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.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 19:52


Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.
W.B. Yeats

This is a true story! It started when I made an appointment to chat to a meditation teacher  about some stuff that was going on for me. He forgot. No biggie, it happens. A few days later I called two friends who said they would get back to me and both forgot. I was beginning to feel a teeny bit ignored. However, not one to give up easily, I decided to pay someone to listen to me. I called a therapist I know to make an appointment and you are not going to believe this, but he forgot to call me back! At this point my strategizing mind ran out of options and simply gave up.

The down side of running out of strategies to avoid our feelings, is that the only option left is to actually feel the feeling. And what does one do when left alone with feelings you would really rather not be feeling? Why, throw a pity party of course! And so I did, I threw the mother of all pity parties and invited every bad thing that has ever happened, every let down, disappointment and sadness I could think of. I got more and more miserable and it was a sorry state of affairs.

And then something interesting started to happen. When all things outside had let me down, I started to find resources inside myself to help me cope. Before I go further, emotions are powerful and can overwhelm us, so if you ever feel out of control, or that you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else, please respect that and get help from family or a 24-hour crisis line.

In my case, the feelings were painful but manageable and I was able to stay with them. I decided to stop making it worse and started helping myself. We often feel isolated and alone in our emotional pain, and the truth is we don't always have the support we need. The key is to find a way to be there for yourself.

A good place to start is by expressing what you are feeling. There are so many tools available to help you, so find one that works for you and use it. Whether it is journalling, drawing, talking to someone, exercising or screaming into a pillow, if it helps, do it. In our darkest moments sometimes all we have is ourselves. The wonderful thing is when we discover, sometimes, that is enough.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 10:32

Travelling Light

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.
Cesare Pavese

Ever wished you could take a holiday from yourself? I have such plans before I go away. I imagine this relaxed me chilling at the beach, walking in the mountains and laughing delightedly at nothing in particular. Of course I am thinner and prettier and just “oh so happy' with everything! Instead, the reality is that no matter where I go, I take myself along and that is not always a good thing. Travel sickness, an aversion to mattresses that other people have slept on and a natural impatience are a few issues that spring to mind. I'm just saying!

We all have excess baggage that we carry around and usually have been for quite some time. Sometimes it really is a whole lot of stuff we've shoved into cupboards but it can also be relationships that we have outgrown but hang on to out of habit. If we dig a little deeper, underneath both of these, we often find outdated thought patterns that weigh us down, and keep us stuck. When we are bogged down with useless things, bad relationships and unhelpful beliefs, we get stressed and life loses its sparkle.

If your boss ridicules or shames you, or a co-worker snubs you, through professionalism we often shove our emotions into the closet and ignore our feelings. When friends or lovers let us down, we keep quiet because we don't have the time or energy to fight every battle. While these are effective short term strategies that we do need to employ at times, if it becomes our modus operandi, over the long term, the build up becomes a problem.

So how do we lighten our loads and clean out our closets so to speak? Every now and then spend some time with yourself. Sit quietly without the usual noise and distraction and allow  things that were hidden to come to light. Come back to all those times when you've had a strong emotional reaction to something, but have suppressed your response because it was the appropriate thing to do.

Ask yourself what happened for you? What was going on inside you? What were you reacting to? Examine your thoughts, your emotions and your relationships. Are you reacting to a memory or a reality? It is only when we know what we are dealing with that we are able to decide if this is something of value to keep or something outdated to toss.
Happy travels!
Monday, 30 June 2014 18:34

Forever Friends

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
C.S. Lewis

As the date for another blog post drew near, I started to think I was suffering from writer's block. I couldn't think of a singe topic to write about. Oh my word, the pressure was building and I had absolutely nothing to say. Then the universe gave me two timely nudges. The first  was when a friend and I met for coffee and chatted about how hard friendships are to maintain these days.

The second was a Freudian slip of note. I was replying to an email from a friend when I accidentally copied the words 'How are you keeping?', and inadvertently posted them onto my Facebook page. It was crazy! I actually didn't know I had done it until some lovely friends replied and I figured out what had happened! And that's how, to my relief, this blog post was born. Yay Universe!

I say Freudian slip because I posted what I'd been wishing to hear. There's been a lot going on in my life recently and I've needed friends. There have been moments when I've wished  someone would just pick up the phone and ask me how I'm doing. Recently a friend was bed ridden for a while due to an injury and although I thought of her often, I never called because I didn't really know what to say. There are many reasons why we don't call. Life is so busy that taking time out to chat with a friend can seem like a luxury not a necessity, but friendships, like anything of value, need care and attention.

When I began writing today, I honestly didn't know what I was going to talk about, but I showed up and started off by acknowledging that I didn't know what to say. Sometimes that is all we need to do. It is enough to just show up and be there. We don't need to have all the answers, we don't even need to have a lot of time. Sometimes an sms to say, I’m thinking of you, can mean the world to someone feeling alone and out of their depth.

Friendship is one of the joys of life, if yours are slipping away through lack of care, then pick up the phone right now and say something... anything. Marcel Proust says it beautifully, 'Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom'.
Monday, 16 June 2014 11:15

No Can Do!

The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.
Tony Blair

Recently I was approached by a journalist to contribute to an article she was writing on 'Saying No'. It happened in the same week I had to pull out of two public speaking commitments I had made. A legal matter regarding the estate of my late sister-in-law arose and I was going to be out of town on the days I'd agreed to guest speak.

It is one thing to write an article on saying no, but the actual saying of it is quite another! I dreaded making the calls and all the theory in the world, doesn't change the fact that I hate letting people down. I put it off for a few days in the hope that it would go away. It didn't and eventually, like Nike suggests, I braced myself and just did it.

The experience got me thinking about what makes saying no so hard? Some people are definitely better at it than others, but no matter how good we are at it in some areas, there is always that one area that nails us every time. Whether it is a work crisis, a friend in need, a hungry beggar, a good party or a piece of cake, there is always something that we just can't say no to. I'm curious about what keeps us stuck.

In the areas that give us trouble, I suspect the problem is that we miss the point. We spend a lot of time thinking. We make excuses in our heads, we think about how bad we, or the person we are saying no to, will feel. Or we avoid thinking about it, we procrastinate and distract ourselves in all sorts of ingenious ways. We spend ages worrying about how the other person will react, or what they will think of us. And what does all of this have in common? Well, it's really just theory isn't it? It's about what MAY happen, not what HAS happened.  

So maybe Nike really is on to something! Maybe the trick is not to think so much about saying no. Instead of coming up with more theories about why it's hard, or what the true reason is, just do it. Say no. Say no to unwanted thoughts, say no to thoughts that make you feel bad about yourself, and say no to hypothetical fears. Build up that muscle, and saying no to unwanted people and events will be a breeze. Lol, fingers crossed on this one!
Monday, 02 June 2014 10:55

S'tru Bru!

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
Philip K Dick

Every now and then, usually right after saying or doing the most stupid or embarrassing thing imaginable, there is a moment of unreality when the world stops and you feel that what is happening cannot possibly be happening? In moments like this, most of us need something we can trust.

Trust by definition is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. It is something I have spent most of my adult life trying to figure out and maybe now is a good time to give you a heads up, it is not a question I will be answering in the 400 words of this blog post. I'm just saying!

As most of us with any sort of life experience know, doubt has a way of derailing even the staunches of our faiths. What interests me in coaching, is how so many of the people I work with, have either lost faith in themselves, or never had it in the first place.

Trust is earned and sadly, most of us have let ourselves down so often that even when we know we can do something, we don't always believe we will. Reversing that process is such a powerful part of coaching, one that takes much more than just words. Think smarmy salesman saying trust me, well, that ain't how it happens.

Trust and honourability go together. Building trust in yourself starts by honouring your word, fulfilling the commitments you have made. It requires taking responsibility for your mistakes and manning up to face the consequences. It is about speaking up when you don't like something and risking offending someone you want desperately to like you. It is learning to say no when you need to set a boundary, and resisting temptation when you are on a diet or cutting back on alcohol or TV.

Cultivating a longer term perspective of our life is a way of rebuilding trust. Seeing the bigger picture reminds us how connected we are to other people and the world. As you sip your tea, think of the soil, rain, sunshine, breeze, and many hands involved in picking and packaging the teabag. Think of the truck drivers and store owners, organisations, banks and numerous people involved in the simple enjoyment of a sip of your tea. It is that feeling of being part of something so much greater than ourselves that gives us courage to be greater than we are.
Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00

The Love of Praise!

How about a round of applause, a standing ovation?

Pebbles was our adored Jack Russell who died unexpectly earlier this year. She was an enthusiastic and wholehearted little being who came with a tiny design flaw. A weak bladder. This meant that too much excitement, or being shouted at, led to a small, but unwelcome puddle. For some reason I was thinking about an incident a few years ago when a client returned Pebble's exuberant greeting by picking her up. Suffice it to say, instead of a cuddle, she got a puddle! It took a while to dry the client off and I must say, the whole thing was very awkward.

However over the years, through her love of praise, Pebbles learned that it was okay to chew her toys, the cardboard from an empty toilet roll, and my husband Kevin; but it was not okay to chew her blanket, to empty the toilet roll in order to chew the cardboard, or to chew guests or me. Once she got the hang of it, all was good in the world! 

Hopefully, we all know the delicious feeling of being praised? Well, recently I've been in a rather lovely patch with people saying all sorts of good things about me. In the midst of basking in the glow of this praise, I started wondering what I'm willing to do for the love of praise? It is not quite as simple for me as it was for Pebbles. Praise is slightly addictive and leaves you wanting more and like many things, too much of it, is not necessarily a good thing.

Keeping our motivation clearly in mind in essential. The problem with wanting to be liked arises if you start convincing yourself that doing things you don't want to or don't feel comfortable doing are the way to get your needs met. Unfortunately, it's not clear cut. There are times and situations where flexibility and compromise, or stretching out of your comfort zone is a healthy and mature choice to make. But sometimes this isn't the case and we compromise ourselves at the expense of our values. This is something we each have to examine for ourselves, it's up to us to know if we are crossing the line.

One way to do this, is to check what kind of a heart you have when you do what you do. An angry, frightened or insecure heart can indicate that the choices you are making are not in your best interests. If your heart is loving and open, chances are, it's a healthy choice, so go on, get out there and get that applause!
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 19:54

Have your say!

The best fighter is never angry.

A friend recently posted on Facebook and it led to a lively and somewhat heated discussion. She was questioning whether anger is always negative, or if it is justified in the right circumstances. Is it a harmful emotion that we should eliminate from our lives? Or are there times and places where it is valuable and necessary?  

There are various schools of thought. Some say anger is a natural, healthy emotion that alerts us to circumstances that are unjust, or violating a social norm, and anger is what prods us into taking much needed action. Others believe that suppressing anger is harmful and finding healthy ways of expressing your feelings is important for health and well-being. Buddhism teaches that anger is a destructive emotion that must be eliminated because it brings us confusion and misery, rather than peace, happiness, and fulfilment.

It's an age old debate and just reading these different views may well have triggered an angry response in you. If so, that's a good thing, because there is no better time to start using some of that critical thinking I mentioned in the previous blog post. So what goes on for you when you get angry? These days there are so many things to be angry about and so many ways to express it, but what's really important, is getting to know what happens to you when you get angry. What happens in your body? Where do you feel it? Neck? Stomach? Throat? What do you say? What response do you get? Does it get you the result you want?

Living wholeheartedly is a tricky path to walk. Too much one way and you're lost, too much the other way and you've wandered off again. There is so much advice out there on how to deal with anger, how to express it healthily, let it go, forgive, set boundaries, it's enough to make my head spin. But to really come to terms with anger, we have to get to know it from our own experience. We have to risk being a bit experimental for a while. What happens if I speak up? What happens if I keep quiet? What happens if I act? What happens if I let it go?

This is how we come to know anger with all it's contradictions. Understanding the consequences of our responses, both for ourselves and others, is how we create the opportunity to make informed, healthier choices for our life.
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 13:46

Rethinking Truth!

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Rethinking Truth. It's the name of the textbook when I studied Adult Education at a Postgraduate level. I loved it, so when my first assignment came back with barely a pass, I was really disappointed. I'd worked hard on it and contacted the lecturer to find out what had gone wrong. It turns out I was one of the few who passed. The lecturer explained that assignments at a post graduate level require critical thinking. By definition, this is "the process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.” It took a while to get the hang of because it's not how we are used to thinking.

Do you remember learning to drive? The pounding heart, jerky movements and huge mental effort to remember everything that needed to be done? Nowadays, I get in the car and driving happens automatically while I think about other things! This is how many of us go through life, we get into routines, and so it goes until we take a holiday or something major happens to shake things up.

A similar thing takes place at a deeper level inside us. Something happens and we start believing certain things about ourself and after a while we stop questioning whether it's true or not. How often do you hear yourself saying, oh, I'm not good at... maths / art / public speaking? And maybe in one particular instance you weren't, maybe you failed maths, or botched an oral and so you tell yourself, you just aren't good at that.

It is these kinds of beliefs that we question in life coaching. It's as simple as a raised eyebrow asking, really, is that actually true? It's a magical moment when, what feels like an insurmountable brick wall facing you, dissolves into nothing more than an outdated thought. It takes time to change our thinking. Questioning our beliefs takes effort and a willingness to be uncomfortable, but the rewards are worth it.

We have such intelligence, the human mind is a miracle and yet we drink Coca Cola and smoke cigarettes because the ads are brilliant. Coca Cola will still be there when we stop believing we are, as the jingle says, “Opening Happiness”. It is us that will be different. We will able to analyse and evaluate information and reach our own conclusions about what brings happiness to our lives. 
Monday, 31 March 2014 00:00

Self-care or self-indulgence?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.
Mahatma Gandhi

Deciding to go gluten free had some unexpected side effects. It was a clear and simple choice to change my diet for the sake of my health. Nothing confusing or complicated there, or so it seemed until a funny thing started to happen, largely involving Lays Salt & Vinegar chips and chocolate. Like seriously, a lot of Salt & Vinegar chips and chocolate.

Cutting gluten isn't easy and wanting to be gentle with myself, because I am doing it for health reasons, I allowed some gluten free treats. Chips and chocolate? For my health? Whoa! How on earth did this happen? It is one thing to change a behaviour but quite another to get our minds to buy in and cooperate. So where is the line? At what point does caring for ourselves, or someone else for that matter, become indulging our every whim?

We all have different ways of getting our needs met. Some of those ways are good for us and good for others, some don't feel good but are good, like doing paperwork even though we would really rather not. Sometimes however, we do things that feel good but aren't good, like drinking alcohol or in my case, indulging in unhealthy treats. Sadly, if we are not careful, it can go even further and we start doing things that neither feel good nor are good, but we do them anyway.

There is a point where a need becomes a greed and what we are doing to feel better, slides into an addiction that drives us. We lose perspective and our balance and this can happen in any area of our life. Not just shopping or eating, but also in relationships, exercise and our wish for self improvement.

Is there something or someone in your life that used to make you happy but now makes you miserable? Sometimes just being aware of it helps us make healthier choices. If not, ask yourself what need is being met by what you are doing and then get creative. Think up a whole lot of other ways you can honour and fulfil this very important wish for happiness.

Our minds are like naughty children and sometimes the best way to deal with a tantrum is to cleverly distract yourself. So instead of turning to chips and chocolate for comfort, I am off to Google recipes that are healthy, delicious, and satisfying. Yay me!
Monday, 17 March 2014 13:34

Bouncy Bouncy!

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.
Robert Jordan

My husband and I don't own a TV but recently a friend gave us Season 11 of Hell's Kitchen to watch. I was in seventh heaven, the drama, the food, the tension, the relationships and oh my word, the in-house fighting! There is nothing more addictive for a Life Coach fascinated with human behaviour, than that. While I was watching, it struck me how some people have the capacity to bounce back and perform brilliantly after messing up... publicly... on TV... while being shouted at... in front of everyone! And other people simply don't. It made me curious about what the difference is.

We all have times in our life when it feels like nothing is going right. Awful things can and do happen, divorce, illness, loss of a job, and sometimes more than one thing at a time, which leaves us feeling like flattened fairies. So what can we do to cultivate resilience in our mind? How do we strengthen our capacity to bounce back from adversity?

One of the ways to gain perspective is to flex our long term thinking muscle. What normally happens to you when something goes wrong? People often fall into one of two categories. Either, we can think of nothing else, we don't sleep or we wake early with frantic thoughts racing around our head, or we simply avoid thinking about it by distracting ourselves, usually with unhealthy escape mechanisms. So how will long term thinking help?

Let's head back to Hell's Kitchen for a minute. Instead of panicking and being swamped by emotions, the people who were able to use a more mature, intelligent approach were the ones who succeeded. Interestingly enough, it seems that being able to keep your long term perspective clearly in mind, helps motivate you to focus on the job at hand. In other words, the more clear the vision of your future is, and the more in touch you are with how you want to live, the better you are able to cope with what is happening now.

This is why absolutely everybody can benefit from working with a Life Coach. Life Coaching is all about getting to know yourself and enhancing your capacity to dream up vivid, achievable goals for the life you want. So if this sounds like a good idea to you then why are you waiting? Get in touch and let's get started!
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