Six Unhelpful Habits to Ditch to Transform Your Life

The path to self-enlightenment and happiness is not paved with stardust and lined with unicorns. Nor is it a journey we can take our family, friends, or boss on, hoping that if we can change their behaviour then everything else will magically fall into pace.  This is one road we need to travel alone if we really want to reap the rewards of a more purposeful and abundant life. It’s time to ditch the habits that are dragging us down, and design the life that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning.

  1. Avoid playing the blame game. The reality of the human experience is that we get to experience the highs, the lows and everything in between. When things are going well we accept them more easily, but when times get tough it’s human nature to look for causes and seek an explanation for our circumstances. Often this involves looking to people, places or events on which to allocate blame. The problem is that if we are always looking to external forces as the cause of our situation, we give away our power over our experiences. To live in an empowered state we need to take responsibility for how we act and react in any situation. We always have a choice and we are ‘response able‘.
  2. Change the language of the voice in your head. Our mind will only ever respond to two things – the words we say to ourselves and the images we create in our heads. This determines our reality so we need to make sure they’re worth watching and listening to.  We need to tell our minds exactly what we want in very specific and positive terms. The mind is wired to work in the affirmative, so if we say I DON’T want something, the mind interprets this as I WANT that same thing. For example, “I don’t want to be lonely” becomes “I want to be lonely” or “I don’t want to be poor” becomes “I want to be poor’. Negative words are almost imperceptible to the mind, so we need to frame our dialogue in the positive.  Try saying “I have a wonderful circle of friends”, or “I have everything I need.”
  3. Embrace an abundance mindset. To believe in abundance is to believe that there is plenty of everything – resources, love, relationships, wealth, opportunity etc.  An abundance mindset is a direct result of believing that we absolutely deserve everything we desire – that we deserve to be here exactly as we are, perfectly imperfect and totally worthy of love, success and happiness. So turn up the dial on your self-worth and invite abundance into your life. When you lock on to what you already have, you also attract more of it.
  4. Let toxic people go. Remember that our vibe attracts our tribe and vice versa. Any emotion, be it positive and upbeat such as happiness or enthusiasm; as well as negative emotions such as anger and fear, are easily passed from one party to another, without either consciously realising it. This means that our happiness is directly related to that of our friends, our family, anyone in our inner circle. The same can be said for negative emotions, which are as toxic as second hand smoke. We need to be careful what energy we are surrounding ourselves with and whether this energy serves or depletes us. Surround yourself with people who instil confidence and boost self-esteem.
  5. Stop Reliving Your Failures.  Move on from challenges and obstacles and simply embrace them as a learning opportunity. Reliving the past doesn’t give us the power to change it, so we need to move on. This quote from JK Rowling points to the very necessity of failure “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.
  6. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. No matter who you are, how successful you are, how intelligent or attractive you are, or how wealthy you are, there will always be someone who has more.  Comparing yourself to others will drain you physically and emotionally, over and over again.  ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, and an artful one at that. Remember that nobody is you, exactly like you, and that is your true power.

Why We Need to Manifest in the Present and Not the Future – 4 Steps to Manifesting in Real Time

Often when we talk about manifesting, we’re thinking about what we want our lives to look like in the future – next week, next month, next year, or in five years. We look at manifesting as a form of goal setting around attracting what we want to achieve in terms of finances, health, career, relationships etc.

The problem with always projecting towards the future however, is that it ignores that we are in a constant state of creation, and therefore are manifesting each and every minute of the day. We are energetic beings and cannot help but put out into the universe a constant stream of energy based on our language, thoughts, behaviours and beliefs.  We are continually communicating with the universe and our energy is mirrored back to us in real time, not at some future point.

While it might sound a little crazy we are energetically tuned to a particular frequency, and like attracts like. At a subconscious level we energetically invite experiences and people into our lives that are operating at the same frequency, so we need to be careful what we’re putting out there in the present moment. When we can fully embrace that there is no such thing as coincidence or serendipity, we are on the path to living and manifesting in real time.

To understand how this works, I’m drawn to the principles developed by Neville Goddard (1905 – 1972) a prophet, teacher and author who proposed that whatever you desire you can summon through the imagination. The trick is to imagine that you have already achieved what you desire, and use all of your senses to feel that what you are imagining is real right now.  Goddard proposed that the world is at our command as long as we understand how to command it.

“The world is yourself pushed out. Ask yourself what you want and then give it to yourself! Do not question how it will come about; just go your way knowing that the evidence of what you have done must appear, and it will.”

This is one of the simplest and most effective methods of manifesting in the present – believing that something has already happened as opposed to projecting it into a future state. It is to ‘assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled’. It is stepping into a visualization as if it were a current reality, therefore changing our vibrational frequency. If we successfully do this then there are no limiting beliefs or roadblocks to what we want to achieve, because the goal has already been realised. Otherwise how can we imagine that it took place?

It sounds simple, but it can be tricky to get our minds around how it all works. Following are some simple steps to get you started.

  1. Buy a scrapbook and fill it with pictures of the things that you desire. Use magazines, the internet, catalogues etc.  Remember there are literally thousands of free images on line so knock yourself out.  Glue the pictures of your desires into the front of the book and personalise them with a comment. You might say something like “here’s my new house” or “here’s the itinerary for my next overseas adventure”. You can also personalise by adding photos of yourself next to the images. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make it your own.
  2. Develop an affirmation for each desire/image that brings it into the now. For example you might say, “I love my new home by the beach where I can hear the sounds of the ocean”. The affirmation must be positive sense and present tense (it’s what you want, not what you don’t want, and you need to phrase it like it’s already here). Write your affirmations on palm cards or similar. Turn your scrapbook over so you are now at the back, and glue the affirmations in.
  3. Every evening before sleeping, flip through your scrapbook and embrace the feeling of already having achieved the outcomes you see in the pictures. See yourself in your imagination living as if this were true for you right now. Focus on a particular affirmation and repeat it over and over for a couple of minutes. Smile as you do this to instill positive energy in to the affirmation.
  4. Engage every one of your senses in the visualisation – see what it looks like, hear how it sounds, taste the flavour of it, smell the aromas that surround it, reach out and touch it. The more you engage your senses the more easily your mind will start to accept that is it true.

“Believe in what you want so much that it has no choice but to materialise.”

Hypnotherapy – Breaking down the ‘myths’ and ‘misconceptions’

Hypnotherapy is perhaps one of the most confused modalities in the suite of alternative health therapies.  Perceived as anything from mind manipulation to entertainment, it’s no wonder there’s some reluctance (or perhaps even fear) over what might take place in hypnotherapy session. So let’s break it down and separate the facts from fiction, and the reality from the myths.

Myth #1: Not everyone can be hypnotized.

Reality: Anyone can be hypnotized so long as it is by choice. Nobody can be forced into hypnosis against their will.

Myth #2: Hypnosis is a deep state of trance.

Reality: Hypnosis (for therapeutic purposes) is a very light state of trance that we experience naturally on a daily basis. It’s our ability as humans to function on ‘auto pilot’ that allows us to enter this hypnotic state. Example – you drive to a particular destination and have absolutely no recollection of the journey. Or you are scrolling through social media, pointer finger flying, and have no idea what you have read or seen. Both of these are hypnotic states that most of us are completely familiar with.

Myth #3: Hypnosis is the ability to be put to sleep.

Reality: Hypnosis is not about falling asleep. It is more often described as being similar to guided meditation. And while clients may experience different degrees or ‘depth’ of hypnosis, this has little impact on the success of the treatment.  Hypnosis is a very easy and thoroughly relaxing experience.

Myth #4: A hypnotherapist can make me do anything while I’m in trance.

Reality: Absolutely, 100% false. Your mind will never allow you to do something that you morally and/or consciously would not choose to do.  There is no ‘clucking like a chicken’, or ‘eating an onion believing it is an apple’ in a hypnotherapy office. If an individual could be persuaded under hypnosis to do something against their better judgment, hypnotherapists across the globe would be instructing them to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a session, or to write a blank cheque.  It’s the same logic as instructing a client to rob a bank. They simply wouldn’t do it.

Myth #5: You can get stuck in hypnosis.

Reality: There is no evidence EVER, of an individual remaining “stuck” in hypnosis. You can talk, move your body, get a tissue, or even take a bathroom break during a session and it has no negative impact on the treatment. You can choose to exit hypnosis whenever you like and/or can be guided out of it very easily.

Myth #6: Hypnosis is a form of mind control.

Reality: Hypnosis is really just about the ability to put the conscious mind on hold (the ‘rational’ part of the mind) and give the subconscious (the ‘emotional’ part of the mind) an opportunity to speak. This provides great insight into why we do what we do (our actions) and why we choose what we choose (our decisions). The subconscious is the primary source of our behaviour, so if we want to improve parts of our behaviour, we need to understand how, where, why and when they came about in the first place.  Self-sabotaging behaviours are not conscious or logical; they are subconscious and very often emotional.

Myth #7: Hypnosis is the ‘magic pill’ for resolving my problems.

Reality: Hypnosis is a highly effective tool for creating more productive habits in any area of your life – whether this be weight loss, stopping drinking, quitting smoking, improving confidence and self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety etc.  However, it requires some work at your end. A hypnotherapy session (specifically Rapid Transformational Therapy – RTT) will provide you with excellent insights into the underlying causes of your issues and assist you to clear them out.  However, you must be an active participant in your own healing. It’s your body and your mind, and nobody can change it for you.  Commitment to the process and outcome is paramount.

From ‘alarm’ to ‘calm’. Using your imagination to stop worrying and start living.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of it’s strength.”
Corrie Ten Boom

When we experience excess worry, we operate in a heightened state of stress. The more we worry, the more of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ we produce, leading to increased anxiety, and in some instances becoming physically ill.

Worry is that uneasy feeling in the pit of our stomach, combined with mental obsession over a situation or problem. Both mind and body go into over-drive thinking about ‘what might happen’. It’s also our subconscious stepping in, believing that if we ‘worry enough’, we can control the outcome of an event, or prevent something negative from occurring.

Clearly this isn’t true, and on some level we know rationally that worrying doesn’t really control anything. So what exactly is going on here? Believe it or not, it’s our imagination at work, or rather a misuse of the imagination. You see our imagination is also not true, and our thoughts are not real. They are simply the pictures we have in your heads and the words we use to describe something. So worry therefore is being scared of a thought, not a reality.

If I told you to imagine a purple pony sitting next to you, it may become very vivid in your imagination, but it will never be real. Real is what we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. So the antidote to worry is not positive thinking, it’s accurate thinking. It’s interrupting our imagination and challenging its authenticity. So next time you’re being dragged down the rabbit hole of worry, play a game of ‘truth or lie’ with your imagination and call it out when fiction takes over from fact.

This might be easier said than done, so following are a few more strategies to move you from ‘alarm’ to ‘calm’.

  1. Don’t take ownership of ‘worry’.

Language is really important in changing your perspective on worry. Avoid referring to yourself as a ‘worrier’ and taking ownership of the condition. When we own something we build it into our DNA and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, you might say ‘I feel concerned about xyz’, because a feeling is something we can let go of. ‘I feel’ versus ‘I am‘ is important in describing anything that you would rather be free of.

2. Observe ‘worry’ as something separate from you.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the unhelpful advice ‘try not to think about it’, which of course does little to calm us down or alleviate our fears. However, we can chose to observe our worries ‘over there’ or ‘somewhere in the distance’, as opposed to within us. This strategy is about being able to feel relaxed within yourself, by acknowledging that a situation or problem is external to your being. This can help take the emotion out of the worry, and by default release its power over you.

3. Allocate ‘worry’ time.

It might sound counterintuitive to recommend a system for ‘worrying’, but strangely this is a very effective strategy. Worry by its very nature can sneak upon us at any time of the day or night, and is pervasively intrusive. Not knowing when or how it’s going to present itself only intensifies the anxiety. So, allocating a time to worry is an excellent way to prevent the element of surprise and keep it from consistently interrupting your day. Defer worry to a particular time of day and give it no more than 20 minutes of your attention. Then, when a worrying thought occurs you simply put it to the side and say “I’ll deal with that in worry time”. You will be surprised how quickly things flip, and when you must worry for 20 minutes, it will get harder and harder to do.

4. Get it on paper.

The simple act of writing about an emotional issue immediately reduces the stress associated with it. This is because writing engages the rational part the brain and gives the it time to ‘act’ rather than ‘react’ to a situation or problem. The easiest way to do this is:

  • Simply list your worries out. Once listed you can then separate them into two columns.
  • Column 1 are those that you can do something about (things you have the power to influence) and Column 2 are those you are currently powerless to change (things over which you have no control).
  • Go back to column 1 and identify some simple steps you could take to impact the situation. This will expand your influence over the situation and empower you to make positive changes.
  • Finally go back to column 2 and rather than strategise about what you can do, instead think about how you would need to ‘feel‘ about this situation in order to resolve the worry that has become attached to it. You may not be able to change the outcome but you can change your perspective.

At the end of the day a little ‘worrying’ is ok, and is simply a signal from our brain that lets us know something is out of alignment. The goal is to receive the message without being enslaved by the content.

The Four ‘Rules of the Mind’ and Tips for How to Use Them

The mind is indeed a complex thing…or is it? Given the volume of information, decisions, and emotions we process on a daily basis, not to mention the incessant mental chatter, it’s largely assumed that understanding the mind might well be beyond our own comprehension.

The good news is, it’s easier than you think. Rather than being the complicated beast we perceive, the mind is in fact rather simple; and despite the social and technological evolution of humans, our minds have not evolved quite as quickly. So it’s time to get back to basics, cut through the confusion, and take a simple look at’s what’s really going on when our cogs are turning.

Following are the rules of the mind as proposed by Marisa Peer. These rules are easy to digest and give us important context around why we ‘do what we do’. Understanding the rules helps us make sense of the thousands of thoughts, decisions, actions and reactions we have every day at a subconscious level.

Rule 1: The mind does what it thinks you want it to do.

The mind’s number one job is to keep you alive. It will always do what it believes is in your best interest and it does this by moving you towards pleasure and away from pain.  This the fundamental principle on which all human behaviour is based. We are either running away from something (pain) or running towards something (pleasure). And the only way the mind knows what causes us pain is by what we tell it – based on our experiences, filters, perceptions, values and beliefs.

Tip: If there is something missing in your life that you really want and you haven’t achieved it, do a little digging into your own pleasure/pain cycle. Become a detective in your own story and see if you can identify why you are either being pulled away from, or moved towards something that is different from your desired outcome.  There is often an uncomfortable emotion lurking behind our pleasure/pain receptor.

Rule 2: Every single thought you have creates a physical reaction in the body.

Before we go any further, I would love you to try this simple exercise right now. Stand up and face forward. Take your right arm and move it behind you as far as it will go without twisting your torso around to follow. Look down your arm to a point on the wall or in your line of sight. This will be the marker for your range (how far your arm was able to move). Return your arm to a resting position. Close your eyes and visualize that your arm has turned to rubber. Imagine that it is so very flexible that it’s like a giant elastic band. It’s so supple and soft, and stretchy. See your arm in your mind being able to move further and further behind you without any strain at all.  Now open your eyes and repeat the exercise with your arm. Note how much your range has improved simply by focusing your thoughts on it.

In this exercise we can see how powerful the mind is in creating a positive physical outcome in the body. The flip side is that most of the things we say to ourselves are in the negative, and can create physical conditions that don’t serve us. And based on rule number one above, if we tell our minds that something causes us pain or discomfort, it will do everything in its power to steer us away.

Let’s look at this in action. If you are driving or taking public transport to work and thinking ‘this commute is killing me’, or you’re thinking about an upcoming presentation at work and saying to yourself ‘I’d rather die than get up and speak in public’ all your mind hears is ‘killing me’, and ‘I’d rather die’. And given that your mind is hard wired to keep you alive, it must get you away from that situation. It goes into solution mode and thinks ‘leave that with me. I’ll give you the flu, or a nice bout of diarrhoea and you won’t have to commute to that job, or do that presentation after all’.

If you have ever thought ‘Oh, I’m so tired.  What I wouldn’t give for a day in bed’, and then immediately got sick, then you have experienced the power of your mind in action.  Alternatively you might have experienced a broken heart and thought ‘I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than go through that again’, and then woken up ten years later still single. You get the point.

Tip: If you ask, your mind will deliver. So be careful what you wish for! And remember that the ‘placebo affect’ is a real thing. The placebo quite literally means ‘the physician within’ so use your mind to create the right actions and reactions in your body.

Rule 3: The mind responds to two things only – the words you use and the pictures you have in your head.

Your mind’s job is to act on the words you use and the pictures you form in your imagination. Every word and every picture becomes a roadmap for your life that your mind turns into a reality. You will always be compelled to act in a way that matches your thinking – even if that thinking is negative, false or unhelpful. The mind doesn’t discriminate between good thoughts or bad, it simply does what you tell it.

Tip: If you want to make positive changes to your life, you need to use better words and visualize better images. And you need to use words in the ‘affirmative’. The mind is hinged on taking only positive action. So, if you say I DON’T want something, the mind interprets this as I WANT that same thing. It cannot differentiate, it just locks on to the key words. For example, ‘I don’t want to be lonely and poor’ becomes ‘I want to be lonely and poor’. Negative cycles are almost imperceptible to the mind, so we need to frame our dialogue in the positive.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed instead of saying ‘I just can’t handle my life right now, say ‘I have phenomenal coping skills’.

Rule 4: The mind loves what is familiar (its comfort zone) and dislikes what is unfamiliar.

Your mind is wired to keep returning to what is familiar and to keep rejecting what is unfamiliar. This is how we survived on the planet and it is a primal instinct. Scientists have spent years researching why people reject success, reject love, reject wealth etc. Why would we reject what we perceive to be a good thing? Because we are hard wired to return to what is familiar and if those things aren’t familiar then we find a way to reject them.

Consider the common phenomenon of lottery winners who blow their winnings within twelve months. What is familiar to them is living paycheck to paycheck. What is familiar is spending everything they earn.  What is unfamiliar to them is investing, saving, and working with a financial advisor. So lottery winners might go on a 5 star holiday and take 30 of their closest friends, or buy fancy cars and boats they don’t need, or they buy businesses that don’t succeed. But the common denominator is that they ‘spend’ everything they have because that is what is familiar to them.

Tip: If you want to improve any area of your life, you need to make the familiar unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar familiar. The point is, that we develop good habits (and bad) by doing something repeatedly. So if we want to adopt better habits we need to make them familiar. Consider a health goal like going for a walk or a run every morning. If this is not routine for you, the first few times you do it, it will feel unfamiliar. However if you continue to do it every day it becomes so familiar that it’s just part of who you are and what you do.  This same principle can be applied to any aspect of your life.

Finding Inner Peace & Boosting Immunity

It’s in challenging times such as these that we can get caught up in a cycle of fear and anxiety over what our future might look like. Everything from worrying about our health, the health of loved ones, our jobs, the state of the economy…the list goes on.

Yes, life is uncertain! But the reality is that life is always uncertain. Our belief that we can control what goes on around us on a daily basis is nothing more than an illusion. In reality, there are so many possibilities of what could happen at any given moment, that our future is no more difficult to predict today than it was a week ago, or a month ago.

The thing is, when we start to acknowledge our lack of control, our minds go into overdrive and our imagination takes over. Our mind literally starts to fill in the gaps of what lies ahead. And it typically goes to the worst case scenario.

But our thoughts are not REAL. Read that again! They are simply the pictures we have in our heads. So feeling anxious or out of control is being scared of a thought, not a reality. Until we can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it or touch out, our imagination will never be real.

So, if we can remain calm in the face of adversity, and don’t allow our imaginations to steal the show, we can find a solution to any problem. To assist you to do this, I have made available a complimentary hypnotic recording that focuses on releasing control, finding inner peace, and boosting immunity.

The audio is a little under 20 minutes and contains powerful hypnotic suggestions. For best results you need to be in a quiet place free from interruptions. The recording is best listened to at night before falling asleep. Even if you fall asleep as it plays, your subconscious will be listening!

*Disclaimer. As with all hypnosis recordings please DO NOT listen while you are driving or operating heavy equipment or machinery. Please also DO NOT listen to this recording if you suffer from a psychiatric condition, psychological condition or epilepsy.

Please click on the link below to access the audio file.

Access Audio

Why Self-Awareness is the Cornerstone of Success & Simple Strategies to Get to Know Yourself

Everything in life starts with ‘self’. This is the innermost circle, and the centre of all things. So it stands to reason that on the road to personal and career success, the journey must start with you. So what really makes you, you?

To understand this at a really simple level, consider that we are all made up of a number of layers, just like an onion. And while there are many layers, lets focus on the ones that have the biggest impact on behaviour. After all, it’s behaviour that is the key driver for success. So behaviour is determined by our needs, values, experiences and beliefs.
Let’s break that down:

  • Needs– physical and emotional requirements for us to live a healthy life.
  • Values– what we determine as being most important in life and which guide our motivations and actions.
  • Experiences– the things that happen to us and how we interpret them
  • Beliefs – what we determined to be true based on the meaning we give our experiences. These can be either ‘limiting’ (stop us from doing something) or ‘empowering’ (propel us to do something).

When we take time to understand these layers we can better identify and connect to our own internal state. It is tuning into our needs, values, experiences and beliefs that gives us an understanding of why we do what we do (our behaviours) and start to challenge ourselves to do things differently and better (new habits).

Self-awareness allows us to view a situation or experience objectively rather than critically and to challenge our thinking around self-limiting beliefs. When we learn to see things from a different perspective and reframe our experiences, we can face challenges more easily and develop improved relationships with self and others. Self-awareness facilitates an ability to accept opinions, feedback and criticism from others without being negatively affected by it.

It invites a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset, where we can embrace failure, engage in continuous learning, and continue to develop talent over a lifetime. Rather than being paralyzed by uncertainty, we can think outside the box, and act confidently to remove obstacles that get in our way. Our judgment is sound and rooted in logic, rather than clouded by emotional reaction.

So, the big question is, how do we do it? Following are some simple tips:

1. Identify your needs – write down the emotional and physical things that you require to function at your best and ensure you are meeting as many of them as possible. While it’s not realistic to have all of our needs met all of the time, it is important to understand what they are so we can direct our energies towards having them in place. To find out more about the basics of human needs, take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs here.

2. Identify your values – having an appreciation of what motivates you into action is really important. Your values point to the things that you have identified as being most important in life, and any decision you make or action you take is based on an underlying value. For further insights into what constitutes a value and what resonates for you, take a look at the list developed by Scott Jeffrey here.

3. Get to know your emotional triggers – these come from our experiences and the meaning that we attach to those experiences. For example, consider a child that answers a question incorrectly at school, or is asked to read aloud and falters over a sentence, who forms a belief that they are dumb. As an adult, this individual may be emotionally triggered in the workplace by any feedback that suggests they are lacking in a skill or area of knowledge.

4. Ask for feedback and take it on board – it’s important to seek feedback in the context of personal growth and not take it as an insult. Remember that without development, your weaknesses can impact future potential and success. So use it as an improvement opportunity and choose to be empowered by it.

5. Practice self-discipline – if you want to rein in the behaviours and tasks that take you off track and interfere with achieving your goals, you need to practice some self-discipline. Self-discipline keeps you focused on what you believe matters, helping to shape positive habits that move you in the direction of your goals.

6. Meditate – mediation is a great way to improve awareness in the moment. It doesn’t always need to involve a yoga mat, guided relaxation apps, or a 30-minute lie down. Meditation can be as simple as focused deep breathing, even if only for a few seconds. You can ask yourself questions in this space to get clarity around any issues or obstacles that have presented themselves.

7. Consider doing a behavioural profile – these are a great way to gain immediate and accurate insights into what drives your behaviour – what makes you who you are, the environments that suit you, how you communicate, what energises you and what causes you stress. There are a number of free profiles online or several paid options if you want to check out DiSC, Myers Briggs or True Colors.

Remember that self-awareness is key to personal growth and success. With accurate information regarding strengths and weaknesses, motivation, behaviour style, and learning preferences, you are free to ‘get out of your own way’ and achieve everything you want to achieve – be it business or personal!

If you want to know more about my mindset and self-awareness coaching please get in touch. I would love to help!

5 Ways to Release Control and Find Freedom in Surrender

We hold on to control like our lives depend on it, trying to manipulate and manage our circumstances, believing that we are the ringmasters of our lives. We become so attached to results, that we believe all our mental juggling will somehow shift the forces of nature. And then fate steps in and offers a sobering slap in the face, to teach us that no matter how much pre-planning, predicting, diarising and spread sheeting we do, we do not have the upper hand.

That’s the funny thing about control. We never really have it, and yet we continually express anxiety around feeling out of control. We act like it was gifted to us, and are surprised when it is pulled out from underneath us without explanation or apology.  The reality is that we cannot control the weather, the personalities of our children, paying our taxes, interest rates, or whether we are about to be run over by the proverbial bus.

The only thing we can control are our reactions, and how we deal with the circumstances that present themselves.  And while it sounds counter-intuitive, our sense of control is heightened by the very ability to surrender to the process and trust that we will be okay regardless of the situation.  When we allow things to happen, rather than make them happen, life runs more smoothly and we experience increased happiness, peace and freedom. 

So what can a partially recovered control freak do to fully embrace the notion of letting go?

  1. Befriend your fears. Understand that control is deeply rooted in fear. Fear is the driver behind every controlling behaviour we engage in.  Fear teaches us to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and try to manage every possible scenario in between. Been there, done that, and it’s exhausting! When you understand your fears, listen to what they’re telling you, and objectively assess whether they are valid or not, you’ll gain a more rational perspective. Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen and then ask how likely it is this will happen. This will reset your control compass to a new level.

  2. Let go of predetermined outcomes. We always plan, predict and attempt to micro- manage outcomes that we believe are in our best interest. But who is to say these are really the best outcomes for us. After all, they’re based on our own personal beliefs and aren’t necessarily always correct. If we can trust that any number of outcomes will be okay then we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities – perhaps a path less travelled that offers better or different experiences.

  3. Understand the physical strain of holding on versus letting go. When we feel out of control we experience both emotional and physical stress. While symptoms can vary from person to person, loss of control can be characterized by increased heart rate, sweating, shallow breath, lack of focus etc. Conversely, when we let go we experience a physical shift that promotes relaxation and calm, deep and deliberate breathing, increased focus and presence. Consider the impact of this on physical health over the long term and choose calm over chaos. Ironically, seeing the bigger picture provides a greater sense of control than micro-managing all the moving parts.  There is less fatigue on both the mind and the body.

  4. Change your language. Instead of thinking about control, think about the things you can directly ‘influence’ (giving you a sense of purpose, direction and accomplishment) versus the things that ‘concern’ you (those that are outside your control and create fear, anxiety and dread). When you focus on your area of influence it starts to grow i.e. the more you influence the more empowered you become, and the more trust you have.  At the same time, as you expand your area of influence, you naturally start to shrink your area of concern, making it smaller and less impactful on your life.

  5. Be flexible. You will naturally enjoy more freedom and happiness in life when you learn to adapt. When you can be flexible in your behaviours and responses to people and situations, you reduce personal stress and learn to face challenges with increased clarity and focus. You become emotionally resilient and better equipped to deal with anything that life throws your way.

Simple Tricks for Developing a Growth Mindset and Why it Matters

The concept of a growth mindset was first proposed by Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor, who suggested that our beliefs around intelligence and personality have a significant impact on how we live and what we accomplish. Dweck identified two opposing mindsets that lead to very different outcomes in the context of self-awareness and success.  

The ‘fixed’ mindset is based on:

  • A constant need for approval, demonstrating and affirming over and over that intelligence, skills, talents, character and personality traits are sufficient for success. 
  • All traits are permanent and cannot be influenced.
  • Every experience is assessed according to how the individual is perceived i.e. success versus failure, smart versus dumb, accepted versus rejected, or winner versus loser. 
  • Accepts the ‘hand that was dealt’ and spends a lifetime proving that this is enough, even where there is a personal sense of deficiency or lack. 
  • Is safe because it doesn’t allow straying outside the comfort zone. 
  • Can be exhausting due to the constant need for validation.

Conversely the ‘growth’ mindset is based on:

  • A passion and desire for continuous learning.
  • A belief that individual potential – the combined application of intelligence, talent, aptitude, creativity, and behaviour can be improved by experience, motivation and practice. Nothing is fixed.
  • The tenacity and resilience to apply oneself leads to personal accomplishment – talent is the reward of effort.
  • Success can be cultivated.
  • Setbacks are an opportunity for learning.

A growth mindset gives us freedom and empowerment, a knowing that we are in charge of our own destiny. When we operate from this perspective we have an absolute belief that anything is possible and our potential continues to expand as we move towards it. We see our success as something that is completely within our control and take all steps necessary to bring our goals to fruition. 

Conversely, when we operate from a fixed mindset, we see our future as pre-determined. We shy away from challenges and opportunities that present development and growth because there is a risk of failure. We stay small and safe, but we sabotage our future potential and put limits around our capacity for success, health and happiness. 

So how can we make the shift to a growth mindset? 

  • Embrace imperfection.  Remember that nothing in nature is perfect. Perfection goes against the very law of nature. It is a race you cannot win, and one you will never finish. Every time you think you’re getting closer to those illustrious goal posts, they move. It’s a long and exhausting road that has no end.  Don’t hide your imperfections, celebrate them. These are what make you unique. Acknowledge your weaknesses and reframe them as an opportunity for growth.  

  • Swap the word ‘failing’ with ‘learning’. Every time you make a mistake you have learned something new. Every failure, big or small, is a single step on the road to success. Stop and really listen to what your failures are telling you and decide how you will adapt moving forward. You are building a strong resilience muscle in the process. 
  • Stop approval seeking. You don’t need to prove yourself to anybody. The need for approval kills freedom. Learn to accept yourself for who you are. Your opinion is the only one that really matters and a little bit of self-appreciation goes a long way. When you make any decision, check in with how it feels to you and validate based on internal rather than external needs.

  • See criticism as productive. Criticism doesn’t always need to be perceived as negative. It’s simply a matter of context. Reframe criticism as another opportunity to learn and adapt, to push you out of your comfort zone and embrace a different perspective.  When delivered with the right intent, it is simply a form of communication and feedback that can be used to propel you forward.

If you want to know more, sign up for our free resources and take the Growth Mindset Self-Assessment.

Unlocking the Three Keys to Happiness

Happiness it seems is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Something we would like to believe in, and yet continues to elude us. We wait for happiness like it’s a destination on the highway of life, but it feels like the closer we get the further the distance to travel. 

In all the reading and research I’ve done on happiness (and there’s been a lot over the years), it wasn’t some scholarly article that gave me a light bulb moment, it was a piece of wall art. A very large, framed print that I came across in a home wares store that told me everything I ever needed to know about happiness. And what’s more it was delivered in just three simple lines. 

  1. Someone to love.
  2. Something to do.
  3. Something to look forward to.

Mind blown. Not a paragraph in site and yet wonderfully powerful. But for someone who is used to putting words and context around an idea, let’s break it down.

1. Someone to love– what this really points to is connection. And while we might immediately think partner or spouse, our capacity for love and connection is far wider. Think children, best friends, siblings, and even our furry friends. And let’s not forget the simple connection to self, and indulging in a little self-love every now and then. Having someone to love is a lifeline to connection and we are wired to seek connection. We are tribal beings at heart and while evolution has seen us move well into the technological age, we fundamentally have a need to belong.  When we have strong social relationships we are happier, healthier and live longer. 

2. Something to do– what this points to is purpose. And where there is purpose there is meaning.  When we know we are here for a reason, that we are significant in the world, life starts to make sense and we naturally feel happier. When we have purpose we also arm ourselves with a defense mechanism against stress because we have more developed coping strategies. We have a reason to move beyond obstacles, to stay well, and to keep going. When our life counts for something we have a reason to get out of bed every day. In purpose there is unlimited joy!

3. Something to look forward to– this can range from grand plans such as overseas travel or moving to a new home, to daily rituals and routines that bring little moments of intense happiness. Coffee lovers you know what I mean! It’s the things that feel energizing and joyful even in their simplicity – exercising, getting outdoors, having a catch up with a friend. Anticipation is a very valuable and positive emotion. When we have something to look forward to it makes the more challenging moments less frustrating. The pay off of a future reward gives us the motivation to keep going.

So that’s it. It’s as simple as 1,2,3.  If this has resolved all your happiness questions then read no further. For those of you who are interested in picking up some additional happiness hacks, I’d love to throw in a couple of my personal favourites:

Say no to something– this is so empowering I can’t even begin to tell you the impact it has. Saying no to something you really don’t want to do is not about being hostile or uncooperative, it’s about respecting your own boundaries. There is so much to be gained from this small act it will have you grinning from ear to ear.

Read or listen to something inspiring– use idle time (public transport, waiting at the doctors office, picking the kids up from school etc.) to read or listen to something that really motivates you.  If you don’t have the time to sit and read then a good pod cast will do the trick. I have cleaned the house, made many a dinner and done bucket loads of laundry on the fumes of great podcast.  When you engage with content that speaks to your soul you really do find your happy place.

Be grateful for what you have– it’s an overused term but adopting an attitude of gratitude really is an ingredient for happiness. When you focus on what you already have, you immediately feel abundant, and abundance brings more happiness.  It’s a positive cycle so keep it going.

Remind yourself how truly great you are – Repeat after me – “I am enough”. Write it on your bathroom mirror, save it to your home screen, or send yourself a text. It doesn’t matter how you do it but let this in.  When you can truly embrace that you are enough exactly as you are right now, it will change your world. Your mind cannot argue with this absolute statement of truth. This alone will bring a renewed sense of confidence and happiness. 

And while I hate to use clichés, I’m reminded that happiness really is the journey and not the destination.  It just takes slowing down enough to take in the view, instead of trying to speed towards it like it’s about to be snatched out from underneath us.