Monthly Archive: June 2015

From Disappointment To Inspiration

This week I had a disappointing experience. I felt that someone I trusted let me down because I didn’t get what I had expected. Feeling disappointed is painful and disheartening; it hurts us deep down.

Disappointment, according to the online dictionary, is a feeling of sadness caused by a non-fulfilment of our hopes and expectations.  And therein lies the way out:  learning to identify and examine our hopes and expectations before we take them as given. I wanted a piece of equipment that would support my vision of where I wanted my business to go.  I felt I didn’t have time to do my own research, handing over my responsibility to another – hoping they understood my needs as well as I thought I did.  Well, it turned out I didn’t express my needs as well as I thought, and they didn’t do what I expected and needed.

Barton Goldsmith in Psychology Today points out that we discover something useful every time we are disappointed:  we find out what doesn’t work and isn’t in line with what actually is. If we can see this, then we have learned something valuable that we never need waist time on again.  My own mini-crisis helped me clarify my real needs in this situation; and even better, helped clarify my process of expressing my needs to someone else.

He also notes that the longer we dwell on the disappointment, the angrier we get. We only have a finite amount of energy.  If we choose to spend that energy being angry and venting that anger, we won’t have that energy available to us for anything else.

The alternative, he suggests, is gratitude – looking at what we have in our lives that brings us joy and contentment.  I decided to call up a colleague who has some knowledge about my issue and we began to look on the silly side of the event – and that cheered me up and helped me to let it go.

One particularly dangerous form of disappointment happens when we disappoint ourselves.  We may say something to a friend of colleague that we feel is insensitive or hurtful, or berate ourselves for not seeing something we “should” have caught.  This kind of disappointment is never helpful: the truth is that our friend will give us the benefit of the doubt, and we need to do the same for ourselves.  Simply make a brief apology and move on.

To recap: when we experience disappointment:

  • See it as an opportunity to learn from what doesn’t work,
  • Channel our energy into focusing on gratitude and what brings us joy rather than on building anger, and
  • Give ourselves (and others) the benefit of the doubt – do what we need to do and then move on.

Life can knock the shout out of you …


Quote of the Week
We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.
-Helen Keller


A Word On Winning Battles In Your Mind….

Our mind can chain us to what we fear the most or set us free from what we fear the most. If you are going through a time of anxiety right now, know that you don’t have to hide it. Many people try to pretend that all is OK when it is not. In fact, most of us humans feel fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and even rage all at once. This said, it is possible for us to unburden ourselves from the thoughts that creep in at night or early in the morning.

Think about this. What challenge do you fear or face daily? What are you wearing around your wrist like a watch? What are you refusing to accept or say out loud? What are you shutting out while fear and anxiety is allowed in? The father of Gestalt Therapy, Frederick Salomon Perls, has a famous saying, which is “lose your mind and come to your senses.” Think about the irony in that statement. I believe this statement is the truth.

When I face challenges now- either personally or in business, I think about what I am ruminating about. Am I worried about what may happen? Am I worried about finances? Am I worried about what someone may say about me? Am I worried about how I treated someone? What my doctor said? What my last test results indicated? And then I pull myself back. Does this scenario sound familiar? While we all have the same types of thoughts, how we deal with it and respond to them is different and decides if we are proactive or reactive.

All that worrying, all that stress, and what are changes? Ask yourself this right now if you’re dealing with anxiety. What happens after you worry and worry and worry? Does the problem go away? Do you change your response? The only that happens is the build up of anxiety levels, sometimes even reinforce a tendency for depression, and the feeling of being overwhelmed and powerless.

The truth is that we can’t navigate or predict the unexpected. We can’t prepare for every scenario. All we can do is act in accordance to what Mr. Perls said and come to our senses in times of strife by not loosing our minds and reaching out for professional help and support. Learning tools is the only way we can start to truly win the battles within our minds. Want more tools? Let’s connect.

Until next time,

Slow Down? It Depends.

Slow down! If you’re ambitious and working hard to fulfill your dreams, have you heard this piece of advice?  If you have, and if you end up feeling there’s something wrong with you for being driven and ambitious, you don’t need to be.  All it means it that you have a dream and a hunger to fulfil that dream.

Marie Forleo has some really good advice the next time someone says “Slow Down!”.

The next time someone tells you to slow down:

  • Consider the source – The person who’s telling you to slow down may not have the same drive or ambition you do. They may not understand your drive or motivation.
  • Look inside – There’s a rule of thumb I was given years ago that I still use:  if you hear it once, set it aside; if you hear it three times, take a better look.  If you are over-extended, overwhelmed and working on empty, people will begin to tell you to slow down because you are inviting it.  This is the time to take a look at what’s going on inside for you. Are you motivated? Or are you beginning to lose it?  Excited or anxious?  This is the time to take a few deep breaths, maybe back up a bit to see the bigger picture, then chose what’s really important for you right now.
  • Choose your mirrors – Who is it telling you to slow down?  Is it someone you has what you are aspiring to?  Or is it someone who is not living the life you want for yourself?
  • Listen to yourself first – In the end you are the one who has to live with your decisions.  So listen to those people who inspire you, but only after listening to yourself first. After all, it’s your dream, not someone else’s.

Our greatest fear – is that we’re powerful beyond measure



Quote of the Week
I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.

Dealing With Panic

I wish I could bring comfort to everyone I know and treat by stating that when you are panicked, all will be alright. Things will pass. Well, it will but panic is very real and it can really amp up how you feel about your environment. It can also make your environment seem so much worse than it is at the time of the panic attack.


So, why do people panic? Typically, we- ourselves- don’t know why we panic. I have found that when most people ask themselves this question, they usually do it in an angry way, and refuse to focus on seriously looking for answers. Instead, they transition from panic to anger and never deal with what could have triggered the panic. I also believe that if you were to find the answer to why you are panicking that it doesn’t stop the panic attack, you just become more informed.

The questions What? and How?”, much more than “Why?”, can help lead you to helpful, coping responses during a panic attack. Learning to understand your triggers, your environment, and your own past reactions to panic will help you navigate life in a proactive and non-reactive manner. I know it sounds easy, and it can be, but panic is a serious emotion and there is more to it than understanding triggers- which is why I offer personalized coaching services.

There is no reason to feel guilty, ashamed, or apologetic about having panic attacks or simply for feeling panicked. Many people go through cycles of panic. This emotion or the attacks are not the result of living badly; or of making bad choices; or of being “stupid”, or cowardly. They are a reaction to a trigger or stress in your life. Please contact me to learn more about this subject and how I can help you.

Making Mistakes – An Essential Human Skill

We all make mistakes.  It’s the way humans learn – through trial and error.  In today’s stressed-out environment, we may feel that we simply can’t afford to make any more mistakes.  And that’s the biggest mistake of all.  Because without making mistakes, we can’t learn and grow.

When do we make mistakes?  There are a few ways.

  • We make mistakes when we step into new and unfamiliar territory.  This is when we have to explore, test, try out things, before we find what works.  When we give ourselves permission to step into the unknown, we also give ourselves permission to make mistakes.
  • We make mistakes because we aren’t concentrating on what we need to concentrate on.  This happens most often when we’re anxious and afraid – for instance, when we over-invest in the success of a special project, imagining disaster if we don’t make it.  We end up splitting our focus – on our project and on the opinion of others – and are much more likely as a result to let something slip through the cracks of that split-focus.

Most of us welcome the challenge of the first, and beat ourselves up over the second.Lisabeth Sanders Medlock suggests 9 things that making these kinds of mistakes can teach us.

  1. Mistakes teach us to know what is really important. If something isn’t important to us, it isn’t likely we will notice any mistakes. Acknowledging that we’ve made a mistake helps us to get in touch with our commitments and values – why this particular thing or event is important.
  2. Mistakes teach us self-acceptance.  Beating ourselves up over a mistake is bad for us – for our health, and our morale. Learning to lighten up instead of beat ourselves up over making a mistake is essential to health.  The mistake happened – now what can we do about it that’s constructive?
  3. Mistakes teach us to face our fear. Making a mistake can take us to the heart of what we fear. Fears we don’t face can appear huge – much bigger deals than they really are.
  4. Mistakes teach us about our own truth. Being honest about our mistakes and failures frees us to grow beyond our current limitations.  Hiding our mistakes means we must invest that energy in staying where we are.
  5. Mistakes teach us about consequences. When we experience the consequences of our mistakes, we get a good understanding about what works for us and what doesn’t work, uncovering recurring patterns and habits.
  6. Mistakes teach us about empowerment. It’s can be tempting to shift blame to someone or something else – “You didn’t tell me!”, or “That wouldn’t have happened if only you had…”. This puts us in the place of the victim, unable to control our world.  Taking responsibility for our mistakes actually empowers us.
  7. Mistakes teach us about integrity. Mistakes can happen because we over-commit, break promises, or through avoiding confrontation.  Even our smallest actions and choices have power, so learning to catch times where we over-commit opens the way to being able to do what we promise.
  8. Mistakes teach us to engage fully. Instead of pulling back when we make a mistake, we can learn to take mistakes as lessons for learning and growing, opening up more possibility for engagement rather than less opportunity.
  9.  Mistakes let us inspire others. Hearing a heart-attack survivor talk about how he nearly died because of his way of living, then what he did to change that inspires us.  Hearing a government body admit their mistakes in how they treated a minority heals hearts.  Admitting our mistakes openly, and learning from them, can teach our children to do the same.

Ken Robinson reminds us that children have no problem being wrong – they are completely prepared to be wrong. For most of us, by the time we are adults, we lose this creative ability, and become frightened of being wrong.

Ken Robinson:  How Schools Kill Creativity

Quotes of the Week

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
-The Buddha

There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.
-Mark Nepo

Seeing Through Another’s Eyes

Have you ever felt stuck, even angry, at someone else’s lack of courtesy or understanding? I feel that a lot practically every time I’m on the line with a help desk person.  Instead of fuming, which is what I used to do, I find a way to see what might be going on for the guy at the end of the line, and help him or her help me.

I remember listening to a broadcast just after Barbara Frum died.  She was co-host ofAs It Happens and a well-known and well respected journalist.  She had secretly been suffering from Leukemia for 19 years, and said it helped her understand that everyone has a story, and we may never know what is going on in that person’s life.  It gave her the ability to be there for anyone she interviewed, and made her interviews memorable and very human.

Understanding where someone is coming from may not solve all our problems, but it does help to balance our response to them. What it does is make us pause before judging the situation or the person.

Here are steps that might help you the next time you find yourself sitting in judgment.

Take a few really deep breaths.  This physically puts your mind at ease.  When we become judgmental, we tend to spend a lot of time in our heads going over what we want to happen, and then getting increasingly angry because what we want isn’t what’s actually happening.  Taking a few deep breaths helps us to let go of that speeding train, and gives us a moment to change direction.

Try and see the situation from their end.  The help desk person is there to field a really large number of different questions and concerns.  In front of him or her is a means of narrowing down possible answers, which means they are going to be asking very standard questions at first.  That’s if all goes well.  Now imagine that the help-desk person isn’t having such a good day and gets as cranky as you feel. That happens, probably a lot.  Simply keeping that possibility in mind might help you reframe the question.

Reframe the question.  This means working with the other person until you are sure they understand what you want or need.  For instance, instead of “When can I get this fixed?”, depending on the situation, a better question might be “What do you need from me to get this fixed?”.

Appreciate what you’ve done.  When you get off that phone, or end the discourse, notice how you feel.  All too often we shrug off what we’ve just done as minor.  Instead, take a moment to really appreciate how you were in that moment, and your connection to the other person.

In Maya Anjelou’s beautiful video “Love Libetates!”, she is speaking of her relationship with her mother, and how her mother’s love for her freed her to go her own way.  Love and appreciation of ourselves frees us to really be present in the moment, and to truly make the most of that moment.

If we could see inside other people’s hearts …

Love Liberates!


Anger and Gestalt Therapy

We all get upset. We all have to deal with angry emotions, at times. But what happens when anger is a constant issue? How to you use Gestalt therapy to change the way you see anger triggers and then react to them?



First, let us address what anger really is.”In any biological, psychological or sociological investigation whatever, we must start from the interacting of the organism and its environment.” [Perls, Hefferline & Goodman 1973 p. 274] In fact, Fritz Perls described the organism-environment field thus: “No individual is self-sufficient; the individual can exist only in an environmental field. The individual is inevitably, at every moment, a part of some field. His behaviour is a function of the total field which includes both him and his environment. The nature of the relationship between him and his environment determines the human being’s behaviour…The environment does not create the individual, nor does the individual create the environment…Each is what it is, each has its own particular character, because of its relationship to the other and the whole.” [Perls (1976), p.81: ]

Anger usually is the result of an action or an indirect action. Anger can cause rage, sadness, and even break relationships.  And understanding the cause root of our anger is important because if we don’t understand it, if we don’t see it for what it truly is and how it impacts us, our environments can become toxic- causing a host of mental and physical issues.

For example, if you are angry about a co-worker landing a promotion you worked so hard for, you may perceive yourself as angry towards you co-worker.  By using Gestalt therapy, I help you realize the root cause of that emotion and the emotions (like jealously, hate, disappointment, etc.) that follow.  Together, we look at the cause of your anger. Are you really mad someone else got the position? Or, are you mad that you didn’t get the position? Why do you think the other person won the promotion? Why do you think you didn’t? What environmental factors, like office politics or personal schedule limitations, do you feel had a role in the decision your boss made to pass you over and select someone else? These types of questions need to be asked because letting anger turn to jealously and then turn into a toxic working environment for you and everyone else in  your office.

I help my patients identify the true nature of a situation and the root cause of their emotions. Sometimes what we identify as anger isn’t truly anger, making our reactions skewed or incorporate- which causes further misunderstandings and challenges within our personal and professional lives.

If you want to know more about how I can help you, click here.

Making Stress Work For Us

Stress is with most of us in today’s uncertain world.  It’s a major contributor of a number of health concerns – heart disease, type II diabetes, immune disorders, and obesity being the major ones.  It accounts for a large percentage of health-related absenteeism.

Alia Crum, from the Mind and Body Lab at Stanford University, suggests that we can use stress to move us toward a better and more satisfying path than the one we’re on. Here’s how:

  • Recognise signs of stress and identify the issues that are causing the stress.  Stomach issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, shallow breathing, confusion, difficulty sleeping or getting to sleep – these are major signs of stress.
  • Identify the issues that are behind the stress by asking yourself what it is that you care about, and that you are afraid will either not happen or not happen well.  Stress is about fear of the future; it helps us understand what is important to us.  If we can learn to use stress as an indicator, then we can begin to deal with it in more positive and pro-active ways.
  • Know that stress is natural.  Recognise that stress is our body getting ready to deal with something that is important to us.  It is completely natural, and even desired, to feel the sweaty palms, the shallow breathing.  What isn’t natural is to ignore it, or try in some way to get rid of it.
  • Support yourself through this process, and take steps to put them in place.  One of the main reasons we become stressed is that we fail to properly support ourselves when we care about the outcome of a certain process or event.  We stop exercising or eating well, feeling we have no time for cooking and caring for our bodies.  Or we are off and running the minute we wake, falling into bed from exhaustion at the end of the day, never taking a moment to relax and ground ourselves.
Stress is with us. We can’t change that. What we can change
is how we deal with it.
Managing Stress

Quote of the Week
Stress occurs only when we care about something…think about how to use what stress tells you to create a life more vital than the one you had before.
– Alia Crum