People who are tense suffer more pain and are more prone to injury. This takes a toll physically and psychologically! Stuntmen, gymnasts, firefighters and even the elderly are taught to soften the body, tuck and roll when they fall. Skydivers are masters of softening their bodies to land without bruising or breaking a bone. They’re taught the “banana method”.
You may not be a skydiver but all of us occasionally trip. Softening your body into a curve makes your deceleration last as long as possible to minimize injury. Even when you’re just tripping over a curb, if you land stiff-armed you’ll likely break something. Tuck and roll to your side if possible, or if you’re falling face first let your elbows bend in a push up motion allows your pecs to take the force of the fall.
We carry so much tension and stress from daily life in our muscles and tissue and so it’s not surprising that we often suffer from aches and pains. Plus as we age, we lose flexibility, becoming more prone to losing our balance and falling. While learning to safely fall takes months of practice under the direction of a skilled trainer, there’s a lot you can do on your own to learn how to soften your body on a daily basis. You’ll find yourself becoming more flexible and at the same time relieve stress and tension.
It’s no mistake that a ball is round. Rounder objects handle stress better. When you learn not to be rigid but to soften the body you’ll stand up under stress better. This is well-illustrated by what engineers have learned about designing airplane windows.
Airplanes at first used square windows since that was the norm for homes and autos. However, when jets began flying faster and at higher altitudes, two planes fell apart in midair. Why? The sharp corners of the square windows were natural weak spots where stress concentrates. When subjected to repeated pressurization, the corners cracked and gave way.
Curved windows, on the other hand, have no focal point so it distributes the stress. Circular shapes are stronger and resist deformation, and can thus survive the extreme differences in pressure between the inside and outside of the plane.
What does that mean for you? Instead of letting everyday stressors make you rigid in your thinking and physiology, learn to soften the body and roll with the punches both literally and figuratively.
Here are three simple ways to soften your body…
- Slow down your frenetic brain by practicing deep breathing exercises. The brain mimics what the body is doing, so if you slow down, your chaotic thoughts will start to cool down too.
- Actively soften the body. Pay attention to what your body is saying and move it until it relaxes. Stretching exercises, yoga, and improving your posture will help. Daily practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques to stretch and soften your body will help you increase your awareness.
- Practice mindfulness in daily tasks. Quiet your mind by learning to be present in each moment instead of multi-tasking. Whether you’re walking or washing dishes, or eating, be mindful of that one simple thing.
Somatic coaching is a superior way of creating a greater self-awareness. I invite you to contact me to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype, so we can talk more about it.
And if you’re curious on how to enhance your overall health and wellness don’t forget to download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It will help you identify the areas that most need your attention right now and what you can do to bring balance to your life.
“You can do anything you set your mind to!” Did you ever hear these encouraging words from a parent or teacher as you were growing up? Did you believe it then? Do you still believe it? Or somewhere along the way did you quit believing because you started telling yourself self-limiting stories?
Too many times we’ve replaced the encouraging voice in our heads with ones that tear us down and keep us little. They come from our own fears and insecurities or we’ve actually heard them from other people who abusively denigrate and belittle. We’ve heard it so often that we begin to believe it ourselves.
The self-limiting stories we tell ourselves are usually focused on generalizations, negativity and comparisons with others. You can recognize them, because they often start with statement like these…
“If only I was … I could …!”
“I’m not good at…”
“I’ve never been …”
“Who do you think you are…”
“He gets … because he’s gifted. He doesn’t know what my life is like.”
Just because something doesn’t come easily to you or you’re inexperienced, doesn’t mean you can’t do it well. Perhaps you’re not the most talented speaker today. Your story doesn’t have to be that you’re not a gifted speaker. Your story can be that you want to be a talented speaker and you’re willing to do a lot of hard work and preparation in order to influence people with your message. And that’s a new story you can create for yourself.
This shift begins when you become aware of the self-limiting talk running through your mind. Think of that commentary like a Narrator – the voice in the background that is giving substance to the story. Most people are oblivious to it. But with greater mindfulness you can stop yourself from automatically saying, “No, I can’t”, and just listen to the objections in your mind. Without judgment, write them down in your journal.
Ask yourself if it’s true. You may think, “I’m so stupid!” But you’re not. You many have made a mistake, but that doesn’t define who you are as a person. Evaluate it. You’ll see that the Narrator is only offering one perspective, based on previous experiences. You don’t have to accept what the Narrator is telling you, especially if it’s disempowering. See all the good things you have accomplished.
Affirm what you know is true. Maybe you don’t know how to do something. But you have the ability to learn. We’re all a work in progress, adding layers and layers of experience to our core values. And that experience is valuable. Set your intentions for how you want to live each day. Stay in touch with your values and you’ll stay aligned with your purpose.
Tweak your story. You don’t have to totally reinvent yourself. Take the parts that don’t serve you any longer and overwrite them with choices that create the best possible story. Daily reflect on how your choices fit into your greatest purpose.
It takes mindful effort to process through the stories you tell yourself. But you can change your story and you can change your life. I would love to partner with you as you go through the process. Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.
If you’re an adult there’s no doubt that the world has changed significantly since you were a child. We didn’t grow up with smartphones, Twitter, Snapchat…
But how have you dealt with this ever-changing world we live in? Hopefully, you learned some basic survival skills from your parents – like how to adapt, deal with change, and basically be prepared to face any challenge head on.
When I think back to my childhood I see how my parents prepared me in some important ways for life in the 21st century. Yet there were other key skills I had to learn the hard way. As you read this article, think about how you can strengthen some of these psychological survival skills in yourself. It’s really never too late! If you’re a parent, teacher, or mentor of children think about how you can instill them in the next generation.
Here are five basic skills that we need to not just survive, but thrive:
- Self-discipline. A meaningful and fulfilling life is built gradually and purposefully. There are no shortcuts. I recently shared how important making your bed every morning is – this habit requires self-discipline and I’m grateful I learned that as a young child since it has served me well ever since.
- Emotional literacy. This one is huge! Our emotions affect everything we do. They influence our perceptions and opinions about ourselves, and others. When we can identify our prominent emotion, we’re less likely to project that emotion onto the situation. We’ll recognize that yes we’re sad, but the weather isn’t really worse than normal, our spouse isn’t being insensitive and we aren’t lazy because we didn’t workout yesterday. Practice labeling your emotions and teach your children to do the same and you’ll be far more objective and reasonable with yourself and others.
- Stress management. Our natural inclination, as children and adults, is to avoid pain. But meeting difficult challenges is how we grow as human beings. Make a practice of looking for ways to challenge your mind with mental obstacles and your body with physical obstacles. If you have children, don’t immediately solve all their problems. Let them experiment with various solutions so they learn to tolerate stress and gain confidence in their problem-solving abilities.
- Dealing with change. Life is full of uncertainty and change. If you’ve learned how to deal with change, your attitude, outlook, and ability to function in the real world will benefit, despite what happens. So try to view life as an adventure. When an unexpected change comes your way, lean into it and embrace it. The best way to teach this to your children is to model an adaptable, flexible attitude.
- Gratitude. Most of us learned to say thank you as children and we’ve probably taught our children to do the same. But true gratitude goes far beyond a perfunctory “thank you”. Gratitude means a deep awareness of why we are thankful and appreciative. I recommend you keep a gratitude journal and daily enter at least five things for which you’re grateful and encourage your children to do the same. When you begin and end each day with gratitude, your whole life shifts in a more positive direction.
Did you see areas where you could strengthen your skills? Don’t be discouraged. As I mentioned earlier, it’s never too late to enhance these life skills. Or maybe this article got you thinking about your child? Do you see her struggling in a certain area and you want to coach her through it? Please consider joining me at my upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP class in March. This is your opportunity to work with me personally and learn life-long skills so you know how to coach both yourself and others. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about whether this training is a good fit for you personally.
When you were in school, did you enjoy homework? I remember the collective groan that used to echo throughout the classroom. Yet, it really is an effective way for students to grow personally and academically.
As I reflect on those years, I’m grateful now. Not only did homework help me remember the lesson, it accelerated my personal growth for it taught me to 1) be disciplined, 2) make priorities, and 3) learn how to learn. Today, I regularly use homework in my coaching practice and I’ve seen that my clients who follow-up and do it dramatically accelerate their personal growth.
Not convinced? Check out these seven reasons for doing your coaching homework and see if they don’t rev up your personal growth…
- Remain focused.
We all know the benefits of putting notes where we see them constantly. In that way, we won’t forget the task or goals we need to accomplish. It keeps us from being distracted. Coaching homework gives us something to focus on in between sessions. Working on your personal growth every day is key to becoming the person you desire to be.
- Reflect deeply.
When you delve deeper into a topic you covered in session, you often need quiet and solitude to mindfully reflect on it. When your coach gives you homework, think of it as a map to your personal growth as it helps you explore the pattern of your actions, thoughts and feelings.
- Retain through repetition.
Our brains benefit from repetitive patterns. Your personal growth depends on remembering new things. Routines, checklists, and templates save you time and ensure you retain what you’re learning.
- Reasonable expectations.
You can’t expect overnight transformation. It takes daily baby steps, rather than giant leaps once a week. Coaching homework makes big challenges seem not so intimidating. It lets you know that you’re not the only one with this issue and it reassures you that there’s a process that works.
- Recognize results.
It’s important to track your progress – even the tiniest of wins. When you start getting discouraged, you need to be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. An important part of coaching homework is recording your feelings about each step forward and owning your triumphs.
- Reframe to fit.
While many of us struggle with similar issues, you have a unique learning style and speed. Coaching homework let’s you mull over the information and make it your own as you reframe it to fit your personal growth needs.
- Revisit and expand.
The first time you go through an exercise, you’ll apply it for those circumstances. As your experience widens and your abilities grow, you’ll be able to revisit an exercise with a fresh perspective and gain more from it on a deeper level.
Are you ready to ramp up your personal growth? Do you have something specific you want to work on, but you’re not sure where you should start? I would love to partner with you and share proven personal growth techniques that get results. Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.
“No mud, no lotus.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Discomfort. Sweat. Getting dirty. Roughing it. Exhaustion. Frugality. When did these words take on a bad connotation – things to be avoided at all cost?
Luxury. Easy Living. Excess. These are the things that people are pursuing with damaging results to their health and happiness. It’s no exaggeration that, for some people, missing their morning latte can ruin their whole day.
As Thich Nhat Hanh noted, without slogging through the mud, you can’t find the happiness of the lotus. He also said something else that I think is very profound, “When you learn how to suffer, you suffer less.” Isn’t it true that when you know how to do something, it’s easier to do it…even if it’s enduring through challenging times in life?
So the question is: how do you go about developing discipline and mental strength? Waiting for a challenge and hoping you survive isn’t a good option. That’s like trying to run a marathon after being a couch potato for years. You’re going to get hurt. It would be advantageous to start developing discipline, more grit and mental toughness right now. Then you’ll be better prepared for whatever comes.
I’ve been enjoying a book by Joe De Sena called “Spartan Fit! 30 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit.” It refers to Seneca, a Stoic philosopher, who was one of the wealthiest men in ancient Rome, yet he spoke out against the corrupting influence of wealth and leisure. He practiced a series of mental exercises to ensure he would never become dependent on his wealth. Every month he spent a few days living in poverty until he became content with only the necessities of life…the clothes on his back and the food for his next meal. He said:
“In times of immunity from care the soul should toughen itself for occasions of greater stress…In times of peace a soldier performs maneuvers in order that he may be equal to the strains of war. If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes.”
Our physical strength only grows as we push ourselves and challenge what we think we can do. Run a little bit farther…Lift a heavier weight…Hold the position a little longer. It only makes sense that we can prepare our minds and spirit to handle hardship and challenges, too.
Make a practice of looking for ways to challenge your mind with mental obstacles in the same way you challenge your body with physical obstacles. Here are some ways that you can begin developing discipline and mental strength.
Start every day on the right foot. Find a routine that allows you to set a positive and productive mindset. For me that’s making my bed. It’s an immediate win!
Prepare your mind and spirit through a practice of journaling, meditation, prayer, or motivation mantra.
Reinforce your values and personal boundaries as you review situations that didn’t have the desired outcome and consider how you’d handle it differently in the future.
Avoid negativity and distractions, like checking emails or listening to the news, until you’ve set your intentions for the day.
View all movement as exercise and training. Your mental health depends on your physical health. It’s time to take control and make time! When you have the mindset that you’re constantly in training, you’ll look for opportunities like taking the stairs, parking at the furthest spot in the lot, and so forth.
Recognize “resistance” as a force within you that you can control. When you see a resistant attitude as an enemy you can defeat, you’re not judging yourself any longer by thinking there’s something wrong with you. You can see that it’s simply a wrong attitude, and you have the power to change your thinking.
When reflecting back, almost everyone agrees that their happiest times are during the pursuit/work/action that got them to a particularly triumphant moment. I would love to partner with you as you push your boundaries to excel. Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.