Category Archives: Personal Development

What does “Getting out of your own way” actually mean?

It’s a phrase you’ll have come across fairly often if you read many self-help books or coaching blogs but in my experience it rarely comes with a translation into plain English.

I know I’ve been guilty of using it without an explanation myself, so I thought I’d take this opportunity of explaining what I mean when I use it.

And here’s the disclaimer – I can, of course, only speak from my own experience.

Your idea of what it means for you to get out of your own way may well be very different – and if what you read here doesn’t chime with your own experience, please join in the comments and let us know what it’s like for you.

There’s an old Chinese saying that I’m very fond of. It goes something like

The path is smooth, why do you throw rocks in your way?

and for me, that sums up the difference between life when I’ve got out of my own way, and life when I’m actively getting in my own way.

When I’m getting in my own way everything is a struggle.

I let the Saboteurs and Gremlins influence me and I doubt my own judgement. I talk myself out of ideas and I ignore my gut instinct. Everything starts to feel like a huge effort and if I’m not careful I can end up in a very dark place and feeling woefully out of control.

Not Nice At All.

Conversely, when I’ve got very firmly out of my own way life has a natural flow about it.

I have ideas and act on them and good things result. I follow my gut instinct and even better things result.”Coincidences” start to happen and undreamed of opportunities happen along. The Universe guides my hands and all is well.

And what’s the difference? Well for me it has to do with control, and specifically with letting my conscious mind or Ego take control.

When I’m going with the flow I’m acting on instinct. I know I can trust my gut instinct because it knows, for sure, the right things to do. I’ve called it The Universe before now and that has to do with it seeming to be connected with forces way beyond me in the way that apparently external things start to go right for me when I sit back and let The Universe take control.

When my Ego thinks it knows best is when things start to go wrong. That’s when the self-doubt kicks in and the Saboteurs come out to play and suddenly I’m stumbling over rocks that weren’t there before and everything goes to hell in a handcart.

So lack of control comes about from my Ego’s attempts to regain control from The Universe, and I end up the loser.

I’ve just been through a few weeks of being Ego-led and ended up dispirited, tired and unwell – but, as my dear friend Lisa said to me the other day, “at least when you’re ill it gives you the opportunity to think about what’s led you to this place!

And I can see that, as my Ego took over, so I stopped doing all the positive, nurturing rituals that were enabling me to keep put o my own way. My Ego decided I could do without them and persuaded me they weren’t necessary any more – one look in the mirror is all the proof I need that my Ego doesn’t know what it’s talking about (one is rarely so unattractive as when one has a heavy cold, I find…)

And why did my Ego step in?

Because it was feeling threatened. Again.

Because it knows that, for me to grow and develop and realise my potential, it needs to diminish and dwindle, and it doesn’t like that.

This kind of thing happens to all of us as we go through change – the habits and beliefs of the past can be like a ball and chain, holding us back and keeping us anchored in the ways of being that we’re trying to shake off.

We’re attracted to the familiar, even while we’re being tempted by the promise of more and better.

So while it’s frustrating I know that this past month is a normal part of the process.

I will shake off my ball and chain and I will get back out of my own way. It’s good to have had this reminder because it’s shown me that what was once a normal, comfortable, familiar way of being is now uncomfortable, unattractive and dispiriting.

I’m ready to clear the rocks from my path and stride back out onto my Journey again.

But first I’m going to have another Lemsip…..

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Self, self, self…

I’ve been pondering the differences between self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem recently as I’ve been creating workshops and online packages on these topics.

It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion about the difference between them, some people see self-esteem and self-respect as synonyms while others think they’re poles apart!

The definitions I like best and that I’ve chosen to go with for my work come from Dr Elias H. Porter who created the Strengths Deployments Inventory and the associated Relationship Awareness Theory.

Dr Porter’s theory states that “everyone wants to feel worthwhile about themselves as human beings” and that this comes from having self-respect and self-esteem, which he defines as follows:

  • Self Respect is being valued by yourself for the things you wish to be valued for
  • Self Esteem is being valued by others for the things you wish to be valued for

Self Respect and Self Esteem lead to Self Worth – which is, to my mind, another way of describing Self-Confidence.

So – if you feel lacking in Self-Confidence it might be worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I know what I want to be valued for?
  • Do I actually value myself for those things?
  • Do others value me for those things?

If the answer to any of those questions is “No”  then why not email me at cathy@colourinyourthinking.co.uk and we can have a chat about how I can help you.

 

What to do when it’s all Too Much

Everyone gets days when it feels like everything you do is doomed to failure and there’s no point in going on.

Anyone who tells you they don’t is telling porkies. Trust me on this.

When you’re feeling that way it can also feel like life is going AMAZINGLY well for the entire rest of the world and that no-one has ever been such a useless heap as you are. It’s a bit like being zoomed straight back into the teenage version of yourself, where everything was sooooooo unfair and no-one had ever suffered like you suffered, and no-one would ever love you and see you for the, like, really amazing person you were….

When that mood strikes there are all sorts of things you can do. You’ll find lots of advice from people telling you to meditate, or go out for a run or buy yourself some flowers or tap or do any number of other worthy things.

But what if you’re having the type of day where you can barely get yourself out of bed? If you’re in that sort of state, all you’re likely to do is to start beating yourself up for not feeling able to motivate yourself to meditate or go out for a run or even get dressed – and that just makes you feel even worse about yourself.

So if your down days really really get you down, here are my top tips for how to cope.

  • Instead of fighting the negative feelings, go with them. Try to trace them back to their source. You don’t have to get out of bed to do this (which is a good start) and the simple process of pinpointing what’s happened to put you in this state can have an immediate galvanising effect.
  • Allow yourself to wallow. I find that if I allow myself time to wallow there comes a point where I get sick of feeling sorry for myself and I am able to kick start myself. Refusing to wallow and trying to plug on regardless tends to backfire and makes things worse for me in the long run.
  • Tell people you trust how you’re feeling. Sometimes all you need is to verbalise the feelings for them to go away. If you’re as lucky as I am you will have people around you who will reassure you of how much you are loved and valued, and that will help enormously.
  • Give yourself a treat – whether it’s time to indulge in your favourite weepy movie, a luxurious bath with lots of candles and bubbles, a box of chocolates when you don’t usually indulge or even a day in bed with a pile of undemanding books, do something to show yourself that “you’re worth it”.
  • Remind yourself that this feeling is temporary, it will pass and you will rise above it when the time is right for you to move on.

A New Approach

OK peeps, listen up.

I have some fabulous new workshops on offer. I know they’re fabulous because they are distilled from coaching sessions I’ve had with clients, and everything that’s gone into one of these workshops has made a real difference to someone.

The thing is, they’re not selling and that’s a real shame because I know that there are people out there (maybe you) that could really benefit from them.

There could be any number of reasons why they’re not selling –

  • I haven’t done enough marketing
  • I haven’t done the right sort of marketing
  • the timing’s wrong
  • they’re too expensive
  • I’m still an unknown quantity
  • it feels too risky
  • other things I haven’t thought of

So I’m going to try a new strategy.

Instead of asking for a fixed fee, I’m going to try another way.

If you want to come along to one of my workshops, I’ll ask you for a nominal fee to reserve your spot. The fee will be just enough so that, when all the places are booked, I will have covered the costs of hiring the venue.

Once you’ve reserved your seat, you come along to the workshop and at the end of the day

  • you pay me what you think the day was worth

I’ll give you an envelope and a piece of paper for you to anonymously tell me what you thought of the workshop and why you’ve decided to pay me what you did.

You put whatever you like into the envelope, seal it and off you go.

You’re under no obligation whatsoever to put any money in, and your comments will help me to keep on improving what I offer.

How does that sound?

Personal development and coaching at a price that really IS right for you – because you set it!

You can see all the workshops I currently have on offer here.  Ticket prices for most workshops are now just £10 and places are strictly limited.

And For My Next Challenge…

…I’m going to jump put of an aeroplane!

On July 9th, at Cirencester airfield.

In doing so, I shall be not only facing my fears, but also raising money for Mind, the Mental Health Charity. If you’d like to encourage me, you can make a donation by clicking here – and BLIMEY! In the two minutes since I started typing this I’ve already started receiving donations!!

How exciting 🙂

There is another challenge inherent in this, because I currently weigh more than the upper limit allowed for this airfield.  Since my diet is already very good, I’m going to have to get off my backside and start exercising regularly other wise they’ll turn me away at the airfield.

So. As one who has spent a lifetime shunning exercise in any way, shape or form, this is going to be another form of challenge – not facing my fears, but getting in touch with my inner Gym Bunny.

Any suggestions?!

 

I Could Never Do That!!

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately, as you might imagine. Whether it’s taking my clothes off, jumping out of an aeroplane, blogging about my deepest darkest feelings or wearing lots of bright colours all at once, I seem to be doing a lot of things that a lot of people think they could never do.

I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone who wondered what the point was – her view was that each of these things might make a difference to me on the day I do them, but that it wouldn’t really change anything in the long run.

I beg to differ.

The reasons I’m taking on these challenges are as follows:

1. To challenge myself out of constantly thinking “I could never do that!”

I’m as prone to thinking like that as anyone else and the older I get the more frustrating I find it because it gets in the way of my doing all sorts of perfectly reasonable things.

So I figured that, the more REALLY challenging things I’ve done, the less I’ll believe myself when I tell myself “I can’t do that” about apparently simple things like asking for what I want, or challenging something that I’m not happy with.

2. To keep myself alert and interested.

I thrive on intellectual challenges. I am a creature of the mind rather than the body, but there have been some significant occasions when I have learnt really profound things about how my mind works from challenging my body.

So I want to see what more can I learn about myself and how I operate – and it seems to me the way to do that is by challenging myself physically as well as mentally.

3. To give myself choices and opportunities.

The more we stay in our comfort zone, the less choice and opportunity we give ourselves. It’s like choosing to wear blinkers, and only ever changing them for bigger blinkers. We all have comfort zones but for many of us they are misnamed – they’re more like Familiarity Zones – and even though they’ve long ceased to be comfortable we cling to them because familiarity feels safe.

But sometimes we need to take a good hard look at our Familiarity Zone and recognise that actually it’s a wasteland, or a swamp, or a desert and it’s time to leave.

Only when we do that, can we begin to look around and see the amazing choices and opportunities that are available to us.

4. To encourage you to challenge yourself.

I’m no different to anyone else. I have my fears and hangups, my good days and my not so good days. But I see my purpose in life as being to help as many people as possible to get to know what they are really, truly capable of and to experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from doing so.

My hope is that, by seeing me challenging myself, you will feel inspired to challenge yourself to do something that you’ve previously thought “I could never do that!” about.

It doesn’t matter what it is – it could be jumping out of a plane or standing up to a bully or tackling your credit card debt full on or coming out about your sexuality or admitting that you’re finding something really difficult – everyone has their own fears to face and challenges to overcome.  What I want to do is to encourage you to think differently about yourself.

So, the next time you find yourself thinking

“I could never do that” ask yourself

“Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”

I’d LOVE to know whether you’ve been inspired to set yourself your own challenge – do comment here and let me know!

 

 

Body Issues, what Body Issues?

Last night I went and took all my clothes off in front of a group of total strangers.

And a dog.

For 2 hours I sat completely still (on an electric blanket, surrounded by fan heaters) as 7 people stood at easels and painted/sketched/drew/charcoaled their own versions of me, to a soundtrack of old ska music and the odd surprising interjection of hip-hop (that Biggie Smalls, he was a laugh, eh?!)

Apart from the tutor and one girl who didn’t stay for the entire session, the group was entirely male – including the dog – and two of them appeared to be younger than my son.

It didn’t feel even slightly odd, though. There was no hint that any of this was in any way unusual or unpleasant and apart from the fact that everyone else in the room knew each other and I knew no-one, it was a perfectly ordinary, comfortable evening.

So – it seemed that for me there was no real challenge and no fears to be faced in getting naked.

And then I made the mistake of looking at some of the pictures.

I didn’t know what the etiquette was – does the model express an interest in the work going on around her and chat to the artists, or does she sit in a corner and mind her own business during the tea break?

So I combined the two. I sat in a corner stroking the dog and drinking my tea, and indulged myself with sneaky peaks at the pictures every now and then.

And that’s where the challenge and the fear came in.

Because, notwithstanding the varying degrees of skill of the individual artists, the difficult thing was seeing myself as others see me.

My fist instinct was to recoil at what I saw as ugliness. I’m under no illusions about my shape but I suppose I had expected to see something like this:

Beryl Cooke painting courtesy of the Canterbury Auction Galleries

And instead what I saw looked more like this:

The Venus of Willendorf

But without the hat and with my delicate lady parts far better hidden. Ahem.

Beryl Cooke’s work celebrates the female form, particularly the amply endowed female form, and does it in a way that smooths out the lumps and bumps and shows only curves and smoothness and generosity. Beryl’s work allows perkiness where there would, in reality, have been droop and sag, and satin skin instead of stretch marks and cellulite.

The Venus of Willendorf, in contrast, is much more lifelike, as are the paintings of Rubens which show bodies, male and female, as they really are rather than as we might wish them to be.

So – given that Rubens and that ancient sculptor had it right, what was I actually recoiling from? One of the paintings from last night was clearly made by an artist of real talent – he had captured the musculature under my skin and the fall of light and shade. There was a quote on the wall of the studio that said something about how painting the human body was a combination of architecture and landscape painting – and I think this artist last night had done both.

His work contained no judgement of me – the judgement was entirely in my own head.

And what was my judgement based on?

My external appearance doesn’t make me any less worthy as a human being.

It doesn’t make me any the less capable of doing the work that I love.

It is how it is in part as a result of 2 caesarean sections and breastfeeding 2 babies.

It also is how it is in part because I’ve never exercised regularly and I have a sweet tooth.

It is how it is also in part because of my genetic make-up.

And it is how it is because that’s who I am. If I looked different, I would have had an entirely different life and I wouldn’t be who I am today.

And who I am today is in a really good place, so why would I want to look any different? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life recoiling from The Real Me?

Hell No!

And so I am content. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last night and I’m told that I made an excellent model because I had no difficulty sitting still. I shall do it again (especially if the dog turns up every time).

And next time I catch sight of a painitng, I will enjoy the artistry that’s gone into creating it and I will celebrate what it shows of the life I’ve lived to become who I am.

I have a couple of questions for you to ask yourself if you feel insecure about your appearance:

  • what POSITIVE impact has your appearance had on creating the person you are today?
  • if you’ve read this blog and thought “I could NEVER do that!” have a conversation with that fear and find out what it is you’re REALLY afraid of – you might be surprised by the answer.