Thursday, 30 June 2011

Improving Our Relationships

How much time do you spend improving your key relationships?

Is there room for improvement or would you score yourself 10/10 in this area of your life?

If you do score yourself less than 10/10 perhaps consider your most valued relationships - most of us have between one and four - and think about what you can do to move up one point say from 6/10 to 7/10.

Then when you are at 7/10 what can you do to score 8/10 with the person you have in mind and what can you do to score 9/10 and even 10/10.

Many relationships are improved through better communication. Arguably the most important part of communication is listening and being heard.

Let's first focus on your most important relationship - perhaps your partner or child.

When was the last time you really listened to the key poeple in your life without interrupting them or passing judgment on what they say?

One of the ways we improve relationships is asking the important person/people in our life what we can do to make the relationship stronger.

We can then ask the other person if they would like us to reciprocate and let them know what we feel they can do to strengthen our relationship.

The idea is that we actively listen to the other person for about 10 minutes without interrupting, without thinking of a response and without being distracted by other thoughts such as 'I really should be getting the dinner on'.

After 10 minutes we can comment for about 5 minutes e.g. 'Yes I can do that' and have a discussion with the person about what to do next.

Perhaps you cannot do what they are asking but you are willing to meet them half way and compromise in some way. If this is the case say so.

Then you swap over and let the other person know what you need from them e.g 'I feel that we have an excellent relationship with x and y working really well for me...what would make it even better is if this happened..'

Another exercise that works well is to imagine that you are the other person and walk in their shoes in relating to you. What do you see now?

The idea is that looking at you from another's perspective helps you to both be aware of what it is like living with you / working with you and also to think of those changes that you can and are happy to make to strengthen the relationship.

Has this post been helpful to you? Please do let me know or contact me via my website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Listening is the Greatest Courtesy

Today, whilst working with a client I remembered again those wise words passed onto me by my Nan - Listening is the greatest courtesy.

What is true listening? The client commented 'How hard it is to listen properly...I very often find myself thinking about what to say next in response or to justify or defend or to get my story - what my experience is - or viewpoint across'.

We are not intending to be discourteous when we do this, however, our actions are just that.

My perspective is that since we already know what we think it would be a good idea to listen properly to someone else so we can learn more about them and build a relationship - whether that be with a partner, parent, child, work colleague, client etc.

So how do we do it?

We can practice suspending our own thinking by becoming aware of our breathing.

You can do it now - become aware of the gentle rise and fall of your in breath and out breath respectively.

Whilst aware of your breathing your own thinking is suspended, leaving you free to really listen to the other person.

Try it the very next time you sense that someone in your life needs to talk. Start by smiling and asking what's their day been like.

Then just focus on your own breathing and feel the space that is created to really listen to that person.

How did you experience that interaction? Perhaps get feedback from the other person - was that useful?

When you have tried this out, let me know your experience. My passion is to inspire people and enrich their lives so please take the opportunity to visit my website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Controlling Negative Thoughts

Can we ever experience only positive thoughts? Maybe. Better ask the Dalai Lama.

You may already know that recurring negative thought patterns [e.g. 'I am so unlucky to have this illness / I am fat / I am hopeless at presentations / I am not good enough...'] cause anxiety because the mind does not distinguish between what we think and what is real.

This generated anxiety causes us to lose intellectual control [your adult age basically] and the uncounscious / sub-conscious / emotional mind takes over.

According to experts this emotional mind has the intellectual age of a 7 year old. Recognise this at all?

Primative Responses

The emotional mind always responds with 3 primitive response patterns that we have inherited from our ancestors - anxiety, anger or depression.

The symptoms can be anything and are unwanted such as not sleeping properly, being stressed and not wanting to go out of the house.

Often symtoms involve us self-medicating and putting something in our mouths such as too much food, drink or cigarettes. Negative thinking is therefore dangerous.

The key then seems to be to think positive thoughts.

Whilst running an executive coaching session today, a client asked what it is like to only experience positive thoughts.

My reply was 'I don't know' because I do experience negative thoughts.

Catch, Challenge, Change

The difference is that I get less because my sub-conscious 'child' knows that the route for negative thoughts is 'catch, challenge, change'.

I explained to the client that this simple technique would help her to experience less negative and more positive thoughts.

The client asked for the fomula which I explained as follows:
  1. Catch the negative thought e.g. 'I am going to do a bad job of presenting on Friday'.
  2. Challenge the negative thought by asking 'Is this helpful?' - The answer is always 'No'.
  3. Change the thought to something  more postive e.g. 'I will prepare well on Thursday afternoon and do a dummy run with a friendly colleague. On Friday I will take some deep breaths and focus on my audience.'

This process helps us to get back into intellectual conscious control. It calms us and stops us from becoming too emotional and losing control.

Over time the unconscious emotional childish mind gradually reduces the amount of 'tantrums' it has and we feel more positive and more in control.

Please let feel free to pass on your comments on this blog? Has it inspired you at all?

Alternatively, please take the opportunity to visit my website West of England Coaching and Counselling as I am passionate about improving lives using our mind and would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Better Life - Align Your Inner and Outer Self

A Better Life can be created by us all - by aligning our inner and outer purposes.

Our inner purpose is to be conscious, present, aware and mindful of what is happening inside and outside of ourselves.

Examples of inside awareness are becoming aware or conscious of our breathing or the taste of our food.

You can try this out for yourself and ask yourself - what do you experience?

Examples of outside awareness are 'smelling the roses', watching a pet, hearing the birds and really listening to someone.

You can try this out for yourself - again - what do you experience?

To be truly present means rising above thinking, analysing, judging and labelling and 'Just Being'.

Our outer purposes change with time. Outer purposes work best when they are aligned with our inner purpose.

Sometimes we accept what we do as a means to an end though we can work on achieving a purpose that is enjoyable and we are enthusiastic about.

Imagine yourself inspiring others through your work and enriching their lives, without wanting anything else from it.

You can try this out for yourself - what do you experience?

Please let feel free to pass on your comments on this blog? Has it inspired you at all?

Alternatively, please take the opportunity to visit my website West of England Coaching and Counselling as I am passionate about improving lives using our mind and would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Detox Your Mind with Positive Thinking

Positive thinking about the past, present and future improves your quality of life - suddenly everything seems easier, calmer, better somehow.

So what are the keys to thinking positively about the past, present and future?

In terms of the past, aim to focus on the good things that have happened to you and on the good things that you have achieved - for example, an adventure with friends, your children or passing an exam.

In terms of the future, practise visualising the life that you want. What resources do you already have that you could use to achieve this life? What resources do you need to acquire?

In terms of the present, we can increase our positivity by simply smiling and increasing our awareness of the wonderful things around us.

Whenever anything goes wrong or is annoying aim to find 3 ways to make it positive. For example, I miss the train and will be late for work:
  1. I will phone my boss and tell them when to expect me
  2. I will shop for dinner until the next train is due
  3. I will cook my partner a lovely dinner as a treat

I catch the next train and feel good.

Finally, a gratitude and achievement journal is a great way to stay positively focused.

Simply record in writing each day 3 things about your life and surroundings that you are greatful for in the morning and in the evening 3 things you have achieved.

For example, in the AM:
  • I am grateful for the smell of coffee as I wake
  • I am grateful for feeling well
  • I am grateful for my child for making me laugh

And then in the PM:
  • I sorted out all my paperwork
  • I went to the gym for an hour and had amazing sauna afterwards
  • I caught up with colleagues for lunch at the new bistro

Over time your brain will prompt you to think about what you are grateful for and what you might achieve and have achieved before you are consciously aware of it.

Please let feel free to pass on your comments on this blog? Has it inspired you at all?

Alternatively, please take the opportunity to visit my website West of England Coaching and Counselling as I am passionate about improving lives using our mind and would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Progressive Goals in 3 Steps Using SMART

Many people set themselves goals but a lot have trouble in actually achieving them.

You may be familiar with SMART which is is a mnemonic commonly used to set objectives in coaching and personal development.

The SMART approach has been around for 30 years and in relation to goal-setting stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

When applied to your goals these 5 ideas can often be used as a 'SMARTER' and better way to achieve progressive change and results.

As an executive coach I often initially see client goals that are focused on the following:
  • Approach over outcome
  • Negative issues and what they do not want
  • Vague definitions
Not surprisingly their goals are rarely achieved and often due to the lack of clarity and motivation used in setting them up.

I start with clients by advocating the following 3 steps to help them towards creating progressive achievable goals:
  1. Make your goals outcome-focused by doing the following...
    - Visualise what you want when you achieve your goal
    - Ask yourself what will be happening along the way?
    - Ask yourself what is different?
  2. Positively state your goal as though you have achieved it...
    - For example, it is 31st December 2011 and we have 3 additional clients since June 2011.
    - The impact of the 3 new clients is an increase in revenue of X and opportunities such as Y.
    - This progress has improved staff morale shown by staff suggestions for further growth.
  3. Make your goals concrete and specific by asking the following questions...
    - What is driving this goal?
    - What specific outcome do you want from your goal?
    - How will you know when you have achieved your outcome?
Hopefully, this post will have left you thinking about the most important question of all - 'Are you achieving your goals?'

If not, it is probably a good idea to ask yourself whether your goals are positive, outcome-focused and specific.

Please let me have your comments on this blog. Has it inspired you at all?

Please take the opportunity to visit my website West of England Coaching and Counselling as I am passionate about improving lives and would love to hear from you.