The Psychological Importance of Storytelling

psychological importance of storiesHuman beings have been telling each other stories ever since we first daubed drawings on a cave wall.  As children stories help us to develop empathy, understanding and a moral code (Vitz, 1990).  Stories are how we connect with each other, how we establish our similarities and our differences (Chamberlin, 2003).  Stories help us to learn and to grow.  I cannot over-emphasise the psychological importance of storytelling.

Most of us have a natural ability to tell stories in a structured and cohesive way – with a beginning, a middle and an end.  We may enhance a story to make it more amusing or more dramatic.  We may change our language to reflect the needs and capabilities of our audience, but we still tell the story.

Stories in a Therapeutic Setting

In a therapeutic setting, the psychological importance of storytelling becomes even more pronounced.  The client is offering a narrative of their life, trusting that the therapist will listen and understand.  The more empathy that is shown the more open the client is able to be.  It is often the case that a client offers their story to the therapist in the hopes that a professional will know what to do with it, how to fix things.  In reality, the really transformative work begins when the client hears their own story.

In order to tell your own story to a stranger you have to give it context, background, structure and detail.  You may hear your whole story in one sitting, possibly for the first time ever.  Therapists will pick out salient points and emotional details.  They will paraphrase to show you that you have been heard and understood.  Within that process, you will hear some of the important parts of your story reflected back to you.  The very act of sharing your story helps you to understand what it is about.

For example, some years ago I worked with a client who lived with an abusive partner.  Her friends and family were aware of some of the issues but not of the severity.  In telling her story to them she had felt a need to protect them and defend her partner so they had heard only edited snippets.  In telling me her whole story she heard the unedited version for the first time.  There was a key and important moment when she stopped and looked at me in surprise: “He’s a bastard isn’t he?”  This moment was transformative.  Of course, real life is not a fairy tale, she added many more chapters to her story before she effected lasting change but afterwards she identified this moment as pivotal.

Stories in a Time of Covid-19

Recently, I have been reflecting on the psychological importance of stories during this current Coronavirus lockdown.  So far, I think too many individual stories are missing from the overall narrative.

At a governmental level, we are given statistics.  Night after night we listen to the day’s death count and look at impenetrable graphs comparing the data from previous weeks and from other countries.  But we are not moved by numbers, we are moved by stories.  Those people who ignore the lockdown are not motivated to stay at home by 30,000 lost lives.  But they might be influenced by one story with which they can identify.  This week we have also marked the 75th anniversary of VE day.  Most of us will have gained more compassionate understanding of the war from individual stories (real and fictional) than we ever have from the cold statistics.  As a nation we need individual stories of loss and of hope to really understand this pandemic.

Front line medical staff and other key workers are all individuals with individual stories.  Every time we call them heroes we commit them to one narrative, to one story with a predictable and sometimes devastating ending.  As a hero it becomes very difficult to admit to weakness, to ask for help or to tell your own story when that story seems to be too far off script.  The psychological weight of carrying your front line experiences quietly and heroically must sometimes be overwhelming.

The majority of us, staying at home as instructed, are told that “we are all in this together”.  Once again, the sense that everyone is the same denies people their own narrative.  People may feel that their story doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of this crisis.  Last week I spoke to someone who had lost a loved one and had been unable to attend the funeral.  She told me, in an apologetic tone, that he hadn’t died of Covid-19, as if that somehow made her loss less important.

Every day I hear someone say, “Well at least I still have a job/am not home schooling/am fit and healthy” etc.  Showing empathy for other people is wonderful as is the ability to feel gratitude but you still have the right to own and tell your own story.  If you were the only person whose life had changed so dramatically  you would recognise the bizarre nature of your situation.  The fact that something similar is happening to everyone else does not lessen the psychological impact on you.

Tell your Story

So, I invite you tell your coronavirus story, with a beginning a middle and a temporary end.

Maybe:

  • Tell a friend and then agree to listen to theirs, all the way from start to finish.
  • Write it down (maybe keep a journal) and read it aloud to yourself, in the mirror.
  • Contact a counsellor and tell them your story – many, like me, are working remotely at the moment, using Zoom or similar.
  • Write it down and email it to me – I promise to read and acknowledge it.  fiona@yellowdotwomen.com

Never underestimate the psychological importance of storytelling.  Your story matters.  In the telling of it you may find that you experience your own transformative moment.

Mindfulness and me – a lesson in living consciously

bluebell photo to illustrate blog on mindfulness and meMy husband is fond of reminding people that “lessons will be repeated until learned”.  I completely accept the veracity and usefulness of this phrase – until it is aimed at me!  But he is a brave and persistent man and this week I have had to take his helpfulness to heart.

The learning in question is about mindfulness and me and it has been a lesson in living consciously. The lesson has been repeated because it has become apparent that, sometimes, I don’t practice what I preach.

I know all about mindfulness.  I have researched it.  I have written articles about it.  I have coached other women in how to use mindfulness in their everyday lives.  In recent years I have lived a mostly mindful life.  However, another lesson I have learned is that “in times of stress people revert to old behaviours”.

We are currently living in strange and unusual times.  The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges none of us could have prepared for.  Like many people, my go-to response has been task focussed.  I have been asking myself “what can I do to make this situation better?” I have tried to answer the question and I have been busy “doing” all the helpful things I can conceive of.  For me, responding to stress with panic and increased activity is an old and potentially unhelpful behaviour.

So what about mindfulness – and me?  I have a tendency to think that, because I understand mindfulness, because I know how to live mindfully, that I am automatically doing so.  I somehow believe that I am unconsciously mindful.  And yet, at the same time, I know that mindfulness is a necessarily conscious activity.  That is entirely the point of it.

This week I have re-learned a lesson in living consciously and, to my great joy, I have found my centre again.  I am still asking myself “what can I do?” but I am getting better answers.  I am doing less but doing better.  I am feeling calmer and happier and I am apparently easier to live with (I told you he was brave!)

In case you have been thinking more about mindfulness, this is what I have been doing:

  • I am starting each day with a personal check in.  I am asking myself:

What am I thinking?

What am I feeling?

What is happening in my body?

What is my spiritual state right now?

The answers inform my next actions:  If something is occupying my thoughts I deal with it, if my emotions are low I seek support, if my body needs something (food, water, coffee, stretching etc.) I give it what it needs.  If I am lacking a connection with spirit I find a way to feed that part of myself too.

This way, when I launch into work for the day I am starting from a point of readiness instead of working against myself.

  • I am walking with my dog each day.  When I walk I am making a conscious effort to be present, rather than simply thinking about work.  I am taking the time to notice every new sign of growth, everyday there are more bluebells, more buds on the trees, more flowers on the blackthorn.  Spring is still springing.
  • I am remembering to breathe.
  • I am reading beautiful books.
  • I am feeding my creativity each day.
  • I am taking regular breaks to stand and stretch and breathe.
  • I am consciously relaxing for at least 20 minutes each day.
  • I am setting aside my inner need to be perfect and to be strong.

I can almost hear some of you saying that you don’t have time for all this.  That you barely have time to clean your teeth what with working and home schooling and each shopping trip taking a day and a half…  And I get that.

This lesson was all about mindfulness and me.  You have your own lesson to learn.  Your lesson is about mindfulness and you.

But if all else fails:  Remember to breathe.

What is coaching and how could it help me?

What is coaching and how can it help me blog white mug on table printed with word BeginThis week is International Coaching Week.  If you are not a coach that may not mean much to you.  This is the week in which those working in the industry come together to focus on CPD and to promote the benefits of coaching.  If you have ever wondered “What is coaching and how could it help me?” then this blog is for you.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a bespoke form of personal and/or professional development.  A professional coach can help you to set and achieve personal and/or professional goals by supporting, listening, challenging, guiding and, in some instances, training you.

Why Might I Need a Coach?

Sometimes in life you can see where you want to be but have absolutely no idea how to get there.  You can see the obstacles and barriers to your success but don’t quite know how to get over them.  Coaching can help you to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Sometimes you don’t have any idea where you want to be or what you want to do.  You just know that you don’t want to stay stuck where you are now.  Coaching can help you to gain some clarity.

How do Coaches Work?

Some coaches work in a completely non-directive way.  They ask questions and allow you to formulate your own plan based on what you already know.

Some coaches, particularly performance coaches, work in a very directive way.  They will tell the client exactly what to do to make a difference – for example a coach might tell a tennis player to extend their reach by an extra 2cm on the serve to maximise power.

At Yellow Dot Women we work in a semi-directive way, which falls somewhere between the two.  We will never tell you what to do but we might help you to increase your skills and knowledge so that you formulate a plan based on the best information – not just on what you already know.

A coach will listen to you, properly listen to everything you say and try to understand what you really want from life – personally and/or professionally.  A coach will help you to understand yourself and your challenges and will enable you to see potential ways forward.  It’s up to you which way you go.

Once you have decided on a way forward a coach will support you to set goals (where appropriate) and work creatively to help you take each step towards them – this may include elements of counselling, one-to-one training or involve engaging with external support.

Finally, a coach will encourage and support you throughout the journey, will challenge you to stay on track and keep your promises to yourself and will be your cheerleader when you reach the finish line.

At the end of the process you should feel happier and more in control with a genuine sense of achievement.  You will also have gained some self-awareness and/or have developed some sustainable new skills.

At Yellow Dot Women we work predominantly with women but also with couples and businesses.

Coaching Women

If you are wondering why we work predominantly with women please click here.

The initial focus may be around life, parenting, relationships, personal fulfilment or professional aspirations.  Coaching can essentially help with any and all aspects of life.

Coaching Couples

Sometimes couples get stuck.  They don’t necessarily need counselling, their relationship may still be strong, they just need help to get out of a rut, to work together on some shared goals and to feel like they are growing, together.  Coaching can help.

Business/Leadership/Executive Coaching

Leadership coaching (also called business coaching or executive coaching) focusses on a senior manager (usually an MD or CEO) or business owner.  The aim is to establish a bench mark of strengths and weaknesses and to build on them.  The ultimate aim is to achieve the organisational objectives through better leadership.

Team Coaching

Team coaching usually combines one-to-one sessions with each team member and group sessions designed to integrate skills, to help team members value differences and to work together to achieve shared goals.

What is Coaching and How Could it Help Me?

If you still have questions please contact Fiona to find out how Yellow Dot Women can help you.

We offer an initial consultation free of charge so you can be sure that we are the people you want to work with.  Please click below to contact us.

I would like to book an initial consultation

Easter Resolutions

photo of blossom to illustrate blog on Easter ResolutionsThis weekend I have been soaking up the sun (and eating chocolate) and pondering the nature of renewal.  Many religions have spring festivals which celebrate the idea of birth and re-birth and renewal – all in line with nature.  The fields are full of spring lambs, the flowers (and weeds!) are emerging and new life seems rampant.  It effects people too – the Cornish beaches have been full of locals and visitors alike, shedding their winter clothing and exposing pale bodies to the warm freedom of sunshine.  It all makes me wonder why we don’t make Easter resolutions.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.  People put themselves under pressure to make multiple life changes when the days are short and cold, when it barely gets light before the long night begins again.  In January I am usually fighting an urge to hibernate – being up and dressed and at my desk constitutes a major achievement without the added pressure to lose weight, exercise more, give up alcohol etc.  Trying to execute such change in the middle of winter goes against nature.  It is punitive and often destined to fail.

Spring, on the other hand, is a time full of optimism.  I want to eat healthily and the fields are full of fantastic produce (anyone who knows me knows I get ridiculously excited about the first Cornish asparagus each year).  I want to be out walking in the fresh air, or swimming in the sea.  So why not make Easter resolutions and have a greater chance of success?

But it’s not just physical change.  Spring is a great time to make emotional and psychological change too.  Mood and confidence are often lifted by sunshine.  In the clear light of day it is easier to see the dust and to sweep it away.  It is why we spring clean our houses but the same applies to personal change too.  Now is a great time to set goals, to plan and to implement the change you want to see in your life.

That is why, later this afternoon, I will be sitting down to make my own Easter resolutions.  And, of course, I always have time to help you with yours too.

Brave New World – How do you respond to the unfamiliar?

Brave New WorldEarlier this week I was sitting on a beach, morning coffee in hand, reflecting on all things Yellow Dot.  My peace was soon disturbed by the arrival of a visiting family.  The children ran headlong down a slipway onto the beach and then stopped.  I see this often with families.  The focus has all been on getting to the beach but not on what to do once they arrive and so they rush to the sand and then – stop.  But this time, I was more interested in what happened next.  Each of the three children approached this Brave New World differently and I wonder if you recognise yourself in any of the responses.

The youngest of the boys was (at a guess) around five or six years old.  He rushed to take off his shoes and socks and ran around barefoot in the sand, laughing.  Then he sat down, letting handfuls of sand trickle through his fingers, examining every grain and tiny pebble with wonder.  He was totally immersed in the joy of the unfamiliar.

His older brother was around nine or ten years old.  His immediate response was to throw seaweed and sand at his siblings.  This was rapidly followed by finding the biggest rock he could carry and smashing it repeatedly on the slip way, shouting “yeah, I’ve broken it”, when it finally cracked.  I see this a lot in adult behaviour too.  The need to hurt someone or destroy something we do not understand.  The unfamiliar becomes something to conquer or diminish.

Their older sister gave me most pause for thought.  She was probably around twelve or thirteen.  She ran down the slipway and stopped at the bottom with her brothers and then – nothing.  She brushed off the sand and seaweed the older boy threw but did not complain.  She watched each of her brothers in turn but clearly felt unable to join in with either the exploring or the destruction.  She asked her mother if she should take off her shoes but she didn’t want to get sandy.  She looked repeatedly to her mother, as if hoping for some direction.  Eventually she headed back up the slipway to join her mother, observing the beach from the safety of the promenade.  I wondered when she became so timid, so self-conscious, so completely out of her depth in an unfamiliar environment.

I have worked with lots of people over the years helping them to adapt to a new environment or Brave New World of one sort or another.

I don’t often get to work with women who embrace the new with a sense of joyful adventure – these women don’t necessarily need my skills.  But they do number amongst my closest friends.

I have worked with new managers who have taken teams apart, changed routines and imposed new work regimes within a few weeks of starting.  They have determined to destroy the unknown and rebuild in their own familiar way, without taking the time to see how the existing systems work.  For them, the Brave New World has to be cowed and conquered.

I have also worked with many women who are timid in the face of change.  Who don’t know how to respond to the unfamiliar.  Women who lack confidence and continually seek approval and support from others.  Self-conscious women who avoid the need to change.

Which of these children do you most identify with?  How brave are you when faced with a Brave New World?  Would you like to approach the world with less anxiety and just a little more wonder?

The wonderful starts here.

click and be brave

 

Why are mothers always seen as sinners or saints?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the UK and it got me thinking about mothers.  Not any mother in particular just the general concept of mothers and the way we often stereotype them.  Why are mothers always seen as sinners or saints?  Is there no possibility of them just being good enough?

I spent ages trying to find a card for my own mother but wasn’t really happy with all the “perfect mother” or “best mother in the world” messages.  I settled for a card with no message at all in the end and simply wrote my own words inside.  My mother isn’t perfect but she is good enough, and yet somehow I feel uncomfortable saying that.  So, why are mothers always seen as sinners or saints?

Many cultures and religions have stories around a virgin birth.  These perfect mothers are happy to become bit part actors in their child’s (usually their son’s) story and ultimately bear loss and grief with dignity.  Thus motherhood becomes defined as self-sacrificing, a mother’s place is clearly in the background, her only role to facilitate greatness in her children.

Journalist Amy Westervelt said that “motherhood is a still a sort of time machine, shooting women instantly back to 1950” and, whilst I don’t agree entirely, there is something about the idea of a “perfect mother” that makes me think of a twinset and pearls.  These images have been presented so often in film and literature that they are hard wired into our collective psyche.

I have also noticed that, when we attach any pre-fix to the word mother, the pre-fix acts as a pejorative.  Working mother, single mother, stay-at-home mother, all form a stereotype of their own and all imply some form of criticism – as if being anything other than just “mother” makes you less saintly.

My own field of psychology and therapy has not been of much help either.  So often, blame for any psychological disturbance is aimed at the mother.  Mothers have variously been blamed for causing schizophrenia, autism, narcissism and a host of more minor psychological disturbances.  Mothers are blamed for caring too much or too little, for being too strict or too lax and it’s probably best not to get me started on Freud and motherhood…

Today, new mothers are still faced with castigation if they don’t breastfeed (or indeed if they do, in public).  They are seen as bad mothers if they don’t cook baby food from scratch or they use disposable nappies.  Mothers feel that they are failing if their children don’t experience every possible extra-curricular activity.  Mothers are blamed if their children drink or take drugs or don’t do well enough at school.

There are books and blogs galore telling mothers how to get it all right.  It seems so simple that strangers feel able to criticise or offer unsolicited advice to mothers that they meet out in public.

In fairness, bloggers have also claimed the sinners end of the parenting spectrum – “telling it like it is” in a series of funny and irreverent stories that portray motherhood as an awful and impossible situation that can only be survived by excessive drinking.

But the reality is somewhere in the middle.  Most mothers do their best most of the time.  Sometimes their best is awesome, sometimes it is awful but mostly it is just good enough.  And good enough is good enough.

Of course, there are some highly damaged women out there raising damaged children.  I am not advocating or condoning neglect or abuse.  I simply want to tell you that, if you can’t be a saint it doesn’t automatically make you a sinner.

As always, I simply want you to know that you are enough.

How Resilient are You?

cow parsley looking weather battered to illustrate blog How resilient are youHow resilient are you?

You may have noticed that resilience is a hot topic at the moment.  News headlines tell us that employees lack resilience in the workplace.  Universities report that students are incapable of facing setbacks.  And, in that great indicator of fashionable trends – magazines are full of chirpy little quizzes designed to measure your resilience.  But resilience is so much more than the latest fad.  It is integral to good mental health and to survival in a changing world.  So, back to my original question:

How resilient are you?

If you find yourself riding a roller coaster of emotions – up one minute and down the next.  If you often feel that life is treating you unfairly.  If you regularly think “poor me” or “it’s not fair”.  If you constantly feel stressed and overwhelmed, then you could probably stand to develop more resilience.

What is resilience?

In materials, resilience refers to the ability of an object to return to its original form after being bent or stretched.  It is an items’ resistance to breaking under strain.  Think of a tree in a storm – a resilient tree will bend and sway but, when the storm passes, the tree will look pretty much the same as it did before.

In humans, resilience is a very similar thing.  It is essentially a person’s ability to recover from adversity.  Not, you will notice, to be unaffected by life’s storms, but to bend without breaking, to face problems and then recover.

Why does resilience matter?

Frankly, resilience matters because adversity will happen.  Every adult will, at some point, have to face big problems like illness, bereavement, job losses, financial challenges or relationship breakdowns etc.  In addition, they will face a multitude of smaller, every day challenges like a crying baby, an increasing workload or a fall out with a friend.

Why are some people more resilient than others?

Now we are entering the realms of the great nature/nurture debate.  Some people are simply more resilient.  They have a naturally optimistic and positive attitude to life and they bounce back from adversity with relative ease.  Some may see life more negatively.

Resilience is also a learned behaviour.  A child who is allowed to explore, to make decisions, to fail and to face the consequences of her actions, is likely to learn how to be resilient.  A child who is shielded from life’s challenges may not learn any coping mechanisms.  A toddler who is not allowed to climb (she might fall) becomes fearful and risk averse.  A child who is constantly told she is perfect may come to believe it.   A teenager who is always defended by her parents (against teachers, other children etc.) does not learn to take responsibility for her actions.  These are not qualities which lead to resilience.

How can I develop more resilience?

Learning happens in adulthood too.  If you can learn a lack of resilience in childhood you can develop more resilience as an adult.  The following will help:

  • If you have low self-esteem consider working on it. Low self-esteem does not have to be locked in for life.
  • If you have excessively high self-esteem it is probably time to learn that you are not, and cannot be, without fault.
  • Build a strong social network. Good friends will help you and support you when times are tough.  They will also be honest with you when you are contributing to the problem.
  • Develop your Emotional Intelligence – people who respond to situations appropriately, with emotional maturity, tend to be more resilient.
  • Try to shed any idea that you are a victim. Identifying as a victim can reinforce a sense of helplessness.
  • Learn to be honest with yourself and try to develop a balanced way of evaluating your own behaviour.

How resilient are you?  If your answer is “not resilient enough”, you might want to consider working with a counsellor or a coach to develop your ability to ride life’s ups and downs without being consumed by them.  To find out more click the button below and get in touch.

I would like to be more resilient

Continuing Personal Development

photo of child up ladder reaching for the sky for Continuing Personal Development PlanHow many of you have a CPD plan?  I am not talking about professional development here but Continuing Personal Development.

Many of you will have a clear idea of what training and development you need in order to progress in your chosen career.  In fact it is possible that you belong to professional body which tells you how and where you should be spending your personal training budget.  That’s fantastic, but what about your personal development?  How much time, energy and money are you investing in yourself?

Career success depends on many factors such as personality, cognitive ability and demographics as well as acquired skills and work experience.  If you are made of the right stuff and you work hard you can expect to see the desired results in terms of salary and job role.  If you measure your success in terms of achievements all will be well.

However, financial and career achievements are not the be all and end all of success.  The real challenge lies in getting there without feeling overwhelmed, with your confidence intact and your stress levels under control.  Being riddled with anxiety, imposter syndrome and a fear of failure is not success.  Success without fulfilment is a hollow victory.

Continuing Personal Development focuses not on the “doing” but on the person doing it.  If you are aiming for success it’s a good idea to have a plan.  Take note of your personal strengths and weaknesses and find the best way to address them.  Do you need to become more resilient?  Is your self-esteem as solid as it could be?  Are you able to be open and congruent in your communications?  Is your work aligned with your personal values?  Is your work-life balance working for you?

Coaching is a good way to identify your starting point and to devise a Continuing Personal Development Plan.  A good coach can help you to make sure that your goals are aligned with your strengths and abilities, can help you to find a balance that allows you to have a fulfilling and happy home life as well as a successful career.

Take the first step by clicking on the help button below.  The first session is free so all you are investing is an hour of your time.  Are you worth it?

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Cognitive Dissonance – or what happens when we disagree with ourselves.

multi-coloured lights to represent cognitive dissonanceCognitive dissonance is a slightly unwieldy psychological term for a phenomenon we will all have experienced.  It is the uncomfortable, confused feeling we get when two or more of our beliefs or values are in conflict with each other.

Dissonance is defined as a lack of harmony between musical notes. That’s really a good way of thinking of this – a kind of harsh, discordant clashing of thoughts and ideas in your own mind.

I experience cognitive dissonance all the time and I suspect that you do too.  That’s perfectly ok.  The important thing is what you do next.

For example, I have a fundamental belief in kindness and tolerance.  I think the world would be a much better place if we just accepted that other people have a right to their own viewpoints.  I also believe very strongly that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke).  So sometimes, when I see the expression of views which are alien to my own beliefs and values, I don’t know whether to challenge or accept, to say something or be tolerant.

This is a really uncomfortable place to be.  I want to stand up for what I believe in but I’m not sure what that is.  Which belief should win?

None of us wants to feel uncomfortable so we are motivated towards behaviours which will reduce the cognitive dissonance.  Sometimes we find helpful behaviours but, more often, when we are being less self-aware, we will find unhelpful responses.

Avoidance

It is really easy to reduce cognitive dissonance by avoiding the situations that cause it.  In the example above I could stop using social media, stop reading newspapers and stop exposing myself to some of the more extreme racist, sexist etc. views that are expressed.  If I am never faced with a need to challenge views I will never feel uncomfortable about it.

Adjustment

Alternatively, I could simply adjust my beliefs to fit any given situation.  If faced with a particularly hateful comment on Twitter, for example, I could convince myself that there is no need to respond because it was probably written by a robot and therefore I am not able to influence it.  Or I could tell myself not to feed the trolls.

In avoiding or adjusting I am really just trying to make myself feel more comfortable.  I am not addressing the fact that, behind the immediate situation, I need to find a way to accommodate both beliefs.  Real learning and self-awareness does not come from a comfortable place.  It is this very dissonance which tells us that there is a learning opportunity at hand.

You may not share my conflicting views about tolerance and challenging hatred.  This could lead you to think that cognitive dissonance is not an issue for you.  But think outside of my immediate example and look at your own experiences.

Perhaps you gave up drinking or smoking as a new year resolution.  You genuinely believe that smoking/drinking is bad for you but you also genuinely believe that it helps you to relax and de-stress.  How do you decide what to do when the craving kicks in?  Which belief is given dominance and how do you reduce the dis-harmony?

Maybe your relationship is in difficulty.  You fundamentally believe in the vows you made (for better or worse, till death do us part) but you also believe that you have the right to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship.

That, right there, is an opportunity for personal development.  You have been presented with an opportunity to learn something important about yourself.  But the learning doesn’t always come easily.

In my case, many years ago, I learned about Unconditional Positive Regard.  I learned that it is important to respect people, to accept that they are a product of their experiences and that it is not my place to judge them.  But I also learned to separate the person from the behaviour.  I can challenge what they say.  I can challenge what they do.  But if I am to be congruent, to stick within my beliefs about kindness and tolerance, I have to do so respectfully.  I cannot be nasty or vicious in my response.  This allows my apparently conflicting beliefs to operate in harmony with one another.  It took me three years of counsellor training to really learn this lesson and I am still faced with it on a daily basis.  FYI – I still don’t feed the trolls!

What have you learnt about yourself and your beliefs today?

How are you going to make the most of this learning opportunity?

Coaching for Personal Development