Blog

Read my latest Blog posts…

The stories we tell..

Posted by on June 3, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The stories we tell..

For many people, death is preferable to public speaking. Public speaker, Robin Banks tells the story of a woman he met who when she heard what he does for a living, proclaimed that she would rather die than have to do what he does. She told him how when she was little and had to give her first formal speech in class, she dried – and everyone laughed at her. The humiliation she felt haunts her still. Now Robin, as a little boy, also got publically laughed at. On stage as King Herod in a school play, clunky little guy that he was, he accidentally knocked off his crown, which then bounced and rolled around at his feet. Immersed in his role, he grabbed his “sword”, swung it towards a soldier, and commanded with great authority, “Hey soldier! Pick up my crown!!!” The audience collapsed in mirth. The delight he felt inspired a career. Granted, Robin is temperamentally an extrovert. But I started wondering, how do our interpretations of events affect our feelings, and consequently our choices in life? The little girl’s thoughts no doubt went something along the lines of, “I look so stupid. I’m sure everybody thinks I’m an idiot..” and she felt awful. Robin’s thoughts on the other hand (and bare in mind he’d been very clumsy) probably went something like, “Wow! They love me!” and he felt great. Think back to an incident in your life that challenged you. See if you can sift out just the dry facts – the objective events – from the subjective meaning you have given them. Now interrogate your beliefs about them. How much of what you have grown to believe about the events is emphatically true? And how much is actually speculation? If some of your beliefs turn out to be merely speculation, could there possibly be a different, equally valid explanation, interpretation or story that may apply? How would this alternative story affect how you feel about the incident? And then I want to invite you to take this further.. Tell your story in two different ways. In your first telling of it, cast yourself as The Victim who suffered. In the second, cast yourself as The Hero, who overcame. What do you notice now about your initial interpretation of events? How have your feelings changed? The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. If we can rewrite the ones that don’t serve us, our emotional responses to them will shift, so will our negative belief systems, and along with that our confidence and self-image will grow. Strange how perspective changes...

read more

Betrayal and Forgiveness

Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Betrayal and Forgiveness

The other day, I met a man in his sixties, who left his wife and family over twenty years ago when he inadvertently fell in love with another woman. What made it even more of a betrayal for his ex-wife was that the new couple also decided to have a child together. He has been a devoted father to all of his children, who love him dearly – but he crushed his wife when he left her. She never remarried. She never took lovers. In fact, she generalized her anger to include all men. She won’t employ a male workman if a woman can do the job. And she all but cut off all contact with her ex-husband. To quote William Congreve from The Mourning Bride, Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. A year ago, this slim, fit woman who was largely vegetarian, suffered a massive heart attack which was so severe that to save her life she had to have a heart transplant. One could say she almost died of a broken heart. Now there is no denying that this man deceived his wife and caused her great suffering 20 years ago. But I would suggest that most people would have moved on from such a devastating event after such a long time. They would have processed their pain. By holding onto rage, this woman has given her power for happiness away to all men, and in particular to her ex-husband, and in so doing has lived a life of suffering that could only be described as much less than its rich potential. The notion of forgiveness is not just some laudable spiritual esoteric notion. It really is a recipe for reclaiming our power to live our own best life, and not giving it away to others. It is in fact a decision that each of us has the power to make. As the Buddha said, Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets...

read more

Noomii Interview

Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Noomii Interview

Bernie is a member of an international Coach Directory called Noomii based in Vancouver and has recently conducted an audio interview with them. Have a listen here to the Noomii interview.  

read more

How do we get to a point of Acceptance during loss?

Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

How do we get to a point of Acceptance during loss?

Last week I wrote about how my hairdresser cruised some really challenging circumstances by kicking off from a point of acceptance. See Which “V” do you choose? (Three A’s to happiness in a storm.) But how do you get to this point of acceptance when you’ve suffered a loss or a trauma in your life? The main thing is not to expect too much from yourself too quickly. The whole thing is a process, which goes through many phases, and even cycles backwards and forwards through the phases a few times. See if you recognize how you may have shown up in the past. And if you are undergoing a trauma right now, use it to give yourself a roadmap and hope that things need not always feel as bad as they feel right now. You may have heard of the Five Phases of Grief, a model put forward by the Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969, and still used today.  Although it was first mooted as the way in which we deal with news we are fatally ill, she later modified it to include the way we deal with any form of personal loss – including things like bereavement, losing a job, suffering a major rejection, divorce or relationship break-up, and so on. It outlines the way we respond to even minor defeats. When we suffer a setback, our first default position is Denial, where we kid ourselves that this isn’t really happening. Perhaps we just misunderstood the meaning of it! Once we can no longer deny the truth of our circumstances, we feel Anger, and we rage against the injustice of the world. And when the energy of this anger is spent, we try Bargaining – perhaps with God, perhaps with the lover who rejected us. We try to negotiate an alternate way of still being able to hang onto the circumstances as they were before they went wrong. When we finally realize that this isn’t working, we go into Depression, a withdrawal into ourselves, and deep grieving for what has been lost. Only then, do we reach Acceptance, that point at which we stop fighting it and begin to work with it. It is from this point of Acceptance that we can find peace. But this takes time – so be very loving and patient with yourself while you are getting...

read more

Finding confidence when you really need it

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Finding confidence when you really need it

Whether you’re the CEO, HoD or Joe or Mary Soap, we all have stressful situations in our lives where we could do with that extra dollop of confidence. Going up the hierarchy, perhaps you need to ask a favour of your boss; going down the hierarchy, perhaps you need to confront a recalcitrant employee and call them to book. And if it’s not a courageous conversation you need to have, you may be going for a job interview, nailing that deal or having to give a public speech. Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself so that you go out there and make it count? Professor Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist at the Harvard Business School who has done considerable research on emotions, power and the effect of social stimuli on hormone levels. What she has discovered is remarkable. She has found that what we do with our bodies, changes our minds. And it is so simple. Have a little experiment with yourself. Stand as though you are anxious. Notice what your body is doing. You’ll probably observe that your head is bowed, your shoulders closed in, your weight is likely to be on one foot, and you will have slouched over your belly somewhat. Now stand as though you are so confident, you own the world. What is your body doing now? Your head is likely to be square, your shoulders open, your weight evenly distributed on both feet, and your belly will have lifted. So the mind impacts the body. BUT, Cuddy has found, the body can also impact the mind. And, with consciousness, we can through choice, control the body. The stance we choose, actually has a chemical effect on our body which in turn affects our state of being. As Amy Cuddy says, Our bodies change our minds. Our minds change our behaviour. And our behaviour changes our outcomes. This is huge: You have the power in your body to shape your world. Here’s how it works. Testosterone is the “dominance” hormone, the key chemical for Power. Cortisol is our stress hormone. To prevail in stressful situations, we want high Testosterone and low Cortisol. By assuming what Cuddy calls power poses, we can get the desired chemical result in our bodies in just two minutes! So, prep for your stressful situation. Find a quiet space, even if it has to be the bathroom. Stand like Wonderwoman for two minutes. Now – go knock ’em dead! Enjoy this Amy Cuddy TED...

read more

Part 3 of a series on weight loss – So should I never eat junk?

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Part 3 of a series on weight loss – So should I never eat junk?

Of course you should! And I’d like to state that you can eat junk and still lose weight. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I believe you won’t win your weight loss battle unless you eat some junk! The reason for this is that we eat not only in order to nourish our bodies, but also to give us pleasure, and in this way to feed our souls. Deprive yourself of the joy of eating for long enough, and your soul will go into rebellion – big time! Here is why you fall off that diet wagon. Then, crazily, we label ourselves as weak and often the cruelest self-talk begins to rattle around in our brains. But really, you are not weak. You are actually being strong – because in reality you are saying to yourself, “I won’t be controlled by someone else’s rules any longer. I’m in charge here and I will do what I like!” All “diets” are built on some form of deprivation, and we will only allow ourselves to be deprived by someone else’s rules for so long and no longer. Then we have a backlash. We may even go overboard – gorging foods that are not nourishing and in great quantity as a reaction. And in this way the yo-yo spins. So, how about shifting perspective instead? How about giving yourself permission to not only eat junk – from time to time – but to enjoy it? I invite you to throw out the guilt. Surrender completely to the experience of tasting that ice-cream, savouring those crisps, delighting in that glass of wine? Feel it in your mouth, taste it on your tongue, take your time in holding it in your mouth before swallowing. Revel in that moment of eating. Make your experience of it as complete and joyful as you can. So often we guiltily bolt food we have labeled “forbidden”, so that we don’t have to entertain it in our consciousness for too long. We don’t even taste it let alone enjoy it, and then we feel disgusted with ourselves for having eaten it. And what’s worse is that we then have a reason to throw healthy eating completely to the wind! But if you shift your perspective on eating some junk, and give yourself permission to indulge with total joy, you feed your soul – and your rebellious self is contained within proper boundaries and won’t go into backlash. To follow: Part 4 of a series on weight loss Joyful eating and the wisdom of the...

read more

Part 2 of a series on weight loss – What are our real hungers?

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Part 2 of a series on weight loss – What are our real hungers?

So when you are overeating, or eating when you are not physically hungry, or eating the wrong foods, you are doing so to satisfy a genuine and powerful hunger for something else that will not be denied. Instead of beating yourself up about it, try to become curious about what is actually going on within you. In their 2005 article in the Journal of Nutritional Educational Behaviour, Sjostrom and Steiner-Adair* identified the following hungers, all of which except for the first one, we may mistakenly try to satisfy with food: Tummy hunger            needs         nourishing food. BUT Intellectual hunger     needs         stimulation Physical hunger           needs         movement Friendship hunger      needs         companionship Solitude hunger           needs         space Spiritual hunger          needs         meaning Creative hunger           needs        invention So, next time when you are not physically hungry and you find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin or that tub of ice-cream as a reflex, take a moment to pause. Tune in to your emotional and psychological state of being. Ask yourself, what is really going on here? What am I really craving at this moment? Then find the book or your sudoku, dance to your own music, phone a good friend, go for a solitary walk, think about what would add meaning to your life, or write that poem or paint that picture. Try and find the true connection to what is driving this hunger, and satisfy that. (*With thanks to Julie MacIntosh) To follow:  Part 3 of a series on weight loss  So should I never eat...

read more

Which “V” do you choose?  (Three A’s to happiness in a storm.)

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Which “V” do you choose?  (Three A’s to happiness in a storm.)

While I was at my hairdresser the other day, she got a phone call to say her four-year-old daughter had had a fit while at school. I heard her making a few more anxious phone calls, and then she returned to breezily finish off my hair. I was amazed at her equanimity at what I imagined must be such a stressful time! I asked how she managed to be not just calm, but cheerful, under these circumstances. She replied that her daughter was born with fontanels that were fused at birth, and which caused her brain to be under pressure. They’d had to be surgically broken open as a young baby and the result was that she has since suffered from occasional fits. My hairdresser said she was able to be calm because she had such an amazing support system in place, which worked like an oiled machine when it was needed. She’d cancelled her next two clients – but knew her child was already at the doctor who knew her condition well, her daddy was with her, and so was her granny, and she herself would be heading over as soon as she finished with me. But she knew her daughter was feeling safe and cared for. Wow! A few things occurred to me.. Some of us carry heavy burdens in Life, and we can either buckle as Victims or else rise in Victory, as she was doing. She wasn’t fighting her circumstances, or bewailing her lot in Life. She had made peace with her situation through total acceptance of it, and this had made her balanced and strong. From this sure-footed position she had assessed what was needed in order to be highly functional and efficient, and taken the best actions she could to provide the best solution to the problem. She had been as proactive as she could be. This allowed her to feel absolutely calm in the midst of what many of us would find to be very emotionally disturbing circumstances. It brought home to me the power of Accepting circumstances we cannot change, Applying our minds to find solutions from a point of calm – and then taking Action to implement the best solutions to our problems. How amazing to be happy in the middle of a storm! To choose Victory instead of...

read more

Part 1 of a series on weight loss – The diet temptation

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Part 1 of a series on weight loss – The diet temptation

It’s lovely to be motivated to effect change in your life like losing weight and living a healthier life.  It’s a great way to re-establish control if things are going a bit pear shaped at the moment. So you may be tempted to go on a diet. My experience of all diets is that they don’t work over time, even though there may be a burst of weight loss in the beginning. This is normally followed by a slow-down in your weight loss, accompanied by a sense of frustration.  Perhaps at this point you fall off the wagon and beat yourself up over your lack of will power. The whole process tends to be accompanied by a lot of self-loathing. What kinds of really nasty things are you saying to yourself in your head, I wonder? But perhaps you do manage to reach your goal weight, and stick to it for a while. But often, over time, it creeps back on, plus, plus plus!! You know the story.. And then there’s the question – why did you pack it on in the first place?? I bet you know what you ought to be eating and what you ought to be avoiding, but – statistically – there’s a good bet that you don’t follow through on that. Why? Why on earth is that so hard? Why do we ignore our own best wisdom? The answer to that is that we eat because we are hungry. The only problem is, the hunger we are feeling is not for food. We just think it is. We are so, so hungry that we need to soothe that hunger, and some Diet telling us not to makes no sense at all to our poor starving subconscious brain. Would you tell a starving person they must not eat? I would like to declare that the only way to permanent weight loss is to properly identify, and feed appropriately, that hungry part of ourselves that needs to be soothed. In this way, we don’t need to overfeed our bodies, and the weight melts away as though by magic, never to return as long as we are attending properly to our real needs.   To follow: Part 2 of a series on weight loss What are our real...

read more

Making friends with negative emotions

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Making friends with negative emotions

The poem The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi speaks of the importance of being open and tolerating all emotions, even the uncomfortable ones. I think that we often amplify our distress by fighting those feelings which we regard as negative, and in this way we heap anxiety on top of the storm we are already experiencing, making it so much worse. If we can be like an expectant mother in labour, and gently breathe into the “contraction” of pain, fear or despair – relax, and lean into it, cresting it like the wave that it is, knowing it will reach its crescendo and pass, then the discomfort in intense emotion becomes so much easier to bear. I have noticed that uncomfortable emotions, as they are happening, can always be located in the body. Bring your attention into your body and see if you can find the physical sensation of it. Then, hold yourself soothingly in that place, comforting yourself, just as you would comfort a child. Be kind and loving to yourself, and see the difference it makes. As Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now: “Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” Enjoy this YouTube clip of the poem The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi, set to music. Listen carefully to the words :). The Guest...

read more

What kinds of Coaching are available?

Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on What kinds of Coaching are available?

What kinds of Coaching are available?

What kinds of Coaching are available?

read more

How does Coaching work?

Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on How does Coaching work?

How does Coaching work?

How does Coaching work?

read more

At what time of Life do people come for Coaching?

Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on At what time of Life do people come for Coaching?

At what time of Life do people come for Coaching?

At what time of Life do people come for Coaching?

read more

Why do I need Coaching / How will it benefit me?

Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on Why do I need Coaching / How will it benefit me?

Why do I need Coaching / How will it benefit me?

Why do I need Coaching / How will it benefit me?

read more