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Posts Tagged ‘direction’

Do you know who you are?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010


“Be authentic, be true to yourself” – an advice I often hear. People tell us to be authentic when we make new friends, start a new relationship or need to make some changes in our life. However, what does it mean, being authentic. How do you know you are true to yourself?

The thing is we are not just one real self, but have many different parts.

Those parts play out in varying degrees depending on the roles and the situations we are in. Imagine, you introduce yourself at a business networking meeting, or get acquainted with other parents of your child’s new school.

Which words would you use to describe yourself in those different situations and roles? You will probably notice that some words seem to be more dominant than others and some might even be in conflict.

Take the following example. A parent is so happy for her daughter to work in a job she enjoys. However, at the same time she might feel a sense of loss and disconnection, because her daughter is now thousands of miles away.

The problem is when we identify ourselves to just one part we get stuck in a problem, a situation or behaviour that is not helpful to us.

Realising, that ‘you’ consists of many parts, is the first step to make changes and get unstuck.

The more you are curious about the different faces of yourself and become aware of them the better you will be able to create a balance. You will be able to nurture parts that were more passive and therefore change the dynamics.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change”

Carl Rogers

You might also want to read:
Conversations with my pink elephant

Image: Some rights reserved by Benimoto

Create space for clarity

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


In the weekend I listened to an interview between Björk and Arvo Pärt. Two of my favourite musicians. Both of them, though in different genres, have developed their own unique style of music. In this short interview Björk describes to Arvo Pärt how she experiences his music: “you give the listener space”. This really fascinated me. An image immediately emerged: I was moving and floating between the sounds in a white room. It also reminded me how much clutter there often is in our life. This clutter or noise prevents us from moving around. Arvo Pärt uses sounds sparingly. He doesn’t want to waste musical notes as a filler or background. If you are interested listen to his piece “Für Alina”.

This interview reinforced the message that there is this space where we have the freedom of choice. Take this excerpt from Victor Frankl’s book “A man’s search for meaning”*

    Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Unfortunately, sometimes we fill up this space with clutter and forget it even exists. The result. We don’t think we have any choice but are at the whim of what is directing us. Think of a time when you were highly stressed. Did you feel you had the power to make decisions within that situation?

How can you re-create this space?

Simplify and emptiness

    “ I felt the need to concentrate on each sound, so that every blade of grass would be as important as a flower” - Arvo Pärt

In his music Arvo Pärt is giving the listeners time and space to give attention to just one sound at a time without being distracted by any background noises. Also photography, art, or story telling, aims to direct our attention to just one spot. Artists create a focal point and therefore create clarity and space for us to move around and to make meaning for ourselves. Each sound or focal point has an empty space in and around it. This space creates the possibilities for growth, for explorations, for improvements and for change.

The more clutter we have in life the more confused and uncertain our life seems. Take the beginning of your day, how did you wake up this morning. Already planning the day while you were brushing your teeth? This is a great way to fill your empty space before the day has even started. Maybe you want to start your day tomorrow by just focusing on what you are doing. When you brush your teeth just observe how you do that, how the brush feels. When it is time to plan what you have to do on that day, just do that.

Here are a few questions that you might want to ask yourself

How much space do you have between the sounds in your life?
What area in your life you feel is too cluttered, or maybe too foggy to see clearly?
How could you start to create some empty spaces?
What are the sounds that you make? Which of them are necessary, which ones are just fillers?

I am curious what you do to get more clarity and transparency for the different areas in your life?

You might also want to read:
How to reduce distractions and stay focused
Do you know where you are going
A fresh sheet of paper

* “A man’s search for meaning”: this is Frankl’s personal essay of his imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps and describes the psychotherapeutic method that he pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps.

10 important questions to ask yourself

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010


  • What direction am I heading?
  • What do I want my life to stand for?
  • What do I value in my relationship with others?
  • What sort of relationships do I want to develop?
  • What is most important to me in relation to work/home/family/friends/myself?
  • What is guiding my decisions?
  • What actions can I take that reflect my values?
  • When was the last time I made a decision based on what I believe in?
  • How do I want to act towards myself?
  • What am I doing right now?

You might also want to read:
What are you doing, right now?
What motivates you
Do you know your why?
Do you know where you are going?

Image: takomabibelot

Conversations with my pink elephant

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Recently, I had a good conversation with my pink elephant. Sounds strange to you? My pink elephant comes in the form of fear, anxiety or self-doubt. It had started to push me around a bit and wanted to make decisions for me I would regret.

The more you ignore…
I have started to make a habit out of having a conversation with the things I don’t like. Why? The more I tried to ignore those thoughts or feelings the more powerful they became. They worked hard to get all my attention, while I really tried not give them any platform. You can imagine that I didn’t have much attention left for anything else.

Try it, right now: “At all cost, don’t think of the pink elephant. It’s right here in the corner, in front of you or standing behind you. Remember, don’t think of the pink elephant”

Why a conversation?
Isn’t it enough to allow it to be here in the room with you? Well, in my experience it is a vital part in making fear less powerful over my behaviour, decisions and the direction I want to go.
However, I also realised the better I got to know it through conversations the quicker I was able put my attention toward what I want to focus on.

Over time my conversations have become shorter as I got to know my pink elephant better in all those different situations it would come up. In those conversations it can have it’s voice, just like you would your aspirations, your values or goals want to have and find a voice. They are all part of you.

The most important question I ask my pink elephant:
What do you want me to know about you?

Other questions you might want to ask:
What is your purpose?
What makes you more/less present?
Who are your allies?

Have you ever wondered what your pink elephant would like to tell you?

Image: poplinre

Ride that bike

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


What do you do about your fear of presenting? How can you learn to become aware where you are stuck and how to take action.

Do you remember when you learned how to ride a pushbike? You probably had help from your parents or maybe an older sibling. Falling off the bike, getting hurt and being frightened did not held you back in mastering the bike. You chose to learn to ride that bike no matter what.

When we grow into adults we sometimes loose that ability because there seems to be so much at stake – status, reputation, financial success, your place in the community, your public image,… – everything you work hard to achieve and maintain.

How can you re-discover this ability of choice? Practice is key to improving your presentation skills and developing confidence. So, think of those situations where you have to prepare for a presentation, but you procrastinate and wait until the last moment. Or, you do prepare in a certain way but it doesn’t seem to help you develop confidence. In both situations you are stuck and worries, fear or unhelpful thoughts seem to have the power to keep you there.

They literally narrow your ability to see and discover other ways to practice.

You can make those unwanted thoughts and feelings less powerful. Start today, and become curious about them. When you do that on a regularly it will open up the narrow view into a vista of possibilities. Here is where you can choose to prepare for presentations differently.

Learn to become aware of what is coming up for you, also notice all your reasons why you might not be able to do things differently. They are all part of your unhelpful thoughts that keep you stuck. Write them down and just let them be as they are. Don’t try to change them, push them away or turn them into a positive. Simply notice them. It might seem counter-intuitive to you, but over time you will realise that their power becomes weaker.

Also, ask yourself the following question:
If I would not struggle with worries or fear, what kind of presenter would I want to be?

“Start wherever you are and start small” – Rita Bailey

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