Metaphors can change your life

Metaphors can change your life

​Working with metaphors has been life-changing for me, and for many people I have worked with.

A metaphor is a way of expressing something that conveys a variety of meaningful attributes, in the form of something else.

You might hear people say things like…

“It’s as if I’m on a treadmill and I can’t keep up”

“I went for a walk to blow away the cobwebs”

“You’re a star”

None of these are literal statements – not usually anyway! – but they mean something beyond the surface structure of the words to the person who’s saying them. In other words, what we mean goes deeper than what we say, and a metaphor is a sign that there is more to discover in the unconscious aspects of our experience.

Where it gets really interesting, I find, is when the person is having some kind of embodied experience in the form of a metaphor, for example…

“I can see red mist, I’m so angry”

“There’s a tightness in my throat when I talk about it”

“I just know. I can feel it in my gut… heavy like a stone”

“I can feel a buzz of positive energy”

Or it could be pointing emphatically to a particular point in the space around them, a or sound (like ‘whoosh’ or ‘bang’).

Again, none of these are literal but there is clearly some deeper meaning, and other insights to be found if we have a chance to explore.

Understanding your metaphors can create profound shifts, often bringing about new metaphors which change the whole outlook.

In the photo on this post, I show an example of a metaphor I held at the start of my transformational journey with #NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – a scraggy old onion with lots of layers to peel back and discover. Through NLP tools and techniques, this then transformed into a beautiful lotus flower, with the petals gracefully unfolding with ease, representing the thinking and beliefs I now hold about how I learn and develop at my best.

And once you begin to understand metaphors you begin to develop a landscape of understanding, how things connect and relate to each other, and find solutions and choices you never even knew existed!

You can probably tell I’m passionate about this… I could go on for hours, but I won’t!

If you are interested to explore your personal metaphors, and the resources and insights they hold for you, then please get in touch for a chat! I offer Personal Coaching, Executive Coaching and development programmes, and various events throughout the year.

#metaphors #cleanlanguage #linguistics #NLP #coaching

A journey to India: Reflections and new beginnings

A journey to India: Reflections and new beginnings

As I sit looking out over the silvery shimmer of the Arabian sea, I feel the warm, golden sun on my face. It turns to a deep, rich red as it slowly sinks into the tropical haze on the horizon.

It’s been a day of discovery and learning, feeling unsettled with new realisations coming to the surface and also knowing and trusting that this is right for me at this exact moment. I sense that it’s time to let go of limiting beliefs and embrace all the possibilities of new beginnings.

Sitting here bathed in sunlight, I become aware of the ebb and flow of the waves, noticing they’re louder than before, hypnotic in their rhythm. With each new wave washing in, the one before it fades away and disappears, and yet the wisdom remains.

With each wave I feel lighter, as if the things I’ve been unconsciously carrying are sinking into the ocean and fresh moments are arriving, making perfect sense yet I’m not ‘thinking’ about anything, just being present with what is happening right now.

Hypnotised by the steady rhythm, as each wave bubbles up onto the shore I hear the words ‘begin again’, over and over. There’s a comfort in knowing that I can always start from the present moment in anything I want to achieve and that I have everything I need to be successful.

As the sun disappears completely I come back into awareness, feeling the sand between my toes and taking a cool drink of water. As I set it down I have a strong sense of purpose building within me, feeling ready to take the next steps forward into my full potential, to live my life’s purpose like never before. It’s time for new beginnings.

I am filled with gratitude for the warm welcome to this beautiful place, for new friendships, love and laughter, learning and experiences that will stay with me forever.

(originally published in January 2017)

Mindful Eating – 5 tips for the festive season

Mindful Eating – 5 tips for the festive season

Have you ever over-indulged over the festive season, and felt guilty and bloated afterwards? I think that probably applies to many of us! I have adapted and re-published a blog I wrote a few years ago because it’s a good reminder for me too.

Clients regularly talk to me about what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing or having, which can result in guilt, regret, or even shame if they choose to indulge.

We all experience the world through our memories, habits, beliefs, and reactions. We naturally have emotional connections with food, and at a time of year when loved ones gather together it can be challenging to achieve a healthy balance. It can also be difficult for people who don’t have their friends and family around them, have recently lost someone close to them, or are just not feeling like themselves.

Making more conscious and mindful choices in line with long-term goals means we can allow ourselves the occasional indulgence. It doesn’t mean you have to eat a salad for Christmas dinner, unless you want to, of course! I believe that being healthy is about having a long-term outcome in mind, with a sense of purpose behind it, and doing the things which help with this most of the time.

Mindful eating brings your attention to what, when, where, and how you are eating. Often ‘why’ as well! This is about noticing the healthy habits which work for you, as well as being aware of your potential temptations for unhealthy choices.

Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy a guilt-free festive season and a happier, healthier New Year:

1. Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. What you focus on you get more of. If I say I’m going to “give up chocolate” or “drink less wine”, guess what pops straight into my head?!

A friend shared an article about diet research and comprehensive studies by Charlotte Markey, which proved that strict dieting can result in craving and bingeing, and lead to less healthy habits over the long term. Worse still, evidence shows that people who are always on diets are more likely to regain weight. A sense of ‘missing out’ and an awareness of the lack of choice doesn’t help, in my experience.

2. Make more conscious choices, and plan ahead. Have plenty of healthy options available, and you can plan lighter meals to balance out the rich, stodgy feasts which are traditional at this time of year!

Be more conscious of what, when, where, and how you’re eating, noticing the triggers for less healthy choices in-the-moment. It can help to pause and check against your long-term goals for your health and wellbeing, and whether you really want or need to eat in that moment.

Dehydration can fool us into thinking we are hungry, so drink plenty of water. Herbal teas can be a good option too. And did you know that the body takes up to 20 minutes to register that we’re full? Try to eat more slowly, and don’t be tempted to rush your food in social situations.

3. Savour your food – with all the senses – and slow down. Enjoy the whole range of food and drink you choose. Notice the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures and feelings, one by one. Chewing slowly usually means you will eat less. At a recent workshop I took the group through a guided visualisation, and they were much more drawn to the rainbow of healthy foods, with their bright, vivid colours, the crunchy, juicy textures and fresh smells and flavours than the unhealthy ‘beige’ alternatives. And that was while talking about the range of temptations over the festive season!

4. Sit down – this will help to avoid grazing and you will notice more what you’re eating, and whether it’s something you really want. Try not to be doing anything else at the same time (e.g. checking emails, Facebook, or watching TV).

5. It’s all about balance. Be kind to yourself! If you have the occasional indulgence, you have many other choices available to you throughout the day/week. When you think about the bigger picture, a few treats don’t seem like such a big deal! It’s as much about thoughts, emotions and behaviour as it is about what you eat. I like to think of it as ‘setting a course’ for your health and wellbeing, and getting back on track if you go off a little bit.

I wish you and your families a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. And remember, a little bit of what you fancy does you good. Just keep it balanced, make it a conscious choice, and savour it!

Anna

Visit my Events page for information on a range of workshops and programmes coming up to support you.

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Why it’s important to create S P A C E for yourself

Why it’s important to create S P A C E for yourself

Plans changed this morning after two clients had to postpone.

My thoughts at first went to my to-do list and what I could/should be getting on with today.

I have also been thinking about messages I’d like to share about this time of year and it’s simply this…

~ create space for yourself ~

As soon as I realised I was going into busy mode and that my mind was preoccupied and my body tense… I took a

…long

…deep

…breath.

It created space and relief instantly.

It can be as simple as a single deep breath, or even better 2 or 3 minutes of breathing space (you can find a guided meditation here). We can use our breath as an antidote to the fight-or-flight reaction and instead restore mind and body to alignment and a healthy state of being.

And even if you don’t think you have time… ESPECIALLY if you don’t think you have time, try it anyway and notice what happens.

One of the ways I challenge myself on that is asking myself whether I could make space by spending a few minutes less on social media. Of course I can!

And when this becomes a regular habit, it really makes a difference over the long term.

The result today is that I treated myself to a wee breakfast out looking over the hills, and I took my dog for a longer walk than usual.

I then came back and had the most productive 90 minutes at my desk that I’ve had in a while.

How can you create space today? And what happens when you do?

PS – If you could benefit from a little bit of self-care each day, my new inspirational cards take just moments to have a look at, and clients are telling me they’re just the lift they’re needing at the moment. The pictures are lovely too, like the one above!

Celebrating 7 years in business

Celebrating 7 years in business

This month I’m celebrating my birthday, both personal and business, and it’s now 7 years since I left the corporate world to become self-employed.​ It’s also 10 years since I began to transform my life by building on my professional experience with qualifications which have led to what I’m doing now.​

I’m passionate about finding different and creative ways to support, inspire, and encourage people, and this year has brought several new approaches and experiences.

– My podcast – a series of conversations to spark curiosity, share learning and inspiration, and connect listeners with what’s important in their lives.

E-book – I created an A to Z of Mindful Living in the form of a workbook which has a variety of activities, stories, quotes, and links to other resources like meditations and videos. It was a pleasure working with Donna McKenna at Pink Spaghetti PA Services Stirling & Livingston to bring this to life.

Inspirational card deck – this has been my latest creation, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. There are 52 beautiful cards with original photos, doodles, quotes, and themes from my book ‘Roots for Growth’. The cards can be used for coaching, workshops, inspiration and self-reflection and I can’t wait to start using them with my clients!

My book has continued to reach people in significant ways. One lady who had recently retired and felt very unsettled wrote to me to tell me she had found clarity, peace, and focus from reading it, and found a renewed appreciation for her career and her resilience. ​I’ve also had more opportunities to speak at events, radio shows, and webinars.

– I co-designed and delivered a leadership development programme​ on Strengthening Mental Fitness with Carolyn Murray. We have been bringing it to other teams since then and over 90% of participants so far have rated the programme as Excellent.

– I applied for funding towards this brand new, professionally designed website which helps me to tell the story of what I do, why I do it, and provide more opportunities for visitors to connect through videos, meditations, and many of the above approaches. It has been a very worthwhile experience and a way to acknowledge and build on where I am now and develop for the future. Thanks Karen Wells at Indigo Nine!

– This year I also became an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland who do incredible work to tap into the significant economic potential of women entrepreneurs, lobby for change and equality, and encourage women and girls to start and grow businesses in Scotland. It’s an honour to be chosen, especially on their 10th anniversary, and already it has broadened my horizons in ways that can bring benefits for other people as well as helping me to grow.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this time. I really appreciate it.

Dancing, dog walks, and a diagnosis

Dancing, dog walks, and a diagnosis

​You may have read my post about celebrating 7 years in business – this past year has been such a highlight with various new developments including my podcast, branching out into different work, and most recently designing a deck of inspirational cards.

​The​re is​​ an​other side ​t​o the story​ too. If you know me, you will be aware that I am whole-hearted in sharing my experiences and openly share when there are challenging times too. To me, that’s real life… the yin and yang, the light and shade, and a healthy dose of honesty that goes with it all. 

In the same period as I was enjoying and celebrating highlights in home life and through work, I have had some occasional dips in energy levels due to prolonged effects of having covid. In October, I found out I have arthritis too. It remains uncertain whether it is wear-and-tear (osteo) or inflammatory (rheumatoid), although at the moment it’s looking like the former.

I was a bit upset initially as it has come on very suddenly, and possibly a little resistant to the doctor telling me I’m ‘in the age range’ for arthritis. I’m not even 50, for goodness’ sake!! 🙂 

After a couple of days to take stock, with the healthy perspective that many people live well with arthritis and mine is relatively mild at the moment, I consciously changed the way I was framing the experience.

Instead of talking about pain and not being able to grip things properly, I now say: “I’m learning… getting to know what this is like, and finding ways to work round it”, adopting an attitude of curiosity and noticing my thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they come and go. 

Through studying mindfulness I understand that it’s the relationship to the thoughts that makes a difference to the level of discomfort, or even suffering in extreme circumstances. 

We always have a choice.

As a result, the pain has faded a little and I am finding ways to open cans, lift pots, and squeeze cloths (who knew how often you have to do THAT day-to-day!), and I have a renewed appreciation for what I CAN do.

By coincidence, I started having acupuncture to help balance hormonal changes and I believe that has helped too. I have found my zest in the mornings again (mostly!) and in the past four days I have been out walking my dog at sunrise, on a longer route than has been typical for a while. What a treat for the mind and body to start the day like that.

Yesterday I was waiting for the doctor to call to follow up on some blood tests. I was hoping for a definite diagnosis, but it’s not possible to say yet. I thought of what I would like to do… something which I appreciate and which reminds me of my resilience no matter what the outcome is. I immediately thought about my salsa dancing shoes shoved somewhere in the back of the wardrobe.

I pulled them out, dusted them off, and set them neatly down beside me, resolved to ‘have a wee dance’ no matter what the doctor said. I squeezed my feet into the tight silvery straps. 

I can’t say I was anything like as coordinated as before, and my feet were killing me after just 5 minutes, but I am so glad I did it anyway! 

Now I feel a renewed flow of creativity and a sense of fun, very much being in the present. It’s like a few pieces of the puzzle have come together, almost with a life of their own, and something is settling within me.

If I hadn’t taken time to sit with it, and gently notice and explore what was happening, I could have ended up having an unhelpful frame around my health. 

It’s important to me to ‘walk the talk’ and live by the values and resourceful ways of thinking which I share with my clients. I do this because it works.

And​ now…​​there will be much more dancing – as if no one is watching​ – ​and I don’t care ​if they are​ 🙂