Categories
Relationships

Sooooooo Busy!

“So sorry I haven’t seen you, we must catch up. I’ve just been sooooo busy! Let’s catch up soon!”  – how many times will you have that conversation in the next few weeks? The end of the year can suddenly bring into sharp relief the relationships where we somehow have not caught up all year long.

Here’s the thing. Life has never been busier. But if a relationship is truly important and of value, we will find a way to make time and make it work. Whether we catch up with someone or not says significantly less about the amount of entries in our diary and much more about the inherent value we are placing on spending time with that person.

”I’ve just been so busy!” is the exact same equivalent of “I can’t afford it”.

I can’t afford it means “I’ve chosen to prioritise that spend on the mortgage rather than the shoes”. On the petrol rather than the gig tickets. Or the weekend away rather than the garden supplies. We understand that there is a certain amount of money available and we need to make choices. We say “I can’t afford it”, whereas actually, the truth is a far more empowering “I’ve chosen to prioritise the money in a different way”.

And so it is with our time. We can smooth things behind “I’m just so busy”, but actually the truth is a more empowering, “I’ve chosen to spend my time with other people on other things”. It’s just that that is not as socially acceptable to convey! “I’ve been so busy” is the handy social nicety that covers up our true priorities.

Having a look at the amount of times you say “I’d love to catch up, I’ve just been so busy!”. It is a wonderful self-awareness exercise. It might be that your balance is really strong and that you have prioritised your time on the activities and relationships that truly matter to you in a way you feel really good about. Or, you may find you have been saying it far more than you would like and to the wrong people. In which case, some important relationships may have fallen by the wayside because you have prioritised other people and tasks that, on reflection, actually mean less to you. That’s an excellent marker to readjust the balance for future times, so you are saying “I’ve just been so busy” far less to the people of most value in your life.

You can also have a think about how often “I’d love to, but I’ve just been so busy” is said to you! If someone is persistently “too busy” for us, it says far more about the value they place on our relationship than on their schedule. Good to know!

When something is important we generally find a way – whether that’s the unbudgeted money to enable that school trip that little Johnny has his heart set on, or to get the car repaired so we can get to work. We will figure out how to make the dollars work when it’s of high value to us. It’s the same with our time – if it’s really important we will find a way, whether that is calling in the car on the way to the airport at midnight or combining a catch up with a can’t miss it gym session before work or chatting while batch cooking for the week. We can’t do it all, and neither should we try!

There isn’t time for all things and all people, all the time. We do have to choose. We do need to prioritise.

And be comfortable owning those priorities. Some people and things are less important, and that’s okay. We are never really too busy for who and what is truly of high value to us. We will always find a way.

Categories
Live Happy Inspiration Positive Thought Strategy Relationships

Peace on the outside, war on the inside

 

There’s a lot to be said for keeping the peace. No doubt it makes life run a lot smoother, and it undeniably reduces conflict. For sure, it’s sometimes better to suck it up and go with the flow than cause a scene and throw our toys from the pram. We all know we can’t get our own way all the time.

The thing is, whilst being able to compromise is a valuable life skill leading to increased harmony and longevity in relationships, if we are doing it ALL the time then it can tip over from being a helpful attribute to one that means we live simmering quietly in a sea of resentment.

It’s said that it’s better to lose the battle, but win the war. Which is true. However, here is another truism. When you deliberately keep losing the battle continually in order to keep the peace, you can end up starting a war inside yourself. There is a price to pay for continually backing down. It’s a feeling of being taken for granted, or under appreciated. And that is fertile ground for resentment to breed.

Feeling resentful is a wonderful cue to check in with ourselves to see where in life we have been habitually saying “yes, of course I don’t mind!”, when really we mean “no, I honestly really don’t want to do that”.

Conscious compromise is of enormous value. Habitual overriding of your true needs and desires however is not.

Resentment is an emotional toxin. It floods our veins and it circulates our system silently. It generally only makes us feel bad as we say yes when our soul means no. It doesn’t make anyone else feel bad, they think we are truly happy to come along for the ride – after all that’s what we have said! However, resentment will eventually build up to a chronic level over time, and that’s when passive aggressive sniping and nagging start to set in. Not an attractive way to try and get the balance of power restored and get what you want. You need to get ahead of it.

Sometimes you have to show up for yourself.

Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself.

Sometimes you need to shake up the status quo.

Where compromise is a valuable life skill, so is getting better at vocalising exactly what it is that you need or would prefer. You will be amazed at how often you get it when you can do this effectively.

Living in conflict all the time – not a great way to live. Endlessly combative relationships are exhausting.

But no conflict at all? Usually it’s a sign that things are going unsaid. Ultimately, that’s not the most peaceful way to live either.

Sometimes you need to decide that keeping the peace on the outside is not worth creating a war inside yourself. That speaking up is actually the smart option.

When I see clients starting to speak up, after many years of staying schtum in order to avoid potential conflict, it’s extraordinary (and pleasing) how little conflict speaking their mind actually creates in reality. Generally, the people around them hugely welcome the direction and clarity. They enjoy meeting their needs because they finally actually know what they are, rather than playing an elaborate “you choose, no you choose, I don’t mind” guessing game. Clarity is welcomed and conflict is far rarer than was feared. To a (wo)man they all say “That was so much easier than I thought. I wish I had spoken up years ago!”

Speak your truth clearly, compassionately, firmly. Ask for what you need. Say what your preference would be. Back yourself. Your needs are as valid as anyone else’s. If you participate in a few smaller earlier battles, there is no need for the war at all, internal or external.

Louise Thompson, wellbeing coach

Categories
Relationships Uncategorized

Call Your Oldsters Today. Give Them Your Love.

Call your oldsters

Amazing – this happened to me last night and I posted in my Facebook group to share my story.  Incredible response!

I was just on my way to 6.30pm boxing class, waiting at the T junction on Onewa Road when I saw this old lady, really, and I mean REALLY struggling, walking with her stick.

She was practically going backwards she was struggling so badly. DOZENS of cars streamed by in the rush hour.

Took me quite a while to get out of my road, over to her side of the road and pull over. Meanwhile HUNDREDS of cars streamed by in the rush hour. HUNDREDS.

She said she was going to the bookshop. She seemed very concerned about it. I held her up as the traffic screamed by, and promised to take her.

A lovely young woman with a swishy ponytail in a yellow beetle pulled over too. We managed to get the lady in the car and I said I’d pop straight her up to the bookstore which calmed her down. Lovely swishy girl followed.

Bookstore – not surprisingly at 6.30pm – closed. Asked if I could drop her home, which she said would be lovely. Except she had no idea where she lived. After a little while she gave be a road name. I googled it. It was in Epsom. How did you get here to Birkenhead I asked? No idea at all.

Hmmm. I asked if she had a phone. Which she did but it was dead as a doornail. Her name was sellotaped on the phone. “Elaine – who lives with you in Epsom honey?” My husband. Do you have his number, he might be worried about you?” Bearing in mind the phone was dead I thought this was a pretty long shot – but amazingly – SHE KNEW THE NUMBER!

Miracle! MIRACLE!

Got hold of her lovely husband. Bless him. Don’t bring her to Epsom – please can you take her back to the residential home in Birkenhead. Sure thing. Elaine by this time was convinced her sweet husband would be meeting us at this place in Birkenhead she had never heard of. As we drove in – no recollection of being there before.

Once I had her safely inside I managed to find a member of staff – who was SO SPECTACULARLY UNCONCERNED about this poor sweet vulnerable lady stumbling about the neighborhood it took my breath away. I will be writing to whoever owns that residential facility in no uncertain terms. What if it had been dark? Or raining? She had no working phone + no idea where she was. She could have been gone HOURS. Overnight?

Anyway – the reason I am sharing is this:

  1. Call your Significant Oldsters this evening! Whether its gran/gramp/mum/dad or sweet uncle bob. CALL YOUR OLDSTERS! Check in and send them much love. I will SO be doing that tonight and feel beyond blessed I will see both my parents next weekend. That 12000 mile flight is NOTHING, nothing to how grateful I feel to be able to do it and have them hold me in their arms at the other end.
  2. I totally forgot about my boxing class due to the Elaine Rescue Sitch. I’m usually pretty hard on myself if I miss a wellbeing thing – but you know what – today I’m going to give myself a pass.
  3. I reckon at least 1000 cars must have passed her whilst she was tottering about in obvious distress. It was so wonderful to have Swishy Ponytail Girl stop and help. But really – two of us? Really? None of us are that busy – surely. If someone looks like they are in distress – you know what – they probably are! I know you good people would have stopped.
  4. Call your oldsters – now. Do it.

 

Much love

my signature for end of email copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a glimpse at some of the comments this post generated on my Facebook page!
Louise Thompson – Life, Happiness & Energy Coach Blown away by the amazing response on this thread about rescuing the confused, sweet Elaine last night. You guys are the best.Full of love for this amazing community. …See More

Kieley Rae Can I just say in last 2 years I have had 2 opportunities to “stop” but didn’t. First had lots of people so instead drove a k down the road to local cops as knew they had a defibrillator onsite. Second time the elderly lady had at least a dozen people helping. So there are good people out there x
Paula Rogers You didn’t miss a “wellbeing thing” by not making it to your boxing class, you created real wellbeing by being a caring, kind, unselfish human 😀

Kristy Pala Exactly this! Well done Louise, we need more people like you in the world

Jaylene Malam What a great set of lady’s so glad you saved her, my nana was 101.5years old when she passed & in a resthome 6 months ago, Some of the homes I looked at b4 that one were so heartless lady’s u Both have big hearts Thank u for posting , don’t just wright the letter to the resthome Please send one to the health board as they should look into it as well !
Claire Bentley The elderly are so vulnerable!
Louise, you and the swishy ponytail girl are ANGELS for stopping & helping Elaine. A splash of kindness like that must of made you glow internally and totally strengthen the heart!?

Stephanie Brewer My Dad is in a resthome in manurewa and they take such good care of him and the other residents. Made me so sad to read this story 😕 that poor lady. Well done you and swishy lady x

Debs Groom Awesome post – thank you for being so switched on and ‘hands-on’ – that could have been my mum. Just reading this makes me want to pass something forward. It reminds me to keep close tabs on the care my Mama is being given in her small town residenti…See More

Suzanne Cockayne You are an amazing selfless woman and I wish there were more of you in the world! Your wellbeing class was helping Elaine. Bless you xx

Lee May checked in on my oldster and she’s doing great. My goodness what is our world coming to when we can’t stop and do the right thing! Well doneLouise Thompson – Life, Happiness &
Energy Coach and young Swishy Ponytail girls, you two at least made a difference tonight, blessings to you both!!

Sonya Young You are an angel. I often want to offer lifts to people at bus stops but am afraid I will frighten them. Good on you. X

Claire Reyneke Thank you for sharing! Shame on all those drivers and Name & Shame the Aged Care Facility, I say!
Amy Powles Sadly north shore police get a fair few call outs for this sort of scenario. Well done for helping elaine……and as for giving yourself a pass for missing the wellbeing appointment (boxing)…..you did do a wellbeing session…..elaines wellbeing was taken care of and in turn yours for helping others. Feels good.

Trevlyn Wyngard What a wonderful story to wake up to and read! Thank you for what you did and for sharing it. I love how you write (I want a swishy ponytail too now! wink emoticon )…. But of most importance is the point you make – of how we ought to give much more love and att…See More

Emma Bowmast A few months ago our neighbour had an elderly lady with dementia turn up we sat together with her having cups of tea for a while before the police came unfortunately neither her family not her some times care facility had any idea she was missing
Kate Nankivell Good for you and your caring heart Louise smile emoticon xx

Bina Cullen Louise if only there were more thoughtful people you you in the world. You are so wonderful to take time our of your day to help out someone in need.

Karyn Lowe Thank you! Wish there were more like you in the world today! The saddest part is the response of the staff looking after her, unfortunately they are probably over worked and underpaid and the poor residents don’t have a voice. Having had a parent in care is really hard when you can’t be there 24/7. Please do write to that facility and have a fab time with your parents.

Kelly Austin This makes me so sad, lucky you two lovely ladies stopped! Yet another reason I have been considering studying aged care….there are too many so-called ‘carers’ that just don’t seem to be fit to do the job and lack empathy caring for the elderly.

Carolyn Bodlovich she was very lucky you were there and actually stopped!! well done Louise

Louise Claris That is why you are who you are and so moved to read your story. Enjoy being hugged by your parents

Kieley Rae Hmmmm I live very very close to a care facility on the North Shore that seem to lose people on a regular basis. I am hoping there will be a report done on them due to a recent publicised missing person. Seem a bit bloody useless to me

Natalie Oborne Disgusting that the staff were unaware of her disappearance. Poor lady you did fantastic investigating to locate her residence

Alexia Santamaria Oh god, this is so sad. Sad no one cared. Sad she didn’t recognise the place she lived in, sad the staff were unconcerned. Makes me want to cry to think this is how our society treats the elderly. Good on you for stopping sweet xx

Melanie Cooper what a lovely gesture. then to unravel the dilemma. this story reminds me of the sick fish in the bank smile emoticon much love in return x

Lesley Colcord Just lovely Louise. xx

Jess Mc Wow that’s so good of you to stop!! How shocking that they didn’t care she had gone missing!

Debbie Snell ty for caring and helping her heart emoticon

Dawn Elliott Thank you for taking care of one of our precious oldsters, it’s what we all must do

Alex-Michelle Calwell Thanks for helping out.
Alison Parr This could be anyone of us. Thank you for caring

Nicola Richards You are wonderful x
Natalie Sharp Oh my God that’s heartbreaking! Thank goodness for you – what a sad, sad indictment on society… Poor thing 😟

Cornelia Luethi Go Louise 🙂

Bianca Bettini That’s awesome Louise!

Tina Toons Same thing happened to me in titirangi but many people stopped by and wanted to help:)

Karen Hegarty Sharing the heart emoticon

Kelly Banks Love x

Wayne Campbell Inspirational Louise
Helen Smith woops that care facility needs to be held accountable

Helen Smith What an awesome thing to do. Yes that care facility owner needs to

Marie Therese Griffiths That made me cry. Especially when they were unconcerned when you took Elaine back . I am fortunate to see my parents every day but this made me think about the other oldsters in my life. Thanks for being amazing and so caring.
Nikz Rehutai so sad how the aged are sometimes treated or ignored frown emoticon you are wonderful…thank you. lovely to know there are kind caring people like you out there….PS you didn’t miss wellbeing…this is it x

Louise Gee Shelley’Sheree Price… surprise surprise

Alison Tuionetoa There needs to be a name and shame culture with rest homes as sometimes the ‘business’ is the focus and neglect totally unacceptable. We have had dealings with 2 places in this area and I regret not taking more action to ensure the unacceptable behaviour is known for people to make more informed decisions as to where they put their loved ones! Well done you!

Danika Dwyer Beautiful. You are an angel ♡

Megan Cumberpatch All teary now. Lovely Louise

Jeffrey Williams smile emoticon heart emoticon

Janis Cooper Pity there are not more people in the world like you two ladies – wouldn’t it be a much more wonderful place if everyone could be as kind and considerate as you.
Categories
Relationships

The Truth About Mothers Day…

Tweet: The Truth About Mother's Day http://ctt.ec/3hrfF+ ‎I was going to write about something totally different for you today – the 3 most inspirational TEDx talks I saw last week – including one that I really believe one man’s incredible vision, persistent and humility will change the world – BUT- there was something in my Facebook feed on Mother’s Day that totally trumped that plan. It was a post so raw and so real that it captured all my attention. It was this from Clarissa*:

Wish I could join the throes of people saying how wonderful their kids are on Mothers Day. Yet again disappointed with the constant rudeness, selfishness and general ill behaviour of my eldest two. 

Not a great Mother’s Day when you feel like you totally suck at mothering. 

Thank god for my wonderful caring and lovely Tim. At least HE got me a Mother’s Day card”

The hurt in that post just broke my heart. But at the same time is swelled my heart – because it was so open, and honest and transparent. *I just have to add at this point I am sharing this with the full permission of the gorgeous soul who wrote it – who said she would be honoured to be the “voice of realness” in this week’s blog.

It was interesting to me because my whole Facebook feed that day had been full to overflowing of “perfect” Mothers Day moments. And yet, here was one woman brave enough to say her day had totally sucked. Her kids’ behavior had totally sucked.

What followed was an outpouring from her friends of support, love and compassion:

“Me too! I just wasn’t brave enough to say it!”

“Mothers Day has become about marketing not mothering – don’t be upset!”

“You are an amazing mum – if it’s any consolation my day was almost identical!”

I’m not going to write about the obvious comparisonitus thing that happens with Facebook (you compare your every day life to someone else’s showreel – your life is always going to look less shiny, less exciting and frankly a bit crap) or the upside of Facebook – the instant outpouring of love and support at your fingertips. What I want to write about is the how to not feel so upset when stuff like this happens.

Here’s the thing.

When we place responsibility for our emotional state on the behavior of others we are setting ourselves up for a fall. When we need someone else to do or be or say a certain thing for us to feel happy, we place ourselves at great risk. Why? Because WE CANNOT CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE CHOOSE/DO/SAY/THINK. Face it – it’s hard enough some days to control what WE, our own selves, choose/do/say/think. Diets would not exist if all those things were that easy to consistently control.

Therefore what we end up with, almost inevitably, is an EXPECTATION GAP. The gap between what we expect from others and how that is going to make us feel (loved, valued, connected etc) and reality (what actually happens) and how that makes us feel. The bigger the gap between what we expect and what we get – the more upset and hurt we are.

Mother’s Day is a perfect example of this. The expectations are high. The social expectation is high. And the kids. Well. However clear you are in your asking for how you want the day to be – you can influence them but you cannot completely control them. You cannot control what they are going to say/do/be. And – that’s where the gap comes in. The other 364 days of the year the kids have been trained to believe “my needs come first, mum’s needs…what?…mum has needs?!” Why? Because mum’s sacrifice and work and pick up and cook and clean and fetch and find and support and on and on – endlessly the other 364 days of the year. Then – for one day of the year  – there is an expectation of gratitude and role reversal – and sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t.  We can be expecting a year’s worth of gratitude in one day. Which is a pretty tall order!

The bigger the gap, the bigger the hurt.

The key is to close the gap.

The key is to feel what you want to feel regardless of the behavior you see. To feel like a good parent regardless of how they behave that one day. Why? Because you KNOW in your soul you are a good parent. To feel loved no matter what the demonstration that day. Why? Because you FEEL that deep knowing inside –and you know that it’s independent of the behavior you see at a particular moment in time. You know you have parented with love and constancy. You cannot rest 100% of your efficacy as a parent in the fluctuating behavior of another human being. If you make how you feel dependent solely on the behavior of another human being you are giving all of your power away. You are divulging emotional sovereignty to something outside yourself. Something you cannot control, and something that can change or may not go as you would like.

When you bring that focus back to you, what you can control – what YOU think and feel  – you can KNOW you do your best, and you parent with constancy, and love and that is something that is unchanging that you can always feel good about. Then any special behavior on Mother’s Day becomes the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

Please know you are not the only influence on that child’s life, and the older they get the more competing influences there are. You cannot control the outcome of that – but you can control YOUR transmission of influence  – to lead by example, to demonstrate kindness and integrity or whatever other values are important in your family. You are responsible for what you say and do, but you cannot be responsible for what someone else chooses to understand.

Know that it is important to you to feel loved and valued and treasured and to focus on feeling that from another source if you need to (for instance hubby getting the card) even if it didn’t come from the pace you expected (the kids making a card). You can feel loved and treasured, so put your focus and energy on enjoying that feeling regardless of where it came from.

The truth of the matter is that Mother’s Day can be a REALLY HARD DAY for mothers. The bigger the expectation gap the harder the day. It’s also a hard day for non-mothers – whether by choice , circumstance or cruel twist of fate – a whole legion of women find the wall to wall  celebration of motherhood to which they are not party a very difficult day too. Again that’s an expectation gap – the gap between “I’m not included, everyone else is, and I should be” and reality.

The closer we get to embracing reality rather than expecting it to be something it isn’t in that moment the happier we are. The more we can spin reality to a happier viewpoint  (“ I have such a thoughtful husband” v’s “I appear to have raised two selfish children” – the happier in that moment we are.

I wrote Mondays’ NZHerald column for all the mothers who feel unappreciated at times – I really hope it resonates today. I also want to send hugs to all the women this week – the appreciated mammas; the unappreciated mamma’s; and the would-be-couldn’t be mammas.  It’s a day to show ourselves some mothering – to be sharing kind, compassionate words with ourselves. To tell ourselves “There there, you have done so well, you’ve done your best. I believe in you darling. Be happy”.

Louise Thompson, wellbeing coach

Categories
Live Happy Inspiration Relationships Self Care and Self Love

Open Letter To All The Beautiful Women Out There Who Are Doing Their Best

Open Letter To All The Beautiful Women Out There Who Are Doing Their BestDear beautiful laydeez – and by that I mean all of you! We are all beautiful in our own unique way. Yes darling, even, and especially, YOU.

I want to say this: let’s end the madness! The Great Female Judgment Madness MerryGoRound. This is what I see in my seminars, events, and coaching room. I see:

  • Working Mothers feeling like they are falling short because they are not spending enough time doing the mothering thing.
  • Stay At Home Mothers feeling like they are inadequate on some level because they are not doing the working thing and financially contributing.
  • No Kids (yet, or ever) Women feeling like they are failing somehow for working and not having (or being able to have) kids and be part of the traditional thing.

God. It’s EXHAUSTING.

Enough already.

All this crazy JUDGING of our perceived failings and inadequacies needs to stop!

There is another way. We need to stop doing this to ourselves and to each other. The two are directly correlated. The harder we are on each other, the harder we are on ourselves.  And I see that women seem to do it a lot more than men. There is much more of a culture of judgment in the sisterhood than outside it. When did we get so hard on ourselves and each other? Men do not seem to judge each other or themselves anywhere near as often or as harshly. When was the last time you heard a male executive interviewed and asked how he manages to “balance family responsibilities with the job?” Exactly.

Here is the thing about endlessly passing judgment and coming up wanting on our choices:

It makes us forget that the only thing we “have” to do is breathe. Everything after that is a choice. EVERYTHING. Hard choices sometimes, I am not denying that, but a choice nonetheless. A choice to work or not work. A choice to have an income of one level or another. To have kids or not. More kids or not. We need to just choose it. Whatever makes the most sense for our personal situation and then be all there with it. Choose it then STOP JUDGING IT! Just be all there with it. Own that choice fully and unapologetically.

Whilst we are at it let’s stop with the judging of each other’s choices shall we? We are all busy with multiple responsibilities. Every other woman out there is facing a host of choices we know nothing about. She’s made the best choice for her – who are we, really, to be judging that?

In stopping judging each other’s choices so harshly perhaps we can stop judging our own with such weight. If we can extend compassion to the next woman with her life choices perhaps we can extend that compassion to ourselves and stop giving ourselves such a bloody hard time! If we can cut our sister some slack then we can do the same for yours truly.

WE ARE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN!

It’s that simple.

Let’s be OKAY with that. Lets stop the crazy self and other women judgment that finds us all so wanting and guilty as charged. Don’t even get me started on the how long to breastfeed v’s formula thing. Or the body shape thing. Or the natural birth v’s c-section competitive rivalry I hear about. For chrissakes. Enough already!

We are all just doing the best we can with what we have. The awareness we have at that point. The things we have personally learned up to that point. We are always doing what we think is the best choice given the circumstances as we perceive them. That’s all we need to know. We do what we know until we know better. The late great Maya Angelou said it perfectly:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

So, until you know better, choose your best option then stop apologising for it and judging yourself for it. Just be all there with it. If you already know better, awesome, choose a new thing. Don’t apologise or judge yourself for it. Own it. Be all there with it. Til you know better. Rinse and Repeat. Life is one long string of lessons in a never ending sequence. It’s never done. There is never a perfect choice. It’s always evolving. We are always evolving. We are always doing our best with what we have at the time.

Judging – by it’s very nature – is a process that will find someone guilty. Lets stop with that shizzle all together. Incessant judging finds us guilty of imaginary crimes. It finds others guilty too. It creates a cycle of guilt and creates an illusion of feeling stuck and trapped in our situations when the truth is we are not.

What can we do INSTEAD of compulsive judging? Good question. Radical answer. We could be compassionate. We could be kind. We could evaluate each situation we meet with compassion rather than judgment. The Dalai Lama says “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. 

Being kind to ourselves. Being kind to our sisters. Meeting ourselves with compassion. Let our internal dialogue be one of kindness. Lets try it. Just for one day. Let go of our own guilt and inadequacy and let everyone else let go of theirs. Stop with the incessant judgment.

We are all doing the best we can. And that’s more than good enough! Be kind to your precious self. Be happy.

positive balance, Louise Thompson, wellbeing, life coach,

Categories
Relationships

The Secret To A Perfect Christmas – it’s not what you think…

freebiesAhhhhhhh…..Christmas Eve. You know I think I like Christmas Eve even more than actual Christmas itself. I love the anticipation of Christmas Eve. It is ripe with anticipation. I love the “not happened yet”ness of it all. The universal good cheer in-waiting. I love that the magic is all yet to unfold.

Tomorrow will be muchly about the giving and receiving Christmas presents of course. Super fun and a very important part of proceedings. I’d just like to put a teeny tiny word in about the equally important concept of Christmas Presence as a beautifully wrapped accompaniment to our traditional Christmas Presents.

One of the things that my clients say to me over and over is “you listen to me Louise, really really, REALLY listen to me. You get me on a level I don’t think anyone else does. I can’t believe how quickly you understand exactly what’s going on with me”. Obviously I’d like to say much of this comes down to what an incredibly insightful, inspirational and professional coach I am, and I hope much of it does, but I also think that one of the things that is so incredibly powerful and transformative about the coaching relationship is the quality of my attention. It’s a very different quality of attention than people generally experience in every day interactions. Most of the time…be honest …we listen not with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply. We don’t want to admit this is the case, but when we are honest with ourselves, this is what is going on almost the entire time in a conversation! We are waiting for the perfect segue for our own anecdote, or our rebuttal of the point that’s being made, or our much funnier story about a dog with three legs, or why Jim should never get to be Marketing Director, or whatever. We are listening for the gap where we get to have our go.

It’s perfectly natural, and I do it myself as much as the next person. However in the coaching room I work hard, very hard, to dial down that natural response. The natural inclination to jump in and reply. Instead…I listen. I mean I really, really, REALLY listen. I listen to what’s being said. How it’s being said. What’s NOT being said (often the most illuminating of all). What’s being emphasized. The energy BEHIND what’s being said. The CONGRUENCE of what’s being said with the emotion that’s being displayed. I listen. I listen not just with my ears. I listen with my whole body. And I listen with my heart.

And I hear a whole lot more. I am truly, completely present with that person. And you know what? That intense presence is utterly transformative. You can see people blossom in front of your eyes when you give them your undivided and intense presence. It is so RARE for us to wholeheartedly listen these days. Not only are we competing with our own instinct to jump in and be already mentally rehearsing what we are going to say, but often our attention is also divided between at least one other screen or device. We listen, at best, with half an ear, in most of our interactions.

It’s not surprising then that we often feel unheard. And that we can feel a little disconnected.

Whilst the shiny presents under the tree are undoubtedly a huge draw card, what could be even more special is to give your loved ones a few moments where you give them your intense and undivided presence.

Really listen.

Not with the intent to reply but the intent to understand.

Ask questions.

Listen not just with your ears but with your heart.

And with 100% of your engagement on that person.

No screens. No other focus.

And you know what, I bet that’s the thing you and your niece/daughter/husband/aunt will look back on. Not the latest model GHD’s under the tree, but “do you remember that year, that time after lunch by the boat when I told you all about……that was so special. I felt so connected to you”.

That’s’ what Christmas is really all about.

Christmas Presence.

Give it liberally this festive season.

That, and some really fabulous new shoes.

positive balance, Louise Thompson, wellbeing, life coach,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Christmas Eve gorgeous, may your Christmas be all you wish for and then some,

Louise xox

Categories
Relationships

An easy way to improve your love and connection in life today

An easy way to improve your love and life connectionDo you know what, there are many, many reasons why life coaching works so incredibly effectively to transform health, life and happiness (another post there to come I think!) but there is one that has really stood out for me this week. I read a very powerful quote and it just rocked my world. It is this:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

–          Stephen Covey. 1932 –2012. Author, Speaker. Educator. Businessman.

I think one of the foundational reasons why coaching is so effective is because it is a process of active, truly active and empathetic listening. When I am coaching I am 101% with that person. And you do you know what I think, that kind of attention is incredibly rare these days and that’s why it makes such an enormous difference.

When I look back at other jobs I might have been saying “Yes John, great suggestion, let’s get those other stakeholders informed”, but I would be present and listening to John with probably only 50% of my attention. The other 50% was spilt between trying to get a bit of airtime to say what I wanted to say, and the rest taken up with distracted stream of consciousness that went something like “good lord he is such a pompous ass. How did he get this job? Who knows. Must get out of here on time, want to get to the supermarket. Must ring Mum and Dad tonight, ask how that theatre trip went…” That stream of consciousness was at least 25% of my attention, and the other 25% was me listening just for the gap where I could jump in with my own stuff. I would be interrupting like crazy in order to try and get my point in. I don’t think I am unusual or alone in that. I think that’s the pretty much the norm. We are all busy. We are all multitasking like Mo Fo’s. We have split attention pretty much most of the time. We have stuff to say and we want to get it said!

Coaching is SO different from this. When I coach my full mind and every cell of my body is focused on what the client is saying, not even a small bit is thinking “mmmm, whats for dinner” like before. I am completely 101% present. Completely focused on what they need. I’m not trying to talk about, or even think about my stuff, at all, I’m completely focused on their stuff. It’s a completely different level of attention, and it creates a completely different type of experience. There is no going through the motions or trying to force a space so I can reply.

It’s occurred to me that the amount of time in life when we actually get 100% of someone’s attention is actually disturbingly rare. I used to have a friend who was extraordinary adept at turning the conversation back to herself. Literally, two degrees of conversational separation, every time. One minute it would be  “How are you?” with one perfunctory follow up question I have barely answered, and bam, social niceties satisfied we would back into her stuff again. I am not sure she ever really heard a word I said. She was so focused on getting to say her stuff that my stuff felt like the warm up act for her stuff.

Obviously there are always ebbs and flows in a friendship, but watch for the pattern. If someone is only listening to you in order to find a neat segue for their own stuff, well, that’s not really listening is it? It’s cueing. It’s listening for a cue to get your own stuff in there. I know I have been guilty of this all too often too. Listening purely with the intent to reply, and interrupting like crazy. Cueing is not listening. It’s very much the poor cousin of listening. It’s second class listening.

Here’s the thing: there is soooooo much gold when we stop and truly listen. When we dig below the surface, even just a little bit. I see people blossom before my eyes just from having someone listen to them wholeheartedly. Can we do this all the time? No, and neither do we want to, the days are short and there is much to be done, it’s just not possible to listen at 100% in every interaction. However I think there is a real argument for us to choose one interaction a day where we choose to build and deepen connection by increasing empathetic attention to 100%. Our energy and our attention are gifts and taking the time to really listen can transform people. Feeling truly heard by another human being is an increasingly rare experience in our increasingly digital and sound bite driven world. But when it happens, it feels amazing.

Here are some active listening questions to get you started:

Tell me more about that?

That sounds really interesting. What was the best/worst moment?

Wow. That’s fascinating. Tell me more about how that happened/why you chose to do that?

What happens next for you with that/him/her? What would you like to have happen?

Once a day, select someone special to bestow the gift of your attention. Challenge yourself to dig down and ask a minimum of 3 follow up questions, not the obligatory one. Listen. Really listen. Not just with your ears. Listen with your heart and your soul. When we really listen it’s amazing what we can hear.

I’d love to listen to what you have to say, have a great week.

 

Categories
Reduce Stress Relationships

The Secret to Handling Grief and Loss

The secret to handling grief and loss

Do not let your tragedy define you.

 
Sometimes life is hard. Truly crappy stuff can happen to some truly lovely people. Being a good person unfortunately is no defense against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that everyone has a story; everyone has been through tough and unexpected stuff. Loss of various sorts is as certain in life as taxes.

Given then that loss in life is so certain for us all, why I wonder as we as a human race so bad at handling it? It’s a fact, we are going to lose stuff, important and sometimes irreplaceable things, so shouldn’t we get better at it? It’s an inevitable part of this beautiful thing we call life.

It is common for our tragedies to come to define us if we let them. That our wounds can turn us into someone we are not if we are not vigilant and do not process our grief in a conscious way. This becomes a second tragedy in it’s own right as it robs us of joy in life after the original tragedy occurred. Sometimes for many years after.

My client John had suffered a serious heart attack 3 years ago. A senior corporate Accountant based in Melbourne he had had a very close brush with death. Quite obviously this rocked his and his families world in a significant way. However being youngish and fitish he recovered well and a year or so after the quadruple bypass he was signed off by his consultant to a routine annual check-up. Recovered well that is physically. Mentally and emotionally John couldn’t seem to let go of the tragedy. He constantly worried he was about to drop dead at any minute. Every big family occasion would be coloured with thoughts of “this might be my final birthday celebration with them”, every holiday with the idea it might be the last. This injected a relentless air of misery to the most innocuous happening, sucking the joy out of the moment. He kept it hidden but it was there, following him like a shadow. He had started to become defined by his wounds. By the loss of his trust in his health.

Here’s the thing. There are some losses we can never replace. The loss of a loved one. The loss of our health. The loss of our fertility. The break up of a marriage. There are some things that just cannot be regained. And there are some losses which can. The car can be replaced. The house can be fixed. So, in a time of loss, replace what you can, and fix what you can. It might not be an exact substitute for the original but try and replace the feeling you had from the original. If a knee injury means you can no longer run marathons then don’t stop exercising all together find another physical activity that gives you as similar a buzz as possible. Hire a trainer. Find a pool. Try cycling. Try boxing. The key is to stop defining yourself as a marathon runner who can no longer run. It’s to define yourself as someone who loves to move, loves to exercise, who enjoys their new found sport of sparring.

If it is irreplaceable, and some losses just are, then after an appropriate time of grief, choose to stop the struggle. Stop wresting with it or you will forever define yourself by what you have lost rather than what you still have. It makes the present unbearable as our loss becomes a lens through which we view the world. Every child we pass on the street is a reminder we cannot have our own, every person we pass jogging is a reminder that that is something we can no longer do.

It’s a miserable way to live.

Viewing life through the lens of loss means we are experiencing life either in terms of what we have lost (which is past) or what we can no longer have (which is future). It means we are not experiencing life in the present moment. The present moment is where joy lives. The lens of loss cuts us off from experiencing real joy as it did for John post heart attack.

How to put down the lens of loss? It’s not easy. Of course it is not. But you owe it to yourself to do it. To close the chapter on what has been lost. Does that mean you will forget? No, or course not. But it means that you can honour and remember without colouring your present.

When experiencing loss:

  1. Replace what you can. Remember if it’s not a direct substitute that’s okay, try and replace the feeling state if you can’t do a direct replacement.
  2. Remember experiencing loss is an inevitable part of the human experience. It’s sad. It’s crap. It hurts, but it is inevitable. It will happen to us all.
  3. If you can’t replace what you have lost then grieve my friend, grieve and honour your loss. Take your time, make space, and hunker down to grieve. Grief is not meant to be stifled; it is meant to move through you. It’s the clever mechanism our body has to allow us to heal. Don’t deny your pain. Feel it and grieve and honour your loss in whatever way you need to.
  4. Choose a time to draw a line under that grief. You will know when it’s time. To close the chapter on it. It will always s be a part of your story, but it’s time to move into a new chapter or you will be forever defined by your loss. It’s really helpful to do this in a symbolic way. To write about your grief and burn it in a small ceremony. To throw some fresh flowers in the water in your favourite deserted bit of ocean and say a prayer or poem. To plant a new tree in the garden. Whatever feels symbolically releasing for you. Release it energetically into the universe.
  5. Let it go. Let it wash away. What you have lost will always be a part of you, but do not let it define you. Do not let your present be defined by what you have lost. Focus hard on what you have.
  6. Be present. Be present. Be present. Keep your thoughts on what you are experiencing in the here and now. The laughter of your children at the beach, the feel of your body as it moves through the water, the quiet companionship of a good friend.

The people we read about who seem indomitable, who have overcome unbelievable odds to be come para-olympians after horrific injury, or someone like Oprah who was systematically abused as a child but has gone on to make an incredible success of her life. They seem different from us. Extraordinary beings. Which in many, many ways they are. But at the root of that greatness has been the ability to suffer great loss without letting it define their future. They have made a conscious choice to grieve their loss, but then to cleanly move forward past their loss to create a new definition of themselves. Do not let your wounds turn you into a person you are not.

Louise Thompson

 

Categories
Relationships Uncategorized

How not to let the break up break you: How to live happily ever after

How to live happily ever afterIs it a fairy tale or can we make it fact in our lives? I don’t think we can “make it” fact (we can’t “make” anything be anything really) but I think we can go a long way in terms of creating a fantastic environment for it to flourish long term.

Viewing marriage like a garden I think is a great analogy. For your garden to flourish and look good all year round it needs to be weeded, watered and maintained regularly, not just one big blitz once a year. I think it’s the same with marriage, if we expect one holiday or special weekend away a year to keep it running smoothly we are going to be disappointed. Weeds will have grown in the cracks. Some things will have grown and taken over, sucking up to much water. Other aspects will have died in their wake.

Gardening is a “little and often” activity, and so is marriage. It creates the space and environment for it to grow in a way that is actively nurtured, not just left to it’s own devices. It’s very easy, especially when children enter the equation or work is full-on, for the marriage to be the gardening that always gets put off for another day when the sun shines and there is more time. And that’s where I see couples who have grown apart or taken each other for granted. I did this myself (I got married first time at 23) and it’s bloody easy to do. By consistently prioritising something more fun that gardening (my rapidly accelerating career) we grew so far apart that no machete could clear a way through the jungle that had grown up over the years. And I can look back now and see that was something I (and we) chose each day without realising it. Very sad.

So as I say I think it’s a case of creating an environment, through regular nourishing and maintenance (after the exciting phase of the new garden has worn off!) that you can both grow in together.  Here are some of my gardening tips:

1. Kiss often.

Kiss Good night. Kiss Hello. Kiss for so reason at all. Keep connecting in the way that marks this relationship as different from all others. This is the only person you kiss in THAT way, so do it often!

Question: when was the last time you kissed. Meaningfully not just a peck on the cheek? ___________________________. You know what action to take here!

2Know Your Love Languages.

Different people show love in different ways. Love can come in the form of checking your tyres, oil and water in your car or ironing a shirt. It’s called a “gift of service”. Love can also come in the form of words. Or touch. Or time. In Gary Chapman’s eponymous book “The Five Love Languages” he explores and defines the different languages of love. You can do a very cool little test in fact right here to discover your own profile.

Why is this important? Knowing your style and preference, AND that of your partner, how they are similar and how they are different means for better communication and better prioritization. You recognize love when it is expressed each day, even if it doesn’t look how you thought it might or you wanted it to. Often I see clients who think there is no expression of love in their lives, but actually it is there, it’s just they are speaking a different love language. Highly recommend you BOTH do this work!

Action Step: take the “The Five Love Languages” test or read the book. Find out how your personal languages are similar and different. Learn to speak in the language of your beloved and educate them in yours. 

3.  Sex is marriage glue.

Sex is glue that binds a relationship and that makes it different from all others. It’s a primal drive. It’s important. It’s easy to deprioritize it, and the more we do that the less of it we want so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Respect the natural ebbs and flows of desire but do not underestimate the power of sex as glue to bind something tightly, or to bind something else tightly. Flirt. Kiss. Have sex. Make time. Make effort. Sex is glue.

Action Step: make time, make effort, make love.

4.  Keep listening.

It’s really easy in the vortex of the business that is life to only really connect over the big stuff. To kind of stop listening once agreement on the chores or the school pick up has been agreed. When you know each other so well it’s easy to skip everything else out. Keep looking with fresh eyes, what would someone who had never met your partner before see and hear? What is fascinating about them NOW. Who are they now? How are they growing and evolving. What can you see that’s new or different? Listen with new ears.

Action Step: find out something NEW about your beloved. Ask good and new questions. Be curious and open-minded. 

5.  Prioritise time together, just the two of you.

Whether that’s dinner at home with no phones on, or a regular date night, or a weekend away quarterly, find a rhythm of regular contact that is dedicated time for the two of you to connect, and lock it in the schedule. Get the babysitter block booked a month in advance. Make it a priority. Plan it in. Lock it in. Make it the priority it is.

Action Step: prioritise regular connection (gardening!) time for this week.

6.  Cherish. Cherish. Cherish.

Love is rare. And incredible. And robust. Yet fragile. Cherish it when you find it. You can cherish by making time. You can cherish by making effort. You can cherish with your words. With your actions. By what you DON’T choose to put in your day and well as what you do.  “Love” is a verb as well as a noun. It’s a description of what you have but unless it’s also a consistent action then it will be fragile. Cherishing is the doing of love. Not just being in love, but the doing of it. Cherishing is the journey of a happy partnership. Cherish. Cherish. Cherish.

Action Step: think of three ways right now you can show your beloved that you cherish them. What is something you could say? Do? Create? Little things are just as valuable as big things. Be creative!

And that my darlings is the end of our mini-series on relationships!  Hope you enjoyed, I have loved reading your comments on Facebook.  Want a recap? We covered:

Part One: How not to let the break up break you

Part Two: 7 essentials to think about when they break up with you

Part Three: Should you stay friends after?

Part Four: 7 ways to be happily single

Part Five:  How to know if he/she is the one

positive balance, Louise Thompson, wellbeing, life coach,

Categories
Relationships

How not to let the break up break you: How to know if he/she is the one

How to know if he/she is the oneVery annoyingly the Smug Marrieds did appear to be onto something when they told me “You’ll just know when you know”. “But….how?????” I would bleat. “How can I be sure…really sure, 100%”. Well the fact I was asking that is actually evidence of my unsurity and the “not rightness”. It turns out that when you know you know and you don’t need anyone else’s confirmation, validation, or stamp of approval that you are on the right track. You do just  “know”. Annoying, but true. I had to kiss far too many frogs to figure this out, so here are some other signs that you are in the presence of The One that are a little more tangible than “you just know”.

1.  He/She is your safe place. You feel safe, even if you argue you still know you are safe.

2.  You can be yourself. You feel like you are the best version of yourself when they are around.

3.   They are not trying to change you. They love you just as you are. They are also open to you growing and evolving

4.  You are not trying to change them. You love them just as you are. You are also open to them growing and evolving.

I want this to be a longer list, But you know, I don’t think that’s possible. Here’s the thing. You are either a fit or you are not. And we waste so much energy trying to make something be a fit when it isn’t. Because we have invested so much in it, or because we so much want it to be “it”. Or they really, really want us to be “it”.  But wanting it to be “it” and it being “it” are different things. Trying to put a round peg in a square hole is a lot of effort to keep convincing yourself on a daily basis that a circle is a square. And eventually the truth will out. We can only suspend our disbelief for so long. So it really does come down to that indefinable feeling state after all. It’s not a checklist. There is nothing to be checked off. When it’s it, you will know it: recognise it immediately. Why? Because, quite simply, “it” feels like home.

How not to let the break up break you – 

Part One: How not to let the break up break you

Part Two: 7 essentials to think about when they break up with you

Part Three: Should you stay friends after?

Part Four: 7 ways to be happily single

positive balance, Louise Thompson, wellbeing, life coach,

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