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bump in the night – change your self talk

No, not trick or treaters knocking on your door tonight. No, I mean that little voice you hear when you’re alone with your thoughts. You know the one.

That negative soundtrack on repeat, saying you’re not good enough or you’ll never do it or tells you what a fool you are. Self talk can be a great regulator of your behaviours, but when the negative one switches on, it can become a complete blocker to your change.

Our soundtracks are learnt as we move through life with its ups and downs. When you’re feeling great, you control the volume. However during times of change, uncertainty or when you’re in unchartered waters, it can go out of control.

As you stretch into your new life, don’t let this hold you back. When your negative soundtrack shouts out, you need to reach out for a new tune, a positive self-talk soundtrack. By reframing, you’re effectively editing and re-recording your soundtrack.

Next time you hear that familiar old tune, reframe and start listening to something new:

  1. Pause it – stop the sound and breathe into the silence.
  2. Review it – chat with your self talk, ask why it’s doing what it’s doing.
  3. Remix it – get specific, what would enable you, support you and motivate you?
  4. Record it – create a series of positive statements.
  5. Play it – listen hard and often to your new soundtrack.

Want to make it more powerful? Add reminders for your other senses. For example, create an album cover aka a suitable picture, cartoon or quote and stick it somewhere you look often (back of your front door, inside your notebook or your phone’s home screen – I like this for a quick boost!). Try anchoring, an NLP technique that helps create a physical trigger for your desired outcome. And don’t forget to share it with your friends, mentors and supporters – we all love a good tune and want to dance along with you.

Tell me below: what self talk goes bump in the night for you? And how are you putting it to bed? (Oh and don’t forget to check underneath your bed first – boo!)

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you need to move it, move it – body and mind in action

You all know I’m passionate about how your body and mind work – especially how one can support the other’s change.

Two of my favourite experts are Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Social Psychologist and Doctor Dance aka Peter Lovatt of the Dance Psychology lab. Both work to learn how moving our bodies affects our brains – in Cuddy’s case to see how hormones change our peformance and Peter uses dance to change our abilities and mood.

Your self-perception of your abilities to do something can creep out into your body language – if you’re unsure or lacking confidence, your body posture will typically become smaller. You might cross your arms, avoid eye contact or fidget with your hands. However, feeling great about yourself makes you stand a touch taller, smile more and exude more warmth.

Amy and her team started to measure 2 hormone changes, testosterone and cortisol. The first you’ll know is the “male” hormone and affects our risk taking and the second is the “stress” hormone. Her research focused on hormonal changes in students as they were interviewed. Prior to the interview, some were asked to “power pose” – large, open body postures – and others to adopt low status poses – ie hunched over to make themselves smaller with limbs crossed.

The results? Power posing tricks the brain into increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol: students relaxed and felt more confident. Importantly, they performed better in their interviews.

The Dance Psychology lab is seeking to understand why dancing changes the way we feel. I saw Doctor Dance at a School of Life Sunday Sermon and did some curvy belly dancing and line dancing. Shoulder shimmying and swirling arms open up our creative thinking; whilst the squarer steps gave our logic problem solving skills a boost. WOW! You can watch the sermon here on his next School of Life event page, a dance night in October. I’ll be there and hope you’ll join me.

I use a combination of these to raise my game, increase my personal impact and inspiration. With teams, I’ve incorporated power posing to presentation and influencing skills training and worked with individuals to increase their confidence ahead of difficult situations. By changing body position, posture, gestures and so on, you can make your brain function better, change your mood and open up opportunities. Bringing your body and mind into harmony

Do you consider your body when approaching a situation where you want to be at your best or when your mood needs an uplift? Let us know in the comments; what you do and any favourite tracks to get you moving!

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back to work tension – keep that summer feeling!

Boooo the end of the summer is round the corner and most of us will be back into the office, until our next break. Can you feel the work tension rising? From your lower back, between your shoulders, up your neck until your head is being squished. Not great. Terrible, in fact. Let’s stop it now.

Are you sitting properly? Both feet on the floor? Bum back in the seat pad? Hands and wrists supported on your desk or chair arms? These 3 things can help you protect your lower back and neck from tension, stiffness and that horrid tightness. I’ll ask again, are you sitting properly? Move it buster.

Take regular breaks – get up, move around, trot up and down the stairs, make a brew for your colleagues, look out a window, breath deeply. Just don’t be that annoying person who interrupts me cos they’re on a break 🙂

Frame your desk with memories of good times. A snapshot or postcard, a stone off your beach, theatre tickets, menu of a fab meal. No office is so uptight, you can’t keep these somewhere to look at to boost your mood and energy (desk drawer, inside your note book, screensaver, scanned document, be creative!)

And with my Pilates hat on, try these simple neck stretches:

1)   D-shape cycles: Look straight ahead, turn your head to the left, roll your gaze down in an arc to look at your knees/toes, keep rolling up until you’re looking to the right. Turn to the front and go again. Repeat in both directions. You’re effectively drawing a D on its tummy, a horizontal straight line and a semi-circle.

2)   Neck side stretch: put your finger on your chin, this is the unmovable, absolute centre of a circle. Then rotate about this point with your nose drawing an arc, as you lower your ear to your shoulder. You’ll get a lovely stretch from the opposite ear to the point of your opposite shoulder. Hold for a few breaths and come back up to the start. Repeat both sides.

Keep going, recognise when you’re getting stressed, the earlier you tackle it, the less likely you’re gonna get it bad.  Our next holidays will be here before we know it!

If you’d like to change your reaction – physical or emotional – to tension and stress, I’d be delighted to help. I’ve successfully worked with clients to change their reactions to triggers and develop new practices, so get in touch.

How do you stop tension in its tracks? Do tell me below how you are going to prolong your summer feeling.


Pilates – not all it seems…

Joseph Pilates exercising with his students

Joseph Pilates exercising with his students

Pilates isn’t just for pop stars and dancers: in fact, the first students were soldiers and security guards. The common factor is that they all want to feel confident in themselves and proud of their bodies.

Yes Pilates does improve your posture, flexibility and core strength, but here’s 3 body issues that you might not expect Pilates to deliver quick fixes to.

So invest a little time each day and you too can step out with your head held a bit higher.

1)   the chin jut – you know it, a long day staring at your screen…..gradually your chin is getting nearer and nearer to the screen. Tension grips your head, neck and shoulders. Here’s a “do it at your desk” fix: sit up tall, look to your left and then roll your head down to look at your toes and around until you’re looking to your right. Look straight ahead and you’re back to the beginning. Repeat a few times to the left and the reverse to the right.

UPDATE April 2014: Focus on keeping your shoulders still to avoid the stretch slipping to your waist.

2)   the bingo wings – the summer is coming (I hope!) and your arms want to be out of long sleeves. Stop the wobble fast: arms out to the side, like you’re a giant T. Draw 6 tiny little circles with the finger tips, with the movement coming from the shoulder and keeping the arms straight. Repeat in the other direction and add in more sets (clockwise and anticlockwise – no skipping!) as your arms get strong. Oh yeah, it’s meant to burn!

UPDATE April 2014: you should be getting better at this now, add a water bottle in each hand.

3)   the nipped in waist – apple, pear or bean pole body shape, we all want that nipped in waist (Guys, you know it better as swimmer’s lines down your sides). Fold your arms in front of you like a Cossack dancer and focus on your top wrist (wearing a watch, hair band or cuff helps here). Breath out to rotate through your waist like you’re a pepper grinder to twist the top half of your body to the side and breath in to come back to facing forward. Repeat in the other direction, trying to keep your wrists, nose and breastbone (or cleavage, if you’ve got one) in one vertical line. Repeat the same number of times each side or risk ending up wonky!

UPDATE April 2014: you want it harder? Ok. Tie a know in a belt, ribbon or dynoband. Hold it taut between your hands. Raise them up to shoulder height in a wider V shape. Keep the knot central to the move as you twist.

These quick and easy exercises are adaptations of matwork and standing Pilates exercises: if you want a body overhaul, book in for an assessment now or class and in the meanwhile, get going with these.

What are you looking to fix? Tell me in the comments and I’ll see what I can suggest!

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what’s your big picture?

Sometimes, it’s super easy to get stuck down in the details of everyday life and miss what’s going on at a higher level. You know the saying “can’t see the wood for the trees”, right? Ever felt that way?

I have often seen this happening for truly amazing folks, who for a variety of reasons can’t pull up, breathe and see what’s around them. As a coach, I soak in what I see, hear and sense from them to find a question or observation to help spot the wood. Today, I want to share a simple way to get started, that my clients find useful.

Grab your pen and paper and find somewhere relaxed and disturbance free. Divide the paper in half – top and bottom or left and right – your call.

Let’s take the first half – this is the doom and gloom space. Ask yourself what/who drains my energy? What/who makes me want to stay away? What/who is out of sync with my ambitions and values? Jot it down – big and small, it’s all valid. Be as broad as you can – work, life, relationships, hobbies, socialising, etc. If you run out of steam, ask yourself what else? Note it, ask the same question again and note it…you get the idea.

Move to the second half, the joy and laughter space. Now ask what/who really makes me feel energised and passionate? What/who makes time fly by without me noticing? What/who matches my values and principles? If you dry out, ask “what else?” – keep going until you’re fully out.

Look at both side by side: how can you turn down the doom and gloom and turn up the joy and happiness side? I like to take a big fat black pen to the bad stuff and a big green highlighter to the good 🙂

Now, the wood should be starring back at you from trees in its big picture glory!

Want to develop your joy further and ditch the gloom? Why not book a session with me to get the benefits of a second mind, new perspectives and a good prune of your trees? Head over and drop me a line.

Right now, I’d love you to share in the comments: what are the joy and laughter things in your life? Let us all enjoy them here!!

  • Ritu of The Lifester

    Sarae, I LOVED doing this exercise. Really effective to lift myself out of the panic of holding my first event for 20-somethings and dealing with the “OMG my marketing efforts are not working, what should do?” and the endless minutes spent on Facebook amounting to nothing. I forgot to look at the positive side: 15 RSVPs, a couple of tickets sold, amazing venue, the promise of the pint afterwards 🙂
    Thank you so much. Love, Ritu

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