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How to make better decisions: are you aligned with your values?

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The more I delve into great decision-making, the more I realise the importance of alignment and self-awareness. If you want to make better decisions: know thyself!

It’s easy to think that a great decision is a choice of the best option available to us: “what do I think this might be?” But great choices take into account so much more than just good ideas.

In the corporate setting: they don’t just get the best immediate result for the bottom line or take into account your financial interests or marketing plan.

To make better decisions, find your compass.

There are many challenges to making great decisions, but some of them can be avoided with the right tools.  Most of the tools I mention are ones you already know. Hopefully, you’ve already done this work. Better yet, you update and view this regularly.  These tools to knowing yourself are values, passions & vision.

If you don’t have some of this work done before you need it, making a great decision in a time of crisis is much harder, requires greater thought, and will need more effort.

to make better decisions, know thyselfWhen, on the other hand, you already know yourself, you bring more emotional intelligence to the decision-making process. Hopefully, before you start, you already have identified and regularly work with your personal (or corporate) values, your passions, your vision, and your goals and dreams.

Any decision should not only meet the criteria of being a great idea that is well thought through but should also fulfil your wants and desires, giving priority to what is truly important to you. Do your decisions reflect the importance of your relationships and connection to others? Finally, to make better decisions, you need to consider your needs, motivations, safety and security, and even your identity.

These tools ensure you are true to yourself in every decision you make. They allow you to live in authenticity and alignment.

There are three words that I want you to keep in mind as you look at your personal alignment and great decision-making:

  1. compassion
  2. creativity, and
  3. courage

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The challenges of decision-making:

Finding balance

There are many challenges in decision-making. One that we often overlook is that we focus exclusively on the decision before us, rather than recognising that it’s not just about this one issue. What might look like a potentially small decision will ripple through our life.

If you say “yes” to this – what are you saying no to?

Show me where you spend your time & money, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are!

Nonetheless, in a lack of awareness and mindfulness, you make on-the-spot decisions, failing to take into account all the impact this might have in your life.  Perhaps you say yes to overtime, thinking about the financial benefits and yet forgetting your promise to yourself to practice self-care.

When you truly know yourself, you consider the overall impact of even the small decisions.

Confusing problem-solving and decision-making

I’ve written on this challenge before, how we often try to solve the problems and challenges that will arise if we make a certain choice and therefore fail to decide.

If you get caught up trying to solve the “how”, you may fail to decide on the “what”. In that indecision and anxiety, you do not decide at all.  With this lack of commitment to an outcome, you fail to overcome the obstacles.

Living up to other people’s expectations

Many of us, especially women, are people-pleasers. When faced with a choice and decision to make, we give too much weight and credence to other people’s expectations of us and “I should”. Perhaps the path of least resistance is to give in, choosing in favour of their wants and desires, rather than your own.

This is particularly easy if you don’t actually know what you want.  If you haven’t got a clear idea of your vision and passions, you won’t take time to consider the long-term repercussions of a choice for yourself.

Today, the invitation is to do the work and start with what really matters.

To make better decisions: start with what really matters.

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If you truly know yourself, you will find your compass within. Your self-awareness and mindful consideration allow you to make great decisions.

Ask these three basic questions:

  1. What are your values?
  2. What are your passions?
  3. And what is your vision for your life?

A variation of these three questions works just as well in a corporate setting: what are the company’s values, what is the vision of the company and how does this translate into the goals and objectives?

Every decision that you make – no matter how big or how small, whether it’s to participate in the choir or it’s to change careers – should align with these three things.

If you don’t already have your values and your passions and your vision identified, how do you know that the decision you’re making is the best possible one for your life? How do you measure or categorize what is a good or a bad decision?

Values are the starting point of knowing what is important. For some people, this may be family, honesty, ambition and success. For others, it will be adventure, experience, authenticity and curiosity. They are personal and intrinsic to each one of us.

If you’re interested in identifying your values, complete your details and choose submit to get the worksheet and instructions.

Thank you for choosing to work on identifying your values - Identifying Values

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Your passions:

I have to thank Bonnie Muenz for helping me identify my passions, and then reminding me each year to check and update them! These are the aspects of my life that I want to pour my energy into and it takes many forms.

Simply put, my five passions are:

  1. building a legacy,
  2. financial freedom,
  3. travel & adventure,
  4. spiritually grounded, and
  5. health and fitness.

Each of these passions has multiple tiers and levels. This blog post, for example, is tied to building my legacy and impacting the lives of people around the world.

Likewise, I’ve learnt in the school of hard knocks that if I am not spiritually grounded, I am not the best version of myself. If I ignore my health and fitness, I don’t have the energy and stamina to lead the life I want to have.

Knowing your passions helps you choose your priorities.  

Your vision and direction

The final question of inner alignment is your vision. There are many different ways of approaching your vision:

  • your vision board
  • a vision statement
  • mission and vision
  • plans and goals.

In the end, it’s not about how you create it. What is important is that you have it, because it provides you with a compass pointing you in a particular direction that you want to grow.

With each decision that you are faced with, ask yourself whether it keeps you on course or takes you off course.

Does this decision help me build the road that I want to travel?

The specifics of decision-making

Only after you have the clarity of direction and a compass, can you get into the specifics of decision-making.

1. To make better decisions – always start with the heart:

No matter what the decision is, acknowledge your wants, dreams and desires. Forget, for a moment, about rational limitations and what “can” or “cannot” be done.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?

What is your ideal, desired outcome from the decision before you?

Allow your compassion – for yourself as well as for others – to guide your choices. Take into account your feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams. What would you choose to create an optimal outcome?

Consider your values, your passions and your vision. What guidance and wisdom can they provide you with?

2. Create opportunities, possibilities and imagine

Taking a blank page, allow yourself to brainstorm, mind-map or dump ideas. Taking into consideration the facts and considerations that you know, what options present themselves?

Allow yourself to think outside the box. Also consider who you might ask for guidance, support, mentoring or ideas. Do you know someone who has done this before or something similar? Who do you know that might have better ideas?

This is a moment to consider whether you need professional advice, such as a lawyer, accountant, financial adviser, doctor, career adviser, entrepreneur, scientist, architect, or another professional that has experience of the kind you are looking for.  Who might have more ideas to offer you alternatives?

3. Remember your needs

In any decision, remember to take care of your needs. It is not enough that you decide in favour of your wants and desires or that you choose a good idea. If you overlook your needs (professional, financial, emotional, security and safety, or even growth), you will not feel fully satisfied with the outcome.

Allow yourself time to consider all of your needs, not just the most obvious ones.

4. Replace expectations and “I should” with compassion

A source of great unhappiness and lack of fulfilment is living up to other people’s expectations, rather than living life authentically. A beautiful solution to this, taking into account the wants, desires and needs of those that you care about is to replace their expectations with compassion.

If you truly loved yourself and them: what would you choose?

What outcome provides the greatest joy and satisfaction to everyone involved?

Compassion allows you to choose tough love when it’s required. Rather than feeling railroaded and giving in, proactively choose to love yourself and others.  How do your choices reflect how much you care?

Compassion will allow you to be true to your values, passions and goals. To make better decisions, seek the option that aligns with who you are.

5. Choose to perform on your stage: priorities

Closely tied to expectations and pressure from others is getting roped into performing on other people’s stages. If you don’t have clarity about your passions and vision, you will accept working to fulfil another person’s vision.

Even professionally and in business, you need to be clear about what business you are willing to let go of to focus your attention and energies on growth in the direction that you have planned. Plans may change, but this should be intentional. Otherwise, you find yourself spread too thin.

It’s easy to get exhausted and find yourself with a short fuse because you are struggling to juggle too many responsibilities.

When you are invited to participate on someone else’s stage, look clearly at your values, passions and vision. Does this project, opportunity or request take you closer or further from your path?

For example, one of your values might be connection. Will your connections and relationships grow if you say “yes”? Are you performing on your stage while supporting and helping them, or are you putting your priorities on the back burner while you assist?

Quite often, being asked to participate with another person will allow you to stay on your path. But be clear whose stage you will be performing on.  Pour your time, compassion and energy into the right places.

6. Be authentic

The final question to ask yourself in any decision is “is this who I am?”. The best decision aligns with who you are and want to become.

Sometimes, we feel that a decision has us between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes, we have to choose the more painful option, because it aligns better, in the long term, with who we are and want to become. The easy way out is not always the right choice.

To make better decisions: exercise compassion, creativity and courage

Every decision you make gives you an opportunity to exercise your compassion, creativity and courage. To make better decisions, do the inner work that allows you to know yourself. Then, you can courageously choose your path of alignment.

Who knows where this adventure called life might lead you.

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introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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Outside your Comfort Zone: how to find freedom

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One of the challenges I consistently encounter is that the restrictions of a diet allow you to ignore underlying issues. It doesn’t matter whether those are emotions, health issues or just relationships that need attention.

Following someone else’s rules hides the fact that you seek out food as a panacea for life’s challenges.

  • Are you feeling angry? Stuff it down by eating something!
  • Need comforting? Grab the ice cream.
  • Are you feeling tired? Scoff down an energy bar or drink.

But, are you living if you are ignoring underlying issues? If you’re angry: what are you frustrated or feeling powerless to change? When you need comforting, who could you call? Do you need a hug or to focus on loving yourself? If you feel tired, do you need more rest and better sleep? Is a change of lifestyle actually in order so that you no longer feel constantly tired?

If you escape the confines of diet, size and weight, you begin to experience life with all the highs and lows. Most of us never develop this level of self-awareness. It’s an uncomfortable place to explore, requiring that we dive into each of our triggers and emotional responses.

What does emotional eating allow you to hide from view?

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Habits & lifestyles

We are not merely human beings – we are human ‘becomings ‘. Each habit that we adopt, whatever it might be, forms, and shapes our future self.  Eating is a daily practice that shapes us, not just physically!

Exercising choice when you eat

Every time we sit down to eat, we face choices.

Awareness and mindfulness

The first is whether we will practice awareness and mindfulness of our body, our environment and our internal state (emotional or mental).

Practising awareness can be uncomfortable if we customarily move through life focused on stimulus, rather than our internal response.  This includes noticing whether we are hungry or whether we are eating for any other reason.

If we are not hungry, will we still choose to eat? Or will we honour the message from our body and wait until it requires food?

How do you eat?

Secondly, we face a choice of how we eat.

We control our environment to some extent: will I choose to honour “rest and digest” or will I continue in a stimulated (fight & flight) zone of doing while trying to eat.

Our bodies do much better when we sit and dedicate time exclusively to eating because we send the subconscious message that it is time to rest and digest the food. The great thing about physical hunger – as opposed to a craving – is that we might decide not to eat yet in a state of activity.

Sometimes, it is better to wait until we can sit down to eat in peace and tranquillity. Will waiting thirty minutes or an hour mean that you are less stressed when you sit down to eat?

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What do you eat?

Thirdly, what will we eat?

Food should fill our senses and not just our stomach. It should be our nutrition and energy, as well as a source of joy and enjoyment. Do you enjoy how your food makes you feel: are you enjoying aroma, taste and texture? How does it make you feel thirty minutes or two hours later? Do you regret the choice later?

Our bodies regularly give us feedback about the food we choose. Feedback includes:

  • clarity of mind or foggy brain
  • lethargy and tiredness
  • energy levels
  • the ability (or not) to sleep deeply regularly
  • feeling crowded or full shortly after eating
  • gassiness or bloated
  • light and easy

Stop and get moving

Finally, we face the choice of when to stop eating and return to activity. This choice requires the same level of internal awareness that we started with.

  • Am I honouring my body by stopping my eating before feeling crowded or full? Have I listened to what my body has to say about “enough”?
  • How do I feel physically, emotionally and mentally?
  • Am I ready to get back to movement and activity, or do I need to rest for a few more minutes?

Every choice influences what we become

Our relationship with food is merely a reflection of our relationship with self. When you feel love and compassion for yourself, you make better choices for your body.

Do I choose to honour and respect myself in the way that I eat and drink?

The habit of how, when, and where we choose to eat impacts every aspect of life, including:

  • how productive you are
  • your energy levels after eating and while digesting
  • choices about exercise and movement
  • whether or not you can sleep deeply and well every night
  • the relationships that you have (do they have the same eating habits that you have?)
  • the activities that you can carry out.

All of your day-to-day choices impact your health and wellness.

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The challenge to get outside your comfort zone

One of the problems with comfort zones is that they become familiar. Take a moment now to note your comfort zone when it comes to food and eating. Do you sit down to eat, or are you eating on the run?

Are you comfortable following a diet that someone else has set, which controls things like:

  • portion size;
  • calorie intact;
  • types of food that you are allowed to eat; or
  • when you are allowed to eat.

One of the reasons that comfort zones work is that they allow us to be more effective and efficient. Great comfort zones will enable you to dive deeply into developing yourself.  As you work within your comfort zone, you grow – taller & with deeper roots.

The question is: are you growing and developing within this comfort zone that you’ve built?

“Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Caged-in by your comfort zone

What happens when nothing new is happening?

If we stay too long in any position, our muscles start to atrophy.  If your leg went to sleep while you were sitting down, you would get up and move around and shake it until it was completely awake and all the blood had come back to all nerves and movement was fluid once more.

Why would you not do this with your life?

At that point, ask yourself – am I still on the top of my game? Am I innovating in my life, health and well-being – moving with the changing climate & conditions?

When we have success (as we have when we start a new diet), there is the temptation to think we’ve done enough.  But is this keeping us on top of our health and getting to know yourself better?

The consequences of staying put

What happens if you stay on a diet? You atrophy.

It’s much like only doing one exercise or one workout. The muscles get used to that movement and stop developing. Change is often a good thing!

And if you manage to lose the weight you wanted (or you get bored or stop getting results), you go back to life as it was before the diet. Before you know it, you’ve started to put the weight back on and lose the physical conditioning that you had gained by being on the strict regime.

Nothing changed within.

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For the change to be effective: you have to change!

If you’ve lived continuously by someone else’s rules, when you stop, you find yourself in limbo – in a space that no longer works effectively.

If we are not living & developing, we are withering.   It doesn’t matter how big or how old the sequoia is in the forest – if it stops growing, it is dying!

Is it time to get to know yourself, your body and your triggers to grow beyond where you are?

Getting outside your comfort zone

Start by considering three words:

  • compassion,
  • creativity, and
  • courage.

If you lived with deep compassion for yourself and others in your life, what choices would you make about eating and drinking? How would you choose to love and respect your body each day?

Is the way that you are living life at the moment supporting your creativity? For example, if you overeat and are always tired and lethargic after a meal, is your creativity being stifled by brain fog? If you are living on a diet, are you feeling constantly hungry and unable to get in flow? How does your lifestyle support creativity in the ways that it shows up for you?

Finally, do you have the courage to love yourself as you are today? To truly get to know yourself in a way that allows you to make changes? What does moving forward with courage in your life look like?

To get outside your comfort zone, you will need to ditch the diet of the rules you’ve been living by and face the feelings about everything that comes up in life! If food was not available: what would you have to face?

This is where you will find your freedom to grow. It will be uncomfortable, but undoubtedly worth it.

Choosing opportunities – identify your vision and values.

If you want to ditch the diet, I’d suggest you start with identifying your values and vision. This creates the opportunity to be the best version of you – a human becoming!

The person that will change your life is you!

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If you want to live without rules, then you need a guiding light that you create.

  • What do you want?
  • Why do you want it?
  • How will you get it?

For me, for example, I want to be in excellent health because I have a 7-year-old daughter. I want to have the energy and physical strength to keep up with her in the years to come. I’m not looking to have a great beach body that others praise and admire: instead, I’m looking at stamina, health and well-being. That is my why, and it influences the questions of what and how I go about creating this.

If you take away the diet and restrictions: what do you want and why do you want it?

What do you want to have? be? do? create?

“Are you motivated? Are you coherent? Is your intention aligned? Are you feet, tongue, heart & wallet congruent?  That intention shines through.”

― Peter Guber

Use hunger as your compass.

There is no need to be afraid of feelings of hunger or cravings, especially when you learn to differentiate physical hunger (needing food and nutrients) from another hunger or craving.

Like any other emotion, hunger can be resourceful or unresourceful.

  • How will you choose to use your hunger? Do you let it guide your respect for yourself and your body?
  • Will you allow it to be a compass that shows you the way? Do you listen to what it shows you?
  • Are you hungry to create, to move or to have? Perhaps you’re hungry for knowledge and learning. On the hand, it might be a hunger to satisfy your curiosity.
  • What satisfies you in life?
  • What do you need in your life to have energy and vitality?

Support moving forward

Start by looking at who is supporting you. One of the reasons that diets and personal trainers work is because you have someone supporting you and providing you with accountability.

If you choose to live without a diet, you need that very same support and network that will allow you to discover yourself!

  • Which members of your family or friends can support you and help as you move through this?
  • Do you have a mentor or coach that will ask you the right questions?
  • Do you have a professional adviser to turn to when you lack information? This might be a nutritionist, dietician or even a health coach. They will think in terms of rules and diets (most likely), but explain to them what you are looking to create for yourself and find the right one that supports the journey.
  • How will you discover what you are hungry for?

As you move outside your comfort zone, regularly check that you are receiving the support you need.

Ready to move outside your comfort zone?

introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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How to ditch the diet for more love and respect

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There is only one expert in your body. YOU. 

A nutritionist can tell you how many calories a portion may have – but only you know how much energy you have after eating! A food that may be “good for you” might cause you bloating and discomfort. You are the one that is aware of the effects.

If you choose to ditch the diet, you decide to enjoy all food that your body thrives with. Not because someone else tells you what is right for you: but because you love and respect your body enough to listen to how it responds.

What is a “diet”?

Take your pick of online dictionaries to look up: 

“A special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”
“The kind and amount of food prescribed for a person for a special reason”

But who does the prescribing of what course of food you will restrict yourself to? The person that created the diet prescribes.  How well does THAT PERSON know your body? When you are on a diet, you have handed over the control and power to another person.

If you don’t have control and power to decide, are you responsible for the outcome?

How much love and respect for yourself are you building up as you unconsciously hand over the control to an external source?

Whether you are following a particular diet or counting calories, the restrictions are always external measurements. Never internal. They don’t indicate how well you feel, whether you easily digest that portion of food, and whether the amount is truly right for you at the moment you eat it.

In most cases, a diet is always time-bound. We’re looking for that “end date” — as soon as I finish this diet I’ll be able to go back to eating whatever I want.

But what happens when we finish the diet is that we go back to the same choices we were making before. We haven’t learned the skills of healthy eating. And we haven’t honestly dealt with the cause, only some of the symptoms.

Which one of these diets have you tried?

It doesn’t matter how far back we go; we find a culture of diets and external rules and restrictions. Some of these are amusing, if not down-right frightening.

The fad diets of the ’70s

Who would have guessed that some of the diets that we see around today were around in the ’70s?

  • The Master Cleanse – also known as the Lemonade Diet
  • Cookie diet (I want to know what this was!)
  • Total Starvation (seriously? I will not look this one up!)
  • Diet pills
  • The grapefruit diet (seems to show up every decade)
  • The Sexy Pineapple diet (yum! And it’s sexy! And we know what pineapple does for us.)
  • Israeli Army diet (which has nothing to do with the Israeli army!)
  • Last Chance Diet
  • 7-day Milk Diet (I’m guessing that the milk industry was behind this!)
  • The Sugar diet (wow! When they considered sugar to be an appetite suppressant)
  • And my personal favourite – the Wine & Egg diet. Seriously. Wine. Eggs. Coffee. What more does a girl require?

And then we get to the fads of the ’80s

  • The Cabbage Soup diet
  • Cottage Cheese diet
  • Beverly Hills diet
  • Elizabeth Taylor diet
  • Hello Jenny Craig!
  • Fit for Life diet
  • Liquid diets (protein shakes)

What do we see happening in the ’90s?

  • Low-fat foods diet
  • Ornish diet (whoever he was)
  • Atkins diet
  • South Beach diet (wonder how that was different to the Beverly Hills diet?)
  • Blood types diet
  • Natural hygiene diet (basically prolonged fasting, different from intermittent fasting and at least not the starvation diet!)
  • Fen-Phen pills
  • The Zone diet
  • The Sugar Busters diet (at least they weren’t using sugar any more as an appetite suppressant)
  • Liquid diets
  • Nice to see you back again Cabbage Soup diet

I don’t think I need to continue – you are probably starting to see the trends!

Everyone has a solution. Restrict this. Eat that. Pay me, and I’ll tell you how to lose 20-pounds before summer so that you can look great at that family gathering.

Do you have one diet for summer and ditch it for the holidays?

We spend all this time, money and energy to lose weight and look good for moments during the year. Often, we try to impress people that we can’t stand, but somehow give their opinion of our size and weight importance.

Do you really care what Uncle Frank thinks of how you look in that dress?

We put all this stress and strain on ourselves with the restrictions.

But how about facing the triggers of why we eat.

How triggered were you during COVID lockdown and “stay-at-home”?  What steps did you take to address the emotions? Or did you simply eat them and stuff them down?

Restricting the food does not address the underlying emotional issues of why you are eating more than what your body requires.

So, summer arrives or a special holiday and we work ourselves into an emotional mess of how to handle those days when you simply forget the diet.

  • Is it a cheat day?
  • Perhaps you’re making a plan for how to stick to your diet with all of the family and work gatherings that you have.
  • Just say no to all those invitations, because you didn’t want to see them anyway?
  • Perhaps you should just take your food and make everyone else feel bad while you eat healthily and they gorge themselves.
  • Or why not just partake of a liquid diet from the liquor cabinet – it probably has fewer calories.

And when it’s over, you beat yourself up, because you should have just ditched the diet and indeed taken care of yourself!

Rather than try to keep up to some external standard of good food / bad food – why not start to take the opportunity to get in touch with yourself and make your own rules about how to live your life and rewrite your relationship with food?

Ditch the diet so that you can feel good about yourself.

Could you handle no diet – no restrictions and no rules? How would it feel to be entirely responsible for your health and wellbeing? Could you be guided by internal cues, rather than external rules?

The Ditch-the-Diet Program will teach you to examine and analyze in many ways, including:

  • How does this food make me feel?
  • Does it give me energy or make you sluggish?
  • Do I feel light after eating it, or was it too heavy?
  • Does it make me bloated or gassy? How does my digestive system respond to it?
  • Can I think better after eating this or do you get brain fog?
  • How am I sleeping at night? Do my eating habits impact my sleep patterns?

But ditching the diet is more than just internal mindfulness about how your body digests and responds to the food. There is also the aspect of being present with:

  • Why am I eating?
  • Do I enjoy eating here, like this? The setting and environment? The people I am with? The presentation of the food?
  • Your thoughts and emotions – not just about the food, but the whole eating experience.

Ditch the diet out of respect for your body

I encourage you to consider the possibility of reclaiming your power over your relationship with food.

In the short term, this is harder than any diet! But, the rewards, in the long run, are priceless!

Ditching the diet allows you to ditch all the external control factors:

  • Counting calories
  • Excluding one food group
  • External numbers such as size or weight
  • Labelling of food as “good” or “bad.”

This allows you to adopt a new relationship with your body.

Exercise your power: ditch the diet.

Notice both your internal and external environment before you eat. What are the factors and motivation for eating and to stop eating?

  • Why am I eating?
    • Because I’m hungry
    • It’s time to eat (external)
    • I’m tired and need energy (do you need to eat or do something else to get your energy levels up?)
    • I’m bored or upset (does eating resolve the core issue, or simply stuff it away?)
    • Peer pressure and social (external)
  • How am I eating?
    • Relaxed
    • Tense
    • In a hurry or on the run
    • Pressured
  • What am I eating?
    • Is this what I want?
      • Do I enjoy it?
      • Does it taste good?
      • How does it make me feel as I digest it?
    • Does my body need it?
      • Am I hungry?
      • Is this what my stomach wants?
  • How much am I eating?
    • Who decides?
      • My eyes?
      • Perhaps my tongue and taste buds – pleasure sensors?
      • Or my stomach and digestive tract?
  • When do I stop?
    • Have I had enough?
    • When I ran out of time?
    • Because I got interrupted?

How you do anything is how you do everything.

They say that if you fix your relationship with money, most other things in life will fall into place for you. I would say that the same is true for your relationship with food.

If you can get honest with yourself about your relationship with food, and how you are using food to swallow your emotions, or numb pain, or pad some feelings — then you will be mindful of all the other areas of life where you are making similar choices.

Ditching the diet may be the best decision you EVER made – because you start to get real! Rather than having someone else call the shots for you, you take back your power.

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Dreams: what is really holding you back?

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If you are anything like me, there’s a list of excuses holding you back from building your dreams:

  • when I have more time,
  • if I had more money,
  • as soon as I finish.

For those of us that said that we needed more time at home, 2020 has provided many of us with a lot more time at home. Now we get to find out that this wasn’t holding us back!

Perhaps you said you needed more time with your kids to build stronger relationships. I don’t know how it’s working out for you, but my experience is that I am finding out just how little patience I have for teaching a six-year-old how to write, do her social studies and mathematics lessons!

Today, I am avoiding her play area, because I cannot bear to see the mess it is in. I am restricting myself to cleaning Friday, Saturday and Sunday: otherwise, I will use cleaning as my excuse for not getting things done in my business. Things that make me uncomfortable.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

What is holding you back from following your dreams?

Perhaps you are held back by your lack of curiosity. Many of us hold our dreams at bay, sticking with the status quo. But let’s be honest: the status quo has been majorly disrupted! I don’t ever see it coming back! Are you curious about what you could create in the void? How open are you to exploring new ideas and perspectives in the changing world?

Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve this year? I know – 2020 is disrupted! So, maybe you revisit your plans: keeping the end in mind, what do you need to do now to achieve it?

Are you willing to fail trying something new when everything is up in the air? What if you create a website while you are stuck at home and no one finds it because you haven’t learnt how to use SEO? Is that really failure? How much of your time and energy are you willing to invest in learning a new skill?

You procrastinate. We all do it. I procrastinate cleaning the house. What’s your favourite excuse? The reality is that we do something else (within our comfort zone), instead of creating and manifesting our goals and dreams.

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Aside:

I use the word “manifesting” widely: not in the sense of sitting and holding an intention and visualization, but in the sense of seeing it, creating a plan, and then executing the plan! Manifestation requires action, however small. To use an example from gardening: it’s the sowing we do in order to reap the harvest. The whole process begins with seeing the crop, but then we go and we get the seeds, we prepare the soil and we plant.

Obviously, once we’ve sowed, we may have smaller tasks to complete: watering, weeding and making sure that there are no slugs eating our crops. Some crops require more effort and attention than others. Some dreams & plans do too.

Then, we wait. We trust that what we’ve planted will grow and that there will be a harvest.

Are you letting your doubts get the better of you?

Unfortunately, if you harbour doubts about whether your dreams are feasible, you are unlikely to succeed.

In fact, I’ll bet you don’t even start!

100% chance of failure when you fail to start! Your actions, and lack of action, impacts your results.

Suzy Kassem
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

Do you even believe you could be that person that achieves greatness?

Or do you spend your time catastrophizing and awfulizing?

At a time like this, I understand the urge to make mountains out of molehills! The world appears to be upside down. People are panicking. Are you buying into their fear and doubts? Do you allow that to feed your fears?

Our minds are brilliantly creative: designed to make up stories. That same creativity can get out of hand, with imaginations running wild.

When you invest your time and energy feeding your doubts and fears, you will convince yourself not to even bother. I have a friend that regularly wants to come over and tell me about their problems. They have an amazing capacity to create obstacles and challenges that don’t even exist yet! Unfortunately, when I ask them to turn that creativity into looking for solutions for the actual challenges before them, they shy away. They allow their doubts to create imaginary obstacles in the future, that they fail to face the smaller challenges they actually have before them in the moment.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: “This will never work out“.

When you doubt in your heart:

What do you want? Today, for this month and this year?

Can you trust your heart to listen to what it wants and desires? Are your dreams formed in your head “this would be a good idea” or does the seed begin in your heart: I dream of being happy, free, bold and fulfilled.

Vincent van Gogh
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”

Many of us second-guess our desires because we choose to “think it through”. Unfortunately, this often means that we tell ourselves “no” before we’ve even studied possibilities with curiosity.

Dreams: I shouldn’t want this, because it’s unrealistic

How many times have you abandoned a dream, without taking a single step? Perhaps you heard your mum or dad’s voice in your head “be reasonable” or “you can’t always have what you want”. Whose voice do you hear?  Does this person get to decide what you “should” or “shouldn’t” dream of doing or becoming?

Consider for a moment your inner dialogue and what it tells you about who you are and who you should be.

Sven Goran Eriksson
“To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”

It’s easy to should yourself into oblivion.

Telling yourself “no” stops you from being curious and looking into it. Perhaps the first idea you have is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that the dream should be forgotten. Most of us want to start at “amazing” and “awesome”, forgetting that we are beginners when we start anything new.

Perhaps what you should do is expect to make mistakes at the beginning.

Doubts for your safety and security

I don’t know about you, but I regularly avoid failure. If I’m honest, I’ve sat on a draft of this blog post for over two and a half weeks! It was hitting too close to home.

When something takes me outside of my comfort zone, into a place where I might make a mistake, my natural instinct is to preserve the safety of the status quo. It doesn’t matter than I know (head knowledge) that endless procrastination inevitably leads to failure and defeat. I defeated myself because I didn’t put in the effort.

What safety and security are you craving at the moment that is keeping you paralysed? Stop looking down and start to look up, with a wider and bigger perspective. If you are physically safe at the moment, what more could you be doing if you invested your energy in your dreams instead of your doubts?

Gandhi
“The gap between what we do and what we’re capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

At the very first sign of any problem, we quit. Of course, perhaps that’s the moment to roll up our sleeves and show what we are truly capable of.

“No” rarely means “impossible”

When we drum up a little more courage, we realise that “no” simply means “harder”. There are obstacles and challenges. But tell me a time in your life when there were no obstacles and challenges. Can you think of a single period of your life when you weren’t forced to step up and into becoming something more?

At this moment, we are all being asked to step up and out of our comfort zones. The stakes are higher, the challenges are bigger. Your dreams are just as important now as they ever were!

The challenge I put to you today is what would change for your life, your family and loved ones if you dared to step past your doubts and into what you are capable of?

 

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Security and safety: change is a daring adventure

Helen Keller
“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Is our need to stay in the security of our comfort zone overrated? We know that change is constant and inevitable, yet most of us resist change. We even resist the change that is for our good.

When things are bad, we are quick to accept that things are continually changing and will get better. Nonetheless, when things are going well, we try to convince ourselves that things will stay as they are. Even so, change happens, whether we like it or not.

It can be unrelenting: changes in the economy, life marches on, relationships in flux as people grow and move on.

Heraclitus
“Change is the only constant in life.”

We can choose to approach it with mindfulness. How do I feel about these changes? What emotions am I experiencing about this situation or my future? This awareness needs to even extend to feelings that we may have about the past.

I want life to change, but I don’t want to change!

who wants change, who wants to change, who wants to lead the change
https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/change-management-comic-strips/

I recently heard Michael Beckwith say something along the lines of people always want life and their situation to change, but they are not willing to change! It reminds me of the comic that we have all seen:

Most of us want to see environmental changes, but how many of us are willing to make personal sacrifices and lifestyle changes that will have an impact? Many of us talk about political reforms and then choose policies that favour us, rather than voting in favour of the greater good.

Even in relationships, we want the relationship to improve. But are we willing to improve our communication, our listening and our empathy in the relationship? Are we willing to admit that we are 100% responsible for the current state of the relationship? The relationship that we have is simply a reflection of how we have expressed ourselves so far with this other person.

In very much the same way, we want our business and sales to improve in a company, and yet we look for “innovative ways” to continue doing what we have done for the past twenty years. We like the security of our comfort zone, rather than genuinely disrupting the way we’ve always done things.

Sometimes the changing times requires that we change our actions, responses and even thought processes.

The paradox that we face is this: we are always changing and yet never change. Think of how many times you have promised yourself that you will change. Then you didn’t. You started a new routine for two or three weeks and then fell back into your old routine and habits.

Nonetheless, if you look at who you are today and who you were ten years ago, without a doubt, you have changed!

What security do I lose if I dare to change?

One of the biggest challenges for change is our identity: “Who am I?” It is much easier to change what we do than it is to change our identity “who I am”.  When we mix in identity, it gets all complicated. We start to measure our worth and value by how we consider we are living up to that identity.

Nonetheless, we also start to complicate our identity with past versions of ourselves that we unknowingly protect. Our ego seeks to protect “this is who I’ve always been”. We fail to accept “this is who I am becoming”. It’s a scary world when we start to redefine identity, and we get scared and uncertain.

One of the things I love about mBraining and mBIT coaching is that it offers my clients a discovery process. Through the techniques used, we can explore who you are, in the present moment. We can differentiate past versions of identity and all the value and worth that they bring to who you’ve now become. We can even explore your “becoming” and how you envision your growth.

The invitation is to find your security in growing into yourself: think for yourself, listen to your heart and needs.

But understand that as you grow and change, there are risks of things around you changing as well.

Our relationships change and evolve:

Every relationship I have is in constant flux, even my relationship with my six-year-old daughter. If I’m honest, especially that relationship! As she grows and discovers her independence, I have to adapt and evolve my parenting style. The conversations that we have now are so different from a year ago!

So, while we accept that my six-year-old changes and grows, why is so hard to accept that in a year a thirty-year-old or a fifty-year-old will change and grow?

If you are focused on your personal or professional growth, you may outgrow some relationships. Are you holding them lightly or grasping them tightly? The same way that you cannot force a six-year-old to mature before their time, what makes you think that you can drag another person along your growth path with you?

Consider something simple: a decision to join a gym or a running club. How will this change in lifestyle impact your relationship with a sedentary family member or friend? If you were able to find time before to go to the movies twice a week, will this new active lifestyle take away time from the activities you previously pursued? And how will that change in priorities and time impact the relationship?

Every relationship is in flux: continually changing.

The question we have to ask ourselves in each relationship is simple: are our values and priorities still aligned? We grow apart when our values diverge, and we begin to spend our time differently.

Consider any relationship where you find you have grown apart: what values did you have in common that you no longer hold so dear? And how are you going to allow your relationships to define you?

Changes in our health and wellbeing

I have to admit it: until very recently, I struggled with the fact that I am ageing. I am no longer 29 going on 35!

One of the biggest challenges I faced was a failure to change my lifestyle, diet and exercise routine to accommodate my current reality. I no longer have the body of a 29-year-old.

At some stage, we have to accept that the time is now to adopt that healthy lifestyle that we thought we could choose later. I cannot stop the ageing process, but I can embrace it and enjoy excellent health, wellness and vitality at 47! When I finally accepted everything about my body (including Celiac Disease and SIBO), healing started to happen fantastically. I was finally working with the change, rather than resisting it.

Did I have a bit of a crisis before accepting this? Yes!

And I would encourage you to do the same: learn to love and accept your body, health and wellbeing where it is at today and work from there. Accept the changes that have taken place and embrace them.

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Changes in our career or finances

With swings and roundabouts of life, our jobs and funds can have highs and lows. You might be experiencing a career change that involves:

  • more responsibilities;
  • more significant interaction with other staff members;
  • leadership or supervision;
  • delegation of duties you used to take care of yourself;
  • longer hours;
  • more travel;
  • longer or shorter commutes or telecommuting;
  • new company;
  • more remuneration & benefits; or
  • networking opportunities.

Whatever the changes are, they will impact other areas of your life, perhaps even in ways you hadn’t envisioned. Having more money, for example, might change your priorities towards savings or a new home. If you are required to travel more, you might notice the impact it has on your relationships.

Every change you have ripples throughout your life. How mindful and conscious have you been of the effects on change: on yourself as well as on others in your life?  Do they continue to feel safe and secure in their relationship with you? What security do you feel in your finances and career as you change and grow?

May you live in interesting times

Our anxiety levels increase because we want to control not only what we do, but the outcomes and results of our efforts. Nonetheless, if we put our anxious energy to good use, we can focus it into problem-solving and creativity.

If you are struggling to accept change in a given area of your life: consider the cost of the status quo. Where will you be in five years if you make no changes and continue to resist? Does the status quo align with your values and desires?

Or would you prefer to adapt to the interesting times, finding new meaning and a level of security that you don’t currently have?

Finding inner peace in the face of change

The first step is an awareness of the change happening around us and how uncomfortable we are with the changes. What is currently taking place in your world that impacts your sense of security? Are you mindful of the fears that arise for you when you consider the change and growth that is asked of you?

I find it helpful with clients to focus on what they are afraid of: it’s not usually the change itself. Sit with your fear for a moment. What do you value that is threatened by the change? Most of the time, the way is through the fear: accepting all the implications and disruptions that change will cause.

I find it also helps to write two lists on a page:

  1. What I can control
  2. What is beyond my control

Then I have a look at how much time I am wasting worrying about all of the things which are beyond my control. Your point of power and fulcrum on which you can pivot lie only in the first list. When you turn your attention and energy to working only on things that are within your control: you suddenly realise that you can influence the outcome.

The daring adventure of a changing world

H.P. Lovecroft
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is fear of the unknown.”

What if the change isn’t a tragedy that impacts your security, but rather a daring adventure of personal growth?

I invite you to explore these three steps in facing change:

#1 Connection & compassion:

Stay present, open-hearted even, in the face of change. Experience it, all the highs and lows, with compassion for yourself and others. Allow yourself, throughout the whole experience, to be present with your feelings and to notice how others around you are feeling.

For example, my six-year-old has been acting out lately as I have been working longer hours. I’m not only aware of it, but I am also making an effort to connect to her with compassion as she struggles with having less time with me and more time in after-school activities. Being stricter or cold is not the answer. Empathy and connection allow me to recognise her insecurity and respond to her needs.

As you do this, you allow yourself to create more safety and security in your relationships. As you notice your feelings and responses, you can practice higher emotional intelligence: how will I act with this person that feels threatened by the change?

#2 Creativity

A second challenge in the face of change is to tap into your creativity: think outside the box.

Our instinct, when faced with the unknown, is to play it safe. Most of the time, this means doing what we have always done. Unfortunately, this typically is the opposite of what the situation requires for us to navigate change successfully.

Allow yourself to get very present with the current circumstances: what response do these circumstances require of you?

#3 Courage to build a new comfort zone of security

Even if you have connection and creativity – without courage, you may be tempted to do nothing! To successfully navigate change requires courage to create a new comfort zone in which you have peace of mind and security.

Put your plan into play. Be courageous enough to talk to the people in your life that you value and love. Be bold – ask for help, build a new network of support, and create the connections you need to succeed in the changes you are facing in your life.

It’s easy to hope that the change will pass and things will go back to how they always were: but as much as things never change, they are in a constant state of flux, ever-changing.

Have the courage to allow yourself and others around you to grow and evolve with the times.

Are you struggling to navigate change?

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I am happy to jump on a call with you for thirty minutes to discuss how coaching could help you through the challenges you are facing.

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