Sunday 24 May 2020

Don't Forget To Be Kind To Yourself Too

Kindness has been the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week here in the UK.

Often when we talk about kindness we instinctively think about being kind to others, not necessarily to ourselves, and we often put ourselves much lower on the priority list, sometimes with good reason but kindness to oneself shouldn’t be overlooked.  

We will never spend as much time with anyone as we spend with ourselves, we will never have as many conversations with anyone as we have internally with ourselves, so it’s a good idea to be kind to ourselves. 

If you were going to take an honest, closer look at the thoughts, feelings and words you use towards yourself, would you say you are kind to yourself?

Do your daily choices make you feel good or bad about yourself? 

Imagine you carry a rucksack on your back everywhere you go. Your rucksack is filled with stones of different sizes. Some might be tiny pebbles, some might be heavy stones, others are more like chunky rocks. Each one represents negative thoughts and emotions, or unhelpful beliefs about yourself,  disempowering words you say to yourself regularly, and toxic or hurtful relationships that you might be in, but deep down you know you shouldn’t be.

Every “I am not … good/intelligent/pretty… enough”, “I am a failure / fraud”, “I don’t deserve this job / this opportunity”, “I’m a bad parent”, or whatever it may be is a stone in your rucksack. Some stones might be new, quite small and easy to get rid of, but others might have been with you for as long as you can remember and are the heaviest and seem impossible to remove. The longer you carry this rucksack full of metaphorical heavy stones with you, the more discomfort, pain, stress and bad moods it will cause, negatively affecting your mental health. 

I encourage you to take a closer and honest look at your stones and ask yourself these simple questions: 

Which one causes the most problems which you need to work on removing or breaking up first?

Which ones do you maybe need to accept and learn to love? 

What do you need to change and do more or less of to be kinder to yourself?

What would help you appreciate yourself that little bit more and embrace your imperfections?

Kindness starts with us. The kinder you are to yourself, the more kindness you will have to share with others.

So be kind to yourself, not just this week, this month, but every day.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Don't Drift – Tackle The Unfinished Business of 2019!

The end of the year is fast approaching, in fact, only 41 days left until the end of 2019!

A lot of people will wait until the end of December to reflect and take stock of their achievements and then leave it until January to set goals for 2020 and I ask, why wait?

There are still 41 days left of 2019, so there are still many chances to tackle any unfinished business and finish the year on a high rather than feeling defeated or disappointed that you've given up at the last hurdle.

This reflection exercise is equally effective when done as an individual or as a team.

Asking yourself some relevant questions may help to gain perspective on your progress (both personal and professional) and prepare you to think about your next steps and new goals.

So, first things first....

What goals did you set for yourself this year? I am sorry to be blunt, but if you don't remember what they were, then they probably weren't that important unless your priorities have changed?

What went well?

What tangible achievements / personal milestones / progress are you proud of?

What hasn't gone according to plan?
What still needs to happen?

What other steps do you need to take for you to be pleased with the progress you made towards your goals?

What has been the most valuable lesson you've learnt this year?

Who do you need to give thanks to? (For example, who has been your biggest supporter, who has been pivotal in helping achieving your goals?)

Giving some thought and time to answer the above questions can help you bring focus and gear you up for 2020, so don't leave it until the final countdown of 2019...go on, do it now!

Friday 20 September 2019

6 tips for motivation in challenging times

It can be challenging to stay motivated and focused in times of change and during
setbacks. Sometimes you may need a little boost. We all have our ways to deal with flagging motivation. Below I’m sharing some strategies of cultivating mine.

1. Bring awareness to your thoughts and feelings

There is a strong connection between our thoughts, feelings and motivation. If you
feel down, or are thinking unhelpful thoughts it is highly unlikely you will feel
motivated. Being aware of your thoughts, feelings and how they manifest
themselves is a great starting point for recognising what needs to change. Unless
you are aware of how your emotions impact your mood and motivation (both
positively and negatively) , it will be difficult for you to control them. Pay
attention to what is the trigger that fires off these emotions and how you respond
to that trigger. Awareness is power as it gives you the control to choose how you
respond. Is your response helping you or hindering you?

2. Accept how you feel

It is ok to feel sad, angry, scared, frustrated, demotivated, stressed, anxious etc.
We are only human and it is normal for our emotions to flag every now and again.
Rather that dismissing how we feel, bottling up your emotions and sweeping them
under the metaphorical carpet, acknowledge, validate and accept them. If these
emotions are not serving you, then ask yourself, what emotions do I want to feel
instead? What can you do to tap into the emotions you want to feel?

3. What is within your control?

Sometimes we can’t change situations that affect us but we are always in control
of our reaction to any situation. Our reaction (either positive or negative) will lead
to either positive or negative consequences. Sometimes our emotions hijack our
thinking and actions, so before you react, take a deep breath and take a logical
stance on the situation. Focusing your energy on things that you can control rather
than things you can’t will help you sustain your motivation.

4. Reframe your thoughts

Once you recognise that you are thinking unhelpful thoughts try to reframe them
and “flip” them into positives. Using logic, disputing irrational thoughts and
asking questions can help.
Let’s say you were unsuccessful in a job interview for your dream job. The likelihood is that you will feel pretty demotivated, so try and look for positives in this situation.
Ask yourself some logical questions based on the situation you are in.
“What positives came out of this situation?” examples could be: I really stepped
out of my comfort zone and had an opportunity to practice my interview skills or I
learnt questions I hadn’t expected so next time I will be better prepared etc.
“What have I learnt from this experience?” I need to practice X skills more or I
need to work on my nerves and body language etc.
Reframing helps you put events and circumstances into a different context that is
more resourceful and favourable. Sometimes looking for positives in a negative
situation can be challenging and it may feel forced to start with, but at the same
time, it can really shift the way you look at things. There is a great quote by
Wayne Dyer that sums this really well: “When you change the way you look at
things, the things you look at change”

5. Walk it off

Quite literally! Exercise and movement helps to clear your mind and gain focus. If
exercise is not your thing, then find a healthy outlet that works for you:  writing,
meditation, reading, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, listening to music,
podcasts or anything that would help you remain positive and motivated.

6. Tap into other peoples’ energy

There are two types of people:  drainers and fillers. Drainers literally suck out all
the energy out of you. They focus on negative, things that go wrong , they blame
others for their situation. Fillers energise you. They take responsibility for their
actions, they look at the positive - they are the glass full type of people. If your
motivation is flagging, surround yourself with positive thinkers who emanate
positive energy and make you feel good.

So, what keeps you motivated? I would love to hear from you.

Sharing is caring…Do share your thoughts, tips and pass it on to anyone who can
benefit from this article.

Friday 17 May 2019

"It's ok not to be ok"

Recently, I had an emotional wobble.

During a session with my coach and mentor I suddenly broke down and couldn’t stop myself from crying.  It came suddenly; it was unexpected, uncomfortable but somehow cathartic and necessary.
I am lucky that my wobble didn’t last long and I bounced back after couple of weeks, but despite being in a much better place emotionally, I keep going back to that morning and thinking about what lead to my outburst of emotions and what I could have done to prevent my meltdown.

I have thought long and hard whether I should share this. There is that feeling of not knowing how others will react to your post, whether you will be judged, be seen as weak... I am hopeful however,
that my experience and my learning will resonate and maybe even help someone.

Here are some things that I think impacted my mental state and what I should have done to manage my wellbeing better.

Listening to my body

I admit, I am guilty of often ignoring the signs my body is sending me. I think, subconsciously I was aware of what my body was telling me, but I chose not to listen.
I had a lot on my mind which was causing me stress, I was overtired and sleep deprived, I was dehydrated, not getting much exercise and in general not giving my body much chance to relax and recharge.

My mentor gave me homework of introducing some “rituals” to my daily routine that would help my emotional and physical state and wellbeing.  Since then I have made some small changes but they have made a huge difference. Simple things like going to sleep earlier, being more mindful and grateful, listening to meditative recordings, allowing myself to have a break, doing something for myself that makes me happy and relaxed. Every now and again, I do find myself going back to bad habits, but I am much more aware and in tune with my body.  

Talk about it

Shortly after my wobble I saw a friend I haven’t seen for years. I told her about what I went through and one of the things she said was “I would expect anyone to have a wobble but you”. I asked her what made her think so and her reply was: “You are strong and always so positive. You also are a coach so you have a lot of tools up your sleeve to prevent you from feeling this way”.
I agree, I am one of those people who tends to look at the bright side and sees the glass half full, and yes, I have a lot of tools that could help me, but I am also a human and I also have moments of weakness.

If I didn’t say anything to my friend about how I felt and kept it to myself, she wouldn’t know what I was going through. Those that know me will know that I am quite expressive and extraverted, therefore I actually feel energised when I can talk things through and share how I feel. I am aware though that there are a lot of people out there who are much introverted, more reflective who think things through and talking about their emotions feels unnatural and fills them with dread, therefore they are less likely to talk to someone.

Imagine you are wearing a rucksack on your back – each negative emotion, feeling, stress is a stone that you put in your rucksack. Over time, you may find you’ve collected a lot of stones and your rucksack starts to feel heavy, causes you pain, discomfort, and starts to drag you down.
Find your way of effectively offloading and emptying your rucksack to cultivate a healthy mind and spirit. If talking through is not your thing, take time to think what would be the most helpful way of letting go of your negative baggage.

We all have some struggles, but not all of us will show it, share it or admit it. This leads me to my third point.

Don’t believe everything you see

These days we are exposed to often glorified, censored version of lives seen through a glass screen on our phones or tablets. There is a lot of external pressure pushed on us through social media and it is very easy to fall into a trap of comparing our lives and situation to those shared by others whose lives seem to be so much better, happier and more fulfilled. Is that really the case though? How often do people share things that go wrong, the fact they might be unhappy, lonely, stressed or depressed? What we see doesn’t always reflect reality. I think it is fair to say we all have some challenges, life is not always perfect and we are not always full of beans.

I know my life isn’t always perfect, I would be lying if I pretended it is. I also know that I am the only one responsible for my decisions, my thoughts and I am the only one who can take action to make my life, health and wellbeing better.

I chose to expose my recent emotional dip. Some people may think that talking about your feelings is a sign of weakness. In my eyes, opening up and talking about your emotions makes you human, shows your authenticity and real strength.

Monday 31 July 2017

ls the grass always greener on the other side?

We live in a day and age where our lives are much more exposed and in the open than ever before. The power of social media often offers us a glorified, enhanced and filtered version of one’s life which might be just a fraction of what is happening in reality.

Seeing others doing well, having a better job, great partner and circle of friends, gorgeous, big and always tidy house, going on amazing holidays and so on, may make us put more pressure on ourselves to change things for the better or strive for more, which in some cases may turn out be a good motivator. In other cases this pressure can demotivate us, make us question our abilities, look for imperfections in our lives and effectively impact our mental health. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others and constant lack of satisfaction which can lead to negative feelings, envy or loss of confidence and motivation.

So what are some ways we could deal with it?

Accept your reality

Maybe the best way to start is actually accepting our reality. You may not be 100% happy with it, but it is your reality and you are the only one responsible for it and the only one who can take action to improve or change it.

Practice gratitude

Sometimes bad and unfortunate events make us realise how fortunate and lucky we actually are, but rather than waiting to have this realisation it might be worth taking time to think about what we have rather than what’s missing. Sometimes life tests us and puts roadblocks in our way but I hope you will agree that most of us experience difficulties at some point. What divides us is how we deal with adversity when it happens. Some bounce back and some give up or blame others for their misfortune. No matter how bad your day or life is, there are probably people out there who would love to be in your shoes and have your bad days.

Mental workout

Just like the muscles in our body need exercise to make them strong and toned, our mind needs positive input and thoughts to stay healthy and strong. Build awareness of your thoughts and start neglecting the thoughts that make you feel bad, and increase those that make you feel good. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but one thing is certain, practice makes perfect.

Stop comparing

We are all different, we all have different values, goals and different circumstances.
We create our perception based on what we see and hear despite the fact that our impressions are not always accurate and pixels don't always reflect reality. People rarely share things that go wrong or make them unhappy.
Only those who lead their own life know the truth. A study conducted by the University of Utah actually found that young people's satisfaction about their own lives declined the more they looked at Facebook. If comparing yourself to others makes you feel inferior, then that's not going to make you feel good about yourself and your situation.
Is the comparison worth sacrificing your mental state?

So is the grass actually greener on the other side?

Maybe it is time to start watering your own lawn, as the grass will only be as green as you make it.

Friday 30 June 2017

5 steps to take control over your limiting beliefs

Unhelpful beliefs are very powerful and not only can stop us from using our potential and achieving our goals, shape our decisions, but also can make us feel powerless and can be devastating to our confidence, self-esteem and state of mind.  There is no one magic formula of what to do to beat your limiting beliefs as different solutions will work for different people but there are some steps you could take to start taking control over them. Here are 5 steps that I and my clients often follow:

Recognise it

Building awareness of what your limiting beliefs are and when they creep up is a starting point. You can’t change something you are not aware of. Once you bring to the front of your mind what reoccurring thoughts are having negative impact on you, you will most likely start catching yourself subconsciously the moment those beliefs appear. When you do, try to make a record of how often during the day you talk yourself down.

Strip it down

Limiting beliefs all stem from fear and are simply a mechanism to try and protect us. Even though they can be unhelpful, they often serve us a higher purpose. Although we might want to let go of them, there might be a reason (often we are not aware of) that makes us hold onto them.  Sometimes we hold onto them because we believe they protect us from disappointment, criticism, hurt or failure.  Wanting to let go of the limiting beliefs and at the same time holding on to them can cause ambivalence, discomfort, an internal conflict and frustration therefore it is useful to build understanding and establishing what is the reason behind it. Take a moment and ask yourself:

What is the purpose of that belief?

What does this belief give you?

What impact letting go of this belief would have on you/ your life?

Letting go of beliefs that have been with us for a long time, especially those deep rooted beliefs formed in childhood is not easy and can take a lot of time.  You can however learn how to manage them and use strategies to prevent them from holding you hostage.

What is the trigger?

So you’ve established what and why, now let’s look at when...
What is the trigger that makes your unhelpful belief pop up? Is it a thought, a person, an action, a place or something else that activates your belief? When does it usually happen? Is there a pattern or a cycle you fall into? What would be the first step you can take to change it? 

Look for evidence

How old is your belief?

What is the evidence it is true?

What is the evidence it is NOT true?

Often, when we strongly believe something, we tend to look for things that confirm we are right rather than looking for things that prove us wrong. If you have been sabotaging yourself or established a habit of looking for things that prove you right, then I encourage you to think twice as hard about as many situations and evidence that prove that you may be mistaken.

Reframe it

Once you find evidence that have shaken up your old beliefs, create new positive beliefs in place of your old unhelpful ones. If your belief is “I am not good enough to ... (for example) get this job” you may change it with “I have a lot of skills and strengths  I can offer” or “The more I learn / prepare / believe in myself, the more chance I have got to get this job” or “other people can do it, so can I”.  Choose a new, personal statement that works for you. Repeat it as much as you can. If you are a frequent “talking myself down” person, then it is likely it may feel unnatural and fake to suddenly change your talk and habits (even if backed up by evidence) but in order to get results, you have to put some work in. It’s all good to have a positive statement but if you don’t do anything with it, then don’t expect great results.

It is totally natural to have believes that limit us and work against us but no belief has any meaning until we give it a meaning so be mindful of not falling into the trap of creating beliefs that hinder your potential.

Sharing is caring...

Share your thoughts or your tips for taking control over unhelpful beliefs. Also, feel free to share this blog with others who might find it beneficial. 

Thursday 9 March 2017

What makes your hero?

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a time for all women to be celebrated. As I was thinking about inspirational women there was one person at the forefront of my mind. 

In this day and age with our obsession with internet it is very easy to find a “hero” on social media but if you look up from your phone you may find they are sitting right next you, and in my case, that’s my grandma ( “Babcia Marysia”).

Don’t worry, I am not going to dig into my personal life, instead, I will tell you what I think makes her so special to me and many other people I know she had impact on.


I don’t mean physical strength, although my grandma is well known for picking up my friends and rugby tackling my husband...
What I mean, is the mental strength and resilience. My grandma is a real tough cookie, I tell you that. She has had a very challenging and difficult life. She was born in Vilnius and immigrated to Poland with her family; she was looking after her ill bed ridden mother for over 13 years, tragically lost her 11 year old son, brought up her own family, including me in communist Poland which was a very tough and unpleasant time. Although she was the one who often needed support, she never asked for it, but instead she always offered it to anyone who needed it. She was the mainstay and example to follow not just for me but people around her.

Positive attitude

Everyone who knows my grandma will tell you that she is one of the most positive people they’ve met. Our house was always full of people. The door bell would ring constantly and people would pop in for coffee, a chat or to alter their clothing (my grandma was a seamstress). Despite her struggles and the hardship she has gone through, a smile hardly ever leaves her face. She always jokes around, chats to random people in a shop, and you may think... that’s annoying, however, she has this natural aura about her that makes people drawn to her and like her. She is one of those who doesn’t moan, doesn’t blame, and instead puts a smile on her face even if a little bit of pain creeps in.

Encouraging Independence

I was brought up by my grandparents since the age of 7. I grew up in the 80ties when there was hardly any health and safety guidelines, kids would play outside until it was dark, there were no mobile phones to check on me.

I remember when I was about 10 years old I joined a dancing school which was about a 20 minute bus journey from home and another 5 minutes walk from the bus stop. I remember travelling on my own by bus during cold, dark and snowy winters to go for my classes and I remember over hearing some parents criticising my grandparents for allowing me to travel on my own. You know what, in retrospect, that’s the best thing they could have done for me. They trusted me, they believed in me, they built responsibility in me, and that was the best way of encouraging me to be brave and independent.  Some people may think it was crazy and unacceptable, but if it wasn’t because of this, maybe I wouldn’t have had enough guts in me to take leaps in faith that brought me to where I am today.   

I admire my grandma for who she is, what she stands for and I am entirely grateful for everything she has done for me. We find inspiration in different people and for different reasons. We should cherish and celebrate our heros and if we have a chance tell them what impact they made on us. Who knows, maybe one day we will become somebody’s hero? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear what difference we made in someone’s life?