Last week I went to see a coach whom I have been working with for a while now. Over the years, she has helped me prepare me for my next step. The step that has been a deep calling of mine for many years now, however I didn’t have the confidence or trust in myself to take it. The step of sharing more in the space of wellbeing and sport.
As Steve Jobs, said so eloquently in his Stanford Commencement Address in 2005,
“It was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that somehow the dots will connect to your future. You have to trust that something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, what ever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all of the difference.”
Connecting My Own Dots…
Today I am ready to share with you some of my own life dots. In January 2002, I moved to the Gold Coast to take up a position as a Health and Physical Education Teacher at Tamborine Mountain State High School. After graduating from the University of Newcastle with a Double Degree (Bachelor of Teaching / Bachelor of Health and Physical Education with Hons), I felt I needed space to create a new identity. Be in a space where very few people knew my past as an athlete and accepted me just for me and the job that I was doing – supporting students to learn health and physical education HPE.
I loved being a HPE teacher, however in June 2004 a position as the QLD State Project Officer came up with MindMatters – a National Mental Health and Wellbeing initiative. When I read the position description, I knew it was something I could do as it aligned so well with Health and Physical Education (as well as my Masters of Education that I had completed in my first year of teaching). So I applied and after an interview and bit of paperwork, I took leave without pay from my teaching position and dove head first in to that position in September 2004.
One Dot – A Conversation with Jo…
This position ended up helping me cement my passion. Besides learning the nuts and bolts of mental health and wellbeing and how to develop a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing, I was lucky enough to work with and be supported by some amazing people.
I distinctly remember having a conversation in the redevelopment phase of MindMatters (MM) with the National Co-ordinator of Strategic Development, Jo Mason. I had the upmost respect for Jo and was extremely grateful to have been able to work with her. This conversation was on empowerment and I remember like it was yesterday.
As we often did, we were discussing teaching, students and how they learn. This discussion sparked something in me that I didn’t know was there until later. I made a comment along the lines of –
“It doesn’t matter what the teacher does, if the students’ perception of themselves is that they are stupid or worthless, they are not going to learn. The student has to learn to see through or untangle those beliefs themselves. They may even be subconsciously sabotaging themselves.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was referring to me. Yes – I believed I was stupid, worthless, something was wrong with me and would never amount to anything. I had taken on board and believed these thoughts/beliefs from a variety of past experiences. I am not sure if Jo knew I was referring to me (I suspect she did as she was quite intuitive.
Subsequently – from my own experiences, I can now see I am the only one that can empower me and you are the only one that can empower yourself.
More than likely you will face your deepest fears, be challenged and mistakes will be made along the way, however that is part of the gift of the (un)learning process and adventure of life. It does not mean you’re a failure, something is wrong with you or you are worthless. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way –
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Another Dot – My First Silent 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat
During my time with MindMatters, I started noticing some similar patterns that I had experienced as an athlete. I was pushing and striving to be the best I could be. However, I was also struggling with my energy and looking after myself. Three seperate experiences occurred in quick succession, which led me to my first 10-day silent meditation retreat.
Seriously, I didn’t really know the depth of what I signed-up for. When I went in to this retreat, I was drinking two or three energy drinks a day (yes to help me get through the day with all of the things I needed to do). I was so busy, the thought of retreating and chilling for a while was appealing. However, this is not how my first experience evolved.
Those 10-days were the most challenging experience of my life. Sitting in meditation for about 10 hours per day was painful. Being with my own mind, without distractions was interesting to say the least. However, as it turned out, exactly what I needed.
After the extreme pain subsided on about day 5 or 6, I had a very clear seeing. I saw deeply there were other parts of me that I had been hiding and not expressing. And if I chose to, the next step in my personal work was to untangle them. So I have been ever since. And yes, this adventure continues as I practise mindfulness and self-compassion.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Third Dot – Wellbeing is for Everybody and Everybody Supports Wellbeing!
Towards the end of 2020, I got told (again) that wellbeing is the job of psychologists. I have heard this many times before, however know it is not true. Yes, absolutely psychologists support the wellbeing of athletes and people whom work in sport. However, the wellbeing of athletes is not the sole responsibility of psychologists.
What do I mean by this? As I am not here to convince you, I will ask you some questions, so you can decide for yourself –
- Do you think someone telling you, that you need to lose weight as a young person can impact your wellbeing?
- If you feel unheard in a conversation, can that impact your wellbeing?
- Thinking you do not have the resources or confidence to do your best, does that impact your wellbeing?
- If you don’t know how to deal with challenges or emotions, can that impact your wellbeing?
If you got this far, am gathering you can see that there are many elements to wellbeing and also wellbeing in sport (I wrote an article on wellbeing in sport here).
One of my favourite posters in my MM days, that we used to lovingly adapt is the image to the left. And yes, it still resonates with me today.
Final Dot (for now) – the Girl Who Changed My Life Without Realising It
This follows on from the last dot as well. When I was doing my Masters in Guidance and Counselling (yes I thought I was going to be a Guidance Officer), I did some volunteer counselling on the phone. One night a young girl rang. It turned out she was in distress, so I needed to call my supervisor.
Throughout the call, I made sure she knew what was going on and could hear what I was saying to my supervisor. In many ways, I was repeating what she said to me, back to my supervisor. At the end of the call, when extra support arrived for her, she said to me –
“thank you so much for listening to me, you are the first person who has really listened.”
I remember that moment as if it was yesterday – it still touches me deeply. And yes, I agree with her – true listening and being present for another human is a gift. This also shows (again) that wellbeing is everybody’s business, as human beings are communicating most of their lives in some way.
Over to You…
I hope this has given you a little insight in to my world and how different experiences have shaped who I am today. Yes I can see now how these dots have helped me to transform different parts of my own inner world, which has allowed me step in to the next adventure with wellbeing and sport. I made a promise to myself a few years back that I wouldn’t step in to the space until I was ready and healed / transformed my own adventure. And that time is now.
Yes there are a some more dots. However for the moment, I sense this is enough (remember I am an introvert at heart).
If you have any questions, please let me know. Also, if you would like to find out more about the work I am doing in sport and wellbeing, please visit the website Life Beyond Elite Sport. I have also started sharing stories from other athletes who played sport as well as you just never know, their story could be a dot for another person 🙂
Acknowledgement – A big thanks to Tracy Zilm for the photo of Jo and I.
Thanks again for taking the time to read and take good care 🙂 xxx
Coaching and mentoring are a little different, however many people use these words interchangeably. Subsequently, today I wanted to discuss –
- What is Coaching?
- What Coaching is NOT!
- Some Definitions on Mentoring,
- The Differences and Similarities Between Coaching and Mentoring
Let’s get started…
What is Coaching?
The International Coach Federation (ICF) refers to coaching as
“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Coaching recognises the client as the expert in their own world (personal and professional) and knows every person is creative, resourceful, and whole.
Basically the coaching process is about identifying where you are now, where you would like to be and then close that gap. The coach does this through –
- discovering, clarifying, and aligning with where the client wants to be,
- encouraging self-discovery and trust within themselves,
- eliciting client-generated solutions and strategies,
- keeping the client accountable and ensuring they are taking responsibility for themselves
- providing support to the client.
What Coaching is NOT!
Coaching is not –
- a quick-fix, one size fits all approach for your current challenges (as we are all unique),
- therapy or counseling (please seek a licensed medical professional if this is what you need),
- about giving you advice (you are the expert in your own life),
- financial advising or estate planning (again please seek a licensed practitioner if this is what you require).
Some Definitions on Mentoring…
There are a number of definitions of mentoring, including –
- “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- “An experienced person in a company or educational institution who trains and counsels new employees or students.” ~ Oxford Dictionary
- “a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school.” ~ Cambridge Dictionary
- “(in business) the practice of assigning a junior member of staff to the care of a more experienced person who assists him in his career” ~ Dictionary.com
- “Mentoring involves primarily listening with empathy, sharing experience (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, encouraging” ~ David Clutterbuck
The Similarities and Differences Between Coaching and Mentoring
There are quite a few differences between coaching and mentoring. As this is a question many clients ask, I decided to investigate further for them. The following table identifies the differences and similarities between coaching and mentoring –
How would you summarise the difference? Maybe it can be summarised as follows:
“A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.”
Over to You…
I hope this post has given you some insight in to the differences between coaching and mentoring. What do you think? Are there any other differences or similarities you would add? If so, feel free to add them below 🙂 Also – if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below as well.
Palmer, S., & Whybrow, A. (2009). Handbook of Coaching Psychology – A Guide for Practitioners. New York, USA: Routledge.
Passmore, J. (2006). Excellence in Coaching – The Industry Guide. London, United Kingdom: Kogan Page.
Grief and loss can be challenging for many of us. I don’t think I really knew too much about it growing up. However, later on in my life (maybe from about 30ish), I became acutely aware how much loss I had experienced (without actually realising it).
A few years back now, I wrote an article called – Coping with Grief and Loss – Insights in to the Grieving Process. If you are interested, please click here to read it. Today, I wanted to elaborate on that post and share about the Sixth Stage of Grief as it resonated with me when I heard it. However, before we start, let me share with you –
- What is Loss?
- What is Grief?
- What Types of Loss Can Cause Grief?
- The Original Five Stages of Grief,
- The Six Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning, and
- Some Insights in to Finding Meaning.
Let’s get started…
What is Loss?
Loss is being parted from someone or something that is really important to you. Loss can come into our lives in lots of ways, and it affects each of us differently.
What is Grief?
There are a number of definitions about grief, including –
- “…intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionaries
- “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” ~ Dictionary.com
- “deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death” ~ Merriam-Webster
- “The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job).” ~ MedicineNet.com
What Types of Loss Can Cause Grief?
Honestly – any type of loss can cause grief as grief is a reaction to a loss. Some examples of loss that can cause grief include –
- Losing or leaving a job,
- Death of someone you love,
- Divorce or relationship breakup,
- Selling the family home,
- A pet passing,
- Getting injured (especially if an athlete),
- Loss of health,
- A significant person in your life getting sick or ill, and
- Loss of a friendship.
“The pain of the soul and heart is much more powerful that the pain of the body” ~ The Prophet.
The Original Five Stages of Grief
In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross discussed what the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. The book is a discussion on some of the key emotional reactions to the experiences of the dying.
If you choose to read the book, you will see there are 5 stages that are described. The stages are used so the author can clearly articulate the experiences of the people she was learning from and they overlap. The five stages of grief are –
- Denial and isolation,
- Depression, and
You can see a visual of the diagram here.
The Sixth Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning
David Kessler has created the Sixth Stage of Grief. The sixth stage of grief evolved from the work of Kübler-Ross work after Kessler became a protege and friend of Kübler-Ross. They wrote two books together (Kessler 2019). In his book Finding Meaning – The Sixth Stage of Grief, Kessler clearly articulates the five stages –
- “Denial: shock and disbelief that the loss has occurred,
- Anger: that someone we love is no longer here,
- Bargaining: all the what-ifs and regrets,
- Depression: sadness from the loss,
- Acceptance: acknowledging the reality of the loss.” (p. 1)
After Kessler experienced a significant loss of his own, he came to realise there was a six stage – meaning. Meaning –
“allows us to transform grief in to something else, something rich and fulfilling.” (Kessler, 2019).
Finding meaning takes time and depends on the loss and the situation / person. However, over time, finding meaning can help to start to find a path forward. Meaning can take on many forms, including gratitude for the time you had with loved ones to acknowledging the fragility and value of life. Kessler (2019) says that people –
“who are able to find meaning tend to have a much easier time grieving than those who don’t. (And) they’re less likely to remain stuck in one of the five stages.” (p.3).
Some Insights into Finding Meaning
It is important to remember that grief and loss is complex process. For me personally finding meaning in my own experiences of grief and loss has been useful. However, for some of the losses it took me a long while to discover any meaning, so be compassionate to yourself!). A few insights that might help with finding meaning include –
- We all respond to changes in our life in different ways – there is no right or wrong way to find meaning. There is also no timeframe to grieving and / or finding meaning.
- You are the only one who can find the meaning.
- Being able to acknowledge and accept the significance of a loss is important and helps to find meaning.
- “Meaning doesn’t require understanding. It is not necessary to understand why someone died in order to find meaning” (Kessler 2019).
- “Your lost is not a test, a lesson, something to handle, a gift or a blessing. Lost is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.” (Kessler 2019).
Over to You…
I hope this has given you some insight in to the sixth stage of grief – finding meaning? If you have any questions, please ask them below or contact us. Also feel free to join our toolkit, to help you live with an open heart!
Kessler, D. (2019). Finding Meaning – The Sixth Stage of Grief. New York, USA: Scribner.
Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. New York, USA: Scribner.
During the past few weeks, more changes and opportunities for transformation continue to present themselves in my life. Yes there are the obvious changes being presented with our current situation with the pandemic, however I also have a number of others.
In the past, these changes would have sent me straight in to fear, worry and panic as I didn’t know there was a gap as you can see by the image. Over many years of practise, I have remembered I have a choice in each moment of each situationI find myself in and I can those choices from a place of fear or a place of love (i.e. my courage).
Why I Created a Fear List…
Many years ago I created a fear list. I created it like a reverse bucket list as I knew fear was one of the emotions that prevented me from living a whole-heartedly connected life. So we are are on the same page, fear is –
- “…an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” – Google and Oxford Dictionaries.
- “…an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events.” – Wikipedia, and
- “to be afraid of (something or someone)” or “to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Identifying and Acknowledging My Fear
Wondering how I identify my fears? It is simple really – I have a number of them identified on an excel spreadsheet. However, I also stay alert each day with my feelings and have learnt to be able to identify when I am being triggered around things. For example – not having enough money to pay expenses.
When I discover my fear, I acknowledge it and use some self-compassion and mindfulness techniques I have learnt over the years. For example – the STOP Technique.
The STOP Technique – One Way to Acknowledge and Navigate Fear
One strategy I continue to use to interrupt fearful thoughts so I can choose to respond rather than react, is the STOP technique. This technique, helps me interrupt the ‘automatic pilot’ by bringing you back to the present moment. A brief description of how I use the STOP technique is –
- S – stop. I stop to interrupt my fearful thought pattern or ‘automatic pilot’ by coming back to the present moment,
- T – take a breath. I then take a breath and focus my experience of the in-breath and the out-breath (when it feels OK to do so),
- O – open to observation. I connect to the experience of this moment and inquire with a sense of curiosity –
- What am I seeing?
- What am I feeling?
- What am I sensing?
- What am I hearing?
- What am I smelling?
- What am I thinking?
- P – proceed. I then proceed and reconnect with my surroundings and the activity I was doing in the moment.
I have also used this process to journal, so I can untangle from the fearful thoughts.
Over to You…
How do you identify and navigate your fear? Feel free to share any comments below.
Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?
One of the skills I am passionate about developing is emotional literacy. There are many reasons why, however one of the main reasons is because I knew I needed to relearn. One of the main ways I have learnt to figure out my own emotions is by using an emotions diary/ journaling guide. However, before I share how I started to figure out my emotions using an emotions diary, let’s discuss emotional literacy and why it is important.
Why Develop Emotional Literacy?
Emotional literacy is the building block of emotional intelligence. Subsequently, when we develop our own emotional literacy we can access and develop important information about ourselves and others and process any emotional baggage (don’t worry we all have it!), take better care of ourselves and look after wellbeing.
What is Emotional Literacy?
Just as learning to read and write begins with literacy of letters and sounds, learning to interpret and manage feelings begins with emotional literacy. The term “emotional literacy” was coined by Claude Steiner in 1979.
The definitions of emotional literacy include –
- “To be emotionally literate is to be able to handle emotions in a way that improves your personal power and the quality of your life and – equally important, the quality of the life of the people around you. Emotional literacy helps your emotions work for you instead of against you.” ~ Claude Steiner
- “Emotional literacy is the ability to put feelings in to words so that those feelings can be understood within some sort of psychological context.” ~ Tian Dayton
- “… lets us sort out all of those feelings, name them and begin to understand their causes and effects. It is the basic building block of emotional intelligence.” ~ Joshua Freedman
- “Emotional literacy helps us precisely identify and communicate our feelings. Naming them helps us identify our unmet needs; communicating them helps us identify those people who voluntarily assist us in meeting our needs. The key to emotional literacy is using simple, clear and direct three-word I messages like – ‘I feel sad.'” ~ Steve Hein
After reading the above, do you agree that emotional literacy could be a useful skill to develop? If so, read on as I share one way I have been figuring our my emotions using an emotions diary.
Figuring Out Emotions Using An Emotions Diary
To develop my own emotional literacy, I chose to create an emotions diary. I used this diary regularly, not just when I was going through a difficult time. It also helped me to understand and learn to manage my emotions more effectively on a day-to-day or maybe more accurately on a moment-to-moment basis (and yes I still journal with it).
An emotions diary is basically keeping a journal or ‘notes’ on your emotions. You can write about the name of the emotion/s, shifts in them, what was going on at the time or leading up to you noticing the emotion, whether or not you thought the emotion/s was appropriate and were any other people present. Also, I chose the word emotions instead of feelings as it resonated with my intention more. Basically an emotions diary is an empowering way to reconnect with your self and explore what is going on within you.
An Example of An Emotions Diary
There are a number of pre-made journals available, for me I like to keep things simple, so all you really need is some paper and pen/pencil. Following are the key aspects I include in my emotions diary –
1. Date / Time:
I include the date and time so I can look back on how I have changed and evolved over time.
2. Description of Emotion:
Trust me, I know naming an emotion can be challenging as learning to identify and label an emotion are skills in themselves, so when I started I just did my best and when required used these “primary emotions“. I then also like to add – does this emotion feel good or bad? Up or down? How intense is the emotion on a scale of 1-10 (1 = low intensity and 10 = high intensity).
3. Event / Situation:
Was there an event or incident that led up to the emotion? If so, I write them down. I include (if relevant), where I was, who I was with and what was going on.
4. Physical Sensations:
What did I notice going on in my body and where did I notice it?
5. Behaviour / Action:
What behaviour and/or action did I take? Was this behaviour / action a reaction or a response? Was this appropriate? What helped me cope with this emotion?
6. Moving Forward:
Is there something I can learn from this? Is there anything I can do in relation to the event / situation and/or emotion? If so, what? How can I move forward and/or release this experience?
Over to You…
Remember, figuring out our emotions using an emotions diary can take a while, It is not something you master over night, it takes time to see results (and I continue to learn). If you choose to start to use an emotions diary, I recommend taking your time, bringing your self-compassion with you and discover what works best for you as we are all unique.
Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?