Early last year I started a new full time job – away from home this time which was a bit of a stretch to my little grey cells and to my energy levels. But it struck me at the beginning of the second week that I was really in new movie in my life. As I pondered this I realised that in this new movie I could bring in all the things I had learned from the last movie that sustained me and brought me peace, happiness and closer to the true essence of myself. And because I had learned how to do this over a long period of time, I could now do it even quicker and save myself a lot of pain and anguish when it came to adjusting to the newness of the role and some of the things I might not be happy with. I didn’t have to take a long time to learn how to overcome what I didn’t like as I had developed that ability in the last movie, and other abilities in the one before that, and the one before that! But I kept forgetting what I had learned and had to start all over again in succeeding movies. But not this time, this time I could choose to do things differently. And the first thing I remembered was to not take myself so seriously.
New work processes had to be learned, deadlines were looming, and it all seemed to be taking forever to learn all this new work. But who was really stressing the most over this? Me – not the management. They had been very quick to point out that they knew the new team I was part of would take some time to learn things and they were very laid back and supportive about it all. So what was the point of me stressing if they weren’t? So I lightened up, relaxed, took my time and the flow kicked in.
So really, any movie we are starring in and any new role we take on can be as happy or unhappy, peaceful or fearful, calm or anxious as we want it to be. If we have learned how to handle similar situations in the past it’s really a matter of remembering what and how we did that in the new situations. Then all we need do is practically apply all these amazing lessons so we don’t have to painfully go through them all again.
And the other exciting thing is, if we haven’t yet mastered the art of coping with change and starring in a new movie, we can learn!
When I used to go walking on the boardwalk around the beautiful Tauranga estuary (New Zealand), I passed a large, modern house set in a picturesque valley. It looked cosy, nestled amongst the lovely willow trees with a view over the estuary towards the city. Quite an idyllic spot I had always thought. Months later we were visiting friends whose house was on the hill high above the estuary and this house, and I was shocked to find that what I could see of it from this height was totally different from how it looked from the boardwalk. Instead of the trees being close to the house, they were further away and the piece of land that the house was built on was quite stark with hardly any grass. There was a huge and quite unsightly swimming pool to one side and, quite frankly, it did not look cosy and idyllic at all. It struck me that so often, that’s what happens in relating details of events and/or conversations that take place, when there is more than one participant/observer. The perceptions of what takes place can be vastly different.
Sometimes when my husband and I are talking about something that happened I wonder if we were both in the same place at the same time! It seems that he will see things so differently from me, and while an outright battle could ensue to find out who is right, we choose to decide that we just see things differently. There will be times when he fills in the blanks for me and I will fill in the blanks for him.
There will be times when choosing to perceive situations/people from our holiness (our spiritual mind) can literally save a life. Caroline Myss tells the story of one such event that was related to her by a lady who attended one of her seminars. This lady, we will call her Robyn, was in a traffic hold up one afternoon and realised that an accident had taken place a number of cars ahead of her. She closed her eyes and prayed for the people involved in the accident not knowing what exactly had taken place. The road was eventually cleared and she carried on her way. Some months later, there was a knock at her door. An unknown woman was standing there with a large bunch of flowers in her hand. Robyn invited her in and the woman related her story. She had been riding her bicycle one afternoon some months before when she had been knocked down by a car and seriously injured. She had a ‘near death experience’ and while her spirit was out of her body she looked around and could see only black energy rising from the cars held up by the accident (they were complaining about being held up). But then she saw white light rising out of one of the cars further back and floated over to see where it was coming from. She observed Robyn praying in her car and knew that this white light being generated was healing light and it was for her. She also made a mental note of the number plate of Robyn’s car. She went back into her body, was taken to hospital and eventually made a full recovery. Amazingly, she remembered Robyn’s number plate and was able to track down her name and address. She thanked Robyn profusely for choosing to perceive the accident as an opportunity to pray and not to become angry for being held up in traffic. As you can imagine, Robyn was profoundly touched and moved to tears.
Knowing that choosing our perception literately creates outcomes in our lives, is it not important to choose to perceive from our holiness (our spiritual mind) and not our egos? You could save your relationships … or perhaps a life.
A certain sector of society is talking about living your life ‘on purpose’. What is that? Well, purpose comes from what meaning we wish to give to our lives. This is not ‘the meaning of life’ which many of people have searched for and found in a spiritual pathway, a philosophical belief or a worthy cause, but the purpose and meaning we give to our lives that gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Some say there is no meaning to life but that is a meaning in itself – that life has no meaning.
We all want a reason for existing. We don’t like to think that our lives have come about through some random events starting with micro organisms multiplying and cells dividing to make us into who we are. We may seek for something higher and greater for our lives but quite often don’t know what that is or how we go about finding it.
When I was 14 I went to a careers evening and when I found out how long I would have to spend at school before I became a psychiatrist (my considered career choice at the time) I was rather put off. I wasn’t encouraged in this desire by my parents (girls weren’t encouraged to think big in those days) so I dropped the idea. What is also interesting is that I never lost the desire to help others and over the last 30 years I have been involved in many charitable organisations that exist to help those in need in areas from mental health to spirituality to restoring woodlands (in the UK).
Through a series of events I became a trained Life Coach. What’s a life coach you ask? Is it coaching rugby? Is it coaching pregnant mums? No, life coaching, in my words, is the discovery and implementing of living your life ‘on purpose’ – living the life you always wanted to live but didn't know how to.
I feel life coaching needs to be taught at school to teenagers who are starting out on their careers. It would give a direction to their lives that is more than just about earning money and fulfilling one’s own ego needs – living a life with intention and contributing to the greater good brings about huge inner expansion and fulfillment.
Living your life ‘on purpose’ will bring you immeasurable satisfaction and that purpose will always be there to steer you through life’s ups and downs. Having a purpose will ensure that you know you will be contributing to the greater good, will attract love and support, and give you a confidence that living life aimlessly will never give you. And the adventures you could have along the way will be mind boggling! The only limit is your imagination.
There is a tendency we humans have to want something exterior in our lives to change in order for us to be happier, healthier, more content, gain more freedom, be more complete and generally feel better about our lives. We go around with constant mind chatter, judging, criticising, comparing, complaining – and that’s on a good day. If only he/she would change. If only I could get a pay rise. If only the kids would grow up and leave home. If only there was a better/different/more caring government in power. If only I could update my car/house/dog/partner/clothes…the list is quite endless and it will stay that way when the ego mind is in control.
One of the biggest conflicts that arise in relationships is the need to change our partners because they are seen as the source of our constant unhappiness. We can come up with an endless list of faults that she/he must change and then life would be oh so much better. We wouldn’t have the constant worry of being on their case, chasing them up over undone tasks, pulling them up for their uncouth behaviour, trying to get our needs met, nagging them to be more romantic, doing more around the house, helping more with the kids. There are those of us who would like our partners to, quite literally, have a personality change. Then our lives would be just peachy.
What if there was a different way to be in relationship? What if we were to feel so complete inside, so loved that we would be able to leave our partners to decide on what they wanted to change for themselves? That we were just so happy that it didn’t matter any more if they did or didn’t change? What if we did the changing instead, and that our partners would notice such a startling turn around in us that it would cause them to wonder what we had and how they could get it too?
We have the ability to change a destructive relationship into a loving one. If you want to start with a good book to help make changes in your relationship, I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. In it Gary outlines the number of ways we feel loved and how they are most likely to be different from our partners. He gives insight and strategies on how to make these differences work.
There are many other avenues for self-growth and change available. When we decide that we are no longer victims to our circumstances and those around us and we have the power to move into a stronger place, then the things we need to effect change are at our fingertips. If abuse is an issue, then becoming stronger inside may be the thing that takes us out of the relationship to a safer place.
When we realise that WE are the change we are looking for in our lives then the potential for a liberated life is limitless. When we stop blaming the outer world, other people and realising change doesn’t come from an external place then we can move into a space of strength, contentment and love that will affect everyone we come in contact with and transform our relationships.
I have a female friend who has been in an on-again, off-again relationship for nearly 18 months. Her partner has wooed her with words, looks and actions that attest to her beauty, both inner and outer. He has managed to find out what makes her swoon and he has played it for all he can get. He doesn’t beat her, he doesn’t turn up at her door drunk, he doesn’t sleep around and he’s not a drug addict. But he has managed to tap into her main area of personal lack in order to keep bouncing back into her life – her lack of self-love. The really bizarre thing is that she knows it’s happening and allows it to continue. One of the many unloving things he does has been to not turn up at a pre-arranged time again and again. He always asks for forgiveness and because she is a genuinely good person conditioned to respond to forgiveness in a way that helps the other person and not herself, she lets the relationship continue as it is. Nothing changes because she has no personal boundaries and her self love is based on this man being in her life because he says the things that make her feel good about herself.
There is a saying, “If anyone can rob you of your peace of mind, you depend on that person too much for your happiness”. How many of us has that happened to? It’s hardly any wonder that we fall into that trap when all around us society conditions us to think in terms of having a ‘significant other’ as the ultimate in life. Songs, movies, books and magazines all proclaim that to be part of a couple is the height of acceptance both by our peers and society in general. How many words are dedicated to this subject? How many people are trained and make careers out of getting people into relationships, maintaining those relationships and fixing them when they go wrong? How many of us have felt bereft when we are on our own, longing for someone to “make us feel special” and make life so much happier?
Now I don’t deny that being with someone we love, have compatibility and harmony with isn’t an undeniably wonderful thing, but when it is the only foundation for who we are and we would be nothing without it, then we are in trouble. We are definitely affected by the hurtful actions/words of our loved ones, but to what degree is our peace diminished? It is quite a challenge to retain our own sense of self-love and self worth being in an intimate relationship but it is not impossible. Indeed, if our self-love is strong and healthy the relationship will run smoother as we are not relying on the other to continually prop us up. Too many of us define who we are on the ‘nice’ feelings we get from pleasing the significant others in our lives.
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What he was saying is that we need to consciously look at how we live our lives and make intelligent and loving decisions about how we want to be treated. We need to think about what our boundaries are and make a loving commitment to ourselves to enforce those boundaries.
How many of us feel that life is controlling us, that we are flotsam on the river of life being thrown around at the mere whim of other people and situations? Developing our own self love and being completely at home with ourselves and who we are will ensure that healthy relationships with others will develop. Healthy self-love will give us a greater sense of control in our own lives.
The only place we find and develop lasting and unshakable self-love is in our relationship within ourselves. There is no person, place or thing that in this world of transience that can give us the inner peace and certainty that we so crave.
As for my friend mentioned in the first paragraph, she has now come to the point where the love she felt for this man has become anger, loathing and even hate at times. Those emotions are also directed at herself as she realises how much she has compromised her life to keep him in it. She says she won’t be seeing him again, but has she learnt the lesson? Time will tell…
I don’t think we can plan for and be prepared for every ending and new beginning in our lives but some changes, like leaving home to go flatting or to university, can definitely be prepared for – and very much looked forward to. Saying goodbye to our parents, friends and siblings as we head off on the adventure of university, a new job or travel is part of growing up and growing away from our parents - finding our own way in the world.
Finding out that you have an identity all of your own separate from others can be a confusing yet exciting time. It’s a time of finding out who you are, testing boundaries, maturing, making choices that affect your career, friendships, and your life plan. Bit of a minefield at times especially when those choices conflict with other people and their hopes and dreams for you. For a lot of us, we don’t think about who we are until we find ourselves in a state of confusion through the closing of one door and looking for the next door to open.
But endings and beginnings are not a time to be shied away from or feared but a time to be embraced. Moving into the new phase or next chapter of your life will allow you to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know before. It will test you, strengthen you, challenge you and help shape the beliefs you want to hold and let go of other beliefs that no longer serve you or where you are in this new chapter.
A Course In Miracles says that the concept of ‘self’ will change with learning and that change is reflected in our relationships – they mature or they end or they aren’t as intense as they used to be, or maybe they become more intense.
Every time there’s a shift there is some confusion but we come to recognise that we are no longer victims of the world we see and we learn that we are creating what we experience. This is a powerful place – being able to create your experiences and without the self awareness of what is going on at the time, we tend to let life live us rather than us living life.
Go well with any endings and beginnings in your life and know that they are natural; they are a mark of living a large life rather than a small one where things never change or move forward.
Recently I read an article on life coaching in the March 2013 issue of Elle magazine, Life Coaching, Better Than Therapy?. The writer, Bliss Broyard, participated in life coaching as part of her research for the article and found that it was a really positive experience that helped her in her hectic life to construct time frames and strategies that addressed being a wife, mother and journalist whilst maintaining sanity. There were, however, a couple of inaccuracies in the article that I feel prompted to put right.
The writer had interviewed a psychiatrist who stated that life coaches attempted to help people with deeper mental health issues and did not refer them to mental health professionals. Well, I don’t know about other coaches but my training with Momentum Life Coaching and Training, New Zealand, (an I.C.F., International Coach Federation, approved training) very specifically stated that if I felt that any client had deeper issues, either being stuck in the past or a mental health issue, I was to recommend they see a counsellor or health professional and to stop working with them immediately. So far I haven’t had to do this with any of my clients but if I did, I would certainly not entertain the notion that I could help them with these deeper mental health issues as I am simply not trained to do so. I would not hesitate in referring them on.
The other inaccuracy that Bliss stated was that if a life coach was not active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then don’t touch them. As if being active on social media these days gives anyone authenticity! Even a sociopath can learn how to be active on social media and to say that this type of promotion means that a life coach is good or not is very misleading. By all means do your research on a life coach that you are thinking of working with but do not dismiss them simply because they are only somewhat active, or not active at all, on social media sites. I offer a free 30 minute session to anyone to see if life coaching is for them and if we, as coach and client, are a good match. If during that time I felt that the prospective client would not benefit from life coaching (and there are some who don’t, but this is rare) or that we aren’t a good match (this hasn’t happened yet either), then my personal integrity would prompt me to speak up.
Another good way to help decide on the validity of a coach, is to find out if they belong to a recognised coaching organisation. I.C.F, International Coach Federation, is the organisation that I belong to and it is the world’s largest life coaching association.
Overall, Bliss's article showed life coaching in a positive light but I felt it was important to put the inaccuracies right as they can mean the difference to someone embarking on a life changing course of action or dismissing it and staying in their own quite lives of desperation. We need to acknowledge the power of the written word and keep as accurate and honest as we can – someone’s future happiness could depend on it.
Recently my good friend, Riana Avis who lives in Surrey in the UK, put out a great blog on The Gift of Listening - http://thebaobabway.com/gift-listening/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook.
Reading this caused me to wonder how we can change to being a good listener if we are aware that we’re not. In a world where ‘it’s all about me’ our need to be listened to may overshadow our ability to be a listening ear for others. So what needs to happen?
Self awareness is the first place to start and it is vital when we want to change anything - without it we have no idea who or how we are being. Knowing consciously what we are doing and being, we can then choose who or how we would rather be – which can only bring about positive changes in our lives and relationships.
Let’s look at the three levels of listening for insight and understanding:
Level 1 – this is what I call surface listening. It happens when we get together with friends and family during a social occasion and catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. We are tuned into the other person but we are also thinking about what we are going to say next with more focus on ourselves and less on the other. Intuition is mainly quiet.
Level 2 – this level is about deeper listening and it’s when we are less concerned about ourselves and what we are going to say next. We are focused on the other person, allowing our intuition to kick in and letting ourselves dance in the moment during the conversation.
Level 3 – this is the deepest listening level where intuition is fully present between two people. Speaking only from this place of deep knowing it feels like the universe is present in the conversation and all sense of time and space is gone. It’s the place when we tangibly feel that ‘God’ is also part of the interaction and only oneness exists – a place of pure peace and connection.
What level of conversation do you mostly take part in? For most of us it’s Level 1 with occasionally getting to Level 2 but rarely, if ever, getting to Level 3.
There is nothing wrong in being in L 1 as it’s a socially acceptable place to be and serves us well when we are out at a café /restaurant or at a family reunion. But could it be that what’s hampering our deeper connection with others is that we haven’t learned how to go from L1 to L 2 or 3?
The next step is deciding if we want to go to a deeper level of listening and why. What’s in it for us to take the focus off ourselves and what we want to say next? How will our relationships improve if we move out of L 1 listening? Creating a big ‘buy in’ by coming up with all the positives that will happen when we contemplate change is a great motivator. Especially if there is existing conflict with loved ones.
For me, I know that I am never satisfied with L 1 connection. I have a hunger within me that causes me to go deeper within the psyche of the other to create a connection that is beyond ego. Dr Wayne Dyer has an interpretation of ego: Edge God Out. When we edge the God within out of our lives and our interactions we will only come from the most selfish part of ourselves, demanding our needs be met, and thinking only of what we can get from others.
When we move into the place of coming from our intuition then we are bypassing ego and going to our spiritual mind, or the Inner Christ (or whatever you want to call it), where we speak and act not on the basis of rational judgment but on sheer intensity of right perception. And that perception is apart from ego.
There are tools that we can start using that will help us move away from L 1 ego listening to L 2 and 3 intuitive listening. The first one is paraphrasing - where we take what a person has said and summarise it in a few words or sentences. Another one is focused questioning - drawing the person out, helping them become aware of what is going on for them at a deeper level. This not only helps bring more clarity to their experience, but forms a deep connection between you both. And another one, probably the most powerful of all, is being aware when your intuition is ‘pinging’ you while they are talking and once they have finished, allowing these pings to come back into your conscious awareness and feeding the information back to them.
Let’s use an example to illustrate all three levels of listening and the tools above. Someone describes to you how they had an ‘Aha moment’. They go into great detail about what led up to it, how it occurred, what insights they had and how they felt.
Level 1 would say, “Wow, that’s really great. I had something similar happen to me last week …”
How do you think the other person feels when this takes place? How do you feel when you have poured your heart out and the other person quickly moves their attention away from you and gets on to their stuff?
Level 2 would say, “How amazing. It sounds to me like you had a profound experience that has caused a shift in your thinking. I can hear new energy in your voice and see by the smile on your face that you are feeling really liberated and ready to move on with this new insight.”
This will likely get a positive response such as, “That’s exactly how it is for me, I love that you understand me.”
How do you feel when others ‘get’ you in this way? Is this not what you would like to give back?
This can be followed by questions like, “So how do you think this is going to impact on your life from now on?” “What areas in your life can you apply this understanding to?” “If you were able to use this insight in your relationships, which ones do you think would benefit the most?”
There are many focused questions that can be asked at this stage and it’s a matter of allowing intuition to bring them into your mind by staying peaceful and calm rather than trying to grasp at them. Practice of this process is necessary (like learning to play the piano) and working with a life coach or a personal growth program like Landmark Forum or Avatar will really help move you forward in this area.
When others focus on you with these sorts of enquiring questions, does it make you feel listened to and cared about? This is the gift you can give others.
Being alert to the pings of intuition when the other person is talking will take the conversation from L 2 to L 3.
“When you talked about the insight you had at this time, I deeply felt that there was some unresolved issues that were holding you back – does this sound right?” “I really feel that there is a deeper mission for you in your life that is going to be revealed at some stage –it’s like God is at work in you, leading you to a place of deeper purpose in your life.” “When you said such and such, I had an inner ping – what do you think was going on for you?”
At this point, tears can flow – of joy or pain or laughter – and it’s here that intuition, compassion and empathy come into their own. To be able to hold another person in this place with love, and where they can hold you is probably one of the most profound experiences we can have. ‘When two or more are gathered in My name, I am there also’, is a statement from Jesus and he was talking about Level 3 listening – he probably wouldn’t put it that way himself! This is a place where listening to intuition is vital and when we are open to connecting to others in Level 3, all the unseen helpers in the universe rush to our aid (according to A Course In Miracles).
What do you think would happen to relationships if we could relate constantly from L 2 and L 3? What would our own personal and spiritual growth journey be like if we were listened to like this and could return the gift? What would the world look, sound and feel like if we all practiced intuitive listening? I guess John Lennon could imagine it.
Do you ever experience life ‘turning on a dime’? You are just going along minding your own business, when out of the blue something unexpected happens and you are left thinking. “Well, I so wasn’t expecting that.”
The unexpected event can be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on our perspective but always there will be the chance to ask ourselves ‘what is the purpose of this event?’ and ‘how do we want to respond to it?’ Because we always do have the choice of how we respond even if it seems that we have a pre-programmed reaction and we can’t help it.
Victor E. Frankl, an Austrian psychologist 1905 – 1997, said:
‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
How do we know when our response to an unexpected occurrence is a true response that comes from being in alignment with our integrity or whether that response needs to be looked at and changed? We know by the sense of peace we experience when we stand back and observe that response.
If we are aligned with our purpose, then the sense of peace we experience when moving forward in life is such a beautiful experience that we cannot deny that we are on track. And sometimes that track might not be what we envisioned ourselves doing. In fact, we might think we need our heads read by what is developing but if we are connected with our deepest self and experiencing peace, then we are more than likely moving forward in a way that is for our highest good – and the highest good for everyone involved.
A Course In Miracles says that sometimes our guidance can seem embarrassing which is why we don’t act on it. We can be so consumed with looking good to others and seeking outside approval or we fear being questioned by others, or they might think of us as being really dumb, that we back off and possibly miss the opportunity of developing something really beautiful and satisfying in our lives. That opportunity could be more closely aligned with our purpose than we ever thought possible but our fear stops us acting on our guidance.
We need to develop a greater trust in how we interpret guidance and becoming still and focusing on our heart centre to see how much peace we are feeling is a great place to start. Kinesiology is another good way of seeing if we are on track with what is good for us. This Youtube video is a great place to see how Kinesiology is done https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcXpDnTmEjo
As you develop a stronger willingness to move ahead in your life in ways that are unexpected and challenging but feel somehow right, you will discover that things will fall into place effortlessly – the ducks will just line up in a row without your trying. Take the risk … go with the unexpected, check your guidance and experience a life that is more wonderful than you ever thought possible.
Love and blessings,
Hi, I'm Anna Bradbury and I'm an experienced Life Coach and member of ICF (International Coach Federation). I love helping people and couples realise their goals and dreams. With your hard work and focus, my guidance, and proven Life Coaching techniques, you can achieve all you desire.