Inspirational Coach

Breaking through doubt

Breaking Through Self Doubt

Going well then suddenly stopped in your tracks by an attack of self doubt?  You are not alone!

And it could well be a sign that you are on the point of breaking through to a new level.

Here’s how to find clarity and confidence again…


Relaxing into Writing My Book

I guess you could call it irony…

Today started with big guns.  It is THE day when I’d written and circled the word WRITING in my diary.  A week or so before, with a genuine, happy, loud fanfare of celebration, I’d already announced the great news that I’d won a writing scholarship and was about to embark on writing my first book.

I woke early after nearly three weeks of Easter holiday lie-ins and prepared to drive my son Jamie into college.  Making the packed lunch and all went smoothly and I even had time to write my ‘morning pages’ (a new practice to support my book writing) before Jamie requested that I iron his trousers.

Jamie seemed to be in ‘up and at it’ spirit too and asked that we get to college early for a change.  We set off ahead of schedule and had one of the quickest journeys in we’ve ever had.  Not a single vehicle crossed us as we travelled through the country lanes to the main road, and certainly no sign of the horses, tractors and school traffic that we usually have to negotiate.  The sun was shining and the spring scenery breathtaking.  We duly arrived 15 minutes early – a first.

And so by 9.15am I was back home again.   This was IT!  I took my place in the conservatory, laptop at the ready, and communed with my inner guidance.  Quite plausibly, my guidance suggested that I listen to my inner wisdom meditation and write from there.  Sounded like a lovely idea.  Why not?

Strangely, my meditation was a bit stifled.  I didn’t really receive a clear message, just something mumbly about inner treasure.  Fair enough, I created a file on my laptop called Book on Inner Treasure and started to write in a new document titled Why I Want to Write this Book.

A hundred and fifty mediocre words squeezed out of me.  (I didn’t like them.  I didn’t connect with them.)  And then I dried up completely…

I noticed that my mouth was dry, energy dropping, heart sinking, and stomach knotting.  There was an increasing pressure on my head and it was beginning to ache.  I couldn’t think straight.  I had no ‘juice’, no inspiration.  Why DID I want to write this book?  I couldn’t remember.  “Oh my God I have a whole book to write and I don’t know what to say!  I can’t recall what I want to write about, how, why, who for – anything!”

Memories of how I used to feel the day before exams played out in my mind.  I was a keen student and always did well, but the day before exams, I often had a meltdown, doubting myself, going to my mum in tears telling her I was going to fail.  She would reassure me that it didn’t matter, and knowing she loved me anyway gave me permission to fail.  Having gained that permission,  I felt free to do well or not to do well, and that meant I relaxed and did very well indeed.

So today, it seemed like I was experiencing that old performance anxiety again.  I have been approaching this great occasion – the writing of my book – for about seven years.  During that time there have been three or four near misses when I’ve got very close to getting on with the writing.  But it never actually happened – all for plausible enough reasons, but  sometimes I taunt myself about it.  Can I really do it?  Can I really actually write a book?

Today, all that self-doubt and all that uncertainty was back – right there in the pit of my stomach, right there sitting on my head like a ton weight.  The feelings got so strong that I had an overwhelming urge to go and lie down.  It was a desire to go unconsious, not to face the feelings, to pull the duvet over my head.  In the end there was nothing to do but seccumb to sleep and I went to bed and slumbered for a short while.

So, from one point of view, my grand start to writing this book has been rather unpleasant.  Fortunately, a bigger, wiser part of myself was looking on compassionately.

That wiser part of me understood what was happening and was curious, tender and patient.  “Well, that’s intriguing”, she said.  “I suppose it is not surprising that your shadow side will present itself just when you are on the threshold of breaking through into something so big.  You are at your point of power, and this is what happens.”  “It is good to remember that often the real creative juice and inspiration is to be found in the very shadow that you are resisting, the feelings that you don’t want to feel.  There will be some gold in this…”

A very brief nap was enough to break the empasse and ease the tension a little, but I still felt flat and foggy.  I made myself some lunch, then confided my troubles to my best friend and husband.  Hugely wise and supportive, he also understood why I was feeling the way I was, and encouraged me to relax and do what felt right for the rest of the day.   A hug and a few tears released me from my paralysis and allowed me to at least make some decisions for the day.  I opted to go ahead and collect my new meditation CDs from the printer and pop in on a relative in hospital nearby on the way back as planned.  And so that’s what I did.

Driving through more beautiful country lanes in the spring sunshine, my mind cleared.  I reflected that two years ago I was embarking on the creation of my meditation CD and that the much anticipated first session at the recording studio was really slow and difficult.

The Jeep had overheated on the journey there and I had to arrange recovery to take me home after my session in the studio.  I was late, flustered, pre-occupied and definitely not in the zone.  After several hours, all we had managed to achieve was setting up the recording equipment and balancing the sound.

It took two more days in the studio to complete the recording – one day to record 38 minutes of live meditation and another day to make editing decisions together.  There there were many further hours of painstaking tweaking back at home and many more for my sound engineer to mix in the music and master the tracks just perfectly.  It took six months altogther before I was holding the finished product in my hand.

And yet, there I was today, collecting the second edition of my meditation CD, knowing that dozens of friends, family, clients and colleagues were eagerly awaiting them, and that many, many more could benefit from them.  I have the experience of knowing how satisfying it is to complete a work like this and am delighted with the finished product.

Recalling the process of the CD production, I was reminded that sometimes when we set out to create something, there can be a difficult beginning.  There can be some inertia to overcome before the positive momentum gets underway.  So I took heart at this – after all,  I am just at the beginning of my book creation journey.  My spirits were also lifted by the poetic synchronicity that my CDs were ready on the very day that I started to write my book.

The day had turned around.  On the way back home, I had a pleasant visit with my relative who is recovering well and was in the most amazing, peaceful cottage hospital overlooking the Teign estuary – the view from her bed alone is deeply therapeutic.

By the time I got home, I felt encouraged to go for my evening run, something that had felt impossible to contemplate in my shut-down, energy-less state earlier in the day.  Running is a new practice for me – something I have taken up in parallel with book writing – so I have faced similar challenges whilst getting under way.

On the first day, my running was slow, short and laboured.  I felt like I was dragging around a big heavy sack of a body.  The second day was similar, though I managed to run twice as far.  Likewise on the third.  On the fourth day, now running four times as far as the first, my stride felt light – I actually enjoyed it!  However, on the fifth day, for some inexplicable reason I dropped back to running only as far as on the third day, and the whole thing was a bit of an ordeal.

Today, the sixth day, I ran as far as the fourth day again.   So, it really has been a case of four steps forward, two steps back, and one step forward again.  “But hey”, I thought to enourage myself along, “look at the upside.  That’s 400% better than a week ago!  And I’m feeling the benefits, even if I’m only staggering half way around the village.  I am sure that getting out every day and moving my body has added to quite an uplift in my happiness, energy and general well being.”

And the irony is, that having done all that – got myself on the ‘must write my book’ hook and taken myself off back off again – that when I came in from my run, all I wanted to do was get onto the laptop and write!!

My big, wise self was right – the juicy creativity is right there within the shadow that I was resisting – and THAT is what I want to write about.  The reason I want to write the book is to share tips and experience on how to put wisdom and inspiration into practice.  I don’t want to just spout theory, or tell stories to illustrate my points, but to describe in real-time, nitty gritty, intimate detail what it is like to apply that wisdom and inspiration and move through the ups and downs joyfully and easily.

The biggest irony of today is that the previous blog I posted on my website is called Trusting the Tides of Inspiration.  It is all about how to trust your intuition to do or not do things, to be natural and not to push.  So how do I square that all away with ‘pushing’ through my inertia, confusion, self doubt and resistance today?

Well, the thing is, I didn’t push.  I didn’t force.  When I did ‘try’ too hard earlier this morning, I ended up with pressure in my head and and irresistable desire to sleep.

Things turned around when I wisely and compassionately acknowledged what was going on, confided in a loved one, let myself receive reassurance, and gave myself permission to trust that I knew best and could follow what was really good for me to do.

Instead of pushing, I softened and opened.  Yes, I kept my intention and purpose in mind, but I wasn’t harsh and insisting about how to go forward.  Instead I became curious about what was resisting and invited that part of me into the equation.  I teach exactly the same principle in meditation practice.  We set our intention – the focus of the meditation – and if we get side tracked, we lovingly acknowledge what is wanting to take our attention away, and include it in the meditation.

That is why I begin guiding meditation by including all the things we can hear, smell, taste and touch.  And then the same with anything we are feeling or thinking.  Rather than resisting or denying or resenting any ‘distractions’ from our focus, we welcome them all into our awareness.  It is like getting all the passengers on the bus before it sets off.

On the run today, I gently LEANED IN to the experience of feeling tired and wanting to stop rather than PUSHING THROUGH.  This gave me a soft, flexible strength – made pliable by understanding, tenderness and warmth.  Just like the tree is made stronger by the sap running through the trunk, allowing it to bend and yield in the wind, likewise a compassionate curiousity and inclusion allows us to flex rather than break.

And when we bounce back – like the tree trunk finding it’s natural upright position after being bent in the storm – the energy comes naturally and effortlessly.  In my case, after my run, an incessant stream of two thousand or so words flowed easily through my fingers into the laptop in the course of an hour.

And I’ve learned one very important practical lesson today – when I write and circle the word WRITING into my diary, it denotes a day to do whatever feels right to get myself into a natural, relaxed, inspired state of heart and soul, body and mind.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will write actual words.  The words will come if I clarify my intention and then relax.  Just like with meditation, if I lovingly include whatever is attempting to estrange me from my natural flow, the book will write itself.

Will these words make it into my book?  Well maybe they will, but it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I feel whole and free and satisfied, and just a little bit clearer on why I want to write a book in the first place!


What Helps When You are Feeling Down?

Having just navigated my way through a few days of (rare for me) ‘down time’, its got me thinking…

What really helps when you are feeling down?

Well, the starting point is simply this:

1. Accept how you are feeling.

The energy we put into resisting our feelings when difficult emotions are bubbling under the surface is incredible.   Instead, we keep ourselves zombie-like – plodding along in a low-grade  half-life – not happy, but not engaging with what’s going on either.

Our habit of blaming ourselves can mean that we’d rather remain in a state of brittle denial.  We can’t admit to ourselves that we feel this way as we would judge ourselves for being so.  It is better to pretend that we are okay.

But if we can just surrender for a few moments – really allow ourselves to feel how we feel – yes we feel the pain more fully, but we also begin to let in a little love and tenderness.  Much like we would if we were giving attention to a friend who was having a hard time.

Rather than being lost in this no-man/woman’s-land, it is better if we can NAME what we are feeling.  Naming it means that we are no longer subsumed by it.  Part of us is now standing outside and looking in, and we can feel some compassion for ourselves.

And having accepted how we are, we have the option of turning towards something more positive.

2. Take ONE tiny step.

When we are feeling down, everything can feel overwhelming.  We don’t WANT to do anything to help ourselves.  It’s all too much.

So my suggestion is this – choose ONE thing from the list below.  Just one.  One thing that appeals a little bit…

*  have a bath

*  go for a walk

*  make a fresh juice or a wholesome soup

*  listen to a guided meditation

*  get closer to nature / go outside

*  confide in a good friend

*  clean and tidy up

*  read something inspiring

*  count your blessings

*  have a nap

*  hang out with positive people

*  enjoy some exercise

*  listen to uplifting music

*  pray to receive support

*  do something to help someone else

*  channel inner guidance

*  reflect on your good qualities

*  make love or have a cuddle

*  look for beauty in everything

*  find the hidden gem/lesson /meaning in your issue

3. Take another step

What you will probably find is that once you’ve taken one step, you feel inclined to take another.  And some positive momentum builds from there.

For example, this morning, still feeling a wee bit under par, I decided to do one thing nice thing for myself – have a bath.

That prompted me to read some inspiring words from a book while the bath was running.  After my bath I did a little light housework and made a fresh juice for breakfast.

It is a bright day and I could hear the church bells ringing, so I went for a walk, pausing at the church door to listen to the congregation singing a hymn.

On the way home I popped in at our caravan in a nearby field and told it out loud how wonderful it is and how much I love it.

During my walk, all these ‘how to lift yourself up’ ideas came to me, culminating in the inspiration to write this blog.  My hope is it might support you too if you are feeling less than wonderful today.

4. Find the hidden gem

There’s always a nugget of gold buried in our difficult emotions.  Our feelings are trying to tell us something, bring our attention to something that will open understanding and meaning to a situation or experience.

I reckon the hidden gem in my ‘down time’ these last few days has been a) the need to rest and restore at the end of a very busy, productive year b) the opportunity to release some grief  from the past (see below) and  c) the prompt to write this blog and share something that might be supportive to others going through a bit of ‘down-time’.

This is my Facebook post about my hidden gems:-

“Emerging out of 5 day inner journey. Started with feeling of ‘flatness’, low energy, tinge of unhappiness, lack of customary inspiration/creativity, desire for more sleep, not wanting to do anything or communicate much…

Felt curious – was this just me being tired at the end of many months of huge activity and productivity? A bit weary after 10 days of tending to son Jamie being acutely unwell?  Raw after an emotional sort-out with my husband Pat (the resolution of which was postponed around Jamie’s illness). Was astrology / weather getting me down?

Counted my blessings that there wasn’t much in the diary and I could potter on with undemanding filing and accounts. Then yesterday, it dawned on me – memories of Decembers caring for ill, dying and bereaved loved ones in years gone past, and not being too well myself.

So it seems I was just releasing a bit of seasonal grief and heartbreak, perhaps triggered by Jamie being ill again. Felt better as soon as I realised this. Better to feel the raw grief rather than the depressive blanket of nothing that holds it out of awareness.

Reminded that its healthy to feel these things, lovingly acknowledge buried feelings, that we only feel these things when we are ready to, that I must be experiencing a deeper healing around these issues than ever before.

Thinking of going along the Movement Medicine dance class this evening – a beautiful way to honour, heal and release any anguish still stored in the body. That and I think I’ll put up the Christmas tree now – to remind myself of all the many, many loving, celebratory, happy memories that Decembers have given me too…”

5. Love is the answer

Giving a little attention where it is due is a profoundly loving act.  That’s all we are doing when we honestly accept  how we are feeling – truly loving ourselves just the way we are.

It gives us the momentum to take a positive step, and maybe even another, and another…

And opens up the possibility of gaining some wisdom and insight from our experience, some meaning, some letting go.

And so I’ll leave you with this song sung by Aloe Blacc, Love is the Answer.

This was shared by my Facebook friend today, the very lovely Mark Bajerski.  (Check out his wonderful biography, Diary of an Accidental Psychic.)

Love is the answer, that’s for sure, and we need only begin with one tiny step to let it back in to our life.


Hold Your Nerve and Breakthrough

When we make positive changes in our life we can sometimes lose our nerve and doubt ourselves.

But actually, being stirred up like this can be a sign that we are on the point of a big breakthrough.

In this video I explain what’s going on and give you some tips on how to hold your nerve.