is it business as usual or will you be ringing in the changes in 2013?

A very Happy New Year to all of our readers. 

I am currently in the land of my birth and that always conjures up potent feelings for me. For the last 36 years, I’ve lived in the illustrious bosom of Mother England happily but, whenever I return to “home soil”, I feel like I have stepped out of The Tardis.

Where did the time go? I have a head full of memories and a bag full of pictures, a fantastic partner, a beautiful family, some wonderful friends and I have somehow or another, laid down routes in various other places in the world, (just to complicate matters). But, what on earth does this all mean in the greater scheme of things? Am I the person I want to be?

So, here I am on the eve of 2013, wandering back through my own time line. To find the inspiration to answer this question, I decided to take a walk on the beach. It would be just the tonic for all of this contemplation I thought. As I journeyed on toward the far end of the beach, I started to clamber over rocks and not far on, I stumbled on a stunning coastal path.”This is bliss;” I thought, “just the perfect situation for dreaming up ideas” and then, I had an urge to turn and face the direction from where I’d come. The minute I stood still long enough to quite my endlessly chattering mind, I started to hear my inner voice. Question after question popped into my head. A barrage of questions; “What sort of an inner voice are you, that you present me with even more questions?” said I.

So, like the true psychotherapist that I am, in my blog today, I am asking you the reader these same questions. I am very curious as to how you get on.

Don’t feel you should or must have all the answers to these questions. Its almost impossible to be so damn cool as to “know it all”. At Inspirational Women”s Retreats, these are some of the fundamental questions we encourage our retreaters to consider. With our professional guidance, you may find some answers easy and others impossible to consider but, by daring to open up, you’re moving closer to your gloriously authentic self.

Make an inquiry now or book ahead for my fabulous Italian  retreat and catch the early bird fare for the 2013 retreat dates and enjoy 5 inspiring days of gentle inquiry, with professional, balance and unbiased facilitation in Magical Le Marche.

 

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do you struggle family dynamics?

So much has been written about “family dynamics.”  They are  unique and a very personal experience for each individual but interestingly, there are some very common outcomes that occur in all families. On a personal note, I flew to NZ  2 weeks ago to visit my Son, Daughter-in-law and Grandchildren.  I immediately entered our family dynamic. Two years ago, my 4 year old Granddaughter  became a big sister to  her new baby Brother  and like many first born children, it was a bit of a rough ride for her emotionally. It’s not surprising that her behaviour has altered because her position in the family has change for ever.

So, after a honeymoon period of approximately a week, she seems to have had enough of Grannie. I began to notice about  3 days into my extended visit, when she said to me; “Isn’t my bed soft, I love my bed.” (as I was lying in it!) I seem to have gone from being the recipient of loving chatter, constant giggles and attention, to a source of considerable  resentment and irritation. My dethroning  is official: ”Time to pack  Grannie back to London” she is (not quite) saying. I got the message perfectly but I don’t know if her parents have.  No, it’s not that “she is tired mummy”  or, “she is just going to have to get used to it!” It’s much more complex. I am her absent grandmother from London,  she hasn’t bonded completely and thus I am still an object of slight suspicion. It is hard enough to contain the rage of a new sibling but a Grannie from London? Too much.

Not only did our angel have to give up her bedroom poor darling,  she goes off to pre-school 3 days a week while her brother gets to stays at home with her mummy and guess who?  Grannie, she is always there. ”Time to sling your hook Grannie. It’s not that I don’t love you, it was lovely to see you but I just want my  Mummy and Daddy back.” She  has drawn a line at Grannie’s invasion.

I can relate to this completely, its easy not to miss what you have never had, but to lose  what you have had and have to adjust, is hard. Rage and frustration  are complicatedly intangled with love and belonging in the family  (the distorted feelings usually are  repressed or hidden, because they are so uncomfortable).  Welcome to the world of human dynamics. Welcome to the complicated world of feelings and thoughts affecting and influencing your behaviour  and subsequently, the personality. It is a roller-coaster, thrusting one forward into adulthood with a pre built framework and  belief systems formed in early development.

Isn’t it comforting to know the first 7 years of your life,  define  and shape your personality?  It seems a bit harsh to be defining your world view by 7 to me? Obviously, it’s all a subconscious affair and at such a tender age you are not equip to understand any of this but it’s still it is outrageous. Who designed this prototype?  Is it possible to undo some of the more dysfunctional feelings we have set up as automatic responses to certain trigger situations?  Yes, of course it is.

On our Inspirational Women’s Retreat, one course our components encourages you to take a closer look at your position in the family and how that may have influenced your life, we want to  stimulate you to investigate who, how and why you think, feel and behave the way you do.

We hope to aluminate your mind and give you insight into how to make the changes you need to make.

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20 minutes to change your life

If any of you have read  The Artist’s Way, and completed  the daily pages  exercises, you will be familiar with the style of exercise I am recommending below.

Imagine you’ve got 20 minutes to change your life in 100 ways.

  1. Clear all distractions. Turn off the phone, the TV, the computer. Lock your door, and go to a quiet place.
  2. Sit down comfortably at a desk or table, with a blank piece of paper and a pen in front of you.
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  4. Go. Write down 100 things you want to do. Or careers you want to have. Or people you would like to meet. The sky is the limit.
  5. Don’t be realistic. Dream big. Write down the craziest things you can think of, as well as the things that you don’t even think bear mentioning because they are so simple. Write it all down.
  6. Work quickly. 20 minutes isn’t very long, and you have 100 items to get through, if you can. Don’t think about whether or not to write down an idea — just write. Write everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense. Just keep on writing, and don’t stop until that timer goes off.

Something happens after about 10 or 15 minutes if you employ the exercise to its full potential. You stop caring about what specifically the ideas are, and you start to release an inner creativity that may have been locked away for a while. In an effort to get through 100 things in 20 minutes, you start to write outlandish things down that you aren’t even really sure you want, but that are ideas that came to you nonetheless.

Ding! The timer goes off. No matter where you are in the process, or how many items you have written down, stop. (OK, if you are really on a roll and have a few more to write down because the juices are flowing, keep going. I won’t tell.)

Leave the list alone for a day. Try not to look at it, and certainly don’t revise it in any way. The following day, sit down and look at your list. How many of the items on it are feasible? Can you see your way to accomplishing any of it? Did anything come out of the list that you hadn’t actually really thought of until you wrote it down in a hurried attempt to get to 100 items in the time limit? Any surprises in there?

The point of this exercise is not to create a giant and outlandish “to-do” list that never gets ticked off. Instead, it is simply to open up your mind to the idea that anything is possible, and to give you ideas that will help you to become unstuck in life.

There is a certain magic about this method  it really allows you to open your mind to your potential. It really works, so give it a try.

To facilitate real change  in your life, why not check out Inspirational Women’s Retreats or call Sharron Ward for a free assessment session in personal coaching/psychotherapy

 

 

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trust – everyone tries to peddle it, but what exactly is it?

When someone tells me to “trust them,” I genuinely start feeling nervous don’t you? Instinctively it feels faintly untrustworthy and annoying to me. From the day dot, we are exposed to experiences (good and bad) that influence our ability to trust. We tend to make decisions based on our negative or positive experiences. We are heavily influenced by  family, peer groups and cultural reference too.  I remember my father telling me when I was an adolescent, never to trust men wearing white shoes and for years, I didn’t.

The definition of trust states;  ”A firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or a thing.” A firm reliance, that is very clear isn’t it? How many of you reading this blog have a firm reliance on your own ability to be loveable, successful, authentic, truthful, faithful, intimite, wise instictive etc? If your struggling to answer, it maybe time to checkout some Personal Coaching or Psychotherapy for a more clarity.

In the early 1980′s I was travelling in Asia, and determined not to have the wool pulled over my eyes.  Hawkers were notoriously clever at getting one to part with one’s cash, but I was very pleased with myself in those days and I prided myself on spotting a fake at 50 paces.

A middle-aged man befriended me at the bus station in Galle, Sri Lanka (as they do). He was offering his services as my “friendly guide.”  He looked very untrust-worthy, wanting to take me here and there and annoyingly, he just couldn’t stop smiling. Reluctantly I followed him because looking over his shoulder, there were several other characters milling about waiting to pick me up if I rejected him. “Did I want to see something precious Miss?” (smile smile). “Sure” said I.  Before long, we were in the darkish and dank back room of a Galle Fort Gem Trader. The merchant was be-dazzling me with sparkly stones and keenly advising me on the art of selecting a most excellent Sapphire, (yes, Sapphire). With Mr Smily  to his left, I was hooked and rung out to dry. I felt like Mowgli in the coils of the snake and eventually, I parted with all of the cash I had to spend. Oh my dear silly Sharron! But, I did have those precious stones!  Are you laughing out-loud yet?  I still didn’t  trust Mr Smiley, I felt like a chump and  I knew I had been charmed in that way, that only occurs in The East. Later that day, my fickle-self fell head over heels for a hand carved teak statue of Shiva!!   Mr Smiley  looked carefully into my eyes and agreed, I must have it! Together we ran back to the Gem Trader, both drenched by the monsoon and covered in mud by the time we arrived. Mr Smiley  amazingly managed to persuaded the reluctant trader to refund me. I noted a quiet dignity about him as we ran back the same way we came, clutching the 50 USD. Together we secured the purchase of my beloved Shiva, that has stood proudly in my lounge now for the past 30 years. It constantly reminds me of the kindness and generosity of humanity whenever I look at it. I was so so wrong about Mr Smiley face. He was simply a very sweet soul and I was not open enough to see it.

In my desperation not to be gullible and a target for the unscrupulous, I failed to see who was standing before me. I didn’t trust him because I didn’t trust me. When I went back to live in Sri Lanka in 2005, I tried to find  Mr Smiley but it was a not to be. I regretted not having him in my life in later years, but I realise now he always had been, in fact, was one of my Beacons.

To get in touch with Sharron Ward  click here

 

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so, what will be written on your headstone when your dead?

Try to imagine it! What is the defining script that sums you up in one, concise strap line? Would it be; “He was a very cautious chap”? Maybe it would be; “Nothing was ever good enough”? or perhaps, “Life was always throwing her curve balls”? Is it really true that one is habitually dedicated to behaviour that fits a script? Surely not.

This concept is called a  Life Scripting. It is classic  Transactional Analysis (TA), but I think it also ties in very well with  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), in that it is about identifying  and resetting negative thoughts that one attaches to one’s self.  What is a Life Script? It sounds like it has fallen right off the pages of Mad Men doesn’t it? Something the complex but charismatic  Ad Man Don Draper would dream up?

This  Life Script is a “plan”, its unconsciously developed at an impressionable age.  According to what we are facing in life, the script we have encoded, is programmed to turn out in a way that  supports our world view.  So, it is  a script to a play out, we simply read the lines and decide what will happen in each act. The script is developed  from our early life decisions that were based upon our early life experiences. Sadly many people live their entire lives according to these limited scripts.

Isn’t amazing to think that something that is decided in our childhood on the sole basis of external influences, can be responsible for setting up a “strap line, jingle, hook, or tag line” (whatever you wish to call it),  that will represent the path we turn down and the code we live by?

Of course there is is a way out of this cycle, but first you have to realise you’re setting yourself up and that your  Script is working against you. Then, you must try to identify what your script is.  Ok, lets give is a go. Try to think of a short, snappy strap line that sums up your existence.  Some of the most  common ones I have heard  are:

I never get it right

No one takes notice of me

You cant trust anyone

you have to pull your socks up and get on with it

Now  think about how your Life Script effects your world view and how you are experienced by others. If that is hard, lets try to get a few clues going here.  Think back to a favorite childhood story and who your favorite character was in that story. Think about who you identify with and why. Consider the beginning, middle and end of that story and how that might reflect on your life now. Try to draw parallels with the characters, the situation and you.  Think about what you believe will happen in your old age. Will you be happy, healthy and content?

What will be written on your on your headstone when your dead?

 

Now here is the best part of this blog. You can change this script! Its not intelligence that drives your desire to behave in a certain way, its habitual thoughts and feelings and they can all be changed, decoded, what ever you like to call it. You can re-write your new script according to your own needs. You will be taking your first steps towards living a truely authentic life.

I will help you identify your script and rewrite your new more appropriate one.  It is a liberating experience. Call me Sharron Ward  at Inspirational Personal Coaching now for more information.

 

 

 

 


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CBT problem solving, the helicopter technique

When something is distressing us, often we are so close to it, involved with it, part of it – it’s really hard to stand back from what’s happened and view it objectively.

We see the close up view, but we can’t see anything else. Remember the saying,”cant see the wood for the trees”?

If we could step back and lift off, like a helicopter hovering above our problem, we would be able to see the bigger pictue. We could stand back, be less emotionally involved, and see  a different perspective.

Try this common CBT technique to help you to untangle a mind that is going round and round, unable to reach a rational solution.

STOPP!  Take a breath and ask yourself,

  •  What is the bigger picture here? What am I reacting to? What does this situation mean to me?
  • Try to imagine how it would look to others if they were involved.
  • How would this seem to someone outside the situation –  not emotionally involved?
  • Use you “wise mind”. What would be the best thing to do – for me, for others, for this situation

Breaking bad habits  like negative thinking can seem impossible but believe me, it is not so difficult. Like anything, it is a matter of training. If you’re stuck and need a coach to give you some genuinely  life changing  guidance, contact me for an initial free consultation.

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STOPP: a system that will change your life

Epictetusa the Greek-born Roman slave who became a Stoic philosopher of the first century was quoted saying: “Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider veiwpoint; compose yourself “

Let me introduce you to  “STOPP”,  a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tool that will enhance your life, help you to take charge, control your anxiety and put you in the drivers seat of you own life.  ”Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?” By following this simple system, you will never look back. STOPP is  classic, simple to understand Psychological First-Aid and the most practical  Self-Help  I have ever come across. When you are facing difficult or stressful situations, it’s easy to react automatically, without thinking to the situation.  Often, that automatic reaction is not the best or most helpful one, and can sometimes make the situation worse, or makes us feel worse.

STOPP is a useful acronym to help us remember what to do in such situations.

  • Stop and step back (from the situation, in your mind)

  • Take a Breath  notice your breath as you breath in and out.
  • Observe  What am I thinking and feeling?  What are the words that my mind is saying?  Are the thoughts descriptions or evaluations?  Accurate or inaccurate?  Helpful or unhelpful?  Is this thought fact or opinion?  Where is my focus of attention?  What metaphor could I use? (mountain, tunnel, playground bully, beach ball, passengers on the bus, thought train)

  • Pull Back get some perspective. See the situation as an outside observer. What would a fly on the wall see? Is there another way of looking at it? What would someone else see or make of it? What advice would I give to someone else? What meaning am I giving this event to act this way? How important is it right now and will it be in six months time? Is my reaction in proportion to the actual event? What is the Helicopter view?

  • Practice what works  Do what works and what helps. Play to your principles and values. Will it be effective and appropriate?   Is it in proportion to the event? Is it in keeping with my principles and values? What will be the consequence of my action? What is best for me and most helpful for this situation?
CBT  a very practical method that will allow you to take better care and stay in control of your stress and anxiety. Contact  Sharron Ward now for more information, or for a free of charge assessment session



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feeling overwhelmed? metaphorically it’s a “helplessness trap”

Has anyone seen my brain? It ran off this morning flailing and screaming about being overwhelmed. I’d really like it back.”

Sound familiar? It is so easy to feel overwhelmed. People often feel overwhelmed as they try to tackle the straightforward challenges of everyday life. While some of us go with the flow, others get caught in the undertow. Why do some of us feel overwhelmed on a daily basis by work, sadness, fear, children, choices, finances, or the obligations of a busy life?  Too often, we feel overwhelmed by things we can’t influence, for instance when we start worrying about dire possibilities that are unlikely to occur.

It can feel like difficult circumstances are causing us to feel overwhelmed. We believe we’re bogged down by our complicated, demanding life, suffocating in endless demands and obligations. In most cases, this impression is an illusion. While we may indeed be feeling bogged down, we’re unwittingly contributing to that impression. It’s not the outside world or demanding circumstances that are solely responsible for producing the unpleasantness. Rather, an unresolved negative emotion inside of us is producing much of the suffering. As hard as it may seem to believe, unconsciously, we’re very willing to re-live an unresolved negative emotion that’s associated with feeling helpless, weak, and defeated.

Waging war on our own psyche seems a counter-intuitive idea that we’re not usually eager to consider. We usually want to believe that suffering is being imposed upon us from outside. It’s too offensive to our ego to absorb the fact that we’re making unconscious choices to experience this suffering.

It helps us in understanding this concept when we see that the feeling of being overwhelmed actually serves as a psychological defense. As a defense, the feeling covers up our unconscious determination to go on experiencing oneself as weak and helpless. Helplessness is an old, familiar feeling that goes back into our childhood, and we can be tempted to replay and recycle the feeling. The unconscious defense goes like this: “I’m not attached to that old feeling of being helpless and at the mercy of circumstances. Look at how I hate feeling overwhelmed. I want to get things done! I want to be on top of things! Look at how much I suffer by feeling overwhelmed. That proves I don’t want to feel helpless!” This defence stratergy, however, only proves how convincingly we can deceive ourselves.

When feeling overwhelmed, we usually react by being frantically busy,  by doing things clumsily or inefficiently or by procrastinating.  When a person is experiencing the paralysis of procrastination, he or she is suffering the pain and consequences of inner conflict. This pain is the product of helplessness, apathy, psychological paralysis, and a disconnection from one’s intelligence, self, and will.

In my experience, when an inner conflict is clearly exposed during the therapy, the individual’s intelligence and determination to flourish, can then  engage in a learning process that begins to resolve that conflict. This process automatically behaves as a stimulant to the Will and reconnects with the Self. It certainly helps to be coached through this process with a skilled therapist.

For mor information on this subject call or email Sharron Ward

 

 

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you shall love your crooked neighbour with your crooked heart.’

This is one of the poems that my beloved reads to me (over and over again).  It is embedded in my psyche, it encourages me to dream, to listen, to be still, to think, to feel, to forgive but most importantly, it reminds me to be less robotic and more romantic.

As I Walked Out One Evening

by WH Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

 

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror?
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

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don’t build walls

I was having supper with friends last night and we were discussing the virtues and the benefits of building walls that prevent liberty and freedom of passage. We all agreed there were none of course! How could there be?  I remember visiting Berlin in 1989, the year their wall was dramatically pulled down.  I was moved by a heady mix of feelings washing over me.  It was a wall so high, covered with endlessly colourful  graffiti  ”freedom, liberty and hope” it cried out in the night( or that sort of thing). It was the theme of a new dawn and then in stark contrast, there was the black and heartless rolls of barbed wire that bedecked it. Reality. Chilling indeed and never forgotten. One didn’t have to live in Berlin to realise the futility of that wall.  It was clear that it had been one of the great tragedies of the century – a lesson for us to learn and one certainly did not need to say “Ich bin ein Berliner” to know that. “Never again” we all chanted, as the Brandenburg Gate (linking East to West) was opened for the first time in 28 years on the 22nd of December 1989.

Twenty years later, our Israeli brothers and sisters have reverted to walls  (18 of them and counting) in their struggle to find a solution to their political woes. Most notable is the West Bank Wall of 465 miles of concrete and steel that (they) say is for the  protection of their settlers… My initial reaction was outrage (even as I write this, I am challenged). My first action was a personal crusade to boycott Israel. Last night I was encouraged to walk the walk of half of the blogs I have ever written that promote mindfulness, tolerance, understanding, negotiation and education.  It was skillfully pointed out to me last night that my action was not helpful and this behaviour  was creating my own wall. Horror Sharron Ward!

So, I  listened a little more and it was hard to argue – discussion, negotiation and raising awareness? An argument for making progress by inspiring a change in attitudes. I can here the radicals, sceptics and humanitarians among you saying I have lost my teeth but wait! Hear me out, I haven’t at all. I have just flicked the switch. Yes it takes time to educate a new generation but in a global world we have the tools to learn at an accelerated speed.

So now my mantra is “Don’t Build Walls” that isolate people-  Don’t Build Walls that  herd people like animals – Don’t Build Walls that prevent people from access to freedom.

Equally, don’t build emotional walls, they will not help, they will arrest your development!!!

They give your children bad messages

They create mistrust and confusion

They are incubators for subversion and paranoia

They destroy countries

They destroy families

They destroy relationships

They destroy

For my part I will continue to make arguments to include and I will not build walls. I hope this blog gives you a chance to think, to step back and really listen to your human heart. Join me in my campaign “Don’t Build walls”.

 

 

 

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