Stop beating yourself up!

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Monday, 08 February 2016
Written by Sarah PJ White

We can be our own worst critic. When we do something wrong, silly or just plain thoughtless, we find it so easy to chastise ourselves so harshly, using words and tones we wouldn’t even dare to speak to others – so why do we find it so ‘normal’ to do this to ourselves?

The way we talk to ourselves can have a lasting and damaging effect on everything, from our confidence and motivation, right through to our mood and general health. Our inner self-talk can talk us out of, or into, anything!

Why? Well the root cause of our self-talk is to actually keep us safe. It wants to prevent us from getting hurt, being hurt and generally suffering. But it’s operating from a sense of fear and is constantly anxious for us – and thrives on drama.

Everything is so easily expanded on, blown out of proportion and exaggerated, when self-talk gets involved – both for the better and, in this case, the worse. We then listen to it, as we feel there’s an element of truth there and, if left unchecked that too, will get exaggerated. That little criticism of ourselves becomes bigger, that feeling of disappointment becomes a massive feeling of failure and it all becomes second nature to us.

So how can you stop beating yourself up, with this negative self-talk?

Catch it early

Negative self-talk can quickly go on a downward spiral; the more you focus on it, the worse it gets. So stop it in its tracks, as soon as you notice it happening.

Give your inner critic a name

Preferably a silly one and, even better, give it a squeaky, high-pitched voice. It’s so much harder to take it seriously this way!

Acknowledge and thank it

Thank it by name, for bringing this fear/worry/thought to your attention – after all, that’s what it’s trying to do; get your attention.

Put it into perspective

This is important, as it may have already been exaggerated. Get to the root facts behind the negativity.

Question it

Once you notice what that inner self-talk is saying and have put it into perspective, now question the truth in it. Is there any truth there? What references is it using? Whose voice is it using – and how much faith do you put in the owner of that voice?

Choose another thought

Once you’ve thanked it and questioned it, make the decision to choose another, more empowering thought and option.

Make a decision

Now you can make a decision to replace the negative thought with the new thought, moving forward. If it helps, write down this small victory, along with how it made you feel to choose this new thought. You could even turn it into an affirmation and use this to retrain your inner critic to think of this new thought permanently.

Image courtesy of Allen Penton/Dollar Photo Club

Journaling – welcome to a happier you!

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Tuesday, 02 February 2016
Written by Sarah PJ White

Journaling is often seen as simply writing down what you’ve achieved or seen throughout your day. But, if it’s done right, it’s so much more than a summary of your day – journaling can help you come to terms with events and situations in your life, to get clarity and to clear negative, stuck emotions – leading to a happier, more positive you!

What does journaling do for you?

The act of writing uses the left side, or analytical and rational part, of your brain. This leaves the right, creative, intuitive and emotional side, to do what it does best – create, make links and unravel emotions. This makes journaling the perfect way to increase these right-side traits.

Journaling therefore helps you to clear any mental blocks you have, around events and situations you have been in, whilst also freeing blocks in your creativity and intuition.

The importance of clearing thoughts and emotions

Journaling helps you make sense of the thoughts in your head. It unravels them and enables you to better understand the attached feelings and emotions you have linked to them.

Bottled up emotions are never a good idea, but we are notoriously bad at letting them out. Writing enables you to gently take the lid off them, to clarify what those emotions are and to acknowledge and let them go in a safe, constructive way. This will help you feel calmer, more centred and less stressed.

Defuse and resolve

If you’re currently experiencing a disagreement with someone or have a problem you want to solve, journaling can help. As mentioned earlier, it frees the right-side of your brain – and this is the side that can work through problems and possibly come up with a solution. It also helps you to understand the other side of the argument, potentially defusing those disagreements and arguments.

So how do you correctly use a journal?

When it comes to writing in your journal, you need to be honest with yourself – and be prepared to dig deep. You could skim over your day’s events, but you won’t reap the benefits. Don’t be afraid to write about your feelings, thoughts and moods.

Set aside 5-10 minutes each morning to write in your journal – either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

Don’t censor your writing. Write quickly and don’t edit it as you along – just go for fast and forget about spelling and punctuation.

Finally, remember there are no rules! You could pick a theme for the day (such as anger or emotion) or just go with the flow – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way – just get it down on paper.

Image © Alexandra Thompson/Dollar Photo Club

Get SMART with your goals

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Tuesday, 22 December 2015
Written by Sarah PJ White

Goals, they’re a part of everyone’s life, whether you’re in full-time education, an employee or self-employed. Even when you move from the work environment, goals are still there, when you desire to reach an end result that you don’t currently have. You simply cannot move forward unless you have a goal in place.

This is the same for life coaching. Whether you’re a life coach who wants to get your own practice off the ground, or a life coach/mentor who already works with clients – goals are an essential part of your coaching business.

Having a desired end goal in mind though, is really just the beginning. If you don’t set your goals correctly – you’ll fail to reach the finish line.

This is where SMART goals come into play. Whilst the acronym has several slight variations, the overall purpose behind it is clear – to ensure your goals have a higher change of being attained. So what exactly is a SMART goal?

Specific

Goals, by their definition, should stretch you out of your comfort zone, otherwise there’s no point having one. But they also need to be focused. It’s no good saying you want ‘more clients’ or ‘you want to be rich’ – HOW many clients do you want? HOW much money would you like?

Measurable

By making your goal specific, you enable it to be easily monitored and measured. This helps to motivate you on towards your desired end goal, as you can see EXACTLY what distance you’ve already covered and how far you may still have to go. By making your goal measurable, you’ll also be able to see when you’re off course and need to make adjustments too.

Achievable

By being specific and making your goal measurable, you’ll also establish if it’s actually achievable for you. Taking the ‘I want to be rich’ goal – how can you achieve it? How will you know IF you’ve achieved it, after all, what is YOUR definition of ‘rich’? When you narrow that goal down to ‘I want to be earning £200,000 a year’.

Results-focused

This brings you onto results. By covering all the previous points, you’ll be able to establish WHAT you need to do in order to make it happen. Using the example above, you may need to up your prices, increase your work hours or advertise more – all things you can break down into manageable sections AND monitor the results.

Time-bound

The final step is to establish a completion date for your goals. This is essential, if you want to achieve them – without it, you lose the urgency of any action. Being time-bound also means making sure you CAN realistically achieve it in the timescale you’ve set.

So, now you know what SMART goals are, how about taking a look at your goals, and see if you can adapt them to fit in with the SMART formula, to ensure a greater chance of success?

And if you need any help with creating and achieving your goals get in touch and let's have a conversation to see if we could work together to get you where you want to be.

Image © Marek/Dollar Photo Club

Are you taking responsibility for your own life?

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Friday, 22 January 2016
Written by Sarah PJ White

Responsibility. It’s something we all feel we have on a daily basis, from bringing up our children to our work-related tasks.

It’s therefore little wonder that we can get a bit tired of all that responsibility, tired of the pressure it produces and the onus on being there for others. However, we still forge ahead with that responsibility, regardless of how we may complain about it – so why then, when it comes to our own life, do we tend to step back from taking the same level of persistent responsibility?

Using outside factors

No matter what level of religious or spiritual belief you may (or may not) have, we find it all too easy to reference how fate, destiny and luck all have control over the direction of our lives. If it’s good, they’re smiling upon us and, if it’s bad – they’re punishing or looking down on us.

To further compound the problem, we also blame those around us, for their part in causing our life to be the way it is! We blame them for not knowing what we think and feel, for not understanding and for not helping – when we’re not even knowing, feeling and helping ourselves!

What it really means

However, the simple fact is this – we control how our life goes. We control whether it feels fulfilling or empty and we control how others affect us.

The need to use outside influences as our controller, simply means we are stepping back from taking responsibility for our own lives. We can then take a passive role and find ourselves reacting to the situations we find ourselves encountering – rather than acting on our own will and creating the life we want.

Learn to take responsibility

So how can you start to take responsibility for your life and start taking a more active role in its outcome?

#1: Stop blaming others

As the saying goes: the buck stops here. It stops with you. Other people are reacting to their own situations, experiences and thoughts – the state of your life probably doesn’t even occur to them!

#2: Acknowledge what’s happening

Become aware of what is going on in your life. Not just the events, but how you’re reacting too. Acknowledge how you feel and think, what you like and dislike, as well as getting a clear picture of the facts around your life at the moment.

#3: Have no judgement, only acceptance

When you look at where you presently are, what things are happening and how you feel, don’t judge them – just accept they are as they are, at this moment in time. Remember, accepting them doesn’t mean resigning yourself to them – it’s about accepting they are there, at this moment.

#4: Change your mind-set

If you want to take responsibility, you need to start with your mind-set. What do you want to believe, moving forward? Do you want to be a passenger in your own life or the driver? If you want to be in control, accept that you have to start making decisions. Stop using language that dictates you have no control of what happens in your life, such as ‘that’s life’, ‘it’s in my genes’ and ‘it’s because I’m male/female’.

#5: Take consistent action

Moving forward, make the decision to act on your feelings, thoughts and emotions. If you want to do something, do it. If you say you want to do something, do it. But taking action also means being active – actively monitor your language and terminology, actively watch your actions and reactions and vocalise your thoughts and feelings.

 

If you want to take responsibility for your life and your happiness find out more here

Image courtesy of sean824/Dollar Photo Club

Focus on your breathing to release stress

Category: Article or Blog
Published: Tuesday, 08 December 2015
Written by Sarah PJ White

A hectic lifestyle will inevitably lead to stress. Unless you’re lucky enough to work for yourself or work from home, there’s the commute into work and back again, the queues and traffic, and the general feeling that everything and everyone are just too busy to slow down or take a breather.

And sometimes, we just want the pace to stop, or at least slow down enough so we can catch our breath and our bearings!

Why you need to take a breather

You may not be able to change your work situation or the general busyness of others – but you can release that pent up stress.

Giving yourself a 10-20 minute timeout to focus on your breathing will enable you to do just that, as well as allowing you the space to calm down and take a step back from your life.

Breathing is just breathing… right?

You see, breathing itself is automatic to us all – but that doesn’t mean we’re actually doing it right! Stressed and busy people tend to shallow breathe – taking short, shallow breathes from their upper chest area. This can quickly lead to hyperventilation, anxiety and panic attacks, plus it can also prolong the associated feelings – especially as shallow breathing is actually part of the typical stress and fight or flight response.

Abdominal breathing, on the other hand, aids relaxation and promotes stress relief – meaning lower blood pressure, a steadier, slower heartbeat, reduced stress levels and an increase in your energy.

By breathing slowly, deeply and evenly through your nose you’re ensuring you have a balanced oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood – and this leads to an improved immune system and reduced lactic acid build-up in the muscles of your body.

Practice better breathing

  • Sit comfortably and raise your ribcage to expand your chest.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  • Feel how they move whilst you breathe.
  • Breathe in through your nose for a slow count of five (don’t worry if you can’t reach five just yet, keep practicing until you can).
  • Allow your chest and lower stomach to rise.
  • Breathe out through your mouth for a slow count of five.

Get yourself into a routine of practicing this breathing technique twice a day for 10-20 minutes a time and you’ll soon start to notice an improvement in both your mood and your energy levels.

Image © bertys30/Dollar Photo Club