Monthly Archives: February 2017

Your Inner Critic

Self doubt has been something I’ve always struggled with. It’s a pity I never joined a debating team because by the time I was in my twenties, I had plenty of practice! There was a never ending debate in my head about everything; it was as if I had a split personality. I would want to do something but then I’d have that little voice in my head saying ‘Oohh, be careful- you could screw it up and make a show of yourself’.

The more I wanted to try, grow, learn and experience, the more that little voice spoke up. It got to the point that on many occasions, I actually listened to it and I held myself back. I think one of those times was in fact the decision as to whether to join a debating society in college- the little voice in my head told me I’d make a balls of it so I didn’t even put my name down to try.

The inner critic is that internal chatter that tells you that you are not enough, it’s that inner voice that makes you doubt yourself, your abilities, makes you think you’re not ready, that you don’t know enough to offer an opinion. What I’ve learnt from years of coaching and working with other women is that one of the main reasons why women don’t behave in a loving and kind way towards themselves is because of an underlying belief of not being enough, worthy or deserving. The inner critic plays a key role in our ability to love ourselves as well as our ability to feel confident, take risks and trust our own minds.

All women struggle or as the case may be, battle, with self doubt. For some of us, the voice of self doubt and not good enough speaks up in relation to our career, for others it speaks out about being single or as a mother, for some of us it speaks out about our body, our weight, our aches and pains, getting older! For others, it speaks out about our passions, our dreams, our creativity. For most of us, it’s a combination of all the above!

The thing is that because most of us are so used to hearing this voice, we just believe that it is who we are! We believe it is our voice and since we don’t really chat to people about our insecurities and fears, we don’t learn or realise that other women – women we admire because they ooze confidence- hear the same mean, irrational, harsh crazy talk in their own heads too.

The inner critic costs us so much- think of all those times you stayed silent in a meeting, ideas you never put forward, all those times you didn’t ask for what you wanted or stated what you needed, all those times you didn’t ask the question, all those creative ideas that were parked, all those talents and strengths unused, gradually getting quieter and quieter. Think of all the joy and fulfilment women have missed out on because self doubt got in the way. It is everywhere and we have lost a lot because of it. That’s the bad news.

The good news is less well known. You don’t have to find a magical well of confidence, you don’t need to do past life regression to work through the roots of your insecurities and you don’t need to figure out how to banish fear and self doubt from the face of the earth! Instead, you simply need to learn how to live with that inner voice of self doubt but not be held back by it. To hear it, but not take direction from it. That’s what I want to talk to you about today!

Why do we have an inner critic?

The answer is that we’re hardwired for it. The inner critic is an expression of the safety instinct within us- the part of us that wants to stay safe from potential risk. It’s been with us since the time of the saber tooth tiger and various other animals with large teeth. Nowadays, we don’t have to contend with wild beasts but that instinct to keep us safe is still there and the biggest risk to us now is emotional risk. So these days, the safety instinct aka the inner critic tries to keep us safe from hurt, failure, criticism, disappointment or rejection from our community. It’s a smart cookie….

If your inner critic just said the words, ‘don’t apply for the job’. ‘don’t write the book;, ‘don’t fall in love’, ‘don’t put on a bikini’. These things are far too dangerous – you would laugh- if you listened to it at all in the first place! You’d probably tell the voice to get lost and that you were grand, thanks!

So the safety instinct has learnt to use a more effective approach, instead it says things like:

  • ‘If you leave your job you’ll end up miserable and jobless, you won’t find anything else. You’re lousy at what you do anyway, how have they not caught you out yet? You know that every success is a total fluke’ ,
  • ‘Your writing is mediocre, you really can’t compare yourself to the pros can you?’
  • ‘If you let yourself fall for that person, you’ll have your heart broken, it won’t work out and you’ll waste time and you can’t afford to waste time, you want a family’,
  • ‘How could he be attracted to you? You’ll look like an idiot if you let your guard down’
  • ‘If you put that bikini on, people will think you’re mental, they will look and point, and judge and stare’.

The critic has learnt to speak with a sharp tongue of viciousness and brings in something personal- something that triggers a fear of embarrassment, rejection, failure or pain.

Loving ourselves and following our passions and dreams puts us in a vulnerable place. I know a lot of people don’t like the word vulnerability but the definition of vulnerabilty is ‘exposure to emotional risk’ so if you ever want to grow, try something new, have relationships with other humans then you’ll have to experience it. However our own safety instinct seeks to protect us from that potential vulnerability by mouthing off self criticism and self loathing so that we stay where we are.

Your safety instinct doesn’t give a monkeys whether or not you feel fulfilled or self actualised- it doesn’t care if you’re self comforting every night to numb the feelings of boredom or loneliness.

The safety instinct is happy as long as you stay in the zone of familiar. What it says to you to get you to stay there isn’t necessarily true.

Its job is not to be honest, it’s job is getting you to avoid perceived risk.

When we start to understand that our safety instinct, which has been with us since the dawn of time, uses the inner critic as a strategy to keep us in the zone of the familiar, and that what it says is not actual truth or reality, we start to take away its power. We can say to ourselves in the moment ‘I hear that voice, but I know that’s not the voice of truth and I choose not to take direction from it’.

Self doubt will always be a part of our lives as we move forwards towards our true desires and the mission is not to eliminate self doubt. It will never be gone so that’s a fight we simply can’t win. The mission is learning how to let the inner critic be who it is and do its things, without taking direction from it. The goal is to hear the inner critics voice but not to let that voice determine your choices. The mission is to build a relationship with it in which you understand why it does what it does and for you to step up, do some adulting and tell it that everything is ok, that you got this!

If you want to learn how to manage that relationship with your inner critic then join my ‘All You Need is Love’ programme! Week 2 is all about the Inner Critic and we will deep dive into it so that you learn the tools you need to manage and master that relationship once and for all!

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent..including you!

Doors close on Wednesday 1st March so just go for it!

P x

All You Need is Love

How is your relationship with Money?

Today, I’m talking about your relationship with money because the topic keeps coming up again and again with my clients and for myself personally!

We all have a relationship with money and having a healthy relationship with money is just like any other relationship. You can break up,  kiss and make up,  get so mad and frustrated, fall head over heels, you can be wooed and become smitten, be impulsive, be cautious, you can feel unworthy, undeserving and push it away, you can get blinded and have ups and downs!

But ultimately we want to live happily ever after with our money and like all relationships- it takes love and attention to do that!

Money is an emotive topic so if this triggers you, get curious about it!

Your relationship with money really is an intimate relationship and one that perhaps you’ve been neglecting. Or perhaps you feel it’s the other way around, that money has been neglecting you or even abusive and causing you to play small in life. Perhaps you feel that money doesn’t care about you at all and forgets you even exist!

Trust me though, regardless of where you are; this particular relationship can be salvaged and you can turn this around into a caring and loving partnership.

I had a major realisation this morning, what we coaches call an ‘aha’ moment. The relationship I used to have with money reminded me of relationships I had with exes. It was neglectful, undervalued, dramatic and dysfunctional. Now, I have been working on my money relationship for a few years and it’s improving, but if I’m honest I still have a lot of work to do!  How about you? Does your relationship with money mirror other relationship history? Something for you to ponder…..

Let’s look at what money is; basically money is an exchange of value.

In life, there are transactions in which we exchange money in return for value. That value may be clothes, holidays, a home, a pair of boots, a smoothie, bin collection etc. We earn money in return for value. We provide a service or our time, a particular value is placed on that service/time and money is exchanged for it.

So, if we don’t value ourselves, if we tell ourselves we’re not good enough, not worthy enough then we undervalue ourselves and the exchange of money is reduced. Think about it;  performance appraisals, interviews, negotiations.. any time that you had to talk about the value you add- did you own it? Did you claim your own value or did you play it down?

In personal relationships, it took me a long time for me to realise that it was ok and safe for me to have a healthy, nurturing, respectful relationship. It wasn’t what I was used to. When Colm opened the car door open for me when we were dating, I thought he was a weirdo! Every single time, he would hold it open, wait for me to get in and then walk around to his side. Then I would lean over and open the door for him. We still do this 7 years later and my friends laugh about it but really it was a baby step for me in learning how to have more respectful relationship and it stuck with me.

Anyways, back to money! It is possible and more than ok for you to learn how to fall in love with money! Imagine that, a relationship with money that is full of love, respect and caring.

Here’s what to do:

Identify the characteristics of your current relationship with money:

Is the relationship neglected, respectful, dangerous, loving, thrilling, fun, abusive, nurturing…?

Who are you in the relationship you have with money?

Are you dismissive, are careless, are you nurturing, are you disrespectful, are you jealous, are you obsessive, are you caring, are you clingy? Don’t worry about what your current reality is because once we’re aware, we can start to make changes.

What is your all time favourite love story?

If you had to pick the most romantic or the best movie relationship, something that inspires you, what would it be?

Perhaps you’d choose The Notebook, perhaps any of the Love Actually couples, maybe Notting Hill, maybe Pretty Woman, maybe Mamma Mia! Have a good think about it? Look through your favourite movies! I would choose a movie called ‘Ever After’ with Drew Barrymore- it’s a Cinderella story but basically she does end up with her happily ever after and her prince but she rescues herself!

How would you describe the relationship the characters have?

So for example, is it exciting & sexy, is it romantic and respectful, is it empowered and enduring, is it loyal and stable, is it romantic and loving?

If you were to merge your love story and your money; describe what your relationship with money would be like?

  • How would you know you were valued?
  • How would you feel spending money on you?
  • Who would you be in this new relationship?
  • How would you show up and let money know you cared?
  • How would you expect it to treat you?
  • What would you be doing regularly to nurture the relationship?

 This is all for you to ponder! Answer the questions, give it some thought because sometimes looking at something from a new perspective can lead to massive change. So, for now please remember that it’s more than ok for you to have an amazing money relationship, it’s ok for you to feel supported!

But remember that you are responsible for what you bring to the relationship; you can’t be neglectful and then resent it because it’s never there when you need it!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this topic so please feel free to shoot me an email or pop over to my facebook page!

Until next week,

P x

Lessons from a serial dater…

This is a really hot topic at the moment with my 1-1 clients, and yes excuse the pun! Whether you’re recently or long term single, dating can be terrifying or absolutely brilliant fun- depending on your mindset!

I remember being in my mid twenties, when a 6 year relationship ended and enough time had passed to allow me heal, I thought about meeting someone new. But it was a completely different ball game, totally new rules, new environment- everything had changed. It wasn’t a friend of a friend ‘will you meet/shift my mate?’ type scenario any more, I was an adult now and I had NO idea what to do!

So, one Spring evening with my girlfriends, Chinese food and wine- we put together  a profile of the type of guy I wanted to meet including values such as ‘family needs to be important to him’, ‘he needs to be respectful, fit, intelligent, be able to cook, clean, look after himself and be great in bed!’ (Yes, we were drinking!)

I decided that I was going to start an experiment in dating, like going out on dates and being proactive in meeting new people. I wondered if anyone would even want to date me in the first place – it was something I hadn’t done before and it was scary and exciting! The first approach was nights out in town with friends, going to a club, having a boogie and it was great fun! 80’s music, just the girls in Eamon Dorans, McGowans in Phibsboro and all different random clubs! Absolutely fantastic nights out with my girls! Did it work for dating…No! Yep, I met a few guys but all they wanted was someone to go home with that night.

Next adventure was speed dating in the Church bar, again, good fun, good few drinks, boogie afterwards, fun with my pal and we met 2 nice guys we chatted to for most of the night, but again it was more of a short term affair they had in mind!

After that, I decided to give online dating a try. Firstly, I found myself getting sucked into checking profiles almost constantly so I had learn to start setting limits. I responded to everyone who contacted me and felt it would be rude not to engage with someone. Again, that was another lesson. I made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot of lessons which I’ll share with you below. I met a lot of guys that year, probably close to 20. Two or three guys, I dated for a few weeks- the rest I never saw again.

I grew up a lot and changed a lot during that whole period. Towards the beginning, I felt a ‘need’ to have these guys like me, I wanted them to want me and desire me so I was flirty, tipsy and a bit outrageous. But then, I had a wakeup call. I had driven almost 3 hours to the guy I was ‘kind of’ seeing, getting there quite late in the evening, only for the next day for him to announce he was going golfing with friends. I felt like an idiot, hugely disappointed and I spent the 3 hour drive home vowing to make major changes. During that drive, I realised that I was desperate to be loved. That was what was driving all this behaviour so I took a step back, took a deep breath and paid attention to myself.

For want of a better way to explain, I started dating myself.

I started getting to know myself, appreciating myself, admiring my strengths, stories and passions. I started owning them and falling in love with them. That was still scary but at the time, I had just started my accredited life coaching course, which encouraged me to start looking after myself properly and treating myself with more respect.

I was progressing in my life, in my career, in my relationship with myself and so I continued to date but I changed the rules to better serve me. I met Colm a few weeks later online, he had no profile picture but I found his description of himself interesting so I got in touch and we agreed to meet the following week at 10am in a coffee shop in my local area and the rest is history!

Paula’s top tips for dating!

  1. Be Proactive

Yep, I can hear it now, the cringe and the awkwardness but that is the way it is now. You need to be proactive if you are wanting to meet someone. The level of pro-activity is up to you. A baby step is to start engaging more with people around you. Make eye contact in shops and cafes, say thank you to your waitress/waiter, hold your head up high as you walk down the street and smile and nod at people. It’s a small step that can help us boost our confidence and sense of self as well as making us more aware or how many people there are around us! Another step above that could be actively dating, starting small and easy and building up from there.

  1. Make it work for you

If ‘dating’ is too freaky or would make you feel awkward, then change it so it works for you. This is the mindset piece. I knew that part of my coaching course would require me to work with pro-bono clients which meant I had to learn how to meet new people, break the ice, build rapport and allow people to feel comfortable with me. I had no idea how to do that, it scared me so that was part of the motivation to start ‘dating’- I was learning and developing new skills that would help me in my career. I looked at it as an experiment and a challenge. I learnt a lot along the way and changed my approach until I was comfortable.

  1. No alcohol

A big mistake I made at the beginning was meeting people at night and having a few drinks. I’m not a big drinker anyway but wanting to be seen as ‘cool’ and fit in made me drink more than I should have. Alcohol does impair your judgement and meeting at night often means there will be an initiation to go back to their place or your place.

I changed my approach and met people for a coffee during the day instead and I have to say, it was brilliant and made it much more fun! The guys I met were much nicer, they were really genuine and I started really looking forward to my coffee dates! We’d meet say in Bewleys on Grafton street on a Saturday and take a walk up to the park, sit on the grass and chat. They were nervous, I was nervous but we both knew each other was being real. Do not underestimate the light of day! It also then made it easier to transition to the evening dates and dinners etc because we’d already met and I knew we liked each other!

  1. Have boundaries in place

One big fear about online dating or any dating is safety. From speaking to hundreds of women on this topic- the main resistance tends to be 1. It’s not how I dreamed I would meet someone and 2. What if I meet an absolute nutcase. Fear can stop us, it has a job to do which is to keep us safe however that doesn’t mean you have to stay home and wait for your dream guy or girl to knock on your door. I’d encourage you to challenge the fear. What measures can you put in place to make you feel more secure? I’ll give you some examples of what I learnt to put in place. 1. I never gave out my number or address online- I would arrange to meet someone at a certain place and time through the online messenger on the dating website, if they asked for numbers/address I said no and explained why, if they were disrespectful or slagged me about it then it didn’t progress. 2. I’d normally have a time limit on how long we’d meet for – if you’re meeting during the day then most of the time, you’ll have somewhere else to be! 3. I told my sister where I was going, who I was meeting and when to expect me home.

I didn’t do any of this at the beginning but as I experienced more and became more respectful towards myself, these steps came into practice then.

  1. Come from a place of wholeness

This is the most important aspect of dating. You need to be ready and come from a place of wholeness. Initially, I was looking for someone who would make me feel better about me and the result was I gave the other person too much power. I wanted to be liked, loved, desired so often I would find myself behaving and speaking in ways that weren’t authentic to me. It was like I was trying to be whoever my date wanted me to be. Ultimately, all that does is make you feel lousy about yourself.

It took a lot of work and a good few months for me to shift away from that nervous, flirty, yes girl in the club who felt desperate to be liked to being a strong woman walking down the street at 10am on a Wednesday morning looking forward to meeting someone new for the sake of be curious about someone new. I distinctly remember that morning, I felt really strong and happy within myself, I was wearing a vest top, jeans and runners with my hair pulled in a pony and felt like I was more than enough by being myself. It was an amazing feeling and quite liberating.

I hope my sharing my experience and lessons with you is helpful in some way! As I said, it’s a hot topic at the moment!

If you want to nurture and develop the most important relationship in your life- the one you have with YOURSELF, then please check out my course ‘All You Need is Love’.

It is so incredibly important.  All of the rest of it — everything else you’re wanting in your life like meaningful work, finding your voice, standing up for yourself, asking for what you need and want, putting yourself out there, making new friends as an adult, cultivating new romantic relationships, committing to romantic relationships, making decisions on your future….. it all sits on the foundation of Self-Love.

Until next week,

Shine bright like a diamond!

Love,

P x