“You seem like you’re miles away.” It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Your body is there but you’re mind is somewhere else. Conversely, it’s also easy to be engaged mentally, but not physically. You know (the brain function) how to do something (lose weight, quit smoking, run a business, be a parent) but you don’t do (the body function) what is required to follow through.
If this only happens occasionally, that’s not a problem. However, if that’s your continual state of being, it’s a sign that you’re not fully connected with yourself or others. Not being fully present causes great strain on your relationships. And even more damaging, it makes it impossible for you to listen to what your own body is saying. It prevents your parts from being fully integrated.
There is great value in paying attention to your whole body as a source of wisdom and learning. You can learn to minimize distraction and become more fully present by incorporating somatic practices in you day-to-day activities.
What are somatic practices?
Somatic practices create an elevated level of self-awareness. Rather than focusing solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching incorporates your entire body. The word somatic comes from the Greek root word “soma”, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.
Our society teaches us to concentrate on doing brain work. In school we memorize facts and pass tests, but we’re not taught how to live as a wholly integrated person. In business we sit at computers and strain our brains to the limits. But by the end of the day we’re exhausted mentally and just want to “veg out”. However, the body hasn’t been stretched or worked, so it’s too keyed up to settle down, therefore sleepless nights ensue.
By integrating simple somatic practices, you will get your work done, plus feel more centered and less tired. By bringing your whole integrated self to the table, your head is not doing all the work, and you’re not fighting with the parts of you that are distracted.
What are some basic somatic practices you can do to create deeper mind/body awareness?
- Mindfulness. Daily make a practice of noticing your body sensations and emotional responses.
- Monitor and become more aware of your breathing patterns. Here are some resources for you:
Tap into the Powerful Anatomy of Breathing to Promote Better Health
Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your Relationships
Breathe Your Way to Wellness With the Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
- Suspend judgment as you scan your body. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments.
- Centering. Find that space within you that keeps you calm and at peace. Here are some resources to discover the best centering practice for you:
How to Center Yourself to Achieve Greatness.
10 Centering Techniques to Live an Embodied Life.
Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence.
- Grounding. After you’ve centered yourself, connect yourself to the ground. Move your attention from your head down the length of your body – your heart center, belly, legs, and feet. Feel yourself connected to the ground. Think about the time someone pushed you before you were aware that they would. You almost toppled over, didn’t you? Then think about how being aware ahead of time makes you able to hold your ground. You instinctively use your awareness to drop your energy and settle more into your body to ground yourself.
- The Feldenkrais Method®. Create a daily practice of body awareness through movement. I continually use this method to resource my back and make my body more resilient to stress.
- Visualization. Mindfully use the power of your thoughts to your advantage and engage your body in the new awareness.
- Reframing exercises. Rewire your brain to handle any negative event in a positive way and anchor the new action into your body.
- Anchoring techniques. Preset your response to specific situations by choosing positive somatic states.
These are just some of the somatic practices I use to help my clients feel more resourceful and excel in life. It’s empowering to know that you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace. It just takes practice. With practice, your body will become more flexible and resourceful and you will become the person you want to be.
I’d love to explain further how you can use these and other powerful somatic practices. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
I love this quote from William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
I think it applies to leading as well as to teaching. Whether you’re trying to inspire your clients, your employees or your children, understanding emotional intelligence training is vital for your success. Emotional intelligence training might sound intimidating but it isn’t difficult once you understand the fundamentals for behavioral change.
What does emotional intelligence training include? Here are the three stages, which include fifteen steps that you can use to motivate your clients, employees, children or others to become more emotionally in tune with themselves, others, and the world around them.
Stage One: Preparation and Motivation
- Assess the job. Without knowing what the job involves, you won’t know what competencies are needed.
- Assess the individual. Before you know what needs to be improved, you must know the person’s strengths and limitations.
- Deliver assessments with care. Before giving your assessment, think about the impact your words will have on the hearer.
- Gauge readiness. Not everyone is at the same level or stage in life, so determine if the person is ready to hear and work with you.
- Motivate. Change comes when people want it and to achieve this you must motivate them at a higher level to overcome their reluctance to participate.
- Make change self-directed. People learn at their own rate and only when they see the need. So tailor training according to what they want to work on at this moment, helping them link their goals with their personal values.
Stage Two: Education and Support
- Focus on clear, manageable goals. Show them clearly what’s required to accomplish a goal.
- Give performance feedback. Self-awareness and insight are keys to creating lasting change, yet these are often the pieces that are missing. By giving sincere, well-deserved commendation and points to work on, you’re helping the person create this self-awareness. And when they learn to recognize what pushes their buttons – gaining insight into what irritates and annoys them – they’re able to learn how to control their emotions.
- Rely on experiential methods. “Repetition is the mother of retention” so the more they can actively practice the desired pattern of thought, feeling and action the faster and easier the new habits will become engrained in the brain.
- Arrange support. Continual mentoring accelerates motivation and accomplishment, so establishing a buddy system is vital.
- Provide models. We learn best by watching others, so show them how it’s done by providing good role models, including yourself. An embodied leader wants to model the desired behavior. In order to impact the lives of others, you work on exhibiting congruence in all aspects of your life. This gives you credibility, which is so critical for gaining the trust of your clients or employees. Fairness, respect, and humility, will bring out their best.
- Prevent relapse. Everyone has bad day, so have reasonable expectations and be prepared to handle the downs as well as the ups, and give ample opportunities to practice the new skills.
Stage Three: Transformation and Evaluation
- Encourage use of the new skill. Create a new environment with visual and verbal cues that reminds your clients to use what they’ve learned.
- Reinforce change. Strengthen and support each person as they achieve new skills and levels of emotional competency.
- Evaluate. To see progress you must have a measuring stick to assess it against. To keep them motivated, let them clearly see how far they’ve progressed.
Never think it’s too late to incorporate emotional intelligence training in your private practice, workplace or home. While it doesn’t happen overnight, you can alter deeply engrained habits and social behavior through retraining the brain and body.
If you’re a coach wanting to hone your emotional intelligence training skills or a CEO wanting to improve EI in the workplace, or an individual who want to excel personally, feel free to contact me for help in setting up your emotional intelligence training program.
“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.” ~ Joyce Brothers
Did you know that how you see yourself in your own mind has a great impact on your fitness level? Scientists and sports coaches have found that when you imagine yourself as fit and healthy, the brain believes it, which encourages you to make choices that consistently support your self-image as a fit person. To reinforce this positive shift you can definitely benefit from mental strength training.
That’s right! To improve your physical fitness you need to strengthen your mental fitness. Why? Because mental strength training will help you shift your self-image so you are empowered to reach your potential. Imagine how your fitness will improve when you can…
- Focus and deal with distractions. Rather than having a result-oriented focus, you’ll be able to focus on the present moment rather than becoming self-conscious.
- Develop a fearless mindset. You know that one event doesn’t define you as a person so you’re not afraid of embarrassment or failure.
- Control your emotions. You’ll be able to deal with setbacks and errors as you stay composed under pressure to perform.
- Improve endurance. You’ll be able to perform at your peak for a longer period of time when you are able to work in the “zone”.
- Find your true motivation. You’ll be able to deliver your optimal performance because you’ll be doing things for the right reasons.
What mental training techniques can you use to create a better self-image and boost your fitness level? Here are a few techniques I like to use with my coaching clients:
Relaxation: Calming your mind and body relieves tense muscles, which is essential to allow your muscles to stretch without tearing or pulling your skeletal frame out of alignment. By relaxing and contracting mindfully through all of your muscles groups you create deeper mine/body awareness that allows you to move more freely.
Visualization: Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of reaching your goal. Do you want to reduce one size? Visualize how great that feels…how much better your balance is…how much stronger you are…how much more stamina you have…how well your clothes fit…how happy you are with the renewed energy to take that mountain hike or play ball with the children. The more engaged you become in this, the more your brain actually believes it to be true.
Anchoring: An anchor is a preset response to a specific stimulus. To help you feel like working out, recall a time when you had an awesome workout. Visualize the experience fully, and at the peak moment set an anchor or cue that makes your brain relive this feeling each time you employ the anchor.
Reframing: Identify your unhelpful thoughts and replace them with positive statements that support a positive self-image. Remove the phrase “I should” from your vocabulary. Instead use “I can do X now, which is so much more than when I started.” Also, get rid of the all-or-nothing mentality by refusing to personalize or over-generalize each event. One event does not define who you are as a person.
Mental editing: Whether you perform an exercise routine or only picture it, you activate many of the same brain connections that link what your body does to the controlling brain impulses. It also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. For example, Jack Nicklaus excelled because he practiced each shot in his mind before taking it.
You’ll get the best results if you enlist the assistance of a trained coach who can teach you how to do each of these techniques correctly. Mental strength training is all about taking you from where you are now and enhancing your fitness and self-image incrementally until your mind/body health transforms you into a top performer. Contact me and we’ll schedule an appointment so you can get started on your path to an excellent self-image and improved fitness.
“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you experienced fear lately? Were you afraid to try something new? To push yourself outside your comfort zone? To say something you feared would start a confrontation? Did you meet it head on or did you retreat and run away? How did your response make you feel? Empowered or powerless?
Dictionaries define fear as: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Because we shy away from what is unpleasant, I challenge you to redefine the word fear this way: “This feeling of fear is alerting me to an opportunity to become more fully aware of my surroundings and connect with my inner power to handle whatever is happening.”
Just as children first love sweets then, as they mature to adulthood, they develop a taste for the full palate of flavors – bitter coffee and endive, savory chili peppers, salty anchovies, and sour lemon – we can mature and embrace each uncomfortable sensation as an opportunity for growing and enriching our experience in life. To help you reframe your feelings and learn how to deal with fear and worry, here are ten ways to cultivate a fearless mindset:
- Fully acknowledge and accept your feeling of fear. Everyone feels fear. By being fully present in your feelings, you can embrace it as a friend that teaches you about yourself.
- Change your right/wrong attitude to a can’t-lose attitude. Regardless of the decision you make, there will be positive rewards. You may or may not attain your desired goal. No matter what, you haven’t failed. You’ve learning what you’re capable of and gained a greater self-awareness of your strengths and weakness. Upon reflection you’ll see what you can do to achieve greater skills so you can excel.
- See the benefits of facing your fear. Avoiding, running and hiding only reinforces your fears. When you gain confidence and put yourself out there, you’ll make stronger connections with family and friends. You’ll be sharing solutions with co-workers and clients. You’ll be true to yourself. And those who love you will accept you for who you are. Those who have a problem with your authenticity don’t need to be in your life anyway.
- Recognize fears that you’ve inherited. Not everyone has supportive parents who instill the belief that you can do and be anything you want to be. Fears around money, sex, and self-worth are some of the issues that stem from your upbringing.
- Identify where the fear is coming from. What you say you fear may not necessarily be what you really fear. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, in actuality you might really fear rejection, feeling foolish or failing. When you identify the underlying issues, you can focus on resolving them.
- Celebrate your growth. Don’t forget each time you’ve been challenged and have pushed your comfort zone further out. Remember it’s not about winning or losing. It’s that you handled it!
- Avoid comparisons, which only lead to feelings of inadequacy. Your life experiences are unique to you. Own how YOU feel and don’t worry about what someone else would do in the situation.
- Recognize fear as an alert system to protect against valid dangers. Fearless doesn’t mean reckless. Life is fragile and we must exercise proper precautions in times of danger.
- Take baby steps if you feel overwhelmed. If you fear swimming, jumping in the deep end of the pool will not help you. Slowly easing into the water and having positive experiences will build your confidence and feelings of control. Often having a mentor to guide you is what’s needed to get you past the roadblocks.
- Find your support system. When you can voice your fears out loud to someone you trust, you release the pressure, and the challenge may not be as large as you first felt. They know you well and their helpful feedback and support can instill a renewed confidence in you.
If you want to learn more about how to deal with fear and cultivate a fearless mindset, I recommend you get Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: Dynamic techniques for turning Fear, Indecision and Anger into Power, Action and Love.
Do you feel it’s time to step towards your fears and learn to embrace them so you can create excellence in your life? I’m here to help. Contact me and let’s talk about what your next, best step might be.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ~ E.E. Cummings
Don’t you admire people who confidently face their fears, challenges and tragedies head-on? They have a knack for always seeing the positive, the opportunities and potential in even the most trying circumstances. Their self-confidence supports and fuels them as they follow their dreams and make them come true, even when others say it can’t be done.
Does that describe how you live your life? Even if it doesn’t at the present, there are positive steps you can take to make this your reality. Here are ten easy ways to help you boost self-confidence…
- Reality checks. Is it really as scary or impossible as it seems at first? Fears are often not supported by reality. You’re not going to die of embarrassment when speaking in front of a crowd. More than likely, you will create a rapport and connect with another person on a deeper level if you simply acknowledge your mistake, sincerely apologize and move on. And you can often do “impossible” things if you break the huge project down into smaller, doable steps.
- Surround yourself with people that are good at what you want to improve. By removing the naysayers from your life and associating with those you want to imitate, you’ll find it easier to accomplish your goals.
- Make confidence building a daily practice. One small change a day adds up to a new way of living. I recommend that you begin with centering practices which are foundational for making real changes in your life.
- Transform your inner critic into an inner coach. Be aware of your negative self-talk and replace it with positive thoughts. If you begin thinking, “This is too hard, I want to quit”, replace it with “How” questions: “How can I make this a little easier?” “How can I keep my eyes on the prize?”
- Keep learning new skills. Never stop learning. Whether you’re learning just enough to get by or are striving to master a new skill, your self-confidence increases as you continue to acquire new skills!
- Develop a “Beginner’s Mind” mindset. When you admit you don’t know everything, your mind is open to asking for help, being curious, to asking questions. You won’t compare yourself to others, because you have nothing to prove. This positions you as a learner who is filled with child-like wonder.
- Practice psycho-rehearsing. Visualize in great detail, every step, to accomplishing a task. Athletes do this when they imagine over and over again successfully hitting the target or making the hoop. The brain can’t tell the difference between the visualization and actually doing it.
- Focus on competence not perfection. Perfection is a digital on or off switch. Either you’re perfect or you’re not. Competence has five stages, so life becomes an exciting journey of discovery as you move through these stages.
- Develop a Compassionate Mind. Treat yourself with the same kindness, concern and support you’d show to a good friend. Mindfully acknowledging and experiencing your feelings is a core component of self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff provides some guided meditations and exercises that you’ll find helpful. Straightforward self-compassion boosts self-esteem more than focusing on what we’re good at.
- Focus on positive experiences. You are what you do. When you change what you do, you change what you are. Always act and speak in a positive way. Pour your heart and energy into kind generous actions. You’ll soon notice an increase in your self-confidence.
It is possible to reach your dreams as you achieve your full potential. Sometimes it simply takes someone holding up the lantern and lighting the way. I would be delighted if we traveled on this journey together. Contact me and let’s talk about which of my life coaching services would get you to where you want to be.