Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

We don’t really think about it until the day we are in such despair that hopelessness is the only word to describe our state of mind. Usually we have hope, more or less of it, depending on what we are thinking about, but we have it. If we are also motivated to achieve the results we are looking for, it is likely that we will succeed in our actions.

But we don’t think about hope on a daily basis. It is just present somewhere in our mind. We don’t even notice it. If I applied for a new job and I am now waiting for an answer, very nervous, it obviously means that I hope that I will be positively judged by the interviewer. If I was totally hopelessness, I wouldn’t be stressed, I wouldn’t think about that job in that way. I wouldn’t check my email, or look at my phone more often than usually. I wouldn’t imagine myself in the new office, having new responsibilities and enjoying it. I wouldn’t let my mind wonder how my life would look like if it wasn’t for hoping that I will actually succeed.

Hope is one of the factors that motivates us, whether we think about it or not. Even though this is only one of many factors, it’s the crucial one, the one without which nothing is possible. When we stop hoping for a better life, when we just don’t believe anymore we can get a job, when we start to think that life is not worth any effort, we are driven into a very dangerous state. Because nothing makes sense anymore. It’s not that we don’t move forward and the present moment is “ok”. It’s that we can’t even stand the present moment.

A person that became truly hopelessness needs help and I believe that he or she won’t do it on its own, because that person doesn’t see the point of doing anything. If nothing makes sense, there is no action that can change that state. Fortunately, most of us have a support system, people who love us, people who, if aware of what’s happening to us, are willing to help. It’s a very difficult situation to help a hopeless person and this is why it might be too hard only for one person to do it. Get the family or friends together, explain them how they need to be more present for the one they love, how they all together can make a huge difference in his life. Maybe also look for a specialist who will know how to talk to the person, help in a different way. You just need to create a support system.

When we recuperate some hope, we are able to undertake some steps to achieve whatever we want. We are able to think about the future. Imagine a better tomorrow. Get out of bed. Smile.

Hope is so important, you really wouldn’t like to see what life looks like without it. I’m trying optimist today, so let’s hope for a better future!


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experience life

experience life

I am reading now a book written by M. Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and professor of an impressive reputation, the author of “Flow” and “Creativity (…)”. The book is not as much about the creativity itself, although the author looks for patterns that lead some of the people (that I would qualify of genius or at least extremely talented) to be creative and therefore able of great achievements. He had the opportunity to interview individuals whose work is world wildly recognized and rewarded by prizes like Nobel’s or Pulitzer. There are researchers, mathematicians, physicists, writers, etc.

This is a very interesting and useful lecture that I am also reading with pleasure, but I can’t agree with one particular statement of the author. “(…) the reigning stereotype of the tortured genius is to large extent a myth created by Romantic ideology and supported by evidence from isolated and- one hopes- atypical historical periods. In other words, if Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy showed more than their share of pathology it was due less to the requirements of their creative work than to the personal sufferings caused by the unhealthful conditions of a Russian society nearing collapse. (…)” (p.19)

Therefore, according to these words, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy would have been equally genius even if they wouldn’t suffer because of what was happening in Russia. I am not so sure if they would have been so creative and wrote those remarkable novels if it wasn’t for suffering, if it wasn’t for the difficulties they were encountering, for knowing how pain feels, for wanting to understand human behavior and looking for answers. They would still become writers, probably, but would their work be so fascinating? I guess we don’t have and won’t have the answer.

My point here is that I strongly believe that what is called today a “wealthy” society does more damage than good on a creative level. Each day more and more people chose TV instead of a book, we live easy, we live fast, we want what is effortless and often superficial.

Therefore, a child growing in a wealthy society who is developing his perception of the world and his unique thoughts about it, is less likely to be curious, less stimulated on an intellectual level, less likely to want to explore it because he explores it by watching DVD’s and maybe, if lucky, Discovery Channel instead of brainwashing tv shows. If his family is more or less a “normal” one, where he isn’t exposed to any difficulty like a parent’s alcoholism, someone’s health problems, he will just live in this pink, false and easy world of the future to be “normal”, ordinary person. He will not know the taste of pain, he will not grow as strong as he could. Schools, especially the public ones, do not encourage creativity so much because it means more work for them, for the teachers, the adults. Wealthy societies are a place which is everything but creativity and curiosity stimulating.

I believe that one has to experience life- its beauty and ugliness- to contribute on a greatest level to it. There are lots of factors that are necessary so a person can achieve something extraordinary and Csikszentmihalyi explains them all. My point, nevertheless, is that beside some exceptions (and there will be less and less exceptions as we allow children to become stupid because of their parents and teachers laziness) a wealthy society and a healthy family is not so much able to give birth to a new Dostoyevsky.

There is no good way to approach this subject. Stupid people will have more or less stupid kids or children even more stupid than their parents. Just as will the lazy or too busy to be good parents ones. Experiencing life, again, its beauty and ugliness, is the way to stimulate a mind. Politicians, parents, teachers could also take more care of their kids- less tv and more books, less indoor activities and more outdoor excursions, etc. Teachers who do teach in a passionate and remarkable way should get some recognition. A society can be wealthy but does it has to mean that it produces brainless people? Then what kind of future will this “great” society have? Why do best novelist write inspiring novels only if they are able to live and experience life 100%? How would they be able to describe a country if they had never seen it or at least read about it? How can they talk about colours, smells, feelings that they never experienced? One thing is sure, our kids won’t find out the taste of life while watching Big Brother.

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This morning I thought: “it’s a disaster” and seconds later my own thoughts told me “no, it’s a challenge”. This simple switch of perspective that my brain or conscious thoughts made automatically allowed me to take or plan different set of actions- I know myself and if I would stay with “it’s a disaster” idea, I wouldn’t do anything in particular to change it (because it’s impossible to change a disaster, isn’t it?) or I wouldn’t do anything in particular full stop (the “disaster mode” serves as an excuse for not undertaking any kind of action, not trying, therefore not risking failure or not risking success [for fear of success read my previous posts]). The word disaster, itself, has strong emotional connotations, almost extreme. A word of this strength can easily lead to what is called catastrophic thinking and trigger a feeling of anxiety, helplessness and maybe panic.

I am not exactly sure how I made the switch of perspective into “it’s a challenge”. It’s true that I am interested in positive psychology, I am making some exercises to boost my optimism and I try to read about this subject. But honestly, I was having some serious doubts if it works because I wasn’t feeling more optimistic (or simply less pessimistic), I couldn’t observe any positive changes in my life, etc. And today that thought. The new, empowering perspective.

If I am going through something very difficult, there is nothing (or little) that could have the power of a “challenge” perspective. The challenge motivates me, it gives me strength to persevere in actions I have to undertake, my ambition somehow wakes up and assists me like a supportive friend- “don’t give up” “you are able to achieve it” “you can do much better” “it’s worth the effort”. I like to be able to see things as challenges and then be the winner instead of being the loser from the very beginning (only because I think that there is nothing I can do to change my situation). Challenge feels good.

Different researches in the field of Positive Psychology (mostly by its founder, Dr. Seligman) proved that we do not all have the same predisposition for optimism. Whether you are an optimist or pessimist depends also on the package of genes you received from your family. Of course, the external conditions in your life have also a great influence on your thinking, on your mood and how you perceive what is happening. But still, some people have a predisposition for optimism while other can work on it.

Actually, this discovery is something extremely useful for people who, just like me, don’t have the predisposition for optimism. The lack of predisposition will remain, but you can include in your daily schedule some simple and short exercises which have the potential to enhance the greatest change for you. If you would like to find out more about these exercises, please read Dr. Martin Seligman books or email me for more information. After all, we can all have a good day even if it started with a “disaster” !

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

is it really a disaster or can you switch perspective?

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The ability to fast and smart decision making is one of the qualities employers are most looking for. Next to the decision making comes the problem solving. And they are right- those two capacities are basic for a manager, a sales person and many many others. They can boost the company’s results, create a new professional relationship or just the contrary- a lack of decision making ability can be pretty destructive for the employer. Therefore many people while looking for a job “advertise” themselves as able to solve all kind of problems in a reasonable (means fast) time.

Are these people also so good, so capable of decision making when it comes to their private lives? Astonishingly, often they aren’t. Managing thousands of dollars, being responsible for super important client accounts, making difficult negotiations seems to some of them a piece of cake, comparing to the need they encounter at home to make decisions concerning their personal lives, very often their relationships.

I believe that some people are hiding their emotional vulnerability or cowardice- let’s call it what it is- and as a result, they are unable to chose with whom they would like to share their lives, who do they really love, what is profoundly important to them at the emotional level.

There may be hundreds of reasons for these auto destructive behaviours. Some of them could be: psychological trauma, taught helplessness, lack of hope, egoism, fear of the unknown, inability to face the truth (until they are given no choice and they have to face it). While strong psychological problems need the help of a professional psychiatrist, other can be solved with coaching or by self-help strategies.

One of these strategies is to use the Mind Map. Mind Maps are extremely useful to organize ideas, make good notes, help you remember what you forgot, or solve a problem. You write in the middle of a blank page a word and start to concentrate on this word (or idea)- the things that will come to your mind may surprise you a lot. The Mind Maps, in the case of the decision making, would be similar to the pro/cons lists. If you have two options to solve the problem, you just write them all down, as they come, and then sum the points (can be: +/- or points for each choice, just like in a list). The solution that has more points “wins”. If the problem can have more than two solutions, do the same. It will be more complicated, but can also help to clear your mind. When you see all you were thinking about written down on the paper, it can become much easier. Below you can see photos of the Mind Maps from Tony Buzan’s book.

If what is causing your problem to make decisions is fear of the unknown, you might like to try exercises that will gradually make you step out of your comfort zone. For instance, if one fears loneliness, he can decide to stay alone at home every day for 20 minutes. The next week, he will try 30 minutes. In one month, he can stay all day alone. The initial exercises should prepare him to feel better when he will be the whole day alone. Then the fear of being alone can go away and deciding why he wants or not to stay in a relationship will be easier, because the fear of loneliness will not obstruct so much his point of view and feelings.

Very often people do know what they would like to do, how they would like their life to change but they face different kind of fears or had previous bad experiences with similar situations which make them unable to make a move. It’s the place for an action plan (see previous posts) where the Support Team will play a crucial role. The Support Team can create a safer place for the person and provide the motivation and strength they need to persist in action and achieve the change.

I am not really sure how can an egoist change. In the hypothetical situation of a married man who has a lover, whose wife discovers that he has an affair, who promises then to end it immediately and tries to reconstruct his marriage while still having an affair, I am speechless. It’s a simple question of making a choice and start an honest life, stop hurt people around him and he can’t. He doesn’t look for help either. He’s an egoist. A coward. And he can still make decisions at work, negotiating the thousands of dollars…

1. Mind Map from Tony Buzan’s book
1. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book
2. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book

2. Mind Map from Tony Buzan's book

3. Min Map from Tony Buzan's book

3. Min Map from Tony Buzan's book

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We, coaches, are advertising change: change your life, make the change you have been always dreaming of, find out how to change your life so you can find happiness and fulfillment…

While change per se can be one of the most positive experiences, a choice we made and we are enjoying now, some of those desired and welcomed changes might not turn out exactly as we wanted.

First of all, one needs to be prepared for the change. He must know the consequences that his actions might imply, he must foresee the obstacles and how to overcome them, etc. This is the plan a client prepares with his coach so he can move forward and achieve his goals.  Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. The client must be prepared for what can happen- how his family will react, his colleagues- whomever is concerned. Then he will be expected to cope with the situation and help them to understand why he decided to change. There are also feelings that he will have to cope with on a personal level: he is stepping out of his comfort zone (therefore deliberately exhibit to discomfort), he might feel frustrated, he might feel like he can’t achieve what he wants. It’s the coach job to explain him this, to prepare the client and assist him, give support and motivate.

The example of such situation could be a client who wants to make a career change and start his own business, leaving the company where he was working for years. After establishing the plan of actions he will have to undertake, he takes the first step towards his goal and explains that he will leave his job to his wife. She doesn’t understand, she is confused, she fears for the financial future of the family, etc. If he is prepared, he will anticipate this reaction and know how to convince her that he knows what he does and why, that what he is doing is good for him and for them. His children might also react with anger or other feelings and he will have to talk to them too. Then this man will leave his job, which will put him directly out of his comfort zone. He’s on his own, he doesn’t have the financial safety anymore and he has to open a new business. If everything goes well, he will have his own business and feel happy that he made this huge change.

Sometimes, however, life gives us many opportunities at one moment and we feel like “it’s now or never”. We decide to accept or make many changes at once, thinking that since all of them are supposed to bring positive outcomes, there can’t be negative consequences.

I will give you a different example of a client who not only decided to make a career change, but also started her life in a new country (she described it as an opportunity and great adventure), far away from family and friends. Before moving to her new destination, she got married and met the family of her husband for the first time. These are 3 huge changes- she made them in 6 months and was expecting only positive results. Her new life also brought some unexpected changes which she haven’t foreseen at all. What happened, is that coping with all of this was somehow too much for her. She started to feel depressed and was very anxious about her career. Since she was also having economic trouble (not being prepared to manage the career change), she started to have problems with self-esteem (“I am not worth…”, “I am not able to do this”, etc.). She was also subconsciously and desperately looking for a “constant”- she started to fear unexpected changes in her environment, even the smallest and nicest ones (i.e. an offer to make a beautiful travel with a very short notice).

The example above is quite radical but it also shows how necessary a good plan of action is. How important it is to know what we can cope with and what can wait a little bit (so the changes are made step by step instead of all at once- give yourself some time!). It is also crucial to know who can be your “support team”- the coach, of course (but it’s a person you talk to only once a week), your best friend, a member of the family, a group support.Prepare a “team”!

Change is good. Even its negative consequences can allow us to learn and grow. Change should be welcome. Just know how much, when, why, how and who will be there for you.

tomorrow will be a new day

tomorrow will be a new day

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the role play

It has happened to all of us at least once. We wanted to talk to someone (ACTION) about a difficult situation that concerned both of us or about something that needed to be changed, etc. (GOAL). Just before deciding to take this step, we thought a lot about what might happen, what he or she would do and how we would or would not reply (POSSIBLE CHALLENGES DURING ACTION).

When I say “we thought”, I mean that we could imagine this person’s face, reactions, we could hear what he or she would say and what, of course, we feared to hear because we weren’t sure if we knew how to deal with the situation.

A rehearsal. A rehearsal of highly stressful situations is life coaching’s answer to this kind of issue. Of course, it’s not as simple as I presented it in this sentence, because the whole solving-problem process is far more complicated, but eventually you can get to the point when your coach will suggest to rehearse or to role-play. I know it might sound artificial or childish and be far from what you would thought the best for you. It can even seem useless- how can a coach imagine what your boss, your father, your girlfriend will say?

He can only imagine, basing his role play on the information provided by the client and the attitude of the other person that the client fears. If, for instance, your boss is mean, the coach will do his best to be… mean. If your girlfriend is sarcastic, well, your coach will be sarcastic too (but only during the role play!).

Why would you deliberately let someone do that to you? Well, to rehearse, be prepared. A role play has many qualities. It is done in a safe environment for the client. It can be stopped any moment. It can be repeated many times in many ways. The purpose being to get the client to a place where he feels self-confident about the upcoming “confrontation”, when he stops fearing it or at least is not as anxious as before the role play. The client gains clarity about what and how he wants to communicate.

How many times did you try to tell something to… your mirror? Well, my experience says that it’s a good exercise but also that a life coach is more effective. Isn’t that the point?

For more information about coaching: http://www.coachingyounow.com

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I see denial as a form of finding again this feeling of safety. It can be also comfortable- you pick up the comfortable instead of thinking about something that you might not like. It is also simply a way of avoiding pain- your instinct tells you that there is pain there; you avoid pain by not reflecting, not asking, not questioning. But one is always aware that he is in a strange state called denial.

Am I falling in denial? Are you? It’s easier not to see the truth, not to admit that something is wrong. You close your eyes and deep inside you hope for better. Is my kid taking drugs? Noooo, I’m sure he’s not and his strange behavior is only due to the fact that he’s a teenager. Is my husband cheating on me? Why would he, we’re such a good couple. He’s only got to work harder and can’t come back for dinner, be with his family. Is my business partner hiding something from me? We’ve worked together for so long, I shouldn’t even think this way.

On one hand, everything is a question of trust; there is no good relationship without trust. Falling into a paranoid state when everybody becomes a suspect makes it impossible to live, work, be together. But should the trust have some limits? Most people would say not- you either trust or not trust. I think there is a limit- it is the moment when you chose not to think about something, this short moment when your own voice tries to speak to you for the very first time about this „something”. When instead of doing nothing you should face your fear. Move into some kind of action.

On the other hand, trusting „too much” or „when you shouldn’t trust” does not allow you to be prepared to react correctly, to protect yourself, your family, to be psychologically ready for whatever is (or not) about to happen.

Just bare in mind that unfortunately, maybe this bad thing that you didn’t want to see, accept, that you never allowed yourself to really think about, maybe it eventually happens. Then it can almost destroy you…

And what if I am confusing denial with optimism? How to find the balance between what is reasonable thinking and what is paranoia or good wishing? The line seems sometimes to be thin. If a friend, a family member tries to talk to you, to “open your eyes” at what is evident to him or her, you might have someone to blame for the consequences of YOUR acts. You could tell this person that he’s responsible for what happened in your life. Or you can listen, think and answer.

I believe that sometimes it’s extremely difficult to have this strength, look in the mirror and tell yourself: it’s time I open my eyes. And assume the consequences. In a balanced way. Too much? Maybe.

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