Decisions,Decisions.

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Sometimes we can all find it hard to make a decision about something and we can go backwards and forwards in our thinking process and feel we are getting nowhere. This can make us feel stressed and uneasy and can cause others who are waiting on our decision to get frustrated and upset by us. There is often a very practical reason for our minds to vacillate, it is simply seeking more information and whilst doing so is going back and forth trying to check it against what it already has had experience of and the past consequences from that. We can however train ourselves to make it a more efficient and faster process and in doing so avoid any unnecessary stress.
If you are being asked or need to make a decision about something and are finding it hard .The chances are as I have previously mentioned you actually just need to get a bit more information before being able to make your mind up. To simplify the process ask yourself what is stopping you from agreeing to do it or saying no? Has there ever been a time before you have had to make a similar decision and if so what did you learn from that? Use the answers to those simple questions to hone in on the specific areas of information or answers required to provide you with a clearer picture of what is the best thing for you to do. If it helps you to think more clearly simply write down your reasons before seeking the answers to them. Gather the information you require by doing a little further research and by chatting to people. Often these simple steps provide enough feedback for you to feel confident about saying yes or no.
However if you still feel uneasy about something after reviewing all the facts and information possible then simply do not agree to do it. Never allow yourself to be pushed in to agreeing to do something that does not sit comfortably with you. Sometimes it is fear that prevents you from trying something new and if that is the case seek help to get rid of it. Many times though your unconscious mind has picked up something negative that your conscious mind has not even seen yet. Too often I hear from people if only I had followed my instinct and not agreed to this or that .Your instinct is there for a reason. It is telling you that something is not quite right and asking you to pause for a short while to find out more. Overriding that is to me the equivalent of ignoring an amber light. Sometimes when you do that you escape unscathed but other times you will find yourself in trouble. So pay attention to inner feelings. If you have made a decision that you later regret do not avoid thinking about it. Take any learning you need from it by looking at how it happened and how best to prevent it happening again.
At the end of the day we have to accept that we all have different personalities. Some people can go through life and fling themselves fully in to everything without apparent care and others hate to do anything new or take any responsibility. Most of us are somewhere in between both of these. Learn how you function best and allow yourself any necessary time without being stressed to do what is right for you and what you feel comfortable with.

Do I know what you are thinking ?

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It is amazing how many mind readers that I have met this week. People with psychic abilities that can tell ,just by looking at their partner or loved ones even people on the street, exactly what it is they are thinking ,feeling and even what it is that they are about to say.

They apparently know when they are being sarcastic or critical, hurt or offended, angry, sad, content, happy, flirtatious or dismissive just by watching them. They are so confident about this that they immediately respond in a manner they feel is appropriate to the mood they believe they are observing. Quite remarkable really and impressive if it was really true, however the problem is that it seldom is, true or accurate or helpful. In fact what usually happens when someone attempts to mind read another  ,they get it wrong .They personalise  how someone is looking at them based upon their own thoughts and feeling when they look  at someone that particular way .They imagine thoughts like they have or are having internally  as they pre judge what the person is truly thinking. Problems always arise when relying on this method of communication with another .It doesn’t actually show how close you are to another if you choose to do this; to me it actually shows a lack of consideration and respect. Both for yourself and for the person that you are choosing to mind read. Neither of these attributes are desirable in a healthy, happy relationship.

I don’t care how long you have known someone and how close you are to them, there is always going to be a time when you judge their mood or thoughts and be wrong. That is unfair  both on them and on yourself .There is no substitute, no quicker way to actually know what someone is thinking, than to stop and really listen to what they are saying. There is a definite need in any good relationship, to spend time communicating and talking to each other. Not as you run past each other on the way out to work or for that matter any other time when you are partly preoccupied doing something else as that too is a recipe for disaster. To communicate in this harassed way is a sure fire way to create problems in any relationship. People need time to explain themselves fully and this cannot be done to someone’s back as they  walk out the door, or run for the bus ,deal with the children ,the messages or any other distraction.

Time is needed to just sit and connect or even reconnect and to explore what both of you are truly thinking and feeling. If something has been said that has come across as hurtful or antagonistic, time is needed to actually explain things a bit more fully before deciding how to react to it. Everything worth doing takes practice and communication is no different. We need to consciously decide that we are going to be good listeners and make the effort to positively follow through with that decision. We need to set aside time for the people we care about to hear what they are thinking and feeling in order to develop healthy, happy and more fulfilling relationships. If we leave mind reading for Fairgrounds and magic shows we can concentrate on truly improving our lives. Simply put anytime we spend developing this quality adds to our character strengths and makes life a bit easier and happier for us all.

As British actress Emma Thompson once wisely said “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.”

Dealing with Stress

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Yesterday I watched a very interesting video on stress and how it was not in fact a negative thing if you didn’t view it as such .Seems a strange thing to say as for many years we have been told that stress is a killer. We need to de stress our lives. Take up yoga, Thai chi meditate anything in fact to reduce our stress and let us live longer. This interesting video turns all that around and reports a recent study which has shown that people who believe stress is a killer are more likely to die from it than those who just see it as part of life and deal with it.

I am an Neuro Linguistic Practitioner and from an NLP point of view that is what we were taught, it makes perfect sense. Your brain and what you believe decides how well or how badly you will respond to any situation and how much you will learn positively and get out of life .The decision is yours to make. So in the case of stress it would seem if you believe it can kill you it will. We have a lot to learn from this study as it impacts all areas of our lives and can have a huge positive effect on us all if we learn how to improve our way of thinking by watching it.

My husband ,who is a Doctor doesn’t like to tell his patients how well or how badly he thinks they will do with certain treatment ,as he believes that will interfere with how well they can potentially do if they are not limited by limiting /negative beliefs. So for example if someone has had a stroke and lost the use of his arm and the scan shows it might never work again rather than say that to his patient my husband would say “some people do not recover the use of their arm after a stroke such as this but others manage to get movement let’s see how well you will do”. He has found that people can surprise you as long as you do not set them a limit. I find the same with clients. Take back control of your life  acknowledge that although there are problems there are also lots of ways of getting round, over and through them as long as you are determined to find a way. Sometimes we pay too much attention to the limits other people set for us not recognising that these my well be their limits but that does not make them ours, unless of course we choose to believe that they are.

Sometimes people will deliberately try and limit us for various reasons, jealousy, fear of losing us, not wanting to admit they need to try harder themselves. The list can go on and on but the important thing to remember is to make your own decisions and choices as you are the one going to have to live with the consequences as well as the benefits. So it is as well to make sure you give your all and have no regrets. As Audrey Hepburn is quoted as saying “Nothing is impossible the very word says I’m possible”.

If you are interested in watching the video I am talking about here is the link.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-whole-new-way-to-think-about-stress-that-changes-everything-weve-been-taught-2?g=5

There is also a very good book about the mind and the body written by Dr David Hamilton called” it’s the thought that counts.” Below is a link to Amazon uk where you can read a bit more about it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-The-Thought-That-Counts/dp/1401916295/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391976043&sr=8-1&keywords=its+the+thought+that+counts

Learning to communicate. Part One.

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To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Tony Robbins.

Some people like to paint a big picture when they talk about their plans and dreams. They know where it is that they want to go and see everything on a big screen or canvas in their mind. They don’t seem to bother about how they are going to get there, to them that just gets filled in along the way somehow. They are full of enthusiasm, drive and energy but can get bored with  the small details in how to get  there and can fail to realise their dream because that is all they do, dream.

Others like to know all the details of how to get there. They cannot see the bigger picture without knowing how it can actually be achieved. What supports and services are going to be required? How is it all going to be possible? They work hard but can often lose sight of what it is that they are working for because they do not hold on to a clear vision of the end result.

Some lucky ones have a balance between the two.

This is just a small example of how we each take in information, understand and communicate it and you can see just by looking at this how two people with such different views of obtaining goals might clash and fail to understand each other.

I have three daughters all born and raised the same way. They share mainly the same values and hold much the same beliefs yet from when they were a very young age I recognized that I had to explain things very differently to each in order for them to fully understand and feel comfortable with any plans that we as a family were making.

My eldest girl is one of the few I have met that automatically balances everything out. When she was starting school I explained to her why children, including her, had to go to school. I told her about all the fun she would have the people she would meet and explained that she would have to go daily, work hard and then when old enough leave and either go get a job or go study more to get a better job. She was quite happy to accept it all as I had given her a complete picture. I had described what the end result of attending school would be and filled in all the little bits in between. My middle girl had exactly the same picture painted for her but she really didn’t want to hear the bits in between. All she was interested in hearing was that she would have fun leave and get a good job. If I tried to explain that it wasn’t simply a case of going and then leaving to automatically get a good job she was bored and not interested. All she needed to hear was what she would get at the end of it all. How that was going to happen really didn’t matter to her. My youngest child was different again .All she focused on were the small details. How was she going to get to school, how long would she be there, why had she to go, how she would learn, how would she be able to pass exams and what happened if she was off? Once she had all that information she was happy but it took me significantly longer to make her feel comfortable with the idea of school because of all the information her mind required to make her feel at ease.

Throughout their childhood and adolescence the pattern was the same whether it was a holiday being discussed or even a simple weekend change of arrangement I had to go through the same procedure with each of them in order to make it harmonious and acceptable to all. Despite their different ways of taking in information they themselves have never clashed. They instead work together to help each other fulfil their goals. Each has learned what information the other needs to achieve their aim and helps them to fill in the “how” or instead shows them the “what” they would get if they went for it.My middle girl is brilliant at pulling the youngest forward towards what she wants as she can see the bigger picture and the youngest is great at filling in all the steps necessary for the middle to reach her goals. Whilst the eldest balances each of her younger siblings’ excesses out and helps keep them both calm and happy. This they have learned through living together and caring enough about each other to communicate well. I have had to learn to do the same as being a “big picture” person. I find filling in all the small details very frustrating yet I have learned to do this to satisfy my youngest daughters need for such information. In turn I have really appreciated her help in teaching me how to fill in all the blanks in my projects, helping me find a way to get there.

Learning how to fully communicate with the important people in your life is not about changing your beliefs, values or ideas but more about changing how you present them to others and making them easier for that person to understand. Sometimes we come across apparent blocks and can get in to unnecessary arguments when trying to explain what it is that we want just because of our communication styles are clashing and the other person simply does not see the picture we are painting or doesn’t see how we can achieve it. By recognizing what it is that they need in order to process information we help not only them but ourselves and that is surely worth learning?

Creating a nice space.

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It will soon be spring. When I was younger the thought of spring and a massive house cleaning session went together. My grandmother, with whom I lived, always insisted every year that the house get a good spring clean. Being young and having decidedly more interesting things to do with my time than clean this filled me with dread. That meant no more gathering of clothes and hiding them in a bundle or stuffing shoes under the bed when asked to tidy my room. This was the real deal, where cupboards would be emptied, old stuff given away to the rag and bone man(a chap who made his living selling stuff people had no longer any use for),shelves washed ,everything lifted dusted or in the case of floor rugs taken outside and beaten until clean. That meant a lot of time doing very boring, unnecessary things. Or so I thought then. The funny thing was that after I had complained, moaned and generally tried everything I could to get out of it I had to just knuckle down and do it.My grandmother was a very gentle woman but had the most stubborn nature I have ever met. I knew if I didn’t help she would just do it herself and she knew that my conscience would never allow that. So we would work together and get everything done. The strange thing was that despite my protestations I loved how the house felt after. It was never a dirty house, my grandmother would never have allowed that, yet once we had completed the spring clean everything felt better. It looked nice too but it was more the feeling of space it gave that I enjoyed. A strange feeling, coming from the girl who could happily live with a bulging cupboard that required brute force to close, but that is how it felt.

Years later as I work with people I find myself often telling them to declutter their lives. To get rid of all the unnecessary tasks they fill their day with and concentrate on only the most important. It is amazing how many silly things get included in to the day to day duties of a busy person, things that could well wait or be relegated to other members of the household. I am sure that if you looked at your own schedule you would understand exactly what I mean.

Aside from this one of the quickest and biggest improvement that can be made to make you feel better, is to have one clear, uncluttered nice space that you come home too. Sometimes because of living with teenagers or an untidy spouse or a multitude of other reasons, I have heard them all, it is not possible to have the whole house clean and tidy. It is possible to choose one room, the room where you would unwind in, to be clean and free of any distracting mess. For some that might be the bedroom, for others the bathroom or sitting room or kitchen. It doesn’t matter where you pick only that it is a place you would go to, when stressed, to chill out or relax.

Set aside time to clean it thoroughly. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been used or that you dislike but have kept because so and so gave it to you. If you don’t like it, it will drain your energy by just being present when you try to unwind. Give it away or if that isn’t possible because of sentiment or obligation move it elsewhere. Somewhere you can’t see it. Then set about creating a personal space that suits you. Create your perfect space to unwind and feel relaxed in.

Think of all your senses. What colours, textures even shapes do you like. Find items that you love to put in to your space. Think about scents. What do you love to smell the scent of? What smell makes you take a nice deep breath in and relax with? If you haven’t thought about this before go to the shops and have a smell of some of the many jar candles available. I suggest jar as they are generally not so easily knocked over and have long lasting scents. If you can, get one that makes you feel happy or calm or relaxed. Anything in fact that you want to feel in this specific area, find a scent that suits this purpose. One note of caution If you have young children and or animals and they are going to have access to this area stay away from reed diffusers as they are too tempting ,yet dangerous for both if knocked over or drunk. Candles also require caution but can create a fantastic atmosphere and really make a difference to how you feel. Create a room that you love to walk in to. One that just by knowing you have it there allows you to feel relaxed. Make it your place to recharge and keep it that way. This is actually a great way of taking back control of your life. It starts with just one space and then often has a habit of spreading to give you more positive energy to declutter and reconstruct in a positive way, all the areas of your life that you have been neglecting or just surviving not thriving with. Why not try it and see.

Its not always personal

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Since others have to tolerate my weaknesses, it is only fair that I should tolerate theirs. William Allen White

I wish I had read this quote when I was assisting on a course in Glasgow a few years ago. The course was being held in a Glasgow hotel. Every day when I went in the hotel receptionists would say a cheery good morning and ask how I was and we would exchange small pleasantries. That was every receptionist except one. Each time she was on she would bury her head in her desk as I passed. No matter how cheery the “good morning” I shouted to her she would ignore me or worse just look like through me as if I wasn’t there. As each passed I grew more and more fixated about trying to get her to acknowledge me. I went out my way to be friendly and to smile and be nice. It didn’t seem to matter what I did she completely ignored it. Finally I thought okay she wins I will just ignore her too and for the remainder of the week I walked past without glancing her way or I acknowledged the receptionist beside her but not her until finally the week was over. As I said goodbyes to the other course participants one of them excused herself from the rest of the group and explained that she was going to over to speak to Mary, the receptionist that had ignored me all week. Fortunately I said nothing as she went on to tell us all that she knew Mary through her church and that Mary had been going through an awful week. Her mother who was suffering from dementia had been admitted to a home and her cat of twenty years had just died. She expressed amazement that Mary had managed to drag herself in to work but had done so not to let her colleagues down. She said that she could barely function and that everyone who knew her were very concerned for her wellbeing because of the stress she was under. I felt immediately ashamed of myself as I had not for one moment considered that she might be unhappy had just thought her rude.

Why had I made it personal? Perhaps my own insecurities were part of the problem or my ego; after all I was supposed to be a good communicator. Whatever the reason I have made sure never to judge another like that again. For me it was a lesson well learned. Time and time again though, as I watch others reacting to people the same way that I had and taking a strangers behaviour personally, I want to stop and tell them my tale. None of us know the burdens another person carries yet often we act as judge and jury. Many times we react perhaps because it is easier to take out our own frustrations and angst against a total stranger than deal with the issues that are making us feel so fragile. It could be that we are all a bit stressed with the multiple daily roles that we have to do and the slightest break of our rules can push us over the edge in to an overreaction. Whatever the reason or whatever the apparent justification I  now  believe it is better to “turn the other cheek” and walk away rather than add to the angst and misery another person may be suffering. Who knows perhaps one day it could be someone you love or you who forgets to say hello or inadvertently cuts someone off in their hurry to get home because of an emergency or problem. Wouldn’t you like to think that they would be “cut some slack”   rather than potentially be harassed or hurt by another person’s frustration and anger when they were already distressed?  It goes without saying that of course you would.

I now try and treat others, even those that are apparently rude with the same care I would want others to show my children or anyone that I care about. I feel better for it. Sometimes I need to take a deep breath and count to ten but always when I manage to walk away or drive away without an angry exchange I feel better. It really does take practice but for me it is worth it.

This quote by Phillips Brooks sums up my new found philosophy “Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful or malicious”.

It takes a lot of energy to be angry or nasty, energy I would rather keep to use for something more constructive and positive. I feel stronger being able to walk away from negative situations with strangers I am unlikely to ever meet again and happier that by walking away I am not contributing to the negativity around them or their pain. If you have been finding it easy to react negatively to others behaviour why don’t you just take a deep breath and walk away?  See how much better you feel for doing it and move on without dragging someone else’s negative baggage with you.

How to win friends and Influence yourself

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“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad

How many of us waste our time seeking affirmation from others to find out who we really are? Teenagers often go through a stage of looking to their peers to find themselves. Trying to conform and fit in to a group even if it is the group who believe they are non-conformists! Generally they band together which is strange because they say they value their individuality. When we mature we are supposed to know ourselves and to have grown to be self-confident and self-aware but often this is not the case. Each relationship we enter into we should be going in as an equal, yet often I find adults trying still to fit in and relying on others daily to tell them if they have succeeded or failed. The problem with this is obvious. If you give away your personal power to another person or group, even if they love you, then you are giving away control of your life and the responsibility for your decisions. Some think that this is a way of feeling secure but it is in fact a false security. Someone else’s or a groups values, beliefs and goals even if very similar to our own, are not our own, and they are going too unconsciously and consciously influence your decisions based on what they believe is right for you rather than what is actually right for you. Giving them this power makes you vulnerable to not being able to achieve what you want or be who you really want to be and nine times out of ten that leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

To have a belief in one’s own abilities is essential to live a happy, contented life. We can make mistakes that we wish we hadn’t but that is a learning process through which we can grow as a person. If these decisions were not ours in the first place then how can we learn from them?

“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie

We need to start by actually liking and having confidence in ourselves. In order to find ourselves again we need to reconnect to what makes us function. What do we hold dear to us? What in life do we consider important? Are we being true to ourselves or are we following someone other life plan? What do we wish if anything that we now had in our lives? What would we like to get rid of? Answering these questions gives you a basic structure for change and self-discovery. Start gradually and work your way through the list creating a new you with recognition of new strengths and abilities as well as building upon those you already have. Remember as they say “Rome was not built in a day” just taking the first step on the path to self-acceptance is a big achievement.

When we like and have confidence in ourselves a wonderful thing happens, we begin to attract like-minded people who like us too. It is not a case of becoming so egocentric that we begin to believe that we can do no wrong and therefore alienate others .Rather it is a gentler acceptance of ourselves as doing the best we can, with the best of intentions and finding companions along the way that love and accept us for who we are rather than who they want us to be. If we do the same with others we will create a happier healthier environment for us all to live and journey in.

When we stop looking to others to tell us whether we are doing the best we can and start instead to look at ourselves, we take back control of our life and can then start to steer it in the direction we want. Those close to us can help us on our journey, as we can help them on theirs, now working together as an equal team and no longer as extra baggage. Life is a journey to be experienced and not just tolerated. When we reach the end of our journey on this plane we should as Frank Sinatra said be able to say we did it our way.