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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.
Sunday, 02 December 2018 20:04

Live, Not DIE with a T!

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more.
The other is to desire less.
G.K. Chesterton

Kevin and I are on diet. AGAIN. I was telling a friend that we want to live like this, not diet, and lol, I just love words because, yeah, exactly that! Diet has ‘die’ in it for good reason! Why does going on diet feel like you are trapped in a bleak world of longing and deprivation with no hope of ever being happy again? Or is it just me?

Unruly desires have been causing trouble since time began and, as anyone who has ever had a run in with an irresistible urge will know, they are hard to resist. Emotions are all powerful. They drive our behaviour and in the face of strong emotion, our intellect folds like a pack of cards. While coaching offers many helpful tips and techniques to support you in achieving a goal, when it comes to addressing this sense of deprivation, I turned elsewhere for guidance.

The idea of desiring less intrigues me...  but it also makes me want to yell HOW very, very loudly. So I decided to investigate. One thing I can say definitively is be careful what you type into Google when it includes the word desire. My goodness! Craving was a better word choice for this particular topic... but I digress.

Most articles are similar to coaching, in that they give tips for managing, handling, or avoiding the triggers that stimulate desire, but none of them really got into the nitty gritty of the 'why'. Where does desire come from? What is the driving force of our desire? And how do we learn to desire less?

If we take a good look at our own urges, we discover that underlying the craving there is a sense of dissatisfaction. We are not happy with what we have and that can take a variety of forms. We want what we don’t have - like cake on a diet, or we don’t want what we do have - like kale on a diet. You get the idea?

So the key to success lies not so much in meeting our desires with indulgence or avoiding them through forced discipline, but in cultivating a sense of satisfaction. The trick here is that this sense of satisfaction has to be both for what we don’t have - but want, and what we do have - but don’t want.

I have to admit, there is something about having satisfaction as a goal, that has a fullness to it, a richness compared to the deprivation that unfulfilled desire often comes with. So guys and gals, it’s time to go get us some satisfaction! It’s infectious. The more good we see in ourselves and others... the more good we see in ourselves and others.
Thursday, 15 November 2018 10:53

Choose Easy!

Ease is the sign of grace in everything.
Marty Rubin

One of my favourite coaching sessions is the one where we discover whether you, as the client, are making it easy for yourself to be happy... or making it difficult for yourself to be happy. No prize for guessing what most of us do! We humans seem to have an inbuilt gene that when the going gets tough, we make things as difficult as possible for ourselves.

This topic popped into my head the other morning while I was hanging over the bath with just washed hair, reaching for the towel that wasn’t there. I was in a rush that morning, so I’d jumped into the shower, and to save time, decided not to wash my hair. I’d washed it the day before, how bad could it be? Well now, let me tell you! I clipped up my hair, showered and when I took out the hair clip, my hair sort of stayed there. Standing straight up. Like a duck tail. I have never seen anything like it before.

No worries, I grabbed the hair dryer and tried to flatten it. I succeeded. It was now lying so flat, there could have been a possum on my head. I was running out of time so to cut my losses, I decided to wash my hair over the bath. Which explains how I came to be on my knees, over the bath, dripping wet and waving my arm around looking for a towel that was already in the wash basket. Basically, what would have taken about three minutes in the shower, turned into an hour long saga that included a change of clothing.

The interesting thing in the coaching session on this topic, is how shocked clients are to discover how difficult they make things for themselves. We all have ideas about how things should be and it’s these expectations that cause endless trouble.

You may find it useful to question the accuracy of some of your more imaginative ideas. Despite repeated evidence to the contrary, I firmly believe it’s quicker to NOT wash my hair when I’m in a rush. Is walking around with iffy looking hair for the entire day really worth the five minutes saved in the shower? Nope. I think not. 

This is the habit we need to cultivate. The one where we identify what makes us happy, take it on board and do more of it. So often, we are mistaken in what we think makes us happy. And here’s a tip, happiness is not always of the instant gratification variety. Cutting corners, taking short cuts, letting ourselves and others down, avoiding when we should step up, while they do give some short term relief, over the long run, they don’t sit well with our soul. We feel guilty or get depressed and start hating ourselves.

How about you? Are you making it easy for yourself to be happy? Are you making choices that make you proud to be you? Begin to do more of what brings ease to your being. Amaze yourself! Invite grace and joy into your life and relationships.
Sunday, 28 October 2018 20:29

Do Be Do Be Do?

The moon and the sun learned long ago that, if each patiently waits its turn,
they will both have their chance to shine.
Unknown

Yo, I’ve been busy. All of a sudden, my ‘already-maxed-out-day’ had to expand to include five weeks of daily cancer treatments for my father. I am of the mindset that if I can just get this final task done, then I’ll rest. Ja, no, well, right. That did not go so well!

Don’t sweat the small stuff, less is more... we all know the drill, but to actually let go of those pesky small things? Not as simple as it sounds. Especially for those of us who are like Avis and try harder!

It turns out, not all ‘make your life easier’ choices are that easy to do. Sometimes the challenges we face diminish us. They drain our energy and exhaust our reserves, especially if it involves pain and suffering of some sort, letting someone down or even having to lower our expectations of how we would like a situation to be. However, these very challenges also create an environment that makes change possible.

Many years ago I attended a talk by a meditation master who spent much of his life travelling the world teaching wonderfully profound, yet extraordinarily simple, everyday wisdom. One particular gem that stuck with me is the way he captured the essence of kindness in small things we can do to make our own lives easier. When you are packing to leave on a trip, his suggestion? Put your pyjamas on top. That way when you arrive, weary from your travels, your pj’s are right where you need them.  

There is something so beautiful about cultivating this attitude of taking care of ourselves. Living with a kind of affectionate consideration transforms us from the inside out. Our reserves, our inherent inner capacity, and the courage to bear our responsibilities begins to grow. In fact, the very difficulties we face become the ground from which strength arises.

It’s also one of those lovely catchy things! Speaking and acting from a foundation of bringing happiness to ourselves has a way of effortlessly expanding out to encompass others. It opens us up and we begin to discover a much vaster way of being.

At the end of the chaos that has been my life over the last few weeks, the ‘do-be’ dynamic is shifting. It’s a work in progress but I’m starting to learn the difference between wishing I had less to do so I could be more relaxed, and being at ease while I do what needs to be done. Semantics, it may seem, but profoundly so!
Monday, 15 October 2018 14:08

Spaces Between...

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.
 Jon Kabat-Zinn

When it comes to spaces between, Frikkie is the man...  or to be more precise, the Dapple Dachshund of the moment,! Here’s his story. We bought an expensive new lounge suite recently and decided Frikkie was not allowed to sit on it. Now we just call it Frikkie’s couch. There’s a slight dip, right in the space between the cushions, and this has got to be his most favourite place in the whole wide world to curl up in.

His other most favourite place (he has a few) is right between Kevin and me when we are cuddled together. Frikkie has a technique, and for such a little guy, it’s extremely effective. Alignment is everything, so he carefully drops his body right into the space between us and lets gravity, and a few strategic wiggles, do the rest. Before you know it, he has manoeuvred himself into the perfect spot to maximize body contact with the two people he loves most.

It’s probably not a good sign that I’m taking life lessons from a dog, but I gotta tell you, he’s on to something. My life is an intricate juggling act at the moment and keeping all the balls in the air, so to speak, is challenging. You know when you are on your way, but haven’t yet arrived? There is a surprising amount of those in a day. I tend to bulldoze my way through them. I’m a Life Coach, it’s all about the goal, right?

Nope, it so isn’t! It’s about this moment, here and now and this, and this, and then this one. Life is a series of tiny moments, some gentle, some harsh, some loud and some quiet. It’s not all good and it’s not all bad, but it IS all life. Your life. And it’s fleeting.

With the world urging us on, together with an inherent tendency in human nature to get caught up in fantasy and expectation, life passes by so quickly and we never really get to where we are going. It’s the never ending to-do list. You work your butt off and get through everything today and it’s back in full force tomorrow. The harder you work, there more there seems to be to do just to keep up, and so we run and rush and race against a ticking clock that just keeps on ticking. Welcome to reality!

My suggestion? Be like Frikkie! Give yourself some wiggle room in the spaces between. Align yourself to the moment that’s happening and allow reality to do the rest. The next time you are making yourself a well-deserved cup of tea, (I highly recommend Lipton’s Blueberry Muffin tea, by the way), instead of drumming your fingers impatiently, waiting for the kettle to boil, pause and enjoy the moment.

This is your life. Here, standing on your two sturdy legs, breathing through your awesome lungs, hearing bubbles, seeing water, smelling blueberries and tasting life itself. My goodness, what a gorgeous moment to enjoy before the next moment appears.
Saturday, 29 September 2018 06:29

Turning the Tide...

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.  
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

South African’s recently celebrated Heritage Day with a lovely long weekend and it could not have been more welcome. With my dad just under half way through his cancer treatments and Kevin on standby in the midst of a massive maintenance shut down at work, we were like woo hoo, bring it on. Yeah, long weekend from hell, as it turned out. Without boring you with the details, Kevin worked, I worked pretty much the whole weekend and we had a 20-hour, freezer defrosting power cut on Sunday. Hard to cook lunch for the friends that were visiting from across country!

We got on with things, ate out, ran the generator but come Monday night, I was feeling neither rested not ready for the week ahead. While moseying around on Facebook, a friend shared a quote that one of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm. Yes, I thought. This shall be my motto for the week.

Tuesday morning. A 4.45 am phone call woke us. Not a standby engineer work crisis for Kevin, nope, it was an urgent perfume order. Lol, perfumes are rocking it this month! I got up, fed the dogs and went to defrost another batch of Colt’s food. In all the recharging that happens after an electricity outage, the freezer had accidentally been unplugged. The ‘already-dicey-raw-meat-from-the-20-hour-power-cut’ was once again defrosting.

I rose to the occasion. Adjusting my plans, I cleaned up the rather gruesome mess, chopped a huge pile of veggies and cooked dog food... all before my dad’s 10 am radiation treatment. While the dog food was bubbling away, I decided to carry on with my regular morning routine and do some YouTube yoga. Except I couldn’t. Because Kevin’s computer blew up, (with quite a bang, mind you), when we connected it to generator power. I staggered on, readjusting once again to accommodate reality, and reached for my gorgeous pink-candy-striped-hula-hoop. A few minutes of twirls one way, then I stopped and reversed direction.

That's when disaster struck. The first anti-clockwise spin I gave wasn’t good and the hula hoop slid down to the top of my thighs. For the record, guys, I never, EVER, drop a hula hoop and this day was NOT going to be the first. I gave a determined flick of my right hip followed by a technically sound wiggle of my left hip and I got that pink-candy-striped-hula-hoop right back up to where it should have been. I gotta tell you, I was stoked!

There’s something about believing you’ve got this that fills you up from the inside out. It changed my day. We give so much energy and attention to what’s wrong, to doubts about ourselves or fears of whether we have what it takes and it exhausts and limits us. But cheer-leading isn’t enough, we can’t just say, I’ve got this. It’s a start but there has to be some depth of meaning to the words.

All it takes to turn the tide is to value the small good things that we can and are already doing, no  matter how tiny or seemingly unimportant. Hula hooping being a case in point. Notice what you are managing and let that success nourish and build your confidence.

If all else fails? I recommend getting yourself a kick ass pink-candy-striped-hula-hoop and hula hula hoop, hula hula hoop!
Friday, 14 September 2018 13:53

True Colours

A rainbow is not afraid of showing its true colours
because it knows it is beautiful inside out.
Matshona Dhliwayo

You guys have known me for a while. Apart from that one unfortunate incident when an open fizzy cooldrink landed upside down IN my handbag, in the parking lot of Builder’s Warehouse, I’m not one to talk much about hardware stores. So, the other day, as I marched purposefully into Builder’s Warehouse, it was unusual, to say the least. I was on a mission. My task? To discover... not my true nature, no siree. I was there to discover my true colour.

Sam Adams rocks! He discovered he is no black man. His true colour turns out to be Chocolate Indulgence! Mine is... well, it’s complicated. I seem to be rather a mixed palette.

The first obstacle was deciding where exactly to match my skin tone. I live in Richards Bay. It’s hot. The outside of my arms are way browner than the inside bits. Once I started looking, I discovered that my face and palms are completely different tones and textures. At which point I completely lost focus and hurtled down the, -‘Oh my word, who am I really?’- rabbit hole.

We often think of the meaning of life as being something mystical, something to be attained only while sitting cross-legged, alone, in a cave, on a mountain top, eating nothing but nettle soup. However, understanding the way things are can be a rather ordinary experience. When we examine anything with curiosity, it quickly becomes apparent that things are not as they seem. Black and white are minuscule options within the colourful spectrum of life... something easily confirmed in any paint store, for the skeptics out there!

None of us are entirely good or entirely bad, in fact, even trying to define good and bad for ourselves, leads into murky waters. The moment we start getting to know ourselves and what we are really made of, we find it virtually impossible to pin ourselves down. We are neither this nor that, nor not quite this, and most definitely not that.

Practically, this is good news! It means that the way it is, is not the way it has to be. We can change. We can grow. And we are constantly evolving. Not only are we a rainbow nation, to my delight, I discovered I am a rainbow body, beautiful inside and out. A myriad of ever changing sights and sounds, colours, expressions, moods and desires, and so are we all. Living with this understanding, makes us less certain of right and wrong and a lot more open to the extraordinary creative, potential that is life.

So there you go! Who knew that to discover your true nature, all you had to do was visit the  paint section of your local hardware store. My true colour, by the way? Summer Pecan with a hint of Coconut Cream. Delicious sounding, if I say so myself.
Thursday, 30 August 2018 05:10

Holding the Space...

A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds space for you
while you awaken your inner healer so that you may heal yourself.
Maryam Hasnaa

I’m a doer, so when it comes to sitting tight and holding the space, things get a little uncomfortable for me. However, as anyone fortunate enough to have experienced someone holding the space for them will know, it’s an extraordinary gift to give to another human being.

According to Heather Plett, holding the space means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold the space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support and let go of judgement and control.

Holding the space is one of those things that goes around and comes around. Someone can be holding the space for us as we hold the space for someone else, often at the same time. It’s when we are there for a friend and then go home and cry on our spouse’s shoulder. It’s showing up when someone is struggling saying nothing more than this is hard, I’m here. Holding the space is what we pay therapists for. Sadly, it’s a rare skill and few people have the ability.

So now what? How do we go about learning to hold the space? How do we get our inner healer to awaken? To really be able to hold the space for someone else, we first need to learn to do it within ourselves, with our own emotions. We need to discover what is means to stay present with our own experience, as we are experiencing it, without changing, fixing or rejecting it. We fully feel our anger, joy, or vulnerability without trying to change or impact on what we are feeling. Yo, that is no small task! How simple it sounds but how very difficult to do.

Imagine not judging your own feelings? No guilt, no shame, no feeling bad about feeling what you feel, whether it’s anger, excitement, love or despair? Imagine giving yourself the time you need to heal from what has hurt you, not rushing yourself because of someone else’s, or some societal, agenda, but allowing yourself to grow at your own pace? Imagine feeling good enough, that you are okay as you are, no matter how messy you are in that moment?

As we are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time for everything. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Holding the space is allowing ourselves, and others, the time to go at their own pace. It’s offering unconditional support with an open heart. Our time and gentle, focused presence truly is a precious gift we can give to others.
Monday, 13 August 2018 17:02

Mountain or Molehill?

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
Carl Bard

Who doesn’t have a hint of good old drama queen within them? That inherent ability to blow things entirely out of proportion. I gotta tell ya, I am a mistress of catastrophizing. Kevin in a bad mood? My brain flashes an image of me homeless, alone, filthy, living under a bridge, oh, and with rotten teeth. Thank goodness Kevin is such an even tempered fellow!

So what is this overreaction all about? Dont' know, don't care. Is it possible to change it? From my own experience, I can say a resounding YESSS! To do it, we are going to have to talk about these wayward minds of ours ... and parenting. For most of our life, like bad parents, we have let our minds go where they want and do what they will. That pretty much sums up the average mess we get ourselves into.

As magnificent as these mighty minds of our are, they really, really need a touch of guidance, maybe some training and a hefty dose of discipline. Think two year old left to their own devices. That mayhem? Yeah, that’s your untamed mind.

Generally, experience has a way of keeping us vaguely in line. You eat five ice creams in a row, like you want to, and feel so ill you never do it again. Replace ice cream with alcohol, macaroni cheese or chocolate cake, if that’s your thing. Feedback from outside ourselves can also be a powerful influencer of change. We do something, get a result we don’t like and we learn and adapt our behaviour.

Ultimately, thought is the master of words and actions. If we want to speak and behave differently, we have to think differently. Most of us forget that we think our thoughts and it's not them that think us. It is possible for us to tame our own wayward minds. We can calm ourselves, even when we feel panicked. We can support and encourage ourselves and we are capable of giving sound guidance to ourselves because most of us really do know better when it comes to ourselves.

When we take responsibility for what is wrong with our lives, we stand the chance of fixing it. It’s hard to step up and be the wise parent and acknowledging there is a problem truly is the first step to change.

What do you need to say no to? What do you need to say yes to? How you would rather do this whole adulting thing? Now do more of that. It’s the courage to change that we often lack so remember, you’ve got this. This is not how your story has to end!
Monday, 30 July 2018 10:09

Doing it Differently!

At some point you have to stop acting as though life is happening to you
and acknowledge the ways you are happening to it.
Jillian Michaels

Believe it or not, but coaching clients have been known to turn up at sessions sheepishly admitting they haven’t done their homework. Shock! Horror! It’s a flashback to school days and quite stressful for many people.

At the start of my own coaching journey, I discovered a rather troublesome belief lurking in the recesses of my mind. It was driving my behaviour without me even realising it and ahem, it went like this. If is it not 100%, it’s useless. Lovely! That particular phrase pretty much sets me up for a lifetime of failure. I mean, honestly, how many things are ever 100% perfect?

During coaching, apart from uncovering your own personal arsenal of limiting beliefs, another area we address is challenging the idea that setbacks are a disaster. All or nothing thinking seems to be a universal quirk of human nature. When it comes to our own behaviour, if we mess up, we just know it’s because we are a mess and everything is hopeless.

As magnificent as our brains are, the whole clever mechanism has the tendency to be a teeny bit lazy. Kind of like water, our thoughts also follow the easiest route. The more you think in a certain way, the stronger the habit of thinking in that way becomes. Make an embarrassing mistake? Why, that’s irrefutable proof that you are a useless somebody who will never achieve anything. Get dumped? Proof that you are unlovable.

Should I continue? Nope, let’s not! Let’s not walk this old familiar route and instead try another option. Changing the pattern is all important. From my own experience, be warned, it takes a lot of effort to reroute the convoluted highway of habits in our heads.

In times of weakness, I instantly revert back to old, unhelpful patterns of thought. However, what has changed, and is still changing, is the awareness that this is not helpful. The moment I catch myself, I can choose an alternative approach.

Sometimes we are doing the best we can and we need to remind ourselves of that. In fact, a rather large obstacles to achievement is feeling overwhelmed before you start. Life is not school. Different rules apply. As Najwa Zebian reminds us, these mountains we are carrying, we were only supposed to climb.

Put those heavy burdens down, especially ones that are no longer relevant. We do not have to carry our mistakes, heartaches, fears and disappointments with us forever. Travel lighter. Be willing to try new things and see where a sense of freedom and choice takes you. Go on, surprise yourself! I bet you can.
Monday, 16 July 2018 07:13

The Truth about Love!

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe
is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced
by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Douglas Adams

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is often an extremely frustrating business. When a person’s brain is misfiring, as my father’s does, it makes connections that have me scratching my head at their sheer novelty and unexpectedness. The rest of the time, life is pretty much Groundhog day. No matter how often the same thing has been said or done, it’s always the first time for the person with Alzhiemer’s. Eish, see how you do around repetition one hundred, never mind a thousand and counting!

However, there’s more to our story than just challenges and lost ground. My dad and I muddle along but beneath the surface, something extraordinary is happening. Like an archaeological dig, as we get our hands dirty, in what really is quite a mess, something magical is being uncovered.

In this weird and wonderful world without rules, everything is welcome. Each moment offers the opportunity for a do-over, a chance to improve on the previous attempt. There is such forgiveness in forgetting. Mistakes are promptly erased and there is no continuity to hold on to. Nothing can be relied on. What worked yesterday is gone today and back next week. Reality is in constant flux and you cannot pin anything down or quite put your finger on it. It’s as if the very centre of gravity, of the world as I knew it, has shifted.

Beyond the superficial frustrations, I’m discovering a world of unconditional love. Love, not based on give and take, but a more enduring, encompassing love that has no language, no rules and certainly no tangible rewards. It’s no longer about making sense of things. Recall and recollection? Nope, not happening. Results and doing? Pretty much a hit and miss affair.

There is space for frustration and exasperation, misunderstandings and disappointments, and also for patience, compassion, love and laughter. This is not going to end well, there is no happy ending around the corner. Instead, these difficulties are the very ground that is nourishing the infinite love at the very heart of being human. There is only this moment, what is happening here and now.

When everything else is taken away, what we are left with is something ineffable, A connection to something very essential to life. Not this... and definitely not that... but very much there none-the-less. It’s a world in which simply being is good enough. Imagine that. A world where it’s enough to simply be, in joy and sorrow, in pain and pleasure. What an awe-inspiring world it is!
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