limiting beliefs

Carpe diem

Today I may die …


Quite a sobering thought isn’t it? Not in a gloom and doom “what’s the point in living” type of way. More in a pragmatic, “... let’s face it, one day my number will be up, so what’s my intention to make the most I can of THIS day“, kinda way.

Or a “Death is inevitable, for me and everyone I love, so why am I getting so worked up about so many trivial things?”

The reality is that you can put off moving out of your comfort zone and venturing into unchartered territory towards the life you want for too long. And miss the boat in the process.

Right now you’re probably thinking “But Sandra …

  • I don’t have enough money
  • I don’t have enough time, I’m so busy
  • I’m all on my own, I don’t have enough support
  • I don’t have the confidence”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera – as Yul Brunner said in The King and I (for those of you old enough to remember) …

Blaming others

A major component of the work I do with clients, is supporting them to identify what stories they’re holding onto from the past that limit their lives.

You may identify with such beliefs. The ones where your story backs up how you’ve been wronged by someone, something – or maybe life in general? The mother who had her own emotional issues and wasn’t as loving and caring as you wanted, or the teacher who had so many of his own issues all he could do was criticise you. As a child you couldn’t distinguish between the truth and someone else’s pain.

There’s a whole heap of ways we limit our lives, usually without even realising it. The only truth I am certain of is we’re here only once, and it’s time to make the most of it.

We’ll have periods when life seems to be swimming along quite nicely thank you. Everything goes smoothly. People smile at us. The car hums along happily. We have money in the bank, food in the cupboards, an okay social life, someone to love who loves us in return.

Then bam! Something unexpected happens. The Universe decides to turn your life upside down.

Have you garnered sufficient strength and resources during the days of plenty to keep your head up when the going gets tough?

Or do you allow it to knock you sideways and spend ages getting up, feeling sorry for yourself, getting sucked into the ‘poor me’ and ‘why me’ syndrome?

A saying you can remember at such times is ‘The sun is always shining, even when it’s above the clouds.’

That’s another truth!

Think about it. Rain or shine, the golden ball remains in the sky, we just can’t see it for a while (a long while sometimes I’m remembering now I’m living in the northern hemisphere again!).

It doesn’t take a genius to work out if we allow such things as the weather to influence our happiness, we’re letting something out of our control dictate our feelings.

Peaceful deaths

My elderly (almost 95 years young would you believe?!) father, who’s been sadly ‘gifted’ with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, had a nasty fall a few weeks before Christmas. After four weeks in hospital he was moved to a nursing home. His family have done their best to keep him at home, but his condition is such that he now requires 24/7 supervision and care.

His grandfather and only sibling, a brother, pre-deceased him, and his father died at the age of 59 when dad was just 14. Dad didn’t allow the fact that he was the only child of a single mother in the 1940s to stop him.

He travelled extensively when it wasn’t the norm to do so, and never allowed lack of money to stop him. He worked and saved hard, married the love of his life when he was 35, had four daughters, always took us on a family holiday each year, played squash and tennis to keep fit and healthy (until he was 90!), and in retirement he continued to grasp opportunities. For his 82nd birthday I took him and mum for a stream train ride while they were on a five-week holiday visiting me in New Zealand.

When the time comes, I want him to have a peaceful and pain-free death, and I’ll do my utmost to ensure this happens. However I know I can’t predict when or how his amazing life will end. Just as I can’t be certain of my own departure.

It could’ve stopped at any time I was living in abroad for eight years, but he wouldn’t have wanted me to not follow my dreams.

In fact, I could die first, in a car accident on my way to visit him …

Generally though, we have no choice as to when we’re going to die. One thing IS certain – it will happen one day, however much money, or time, or love we have or don’t have.

Choosing to live

What we DO mostly have a choice in, is how we LIVE each of the days before that inevitable moment.

If you could break down the excuses you’re using, could you see ways around any beliefs you’re allowing to limit you? Can you awaken a curiosity about potential small steps you could take each day towards making your ‘someday’ life a reality?

Who could you can ask for help? How can you save money if you need it, rather than spending it on ‘stuff’ that isn’t serving you or taking you closer to the place you want to be?

Maybe you could engage a coach to help you find achievable ways to make different choices?

Four ways to awaken to life today

I want to share with you four ways you could consider to wake up to appreciating life today:

  • You’re given six months to live – what would you do? Write it down.
  • It’s your 70th birthday party and you’re giving a speech to your guests. You have time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Imagine what that speech would say? Write it down.
  • You die suddenly and unexpectedly. What would people say about you at your eulogy? Write it down.
  • You have no idea when you’re going to die, you just know it could be today. What intention will you set to make the most of it?

If you’re still not convinced, ex palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware used her experience of spending time with people during their last days, in ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’

5 – I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Remember that your thoughts shape your life. By setting an intention each morning for the day ahead, you can help discover your best self, even during challenging times.

What would be your wildest intention today, if it turned out to be your last?

Image by Gary Blakely/Shutterstock.com

Embracing vulnerability and creating confidence – yes you can!


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Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’ Henry Ford

Do you frequently find yourself turning down opportunities to connect with other people?

Are you so afraid of allowing yourself to be vulnerable that you miss out on making friends, or decline chances of having some fun and adventure in your life?

In the late 1980s and through the 90s, as an often-lonely single parent, I kept a scrapbook where I placed inspirational sayings and articles to raise my spirits when I felt down, and spur me on to greater things than useless self-pity.

I recall one such piece titled ‘Confidence is a con’.  The words really resonated with me. They suggested people we see as outwardly ‘confident’, were generally similar in many ways to people who believed they were UNconfident.  Except of course, the major difference was they were putting on an act and pretending to be confident, even when they didn’t really feel it – in fact despite that! By changing their unhelpful thoughts, and believing they could be confident and acting that out, they enabled themselves, over time, to grow into that role.

So they believed they could, and they were correct …

The dreaded ‘fear’

I challenge anyone to deny there are many times each day when they feel that fear of looking foolish, or something going wrong; of not knowing the ‘right’ thing to say.

We can allow this fear to limit what we embrace and welcome into our lives, or we can recognise it for what it is.

Some people choose (consciously or otherwise) to allow it to place limitations on how they live daily. Others have found they can accept it as a part of them, acknowledge it, then forge ahead regardless.

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They push past their fear – realising it’s just their mind playing tricks on them. We make up stories of what ‘might’ happen if we do or say something, but in reality, what we most fear is unlikely to occur.

Of course the dichotomy of this is that if you focus on the FEAR and give it energy – you’re more likely to MAKE that happen!

So you could consider ways to ‘con’ your mind into believing you are confident, laugh in the face of fear, and make up alternative stories – ones where you look amazing or say something interesting for instance.

Or you just allow yourself to be vulnerable, and open up to the thought that the people you’re afraid of, are probably having similar fears.

“Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” – Gene Fowler

Being vulnerable

Brene Brown, an inspirational social researcher, describes what is possible when we can open up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable in a ‘TED talk’ called ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. The presentation of findings from her research has elicited over one million views on YouTube. It seems certain then that her words connect with many. Take a look and see what you think.

In my Life Coaching training and practice, I’ve become aware of people being paralysed by limiting beliefs. These are generally associated with words such as ‘I’m not worthy‘, ‘I’m not loveable‘, ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m alone‘. They’ve lived for so long with these they’re often not even aware of them – this is their ‘comfort zone’, what is known.  Often the outcome is the avoidance of any chance of making friends or socialising, in case they’re let down, look foolish, or say/do what the feel are the ‘wrong’ thing/s.

If this resonates with you, see if you can break it down and discover where that originates? What story have you made your truth – and is it really the whole truth and nothing but? Then ask what opportunities you may be missing out on by denying your self vulnerability?

Marianne Williamson, in a quote often attributed incorrectly to Nelson Mandela, gives another clue as to why we feel the need to limit ourselves:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

Appearing more confident

So what ways can you consider to create an appearance of more confidence – which will lead to this becoming a reality for you:

  1. Confidence is a trick – you can make yourself more confident by acting as if you are, until it becomes a natural behaviour
  2. Fear will paralyse you if you let it – so become bigger than your fear, break it down, what stories and limiting beliefs are you holding on to that are untrue?
  3. It’s okay to be vulnerable – we all are! But if we avoid doing things, going places, or meeting people, ‘just in case’ it doesn’t go as we anticipate, or we may be ‘seen’, we’ll miss out on so many amazing, magical experiences. 

As Wayne Dyer says ‘You’ll see it when you believe it’

How have you overcome your fears and vulnerabilities? Or how are they holding you back?  I’d love to hear from you if you’re willing and able to share …

Wise woman grandmother power


Between 7th and 14th May, hundreds of bloggers around the world will be writing about ‘Grandmother Power‘. This opportunity resonated with me following my talk at U3A (University of the Third Age) in Gisborne, New Zealand in March, where I was inspired by a room full of wise women (admittedly it included men!) over 60 years of age.

Preparing for my talk, I read Ram Dass’s book ‘Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying’, and during the presentation I read out the following poem from this:

If I could live my life again.
Next time, I would try to make more mistakes.
I would not try to be so perfect, I would relax more.
I would be sillier than I have been.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would be less fastidious.
Accept more risks, I would take more trips,
Contemplate more evenings,
Climb more mountains, and swim more rivers…
I would go to more places where I have not been,
Eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones.
I was one of those people who lived
sensibly and meticulously every minute of their life.
Of course I have had moments of happiness.
But if I could go back in time, I would try to
have good moments only,
and not waste precious time.
I was someone who never went
anywhere without a thermometer, a
hot water bag, an umbrella
and a parachute. If I could live again,
I would travel more frivolously.
If I could live again, I would begin
to walk barefoot at the beginning of the spring
and I would continue to do so until the end of autumn.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would contemplate more evenings and I would play
with more children.
If I could have another life ahead.
But I am 85 years old you see, and I know that I am dying.

Never too late

I wasn’t sure if anyone was taking on board what I’d been saying about it never being too late to let go of limiting beliefs and find more ‘life’ in your life, so was touched shortly after reading the poem when a small, effusively smiling lady in the front row said “I have that poem printed out and on my fridge, and look at it every day.”

How many of us can say we’re truly embracing allowing ourselves to ‘make mistakes’, rather than taking life too seriously and working so hard we don’t have time to be silly? Do you really have to wait until you’re retired?

My grandmothers both died many years ago, in their eighties. I was only 12 years old when my paternal grandmother died (her husband had died when my father was just 13 years old), and she’d been senile for many years before that. My maternal grandmother I recall being quite eccentric, with so many regrets about things she hadn’t been able or ‘allowed’ to do during her long marriage to my grandfather due to his ‘fear’ of most things in life.

Since 2011 I’ve become a grandmother myself – how amazing! I don’t FEEL like a grandmother. When I was growing up, the word conjured up images of sitting in a rocking chair with my knitting. Instead I’ve just moved hemispheres, am in the midst of changing careers, and living very joyfully (with a lot less money but a lot more time) on a narrowboat with my husband!

Grandmothers, I feel, need to be revered and respected as wise women – we’ve had so many experiences in our lives, had to be and do so much to and for so many people, and through this learnt an abundance of useful lessons.

I recall thinking my grandmothers were so old, and couldn’t imagine anything they had to say was relevant to me. Looking back, I’d love to go back in time and talk to them, now I’m open to hearing their wisdom and words, and learn more about their worlds, the experiences they had, and what made them who they were. I wonder what they would make of the technological age that we’re living in?

What does it mean to be ‘wise’? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘…having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgement’.

I hope I’m able to live a long and healthy life, and be seen as a wise woman to my grandchildren, supporting them to embrace the magic all around us in the world, instead of getting drawn into the dramas of the media and politics, and definitely to not be too ‘careful’ but to take risks, have adventures and truly live.

And I hope that as a grandmother, they’ll see me as a role model rather than someone who should be sitting in a rocking chair knitting!