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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, 14 February 2018 12:55

Ghosted!

Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand.
J.R.R Tolkien

I got ghosted. At my age! Who knew such a thing even existed? I certainly didn’t until it happened to me. What was even more startling was discovering just how many people experience this. Seriously peeps, what on earth?  

For those of you lucky enough to not know what I’m talking about, (and I truly hope you never find out), ghosting is the act of breaking off a relationship by ceasing all communication and contact without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding and/or ignoring and refusing to respond in any way to the former friend / partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

It’s not only in romantic relationships, it happens in friendships too. Remember the agonizing wait at school, wondering if you’d be picked for the team? Yeah, well this is worse. Having been through it, I can only say it is so, so painful. Rejection in any form is difficult, but to have someone you love and trust simply vanish from your life without warning is devastating.

Most of us are guilty of slowly withdrawing from a relationship. Life happens, it can be an argument, a breach of trust, or just plain busyness. We take longer to reply, say less and don’t engage as much. Ghosting is different. Communication simply ceases. No explanation. No warning. Like a sudden death.

Should this happen to you, hold on to your hat, it’s going to be bumpy. In fact, get your helmet on, the shock and disbelief will knock you off your feet. One of the most painful adjustments when someone we love dies, is getting used to the loss of contact; their presence, their voice, the very fact of them being ‘there’, in your life. Ghosting takes us on the same journey but with the added burden of knowing that this person is CHOOSING to ignore you.

It’s treacherous ground and all too easy to fall into the rabbit hole of ‘why?’. Why would they do this? What did I do? It’s a riddle you will not be able to solve. At least, not without the other person’s input... and you are in this mess for the very reason that you don’t have their input.

It's a Catch 22 and the road to emotional hell. Get off it! Be Gandalf facing the Balrog in Lord of the Rings. Stamp your foot and do not allow the monster of anger, blame and shame to overwhelm you. You. Shall. Not. Pass!

Not knowing why can be frightening but self-hatred and blame will only weaken you further. Do your best, it’s hard. Instead, familiarise yourself with the reality of not knowing. Sometimes we discover an unexpected peacefulness when we simply acknowledge the uncertainty of not knowing.

Now, is a time for kindness. It’s kindness you needed from the person ghosting you and it‘s kindness you need from yourself. Life is full of hard stuff, the world is filled with people doing terrible things to each other. Your task is to make sure you do not become one of those people.
Monday, 29 January 2018 18:49

Say It's So!

It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.
Virginia Woolf

This should not be happening. It’s not fair. This can’t be. I’ve been reading about Day Zero. Cape Town is running out of water and Day Zero is the anticipated day in April when Capetonians will open their taps and nothing will come out. Every fibre of my being believes it’s simply not possible for such a thing to happen. And yet it IS happening.  
 
Never mind the news, life these days is becoming an exercise in disbelief, or is it just Facebook? This cannot be true. They can’t do that. How could he/she/they? As Eric Barker points out, we kind of know the world is not really a fair place... until something unfair happens to us. Then we experience an indignant outrage that is unable to believe what is happening.  
 
In Life Coaching, much of goal setting is based on the idea of writing a personal ‘fairytale’ for ourselves. We fabricate an ideal picture in our minds of how people, ourselves, and the world should be and we then we go get it. And why not! It’s wonderful to feel so empowered and in control. It’s nice. Reality, however, isn’t always nice.
 
The problem comes when we start relating more to our idealised version, our personal interpretation of reality, rather than to reality itself - reality being what is actually happening in the moment. It’s an interesting dynamic, one that finds us arguing with reality. A lot. We feel justifiably entitled to our happy ending and when we don’t get it, it can be a shocking and frustrating experience. Byron Katie summarises it beautifully, “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.”
 
There is a fine line between unrealistic fears and unrealistic hopes, and between taking responsibility and being alarmists. The truth is, there are some experiences we are not going to come through intact. Sometimes, we are not okay, things are not okay and there is no miracle coming to save us.
 
At these times, a willingness to face the situation is our best hope. We may need to assume the brace positions and prepare as best we can for what is coming. Even when we don’t know what exactly is coming.
 
If we can relax, (and this is the hardest part), into the feeling that I am not okay and that things are not going to be okay, we give up the make-believe image of an ideal self in an ideal world. Without this fabrication, we face the true situation more directly. This gives our awareness, and intelligence, the chance to step up and guide us in coping with this particular very real moment.
Monday, 15 January 2018 08:47

Welcome to the Jungle...

All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Mother Goose

Have you ever had one of those experiences where the rug is suddenly pulled out from under you? It happened to me over Christmas. A dear friend, whom I speak to on pretty much a daily basis, was visiting South Africa on holiday. We hoped to meet up in early January. Not only have we not met up, I have not heard a word from them for the duration of their trip. Not a word. Now, while there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation, the complete loss of communication damn near broke my heart.

This is essentially what ‘rupture’ is all about. Reality, as we know it, is disrupted and we find ourselves struggling to accept a change that has already happened. We are not given options, there is no room for negotiation and sometimes the most painful part can be this very inability to accept things that are beyond our control. Life is incredibly hard at times. Welcome to the Jungle.

Some ruptures are far more brutal than my experience over Christmas. The sudden death of someone you love, the diagnosis of a life-changing illness, a car accident or the moment  you catch your spouse cheating can tear the fabric of your existence in a way that, rather like Humpty Dumty, you never can quite be put back together again. At least not in the same way.

Coming at the end of a difficult year with far too many losses already, my life coaching hat was decidedly crumpled. While slumped in front of Facebook, feeling very sorry for myself, I came across an article by Sylvia Boorstein titled, Restoring the Mind to Kindness. Her words were a soothing balm in the midst of the bewildered disbelief I was feeling. “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.”

A lot is contained within these few sentences. No matter what pain we are enduring, a warm-hearted acknowledgement of our suffering is immensely strengthening. Taking a breath helps reset the current operating system, so to speak. It reminds us that there is more to us and to our story than this raw pain. Pain is pain, but paying attention to what is causing the worst of it, makes it easier to figure out what to do about it. Sometimes the ‘doing’ is nothing more than not being mad at ourselves for feeling what we are feeling.

There is a saying from Milarepa, a famous Tibetan Yogi, “The precious pot containing my riches becomes my teacher in the very moment it breaks.” Sometimes, it’s the same with broken hearts.
Monday, 01 January 2018 12:13

#Control-Alt-Delete!

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
Najwa Zebian

Woo hoo, bring on the New Year! I, for one, am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to, erm, reset the current operating system! 2017 has been a very challenging year, and the thought of a brand new year is warming the cockles of my weary heart. In case you are not entirely sure what a cockle is, allow me to explain!

‘The cockles of the heart are its ventricles, named by some in Latin as "cochleae cordis", from "cochlea" (snail), alluding to their shape. The saying means to warm and gratify one's deepest feelings.’

Interestingly enough, according to Numerology, 2017 was a Nine Personal Year for me. A nine year represents the end of a cycle. It’s a time of endings and letting go of what no longer fits to make way for a new nine-year cycle.

Resetting your internal operating system requires an awful lot of letting go. Sometimes it’s our choice, but more often that not, we are forced into letting go by circumstances. No matter the reason, an internal adjustment needs to take place in the space created by what is no longer there.

This empty space can be terrifying. A lot is asked of us in the gap between who we were and who we are becoming. There is the sense that we can’t stay here, we can’t go back, but we have no idea how to move forward and it takes courage to face the vacuum head on. The process of adjustment give us the opportunity to make a fresh start; to clean up our act. In so doing, we stand a chance of breaking old patterns and planting seeds to a whole new way of being.

A bit like at the start of a New Year that is brimming with resolutions and potential, expect to fail. Habits are incredibly hard to break, particularly bad ones. For new seed to root and flourish, we need to create conditions in which these fragile seeds of growth and goodness can thrive. Failure may well be a condition, possibly a very cause for change, just don’t allow it to be the whole story.

One way of ‘putting the mountains we have been carrying down’, is to hit the #control-alt-delete button on our unhealthy habits and attempt to wipe them out in one fell swoop. Another approach is to carefully and gently place the burdens we are carrying down.
It can be one tiny boundary, one small step in a direction that nurtures and protects the fragile seeds of well being you are sowing. Either way, the trick is to just keep going. Wishing you a happy and successful 2018!
Monday, 25 December 2017 06:43

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!


Thursday, 14 December 2017 05:43

Ag Shame, Man!

Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.”
Bob Dylan

South Africa has some slang phrases that are utterly superb. Ag, shame is one of them. It’s a term that’s useful in just about every social situation. When in doubt, add  “Shame” and your sentiments will be appreciated!  
Example:
A: “This weekend, the public holiday falls on Saturday.”
B: “Ag, shame.”
A: “My dad was in hospital for a check up.”
B: “Ag, shame, man.”

This whole year has been pretty challenging but last week? Well, that was one of one of those ‘Ag Shame’ weeks. In fact the whole of the last month has been pretty trying, I must admit. Some of my to do list included a hospital visit for my father and dealing with the fallout from the combination of Alzheimer’s and anaesthetic. And then there was Frikkie’s knee that was broken in two places when a dog attacked Kevin and the dogs while they were walking.

It turns out there is one thing harder than convincing an Alzhiemer’s patient to keep their arm in a sling for six weeks. Oh my word, keeping a Dapple Daschund with a broken leg still, for three weeks, takes the cake. It was harrowing. His opinion on being confined to a small play pen was, um... loudly voiced. But ag shame man, you should have seen the tiny cast on his little leg! And then there was the recent incident when Colt peed on a pure wool carpet during a week of heavy clouds and rain. The very expensive carpet is washed and currently locked in a room with a heater, it’s survival uncertain.

Suffering. It’s an inescapable fact of life. Some people experience physical pain, some mental and some emotional but somewhere along the line, most of us will experience some form of pain and suffering. Illness, ageing, death and a myriad of others discontents make up a large, and inescapable portion of life.

At the same time, there are successes, joys and extraordinary connections that fill our spirits and make the world a shiny, sparkly place that is a wonder to experience. It can be hard to remember that both these experiences, the good and the bad, ARE life. We live, we love, we lose, we endure. We adapt, we change, we grow.

One thing we can remind ourselves is that beauty and pain are not an either / or. We do not have to choose, sometimes in the midst of our pain, we find true beauty.
Saturday, 02 December 2017 09:39

Chicken Licken!

Being brave isn’t the absence of fear.
Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.
Bear Grylls

I recently gave a talk at the local Business Woman Association (BWA). For some obscure reason the perfect introduction to the talk that popped into my head was the story of Chicken Licken! Of course, I googled it to refresh my memory. Shortly afterwards, my Facebook Newsfeed was inundated with sponsored links to a Chicken Licken advert. It’s a crazy ad that’s got nothing to do with the folktale and everything to do with a local fast food outlet. Lol, now, if I can just convince Facebook they are targeting the wrong person!

Anyway, the gist of the BWA talk was that, rather like Chicken Licken with his mistaken belief that disaster was imminent, many of us are in the habit of running ourselves ragged with an erroneous conclusion as the driving force. Negative beliefs do exactly that. We mess something up once and decide we are useless at it for evermore. Instead of speaking up in a meeting we convince ourselves that we don’t know what we are talking about, that we have too poor an education or will botch it if we try, etc. etc. We decide there’s no point asking Aunt Madge to stop telling us we’re fat because she won’t stop. And so we don’t even try.

In the folktale, Chicken Licken was convinced the sky was falling in. In reality, all that happened was an acorn fell on his head. How often are you like Chicken Licken? How often do you let a mistaken belief derail the course of your life? In coaching we use a simple model to show how a belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A negative belief creates a negative expectation which leads to self-defeating behaviour. The result? A poor outcome.

What if, instead, you could cultivate more positive beliefs? Using the same model as above, a positive belief leads to positive expectations, self-motivating behaviour and an excellent outcome? This is not about telling yourself everything will be okay when clearly it isn’t! Lying or trying to trick ourselves is not the solution. However, cultivating a sense of resourcefulness, both within and outside of yourself, is.

Knowing how to calm yourself when you are overexcited or fearful, encourage yourself when you are disheartened, or face and endure difficulties as they arise, comes from understanding that we have many resources to call on to find our way through hardship.

Reminding yourself that you’ve got this, that you can do hard things, and that life is tough but so are you, is incredibly strengthening. Do more of that.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 06:58

Taming of the Shrew!

The energy of the mind is the essence of life.
Aristotle

One of the down sides of having a very vivid imagination, is the underlying active mind that seems to come with the territory. A bit like Frikkie, my mind also has a lot to say! The thing about having an opinion on everything, is that I pretty much have an opinion on, well, everything. Everything. Seriously, the mental chatter is a nightmare to live with.

A little while ago, I spoke about negative self talk and the impact it can have on our well-being. Whether it’s positive or negative, constant mental chatter can also be exhausting, especially when you struggle to turn it off. After spending many years searching for the elusive off button, I have come to the conclusion, there isn’t one. It seems to be more of a dimmer switch. Meditation teaches us that while it is not possible, nor necessary, to stop our minds from thinking, we certainly can quieten and settle our minds. And we can do that by choosing what we focus on.

There is a lovely folk-tale of two travellers and a farmer. A traveller came upon an old farmer and asked him what sort of people lived in the next town. The farmer replied by asking the stranger what the people were like where he had come from. The traveller said  they were a bad lot, lazy, selfish troublemakers,that could not be trusted. The farmer replied that sadly, he would find the same sort in the next town.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and asked what sort of people lived in the next town. Once again the farmer asked what the people were like where he came from. The traveller replied that they were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. "Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town."

The state of our mind reflects the state of our world. If we constantly notice what’s wrong with ourselves, we’ll get more of that. There will always be things wrong. Reality seldom meets our expectations but if we make an effort to look for what is right, to search for the goodness in ourselves and others, we start to see the world more peacefully.

With practice we can learn to tune out the background noise and focus our attention more clearly on what we choose to think about. How empowering is that? I like to think of it as a kind of taming of the shrew. So yay us! Let’s be more like the second traveller and make the world a better place, from the inside out.
Thursday, 02 November 2017 17:45

Well Done You!

It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments,
for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.
Oscar Wilde

After a nightmarish two months at the start of the year, two lovely things happened. I received positive feedback from two experts in their respective fields. The very skilled shoulder surgeon who operated on my father, thanked me for the role I played in the shoulder healing after surgery. You have no idea! It was a mammoth undertaking keeping my father’s arm in a sling for six long weeks when, courtesy of Alzheimer’s, within days of the operation he had no recollection AT ALL of having undergone surgery.

The second acknowledgement came from a Hospice Nursing sister. She visited my father at home to assess our situation and offer assistance. Her reassurance that I was doing a good job and that my father was fortunate to be so well cared for bolstered my flagging spirits. In fact, their words had a lasting effect on me. I felt re-energized and inspired to keep going.

We are often quick to criticize ourselves and others. Fault finding is almost like a default setting in our minds and we spend an awful lot of time talking and thinking about what’s wrong, instead of what’s right.

When did you last say well done, you’ve done an excellent job, to someone? When did you last say it to yourself? Can you even remember the last time you rejoiced in how hard you tried, whether you ‘succeeded’ or not? How gracious are you in accepting compliments form others? Do you value them or dismiss it as untrue?

Like with anything, it takes effort to start noticing the good, both around and inside us. We have to make an effort, but it’s an effort well worth making. The more we notice what’s right with us and the world, the better we get at seeing the goodness, the joy, and the positive connections around us.

If you are alone and feeling unloved or unlovable at the moment, that’s okay. Maybe you’ve recently messed up big time, maybe you’ve been let down or disappointed by someone else, maybe someone has treated you appallingly and you’re reeling from the shock. Things don’t have to be perfect. You just have to start.

Start noticing one good thing that happened in your day today. In the midst of all that went wrong, pay attention to the smallest thing you did right, and nurture that fragile seed. Tiny flowers on rocky ground are just as beautiful as any flower. Notice and appreciate them. Now, go and say well done to someone who needs to hear it!
Saturday, 14 October 2017 21:34

Say You Will!

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.
Rita Mae Brown

The other day, a client and I were talking about procrastination. It’s a topic that often comes up in coaching sessions and in fact, many people come to coaching for the simple reason that they want to do something differently but can’t seem to actually do it. Never mind differently, they can’t do it, full stop!

So how do you get yourself to do something you’re avoiding? Very often, clients who struggle most with procrastination are experts in how to overcome it. They have read loads of books and tried a variety of techniques and apps and are usually able to tell me exactly what they need to do to get moving. And yet, they don’t. Get moving, that is... which pretty much sums up procrastination.

Some people get stuck thinking research is the key. If they could just get all the information they need, they would be able to tackle the task with confidence. Others know very clearly that discipline is the missing link. They are convinced that if they could just be more disciplined, they would be able to get on with it.

In coaching sessions, taking action is not our first step. Lack of discipline, perfectionism, overwhelm and even laziness may all be symptoms of the problem, but they are not necessarily the actual problem. We need to figure out what that problem really is, particularly seeing as it’s a long term solution we are aiming for.

In order to be able to prioritize and do, you need to know your what and your why. In coaching we approach avoidance from the point of view of understanding what is important to you. We are all so very different and what motivates us into taking action is usually a combination of factors. You need to know what your particular, unique combination of factors is. It’s like uncovering your personal recipe for success. If we know what makes you say you will, and then honour that, you’re sorted.

Overcoming procrastination takes both motivation and discipline. The two go together. While motivation might get you going, it comes and goes. Discipline is what keeps you there.

If you have a habit of procrastinating, chances are you have lost faith in yourself. Start there. Make it easy for yourself to succeed. Visualise how you want this issue to pan out. Ask yourself, if it was to go well, how would it go? Once you get your head around it, it becomes easier to take that one tiny step in the right direction.
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