A blond moment

ek op 3

I’m not sure if this one qualifies as a blond moment. Nevertheless I thought to label it as such. The moment was more or less the same blondish colour that my hair was when I was 3 years old.

As many of you reading the blog know, I recently started my own business. Everyone tells you that networking is the way to go. You need a good network if you want to make it on your own. That it is the best way to get new clients. So, I listened and decided to attend a networking event. I did all my preparation for my one-minute pitch, had my business cards and printed flyers for my upcoming workshop. I spent time to ensure that I looked professional.

It was a lunch hour networking event. So, the communication clearly stated that you needed to be there 15 minutes before the start. I’m usually very punctual so I arrived 17 minutes before the time (what I thought) that the networking event will start. Much to my embarrassment I had the time wrong. I was an hour late! When I entered the room the last person was pitching her idea.

The organisers were kind enough to allow me to pitch my idea as well. So, there I was with a very active Inner Critic (the voice telling you that you once again screw up) in my head. Standing in front of a group of businesswomen pitching my business and informing them of the workshop I run that covers topics such as the Inner Critic.

I managed to take the most out of the 15 minutes that was left of the event. Afterwards, I could only laugh at myself. I used one of my tools, which is to tap into my inner child – that smiling blond haired 3-year old. All I could do was to laugh about it. It just shows that nobody’s life is perfect. Not the therapist, the coach or the trainer presenting personal development programmes. We are all human and every day gives us an opportunity to practise the tools we share with others.

This may sound funny but I’m glad I had this blond moment. It gave me an opportunity to embody my teachings. I’m proud to say that I did not fall back on my old default pattern that would be to criticise myself the rest of the day or to buy chocolate to eat away my sorrows. No, I rather made myself a wonderful cup of yoge tea and wrote this blog. Life is one big learning curve!

Learning: Life is one big learning curve.

Healing question: How can I bring laughter and lightness into this moment?

Advertisements

Life is ready to love you

20151127_145327

One of my big learnings for 2015 is that life is ready to love you. The question is whether you are open to it?

By saying that life is ready to love you.

I’m NOT saying that:

  • You won’t experience any difficult or challenging situations.
  • All your worries and stress will disappear.
  • You will live happily ever after…

I’m saying that:

  • If you take a courageous leap that is in line with your calling or passion. Life might surprise you with the support it provides.
  • If you step out of your comfort zone. Life might show you kindness in unexpected places.
  • If you start to ask for what you truly need. Life might bless you with more than you hoped for.

Julia Cameron said ‘Take small steps in the direction of a dream and watch the synchronous doors fly open’

Acceptance

DSCN1321

Acceptance, as a noun, can be defined in different ways. For the purpose of this blog I’m interested in the definition of acceptance as a ‘process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable.’  We are constantly encouraged to improve, excel and exceed expectation. These messages from the media, our loved ones, friends and ourselves can be encouraging and motivate us to achieve our goals. But the downside is that one can internalise these messages and easily fall into the trap of thinking, ‘I am not…. good, thin, rich, fit, beautiful, smart, successful, etc.… enough’. This type of thinking can have detrimental effects and lead to a un-acceptance or even an estrangement of yourself. Robert Holden wisely indicated that ‘no amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.’

In my personal life, as well as my coaching work, I experience and see that acceptance is easier said than done. We would rather criticize than accept ourselves. After some thinking and working on accepting myself more, I want to share with you what I think acceptance stands for:

A –  Aware. The first step is to become aware of the voice of self-criticism, the judge within as Byron Brown refers to in his book ‘Soul without shame’. According to him self-judgement is based on the ‘accumulation of all the knowledge you believe you need to be successful, safe, supported, recognized and loved in this world’. Luckily this is only a part of who you are. You are not the inner-judge. You are not your thoughts or mind. You also have an inner-guide. As you focus more on your inner-guide or inner-voice you become more aware of your soul nature, your potential and how the inner-judge can limit you.

C – Compassion. Show compassion and kindness for yourself. Research indicates that humans function best when we feel loved. We can cultivate a loving relationship with ourselves by cultivating a desire to be compassionate towards ourselves. So that when we fail we treat ourselves with warmth and understanding rather than criticism. These compassionate and soothing thoughts calms the inner-critic voice.

C – Curiosity. Start to become curious about you. Explore the amazing different parts there is to you. Be curious about what is actually going on inside you? What are you thinking, feeling and experiencing through your body?

E – Enough. Embrace the fact that you are already enough just as you are. We live in a world that either focuses on scarcity or abundance. Media that always tells us what we have or who we are is not enough, we need to strive for more.

P – Practice. Accepting our circumstances and us is not something you do once. It is a daily practice. The more you practice acceptance, the more you will become aware of other possibilities to be. It is important to remain patient with yourself through the process of acceptance.

T – Trust. Start trusting yourself and the truth of who you are.

A – Allow. You have to allow yourself or give yourself permission so to speak to approve and appreciate who you are just as you are, right now. Not when you are 3 kg lighter or when you’ve finished another degree or when you have a management job or live in a fancy house or drive the fastest car.

N – Non-judgement. Acceptance can only happen if we become less judgemental with ourselves and stop believing the self-judgement. The act of judging underlies the need for everything to be in a certain way. When you become more non-judgemental you stop running away from yourself and start walking towards yourself.

C – Centredness. In order to accept oneself it is important to be able to centre your attention and connect to your inner truth. When we constantly focus our attention on others and their approval or acknowledgements of us, we become uncentred and sometimes compromise ourselves. But when we practice the ability to centre our attention we cultivate our capacity to be without doing. We slowly stop needing the affirmation of others to feel good about ourselves.

E – Embrace. Embrace your uniqueness and stop comparing yourself to others.

By proclaiming that we must start to accept others, our circumstances and ourselves more, I am not advocating that we must not want to change. Change is important but as Bryant McGill said ‘Acceptance is the road to all change’

Kindness

IMG_1566

At the beginning of the year I did an 8-week Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course at the Institute for Mindfulness in Cape Town. One of the meditations that I learned at the course was the ‘Lovingkindness meditation’. You will start with evoking feelings of love and kindness towards yourself and then go on to evoke feelings of kindness towards a person whom you love. Later you extend the practice to include people who are known or unknown to you as well as a person who has caused you harm.

Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the MBSR programme and wrote about the benefits of the ‘Lovingkindness meditation’ in his book, “Full Catastrophe Living”. According to him ’the process of uncovering in ourselves deep feelings of empathy, compassion, and love towards others has its own purifying effects on the mind and heart…It can help us to cultivate strong positive emotions within ourselves, and let go of ill will and resentments…When practiced regularly, it can have a remarkable softening effect on the heart. It can help you to be kinder towards yourself and others.’

What I found interesting about the meditation was that it was easier for me to direct feelings of kindness, goodwill and generosity to a person that is closer to me than to myself. It was even easier for me to evoke feelings of forgiveness towards a person who caused me harm than to direct it towards myself. I realised that I did not know how to be kind towards myself. I started to wonder what kindness means to me (other than to treat myself with chocolate when I achieved a goal)?

The dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. These are all qualities that I’ve been taught to extend to others but never learned to cultivate towards myself. I realised that if I want to feel at home within myself I need to learn to be kind to myself.

In the past six months I started drawing up a list of what being kind to me means. The list is not complete but these are the top 10 items on my list. So far kindness towards me is:

1. Listening to my body.
2. To do exercise such as yoga and dancing.
3. Letting go of ‘could have’ or ‘should have’ thoughts.
4. Journaling and doing a spiritual practice daily.
5. Watching a good movie or reading a good book.
6. Getting enough sleep.
7. To open myself to new experiences.
8. Eating healthy food that gives me energy.
9. Surrounding myself with inspirational and creative people.
10. A warm cup of coffee in a cosy coffee shop on a winter’s day or a gelato ice cream on a sunshine day.

I am definitely kinder towards myself than I was at the beginning of this year. But I do realise that in order to maintain the softness I need to consciously practise kindness towards others and myself. What does kindness mean to you?