Today is the day that the UK celebrates it's Fathers, both good and bad. We want to honor the beloved Fathers of our children, but if our own are gone or absent, we can really struggle. Despite my resolve yesterday on focusing in the good, I have really struggled today, more than I have on any Fathers Day in the last 7 years since his passing. Today feels like a doubled edged sword of joy and pain; my children have the most amazing Father and mine is not longer here. My life has had ups and downs, twists and turns and I wouldn't change a thing but I would give anything to share the briefest of moments with my Daddy again.
Today the national Guardian family section publish an article (and very large picture of me!) on my adoption, depending on how much of my blog you've read, you may or may not know that I was adopted by my Grandfather at 6 weeks old and believed my Mum was an older Sister until I was 7.
It's funny seeing part of your life written in print and in someones else's words and reading it did bring a tear to my eye; not because of the situation but because reading it reinforced and reminded me how much my Dad (Granddad) sacrificed and did for me. He was the most amazing man and while he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, he was my very own Super Hero and I quite honestly have no idea what would have become of me if he hadn't taken me in.
I will be thinking of him tomorrow, Fathers Day is always extra hard but I will try not to focus on what I haven't got and on how much I had for so many years.
If you'd like to read the Guardian article you can do so here:
or those local to me (South London/Surrey) here's a little more info about the personal safety and self defence workshop on 22 July. Anyone who knows me, knows that being in front of a camera is not my thing but I am so passionate about the value of this workshop that I stepped out of my comfort zone and into my BOLD.
The statistics show that 50% of women will be subject to an attack or sexual assault in their lifetime, a statisic I am sure you will agree is scary and shocking. I am delighted that Tahir Ahmad of Defence Lab Training has agreed to run an exclusive 3 hour Women’s Personal Safety and Self Defence workshop for BOLD Women. As girls and women, we are generally physically weaker and shorter than our male counterparts, the type of violence and threat we face can be quite different to those of men; with tailored training and understanding, we become better equipped to deal with the specific and unique threats that we are often made victims of.
I believe the saying ‘your life flashes before your eyes’ is actually our brain desperately searching for a point of reference of when we have experienced that event before; it’s searching for a solution. So, our life doesn’t flash before our eyes, but our previous experiences and knowledge does. It can be impossible to find a solution if we have never been in that situation previously or at least seen something that vaguely relates to it. In this 3-hour workshop we will put the balance back in your favour by making you aware of the possible dangers and showing you how to overcome them. It’s more than just knowing how to fight or escape a physical attack; you will also learn to think in terms of dangers, options and choices, allowing you to remain calmer and stay in control.
I recently travelled to Las Vegas for a holiday and to visit my youngest Son. We left London Gatwick at 11.30am and after a 10.5 hour flight arrived in McCarran International Airport at 2.30pm the same day. Like Dr Who, I travelled back in time. Now I am the sort of person who struggles sleeping in a bed so I have no hope on a plane, by 9.30pm USA time I was exhausted and it took me days to adjust, my clock and mind was in a completely different time and place to the one which I was in. I was living in the future while my body was in the past. On my return journey 10 days later, the reverse was true, and I was living in the past while my body had been transported to the future.
Sadly, it occurred to me that many of us live our whole lives this way, either with one foot in the past hankering after youth, past loves, or living with regret and others many others living solely in the future; seeking new and better lives feeling than we get X, our lives will be complete, we can finally be happy. The only moment in time we have, is the one we are currently in. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed, when we all know our lives can change in a heartbeat why do so many of us live in a different time zone and never really 'feel' or truly appreciate the present moment?
There's a vast difference between reminiscing and remembering good times and living in the past. When we reminisce, we remember people and good times, when we live in the past we are keeping our whole focus on 'better' times gone by. While this can happen to us all on occasion, continuing to live in a different time zone permanently will hamper your joy of life and that of those around you. When we are in this mode, we are lacking something in our current life and these tend to centre around our youth/health, fun, relationships, comfort, stability or acceptance. Ask yourself these 7 key questions if you tend to 'turn the clock back' on a regular basis:
Is there one particular time period from the past that you find yourself clinging onto?
What positive feelings does remembering that time/s stir in you?
Have you felt those feelings since those past times?
Do you consistently have those feelings in your life now?
What do you not currently have in your life that you would like more of?
Who or what in your current life could provide or recreate that feeling?
What do you have in your life currently that you no longer want?
Similarly, living only for the future does also not serve us either. We all know at least one person who will be happy when; they get that job, leave their partner, drop a dress size, have a nose job, - insert as necessary, the list is endless. According to the book 'Top Five Regrets of the Dying' by Bronnie Ware, number 1 is 'I wish I'd had the courage to be true to myself' and number 5 'I wish I had allowed myself to be happier'. As a coach and a human, I find that incredibly sad; whatever your religious beliefs or thoughts and hopes on reincarnation, we only get one shot at life with the body and mind we have today. I am also not suggesting that you throw all caution to the wind and only live for moment by putting your life savings on a 3-legged horse or drinking a bottle of vodka because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Our lives work in the best harmony when we have a healthy balance of appreciation for the past, living in the moment and considering our future selves and happiness with the decisions we make today. Today you make your future, today you write your history, make today count because your tomorrows will be more abundant.
Increasingly, clients come to see me in a wild panic saying things like ‘I don’t know why I am here?’ ‘I need to find my purpose’ or ‘help me find out what my life means?’ These people while all individuals and vastly different in many ways, all have one thing in common; they are the wrong side of 30 and have suddenly realised that eventually their life will come to an end; maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but the end is lurking in the shadows and is guaranteed to make an appearance at some point in the future. Their life has turned into a grizzly horror film and they need to escape.
While it is guaranteed that we will all die one day, it is still very much a taboo subject, with many of us acting like if we pretend it doesn’t exist then it can’t happen. Sadly, that is not the case.
It is rare that a childhood dream of becoming a Sculptor, Actor, Writer or Footballer are realised, but what happened to those dreams? They didn’t just disappear. Many times, they are abandoned for practical reasons. Unless you have exceptional talent, are given a lucky break or have an abundance of funds, then you still need to eat and pay the bills, so these dreams are eventually shelved by necessity of staying alive or providing for a family. Fear of failure, rejection or thoughts of looking foolish to others may stopped us in our tracks; there can be a lot of rejection and perceived failure when we are building a dream. Often, we are ‘encouraged’ by others to ‘get a real job’, conform to their idea of living a ‘normal life’ or not be reckless. So, we make ourselves fit into the pigeon holes that others are happy for us to live in. Then we hit 30 or have a health scare and this makes us start questioning our existence, why are we here? We feel we must find our life’s purpose. Even the most religious among us can start to question if there is an afterlife or if we will be given another shot to get things ‘right’.
When I was a child and looked to my future, I imagined that when I got to 30 my life would be sorted; I would be happily married, maybe have a child, a beautiful home and I would be in a career that I loved. When I got there, I was divorced, living in shabby rented accommodation, the single parent of 3 children and hated my job. For me hitting 30 was far harder than 40 or I expect 50 to be. I had grown up with a Disney ideal vision in my head and quite honestly, I was living in a nightmare. I never really questioned what ‘my purpose’ was, I just wanted to create the life Disney had promised me as a child.
Over the next few years my life made a turn for the better; my career took off, my relationships improved and I bought a house. I was back on track, where I needed to be. Then at 45 I was hit with a cancer diagnosis, overnight, I felt my life needed ‘purpose’, a reason for my existence. Overnight, I had to know that I would leave a footprint in this world once I have departed.
Three years down the line, I am not certain that I have found that answer, I am still evolving, but what I can tell you is that I am happy with the life I am living and the direction I am going; that is a big change.
This panic of increasing age or illness is compounded when you add in the Oxford English Dictionaries definition of ‘Purpose’ which is ‘the reason something is done or created or for which something exists’. In reality, we were created because two people had sex and I am sure they were not thinking ‘I wonder what the life’s work will amount to of any child created in this act’. Ultimately, we are here and need to fill our time while we are here, we can fill it with things that makes us miserable like bad relationships or jobs that we hate, or we can fill it doing things we enjoy and spending it with people that we care about.
So maybe the question is not ‘what is my life’s purpose?’ but rather ‘how can I create and live a life that I love and fill my time doing things that I enjoy?’
I cannot tell any of my clients or friends what their ‘purpose’ is, I can only help them explore what is currently in their life which is causing them pain and help them to uncover what they enjoy and where they find the most joy.
After exploring this subject with many clients, I have created a list of 4 key questions which are more valuable than ‘what’s my purpose’ and will help you to uncover how you should be filling your days and who you should be filling them with:
How many Christmases do you have left?
And who do you want around your table? And how do you want to spend them?
According to the Office for National Statistics, the average life expectancy for a man in the UK is 79 and 83 for a woman. I am currently 48, so as a female that leaves me 35 Christmases, that’s not too bad, right? But let’s take into consideration that I smoked for years, have indulged in my fair share of booze and haven’t maintained a consistent exercise routine for most of my life; even though this not the case now, I reckon I’ve probably lost about 5 Christmas through unhealthy living. If I add in my previous cancer and treatment, then that will probably reduce it quite considerably again. I don’t even know by how much, but let’s estimate another 5 years. That takes me down to 25 more Christmases without considering any illness or injury that may happen in the future.
Yeah this is a biggie and the one question that often takes peoples breath away. Christmas is a time for joy, for celebration and spending time with those that you love. The possibility of only 25 of them doesn’t feel like very many, does it?
There are a few points to this question. Firstly, what are you currently doing in life that is going to rob you of Christmases? Secondly, who is in your life that doesn’t bring joy and happiness? Do you really want to be spending those 25 (or whatever your number is) Christmases with them, being miserable and waiting for a miracle? Thirdly, with who and what would you rather be doing instead?
How would fill your time if I gave you £5m?
OK, so that isn’t going to happen, but imagine if money and time was not an object, then how would you fill your days? What would you be doing and who would you be doing it with? What would bring the most joy to your life?
Would you go back to education and get that degree? Open an animal sanctuary? Play music or paint? Would you build a charity to help others or teach disadvantaged children in poorer countries? The possibilities are endless.
From 2020, the UK pensionable age will rise to 66 years. If we use me as an example again, that means at 48 I have 18 years left of work. With approximately 252 working days in each year, this gives me 4,536 days of work left with 2,034 days, or 5.5 years left for fun or activities that fill my heart and soul. I am lucky; I had an opportunity to reflect and change my life and my focus after my cancer diagnosis and now spend my days doing the things that I love. Could my bank account be bigger, yes, but my bank balance or the possessions I own will not be listed and handed out at my funeral. For me, money is a necessity not a focus, I earn money because I need it to exist, I don’t exist to earn money.
Nothing is impossible. Our current options may be limited by money, skill or knowledge, but those things can be gained. Sometimes our only limitation is that we think we can’t, but what if you could? What would you do if you dared to dream?
What activity makes you forget about time?
And I don’t mean a boxset of Scandal or playing Candy Crush.
What are you passionate about, what fills your heart and soul with joy? Is it learning something new, playing the guitar, reading? For me it’s coaching and writing. I am probably the world’s worst coach for finishing a session on time, I am so passionate about helping people become unstuck and helping them move forward that I must show great discipline in stopping on time. I started writing this piece randomly 4 hours ago, it feels like only moments. It’s now lunchtime, and I forgot to eat breakfast. I am passionate about it, could it be more polished, yes possibly but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it.
What is it you do or dream about that gets you so lost in time that you forget to eat, sleep and find yourself rushing to the loo because you have been so engrossed that your bladder feels like it’s about to burst? That is the thing you can build upon.
What do you want to be acknowledged or remembered for?
I have a coach friend who asks ‘what do you want to be known for and seen as’, which I have not only borrowed and use with clients, but also use for myself and on new ideas.
What do you want people to think and feel when the end finally comes? What will others say about you? How did you impact their lives or what footprint will you leave? What do you want that legacy to be?
If you have an idea, design or method that would benefit the world, then surely it would be selfish not to share it? And you don’t need to invent something or be famous to leave a footprint, that can be done by showing kindness, compassion and understanding. Sometimes our purpose is to not have a purpose but to spend our time here living a life that we love.
Ultimately our time on earth is limited and precious. Many of us spend decades striving to build a life that conforms or makes others happy so we try to fit our square peg into the round hole. We will all leave footprint in this world when we depart, what do you want yours to be and when will you live it?
Pope Paul VI said ‘Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows’
Copyright Sue Walsh 2017
With the emergence of spring and the Easter break, we naturally start thinking of growth, new beginnings and rebirth. The dullness of winter is gone, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, gardens are in bloom and we are filled again with happiness and hope for the future.
But what happened to our New Year Resolutions and pledges to ‘start anew’ by improving our health, getting a new job, managing our finances better or a focus on leading a happy life? Dreams, which many put on hold for the last few months of the year because we knew that January 1st would give us the opportunity to start anew.
Sadly, for most of us they are long distant memories with many of us repeating the same habits and behaviours within the first week of January. Sometimes this ‘failure’ will put us back even further than we were before because we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will never be fit, slim or deal with our demons or family issues.
We all know at least one person that regularly announces on social media ‘tomorrow is the day I will sort my life out’. They will start the diet, sort out their finances or go to the gym so they can finally be happy and emerge into the person they want to be. While I am sure that at the time of posting these people are highly motivated and fully intend to make those changes, why is it that within days, they post photos of unhealthy meals, nights out drinking or their latest designer purchase? Why do so many people fail at resolutions where others find success? Studies show that over 80% of people will give up on their New Year’s Resolution within the first few weeks. Yes, a massive 80%.
Is it because people are not motivated, weak wiled or just really don’t want to make the changes? You’ll be pleased to know that none of these are the case.
Many of us give up because we think our problem is too big, that it must be a long drawn out or costly process or sometimes because we feel we are not good enough and don’t deserve it. We can’t imagine or visualise what the result will give us and the perceived pain of the struggle or dealing with our negative self-belief outweighs any gain, so in many cases we don’t even start.
The great news is, you can change these patterns and develop new strategies with easy NLP techniques to help you achieve you goals and boost your confidence which will lead you to success.
Unlike many other therapies, NLP is solution, rather than problem focused. Even deep rooted issues can be resolved in a few short weeks, you do not need months or years of therapy to let go of a painful past or start planning your future.
Developed from modern psychology, NLP is one of the most invaluable and empowering methods to bring about rapid, positive change and transformation for a wide variety of behavioural, psychological and emotional issues. The extensive NLP techniques can be used to help us achieve our goals, build belief and confidence, eradicate fears, phobias and negative thought patterns and beliefs and in addition can effectively tackle past negative experiences and trauma.
So, if we are not lacking in motivation or weak-willed, what is stopping us getting to where we want to be and how do we move from being in the 80% bracket into the 20% success bracket? The 5 main barriers to success are:
Lack of focus
When an architect designs a house or new building he has a vision of what the overall result look like, inside and out, from the top to the bottom. He also knows for the building to remain stable and safe, the ground must first be cleared, the footings dug and the utilities (gas, electric, water) connected. The frame will be added and the floors and staircase built, with the roof, interior design and gardens being finished last. There is an overall goal but it is broken down into manageable stages to insure success. Each stage is completed before moving onto the next one. There are often delays due to weather or unforeseen circumstances but he doesn’t give up on the project and abandon it at the first hurdle, these are just delays or challenges.
Focus on one area at a time and build from there. Trying to achieve too much at once will seem like an impossible task and dilute your efforts.
Just like the architect and builders know the order needed for success in completing a new building, they also don’t attempt to build an entire mansion in a weekend with a spoon and fork.
Be honest with yourself and think about what it is you would like to achieve and what is a safe, realistic timescale. If you currently lead a sedentary lifestyle but would like to improve your fitness and run a marathon you are going to need to take several factors into account to ensure you do that safely:
What time, resources or money do you need to help you achieve this? While walking and running are free, fit for purpose running shoes are not?
When and how often will you train? What time can you and will you dedicate to this? Will you need to get up earlier or arrange any childcare? What events or social activities will you need to cancel to train?
How will you measure your success? What milestones will you put in place? Will you download an app to help you see your improvement?
Are there any adjustments you need to make to your diet so your body is fuelled correctly? Or will you require any supplements?
To achieve a goal, you need to plan for it. And to plan for it, you need to have a specific goal in mind. Wanting to be able to run 5k continuously in 6 weeks is a specific, realistic goal, saying you’re going to start running isn’t. It is easier to break down when you know exactly what it is you want to achieve.
Focusing on the problem rather than the positive result
Research shows that people have far more success when they focus on a positive result rather than away from a problem.
What is it you want to achieve? ‘giving up’ smoking’ has a very different meaning to ‘being smoke free’. The first implies that you will be losing out in some way, the second that you will benefit. How can you turn your goal into a positive?
Think about what you will see, hear, think and feel when you cross that line, get into that dress or receive that job offer? Visualising the result and the journey to get there can be a powerful catalyst to moving you from the 80% of people who fail to the 20% of people who succeed.
This may surprise you but self-sabotage is a myth. Self-sabotage is really the excuse you tell yourself, it’s a kind of wrongly wired inner dialogue where you tell yourself ‘you can’t’ or that you are ‘not worthy’ or ‘it’s too hard’. Yes running 26.2 miles is hard, doing chair exercises or putting on a pair of trainers and going for a walk isn’t. If your goals are clear, realistic, achievable and well planned then you cannot fail. Yes, I said you cannot fail.
There will be celebrations and parties which may mean your healthy eating goes off track, you might get ill and not feel like going for a run, or you may have a few glasses of wine or a cigarette. Remember that a bad day, week or meal does not mean failure, it means you are human. Accept it for what it is, move on and continue moving forward.
Lack of support
Who will support you in your goal? And who will stand in your way?
For many, publicly declaring our intentions on social media makes us feel accountable and that we are not ‘Going it Alone’. While there are many reasons we give up, not having support can be a big facture. Sadly, sometimes those around us want to keep us where we are, they don’t want us to ‘rock the boat’, it helps them to stay comfortable.
If support is something you are lacking; then where else can you get this? Could you join a gym, running or slimming club? Perhaps you could join an on-line forum or social media group where you can celebrate in each other’s successes and express any concerns or receive guidance. You don’t have to go it alone.
Whether your goal is to improve health and fitness, develop a new career or tackle issues from your past, having a coach or therapist is a great way to explore any blockages holding you back and to develop a clear plan to move forward.
Before you start, do a simple ecology check by asking yourself 3 quick questions:
Finally, change can take time but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Having a clear vision and plan and considering any potential obstacles and challenges will set you on the path to success. Don’t wait until you have reached your goal to be proud of yourself to celebrate your successes, be proud of yourself every step of the way because you will be in that 20%.
About the author
Sue Walsh is a qualified NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach registered with the ANLP. She is a talented coach and therapist who can delve deep to free blockages and behaviours holding you back, freeing you to move forward and achieve your goals.
I had 2 conversations yesterday that at the time appeared separate, were also strangely connected. In the morning, I went along to a Women in Business networking event to speak on ‘The Hats We Wear’ for International Women’s Day. During a chat with the group leader about why we both trained in NLP (the therapy my sessions are based on) we agreed that before our training we had both kept ourselves ‘busy’, filling every minute of every day so we didn’t have time to think or reflect. We’d both ‘papered over the cracks’ and while it was a strategy that worked for short periods at a time, eventually the cracks would begin to show. The training and coaching we had during our training had given us new strategies which served us better.
In the afternoon, I met a friend for coffee and we had a random conversation about how to permanently get rid of black mould, we chatted about methods and products and what was the best solution to get rid of it permanently (I know my life is all rock and roll!). Last night it got me thinking about the similarity to the ‘papering over the cracks’ that I had done for so many years. Wiping the mould or mildew off in your bathroom might get rid of the unsightly stain, but if you don’t treat it with the right products, then it will just come back bigger and bolder than it was before.
Nearly everyone I see in my practice or who attends my retreats and workshops has papered over the cracks or not dealt with their ‘mental mould’ on some level. What about you? Do you fill your mind and time with 'stuff' just so you don't have to think about your life, your past or your future? Or do you self-medicate with food or alcohol to numb the pain and feelings of low self-worth and doubt?
I did all of those for years, decades even. I papered over my cracks and wiped off the mould, but they never worked, not in the long term at least. I didn't heal and I didn't grow, I made mistake after mistake, doing what I had always done and behaving in the same way but always hoping for and expecting a different result. It was only after I cleaned my ‘mental mould’ and properly filled and sanded my cracks that the paper stuck.
What about you, how are you treating your walls? Are you papering over the cracks or have you found the solution for permanent repair?
My friend Author, Speaker and Trainer, Deborah McPhilemy is holding a very special event to coincide with this year’s International Women's Day on 8 March 2017. With a focus this year of ‘Be Bold for Change’, Deborah has complimented this with an additional theme focusing on the relationships we have with ourselves and others as she quite rightly believes that every success, great business deal, our happiness, joy and love all stem from solid relationships. If you would like to be inspired, then why not spend International Women’s Day
If you would like to be inspired, then why not spend International Women’s Day with Deborah and her line up of phenomenal female speakers who for the first time ever will be sharing their ‘never before spoken about in public’ secret practices, tools, habits and rituals they used to transform their relationships to create the success they now enjoy. In addition to the inspirational stories outlined below, there will also be a special screening of Taryn Brumfitts newly released documentary ‘Embrace’ which shows Taryn travelling the globe to put an end to body loathing and spread the message of body loving.
• Your Relationship with Your Body – Natalie Robertson – Spiro Health
• Your Relationship with Food – Abigail Athaide .
• Your Relationship with Your Children – Zelna Lauwrens
• Your Relationship with Yourself – Maria Anderson-Contreras – Body Intelligence
• You Relationship with Your Love Partner – Deborah McPhilemy
• Your Relationship with Your Mind, Thoughts and Emotions – Kay Robinson,
• Your Relationship with Spirit – Deborah McPhilemy (Divine Intelligence / God / Angels / The Universe / Your Higher Self)
Ticket prices include refreshments, lunch, movie and after event fizz.
You can find out more and purchase your tickets here
What an extraordinary gift it is, this thing we call life. There are so many opportunities open to us, so many wonderful experiences to be had that can fill out hearts with joy. What is even more extraordinary is that fact that many of us waste the precious time we have.
Our physical time on this earth is limited, sadly lasting anything from a few minutes to many years. But how many of us truly ‘live’, how many of us really embrace the wonderful experiences around us. Birth is a true miracle, to experience it yourself or to have the privilege to witness it, is surely one of the wonders of the world. And to experience true love, whether that be as parent, sibling, partner, child or friend is a blessing we don’t always fully appreciate.
We can get so wrapped up in ‘keeping up with the Jones’; the bigger car and house or designer clothes and accessories that forget what brings us real happiness and has true meaning. Live a life that has meaning for you, spend time with those you love, and do the things that make your heart sing.
‘The retreat has been amazing with wonderful people, who shared themselves in such a way that I learned and felt safe. Experiencing Yoga was a beautiful, spiritual time and has inspired me to continue myself at home.
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