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Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 19:55

Don't Know?

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.
What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself.
Alan Alda

I recently attended a Business Woman's Breakfast with the gorgeous Sihle Makhanya as the guest speaker. As a top five finalist for the 2015 Miss South Africa, apart from being an absolute beauty, she is confident, knows what she wants and has the courage to make it happen. She is a stunning twenty-three year old in all respects.

Every Life Coach knows that 'knowing what you want' is a pretty good starting point to 'getting what you want.' However, that's not always how life pans out and at twenty-three, I probably had a much better idea of what I wanted from life than I do now. Somewhere along the way things change and in fact, many people come to life coaching, not for help in GETTING what they want, but for help with FIGURING out what they actually want.  

We start out striding in the right direction and then all sorts of unexpected events entice or drag us off our chosen path. By the time we realise we're heading in the wrong direction, we've often lost sight of where we were going in the first place. The problem comes when during this process, we lose sight of ourselves as well. If that happens, you can ask yourself, 'What do I want?' until the end of time and not come up with any useful answers.

As children we are like sponges soaking up the ideas and beliefs of our parents and teachers, and of course, we also learn from our own experiences. Over time we decided things and act accordingly but as we get older, we realise that what we expect from ourselves or others is often not how things turn out to be. As disappointing as that feeling can be, it's actually a wonderful sign.

A tricky aspect of life coaching is encouraging clients to leave behind what they know, (or think they know!) and hang out in uncertainty for a while. Not knowing can be a horrible feeling, it's awkward and uncomfortable and the urge to get to more familiar territory is overwhelming. But it's here, as we teeter and stumble, that we flex muscles we've never used before.

In the midst of uncertainty, we start to experience a different kind of balance, one that re-introduces us to ourselves. It's in discovering who we are that new possibilities become well... possible. So if you are 40 and floundering, don't despair, Life Coaching can and does help. Give me a call!
Friday, 15 May 2015 09:26

Staying Power!

There's more to getting to where you're going then just knowing there's a road.
 Joan Lowery Nixon

Coming up with fabulous ideas about the life you want is the easy part of setting a goal. It's the follow through that trips most people up. The annoying thing about life, is that it just keeps happening. Do you remember playing Hide & Seek as a child and hearing, 'Coming, ready or not!' when you really weren't ready at all? Life is like that and honestly, it's a miracle we ever achieve anything we planned.

There are so many options available and so many demands on our time that a lot of life is spent doing the best we can under the circumstances we are in. Just like not finding the perfect hiding place as a child and having to make do! We often don't or can't achieve the standards we would like either at work, or at home and the question I want to pose is whether that's a bad thing or not?

I see it with clients, they are steadily working towards their goal when all of a sudden something happens that derails the process. In some cases, clients genuinely realise that the goal they thought they wanted means absolutely nothing to them. Sometimes something comes up, a new direction becomes apparent or priorities change and the goal is no longer relevant.

When I first started coaching, I used to worry that something had gone wrong with the coaching process. Now, I applaud this change of direction. Interestingly enough, nine times out of ten, we end up getting where we wanted to go, just not in the way we expected to get there.
In the midst of the chaos of an unexpected event, it is easy to focus only on what is right in front of us, like diving into the first hiding place you spot during Hide & Seek. But if you can hold steady a moment and raise your vision to look at the longer term perspective, you will notice that there are more options available than you may have realised.

Sometimes a detour here and now, saves time and effort later. There may need to be some groundwork done before we can take flight. Learn to take your time and trust your judgement that you can make good decisions. Trust that a detour is not the end of the road but simply part of the long road ahead. Then take a deep breath, smile and take one small step to get yourself back on track.
Sunday, 03 May 2015 19:19

No Apology!

An apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.
Margaret Lee Runbeck

The other day, while I was 'supposed' to be meditating, a brilliant idea for a blog post popped into my head. I was contemplating the difference one tiny letter can make; AN apology compared to NO apology.

Forgiveness sounds marvellous until that unforgivable thing happens and our good intentions fly out the window. It's even harder to forgive when we are wronged and no apology is forthcoming. Years can pass yet we stay stuck in angry thoughts, unable to let go or find peace. Sadly, a lack of apology can strain, compromise or even end a close relationship.

So what is it about the words, 'I'm sorry', that means so much? During one session of the coaching programme I offer, clients are given a list of questions to ask themselves. These questions are designed to help nudge people out of negative thinking patterns into more positive ones. One of the questions is, 'What can I acknowledge in myself today?'

It's a wonderful question that gives a clue to the power of a genuine, heartfelt apology. It also hints at why not receiving an apology is so painful. It's the lack of acknowledgement that cuts so deeply. But what if it is us that needs to apologize for what we have done? Apologies are thorny issues so how can we apologize in a way that creates an environment in which forgiveness can happen?

First up, acknowledge what you have done. It's about taking responsibility for our actions and facing up to the fact that we have hurt, upset or wronged someone. It helps to give a brief but truthful explanation for your behaviour, even if it is simply to say I  messed up, lost my mind, or just plain behaved badly!

Genuine remorse  for hurting someone is sometimes the best apology. Hearing that someone is sorry they hurt us can be a balm for a wounded soul. Beyond that, if there is any repair work to be done, then  do it or at least offer to do it. If you don't know what to do, ask, 'Is there something I can do to repair the damage I've done?'

And then stop talking and listen. Really listen to the answer and act on the suggestions. We will not always be able to forgive or be forgiven, but for many people, being heard and valued can heal the most raw of wounds. The final step is to acknowledge yourself for having the courage to take responsibility and admit your mistakes. Well done!
Sunday, 19 April 2015 08:12

Spirit Level...

The law of centrifugal force seems to be as true for the human condition as it is for the Newtonian mechanics.
The faster our lives spin, the more things tend to fly apart.
Richard Paul Evans

My husband started a wonderful tradition of taking his nephews on a special holiday to celebrate their 13th birthday. For this trip, we booked a Houseboat on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe with a group of friends. The car was packed, Pebbles removed from the boot, our nephew installed in the back seat, and excitement was high. Then I received a call that my father was seriously ill. In a sudden change of plans, we returned home, I packed my bags in my own car and headed to Pretoria.

It was a crazy two weeks, that to cut a long story short, involved a father in High Care, a brother in ICU and a nephew, (the older one not on the trip), overnighting in High Care... oh, and a husband on a boat out of cellphone range. Honestly, it is a time I would really rather not experience again. All the patients are recovering and I returned home feeling quite shell shocked and off kilter.

So how does a Life Coach go about restoring her beleaguered spirits after a time like this? I sat down and wrote a short three month goal for myself. After years of coaching, it's a quick and easy process for me, but that is not the case for everyone. Sometimes, it's really hard to know what we want especially when a lot of what we experience is happening outside of our control, leaving us feeling helpless.

Lack of control is a particularly painful feeling and in the face of all that we can't change, it's easy to forget the many things we can. Illness is one of the areas where we lose control of what happens to our bodies and at times like this we need to remind ourselves to focus on what IS within our power. Usually, it's more than we realise.

Life Coaching and goal setting are often thought of as something to do when things are more settled, when we feel better or this crisis has passed. But actually the best time to take the metaphorical medicine, is right then, in the midst of the chaos. The time to slow down and figure out who you are and what is important to you, is when you are most out of touch with yourself and your life. That is what I am here for, so if you could use a helping hand, give me a call. It's one of those things you can do!
Thursday, 26 March 2015 05:18

Weighty Matters!

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally
you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.
Elizabeth Taylor

On our daily walk, the moment Pebbles catches sight of a motorbike, her 7kg Jack Russell body starts to quiver in anticipation. As it approaches, she launches body, speech and mind into the fray. Of course, poor Lalley and I are attached to the tail end of this drama and we often find all 100kg's of ourselves, hurtling down the road after the said motorbike. I must say we are both quite sick of it. Recently I discovered that dangling Pebbles above the ground leaves Lalley and I with our dignity intact and alleviates a lot of the problem.

Not all issues are so easily solved which leads nicely into the topic for today's blog post.  Nothing to do with Pebbles and more to do with that bit of overindulgence over Christmas that means there is more of me to love this year! Unlike Pebbles, most of our addictions are to things far worse than the occasional passing motorbike. Some of the things we indulge in can be downright harmful to our bodies and mind. And still we do it. Repeatedly.

Health is a complex topic and weight a constant struggle for many people, especially as we age. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer are rampant  and it really is time to do something about our general state of well being. The fact is, there is something deliciously satisfying about comfort food especially when you aren't feeling well. In fact, I recently read somewhere, that pizza is the most addictive food, more addictive than even chocolate. Who would have thought!

Human behaviour is driven by two opposing forces, pleasure and pain. We move towards pleasure and away from pain but both are useful in motivating a change of behaviour. There are times when the fear of the pain and suffering an avoidable illness can cause, kicks start us in the right direction. At other times, the thought of looking fabulous at an upcoming event is all we need to stride off in the right direction.

The trick is to know when to use which approach. There is no blueprint. At the end of the day, it is not that pizza is so addictive, it's us that are addicted and if we want to change, it is ourselves we have to change. Start today by saying no to one unhealthy option. Make one healthier choice every day. Build your confidence that you can do this, that you do have what it takes to be responsible for your own well being.
Monday, 16 March 2015 13:16

Liar Liar!

“The truth." Dumbledore sighed.
"It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone


My husband and I recently discovered House MD, the series. A bit late I know, but we are addicted none-the-less. We love it, or at least Season One, it kind of deteriorates after a while! Anyway, one of my favourite parts is Dr House's absolute certainty that “Everybody lies.” While his brutal methods of extracting the truth makes for good TV, the unfortunate reality is that a whole lot of lying is going on in our daily lives. Bella DePaulo Ph.D, in a 1996 study, found people lie once or twice a day, almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Scary stuff!
 
So what is all this lying really about? We lie for many different reasons, and it's useful to keep in mind that not all lying is harmful. Sometimes we lie from kindness, or to protect others, and other times we lie from a vulnerable place of self preservation. We are frightened of potential consequences, or ashamed of what we have done, and so we hide the truth.

Recently someone I trusted implicitly lied to me and it was a very painful experience and if lying is affecting your relationships or hurting people around you, it may be time to take a closer look at what's going on. Sadly, it seems easier to forgive a genuine mistake, than it is to heal the betrayal of a lie from someone you trust.

So why lie? Lying to others can be the result of self-deception. We want to be good, and believe we are; we strive for honesty and cultivate the image that we are honourable. We invest so much in this image of how we want to be, and it becomes so important to us, that it becomes more important than truth.

We see only our illusion and lose sight of our true selves. Defensiveness and self righteousness are clues that we are caught in this dynamic of self deception. If we firmly believe it is not our fault, or argue that we did the right thing, or had no choice, it is well worth investigating further.

Spend the next few days noticing how often you lie and why you do it. What is driving your behaviour? Kindness or self-preservation? Self awareness and self examination lead to self acceptance. This grounds us in reality, and helps us recognise ourselves and assess the impact our words and action are having on others. At the end of the day, it is useful to remember that both truth and lies can hurt and both should be treated with care.
Saturday, 28 February 2015 14:54

Plan B!

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.
Charles Darwin

The other morning while walking the dogs, I came across a tortoise. He was a youngish fella that I imagine, had painstakingly made his way out the forest and was heading straight for the road. Deciding this wasn't a good idea, I picked him up, turned him around and popped him back into the trees. As I was doing it, I could almost hear a bewildered tortoise voice wondering.... 'What the 'bleep' just happened?'

Isn't that soooo life? We are moseying along doing our thing, when all of a sudden, it's as if our life has been picked up, spun around, and we are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what just happened and how on earth we got here. The changeability of this extraordinary life we live is both a blessing and a curse. When bad things end, it's great. Good things ending? Not so great!

It's a mixed kettle of fish and not only hardships throw us off our stride. Sometimes even good changes, like marriage, a promotion or having a baby, can turn life upside down and it can take a while to regain our balance. But it is only when we face problems that we discover what we are truly capable of.

There are many things we wouldn't choose if we were given the choice, but unfortunately, we often aren't given any choice. No matter what changes we face, one thing to keep in mind is that human beings have the most extraordinary capacity to adapt to the most difficult of circumstances. We often say or think things like, 'If that happened to me, I couldn't cope.' And yet the people to whom really awful things happen, probably also thought that. 

So when the wheels come off, a good place to start is to take a moment to catch your breath and assess the situation. Get a sense of the new environment you are in. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stay still and focused in the midst of chaos, and yet a calm and peaceful mind is vital starting point.

By slowing our racing thoughts and emotions down, we create the space for our natural intelligence and creative problem solving to kick in. There are often more options than we realise and by coming up with a plan B and C and D if necessary, there's a much better chance we will find the key that unlocks the door to a whole new world!
Monday, 16 February 2015 05:32

Know Yourself, Know Your Numbers!

The whole is greater than the sum of its part.
Aristotle

For my thirtieth birthday I gave my now-husband a ' suggested gifts' list. Trust me, even by this stage, and it was still early days in our relationship, I had already figured out this was my best shot at getting what I wanted! On that list, I asked for a Numerology book. At the time I actually didn't know much about Numerology, but as I discovered through the book, there is a whole lot of fascinating information Numerology can tell you about yourself and your relationships.

As a seven life path I love, love, love to analyse and explore, well just about anything. What I didn't expect, was to come to understand why, when I wanted to sit and delve deeply into every tiny matter of difference or indifference, Kevin would scuttle out of there faster than the speed of light. It turns out, he's a three, a happy-go-lucky being that was born to bring lightness to my more weighty self. (PS. Just to be clear, although yes, I am busy losing those few extra kilo's, I am not talking about physical weight here...)

I take things terribly seriously and spend hours looking at every tiny aspect from every possible angle. Kevin would really rather go watch rugby. As anyone who is in a relationship will know, these kinds of differences can be devastating. When I wrote my birthday list all those years ago, I never anticipated that it was the start of coming to understand why I was like I was and why Kevin did what he did.

Within myself, my inner make-up has some quite strongly opposing forces. Gaining insight into these contradictions has helped bring balance to a tricky area of my life, one that has caused a lot of confusion and heartache for me. In coaching, I use Numerology to help clients not just change their relationships, but come to know themselves in a broader and deeper context. Knowledge is one thing, but understanding is an extraordinary gift. It opens your mind to new possibilities and brings strength and courage to change what is causing difficulties either within ourselves or amongst our relationships.

If you are interested in having your Personal Numerology Profile done, I offer it as a professional service. More information, as well as prices and profile options are available here.
Sunday, 01 February 2015 15:14

Hint or Halt?

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I recently got a bee in my bonnet. My life would only be complete if it had mini mustard spoons in it! eBay was a let down, the few places that had, don't post to South Africa, so I got creative. While on holiday in Nelspruit I discovered a gorgeous treasure trove shop that had exactly what I wanted. Well sort of... I just didn't want the mustard pot that came with the spoon. So I jotted down the manufacturer details, tracked them down online, emailed and heard absolutely nothing. A few days later, I called the landline only to be told the number didn't exist.

Hmmm.... I tried the cell number and yes, apart from Telkom trouble, they had mustard spoons but unfortunately I couldn't have them because I wasn't a retailer. I was like seriously, are you kidding me? However, they passed on the details of a retailer in Richards Bay who was willing to order on my behalf. The universe finally relented and that evening a friend visited, who just happened to be going to Joburg the next day and could collect the spoons for me. Hooray!

Not all stories work out quite as well. Years ago, my now husband and I, planned a two week holiday in Mauritius. I accidentally booked the air ticket with a shortened version of my lengthy maiden name, which unfortunately, did not match my passport. The flight was full so I had to cancel my ticket and go on the waiting list to get on the flight. At the same time, I had a really bad feeling about the trip, I tidied my cupboards, sorted out my affairs just in case, and eventually got my ticket. On the second day in Mauritius I was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery with a haemorrhaging ovary. It was quite scary.

The question is, how do we tell if an obstacle is a hint or the universe telling us to halt? Success is often equated with never giving up, with keeping going no matter what, like Thomas Edison discovering ten thousand ways that don't work. But sometimes walking away is the best solution. Courage is not always the quiet voice at the end of the day telling you to try again tomorrow, sometimes it is the quiet voice telling you to let go, to leave something be. We need to listen to both. That is our challenge.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 21:17

A Rocky Start..

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
Chinese proverb

Happy New Year dear readers, I hope 2015 is a happy, healthy and fulfilled year for you!

Unfortunately, for some people, the year has got off to a rocky start. Over the last two weeks I have heard numerous heartbreaking stories from friends, family, clients and strangers, on a scale I have not experienced before, let alone two weeks into a new year. In the Richards Bay area, a traditionally wet part of the country, the drought has reached critical proportions. The water situation is desperate and some surrounding areas have access to water for only a few hours a day.

The common denominator in many of the experiences people have shared with me recently, is that the obstacles they are facing are largely outside of their control. It is often this feeling that there is nothing we can do that causes the most stress. We feel bleak and hopeless and because our minds can't solve the problem, our thoughts circle around progressively negative scenarios.

If you are facing a serious challenge in your life that you can't change, is there anything you can actually do? Hearing so many painful ordeals, reminded me of an exercise I came across some years ago, called Restoring the Balance. It's a simple but powerful exercise that does exactly what the name suggests. It restores the balance.

Here's how it's done. At the end of the day spend a few minutes reflecting on your day. Using one word, jot down, whether it was a good or bad day. Then reflect on your day in detail. As you remember things that happened, note them quickly as good or bad, according to your first response. Count and record the detailed reflections and then compare them to your initial impression.

The point of this exercise is to notice whether your initial impression of the day matches the results of the more mature process of systematic reflection. If you do this daily, gradually the balancing influence of the exercise will begin to manifest in your daily life.

Another thing you can do when the going is tough, is head over to my Facebook page. Not only would I love to hear from you, but you can join me in sharing 100 days of Inner Smiles. We can't always change what we experience, but we can restore the balance by sharing some of the good stuff we have going on. And you never know, it might just bring a smile to someone else's face.
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