Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform


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Why are you holding yourself back?…

I’ll do it when I have enough money.

I’ll start it when I can find the time.

When I have the right job, I’ll feel more relaxed.

When I slim down, I know I’ll be happier.

When I have my own business, I’ll know I’m on the right path.

When I don’t have to take care of my mum/dad/children I will focus on me…

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Lovely pic taken from ‘blonde bronzed twenty something’

I hear these kind of statements everyday in my work as a psychologist.

It is so common to think that your life can only be ‘on track’, or even start (!) when everything is ‘in place’ or how you want it to be.  The feeling is, that if you have certain things in place, from the right job, to a particular income, not having to take care of others to having the right body or finding and creating more time in your day to do more things you love, then your life is somehow complete or that this set of circumstances will now allow you to ‘start’ something that you have been putting off.  That you will now be in the place from which everything can now begin.

– Planning versus wishing and waiting – 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to plan ahead.

It’s great to think about what you want to achieve and if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’ll know how much I advocate ‘planning ‘ as part of your regular practice…I mean stuff doesn’t happen by itself!  We have to be able to define what we want and make goals in order to achieve them. This is a different though.

If you are used to saying these kind of things (possibly just in your head, not out loud), then they often lend themselves to things that feel out of your control.  And certainly having too many ‘I’ll do it when…’ thoughts as your inner dialogue can lead to all sorts things when you maybe realise that you’ve been thinking these things for a long time and in reality, you are no closer to getting there.

This can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, depression to generally feeling like you are not good enough, successful enough or worthy enough to achieve what it is you want to achieve. When will it happen?  Will it ever happen?  Will I ever get to where I want to be?  When will be the ‘right’ time?

There is also that pesky group of course, that like to remain in ignorant bliss about these things.  This groups appear deluded about what ‘may or may not’ happen.  They like living in their mind in that parallel universe where their imaginary life is better, brighter and shiner than the one they are really living.  These people are definitely the ‘one day I will do….’ group.

– We have all done it – 

I have done this throughout my life at various times in various circumstances.  From viewing particularly jobs as being temporary until I got my ‘forever’ job – my how surprised I’ve been when I realise just how long I ‘ended up’ doing something’ – to poor clothes purchases until I got my ‘perfect’ body, to putting up with being over run doing things for other people – because I’ll start saying no when…..you can see the theme here.

Another really good example was when I bought my first house.  I liked my first house, but I didn’t LOVE it.  In other words I didn’t think that it was my ‘forever house’.

I remember when I bought it, thinking that I would live in it for a year or 2 and then go on to buy something that was more my ‘forever home’….my big barn conversion with the obligatory Aga and a couple of acres of land with chickens and few other animals for good measure.  In the meantime, I was just going to be comfortable (make the best of , but not put my heart into the house I was in).  I decided against making any massive decorative changes as it just wasn’t worth it. I hated the yellow walls, but didn’t change them.  I also wanted a proper shower instead of the shower attached to my bath taps, but ‘put up with’ holding the antique shower head over my head instead because ‘I’ll make do until until I get my forever house’.

Well, it wasn’t 2 years by the time I moved, it was nearly 4 years later!

Funnily enough I made the changes I had wanted the whole time just before I sold the house….all just in time for the other person to enjoy.

And so, did I move to my forever home?  No.  Do I have acres of land and an Aga now? No.  Am I happy in the house I am in?  Yes, very.  Have I repeated the same pattern and not made any changes to it based on the fact that the home I’m in now isn’t my forever home?  No…I’ve made lots of changes!  Why? Because my life isn’t going to be better, more fulfilling, easier, lovelier, prettier or more perfect if I get the forever home, than it is now.  Also, in the meantime, I don’t want to live my life in limbo or ‘on hold’ until I get these things I desire.

You can apply the same thinking to any of the situations I have mentioned here.  In my case, every day I try really hard to notice when I have thoughts about, ‘my life will be XXXX when…’ because I’ve learnt that it is really, really important to be happy in this moment because as the saying goes, ‘this moment is all there is’.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we should go off doing things with abandon as if there is no consequence.  It also doesn’t mean that I am not aware of the fact that I, and I’m sure you do actually have responsibilities that require us to be present. It just means that in each moment it is really important to retain, remember and hold on to values, thoughts, beliefs that nurture and fulfil you.  That you are thinking and relating to yourself as the person you truly wish to be…NOW. (and creating some time for it, but that’s another post!).

– Over to you – 

I hope that this idea and the sharing of some of my own recognition and experiences has got you thinking about the things that you may be waiting to do until ‘conditions in your life are perfect’.

In the meantime I encourage you to plan ahead for things that you would love to do.  Plan and dream with abandon!  Enjoy the prospects that lie ahead based on the work you put in now. Things may not be perfect but how important it is to love the life you are living right now!

Til next week.

If you would like some help in looking at these kind of issues, do go over to my SHOP page where you can still purchase an hour and a half 1:1 coaching session for the price of 1 hour, prior to December 31st.

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Why not come over to the Facebook page where much more discussion and chat takes place too!

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Don’t be a sheep…be a leader!

A bit of a contemplative blog for you this week, which I hope you find useful.

I had a lovely weekend away with friends in The Peak District last week.  It was super fun as always and while together we did a big walk which was just lovely, if not a little wet….thank you Abi-gale!

Anyway, while on our walk we went a little off piste and found ourselves on a wet and windy hill, with no path in site….the wind lashing down, people were getting more than a little soaked and the baby of the group was crying.  I couldn’t the blame her, poor wee thing! Anyway, in our wisdom as we stomped through the field we noticed a flock of sheep who then proceeded to run/walk quickly away from us on a well trodden path towards what seemed like a gate at the end of a distant field. We decided that the sheep knew where they were going and so we followed them down the hill towards said gate which is where they seemed to be headed. I wasn’t complaining.  It was a nice change from the mostly uphill we had done until then.

So, we followed the sheep through 3 fields to ‘the gate’ which was……a dead end!

The gate was locked. Aaagghhh!

It was too high to scale and the surrounding stone wall was covered with sharp barbed wire that wasn’t scalable but even more of a death trap in the rain.  Also, interestingly, somewhere along our journey the sheep and our group had switched places.  They were now behind us watching us trapped and trying to figure out our next step which turned out to be walking back uphill through 3 fields and finding a new route back to basecamp. Quite the detour I can tell you!

The picture below is an actual shot of sheep staring us down and I’m sure quietly laughing to themselves.

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So, the motto of this story should be pretty clear.  We did something that everyone knows you shouldn’t do.  We became a sheep and followed the crowd, the result of which was we ended up in a dead end…wet, tired and dazed.

I’m not joking when I say that this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  I’ve been working with a lot of people who I feel seem to be struggling creating work whether that be products, services or writing that is truly their own.  It’s almost like they are creating a version of someone else’s work or product?  They are being more of a sheep and less of a leader.

Now, let’s be clear.  I agree that there are really no new ideas….not really (remember the 1% difference rule). But there is a difference between creating and doing something from the heart, something that you truly love and are good at versus doing something because you have seen someone else do it and you want to recreate their success….otherwise known as copying!

Like I said I see people do it all the time from the poor students who have plagiarised work to those in the world of Coaching where everyone is trying to be Marie Forleo, with everyone copying her business model and creating Q&A Tuesdays!

Another really good illustration of this to me is something you see in any bookshop.  Take the one I was in today in old London Town….

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I took these photos in one of my favourite Popular Psychology/Self Help sections.  Since mindfullness has become a ‘buzz word’ so many people have got on the Mindfullness-bandwagon, there are more books than you shake a stick at in that section.  It’s the same for books about Happiness and the same for adult colouring books…not to mention the books about streetcats called Bob, Sam, Marmaduke & Peter!!!

Well, like us on that hill on that day in the rain…cold, lost and just looking for a direction it’s super easy in a situation where you are lacking ideas and inspiration to fail to think for yourself and just to follow the thing that’s in front of you.  Maybe it’s the thing that inspires you.  Maybe you are confusing your passion or admiration for someone and as the old adage goes ‘copying is the highest form of flattery’.

What we need to remember is that we all have something that we are good at.  I truly, truly believe this.

I believe we all have something that we can do that makes that thing unique to us and if you dig deep enough and do the work, there are things that you’ll realise you do better than anything else you know and that might be your better path to fulfilment.

To find that thing requires time, searching, playing and commitment and yes, by all means look to others for inspiration.  But to think that by copying, by being a sheep that you will find that long term fulfilment, happiness and success is misleading.

And for those that do consciously copy?  Do so at your own peril!

You might just end up in a dead end with no-where to go expect back.  Back to figure out your way out of the mess!

Till next week…

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I would love to know what you think of this conversation starter this week?

Have you ever felt the need to copy someone, or maybe you didn’t realise you were doing it?  Maybe it’s happened TO you, where someone has copied your ideas of business model.  How did it feel and did you tackle it?

Also, for more comments and discussion please do join us over on Facebook…


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Do you have the Power To Create?…

A bit of a different post this week, as I’d like to tell you all about what I did at the weekend.

Well…what a fantastic Saturday I had!

I got up early in the morning, had a hot shower, a hearty breakfast, donned my clothes and headed out to Antenna in Nottingham where I was going to be a part of an amazing conference that was hosted by the Nottinghamshire RSA .

The conference was the Power To Create Conference and was set up to ‘ignite imagination and collaboration’ in the Nottinghamshire area around the key themes of Public Services and Communities; Creative Learning and Development & also Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing.

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Fantastic Artist Cara from Graphic Change created this fantastic graphic note-taking representation.

– Like minded people, like-minded conversation – 

The day was so much fun.

I met so many wonderful people, heard about some super inspiring things that are going on in our community, as well as across the UK and the rest of the world, and made many great connections.  I have a lot of coffee dates set up!

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The talks that were presented were all important and thought provoking and really got you thinking more about what we could all do to contribute more, do more and continue to be a part of the dialogue that makes a difference to our society and the individuals in it.

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I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to present a workshop on the day in which I got to speak all about a really exciting project I’ve been working on called Mind Clubbing.

Mind Clubbing is a brand new event that I will be launching in the New Year.  I’ve been working really hard on this and I’m going to be telling you all about it in a few weeks’ time…I can’t wait.  But for now, I got to tell all the wonderful people at Power To Create all about it.  It was SO well received and I lots of people signed up on the day.

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– What can you do? – 

There will be other events in the area so I really encourage to find out more about the conversations that are going on.  What conversations might be important to you and your community? What help might you be able to provide via your own skills, ability or expertise?  Maybe you too just want to meet other like-minded people having these fantastic conversations about creative learning, taking care of our environment, forming community groups and things like the incorporation of technology into our lives and businesses.

If you are not UK based, is it that these conversations are going on in a different format in your own countries?  If not, could you start something?

I’d loved to hear from you about what you would like to create or maybe what you have already created?  And if you are local, I look forward to seeing you at one of the future events.

Til next week!

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I’m tired of growing…what to do when you’re sick of hearing about stories of inspiration and enlightenment!

Open up your Facebook page or read one of your favourite blogs and it’s very likely that you will encounter some kind of story or message that tells you about how someone has overcome something and wants to share evangelically about their experience.

You read all about how this person has fought back and made big changes in their life and now wonderful things have happened.

How through hard work and determination and seeking enlightenment they’ve achieved their hearts desire.

How reading this amazing book that ‘you’ve got to read’, they’ve changed their life and are now implementing little things every day that make a difference. Oh, and how they appreciate everything!  Even the morning dew on the flowers in the….blah blah blah…

How they took up a life changing course or training and now they are up at crack sparrow every day drinking green juice, running 10 miles and meditating all before their kids wake up and then they have the rest of the day to focus on their multi-million pound business.  Agggghhhhh!…

…the list goes on…

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– I’m so tired of it all! – 

Well, it’s not surprising that sometimes it all feels like too much.

Sometimes when you feel like you are struggling just to get the day to day tasks done that you need to survive, like go to work, clean your house, eat proper meals and not contribute any more to that little paunch of a belly that is now peeking over the top of your trousers, then hearing stories of others’ wonderfulness feels like the least helpful thing EVER!

But is this reality?  What is really going on here?

Well, if you find yourself going through a period like this, where it all feels a bit much and you feel like ‘personal growth’ stories and sharing might just tip you over the edge, there are few things that might help your mindset…and help you not to strangle the next happy-clappy person that wants to share their super-duper amazing news with you….Grrrrr!

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– The feeling doesn’t usually last forever – 

I’m no stranger to feeling like this.  I call it ‘inspirational burn-out’.

I get to stage where I feel like I’ve read so many self-help books, looked at so many pretty and ‘inspiring’ blogs, read so many friends’ stories on Facebook about how they are so in love with their partner or that their business is going so amazingly well or the kid that they were complaining about last week is now their little angel and they love them so much < enter picture of angelic sleeping cherub> that I want to crawl under a blanket…maybe with a good bottle of red!

At times like this though I try to remember, just like the parent who wanted to throttle her child last week, that the feeling is short lived.

I know now when I feel like to this to step away from the book shelf, to turn off pretty pictures on Instagram and beautiful blogs of  ‘perfect’ houses, to turn off Facebook and to take a breath and focus on something real.  In other words to actively participate in my ‘real’ life.

When we feel like this, it’s often a sign that we need a break and time to refocus on the here and now.  Taking one step at a time just doing the things that we need to get done and being active takes us out of our head and back to reality. Sure, take what you will from the books and things you’ve seen in a way that feels helpful, but you don’t have to see it as a road map for your own life.

After a while, when you feel more grounded and maybe have done more things that are important to you in your own life you may begin to feel like you’ve really accomplished something, and that you haven’t merely been focussed on other peoples stories of success and growth.

I know for me, that when I’ve taken time to stop measuring myself against outside sources of perceived ‘perfection’ or happiness then these books and stories and pictures are just things that I can dip  in and out of with little more than interest or amusement.  They also have more ability to make me smile and not affect me on a deeper level.

A good way to put some of this in perspective and an example of how fickle some of this stuff can be is in the funny Instagram account for Sociality Barbie who just basically takes the mick out of ‘pretty’ and deep and meaningful photos.  Tee hee…enojoy!

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# 2

– It’s not real anyway!- 

Following on from this is just recognising the fact that what you are seeing/reading is usually not a true representation of real-life anyway, especially when it comes to social media.  If you are reading a book, the book usually always has a happy ending.  If you see something on Facebook it’s through someone else’s filter which often is geared to portray the ‘best side’.

The best way to highlight what I mean is by watching this fantastic video that was made by the Higton Brothers in Norway which shows how easily these things, especially social media, can help you to portray a wonderful looking life if you want to?

Really, it’s well worth watching and SO helpful as a reminder to anyone who feels bombarded by others stories of happiness and success.

Remember, we tell people what we are comfortable telling them and show them what we are comfortable showing them.  The reality is often quite different.

(Also, you may want to read this interesting Telegraph article about the same HERE-Telegraph Article re Higton Bros Video)

# 3

– The journey is only inspirational when it’s a story told – 

The last thing to note here is simply that when we read a book to help us; when we look at the stories of others and witness their growth, and amazing journey of inspiration it’s so useful to remember that it is just that.  It is THEIR individual journey and story.

It is much easier to portray something when we have been able to get our head around it and present it as a story with a clear conclusion and therefore messages of courage and inspiration.

 A really good example of this is Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

In a recent interview she interestingly says the following:

‘I love helping people. I think there are much more efficient ways for me to do it…like, I give money to good organisations, I vote and I volunteer and I do all that kind of stuff.  My art though is mine.  And even the art that I make that ends up helping people, like Eat, Pray, Love- for instance people will say ‘thank you so much for your book it really helped me, it changed me’ I didn’t sit down to write that book saying ‘it’s high time I changed peoples lives!’

‘You know, like I was such a hot mess at that point in my life.  Like I could barely tie my own shoes and that moment like, the last thing I had any business doing, was like and now people….let me give you the answers’.

(for the full interview please CLICK HERE)

 I love this, as Elizabeth is really clear that the books she wrote were for her.  That when she wrote Eat, Pray, Love it was really just her account of what happened and it had been a very difficult and painful journey.  What people took from it was up to them.  If it helped them great.  But that was not her intention.

It also highlights the power of the story.  Like I said, a story has a beginning , middle and end and the end is usually a good one…just like Eat, Pray, Love.  This book was so good in fact that they made a film of it, in which you see the journey of this young woman who ends up finding love in the arms of her now husband after a long and inspirational journey of discovery.  The fact is, is that you know there is a good ending and so the journey just seems easy…the truth however is as Elizabeth Gilbert describes it….a hot mess!

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So, if you find stories of others inspiring that’s wonderful, but it’s important for us to remember that the reality is often oh so different.  That really so many of us, even those that have a ‘story of success’ or challenge that they have overcome did so in their own time, in their own way.  It doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR way.  You get to choose.

I hope you found this useful, if not a little entertaining. Remember, don’t believe all your read and see.  Grow when you want to in the way that you want to and find your own path to happiness, dipping in for inspiration when you need to but more importantly focussing on your real life, because that is where it all REALLY happens!

Till next week.

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How can I help you?…

One of the parts of my work that I love most is the opportunity I get to give talks to groups of people about various aspects of Living a Multi-passionate Life.

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I love to be able to talk about what it means to be Multi-passioante, to find your Life-Life Balance or even to help you figure out what it is that you really want to do with your life.

I just love being able to interact with people at these events. I thrive on giving advice, putting people in the direction of resources and problem solving to help people be able to craft their life to look a little more how they want it to.

– Where do you fit in? –

I’ve had a flurry of talks that I’ve given of late and most of them have been for aspiring business women, or women already in business.

What I’ve learnt from working with these women, based on the kind of questions that I get asked all of the time, is that people seem to fall into one of three main categories when asking questions about their own life and business.  These areas are:

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When women are struggling around IDEAS, what they are usually asking for help with is help figuring what they could even do to start their own business?  They usually doubt their own skills or ability to make money in a way that is not via a promotion at work or merely taking another job that might pay a little better.

If you are in this category, you will be unsure as to what you could do to leave your job or change your circumstances in a way that doesn’t fit in with the typical conventional methods of doing so. You will be unsure of what skills you bring to the table.  Uncertain of how you could possibly make money, and may find yourself saying things such as….

I don’t know anything

There’s nothing I can do that I could be paid for outside of a ‘normal job’

I could never earn enough money to be able to live if it was just up to me

I really can’t think of anything that I could even do for a business 

I’d like to have my own business one day, but I haven’t thought of the ‘right’ idea yet

I’d love to do ‘X’, but I couldn’t do it because of money/finances, my children, my family…etc. etc. etc.

The list goes on…maybe you identify with this or maybe you are in the DEVELOPMENT category?

Popele in this category, usually have an existing business, but don’t know how to progress it. Now they’ve started and the gusto and energy and enthusiasm taken to do it has died down, they are struggling to know where to go next with their venture.  They don’t know how to reach their audience or are unsure as to the next step to take.

These people are usually very much at the start of their venture. If you are in this category, maybe you find yourself saying things like…

I’m not really sure what to do next

How do I even find my customers

Do people actually like what I’m doing

I’m still trying to find my feet and figure out how this fits into my life

Can I make more money from this or is this it?

Should I be doing something different?

Do I need a better website/brand/logo etc. etc.

The final category is GROWTH.  This can mean that you are happy with what you are doing and are looking to literally grow and expand, but it can also mean that you need to grow but at tho stage in the game, maybe as you have already gained an ‘audience’ with your business, are not sure how to take your business forward.  Maybe you want to change it, but are worried about how people will react?

Usually these people have been doing some form of their business for a while.  Maybe you you realise that something isn’t working for you anymore or that they have been ‘ticking along’ and have become bored, stagnant and are looking for a change.

This could be because of personal circumstances changing or because you feel you have changed as a person and the business no longer fits your identity.  People in this category will often say things like…

I loved my business when I started, but I don’t feel inspired by it anymore

I’m not really sure where to take things at the moment

I dont really think that my business represents who I am now

I did my business to fit in with my life, but now its doesn’t fit in the way that I’d hoped

Things feel stagnant and I don’t really know where to take them

I feel like I’ve outgrown what I’m doing

Maybe growing means changing, but that’s scary

– How can I help you? – 

If you find yourself in any of these categories, I can tell you that you are not alone.  I know this first hand as not only do I meet women all the time, at various stages of this journey, but I’ve been through it myself.

It’s taken many years of hard work and self development to get to where I am now, and I’m still learning..I’m still evolving and I’m still changing and making tweaks to my life and business as a result of what I learn and how I grow and change.

As a result of doing so many talks lately and being privileged to hear what stories directly form people abut their own struggles, hurdles and questions I want to be able to help more women and men on their journey too. That is why I’ve decided to put on a short series of free talks helping people through these stages of Multi-passionate Entrepreneurship.

In order to be able to do this I need help from you!

What I need is for you to be able to tell me what you would like help with and also to tell me which of these categories you feel you are in and why?

What I will then do is set up the first talk to happen before Christmas at a Nottingham city location.  But don’t worry all of you who are reading this from other parts of the globe.  I will make sure that the talk is recorded and made available to you afterwards, so nobody misses out!

So, over to you…

Please either comment or fill in the form below, telling me which category you fit in and why and also what you would like to see covered and I’ll get straight on it.

I’m super excited to be able to bring this to you and to be able to provide information that you really need to make some big changes ahead for 2016!

Til next week!


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Do you want a coach or do you want a friend?

A little while ago, I sat down with a new client for what was going to be our first session.

Louise (not her real name), was seemingly a lovely woman who had opted into Coaching sessions with me, which had been provided by her workplace.  Sessions were offered to staff in order to help figure out things like goal setting, work-life balance (what I call Life-Life balance), progression and leadership opportunities, to name a few things.

Some months earlier I had provided a group workshop to a team of people in the company and Louise had been one of the people in the group.  All the people involved were offered, if they so wished to, 4 individual coaching sessions with me on completion of the workshop, should they want to have some psychological coaching input into their work.

So, here we were face to face in a room a couple of weeks later and I asked Louise what she wanted to get from the sessions? She looked at me blankly, so I repeated the question…

‘Louise, what would you like to focus on in our sessions together over the next few weeks?’

Louise frowned and then said, “Ummmm, to be honest, I’m not really sure’.

‘Ok’ I said.  ‘Is there anything that came to mind during the workshop?  Something that you felt you might benefit from looking at with someone else?  An objective view that might be useful in your role perhaps?’

‘Ummmm, not really’ she said.

‘Well, there will be a reason that you said that you wanted to have sessions with me?’

‘Ummmm, not really’

Finally I asked, after a little more probing and a few more questions…

…’well Louise, why exactly did you want to have sessions with me if there’s nothing that you want to look at?’

‘Oh’ she said.  ‘You just seemed really nice and interesting and I wanted to speak with you.  I thought it would be fun.  I thought that, well, I could get to know you a bit better’.

– Getting clear about what you want – 

Though I’ve clearly changed the name here and also made a few slight alterations to this story, it is actually true.

It’s also not the first time that someone has opted to see me for sessions in the same vein.

It usually happens after someone has seen me give a talk, watched one of my videos or I have come into their workplace to deliver some training.  It has resulted in being sat with someone I think is a client, but is actually a person who seemingly desires more of a friendship.  At the very least it is certainly not an ethical client-practitioner relationship.

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– I see it all around me-

This isn’t new.

It’s something I see all the time. I fact it’s happened to friends and colleagues too, where people have attended their events, networking meetings and training not really because they are all to interested in what they are saying, but more in a desire to get closer to them. Kind of like a pop-star or guru!

Now, I want to be clear here.  It’s great to admire the people that you work with or even wish to work with!

I have been privileged to work with many people I admire.  Over the many years that I have worked with these people, some have turned into genuine friendships.

A good example of this is a fantastic friendship I now have with someone who started off as my Undergraduate Psychology Lecturer while I was at University in New Zealand.  I really admired this lecturer, and what began as standard lecturer-student-relationship, progressed to a peer relationship when I became a postgraduate student and then a lovely friendship. Now some years later I am good friends with him and his family.

Although I certainly admired this persons work prior, this was obviously a natural progression of events and not outside the realms of our given relationship to start with.

Further to this, I also admire and would love to sit down and chew the cud with lots of people that I would say I admire, like the people I  ‘follow’ on Twitter or Facebook, like my favourite authors for instance.  The difference is, that I know and understand my reasons for admiration. More importantly I am also aware of my boundaries…and theirs!

The difficultly occurs when people are unable to see the difference between admiration and therefore wanting to learn from someone or indeed work with them as opposed to just being ‘attracted’ to them as a person and therefore wanting to be near to them in the hope that either some stuff will rub off or you will get to be friends!

– Set your boundaries, and know when to help- 

As a psychologist my boundaries and ethics are clear in this instance.  It would be unethical to befriend my clients so I will stop working with someone if I think this is what they really want or are confused by.

I think it is important as a practitioner to recognise when you have someone come to you for work, and they appear confused by this.

What is it they are really searching for? For example…

Can you help that person see what it is that they really want?

Do they recognise that there is maybe something that they see in you that they want?

Do you portray something that they desire for themselves, like confidence, happiness or contentment.

I did have one client, who after she had said that she came to see me because she ‘liked me’, realised after some discussion that what she really meant was that I seemed confident.  She on the other hand lacked confidence so much, that as someone who seemed to have it, maybe I could help her?

So, it may be appropriate in that first session to go a little deeper and look at a persons reason for ‘liking you’ or ‘wanting to be friends’ with you.

If after discussion it appears that someone really does just want to be friends, I will always refer people on to a colleague or at the very least will refer them to some useful resources like books, blogs and articles (if appropriate to their needs).

So…

We are always going to encounter we admire…how wonderful to find people to look up to or mentor us! But we always have to know the difference and sometimes there is great power in just recognising this.

Til next week!

I’d also love to hear from you about  this topic…

Maybe you are also a Coach or Psychologist and have found yourself in a similar situation.  What did you do? Did you help someone discover something about themselves or did you refer on?

Maybe you are on the other side of the coin…did you admire someone and realised this for yourself.  How did you handle it…what did you learn?

I look forward to reading your comments.


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There is calm in nature…

I’m on holiday as you read this, so a brief post this week in which I would love to share with you the photographs shown here which were taken on the Chatsworth Estate a couple of weeks ago.

A couple of good friends came to stay and it was such a beautiful day that, being only an hour away, it was just too lovely outside to resist not going for a little wander around the grounds of the Chatsworth Estate for a little outdoor fun, so off we went…

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It was a super hot day and after we had had picnic on the lawn at the front of the house, we then wandered up through the woods at the back; up through the trees and towards the waterfall (seen above), which I have to say a couple of the group ended up in!

But why am I telling you about this little outing?

It’s because nature for me, is one of the places I get my strength or maybe to put another way it is where I feel a calm and connectedness that I crave if I have not ‘had it’ for a while.

I try to get out in nature as much as possible to get this ‘fix’ or feeling at being one with nature and the seasons.  It’s something I don’t get from walking around a town or city and I’m fortunate enough to live near some lovely woods which serve well as a running route for me during the week so little mid-weekly trips are possible for me to indulge in.

It’s something I talk about a lot on the pages here on my site, and that is finding your calm.

In this busy world we live in, we need places that we go to to find peace, relax and reconnect with ourselves. And it’s even better if we can build some of those things into our daily practices.

It may not be the woods or nature for you, it may be that you are one of those people that want the buzz of the city or maybe you need to go swimming or maybe you curl up under a duvet?  Maybe for you it’s your daily meditation practice or some form of exercise…the point is, that you have a place that you can ‘go to’ to find your little island of calm.

As the summer holidays are fast approaching, and as you read this I will be sunning myself on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach, I encourage you to think about where you get your little place of calm and make a plan to go there very soon.

Til next week….where I will be announcing where you can buy tickets for MPWC2015!


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What’s your passion….really?

Journal - 6

Oh, I’m so passionate about reading…

I’m so passionate about interior design…

I couldn’t be more passionate about running…

I’m SO passionate about being a teacher…

I’m super passionate about my yoga business…

Oh, there’s no one more passionate than me about cooking/gardening/dancing/writing/make-up/making my own clothes!  You fill in the blank here.

We’ve all heard people tell us about what their passions are.  I’m sure even as you are reading this, you can think of things that you have said you are passionate about too.  I certainly can, but when I tell people what I’m passionate about, am I really communicating what my passion is?

Digging deep to know what your passion is…

One of the things that used to say I was passionate about, especially in my ‘early days’ straight out of university, was psychology.  As a psychology graduate wanting to be ‘fully understood’ (how deep), about what my passion was, I would tell potential employers/write in my CV/tell friends and family all about how much I loved psychology and how passionate I was about all it could offer in terms of our understanding of human behaviour, and therefore the career I was going in to.

Now I was, and indeed am still passionate about psychology, very much so, but what do I really mean when I say this? After all ‘I’m passionate’ has become a term that is banded around so much that sometimes it feels like the phrase has lost its meaning.

It’s because of this, that I feel we have to dig a little deeper to the heart of what we mean when we say ‘I am passionate’, after all I’m passionate about ice cream, but the two are clearly not the same thing.

When I think about what is beyond the phrase for me, in light of psychology, I can see that I am drawn to any opportunity  to help someone ‘make a change’ or more specifically the chance to aide someone in ‘breaking their routine’.

I notice this as a running theme in both my teaching at University, my private practice with clients, the packages I write, the book I am working on and the courses I am compiling.  Although Psychology is the label or umbrella term if you will, that I work under, I am driven by this greater force and it is THIS, I am truly passionate about.

Keep your passions, whatever guise they come in!

So, what I’m not suggesting any one does is stop using the phrase ‘I am passionate’.  How wonderful it is to be able to say that about something…what a rich and full life you will live when it is full of passion and action that is from your heart.  What I’m saying is, that there is great power in taking time to think about where this descriptive statement comes from for you?

What does it mean when you say you are passionate about cooking for example?  Is it that what you are really drawn to, is putting time and love into something that brings people together around a table, and this is your passion?  When you say you are passionate about exercise, do you really mean that you have a fundamental belief in having a strong healthy body that will carry you through to old age, and this is your passion?

When we realise more deeply where our passions come from, it’s interesting how you may start to notice a pattern in other things that you do in your life because it has the same underlying theme or element that we are drawn to (your deeper meaning for passion)….this can help  things to make sense, and can also help you plan future steps in your life and business as you have a clearer view of the driving force behind your decision making and also enjoyment.

It was like this for me when I started teaching, I couldn’t understand why it felt so addictive, and then I realised that it was the ability to help ‘change’ someone via learning, as it had been when working with patients who were ‘changed’ by therapy, that was the theme for me!

What themes do you notice?

Sometimes, it can be easy to figure out the underlying reason for your passion and sometimes it can take some time to get to the bottom of when the ‘real’ reason is for you.  The fun is in the exploration and as we delve deeper we learn more about ourselves and others.

Now there is something to be passionate about.

Til next week!


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I want IT…whatever IT IS?…….

What is it that you want?

Is it a different career?  Is it a better relationship?  Is it nicer clothes or maybe you want more money and lots of it!

Maybe what you want is much simpler than that?

Do you want space, peace, clarity? To be able to finish a cup of tea or have a pee in peace before someone is banging on the door asking for something?

Maybe you want more time to do the things you enjoy, like gardening, painting, yoga, walking, pottery…maybe you want a holiday?

Maybe you don’t know what you want and there in lies the problem.

Do you want a GOOD LIFE?

Have you ever seen the programme The Good Life?

I happen to love it just a little bit. I watched it as a child and thoroughly enjoyed the fun that Barbara and Tom used to have in the garden with a menagerie of animals not to mention their hilarious relationship with Margot and Jerry.  My love for the programme was only enhanced when I lived in new Zealand as an adult as the true ‘Englishness’ of it all made me feel a little closer to home.

But this isn’t just about my love of this quirky British sitcom and the characters in it (or anything to do with the fact that I own the box-set!).  This is about the premise behind why the characters chose to live the ‘good life’ in the first place and how the reason itself is so closely related to real life, in fact our own lives and how we live on a daily basis.

What are your goals and where do you want to be?

Let me explain, the first episode begins with Tom Good celebrating his 40th birthday.

Tom heads to work that morning and notices his feeling of boredom and apathy about what he is doing.  No one in the office recognises him for his work, he doesn’t feel acknowledged he doesn’t feel inspired by his work and he feels that what he doing is actually a joke.

He also notices that no one recognises his passion for fun or really, even knows his name! You also witness him realising that he wasn’t invited to play cricket with the office as he is considered, wait for it…..too old!

Tom seems to realise quite quickly that he is downright miserable, and so that evening after his birthday dinner with Barbara he starts a conversation about this very issue and how he is missing ‘IT’ in his life.  If he could find ‘IT’, he says he might be able to solve the problem.  After all he says that he doesn’t want to ‘feel the same way when he is 41’.

He decides, after an entire night up writing lists and drawing up plans that IT for him is…

“…breaking the circle.  Going to work, to get money to translate into things, which you use up, which makes you go to work again!”.

And that is how their Good Life begins…

What is it for you?

Not everyone can just sit down with a piece of paper, stay up all night and solve their life problems, therefore figuring out what ‘IT’ is.  But what this programme is a great illustration of (even though it is only made up!), is that if you dig deep and ask yourself some big questions, starting with noticing what you want/desire, then we owe it to our future self to get started on the path that we feel will take us there.

Maybe if you don’t know what ‘IT” is for you, you can try some things to help you rediscover what that might be?

What is it you need to do?

Do you need to take some time out of your daily grind so you actually have a moment to reflect?

Is it to take up an old hobby or activity that will allow you to ‘reconnect with yourself?

Do you need to protect time in your day every day just to sit and write down in a journal about the things you have enjoyed or appreciated that day?

Maybe you want to seek some external help to help you figure out your IT?

——————————————–

There can be great power in figuring out what “IT’ is for you.

I encourage you to take some tome to reflect this week on what ‘IT’ is for you.  If you already know, then brilliant!  Are you therefore living your own Good Life? if so I’d love to hear about it and maybe you have some tips to share about the things that work for you in allowing you to stay focussed on your path.

For now I’ll just leave you with one last piece of advice from Tom Good…

“What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself”

Fancy that.

Till next week!


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Tell the truth and everyone’s a winner…

I’ve just had a wonderful half term holiday day trip with my nieces.

They are at the lovely ages of 10 and 8, which means that you don’t have to worry about taking bags of ‘supplies’ for them when you go out for the day.  They also like to do cool things and really explore, and that means we can generally do so much more together now that they are older.  We also have very, very funny conversations.

They make me laugh….a lot!

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What was so obvious when I took them out for the day to London, was just how different they are as people.

They have always been different since they were very little.

Jasmine, the older sibling is outgoing, gregarious, loves pink, loves make-up and also (much after my own heart), loves dare-devil activities and adventure.  The day before I saw her, she has spent the day roller-coaster-hopping at Alton Towers!  She talks about travel, singing and will try anything new whether that be food or experiences.

Her sister LiLi is so very different.

Quiet, a little shy and so caring and sensitive, she is happiest colouring in quietly or watching a film.  She likes her head rubbed and hates to wear anything really feminine, preferring her jeans, a hoody and converse trainers.  She is also a creature of habit, a little bit of geek, has the cheekiest laugh you have EVER heard and also in her words is ‘scared of everything Aunty Serena!’.

– ABSOLUTE HONESTY – 

What I loved about LiLi telling me this, was her absolute honesty about how she feels about the things that make her scared.  Don’t get me wrong, hearing that she is scared of everything doesn’t exactly fill my heart with joy.

I’ve known for a long time that she has struggled to do some things because of being wary or a little frightened, and so myself and the rest of the family lovingly and supportively have encouraged her to ‘get involved’ and try new things.  She’s getting better and I think with the same continuous encouragement and the experience of trying new things and ultimately enjoying herself, she is learning slowly to tackle these things head on.

The lesson here though is such an important one, you see I know people, adults, who cannot and do not own up to their feelings of being scared the way this little person can.

What this sometimes results in, is a ‘bending of the truth’ situation where people try and concoct all sorts of stories to get out of doing something.

I’m sure you are familiar with the situation, the friend who can’t come on that run with you because of an ‘ankle injury’, or the mate who can’t try the shellfish because they are ‘allergic’ or the friend who can’t come to your karaoke night because  they they have to help their partner with writing up their new CV?

[…or I have to add, given that I am also an academic, the student who can’t submit their work because of the death of a Grandparent…I’m not being mean! This is a researched and documented phenomenon, in fact an amusing article on the subject can be found HERE with links to scholarly articles). 

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– FEEL THE FEAR – 

In our desire to not look silly.  To not feel weak.  To not feel vulnerable.  To not feel inferior.  To not feel pain or shame or discomfort, we AVOID telling the truth.

We are FEARFUL. We are SCARED.

But here’s the thing.  The first step is in acknowledging what we are scared of, just like  LiLi and in doing so you might actually realise that there are things that you would like to have a go at, but you had already made a decision that you were scared or wouldn’t like it!

To actually say I am scared, out loud to those around you, is the first step towards change.

After all, people close to you can usually see what’s really happening. If you have friends who you are constantly ‘putting off’ doing things with, they may eventually get tired of your strange responses and may even stop asking you to join in or do things altogether?

If you have the ability and the can harness the desire to first acknowledge and tell the truth about what you are afraid of, people who care about you will certainly appreciate your honesty.  They may even have more understanding of your situation and feel sympathy or indeed empathy for what you are experiencing.

In doing this it will also allow you to look at why you don’t want to try something and maybe you can then make some headway towards changing it…if you want to that is, as clearly there are some things that you may never want to do, Karaoke being a good example!

I really encourage you to take a look at things that you feel make you scared?  Why is it that you don’t want to do them? What are you really afraid of?

When is the last time you tried it…maybe its been a long time and you could actually have another go at that thing?

Maybe change happens outside of our comfort zone!

Could you consider opening up to someone about what you are ‘scared’ of? If you did what might this change?  It may not having you bungee jumping next weekend, but it may help you feel freed up of your desire to show yourself in a particular light which can help you towards a more balanced, honest and truthful self.

Till next week!