Category: Growing Pains

LiveBrilliant Women’s Retreat 11-13 November 2011

By , September 28, 2011 1:46 pm

How to Make Space for the New… Stop being a MUST-urbator!

By , April 9, 2011 5:15 pm

“If there’s anything new that you want in your life, you’ve got to make room for it. I mean that pschologically as well as physically.”

Jack Canfield, Author, cocreator of Chicken Soup for the Soul®

I’ve come to realise that learning and growing is not about doing more.

Growing is often about completing things, letting go and creating space for new shoots to emerge.

I was coaching someone this week who began the session describing her cluttered desk. As she spoke she soon realised that she also had a cluttered mind!

She identified several areas of her life where she’d left things uncompleted, half finished and even a personal relationship where she’d failed to get some closure, and important things had been left unsaid.These incompletes were holding her back from moving forward because when you don’t complete the past, you hold on to them. They drain your energy and feel like a heavy chain dragging behind you.

Her conversation was peppered with “I ought to do this… I know I should do that… I must…”

It’s difficult to be fully present and focused when you have unfinished or incomplete projects, tasks and promises that demand your attention.

I gently explained to my client that she was a MUST-urbator!

Dr Albert Ellis,  an American psychologist, used this term to describe people when their lives become full of must’s, ought’s and should’s. Many of us replay a head full of these lists, especially under times of pressure and stress. We put extra demands upon ourselves and bale ourselves out with excuses instead of taking action.

Why don’t we complete things?

  1. You are unclear
  2. You’ve stalled because you’re faced with an internal or external roadblock.

Here are a few examples:

  • You wanted to say ‘no’ but didn’t want to let the other person down.  
  • It’s difficult or uncomfortable to make a decision – Instead you procrastinate and struggle with the discomfort.
  • You feel guilty for not completing it so you avoid thinking about it and the incompletes continue to pile up.
  • Your wardrobe, closet and even your garage is groaning under the weight of all the clutter that you’ve been collecting – just in case it might come in handy!

Most of us are undisciplined in our approach and it’s easy to become distracted and unfocused. When we’re under pressure we move out of our left brain – logical thinking, into the right brain - emotive thinking. It’s difficult to be rational from this place.

We allow clutter and incompletes into our lives and drown in stacks of papers, old clothes, broken items, things we don’t like or not saying the things we need to say to avoid resentment and misunderstanding.

How to STOP MUST-urbation:

  1. Write down a full list of all your must’s, ought’s and should’s. E.g. “I must get the car serviced.” “I ought to visit my parents in the holidays.” “I should clear out the basement.”
  2. Once you have your list, re-write it rephrasing each sentence with I want to…
  3. While re-writing each statement focus on WHY you WANT to do this and re-decide. You may realise that you don’t want to do this item anymore, and you can let it go.
  4. Choose 3 things on the list and start to complete them.
  5. Write down what will it take to complete each of these three tasks. What is the next step?
  6. Consciously keep these items on your radar by checking in weekly with your list of your incompletes and scheduling dates and times in your planner to GET THEM DONE little and often.
  7. Learn to feel completeness by taking small action steps and making it a habit.

Successful people continually work on their incompletes. Why? Because if you want to show up more fully in the present  you firstly need to complete the past.

Permission to feel Awkward…

By , October 3, 2010 10:56 pm

“Anything worth doing well is worth doing badly in the beginning.”

Marshall Thurber, Business Consultant.

Sometimes when we’re learning something new we feel awkward, very conscious and uncomfortable. We want to be perfect straight away. We might give up because we’re not willing to pay the price of putting extra time in to break through the awkwardness.

Success is all about persistence, practice, discipline and sacrifice.

My Dad taught me how to drive. I got my provisional driving licence on my 17th Birthday. The day after, I had my first driving lesson.

The first time I sat behind the wheel of a car was an amazing experience. It was a dark January evening and I was so excited. Although I’d never driven before, I’d eagerly watched my Dad drive and learnt the theory of driving from the passenger seat.

That night I drove almost perfectly, changing gears with confidence as if I’d been driving for a while. It was amazing! When we arrived home my Dad proudly told my Mum that he thought I was a ‘natural’ and I’d easily pass my test!

After this lesson I thought that driving would be easy.

The next time I got in the car I was crap! For the next month my driving sucked! I was nervous, grinded the gears, mounted the curb and my confidence was soon reduced to zero. Learning to drive was overwhelming it seemed that there was so much to think about and do all at the same time.

I’d NEVER pass my test… I dreaded my lessons.

I was so frustrated. I’d driven well before, WHY couldn’t I just do it again?

I was frightened to make mistakes and I’d compare myself to that first lesson when I drove really well – I didn’t want to learn how to drive anymore!

Here’s what this experience taught me about learning:

1. Permission to feel Awkward – In order to learn something you have to give yourself permission to do things badly, screw up and be imperfect. Understand in advance that this is an essential part of learning and accept that this will happen sometimes as part of your learning journey. Let go of trying to be perfect and let yourself to be awkward. It’s okay!

2. Competence = Confidence = Control – You have to pass through the feeling awkward stage before you start to develop some competence. Practice, patience and persistence helps you to develop your competence. Competence allows you to feel more confident and feeling confident ultimately allows you to feel in control of the situation. You have to work through all three stages of this cycle and as you continue to learn, these elements become stronger.

3. Create Momentum – You have to be willing to show up on a bad day as well as a good day. You have to keep going despite looking silly or feeling very conscious of how stupid you feel. After a while competence kicks in and the awkwardness falls away.

Allow yourself permission to feel awkward…

It can be quite liberating!

5 Ways to Tame Your Inner Lizard

By , September 26, 2010 1:09 am

“Deep within your brain lies the amygdala, the lizard brain. It sets out to sabotage anything that feels threatening, risky or generous. Until you name, recognise, and deal with the resistance, you will stay frustrated.”

Seth Godin, Author.

Meet George…

Don’t be fooled by his cute looks because George is an evil little bugger and has very sharp teeth.

George has spent his entire life resisting anything important I’ve ever wanted to do. When cornered he fights dirty by disabling me both physically and emotionally!

So who exactly is George?

‘George Amygdala’ is the name that I give my lizard brain. The limbic or lizard is the most primitive part of our brain. It evolved millions of years ago and is in charge of our fight, flight and freeze responses.

The newest part of our brain to evolve is called the neocortex is responsible for rational thinking, speech, consciousness and creativity.

The lizard brain triggers responses 500 times faster than a thought. It’s also closest to the chemicals that generate our emotions. So before you’ve thought something, you’ve reacted! If there’s an emergency then our lizard brain takes over to protect itself when our basic survival needs are threatened.

This is great in a life and death situation.

But not during a presentation…


Your Lizard brain can’t tell the difference between real or perceived danger. If something makes us feel uncomfortable then our lizard brain will resist.

A friend delivered a presentation skills course where a delegate had a real fear of presenting. She stood up to present and passed out. The fear of presenting was so real, that her lizard brain pulled the biological plug (She was okay and successfully beat her fear).

The lizard brain flicks the ‘off-switch’ on the weaker neocortex if we feel that our basic needs are threatened (fear, anger, arousal, revenge or hunger). We become stuck in the lizard brain which generates flight, fight or freeze through a raft of emotions such as shame, guilt, fear and envy.  Rational thinking is replaced by fragmented limiting or negative beliefs:

“See, you were stupid to even try that!”

“You should have listened to me in the first place!”

“You’re always going to be crap with money!”

“These people hate you!”

“Who do you think you are?”

Emotions such as shame, narrow the lens and paralyse you. Triggered and hooked by the voice inside your head (George) you falsely believe these messages to be true.

Here are 5 ways to tame your lizard:

1. Name it – Give your lizard a name and write a description of him/her. Draw a picture of your lizard and keep it as a visible reminder. Using humour is a great way to be able to flick the ‘on-switch’ in your neocortex.

2. Self-Awareness – Start to notice when your lizard is running the show. List your limiting and negative beliefs. Your lizard is fuelled by lack and attack fears. Use a journal to write down your top ten lizard messages (like the examples above). Just know that this is part of our biology!

3. Find your neocortex ‘On-Switch’ – The neocortex is where you become rational and logical. Here you know that your thinking is not true. Learn how to re-frame your limiting beliefs so you can turn them around.

4. Get comfortable with uncomfortable – Our lizard brain seeks comfort so it can feel safe. To grow and be successful you need to go out of your way to be uncomfortable. Discomfort means that you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone and this brings change, growth and engagement.

5. Understand Fear – Fear is a powerful hardwired emotion. It has kept our ancestors alive. Today we are often worried more about criticism than fear. Fear makes us take hesitant attempts. Think your way out of fear by getting clear on what you want and take action. The reality is that you will fail sometimes, but you can’t fail to learn. Successful people learn from failure, not that they shouldn’t have tried but how they can try it differently next time. Don’t give up!

What do you call your lizard?

Getting Wrong Right!

By , August 14, 2010 1:57 pm

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”

B C Forbes, Founder of Forbes Magazine

There are many times in my life when I’ve believed I got it wrong. Here are a few of them:

  • I didn’t prepare for something as I should have done.
  • I made a decision and the outcome was much less than I expected.
  • I misunderstood a situation and responded in an inappropriate way.
  • I got a different reaction to what I’d expected.
  • I felt that I could have done much better.
  • I didn’t listen to and be guided by my intuitive self

In others words – I screwed up.

If you allow feedback from others to compound the situation, you hastily retreat into shame and self-pity. The committee in your head continues to re-run the situation over and over: “If only I’d…” as if this might change the outcome! Instead it magnifies the pain and makes you feel smaller and even more of an idiot! We invent stories of what people might be saying or how they might be reacting as part of this internal beating.

We doubt our abilities and motives. This alone can be enough to kill our dreams.

Shame and self-pity makes you want to lock all the doors, pull down the shutters and never show your face again.

“How stupid am I for even trying in the first place? I should have known…

  1. …better to have challenged things.”
  2. …that I wasn’t really all that good.”
  3. …that people would have reacted the way they did.”
  4. …that they wouldn’t listen to me.”
  5. …how stupid my idea was.”

We can all add more to this list from our own experiences!

Here’s the thing…

Your ego hates you for getting it wrong!

It tries to punish you for not listening, for daring to be different and for taking a risk. “I told you so!” Shame enters your head and takes over the show. When this happens there is no room for confidence or self-belief and they sneak out of the back door while shame is dancing centre stage to your ego’s tune. All the attention that shame is getting just helps to magnify and intensify the pain.

Here’s another way of looking at getting it wrong:

You did it!

You stepped into your power and took a risk for something you were passionate about and believed in.

You may not have done something perfectly, but you took action and did it. You went for it!

Remember the following:

  1. You were brave enough to try and to step up – this is great!
  2. We ALL get things wrong and make mistakes because we’re human. Humans are naturally imperfect!
  3. Sometimes when you try new things you face ridicule and opposition from others. This often comes before acceptance. Your ideas might be seen as a threat to other people’s comfort zones.
  4. Sometimes getting it wrong is an essential part of the journey to getting it right. Without the wrong, you’d never have stumbled upon the right. How many of us actually were able to ride a bicycle perfectly the first time we rode it? I remember falling off many times but I was determined to do it!
  5. Wrong is a rich source of learning. Growth happens when things go wrong. New shoots form. Learning is like a light that restores energy, allows growth and helps your confidence and belief to return through the front door!
  6. EVERY successful person screws things up and gets things wrong from time to time. It’s okay…it helps you to be more successful. Success is all about persistence, taking some risks and trying things out.

Here’s how to get wrong right:

  1. Take the ownership and responsibility to learn from any situation. What have I learned here? What would I do differently next time?
  2. Choose not to listen to your ego because it’s not telling the truth.
  3. Embrace the humility of being human – sometimes we screw up – it’s okay!
  4. Shame will pass – Allow some time to wallow in the emotion. Give it a time limit. Then stop and allow time for learning and growth. Choose to step into your power again.
  5. Continue to believe in yourself even though you may feel doubt and confusion. Go back to your intention and get clear again.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get back in the saddle again knowing that you are bigger, bolder and wiser.

Getting it wrong can be quite liberating if you allow it as part of the natural process of success.

“Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping-stones to greater experience….When one door closes, another always opens; as a natural law it has to, to balance.”

Brian Adams

Interdependence Day!

By , July 4, 2010 9:31 am

As today is the 4th July, Firstly, I want to wish all my American friends a:

Happy Independence Day!

Today the US proudly celebrates the anniversary of national independence.

The word independence got me thinking about claiming back independence in our own life and how this can ultimately lead to interdependence.

As we achieve things in life and master independence this often brings status. There is nothing wrong with being recognised for your achievements.

I have also noticed that some people stop growing at this point because they develop an attachment to status. Their goal becomes all about achieving or preserving this level of status and they can become isolated.

I have recently experienced this with a client I’ve been working with.

John, is a now senior executive, he strived for promotion and achieved it. In his new leadership role John felt that he had to play bigger and step up into his power. He wasn’t sure how to do this and at senior level, there was no one to ask. Over the first few months of his appointment he reactively became focused on his status and power and exerted this in a ‘command and control’ way to get things done.  Because things weren’t going well, he tried to protect his status by making himself indispensible. He worked alone and became more independent and isolated from his team. This cut him off from others. This reduced his credibility with his team and created an environment of compliance rather than commitment.

John was exhausted and felt lonely because there was no one to ask for help. He realised that his Ego was beginning to run the show and this wasn’t what he’d signed up for.

If you allow Ego and self preservation to drive your power people around you become compliant rather than committed to your cause. This cuts you off from others and creates an environment of low trust.

Here are some of the main symptoms:

  • I’m always right – don’t challenge me
  • I’m not listening to ideas from others
  • Others are of lesser value to me
  • I am superior to them
  • I always take the credit
  • I keep a distance between ‘them’ and me
  • I Work longer hours than those below me to achieve more and to maintain my status
  • I let my superiors know that I’m doing a great job and that I’m putting extra time in!
  • I perceive that those who work collaboratively are a threat
  • I have no one to support me – I’m all alone

John believed that he had to defend his status by exerting power through authority to get things done. John realised that he couldn’t do it all alone but was frightened to ask for the support of others because he mistakenly assumed that others would think less of him and it would diminish his value.

Cooperation is essential for interdependence. The power of one is much less than the power of many. When Ego turns up to run the show you create obstacles to success. It also takes so much effort to maintain!

This is also true for any success you are trying to create in life.

The foundations of good relationships with others are self-mastery and self-discipline. Success involves learning how to become Interdependent.

Being Interdependent involves:

  • Knowing you’re WHY? Why are you really doing what you are doing? Consider your motive.
  • Understanding what you are committed to.
  • Stepping back from your Ego – This just gets in the way of creating the best solutions.
  • Appreciating the contributions of others – It’s hard to do anything alone. Engage other people and value their support. Value their contribution and share the success.
  • Stopping defending yourself – This takes so much effort and energy.
  • Looking for a more cooperative approach. The more cooperation the greater the solution will be.
  • Taking time to build rich and productive relationships and associations with others.
  • Surround yourself with support structures. Creating a support network around you to help you grow and learn. Like-minded people who can support you. Invest in a personal coach.

“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.”

Stephen R Covey, Author, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Being independent means that you get to live your life on purpose – proactively with integrity. Choosing to live interdependently allows you to build synergy through open communication and positive interaction with others.  Cooperation is the key to highly productive and enduring relationships. This takes success to a higher level because it opens up new worlds of possibility for meaningful associations, learning and growth, serving others, contributing to our environment and for increased productivity.

Working Through Your Growing Pains

By , June 12, 2010 10:57 am

“We have an innate desire to endlessly learn, grow and develop. We want to become more than what we already are. Once we yield this inclination for continuous and never-ending improvement, we lead a life of endless accomplishments and satisfaction.”

Chuck Gallozzi

Human beings have a natural desire to grow. Growth is all about meaning, making progress, satisfaction and accomplishment. It gives us a feeling of expansion, improvement and purpose.

Today’s world is very fast paced where continual growth and improvement is necessary to survive the rapid pace of change. Sometimes we can feel that change is thrust upon us and this brings with it a certain level of anxiety and stress. Growing stops because we spend more time reacting to the busy-ness of life.

Consider for a moment what you want to add to your life that is not there now. I believe that you can only achieve this through your own personal growth. People who actively set out to improve their knowledge, skills and behaviour, whether this is at work or at home have a better chance of long term success.

Yet sometimes people stop growing because they get lost in the fog of their own conditioning. You stop growing and start stagnating.

You might get stuck in the past, perhaps a missed opportunity, where your mind replays the tape of what should have happened, or how something went wrong. You become stuck in the rut of working that dead-end boring job. Days become unfulfilling because you get locked into the ritual of your own conditioning, like a wheel stuck in a rut: Go to work, stay there until 5pm, come home, eat, watch mind numbing crap on television, go to bed, then start the day all over again. It’s hard to find a way out and this can go on for years.

We settle and survive.

Major improvements don’t happen overnight, growth takes time and persistence. It’s easy to give up because the busy world around us conditions us into expecting instant results. Most of us struggle with growing pains at various times in our life. It’s easy to begin something and then give up because growing pains can make us feel like we’ve failed. You might be feeling stuck, need encouragement or direction.

Little and often… It’s important to begin small.

I have found that if you make a commitment to growing and do a little every day, you create momentum and you grow over time. Your learning is constant and not overwhelming. You start enjoying it!

Setting aside some each day to read a book, attend a weekly class, watch a video or read a blog helps you to increase your knowledge, hone your skills or change your behaviour in small chunks. Over time this creates depth and breath. Everything you do is building block to your growth and success. Engage in the process of continuous improvement by becoming a Student of You.

Continual growth brings many benefits such as improved confidence, increased self-esteem and self-worth. Success is a positive by-product. These positively impact your life and the lives of people you interact with. It’s really worth the effort.

Trust me – It’s amazing how working through your growing pains can really improve your thinking and behaviour. People will start to notice how you have changed in a positive way and ask you how you’ve done it!

Begin to recognise your growing pains and start working through them…

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