Getting out of my own head

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kids 2For those of you that didn’t know, I actually only work three days a week. I’m lucky that Wednesdays and Thursdays I get to play with the kids, cruise parks, hang out at the beach and generally just have fun. Laura is now 2 and a half and Dylan in almost 16 months. Some days are absolutely wonderful; last Wednesday however wasn’t one of them!

It started around 6am when they both woke and were just grumpy and they seemed to really set each other off. From then it was duelling tantrums. Screaming, crying, whinging and essentially just constant negative noise! Dylan had a mini nap which made everything worse so by about 2pm I was ready to book the next flight to Jamaica.... solo!

Self Esteem Or Self Acceptance

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Self acceptance by Jodie cooperI've been a life coach now for over 7 years and in that time I've studied a lot on self esteem and confidence and have seen massive changes in clients who began with no self esteem and gradually throughout the coaching process have grown to like and love themselves, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This has started a massive transformation for them. 
My entire view of self esteem has been challenged. I've always seen it as such a solid foundation of happiness. One of the keys to becoming happier I believed was to like yourself, appreciate who you are and learn to regularly validate yourself. Russ Harris, in his book, ACT made simple, talks about self esteem as simply more transient thoughts about yourself. Sometimes you will love yourself and sometimes you will be disappointed with yourself and all of those thoughts are merely thoughts. When we become attached to either the positives about ourselves or the negatives about ourselves we end up fused with the thoughts and can become detached from reality. 
The truth is sometimes we are exceptional human beings and sometimes we are complete clutz's. When we can learn to acknowledge our thoughts and our triumphs and our errors we gain a level of self acceptance, and now that is were I believe true happiness lies. I certainly still work with clients on learning to like, love and validate themselves, however I also do a lot of work on self acceptance.
But then life is learning and perhaps, just perhaps, in another year or two I'll learn more and have an entirely different view again, and I'm OK with that too. 

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Tagged in: Happiness Mindfulness

How to build your positivity muscle

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Strong armIt's funny, often when I'm talking to clients I come up with random analogies that really work and give them a key message in an easy and interesting way. I was working with a client the other day and explaining that positivity isn't simply something we were born with (we do inherit a generic steersman) but rather something that we can choose to work towards. 

I likened positive thinking to going to the gym. Now let's imagine our right arm is our positivity muscle, and each day we go to the gym and lift weights we build that muscle. We do hundreds and hundreds of repetitions and the muscle slowly and steadily grows. You can lift more with the right arm now, you can work it out for longer and it feels strong and solid.

Tagged in: Happiness

The problem with perfectionism

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Jodie Cooper, dealing with perfectionism Perfectionists aren't so perfect after all! It's been over 7 years now that I've been coaching and time and time again I have clients with, let's be kind, and call them 'perfectionist tendencies'. What I've noticed is that these clients are high achievers; they set big goals for themselves and hold themselves to the highest possible standard. It sounds like a good thing so far, but stay with me. The problem isn't the goals or the high standards; the problem is when they come up short, even ever so slightly short, they tend to beat themselves up unmercifully. When perfectionists don't quiet reach a goal, take too long, or have diverted slightly from the original path to achieving it, they see it as failure. And failure for a perfectionist is like a big red stamp branded on their foreheads for all to see.

So another way to see our goals and our life in general, is to work towards exceptional. When people see themselves as exceptional they are open to doing their absolute best, setting big goals, but also breaking them down into bite sized and very winnable chunks so they can celebrate along the way. If they fall short, take longer than expected or even divert from the original goal the focus is on them being exceptional, and as long as this holds true they get to succeed. People that focus on exceptional, hold their goals lightly, being flexible in their approach and kind with themselves along the way.

Tagged in: Challenges

Mindfulness at the Dentist

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dentistArgh, another trip to the dentist! Sitting in the chair, I thought, this is a great oppurtunity to practice mindfulness. So as the dentist was drilling away I was noticing my breathing and my body. Mindfulness really is about being aware of the present moment.  As the dentist was digging into my mouth I wanted to be mindful of my body, my breath and my reaction to the uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing. It was interesting, I found that with each breath I'd breathe out the tension, and by the time I'd breathed in again my body had tensed up in response to the dentists work. My shoulders rose, my stomech clenched, my toes even curled. What I found interesting was that even though I was conscious of all these physical reactions and I could choose to relax, my body kept reacting physically in exactly the same way. 
The best part of mindfulness is that it really isn't about changing your emotions, it's about noticing what's actually going on and making room for it. I think that's the biggest thing I've learned in the last few months, we can't actually control our emotions. We can guide and direct them, we can choose to think and focus on different things, but at the end of the day sometimes we simply feel a certain way. (I think the Dentist thing is probably pretty deeply ingrained in most of us!)
Mindfulness gives us freedom to feel all of those things without judging them as wrong. I've learned that it's not the emotion itself that creates problems it's the way we try to make them go away and control them, we find ourselves doing anything (eating, drinking, gambling, doing drugs) just to make the emotions go away for a while, and it works... in the short term. But in the long term it leads to another mountain of problems and even more emotional dramas.
So rather than judge your emotions this week, I challenge you to notice them, try to name them, (Yep, that's definitely frustration I'm feeling right now) be curious about what you're feeling and allow it to be what it is. Even try to open up to it and make room for it. When you drop the struggle with the negative emtions you take control of your life again and can choose the actions you want to take based on the values you have rather than the emotions that have hold of you. If you feel like you need a little help why not drop me a line. 
Tagged in: Challenges Mindfulness