Lazy Pessimism

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https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/may/30/jeremy-corbyn-david-dimbleby-rightwing-bias-british-newspapers

I heard a brilliant phrase today, from a Guardian article in which David Dimbleby comes out and criticises the British press for their extreme right wing bias and for blatantly discriminating against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn has stood consistently for social justice in every speech and every act he has performed since taking up the mantle of leader and has been pilloried for it, in the press, by the Tories and even from the right wing of his own party.

LIke millions of people, the cynicism of politics has been getting me down for many years, the shift to the right, the shift away from social justice and social care to greed and self interest, the cruelty of central cuts to health, the erosion of human rights, the encouragement of racist narratives around immigration and terrorism, the denial of the environmental unsustainability of how we are living as a society and as a species.

Within all of this, Jeremy Corbyn has surfaced as a complete anomaly, with his spotless record on social justice and human rights, he has demonstrated he has consistently stood on the right side of history.  Regardless of your political stance,  no one can deny his integrity to living his own values and beliefs, including the creation of an inclusive democracy in which everyone has a voice, as evidenced by the Labour pre election manifesto which was co-created with party members and affiliated interest groups.

That he has been consistently ridiculed for this has baffled me.  Why would you so viciously criticise someone who is clearly a good man?   Disagreement is fine, but the relentless character assisination of someone who is plainly of good character and who wants the best for everyone has been hard to watch, and hard to understand.

But then, in the phrase ‘lazy pessimism’  I started to twig …

This phrase perfectly sums up the attitude, not just of many politicians, but of many members of the public who have lost faith in the ideals about justice, fairness, equality, care and   citizenship which formed the post war consensus and led to universal rights to health, education and the welfare state.  In fact, more than this, when we meet someone now who espouses these values we see them as extreme, or possibly mentally unbalanced.

Jeremy Corbyn is doing nothing more than standing for the values we signed up to after the second world war and led to the biggest flourishing of British society ever seen summed up in the 1960’s phrase ‘Britain never had it so good’ .    But in 2017, following more than 30 years of moving further and further to a right wing ideology and the erosion of those universal rights, we are no longer community, no longer caring concerned citizens, we are no longer trying to make the world a better place.

We are, at best,  surviving, trying to be the fittest in order to not be pulled down, trying to get what we can from an ever decreasing pool of resources and opportunities, watching those around us who are less able or less healthy, falling through the widening gaps the current ideology must inevitably create to feed the bottomless greed of the few.

There’s a wholesale amnesia, a denial of what is really taking place, and Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few people who is calling this out and really offering a choice – asking us to be conscious about what we really want our life, community and society to be about. We know what he stands for, but what do we stand for?

And this is not just Britain, on a global scale we are seeing the ravaging effects of our failure to stem the unrelenting greed of the few to amass all of the power and resources available at the expense of the many and of the planet which is seen as an infinite resource to be pillaged, rather than a delicate eco system on the brink of collapse.

And so when an older person shrugs and says ‘oh well, that’s just how it is these days’ . When a young person laughs at the idea that they should consider making a contribution to their local community.  When senior managers implements cuts without consultation. When we have pangs of conscience about our consumption of resources but refuse to allow that feeling to guide our behaviour.  When we are sceptical about the motives of those who stand for social justice, environmental change, a different way of doing politics, we are no better than the politicians who sneer at each other every day in Westminster.

We have become habitual cynics, or ‘lazy pessimists’ .

What are the implications of living the identity of the habitual cynic or lazy pessimist on our lives, our families, our communities, our organisations, our society and our planet?

I want to touch briefly here on the incredible work of Otto Scharmer and his team in MIT through ULAB – a free global participatory education platform that offers a model for co-producing social and organisational change through working in ways that are co-operative, empathic and intelligent about how we bring change about in an era of constant uncertainty and complexity.

The ‘U’ is a diagram for the journey we must take if we want change to be inclusive, effective, sustainable and beneficial for all.  It requires we start at the top of the U by acknowledging our own beliefs, biases and agendas about the challenge at hand.

It invites us to connect with all parties – our colleagues, our fellow community members, service users, managers, leaders – anyone who has a shared stake in the problem or challenge in question and to adopt an attitude of inquiry with those people, holding back our own needs, feelings, beliefs, our own habits of judgement and our desire to fix or solve prematurely.

The learning tools for this journey are about deep listening, action inquiry, objective study and holding space for something new to emerge from the group process, to respect the intelligence of the collective and trust that what emanates from it will be greater than the sum of its parts.

This involves refusing to take control, refusing to dominate and lead from the front. It requires trust and  the skills of collaborative leadership , a co-productive way of working quite different from our current paradigm of ‘charismatic leaders’ who masterfully take us forward with a powerful vision we can buy into .

In the U journey, we co-create the vision, we surface our most deeply held values and we design our actions in congruence with them, together.   And we learn from what we do.  We know we don’t know.  We try things out.  We evaluate how well our actions are serving us.  We look honestly at the impact of what we are doing and change it if necessary.  We are open, curious, and motivated not by winning, or dominating, or status or being right, or by fear of failure.  We are motivated by our shared and earnest desire to make things work and to make things better.  We are the opposite of cynical and pessimistic, we are open, we are willing to work together, across divides if necessary.

This is not pie in the sky.   Millions of people have taken and are taking part in ULAB across 170 countries across the globe with thousands of projects or ‘prototypes’ being co-created which are about everything from new ways of delivering public services to how to ensure a clean water supply to a remote African village.

This is not media worthy of course, because our press prefers stories of ‘lazy pessimism’. We are encouraged to see hope, optimism and idealism as niaive, and people who are altruistic, socially engaged and differently motivated as strange or suspect.

In ULAB Otto talks about the voices of judgement, fear and cynicism which get in the way of us opening our minds and hearts to exploring options and considering different social possibilities.

How does this relate to my coaching?

Well, first of all it absolutely chimes with the work I have been doing on ‘values’ as the gateway point to action.  When we are in touch with our values, we know what it feels like to move towards or away from them and can design our actions accordingly, in line with our true purpose, our conscience if you will.  Described in dictionary.com as the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action’

Secondly it resonates with my personal mission which is to work with an awareness of how the actions of individuals impact on the wider system – be that a relationship, a family, an organisation, a community or wider society.  What we think and what we do has impact.  We need to see that this is so and choose what we do in alignment with what we really believe to be important.

The inner and outer voices of cynicism and judgement – usually motivated by fear – are what gets in the way of us connecting with our true values and acting on them.  Our beliefs in our own helplessness, or in the pointlessness of trying to have any affect on any aspect of life are what keep us powerless, passive and locked into ‘lazy pessimism’.

I am very interested to see how this election plays out as the values of both leaders – Corbyn and May – are held up to the light so we can see what they are really made of.  I feel excited that something unexpected could happen, and wonder if a new kind of society, a new way of sharing power and involving people in decision making is possible.

I guess the example of ULAB has shown that it is possible, on a community or organisational scale.  How amazing if Jeremy can pull this off, in the face of such adversity.  To think, in 8 days time we might be on the brink of a new society which values all people and invites us to make a small sacrifice of comfort for the wider benefit.  That is a society I want to live in.

Compass Coaching

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Some time ago I published a blog post called Find Your True North which gives a flavour of the ‘compass approach’ to coaching I’ve been developing these last few years.   In a nutshell, the compass approach alludes to the idea that we all have an inner compass, call it our drive, our motivation, our values, our desires, our intent-   we are consciously or unconsciously drawn in a particular direction.

The idea that we have choice over which direction we go in, but often get pulled off course by our own unconscious patterns,  is central to my coaching approach.

In life, we may find ourselves drawn towards unhelpful and unhealthy people and situations, or notice that we have made detrimental choices , almost automatically and without thinking, until we notice the consequences, often too late.  This is auto pilot behaviour, like the way we put on our shoes, or brush our teeth, there are many things we do habitually and mindlessly which are useful, because they save us time and effort.   But there are other things we do simply because we have always done them, or because we have developed patterns of avoidance or tendencies  to engage in unhelpful behaviours when triggered by stress, worry, pain or uncertainty.

These patterns, or ‘loops’ don’t get us anywhere except back where we started feeling worse than ever before and with proliferating negative thoughts to keep us cycling back into the negative behaviour spiral, unless of course we press pause…. and notice where we are.

My insights here are drawn from the work of Mark Webster on ‘loops’ as taught to me by my ACT trainer Ian Tomlinson.   The ‘Matrix’ – the cool sounding name for how we map the thoughts, feelings and sensations which drive us into ‘fix it’ behaviours which create these ‘go nowhere’ loops – is the primary tool I use in coaching to help clients to see clearly how their mind is continually generating problematic thoughts and problematizing authentic feelings which create pain, discomfort and confusion.  No one wants to sit with pain and discomfort, so its natural that we try and move away from these thoughts and feelings by avoiding and distracting or fixing them through a million strategies which may work for a time, but ultimately bring us back to where we started.

Our compass, instead of taking us where we want to go, leads us up and down and around the same old well trodden path and back exactly to where we started except each time we are more stuck, more frustrated and the thoughts and feelings we tried to fix or get away from are still there, in fact they may  be further amplified.

in ACT a metaphor often used to describe this process is the idea of attempting to dig yourself out of a hole with a spade.  You can try a different spade, or even a selection of spades but all you are doing is digging yourself in deeper.

So what can we do instead?

The solution to breaking out of old negative patterns lies in pressing the pause button and developing awareness of what we are doing and how it is impacting on our lives.  Not so we can beat ourselves up or judge and criticise ourselves, but so we can increase our self awareness – the first step towards being able to make a different choice.

Coming into contact with our thoughts and feelings and allowing them to be there is a key component of the compass approach – think of it as discovering where you actually are, as opposed to where you think you are,  or where you think you should be on the map of your life as it stands right now.

This is the essence of mindfulness, to become aware and fully present with yourself, to notice and name where you are, what’s going on, the thoughts and feelings which are continually coming and going.  And to accept them, instead of struggling with them.  Acceptance doesn’t mean tolerating or putting up with.  If something is unhelpful or not working, then you can work to change it.  But the starting point for that is to notice, accept, open up and make room for the thoughts and feelings and allow them to be there. To let them come and go like clouds in the sky or cars going past your house.

To change our response or ‘loop’ we need something more powerful than these auto pilot behaviours to motivate us.   This is the second part of the compass approach – again drawn from ACT theory.   The thing that is more powerful than our habitual unhelpful behaviours, is our values.

Values are the cornerstone of ACT and core to my coaching work.  You can think of your values as your ‘true North’.     When you are clear about your values, you know which direction you are pointing in.  You know which way is ‘home’.  It’s normal in life to get pulled away from our values – we all know what that feels like – but when we are really clear about our values and strongly and passionately and wholeheartedly connected to them, we can ‘recalibrate’ and get back on course with some minor adjustments to our route, rather than a complete change to our itinerary.

What I love about the compass metaphor, is that it is easy to feel that you have your own inner compass.  For me it sits in my solar plexus, I imagine the compass needle almost like a sensor, feeling for the right choice, the right direction to go in.  For others it sits around the heart, or below the navel.    Once you have that sense of an inner compass, you can notice where you are pointing.  Are you pointing towards your true values or away?  If you are pointing away, then the chances are you are engaging in some unhelpful ‘away’ behaviours which are taking you further away rather than closer to your goals, intentions, your ‘true north’.

For example, if I have a strong value around ‘Health’ , lets say it is something I am very passionate about and care about deeply, but when I get stressed or over committed, I start to move away from that value and towards some unhelpful behaviours.  Maybe I eat too much sugar or junk food or maybe I don’t exercise, don’t get enough sleep.  I create a loop as I start to feel worse the negative thoughts come up : ‘ You’re hopeless’ ‘You have no discipline’ ‘You are so lazy’ and so on.

These thoughts are so unpleasant that I try to avoid them by sitting on the couch watching movies or time sucking on social media.  Or maybe I make lists of ‘undoability’ that I have no intention of following.  I might just eat a packet of biscuits while I’m at it and why not cancel my gym membership for good measure.   Within days/hours/minutes I once again start to feel bad that I am living in such an unhealthy way, I make new resolutions, I join a new gym, I throw out all the biscuits and set my self the challenge of transforming my health within a ridiculously short period of time.  Of course I spectacularly fail, and then I feel worse than ever.  I order a pizza and start sharing pictures of dancing dogs on Facebook.

But if I tap into my compass, I can notice that I am moving away from what is important to me rather than towards these things and notice the consequences of that.  I can ask myself what will my life look like in a few months or a few years time if I keep on going in this direction? If I keep moving away from my values?    The answer to that may give me pause and the opportunity to ‘recalibrate’ and start to move towards my chosen direction – be it health, family, intimacy, creativity -whatever is genuinely important to me.

Quite simply, using the compass allows you to notice that ‘you go where you’re pointing’.  And that a tiny shift now can make a massive difference further down the road.

It is therefore not necessary to overhaul your whole life and personality to make desired changes.  It is the small genuine shifts you make now, the micro adjustments which will result in transformational changes down the road.

The important thing is to choose the road.

Where are you headed?  Is it where you want to go?  Why not pause and tune into what your heart and gut are saying is most important to you?  The values that represent your inner compass, your ‘true north’.

What is Coaching? And Why Do I Need It?

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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”   – Aristotle

In an ideal world everyone would have food, shelter, nurture, fundamental human rights –  and a coach.

After Maslow’s needs for the basics in life have been met, the challenges become less about physical survival and more about what do I want to do with my life? How can I fulfil my potential?  How can I deal with the issues I’m struggling with around work, relationships, money and health?  How can I progress in my life and career?  What are my development needs? How can I grow into the best possible version of myself?

It is a privilege to be asking ‘How can I fulfil my potential?’ and yet, being in a position to move beyond basic survival towards what Maslow called ‘self actualisation’ and what Carl Jung called ‘individuation’ means you can think past your own immediate needs and make a contribution to something beyond yourself, be it a family, a workplace or school, a community, a  cause, the environment, or just another human being who is nurtured or inspired by you.

There is no doubt that having a coach accelerates your growth and builds your capacity for development and achievement  in many important ways that would be difficult to achieve on your own.

First of all a coach is skilled in working with you to sift through the storytelling, the tangents, the red herrings and the prevarications to get to the heart of what really matters to you and what you want to work on in coaching.

Then the coach can help to construct a contract around that which will form the container for the work, holding it all together, keeping it on track, making sure you stay focused on the goal and working on the issues – the one’s you’ve identified, and others which might surface along the way.

The coach is skilled in listening, maybe like you have never been listened to before – with openness, respect, encouragement, compassion, with no judgement and with real depth and presence.

Coaching is about working in the present with an eye to the future but with the main focus on what can be done now to move you closer to where you want to be, what actions can you take now to get you to your goals and overcome the obstacles which are getting in the way.

A good coach will keep you orientated in the present and ask you powerful and challenging questions to stimulate thought, open up awareness and generate insight in the service of the goals you are working towards.

They will encourage you to identify actions you can take in the service of your goals that reflect your truest values and hold you accountable for achieving them, working with you on any barriers you encounter as you try.

A good coach makes no judgements or assumptions about you, but instead ‘awaits the arrival of your highest future possibility’ ( Otto Scharmer) seeing in you the human being you can become, not the one who just pissed them off at the staff meeting or who spilt red wine on the rug at the last family gathering.

Coaching is great. I would recommend it to almost anyone.  It focuses you, challenges you, motivates you, inspires you to think differently and to try new things, it makes you more reflective, mindful and self aware, it broadens your horizons and encourages you to push yourself, it gives you the courage to be assertive, to go beyond your comfort zone and it gives you permission to bring your full authentic self into every aspect of your live and work, harnessing your talents, skills and creativity while working on the parts of yourself that cause you problems, those unhelpful thoughts and difficult feelings.

It gives you tools you can use and concepts you can apply to how you respond to challenges and opportunities. It moves you forward in unexpected and surprising ways.  It makes molehills out of mountains and then you can learn to stop being a mole altogether and come out into the light finally.  It gives you a sat nav to get out of spaghetti junction and back on to the open road and the courage to keep going even when you are not sure where you are.

I would not be where I am today, growing this business and excited about how my coaching and creative projects might prosper,  had I not received professional coaching at key points in my career.

If you would like to explore what coaching can do for you and hear more about the kinds of coaching I offer, please be in touch in the first instance by completing the contact form below and I will get back to you so arrange a phone or Skype call at the earliest opportunity .   This 20 minute discovery session is free of charge and if by the end of the call you decide not to go forward with coaching there will be no cost and no obligation.

If you do decide to go forward with coaching, well in the words of Edina Monsoon ‘Absolutely Fabulous Darling!’  I can’t wait to start working with you!

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Living With Intent – or How Cool is Malika Chopra?

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to discover the wonderful Malika Chopra, but I am already a huge fan having checked out her Ted talk, her website intent.com and her fairly recent book ‘Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose , Peace and Joy’ ( great title!)

As the daughter of Deepak Chopra, you could say she has her work cut out for her attempting to follow in his footsteps as the world’s next mindfulness guru – contraversially in female form, and speaking this time to a younger generation of media savvy millenials and trying to balance motherhood and mindfulness and the work of getting her own on line company up and running .  Intent.com is such a great idea, Malika Chopra is in tune with the zeitgeist in creating a place for people to connect and inspire each other around the values and goals that really matter to them.

And so I found her honesty utterly disarming and humbling , both in the Ted talk above and in the blog post below, when she talks about how the stress of motherhood and entrepreneurship, a cycle of endless stress and demands, leads her to sugar addiction and to give up meditation, the practice she first trained in aged 9 and is promoting to the rest of the world.

To me , this is more inspiring and motivating than a guru who is exemplary in their every word and deed.  Malika is completely human, like all of us, she gets stressed and caught up in the difficult thoughts and feelings, and moves away from her values, the things that really matter to her – her health, her peace, her balance, her purpose the person she wants to be for herself, for her family, and for the world – because she has a genuine global calling, you get that from her website – check it out it’s worth a look.

As is this blog post below where she shares the balance wheel her and her father created to help her to keep a sense of values and priorities while attempting to navigate the stresses of every day life.

http://intentblog.com/living-with-intent-6-steps-to-living-a-healthier-more-joyful-purposeful-life/#more-285993

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Give it a try, think about these different areas of your life and ask yourself are you suffering, surviving or thriving in these areas?  And to what degree?  a 1 or a 2 would be you are really suffering right now, and would suggest that area of your life needs urgent attention, whereas maybe a 3 , while not ideal, offers the potential to move from suffering to surviving, a chance to stabilise, something to build on.

Or maybe you notice that you are generally surviving give or take a point or two across all the areas in your life, things are ok, but perhaps hard going, unsatisfying or something missing that you need or want.  What would it take to move towatds thriving? what would that look like for you?

The areas where you are thriving give a strong indication that you are living authentically, in touch with your values, hitting at least some of your goals in those areas, there is development, purpose, growth, flow – here is a great opportunity to notice what it is that is making it so.  How can you sustain that state of thriving and well being?

Malika’s book goes into the power of intent in a lot more depth, take a look its worth reading:

http://www.mallikachopra.com/books-2/

I also really like the way she crafts personal values into intention statements, there are hundreds of examples on her website and an invitation to create your own.

What Can You Do On intent.com?

As a community member of intent.com, you can:

  • Share your intents with other community members.
  • Receive support and comments on your intents.
  • Share why it is important to you, how others can help you and what is your inspiration for the intent?
  • Show your support for other people’s intents.
  • Adopt other people’s intents that you can relate to
  • Sync your account with Twitter and Facebook so that your intents are automatically shared with your Twitter and Facebook friends.
  • Reaffirm you intents everyday so you stay on top of your goals.
  • Track the intents that you completed or accomplished.
  • Add inspirational or informational photos and videos to your intent.

Mallika Chopra shares her own intent:   “My intent is to connect with others by sharing and listening to each other’s stories.”

I really like Malika’s road map to living with intent.  It feels very linked to the work I have been doing recently around ACT ( Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) which emphasises mindful pause and acting on deeply held values.

  • INCUBATE: Quiet your mind to tap into your deepest intentions; see where this leads.
  • NOTICE: Become mindful of your thoughts and actions and pay attention to what they tell you about what gives you meaning and a sense of purpose – and look for signs that can point you towards your truth.
  • TRUST: Have confidence in your inner knowing – and in the messages the universe sends you – and allow that knowledge to guide you forward.
  • EXPRESS: Write down your intentions; say them out loud or share them with others to fully embrace them and help you move ahead in your journey.
  • NURTURE: Be gentle with yourself as you try to find your way. Intention isn’t always a straightforward path, just like life, and giving yourself opportunities to try – and fail – is often part of, and even crucial to, the process.
  • TAKE ACTION: Once you’ve identified an intent, or even multiple ones, don’t sit and wait for it to magically manifest; instead take the practical steps that can make each become a reality. It may be easiest to choose one intent first and set short-term goals to help you get started.

So go ahead and quiet your mind so you can incubate your deepest intentions, pay attentjon to what comes up for you and trust your own process.  Express what is going on, journal your thoughts, intentions and nurture them, make space for them and then – shizz boom kapow!  Take action – even if it is just a small step, move purposefully towards what you care about , the things which make your life rich and meaningful.

“Every family has its own unique song. Notice what yours is, and sing it loudly and proudly.”
Mallika Chopra, Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy    

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

“For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully”    from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Can I just come out right now and say how in love I am with Tara Brach?   Her book ‘Radical Acceptance’ changed my life when I first came across it in 2011.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/45736350/Radical-Acceptance-Embracing-Your-Life-With-the-Heart-of-a-Buddha-by-Tara-Brach-5-Star-Review

I was really struggling with deep seated feelings of unworthiness at that time,  and her description of ‘the trance of unworthiness’ and her own honesty and vulnerability in sharing her own painful journey to self acceptance moved me to tears.

I didn’t understand, until I read this book, the link between self acceptance, self esteem and self care.  Or that mindfulness was key to self acceptance.

Since then, mindfulness has become an important part of my everyday life.  From noticing my own thinking, to allowing myself to sit with uncomfortable feelings, the work of constantly trying to bring a kind and curious attention to the tosh that constantly fills up my head is both nourishing and dementing.

In recent years, mindfulness has become an essential aspect of my  coaching and in 2016 I began training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) , a mindfulness based approach to human behaviour that works really well with my mode of coaching.  A key aspect of ACT is the importance of noticing and naming our thoughts and getting ‘unstuck’ in our unhelpful thinking.  Another key is to stop avoiding our feelings and just feel them.  Both of these principles or approaches are core to the work of ‘radical acceptance’.

By  noticing  and defusing from our own unhelpful thoughts, and by feeling, owning and accepting our true feelings, we can become more present with all of our experience, no matter how uncomfortable and find a place of quiet strength and resilience from which to go forward in our chosen direction, no matter what is going on inside us and around us.  When we do this with compassion and without judgement, we can move away from self criticism, self negation and self harm and towards self love and self care.  Listen to Tara, she says it beautifully ….

Paying attention in the moment to my inner and outer experience is something I am starting to do more naturally, but the habit of a daily meditation practice is taking longer to establish.  For the next few weeks my goal is to just sit and meditate for 15 or 20 minutes a day.

To help me stay focused and connected I’m going to be using some of Tara Brach’s amazing meditation pod casts which focus on mindfulness of breath,  the senses and body sensations to bring you to a place of  presence and aliveness, a place of feeling feelings and noticing the thoughts that are coming and going with compassion and without judgement.

Watch this mindful space for progress updates!

Tara’s podcasts and guided meditations are free to listen to or download from her site, and they’re fab, I highly recommend you check them out      https://www.tarabrach.com/

‘Meditation – It’s Not What You Think’       –    Tara Brach

No Cosmic Vending Machine

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“Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t”.                                                                                                                     –  Lucille Ball

Creating the life you want isn’t about making a wish list and waiting for the universe to deliver  wealth and success to your door in a basket. As David Myers once famously said,  ‘there is no cosmic vending machine’.   Expecting some mystical force to single you out for unbridled good fortune while all around you are experiencing varying degrees of suffering would seem a tad egocentric, and more than a little out of touch with how reality actually works.

Why should you or I be specially selected for bliss, or abundance, or safety, or success, while others are unjustly imprisoned or trapped under falling bombs, or closer to home, experiencing relationship breakdown, unemployment, ill health, bereavement or some other challenging life event.

In fact ‘asking the universe’ for anything would seem to be a pretty pot luck method for moving through life.  Whatever your spiritual orientation, there is a big difference in acknowledging a higher power or universal intelligence, and expecting it to give you a promotion when the global ice caps are melting.

Of course, everyone likes special treatment, but to expect it on any consistent basis from anyone, let alone a god or spirit or some undefined force called the universe is pretty unreasonable when you think about it, and pretty non accepting of life in general, which inevitably deals out a mixture of happiness and sadness, joy and grief, pleasure and discomfort to most of us over the course of our lives.

And yet, there is a way to achieve genuine happiness and well being, and to become successful at life on your own terms.  It doesn’t involve magical thinking, it involves starting where you are and working with what you’ve got to take the first steps towards your most valued goals and desires.

By starting with where you are , and connecting deeply with what is most important to you in life,  you can start to move surely towards your most valued goals by learning tools and techniques to help you to deal with the inner and outer obstacles which may get in the way of your progress.

Shizz coaching supports you in becoming more mindful and self aware, and in using that mindful awareness to see and sense more of what is going on for you and how you might be helping or hindering yourself in your process.    Expect a good few ‘aha’! and ‘oho’! moments, as well as some ‘hmmmm… very interesting’ ones and more than a couple of ‘oh ffs’s’ !!! as you gain insight into your uniquely adorable approach to getting in your own way.

You are invited to get in touch with your thoughts, feelings, ideas, assumptions and use your personal process to create your own framework for how you live, love and lead.  If you thought you were stuck with your dementing and disempowering life long habits of thought and behaviour, then ‘get the flags oot!’ as me and my pal used to say at school , because you are most certainly not.  You have massive power over your life, and it’s all about how you use your mind differently to help you move towards what you truly value and care about.

Like a computer, you can upgrade your software,  improve your running system, and start to reprogramme yourself for shizzness.

That will take a bit of self reflection, and some discomfort as you recognise the unhelpful thoughts which have been controlling your actions and the difficult feelings you have been hiding from behind a giant bag of crisps*, but as you become more aware and sit with the discomfort, you realise thoughts and feelings are not good or bad, and they are nothing to do with crisps*, they are just thoughts and  feelings , like welcome friends and unwanted visitors, they come and they go, like cars going past your house.  It is possible to move forward and make choices about how you want to live and what you want to do with your time, even in the face of heavy thoughts and feelings,  the shizz approach to life and learning will help you to do just that…

 

crisps

 A potato chip (American English) or crisp (British English) is a thin slice of potato that has been deep fried, baked, kettle-cooked, or popped until crunchy. Potato chips are commonly served as a snack, side dish, or appetizer. The basic chips are cooked and salted; additional varieties are manufactured using various flavorings and ingredients including herbs, spices, cheeses, other natural flavors, artificial flavours and additives

Find Your True North

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The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions. It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe. And it is the one most accurate symbol of you. Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration    

When I’m coaching, I often ask clients to tune into the idea of their ‘inner compass’. The part of them that can feel for what is right and sense the way ahead.

If you have been coached, or have taken part in a personal or professional development programme you may have been asked to identify your ‘values’ and to explore the extent to which you feel you are living your values in your life and work.

With Shizz coaching programmes, connecting deeply with your values is at the heart of the work. Knowing yourself, knowing who you are, what you stand for, what is really important to you deep in your heart, that is your compass, your true North.

If you can align yourself to that chosen direction of travel,  you will  be always be going the right way, even though you may not know the territory.

This is not as superficial as picking words and phrases from a list or reciting words like ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ without really delving down and reflecting on what really matters to you,  what really motivates and moves you, what is your life really about?

Having a true sense of what is important and what it feels like when you are acting in alignment with your values means you can become almost unshakeable, even when things around you are chaotic and uncertain, or challenging and painful, you can stay on course, you can be flexible, but still constant, open to experience, but also resilient.

The situations you are facing may be completely new and unfamiliar, or they may be the same old patterns that have surfaced again and again.  Either way, calibrating your course to follow your chosen values, your true North, sets you securely on your future path, even if you have no idea what your final destination might be.

Tuned into your inner compass, you can recalibrate at any time, make tiny shifts now and then that will make a massive difference to where you end up later on.   We are often overwhelmed by all the changes we want to make, the inner compass technique reminds us that even the tiniest shift can be profound and lead to transformational positive change further down the track.

“Your inner knowing is your only true compass”.                                                                                                                                       – Joy Page