Surrender to your Support

Firstly, out of curiosity- what was your 1st thought when you read the heading ‘Surrender to your support?’. Whatever it was, just make note of it. The 1st time that title popped into my head as the title for a blog, I felt my throat tighten and my body clench up. The word ‘surrender’ hit a nerve deep within me and I didn’t like it.

Earlier, I had been listening to a teaching from my spiritual teacher and she had been speaking about support and our ability as women, to receive it. It was an uncomfortable lesson to listen to because it resonated with me. As women, we have been raised and told from the time we were tiny people to look after others, don’t be greedy, don’t be selfish, don’t get too big for your boots, don’t ask for too much, be a good girl etc. We were taught to share, to care, to love and to give. All of that is wonderful and beautiful except, we were never thought how to receive. We were never taught how to accept kindness, compliments, support, help. We were never thought how to honour that within ourselves as well.

So, what does that look like as grown up women in today’s world?

It looks like loneliness.

Every day, I meet with or read emails from women all over Ireland and beyond. Women who are craving connection, truth, to be themselves, freedom, to go after their big dreams, women who are living a life or feeling stuck in a relationship or job that they know is not right for them but yet they stay there. Often, it’s because their confidence has taken a hit and they feel like they’re on their own. That is the perception but the truth is that often, they are surrounded by support but don’t know how to receive it.

I’ve been doing this work for 6 years now and I wish that I could weave a thread through all of these stories, to join them up so that these women know that they are connected to each other, that they are not alone or isolated. We have become so fearful of what others may think of us if they know how crappy we feel inside; so we stay silent.

Surrender to your support….

Imagine speaking truthfully, openly and honestly when you’re having a low time. Imagine saying to the people who are around you ‘I need you to carry me today’ and then surrendering yourself to the support all around you. Saying yes to that cup of tea, allowing yourself to rest and put your feet up, giving yourself permission to do nothing except let others take care of you.

Often we really don’t think we can but I would urge you to challenge that assumption. If a friend, a parent, a child, a sister, a stranger even looked you in the eye and said ‘I’m having a rough time, I’m feeling really low- can I lean on you today?‘- how would you respond? Would your heart open to that person or would it close? Would you step forward or step away?

I think I know what the answer would be for the situation above and I’m curious- would you have the courage to be the one to ask for support? What needs to happen for you to allow yourself to be held? What needs to happen for you to allow yourself receive (without guilt!)? What needs to change within you? Do you need to feel worthy of support? Do you need to learn to see your own support?

I want to share with you an exercise I’m practicing, which has already had a huge impact on my life……….

Take a few minutes, either in your mind or with a pen and paper and start thinking about or surrender to supportlisting everyone in your life who has supported you/encouraged you/rallied for you/stood up for you/looked out for you/got your back… just think of all of those people from the time you were a teeny tot up to present day. I’m a visual person so I start to picture all of these people around me- from my parents, my sister, my husband, to my cousins, my friends, my clients, my 6th class primary school teacher, my dean in college, the staff in the hospice when my Mam was ill, my neighbours, my pets and it goes on and on.

Whenever I need to now, I picture them all in my head and heart and I call them in. If I’m about to do something scary and if I need someone to lean on- I  see them all around me and I surrender to that support. It gives me courage, makes me feel stronger (and incredibly grateful) and it teaches me to be supported. That helps give me the courage to ask for help in the real world when I physically need it.

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Practice in real life….

I wrote this blog on Sunday afternoon as far as the last sentence above; then on Sunday evening I was so ill. I had been at a women’s circle in Bray, had a headache for most of the evening and on the journey back, I knew I was just holding myself together until I got home. My dad was at my house, he had been minding my little girl, I walked through the door and then I locked myself into the bathroom. I was violently ill, cold, shaking, light headed.

I text my Dad saying I was sick and didn’t want to go near Sarah, he said ‘no problem’. I text my husband asking if he could come home from work early, then do. Normally, I would never  do that, no matter what I needed. I made it upstairs and lay on the bathroom floor. 10 minutes later Colm was home, I was being looked after, brought to bed, nurtured and Sarah was looked after downstairs. The universe was testing me…. and reminding me to surrender to my support and I did.

Not enough time, not enough money….

For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered from not-enough-itis.

I hated the empty, anxious feeling in my chest and heart, the tightness around my throat and jaw- it was like I was always feeling behind, lacking in some way. I dreaded the sinking feeling that would come up when the circumstances of my life didn’t go as planned. So, I did what any normal person would do and I tried to take control of things. I did whatever I could to avoid it or to try and control it. I worked harder, strived and achieved in the hope that getting more would ease my inner ache and when that didn’t work, I turned to food, spending and mind numbing TV to try and not think about how inadequate I felt.

I know I am not alone in this lack mentality. This nagging feeling of inadequacy and not enough. It plays out in our relationships with money, in our career, with our partners and within ourselves. There is this constant feeling inside eating away at you. You try to avoid it. Sometimes you can. But then something will happen – your bank account drops, that guy doesn’t text you back, you put on a few pounds, a friend gets a promotion and then all of the sudden it hits you and you’re crippled with not-enough-itis.

This way of thinking drives us to be mass consumers with excessive to do lists. We find ourselves constantly seeking and searching but never putting our finger on what we need to light us up. We’re like a hamster on a wheel- round and round we go! Searching and seeking out more love, more money, more recognition, more stuff. But we still feel empty.

Symptoms Of Not-enough-itis aka Lack Mentality aka poverty consciousness

The lack mentality is a constant feeling of not enough.

From my personal experience and working with hundreds of clients over the past 6 years, I think that the root cause of lack mentality really is the fear that ‘I am not enough’.

Feeling like you are not enough or are insignificant or inadequate or however you want to call it, is an incredibly difficult feeling to feel. It can be so difficult to feel like you’re not enough and at the same time, summon the strength and courage you need to tackle it. It’s a double edged sword- ‘I am not enough’ – I need to do some inner work on personal acceptance and self love but I don’t deserve to because I am not enough…..round and round we go and we tell ourselves it is because we’ve not enough time or not enough money.

We don’t want to face up to that feeling so we will try keep our focus outside of ourselves, trying to make it go away by doing and getting more.

Lack mentality is always thinking about what is missing, constantly comparing and coming up short. Our mind is consumed with thoughts of what I don’t have, why I am not enough, what I did wrong, why I’m not where I thought I would be by now, what’s missing from my life, why things are lousy, why everything is so hard and it goes on and on and on and round and round..

We find ourselves stuck in this mindset. Going round in circles, obsessing, dropping into really negative emotional states. The more we focus on what we don’t have, the more we drop into unresourceful states and then the more we experience lack because we’re too drained to make a change, so it becomes this perpetual cycle.

Now, of course every now and then, we may strike gold and have things work out really well but for those stuck in lack mindset, that hit of satisfaction is only temporary and we find ourselves back in the same pattern and cycle again quite quickly. No matter how much money we have, it’s still not enough to ease that tight feeling of lack and worry. No matter how loved we are, we still feel that deep insecurity. No matter how qualified we are, it doesn’t quieten that internal voice telling you that you don’t measure up.

So, how do we change this? How do we break the cycle and learn to light ourselves up without constantly striving for more money, more love or more stuff?

  1. Practice awareness

The first step is always becoming aware of what you’re doing. Grab yourself a pen and paper and jot down some main areas of life- your health, your career, your personal development, your money, your family, your friends, your fun & relaxation and whatever else is important to you. Then, reflect on each area of your life. Ask yourself what’s going on for you in that part of your life and check in with how you feel inside. Where in your external world do you feel you don’t have enough? Where do you feel you are lacking? Compared to who? And now, look inside. Where do you feel not enough? What parts of yourself have you deemed as not good enough?

  1. What Do you Really Want?

Everything we do, we do because of how we think it will make us feel….. So, if you got what you were striving for- how would you feel? If you had the raise, the job you wanted, the money, the loving sexy partner, the gorgeous house, the toned yoga body – how do you think you would feel? Start to get clear on what you are really seeking here. This is one thing that really made the biggest difference in my life. I realised I wanted to feel confident and happy and I was pursuing things that ‘society and media’ were telling me would make me confident and happy. I didn’t need them and my own confidence and happiness came from doing the inner work, letting go of who I thought I should be and embracing who I actually was. Do you want that job because it’s meaningful, fulfils your values, is your unique expression and contribution to the world? Or because it’s the next step on the ladder and everyone says you need to keep climbing?

  1. Light Yourself Up

Once you are aware of what you truly wanting and desiring, the real work begins. As I mentioned earlier, often we look to our external world for fulfilment and to plug that empty feeling inside. We seek praise, promotion, approval, love, and so many other things but that approach is a temporary fix. You get the promotion, you’re pumped and then next week you’re down again. You hit the target for the mortgage deposit and it doesn’t bring you any long term joy- just the question ‘What next? It’s not a long term plan and what you need is to learn how to light yourself up from the inside. Easier said than done, I know!

How do you want to feel? Loved, appreciated, successful, happy, at peace, relaxed? And what have you been wanting from your external world (eg: your job, your friends, your partner, your bank account etc…) to make you feel that way.

This will be tough initially, but start to think about how you can start to experience those feelings now, without needing anyone or anything external to you to give it to you. What shifts can you make to how you think, what you focus on, your lifestyle and your actions, so that you can experience more of the feelings you’re desiring?

  1. Attitude of gratitude…

One of the quickest ways to help you lift yourself up and out of lack mindset is to practice shifting into abundance mindset. This basically means opening your eyes to what you do have in your life- perhaps you have an abundance of friends, an abundance of energy or passion for a particular topic, you have a roof over your head and food in your press, you have your skills- your ability to read and write and how much pleasure you can receive just from that, you have the beauty of the world around you. When we start opening our eyes to what we already have, it can help us shift our attention from what we lack. I will admit though, the first time I tried to do this, I found it very difficult to do because I was deeply rooted in lack mindset.

feeling gratefulMyself and Colm used to turn it into a game, asking each other ‘What was the best thing about your day? or ‘name three things you’re grateful for right now?’ – we’d do it in bed before we went to sleep and it felt really good.

The chance is that what you’re truly desiring to feel is probably present in your life right now in some shape or form but you’re not noticing it. Do you pay attention to what lights you up? Do you know what makes you feel good? When we start to acknowledge areas in our lives where we are truly abundant, things start to shift and we can ask ourselves ‘Where else do I already have what I want?’ ‘What is already part of my day to day life that I love?’

When you view the world from an abundance mindset- it looks completely different even though the circumstances might be exactly the same.

I hope this has resonated with you and that you take something from it! As always, I’d love to hear from you!

With love and much warmth,

Paula

Are you using your personal power?

“Your power to choose can never be taken from you. It can be neglected and it can be ignored. But if used, it can make all the difference.” – Steve Goodier

In the world of coaching and self help, you will come across the term ‘personal power’ quite a lot! I use it a lot as well so I wanted to write a bit today about what it actually means!

What does personal power mean?

To be honest, it will be different for each person but how I define personal power is ‘your ability to take action’. For me, my ability to take action and follow through equates to how powerful I feel within myself. We all have those times when we feel stuck, uncertain, indecisive, overwhelmed, anxious- all of those negative emotions that come into play in our lives. Often they have a lot in common and that is that you’re more in your head and not in action.

The most powerful way to shape our lives is by taking action- it’s not by talking about it, thinking about it or dreaming about it, it’s by going for it. Every action we take is a cause set in motion and it builds on our previous actions to move us in a particular direction. When we’re moving in a particular direction, eventually we will arrive at our destination. That destination then depends on you- have you been moving towards what you want or have you been moving towards what you don’t want.

Every action is a cause set in motion (as is every inaction) but it’s what we do on a consistent basis that brings us to our destination. So for example, if I haven’t been taking action and have sat on the couch night after night, my destination will be that my jeans are tighter and that my energy is low.  If I’ve been saying yes to extra demands on my time in work, my destination may be resentment and burn out. If I’ve been taking action and going out running on a consistent basis, my destination could be a personal best time and a sense of pride and achievement.

So, what comes before action? The answer is decisions. You have, whether you like it or not, have been making decisions and choosing your path in life. Everything that happened in your life, whether your thrilled about it or bummed about it, began with you making a choice and making a decision. The decisions that you’re making today will shape your life for the weeks and years to come… where will you be in ten years time based on the decisions you’re making today? It’s something to ponder….

Is it our life circumstances.. or our decisions?

Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to believe this to be true but the more I worked with different people the more evidence I gained that it’s our decisions rather than our life circumstances which impact our direction in life most powerfully. We all know people who have had a really rough time, that were dealt a pretty bad hand in life yet, they have turned their lives into something amazing! And, we all know people who had every advantage that was possible to have yet they’ve always been miserable. It’s our decisions that make the difference, not our conditions.

The really interesting thing is though that the majority of my clients don’t trust themselves Are you using your personal powerenough to make big decisions anymore. A main reason being is that they’re focused on the circumstances- perhaps you chose to study accountancy in college, graduated and went to work as an accountant- and hated it! You have an idea of what you’d like to do instead but you don’t make the decision because you don’t trust that it will work out. You tell yourself, I’m the one who chose to do the accountancy so obviously I can’t be trusted to make decisions on my life.

I see this over and over again and you’re missing the point. You were the one who made a decision, invoked your personal power and brought yourself there; you are the only one who can get you out of there as well by making a different decision! This is personal power and the majority of us are choosing not to exercise it.

There are no failures in life, only results.

If the first thing didn’t work out, try something else. If that doesn’t work, try something else, if that doesn’t work, try something else.

What could your life look life if you invoked your personal power? What new decision would you make? I’d love to hear your comments and feedback!

Until next week,

Don’t wait, Make it Happen,

P x

P.S

Do you have big dreams for yourself but keep getting in your own way?

If your answer is yes then the ‘How To Play Big when You Feel Small‘ is for YOU!

Join me on Wednesday the  7th September at 6.15pm for this FREE 60 minute Master Class and dive deep into this topic with me.

I’m A Scaredy-Cat!

I’m a complete scaredy cat. When the going gets tough, my default state of being is hiding and scaredy catsleeping myself into a safe cocoon of darkness. That’s what I want to be doing right now instead of writing this. I’m feeling anxious, scared, unworthy. I’m writing this post and I have the self talk of ‘who do you think you are?’ and feelings of being an imposter because I’m aware I’m scared and anxious.

 But you know what, this is the real me.

I am a total chicken! I get so scared that I get stuck in limbo not knowing what way to go.  The future scares me, asking for what I want scares me, doing things I know I want to do deep down scares me, telling people the truth scares me, looking at my finances when business has been quiet scares me, every time I write a blog post or tell you a bit of my story scares me, relationships scare me, making decisions scare me, running my own business terrifies me. Sometimes the thought of facing a difficult day scares me and I wake up with crippling anxiety in my chest, my jaw and throat tighten and I have such a strong desire to hide from the world. Life can be really scary but guess what? That’s ok. Also, I know I am a scaredy cat and want to hide and that’s ok too. I’ve accepted this.

You might think that this is a strange blog post for a life coach to write- it’s a bit blunt, not exactly motivational and so far isn’t offering much hope or inspiration!! And you’re right! It is an odd post for a coach to write but it’s also me being honest with you.

I’m always afraid and fear is always present in my life but it’s not a problem for me. It doesn’t get in my way or hold me back. Anymore… (well, maybe the odd time!!)

But my default state of hiding used to win all the time, I hid for most of my late teens and early 20s. I never really stretched myself and I stayed within my comfort zone. It was boring and frustrating as hell!! I didn’t really do anything fun and exciting either!

So I started to study fear- probably to try and figure out what was wrong with me so you can imagine my surprise when all of the books I read and seminars I attended were actually telling me that fear was normal, what I was feeling was normal, my desire to hide was normal.

One particular book I read was Susan Jeffers ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’- it took me years to get through this book because it made far too much sense and I just didn’t want to hear it. The main message in the book is that fear comes from an uncertainty within ourselves of our ability to handle the situation should something bad happen. Susan Jeffers says, “All you have to do to weaken your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.” So basically, cultivate self trust, self love and self compassion.

She talks about the 5 truths about fear, my favourite being ‘The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow’. Everybody fears doing, or being, something new because of the uncertainty within unfamiliar situations. If you do not fear, you do not grow.

This is why fear is no longer a problem for me.

I accept it and love that I continue to grow and push myself in spite of it. I said at the beginning that I would rather be hiding in my bed than writing this but I’m still typing so it’s more evidence for me that I’m progressing in spite of my fear and that I can handle whatever will come my way.

The reason I chose to write about this topic now is because life has been kicking my ass for the past few weeks! The past few weeks have been really tough, it was my baby girls first birthday and I was missing my mam and my nan. I was so busy that I wasn’t looking after myself properly, not getting enough sleep or rest, feeling that I was doing a half arsed job with everything which for me, feeds into the feelings of not being good enough. I know this space, I lived here for years and it can be really disheartening when I go back there. The negative self talk chips in with the ‘Who do you think you are? and ‘You obviously haven’t made any progress in your life if you’re back here again feeling low and anxious’. My mind, body and spirit have been taking their sweet time to come together and get on board with my plans and goals for the 2nd half of 2016. Getting back into my work groove has kicked my ass. Getting back into any sort of self care routine and rituals such as exercise, proper food and sleep has kicked my ass as well! In short, fear has crept in and self care, love and compassion has taken a nose dive! But what I’m so grateful for, is my work and being able to connect with so many other women like me all around the world and the message I’m hearing back is that …………...it’s not just me. Seems like this summer has been kicking lots of asses! But hey, if you do not fear, you do not grow! Let’s all be scaredy cats but push ourselves in spite of it!

Fear is my constant companion- how bout you?

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress! I’d love to hear your thoughts so pop over to the facebook page and say hi!!! Also, check out my brand new group coaching programme ‘Elevate 2016′– there are 6 places left and I’m so excited about it! We start in 6 weeks- xx

Until next week, feel the fear and do it anyway!

P x

Build Up Your Courage Muscles

Ships are safe in harbour but that’s not what ships were built for- Anon

To me, courage summons up images of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz and fireman bursting into burning buildings to save someone. The word courage isn’t used very often in day to day life; it’s more associated with these brave acts of heroism. My thoughts would have gone along the lines of ‘I’ve never risked my life to save someone so therefore I’m not courageous.

Often we have a very black and white view of what it means to be courageous and by looking at it through that lens, it means that you won’t ever see yourself as being courageous. But….guess what…

Courage actually means ‘the ability to do difficult or scary things in spite of fear’. If we adopted this way of looking at courage, we would allow ourselves to acknowledge our own courageous behaviour.

I was working with a client recently who needed and wanted to really go for a new career but she was scared. She was adamant that she was neither brave nor courageous so I asked her ‘What scary or difficult things have you done in spite of your fear?’ Well, the floodgates opened and the list went on and on! Everything from a rollercoaster to ending a long relationship.

By looking at courage this way, it’s much easier to see examples of when you have been courageous and then much easier to give yourself the kudos for it!

Journaling Prompt:
A question I would like you to answer is: ‘What difficult or scary things have I done in spite of fear?’

Grab a pen and paper and write them down! (Seriously, STOP right now and just take a few minutes or at least think about it for a few minutes- it’s a great gift to actually give yourself the credit for it!) Discover how courageous you really are! I bet you’ll be surprised!

Courage can be viewed as a muscle; you need to use it regularly so that it is more toned and supple so I’ve put together 5 tips for building on your already amazing courage muscles!

1. Be a Beginner

So many of us have things that we want to do, new things that we want to try but we never get Steve-Jobs-Courage-quotearound to it because we’re afraid to be a beginner. We’re afraid to put ourselves in an environment where we know nothing! It takes guts to try something new so just go for it. Whether it’s a new career path, painting, singing, driving, flying, acting, pole dancing- whatever! Be a beginner!

2. Go somewhere you’ve never been before

I know that comfort and familiarity are great but the same thing all the time can get a bit boring! A few years ago, I was mortified when I rang for a take away, just gave my address and the guy at the other end of the phone recited my order exactly. Definitely time for a change! I bet you that if you’re going for a meal out, you tend to go to the same few places. I bet that there’s at least one movie that you can recite word for word. For a holiday or day out, you’ve gone back to the same place. Why? Because you’re certain that you’ll like it! Do something different next time, try something new. Be bold and brave and take a risk!

3. Say what you really think

This is a big one! How many times a day do you bite your tongue and say nothing? Whose company do you tend to be in when you hold yourself back? What would happen if you actually said what was on your mind and in your heart? I don’t just mean telling your boss that you disagree with current practices (or that he’s an idiot! The best time to do this is when you have another job secured!), I mean also telling someone that you care about how important they are to you. That often would take more courage than anything else because it can make us feel vulnerable to acknowledge how deeply we are attached to other people.

4. Speak to someone you don’t know

For many of us, there are people outside our circles who could be extremely beneficial to our dreams, progress and aspirations. If there is a particular career path you are interested in, find someone who currently works in it and speak to them. The wonderful thing about life is that there are surprises around every corner! That person in front of you in the queue could be the love of your life, that stranger sitting across from you in the train could be your next business client. Often we hold back, keep our eyes down and arms folded when we’re around people we don’t know. Next time, strike up a conversation and see what happens!

5. Stand up for someone else

If you see someone being treated unfairly or unfavourably, what do you do? Say nothing or stand up for them? When I was working as a consultant, I was always surprised at the bitchy gossip that went on in offices. The crazy thing was that most people who participated in it felt uncomfortable about it! But no one would stand up for the individual being talked about in case they were targeted instead! Can you relate? Do you really care what bitchy gossipers think about you? Next time, be courageous and stand up for someone else.

A love letter to my younger self….

Dearest Paula,

You’re 23 years old right now sweetie and you are revelling in life! You’ve got your dream job, you’ve been with A for 5 years now, you’ve got the fancy clothes, the travel expenses, the nice holidays and all that you said you wanted! You’ve come a long way and I know you fought really hard to get here. You’ve looked after Mam when she was sick and  dealt with her passing when you were 18 (gosh, you were just a baby), you dealt with your family falling to pieces, you dealt with the loneliness you felt living by yourself when Lyn moved to the UK. You used to binge eat until you were sick and take a blade to your arms as the only way you knew how to release the pain you were feeling- you got the help and support you need and now you’ve left all those negative patterns behind you. You’re only 23! I’m so proud of you my love. I know that so many times you felt like giving up and giving in but you didn’t and you’re now facing your 24th birthday- happy, strong and full of love and hope. Sweetie, I wish I could tell you it would last.

Life is about to get messy and raw- again. In a few weeks, out of the blue, A will break up with you and he’ll do it by text. A few weeks after that you will lose your job and pretty soon after that, you’re going to lose yourself. You will be consumed once again by emptiness, loneliness and pain. You’ll start smoking again, binge eating and you’ll turn yourself into a wild, fun party girl. You will seek out new ways to help you fill that inner void and emptiness. You don’t know it at the time, but you are desperate for someone to love you and you will start going home with random guys- hoping you will feel whole and complete. You will put your life at risk a few times doing this. You’ll be in a bad car crash on the way to meet a guy, write off your car, be brought back to Dublin in an ambulance and you will hook up with him later that day. You will get laser eye surgery and then the next day you will drive on windy, country roads in the pitch blackness to the guy you’re kinda seeing- you will be terrified during that drive because you can’t really see properly. You do this because you are wanting someone to love you because you don’t love you.

You continue this pattern for a while- on the surface looking like you are in full control, having the time of your life but on the inside, you will be eating yourself up. You stopped self harming in one way  but have immersed yourself into a new way of hurting yourself and you will feel lost all over again.

But if anything my darling, you are resilient and your 25th birthday will mark a decision to make some changes. Your birthday sparks a realisation that you need to take better care of yourself, nurture yourself and be kind to yourself. You’ll still be confused about your career.. what you had invested the past 7 years into studying and pursuing no longer feels right for you and that scares you. You will decide to do a course in life coaching- for you. It will be a gift to you because you’ve always had the interest and you think it might help you figure out what to do next. That will be your starting point sweetie, the first step on your journey back to yourself.

When you meet Colm a few weeks later, you will resist him. You’ll try not to get close to him and you will give him such a hard time for holding the car door open and for treating you with kindness and respect- it will feel weird because you haven’t experienced it before and you feel like you don’t deserve it. After seeking it out in all the wrong places, you won’t feel worthy of real love….. but you will learn.

It will start in small steps. Simple moments when you just stop and realise that you feel good. It will be hearing your own laugh- your real laugh. The tide will turn from comforting yourself with food and a duvet to actually really caring for yourself. It will all look and feel different. You will study wellness and self care. You will start making difficult decisions- decisions that will move you out of your comfort zone but towards what you know you really want in life.

You will take your personal resources of time, money and attention and invest them in yourself. Initially, this will make you feel sick and anxious- it will not be comfortable to spend money and time on personal development. You will take all of these steps forward in spite of your feelings of unworthiness and you will keep moving forwards, always moving forwards and never giving up on yourself.

This letter was originally to be a heads up, a warning of what was to come your way but to be honest, I don’t want you to change anything you did.

I know that you did the very best you could and I (your 31 year old self) am so incredibly proud and in awe of you. You have always been precious to me, you’ve always been enough but you forgot along the way and you’re starting to remember now.

You have many strengths Paula- one being your unshakeable determination. I never realised how determined you are until I looked at how many time you fell, hit rock bottom and then picked yourself up and put yourself out there again.

You have had your heart broken into a million pieces yet you can still smile with tears in your eyes. To love is to be vulnerable, exposed and uncertain and in spite of the pain you know could come- you’ve still put yourself out there and loved with your whole heart and you know you always will.

You have a fierce and wild spirit Paula and you’re starting to let that out more, it will be a journey. But you will allow yourself to walk barefoot in the damp grass under the full moon and be present, because that is who you are. You learn to wish and dream and hope again. You embrace the spiritual and magical side of life and allow yourself to play with life again.

You feel comfortable and happy in your own skin, as your own person. You had morphed into who other wanted you to be for a time but you’ve found and embraced yourself again.

You have incredible faith in people and the beauty of the world- you learn that a boat sinks only when the water gets inside it so you’ve learnt to set and enforce boundaries and to honour what is most important to you.

You have a strength and sparkle and an ability to hold a space for others which allows them to tap into their own strength and sparkle. It’s incredibly uncomfortable at times to hold that space but it is equally incredibly important- you know because you’ve been there.

Within the next 5 and a half years, you will become a wife, mama, entrepreneur, wolf owner, writer, teacher, coach and self love advocate. I know that this sounds crazy and hard to believe considering where you are right now but it happens…..you make it happen. Paula, this is a really long winded way of me saying thank you… Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for this incredible life that I am now living – it’s all because of you and it’s all because you finally learnt to love yourself first and foremost, even through the dark times.

You are my absolute everything and it took me so long to realise that. You are incredible my love.

I love you today, tomorrow and always.

Your 31 year old self,wedding

P x

P.S Don’t forget my new 30 day programme ‘All You Need is Love’ starts on 1st March 2017! Check it out below and I’d love to see you on board!

 

All You Need is Love

 

Watching Frozen with my 5 year old nephew……

I was minding my nephew Jamie after school on Monday and while I was cooking, he navigated his way to netflix with stealth speed and stuck on Frozen for himself and Sarah to watch! I’ve seen it a few times and of course, I found myself being pulled in gradually! I’ll admit that the words of ‘Let It Go’ are drilled into my mind but there was one line in particular that for me, really sticks out. Elsa sings ‘Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know”. It sticks out because it’s a juicy topic, I can relate and it’s the focus of a lot of 1-1 work with clients when we’re working on emotional intelligence. Do you conceal your emotions or do you allow yourself to feel them?

It’s an area that I have been personally fascinated with for years. You see, I used to conceal – in fact, I was the queen of conceal!  I’d put on my poker face, I’d take care of others, I’d bite my lip, I’d say yes and get swamped with work and smile politely like a ‘good’ girl. It meant I didn’t have to really engage, I’d let things just wash over me. Or so I thought!

In my effort to conceal how I really felt, I was actively engaged in numbing. Numbing is pretty much anything you do to distract yourself from feeling the emotions that you don’t want to feel. I was trying not to feel angry, hurt, anxious, disappointed, loss, empty and all those other negative emotions and it took a lot of effort and practice- it wasn’t a natural thing for me to do. I had to work hard at it but after a while I excelled but little did I know what the real cost was going to be…..

‘We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” – Brene Brown

As the years went on, I lost my joy for life. I lost the magic, wonder, awe, curiosity and excitement that is present in everyday life. I lost myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to look forward to things or get excited in case I was disappointed. I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy for what I had achieved as there was always something else on the list. I wasn’t allowing people to get to know me and despite having a wonderful family and a wide circle of friends- I felt incredibly alone. Paula against the world. I put huge amounts of pressure on myself to be everything to everyone but at the same time, to myself, I became worthless. I was on auto-pilot, working hard and studying law (which I hated with a passion but ignored) because I thought that achievement or recognition from others would plug the empty feeling. It didn’t.

I had numbed everything, positive and negative and I lost myself.

But finally, after almost 10 years of actively numbing- I woke up to what I was doing! Cue meltdown, 6 year relationship ending, changing my career entirely, a lot of tears and a hell of lot of soul searching! I still have numbing days but life is amazing, inspiring and brings me so much joy now- in all areas! (The whole process and exactly ‘how’ is a long story!)

But as I said, this has been a hot topic with my private clients in the past few months. So many of them have been numbing for years and they’re recognising that their behaviour isn’t serving them and that they need to change. Some of the common numbing trends include cigarettes, alcohol, food, spending money (that they don’t have), casual sex, doing degrees, masters, PhD’s to bring them further up the career ladder (even though they know it’s leaning against the wrong wall) and the most common one I’ve seen lately is completely ignoring the whole sphere of their personal life and relationships and focusing almost solely on career! Do you know anyone who does that? Perhaps know them really well 😉

I wanted to share my experience with you so that you can be aware of what happens when we conceal how we feel- when we start to numb ourselves to life. Unfortunately, it’s far too common.

Why do we do it?

In most cases, we numb to avoid feeling vulnerable and exposed. We think we’re protecting ourselves but the truth is we are not. We’re hiding our true self from the world and the longer we hide and disconnect, the greater the risk we run of losing ourselves and our real connection with others.

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability. It sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” – Brene Brown

Can you live life without love?…… Can you live life without allowing yourself be vulnerable?

Food for thought xx

P x

****Check out my new 30 Day Programme ‘All You Need is Love‘ starting 29th May!****

This course is a 30-day program about the power of loving yourself. And, let me set this straight – I don’t mean a conceited, cocky self love; I mean a valuing yourself, going after what you want, honouring yourself, knowing your worth and expressing yourself openly type of self 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 Love.

Without Self- Love and Self-Care, we take two steps forward and one step back, we get lost in self sabotage and then listen to our inner critic and mind monkeys and we lash ourselves out of it for not being enough, our motivation disappears at the first sign of struggle or we spiral into negativity and we suck the goodness out of everything.

We start on 29th May 2016 but you’ll have access to the materials from a few days beforehand as well as the community of a small private group to keep you on track, motivated and accountable!                                                                              

What we’ll cover…..

Building Your Strong Foundation:

Week One: Self Care vs Self Comfort

We focus our attention on Self Love and Self Care and what that currently looks like for you! We discover the difference between self-care and self-comfort, we look at your current habits and behaviours and develop new strategies for building a strong foundation of self love.

Week Two: Your Inner Critic vs Your Inner Mentor

In week two, we explore your inner critic (yep- that nasty little voice(s) in your head!). We look at where it came from, why it’s there as well as strategies to deal with inner critic. We also are introduced to our inner mentor- the most powerful ally and guide we have and we learn how to access her wisdom and resourcefulness.

Practicing & Maintaining Self Love in a Messy World!

Week Three: Your Confidence Rituals

In week three, we’re working on strategies to boost your inner confidence by learning to own your story! We’ll have your confidence sky rocketing to the moon as we make you the leader of your own life. At the end of this week, you’ll be more comfortable in your own skin, feeling more positive and creating your own rituals for confidence and success on your own terms.

Week Four: Moving Forward with Self Love & Integrity

In our final week, we look at your intentions from the start of the course, examine your new learning and how to integrate it into your life moving forwards. Life will always keep moving forwards and this final module will help to ensure that you are stepping forward with life from a place of self love, integrity and on your own terms.

Feeling raw, exposed and wanting to hide……

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about an incident a few years ago that was a turning point for me in my life. It was a complete spiral of negative emotions of shame, feeling small, wanting to blame and wanting to hide. It felt like sh*t. At the same time, it changed me and I am so grateful for it.

I wrote about it at the time- almost 3 years ago but given that this week, I’ve been mostly talking about playing big, stepping up, leaning into discomfort and owning your story- I wanted to share this experience with you. From my heart to yours- I hope you find some value in it!

*******************************

When you feel raw, exposed and wanting to hide……….

I had an incident the other week which was a real struggle for me! I’m talking about a wallowing, spiral of negative emotions!! Of course, needless to say, this pit of despair is not where I like to spend my time! I lived there years ago, but I managed to move and get a place that was brighter with a view and I haven’t really gone back to visit the pit, except for this particular incident!

Now, when you’re working as a coach there is a bit of extra pressure to avoid the pit because you’re supposed to have it all together! Luckily ‘having it all together’ isn’t my unique selling point and never has been! Being me, being real and facing up to what’s not working so that I can change it is what I try to bring to my coaching relationships. Being authentic and true to myself is of the utmost importance to me, whether that means that I’m strong and supporting others or if that means I’m in tears on the kitchen floor cuddling the dog!

Halloween night 2013- let me paint the scene… I’m self employed and I work from my  home office on my electric blue sony laptop for about 8-10 hours per day, nearly 7 days a week for the past 2 ½ years. I’m not techy; I don’t know much about ‘cloud’ computing, backing up etc! All I do know is that when a blue screen appears on my laptop that says ‘Incorrectable hardware error’ that it is bad. It’s the blue screen of death and I completely lost my mind when it appeared! I turned into a lunatic!

I was able to re-start the laptop and it appeared to be fine but I still went into panic mode. I hopped into the car, drove to the shops and 5 minutes later I was talking laptops to the salesperson. They didn’t have any more electric blue sony ones which made me sad but there were two others that seemed pretty good, a different Sony and a Toshiba! I took down the spec numbers; details, prices etc and I went home to chat to my Dad- the computer genius! We chatted about the Toshiba, he did his research and mentioned words like benchmark, processor and RAM, it went over my head but bottom line was he gave it a thumbs up! He said to leave it with him and he would do a bit more research to see if he could find a better deal. That was 8pm. At 8.15pm I was back in the shop (I think I was possessed!)

I wanted the Toshiba laptop right then, I didn’t need a better deal; I needed security. The fear and panic had set in again. I had to try and control the situation, I had to make sure I was covered, this is my livelihood and I was a business owner, an entrepreneur, a home owner, I’m responsible etc. I felt raw, exposed, stupid for not backing up and very vulnerable at the thought of losing all of the work I had saved on my computer- we’re talking everything!

Of course, they were sold out of the Toshiba. The salesperson offered me the Sony laptop, said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two and knocked 50 quid off. Sold! With a smile on his face and a debt over €1000 on my credit card, I left the shop feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Hmm, what now? Well, of course I didn’t take a deep breath and calm down.

I got home, opened the box and attempted to set up the computer. I followed instructions and entered passwords, then I realised it was windows 8. Ooops, Dad said ‘Whatever you do, don’t get windows 8’. Crap, the panic was back and it was now mixed in with fear, shame, anxiety and regret!

I sent my Dad an email with the spec of the Sony (the one that was now sitting on my kitchen table) and I asked him to check what it was like. I did not tell him I had bought it, opened it and messed around with it. He replied shortly afterwards using words like ‘benchmark, lousy machine, not good value, not even half as good, don’t even go there’. Unfortunately those words didn’t go over my head, they sunk right in and I felt like the biggest gambeen on the planet.

I was wide awake for the whole night with a tight jaw and an anxiety ridden mind. ‘What was I going to do?’ ‘How can I HIDE this?’ ‘How can I pretend this never happened?’ ‘What was I going to say?’ ‘They won’t allow me bring it back, I’ve opened it and I don’t think there’s any legal comeback for impulse buying’ ‘Dad is going to think I’m an idiot’ ‘I am an idiot’. Talk about a shame spiral, plus the whole I just spent over a grand on something I regretted! Ugh, horrible horrible feeling!

At 6am, after pondering and tossing and turning all night I sent an email to my Dad with the subject line ‘I f*cked up’. That was probably the hardest email I’ve written in ages, acknowledging that I made a mistake and needed help. I could not believe how hard I found it!

His response was great, he said ‘Shit happens, sounds like the salesperson took your buying intent for the Toshiba and transferred it to the Sony. You trusted him; he said it was ‘much of a muchness’ between the two machines which wasn’t true……. Come over to me in the morning, we’ll go back to the shop together and we’ll talk to the manager and see if we can get your money back. Stop beating yourself up! Love Dad’

As soon as I read it, I grew up a bit. There was a part of me that wanted to hide behind someone else, point the finger, blame the sales guy and let someone else protect me and fix my problems! I just started laughing that this was the situation I had created- it had to stop! There was no way that I would/could do that, blame someone else and hide. It would really go against everything I stand for, being real, being authentic and to be honest, even if I got the result I wanted- I knew I would be ashamed at how badly I handled it. It was time to be a big girl again and to be honest it didn’t feel good!

I called over to my Dad a few hours later with sausie sandwiches and I thanked him for his support and explained that I had to deal with it myself. I told him that my approach was to go back to the shop, and be honest. Tell them I had been in a panic and that I had made a mistake by buying the Sony laptop on an impulse and that I was going to ask for their help. He was proud of me but also tried to prepare me for the fact that I was going to be turned away. “You’ve opened it, there’s nothing wrong with it; you’ve just changed your mind. Legally, they don’t have to do anything for you. So don’t be disappointed…..”

Back to the shop I went, I found the sales guy I had dealt with the night before and I told my truth. My face was roaring red, the anxiety was eating me up on the inside, I wanted the shop floor to open up and swallow me whole, and my jaw was getting tight.

‘Hi Trevor, I was here last night and I bought the Sony laptop. I wanted to get the Toshiba but you were sold out so I took the Sony instead’. He nodded remembering me. I gushed ‘Well, I made a huge mistake. I’ve opened it and messed around with it but I really don’t want it, I shouldn’t have bought it. I should have just waited for the Toshiba and I was in a panic and it was an impulse buy. I need your help; can I please bring it back?

‘Sure’ he said. ‘Come with me and we’ll get the manager Andy to get you sorted out.

Just like that.

It was an incredible lesson for me. I had been riding a train of thought that had brought me to places where I felt weak, small and vulnerable. Where I wanted to hide my mistake so that no one knew, where I wanted to blame the sales guy, where I wanted to be protected and where I lay in bed wide awake for a full night listening to mind monkeys chattering in my head. All because I didn’t want to say ‘I made a mistake and I need help’. It was a valuable and very uncomfortable lesson for me! But in the end, being truthful and allowing myself to go into a situation where I could be rejected and denied was the course I chose and after that experience, I learned that it will be the course that I want to keep on choosing.

I know that it’s difficult for us to acknowledge that we make mistakes and it’s also difficult for many of us to ask for help. We don’t like being seen as wrong, weak or vulnerable (or an impulse buying crazy lunatic!) but it happens. Engaging in life fully means that there will be times when we need to deal with these emotions, even when we don’t want to!

So I just wanted to share my experience with you for a few reasons; firstly that hopefully you find it beneficial and you can take something useful from it and secondly, for you to get to know me a bit better. I’m not the coach who has it all figured out; I’m a Paula and I can be raw, weak and vulnerable- just like you. I get myself worked into states; I fret and worry often- just like you! I get mind monkey attacks with that voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough- just like you. What you see is what you get with me. I’m real, I’m tough, I go after my dreams and I don’t give up on myself (I might have a rocky start sometimes though!) I love my work, I love coaching and supporting others to be real, to be tough, to go after their dreams and to never give up on themselves. I love it because I get it.

We’ve come a long long way together,
Through the hard times and the good,
I have to celebrate you baby,
I have to praise you like I should

The lyrics from Fatboy Slims song feels really appropriate for this blog post! The key was to practice self compassion and self love- that’s what gave me the foundation I needed to step up, lean into the discomfort and own my story.That day was a lesson and now, I look back and celebrate it and I praise how far it’s brought me. This was from my heart to yours- I hope you found some value in it!

P x

****Check out my new 30 Day Programme ‘All You Need is Love‘ starting 29th May!****

This course is a 30-day program about the power of loving yourself. And, let me set this straight – I don’t mean a conceited, cocky self love; I mean a valuing yourself, going after what you want, honouring yourself, knowing your worth and expressing yourself openly type of self 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 Love.

Without Self- Love and Self-Care, we take two steps forward and one step back, we get lost in self sabotage and then listen to our inner critic and mind monkeys and we lash ourselves out of it for not being enough, our motivation disappears at the first sign of struggle or we spiral into negativity and we suck the goodness out of everything.

We start on 29th May 2016 but you’ll have access to the materials from a few days beforehand as well as the community of a small private group to keep you on track, motivated and accountable!                                                                              

What we’ll cover…..

Building Your Strong Foundation:

Week One: Self Care vs Self Comfort

We focus our attention on Self Love and Self Care and what that currently looks like for you! We discover the difference between self-care and self-comfort, we look at your current habits and behaviours and develop new strategies for building a strong foundation of self love.

Week Two: Your Inner Critic vs Your Inner Mentor

In week two, we explore your inner critic (yep- that nasty little voice(s) in your head!). We look at where it came from, why it’s there as well as strategies to deal with inner critic. We also are introduced to our inner mentor- the most powerful ally and guide we have and we learn how to access her wisdom and resourcefulness.

Practicing & Maintaining Self Love in a Messy World!

Week Three: Your Confidence Rituals

In week three, we’re working on strategies to boost your inner confidence by learning to own your story! We’ll have your confidence sky rocketing to the moon as we make you the leader of your own life. At the end of this week, you’ll be more comfortable in your own skin, feeling more positive and creating your own rituals for confidence and success on your own terms.

Week Four: Moving Forward with Self Love & Integrity

In our final week, we look at your intentions from the start of the course, examine your new learning and how to integrate it into your life moving forwards. Life will always keep moving forwards and this final module will help to ensure that you are stepping forward with life from a place of self love, integrity and on your own terms.

Christmas. Sofa. Easter. Holidays………..

What am I on about? Have I finally lost it and gone away with the fairies? Why the random words? A couple of years back, these words were said to me by my coach. She looked at me expecting a reaction, I stared at her with a blank expression! She said it again ‘Christmas. Sofa. Easter. Holidays.’ ‘What does that mean?’ I asked. ‘You tell me’ was her response.

I thought about it for a minute and then I cringed, ‘Oh my god, that’s life!!’

We’re coming out of Sofa and heading straight into Easter at the moment- have you noticed? In every shop, there are easter bunnies, mini eggs, creme eggs and Easter eggs on the shelves – almost nearly sold out now!

After we’re done gorging on chocolate, we will be bombarded with messages of sun holidays and breaks away, magazines and tv ads telling us that we need to get a ‘bikini body’. Many of us will try and eat a bit healthier, get out more and generally feel not enough when we look at other people who already have their ‘bikini body’! But no sooner have we put the suitcase back in the attic and all of a sudden, it’s Christmas again- in September!

Christmas takes us from September to January with a short break allowed in for Halloween! Again, we’re bombarded with messages about the perfect gift, we’re rushing around, spending and trying to keep up with everyone else! Christmas flies by and all of a sudden, we’re in Sofa!

Sofa is an interesting one! It’s kinda snuck in there! I’m not sure if I’m noticing it now because I’m older but all the ads from Christmas Day onwards are selling sofas! It’s furniture, home improvements! Maybe it’s because everyone has been sitting down a lot more than usual over the Christmas period so we realise that we need a new sofa, but then, guess what- we’re back into Easter again and the merry go round keeps on going!

We would normally look at these periods as Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn but I have to admit, referring to them as Christmas, Sofa, Easter, Holidays has really given me a kick in the ass! Time seems to have sped up in recent years, not just for me but for everyone I’ve been talking to! We have more to do and we’re busy busy bees getting on with our lives! Time is progressing but are we? Are we getting caught up in Christmas, Sofa, Easter and Holidays at the expense of achieving the very best of what we want for our own lives?

Christmas, Sofa, Easter and Holidays are going to happen anyway but the important thing is that we don’t get caught up in the flow! We need to make sure that our lives are directed by hamster wheelwhat we want and who we want to become so take a few minutes now, step off the hamster wheel and take stock of where you’re at. How are you feeling about your life right now? What decisions have you been avoiding? What are you working towards and why? What do you need to get you there?

Time is moving forwards sweetie- are you?

P x