and move on. Self-love will be a much kinder way to move forward.

If you want to start building your resilience today, start by connecting to what really excites you in life and build your ideas around something that matters to you. Your own belief and passion will take you further and help you to cope with setbacks better than anything else.

 

Read the full article HERE

Acceptance, Change, Personal Development, Personal Power, Self-love, Women in business, Women in Leadership

I was asked recently: If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be? – this is how I responded

I have been very busy with various publicity interviews and articles as interest for my first book, ‘Coming Home to You‘ grows.  In one interview, I was asked: If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Here is what I said:  I think it would be about increasing their belief in themselves. There are many successful and inspirational women leaders in business, but they are very much in the minority for the business world in general. What I see more than anything in women is a lack of belief in themselves and their abilities, often times when their skills far outweigh that of a male colleague who they watch climb the career ladder.

Success starts on the inside, and if capable and talented women believed in themselves more I believe we would start to see some shifts in the workplace gender balance.

 

If you want to see the full article, read more HERE

Acceptance, Coming Home to You, Emotions, Featured, Happiness, Healing, Personal Power, Self-love, Uncategorized

Make peace with your body

Humans are the only mammals on the planet that have a negative image of their body.  Nothing else quite demonstrates the madness of our human condition, quite as much as the way that we reject, abuse or ignore our bodily needs.

Think about it for a moment.  An orangutan does not sit and brood at her companions and clan and feel disgruntled that her body is not as lithe or shapely as that of others around her.  A leopard does not sit and mope that his spots are not quite as well spread out as other males in the group.  In fact the idea is quite laughable.  Yet, when we turn the lens our ourselves, we seem to find it perfectly acceptable to compare, contrast and condemn our own body, based on some external notion of what it should be.

If we become disconnected and start looking at our body in negative or fragmented ways, it leads to many difficulties. We start to see our body with a critical eye to its external appearance and how this compares unfavourably to other people. Women in particular are prone to this dissatisfaction with their body due to this external pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations.  Bombarded as we are, by images of thin and under-developed models. When we start to over-identify with these images we become unhappy with ourselves and start to put our body through harsh regimes to try to achieve standards it was never designed to meet.  The thoughts we send to our body are equally negative and punitive; ‘You’re fat’, ‘You’re thin’, You’re ugly’, ‘You’re too tall’, ‘You’re too short’ or perhaps the most defeating of all, ‘You’re not good enough.’  Since our thoughts create our reality, we are allowing ourselves in these moments to create a battlefield between us and our bodies.

blog body image
Photo credit: Archishadownlight.com

When we separate our thoughts from our body, we stop listening to its needs.  We start to develop body dysmorphia because we are literally unable to see our body the way it is.  When someone has become extreme in their eating habits, through too much eating, or starving themselves, they have stopped connecting to their body.  The mind and the body are working in two different spheres.

Making peace with our body starts with learning to connect and communicate with it.  Read more here

Guided Meditation, Happiness, Personal Power

Free Guided Meditation – Power up your powerhouse!

Solar Plexus

This brief guided meditation will help you to connect with your inner power house – your solar plexus. This energy centre can be found just above the belly button. If we are feeling weak and overwhelmed, this can often be due to a lack of energy or alignment in the solar plexus. Listen to this brief guided meditation, to help you to reconnect with your inner sun centre and feel reconnected and grounded again. Enjoy.