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, 13 August 2015 07:19

...Because I said so!

Those who think they know it all are very annoying to those of us who do.
Robert K. Muller

Recently a client loaned a copy of Tom Shadyac's documentary, 'I Am', to me. I LOVED it! It explores the questions of what's wrong with the world and what can we do about it. Best summed up in GK Chesterton's essay on the topic; What's wrong with the world? 'Dear Sirs,' he wrote, 'I am.'

The world currently seems overcome with greed and war but the movie describes how, in reality, our essential nature is one of love and connection, not just to each other but to all forms of life. It was a beautiful and inspiring movie and I was bouncing around with a warm, joyful feeling that I desperately wanted to share with Kevin.

He, however, didn't want to watch so I begged, pleaded, cajoled and negotiated with him. He simply wasn't interested. Talk about crashing back down to earth with a rather unsightly thud! I mean seriously, a message of love and connection so important to me and he just wasn't interested? That can't possibly be right...

Lets back up a step. Have you ever had an impassioned vegan try to convince you to give up all things animal? Or someone argue with your religious beliefs? The more force, shame or ridicule they use to get you to agree with them, the less chance they have of convincing you to do what they want. The spirit of the movie I Am is about raising consciousness and although I started out with good intentions, at some point I crossed over into wanting to impose my wishes on someone else. At that moment I started becoming what's wrong with the world.

When I take my ideas, no matter how beautiful or right they might be and try to force them on to someone else, I am what's wrong with the world. Disappointment leads to anger and within seconds respect is lost. By believing I know best what is right for someone else, I become a war-monger entitled to impose my will and take what I want. Righteousness is a very dangerous emotion.

It's easy to love when everything is happy and good, but when things don't go our way, or someone disapproves or disagrees with us, we feel outraged and indignant. This is where the real work needs to happen. Can we love and stay connected right there in the midst of anger and disagreement? Can we remember our essential nature of love and connection in that moment? Can you?
Thursday, 30 July 2015 11:04

As Within...

As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul.
Hermes Trismegistus

You may have noticed I recently updated my online profile photos. The universe gave me a nudge when three clients in a row commented that I looked nothing like the photo and suggested I re do it. It intrigued me to realise that the photo I had carefully chosen to paste all over the internet, looked nothing like me. How fascinating!

It's a sign we need to talk about self-image. Self-image is defined as the idea one has of one's abilities, appearance, and personality. Dr Dan Ariely, a Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics coined the phrase the 'fudge factor' in his documentary (Dis)Honesty - The Truth about Lies. According to Dr Ariely, human beings are torn between honesty and self protection. The fudge factor is the amount we can lie and still think of ourselves as being good, honest, virtuous people.

Generally speaking we lie, a lot, in tiny ways, but lying to ourselves is an interesting concept. Think about the nitty-gritty of it. You have to wonder, is it even possible? You know that feeling when you know you have done something 'bad', but if you don't acknowledge it, you can pretend it hasn't happened? In my own life, I've notice I avoid facing certain things, simple things like standing on the bathroom scale after a weekend of delicious food.

Confronting the truth about ourselves can feel devastating and is hard to do. The problem dates back to childhood. If our natural need for attention and appreciation was continuously frustrated, it triggers a self protection mechanism within us. We bury our anger and feelings of not being lovable or of being unworthy of love. While these feelings may be hidden, they are not forgotten and they drive our relationships and how we engage with the world.  We get trapped in this dynamic and it can be a painful and lonely experience that is hard to escape.

So how can we match our insides to our outsides? We start at the beginning. If it's possible to lie to ourselves, then it must also be possible to comfort ourselves. The lack of love and attention we experienced as a child, which caused this dynamic, is where we start. Give yourself the love and attention you need. Get curious about why you lie and question if there is another, healthier way to meet your need for love and attention. Basically, get out there and love yourself back to life!
Thursday, 16 July 2015 19:57

Losing the Plot!

Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger.
Aldous Huxley

As I mentioned a while ago, ten years after the event, my husband and I discovered House MD the series and loved it... for the first few seasons. Then there was a writers strike around Season 4 and the show derailed. What started out as an intelligent and insightful look at the foibles of human nature deteriorated into a vulgar and often ridiculous parody. Not only did the story lines become increasingly outrageous, the dialogue was inappropriate and downright offensive at times.

What fascinated my husband and I was that no one on set seemed to notice. None of the actors, writers, producers, crew or even the director stepped up to halt the degradation. It's intriguing to a Life Coach! How did this happen? Why did no one speak up? Did they even notice? Or do we slide into ignominy without realising?

The sad truth is most of us don't fall into disgrace, we slither. A joke in poor taste here, an overindulgence there and slowly we lose the plot. We don't gain 15 kilograms overnight, we pick up an extra kg here and then another and gradually it builds.

Sometimes we see someone we love starting to slide down a slippery slope and feel it is up to us to speak up. The problem is that when we do, we risk making them angry or defensive. When someone points out a fault of yours, what is your first reaction? “How dare they? Or, “Who do they think they are?' It's easy to feel so indignant that we never hear what the person is actually trying to say.

Thank goodness, there's an alternative. We need to become our own noisiest passenger! We must pay attention to the way we move through the world. How do we feel about ourselves, inside ourselves as well as the response we get from other people? If we notice we are going off the rails, we speak up, kindly and firmly, but we speak up and nudge ourselves back in the right direction.

No one is better equipped to keep you in line than you are. No one knows you better than you know yourself, your hidden aspirations, your secret dreams; you may be the only person who truly knows what's in your heart. You know how you want to live and who you want to be, so it's time to step up and take responsibility for your life. Trust yourself, you can do this!
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 09:02

Opposites Attract?

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
John Steinbeck

A few weekends ago my husband and I were happily admiring our new toys that had arrived in the post. Mine was a bunch of gorgeous artificial tulips while Kevin's was an apparently very clever new battery charger. I kid you not, he was enthralled with it! It has an electronic thing-majigy and can charge different size batteries, amongst other things that my mind simply cannot retain to repeat.

You may well wonder how on earth we've survived 20 years together? In spite of our differences we have some things in common and together we make a great team. When the basil we originally planted in the red-polka-dot-tea-cup in the kitchen looked increasingly sickly, I got the brilliant idea that tulips it should be. Kevin hunted them down on eBay and in the process discovered his dream battery charger. When they arrived we were both as happy as Larry.

The thing about differences in relationships is that when it works, the sum truly can be greater than the parts. Left to my own devices, I would never have looked for tulips on eBay. Without me, Kevin would still be charging batteries one size at a time and would never have had the joy of a 'tulip-filled-red-polka-dot-tea-cup-planter' in his life!

However, getting to the point where your rough edges work for, not against you can take time and effort. Differences of opinion often has us scratching either our heads, or each others eyes out, until we learn to love the things that drive us mad. In the early days of our relationship, Numerology helped me see our differences in a new light. It not only helped me understand myself, it also gave me an inkling of how Kevin experiences his world.

Getting a glimpse of the inner workings of your core nature doesn't require Numerology to happen. All it really needs is curiosity, the curiosity to wonder why. Why do we do what we do? Why do other people do the things they do?

Taking my own advice, I just went to peer hopefully at the battery charger and I have to be honest, it does absolutely nothing for me. But somehow, looking at it and remembering Kevin's enthusiastic description of all it's clever parts, warms my heart. And that is all it takes. A moment to open your heart to what you don't understand and will probably never get. A moment of openness to ourselves, to others and to this beautiful world we live in.
Sunday, 14 June 2015 17:20

False Positive

"Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
"Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”  
A.A. Milne    

We all do it. Pretend. When asked how we are, even if we really aren't, we smile and say, 'Fine thanks'. It's just how things are done these days. Admitting you're not coping or that your life is a mess is just not on. We do it in other ways too. Someone shares some really awful news with us and we say things like, 'Don't worry, it will be fine” even when we don't know and unfortunately, maybe it won't.  
We could debate the merit, or lack thereof, of pretending to be happy when we are not but instead, what if we were to explore the dynamic of pretending? Simply put, do we know we are pretending? If we know, chances are we have good reason for it, it's when we don't know, when shame or denial are ruling the roost that we enter murky waters.
So why do YOU pretend? I have countless reasons. Sometimes it's my job. A few weeks ago, I received some bad news shortly before a new client arrived. I parked my feelings, pasted a welcoming smile on my face, focused on the client and got on with coaching. At other times, I just don't want to talk about what is going on and there's nothing wrong with choosing when, how and to whom we disclose our true feelings.  It's when we are pretending to avoid or escape the truth that we get ourselves into trouble.

Showing up emotionally is one of the bravest and most difficult acts of honesty. There is something about admitting pain and disappointment, even to ourselves, that is incredibly difficult to do. If we are sad, frustrated or disappointed and know it, we can deal with it in an appropriate manner. However, if we are feeling frustrated because we are avoiding sadness or disappointment, things can quickly spiral out of control. Emotions are complex and often frightening to ourselves and to others and the trick is to start reading the signs of our emotional language.

Authenticity is not about putting it out there all the time, it's about being genuine; being as we are, when we are. The key is to know how that is. Sometimes having the curiosity to simply ask yourself, 'What is really going on here?” can change the situation dramatically. At other times, pretending you are okay can help you discover you actually are okay. So why not give it a try? Let's pretend and see what happens!
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 19:55

Don't Know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Power!

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Apology!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit Level...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weighty Matters!

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

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

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

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

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

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