There’s a chapter of the book I’m writing, and a stage of my model for overcoming the fear of speaking that isn’t necessarily the most popular. Because it’s NOT the part where you get to feel into all the juicy, soul-igniting good good of what you love or your purpose. Or the part I find many women LOVE, the part where we talk about the host of ways you can become more connected to and fully expressed in your feminine presence and get your natural, God given sexy on, in a healthy sex-positive way. Its the one where we talk about the importance of building your inner strength and resilience, as a precursor to one allowing their most authentic self to emerge, in all aspects of life. It is both essential to the Owning your Voice journey, but also essential to us finding our groove as strong, independent Leaders, who are also heart connected and compassionate in their work.
Why is it so important? For all that good good to be able to flow, we need to feel both safe in walking the world, and to BE a safe, solid container through which those things can download, be created, embodied and expressed. Put another way, It’s about developing the ‘yang’ (more typically considered ‘masculine’) qualities in balance with the ‘yin’ (feminine) ones, BUT, in a way that, for whatever gender we identify with, we can personally relate to and feel comfortable with, in talking about a person as a whole. For example, if I was to ask you, who as a Leader do you more want to be like, King Arthur, or Wonder Woman (or both?), one or parts of those might innately ring true for you personally, right?
Hence HOW each of us relates with and conceptualises resilience looks a little different for each of us and HOW you go about building your inner resilience, might look a little different for each of us. As someone who other women often refer to as “very yang” in my energy, but given my health challenges of the last 6 months, has had to retrace her own steps on how to re-build one’s resilience, I thought it might be timely to share 10 of the things I’ve done in my life to help build my resilience, that might be handy for some of you to know too, as it relates to any moments in which you or someone you know, might find yourself working on your/their own:
1- Get on top of your nutritional deficiencies
It’s incredible what an impact these can have on both your sense of physical and psychological resilience. Iron deficiency is the perfect example. When your body doesn’t have enough iron to create red blood cells that can sufficiently carry the oxygen your breathe throughout your body to ensure that your cells can sufficiently complete numerous functions (like forms of energy production/metabolism), not only does -your body start feeling weak, tired and out of breath by the top of a set of stairs, the hill or a workout
-your immune system take a hit and
-your body take longer to heal and recover, but
-psychologically, as the feedback comes back to your brains that your survival is being compromised, you literally start to feel anxious, more easily overwhelmed and less able to cope with things you normally would handle just fine.
Because I’ve had a problem with heavy bleeding a lot of my adult life, keeping my iron up without additional supplementation (no matter seemingly how much iron I eat) has often been a thing. In the two worst instances, like one I had in 2012 and my the one I had earlier this year, I found you could so notably tell the difference within just a few weeks of taking really high iron supplements. In 2012, as I did so, I kept seeing images of battle armour and old English implements made out of iron, as my strength returned and remember saying to someone that I I had a new found appreciation of the link between our iron levels and our inner (feminine) strength and resilience.
Magnesium, the “off switch” so to speak for muscle contraction (not to mention, as one other example, a core component of our bone composition) is another. Often things like leg cramps, chronic period pain and the psychological feeling like we can never relax or sleep properly, go hand in hand with magnesium deficiency, and ease with magnesium supplementation. So I’ve found, it’s another one that can be important in the resilience picture.
Eating enough B group vitamins for energy production, immunity, neural and reproductive function.
In an animal nutrition class I once attended during my science degree, they once showed up a diagram that attempted to capture the number of different nutrients and minerals that were essential to our healthy existence. In the illustration of lines attempting to show the links between some, and how others blocked each others function, it looked like a 2D ball of steel wool in it’s complexity. I could be here a month trying to highlight everything that is important. But there are people, like Nutritionists and Naturopaths, who can help each of us figure out which particular ones we need for our own wellbeing. And its definitely worth it.
2- Get physically fit and challenge yourself with stretch goals
Kind of seems obvious, right? Because you can literally measure your physical increase in fitness and strength. But also the qualitative one in psychological resilience, as we, each session, start to achieve things that, 20mins or 3 hours earlier, we might have wondered IF we could ever do, and now, after having lifted more weight, or cut time off a lap in the pool, or gone further on a hike than we’ve done before, we now know that we CAN.
I feel like this one is part acknowledging the “I can do it” and an attitude of optimism e.g. “it is possible for me to do that” and “growth and expansion is possible”, one part self love in the form of taking time to make note of our gifts and strengths and one part gratitude in taking time to appreciate them. The idea is simple. The challenge is in committing to them and continuing to choose them, day after day.
4- Debunking mental myths and stereotypes
Then I think it’s a lot of about dismantling the beliefs and perceptions we can be holding about human strength and weakness. As well as any we’ve taken on in association with difficulties or traumas, we’ve experienced in this lifetime.
For example, there is this cultural stereotype that says that “women are physically weaker than men”, that has the majority of women walking on the planet in a state of constant underlying fear. Especially if they’ve ever experienced a physical or sexual assault of some form. I think this myth and mentality is perfectly described and debunked in a great blog I stumbled across over the last week called “my wife is a black belt in martial arts” written by Phillip, who is Swedish, 29 and who’s lovely wife is a black belt Hapkido instructor. And who, the first time he ever asked her to show him her skills, he freely admits, kicked his butt. He’s not trained in the same martial art himself, but their journey inspired him 2 years ago, to start a blog on relationships, martial arts and gender roles, in which he not only provides her as a living example of debunking this myth for the wellbeing of women everywhere, but he also helps men make sense of the host of psychological reactions they can have come up in response to the thought of being physically outclassed by a woman.
5- Self defence training
For me personally, given that I had had been through numerous physical and sexual assaults that I couldn’t physically overpower my way out of, and thus had initially had that myth and fear very much reinforced in my mind, I found going to self defence training and picking up the skills and insights on how you CAN handle, overcome, out-manoeuvre, get away from any attacker who is bigger, taller, physically stronger than you was a huge part in alleviating my anxiety about moving about in the world, as a woman who’s been more often single and not always had the comfort of the feeling of having a man walking energetically or physically by my side, adding to my psychological sense of safety, I found this step was absolutely essential for building my confidence and resilience standing on my own two independent feet.
6- Archetypal and role play work
That, and I’ve found a lot of the work I did in counselling modalities like gestalt therapy, transpersonal art therapy, drama therapy, performing arts classes and the roles I got to play as an Actor, and the subsequent work I’ve done in meditation and physical embodiment practices later at home, go a long way to helping women and people in general, develop a deeper association with the qualities within themselves that we associate with strength and safety. In a way that works for whatever gender you identify personally with.
For example, think doing role plays or meditations where you allow the energy of your own warrior/ess, whatever that looks like for each of us, to come to mind. For example, Wonder Woman and the Amazons, have been a very publicly accessible one for women to identify with in the last few years. And then imagine allowing the energy of that “character” to flow through your body. And then getting up and moving through the room, or parts of your day, with that energy.
Another one for me and several other colleagues has been playing with our own gender concepts of “our inner masculine” and the various expressions of that throughout the life span e.g Teenager, Father, Elder. And healing the wounds that we’re carrying about our own ancestry that relate to those. So that we could ultimately be more receptive to receiving the healthy, highest versions of these showing up through the actual men (and people full stop) in our lives.
7- Roles models
I think having a list of people who actually embody those qualities in the real world and in our lives, can also be a necessary part of helping ground this work into the real world too and appreciate where these qualities already exist in the world around us.
But also, in having worked on embracing all the aspects of these (e.g. archetypes above) that we actually already are, it also helps us to step into a place, particularly for women, of no longer being desperately dependent upon the men in our lives for our sense of safety (and having our support needs met). But it allows us to come into, what I think is a much healthier place, of NOT needing them, but WANTING their presence in your world and you both being able to choose to interact with each other, again and and again, from this place of empowerment, over a sense of desperate necessity. It can be confronting, and bring up a lot of stuff to work through, but I’ve found that’s a really beautiful and honouring place to be able to love the people in our world from, and relate from. So in the end, the work (and the wait) has become worth it.
8- Symbols or talismans of protection
While not essential, I find it can helps a lot of people feel more comfortable and helps with a sense of feeling safe and protected to have an external object, or something we carry or wear that symbolises or is said to impart us with the qualities of resilience. Whether it’s wearing a cross, a figurine of a deity, archangel or saint, a rune, an inscription or affirmation we’ve had added to a piece of jewellery we wear, or a crystal or gem stone that is said to help us with such things as: overcoming our fears, feeling confident, grounded and protected, more deeply connecting with our hearts and purpose, or that strengthens our connection to the earth, our intuition or our ancestors, for example, having such symbols can help add to our overall holistic sense of resilience.
9- Faith, Spirituality and Purpose
To say a little bit more about connecting to a sense of something bigger than ourselves, I cannot say enough how essential this has been to me and many of the people I’ve worked with in overcoming the horrendous traumas and more minor setbacks many of us have experienced day to day, to have a healthy concept of faith. A belief system that connects us with a sense of higher purpose within all the madness, combined with reassurance that there is a very real need and reason why it’s worth you getting back up in the moments where you’ve felt knocked to the ground, that reminds you that something better and a purpose for you lies beyond, combined with a little self love work to work on our sense that we deserve and are worthy of receiving the “good good” that comes on the other side of getting the download from this life lesson, is essential to our resilience.
That, and a bit like Rey does is the Rise of Skywalker, when she’s doing her training and then later in battle, calls on her Jedi ancestors to “be with me”, there is something undeniably beneficial to our resilience in embracing that idea that, or remembering that we are NEVER really alone in all this. That, if we choose, the spirits and strengths of our ancestors and (if you can respect me going there) perhaps the energy of any other benevolent beings that exist in our natural world and our universe beyond our 3D physical form that we might choose to journey with, might be a part of our resilience picture as well.
Hand in hand with that, and separately to that, developing our self awareness, and our sensory and intuitive intelligence, so that we can become confident in being fully self directed in the actions we take in all aspects of life and, more that that, develop trust in our ability to navigate any and all situations life may throw at us, consciously and intentionally, I’ve found, is an also an essential step in building our resilience.
11- Facing your fears
Coming back to the mindset piece, and continuing the Jedi and the warrior themes that we explored in both the movies I’ve mentioned above, as much education, therapeutic or personal development work as we do ABOUT resilience, in the end, there is still the step often to be done of confronting the things we fear that sometimes can hold power over us, until we do.
I watched a brilliant interview recently from Lisa Bilyeu’s Women of Impact at Home Interview Series with Michelle Poler, author of “Hello Fears- crush your comfort zone and become who you’re meant to be” in which Michelle puts forward a couple of systems of categorising the 7 most common kinds of fear that we experience, based on what it is that we’re really most afraid of underneath the object or person we’ve learned to associate with them. For example, we say we have a fear of public speaking, but what we’re really most afraid of underneath that, might be any one of the 7 thing below. In this book, she also outlines what she calls the 6 stages of facing a fear that I think are really useful.
The 7 kinds of fear:
Very true that sometimes the best way to overcome any of those, is to put yourself (genuine safety concerns considered) in a situation where you have an opportunity to deal first hand with that experience coming up and get to practice both navigating the thought, waves of energy and physical sensations that go with it AND then practice managing all of those in a healthy way. Some of us may first have to learn techniques to DO that and I can certainly help with that. But the ultimate benefit is that, through realising that it a) didn’t kill you after all, or b) that thing you were most afraid of didn’t come to pass, and or that c) if it did, you absolutely CAN and DO have the ability to handle it, helps you both get your power back from whatever you’d been giving it away to, helps you release the fear for good and builds your trust, confidence and resilience. So totally worth the work.
12- Relating from a place of Interdependence- we’re even stronger with support
Finally, I felt like this was the one to end on. Story of my freaking life that it’s one thing, out of necessity or choice to learn how to be strong, resilient and independent standing on one’s own two feet, when circumstances in life challenge us to do so. It’s one thing to learn how to create a beautiful, elaborate mental fortress within, from which you can safely navigate and to which you can safely retreat throughout all of life’s transitional and relational complexities, to be able to successfully survive through adversity and rise to toes of of expansion, fulfilment and success.
A bit like Liz Gilbert at the end of Eat Pray Love, I feel it is truly an achievement when you realise you’ve got to a place in life where you feel like you’ve got your happiness, your self care and your life formula and your resilience strategy nailed down on your own two feet. But I’ve been remembering in the last year, trying to open up to merge with or create something akin to tribe, family and love again, personally and professionally, like Liz when she’s having a panic attack deciding whether to get on the boat with Phillipe or not, and they both concede that, especially after you’ve been hurt, it can be truly terrifying opening back up, trying to be open for the right, fully available versions of the people you’re destined to share the journey with again, at the risk of either being left falling through mid air when you decided some people were worth the leap and the didn’t feel the same, or think you were worth the effort to move towards you and you face planted into the cold, hard ground of “vulnerability”. Or of losing yourself and everything you’ve worked so hard to rebuild again. As Michelle’s 7 types of fear go, for me personally, I’ve very much found it the case this year that those still hit my 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 to the level of panic attacks and tears.
While changing the world on the outside definitely STARTS with changing what’s on the inside it is still the case that, as humans, each us is made stronger, by sharing our life with people, who’s strengths compliment our own strengths. As well as with some that are a lot like we are, you truly get you and you them too. Inevitably, our resilience grows and we go further, often faster, our plans become more informed and grounded and we can experience and achieve more on a journey that is shared. So interdependence is the final step.
Is there anything that you would add in your experience? Feel free to share. And i'll see you in 2 weeks, post surgery and recovery.
If there is one activity that immediately brings me home and fully "back into" myself, it's dance.
Whether i've been sitting working on my Macbook or a PC for several hours straight and need to get my body literally moving. or whenever i've been overthinking things, and or am feeling emotionally numb or stuck, dance and especially any movements of the of the energy channels along my arms, movements that open my chest, more-so than with my other favourites, like yoga, or swimming or a run on the beach, get me straight back into deeper connection with my heart.
While i've never been formally dance trained and i never learned ballet (but my Mother did), that's the place where i find much of my graceful, feminine flow. If i find some part of my body to be stiff or stuck, that's the point where the part of me that knows energy medicine puts my hands on it or near it and i gently work it out of disconnection and back into connection.
Being the (as so many people who know me put it) "raw, passionate, heart being" that i am, that more often than not means i've got to stop holding onto whatever recent experience i've been (for functionality purposes) holding in suspended animation in that place until it was a 'better' time to feel my way through and let go of that tension.
Through literally moving and bringing my presence to that part of me, i get the tears, or the frustration or fear, or whatever else it might, be felt and literally danced out. It's my way of getting the energy flowing again and then channelling it, or rather allowing the love, lightness and joy to flow on through again instead, a bit like turning on an old tap and clearing the energetic pipes.
If part of our way of coping with the day, or coping with intense events at times is to disconnect from and turn the sensory volume down on the parts of us that are associated with processing such experiences (and it's certainly a coping mechanism i'd had to lean on heavily earlier in traumatic parts of life), then dance becomes one of my ways of coming back into fully inhabiting and being fully present within my body again.
I'm not going to lie to you, if i had a romantic partner again, dance might well get bumped down the agenda in favour of physical intimacy at times. Depending on what stage of dating and relating you're at, one where nerves still freak us out, or the ones where we're fully ready to share ourselves with another and check IN, if we all get honest for a moment, as if this ISN'T one of the most common and relatable ways many people might find that they reconnect regularly with their bodies.
For some of you, who've yet to see my work side that relates to women getting back into their bodies and healing their shit about doing so, that might well still be just a bit T.M.I. at this point. BUT, the point was, physical intimacy, whether with someone else, is yet another activity that (most of the time, not all the time) can put us back in deeper connection with our bodies.
Spending time in nature, or with your plants in doors, at times, is another means of quickly grounding our way back in.
Before you speak, that might be the walk you take around the space that channels your nervous energy into moving and DOING, maybe talking to people and helping, instead of sitting and overthinking.
What is/are your activities that bring you back into yourself that you do at home?
And what are the ones that you could potentially draw upon to bring you back into your body, in work moments, like meetings or presentations or webinars, where you might need to be more fully present?
Why should you be interested in having an arsenal of such practices that help you be more present, as it relates to personal communication, leadership and speakership and life?
On the weekend, i filmed this walk-through of a model on the 4 stages many of the predominantly women i've worked with have found themselves going through on the way to finding their voices on a personal and then a professional level. (If you're short on time, you can just skip towards the end to check out the whole thing drawn out and then come back if/when you have time.)
Fully inhabiting ourselves and standing in front of others fully present in ourselves and fully taking ownership of our essence, who we are and our truth, is the challenge of the second stage on that video. In the second stage of "trepidation", after stage 1, in which we often just avoid speaking up or speaking all together in the pursuit of either perceived likeability and keeping the peace OR in priority to being of being of service, in stage 2, we START doing so.
BUT, depending on how the outcome appears to be going, we can be very quick to adjust course, or almost "inhale back in" whatever it was that we said, if it doesn't appear to be landing so well with the other person and we go into fear about the consequences. In the positive, pausing long enough to feel the moments when our intuition might actually be whispering "wait, you might benefit from feeling this one out a little bit more first", is also the gift of this phase.
But, what i found when i was first journeying this phase, was that, when we speak up from this place, we also tend to do so with all of our energy only in our heads and our throats, but often, due to the fear, not in deep connection with the whole of our bodies, while we're not completing owning and inhabiting that aspect of our truth. And what tends to happen, when you're not fully owning and inhabiting it, perhaps not so surprisingly, is that people don't necessarily respond back in the way you want them to, in terms of respecting what you have to say.
Though, how can they, actually, realistically, if we're not fully owning, standing there openly revealing and being clear and direct about what it is we feel, believe, want or need? The downside is that, when we communicate from this place, the ultimate consequence is that, not only are we not giving the other party something to connect to, relate with and potentially love about us, but we're less likely to receive what we need/be met or achieve whatever goal or vision we might be hoping to, while we're hiding and not fully owning and showing any of it.
It's very tempting in this phase to turn it outwards on the other person in blame for not caring or respecting who we are and what we have to say, thinking THAT is the problem. BUT the real underlying challenge here, is that, if you want what you say to be impactful, fully received and met with action and respect, you need to be able to stand there, full-body owning your truth and verbally and non verbally communicate and relate from that place. Whether your intention is to give something or be of service, or your request is made in pursuit of something that you desire or need.
The other tendency (in stage 3) can be to try and go OVER the top in intensity or aggression trying to have impact and MAKE people listen or comply. (Which again, often ultimately stems from a place of some version of beliefs that have us fearing and not trusting in the goodness of the the other person and or that we can be met.) The flipside or positive to this stage, being the times in life where we may NEED to be able to, like a parent, or how they teach you to be in self defence or warrior trainings, be able to meet and match and diffuse the energy of a challenge.)
But the ultimate upshot of stage 4, is the realisation that, when you stand in front of someone, or a room, fully connected to your heart, your essence and your soulful truth, with loving intent, THIS is actually powerful in and of itself without you even having to TRY to be. In the same way that a strong breeze is not TRYING to prove anything when it blows your umbrella; laws of nature being as they are, it just IS powerful. As are we, when we stand there, fully heart connected, fully inhabiting ourselves with our energy and our truth and being willing to relate with the world from that place.
Every Leader will at some point progress to realising this. But one of the personal practice pathways to help you get there and stay there in leadership and everyday life, is making sure you're making time to do activities that connect you back to your body fully and building your awareness of what it feels like both when you're in and NOT fully in there throughout the day.
After that, then comes the fun/at times insanely scary part of actually standing in front of people and speaking, while attempting to STAY that connected to yourself. Reminding ourselves that it is our purpose to be of service, to bring our wisdom and experience to these moments, that we are needed and therefore that we BELONG there, is a sure-fire way too to help with that too.
Once i'm past my upcoming surgery and or the present restrictions on live events have worked themselves out, i am absolutely gunning to create more live workshop spaces again in which (especially Women) can:
-play with and practice being in and staying in that state in front of a group
-do some physical activities that get us there in both fun and professional skill building ways and
-have some heart centred discussions around what our personal version/vision of showing up fully empowered and owning our voices looks like and about what is getting in the way of us showing up as our most authentic selves in business, relationship and life
In order to help us show up more fully, be able to connect more authentically, have a greater positive impact and create more mutually beneficial outcomes in each of those areas.
But first, speaking of fully inhabiting ALL of ourselves in ways that better serve us, a surgery and a bit more work for the poor parts of my uterus that have still seemingly lost a bit too much blood flow for me to be succeeding in holistically and energetically getting THEM fully back online so far by myself. As i looked at (and we listened to them) on the ultrasound images yesterday, i was acutely aware of how much grief I was "containing" in the middle of the part that's essentially been walled off because it's now died. This afternoon i took an hour or two of downtime to let that move....and reconnect with what energy i intend to have re-inhabit in it's place. Within an hour, i was straight back to my Macbook 'just opening itself' to a PDF i still had open on finding your client's WHY from my last event and i found myself in the creative flow of writing something hopefully useful for someone about the importance of fully inhabiting ourselves. OH the freaking joys of LIVING and embodying what you're meant to teach!
Until next time....
Have you ever had one of those moments where you just KNEW you were great at something, and you KNEW you were destined to do a particular thing. Maybe you already got some momentum at times DOING that thing. But then you found yourself feeling a bit like you were “stuck” in an in-between momentum moment?
There is this myth that exists within the entrepreneurial realms and the creative realms and, well pretty much in every Capitalist aspect of Western Society, that leads us to believe that we’re MEANT to be exploding out of our minds with success and momentum every moment of the day in service, if we’ve truly nailed the “have it all” doing what you love and doing what you were born to do picture. For sure, when you and a project hits its stride, when you’re in the peak of a launch exploding in a good way, your peak sales season of the year, your rise moment, and feel like you barely have 4 hours a night to sleep, let alone think, an in-between moment ALSO FEELS like a myth. And, given that THOSE moments equate to Capitalist marketing Gold, it can be easy to think from the media and social media at times that whatever is going on for the successful party, as publicly communicated, is the sum total reality of their existence in that moment…BUT…
But (I found myself reminding MYSELF of this again recently) if any part of you thinks that you’re MEANT to maintain non stop success and momentum ALL of the time and ever feels like you’re doing something wrong if you aren’t, try running that by Richard Branson in his early days or times since, where he was wondering if he’d have to start selling off planes today, or Elon Musk before the Space X launch that, if it didn’t work, they were out of funds, or the Founders of any other companies that, for their first few years, were in the multi million to billion negatives in debt to banks, begging for a break-even moment and living off Mentor’s and friends charitable gestures of support and encouragement. What it still at times seems to be taboo to talk about in the entrepreneurial realm, made less taboo by the challenges of 2020 that are clearing the air, are the in-between moments.
In-between moments are often loaded up with fear and shame. We might not want the world to find out and think we’ve lost our magic, or fear that supporters might withdraw their support, adding weight to our doubts and, we fear, costing us more momentum and sales, in a patriarchal, high performance, tall poppy culture that has in times past, eaten failure for breakfast, to the point where many are still terrified that, if any one should find out that they’ve “dipped” below their “A game”, the consequences will be dire. Instead, for the longest time, “keep calm and positively delude on and only tell your besties and closest, until you make it out the other side”, has been the high end business mantra. That and don’t give it energy and affirm it as “real” in reality. BUT
If you think that every one of us is MEANT to be successful and exploding and fully booked out every minute ever of your existence, my dear, please let yourself off the hook, take a deep breath and let that one go. Just because we’ve once had success, doesn’t mean that everything we try or launch thereafter is going to automatically be an overwhelming success or have equal momentum first time around, which is why so many successful entrepreneurs have multiple projects they’re trying at once (once they’ve learned how to properly give each one the right attention it needs, at the right times). Entrepreneur and Practitioner/Consultant wise, people go through phases and there are all kinds of reasons for that.
And creatively speaking, the number of Creatives, let alone entrepreneurs actually employed full time at any given time, is actually a lot lower than you might think in reality. And that’s precisely why, for today’s blog, I’m going to use Creative Artists as examples of how to maintain mental perspective in times of change . Because they’re often GREAT at talking openly about the in-between moments.
For example, Catherine Reitman had 4 years of envisioning, pitching, getting rejected, tweaking, testing, pitching various versions of Workin’Mums, before it ever became what you see it as today. She talks about it in her TED talk above (along with the myth that the majority of creatives are employed or meant to be 24/7 and how she personally coped with that.
Patrick Dempsey had a 10 year gap of auditions without ever getting a job between “Cant Buy Me Love’ and him getting his next big break as the “Dr Dreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy that many know him for, ahead of the 3rd movie in the Bridget Jones Franchise. In this interview that came out around the time of Bridget Jones 3, he and Renee Zellweger talk about how THEY handled their in-between moments and how other creatives do too.
[See 24.35 mins in, In answer to the question “what advice do you have for aspiring actors?”] In fact, back in 2000, when I was doing Performing Arts, they were telling us THEN, the key to our success in the coming decades would be becoming multi-modal to be able to make a living out of one’s creative talents.
This year, for me, I was hoping to make it a year where I would get some new footage again of me in front of big audiences again, whether as a Speaker, or Singing for public audiences again, because I SOOOOOO wanted to be able to actually get it on film and captured for people again the kinds of experiences i know I’m CAPABLE of creating for a room on a bigger scale, so that my show reel would be beefier with living proof and my marketing would have more “credibility” than just ME talking in good faith about some past thing I did. Then covid happened, we’ve all pivoted to webinar and video, and that’s now a goal for another time to come, where face to face gatherings are again a thing.
In the interim, I guess the world will just have to settle for little recordings like this you can use to decide whether I’m among “those who can DO or those who can’t and teach” as many still put it.
Yes this IS me singing. Though it’s just done on my iPhone, no fancy equipment or studios, recorded, among others, actually just for the purpose of me gauging, how much training I have to do to get my voice back to marathon “fit” again. This one is more me sitting in my heart and high range. Some of the others I recorded belting out things like Shallow, after a lot of time off proper practice in the way I used to, I hear my inner “The Voice” judge and former Lecturers voices saying “yeah, need some practice to better harness your control again and get out of thinking about technique and back in FLOW”. Despite all that mental chatter, my point though?
I haven’t publicly performed, anywhere other than in friend’s lounge rooms for years, and “professional” people might not be able to see this as a part of my present reality in the way I wish they COULD yet and have all these according judgements related to that based on what they presently CAN. BUT, does that mean I should stop using words in my inner dialogue like “talented” and i’m no longer entitled to call myself a performer or “singer,” because I wasn’t next to some famous actress or actor in a musical anytime in the last year? Should I now define myself “a failure” because I’m not making money off my voice right now 24/7?
Sometimes our views of ourselves and our abilities and what we’re entitled to do or not do with our lives, not to mention our definitions around success and capability, we can allow to be TOO dictated by the external world and we can get all messed up in giving too much weight to the opinions of whoever on the outside. Wherever they came from, and however qualified or unqualified the opinion holder.
Just because too, they’re aren’t 26 zillion people around you, or even 10, at any given second, screaming at you that “you’re amazing!”, DOES NOT mean your talents suddenly diminish or no longer have talent, or your work is not needed or wanted for that matter, in the absence of external validation? We have to be careful to see these things for how they really are in the total life long journey of our business or creative careers, within the simultaneous evolution of humanity. Not buy into our own, or others myths about who and what we are.
Entrepreneurship, in whatever form you’re doing it, has always been about finding the link between an aspect of your talent/what you know and or love doing AND a current, topical, sincere and urgent present need, or interest that some group of people in the world has. No matter what the state of the world, people will continue to have some needs that they will prioritise seeking support FOR, that your success lies in you positioning yourself and your offerings as a response to. Those things, over time, can change.
But learning to be ok with it if every single one of our talents isn’t immediately needed, in every single moment, 24/7 right now, is an important skill to learn.
Sometimes there are seasons and phases where they are, and then there are phases where maybe they’re not. Or maybe there’s another form in which that same thing can be applied instead. Other times, like when our clients or society grow and evolve or new technology comes, we’re asked to let go of roles we once had to play and create and embrace something new along with them. And at other times (like when you find you have a major health problem and find yourself waiting on some surgery for example, we may need to stop being so attention OUT for a bit and get ok with just doing YOU for a bit. A great question to ask sometimes too, if something is not happening, is do you actually even still want to be doing this one thing all time time right now? Or even part time? Or has a part of you actually already moved on and your mind is just trying to catch up? It can be something different ,at different times for us all.
The more opportunities we seek outside of ourselves (in line with our bigger visions) that are dependent upon the approval of other industry professionals for support or collaboration, sales, funding, contracts, use of spaces etc, the more it can begin to feel at times like the power of decision is out of our hands, when we’re on the receiving end of a lot of no’s or blocks.
Whatever external circumstances are dictating decisions about what we can and can’t do on the outside though, we always still have the choice to take the power back into our own hands, if we want to.
You can always choose at any moment to start or continue creating for yourself and putting your work out there on your terms, right now, at whatever scale you have the resources to create with, right now. To create your own content or programs or communities, either instead of, or while you’re continuing to try for “the next big vision thing” involving others in your industry.
For the sake of picking an example from the ones I’ve already used, Patrick Dempsey’s a great example of that. As Catherine Reitman said, acting or creative work, for the majority is NOT a full time occupation, it comes in seasons. In Patrick’s gaps between winning the next role, he was off doing endurance racing, organising communal bike rides and races and starting a cancer charity after his Mother died of Ovarian Cancer.
It’s key to NEVER let go of those things that you KNOW in your heart of hearts you were truly born to do, just because there’s not an opportunity to do MORE of it in this moment yet FULL TIME, or because your momentum has changed. And learn when NOT to quit on a good thing too soon, just because it’s not moving at the speed of light right now that you hoped it might. Or that other things once did.
A wise coach colleague recently said on an interview that part of the biggest part in his growth was when he let himself off the hook for having to achieve everything by yesterday and gave himself permission to utilise the length of his entire lifetime to achieve his bigger career goals.
I have to say, I agree, I feel like that’s the Wise Older Woman/Man archetype coming into operation in business- trusting in that there is an innate order to all things, that you’re not going to miss out if you don’t seize this one chance, right here right now. Knowing that the ‘right’ people will still be right there journeying with you over the long haul, even if you take different parts of the stream right now. And where not, on a planet with nearing 8 billion people on it, there’s a good chance at some point that you can align and rally to give some new version of a vision another go.
When we can see these moments for what they really are, it gives us so much energy back to channel our energy back into nurturing our purpose and future expressions and projects over time again, instead of losing our energy, investing in a story and a bunch of projections that may or may not even, ultimately really be true.
It’s so much more fulfilling playing the game where you think, and the world reflects back, that you’re STILL enough, right here right now, don’t you think?. Let’s play that game instead.
Until next time...
Last week, I found myself getting a bit vocally technical, prompted by reading a recent research article done with a group of European students in their 20’s-40’s on indicators of vocal or more specifically, prosodic charisma.
What on earth is prosodic charisma, I hear many of you ask? Good question. Charisma, as usual referring to characteristics we see in others that we find compellingly attractive/desirable or charming, that can inspire feelings of wanting to be around them, liking them, desiring to devote oneself to them more. Plus, in the context of speaking, “prosody” is used here to refer to the qualities of the voice e.g. intonation, tone, stress, resonance and rhythm of our speech that may be linked with the perspective of the Speaker being perceived as “charismatic.”
As the results of the study suggested that Women could benefit from it in particular, this then lead me to a bit more of a deep dive down the research rabbit hole of the last decade of professional opinion, mixed opinion and debate that exists around what Women ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be doing with their voices to convey (or not) any particular character, let alone charisma, in an attempt to better make sense of why it might be that this article made a recommendation for the benefits of their prosodic charisma training for Women. Plus why it may still be, or not be in 2020 that we Women, let alone people full stop, are still holding back, or not feeling comfortable to put our biggest, brightest selves and what we really want to say out there in a professional setting, or in life. Relative to 15 years ago, when I first embarked on a healing journey around that, and started helping others do the same.
My aim in writing this, is to share some of the factors that are still impacting our ability to reach our full potential in professional self expression and shed some light on what we can do about them.
INDIVIDUAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS IMPACTING FEMALE EXPRESSIVENESS
1- The judgement police (and the kingdom of trolls that populate the toilet floor of the consciousness of the internet…and unfortunately for us all, 3rd dimensional daily life on Earth). In all fairness, many of you reading this will also be living in Australia, and no-one does judgement e.g. Tall Poppy Syndrome quite like us Aussies and few people are deemed immune from its reach. (For my overseas friends, ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ refers to the cultural tendency of Australians to immediately embark on a personal character assassination of anyone who has achieved something great and or possibly greater than we have, often in groups, in an attempt to avoid and alleviate our own DEEP SEEDED FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY and “not-enough ness.”)
Globally though, and maybe this subconsciously still results because most women operate under the illusions that they are physically ‘weaker’ and therefore literally less likely to risk actually punching an attacker in the face for picking on them in the same way that 2 men might at 10pm in bar, or 10am on the footy field, if someone verbally disrespected them in the same way. Holistically speaking, we’re actually not “weaker”, but that’s a whole OTHER blog I wrote circa 2014/2015).
And/or maybe it’s still in part because many women have long been at an economic disadvantage at times and therefore may not have had equal resources to their male counterparts to be able to legally (metaphorically) slam people’s butts into the ground floor of karmic consequence for attacking them in public. (One only need look at social again too, or again the actual average work bathroom, to hear that we’ve well and truly developed private and public countermeasures over the years compensating for that.) BUT the point was, it DOES still seem that, globally, far too many people, publicly or privately, just LOVE to shred on the credibility of women. Any women….and….every….aspect…of….every….inch….of….a….woman, and what entitles her to be up there, saying that.
I don’t want to give this one anymore airtime than I just did. Because ultimately, it’s an outdated game we can choose to play, or not to play and I think there are better ways we can all be investing our energy than fighting and playing into the war on women’s credibility and likability. Like feeling into our purpose, our values, into our hearts and what we REALLY want to create and pouring our energy into that. Like speaking to how we want to be loved and supported, like how we can better support those we love, personally and professionally and going after that.
Like sending a prayer that the wounded children in grown adults across the world, who have time to creep on and shred others for a living, let alone for their own personal catharsis, get the support they need to heal and find their true, soulful purpose in the world. Meanwhile, we do self love and surround ourselves with groups of people who are committed to being the best versions of themselves and lifting each other up. And then you get sh%t done…while others keep on whinging about it.
As I talked to other colleagues about WHY women might be hiding their most awesome selves from the world throughout the week, other top answers on the professional survey board were:
2- The effects of Trauma and the fight flight response on our external expressiveness: One of the very real effects of our past traumas around such things (and other traumatic experiences) on our subsequent flight-flight reactions when we get in front of groups of people in the present, for all genders, can be that we go (technical trauma term) “grey faced” e.g. the literal loss of facial expressiveness and or colour and our voices become more monotone, as we mentally and physically do what is called dissociating from the experience as a coping response. This is basically both mentally, energetically and, to an extent, spiritually, pulling away from the intensity of having to feel your experience, as a coping mechanism. Good news, this one TOO we can overcome, with a range of different therapeutic and transformational techniques and tools and you CAN heal the intensity right out of it, and put centredness confidence, clarity and authentic charisma in it’s place.
3- “Professionalism preceding Personality”: Though this one can also impact all genders, it is the impact of ideas around professionalism and scientific objectivity that we place on certain occupations, on our communication style and the subsequent impact on perceived qualities of ‘vocal charisma’ that i'm referring to here. For example, Academia has a particularly distinctive communication style. As do the medical and scientific realms as a couple of examples. But in short, this is basically the impact on perceived vocal and behavioural charisma that results from the rules of the paradigm that require that we be objective over subjective, and rational over emotive, in both our observation, measurement and analytical processes, as well as in our management of the processes we develop during our research and/or in the treatment and management of patients or clients.
Especially, when it comes to delivering challenging news to patients, clients or groups of people, professional standards in paradigms that say that we need to be free of personal biases and feelings as we deliver the necessary information and manage the continuing processes. Yet free flowing in the expression of compassion and empathy where required. Which has both professional benefits and an element of necessity to getting high quality client care completed and or many jobs in these industries done, often in high pressure environments, under tight timeframes, without us bursting into a ball of emotive flames if we were to stop to take it all in.
YET, when it comes to switching gears and moving into the realm of professional speaking and recording training material, this communication style can have implications for our ability to convey more charisma when we speak, in front of a culture that now wants to see MORE of the REAL, authentic us, along with the lived experience that goes along with the knowledge you/we/they have to share. Skill wise, this then requires that we be able to shift gears back into allowing more personality to emerge for presentation purposes, in combination with professionalism. This, I have spent many years Coaching and Mentoring Practitioners, Leaders and Speakers in finding their balance with, in trying to navigate the requirements of both realms…and a little Coaching and Mentoring can be a quick route to overcoming any concerns here and getting some good quality feedback.
4- People-pleasing within the lingering remnants of the Patriarchy, or just people-pleasing full stop?: The 4th answer on our survey board, is symptomatic of what I call the first stage of finding the true power in your voice, the stage in which we tend to avoid speaking and want to NOT say anything awkward or potentially challenging, in case we rock the boat and incur a negative consequence. People pleasing though, like most things, has a light side to the coin and a dark side.
On the light side of people pleasing, our intention is to lovingly be of service and might be one of the driving, motivating forces in all we choose to do in the world. So to be clear, I’m not saying people pleasing is totally a bad thing. But what I am referring to, is addressing the shadow motivations for NOT speaking or expressing ourselves that we can still be playing out habitually, out of fear, and addressing the roots of why we’re doing it, so that we stop holding back our fullest, brightest, most intelligent, expressive selves.
On the dark one, possibly in personal and professional settings, we sometimes suppress things we really need to express out of fear of potential consequence. At some point, growing up with a family member or having lived in adult life with a partner or worked with an employer, team member or partner that could never be pleased and may have been abusive, people pleasing to appease their disapproval or criticism, or explosive outbursts, may have been a survival strategy at some point. People pleasing, can also be a means of avoiding taking responsibility. If we speak to what we really want, and get rejected, people pleasing delays an ending one may not be wanting or ready for. More than that, if we don't put your true opinion on the table, but put the popular one instead, we never have to be on the receiving end of critical feedback for getting it wrong, or responsible for the outcome.
But that also means we delay learning and growth in personal and professional settings into what some part of us deeply aspires to be and into succeeding in getting it right. Where business and projects are concerned, it also makes it hard to get the kind of honest feedback that will help develop a service, or product or project or presentation into a form that successfully fills it's desired purpose and is therefore, a success.
So how do we help women (and people full stop) grow through and into the positive potential of their people pleasing tendencies, so that they can get on with being more fully self expressed?
The answer to that is in both the personal development work we do to increase our awareness around what we're playing out, but Therapy, Coaching and Mentoring can also help us both shift our thinking, or state and our way of being, in the direction of reaching our highest potential.
The other part that also has to be to addressed is the environment the person is gaining support from and the literal reasons in the workplace or tribal culture, that Women or people full stop may be defaulting to such patterns and keep working on creating an environment in which they feel safe to naturally allow their most authentic, expressive, charismatic selves to flow forward in Leadership, Speakership and life. In which it's safe to get it wrong, as well as right and there's still love either way.
So long as there are still stories circulating of Women (and people) who are perfect for Leadership or front facing roles or speaking opportunities, that when they've showed up as their biggest, most expressive selves, and somebody in leadership's fragile ego felt threatened or inadequate or triggered or out of control in interacting with them, and it lead to ghosting, or firing, or break ups, or the withdrawal of resources or love or support of people, or being labelled difficult and a nightmare, when they didn’t do exactly what someone wanted, how they wanted it, when they wanted, then we're not done yet with adding a little more emotional intelligence training, Mentoring and Supervision, (plus personal development and occasional Therapy work) to both the Leadership, team and organisational training schedule and budget.
To help people of all genders better understand how to more effectively be with, collaborate with, lead and speak to strong, independent, intelligent, expressive Women (and people full stop) in the workplace and life. This too, i think remains an essential factor in helping our best female talent (and all talent) to feel safe to naturally allow their most authentic, expressive, charismatic selves to flow forward in Leadership, Speakership and life.
TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENTS WE CAN MAKE THAT HELP WOMEN LITERALLY BE BETTER HEARD
Finally, now there are some ways in which, from a purely technical standpoint, there ARE some actual physical differences between the way a female voice functions and the way a male voice functions that it’s handy to be aware of, in order to be able to compensate for them, to be a better Professional Speaker.
For example, while Women’s voices are now sitting at a pitch that is much lower than they were earlier in the century, female voices are still at a higher pitch than the majority of men, the literal mechanical downside to this being that, higher female voices apparently don’t carry as far through an open space/a venue (making it harder quite LITERALLY for a female voice to reach the back of the audience, without learning projection techniques or amplification, compared to a man’s). Older people or people with reduced hearing capacity may find it harder also to hear a higher pitched female voice and, also, apparently a higher pitched female voice, unfortunately more easily gets drowned out in amongst the cacophony of sounds and deeper voices that may be bouncing through the airwaves of a crowded space.
Knowing how to compensate for this, is mighty handy. Often Women try and be louder to compensate, but at the perceived expense of their tone then becoming “harsher.” A Speech or Language Therapist, Vocal Coach or Singing Teacher can help you understand how to make sound and project all of our voices, not just female ones, further, with greater (what they call) resonance, and less mechanical force made on your part to try and be heard. Bless the tech guys too, who can just mic you up right, so that you don’t HAVE to break your voice just trying to be loud enough or deep enough to be heard by the back rows of the room in the first place. Handy to know, before the world goes back to trying to get on big stages again.
AND THEN THERE’S THE NATURAL WAY…..
There IS though, a way we can begin to resolve some of the technical aspects of speaking (and free ourselves from the mental hangups above) a little more naturally too, as to be considered COMPLIMENTARY. As the organic product of a couple of additional mindset and state shifts we can make, I find the authenticity and the vocal expressiveness, will naturally tend to follow.
The thing that I love to help all Speakers find, maybe the most, is the part where you fall in love with YOU a little bit more. And fall in love with the idea that a whole bunch of people genuinely LOVE to both be around you when you’re BEING authentic, expressive you AND more than that, they love and are excited about hearing what you have to say. So that not only are you connected with YOU, and your passion and purpose in a way that you’re journeying through life hungering for more opportunities to express and share it, despite any lingering or new fears and hangups. But you’re also more open to sharing it with others in service because:
a) you’re coming from the belief that there are people who can’t wait to share in your knowledge with you
b) they genuinely NEED what you’ve got to say, it’s quite likely the literal answer to a prayer or an intention they’ve been putting out there… and who are you to hold back your wisdom, your talents, let alone the bits of you they might find intriguing, entertaining, funny and compelling, if you have the answer they seek;….entertain the idea for a moment, that it is your purpose to bring these things through
c) And this is really one of my favourites, you fully embrace the idea that you BELONG at the front of the room and
d) you freaking own that stage like you belong there, because you DO.
While this won’t completely eliminate the trolls of existence, creeping in the background, waiting for you to drop your guard, or the projections of the people we work with and love when they’re feeling down, it does help you remember your resolve through such moments, and stay in or step back into the arena again, twice as determined to keep having another go and show up even more. And this my friends, is precisely the point.
If I can help you with the further exploration of any of this, just let me know.
Until next time
If 2020 has been one thing, whether people intended to or not, on a massive scale, it has certainly been a catalyst to people starting to speak up in multiple ways in which they might have previously been silent. And it's opening up a WHOLE can of worms for many, as we all try and navigate and find our way through the chaotic currents of the year. I found myself in a lot of conversations this last week and a half about such things as: when it was that we first really came to understand the power in our voices, why it was so important that we found it, as we started to use it, where the power in our voices really comes from and, more to the point, how do you cultivate it, if you feel like you’re using your voice, speaking up or sharing out in front of others, yet you feel like its not landing the way you hoped or leading to the kind of outcomes that you wanted it to?
When it comes to the WHY part, If we weren’t already sure, tell me if you feel similarly, that this time is certainly providing the opportunity to re-explore and clarify it a little deeper. Which is precisely why I’m putting on an event with 2 awesome guest inspirational speakers on the 27th June @9am AEST (and little old me) that is all about our WHY and helping us rise out of this confusing, chaotic time, with greater connection to and clarity within our true passion, purpose and the message we’re here to share with the world.
WHY do I personally feel so called to help people find the power in their voices?
For the sustainable future of our planet and it’s ever growing number of people. I have always believed that each of us was born with a unique part of the vision of and the solution to a more sustainable future for us and the generations to come. But has there ever been a more important time for us to step into our power, our inner leadership, in bringing it forward into the world?
For unity. Has the world ever (again) felt so united one minute and then divided and conflicted then next? Have we ever (again) needed heart connected, down to earth leaders, who can speak with the voice of love, more than now, to help us individually and collectively find our way going forward, together?
For individual and collective wellbeing, happiness and fulfilment. That photo above is from a workshop where i facilitated a discussion about how to get what we REALLY want out of sex, love and life. It’s a little hard on a personal level to create the life you want and need, if either we don’t know yet what it is and or if we're not sure how to communicate what it is that we want and need.
And then there’s the service part of that, the part where we might share our solutions for how to create a healthier, happier, more successful, sustainable life, with others. It’s important that we develop our skillset in HOW to effectively share our wisdom and gifts in service. The pandemic was a reminder of just how much we've needed to slow down, reconnect and recalibrate in the realms of wellbeing and mental health. But we're not done yet, many are still needing support to find their way in this domain, as well as support to maintain any gains they've recently made in these domains. Pun intended. We need Leaders and Speakers to help with this.
And to make that step and my WHY around that a little more directly lived personal, then there’s the part of me that has both absolutely excelled in sharing my vocal gifts with the world that I WANT everyone to be able to experience. The moments where (if you sing or perform) you open your mouth, share your gifts and the whole room stands and even the harshest of judges’ faces turn from frowns to delighted child-like wonder. Achievement wise, if that’s important to you, then there's the moments where you receive awards for the ways that you were of service in ways that changes people's lives too. And preceding that, the individual moments where your words, your wisdom, what you shared, moved someone to loving tears, as they transformed some of their deepest pains and struggles, into their greatest gifts. They did the work, they’ll try and give YOU all the credit and then your task becomes to hand a whole bunch of that credit back. But i've digressed. My point was, I want you to be able to use the power in your voice to create MORE of those moments.
And then there’s the unfortunate moments I want to try and empower other women, other PEOPLE, with the ability to NEVER to have to experience for themselves if they can help it. The moments where you spoke and your voice WASN’T heard. Or respected. The moments where it came out TOO forcefully and created harm, or was put forward in a way that triggered a powerful counter reaction you didn’t want or expect. The moments as a kid where you call out a best friend’s bullying in front of the group and get held down by friends (of all genders) mocked, stripped naked and violently assaulted. The teenage and adult ones where other residents or (drunk) friends followed you into your room you’re trying to escape into and forced themselves onto. The moments where they carried you there (despite your objections) and pushed you back down every time you tried to get up and out and painfully raped you. Moments where you ended up with back injuries that took over a decade to heal because a bunch of guys (and the one you're seeing) decided to try and prove how strong they are by trying to lift you above their head, only to lose their balance and drop you from the full extended length of their arms over the back of it, while the whole time you were saying "don't". Teenage moments where you or another loved one or friend or school kid tried to solve a problem by them hitting you or you hitting them back harder and the psychological damage that such situations can ultimately lead to, even if, in the short term, they win you freedom from ever being hit again or, from some, seemingly win you greater respect. Then there's the adult moments where you speak your truth and it challenged someone in a power position over you and the abused it to try and get you back under control- withheld a resource, or money, or time or love, or fired you, rather than either them OR you, making attempts to better control what's going on in both your heads...and then playing out with consequences, that did anybody really, truly want it to turn out that way? When what originally brought you together, was love?
I’m sorry, because I know that that’s not an easy paragraph for anyone that knows me, let alone any HUMAN to read. YET, the fact remains that BECAUSE of these experiences, and the years of work and personal and professional growth work I’ve done SINCE focused on healing and transforming beyond them, I now have a WHOLE lot of first hand wisdom to share on WHERE the power in our voices REALLY comes from. And an insatiable desire (pandemics or no pandemics) STILL to want to get ESPECIALLY groups of Women and at other times non gender specific groups full of people, in a room and get THEM working through THEIR stuff AND working through what i would call the 13 characteristics that I’ve found to be most important to cultivate to help us find the true power in our voices. Both in our personal and professional lives.
If you come and join Matt, Prasanna and myself at our HOW TO SHINE ONLINE event on the 27th June, each of us will share our unique take on the ones of them that we've found in common, that will help you deepen your connection to and clarity in your WHY, AND your client’s WHY at that.
Do please drop me a few likes or comments if you’d like to learn more too about the 13 characteristics that i've found can help us all to find the TRUE, authentic, loving power in our voices AND you think i should share more about them in written, online program and or workshop form in future too and I’ll make sure you’re in the loop when i put them forward.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
Nat Ferrier xx
Grateful for companies and people that have had my back and kindly kept paying me through all this, through me going at maybe max 30 hour a week pace, as opposed to the usual 60-70 hour a week pace I’d been going at for years. So I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty damn grateful for Covid, for having given me the room I wouldn’t give myself, trying to get back to where I was, or rather to some new version of having it all. Grateful for the voice that said just put it all down and let it all go. It’s not meant to happen that way. Stop and surrender. Stop and listen deeper. Like you’ve done before.
There are 4 past moments of insight that have been forefront in my head this last little bit, relating to trust and maintaining higher perspective in challenging times.
One was the kind of insight and perspective you develop standing at the end of the bed of a loved one, 5 minutes after they’ve died. Staring at the lifeless biological machine that once housed the energy, the personality, the soul of someone you loved so intensely, it is never so obvious to you how little any of this material “stuff” or the thousand little and big dramas we’re constantly creating and doing our heads in over in life, even matter. All the money and power and influence in the world won’t bring them back and it certainly won’t fill the void where they and their gorgeous energy once was. Such times show us what really matters most inside our hearts. On the flip side of the equation, being told you might be the one in trouble, they remind us what’s truly worth living and loving for.
But then life goes on, the world goes on. Do we remember, or do we get caught up in how things are, and forget? I remember the time my 20’s when I was engaged and we were buying country houses closer to our families, after living in Brighton East in Melbourne with our 2 SUV’s and 2 dogs, talking about our future kids. Never mind the steaming piles of mental health stuff we we side stepping amidst family histories and sporting injuries that ended careers and drinking problems, while we were trying to measure up to our parents visions for us verses our visions of having it all.
Maybe if we just went on another trip interstate, or a weekend away to Daylesford, or he bought me love in the form of a Ralph Lauren t-shirt (when I was just happy with one a quarter of the price from anywhere, that was flattering) or I him in the form of some new hoodie or work shirt or new bottle of wine, or if we built a permaculture veggie garden, or a fence, or I picked a colour scheme for my home office and healing studio, maybe one of us would finally feel better and the chemistry would mysteriously come back from damn near flat-lining.
Moral of the story, no amount of stuff or trying to be enough or trying to give the other what they want can succeed in filling the void where your own passion and purpose, doing what you love and being of service, should be. Find that, be that, share that and you get the magic, or the magic back. Not to mention the resilience of the relational container, while the wounding starts to fall away. Money might afford you a different kind of experience or opportunity. Giving it might be a form of love. But it is no substitute for the MAGIC that starts in the heart.
The third and fourth were the things you learn in the moments in life where you feel like you’re losing it all, yet find yourself. For the 6 months after I left that relationship (and was healing and transitioning back from full time studying Transpersonal Art Therapy, to trying to get back into another Community Service job part time, while trying to get my private practice off the ground, in a new location, seemingly for a bit, absolutely nothing I did worked. NO amount of interviews lead to the kind of Peer Support roles I THOUGHT in that moment would be an ideal way to take all my past “life crisis” plus professional experience so far and turn it into mentoring others to successfully navigate their own experience worked. The thought of going back to temping in corporate literally gave me panic attacks and Christmas came and went with me on Centrelink, trying to get myself unstuck from ghosts of failed relationships’ and drunk violence past.
Until, In February, a very neo shamanic older male friend of mine, happened to be coming back from through Victoria from Queensland, rang me, told me he was on his way back, then headed to Alice Springs for work and life and he asked me if I wanted to come. I volunteered my car and said yes. I’d always wanted to go and what the hell, what else was I doing with my time? At worst, If it didn’t work out, I could come back in a week or two and resume dysfunction as normal. So, it being the start of 2011 and not long having just read Eat Pray love, I said a prayer about surrendering to divine will and finding myself and my deeper purpose and off we went.
And from the moment we set out, things just started to flow. Not just figuratively, but quite literally. In SA, the first evening, I put my hands in an estuary, made a wish about getting back in flow, closed my eyes, some bright light flashed and a few seconds later, water started trickling through the sand bar at the entrance nearby. On the way there, in the middle of nowhere, we seemingly got half a tank of fuel out of a 10L fuel can, one of my tyres went flat, but only right outside a tyre place in Coober Peedie, right across from where we stayed. People on the streets in Alice from the moment we got there kept answering questions we hadn’t yet asked out loud and I got a Community Services job working with Indigenous people with disabilities within 2 hours of arriving there. More than that, 2 days after we got to Alice Springs and got settled, it flooded.
We could be here for at least 3 chapters if I tell you more about the little vision quests and intuitive initiations we found ourselves going on in the middle of the outback the whole time. That whole trip though, was basically one long complete initiation into a new level of trust; in the divine order of all things, trust in the way it and exactly what we need at any given time shows up through others and, maybe most importantly, trust in me.
Was that the end of all moments of doubt? No. I had a lot of magical things and opportunities explode into life during that time and since, that I have a lot to be grateful for. But in 2015/2016 I had another challenging moment, where seemingly no matter what I did, or how hard I worked at solving people’s problems and being of service, or how many hundreds of hours I spent applying for jobs, again, I felt like I was stuck and it wasn’t working again and the universal taps of abundance were turned off in my direction. Only this time, for the first time ever, I could only part pay the rent and I only had about $15 a week left for food. And for the first time ever, had to face ALL my biggest fears, about what would actually happen if there was no money left? I had to face all these secret fears that had been running my life for decades, about what people would think if I didn’t have it all together and if I let them down and couldn’t keep my promises, in the form of money. Let alone the pressure of contemplating what, shortly after, 20 K of Wellness Industry clients looking for a picture of success would think and do seeing where I was at, if or when they found out I’d risen and fallen. Being literally crucified and stoned in that moment might actually have felt preferable to the modern day social media version that I feared might come, if I didn’t get my shift sorted.
Funnily enough, making all the necessary phone calls to real estates and the ones to family asking for help, where I KNEW some would lay the boot in when I already felt like absolute crap, telling friends and business partners, I DIDN’T actually die. I DID though, find myself surrendering to listening to some higher will again though. And then found myself walking up the street into town, feeling about the freest I had felt, EVER, on the other side of NOT dying from and shaking off the shackles of all those fears. Only to see some guy i knew driving through a roundabout in front of me. Who happened to be my a friend/an ex, who happened to have just been to the bank and got several K worth of refund he wasn’t expecting. Who I then just happened to tell where I was at and he just happened to loan me the just $250 I needed to get me through until the next few K of client payments came in,
AGAIN, I had to gesture to the sky with a “touché universe, touché. We co-created that one well. Thanks for having my back”in that moment. A few months after, I surrendered again my little rental home of safety on the literal T-intersection of my metaphorical fork in the road in real life I was having and went off on the next leg of the journey of trust and faith and started on the next few years of house sitting, travelling and working (remotely and live) across the country. Yet another initiation into a new level of trust; in the divine order of all things, trust in the way it and exactly what we need at any given time shows up through others and trust in me.
So as I and we start this week, no matter what version of any of the challenges within the above, any of you, or someone you know might be facing, remember, even though it might at times feel like it, the world won’t actually end over money and stuff and things that are seemingly falling away. Sometimes you DON’T just have to work and push or BE pushed harder. Sometimes you need to stop and breath and re-align, before you pick up your tools and start working again. Or try a new entry procedure, with what seems like a locked door. Maybe it's not even THIS door, maybe its the one NEXT door. If people you thought would stay or be there during such times didn’t, maybe you’re still right on the passion, right on the vision, but maybe slightly off on strategy or how you THINK the solution should look and when it should appear, who should be involved and what every body should do to bring it into being.
As clever as our minds are, sometimes, some higher, wiser part of us. Has an even better plan and an even better means of bringing it about. How can we hear it though, if i mind is too busy trying to talk out a solution, when our higher self, the universe, whatever you want to call it, is trying to ring through a message. In a universe that’s always actually conspiring in our favour, there’s always A message waiting to download and at least 1 doorway, waiting open there. But we have to keep our eyes, our eyes, our senses open to receive it.
Maybe it will come during that disciplined meditation or yoga practice, or standing amongst the trees. Or maybe it’s in the moment where you stop doing the thinking and start doing the dishes. Or during the crazy cat video, or while you get a hug from somebody at home. Maybe it’s that thought that then suddenly gets IN. Maybe it’s in the shape of a cloud out the window. Maybe it comes to you in the shower. Maybe via a friend. Maybe via some curious (or slightly ‘unique’) stranger on the street, on the way to where you’re going. Insight is never that far away, if we can just learn to recognise it for what it is and the many forms in which it shows up.
And while the numbers and the achievements all count as A FORM of success and value and love, they’re not the ONLY form of our value that defines us, their fleeting highs are not our only means of fulfilment or the only currency or language in which we can give and receive. Are they really the only reason we ever got into all of this or to be where we are now? What WAS the reason? What about that still lights you up now? Or what else now does as well? Or instead? These can be important questions for such times.
On a planet, where, if you think about it, in the context of this solar system, this galaxy we live within, it is rather miraculous that this planet of ours even exists in it’s Goldilocks zone of biological existence, there is a whole lot to be grateful for and a whole lot to be passionate about. And a whole lot to be created and experienced, in ways that they have not yet been created before. On the other side of whatever we're being asked to let go of attachment to, in it's current form, in order for it to get in. Are the goals you once set and the things you once wanted or hoped to achieve, still REALLY what you want now, in your deepest heart of hearts? Or is what's happening on the outside, trying to show you something else? What lights you up, what is it that you REALLY want now? These can be important questions for such times. And i promise you, the answers are there. They're coming. You better than anyone, will know them when they come.
May your world be absolutely full of new magic for you this week. New messages, new perspective and new reasons to trust.
Yes, we CAN be equally as effective online, as face to face
I know, because I just spent the last 16 years being trained from multiple sources in HOW to do it and then practicing and refining a technique TO intuitively get to the point quickly and accurately, YET lovingly and gently, for the benefit of the lovely human on the other end of the webinar, who needs you to emotionally support and be present with them, for a little longer than JUST the 7 seconds - 3minutes it can take YOU to get the breakthrough insight THEY need to change and transform their world in positive ways, once you get hella good at working in the online space.
Under some schools of Counselling (or Coach or NLP training) today, they call this something like refining your counselling/coaching micro skills in client observation . In more alternative circles, the same might be referred to as developing your sensory + intuitive intelligence. e.g. the capacity to feel and intuitively identify what experiences are going on for oneself, the environment around us or with another living being.  Combined with your skills in emotional intelligence (being able to recognise one feeling from another, and strategies to manage them effectively.)  Either way, it’s all an aspect of building our online social intelligence. E.g. our awareness of what is going on with others around us and what we then do with that awareness, in this case, relative to our desired online therapeutic outcomes.
If you do any degree of research into the history of Shamanism (which I did a lot of when I was up-skilling in Transpersonal Art Therapy and Psychology 3 years into my Counselling and Community Service career and while I was living in Alice Springs for a time, circa 2007-2011) Indigenous Elders and Shaman are the original Masters of altered states of consciousness; they have been using the human capacity for projecting their consciousness, awareness and energy to others and another location for millennia for healing purposes, to get downloads on the state of the world and attend things like Council gatherings on the other side of the country . Or to connect with Elders in other countries, among many other things . But the capacity to accurately sense and interpret information from afar is also well explored in the more recent research and lit reviews on remote viewing  and the ability and mechanisms by which we can influence the energy and presence in a location other than our own in time and space, was well explored and documented in the early 2000’s by the likes of Gregg Braden, Lynne McTaggert and the many primary (university) associated sources of research that they reference in their books of the time .
But I’ve digressed. Beyond the bigger picture of how and why this works. And beyond the smaller scale, individual picture of us sorting out the technical and equipment setup and barriers that can get in the way that can block communication, why is it important to learn how to do all 3 (speed, accuracy and gentleness) in online sessions well?
-Firstly, for the clarity and purity of the communication dynamic between you. The clearer you are in tuning in, the more ‘on point’ the questions and statements you will use to communicate will be. Clearer, more direct communication, leads to better quality outcomes from the work you do together.
-The better we also get at ‘holding’ the space for them online from afar, this will also have the benefit that THEY feel like they received a better quality of support and care throughout the process of your work together. Who doesn’t want that?
-It’s also important for your own energy levels and the sustainability of your Practice as the Professional, to learn and become practiced in how to do all 3 well. I was listening to some research sited by NICABM in their latest blog recently, stating that one of the greatest sources of fatigue for Therapists moving to working online or via phone is simply trying to hear the clients in an online session, as opposed to live . I would also further clarify, when they’re straining more to make sure they hear you accurately “from a distance” via the unfamiliar medium of video, that anxiety may well be due to fearing the consequences of NOT hearing accurately- we might fear that we might not give a good quality of service or not get it right and that will have negative flow on for the clients in terms of outcomes and perception of the quality of care given. Which can make many of US put ourselves under more pressure about getting it right.
If though, we can open up to the idea that it is equally possible to “hear” or rather read someone’s verbals and non verbals accurately both via video and no matter where we are in time and space, and get practiced in the art of doing so, it reduces the development of this kind of stress and fatigue. When we operate from trust and build our confidence in focusing on and reading others online through practice, we’ll again be able to better maintain our energy through the process, without having to try so hard at it.
So how do you get better practiced at it? Here’s a rough summary of my process, and some homework tasks you can do to get hella good.
1. VISION- likely pre session, you’ve already got a sense from your intake process, of what they’re coming to you for and what they’re hoping to achieve and receive out of your time together. So I’m going to assume you’re coming to the session with this existing know.edge. But if by chance, you don’t, then this becomes your 3rd step to inquire about, instead of the 1st.
2. STATE: This is the quick meditative process you do just before the session, to reconnect your awareness to yourself, release anything from your focus you don’t need and refill back up with your own soulful presence and energy, before you turn to setting the intention for the session.
3. INTENTION- This is both about intending to be able to be of the highest service to the person and setting some intentions relating to your state and the energy in the room you want them to feel. How do you want them to feel supported during this session? What energy do you need to embody and bring to the space to help achieve that? Are there any people or energies that you also need to either invite OR ask to kindly wait outside the virtual waiting room also until after the session, so that you have a clear space in which to work?
4. FOCUS (TUNE INTO AWARENESS OF THE OTHER)- of the great sea os incoming sensory data available to our senses, this is about just honing into the “channel” the “stream” of data that relates specifically to the client’s experience (past, present and future) as they sit “with” you, in this virtual session space you’re co-creating. Tuning into them, to find out what’s going on with them.
5. QUESTION- now you ask them an open question/s to open up discussion (and get verification) about what you’re sensing. Or a closed one if you want to get straight to yes or no type verification of specific detail you’re sensing, like a particular emotion or a pain in a certain area of their body. (NOTE- a word of warning here to pick your questions carefully. If you only use ones that get straight to YOUR point, rather than invite YOUR CLIENT to tune into themselves to find the answer, the risk is that, over time, you’ll condition them to be dependent on YOUR intuition, instead of their own. For example, starting a bit more generally with something like “tell me about what you feel going on in your body right now” as opposed to jumping straight to “is there a pain in your left knee right now? Tell me about the pain in your left knee.” Give your client a few questions worth of room to increase their own awareness and get the insights, before you tell them what you think might be going on.
6. FEEDBACK- listen to the feedback that they give you. Repeat steps 2-3 until you get as much info as you need to. NOTE- word of warning no 2- you never know for sure until you ask them and or the test of time and further experience reveals the truth, so be careful not to go down the egoic path of “ha, I know better than you what’s going on with you” because, remember, how you interpret things, is also slightly subjective, based on your unique experience and world view. So even if you think you know, ALWAYS still do seek their feedback. It not only confirms or clarifies, but also respects your client’s sovereignty and honours the validity of their personal experience too.
7. ACTION- if the whole goal of your sessions is to bring them to a point of decision and have them plan out their next steps of action to help create the better outcome they’re seeking, then this step is about clarifying the actions to be taken now and seeking commitment to them.
YOUR HOMEWORK TASKS: remember, if it helps, you can always take some time to go practice aspects of this process that you feel you need to build your online muscles in, with colleagues virtually or people at home.
Homework task 1: PRESENCE- After you’ve done step 2 above (managed your own state), you might both take turns at playing with step 3 (INTENTION). Pick a giver and a receiver, then the giver intends to send their practice buddy a particular energy in the space, then intends to take it away. Then you both compare notes on what you both experienced during the exercise, before swapping over the roles and doing it again.
Homework task 2: PRACTICE- After you’ve both done steps 2-3, you might both sit and take turns at trying steps 4-6 (focusing on your partner, questioning them and then seeking their feedback response) and comparing feedback with each other at the end on what you both experienced, before you swap to the other having a turn.
The benefits of this are two fold. They will not only help you be more practiced and hence more confident in running your online sessions. But also have the added benefit of building your trust in that the process can be just as effective, online as it is live, face to face.
If you have any questions, or would like to set up some sessions to practice, just let me know.
Until next time,
Nat Ferrier xx
P.S. Was there an AHA moment in this for you? Know someone who might get an AHA out of it too? Feel free to share our article intact.
1) Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC), Counselling Microskills: Client Observation
2) Ackerman, C.E., What is Emotional Intelligence? +18 Ways to Improve It, 24th April 2020
3) Bird, M., 3 Minute Coach, p. 324-352, Busybird Publishing, Eltham, Victoria, Australia, 2014
4) Braden, G., The Divine Matrix, Hay House, 1st Edition, 1st March 2007
5) Goleman, D., What is Social Intelligence? Greater Good Magazine, UC Berkeley, 1st Sep 2006
6) Kihlstrom, J. F., & Cantor, N. (2011). Social intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg & S. B. Kaufman (Eds.), Cambridge handbooks in psychology. The Cambridge handbook of intelligence (p. 564–581). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511977244.029 via https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-12794-028
7) Lee, J.H., Remote Viewing As Applied to Future Studies Technological Forecasting and Future Change, Vol 75, Issue 1, Jan 2008, pgs 142-153
8) McTaggart, L., The Field, The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, Element Books, April 1 2003
9) McTaggart, L., The Intention Experiment: Using your thoughts to change your life and the world, Atria Books; Reprint edition (February 5, 2008)
10) Padesky, C and Siegel, R., Practical Ways to Improve Telehealth Sessions, The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), April 30 2020
11) Vadala, J., Cross-Culturally Exploring the Concept of Shamanism, Human Relations Area Files, Yale University, Mar 27 2019
Recently, in the spirit of fun, I submitted an imaginary question to an imaginary Psychic named Stacey, who was running an imaginary panel of spiritual “experts” convened recently to give their advice on the current state of the world. My question went something like: “Stacey, people tell me that I’m not in my “divine feminine enough. Do you think if I do more sexy yoga pose selfies and put them on instagram, people will finally understand just how spiritual I really am? I also really want to be more insta-famous, but how do i, without becoming UN-spiritual? Please help Stacey and panel, what is your expert advice for me?”
You can check out their beautiful, very wise (very funny) expert response here. Which I really wanted to respond to, as per their advice, with some gorgeous sexy yoga selfies, which i took this morning. As I was going through the usual a thousand emotions and seasons in an hour that go with trying to be the “perfect” female insta selfie, remembering what an art form it is, trying to capture the right light and the right angles and poses for correct form, yet not too much double chin, or muffin top or side roles, breast swell up and out, but nipples in, waste band in the right place, face relaxed, tongue in, just the right amount of smile, hair in the right place and hopefully nothing grossly inappropriate in your background (hence, art form!) I found myself also then filming this video. Reflecting on the whole illusionary, highly constructed nature of our social media profiles, of P.R. approved celebrity media releases and yes, even professional speaker profiles. Relative to the state of reconnection with our more authentic selves that is organically unfolding, as we spend more time with ourselves, in the presence of our own homes.
In the era beyond Lockdown, there’s a beautiful opportunity that now exists for us, beyond the pre-covid old world illusions of the perfect selfie, insta fame and the PR approved public personas and this week's video speaks to what it is...
But more than that, it's not just our social profiles, or insta stardom this relates to. Our relationship with our insides and our self esteem, is just as important to how we show up as Leaders and Speakers. And to whether we feel we can show up as us, or we need to lean on the larger-than-life Professional Speaker or Celebrity persona's we've created for ourselves. Having done Performing Arts and been an actress in years past, I can watch a Speaking piece and pick a piece a mile away that's delivered by someone who is truly connected to themselves live in the moment, verses someone who has just delivered, like an actor breathing emotional life into a character, a perfectly structured performance, that the Speaker just breathed life into, as the character of their larger-than-life Professional Speaker persona. But, i'm left wondering afterwards, who really are they, underneath all that? Have we fallen in love with the illusion of someone, that in fact doesn't really exist?
Like Grace, in the episode of Grace and Frankie, where Nick is coming over with his giant toothbrush, and his actual toothbrush, and she tells him she needs him to see who she really is and asks if he can take her as she really is, under the fake eyelashes, make up, hair extensions and busted knees and walking sticks, and he comes up to her, takes her face in his hands, kisses her and tells her "ill take it!" It takes courage to show up as we really are. Sometimes we will be embraced like Nick, and others, we might find ourselves in a room of deafening silence. Wondering if the most self-respecting move, might be to make a hasty exist, never to return.
And then part of the journey is learning how to be resilient in the face of rejection, to stay in your own lane, your essence and stay true to you, continuing to shine and show up in the world as you, despite what someone else out there thinks. I'm not saying it's wrong if you want to go straight back to the insta fame and celebrity and contortions and injections, if that feels like the path. But so long as we're twisting ourselves and injecting ourselves and creating crack enhanced avatar versions of ourselves for the right reasons, that's my point.
It is our soul, our unique you-ness that people love after all. Not your cup size, or how much hair is on your head, or the colour of whatever is in or on your face. Or the grand performance we put on, from our perfectly manicured public personas alone.
Now, more than ever, we have a golden opportunity to explore who we really are. And, if we're truly serious about embodying love, come back out leading and serving in the world, from that place. Something to ponder.
Not to bypass from the current experience or themes that are (for me at least, there’s no need to bypass what I’ve already visited many times over the last few decades and already found ways to navigate. Ways I can now share with others at such times. For some of you, that might ring true too, and for some, maybe this is where you need a hand right now?) But as a balance point. As the inner truth you stay connected to throughout all of this and the fuel to your ongoing fire. That continues to inform what you do in your personal and professional time, no matter how many aspects of it may have to either, temporarily, go on hold. Or be reworked into a new form of expression and presentation right now.
If I were to put that process in a map it might look a bit like this:
IGNITION- to feel into what you love and what lights you up
DECISION- to own it and decide to express it
IMPLEMENTATION- to start taking personal and professional action steps to express it
COMMUNICATION- the real world feedback loop as we share with others, which leads to either validation, encouragement, reaction or reflection
RESOLUTION- the engagement with what has come up as a roadblock along the way, with the intent to make peace with it. (Not to lose oneself in chasing trying to fix it all, but to just deal with each roadblock that appears as we live on purpose and purposefully choose to move in the direction of our soulful purpose)
REALISATION- every little breakthrough, every step of learning, enjoyment, achievement along the way
EVOLUTION- the continuing process of creation and innovation that individually and collectively evolves, as one continues to connect with one’s inner light, and express and be of service
But that’s to keep the parts of our brains and minds that might need a process to feel safe and content to proceed. Now I’m speaking to the creative part, and your heart. What is it that you just can’t wait to spend some more time doing right now? What are the things that you truly love and feel called to do, when you have time now for you?
For me, every morning I wake up right now and there are so many things I love to do that I just can’t wait to do. Things I can STILL do, despite all of this. I can answer questions and find new ways to work from home. I can sing. The first thing I’m doing the moment my replacement Go Get access card arrives (or a friend with some time does) is do a run to storage for warmer clothes and my keyboard. So many songs I can’t wait to play. I can still dance every day. I can do yoga or workout. I can write. I’ve been able to still walk or run to the bush/park with the stream in it, just up the street for my x1 exercise piece a day, without coming near anyone else. People I love, who love me, are just a message or a phone call away. I can tell people what I love about them, I can tell them what beauty, what talent, what amazingness I see in them.
I make myself laugh with the 26 potential funny videos I keep writing in my head. I can meditate, I can talk to spirit, I can play with tarot cards. I can delight in the colours of the sunset from my window, or the sweetness of a piece of fruit. Or in the feeling of the breeze on my skin, in the evening. I can have a bath. I can still dream a thousand technicolour dreams (and I do.) I feel great comfort in the feeling of my own hand on my own heart, or my arm, or my belly, or my leg. In the presence of nature, of ancestors, of loved ones and the presence of so many people I feel ‘with me.’ Even all the microorganisms within me seem like they’re singing with delight, since we’ve been chatting of late and come to a whole new level of peace and harmony in regards to sharing in this body, that’s really a community, not just me... and working on physically healing the things in me that the medical system can’t make a priority right now to heal. (This might sound like crazy Transpersonal, Shamanic talk to some, but If only the whole system could start to see and understand microorganisms in a similar way, as our ally, not our enemy we’re at war with, my Goodness we could turn the tide of this this pandemic a WHOLE lot faster.)
And as someone who’s had not a just (another) potentially ‘lethal’ virus to face, but a year of (periodically) journeying her own version of what both her parents had either died of or just starting having cut out by my age, who has had to sit an extra precious month of time minimum in limbo without biopsied confirmation that this tumour ISN’T cancerous, not unlike the time I stood there on my 9th birthday, 2 days after my Mother had died, being told I had a choice now whether I closed down and lost myself for years now in the grief, or decided to commit to going on and living life and loving to my fullest capacity, confined to a bedroom/study and one building or no, and even if it IS just a ‘harmless’ cystic fibroid:
I choose to make the most of this time. I choose to love, I choose life, I choose joy, I choose to do my best to serve whoever I can help.
I wouldn't want to waste this precious time I have, fighting pointless battles, trying to convince people who don’t see it that there’s something worth looking at within me, that I hold something of value, that I’m worthy of their time. While I can't help myself but WANT to keep creating and wanting to contribute to something that makes a massive difference, that reflects in quality the level of love I (and others) inevitably pour into it, I don’t want to waste that time losing myself, trying to create something that impresses, that is world leading, that wins all the prizes, chasing glory, recognition, numbers, losing all my focus being distracted by that thing off in the distance, not being grateful enough for what i've achieved yet, that I’ve bent all my focus on, to the neglect of what and who sits in front of me in the present...I want to be here fully in THIS moment, living, loving and expressing, making the most of this opportunity to engage with people who are here and ready to engage with it, right here, right now.
While I feel about the happiest, the most balanced I’ve ever been in my own company (because lord knows there were years spent in the middle of nowhere, alone, where I certainly wasn’t), I wouldn't want to spend this time playing out old patterns, withdrawing or holding out on love, or hold back out of fear, like Liz Gilbert at the end of Eat Pray Love, fearing that I’m going to lose my balance and people won’t like my crazy once you see the real me, with all my crazy patterns and illnesses and scars. I choose love. I choose doing what I love. I choose to share what I love and be of service where I can, from a place of love, with those who want to share in that love.
And so if anything, if there’s one thing that I hope rubs off on you from reading this, it’s that I hope it serves to deeper activate that part of you too, that amidst all of this world crazy, can’t wait to do just a little bit more of what you love, and light up the world of those you love, just a little bit more, in whatever new ways you might now find or create to do so. Keep reaching for it within all of this. Let it have expression and a voice. Let it lift you and the world up.
Until next time...
This week, amidst all that is currently going on in the world, a quote I shared in 2013 spontaneously reemerged out of the archival depths of the Facebook servers and has been doing the rounds. Join me this week if you're interested in a discussion about how and why this quote can be and what we can do to stay on track to living, loving, engaging with life and finding new ways to connect, despite all of this.
Fear is adaptive in a few respects:
-Protection: It has it’s useful evolutionary protective function by reminding us to be cautious in dangerous circumstances
-Reconnection: It beckons us to reconnect with and start listening to ourselves at times when our head has been off in the clouds of whatever vision or project we’ve been completely consumed with. Or have been running away with ‘what if’s’ And can be one of the triggers from within that can bring us back out of worrying about the future and back into the NOW. It puts us back into connection with our own life force and wakes us back up into feeling ALIVE.
-Education: And it is also a very effective teacher, if we choose to sit in class for the lesson.
In the end, it’s what we DO with all that energy next that makes it either helpful, or maladaptive.
If we try and shut it down, stuff it down and ignore it, or run away from whatever caused it, for example:
-the central object at the heart of a phobia (eg the spider, the dog, the virus) or
-the experience at the heart of one e.g. the act of standing in front of a room of people, being rejected in business, being rejected in dating, abandonment, criticism or negative feedback, ill health or potential death
the downside is that we may never learn to be emotionally resilient, or get to practice staying centred and grounded in the face of that potential threat. Which, in turn, means, that we might miss out on the ‘good good’ that’s waiting on the other side of dealing with it. We might miss out on living life.
Part of the reason that both adrenaline junkies and people working with, say an Hypnotherapist or NLP Practitioner or Coach on a specific phobia end up overcoming that fear, is not just because of the specific techniques used. But because the act of being brought face to face with their fear, makes them have to stay and be present with the experience of the fear, for maybe the first time. And in staying present with this thing, this thing that they’ve built it up in their minds with a thousand repetitive thoughts and stories full of whatever evidence they’ve seen reinforce their worst fears about that thing or experience to be valid, they then have no choice but to experience the ACTUAL reality about that thing and to start to realise a new truth about it, instead.
That, whatever the thing was, neither the experience of their fear of that thing, or the actual thing itself, actually killed them (or was ever likely to.) And that they DID in fact cope in the face of it, once they stopped trying so hard to control and repress all their reactions to it and just let what is essentially the healing and transformation process flow into happening…and then they inevitably got to the other side of the experience, in which they start to go something like, “oh hey, actually that wasn’t as bad as I thought, actually I CAN cope with this, this is how I do it, i'm stronger than i thought. I can do this!”…and a whole new mental story and a shift in the beliefs that underly it starts to develop.
Which ultimately then allows you to start being around that thing or experience in a whole new way. And with repeatedly being around it further, your capacity to stay centred and present despite it, and maintain your perspective despite it, builds. More than that, from this more centred place, you can now consciously choose to direct your thoughts and channel your energy into creating a different experience, one that moves you towards your end goal and in the direction of what you desired in the first place, rather than AWAY from it.
This is why simply trying to shift our thoughts and lift our vibrational frequency to create a better, healthier, happier reality alone doesn’t always work in resolving a phobia and the web of past traumas that are interwoven with it. It can become a bypass strategy that helps us feel something better and formulate a vision of living what we want instead. But if that is our only response every time a fear comes up, it’s still a bit like driving AROUND the block in the middle of the road, without anyone stopping to drag it OFF the road and or take it somewhere for recycling or reuse for another purpose. It can STILL keep us running away from and never being able to actually be resilient and stay centred in the face of the thing we feared. Which can end up cutting us off from both our power to make a choice, our capacity to truly channel our energy into creating what we really want and most importantly a hell of a lot of amazing experience of life that may be waiting on the other side of that fear.
Fear does not ultimately protect us from death, if we end up spending all our time and energy trying to avoid what we’re so afraid of, let alone avoid and completely eliminate fear itself. It can cut us off from the experience of life and feeling alive and truly living and loving how we wish we could. And then we can end up 'dying' in a whole other way. We end up surviving. But at what cost to really living?
Which is why as we sit at a place in life right now, where there is SO much fear and false information getting around about Coronavirus, I say that, while YES absolutely there are things we need to DO right now to reduce the risk of transmission and maintain our health and wellbeing, we need to also be really careful that we don’t get so caught up in our fear response, that it blocks us from from living and find new or alternative ways to KEEP loving and engaging with life fully anyway.
If you want to get some reliable facts, what to do's and perspective on the health aspects to help alleviate the fear of the unknown, watch this TED talk by Global Health Expert Alanna Shaikh below:
But then, it’s also important that we get reconnected and move through all the feels, get the download and keep flowing onwards to the place where we can KEEP focusing and channelling our energy into being, doing and living with and from love.
Why do I also say any of this? Because I know what it’s like to live with the stress of being diagnosed with some scary virus and I know what it’s like dealing with the fear and the host of reactions it triggers in the people around you. I had my own experiences of how to navigate that. And I spent many hours within my Women’s Wellbeing practice speaking about and working with both women and men who had recently found out that they’d been diagnoses with HSV 1 or 2, or who had long had it (and or been navigating various other co-existing sexual health concerns) and were struggling with how to navigate dating, relating and LIVING with it, at times when they had to occasionally ‘distance themselves’ physically because of it. So I’m somewhat familiar with the range of reactions we have when we’re confronted with a tiny virus we don’t know much about, let alone how to control it and we’re afraid might threaten our health, our loved one/s health, our relationships and how people might perceive or engage with us in public view, should they find out. And a lot of that experience is transferrable to how we navigate Corona in the present moment.
A lot of my work involved not just talking to people about the practical health aspects of how to live with it and prevent infection, but also Louise Hay style, trying to get a grasp on the psycho-biological and psychosomatic manifestation of both the initial and later ‘attacks’ of the virus and WHY it keeps coming back (because, interestingly, like our fear as a teacher above, it DOES seem to stop manifesting when you get the download on what it’s trying to teach you and take appropriate action accordingly) as well as in helping people believe that they CAN create and then CREATE an awesome quality of life and amazing relationships DESPITE having and us all potentially living with this crazy little virus.
Like many people, when I first got HSV 2, I (temporarily) thought my life was somewhat 'over.' I thought no man would every touch me or want me again once they found out about it. Like many, i fell into such a deep, dark, depressed hole, grieving the future loss of physical intimacy. And I was terrified of how people would judge me and shame me and maybe distance me for having it. And yet, ironically, it was in the first few months AFTER I got it, that I ended up getting into one of the longest, most beautiful relationships that I’d been in so far. Ok, so that relationship later ended for a different set of reasons and when a separate set of patterns came into play. But what i never anticipated was that, as a result of having that virus, I had to start navigating relationships and life in a whole different way. Actually, a much healthier one than before.
Before, I’d jump into bed trying to please and convince a guy that I was worth his time, with not NEARLY enough regard at times for my own wellbeing, while hoping for some relational outcome. But that virus MADE me have to start loving myself, valuing myself, be more honest and direct in my communication and have better boundaries from minute one. By forcing me to take my vagina OUT of the equation at times, for their benefit as much as mine, it taught me to start focusing on creating and nurturing a friendship with a partner before anything else, and over trying to be a master seductress people pleaser to prove that I was something a guy should madly WANT. When I started coming from THAT place in romantic and intimate relationships going forward, the whole game changed. And in the years after, I’ve had some relationships and connections that were definitely powerful sources of healing OTHER things. BUT honestly, i share any of this because that little virus has a) properly managed, NEVER EVER infected anyone else I’ve ever been with since I got it 2) NEVER been a block to me having had some of the most sexually fulfilling and adventurous years of my life and living a life I love and 3) never got in the way of me being able to HAVE a relationship and live a quality of life I love. (While other things certainly HAVE instead of it.) So, in the end, I have a whole heap of love and gratitude for that crazy little virus, because it taught me how to do life a WHOLE lot better.
Corona may be from a different family of viruses all together and scary because it’s a new strain. But many of the lessons are, paradoxically, the same.
Many of the common reactions that Alanna Shaikh talks about in the video above, that she’s seen while managing global outbreaks of Corona (and other outbreaks), are exactly the same. Being afraid of getting it and worrying what it might do to our own health, it bringing up our fear of mortality, being afraid of what it might do to others we love, being afraid we might be cut out from the herd and shamed or isolated if we admit that we have it, and not wanting to be alone or lose our friends, colleagues or loved ones for disclosing we might have it, being afraid of what damage it will do to our reputation and public standing if people find out we have it. Being afraid what will happen and what we will lose if we DON’T do or say anything. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Not knowing how long this will take and just wanting it to be over. Wanting to be able to DO something, anything to be able to manage our fear and do what we can to get a sense of control again.
My question for us all though is:
What is this virus also showing and teaching each of us about our individual and collective ways of living and doing things? What is the fear REALLY about? Go head to head with your fear and uncover what's in it and you might just succeed in engaging in life and relationships in a whole new way on the other side.
There is a time and place to be vigilant in trying to protect ourselves and others from it, as an act of love and care. But may we be careful NOT to get so lost in the fear of it, that we stop living, loving, engaging with life and finding new ways to connect. No virus or illness can ever take that away from you. I promise you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.