Surfing the waves of life

A friend recently shared a popular quote she’d read in a mindfulness book (sorry I don’t know which one to credit the author).

“You can’t stop the waves of life but you can learn to surf”

I thought of it earlier while strolling along Quendale Beach. It was a beautiful calm day, the tide was coming in and the waves weren’t big. What was for sure, though, was that they would keep on coming whether I wanted them to or not. That’s how it is with life. We can’t control the external world and our life events, we can only embrace it all as part of our experience and choose how we react. Much of the stress in our lives comes from trying to do the opposite, from trying to find a way of controlling the waves when, as the quote says, what we really should be doing is learning to surf.

ImageQuendale Beach earlier today

So how do we learn? What happens if the waves seem too big, we don’t know what kind of board we need or the best techniques to find our balance? What happens if we’re already exhausted from trying methods that don’t seem to work? What if we feel swallowed up by an incoming tide and relentless waves which just seem to get bigger and bigger as our own strength and resilience diminishes?

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Boddam during last winter’s storms

Some people, through natural ability, can become excellent self taught surfers, but most of us will need some help. If we decide to take up surfing as a sport, we’ll most likely seek out a surfing coach who can help us stay safe as we figure out what works best for us out there on our board. We’ll also need to know when it’s too rough to be out there on our own.

I like to think one of my roles, as a coach and therapist at Shetland Resolve, is to help others take a bit of time out, from the day to day stresses, so they can learn to ride the waves of life with better balance.  

If the waves seem too big, or we’ve been struggling in the surf on our own for too long it’s okay to reach out for some help. 

Sometimes we might wish for everlasting calm instead.  But then, as the two photos above show, without encountering the bigger waves we’d have no contrasting experience to appreciate the calmer seas when they come.

To find out more about life coaching call me on 07502223839 or email me at diane@shetlandresolve.co.uk.

Thanks for stopping by :-).  I’ll leave you with this short video of calmer seas at Quendale today.

 

Diane Taylor

(Dip.C/Hyp/NLP – GHR Reg)

Licensed Stress Management Consultant, Motivational Coach and Therapist 

November reflections – shifting perspectives

It’s been a beautiful, bright and still day here in Shetland. The kind of day that lifts your spirits when the darkness is falling ever earlier and you know the light will be limited for months to come. The changing of the seasons is inevitable. In many ways change can seem to be the only thing that is truly constant. Learning to embrace it, to let go of resistance is a powerful way of reducing stress.

Change can take us out of our comfort zone but it can also take us away from our own discomfort. The only way to grow is to embrace new experiences and learn from them. It’s through new experiences we gain insight to ourselves and shifts in our perspective.

Many of us still make decisions based on beliefs we formed as children, about ourselves and the world around us. Would you choose to ask the 5 or even 15 year old you for advice on a major life decision? I’m sure you wouldn’t and yet, for many of us, that’s what can be happening at a subconscious level. Have you ever been puzzled by some of the choices you’ve made and reactions you’ve had or wondered why some things seem more difficult than they should be? Many of us carry into our adult lives some self limiting beliefs we formed in our early years.

The good news is that, like most things in life, our beliefs aren’t fixed. The unhelpful ones, inherited from others and life events, can be changed. I often see clients, who once believed they couldn’t do something, come to realise that the way they were perceiving themselves and their situation wasn’t an accurate reflection of the truth. Rather it was a reality being filtered through limiting beliefs and possibly a skewed value system that no longer serves them. Through coaching and therapy, new and more helpful beliefs can be formed and values reviewed and re-prioritised. The seemingly impossible then becomes not only possible but readily achievable.

It struck me, this bright morning, as I was driving through Clumlie just how different the landscape looked. Everything was so still and the light was amazing. The loch reflected the surrounding terrain perfectly like a large free form mirror, creating an illusion from some angles that there was no water body there at all. It was beautiful, peaceful and a bit surreal. I saw it today as I’d never seen it before.

So it is with life and our belief systems. Something can shift and we can see ourselves and external situations in a new light.

A core part of my coaching work is to shed that new and different light by asking the right questions and re-framing the less helpful things we are sometimes telling ourselves.

I was so struck by how different the landscape looked today I stopped and took some snaps with my iphone. When I look at this compilation I’ll reflect on shifting perspectives and the inevitability of change.

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Body and mind – the same system

Sunset with Frank Zappa quote 'The mind is like a parachute, it doesn't work if it's not open'.

Sunset with Frank Zappa quote 'The mind is like a parachute, it works best when open'.

My training and experience, now in working with clients across a wide range of issues, leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that the mind and body are all one system.  What affects us physically, affects us emotionally and vice versa.

Think of the last time you had a physical symptom (e.g. pain/fatigue) and how that made you feel within yourself – pretty fed up, sorry for yourself – right?  Think too of the last time you were really upset or worried by something.  How did your body react? Usually we’ll notice muscle tension, maybe a headache and other physical manifestations of our emotional state, e.g. racing heart, tears, pacing around etc.

Many of us think of the body and mind being somehow different and separate parts of us but try this.  Take a moment now to place your feet flat on the floor and notice any sensations in them.  Maybe notice whether they feel hot or cold. Notice now the feeling of them being in physical contact with the floor. Does one foot feel heavier or lighter than the other?  As you experience these physical sensations notice where is your mind?  Do it again now and really notice where your mind is as you do this…. not in your head but in your feet – right?  The brain, as an organ, is in our head but the mind is thoughout our body. Our muscles and cells have memory, the same as our brain does.

Think of emotions now.  We often view feelings as being something experienced in our head but they happen to us physiologically in our body. They’re not just in our head.  The conscious thoughts we have about how we’re feeling are in our head but the feelings themselves are physically in our body.  Our emotions are actually a release of chemicals from the pituitary gland and each of our 32 main emotions is just a combination of different chemicals released into our physical body.

Next time you experience a strong emotion (good or bad) notice that it starts somewhere physically in your body, e.g. fear might start with a sick feeling in the stomach or a tight feeling in the chest.  Once we know how our emotions are being experienced in our body we can much more powerfully reverse and change them at will.  Clients are often surprised by this and it’s incredibly empowering to be able to change our emotions this way. It really puts us back in control.

Further evidence of the body/mind connection is that we often can tell from a person’s posture how they are feeling emotionally.  Did you know it’s impossible to look up and cry at the same time and that by changing our physical posture, e.g. by sitting up straight we can actually change how we feel emotionally?  It seems so obvious and yet we still tend to view the body and mind separately.

In my work,  I often find that physical symptoms can have an emotional root.  It’s not that the physical symptoms are imagined.  They’re very real!  However, although not always the case, they can point to an unresolved emotional issue.  Take the example of tinnitus.  This problem often arises following a traumatic event such as a bereavement.  The person has heard some unbearable news and the body starts to protect them from hearing anything else that is so devastating by physically impairing the hearing.  This may sound incredulous but I frequently see evidence of this kind of physical manifestion in cases where there has been a significant emotional impact.  Often when the medical model cannot explain or really resolve ongoing physical symptoms, chronic back pain being another example, we’ll find that something fairly major has happened to a person emotionally.  Once the underlying emotional trauma is addressed the physical symptoms usually start to improve and in many cases they can be eliminated.

The subconscious mind that runs all of our bodily processes is vast and powerful (we don’t need to think about breathing, it just happens automatically along with thousands of other life sustaining processes) and its main function is to ensure our survival.  When there is emotional trauma to address it can send us physical symptoms to get our attention.  It has no other voice.  Pain and physical symptoms can be there to help us know there is something we need to deal with, so I also help clients change their view of the physical symptoms they’re experiencing.  Once we can see them as something to guide us towards deeper emotional healing we can welcome them and then release them, having listened, understood and dealt with the underlying issue.

Hypnotherapy, NLP and EFT are all very effective therapies for addressing underlying emotional issues in a way that’s safe and with the minimum discomfort during the process.  If you have (or someone you know has) chronic physical symptoms and, when you think of it, there has been a significant event that has had a negative emotional impact (e.g. bereavement, relationship breakdown, serious illness or injury, assault and so on) then some sessions could be really beneficial.  The relaxation that comes with the therapies is great for relieving stress and so sessions should always be beneficial whatever the outcome in workng with any other symptoms.

The pendulum of life

Ever felt life would be so much easier if your mood didn’t swing back and forth like a pendulum over which you seem to have no control?

Mastering our emotions can seem an impossible task but self hypnosis, NLP and EFT techniques put us back in the driving seat and enable us, if we wish, to choose how we feel in any given moment.

I first came across the idea that we really do have a lot more choice about how we feel, than most of us realise, when I read ‘Stop Thinking Start Living’ by Richard Carlson.  It’s a great little book and I often recommend it to clients.  If you find your waking hours are dominated by analytical thinking, either worrying about the future or going over and replaying past events, then this could well be the book for you.  It’s an easy read and explains in very simple terms how our thought patterns affect our mood which in turn determines our behaviours and actions, and ultimately the outcomes we do (or don’t) get in life.

One of our commonest mistakes is treating our own thoughts as always being right, like what we are thinking is reality itself.  An example might be when we think we know what someone else is thinking about us and that somehow becomes ‘fact’ in our own mind, like “he thinks I’m useless in this job”.  It might be true but do we actually know that?.. probably not!

When we learn to take a step back from our own thoughts and see them as just that, suddenly we have a choice. We can choose whether to continue with a train of thought or move onto something else that serves us better.  We can learn to challenge the content of our own thinking too.  Just because we generally need to trust ourselves doesn’t mean that we need to believe all of our own thinking is always valid or indeed useful!

How often is it we can make ourselves feel totally miserable by either reflecting too much on past events or worrying about the future?  Next time you feel bad, notice what you’ve been thinking and whether you have a choice about having those thoughts.  A classic is lying in bed feeling sick with worry about something that may or may not happen in the future.  If that happens take a deep breath and notice ‘where am I and what is happening right now?’  Yes, you’ll find you’re safely tucked up in bed and simply scaring yourself with your own thoughts!  That can be a tough thing to realise but it’s an undeniable truth, which reminds me of a favourite quote:

waves and shore with inspirational quote

Self hypnosis, NLP and EFT all enable us to harness our imagination in a way that works for our greatest benefit.  All too often we instead use our imagination to scare or worry ourselves silly!  Change what you imagine and think about, using these techniques, and notice how much easier it is to master your own mood :).

Diane Taylor

(Dip.C/Hyp/NLP – GHR Reg)

web: www.shetlandresolve.co.uk

FB: www.facebook.com/shetlandresolve

Email diane@shetlandresolve.co.uk

Time to relax

looking up through tall pine treesSo I’m a week into my presence in the blogging world and so far it doesn’t feel any different to the non blogging world, other than a little voice saying ‘that’s been a week now so it’s time to write something else”.  So here I am ready with my next post!

Many of my clients find they benefit from the deep relaxation that comes with the therapies I practice and they’re often surprised to realise it’s been a very long time since they truly relaxed. It can even feel a bit emotional when it happens, like it’s a big relief.

It’s when we’re deeply relaxed that we can be at our most creative and really solve any problems or issues that are troubling us.  Deep relaxation also boosts our immune system and significantly increases our overall sense of wellbeing.  So I encourage anyone I see to find a way of incorporating deep relaxation into their lifestyle.  We’re gradually understanding the benefits of regular physical exercise, we also need regular deep relaxation.

Sometimes folk aren’t sure how to find a relaxation track that suits them.  There are many on the market and it’s often possible to listen to a sample online before you buy.  The most important thing is that you like the voice and you find any accompanying music soothing too.  We’re all different so one person’s ideal track might not suit someone else.  Try googling for sample relaxation tracks.  There are also some good iphone apps e.g. by Andrew Johnson .

Just finding half an hour once or twice a week (and more often in times of stress) to listen to a track can bring about immediately perceptible changes in your sense of wellbeing.

At Shetland Resolve, I do a range of recordings for deep relaxation and also for more specific therapeutic change (e.g. increased confidence, self esteem, better sleep, habit change, energy & motivation and more).  They can be in Shetland Dialect (though not too broad) or in my best (knapping) ‘Scottish’ accent for anyone not familiar with dialect words.

To celebrate my second week as a blogger I’m offering the chance for a limited time to hear one of my recordings (the full track not just a sample) online for absolutely free!.  This one is in dialect and will guide you to a state of deep relaxation before taking you on a stroll through a beautiful woodland.  If you can, it’s best to listen with headphones but not at a time when you need to stay alert!

I would love to hear your feedback and I plan to add a ‘Scottish’ version soon.

Thanks for ‘listening’!

Diane Taylor

(Dip.C/Hyp/NLP – GHR Reg)

web: www.shetlandresolve.co.uk

FB: www.facebook.com/shetlandresolve

Email diane@shetlandresolve.co.uk

Hello world!

Cave and beach scene on a misty day

The mists will clear in their own time, you need only see far enough to take the next step ~ Diane Taylor

“Hello World!” was the automated title given by WordPress for a new blogger’s very first blog post and I guess that’s how it feels… stepping out into a whole new world, as yet unknown, but isn’t that what keeps life exciting and fresh?  I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while.  Thinking about new ideas is fine so long as it leads to a decision and either some action or our moving on to something else.  In this case it’s action and here I am writing my first post.  As yet, I don’t really know how it’ll develop from here but I’m ok with that.  In any journey we need only see far enough to take the next step… so I’ll be happy for now with the knowledge that today I’ve got an account and I’ve also just written my very first blog post :).

I was clearing out some old papers earlier and came across an article by Ruth Walker on Susie Pearl, author of “Instructions for Happiness and Success”.  I love the simple 5 step guide to happiness she gives:

1. Smiling helps. It’s very hard to be depressed and smile at the same time. So even if you’re not feeling it, go there first. Have a smile.

2. Being kind to others boosts your happiness really fast. The research is extraordinary on this. When you’re kind you get it back. It’s like a boomerang effect.

3. Be aware of how your emotions affect the outcome of events in your life. You have to take responsibility for your feelings. No one else can make you feel miserable; you make yourself feel miserable.

4. Notice what’s going right in your life and stop focusing on what’s going wrong. Be appreciative of what you do have. Perhaps do a gratitude list: freedom, health, food on the table, good friends, a family member, a dog, a cat, the sun coming up everyday.

5. Hang out with people who make you feel good.

On on that last note, the weather is still unseasonably good here for March so I’m off now to hang out with a couple of equine friends who I always feel good around (Seymour and Laggan my trusty steeds). We’ll get a short hack in before the colder weather hits at the weekend.

Diane Taylor

(Dip.C/Hyp/NLP – GHR Reg)

web: www.shetlandresolve.co.uk

FB: www.facebook.com/shetlandresolve

Email diane@shetlandresolve.co.uk