How to Handle Problems

Here’s a great article from my dear friend and coach Karen from Canada. She has been my coach through thick and thin for over 14 years now and I can assure she has the magic touch. I loved this article because it provides wonderful wisdom at just the right time for me. I hope it strikes a chord for you too!

How to Handle Problems

by Karen Hood-Caddy

Everyone who hires me has a problem. Sometimes that problem is big, sometimes it’s small and sometimes, it’s gnarly, or frightening.

Needless to say, over 30 years of coaching, I’ve learned a great deal about how to help people solve problems. I want to share with you some of the skills that will help you address the tough situations in your life with greater ease and efficiency.

Because if there’s one thing that differentiates happy people from unhappy people, it’s how they address the hard parts of life.

Here are the best tips I know to handle problems like a pro.

  • To be blunt, the only people that don’t have problems are dead people. So, accept your problems and trust that they beat the alternative.
  • Get bigger than your problem. People who are living a great life aren’t as affected by their problems as people who aren’t living a great life. It’s like this: If you only have one cookie and mud gets splattered on it, it’s going to feel way more significant than if you have a whole box of cookies. Most people find that the moment they begin to live juicy lives, their problems seem to diminish in size and ferocity.
  • Plan for problems.  I have found this a HUGE help in my own life. I used to live as if everything would go smoothly, now I give lots of room for snags and actually look for problematic areas in advance so I’m not so put out when they appear.
  • Trust that solving a problem will evolve you. We often have to grow or change our attitudes to deal with a problem and that’s a good thing. I had a great teacher in Switzerland say to me, “What just about breaks you, makes you.” It’s so true.
  • Ask for help.  There is always someone else who knows the answer to what’s problematic for us. Involve them. It will move you through the problem SO much faster.
  • Start by chipping away at the problem: write down 5 small baby steps you can do to start taking the problem on. (You’ll be surprised how effective this is.)
  • Know that everyone has problems, and many, many people in the world have exactly the same problem as you. This will help you feel less hard done by and less alone.
  • Containerize the problem.  Yesterday I woke up feeling a little down about an issue in my life. Then I realized that even though I don’t have this situation handled in the way I might like, I can still have a great day and still believe I’m a wonderful person.  This thought gave me an immediate feeling of lightness. Yes, I still had the problem, but it wasn’t leaking into other areas of my life.
  • Write down 5 crazy, outside the box solutions. It’s amazing how creative thinking can sometimes give us fresh ideas.
  • Journal 5 ways your ‘Best Self’ might benefit from this problem. A communication problem with a child could give you greater empathy skills, a financial issue might make you more clear on monetary goals, a health problem could make you more committed to your physical wellbeing.  Life is continually trying to evolve us. Don’t argue─grow!

I hope these suggestions were helpful. Please contact me if you’d like a complimentary idea session on how you can handle your own problems better and live YOUR BEST LIFE. Karen@personalbest.org

 

Karen Hood-Caddy

Personal Best Coaching 

karen@personalbest.org

www.personalbest.org

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The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

Who’s your travelling companion?

I heard this great metaphor today which I thought I’d share with you. It’s about the way we treat ourselves and a great reminder to be kind.

Imagine that you are about to go on a 5 day road trip with someone who’s recently been fired from their job. You really like this friend but right now you’re dreading this journey because you know it’s going to hard for her/him not to spend the whole time going over the pain of it all. This is your holiday and although you want to be supportive you’d also hoped to have a bit of fun!

Now imagine going on the same journey with a friend who’s feeling alive, frisky, joyous! You can’t wait because you know that this friend will bring a whole new dimension to things and above all make the holiday the fun ride you’d hoped for.

So often it’s the former friend we take along on our life’s journey. We put up listening to all our internal woes and anxieties when really we want to tap into that part of ourselves that is childlike, exuberant, excited and wise.

So we need to ask ourselves, ‘Which travelling companion do we choose?’

And …. shameless plug here …. if you’re interested in being with this joyous side of you more often, why not get in touch with him/her through my program, Future Self Now!

 

 – With thanks to Abraham Hicks –
 

The #1 Happiness Secret

Yesterday I woke up and gradually watched a cloud lift from above my head. It floated off into the sky leaving me feeling lighter and yes, happier.

Mind you, the cloud didn’t lift until I had given myself a good mental beating-up. How could I have forgotten this most vital of happiness attributes? How could I have forgotten my own bleedin’ advice?!

Crazy isn’t it? We can know something, but go too far down a false trail and all that knowledge just disappears. My false trail was the pursuit of ‘figuring out’ how to have my Future Self Now program reach a much wider audience. The pursuit of this in the last few weeks has led me deeper and deeper down a dark labyrinthe littered with marketing and business development frustration and of course all those expert opinions that more recently did my head in. The further I went into this tunnel, the more I lost sight of what’s really needed here:

PRESENCE

I know this and I lost it! In the Future Self Now work I talk about ‘Knowing and Flowing’ – the idea that once we know Who We Really Are, all there is to do is to get out of our own way and let what so naturally wants to come to us, come. As soon as I woke up yesterday and realised that I had simply to approach each day with an intention of being as present as possible to each moment, everything lifted. The relief.

Suddenly I could be with my children – properly, rather than seeing them as kind of to-do lists on legs. Homework? Tick. Fed and watered? Tick. Prepared for the school day? Tick. ‘Now off you go so I can get down to the weighty issues crowding my mind’. Yuck!

I know I’ve mentioned this before but there’s a wonderful mantra that I need to keep uppermost in my mind:

THERE WILL BE A BEAUTIFUL UNFOLDING HERE TODAY

It works wonders. When we sit back, (not inactive but mentally and emotionally spacious), then the Universe is just waiting to help us have our days pan out perfectly for us. This always works for me, its just, as I say, I sometimes forget! Appointments that I really need shifting, get shifted after a call from the other party asking to rebook. A need for a knotty logistical issue to get sorted becomes untangled after an unexpected offer of help, and so on.

NOW. Now. NOW. Now.NOW…….. alll there is is now. Are you experiencing your experience of the NOW or looking so far ahead you don’t see it pass you by?

Could this be the #1 Happiness ‘secret’? I think its a very strong contender. I really hope I don’t forget this again. I may well, of course but I hope I can start to develop a muscle around returning to presence more speedily each time.

Tripping up

Mixed emotions today. I woke up this morning determined to bring a new kind of seriousnes to my business practices. I would wake early, do my morning writing and an hour’s work before getting the children ready for school. Then, I would work every morning from Monday to Thursday, not allowing any kind of interruption. Seemed like a good plan – still does in many ways – but what came with this determination was also the lurking spectre of self-flagellation. I had been lax. I hadn’t brought enough weighty intention to my business dealings. I should act more professionally. I should ‘show some oomph’ as my mother used to say.

It was my friend Kelly who caught this, in a conversation we had later. All good, she said in a nutshell, but didn’t it all seem rather heavy? Er, …yes. Great catch Kelly. I got quite emotional as I cottoned on to the extent to which I had been building up a massive expectation to come up with THE answer – to know how to write THE killer workbook, to attract OODLES of new clients and interest in Future Self Now. In short I had got distracted by the long range whilst forgetting about what there is to do right now under my nose.

This reminds me of a video I saw this week that uses that classic gag in old black and white movies where a character trips up on an obstacle because he’s too focused on what’s in the distance …with painful consequences. Here’s the video – made by a man protesting about dangerous bus lanes in New York.

So, I’m off to bed now, thankfully being a lot less hard on myself and having trained my focus back to the here and now.

 

 

A most happy loss

Yesterday I gave another Future Self Now workshop at Hawkwood College in Stroud. It was a great day – the participants were wonderful and really threw themselves into it. I got home and Guy had made toad-in-the-hole with roast potatoes, veggies and gravy. We then all watched ‘Big’ together on our big screen. That’s what I call a great day!

Bit knackered this morning after the push of getting ready for the workshop so it felt good to see other people experiencing a push – in a spectacular way. It was the fantastic Australian Open tennis match – Djokovic vs. Nadal. It went on for nearly 6 hours!  Those two played their guts out. Its been a long time since I’ve seen anything like it. It felt like we were specatators at a Roman gladitorial fight.

Here’s a clip of the moment when Djokovic won. Two days ago he fought an intense battle with Andy Murray which took another mammoth 5 hours. How he lasted today, I have no idea. You can see his guttural, primaeval response to his victory here – a reflection of what it took him to get to this place:

(apologies that the commentary is in another language, but you get the gist!)

This is the kind of happiness that comes from a hard battle fought and won – the experience of pushing oneself to the limit and coming out on top. Nadal played the same game, fought as hard and strong but won’t have been happy in the least. Not at all. This is the 7th time he’s lost a final against Djokovic. This is not a place, it seems, where “it’s all about the journey” – in this moment it’s all about the winning.

When happiness is this black and white – winning and losing – I wonder how you cope? For the answer I only need look as far as the transcipt of Nadal’s interview post todays’ match.

“I played more aggresive. I played with more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion was there – better probably than any other time.

So that’s very positive aspects on the whole game that I am very happy. No? So, I just lost the final of a Grand Slam. I am not happy to lose the final, yes, but that’s one fo the loses that I am more happy about in my career.”

I love Nadal!

Here’s an extract from a lovely poem by one of Nadal’s compatriot’s – Antonio Machado. The Spanish, it seems, have this losing / happiness thing really sussed out.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

No point in kicking a pea up a hill

What is it with me and doing things at the last minute? I seem to be a hopeless case. No matter how soon I start something in advance I always end up constructing things so that I get into rush-rush towards the end. I can only suppose that I get a kick out of the adrenaline. I know I also relish that feeling of having ‘triumphed over the odds’ – even though those odds have been entirely manufactured by me!

Maybe it’s a primeaval urge to recreate the thrill of the fight-or-flight response? I don’t know. I do know that I have a prejudice against getting things done in good time – it feels ‘sad’, as in dull, surburban, dowdy. Last minute is punk, urban, edgy!

At the end of the day, I suppose, it’s whatever gets your juices going. It’s much better to be working in an energetic state that feels jazzy and alive, than trying to ‘kick a pea up a hill’ and force yourself to perform in a way that you don’t want to.

In my case, then, perhaps it’s better to call procrastination ‘sensitivity to my own energetic’.  If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. When the time comes to go for it, I feel it and I enter into the task at hand with gusto.

Nice reframe!

 

 

Where did I go?

Where did I go? Down a technological black hole!

I’m sure you’ve been here – sucked in by an issue with a computer and unable to claw yourself back to the real world. Last night I took this to an extreme – up to 1am trying to sort out an issue I’m having migrating this blog to a new more whizzy version – then unable to get to sleep fretting that I’d mangled everythng, until 4am. Today I feel like I’ve just stepped off the plane from New Zealand. Deeply tired and not of this planet.

I was talking to my friend Kelly in Canada today about the levels of anxiety we can get ourselves into:

  • Level 1 – the originating issue (for me it was “help! I think I’ve lost some vital data!)
  • Level 2 – the beating yourself up layer
  • Level 3 – the berating yourself for beating yourself up layer
  • Level 4 – the beating yourself up for losing sleep over berating yourself for beating yourself up layer

“Oh what a tangled web we weave”!

Time to go back to my recent blog 6 antidotes to beating myself up and let myself crawl back out of the labyrinth – starting with Forgiving Myself, moving on to Nurturing Myself (getting more sleep in!), and moving to Putting it into Perspective.

Kelly said: “Well this is the kind of issue your Future Self will have!” How true and heartening in a funny sort of way. The potential outage of the blog (and what I felt was the potential for letting down my subscribers) IS a new problem – born out of my personal expansion. If I wasn’t in the process of expansion this issue wouldn’t have arisen. I love the perverse rightness of that!

So my uplifter for today? Well I suppose it’s right back to celebrating the knocks for the wonderful growth that it brings. (My Future Self is cheering for that I as I write!).

I know not everyone loves Nike but the message in this ad sums this all up well.

6 antidotes to beating myself up

‘I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.’

~ Martha Washington, wife of George Washington~

“Am I predominantly letting well-being flow through me, or not? Am I letting it in?” Er – today, maybe not so much!!

It’s funny I think of this week as predominantly happy but I know I’ve written about a couple of low points too. This morning I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “Oh, no, I might have to cancel my course next week!” Registrations are so low – an all-time low for this close to the day. I then proceeded to stew and beat myself up in equal proportions.

I talked to my FS on paper and she quite rightly pointed me to yesterday’s blog. If I look back to what I’ve achieved with Future Self Now since January it is a lot: – designng and building workshops, 3 courses, 3 booster sessions, lots and lots of one-on-one sessions, a new website, Facebook and Twitter, audio blogs,  this blog and more. That does feel good but still here I am berating myself for a crappy marketing campaign.

The good news is that coincidentally I organised some sessions with a PR expert this week. We’ll be working together for the next month or so – starting to really look at what I need to reach out more.  I’m definitely excited about that.

So I suppose this is the uplifter from this state of beating myself up. If the course does end up getting cancelled then I can probably thank it for being the spur that had me really do what it takes to get my marketing sorted out. I can’t be my Future Self without bridging this gap and perhaps this is all about ‘creating the crisis’ that finally gives me the motivation to embrace it.

So here’s a few thoughts on what might work for me right now:

    1. Forgive myself – this is just part of my wonderful journey and, of course, what challenges us makes us strong
    2. Comfort and noursihment – I talk about this in my article in the Tools section of this blog called Comfort-Nurture-Action. Right now I might be needing to look after myself. If I allow myself to do that then I know I will spring back into action quickly.
    3. Count all the things that are going right – looking back at what I achieved this year really helps. Also I know that my program is great – making a lot of difference, getting wonderful feedback and that, at the end of the day, is what matters most.
    4. Put it in perspective – this is so totally not a biggy on the grand scale of human suffering. Time to get over myself!
    5. Use it -Time and time again success has been born out of failure. It is even quoted as a vital part of the road to achievement. So what am I doing resisting this?  I can use this energy and put it to great use  spurring me on to getting a proper marketing strategy sorted out. It’s been on my mind, I’ve been waiting for the right moment and this seems to be it!

On this note of embracing failure I see a perfect opportunity to share with you one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite movies – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Just watching this is a perfect uplifter, so for that reason I’ll make it my 6th antidote!