I think we all love a good story. Whether we hear it, watch it or read it, a good story is so compelling we just have to keep going as we can’t wait to hear/see/read the end of it.
When it comes to our own life we are living our own story. But how much do we make up about that story? How much is fact and how much is fiction?
- Do you interpret your friend’s silence as they don’t want to spend time with you, without knowing the real reason for their absence in your life?
- Do you imagine no one will love you if you have to buy a different size of clothes as your body has changed shape recently?
- Do you believe you can’t do anything about your natural state of not getting up in the morning, so stay in bed even longer?
We all interpret things in different ways. Have you ever been an observer with a friend as something happens in their life and you see things in a very different way from the story they’re telling you? Ever had a friend tell you they see things differently from the story you’re telling them?
What’s true for you?
I used to struggle with this word “true” in my life. “What’s true for you?” was something people asked or said and it felt so remote to my brain I couldn’t interpret it for myself.
We all have different learning styles and take information into our brains in different ways. The most comprehensive model I’ve come across and the one I use now when working with clients is the Mercury Model – the book Fish Can’t Climb Trees is a detailed account but brilliant to help each of us understand our learning and communication styles).
When you have the feeling of KNOWING what’s right for you, to me, that’s what I understand as my truth. When you feel off balance, or something is “not quite right”, then it’s probably not true for you.
So when we’re interpreting things around us we automatically make things up about other people, the situation, the circumstances that surround us. We may tell ourselves, “because the economy has crashed, I can’t be held responsible for my business failing”. Or, “my children don’t like me because they spend all their time on their phone with their friends”.
Yes, I’ve made those things up in my life. But they aren’t true! I just intepreted those situations in a way that made me feel better or worse at the time to fit with the story I was creating for myself and believing to be true. I used my imagination, unconsciously to create a story that just wasn’t true.
Can you see a circumstance in your life that you may have interpreted something which may not have been true?
Limiting beliefs have a lot of power
When we’re telling ourselves a story about a situation there is a lot of power coming from the limiting beliefs which are stored in our unconscious mind. We often make up the story to fit the belief that has the strongest pull. For example:
- I’m not good enough anyway, so my business was always going to fail
- I don’t trust myself to do the right thing, so I won’t bother
- Procrastinate and stay stuck in a rut because you think it’s safe to stay there rather than take a step forward
You may not know what your limiting beliefs are, but you may notice you’ve had recurring situations in your life that make you feel you’re going round and round in circles. When I look back at some of the stories I told myself and the people around me I’m embarrassed! I made up all sorts of things to make me feel better rather than take a step out of that story I was in. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I was “happy” to be the victim of the story rather than the hero. Mmm, not great. It felt wrong too. It didn’t feel true, but I perpetuated the story by telling myself things and interpreting situations in ways that supported the story I was imagining.
Listen to yourself and hear the true story
I used to keep myself so busy doing things I didn’t have time to stop and listen. It’s so much easier to not know something so you don’t have to do anything about it isn’t it? 😉 Ha! You see, that’s another story I told myself.
When you know something you can’t un-know it can you? So surely it’s easier to stay in victim mode and others feel sorry for me rather than me taking control of my own life, my own real story and change the ending from what’s currently going to happen?
Whatever you interpret “easy” to mean in your life, I can tell you that in my life story easy was horrid! I was ill, I was tired, I was unhappy, I felt disconnected with everything and everyone around me.
I can’t remember what the tipping point was for me to make changes. All I know is that I did. It got to a point where I’d had enough of being ill, of feeling sorry for myself. That’s when I found listening really helps.
Do you have someone in your life who listens without giving advice or judging you? Not many of us do as we’re human and love to fix things for other people. When I was asked by a friend to train as a Listening Trainer my life changed. I really learnt and understood the power of listening – to others and most importantly to myself. When I allowed myself time to listen I heard that I was unhappy. I heard that there was a different way. I heard and understood I could do things differently. I also heard that I was in control of my own life. No-one or nothing was guiding my story apart from me. I could change my life story ending if I chose to. It was up to me.
The first step when you get to a crossroads in life is to stop isn’t it? Stopping and listening to what’s going on in your head, your life, noticing what your heart is trying to tell you is the first step to hearing what you know deep down to be true for you.
There’s NO quick fix and the next phase of your life journey may not be easy. There may be more roller coasters to ride. However, when you have that inner knowing that you’re being true to yourself and being the real you, there’s so much comfort in that knowledge. Yes the road may have some challenges along the way, even some road blocks. But when you listen to yourself carefully, you’ll know you have all the answers you need to navigate them.
Even getting started to listen to yourself isn’t easy. This 21 day experience of hope is a good starting point if you’d like some simple steps to start experiencing the true story of your life.
Do you use your imagination in your daily life, or do you think that imaginary games are just for children?
When I look back at my childhood I was always using my imagination. I had tea parties with my toys. I played cowboys & indians with my brother and friends in the road I lived. I imagined being a dancer and singer and practiced routines with friends for our performances for our parents for hours and hours and hours.
I’ve no idea when I stopped those activities, but I did. Did you?
I think some people use their imagination more than others as it’s a natural thing for them to do. But what about the rest of us? Why do we fall out of the habit of using our imagination?
My sixteen year old son is having difficulty imagining what to do with his imaginary money each day in the money game we’re playing. It’s interesting because he used to create the most magical imaginary stories when he was younger.
Artists and architects use imagination all the time
Composers, artists, architects, entrepreneurs and some scientists use their imagination all the time. They dream of the things they’re going to create and then set about creating them. Sometimes an artist will only have a sense of what they want to create and yet when they put brush to canvas that sense becomes something real. A scientist will have the result s/he wants to achieve and will work tirelessly to create that result – just think of the lightbulb. 3000 tests before the Edison got the result he’d imagined.
On a course I’ve done this year we played a game called, “and then….”. You may have played it as a child or with your children, or at school. The game is all about creating a story between 2 people each taking it in turns to add more detail as the story/idea moves forward. Everyone who played it had so much fun. My partner and I created this amazing imaginary story. I’m still hoping my partner is going to write it down and use it to create his first children’s book. I’d buy it for sure! Such adventures we had in a very short space of time.
Adventure and fun – all from our imagination?
Yes, we did have adventure and fun in our imagination. Honestly. I’m not making that up. But maybe that’s the point – we’re often told as children NOT to make things up, so we stop. We’re told that “making things up” is a bad thing – we may have told a tale about another child in the playground; something we saw in our community that didn’t feel right.
Personally I don’t remember the cause or even when I stopped imagining or making stories up, but looking back I certainly see now that I moved from making up my own stories to watching others in films and in books. I’ve always been an avid reader and I’m sensing that that’s where I took my imagination – to the books I was reading. I had adventures with those characters. I’ve travelled the world from books. In fact I told my eldest son quite recently that on my lockdown holiday I’d been to the South of France, Cornwall, the Lake District and America all in the space of 7 days! 😉
So why don’t we use our imagination more? If you’ve got any ideas I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
Imagination is for grown ups too
We all have an imagination and we can all use it not only to create stories or beautiful art, or a wonderful dinner, or a new business. We can use it to create new ways of doing things. New ways of being ourselves. We don’t have to be stuck – we can use our imagination to see new opportunities or different ways to solve a problem.
When we stop using a part of us we stop being ourselves. Each of us has Imagination, Intellect, Will power, Conscious mind and an unconscious mind, from Five Institute five energies. When we [re] learn to use each of these we become free to be ourselves.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
When we start to imagine different outcomes, scenarios, more ideas are sparked. More options for solutions come into our awareness.
What if you allowed your imagination to create it’s own story for today? What would your day look like? How will you feel at the end of the day? You may feel this is bizarre, but there’s no cost to imagining what you’d love today. No-one can tell you what your imaginary day should be look. It’s yours. Just yours in your imagination.
I wonder what you’ll create today in your imagination. I hope you have a wonderful adventure. I’m off to spend an imaginary £160 🙂
If you’re unsure about how to take the first steps to re-discovering your imagination, the 21 days of Hope series is a good starting point. 5 minutes a day is a great way to start imagining again 🙂
Do you find yourself thinking in black and white? As in this is right and that is wrong? This is good for me and that’s bad?
It’s interesting how in our political and national situations that polarized views have become more prevalent these past few years – Brexit, UK general election, US presidential election. We seem to have become communities of For or Against.
But is that really what you think?
In my own world, “it’s more complicated than that” 😉 I may have strong views about something, but not be too bothered about something else. My family may have strong views about something I’m not particularly interested in. Does that make me a bad person?
Interesting isn’t it! 😉
What I’ve noticed this year when I’ve had more time to listen to myself and learn more about myself, (the more you listen, the more you learn) is that, for me, there’s a whole scale from black to white on everything. Which is why limiting beliefs can hold so much power over us if we don’t take notice them.
We all have limiting beliefs which are stuck in our unconscious mind. These form when we’re very young, usually between 0-4, with more layers being added up to the age of 7. Richard Barrett calls these two stages “Surviving” 0-2 and “Conforming” 3-7 in psychological development. We’ve heard about the impact of neglect and malnutrition on babies, which effects children as they grow. However we’ve all been impacted in some way by our life’s experiences and what we make up about that.
We’re all told things as children that we may or may not believe unconditionally. “You’re great at art”, “you’re stupid”, “you’re a super talented athlete”, “maths and you just don’t go together”. Those things stick! And they’re usually NOT TRUE! But those thoughts are planted in our unconscious mind and that’s what feeds our conscious mind if we don’t take charge.
So when our parents or grandparents told us things as children, it’s likely we hold similar beliefs – unconsciously. As we get older we may challenge those perceptions our parents had. We may not, but we each have a choice in every situation. Each of us is a unique person and what someone else believes to be true may be for them. But is it for you?
Many people I know spend years trying to get rid of their limiting beliefs. I’m not sure I was aware of mine until these past few years. Really aware of how they held me back and what I made up in my head about situations.
“It’s clearly not meant to be if that’s happened to me”
“I couldn’t do anything about that – it was out of my control”
“I’m not good enough anyway, so that’s why that’s happened”
When something happens out of your control do you excuse it? Or make up a story as to why it’s happened? That’s just your limiting beliefs making things up or helping you make sense of things. Does it help? Probably not. In my experience, it’s reinforced the idea that the situation was out of my control, so it’s OK. What I failed to learn was that I had the ability to create things to change my own circumstances.
Black and white thinking puts things in boxes
What I’ve learnt from Nick and Runa at the No More Boxes movement is that we very easily put things in boxes and think that makes it OK. We label things. “Essex girls are…”, “Northerners are…”, “Rich people are…”, “Poor people are…” We do! All of us do it. By putting things in boxes it feels like we’re making things simpler in our lives, and who doesn’t want a simpler life?
But when we put others in boxes it’s likely we’re in our own box/es too. Our limiting beliefs are creating havoc in a way that they hold the power over us. Whatever we make up about things we do, see, want are coming from the base of those limiting beliefs holding the power over us.
If we let them.
There’s another way though. Listening is the starting point, in my opinion. Others may suggest a different starting point for you. For me, if you’re not listening to yourself you’re not in control. I’d spent years blaming others, the economy, the “situation”, about things in my life. I felt stuck, trapped and couldn’t see any way out of the mess that was my life at the time. I was unwell a lot of the time as well very unhappy. When I started listening my life started to change.
Listening better shows what’s true for you
When you start listening to yourself you get to know yourself more. In a recent conversation at the Conscious Cafe I stated,
The more I’ve listened and understood my wholeness and what makes me who I am the more fulfilled I feel.
It was an insight I’d not noticed before, but it had a huge impact on those I was chatting to about happiness and fulfilment.
When you listen to yourself you get to know what’s right for you in your life. It stops mattering what others think or do because you know who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me I use the language of life purpose, but you may have different words you use to describe what’s important to you in your life.
- When you listen to your body does it tell you to “drink cranberry juice every morning before anything else”? Or do you notice that there’s something not quite right today and you think cranberry juice will help ease that?
- When you listen to what you notice in your work, what do you hear? “You must get that xyz system as it’s fantastic and currently on offer”. Or do you notice that you need to get a good system in place to help you communicate better with your customers?
It’s not black and white is it? What you hear isn’t always clear. What you notice may be a marginal discomfort in your left toe. It could be for any number of reasons, so it’s not clear. It’s not black and white what’s caused the discomfort. There may be many ways to ease it too (usually ignoring it is the best one I’ve found as when we focus on it we’re putting energy into thinking our toe hurts).
When you listen more you start to hear more things. Just like when you go for a walk with no phone, no earphones and just walk. What do you hear? The world often opens up as we listen more carefully. Our world isn’t black and white. There are many colours and shades and hues. So I encourage you to start listening more and see what you hear.
This 21 days of Hope series helps you start listening more, if you’d like some help with this.
What first pops into your head when someone says you’re “being courageous”? Do you go all Hollywood movie hero or heroine and saving the world with no thought to personal safety? Or do you think about pulling “big girl pants” or being “grown up”?
I’ve been thinking a lot about being courageous recently, and not just from the films and netflix series I’ve been watching, although I suppose they’ve added to the colour of my thoughts. [When Prince Charles, in The Crown, added his own words in Welsh to his inauguaration speech to help the people see him for who he was, that was courageous. When Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows is courageous when he steps forward to challenge Voldemort in the final battle.]
My thoughts may have been more about individuals living every day lives, rather than princes or wizards, but we can still learn a lot from our Hollywood heros.
Time is a gift
I train volunteers to listen in a Listening Service locally. In part of the training we talk about listening being a gift to others. When volunteers first start their training they’re often unsure that this analogy is correct, but just agree with the trainer anyway 😉
As time goes on and they start to practice listening to others, and have others spend time listening to them during the training sessions, it becomes clearer to them that listening really is a gift. When you’re listened to by someone else, do you feel that gift? You may not have noticed it apart from the time that person has spent with you, which we may also consider a gift.
Some of these sessions help people talk about things they’ve never shared with anyone else in their lives before. It really is magical as a trainer to hold these people in such a safe space that they find their courage to be themselves. Listening training is not about opening up per se, but it just happens that to be able to listen to others well, we need to be able to listen to ourselves better. This often means finding courage to listen to what we may have hidden away from.
Being honest is courageous
When you’re honest with yourself, you may not like what you hear yourself saying or thinking. Yet this honesty opens up your vulnerability and helps you be courageous. Not everyone is honest – with themselves, or with others. Is that why we don’t think we see courage in everyday life, and have to wait for a good film or TV show to teach us courage?
We hear so much about the falseness of social media, or the fakeness of reality stars who many idolise. Would we idolise honest courageous people if people had the courage to be themselves?
Think about it. We all know someone who’s inspired us with their courage. They may have overcome an illness, or do some amazing things despite hardship or life challenges. What is it about these people that we find courageous? What is it about them that inspires us?
So why don’t more people have the courage to be honest and be themselves?
I don’t have all the answers here and I think there’s many areas we can look at to identify what we can do to unlock our hidden treasures. If more of us were honest and listened to ourselves and had the courage to be ourselves and share our talents and skills with others, what effect would that have on our families, communities and workplaces?
What I’d like you to do today is think about you. You may not do it often, as it’s so much easier helping others than it is helping ourselves isn’t it? When you spend some time by yourself with your own thoughts, simply listen. Listen to what you hear. Listen to your courage which you have a deep well of inside of you. I also recommend watching this talk, “The call to courage” by Brene Brown, a shame researcher who is a real inspiration. She brings vulnerability and courage to life, sharing her personal stories and those of people she’s been with who have listened and shown courage in their everyday lives.
If you can listen and be courageous to be yourself tomorrow, what love does that show to others and what effect would it have on those around you?
I’m exploring all the time. I’m learning to listen more deeply which is leading me to be myself. I have to say that I don’t use the word courageous about myself, but others do which is why I’ve linked it here.
“You so courageous to write a book”
“It must have taken a lot of courage to do that”
I’m simply being me and listening to myself. Finding my hidden skills and talents which no-one else has.
Let’s give gifts of courage by being ourselves and showing by what we do and who we are that by being ourselves we are giving true gifts of love.
If you’d like to book a listening session with me, I offer a gift of 20 minutes for your first session.
As people make a stand around the world to make communities think about climate change, it shows that we are starting a listening revolution. We are starting to listen as individuals, schools, councils and communities to the concern about climate change in our countries.
Whilst some people are listening and taking action to make a difference to their local climate, which will have a knock on effect to those around them, others still aren’t listening.
Can we get people to listen?
I’m not sure we ever can get people to listen. They have to want to listen. Watching children you’ll see this really clearly – if they’re focused on playing with a toy they’re not listening. We feel it ourselves – if we’re engrossed in reading something, we can’t listen. However much you believe in multi-tasking, you can’t do two things properly at the same time. Even when you’re driving which becomes second nature, you can’t really listen to every nuance your passenger is saying as you’re focused on the road you’re driving along.
But what we can do is keep listening to ourselves, and taking our own actions which will have an impact on others. Surely action creates exposure to new ideas which will encourage others to take notice. Noticing will lead to listening. Eventually.
Listening is a catalyst for change
If we all listened more to the
- people around us
- environmental changes we see and feel where we live and where we holiday
- economic situation of our community, town, region and country
- cultural differences of those living in and moving in to our communities
what changes would see? What ideas would we come up with? What action would we want to take?
What would we as individuals want to do if we really listened to the concerns our children have about how climate change impacts on their futures?
We’ve seen from the simple act of stopping the normal of every day and doing something different is making people listen (children striking from school). So what if we were able to create space every day to listen more?
Listening creates an open space for new ideas
Having just completed a listening session with a client, which we organised quickly as she had an issue she wanted to work through, she said this:
Listening creates an open space for new ideas that I don’t need to know or understand.
It’s true. What she worked out during our 30 minute call was that she had some options to get out of a work situation which made her unhappy. I didn’t offer any suggestions at all. She created them all by herself just from being listened to in a supportive way.
If we all had someone to listen to us in this way, how many new ideas would we create for ourselves for any number of situations we want to change in our lives or work? Fascinating isn’t it?
How can you start a listening revolution in your life?
Not everyone has someone to listen to them. Not everyone is skilled at listening. I know that. What can you do to help yourself to listen, and be listened to? Who do you know who could listen to you without interruption ? How can you ensure you’ve got someone to speak out loud with to get create space for those ideas which are currently floating around in your head?
Just like the climate change protesters, what can you do to create a listening revolution, and start making others listen to your ideas about what you want to change in your life?
If you’d like to book a listening session with me, or you feel being part of an Action Learning Set will be helpful, get in touch.
There’s a lot of change going on at the moment all around me. Other people are shifting focus in their lives or businesses. People are standing up for what they believe in.
There may well be “something in the air” with planets aligning, but in some ways that’s not the important point. All change is natural. Our world has seasons, and yes the moon cycles do affect us. So why do we spend so long trying not to shift focus off the plan we created at the start of the year, just because that’s what we said we were going to do?
Life moves on with or without us
Some of my clients struggle to plan, and we seem to talk about their diary as a recurring item when we meet. I always, I hope, allow them the space to work out what’s important to them, and that’s where the focus of time would be in their diaries. There’s some fixed things, and i always encourage clients to eat and sleep and exercise which all take time. They may not be fixed times each day, but you need to make time each day to make it happen.
I have some people I work with who love freedom and don’t want to be boxed in with a fixed agenda. Yet they know that they’re wasting time going round in circles with their thoughts, and not always getting things done they’d like.
So what happens when you make plans and then you realise that you need to shift the focus as you no longer enjoy that thing, or your customers would love you to focus on something else?
I wrote an article about organisational listening which explored how it’s so easy not to listen to what’s going on around you. Organisations are made up of individuals. What if all the individuals in an organisation realised they needed to shift their focus slightly. Would businesses be more productive? More efficient? Would people live happier more fulfilling lives?
Just like our High Streets have changed over time, and we all use more technology now than we ever dreamed about when we were younger, so our lives shift and move with time. We can’t always affect what happens in our life. We can though take control of our own life and what we want to do with our skills and talents.
My friend and book coach Dale Darley talks about using writing a book as a pivot for your business. I’ve realised that I need to shift my focus, not just pivot to tweak what I’m doing.
As a multi-business owner, Mum of two teenage boys, wife, friend, volunteer and all those other roles I have, life is always a juggle. It’s fun and I love what I do. Yet, having published my first book, Passion is not Enough and starting writing the promised follow up book, I felt something wasn’t quite right.
I’ve been developing a social enterprise Listen2Me, which will be delivering training, workshops and supporting the development of listening services and schemes in schools, and I know I want to spend more time doing that. Which means that something else has to give way to make time for this tweak in my schedule.
I kept thinking was it that I needed to change my target audience? No, again I love working with micro and small businesses and charities through Business Cheerleading Club, and that’s where the book is focused. I know that some of these will become our larger companies or enterprises in the future.
So, I want to keep doing what I’m doing, but I also want to spend more time on developing something new. Mmm. The math just doesn’t add up! And there was something which wasn’t quite feeling right either. Do you get that sometimes? A feeling that something needs to change, but you’re not sure what?
Listen to everything you’re telling yourself
If you’re noticing that something isn’t quite right listen to it. You know yourself better than anyone, even if you don’t always listen well or believe what you’re hearing. The nuggets of truth your sub conscious mind shares with your conscious mind is all part of you. If you’re not listening to it then something is likely to be slightly out of balance.
I was working with one of my coaches, Deborah Marie Isis, this week, and it became clear that some of the stories I’ve been ignoring were trying harder and harder to make their voices heard. When I allowed myself to believe they were my voices I realised that I didn’t need to pivot as Dale had talked about but shift my focus into a new area of work with a new group of people.
Now I’ve made that decision and created some plans, I feel back in balance. I’m not letting anyone down with this new focus. In fact, I’ll be working with more people which was always what I wanted to do.
Going back to the diary situation, if you’re flexible with your time and focused on your vision and end results, everything else will fall into place. Don’t believe me? Book some time for yourself to just listen to what’s going on in your mind. Spend time writing things down to get things out of your head, or share with your coach. Ask them to help you really listen clearly. Then work out your next steps together.
Whether you’re due a pivot or a shift, what will happen if you don’t do it? I imagine it will be uncomfortable and you’ll be thinking “I wonder if”. So stop wondering, start listening and then shift your focus. And don’t tell me that it’s not the right time. It’s always the right time to listen to yourself and act on what you hear.
If you’d like help with this, book a complimentary Explore Call and let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together.