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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.
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 00:00

I Give Up!

Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over.
Nicole Sobon
Last summer South Africa went through a phase of power outages that tested the patience of the hardiest African hearts. Since the rolling blackouts in 2008, electricity prices have increased by over 20% a year, and in spite of many people, including myself, making huge efforts to reduce electricity consumption, there is not simply not enough electricity to go around.

The other day, while the power was actually on, I flopped down in the 37°C heat to watch an episode of Modern Family. The story was about Jay who is in the unenviable position of being a son-in-law to a mother-in-law who dislikes him, while being a father-in-law to a son-in-law he dislikes! He is pondering the whole sorry situation and realises the most annoying thing about Phil, his son-in-law, is that he tries so hard. In a moment of clarity, Jay sees that he is doing the same thing with his mother-in-law. He stops and they live happily ever after.

Back in reality, in a startling epiphany, I realised that my problem with Eskom, is that I have tried so hard, to no avail. The solution? I stopped. I gave up feeling personally responsible for Eskom's woes, popped the aircon on, put my feet up and immediately felt a whole lot better about life.

Not everything is so easily solved and the trouble with trying too hard is that it sets up a dynamic of expectations and trade-offs that are often doomed to fail. The feeling that we have done more than our share and someone else has not come to the party, is a breeding ground for resentment and anger and a hard loop to escape.

Sometimes the harder we try, the further away we get from what we are trying to achieve. So if our striving is the very root of the problem, how do we do a 'Jay' and let things go? My suggestion, is that if you are feeling drained and depleted, it's a sign your spirits need rejuvenating so find a way to fill up your own cup.

One way to do that is to simply give up trying so hard. Stop all the effort and hard work in places where it is not bringing a beneficial result. Instead, sit back and take stock of your situation. You may be surprised to discover the ocean of possibilities that arise from simply being who you are, where you are, at the time that you are there.
Sunday, 14 December 2014 16:22

Happy Families?

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.
Author Unknown

I recently listened to a conversation between Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) about people who push your buttons. Elizabeth talked of a great teacher she had in India who said, 'If you think you're spiritually evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes!' Ah yes, the challenge of good old family dynamics. How many of us will get through the holiday period entirely unscathed? There is always that one comment, look or tone of that one person, that hurtles us straight back into childhood behaviours we thought we had long outgrown.

So how do we move past the gritted teeth and bitten tongues to waft through the holidays on a cloud of wisdom and maturity? Is it even possible to keep our balance and the peace? While it is no small challenge, it helps to remember we have various tools in our tool box to call on for help.

In some cases, patience is just the ticket. We have to dig deep and resolve to grow beyond old, habitual patterns. There is something empowering about taking the high road for the greater good, especially at Christmas. At other times, writing an angry letter that you don't send can relieve the emotional pressure building inside and create some much needed breathing space. There are many benefits to expressing yourself fully in private, especially if it helps identify the real bugbear. Once you know the real issue, more skilful ways to approach the situation become apparent.

Sometime we need to speak up and confront the person. It is neither nice, nor easy but it may be necessary to change a dynamic in the long run. In the same conversation with her teacher, the monk reminded Elizabeth that we have an obligation to love everybody in the world, but some people we must love from a safe distance. Some people we simply need to stay away from. The damage they do to our inner self is simply not worth it.

Families are a mixed kettle of fish, they are our history and our legacy and each situation and every family is different. Before we respond, it's worth taking a moment to weigh up the consequence of our reaction. There is something wonderful about 'being family' at this time of the year. Enjoy every moment and I wish you and your precious families a happy, love-and-laughter filled festive season. May you bring joy to each other and to the world around you.
Monday, 01 December 2014 18:28

Bucket...no... To Do List

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss,
but that it is too low and we reach it.
Michelangelo

I recently watched a very moving TEDx Talk by Connie Johnson from Love Your Sister. She is a thirty seven year old mother of two, who is dying of breast cancer. Her message, although sad, is extremely powerful. She talks about how when people find out she is dying, they often share things they would want to do, if they found out they didn't have much time left. They talk about places they want to go, experiences they want to have, and the guilt free chocolate they would allow themselves to eat.

The reality for Connie, is that she simply doesn't have the time, energy or strength to do any of those. She is in and out of hospital, her body is too fragile for things like travel and bungee jumping and she can barely stomach toast, never mind chocolate. She asks the question, why do we wait until we are dying before we choose to live?

It's a good question, one that all of us will benefit from spending some time mulling over. Whether we have a bucket list or not, we all have things we want to do in and with our life. So why aren't we? What is holding us back?

There are a thousand answers to these questions and each of us has our own particular set of reasons or excuses for why we hold back. And it's not just in the big, adrenaline pumping experiences, some of us are simply not made for that. It's the calls we haven't made, the hug we didn’t give, the fear that stopped us from admitting our feelings or speaking up when we know we should have. It's the dreams we ignore and the goals we don't achieve.

The unavoidable truth is that we are all terminal. We don't know when and we don't know how, but at some point of our life, we all face death. But right now, right here, we are alive so get to know yourself. What is it, that is most important to you? Ask yourself. It is time to find out. Stretch out your comfort zone, try new things or do something differently. Say yes instead of no, say no when you usually say yes. Discover what lights up your smile and fills your heart with joy and then go and do more of that.

Now is the time to turn that bucket list into a to-do list. The real question is what are we waiting for?
Monday, 17 November 2014 05:46

After Happily Ever After...

Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you.
Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don't mind being hurt.
It doesn't happen all at once. You become.
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

There is something delightful about the blissful feeling of a new … anything. It can be a new love, fabulous job or car that for a while makes the whole world sparkle. We are better than ever, energised, enthused and ready to roll. However, a few years down the line, the picture is not always so rosy.

Those adorable traits we sooooo fell in love with, have turned into teeth-grinding grounds for causing bodily harm to our beloved. Our dream job has become a prison of hard labour for measly pay, and as for the car? Well, that was traded in ages ago, but you should see the fantastic new model that has just come out!

If I was a psychologist, I would probably be interested in the 'why' of this dynamic, but as a Life Coach, I am far more interested in the 'what can we do about it?'. There are some hard facts we need to face. Firstly, reality often does not live up to the thoughts in our heads. The human mind has the most extraordinary capacity for creative thinking, but as anyone disillusioned with 'The Secret' and 'Law of Attraction' will know, manifesting what you think is not as simple as it sounds.

So is this really the end of the fairy tale for us? I certainly don't think so. While I love a happy ending as much as anyone, my definition of a happy ending has changed over the years. I've found that once the initial euphoria has ebbed and our rough edges have been rubbed off, the real us has the opportunity to emerge. There is something about the depth and richness of being real that wins hands down every time. The messy roller coaster ride of vulnerability can transform into greater joy and connectedness than we can begin to conceive.

So what do we do when the sheen of our life has dulled? This is where we have to hang on and hold our seat. We are being asked to open up to all of life, it's disappointments as well as it's joys, successes as well as failures. It takes courage to let go of outdated ideas and embrace the uncertainty of not knowing, to lean in to pain and look into situations not at them .

'Becoming' hurts sometimes. The truth is, living an authentic life is not a happily ever after, it's more that when you are real, you don't mind the hurt quite so much.
Friday, 31 October 2014 07:47

Slowly, Slowly

One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.
John Wanamaker

Two years ago my health took a knock when I inadvertently added a product with soya to my diet. My thyroid function plummeted and I felt absolutely awful. I had zero energy, muscle pain and was constantly light-headed and lethargic. It's taken two years but today I am in a completely different place. Blood tests show a massive improvement in my thyroid function, and I feel happier, more energetic, thinner (hooray!) and fitter than I've been in years.

So how did this transformation come about? When things were at their worst, I knew I needed to make some changes. Unfortunately, it was a catch 22. I needed to improve my diet, change Homoeopath and start exercising but at the time, I didn't have the physical or emotional energy to do any of it. It seemed insurmountable so here is what I did. I chose one thing to start with and just did that.

As a Life Coach, the trickiest clients to work with, are people with many ideas and lots of goals they want to achieve. Thinking and deciding are a crucial part of goal setting, however, if we think too much, we get scattered or start thinking in circles and end up doing absolutely nothing. The more complex the situation the easier it is to get stuck in this dynamic.

At times like this, focus is everything. We have to ruthlessly prune branch ideas to access the root issue so we can address that. This is not always easy to do, but here's a tip, even if the best choice isn't clear, make a decision. Chose one option to focus on, and commit to changing that.

Start by taking small, consistent actions in the direction you want to go. No matter what area of your life needs some attention, if you spend just 15 minutes a day on it, you will see an improvement over time. I started off dragging myself through 10 minutes of exercise every day. As I felt better it gradually became 15, then 30 minutes and now, it's up to an hour a day. It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy. There were many days I had to force myself into doing it, but no matter how awful the task, it seems possible if you only have to spend 10 or 15 minutes doing it.

So choose that one thing and let me know what it is, I’d love to hear from you.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:00

Shift Happens!

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Victor Frankl
I remember the first time I flew Kulula, as we landed the air hostess welcomed us to our destination and cautioned us to be careful opening the overhead lockers because, she paused, “Remember ...shift happens!” And oh my word, she has a point! Life really is full of shift, sometimes good, sometimes  bad, but shift there is.

These days, not just clients, but many friends and family members are facing tremendous changes in their lives. For some it's wonderful news, a new career, relationship or addition to the family, for others it's retrenchment, ill health or the loss of a loved one. No matter what kind of shift we are dealing with, it often requires some kind of adjustment from us, either externally or internally.

We all have different ways of coping with the challenges we face but an attitude we don't often cultivate, is that of forbearance, having the patience to simply endure our suffering. We usually approach life from the point of view of what can I do about this? How can I get more of what I want and less of what I don't want? Generally speaking this works pretty well, but every now and then we face something than cannot be fixed or changed. If we haven't practised tolerating what is uncomfortable with the smaller things, it is incredibly difficult to do it when the biggies hit.

As human beings we have the most extraordinary capacity to cope with and adapt to incredible difficulties. Tolerance and restraint, like any new habits, take time and effort to cultivate. As most of us know, resisting our urges is hard enough, and at times when we are provoked, it is almost impossible. But those occasions when we do manage it, the rewards can be great. So give it a try, hold your tongue and stay silent when you want to snap at someone or gossip about them. Refrain from eating or drinking what you know is harmful, endure the discomfort and just get that task you've been avoiding done.

You won't always get it right, but when you do notice and appreciate your success. Goods and bads are often quite mixed up and what starts out seeming awful, can sometimes turn into a real blessing. So give yourself chance a to change, have the courage to  show up for all of your life and when things are up in the air, remember... shift happens!
Monday, 29 September 2014 20:09

Handle with Care!

Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to  turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia

Those of you following me on Facebook, will know that I've recently returned from a month silent retreat. Anyone who has done any form of retreat will know it has its moments and some of them are not a lot of fun. I can assure you that after a few weeks with nothing but my own company... ja, no, well, right, you can imagine how that panned out!

In previous retreats, I've had trouble with my car battery going dead, (very inconvenient if you decide to make a run for it in the middle of the night!) So unbeknownst to one of the residents where I was staying, I decided to run the car engine every now and then sommer, just in case. So one rather chilly morning this poor fellow was on his way to the laundry, when he discovered me sitting in my car with the engine running. He was a bit startled and called across to check everything was okay. I gave him the thumbs up and that was that, end of story.

Or not. After two weeks without any human contact, that small act of caring from a stranger was extraordinary. The positive impact of those two words, “Everything okay?” lasted for days. It made me smile and strengthened my resolve to keep going even though the going was pretty tough.

There are many ways to change the world and we underestimate the power our tiny acts of kindness have to make the world a better place. It's the butterfly effect. One small act of kindness can have an impact we never envisioned. A kind word to someone who is having an awful day, a gentle touch to someone in pain, a smile of acknowledgement for an elderly person can strengthen, comfort and make difficulties that little bit more more bearable.

If you pay attention, you'll discover there are countless opportunities every day to make a difference. Looking a beggar or car guard in the eye and wishing him well as you hand over a coin, means more than we can begin to imagine. Listening with your full attention, whether to a child, a friend or a lonely person is a gift we can give any time, any place.

So today, wherever you are and no matter what you have going on in your own life, take a moment to do something wonderful for someone else. Who knows how your random act of kindness will change the world.
Sunday, 14 September 2014 13:40

That Lovin' Feeling

The heart was made to be broken.
Oscar Wilde

Are you currently in love? Or do you at least, (fingers crossed) remember the glorious technicolour world of being crazily, besottedly love struck? Man, it has got to be the best feeling ever! Scientists tell us that biology and a list of chemicals and hormones are responsible for the sky being bluer, our loved one seeming perfect and the all consuming euphoria that swoops and soars in our beings. But whatever the case may be, it's an incredible feeling that science also tells us, lasts about 12 months or so. This year I celebrated my 10th Wedding Anniversary and 19th year with my husband. Hmmm!

Luckily science says that the same nerve growth factor that causes passion chemicals to be released in the first flush of love, also plays a role in the release of another chemical responsible for social bonding. So while the passion dies, the companionship essential in long term relationships, is stimulated. Yay, proof my husband and I okay then!

But is it really so? One look at the divorce rate shows the whole process is pretty touch-and-go. With many people going through tough times, whether it's illness, injury, work stress, retrenchment or financial woes, the stress impacts on our health and relationships, often negatively. So science aside, what can we do to keep the love alive?

I recently read an article where Louis Hay suggested that someone with thyroid issues should stand in front of a mirror and ask their thyroid, 'How can I love you back to life?' My suggestion is that we do exactly that with our close relationships. A broken arm or no job may be just the ticket to give you time to love more.

Instead of giving you a list of fabulous ideas of what you could do, but probably won't do, lets try this. As you are reading, right now, think about something wonderful you can do with your partner... you know... that special person you share your life with? (And if there isn't someone at the moment, then do it for yourself and BE that special someone.) It doesn't have to be big and it doesn't have to be expensive but what is important, is that it reminds you that stress and love are not opposing forces. We want to change the stress OR love dynamic to a stress AND love one.

Just thinking about it will start you moving in the right direction. So put on some romantic music, look the people you love in the eye and go get that loving feeling back!
Monday, 01 September 2014 00:00

Too Good to be True!

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
Mark Twain

I've got that, 'Oh my word, I need to get into shape for summer!' feeling. I'm sure many of you are familiar with it? It's when you decide you are never going to eat anything bad again and from now on only the tiniest morsels necessary for survival will pass your lips. And I’ll be starting just as soon as I've had one last cup of tea and maybe the last of those delicious rose rusks. I mean I may as well finish them... it's just one rusk after all.

So this time round I've decided to do it differently. I am not going to pressure myself into being who I am not. The sad reality is that, I am no health nut, I definitely do not like buckwheat bread and the thought of exercising for an hour a day makes me want to weep... and comfort eat.

It's interesting, life coaching is all about setting goals and working towards achieving them which seems simple, but the ability to set inspiring and achievable goals is not always easy. The trouble starts with the idea of an ideal self we all have. And it is not just the ideal me, but the ideal everything, job, spouse, home, car, friends, lifestyle, you name it, and true as Bob, there'll be an ideal somewhere in there.

Where am I going with this? Well the problem with setting a goal for an ideal you, is that it is not the actual you and often, after some examination, it turns out to not even be something you really want in your life. We spend so much of our precious life trying to be what we are not that we miss out on all the joy and wonder of being who we are.

Goals are wonderful and absolutely brilliant to have as a guiding light for your life, but when you set goals make sure you do it with care. Balance the ideal you with the real you. Take your daily chores, level of willpower and the strength of how much you want this goal into account.

We are all such unique and individual beings and we need to discover what works for ourselves. Taking care of our health is probably the most important task we have. When you do it, do it with care, with kindness and with gentleness. Inspire yourself into well being and enjoy becoming the best you, you can be.
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00

Same Old, Same Old!

Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?
Friedrich Nietzsche

The other morning I woke up grumpy. It was Monday, it should have been Sunday and I was not a happy bunny. The very last thing I felt like doing was walking the dogs, but  the only thing worse than walking Pebbles, is not walking her. Without a walk to take the edge off her exuberance, she stays a handful all day.

So off we went, me stomping moodily, Lalley trotting happily and Pebbles galloping madly squeaking with excitement! We do this daily, and every morning the dogs are as keen and happy as the day before, while it's a bit more hit and miss for me. Some days I enjoy it but often it's just another chore on my to-do list. So what's the difference?

I honestly can't speak for the dogs, who knows why they adore walking, they just do. They simply jog along thoroughly enjoying the myriad of sights, sounds and smells. I spend a lot of the walk in my head, planning the day, structuring how to fit everything in, and rushing to get it over so my real day can start. I simply don't notice the sights and sounds and smells around me.

As I plodded along bored and frustrated, I had one of those magical moments where I woke up to how ridiculous I was being. It was a stunning morning, the air was cool and crisp, the sun was shining and as I looked ahead, a monkey stood on two legs peering at me, before dashing back into the natural forest alongside. I could hear the sound of my footfalls, the sea crashing in the background, and wind rustling the trees.

We all have chores, things we have to do on a daily basis and we often clutch out while doing them. Maybe you love cooking, but when you do it every night, rushed and tired after a busy day, it loses its allure. We stop enjoying the smells and pleasure of creating something as beautiful as a meal for our family.

So before you cook supper tonight, or get in the car to drive home or fetch the kids, take a moment to give your attention to the task you are about to undertake. Notice the weight of your body as you sit or stand, smell the aromas, see the colours, feel the sensations and remember this chore, right here in this moment, IS your life.
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