Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 108: AmIOK?

This episode is about taking care of your own mental well-being. 

 I want to start by talking about the RU OK campaign in Australia and then to talk about the need to manage our own mental well-being as well.

RUOK?

R U OK? is an organisation whose vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.

Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Their goals are to: 

  1. Boost our confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
  2. Nurture our sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
  3. Strengthen our sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
  4. Be relevant, strong and dynamic

I love that the RU okay campaign exists. It gives us all an opportunity to think about the people around us and consider how we can offer support. 

It means that we are proactively reaching out to check in with people and to help them to speak up about what’s going on for them so they can get help.

I had a conversation with somebody one-day who I knew was severely depressed and going through a major incident and I had reached out to say are you okay. 

It was a difficult conversation because I hadn’t yet trained as a coach and this person was very upset but I was concerned about their mental well-being so I did the best that I could with the skills that I had at the time. 

Months later that person phoned me and said they were considering suicide the day I had called – they were getting ready to do it – and the conversation we had stopped them from taking action and caused them to reach out for help. 

Truly, I was taken aback that the conversation had had such a powerful impact on that person and it made me thankful that I’ve been able to help but also concerned about my skills and education and knowledge in this area.

So where and how do you start getting these skills?

What if you’re not a coach or working in a support capacity but want some basic understanding and skills?

Mental Health First Aid

It’s worth mentioning the mental first aid course.

Several organisations deliver this course: Mental Health First Aid Australia says that: 

Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they’re concerned about.

What About Me?

All of this got me thinking recently about the fact that there are many campaigns that are outward directed – helping us to check in with the other people about their own mental health and well-being.

But just as important is the ability to be self-aware and identify our own mental health challenges.

As a coach, I know that one of the main reasons people hire coaches is simply that they lack self-awareness of how they are thinking and operating in the world, and what their habits are.

People are either too busy to notice themselves and reflect on their behaviour, needs and wants, OR, they notice an issue coming up for themselves but say ‘she’ll be right, I’ll just push through.’

The old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

In either case, most people simply don’t know HOW to check in with themselves or to ask for help.

They say, I’m okay, don’t worry about me, everything is fine. I don’t need any help, I’ll put on my big girl pants or I’ll pull up my boots and I’ll just get on with it. 

I can totally see how we came to be that way. That attitude comes from the hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves, hard-working people who founded modern society in our nation.

Think about it – once upon a time, not that long ago, we were a nation of pioneers in a new country who travelled long distances, lived off the land and managed many hardships to establish towns and cities. We were the kind of people that pitched in and did things and got on with things and to build a great nation.

But these days, there is a changing of the guard.

We have the rise of Gen Y (with more of a values focus, in my opinion) as dominant players in the workforce and leadership positions. 

We have an increase in multiculturalism in our society, and a need to consider people with different cultures, ethics and values.

And we are giving more attention to well-being, health and mindfulness. 

With all of this going on, we are starting to realise that the old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

The old stigma around mental health issues, not wanting to show any weakness or to be judged, has to come off.

We have to learn how to ask for help.

But first of all, we must be self-aware enough, to know when we need to get that help.

AmIok – a new paradigm 

I propose a concept that sits alongside RUOK, to acknowledge that it’s just as important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

I want to ask you to think about a new paradigm. 

The AmIOK paradigm. 

Certainly check in with the others and ask are you okay, but at the same time give yourself the attention to – how am I travelling? 

Am I ok? 

And if not, what do I need, how am I feeling, what’s my capacity, and what do I need to do differently? 

I had this experience myself recently. 

I noticed a few things were becoming difficult for me. 

I was starting to avoid certain situations and certain tasks that I didn’t like. 

Normally I can do tasks that I don’t like or don’t enjoy, but when I’m stressed, under a lot of pressure then I go into avoidance of those basic tasks. And to me that is a sign that I need to step back and check in with myself. 

Other signs that I need a break or to get help are that my cooking is boring, I’m not sleeping well, and I feel frustrated, and starting to look for more coffee.

Basically, I lose my enthusiasm and creativity. 

When those things start to ebb, I know it’s time to take a break or to get help.

Summary

RUOK is a wonderful initiative that helps us to lower the risk and rate of suicide, by reaching out to others.

It’s important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

Mental Health First Aid is a great training course to gain basic skills.

I propose a new paradigm – AmIOK? – as a means of learning to give our own needs more attention and to get help sooner rather than later.

Ready to pay more attention to your own needs?

It’s OK to be not OK, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. If you need help to feel more in charge of your life, I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 97: Defining a New Normal in Business

As a result of lock down, a lot of people and businesses have been re-thinking what’s important to them, their values, and how they want their business to run.

Today, we’ll look at these related aspects and walk you through a simple process for defining a new normal.

The Need for Change

Before lockdown you were probably doing what you loved, had business goals and aspirations, a plan of attack, and you were using some marketing processes that allowed your business to hum along.

But since lockdown, our clients’ priorities have changed, and so have ours. 

Think firstly of your ideal client. 

They may no longer want a body transformation, but have decided their priority is to be healthy and mentally stable enough to support their families. 

They may have decided not to go out for coffee or food and to rather cook at home or, they may be working at home such that going out for food is no longer part of their work day.

They may be afraid of going back to the gym in case they become ill.

On the other flipside, some people may want to get outdoors to connect with nature, to grab a take away, or to redefine their health goals and weight loss approach.

To sum it up, business the ‘old way’ may not suit your customer anymore. Your business may need to rebuild customer trust if they are reluctant to attend businesses in person or you may need to pivot your messaging and products or services to speak to what’s important right now to your customer.

Also, think about what’s changed for you as a business owner.

Maybe you have realised you need more work life balance, so the way you do business needs to change.

Perhaps you’ve been forced to downsize, leave your premises or shift the balance of your work to a more online format.

Or even further, maybe you’ve decided to pivot at a bigger scale and pursue a different type of business model or a different niche.

In any case, because of all that’s changed for both you and your ideal client, you’ll need to rethink your business vision and what you want your new normal looks like, and map a clear path to get there.

What’s Important to Your Clients

A lot of people have realised that their families and significant relationships, self-care and health are more important than they used to be.

They are more aware of, and focused on, their mental health.

As a result, people are looking at at-home solutions for health, fitness and wellbeing.

People are talking about taking the pressure off, doing less, and being more mindful. There has been a shift away from the idea of big goals and more into maintaining what they have.

Since lockdown, our clients’ priorities have changed, and so have ours. 

They are shopping more online, but may be more mindful about their purchases and more price sensitive due to economic uncertainty.

They are seeking contactless or more efficient ways of buying.

Consumers may be more ready to leave their old brands and try new things.

They are more willing to buy local and support local businesses and economies, and are looking for ‘value’.

They are more values-driven in their purchases, looking for safety, equality, environmental stewardship, and businesses who are giving back or supporting their community.

In any case, the businesses who’ve done best during lockdown have been those who are actively supporting their communities.

People are risk averse and generally avoiding public social events, but may be engaging more in online communities with like-minded people to feel connected.

They are spending more time viewing media, especially video.

What’s Important for You

Remember that business owners are also consumers. You have probably exhibited a lot of the shifts in thinking and action around your purchases as your customers have.

This puts you in a perfect position to pivot, move sideways or reinvent the way you do business.

You may be ready to shrink or scale your business, to shift to an online presence, to engage with your clients on different platforms, or to rethink your value proposition.

Whatever your situation, it’s time to rethink your business vision, strategy and goals.

Defining Your New (Business) Normal

It’s typical to start any business with a vision of what you want it to stand for and become, and how you will operate going forward.

I think exactly the same process is useful here and I’d like to walk you through it.

Step 1 – Define What’s Important (to you and your customer)

Let’s start with you.

Considering what you’ve gone through, your skills and your strengths, what’s important to you right now?

How will that play out in your business?

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you run a cafe. And let’s say that you’ve realised how important family and your health are to you and in your life. That your strengths are warmth, connection and giving back.

Looking at your old business vision, you might decide that you want to pivot to a delivery or take-away model, offering a healthier menu of family-sized meals, along with a personal hand-written note of thanks for supporting a local business and some staff training on customer service and care.

Or perhaps you run a fitness studio, or work as a coach in a face to face setting. Your strengths are compassion, zest and vitality. The personal connection with clients is important to you, but is difficult in lockdown.

Perhaps your new business model will be to shift from 80% face to face services, to 80% zoom services so that your clients can connect with you from their home, and altered work hours so that you can get enough downtime from the screen.

You could still offer services or events in an outdoor setting with social distancing as allowed, or organise online fitness community events that support your clients around motivation, energy and fear.

So, what about your customer?

We know that pricing is a consideration, yet they want connection and a values-driven approach.

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help you work out the best way forward. 

Perhaps you need to shift your messaging. Perhaps they no longer want a “body transformation”, but are looking to “stay on track” with their eating or exercise or to be kinder to themselves, or develop consistent self-care rituals.

I had this conversation with a coach today, who has seen a shift in clients away from the idea of transformation and into staying on track and self-care, and into more of mental well- being habits than eating and exercise.

Customers want safety and convenience right now; how can you deliver that?

Customers want positivity and some fun; what could you do that offers that?

Creative thinking is required, and so your own resilience and self-care are essentials for facilitating that. After all, nothing creative comes out of a stressed brain.

Step 2 – Ask Your Customer

In my experience, most business owners don’t consult with their clients to find out what they want and need.

But the purpose of any business is to find out what customers want, and then give it to them.

Phone surveys, email surveys, written surveys, competitions with survey questions and other methods can be used to ask your customers what they want and need.

You can ask simple questions like; 

  1. How do you prefer to buy from us? 
  2. What do you like best about working with us? 
  3. What can we do better? 
  4. Is there something we don’t currently offer, that you’d like to buy from us?

I worked with a business once who added $100K revenue to their business and saved $50K on an unnecessary software just by doing a survey like this of their existing customers.

Surveys are part of your marketing; they demonstrate that you care enough about your customer to find out what they want and need, and how you can serve them.

Even better, post a thank you note to their address as a personal touch for participating in the survey.

Your customers feel heard, appreciated and valued. And they will stick with you, possibly spending more, or referring others.

Step 3 – Develop a Strategy

Most of the time, it’s best to make only one or two changes, or a few small changes to your business at a time.

If you survey your clients first, it gives them advance warning that changes may be coming.

Gaining their feedback means you can start working out a strategy that is feasible.

Your strategy could include one or two of the following:

  1. Changing your pricing strategy e.g. 
    1. discount, 
    2. packaging, 
    3. bonuses
  2. Adding a new service or product line e.g. 
    1. smaller purchase, 
    2. product to suit the at-home arrangements, 
    3. product or service to suit their altered priorities
    4. delivering services via video or 
    5. offering a low cost community membership
  3. Collaborating e.g. adding perceived value and/or convenience
  4. Convenience e.g. home delivery, online delivery

It’s important at this stage to see what others are doing and what’s working, not for the sake of comparison, but to validate the idea and give some certainty that it could work for you. 

The final steps would be to get clear on your support, resources and partners that you might need to bring it into action, and then develop a plan.

I’ll cover that in the next episode.

Summary

Today, I’ve talked about how our world and our priorities and values have shifted.

This has undoubtedly changed the way we buy, and the way we sell.

Business the ‘old way’ may not suit your customer anymore.

I’ve outlined the first three steps in a process to review and revise your business vision, to find out what your customers want from you right now, and to brainstorm some strategies to achieve it.

Hopefully, you’re clear that consulting with your customers will tell you most of what you need to know.

And if that aligns with what you want and can deliver, it’s time to pivot and make it happen.

Ready to find your new normal?

Considering what you’ve gone through, your skills and your strengths, what’s important to you right now? If you’re ready to break old habits and move forward I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 96: 5 Tips For Coping With Uncertainty

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s not until you’re tested that you realise how much resilience you actually have, or not.

In this episode, I’ll define resilience, and talk about five things you can do to better cope with uncertainty and build resilience.

Here are three definitions:

  1. “Advancing despite adversity”
  2. “Recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”
  3. “The capacity to respond to stress in a healthy way

When you’re resilient, you’re better equipped to cope with uncertainty.

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently.

If resilience was money, it would be like having $50,000 in your account as a buffer. Just like savings in the bank, resilience is a kind of personal wealth that must be built over time.

Firstly, I’d like to talk about the skills of coping with uncertainty.

Then I’d like to talk about habits you can develop to build resilience and help you cope better.

5 Tips for Coping With Uncertainty

1. It’s normal to feel stressed

As we have seen, uncertainty is a normal and unavoidable part of life. 

We have control over many things, but we can’t control everything that happens to us. Life throws us all curve balls at times. We lose our jobs, people pass away, our kids leave home, and relationships change.

We may feel stressed about what we can’t control, and that is normal.

Stress is a response that helps us to survive. Healthy or positive stress allows us to adapt and make good out of situations.

It’s unhealthy or negative stress that feels difficult and needs attention.

Recognising and accepting that you feel stress, and understanding which type it is, is a first step to being able to cope and build resilience. 

It can give a sense of relief to recognise that you’re feeling something right now, that is normal and will pass.

2. Process negative emotions (feel the feelings)

 

For a lot of adults processing the emotions around these types of events is difficult. Many of us have forgotten how to do it, or we are too busy to give this attention. 

It’s a really important skill to have because we cannot suppress negative emotions. They hang around in the background and eventually come out like a big volcano when you least expect it or, when something stressful happens.

If you want to learn how to process emotions properly, watch your kids. Think about the last time your child fell over or got in a verbal fight with a sibling or friend. 

They probably talked about how they felt, they probably cried a lot, and eventually the crying would have stopped and they would have settled down and moved on.

Making time and space to acknowledge and process your emotions, with self-compassion, can help you to cope better with stress.

3. Focus on what you can control to dial down stress and emotional intensity.

Please know that stress is caused in your own brain, and therefore, you can use your brain to resolve stress.

What I’m saying is that we are the ones that decide how we will react to life’s circumstances.

While your brain can tell you a big story about how bad things are, realise that you are not your thoughts. Thoughts come into your head, but they are not necessarily facts.

Rather than get bogged down with your thoughts, it can help you to see the flipside – what I call factualising.

By focusing on the things that you can control, you can shift out of an emotional state and back into some logical thinking which can help to calm things down.

This could include:

  • Listing things that you do have control of
  • Identifying all the things that ARE stable in your life right now
  • Recognising how you have succeeded in the past

4. Use Your existing skills

Think about any uncertain times you’ve faced in life, and what you learned from those times.

What skills did you use? How did you use them? What was the outcome?

Here’s an example.

A client of mine said she had struggled with uncertainty around her job. Every week she was told a different thing, and she felt a lack of control over her future, and even her ability to make a weekly plan.

When we discussed this further, she identified that one of her skills was organising and another was persistence, and a third was being able to ask for help.

She realised that in the past, she had been able to develop a week by week schedule to help her cope with the uncertainty, and she realised she could do this again, and reach out for help to make sure it was the right thing for her.

By focusing on using her skills, she was able to get through her period of uncertainty.

5. Self Care

 

Self care simply means doing things that boost your physical, mental or emotional health.

Most of us don’t make enough time to do these important things, but they help to create healthy hormonal responses, remove us from the uncomfortable situation, give us an outlet for stress, and help us feel mentally and emotionally replenished.

Self-care activities can also feel like an achievement, even when life is uncertain.

Some self-care activities tick all of those boxes, for example, exercise.

Let’s say that you’re able to go out into your yard and use a skipping rope for a few minutes. You break a sweat. You release some tension and you release endorphins.

Your mind is on the present moment, not tripping over the jump rope and staying upright, or counting your reps.

Meanwhile, you’re outside in nature. You experience physical sensations that distract your mental worries. You remember what it’s like to be outside again. 

After all that, you feel like you’ve achieved something and you have something to show for it – an elevated heart rate, knowing you’ve done some good for yourself, and you’re feeling calmer and more in control.

As you can see, self-care is a way of building and maintaining resilience. It’s what puts credits in the bank for when you need them.

If you actively practice self-care activities each week you can keep building your mental and emotional savings account.

Summary

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s often not until your busy life is disrupted that you realise that you’re not coping well and need to build your resilience.

I described five ways to cope with uncertainty and start building resilience:

  1. To acknowledge it’s normal to feel stressed 
  2. Processing negative emotions – feeling the feelings and letting go
  3. Focus on what you can control 
  4. Identify your existing skills and decide how to use them
  5. Develop a consistent self-care practice

Ready to build resilience?

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 95: Validation and Profit

This episode shows you why and how validation using rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, more sales, higher prices and better profit.

Today’s episode is called validation, and I’m talking in relation to results that your clients get in your coaching business.

In my last episode I talked about how to sell more coaching programs with the inclusion of monitoring data, and that’s the backstory for today’s episode.

I’ve chosen the title ‘validation’ because I want to show you why and how rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, sales and higher prices.

What is validation?

Let’s start with a simple definition.

  • The action of checking or proving the accuracy of something.
  • The recognition or affirmation that something is valid or worthwhile.

 Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Why Validation Matters

Let’s start by talking about why validation is important.

Let’s say that your client is living a stressful life, and she quite likes the idea of regular meditation and wants to start up a regular habit to help her relieve stress.

To create a consistent habit, you know she’ll need to convince her brain that it’s worth it.

That’s because the human brain prefers to run efficiently, on autopilot, doing the things it already knows how to do well, so it can focus on threat, survival and fun stuff.

Therefore, according to your client’s brain, having to bring focus on developing a new habit is a chore and possibly a risk. 

Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Aside from learning how to do the habit, her brain requires a process of ‘learning’ a whole bunch of micro habits and rewiring entrenched behaviours that happen before and after the meditation, before it can get the habit to happen automatically.

For example, she’ll have to learn to stop what she’s doing, say no to people, set aside time, stop saying she’s too busy, and then do the darn 10 minutes of meditation.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

Qualitative (subjective) data

Normally coaches use tools that are subjective, that is, where the client rates themselves.

We use various quizzes, questionnaires, 1 – 10 rulers, sleep diaries, logging sheets and other self-rating tools to help clients understand what they feel, who they are and what’s changing for them.

They use these to rate hunger, energy, mood, stress, sleep quality, response to food and similar types of information.

Qualitative data is very important because it captures how the client feels at any given moment. The problem is, that information is subject to bias.

A client who self-rates may feel exuberant one day, and miserable two days later, so their mood will skew the data.

Even the more high level, scientifically validated questionnaires can be influenced by bias.

I had a client do a quiz several times because she wasn’t sure that her answers were accurate and she got a different answer every time.

How would you feel about the data if that was you? 

How much would you trust it? 

Could you rely on it?

That’s why coaching programs can be bolstered by rigorous data collected in an accurate way.

This kind of data provides the validation our clients need to believe that they can do something, and to believe that their new habits are ‘working’ and ‘getting results.’

Quantitative (objective) data

This is essentially what quantitative data is – objective data that is measured accurately using numbers.

Even better, using calibrated devices to measure physiological data that shows the impact of our habits on our bodies and minds.

One of the best examples is the bioimpedance scale which measures body composition – in other words – bone, fat, muscle and water. 

While not as accurate as a Dexa scan, bioimpedance is an easy and accessible method to quantify body weight, muscle mass, bone mass, hydration and body fat percentage.

Obviously the more expensive models give more accurate data, and a Dexa scan is the most accurate.

I used this scale early in my business – from 2005 onwards – as a marketing tool. At health expos I had lines of people out the door wanting to get their body composition measured, while other vendors stood at empty stands, wondering what was going on.

 

Data provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

I used this scale in my coaching program to help clients see tangible changes in their bodies – inside and out – in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative measures.

These methods gave my clients plenty of evidence that their bodies and minds were changing and, it gave me a huge data set that could be used to demonstrate typical client outcomes in my marketing.

For example, I could specify that 99% of my clients lost weight during my program, ranging from 3 – 15kg, and with the majority of that being body fat based on the numbers recorded.

These were all things that they measured during the life of their program, so they had great awareness of what had changed.

They loved the physiological data as it proved their lifestyle changes were having an impact and it validated how they felt.

You can imagine what that did for my marketing!

My clients would say things like – “there is real science behind this”, and “I have gotten so much more out of this program than I ever expected!”

That’s just with a simple scale.

More recently, some higher tech options have come up to get even better quality data.

One that comes to mind is the heart rate strap and watch that measure exercise performance.

There are a variety of wearable watches that measure various physiological data. 

I can imagine what my clients will say in future when I use these devices as part of their coaching program and I’m very excited about the value, precision and accurate response measurement that can be developed.

It will help us to add tangibility to our somewhat intangible services.

It will help your clients to quickly identify which of their habit based interventions are having the greatest impact, and help them pinpoint where to focus their energy.

They will have a greater appreciation for the effectiveness of habit-based intervention, and a greater awareness of their own best solutions for managing physical and mental health.

And finally, it will give coaches a competitive advantage over others, help them to sell more programs, at higher prices and retain clients for a longer period, as has been my own experience in my own coaching business.

I am excited to share some new research in this area in coming months.

For now, if you would like to know more about monitoring and measuring, please get in touch at melaniejwhite.com/contact.

Ready to use data to improve your coaching business?

Knowing howto use data effectively can make all the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 91: Being Authentic

If you want to be more authentic, there are three things you need to do – create courage, be honest and act with integrity.

Nearly everyone I speak to wants to be more authentic. Authenticity is something most people value, and it is a key part of building strong personal and professional relationships.

But what does being authentic mean, and what does it involve?

I created this episode to help you understand what being authentic really means, the squeamish parts of being authentic, and the three things you need to do to start being more authentic.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being yourself. It’s when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values.

The VIA Institute on Character describes authenticity with this statement:

“I am honest to myself and others, I try to present myself and my reactions accurately to each person, and I take responsibility for my actions.”

VIA Institute on Character 

In other words, courage, honesty, and integrity are the three skills that create authenticity.

Here’s an example of what being authentic looks like.

One day I made a biriyani for dinner. My first one ever. We ate the meal and at the end, I asked my husband how he enjoyed it.

He said, firmly but kindly, “I really appreciate the effort you went to in making dinner, but I would prefer not to have this again. I don’t really like it, but I’m glad you tried it and am thankful you took the time to make a lovely meal.”

My first reaction was to feel deflated. He saw my face drop, and we talked about the importance of honesty.

It turned out that he didn’t want to pretend to like a meal then lie to about it later. It would mean that I’d made it again, thinking he liked it, and he’d have to lie again. He might become frustrated, or resentful about that.

It totally made sense to me, and I appreciated his honesty and courage and I could see that he was genuinely speaking with empathy and giving feedback from a place of love.

This one conversation opened a whole new way of thinking and personal growth for me.

It deepened our relationship and helped me to examine my own beliefs, thoughts and actions about honesty and integrity.

It helped me to identify the skills that I wanted to develop, so I could be more authentic.

As you can see it might be easy to assume that authenticity just happens.

But it doesn’t.

It’s more than just appearing to say something nice, or honest. 

Have you heard of the smell of fear? It’s a real thing. When we are afraid, we give off chemicals that send a warning to others.

If you have any fears, doubts or lack conviction in your beliefs and values, or are ‘faking it’ or hiding something, then you will be given away by your body chemistry, posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. Your body will contradict your so-called authenticity. 

Have you ever heard people say one thing and seen them do another?

Or have you ever had the sense that someone was lying to you?

How did that feel? 

And how did that affect your opinion of that person?

Authenticity is a wonderful thing but the fact is, being authentic can be challenging.

That’s because being authentic means that you need to be honest, to speak up for yourself, to voice an opinion, perhaps to be vulnerable, to expose something or to face a challenge.

Being authentic often requires us to develop certain skills, like courage.

If building relationships is important in your business and life, then it will serve you to improve your authenticity skills.

Let’s look at the three main skills of being authentic.

Courage

In interpersonal relationships, it’s courage that allows you to name what is happening to raise awareness, acceptance and understanding.

It’s when you can express observations, feelings, needs and requests and to shake up the status quo without offending, violating, blaming, shaming, or demeaning others.

For example: I don’t like it when you do X, it makes me feel Y. I would like it if you didn’t do that around me anymore.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

It’s about being able to stay on the right side of that fine line.

And let’s be clear: people pleasing is dishonest because it usually involves pretending to be someone that you’re not to meet someone else’s needs. It involves putting your own feelings and needs aside.

As you could guess, it takes courage to break out of that cycle and say no, or to be clear about what you will or won’t, can or can’t do.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

You will also need to learn to be ok with other people’s discomfort.

But courage is a powerful skill that can transform your relationships and build personal integrity.

I recommend that to build courage, you start with some small challenging situation in your life where you want to speak up for yourself or set a boundary, or a place in your business where you need to ‘show up’. 

Choose something that is just a little uncomfortable.

Then rehearse what you will say in that situation and how you will say it in a way that is calm, rational and non-judgemental.

Then schedule that into your diary and do it. Reflect on how it felt. Reflect on what you learned.

I promise you, if you do this one small thing, and do it regularly, you will build phenomenal courage, diplomacy, self-assurance and emotional balance.

Honesty

The second part of being authentic is being honest.

Honesty goes hand in hand with courage.

It means you are speaking the truth and more broadly, it means that you are presenting yourself in a genuine and sincere way, without pretence.

The research shows that honesty achieves more than just trust and positive relationships – it also helps you to set more accurate goals – in other words, goals that reflect your true values and interests.

When you set realistic goals, you can more easily achieve them, and this in turn builds self-confidence.

Honesty can be challenging because we are often afraid of the consequences; of hurting other people’s feelings, or of letting others down.

The most important thing you can be, though, is honest with yourself. If you aren’t happy about something, or if you are living out of alignment with what you believe in, then it’s going to create more tension within you than if you lie to protect the feelings of others.

This is worth thinking about.

And the truth is, if people can’t handle your honest and tactful truth, spoken diplomatically, then they are probably not your people.

Integrity

The third part of being authentic is integrity.

Integrity is when you are who you say you are and act consistently across all areas of your life, rather than behaving differently around different people.

Integrity is when you live your life in alignment with your values, morals and ethics.

It’s been described as ‘doing the right thing, even when no-one is looking.’

In other words, integrity is a personal choice.

And it is a choice that builds confidence, courage, and authenticity.

Here’s why.

When you live with integrity, you never have to question yourself or doubt yourself. You are doing what you know is right for you. 

And when you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

You become a role model and develop a positive reputation.

I feel that it’s easier to forgive someone’s mistakes if they have integrity, because you know that they are coming from an authentic, honest place.

Integrity directly impacts on your success in life because it improves your chance of promotion, leadership and attractiveness, generally.

Right now, think about someone you know who seems to have a lot of integrity.

How do you feel about that person?

How much do you trust them?

What is it specifically that causes you to feel this way about them?

You can hone your integrity by being clear on your core values, your decisions and by developing your strengths.

For example, if your strongest values are around family, community, contribution, love and responsibility, then it makes sense that you will cultivate thoughts and actions that align with those values.

In another example, if your strongest values are around achievement, competitiveness, courage, hard work and helping society, then it makes sense that you would cultivate thoughts and actions that align more with those values.

Neither of those two people is better than the other, they are just different.

But if person B presented to be family-oriented, but was more interested in creating ventures that helped communities, you would easily identify the incongruence between words and actions.

Similarly, if person A said that they badly wanted to get promoted at work, they might secretly rather prefer to focus on their family and loved ones, and might not be able to get the promotion they say they want.

As you can see, one of the foundations of being authentic is being self-aware.

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic.

When you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

Summary

Being authentic is a wonderful way to build personal and business relationships, to feel fulfilled, and to follow your purpose.

But it’s more than just saying certain things or acting in a way that impresses others.

Being authentic requires three core skills; courage, honesty and integrity.

When you are self-aware, and act consistently with your values across all areas of life, with honesty, you are well on the way to being authentic.

Ready to be more authentic?

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 86: The Central Governor Theory

As we enter the so-called third phase of isolation, what can we learn from Dr Tim Noake’s Central Governor Theory to help us cope better and go the distance?

I was reading an article on the ABC news, where they were talking about the stages of isolation, and that we are entering the third stage of isolation right now.

A pile of studies have been conducted Into the mental health of people who live in Antarctica and in other isolated areas such as submarines and polar bunkers and they’ve worked out what happens when these people are in isolation. 

Apparently in the beginning when you are isolated there is this period of anxiety and confusion – which we on dry land but in isolation, have seen as ‘panic buying.’

It’s followed by the second phase they call the ‘honeymoon period’- a stage where we settle into a routine that feels a bit novel and different. 

For example, you may revel in the opportunity to work in your pyjamas and not battle morning traffic and it feels good, a little bit special.

The ABC article says we are entering a third quarter of “hollow-eyed stares, odd fixations and brooding resentment. Where time grows sludgy, day blurs into night, and weekdays into weekends as you start to become lonely and to feel more offended and a bit desperate.”

In psychological studies of extreme confinement it’s called the third quarter phenomenon and apparently it’s where we may see a rise of emotional outburst, aggression and rowdy behaviour, as we anticipate the end of isolation but it does not come. 

As the article rolled on, I could see the parallels with a phenomenon called the central governor theory – described in 1997 by Dr Tim Noakes, an emeritus professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

The Central Governor Theory

The theory applies to exercise but I believe our brains could be operating under the same model right now, while we are in isolation.

Here’s how it works. The premise of the model is that your brain will override your physical ability to run and “shut the body down” before you’re able to do serious or permanent damage to yourself.

And I would like to explain how this works in the context of running, then you will see how it also works and applies to the context of regular life.

CGT in Running

Runnersconnect.net describes CGT really well so I will quote them directly here:

“At around mile 8 of a marathon, the race pace becomes difficult and the thought of running further seems impossible even for just a minute. Yet within a few hundred metres of the finish line, you are somehow able to summon a kick that finds you running minutes per mile faster than goal pace.

Once your brain realises it won’t die if you pick up the pace, the biological pathways open up so you can run faster.

That’s not to say that the physiological demands of a race aren’t real. Rather, the central governor theory posits that racing is a balance between: 

(1) physical preparation and biological systems; 

(2) emotional components, such as motivation and pain tolerance; 

(3) and self-preservation. 

The exact combination of these factors is what leads to how hard you’re able to push during a race.

I love the way they describe the central governor theory in running and break it down into those three elements – which you can see are totally applicable to our lives right now.

CGT in Isolation

The parallels with the so-called third stage of isolation seems to tie in with that 8 mile mark of a marathon.

We knew isolation was coming so we went through some physical preparation.

We may see a rise of emotional outburst, aggression and rowdy behaviour, as we anticipate the end of isolation but it does not come. 

Now we are needing to manage the emotional components, like motivation and tolerance.

We anticipate the end but it seems so far away, it’s uncertain, and we can’t judge how long there is to go. As a result, we feel stuck, flat, in pain and unable to cope for just another minute.

We also have the element of self preservation, where we want to protect ourselves from harm, and also to manage our own expectations and avoid disappointment. We are trying to temper both our enthusiasm and our frustration as we await the lifting of restrictions.

But when we have a date around when the restrictions will be lifted, and what that entails, we will feel safe and confident about moving forward enthusiastically to that finish line.

I think the question here is not so much ‘when will this all end’ – because that keeps us in a lost, stuck and catatonic state.

The question is really – ‘how can we move through the current pain and uncertainty, and just keep running?’

Tricking Your Brain

It’s clear to me that the central governor theory applies as much to life as it does to running. 

Maybe we can discover a solution from the runner’s world.

The problem that many runners face on race day is that they try to push themselves beyond their comfort zone when their mind is telling them that they can’t go any faster.

Here are three techniques that runners use, and how we can apply them to our own brains in the context of isolation.

1. Workouts

In the running world, regular workouts don’t normally train you to give it your all at the end of a session, but you can integrate bursts of energy that push through the barriers at the end.

In an isolation context, we can persist with our daily lives without holding back, and continue to do what we can, when we can, without falling into fear. 

The next two steps will help you with that!

2. Mental training

In the racing world, they say that no matter how well rested or prepared the body is, racing hurts, so you need to prepare for that mentally so that your brain doesn’t override your physical abilities at the end.

In an isolation context, the same applies. Be prepared for it to be challenging at times, but remember that our bodies and brains are wired to push through challenges and succeed. 

Recall a time when you have felt this way, and visualize yourself pushing through that moment. Remember what it felt like to push through the challenges and how it felt to make it to the other side.

This will help you to deal with any difficult times in the months ahead.

3. Pacing

In the racing world, there is a focus on improving your sense of pace, because pacing is one of the ways the brain self-regulates the central governor. 

That is, your brain “anticipates” all the known variables of a race and calculates an optimal pace that will get you to the finish without dying.

If the path deviates from what you anticipate, that is, if you try to go faster on race day, the brain reacts by forcing you to slow down. 

In an isolation context, you also need to pace yourself and in this case, it is difficult to anticipate the end without information about what it will be like and when it will occur.

However, you can anticipate how you will operate based on what you know right now.

It may help you to focus on smaller, more immediate periods of time, such as next week, so that your brain has something concrete to anticipate.

Summary

The central governor theory, first proposed by Dr Tim Noakes in 1997, describes how our brain tries to protect our body when things don’t go as we anticipate them.

You can anticipate how you will operate based on what you know right now.

In the context of social isolation during the current period of self-isolation, our brains are doing the same thing.

We can learn from what marathon runners do to outwit their brains, and stay strong until the finish, with a burst of energy as the finish line approaches.

If you need help to manage your emotions at this trying time, contact me on https://melaniejwhite.com/

Ready to cope better?

You can train your brain to better manage your emotions. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 85: What You Can Control

In pandemic times, there are four skills you can use in a four-step process to dial down the intensity, feel calm, take charge and gain a sense of control.

I’m not sure about you but sitting at home in isolation has bought a bunch of things to the forefront of my mind, and my life.

I think right now we are all faced with it – the overwhelm of all the unfinished things in our house and in our lives, the clutter we have accumulated, and the onslaught of media and negative headlines.

We normally have the ability to physically escape these things and to continue on with the doing work of life, rather than attending to this unfinished business. 

But now living in pandemic times, it’s an extreme experience to face the internal clutter as well as the external tragedy, risks, loss, grief and uncertainty. 

Few people have prepared themselves for these times. 

It’s more than just stocking your pantry – it’s also about feeling in control.

After all, right now we are winging it, pivoting, adapting and trying to take steps toward our goals in a new way. And we may also have had to throw our goals out the window!

That’s why I want to talk about feeling calmer and less overwhelmed – by taking control of the things that we CAN control.

What’s really in our control?

If you think about it, most circumstances are outside our control.

Six months ago you had no idea this pandemic was coming – and that’s just one of hundreds of things you could never have predicted in life.

What is within our control is what we think about things, and how we act.

And, we create certainty and a sense of control by making decisions about what we do and don’t want, and what we will and won’t do.

What is within our control is what we think about things, and how we act.

So right now is the perfect time to stop thinking about what we can’t do, and to get clear on what we can do, so we can take back control of our thoughts and actions.

It’s time to stop the spread of fear, anxiety, and worry, and instead of just coping, we need to bounce back and start thriving, coping with challenges and feeling strong.

It’s all in the mindset.

Let’s stop letting our thoughts run wild, unfettered. 

Let’s talk about the skills we can develop to manage our minds and to actively cultivate healthier thoughts.

Compassion

Firstly, we can develop compassion for ourselves and for others. Compassion is a practice as well as a response to the circumstances around us, but it starts with self-talk.

Compassion is being kind to ourselves and others (instead of judging). It’s about recognising the common humanity (we are all suffering and it will pass) and to be mindful of what we can do in this moment (I can control my thoughts in this moment).

We can only focus, think straight and make decisions when we are calm.

Factualising

The second thing we can do is to stop catastrophizing. 

As an expert in catastrophizing with many years of experience, I want to take you through a three step process I have developed to calm things down – a process I call factualising.

The premise of the model is that catastrophizing is a sense of heightened emotion that we create in our brains. It’s exaggerating and expecting or even predicting the worst possible outcome.

Obviously, that’s very unhelpful!

So this model I’ve developed helps us to step back from that heightened emotional state and out of our ‘feeling brain’, into a more neutral, calm and logical state, by engaging our more logical, ‘thinking brain’.

The three steps to the model are to 1. write down your negative, catastrophizing-style thoughts, 2. trim it down to just the non-emotive facts, and 3. to reframe it with an ‘even-though’ statement.

Here’s an example.

Negative thought:

I am so irritated with myself because I didn’t do my exercise session today. I was too cold and tired, and now I feel terrible.

       Just the facts:

       I didn’t do my exercise session today.

       Reframe:

Even though I didn’t do my exercise session today, I feel determined to do my session tomorrow.

Finding Strength

The third thing we can do is to find strength, because this helps us to feel grounded, and to gain a sense of our capacity to cope.

The process to finding strength could include reflecting on past challenges and how you overcame them.

Maybe it’s identifying all the people and networks around you who can support you, and who have been there for you in the past.

Strength also comes from cultivating positive thoughts. This could include practicing gratitude each day, creating an oasis for yourself at home – a quiet place to rest, relax and reflect.

Strength includes looking at the upsides and shifting attention to what has been learned or discovered despite the challenges. 

Strength can be more easily maintained when you are consistent with self care. We gain physical and emotional strength and resilience by going to bed early, waking up at a consistent time, eating nutritious food, doing exercise, breathing deeply, meditating, thought modelling, journalling, factualising and practicing self-regulation.

Make Decisions

The fourth thing we can do is to make some decisions about how we will think and act in the next period ahead. 

When we have no plan and have made no decisions, we are floating around in the sea of chaos, feeling helpless.

But when we decide what we will and won’t do, how we will do things for the next week, what we will experiment with, and which tools, support or resources we will use to give our plans a good chance of success, it feels like we’re taking charge again.

A lot of people think that decision making is where they should START in the process of taking charge.

But in uncertain, pandemic times, decision fatigue is a real thing. It means you don’t have the capacity to make decisions.

That’s why I started with the three steps of compassion, factualising and finding strength – because these are the foundation of good, rational decision-making and planning. 

As you might have noticed, there are a lot of things that ARE in your control right now.

Probably more than you imagined!

If you follow this four-step process, it will help you to take charge of the things that are in your control so that you can feel calmer, more confident and more resilient in the face of uncertainty and chaos.

Summary

In any case, even the most calm, balanced people may struggle in uncertain, stressful times. 

My four step process for taking charge of the things that you can control is:

  1. Practice compassion and self compassion
  2. Start factualising instead of catastrophizing
  3. Find strength in the past, your networks and appropriate self-care
  4. Make decisions for the next period of time to regain your sense of control.

Instead of just coping, we need to bounce back and start thriving, coping with challenges and feeling strong.

In the longer term, consistent self care is the foundation of mental wellbeing. It is therefore an essential precursor for building resilience, for effective decision making and for remaining calm in the face of adversity.

If you would like to find out about working with a coach, visit melaniejwhite.com/contact

Ready to feel calm and in control?

Focus on the things you CAN control. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 84: Countering Anxiety

Let’s talk about how to identify the signs of anxiety, and some simple daily routines to counter anxiety so you can stay calm, focused and relaxed.

Today I want to talk about staying calm and to talk through some tools you can use to dial down anxiety. 

I feel pretty qualified to talk about this because I’ve had anxiety my whole life. I had anxiety as a small child as a teenager. As an adult it comes and goes, but I largely have a handle on it and I have used many tools to help me manage it.

By the end of this episode I hope that you will have some useful tools to help you to tame the anxiety that you may feel from time to time and especially right now and, to know that you have so much power in you to do this.

Stress versus anxiety

The first thing I want to talk about is the difference between stress and anxiety.

Stress often has a root cause – it is a response to a perceived threat. Anxiety may be a reaction to stress, but it may also have no root cause. Anxiety may be a sense of heightened tension or persistent feeling of apprehension.

Some of the signs of stress include low energy, headaches, upset stomach, aches and pains, heart palpitations, loss of libido, chest pain, skin rashes, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections.

According to Beyond Blue, there are three types of anxiety symptoms.

Physical symptoms could include panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening chest, quick breathing, restlessness, feeling wound up and edgy.

Psychological symptoms could include excessive fears, worry, catastrophizing or obsessive thinking.

Behavioural symptoms could include avoiding situations that cause anxiety.

You may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, but aside from that, anxiety is largely caused by our thinking patterns. 

The thing about anxiety is that if you have lived with it a long time, you may not be aware of it or how it’s showing up in your body, your mind or your life – because it feels normal to be anxious.

Now let’s talk briefly about what creates anxiety and what the impact of that may be.

I don’t really want to dwell on this too much but just to say enough about it that you can tell for yourself whether anxiety is something that you need to be dealing with and resolving.

What causes anxiety?

You may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, but aside from that, anxiety is largely caused by our thinking patterns. 

So if you have a racing mind, or a lot of worries, then you may feel overwhelmed or have a sense that you have a loss of control.

You may find yourself ruminating on things or catastrophizing about things. This can happen at any time but it often likes to pop up at 3 o’clock in the morning when you can’t sleep and suddenly your head is full of busy stuff.

Some people may not be that attuned to those things because it’s normal for you so you don’t notice that there is anything unusual or super challenging – maybe you think that’s just how life is. 

I first noticed anxiety as nail biting, picking the skin on my fingers, endlessly twirling my hair, nervous twitches, shallow rapid breathing and an inability to sit still.

In fact one of the hardest things for an anxious person is to sit still because then we are left alone with our thoughts and our difficult emotions so we prefer to be moving all of the time. 

You may also find yourself reaching for alcohol, chocolate, crunchy foods, savoury foods or caffeine to try and manage your energy and your emotions.

None of this is helpful, so let’s talk about counter anxiety because I think this is where the joy is for us.

How to Counter Anxiety

Since anxiety largely starts in your brain, in your mind, and there’s so much movement and energy around it, then the general principles to counter anxiety are around three things:

  1. slowing down 
  2. single tasking and 
  3. being more mindful.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you can introduce more slowness and stillness and presence into your life in a way that feels safe, comfortable and calm.

It’s really important that you start your day off right in a calm, slow leisurely way. 

Right now I invite you to think about what would create that for you. 

It may involve swapping a caffeinated drink for a non-caffeinated drink. It might be about having breakfast with some protein in it to balance your blood sugar.

It might be about including some movement at the start of the day where you are able to become present and mindful, which could involve a walk, some rhythmic movement in nature like swimming or surfing, or being in the garden. 

For some people it’s meditation or yoga to create that calm mental energy that allows you to be focused and level headed as you start your day.

In terms of getting through your day, I think the key part of managing anxiety is to just take on a bare minimum of things that you need to get done. 

This means leaving plenty of time to do each task, with plenty of white space in your diary. 

Maybe for you that is three things a day for five things a day or one thing a day. You need to experiment to find what your sweet spot is.

Because my work involves a lot of coaching conversations and a bit of teaching, I have worked out that my capacity is about five sessions per day. I’ve realised that if I’m feeling a bit tired or stressed then I will block out a day and reschedule my appointments because I won’t be showing up as my best I calmest to those sessions. 

If I’m feeling rushed or going too fast then it affects the quality of the conversations that I’m having and it limits my ability to truly listen to people.

It has taken a lot of discipline for me to do one thing at a time, but it’s been worth it.

As you can tell the good part of this is about setting boundaries that are realistic and healthy so that you can do what you need to do and feel calm by the end of the day. 

People often ask me how I manage to get so much done and it is simply because I am calm, I don’t take on too much and I finish things as I go. 

It’s been hard to get into that routine but it’s been so worth it for me.

I used to multi-task and it has taken a lot of discipline for me to do one thing at a time, but it’s been worth it.

I now expect less of myself, which lowers my anxiety, and I actually get more done.

In the evening, I find that being organised with meal prep is really helpful for staying calm and eating slow, relaxed meals. To achieve that, I spend about 2 hours on a Sunday night making up some delicious salads and proteins for lunch and thinking about what dinner will involve, depending on my evening work commitments.

Before bed, I like to spend time reading a book to help me wind down and empty my mind, but I might also have a long chat with my husband or take some time to simply stare into space and think of nothing.

There is a great book that I recommend called the Practicing Mind by Thomas M Sterner, which covers a lot of these principles. It’s been a game changer for me.

Summary

Some of us are wired for anxiety and we may be in the habit of creating anxiety with our repetitive daily thought patterns.

But there are a range of things you can do to slow down, simplify and stay mindful, so that you can counter anxiety and remain calm and focused.

 

Ready to counter anxiety?

There are things you can do to slow down, simplify and stay mindful. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 83: Connection

Humans need connection to survive. Let’s look at the three ways you can increase your connection so that you can be more resilient and calm in these trying times.

At a time of global lockdown and enforced isolation, we may need to make more effort to connect, and to find creative ways to connect.

Why? Because connection is directly related to longevity, resilience & wellbeing and, let’s face it – we all need a bit of that.

In the so-called ‘Blue Zones’, the areas where there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the world, social connection is one of four essential pillars within the magic formula for longevity.

Today I want to talk about connection – what it is, and how to do it more effectively.

According to the Blue Zone model, Connection is one of the four essential pillars, and there are three parts to connection:

  1.     Belonging (some sort of faith-based community)
  2.     Loved ones first (families come first)
  3.     Right tribe (choose social circles that support healthy behaviours)

Let’s explore each of these, and I invite you to consider which elements you have access to right now and how you can draw on these to stay calm and build resilience in these uncertain times.

Belonging

Belonging is to do with a feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself, when you transcend the day to day goals, feel alive and more interconnected.

In essence, belonging is a search for meaning. 

For some people this equates to religion or spirituality but for others it’s about that connection that can be found via music, altruistic pursuits, philanthropy or passion projects.

In a time when physical connection is difficult, I think that being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience, and to escape the anxiety of what’s going on.

I invite you to ask yourself a couple of questions. 

Where does your sense of belonging come from – a higher power, or a higher calling, or both?  

What sorts of feelings does that connection create within you?

Loved ones

Your family and loved ones provide love, support and a framework of values. They are the people you count on, and who you respect and have shared responsibility for.

These are your primary relationships; they give you a sense of security and protection.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that beyond the basic human needs of food, water and shelter, humans have psychological needs that are met through both belonging and loving relationships.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

In other words, when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced by the people closest to us.

I think that’s because of our desire to belong (and fit in), partly because of the trust we have in our intimate relationships, and also the fact that emotions are contagious.

I’ll talk about that in a separate episode but for now, a couple of questions for you to ponder.

Which are your healthiest, positive and most robust friendships and intimate relationships, and why do you think so?

Who are the people that are most important for you to connect with in difficult times or during hardship?

Your Tribe

We are wired to belong and be part of a pack, and when we belong, it eases our sense of loneliness and isolation.

According to Seth Godin, one of our most powerful survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, where we contribute to and gain from a group of like-minded people.

Effective tribes have good leadership, a shared interest and a way to communicate.

But beyond that, a powerful tribe is more of a movement.

It’s a place where many people work together to seek something better, and bigger than themselves.

It transforms their shared interests into passionate goals and big visions for change, creating energy and transformation.

And in the definition provided by the Blue Zones research, tribes are about like-minded people who engage in healthy behaviours.

The more tightly-knit the tribe and its shared interests, the greater the power of a tribe.

And an effective tribe doesn’t have to be big. Sometimes small tribes can be super powerful.

How do you know that you’re part of a powerful tribe?

Well, you feel powerful and energized when you’re engaged with it.

Maybe even reading the words above, you feel this way.

Tribes can exist in real life and online.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Tribes can be found in Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups, community groups, not-for-profit organisations, social causes and workplaces.

Once again, I invite you to consider two questions:

Which tribes are giving you the support you need right now?

What role do these tribes play in your motivation and your mental and emotional wellbeing?

Summary

Today I’ve discussed three aspects of connection to others – one of the pillars of longevity in the Blue Zone communities of the world.

Belonging, loved ones and tribes are all types of connections that we have access to in our daily lives, and they are more important than ever right now in helping us deal with change, uncertainty and stress.

Being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience.

Knowing this, I encourage you to think about which of these areas might need some attention so you can get the support and nurturing you need at this moment.

I also recommend that you invest time in self-connection, because self-reliance is a powerful way to stay calm and have a sense of control when the rest of the world is in chaos.

If you have thoughts or questions about this, please connect with me on melaniejwhite.com/contact

Are you accessing enough connection?

Do you need support to create a sense of belonging within yourself? If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 81: How To Run A Business In Stressful Times.

This episode describes three levels of resilience and helps you to get clarity on what to do at YOUR level to keep your business on track in stressful times.

Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.

But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you. 

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients – all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. These people may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – wanting to help, seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. These people may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope, yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in category 1, seize the day. Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;

  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)

Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

Showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you, but be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. In stressful times you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 – 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:

  • close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
  • Subcontract another coach to service your clients
  • Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
  • Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service.

Your best approach will probably be to:

  • create a clear schedule of work and non work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.

Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It underpromises and over delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period, and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measuresAustralian Tax Office information for COVID 19Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment), Business Qld (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts), Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring), Telstra small business supportTips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)

Ready to navigate your business through this stressful time?

Now is a time to have a clear and realistic picture of what your business can do. If you’re looking to break old habits and get through this, I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 80: That Quit Voice

What does it take to succeed, and how do you silence that quit voice?

When you start a business there is a lot to learn and at various times you may feel uncomfortable, challenged, frustrated and scared. 

And let me tell you this – if you feel all of those things, it means that you’re doing it right. 

Welcome to the world of being an entrepreneur.

The thing is that along the way, you are probably going to hear an inner voice – that quit voice – the voice that tells you terrible things, like:

  • Who are you to run this business?
  • You can’t do this, you have no clue!
  • Why would anyone buy HW coaching services from you – you can’t even look after your OWN wellbeing.
  • I have no clients, nothing is working, I might as well just give up.

There are 100 other versions of these statements but these are some common ones.

If you’ve ever heard these voices in your head – this podcast is for you.

The Quit Statistics

You’ve probably heard the statistics that 95% of businesses fail in the first year of operation. 

But have you ever wondered what that actually means – that 95% of businesses fail

Sure, there can be mismanagement, lack of research into the demand for your service, poor marketing, or over capitalising. 

But I think what it means is that people have given up. 

It means that they lack grit and persistence – because all these so-called reasons for failure are lessons, and things that can be overcome. 

And I want to tell you that success may not come in your first year or even your first two years. But if you believe in what you’re doing and you know that it’s valuable and you persist then your chance of success increases.

So rather than call these business failure statistics, I want to call them quit statistics.

What Does It Take to Succeed?

As described in Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, there is a theory that it will take you 10,000 hours over 10 years to reach the expert level of proficiency in anything you want to do. 

Think about what that means in the context of giving up or quitting in your business in that first year, two years or five years?

The thing it takes to succeed is persistence.

Persistence means that you are resisting the novelty and freshness of shiny objects. 

You are committed to finishing what you start.

Persistence is doing things now that will set you up for success later – there’s no quick fix.

You’re working with the distant future in mind.

You are focused on a clear and definite goal.

You have the determination to stick to a course once you’ve committed to the goal.

You don’t abandon tasks in the face of obstacles.

And most importantly, you have a big vision of what you want to achieve that you just won’t let go of.

Right now I want to ask you to check in with yourself. How many of these traits do you have?

Persistence is doing things now that will set you up for success later.

Which of these might you need to sharpen up? 

Most people don’t have all of these traits, but when you are truly passionate about something and feel you have a big purpose, it makes persistence as I’ve just described it, a whole lot easier.

If you knew that you could succeed if you persisted long enough in your business, what would happen to your quit voice?

How would it affect your investment and commitment to your business?

Right about now you might be thinking to yourself…

…“Yes but I need to earn an income! What if I”m flogging a dead horse?”

This is a valid question and it’s one you need to answer because it will give you the confidence to commit to your idea and then persist for long enough to achieve your goal.

First let’s consider the reality – accept you will experience failure along the way. You will learn lessons about what to do differently and you will need to adapt your approach or method.

Secondly, you really need to research and test the market to know that there is both a need AND a demand for your services before you start.

Thirdly, you must be good at what you do, and that takes time and ongoing personal and professional development. 

If you do those things and make good connections as you build your business, you will likely succeed if you persist long enough. 

Aside from that, you need to find ways to make money to support you while your business is growing AND at some point you need to earn income in your business.

How long does it take to succeed?

Maybe the next question you’re asking is how long does it take to succeed in a coaching business or other service based business?

Let’s make it easy and assume that success means making a profit consistently for a period of time.

And let’s assume that you’re not mucking around, playing small, trying to do it all yourself, staying stuck in fear. Let’s assume you’re doing NONE of those things, and you’re proactively seeking good quality advice and support to help you develop a business in a viable niche.

With those things in place, the time it takes to succeed depends on your grit and persistence.

Yes, it comes down to you.

Going back a way, it took Thomas Edison almost three years to test around 3,000 designs for light bulbs and then, after getting a patent, he spent a year testing 6000 plants to get the filament right.

That’s an example of someone with a physical product who is testing and refining his invention to get it right.

It took life coach Marie Forleo many years to build her business and 2.5 years of daily online content and presence to build her brand online.

It took me, the lowly Melanie J White, about 6 months to develop and deliver a pilot program, and about one year until I was earning a full time income from the full version of that program. That success continued for the next two years until I stopped running that program and pivoted in my business.

In a tangible sense of income and clients, that’s what’s possible.

According to author Angela Duckwork in her book Grit, is roughly 10,000 hours and 10 years of commitment to a craft before you are at expert level in your craft.

You can definitely develop a successful business before then but having a high level of skill is ultimately the true measure of success beyond anything else – because it is ultimately what attracts people to your business.

The message is this – if you follow a road map and give something a red hot go, and stick with it, you will become good at it, and you will succeed.

Passion. Courage. Focus. Resilience.

How to Silence the Quit Voice

Hopefully this has given you some perspective on what’s possible if you put in the time, energy and effort – and most importantly, commitment to persist.

Maybe you’re feeling pumped up at the thought of succeeding.

That means you have the first two magic ingredients of success – persistence and grit. 

But beyond this, how do you silence the quit voice that can get in the way of persistence?

You need four other things – passion, courage, focus and resilience.

Passion, courage, focus and resilience are the things that help you to persist when your computer shows the blue screen of death, or you are overly emotional after a lack of sleep, or your marketing campaign gets crickets. 

With passion, courage, focus and resilience, you will be agile and objective enough to stand back, learn the lesson, change track and move on.

To build these skills, you need to practice self compassion and develop a growth mindset.

That means being kind to yourself, being mindful, reframing your failures as lessons, and embracing the discomfort of the unknown as an opportunity to gain new skills and insights.

In other words, if you want to silence the quit voice, you need to coach yourself.

This means focusing on your big why, managing your emotions and reframing failures. When you do this, you will be able to make rational decisions and act in a logical, calm and objective way, no matter what.

You will overcome procrastination, overwhelm and fear.

Just stick with it.

I want to refer you to some previous podcast episodes here that will help you get there:

  1. Episode 4 – How to Get in the Mood to Get Things Done
  2. Episode 59 – Becoming Your Future Self
  3. Episode 68 – Cultivating Self-Discipline and Self-Regulation
  4. Episode 73 – The Three Best Ways to Build Self-Confidence
  5. Episode 76 – The Importance of Self Compassion

Summary

Mental discomfort is part of being a business owner.

We all have an inner voice that can turn the tiniest problem into a catastrophe, or to revel in the slightest hint of self doubt.

Then you start to telling yourself reasons why you should give up on your business.

That’s your quit voice talking.

It’s what causes so many business owners to give up on their business or their big goal or dream.

But the fact is, you can do some important groundwork FIRST to make sure your business idea is viable.

If you follow a road map and give something a red hot go, and stick with it, you will become good at it, and you will succeed.

Then, if you persist with your idea long enough, keep troubleshooting along the way, getting the right support and improving your skills, you will eventually succeed.

Your quit voice might pop up along the way, and to get rid of it or at least manage it, you can practice self-compassion and work on developing a growth mindset.

If you would like some help to get started on persistence, you may like to join the my monthly Habitology membership for personal and professional growth. In April 2020 we are focusing on stretch goals – so it’s the perfect time to commit to yourself.

Visit https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology for more information.

Ready to mute that quit voice?

With passion, courage, focus and resilience you will be successful. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 76: The Importance of Self-Compassion

More than ever before, we need a reliable tool to manage our inner critic, judgement, negative thinking and the opinions of others. This is self-compassion, and here’s how to start using it.

In case you have been living under a rock, I wanted to let you know that we are living in a very hyper critical time.

We have become addicted to the internet with all it’s catastrophizing news headlines, controversial click-bait and it’s social forums and soapboxes. 

Of course there are plenty of great things on the internet too.

.

But these great things are book ended by the extremes – beautiful people trying to outdo each other, and the dark corners where bullies, trolls and critics lurk.

As it turns out, even the most resilient amongst us can get sucked into the extreme ends of the internet in just a few clicks.

We can start questioning ourselves, doubting ourselves, or even judging ourselves.

I want to be clear with you – all of this happens in real life too.

But on the internet it happens faster, more broadly, and 24 hours per day.

That’s why now, more than ever, I think self compassion is so important. It’s a tool we can all use and benefit from, and it is a powerful antidote to the mental curveballs that we experience in our daily lives.

I want to walk you through the three elements of self-compassion today; discuss why it’s important, help you work out how self-compassionate you are and take some simple steps to bolster your resilience.

If it doesn’t feel good, then why do we criticize ourselves?

We humans are a lot like dogs in the way we behave and our social hierarchy.

Some dogs are aggressive and want to be the alpha dog. Other dogs are less confident and they roll over to expose their belly.

So self-criticism is a way of fitting in, even if it’s at the bottom of the pecking order.

When we criticize ourselves, it’s actually a submissive, safety behaviour that helps us to be accepted in social circles.

If we are submissive and self-critical, it might appease the bully or garner sympathy so that someone will tell us that we’re not as bad as we think we are. 

When we are being self-critical, we are simply saying – ‘I don’t want to be rejected or abandoned.’ We are trying to save ourselves.

But as you can hear, this is a pretty unhealthy and uncomfortable way of dealing with internal and external criticism.

Luckily there is another, healthier option that makes way more sense – self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Psychologist Kristen Neff has done most of the work into self-compassion – a powerful tool for emotional resilience, helping us to cope with the good and bad around us. 

There are three main parts to self-compassion:

  1. Self-kindness (instead of self-judgement)
  2. Common humanity (instead of withdrawal and isolation)
  3. Mindfulness (instead of overthinking).

It is essentially a process to help you stop judging and evaluating yourself altogether.

It’s a way to stop labeling yourself and the things you do as good or bad – and to simply accept things with an open heart. 

It means we can show ourselves the kindness that we would show a good friend, and to treat ourselves with more respect and acknowledgement.

I want to explain these concepts by exploring why self compassion is important – especially right now. 

Why is self-compassion important?

At this time more than any other, you are being constantly bombarded by conflict and catastrophizing and many other things that cause you to have an emotional response.

Back in the old days you were only exposed to the people you saw each day, and printed advertising and TV.

Now we have an added layer – the 24/7 barrage of the internet.

When we are being self-critical, we are simply saying – ‘I don’t want to be rejected or abandoned.’ We are trying to save ourselves.

We get sucked in by intriguing headlines like these few I found online today:

“Mum’s baby ‘mistake’ angers” 

“Belle Gibson’s sob story in a letter” or even

Trump Sparks Outrage by Quoting Emerson to Refer to Himself as “the King”

The intrigue ropes you in, and then you enticed into getting emotional – into having an opinion at the least, or making a judgement and taking sides at the most – even better – to comment at the bottom of the story and add your 2c worth.

After all, Google ranking, right? That’s the online newspaper’s agenda – readership and reaction.

But how does that leave you feeling? Happy? Light? Resilient?

Nope.

The fact is, more than ever before there is a buffet of triggers for negative thoughts and feelings, comparison and self judgement on the internet.

But you don’t have to get sucked into ANY this stuff.

Managing your exposure is obviously important. You can choose which media you follow and how often, and that’s a discipline worth having.

In addition, you can learn the skills of self-compassion for those times that you get drawn into emotionally challenging situations.

You can learn to be more gentle with yourself, more accepting of others, and understanding that the only person you can control is yourself (what a relief!).

You can notice that others feel like you do, too. You are not alone. There is that common experience that somehow eases the suffering.

And you can dial down catastrophizing and overthinking so you can be present, mindful and more at peace, calmer and more resilient.

To be self-compassionate, we must first realise that negative emotions are part of the human experience and to know that we can have authority over them.

When you can notice and accept negative emotions with kindness and be open to feeling them and letting go, you will experience many benefits.

More emotional stability.

More rational thinking. 

More love. 

Better relationships. 

Better decision making. 

Better coping skills. 

Less stress and anxiety. 

More resilience.

Imagine how your life would be different if you were more self-compassionate.

Imagine how much less drama there would be, less second-guessing and insecurity.

Imagine how much more self-confident you’d feel.

How other people’s stuff would roll off you like water off a duck’s back.

How you would have more empathy for others, more energy for your loved ones, more joy, and a greater sense of satisfaction, meaningful connection and self-love.

That’s what self-compassion can create.

How self-compassionate are you?

Kristen Neff has a free self-compassion test on her website.

You can take that test, but for now I will ask you six of the questions from this test.

  1. How often are you disapproving and judgemental about your flaws and inadequacies?
  2. When you’re feeling down, how often do you approach your feelings with curiosity and openness?
  3. How often are you intolerant toward your own personality traits that you think are negative?
  4. When you fail at something important to you, how often do you try to keep things in perspective?
  5. When something painful happens, how often do you blow the incident out of proportion?
  6. When you’re suffering, how often are you kind to yourself?

How did you go?

In an ideal situation, your scores for the positively worded questions were higher, and your scores for the negatively worded questions were lower.

The online test goes into more detail and gives you ratings in specific areas of self-kindness, self-judgement, common humanity, isolation, mindfulness, over-identification and an overall score. 

Whether you take the test or not, maybe you want to build more self compassion!

Here are three easy ways.

Three easy ways to build

self-compassion

1. Loving kindness meditation is a way of connecting to yourself in a loving and kind way.

Taking just 10 minutes once or twice per week for guided loving kindness meditation can help you build a resilience bank that you can draw on when you are feeling low.

Being proactive about this exercise can help to train your brain with more positive messaging as a default position.

2. Journalling or self coaching is an easy way to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper.

When we see what we are thinking and feeling, it’s easier to stand back from that and be empathetic. 

It’s easy to note the exaggeration and to pull back from that, to notice and re-frame faulty or unhelpful thinking patterns and beliefs.

3. Ask yourself some powerful questions.

I am a firm believer that the way to solve any problem is by asking a question.

When the chips are down, you can ask yourself – How could I shift into compassion? 

What might I say to a friend who feels like this? 

What would that feel like? 

How would that change things?

Questions trigger the logical, factual parts of your brain, so they are a useful way to pull back from the emotional heat of the moment and to start thinking more rationally and objectively.

Questions are a powerful way to solve the inner critic. It can be useful to have some questions written down in advance, so that you can refer to it in such a moment.

Summary

Our modern lives are busy and we are surrounded by catastrophe, judgement and bullying, which can affect even the most resilient people.

Those unfortunate situations can bring out the worst in us, in both feelings and behaviours.

But we can rather create better relationships, connections, emotional balance, resilience, peace and joy in our lives through the use of self-compassion.

The three elements are:

  1. Self-kindness
  2. Common humanity, and
  3. Mindfulness

You can take Dr Neff’s online test to measure your own levels of self-compassion.

We can show ourselves the kindness that we would show a good friend, and to treat ourselves with more respect and acknowledgement.

Three practices to increase self-compassion include:

  1. Loving kindness meditation
  2. Journalling, and
  3. Powerful questioning.

If you would like to study self-compassion with me in March 2020, please visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology to sign up for the Habitology Membership.

Ready to be more self compassionate?

You’ll love the benefits it will bring into your life! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 72: Unwavering Self-Confidence

This episode is for you if you want to be more secure in yourself and your abilities, and to feel worthy, helpful and capable. We look at what self-confidence is and the basics of what you need to do to get it.

Right now, imagine the feeling of having unwavering self-confidence. When I say unwavering, I mean steady, resolute and consistent.

You are someone who is totally secure in yourself and your abilities. You trust yourself and your abilities completely – there is no second-guessing, and you are committed to taking action without needing to know all the steps required, or any promise that you will succeed.

What would it be like to be a cool cat like that?

How would self-confidence affect your relationships, your business, your job, your kids, your friends and your level of satisfaction and fulfilment with life?

It’s really worth talking about self-confidence because it’s one of the keys to success, and it’s something that most people want – yet there is a bit of confusion about what it is, what it isn’t, and how much confidence you have.

So that’s what I want to talk about in this episode.

Let’s start by exploring what self-confidence can create in your life.

Self-Confidence is a Key to Thriving

According to research by Deci and Ryan (2002), confidence is one of three vital lifetime pursuits (the other two are learning/developing competence and applying strengths).

You have probably heard of the saying that “like attracts like”.

What this means is that if you are confident, you will tend to attract more positive and confident people, opportunities, clients and circumstances.

Confidence is a strong predictor of success in all areas of life, from work performance through to creating new health habits.

So, What is Self-Confidence?

There are various definitions of self-confidence out there.

But a simple one is this – self-confidence is your ability to be secure in yourself and your abilities. A self-confident person has thinking patterns about how worthy, helpful and capable they are. 

So what are the elements of confidence?

There are three things:

  1.     Backing yourself
  2.     Trusting yourself and
  3.     Having a healthy opinion of yourself.

Backing yourself is mostly about courage. It means that you will take the risk of putting yourself or your ideas ‘out there’.

Trusting yourself is mostly about your competence or self-efficacy. It means you believe that you have enough skills and know how to follow through and complete something.

It means you will follow your plan and take responsibility for things, even if you are nervous, frightened, unsure or inexperienced.

Trusting yourself is mostly about your competence or self-efficacy. It means you believe that you have enough skills and know how to follow through and complete something.

Notice that I said complete, not achieve.

Trust is not about results – it is about your faith that you have the ability and persistence to follow through.

A healthy opinion of yourself is about your self-esteem or value. In other words, you feel good about yourself and have a realistic view of your value, and that you are deserving of success, respect and achievements.

Henry Ford sums up confidence in his famous saying:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’

That being said, I want to myth bust some of the confusion around self-confidence and be really clear about what it isn’t.

What isn’t Self-Confidence?

When you hear the word self-confident, what comes to mind? Here are some words that are often associated with self-confidence, but which are actually nothing to do with it.

Aggressive – this is being forceful.

Aloof – cool and distant; uninvolved.

Arrogant – this is thinking you are better than someone else.

Assertive – the quality of being self-assured without being aggressive.

Gregarious – fond of company, sociable.

Happy – showing pleasure or contentment.

Successful – accomplishing a desired result.

These words are more likely based on your perspective, beliefs or judgement. 

Please don’t confuse them with self-confidence. Being self-confident is none of these; it is capacity, capability and strength.

The interesting thing about confidence is that you can be self-confident without any proof.

When you have those three elements in place, you develop a self-confident attitude to life, and that’s what creates the results and life you want.

The Attitude of Self-Confidence

To develop self-confidence, you need to adopt a proactive attitude. That is, if I see it, I will believe it – rather than the other way around.

Your attitude is that you don’t need certainty to take action and you are prepared to take calculated risks on the unknown. 

We’re not talking about reckless behaviour – it’s about managing risks and being willing to be uncomfortable, knowing that growth is on the other side of that.

Remember that self-confidence is about backing yourself, trusting yourself and having a healthy opinion of yourself.

With that in mind, you can see that someone with an attitude of self confidence totally trusts themselves and the process – irrespective of the result.

This is also known as a growth mindset.

Let’s do a little test. I’m going to read out six statements now. Count how many you agree with and believe. 

  1. The why is more important than the how
  2. The steps will be revealed along the journey
  3. You need to persist and follow your plan even if you’re fearful
  4. You may need to change your plan, problem solve and be agile
  5. There is no failure, only feedback and learning
  6. Risk is a prerequisite for learning and growth.

How many did you agree with? 

Does this sound like you overall?

The more of these statements you agree with, the more of a self-confident attitude you have.

You are probably someone who is willing to give things a red hot go, to respond to feedback, and to problem solve so you can overcome setbacks. 

You are willing to explore uncharted territory and go against the grain in order to succeed, if necessary. 

You have a pioneering spirit. And, with a self-confident attitude, you an innate capacity to build self-confidence. But even if you don’t – you can build this attitude with a few simple techniques, which we will talk about in a coming episode.

By now you probably have some idea about your own level of self-confidence.

I want to ask you some questions now so that you can get clarity on what self-confidence means and feels like to you. 

When have you felt self-confident?

What did it feel like in your body, and where did you feel it?

What were you thinking at the time?

What were you able to do because you had self-confidence?

What results did your self-confident action create?

I’m sure you have felt self-confident at some time in your life. 

Here’s what it feels like. It feels good, energizing, uplifting, optimistic and powerful.

You feel unflappable, unstoppable. You have pose, and are calm, unshaken. You have a cool head, you are composed, have faith and are disciplined. 

You take action because you believe in what you are doing, and your ability to do it.

Does that sound familiar? If not, or if you want to feel more self-confident, you may need to do some work – and that is a topic for the next episode – a deep dive into building self-confidence.

Summary

Self-confidence is your ability to be secure in yourself and your abilities. A self-confident person has thinking patterns about how worthy, helpful and capable they are. 

The elements of self-confidence are your ability to back yourself, trust yourself and have a healthy opinion of yourself.

Remember that self-confidence is about backing yourself, trusting yourself and having a healthy opinion of yourself.

When you have those three elements in place, you develop an attitude of self-confidence, that is unwavering, persistent and the basis of all your actions.

We will talk about building self confidence in the coming episodes.

But if you’d like to build unwavering self-confidence NOW, join the February intake of Habitology where we will study this important topic and implement the lessons into your life. 

Visit https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology for more details or visit my contact page.

Ready for unwavering self confidence?

Having a healthy opinion of yourself can make all the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 71: Selfish vs Selfless

If you often feel selfish about doing things for yourself, listen up. I’m going to help you explore the concepts of being selfish, selfless, and to identify the comfortable middle ground.

When it comes to doing something for themselves, so many of my clients struggle with feeling selfish about that.

I felt it was a great topic for a podcast to today about being selfish, being selfless, and what lies in between.

Fact – They’re Just Behaviours

Before we start, let’s be clear that being selfish or selfless is largely about someone’s behaviour in a certain circumstance.

Some people behave selfishly, or selflessly, more often than others.

And while frequent selfish behaviour or unselfish behaviour may shape your general attitude, it also may not necessarily define you as a person.

I have known people to behave selfishly in certain situations and yet generously and compassionately in others. 

I have known people to be seemingly selfless in certain situations, and then to lash out, withdraw all support and empathy and become seemingly selfish. 

In that context, please, let’s not use these terms as judgements, labels, or ways to define ourselves or others. 

Let’s take the drama out of these words and use them as frames of reference for behaviours that people may display in certain situations.

Selfish vs Selfless: Some Definitions

To get clear on those frames of reference, I want to read you some dictionary definitions for the words selfish and selfless.

As I read each one out, listen to see what they conjure up for you.

The word selfish (of a person, action, or motive) means lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

The word selfless means you are chiefly concerned with the needs and wishes of others, much more than your own.

How do you feel about those two words?

A lot of your will think that being selfish has negative connotations – it’s about ignoring the needs of others.

The word selfless is interesting though; it is almost the opposite in meaning in that you have little to no regard for yourself, yet somehow it sounds strangely positive – almost as if you are being virtuous, or a knight in shining armour for others.

The trouble with these two extremes is that having any level of consideration for your own needs seems to be a negative thing.

Yet there is no way that could be true!

So, knowing that neither extreme is sustainable, I want to ask you a question you might not have considered.

There must be a middle ground where looking after yourself is acceptable – so WHAT IS IT?

I posed this question on Facebook last year and some smart cookie had a great answer; therefore I would like to introduce you to the middle ground.

Self-Care

Self-care is any activity that you do deliberately in order to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s setting time aside for activities that enhance your energy, restore your health and reduce stress.

How do you feel about the word self-care?

I find it interesting that some people see self care as a negative, as something for the weak, or at least, as something they don’t have time for.

Perhaps you might find yourself dissing self-care because you have only ever considered the (unsustainable) extremes.

So I would like to dig into the concept a little further – to explore the middle ground with you right now – so you can review your relationship with yourself, your needs and these three little words.

Being Selfish 

I want you to first get really clear on what being selfish means to you and how you relate to it, personally.

Right now, think of a time you judged yourself or someone else to be selfish.

What was it that caused you to make that judgement?

What were you telling yourself at the time?

What feedback did you get from others that influenced your thinking?

Chances are that you noticed was someone behaved differently than you would (or you behaved out of character) in a certain situation.

If you are someone who wishes you were more self-disciplined, or were better at regulation your thoughts and actions, then that tells me what you actually want is self-care.

For example, a group of friends organise a coffee date that suits all except for Kylie, who says she can’t make it then because she has her pilates class at that time.

Is she selfish for sticking with her existing plan, instead of meeting her friends?

What meaning would YOU attach to Kylie’s behaviours?

What are the other friends saying, and how might that influence your judgement?

To me this is self-care. 

Without any other information about what sort of person Kylie is, how she is feeling right now, what her needs are, or how good a friend she is, it is clear that in this instance she is looking after her own needs.

Here’s another example.

Let’s say you have slaved all week for the family, washing clothes, making beds and cooking meals, and you are short tempered, frazzled and exhausted.

So you lock yourself in the bathroom for a nice warm bath. You hear your kids knocking at the door wanting to come in and talk to you.

Would it be selfish to say no?

To me this is self-care at the end of a largely selfless week. 

Without any other information about what sort of person you are, it is clear that in this instance you are looking after your own needs.

To me, this is setting a good example for your kids of how to set boundaries and meet your own needs, so you can be calmer, more stable and emotionally balanced, more available to others and a happier person to be around.

What do you think?

Being Selfless

Now let’s get clear on your perspectives on selflessness.

Right now, think of a time you judged yourself or someone else to be selfless.

What was it that caused you to make that judgement?

What were you telling yourself at the time?

What feedback did you get from others that influenced your thinking?

Think about this example. 

Kelly worked hard all week, did all her work and stayed back late to finish projects on time, and made time to help her colleagues with some of their tasks.

Is Kelly being selfless?

How do you know?

To me, it sounds that way. She is putting others first.

But we have no information on what this behaviour has cost her, personally.

What if Kelly sacrificed her healthy meal prep, missed her gym sessions and drank wine a few nights this week, despite her intentions to do the opposite of these things?

In that case, how would you feel about the concept of selflessness?

And what would you think of Kelly as a person?

One thing I know is this – when spend most of their time doing selfless behaviours, they may become martyrs (constant sufferers and complainers) or lose the respect of others.

Getting Clarity

By now you may be feeling a little bit uncomfortable about your ideas and feelings toward selfishness and selflessness.

That’s ok.

That simply means you are at a growth edge, getting ready to consider the truth in your own terms, and perhaps, how you would like to behave and show up, be going forward.

I suspect that most of you listening to this podcast are not aligned with either selfishness or selflessness. 

You’re seeking a middle ground that feels aligned and has integrity.

So let’s talk about that now.

Why Self-Care Wins

If you are someone who wishes you were more self-disciplined, or were better at regulation your thoughts and actions (self-regulation), then that tells me what you actually want is self-care.

You want the middle ground between selfish and selfless.

You want to be accountable to yourself, and to do enough of the basics required to meet your own needs.

When I say basics, I am talking about the basic human needs – to eat well, to move, to get enough good quality sleep, to have adequate relaxation and rejuvenation time, to have some fun, to enjoy loving relationships and to have a sense of peace, calm and confidence.

People with high self regulation have good levels of confidence and belief that they can be effective in what they pursue and they are more likely to achieve their goals.

As you can see, there is nothing woo woo about self-care.

Looking after yourself and giving enough attention to your own needs.

Summary

Let’s get some perspective on selfishness, selflessness and self-care. If you are consistently selfish or selfless, it can become your attitude. 

But a lot of the time we judge individual behaviours – our own or others – as selfish or selfless.

You want the middle ground between selfish and selfless… the middle ground is self-care.

The problem with these words, according to their formal definition, is that you don’t get your needs met. So they both have negative connotations for you as an individual.

I propose that the middle ground is self-care.

That is the state of intentionally looking after your basic needs – for food, shelter, activity, sleep and rest – with self-discipline.

If you do this, you will be on your game, better able to support others and probably, a happier person.

Ready to find the balance between selfish and selfless?

Come explore the middle ground! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 67: Making positivity a habit

I want to talk about why we need to start making positivity a habit, and how it will totally transform your experience of daily life.

If you listened to episode 67, you’ll know that we need to experience three positive emotions to counteract every one negative emotion that we feel – on a daily basis.

Barbara Fredrickson’s work discusses this 3:1 ratio at length, and she describes it as the tipping point between languishing and flourishing.

When we achieve this ratio, we more likely have a wonderful experience of life, feel fulfilled and happy, and have greater resilience to help us cope with difficult times.

This on it’s own implies that it is worth making positivity a habit, because you are in the practice of constantly filling your cup.

But I also want you to reflect on how much MORE important it is for some of you to create a habit around positivity – depending on your current state of mind and wellbeing.

Our Status Quo – Positive or Negative? 

Neuroscientists say that negative thinking is our default thinking pattern. 

We are wired this way as a survival response that’s designed to keep us safe – not trusting those around us, being on alert for threats.

In the modern world we are less at risk of the life or death scenarios that our ancestors had to cope with. 

So what happens to us now is that our brains find new micro threats and negativity every day. And further, when we focus on something, we build that and broaden that thing we are focussing on.

The data suggests that around 70% of our thoughts are naturally negative. So unconsciously, that is our default thinking pattern.

On top of that though, have you noticed that some people are always upbeat and optimistic, while others seem to have one drama after another?

That’s right – we are all unique. 

When you look at one person’s tendency to be a pessimist or an optimist – to be negative or positive by default – then: 

  • 50% of that tendency is influenced by genetics 
  • 30% of our tendency is influenced by our environment, and
  • 20% is the way we manage our thoughts.

So those of you who tend to be more negative, stuck or fearful, have more work to do in building positivity, than those who are naturally that way.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Think right now about YOUR status quo – how are you wired? Here are a few questions to think about where you sit on the positive to negative spectrum.

  1. Are you a positive or negative person?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be an optimist, a realist or a pessimist?
  3. Do you often struggle with anxiety and stress?
  4. Are you a ‘she’ll be right’ kind of person?

Now consider the influence in your environment that affect that.

Environmental Triggers (Positivity Robbers)

There are so many things that rob positivity points in our daily lives, which gives further value to proactively developing more positive thinking and doing habits.

Examples of positivity robbers include:

  • The stress of daily traffic
  • Negative news
  • Conflicts on social media
  • Poor food choices
  • Unsafe behaviour or situations
  • Difficult people
  • Toxic relationships
  • Negative self-talk or the inner critic
  • Too much responsibility
  • Ugly or uninspiring surroundings.

Remember that our environment influences around 30% of our state and our environment can tip us into negative emotions simply by virtue of exposure to any of these factors.

Our exposure to these things further builds the case for making positivity a habit – we can use this as our secret weapon to counteract the constant onslaught of negative influences around us.

More Positivity = Resilience = Getting Unstuck Quicker

Let’s talk about positivity and resilience for a moment.

Several of my clients right now are going through some major stuff in their lives, in multiple areas. 

Some are more negative, and some are more positive. So let’s see what happens in either case.

On the negative side

Despite getting qualified help, some of my negatively wired clients are still stuck in a negative thought loop. 

They are acknowledging that things are difficult, which is totally ok, but they are also saying things that perpetuate negative thoughts and feelings, such as ‘I always think negatively’, or ‘I can only think about what’s going wrong.’  

Although that’s how it feels, it isn’t helpful to dwell on the fact that you’re stuck and to play those statements over and over in your mind like a tape recorder.

That’s because negative thinking can become a habit. It can become a thought pattern and process that we entrain.

So anything that is self-critical, a negative label, or really all or nothing thinking, can do more harm in the long run than good.

These thoughts reinforce the negative and provide no instruction for how to resolve it. 

If you’re in this space right now, I invite you to acknowledge that you may be struggling with something but that you want to do something different. 

Doing this creates an opening for the possibility of change. Saying to yourself, “Yes I am this way right now but I want to be different” creates a foot in the door for more positive thought processes and habits. 

You may want to listen to episode 2 or read my blog on the topic of thought change models.

On the positive side

I am thinking of another client right now who has had massive challenges for most of the year, and is surprisingly on top of things.

They acknowledge that things have been tough, but their self talk is positive, they are taking action, getting help, making plans and being proactive. 

Instead of dwelling on the situation or the feeling of helplessness, they are saying things like ‘I have learned so much this year,’ or ‘I am grateful for the help I’m getting’ instead.

What this creates is a sense of finding hope and optimism, moving forward, getting unstuck quickly and not getting bogged down in despair. They are able to function normally and live their lives and be productive and a good parent, despite the circumstances.

The Positivity Habit – What it Boils Down To

At the heart of the matter is this – if we want to be more resilient and more positive then we need to make positivity a habit. 

That means we develop one or two regular practices such as those that I mentioned in the last episode – number 67 – and commit scheduled time to them each week – even when there is no crisis at hand, and especially then.

Think of the analogy of going to the gym – it’s something that most people can relate to in a physical sense.

If you’re one of those people that says “I always think negatively,” it is like you’re sitting on the couch saying “I’m not fit because I’m sitting on the couch”. 

You are stating what is, but this is not giving you a roadmap to change.

If you wanted to become fit or muscular then you would be saying something different to yourself.

You would be something like “I am looking forward to going to the gym,” or “I will commit to one training session this week”. 

Then you’ll be going out and physically lifting the weights to build the muscle you want.

Of course, when you build that muscle, you need to maintain it with regular gym sessions, right?

It’s exactly the same process if you want to be more positive and resilient.

But this time, you are ‘working in’ instead of ‘working out’. 

Making positivity a habit means that you are actively scheduling time for activities that will build any of the top 10 positive emotions.

For example:

Every night before bed, you rewrite one negative thought into a more neutral or positive thought. E.g, “I want to build resilience” or “I noticed my negative thoughts and I would like to let them go”.

Maybe it means that you walk in nature four mornings per week and be mindful of your surroundings.

Just like your muscles, your brain needs to be trained to become stronger, more positive and more resilient.

Your inner work is what makes positivity a habit. 

It’s the act of doing something repeatedly and in this case thinking a certain way repeatedly. 

If you start to plug that new information into your brain then you are instructing yourself to do and think something different – and you will become the more positive and resilient person you wish to be.

If you start making positivity a habit, you will create a practice of constantly filling your cup so that you can build resilience and enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding experience of life.

Summary

We are wired to think negatively as a survival mechanism. But some of us have more negative influences in our lives than others.

Barbara Fredrickson says that we need to experience at least 3 positive emotions for every negative that we come up against.

Just like working out in the gym, having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits will help us to build resilience, be happier, roll with the punches much easier and to enjoy a more fulfilling and engaging experience of life.

 

Ready to make positivity a habit?

Having a regular schedule of positive thinking and doing habits can be life changing! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 66: 5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you want a more enriching and fulfilling life, keep listening to learn what positivity really is and 5 ways to get more of it in your life.

What is positivity?

Before we can talk about how to increase positivity, we’d better define it. After all, some things will feel positive for me, while other things will feel positive for you.

And that being said, based on the landmark work of PhD Barbara Fredrickson, I’d like to define positivity like this:

“Positivity comes in many shapes and sizes; it is the cousin of the more hedonistic ‘pleasure’, it is based in love, and it is expressed in ten main forms”.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and what I love about it is that it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Yes, negativity exists and has a purpose. In the Taoist sense, we could not know and appreciate positivity without its opposite, negativity.

And life was never meant to be 100% positive – but we have the capacity to improve and develop positive habits so that we can enjoy a more enriched experience of life.

Barbara Fredrickson defines ten forms or aspects of positivity:

  • Joy – relishing the bright, light feelings that come up when things feel right
  • Gratitude – the acknowledgement of all that you have
  • Serenity – the sense of peace that everything is as it should be
  • Interest – a sense of feeling engaged, fascinated and compelled to explore
  • Hope – a sense of optimism and belief that things can change
  • Pride – a sense of accomplishment of what you have said or done
  • Amusement – the freedom of laughter, sharing and connection 
  • Inspiration – the ability to transcend the ordinary and rivet attention
  • Awe – noticing goodness on a grand scale, and
  • Love – the glue that binds it all together. Love raises your levels of oxytocin, the feel good hormone, and progesterone, both of which create biological responses linked with lifelong bonds, trust and intimacy.

Researchers have created something called the Positivity Ratio, which quantifies your positive and negative emotions and gives you a tool to increase positivity in your own life.

I’ll talk about the ratio in another episode but for now, let’s explore positivity in more depth so you understand what it is and why it’s important, and some ways of building it.

Why does positivity matter?

There are lots of reasons why, but here are five great reasons I can think of. 

  • Positivity is attractive 

We love to be around people who create a positive energy and atmosphere. It helps us to relax, let our guard down and feel more engaged and connected.

  • Positivity in tribes can empower member persistence

Tribes have greater capacity to achieve more in a positive way than any individual could on their own. 

This is important when it comes to personal goals too; often people lack confidence in themselves, motivation to persist and lack the support they need to gain momentum and achieve. 

Purposeful, positive tribes can help us to stretch and grow beyond what we thought was possible because we are invested in the bigger vision. 

In a supportive tribe, we may be more likely to persist with something until we achieve it.

  • Positivity kills stress 

Without harping on the kajillions of studies out there, stress is clearly one of modern society’s biggest killers and disablers.

Yes, lower stress and more positivity can slow down aging and reduce the risk of many diseases and the bad habits that cause them.

But more immediately, being positive fosters an open, creative brain state that is essential for solving problems, making decisions, building businesses and persisting toward our desired success. 

  • Positivity improves our experience of life 

How does feeling positive impact your day to day life?

I spoke with someone recently who noticed a dozen shifts in their behaviour and experience of life as a result of being more positive.

The first shift this person mentioned was more collaborative relationships. They were able to better connect with their partner and family, with greater forgiveness, openness and without any judgement.

They felt better equipped to uphold personal boundaries and make better decisions, which in turn fostered a sense of self confidence.

They were able to be more proactive with their health and wellbeing habits.

They felt more able to take action with some of the tasks in their business that they perceived as being ‘difficult’, and which they might struggle with on a less resilient day.

  • Positivity builds resilience and an upward spiral, via the ‘broaden and build’ concept

In a nutshell, the more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

And for anyone embarking on change – losing weight, building a business, starting a new relationship or job – resilience is about your capacity to cope and thrive.

The more positivity you experience, the more positivity you will create in your life and the more resilience you’ll build.

What Can Positivity Do For Your Business?

Positivity is vital for any business owner.

Working on your own, coping with the good and bad, juggling many roles and handling suppliers and staff, there’s a lot that can create stress, sap your energy or knock your confidence. 

Building positivity can counteract these things.

Positivity attracts people who are forward looking, who wish to change and who want to be part of something. It’s a great recipe for attracting the right clients.

Business is also a creative pursuit – and stress is the opposite of creativity. As I mentioned before, by bringing more positivity into your life, you can roll with the punches of life more easily.

5 Simple Ways to Increase Positivity

If you’re in my Habitology membership then you know we are looking at many options for increasing positivity and you are working through those this month.

I am really interested to know how this is impacting your business and your life and excited about doing this work with you.

For this podcast though, I want to share my favourite ways of increasing positivity. 

I like these because they are simple, take very little time, and they’re very effective.

1. Dispute negative thinking

This one is a no-brainer. Most of us have faulty thinking patterns that we repeat, and it is our work to notice these and turn them from emotive statements into factual statements. 

This can help us to unlearn those patterns and create healthier thinking without any drama involved. There are several ways you can do this.

2. Connect with others

Often people these days feel isolated and lonely, yet connection with others is said to be a key part in the longevity of our oldest living people across the world. 

Even if you are struggling, reaching out via a text message, phone conversation or visiting a friend can bring a sense of wellbeing and positivity.

3. Connect with nature

There is much to be said about connecting with nature; we experience awe, gratitude, serenity, inspiration and love. It facilitates mindfulness.

It is easy to do and requires no tools. This is simple and powerful.

4. Assess your media diet

Media catastrophizes everything and divides and conquers people based on opinion pieces and bias. Being selective with what you read and watch, and who you listen to, can make a massive difference to your state of mind.

5. Reconstruct your day

This is a bigger exercise but can be transformational. You write down how you spend the major chunks of time in your typical day – for example, waking, breakfast, driving to work, eating lunch, etc, and you rate your level of positivity for each of these events.

This gives you so many clues about where circumstances might conjure up negative emotions, so you can then take steps to do something about these, and to build and increase the positives that you experience.

Here are two examples.

Let’s say that you notice that you feel anxious at your weekly staff meeting because there is a difficult person who always creates tension.  You could decide to change your thinking about this person to decrease the negative emotions – for example – wondering what positives might be coming out of this, or perhaps feeling compassion for them that they are behaving like this.

On the flipside, you might also notice that you enjoy your lunch breaks outside. You could build on this positive experience by practicing mindfulness during this time, by walking and exploring the area after you’ve eaten, or perhaps to invite a friend to join you for part or all of the lunch break to increase your sense of connectedness.

In both cases you are proactively changing your attitude and experience of that time in your day to build more positivity into your life.

Summary

Ok, let’s recap what we’ve covered today.

Positivity is a recognised science that is defined by feeling a suite of 10 positive emotions. Positivity has been quantified into a measure, which I’ll talk about in another episode.

There are so many benefits that come out of increasing your positivity; but to sum it up, positivity creates more positivity in your life and a better experience of work, life, relationships and yourself.

Positivity underpins success in any area of life and it makes the journey to get there easier and sweeter.

Five simple ways to build positivity could include disputing your negative thoughts, connecting with others, connecting with nature, assessing your media diet and reconstructing your day. 

These are just a few – others like gratitude journalling and acts of kindness are things that create positivity too.

I invite you to reflect on this for yourself and ask what your life might be like if you were more positive.

If you need help to get on top of this, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology on how you can get the help you need to become a more positive, fulfilled person.

Ready to increase positivity?

What might your life be like if you were more positive? If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 64: 7 Tips To Increase Body Awareness

This episode of the podcast helps you understand the benefits and challenges of building body awareness, with some tips on how to get started.

Body awareness is the first pillar of Body Intelligence. It is the foundation of all healthy habits. 

It is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

What is Body Awareness?

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

And I want to talk about a few examples so that you really understand what it might involve. Here might be a typical day and where body awareness fits in.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning and the first thing you notice is that you have pretty dry, sleepy eyes so you rub your eyes to get to sleep out of them.

And then you realise you’re a bit thirsty maybe you had your mouth open last night so you have a drink of water because your body has told you that your mouth is dry and you’re attending to that need. 

Next you notice your stomach growling and you feel a sense of hunger so it’s time to have something that you know will sustain you for the morning.

All is good so far, but as soon as you realise that you need to get on with getting to work, your focus shifts to other things and your body’s gentle, subtle signals get lost in the noise.

Having worked with my Habitology members this month, we’ve discussed some interesting things that we’ve all noticed.

One realised that she just needed to take breaks to eat more often.

Another discovered that she had been pushing herself too hard and ignoring the signals.

One noticed how calm she has been feeling.

Another noticed how much more clarity she has because it’s caused her to slow down.

I noticed that when I drink water late in the afternoon, my stomach is settled and I wake up more energized the next day.

Can you see a trend here?

The Benefits of Building Body Awareness

As you can see the main benefit of building body awareness seems to be that being aware means that you will more likely take action to attend your needs better.

But what of that? Why is that important?

That’s actually where the real gold nuggets lie – in the benefits of being aware enough to commit to taking action.

  • You squash imposter syndrome

If you think about it, the first benefit for you if you’re a coach is that you truly feel like a role model for your clients. 

When I ask coaches I’m working with what their number 1 struggle in business is, they say that it’s maintaining emotional balance. 

They say that inadequate self care is a recipe for catastrophizing, judgement, fear, anxiety and lying awake at night ruminating.  All that can be largely avoided or at least tamed with some body awareness.

  • Freeing up creative thinking

What was (not so) surprising was that self-care reduces stress and anxiety, so you have more space for creative thinking.

And let’s face it, business is largely creative, and stress is the opposite of creativity. A little awareness can be a game changer in this regard. 

  • More healthy choices, more often

Being body aware means you’re noticing whether you’re moving enough and eating for hunger rather than boredom or stress. It means smarter alcohol, coffee and chocolate consumption.

I’m sure the cumulative benefits of those things are pretty clear – a healthier, calmer body and brain that ages well, has more energy and maintains a healthy weight.

There are many more benefits, but these are enough to start with and their big, juicy benefits.

How would YOU feel if you could achieve even just ONE of these four benefits?

The Challenges of Building Body Awareness

The main challenge around building body awareness is that you have an existing pattern of being distracted by other things – it’s easy to shift your attention away from your inner signals and to lose focus.

You may also be in the habit of convincing yourself that something else is more important than attending to your body’s needs in the moment – without stopping to think about the bigger impacts and consequences of this decision.

But the great news I want to share with you is that these two things are just HABITS.

They’re thinking habits you have, and you can unlearn them.

You can rewire them.

When you go back and think big picture about the benefits of using your BA on a daily basis, then it’s a no brainer to do some simple, menial tasks to rewire your thinking and get back onto the BA bandwagon.

Seven Tips for Building Body Awareness

Here are some tips to help you build body awareness, so that you can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier.

I suggest you create a simple schedule around these things and use reminders to start building these new habits to improve your BA over time.

Tip 1 – schedule 5 minutes in the middle of the day to write down 3 negative thoughts you’ve had and rewrite them as facts.  

Tip 2 – set an alarm to do a body scan at morning tea, afternoon tea and after dinner to notice how your body is feeling.

Tip 3 – set a reminder or diarise a check in with how you feel emotionally at 1pm – good or bad, reflect on the possible influences and decide what you might have done more or less of to influence that result. 

Tip 4 – write in a journal four mornings or nights per week before bed – even a few lines is enough.

Tip 5 – work with a coach to speak out loud about your body awareness and set individual goals.

Tip 6 – meditate 1 – 5 times per week using an app like Headspace if you need assistance.

Tip 7 – use mindfulness each day to bring your awareness to your five senses – choose a random moment to notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel and sense.

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

Summary

Body awareness is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

But if you use 1 – 3 practices each week to raise your BA, it’s highly likely that you will sleep better, have less anxiety, eat more healthily, feel calmer, feel like a good role model, have clearer thinking, feel more empowered and in control, and make better, more rational decisions in your life.

If you would like to talk to a coach about raising your BA, go to the contact page at www.melaniejwhite.com now and fill in the form.

Ready to improve your body awareness?

You can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 61: What is your body intelligence?

How to use BQ to attend to eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and manage your emotions so you can feel calm, energized, stable and resilient.

This episode defines what BQ is and it helps you discover what your own body intelligence score is. It is based on the work of Jim Gavin from Concordia University in Montreal and Margaret Moore in 2016 and it’s something I’ve been studying recently as part of my professional development.

You’ve probably heard of social intelligence – how well you handle social interactions – and emotional intelligence – how well you handle your emotions. 

Body intelligence is therefore how well you manage your body.

Why is it important?

Well, if you have enough BQ, then you will be able to notice and attend to your physical and mental needs.

It nudges you toward vitality, health, and consistent healthy habits. It means you eat healthily, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and manage your emotions so you can feel calm, stable and resilient.

In other words, BQ is the foundation of your wellbeing and your ability to look after yourself properly and adequately in all areas.

The Pillars of BQ

Every time you start a new habit or upgrade an old one, you are using BQ – body intelligence.

Whether it’s exercising more regularly, reframing your inner critic, saying no to the third biscuit or switching off your computer consistently at 5pm, BQ is the basis of these habits.

To be able to make these decisions and perform these actions, you are using the three pillars of BQ.

These are:

  1.     how aware you are of your body (body awareness),
  2.     what you know about your body (body knowledge), and
  3.     what you do for and with your body (body engagement).

To have BQ, you need to have adequate capacity in all of these pillars. They work together, integrating 

As you could imagine, BQ is central to the work of fitness and wellness professionals, as well as to your self-care.

So right now I want to run you through these pillars briefly and then give you the quiz at the end to help you rate your level of BQ.

Before we start, the rating scale that Gavin and Moore assigned to each of these pillars is: 

  1. deficient, which means you lack skill or attention in that area.
  2. sufficient, which means you have adequate skill or attention in that area, and
  3. evolutionary, which means you have a keen awareness, knowledge and practice, working in flow with your body and mind.

Ok, with that in mind, let’s talk about the pillars.

Pillar 1 is Body Awareness

Awareness is about being tuned into your body and its signals. 

If you have high body awareness, it means that you are aware of how and when your body “speaks” to you and what it is telling you – and you listen to it and honour it. 

A lot of people have physical sensations that they ignore and hope will go away. This invariably leads to injury or stress, because we have ignored an important need.

If you have high body awareness, it means that you are aware of how and when your body “speaks” to you and what it is telling you – and you listen to it and honour it. 

Compare that with someone who has high body awareness – they listen to what their body is telling them and they make adjustments in the moment.

For example, you’ve eaten a chocolate biscuit with your cup of tea and you notice it gave you a sugar rush. It doesn’t feel too good. On that basis, you say no to the second biscuit.

Or perhaps you feel a deadline looming at work, so your brain is telling you to ‘push on’ and finish it, even if you have to stay a little late. However, you notice that your neck is sore, your eyes are starting to burn and your brain is feeling a bit fried. 

You park the work for tomorrow and shut your computer off, knowing that you’ll be better off going home now and finalising this when you are fresh and have renewed your energy and resilience. 

As you can see, the greater your body awareness, the more you are in control of bodily outcomes. 

The awareness you need is at two levels – the gross sensations like muscle soreness, and the subtle sensations like the awareness that your energy is flagging.

The skills you need for body awareness are therefore mindfulness, reflection, and also, the ability to experiment and learn from your experiences. 

To rate your body awareness, ask yourself:

  1.   When does my body feel good, and why is that? 
  2.   When does my body feel not so good, and why is that? 
  3.   What are the best and worst I have ever felt physically? How or why did this happen?
  4.   How do I know something is wrong with my body – what are the signals I get? 
  5.   What proportion of the time do I consciously notice and act on those signals?

If you could answer all of these questions clearly and definitively, and if you answered positively to question 5, then your body awareness is probably pretty good.

Right now, give yourself a point for each question you answered immediately, easily and positively.

If you scored 0 – 2, then you are probably deficient in this area.

If you scored 3 – 4, then you are probably sufficient in this area.

If you scored 5, then you are probably evolutionary in this area.

Pillar 2 is Body Knowledge

Body knowledge is partly our knowledge of what to do (e.g. accepted standards for healthy living and a healthy body).

The other part is our intrinsic knowledge of what we as individuals need to do to feel or function better.

How many of us knowingly do things that are unhealthy?

Why do we do this to ourselves?

You (or your client) might say things like, “I know I need to exercise more often, but I never seem to find the time.”

This indicates knowledge of both what to do and what’s stopping you from doing it.

Body knowledge is much like what scientists call “health literacy.”

It includes knowledge of recognised standards, your own personal markers for health such as weight, blood pressure, cholesterol etc, as well as your own knowledge of what your body needs to be healthy, vital, and to engage in healthy habits.

To rate your body knowledge, ask yourself:

  1.   What do I think I have to know about my body to take good care of it?
  2.   What is my pattern of checking in with health professionals for checkups, issues, or concerns?
  3.   What do I know about healthy lifestyle habits?
  4.   What is my personal formula for healthy eating, regular exercise, adequate sleep, sufficient recharge, building energy and mental resilience, and weight management? 
  5.   How healthy is my relationship to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, caffeine, and other addictive substances?

If you could answer all of these questions clearly and definitively, and if you answered positively to question 5, then your body knowledge is probably pretty good.

Right now, give yourself a point for each question you answered immediately, easily and positively.

If you scored 0 – 2, then you are probably deficient in this area.

If you scored 3 – 4, then you are probably sufficient in this area.

If you scored 5, then you are probably evolutionary in this area.

Pillar 3 is Body Engagement

Even when you have adequate or high levels of body awareness and knowledge, engagement may not come easily. 

This is where the rubber hits the road. 

Engagement is about doing the best thing repeatedly until it is a habit that you are tuned into and in flow with. It means you are committed to taking intelligent action based on what you need at this point in your life. 

It’s about how you configure your life so that your body fully supports your work in the world.

Habits are hard to break and build and that is why the industry of professional health and wellness coaching is being developed. 

If you want to make lasting change, you need a solid foundation of self-motivation and self-efficacy so that you can stretch beyond your comfort zone and experimenting with new habits, in a curious and non-judgemental way. 

And, with enough focus and persistence to make change stick.

If you want to form a new habit, you need to do certain things regularly in a way that integrates awareness, knowledge and action. 

To rate your body engagement, ask yourself:

  1.   What habits do you engage in consistently that make your body feel better?
  2.   How do you experiment when you are developing a new habit?
  3.   What works best for you when you are developing a new habit, for example your approach to setting goals and experimenting?
  4.   What life factors help you engage more consistently in a healthy lifestyle?
  5.   What new habits do you want to develop as your next step?

If you could answer all of these questions clearly and definitively, and if you answered positively to question 5, then your body engagement is probably pretty good.

Right now, give yourself a point for each question you answered immediately, easily and positively.

If you scored 0 – 2, then you are probably deficient in this area.

If you scored 3 – 4, then you are probably sufficient in this area.

If you scored 5, then you are probably evolutionary in this area.

Analysing your score

Reflect on what you scored for the Awareness pillar, the Knowledge pillar and the Engagement pillar.

If you are at least sufficient in all three, then you are likely the type of person who can tune in to their needs, knows what to do to meet those needs, and can do that consistently.

If you are deficient in awareness, then thought watching, journaling and mindfulness are three tools you can use to build your awareness. 

You would need to schedule at least one of these in for a few minutes every day or every other day, as a regular practice, to build awareness.

If you are deficient in knowledge, then doing a course, attending a webinar or reflecting on what has worked for you before are three tools you can use to build your knowledge.

Once again, you would need to schedule these activities in to gain knowledge.

If you are deficient in engagement, then getting support and accountability, reflecting on your success and finding ways to get into flow with your wellbeing habits will help you to be more consistent and engaged with those habits.

Working with a health and wellness coach can help you fit new habits into your existing lifestyle, and get the accountability you need to succeed.

Summary

Being consistent with your habits starts with your awareness of what your body is telling you.

It means you will treat yourself with more respect because you’ll be honouring your body’s needs and taking better care of yourself.

Being consistent with your habits starts with your awareness of what your body is telling you. 

Then, if you know what to do and can find a way to enjoy do it consistently, you will raise your BQ and live a more vital, energized, engaged and happy life.

You will build resilience and each day will feel easier.

You will enjoy emotional wellbeing, balance, resilience, energy and joy.

If you need help to find a health and wellness coach to work with, or would like help in a membership setting, visit www.melaniejwhite.com and fill out the contact form. I have access to coaches with specialist skills who may be a good fit for you.

Ready to get the accountability you need to succeed?

Working with a health and wellness coach can help you fit new habits into your existing lifestyle! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 60: Mind Seeding

A simple practice to help you become your future self that’s quick, easy and painless.

This episode is for you if you want to change your beliefs and become your future self, you will probably need some help to step outside your current paradigms.

If you listened to episode 59 of this podcast you will probably understand what I’m talking about. 

To recap briefly, most of us have entrenched habits – both thinking and doing habits – that happen automatically, unconsciously. And as you can imagine, those entrenched, automatic habits can be very hard to see, let alone to change.

When you achieve this clarity and awareness, there is one more thing to navigate – the fact that your brain is naturally wired to find evidence to support your current beliefs rather than your future beliefs.

In other words, if you want to become your future self, you need to uncover the hidden beliefs and then, convince yourself that behaving differently is a good idea.

As you can see there’s a little bit to navigate in order to become a better and more powerful version of you! 

To summarise, becoming your future self involves three things:

  1. Uncovering your unconscious beliefs about yourself that shape who you are
  2. Challenging and changing those beliefs and
  3. Being consistent with this until you start thinking and acting differently.

Most of us don’t have the time or space to do this in our lives.

You’re busy with your kids, making lunches, getting them to school and then yourself off to work.

Most of us are lucky to snatch 5 minutes to ourselves, so it can be really difficult to cut out all the noise and stress of modern life and to start changing our thinking and doing patterns.

That’s why I want to walk you through a simple process to help you move more quickly toward your future self. 

I call it MIND SEEDING.

I highly recommend listening to episode first 59 FIRST so this all makes more sense.

Mind Seeding

I find it so fascinating that we are able to run so much of our lives on autopilot – around 90% of what we do, in fact.

So if you think about it, our thoughts and beliefs are the instruction manual that we automatically follow each day to get things done.

It leverages off the fact that we run on autopilot and that our brains are highly suggestible.

I propose that we can use this to our advantage, and ‘seed’ our minds with the thoughts of our future self.

Want to give it a go?

Mind Seeding 101

There are so many things in life I struggle to remember, but for some reason I can easily sing the jingle from the 1981 Swatch watch commercial.

Can you relate?

This is a great illustration of the first part of mind seeding – telling yourself something short and simple, repeatedly, will cause it to stick in your head.

And as you know, if you listen to my podcast regularly, the things that you say to yourself repeatedly become your beliefs.

Here are two simple examples from my own life.

When plastic debit banking cards arrived in Australia in the 80’s (yes, I’m that old!), I realised how easy it was to start spending money. And like any normal teenager, I had started spending with my new card!

Yet I wanted my future self to be a proactive saver and accumulating wealth, rather than debt. I needed to find a way to do this.

As a measure to curb spending, I started to tell myself that I if I didn’t have cash in my purse, then I didn’t have any money.

It’s amazing how this halted my spending. I would withdraw $20 each week and this was my spending money and once it was gone, it was gone.

By the time I was 15, I had saved $1,000 and had put it into a term deposit. This one simple mind seed got me closer to my goal and up to Level 3 in my Four Levels of Money.

A year later, I was struggling with anxiety and insomnia as exams and the question of my future became more pressing.

When you are feeling stressed or a sense of lack, it’s moving away from your future self. 

I had started working a casual job in an aquarium shop, and they had a coffee machine there. It was a machine that turned instant coffee into a hot milky drink, not like the fancy barista models we get today. 

I had never really been a coffee drinker, but that machine was a lure and I found myself drinking 2 – 3 coffees on my Saturday shift. I realised that coffee had a grip on me. I found myself looking forward to the shift so I could drink coffee, and then feeling wired and jittery after it. But it felt SOO good to drink coffee.

Within a few weeks I realised that coffee was bad for me at that stage of life and I decided I wanted to stop drinking it. It was making my anxiety worse and disrupting my sleep on the day or days that I drank it.

So I seeded my mind with the concept that “I don’t want coffee to control me!”

Thinking that way about coffee was really assertive and positive for me because it spoke to me about what I wanted, not what I was missing out on. This really helped me to be disciplined with a simple habit and it made a huge difference to my state of mind.

Notice that in both examples, I was seeding my mind with thoughts that felt strong and powerful, rather than judgemental or fearful. 

This is the key to getting your new seed thoughts right.

So right now, think about ONE activity that your future self is doing or not doing, for example, not drinking coffee, or not drinking alcohol, or exercising regularly, or speaking in front of people – and create a powerful, positive statement about it.

This is one of your mind seeds that will grow into a habit that aligns with your values.

Step 2

The second part of mind seeding is to open yourself up to new ideas and opportunities. 

Think about it – it’s easy to get so caught up in life that you forget who you are and what you want to achieve; you can lose focus on your goals and clarity on your vision.

You can fall into a scarcity mentality and get lost in it.

This can cause you to lapse into negative thinking, and to lose focus and hope.

And when you are feeling stressed or a sense of lack, it’s moving away from your future self.

You can reverse things by putting a wedge in place to get your inspiration back and reinvigorate some creative thinking.

Here are some ways of doing that.

  1. Read a book on a topic you’re interested in, whether it’s related to your business, industry or a personal goal. 
  2. Take a free online course into an area of interest and learn something new.
  3. Take up a hobby that engages you and gives you a sense of flow.
  4. Block out a whole weekend with no responsibilities or commitments, to just meander and do what you want and need.
  5. Do something that will give you a quick win and is easy to do without any brain strain – like an exercise session, or cleaning out a drawer.

Seed your mind with thoughts that felt strong and powerful, rather than judgemental or fearful. 

Any of these can be enough to give you a brain break and switch things around to get your ideas flowing again.

I find that when I am feeling low, flat or defeated, I am instantly revived and excited again by listening to something inspirational or something that creates awe, curiosity or a sense of achievement.

This is positive psychology in action.

Ready to change your beliefs and become your future self?

Step outside your current paradigm and find out who you can be! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

Posted on Leave a comment

Episode 57: Over Helping

This episode of the Habitology podcast is specially dedicated to people who love helping other people but sometimes take it too far – into something I call overhelping.

Some people might feel a little uncomfortable or maybe even offended when they hear me talking on this topic of over helping. 

So right up front I want to say I’m sorry if this is difficult for you to hear.  

But I’m sure once you listen to some examples and hear me out you’ll totally get what I’m saying and you might think about things a little differently from now on.

The Value of Helping

I want to start by saying very clearly that helping other people is a wonderful and admirable thing. There are millions of people in the world who are suffering right now and at any given time, so having people who want to support those people is essential for our society to survive, grow and thrive.

As long as there are people who want to help it means that we’re able to support each other and to get through difficult times. 

Support creates a sense of peace. It facilitates recovery from illness. It builds strong workplace cultures. The desire and willingness of people to help each other plays a big role in making those things happen.

I personally have always been somebody who loves helping people and that’s why I became a coach. Now that I work for a coach training school I see a lot of other people like me who just want to help people. 

In fact, that’s the number one reason that people sign up for coach training in the first place. That’s why people want to change their careers; so they can do something more meaningful and purposeful, and to help other people for a living.

So, let’s agree right up front that helping other people is valuable and necessary in our world.

With that put to bed let’s now talk about over helping. 

Helping vs Overhelping

Before we talk about over helping, let’s talk through what helping means. 

I’ll start by saying that the difference between the two is who gets empowered by the helping – the person you are trying to help, or you.

Very simplistically, in a situation where you are truly helping, you are mostly listening, then doing or saying just enough for the other person to find their own answers. 

In a situation where you are truly helping, you are mostly listening, then doing or saying just enough for the other person to find their own answers. 

When the person you are helping works things out on their own, they feel a rush of confidence at their own success and feel self empowered.

In other words, when people come up with their own ideas in the first place without anybody suggesting anything to them, or leading, or guiding, or steering, they are more likely to build self-confidence and self-belief than if somebody is telling or suggesting what they should do.

I want you to contrast that with over helping, where you provide the solution to the other person, therefore establishing your position as the expert and empowering yourself, bolstering your own confidence. 

What happens to the person you’re helping when you have all the answers? They’ve just learned that you know more than they do and that they don’t know enough. They have just been unwittingly disempowered.

Overhelping 

Overhelping is when you cross the boundaries and give too much opinion, ideas, suggestions or advice.

It is when you impart your wisdom or thoughts to steer or guide the person you are helping in a way that you think is best for them.

This removes their power of choice, it shows a lack of respect for their ideas and needs, and it shifts the focus away from them and onto you. You become the hero in their journey, not them, so it feels like a hollow victory.

At the worst, over helping results in total disempowerment of the person you are seeking to help.

Over helping often results in maintaining the status quo – that is, the helped person stays stuck – and it can also cause conflict, stalemates, and at worst case the breakdown of relationships.

And in fact, the first sign of Overhelping is resistance or tension in the other person you are trying to help!

I want to give you a couple of real life examples to illustrate this. These are true!

He is the first example.

Overhelping Examples

Getting Sick

Two women became acquainted through a social group. 

Soon after that, one of the women was struck down with a terrible illness. She lived on her own and was having to do everything for herself. 

The other woman happened to hear about the first woman’s challenges, and so she decided that she would be helpful and come around to cooking, washing those sorts of things as she had professional health training and knew she could assist. 

This support was initially welcomed, but at some point the woman who was ill started feeling smothered. It was too much. 

She wanted time and space to process this on her own without anybody else in her small house taking up her mental and physical space. So she politely asked the other woman not to come anymore. 

But this other woman just wanted to help. And being a health professional she felt that she knew better than the woman who was sick. 

What ensued was a terrible argument and a terrible falling out between these two women. 

But the helper could not reconcile that the invalid didn’t want to be helped and didn’t actually need help. She persisted relentlessly to breaking point. 

How might that conflict help a woman who is terribly ill? Sometimes our desire to help defies all logic and we fall into the trap of over helping.

This really illustrates pretty clearly how over helping is more about the person doing the helping then it is about the person receiving the help. It is about the helper feeling good about themselves because they are helping someone.

The Over Excited Expert

Here’s another example of over helping. 

Mish is a marathon runner. Her best friend Ally is a little on the heavy side and wants to take up running to lose some weight. Although Ally is outgoing, she is quite self conscious about her weight and is somewhat intimidated by Mish’s achievements.

But Mish is obviously an expert so Ally decides to ask her for help to start running.

Mish is so thrilled that Ally has finally taken the plunge into running and wants some help. She sits with Ally and reassures her. By the way, reassurance is a form of judgment.

Then, Mish helps Ally create a running plan for the next 12 weeks, with gradual increases in pace and distance over the period. Ally is nervous but excited. Mish offered to support her along the way and Ally is keen.

Mish gets so pumped about this plan that she gushes with enthusiasm about Ally’s new running regime. And the more she gushes, the more self conscious Ally becomes. Suddenly, it’s feeling like she has a lot to live up to.

Two weeks in, Ally falls into a slump after a few stressful days at work and doesn’t feel like running. Mish sends a couple of text messages to pump her up, but they go unanswered.

Ally is receiving them and feeling guiltier as time goes on at not responding. Mish persists, and eventually leaves a voicemail with a supposedly motivational message – come on, get back on the horse, you can do it.

But Ally doesn’t see it as motivational. She feels embarrassed that her marathon runner friend is literally chasing her and inadvertently pointing out her mistakes. 

It’s no use. She doesn’t have the discipline and can-do attitude toward running that Mish has. She should quit now before she feels like a total failure.

So in that situation, Mish has not acknowledged that Ally is a total beginner and needs to work at her own pace. Mish is not respecting how Ally feels, or noticing her lack of confidence. Ally interprets that as expectations and standards that she can’t reach – because she is not good enough.

These are just two examples.

Overhelping shows up in many other ways – like doing things for others and feeling resentful if they don’t give you enough recognition. Or when needing to help consumes you to the point that you feel lost if you are not helping.

As you can hear, all of these things are much more about the helper than they are about the helpee.

A Coaching Perspective on Helping

In coaching school we are taught that people are more likely to become empowered, and to take responsibility for their own lives, if they come up with their own ideas, answers and solutions.

The most tempting thing for a new coach is to jump in with a ‘have you tried this?’ Or ‘what about that?’ But we must sit there silently and let our clients figure it out for themselves.

You might want to listen to my podcast on empowerment – #53 – I’ll put a link in the show notes.

So just set the scene here is what happens in a coaching session with an experienced coach. 

The coach will ask their client all about themselves. The coach will reflect back what they hear the client say.

Then the coach will ask some really broad questions that will get the client to come up with their own answers. 

People are more likely to become empowered, and to take responsibility for their own lives, if they come up with their own ideas, answers and solutions.

There is no suggestion or a ‘great idea’ or leading questions or any of that from the coach. Unless the client is specifically asking for ideas and suggestions or unless there is a glaring risk that the coach can see, their job is to stay out of the process. 

The hardest thing for the coach at this point is to see their clients struggling with discomfort. 

We see our clients feeling unsure of themselves, not believing in themselves, feeling hesitant, worrying about making mistakes, and when we see these things on their faces and we hear these things in their voices, we desperately want to help. 

Do you recognise the discomfort of that feeling? Seeing someone struggle to find the answer and just wanting to jump in there and help them?

It’s human nature to want to suggest things, to ask ‘have you thought about this?’ or ‘what about that?’

There’s a psychological term to describe this – it’s called the Righting Reflex

But in that moment when we want to make things right, what we’re doing is robbing that person of the opportunity to stand up for themselves and to make some decisions for themselves. We are robbing their moment of self empowerment.  

It is such an important and critical time in the clients journey to becoming empowered, that we want to just be silent to avoid interfering with, or blocking the aha moment. 

So the coach really needs to get out of the way and let the client do the work even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable at first. The reward will be way sweeter and greater when this happens.

Now this is great if you’ve done coach training and you understand these principles and you’ve had a lot of practice with clients. 

Let’s say that you’ve become very good at listening and not interfering. That’s fabulous because it means that when clients come to see you they can truly become empowered. It means they feel confident to make decisions for themselves, and make choices that are meaningful and relevant for them. 

It means that they will start to create success on their own terms and feel good about it and this will have a flow-on effect in all areas of their lives including all of the relationships they are currently having their lives.

How to Stop Overhelping

There are four things you need to do if you want to stop Overhelping.

The first is to become self aware; to become the watcher of your thoughts, so you can notice the urge to help when it comes up. That gives you time to temper your thoughts and head off Overhelping at the pass.

The second thing is to listen to and truly hear what the other person wants and needs – before you offer help.

The third is to ask the person how they would like you to help them.

And finally, whatever they say – honour it – do what they ask, and nothing more.

Summary

The difference between helping and Overhelping is who ends up being empowered – the helpee, or the helper.

The first sign of Overhelping is resistance or tension or defensiveness in the person being helped. The four step process to stop Overhelping is to:

  1. Watch your thoughts
  2. Listen to the helpee
  3. Ask how you can help
  4. Respect their request. 

Ready to learn how to give the right kind of help?

If you need assistance with Overhelping, visit www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology and learn more about how I can help you to help people effectively and with confidence and clear boundaries. 

Learn more here: