Why meditation just isn’t my jam

Why meditation just isn’t my jam

I know, it’s practically sacrilege to work in the personal development and wellness sphere and not be an advocate for meditation.

Allow me to explain why, please.

I suck at sitting in a half-lotus let alone a full lotus.

I suck at sitting still.

I suck at having a quiet mind.

I’m pretty stress-free (98% of the time, the other 2% is no-holds-barred, DEFCON 1) so don’t really need it.

In a nutshell, I suck at meditation.

But you know what I’m slowly getting good at?

Practicing mindfulness.

Aren’t they the same thing, you ask?

No, actually they’re not.

Turns out, that meditation is merely one route to mindfulness.

Meditation is a practice whereas mindfulness is, according to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn an

awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally

Intentionally, at any given moment, giving your full attention to yourself or your environment without judgment.

Too often, we are lost in thoughts of either the past or the future, never really focusing on the here and now.

And when we do focus, it’s often with a critical eye.

When we operate from that perspective, we often miss how things really are and see instead our own interpretation of situations or circumstances.

The constant stress on our minds and physiology caused by that perspective can often lead to or exacerbate chronic illness.

By applying mindfulness, we can begin to shift that perspective and arrive at a place of acceptance for things as they really are. In other words, a place of maturity and wisdom.

In his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (developed back in 1979, it’s almost as old as I am!) he outlines nine inter-connected core attitudes required for mindfulness.

Non-Judgment

I’d like you to stop reading this for a minute and rub the pads of the first finger and thumb of your right hand together for ten seconds.

Done?

Okay.

Now, what went through your mind when I asked you to do that?

If you’re anything like most people, you had an internal monologue that went along the lines of “What? Why? How long? What for? That’s stupid/boring/unnecessary/weird/fun/exciting…”

That dear friend is judgment. When we assign a mental label, whether good or bad, to an experience.

We all do it. We judge ourselves, we judge other people and we judge situations.

Non-judgment on the other hand is our attempt to experience things without labelling them at all. Simply accepting them for what they are.

Calling ourselves when we’re being judgmental, examining what bias is causing the judgment, and then gently letting it go.

Patience

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before but it’s one of my favourite illustrations, so please indulge me (Kabat-Zinn used it, so I won’t be taking credit!)

If a child came across a chrysalis and could sense the butterfly inside trying to break free, they’d probably try to help by breaking the chrysalis open.

What they don’t realise is that by doing so, they’ve taken away the butterfly’s chance to strengthen itself through the struggle, and now it may not survive.

An adult, on the other hand, generally speaking, should understand that the process is crucial for the butterfly and not intervene if tempted.

Patience is being okay with things happening in their own time.

Knowing that this is truly the case and accepting it.

Not being tied to any internal or external timelines.

Beginner’s Mind

One of my favourite things about children is their ability to truly immerse themselves in experiencing things. Even the most random of things like seeing their toes when they are babies or going to the grocery store seems like such an adventure.

Somewhere along the way we lose that sense of awe and wonder and become blasé about most things. Too cool for school. We filter everything we do and see through the lens of our past experiences.

Having a beginner’s mind takes us back to that childlike place where we get rid of all our preconceived ideas or expectations and see the world around us with fresh eyes — as if we’ve never seen it before.

Trust

How often do you second guess yourself once you’ve made a decision? Or start something like an exercise program or new diet and think “I know it’s worked for other people but I’m not sure it’ll work for me” or even “I feel like I’m beyond the point where coaching or therapy will work”.

That’s us not trusting. Not trusting our capacity for change, not trusting that our bodies and minds are designed to actually support themselves and heal themselves.

This attitude is about reversing that thought process and learning to trust.

Trust that everything will work as it should in support of the right things in our life, including our bodies and minds.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Non-Striving

For the record, this one is probably the hardest attitude for me. I’m historically somewhat of an overachiever who measures my worth by my output or contributions. The more I achieve, the more validated I feel in my existence.

Non-striving turns that on its head. There is no fixation on goals, there is no desired way to achieve the outcome you want. There’s simply being and doing your best at any given moment.

No chanting, special dance moves, medals. Nothing. 
 Just you and your awareness.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t have goals, what it does mean is that once you’ve set your goal, you don’t fixate on it and you don’t second guess it. You work on the process to get you there. Gently. No striving.

Acceptance

I find this one trips up a lot of people. They hear acceptance and they translate that as meaning being passive in your life and succumbing to whatever comes your way.

It’s not that.

Acceptance in this case is being brave enough to look at yourself and your circumstances and say “This is what this is. Right now”
 It’s about not wishing away the reality and spending time longing for things to be different.

This is how things are. Even if we would want them to be different.

In that way, we can put to better use the energy we would typically use to fight a situation or lie to ourselves.

Letting Go

Have you ever noticed how we mentally hoard experiences, good or bad? We like to hold on to pleasant experiences and thoughts so we can revisit them and re-experience that sense of pleasure.

For negative thoughts or situations, when we don’t deal with them head-on, we’re actually holding on to them whether we accept it or not.

This is another attitude that I struggle with. I get letting go of negative or bad experiences, but the pleasant ones too?!

Apparently, yes. It’s the acceptance that the pleasant or unpleasant things have come to an end and being okay with that.

Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash

Gratitude

This attitude is probably the one that people think of most often when they think of mindfulness.

Appreciating everything. Not just the big, out-of-the-ordinary things but the smallest of things that we often take for granted.

The ability to read or listen to this article, the fact that our bodies work at a basic level without us having to manually do anything. The sun on our face, the rain that nourishes the earth.

The obstacles that we get to overcome that help make us stronger.

All of it.

Generosity

The final attitude is all about sharing what you have with other people in a way that will bring them joy, happiness, or ease.

We often think of this in financial terms but that’s not the only way.

Be generous with your smiles, generous with your compliments, generous with your knowledge and wisdom, generous with your time.

The things that you don’t even think about that make a positive impact when you gift them to someone else.

That’s also generosity.

So there you have it, the attitudes that make up the framework for mindfulness.

While I do struggle with some of the attitudes and definitely don’t exhibit all of them all the time, I find that knowing what they are helps me be mindful in a way that meditation never did.

And just so you know, I’m aware meditation isn’t any of the things I said it was — but that’s a different article!

Which of these, if any do you embody or struggle with in your own life?

How well do you know yourself (not asking for a friend)?

How well do you know yourself (not asking for a friend)?

I know, it sounds silly. 

After all, you’ve lived with yourself for years and nobody knows you like you do. 

Why do you need to spend any more time on it?

Right?

And yet, one of the single most rewarding takeouts for me as a coach is watching my clients flourish and have the clarity and confidence to take their next life steps because they have taken the time to get to know themselves deeply and truly.

I’m going to share with you the process we go through that helps them get there. 

Maybe (hopefully) it’ll give you some deeper insight into yourself as well.

So let me explain the method to my particular brand of madness.

In it for the long haul

Firstly, I don’t take clients on a short-term contract. If you’re working with me, you’re committing to giving yourself 12 weeks to transform your life.

You may have a very specific problem that you want a quick fix for and we’ll get to it but you’re sticking with this thing for 12 weeks.

Why?

Because I don’t believe that there’s a silver bullet for transformation, whether you’re trying to shift your body, your mind, or your habits. I do not subscribe to 30-day sprints or challenges. 

While they may cause some quick changes, I’m in the business of helping you create lasting, radical change.

According to published research, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit (also known as automaticity, also known as ingrained, lasting change). 

The majority of participants in that research study reached a level of habit at 84 days. 84 days is, of course, 12 weeks, so that’s why 12 weeks is my magic number.

Told you coaching was based on science!

Deep discovery work

Secondly, we’ll be spending the first 4-6 weeks getting to know you. 

I like to call it getting you Awesomely Aligned – in agreement with yourself about the amazingly unique and gifted human being you are. 

Also, it’s called that because I’m slightly obsessed with alliteration and will use it shamelessly and at the slightest provocation.

Thirdly, it doesn’t matter what brought you to coaching. 

Whether it’s because you’re feeling burnt out at work, not sure about where you want your relationship to go, or struggling to adjust to a new country or city, we will be looking at your life holistically. 

In its entirety. 

Across 12 areas.

Why is that necessary you ask?

Again it’s because lasting change isn’t about tweaking a single aspect of your life but reconciling within yourself who you are, and from that place of deep knowing then having the clarity as to not only what changes to make, but how best to make those changes for you. 

The only way I feel you can achieve that alignment is by working with the whole person. 

Also, if you think of all the areas of your life as forming part of a spider web, then any issue or change in one area will automatically create a ripple or effect in another area. Because they’re all interrelated.

So here are the areas we look at in your life:

  • Love & Romance 
  • Occupation 
  • Spirituality
  • Family
  • Wellbeing 
  • Learning & Growth 
  • Abundance 
  • Community 
  • Fun & Enjoyment 
  • Habitat
  • How time is spent
  • Achieving life goals 

Together we examine:

your levels of current satisfaction across all those life areas; 

what things you think would change that satisfaction; 

what your core values are;

what your archetypes and shadows are; 

what things motivate you;

what beliefs you may be holding that limit you and

what superpowers you have (what kind of Marvel fan would I be if that weren’t part of my process?).

If you already have answers to all those questions then congratulations, you’re amazingly self-aware and clearly know yourself very well.

But if some of those questions had you scratching your head and wondering, then, like the vast majority of us, you could maybe stand to get to know yourself a little bit better.

While this is, in part a totally shameless plug for the work that I do, I do honestly believe it can only make your life better.

Whether you take the journey solo, as a DIY process of self-discovery, as part of a group, or one on one with a coach, it’s definitely a journey I’d encourage you to take. 

You might just really like the you that you get to know.

The soft bigotry of low expectations and how it affects your children

The soft bigotry of low expectations and how it affects your children

My husband introduced me to this phrase many years ago and I’m obsessed with it for some reason.

What exactly is the soft bigotry of low expectations, I hear you ask?

Please, allow me to explain.

Originally used by George W. Bush in an address to the NAACP in 2000, he referred to it as a bias.

It’s the habit or practice of expecting less from members of disadvantaged groups and then due to that bias, implicitly encouraging them not to reach their full potential.

You’ve heard of the Pygmalion effect right? Simply put, where having high expectations can lead to improved performance.

Well, the opposite of that is the Golem effect.

Where low or negative expectations can lead to decreased performance.

The soft bigotry of low expectations is the Golem effect applied to an entire disadvantaged group.

George W. Bush was, of course, referring to the existence of racial bias.

My take

But then I started wondering about the extrapolation of the term to different disadvantaged groups in a different context.

Specifically, our children and how our view of them affects them.

In the interests of transparency, this article may or may not have been inspired by my binge watching Babies on Netflix.

Moving on….

Do we, as parents, subconsciously (because we are biased towards our children) think that they’re capable of less than they are and therefore inadvertently stop them from reaching their full potential?

In other words, are we sleeping on our kids?

And by “sleeping on” I’m using the Urban Dictionary definition here — are we failing to appreciate just how capable our children actually are and as a result, expecting too little of them?

Let me be clear, I’m not talking about the large aspirations and expectations we have for our children.

For instance the link between parental expectations and academic outcomes has been made clear through a variety of studies.

I’m thinking more along the lines of the seemingly small behaviours that we occasionally exhibit as parents that can (whether we know it or not) send the signal that we don’t think our kids are quite good enough.

Disclaimer

I feel like I need a disclaimer at this point: I don’t believe there’s one right way to raise children.

Also, while I’m a mum to one young adult and two teens, I’m by no means a parenting expert.

As I tell my kids, their whole lives are basically one big experiment.

I’m just endlessly curious about the things we do and how they impact the people who share our worlds.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way!

What behaviours am I referring to?

  1. Do as I say, not as I do

This is how myself and many of my generation with my cultural background were raised.

You were told what to do and you did it. No questions asked.

We felt the ripples of dissonance created by the gap between what our parents said and did.

As a result, we largely ignored anything they had to say and tried to find out by ourselves just how many ways we could subtly (or not so subtly) defy them. If you’re curious, the answer is a lot.

And yet somehow, we sometimes end up doing the same.

What if we’re teaching our kids that hypocrisy is okay if you’re in a position of authority?

What if we’re modelling that questioning, curiosity and pushing back are the hallmark of “bad” or “difficult” people?

2. Jumping to their “rescue”

“Here, let me help you with that”. Sounds harmless enough, right?

But what if that sends the signal that we don’t think they’re capable and that makes them start to doubt themselves?

What if by jumping in and helping without being asked we’re not allowing them the joy of success through hard work?

What if we’re not creating the space to let them learn how and when to ask for help?

3. Handing out certificates of attendance

Also known as “each participant gets a medal”.

I’m all for teaching our kids that sometimes, how you show up is as important as the result.

What I’m talking about here is the notion that just showing up is enough for you to be rewarded equally with someone who did more than just show up.

What if, by doing so, we’re creating a sense of entitlement and an expectation of reward simply by being?

What if, inadvertently, we’re communicating that there’s no satisfaction to be gained or pride to be found in the sense of a job well done?

What if we are signalling that mediocrity is the new aspirational standard?

4. Cushioning

That thing we do where we want to wrap our precious people up so that nothing and no-one ever hurts them.

“Don’t play in the rain, you’ll get sick!”

“Don’t walk around barefoot, you’ll catch worms!”

“Don’t date until you’re 30, you’ll get your heart broken!”

Basically, don’t do anything remotely risky.

I get it, we don’t want them to get hurt.

But what if, by doing this, we’re curbing their natural curiosity and ability to learn?

What if heartbreak is necessary to build resilience?

What if learning about risk and how to mitigate it is a more important life skill than learning how to avoid it altogether?

Closing thoughts

The idea of this article isn’t to shame anyone but to get us to look at the way we parent through a different lens.

To raise the possibility that maybe our kids don’t need us to act in the above ways.

To say: don’t sleep on your kids or have them fail to shine due to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Maybe as parents rather than being overly focused on their behaviour now, looking at creating life-ready adults could be our new mission.

And also to get ourselves to ask why we act in these ways.

What’s underneath it?

What, if anything, is causing it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Confessions of a serial procrastinator

Confessions of a serial procrastinator

I have a bit of a confession….

I’m a serial procrastinator.

I like to pretend I’m a perfectionist but it’s not true – I’m actually just Olympics level good at putting things off.

Like, why do today what I can put off until tomorrow, right?

Or at least, so I thought.

So let me back up a bit and explain.

I recently came across this article on procrastination and it got me thinking. 

Types of Procrastinator

According to the article, Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert, the co-owners of Accountability Works, have identified 4 main types of procrastinators:

1.The performer

2.The novelty seeker

3.The self-deprecator and

4.The over-booker

The performer

You know them.

The one who always delivers fantastic work but only when there’s a time crunch or a really tight deadline. The one who thrives under pressure. The one who has trouble getting started on a new task.

The novelty seeker

They sit on the other end of the procrastination spectrum. Never completing anything because they’re constantly distracted by a new idea, concept or project. They have stacks of ideas but very little finished work.

The self-deprecator

The one who laughs off their lack of progress by pointing out how lazy they are. But they actually aren’t. They’re so driven that basically things get left undone because they’re burnt out.

The over-booker

The one who’s too busy to do the thing because they are over committed in every block on their calendar. They just don’t have time to do the thing.

Which are you?

What I found most interesting about the article was that I could relate to every single type of procrastinator. As I read each one, I kept thinking me, me, yep me, me again!

Depending on where I am in any phase of my multi-passionate life cycle, any one of those archetypes can show up and really mess with my productivity.

A great example was how long I stalled on the idea of having a website for Awesomely Adept.

Rather than get stuck in immediately, I “needed” to know what web host would be the best, how much coding I’d need to do, who my ideal client was and so on. All really important, but all became mini projects that took up time and fed into the novelty seeker part of me.

They also ensured that I was so busy that I didn’t really have time to actually get started on the website (the over-booker) and every time someone asked me about the website I’d happily state how lazy I was being about the whole thing (the self-deprecator).

Finally I realised my good old friend the performer was out there too since I didn’t really have a set timeline that I needed to finish it in.

But then I clocked something else really interesting.

Every time I was at my least productive (or my definition of it anyway), I was more and more creative.

Somehow in the midst of all the procrastination I got really clear on my vision of what I wanted to deliver and eventually found myself knocking it out over the course of a few days.

It reminded me of the quote

“give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend four sharpening the saw.”

Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

So what am I saying?

Sometimes, procrastination isn’t really putting things off, it’s sharpening the saw.

And sometimes, it’s just procrastination and we have tools for that!

So what do you think? Do any of those types of serial procrastinator resonate? 

Let me know!

Is there an upside to Impostor Syndrome?

Is there an upside to Impostor Syndrome?

It’s been talked to death and yet here it is, Impostor Syndrome, very much alive and well.

What if….. hear me out here, what if there is actually an upside to Impostor Syndrome?

What if it is actually a good thing?

Hot take?

Maybe.

Let’s discuss, shall we?

So what even is it?

To make sure we’re all on the same page, I’ll start by defining Impostor Syndrome.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (the avowed definitive record of the English language), Impostor Syndrome is:

“the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills”

Sound familiar?

That niggling feeling that you sometimes get as you’re minding your business, sharing your brilliance with the world that someone, somewhere is going to point at you, yell “Fraud!” and expose you to all of humanity resulting in abject humiliation, resignation from whatever you’re currently doing and moving to some hard-to-find-on-the-map country under an assumed identity.

I’m being hyperbolic, of course, but it’s a thing.

A very real thing.

And something most people (myself very much included) have felt at some point in their lives*.

Usually just as they’re pushing out of their comfort zone and trying new things or taking on new responsibilities.

You can imagine then, as someone who has multiple passions and is constantly trying new things, how often Impostor Syndrome makes an appearance.

And it’s sneaky. It doesn’t always look the same. It presents differently in different people. In fact, it can even show up in varied ways for the same person. So it’s hard to get a lock on it. 

What does it look like?

A friend congratulates you on your most recent appointment or promotion.

You respond: “I was in the right place at the right time”.

You’ve just attributed your success to luck or some external factor rather than your own competence or skill.

That could be Impostor Syndrome showing up.

You’re in a new relationship that’s going swimmingly.

You start to feel uncomfortable that sooner or later your partner is going to find out that you’re actually not that great of a person.

Then they’re going to zump you (dump you on Zoom, and yes, it’s a whole phenomenon) and you’ll be alone.

Best to preempt the situation and end things. So you start ghosting.

You’re afraid that you won’t live up to expectations or you feel unworthy of affection and so you self-sabotage.

That could be Impostor Syndrome showing up.

Someone compliments you on how polite, well-mannered and delightful your teenagers are (don’t laugh, it could happen!).

You smile and say “we got lucky with these ones”.

You’ve just downplayed a very real accomplishment which could indicate that you’re not able to objectively assess your own skills or competence levels.

That could be Impostor Syndrome showing up.

You just got an A+ on your latest term paper.

You think to yourself that anything less is now unacceptable and drive yourself into the ground to get As all round while playing three sports, chairing the debate team and running your YouTube channel on molecular gastronomy.

You’re in hyper achiever mode and believe that overworking is the only path to success.

That could be Impostor Syndrome showing up.

Any time you beat yourself up for poor performance, subconsciously set goals so challenging that you can’t help but fail, or find reasons not to achieve goals that you know you should be able to achieve?

Say it with me: that could be Impostor Syndrome showing up.

Like I said before, it’s sneaky.

Which begs the question – how could Impostor Syndrome possibly be good?

If you think of it as a warning light on your dashboard, it could signal any one of the following:

You’re having a growth spurt.

I hinted at it earlier. If you’re feeling Impostor Syndrome then chances are, you’re moving out of your comfort zone. You’re developing as a person and you’re challenging yourself.

And that’s a good thing because that’s where growth happens.

You’re keeping your ego in check.

Arrogance and extreme comfort can go hand in hand. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, chances are that’ll keep you humble. That’s never a bad thing.

Your interpersonal skills could be on the up.

A recent study** showed that where the participants felt like impostors, they were more likely to engage in active listening, ask questions and generally exhibit improved interpersonal communication at work. It also showed that contrary to popular belief, there’s no evidence that having Impostor Syndrome impacts performance.

In conclusion

I probably wouldn’t go as far as to say Impostor Syndrome is a good thing.

A more accurate statement is that while Impostor Syndrome is undoubtedly uncomfortable, its existence could be evidence of good things happening in your life and as such, shouldn’t be vilified as all bad.

It is, of course, something that, with the right beliefs in place and coping strategies needn’t be debilitating.

Even as often as it pops up for us multi-passionates. But that’s a topic for another day.

*Published literature shows prevalence for impostor syndrome as being potentially as high as 82% Bravata DM, Watts SA, Keefer AL, et al. Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic Review. J Gen Intern Med. 2020; 35(4): 1252-1275

**Tewfik, Basima, The Impostor Phenomenon Revisited: Examining the Relationship between Workplace Impostor Thoughts and Interpersonal Effectiveness at Work,10.5465/amj.2020.1627, The Academy of Management Journal

How to choose the right life coach for you.

How to choose the right life coach for you.

Honestly, it’s rough out there. Throw something and you’ll hit at least a couple of dozen life coaches. So how the heck are you supposed to choose the right life coach for you?

I’m going to give you a few pointers that will hopefully help you narrow down your decision.

1. Know what you want.

Make sure that you’re really looking for a life coach and not a therapist, mentor, consultant or trainer.

If you’re not sure what the difference is, I touched on it in an earlier article.

2. Quality matters.

I’m sure there are numerous people that are currently coaching who are perfectly competent but have no certification or credentials.

But because there is no mandatory regulation of the industry, they could technically be anyone doing anything.

Coaching is based on science.

A well trained coach will use a variety of coaching models that are evidence based as well as tried and tested.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the most widely recognized and most reputable regulatory organization for life coaches.

They provide accreditation to training institutions and professional standards of conduct.

Membership is optional but once a member, a coach is bound by a strict code of conduct and ethics.

You should ask your potential coach where they trained and check to see whether their institution is accredited by the ICF. Also, whether their particular qualification is certified.

You can also check to see whether your coach is a member of and/or credentialed as a coach by ICF or how far along that journey they are.

3. Have an initial chemistry session.

This ideally should be free.

It is your opportunity to ask questions and get a feel of your prospective coach’s coaching style, how their sessions are structured, whether you’re a good fit for each other and so on.

Honestly, it would totally suck if you’re looking for a coach that’s going to be mainly warm and supportive and they turn out to be extremely in-your-face and challenging.

4. Ask about their process and tools.

They should be able to share their coaching model and methodologies with you.

It should be clear and easy to understand how they work and move you from Point A to B.

As an example, my signature coaching model is called A.D.E.P.T

Activate your awareness

Define your dreams

Explore your perceived obstacles

Plot a path to success

Take transformative steps

Pretty clear.

5. Find out what’s included in their price.

Are they available to you outside of scheduled sessions and in what way?

Price isn’t always an indicator of quality and it’s worth keeping in mind that you’re not paying the coach for their time.

You’re paying them to guide you through the process of radically transforming your life.

It’s hard to put a price tag on transformation.

Finally, a couple of don’ts.

I wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t add a couple of things that I think you should also avoid.

Don’t book in with a coach and pay them before you suss them out just because “so-and-so” got great results.

“If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want, copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results.” 

Tony Robbins

I totally, completely, 100% disagree with that.

Katie @ Awesomely Adept

You are a unique individual and you deserve to have a coaching experience and relationship that is unique to and tailor made for you and no-one else.

Don’t do it if you’re not ready.

Coaching isn’t a quick fix.

You could choose the right life coach at the right price point who is totally available for you and gives you all the support you need but if you’re not ready to truly show up and give it your all then having the “perfect” coach means nothing.

Hopefully that helps give you something to go on when you’re ready to embark on your transformation. 

If you’d like to chat and see whether I’d be a good coach for you then you can book a free call with me here!