Practicing good Self Care in Times of Corona

I don’t know about you but this lockdown feels even more challenging than the last one. Back last Spring it was all so new. Maybe we thought it would go on for a few weeks, perhaps a month or two but certainly not for years… Surely not! My perspective now is quite different. To me it feels a bit like we are in a war, and I recognise that wars can go on for years and years. It feels harder to keep a good sense of perspective. These coronavirus lockdown days will surely end one day. In the meantime, it’s even more important to make sure I am taking good care of myself.

I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently – in my own life and also in support of my clients. There are days that can be challenging, confusing, frustrating, and lonely, if I am honest. Perhaps you can relate?

In the midst of a war it is hard to remember that after the war, good things can come out of it. Things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Perhaps, we will gain many technological advances. Perhaps we will finally take better care of the planet.  Perhaps, it can also be the time you really learn to take care of yourself. To set good boundaries whilst also taking care of the people around you. Perhaps, this time also gives you the chance to prioritise and take care of your own needs, because you are worth it.    

In the meantime here are a few tips:

Get outside everyday.  Its so important even if its only a for a few minutes a day, to get a bit of fresh air  Take a look over here at all these benefits of getting outside!,leading%20to%20a%20healthier%20you
Exercise   Its so  important for physical and mental health.,self-esteem%20and%20cognitive%20function.&text=Exercise%20has%20also%20been%20found,self-esteem%20and%20social%20withdrawal
I work with an app  at engagement .  It takes 20 – 30 mins  and I definitely feel better afterwards. Good physical health also correlates strongly with better immunity – so if you do have the misfortune to get the virus you will be better equipped to deal with it.

Eat properly. I don’t know about you, but since the start of the pandemic I pay a lot more attention to what I eat. I plan my food shopping much better and I am much more organised around it. The result is I now eat good home cooked meals 3 times a day, and I feel better because I know I am taking better care of myself. On the rare occasion I go back to lazy cooking I right away feel the difference! Cooking used to be such a chore but now it has become a highlight to my week, accompanied by great music or an interesting podcast. Here is one of my favourite recipe sites.

Use this time to get clear on what matters for you. If you love reading, plan in half an hour a day to read a favourite book, for example.

The tips may sound like no brainers but too often we have excuses why other people’s needs come before our own. I end up going for a walk with my spouse and put aside my own plans to read a book or work on my creative project. I feel guilty that I am not doing more for my sick relative so I don’t get the benefit of the time I do have for myself. These issues are common to many of us and there are ways to overcome these challenges. When we prioritise our own needs it frees us up also to be more available for others

That is why I am offering a series of Five Free workshops on Foundations of Self Care. It is organised by the Cancer Support Group of the European Commission. Five Friday Lunch times starting on February 26th (but the last session is on a Thursday).  Details are here
The dates are February 26th,  March 5, 12, 19 and 25th 

In the course we will dive into what good self care really means for you. You will learn to create a positive mindset and to address all your excuses. You will learn how to use your strengths and to develop resources to support you. You will learn how to  have good boundaries around your self care, so that you can also make time for the people you case for. In the workshops you will gain practical hands-on tools and techniques. It will help you look after yourself better, and be a better role model for others

7 Tips for Good Self-care in these crazy coronavirus days

These days are challenging for may of us. I am missing many things from my normal life and yet these days are bringing me new opportunities.

I have been reflecting on what would be useful to post about – that you are not getting from elsewhere . Here are a few tips that I helping me in these days:

1. Reconnect with a sense of purpose. It doesn’t have to be a big life purpose (but it could be). It can be as simple as choosing to focus on learning a new skill or getting on with a project that’s been on the back burner. You may like to ask yourself : ‘How do I want this time to have changed me during thee days?’

2. Make sure you are dedicating time to your physical body. For example: exercising 20 – 30 mins per day; resting when needed and helping your immune system stay strong.

3. Give yourself a break in these uncertain times. Recognise that things are challenging for many of us and that you are not alone. Things may take longer than usual so don’t beat up on yourself about it. As much as you can be aware of both the negatives and the positives of this situation

4. Connect with people! Virtually when needed, but think about your neighbours too. I heard a friend had set up a whatsapp group for their street – so I set one up for my building . I find that knowing I can reach out to to my neighbours in times of need brings a feeling of more safety and connection.

5. Recognise that other people are feeling the strain as well. Find empathy for others, as well as for yourself – we all need it. What kindness can you bring to yourself in the face of this challenging time. And what things ( large or small) are there to be grateful for? Find a way to bring more awareness to the whole situation. It may not feel like it but this time will pass.

6. Ask yourself what you can contribute. It can be something small like helping a neighbour with shopping, or call a friend who may need help. Rest assured this time is calling us all to stay connected with each other and to support each other.

7. Recognise that YOU are a complex system and that you have many parts. You probably have a part that is managing things fine. But there might be other parts of you that are feeling insecure or anxious at this time. See if you can give all of yourself the compassion and care that you need.

If you, or someone you know is feeling isolated, and you may like to know that I have set up a free support group that will run on zoom every Monday at 1800 CET.

Why am I doing this?
Keeping social connections is essential, and especially now, in these challenging times. Staying connected not only feels good, but it also helps to keep our nervous system calm and regulated. It helps us feel less isolated and more connected to a wider world.

I hope that we can support each other to keep our attention positive and constructive.

Sometimes it is difficult to share our deepest concerns to those we are closest to. This is a space where these topics will be welcome – to share and reflect on.

If you, or anyone you know is interested please find further details here:

What is helping you at this time? Please add your thoughts in the comments below:

Difficult People

I can be a difficult person.  For some people.  Some of the time.  Probably, you can be too.

Sometimes my energy is strong, or out of proportion. Sometimes I don’t respond in the way that the other person wants or needs. And sometimes people get upset, irritated or annoyed, with me.

Sometimes I get annoyed and irritated when I don’t get what I want or need from the other person. When they don’t listen to me in the way that I want them to, or when they  don’t understand what I am talking about because its outside their experience. I guess that makes me a difficult person, for that person, in that moment.

I have my difficult people too.  Sometimes it makes perfect sense why I find that person or situation difficult. And there are other people that I simply find difficult, for reasons I don’t yet understand.

Normally we don’t talk about such things. It’s easier to judge or blame the other, so that we don’t need to look at our part in it. In any case  it’s easier to ignore them or avoid them.  After all, who wants to be around a difficult person?

I looked at some of the considered wisdom on the subject, some of the better advice I saw was over here on Forbes. I  am sure some of it can be useful. The problem is that a lot of the advice is all about the other person: how you can protect yourself from these difficult people, and avoid them, and therefore continue to judge them.  Ultimately that doesn’t solve very much.

I have found a different approach more helpful. I started using this mantra whenever I feel challenged by one of my difficult people:

Here is a person, just like me:

  • This person is just like me, they are seeking some happiness for his/her life.
  • This person is just like me, they are trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.
  •  Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.
  • Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfil his/her needs.

This person in many ways is just like me.

(Taken from

Clipart arguing

Take a look at this image and see who you identify with – the one in blue or the one in orange?  You probably know how the blue one is feeling, but what might it be like to be behaving like the orange one? Is it possible that you can behave like him sometimes?  Just a little bit?

So instead of falling into negative thoughts, or blame or judgement – see if you can  recognise that this other person suffers just like you do. From my perspective,  I find this approach brings me more peace and calm than I can find otherwise.

I am not running away from the difficult situation between us.
I am not pretending thing are OK when they are not.

Sometimes that other person really did do something that was not good for me, or they judged me, or they did something that I felt was wrong.  And maybe  sometimes I just got triggered, and over-reacted.  It probably happens to all of us.

AND at the same time, whatever they did or didn’t do they are also a human being with fears and hopes and longings, just like I am.

Of course, depending on the situation, it  can take a while to get to this place and to really mean it.

I invite you to play with it.

I gave this exercise recently in a two-day training I was giving for a client.  Much to my surprise at the end of the training they asked to do this exercise again because they felt it would be a great way for them to go back out in to the everyday world.

I invite you to check out, who, in your circle, you find most difficult or annoying.  I invite you to try out this mantra for that person and see what happens.  And if you don’t have anyone you can always try it with a politician?!

Please let me know how you get on in the comments below.

How Can Your Body Help You to Manifest Your Visions and Dreams?

A few yeas back I worked with a single expat who had recently arrived in Belgium. We spent some time reflecting on where he wanted to be 3 years ahead of time, as he would be moving on to his next project. He told me he would be married, and to have a child. He also said that he would be going on to head up a country for his company – one of the major players in the pharmaceutical industry. He had tuned into his bodily sensations of how this would all feel on the inside – in a bodily way.

I met him again recently. He told me that he was leaving Belgium to take on the CEO job he had wanted, he had married and his wife was expecting their first child.

So how did he do it?

On our first day together, we had taken some time for him to connect with his bodily felt senses. He had listened for what success feels like for him. He had connected with this place sometimes during the intervening time. Obviously, he has also worked hard to achieve his goals!

This process of connecting with the felt sense of the body, and connecting it with the mind can be powerful. One of my colleagues uses it to address health issues. She swears it has also saved her previously rocky marriage . I use it to handle challenging situations and to bring more ease and inner peace in my life. I am glad to report that it is working!

This process of connecting your intentions with how you want to feel in a bodily way is accessible to anyone. For some it is easy and straightforward, and I invite you to experiment. I am interested to hear how you get on. For others, the process can be more complicated. Things can get in the way, and you may need support to connect with the vision that you want. There may be obstacles to be dealt with before you can reach that clarity of your vision, and this step is key.

Connecting with the body in a felt sense kind of a way is a key component of my work with people.

As a Christmas promotion I am offering Visioning sessions at 50% normal session price.

During the session you can explore your intentions for the following year. You can learn to connect with your vision in a bodily way. This can then become a resource for you to support you towards your intentions and goals. Each session -is 50 minute and is available in person or via Skype.

Why not give this as a gift to yourself or a loved one?

More details over here: Gift vouchers!


How do you get on with your experiments connecting your vision and your body?

Please share your experiences in the comments below:

Listen to those Voices inside your head

painted smiley on human fingers

Are you the same person when you go the office as when you pick up your child from school? Or when you greet your spouse after you haven’t seen then for a while, as when you go clothes shopping, or meet up with a friend?

Are you really the same person?

I invite you to consider that actually your not! Instead, each of these situations bring forth a different part of you, each unique and with a personality all its own. This is the view taken by Hal and Sidra Stone who created the Voice Dialogues model of the psyche in the early 1970’s. This model has been used by coaches and therapists over the last 50 years to help people make better decisions, and to have better relationships both professional and personal . It can bring new insights into your your dreams as well as deepening self knowledge, and help to bring your life back on track if things have gone awry

I discovered this process about 6 months ago and I recently completed a Voice Dialogues Facilitator training with Tim Kelley .  Often when we start out the parts unfortunately don’t always get along or agree with each other. As you beginning to get acquainted with your parts, Voice Dialogues helps you bring your parts into better alignment. It puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life, rather than being pulled this way and that by the needs and interests of all the parts that live inside you. Voice Dialogues is as structured process for talking with parts, in which you are facilitated by a Voice Dialogue Facilitator.

One of my clients has been using Voice Dialogues to understand why she has burned out.  She discovered that she has a high need please other people because of something that happened when she was 5 years old when she saw her mother crying with worry about her.  This part of her decided that she was going to be a good girl and please her mother.  Another  client has been using the process to understand  both  the attraction and  the difficulties she has with her partner.

Father and son driving car

As part of the training which I have just completed, I have been diving deeply into the life and world of my own parts. Its been an interesting journey of self discovery, and now that I know my parts, we can talk to each other when ever we want. It is bringing me a lot.

I ‘d like to share a personal story in illustration, that happened the other day. I had promised myself a day at the sea side, (more precisely, a young part of me had told me she wanted to go the seaside). My responsible, manager like part had gotten me organised. I had booked a car from the community car program, as I don’t own my own car. The young part was thrilled, its still new for me to keep the promises I make to myself.

In the morning when I woke up there was a Voice inside my head, and I recognised this Voice, (my Voices can get very animated, they really get into the parts – but its not like that for everyone). This Voices calls itself the Wise one, I realised later that Worrier is probably more accurate, but I decided to listen to it. It was worried about my travelling there, that there would be danger on the road, and it was also worried that I would get back late and then spoil my next day, which was full of plans. In the past when I would become aware of such concerns I would either ignore them completely, and then not take proper care of myself, or I would do exactly what they said and cancel my plans to have fun.

This time I did something different. I listened to the Voice. Revolutionary! I decided that I would go ahead with my trip and take extra special care driving and I would make sure to not come home late. I would take careful note of any danger on the road and see how it compares with the concern that had been raised, for my future reference . I was taking the Voice seriously for once, and I wanted to check its reliability.

I got myself ready and went to pick up my Cambio car.  Cambio works pretty well most of the time, the car is there and off you go. Every once in while there’s some kind of hitch, there is some kind of problem that takes bit of sorting out. This time I got to the station and no car! It turned out that the car had been parked on another street about 5 minutes away, so no big hassle, but I had to go and get it.

Aha, is that what that Voice was trying to tell me this morning?! I did make sure to thank it for its concern , as it didn’t want me the inconvenience of having to get the car.

I was curious to see what else might happen on my trip. Nothing did. I had an easy straightforward drive to the coast, and a great day on the beach. The young part that had asked to go was thrilled that I had made it happen and that I had kept this promise to her.

Everything was fine and dandy, until it was time to coming home. I had eaten out at the restaurant where I had parked. The sun was beginning to set and I love sunsets….. My Young part wanted me to go and take one last look at the beach. So I started walking down there, but it was taking much longer than I remembered. Normally I would just keep going regardless, but this time I d id something different. I stopped, I turned around, and I got into the car and I drove home.

I had made a promise to that Worried part of me that I would not get home late, and I wanted to keep that promise too. Its true I possibly missed an amazing sunset, and I caught glimpses of it as I was driving home. It surely was a great sunset, but I was glad to be driving home. Typically I would choose to watch the sun go down to the last rays were gone and there is place for that – but not tonight. I was proud of myself that I got home about the time I wanted, and I had kept the promises I made to myself. This was new and wonderful. I felt calm, and grateful for my day and for the new sense of self.


Do you make promises to yourself and then find it hard to keep them?

What strategies do you use?

Please share comments below.


Handling Emotional Reactions


Are you someone who ever gets emotionally triggered or reactive when things don’t go your way and you then do or say something you later regret?

It can happens to all of us, especially when we are stressed.

So what can you actually do about it?

This might sound obvious, but the first thing you need to do is to notice when it happens. You probably won’t catch the moment right away. It might only be afterwards, and at the beginning it may only be a long time afterwards. The more you pay attention, the closer to the moment you will catch what happened, but it may take some practice to get there.

Now that you are paying attention, instead of beating up on yourself, let’s try something different. You can try being kind to yourself, in the face of having been caught out, once again. Not to excuse whatever it was you did or said that you are now regretting, but to recognise that this kind of thing happens to anyone when they get triggered. You can give yourself a break. You are not a bad person but you did something in the heat of the moment, that you didn’t intend. That’s all.

Let’s look at what happens in the midst of a triggering.

We all have needs, it’s healthy, and knowing your needs helps you to survive. Sometimes other people help us meet our needs, and sometimes we need to meet them in other ways, instead of relying on others. The problem is, we tend to have expectations that certain others should meet our needs – like the need for care and acceptance, for example. However, sometimes that favourite person is just not available in the way that we want in that moment. That’s one of the moments that a lot of people get reactive, and that’s perfectly normal.

Inside the brain, there is a lot going on in such moments… The emotional part of the brain takes over, which means it activates the Freeze-Fight-Flight response system. The problem is, that the emotional brain does not do a reality checking. This part of the brain jumps into action – or reaction. It doesn’t check to see if this thing it’s reacting to is actually happening now, in the present moment, or if it is reacting to something that happened a long time ago. For the emotional brain – there is no difference.  The fact that the emotional part of the brain can step in so fast is also a life-saver – for example it fuels your impulse to run into the road and to pull your child back from an approaching car.   It’s the same mechanism.

The problem is that this part of the brain doesn’t know the difference between a challenging situation that happened a long time ago and something that is happening right now.

Often when we get triggered into an emotional reaction its because the emotional brain is responding to a situation that happened a long time ago,and it’s behaving as if it were happening now. Here is an example: You are having a talk with someone and they appear not to hear you, they are just saying other things and not acknowledging you. Perhaps in the past, when you were a young child, this kind of thing happened a lot and now when it happens you get upset about it.  But you are not only upset for what is happening no but also for all the other times it happened before. Then if you don’t catch it in time, you end up being inappropriately angry with the person in front of you – but they are not responsible for all the other times before. That’s why its so important to catch these moments – as more awareness always brings more choice.

So what to do about it?

There’s a lot of information out there that tells us all you need to do is to Stop, notice what’s going on, calm yourself down, take some deep breaths and carry on. As the saying goes ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’. It works ……up to a point.

However as Besel van de Kolk points out in his books ‘ The Body Keeps the Score’ it isn’t that simple.

‘When the alarm bell of the emotional brain keeps signalling that you are in danger, no amount of insight will silence it’.

In fact when the emotions and reason are in conflict – we can have a very visceral experience, and its worth paying attention to it, even though the natural inclination can be to run away or ignore it all.   It can feel like World War 3 breaking out in the gut, the heart, lungs and so on. It creates havoc to our system – all the long term projects of the body go on hold,  that’s things like building the immune system, growth, healing etc . And lets face it no-one enjoys being triggered.

This is when its important to turn towards the body and take note of the information held in the body. One of the methods that helps is Whole Body Focusing. This is a body centred enquiry process that helps you to learn from the body – when you can connect with the raw feelings in the trigger they can lead you back to the root cause of the problem.  Now that you are in contact with the root cause of the trigger, you can deal with it – by welcoming and accepting whatever you find there – and then you won’t get as reactive with people in the present.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start paying attention to your triggers and get curious about them, as an investigative journalist trying to make sense of a situation.
  • Keep a trigger journal and write about the situation, to reflect on the trigger and what is causing it. It will get you pretty far just by noticing what is triggering you and how you are reacting.
  • When you catch it in the moment, try and bring yourself really present – notice your feet on the ground, the sounds around you, your breathing etc, and be aware of whatever bodily sensations you are experiencing. Feel your own sense of being a person who is bigger than this thing that is triggering you – it is a part of you that is triggered – you are so much bigger than that !

And be kind to yourself for having to deal with this challenging situation.

Please post your thoughts in the comments below – what gets you triggered and how do you handle it?

Empathy at Work

empathy at work


The other day I was with a client – a senior executive, with a challenging role, recently arrived in Belgium. He told me how he was struggling with some of his colleagues. They weren’t open to the solutions that he and his team of consultants wanted to implement. Solutions that involved a reduction in head count, among other significant and unpopular changes. He seemed genuinely surprised that his ideas were meeting with resistance. He informed me that people were lazy and that they should be able to see how everyone would benefit. I invited him, just for a moment, to put himself into the shoes of his colleagues, to see how they might be feeling. I invited him to send them some good will in the face of their challenging situation. He said it was easier to send empathy to the people who were working hard and on board with his plans. He struggled to send good will to the people resisting his plans and whom he thought were lazy.

Meanwhile, I was facing a similar challenge to get past my own judgments. It wasn’t so easy to find my own good will and empathy for this man with his challenging situation!

Learning to do this is definitely worthwhile, as the research is confirming. Empathy is now recognised as a key leadership quality.

For example here and here

What I find particularly interesting is that the research shows that empathy for others brings positive effects for you as well. It helps to reduce your own stress. It helps you get out of your self and make room for the needs and concerns of others. It helps to calms the nervous system and reduces the stress response, and it can reduce the risk of burnout. You can read about it here:

So how do you build empathy?

Here are a few of my tips:

Develop active listening skills
Check your understanding by feeding back what you heard. Doing this you will become much more present. Its too easy to fall into thinking what we will say next, and then we don’t actually hear what the person is saying. If you are going to summarize what they have told you, you listen in a different way. and the person will feel really heard by you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can let them know that you heard what they say.

Stay open:
Perhaps your colleagues, have a perspective or an idea that can help your project to go forwards. If you have already decided that your way is best, then you will miss the chance to develop an even better solution.

Notice if you hold are holding judgments.- about the person or what they are saying. Notice if you are having some kind of reaction, if you disagree with them. The point is to notice it, and not to get caught up in it. This means finding distance from your own negativity, so that it doesn’t damage the relationship. When I worked with my client I saw my own judgments of him. I could acknowledged them for being there, and I kept coming back to give my attention to the client. This is where the focusing method which I use can be so helpful.

Give yourself Empathy
Give your self the same emapthy and good will that you want others to extend to you. This means including yourself as you think of all the challenges that people are facing. You too have your challenges and it is not easy for you in those situations.

Be grateful
A sense of gratitude bring a wider perspective. Even if you have challenging colleagues, maybe you can be grateful that you have a a job and some security. If you have challenges, isn’t that better than work that is boring or unstimulating?

Its another sunny day in Belgium – this is definitely something to be grateful for!


Stressed to Impress

stress woman

‘How focusing saved me when I met a person whom I terribly wanted to impress’

Guest article by Professional Coach Lenka Grackova. Lenka was one of my first clients and has also followed 3.5 days training in Whole Body Focusing

I sit down in my living room and look at the clock on the wall. Good, I still have enough time to get ready before I leave my home. For an unknown reason, I feel stressed. I have this strange feeling in my belly, telling me that I am anxious. I do not understand why. I am going out to meet a person whom I did not see for 9 years. I am looking forward to meeting him again. I am curious how he has changed. I really liked him at that time.

I am still sitting on the sofa and feel frozen. I do not feel like standing up and get myself moving. I look at the clock again. I still have some time, and I can not leave in such a state. I need to take some time to figure out what is happening.

I tune in and get aware of each part of my body. I notice my breath, my feelings, my appartment, my whole being. I ask my body to reveal what is happening.

The first idea that flashes in my head: „I am going to be late!“. My logical side totally disagrees and tries to push the idea out of the away. I focus again on my belly. I wish I could run away from that tense feeling. Instead I open up. I tune into the nervousness inside of me. I relax and focus on what is happening right now in my body. I feel weak. My arms and legs are without any power. I open up to that feeling as well.

I feel powerless. Suddenly I get a flash in my head. I feel I am not good enough. I would like the other person to enjoy being with me. I want him to be impressed. But I am worried that I might not be good enough. An emotional flood open up and I let the feeling pour out. I stay with my feelings of insufficiency. Another part of me starts calming me down or maybe complaining again that I do not feel confident. I open up to both parts. I give them as much space as possible. Until they can make peace. They become friends and my tense feeling in my belly goes away.

I thank my body for all that it revealed to me. I feel very much alive and energized. I look at the clock. Damn. Now I need to hurry up!

On the way to the restaurant, I start looking forward to the meeting. The curiousity takes over. I feel light.  When I arrive to the place, I am almost on time (only 5 mins late). But finding a parking place seems impossible. I start stressing a little bit. Sending him a couple of messages that I am not able to find a parking place. After turning in circles for 15 more mins, I find a convenient place. I arrive to the restaurant 25 mins late. That’s a bit of a world record for me.  I feel a little bit guilty, but the guy is extremely understanding.

I celebrate inside of me that I did my focusing session earlier on. If not, I would be feeling uncomfortable with such a bad start to the evening, and  I would not be able to be myself. Instead we  have a great evening together.

Before leaving the restaurant, I check myself in the mirror and smile. Oh no! A big piece of parsley is stuck in my teeth. I do a quick calculation, it has probably  been there for at least an hour. I regret I was laughing that much. Then we go out from the restaurant and my friend offers to walk me to the car. Oh my goodness. Where did I park it? After being confused for a couple of minutes, I finally find my way.

After we say good bye and I go off in my car, I have to laugh. I am so happy that I did my focusing session. In the past with such „bad“ impressions, I would probably be driving back home devastated. Now I just think: What a funny story to tell! I need to share it with my focusing guide and teacher, Ruth Friedman.  My body was right again. I was terribly late and I surely impressed the guy!

About Lenka: She creates motivation and passion at work by individual coaching. and she works to help people bring the passion back to their job. Thanks to her international experience in multinationals, she learned that the problem was not to be different, the problem was to be different while trying to do the things the same way like the others.   More about Lenka



Shift your mood and find your gratitude

I had gotten off a call with a friend. I felt so much warmth between us on the call that it was almost palpable. He told me that he had seen this photo of me, as it had been posted on FaceBook. He mentioned it as he was speaking about history – my history and his, the history we have together. He is a colleague on a training program we have been following together these last 18 months. He spoke about how we are both growing and healing – even in the time that we have known each other. It was good to hear all that.  Our call had gone deep and I was aware that somewhere inside me, I also felt a bit sad. It felt like a good kind of sadness.
This photo holds a lot for me – it was taken right after a particularly challenging time in my life . A few weeks before I had a had a nasty cycling accident, that had left me shaken up and depressed.

That weekend of the photo was itself very memorable. For one thing we were on the beautiful Gower coast in Pembrokeshire on an August Bank Holiday. We had great company, fantastic weather and amazing nature. What more can you ask for!


After the call, I remembered what had been going on right before that weekend, many many years before. I remembered how I had stumbled into a nightly gratitude practice after my accident. This turned out to be the perfect antidote to dealing with the shock and depression of my accident. Looking back, it seems strange that I was so depressed. After all, the accident could easily have been much worse. I was definitely still alive and without any major injury. I realize now, that the depression was probably the way I dealt with the shock of the accident.
I feel lucky that I found this practice from ‘first principles’. It was a long time ago and not much energy was put into positive psychology in those days.  At the time it made sense to see how many positive things had happened in the day, and there were always a lot ! It gave me the grace to get things back into perspective. Life was good and I was indeed lucky to be alive.
As I got off the call and had these reflections, I noticed that my energy changed radically. I wasn’t pushing anything away. I hadn’t changed anything. I hadn’t pushed away the sad feelings, but my energy was different now.
What struck me the most is how easy it was to shift my awareness to something positive. I was still feeling tired but the darker mood had definitely moved on. I also realised that this type of mood-shifter is a useful tool that I had never thought of before.
I am wondering if you have used this kind of mood shifter? What works for you when something has just brought you down?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Do You make mistakes?

I know that I do make mistakes and sometimes they are big ones – ones that I really wished I hadn’t made.

Sometimes when you make a mistake you can do real damage. You can hurt yourself, or other people. For example, if you do a bad mistake whilst driving you might cause an accident and people will get hurt or worse. If you make a mistake when you are talking to a friend or colleague, you can say something that you didn’t mean to. The other person might feel hurt by what you said and you might have caused damage in the relationship. In the long run it means you have hurt yourself as well. Point being, it matters when you make a mistake, but we all do it as we are all human beings. Sometimes the impact of the mistake can be much greater than the thing we did itself.


Recently I made a bunch of mistakes, so I’ve been thinking about mistakes and how we treat ourselves. I do not want to diminish the wrong action, but to find a way to come back to learn from the mistakes and so to  move on.

I was observing how I treated myself afterwards. Perhaps the mistake I made was foolish or ignorant but it was too late to change the outcome. In England there is an expression  ‘There is no use crying over spilled milk’. It means after you spilled the milk, its too late to be complaining that your milk is gone.

In my case I was doing something for the first time, and if I am honest with myself, I wasn’t thinking straight. It happens even to the best of us! I didn’t realise it at the time, so I made the mistakes and I didn’t get what I wanted. Then I was gutted!!

That was when I got really hard on myself…. I kept trying to tell myself that it was a mistake, mistakes happen, everyone makes mistake sometimes!! But I was still hard on myself! Later I realised that I was so very hard on myself because I was also disappointed in the outcome. I hadn’t realised how much I really wanted it. 20:20 hindsight is a marvelous thing!

Once I recognised that the hardness came from my disappointment, and not from anything harsher, it was easier to have compassion for myself! I could give myself a break. The harshness came because I felt I had let myself down, and that was painful for me, but it was nothing worse. That was a relief!

Somehow, even after that realisation, I still wasn’t done with this. – I fell into a dark and unhappy state that I haven’t seen for a while.  It was odd to see it, but I realised that this part of me doesn’t actually want me to be happy, right now. It was a surprise to recognise that this part of me actually wants me to wallow in misery!  Maybe other people have that place as well…. its not an easy place to admit to and for me it was a startling realisation!

So I asked myself ‘Is this a place I actually want to live from ?’ The answer came back, NO!  That was when I remembered my first antidote to all this darkness is to remember to stop complaining and to get grateful…. there is always, always so much to be grateful for!
Gratitude, and choosing to feel grateful is like taking a medicine for your brain. That’s true, even when it doesn’t feel natural or obvious. Its even true when it feels like the last thing on earth you want to do. Gratitude changes something in the chemistry of your brain. They say that joy and gratitude go together. Its not that joyful people have more to feel grateful for, it is that grateful people experience more joy.! If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can check out Brene Brown on this topic over here.   You really can resource yourself with gratitude, and it works!



Now that I had resourced myself, I could see that it was not surprising that I made that mistake. I was doing something new and I had been anxious about it.

Then I remembered to looked back on the last few months. I recognised that globally, I feel more lightness and more openness. And yes I do have a a lot to be grateful for. Simple things like having good food to eat – a nice apartment, things that nourish me, people who care about me and so on.

It reminds me that being happy is a choice. Sometimes I need to re-choose it over and over again. Old habits sometimes take hold and they can be hard to break. The thing is though there really are times when being happy is just not it, at least for me. In those moments, if I am honest, I don’t choose happiness. The challenge I have then is to be kind to myself, in the face of choosing ‘not happiness’. So that I can be a friend to myself no matter what.

As soon as I can find kindness for myself in the face of choosing ‘not happiness’ , then something shifts inside me. Its amazing! There is more space for me to be myself and I find my centre again. Once I find my gratitude for life, happiness, calm, being centred, is never far away.

It has been an interesting journey these last days and not an easy one…. I felt pulled in many different directions, and not easy to find the distance I needed inside me. I am deeply grateful for the tool of Focusing which has helped me find my way.

What happens for you when you make mistakes?



By the way upcoming I have 2 workshops one on Self Compassion on March 12 2017 where we can really dive into methods to find kindness for yourself. Details here

And on April 23rd an Introduction to Whole Body Focusing in which we will learn the basics of Focusing.