Past hurt, couple scowling

Past hurt is inevitable. It is almost impossible to go through life without conflict. There are always going to be people in our lives with whom we don’t see eye to eye.

Marriage break-ups cause more rifts than just those between spouses. Children are swept up in drama, families take sides and friends are forced into awkward situations.

Sometimes there are feuds over money issues, and some people can even bare a grudge for years over a misplaced word or a throwaway sentence.

In an ideal world, perhaps, we would confront these people in our lives. We might sit down and talk it out with them. There might be a row to clear the air. We could seek forgiveness or agree to put the past behind us. These are mature ways to deal with conflict that can and do work for many.

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change your life (choose not to catch the ball)

I have been a therapist and coach for over 6 years at the time of writing this. I have lost count of the number of people I have helped over that time. Even so, I still get excited when a new client enters my office for the first time. As you can imagine, when you want to change your life, I am curious to know what challenges you are facing. I look forward to exploring clients, the aspects of your lives that you want to change. I love to learn what you hope to achieve.

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frog with low self-esteem offering flowers to princess

Low self-esteem is a constant theme that runs through much of my client work. By no means to do all potential clients come to me asking for help in raising self-esteem of course, but it often comes up as an issue.

One person comes to me about his relationship challenges and through exploration we come to the conclusion that his partner is not able to respect him because he does not adequately respect himself.

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finding your vision

Finding your vision, or purpose, or your direction in life can feel like an impossible challenge. It is certainly among the top reasons that clients come to see me. The clues are often there, though and sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Why do you need to find a vision?

The first thing to check in with is, why do you feel you need to find a vision? I am probably committing coaching sacrilege here, but I think this a critical first stage. Is the reason you feel that there should be some ultimate purpose created within yourself or is it something that has been put on you from others? Are you feeling this because you think others expect it of you? Just because other people are goal focused doesn’t mean you have to be.

If this is within yourself then that’s great. You may feel comfortable with wanting those ultimate outcomes then go for it. On the other hand, if you feel there is an ‘expectation’ that you need to fulfill then you may want to consider that. If you could let go of that sense of discomfort you feel about not finding a vision, would you be happier? If the answer to this question is yes then you may just need to look at why you feel that way.

Even your need to find that vision, may be a clue as to what that ultimate purpose will look like. The need to have a vision suggests that you have an ideal about what life is all about that includes a vision or purpose. The people or things that lead you to this conclusion are important to you, and so they may also be part of that vision.

Every vision is different and personal, it’s not always about making millions or climbing mountains or running a marathon. For some a vision might be having a warm loving home, supporting loved ones or living in the moment.

Looking for clues to finding your vision

There are many clues to finding your vision. There are far too many for this brief article and some are more obvious than others. Here are a few that I feel can be particularly helpful in moving you forward, but they won’t all resonate with you now, so revisit this article from time to time.

What do you love doing that you admit to?
These are the hobbies and habits. The things that engage you and the things that release you. The stuff you do to relax when you don’t want to be bothered. If it brings you contentment then it can be part of your vision.

What about those things do you love?
It can be good to look a little deeper at those things you love doing and see if there is theme or a thread that connects them? If you like nature, walking and travel – what is it about those things that you love (discovering things? fresh air? exercise?).

What do you love doing that you don’t admit to?
What do you do that you are slightly embarrassed about but you still love doing it? How is that part of your purpose? What are you resisting? We often lack fulfillment because we feel guilty about liking certain things. At times those we care about may not be happy with our unusual hobbies or interests. You may need to recognise the importance of that. Why is it important to you, and why is it important that you resist it?

What do you do that you don’t really want to do?
Do you find yourself repeatedly feeling an urge to do something that you know on some level that you don’t want to do? All urges are clues? I know that sounds strange, and it’s not always easy to understand yourself to that level, But both the urge and the discomfort are clues to a deeper value within yourself.

How can you connect the different threads of your life?
Could they form a bigger picture? How can you follow all of those things in the most fulfilling way. You can unite and conquer or you can divide and conquer. By combining some or all of these drives, passions and interests you can create something unique. Not all visions have a job title. You can do one big thing or you can do several smaller things.Only connect. If something in your life is unconnected then find a way to connect it, or let it go.

Do I HAVE to find a vision?

Sometimes it isn’t about finding your vision at all. It may be about getting a sense of direction without having to know the outcome right now. Did you ever build something as a child out of bricks and then decide it was a house or a church or a fire station. Follow the themes and threads of your life as much as you can and find out where it all leads you. Many of my clients have found their purpose this way, but throwing themselves into their passions and accepting what they are, without a clear expectation of the outcome they have been led to achieving on a higher level than they would have dreamed possible.

You don’t have to know where you want to be yet, but if you continue connecting the dots of your present you WILL know. Be true to yourself and you will know, but it may not have a job title!

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glass memory jar

I expect all my clients to get something useful or valuable from every session. Reassuringly, they tell me that they do. Sometime it is an ‘Aha’ moment, or a complete re-frame of a conflict or problem. Other times it is a new tool, a new idea or a new perspective.

As a therapist and coach I get ‘takeaways’ from my clients too. Like the one I had today:

At this time of year I often provide clients with a list of questions to help them review the past year. Hopefully they gain some learning from their answers. My first question on the list is: ‘What were the 10 best things that happened to you and your family last year?’

Many clients can come up with answers easily and some struggle to see any positives in their year. With these people we work together to recognise that there is more pleasure in our lives than we realise.

Today though, my client (let’s imaginatively call him ‘John’) said ‘Oh that’s easy! We can just go through the memory jar.’

What is a happy memory jar?

A memory jar is not a particularly new idea, but I had never heard of it, I must admit. John explained:

We have a jar in the kitchen, with a pad of paper next to it and a pen. So any time we have a good experience, any one of us can write a note about it and put it in the jar.

At the end of the year, we sit at the table together and read them out. It is sometimes something we do on New Year’s day, or eve. It’s amazing how much you forget about your experiences and it can be great fun revisiting the memories together.

I can really see the value of this and I plan to suggest it to many of my clients.

I’ve seen some great, ready made memory jars online – like this one:

But it really is just a matter of getting any large pickle jar or something similar, a note block and a pen and getting started.

If there is a youngster who can’t yet write, they could draw a picture or you could scribe for them. I do think too it might be good to be aware that some members of your family may contribute less than others, so you might have to write some memories that specifically include them.

Once you have read them all out at the end of the year you could also write out the best of them in a journal or otherwise keep an ongoing record, year on year..

Here’s to building many more happy memories!

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Dealing with guilt, regret or shame using NLP or Timeline Therapy can be very helpful in enabling you to move on in life.

All of us, at one time or another, have had moments where we have made choices that we have later had cause to regret. Guilt for doing something, or failing to do something seems inevitable and can cause us great unhappiness and pain.

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anger issues - a picture of the incredible hulkAnger issues are among the most common themes that come up when working with neurolinguistic programming (NLP) clients.  Often when I meet someone for the first time, clients will be concerned that they are having angry outbursts or feel pent-up feelings of anger. They can’t understand why this is happening. Small things, which you would not normally find more than slightly  irritating, take on an inappropriate level of emotion.  The tendency to lose your temper can lead to difficulties in your relationships, social life, and also at work. Clients have found themselves Read more »

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Ghost of Christmas PastI know, I know – you’ve probably seen a dozen New Year blogs, New Year products and other activities based around the idea that now is the time to change yourself.

Thing is, it is true. Now is not the only time when you can take hold of your life and really get to grips with the changes, but in many ways it is the best time. Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a delightful tale that can be seen as one man’s epiphany through the lessons of the three ghosts. It’s a bit of a stretch but I’ve used these three ghosts to show why, even though it is a cliche, this is certainly the best time to make those big changes in your life.

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Christmas giftsChristmas is about giving. It is easy to forget that when you look at the advertising of some commercial companies that suggest you ‘treat yourself for Christmas’.
I’m sure that Christmas is not about treating yourself. If you want to really make a difference this Christmas, buy some thoughtful presents, send beautiful cards, and try some of these subtler and more selfless gifts too:Read more »

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One of the core principles of NLP is the idea that we view the world through a range of filters. repsystem

The thing is that there is just so much information in our day to day experience that it is impossible to take it all in. The human brain is only consciously able to process around 7 pieces of information simultaneously. It stands to reason that we are subject to a great deal more than this every minute of every day.

For instance if you are sitting in a coffee shop talking to a friend you are listening to her words, looking at the expressions on her face, thinking about what she is saying, or about what you are going to say next. You may be aware of the taste of your coffee and a general awareness of people around you. You cannot possibly, in the same moment, also be conscious of the feel of the chair on your legs, the words of the music that is playing, the colour of that lady’s handbag or the words on the sign in the window. Read more »