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.
Read more about me here.
Monday, 16 March 2015 13:16
“The truth." Dumbledore sighed.
"It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
My husband and I recently discovered House MD, the series. A bit late I know, but we are addicted none-the-less. We love it, or at least Season One, it kind of deteriorates after a while! Anyway, one of my favourite parts is Dr House's absolute certainty that “Everybody lies.” While his brutal methods of extracting the truth makes for good TV, the unfortunate reality is that a whole lot of lying is going on in our daily lives. Bella DePaulo Ph.D, in a 1996 study, found people lie once or twice a day, almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Scary stuff!
So what is all this lying really about? We lie for many different reasons, and it's useful to keep in mind that not all lying is harmful. Sometimes we lie from kindness, or to protect others, and other times we lie from a vulnerable place of self preservation. We are frightened of potential consequences, or ashamed of what we have done, and so we hide the truth.
Recently someone I trusted implicitly lied to me and it was a very painful experience and if lying is affecting your relationships or hurting people around you, it may be time to take a closer look at what's going on. Sadly, it seems easier to forgive a genuine mistake, than it is to heal the betrayal of a lie from someone you trust.
So why lie? Lying to others can be the result of self-deception. We want to be good, and believe we are; we strive for honesty and cultivate the image that we are honourable. We invest so much in this image of how we want to be, and it becomes so important to us, that it becomes more important than truth.
We see only our illusion and lose sight of our true selves. Defensiveness and self righteousness are clues that we are caught in this dynamic of self deception. If we firmly believe it is not our fault, or argue that we did the right thing, or had no choice, it is well worth investigating further.
Spend the next few days noticing how often you lie and why you do it. What is driving your behaviour? Kindness or self-preservation? Self awareness and self examination lead to self acceptance. This grounds us in reality, and helps us recognise ourselves and assess the impact our words and action are having on others. At the end of the day, it is useful to remember that both truth and lies can hurt and both should be treated with care.
Saturday, 28 February 2015 14:54
It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.
The other morning while walking the dogs, I came across a tortoise. He was a youngish fella that I imagine, had painstakingly made his way out the forest and was heading straight for the road. Deciding this wasn't a good idea, I picked him up, turned him around and popped him back into the trees. As I was doing it, I could almost hear a bewildered tortoise voice wondering.... 'What the 'bleep' just happened?'
Isn't that soooo life? We are moseying along doing our thing, when all of a sudden, it's as if our life has been picked up, spun around, and we are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what just happened and how on earth we got here. The changeability of this extraordinary life we live is both a blessing and a curse. When bad things end, it's great. Good things ending? Not so great!
It's a mixed kettle of fish and not only hardships throw us off our stride. Sometimes even good changes, like marriage, a promotion or having a baby, can turn life upside down and it can take a while to regain our balance. But it is only when we face problems that we discover what we are truly capable of.
There are many things we wouldn't choose if we were given the choice, but unfortunately, we often aren't given any choice. No matter what changes we face, one thing to keep in mind is that human beings have the most extraordinary capacity to adapt to the most difficult of circumstances. We often say or think things like, 'If that happened to me, I couldn't cope.' And yet the people to whom really awful things happen, probably also thought that.
So when the wheels come off, a good place to start is to take a moment to catch your breath and assess the situation. Get a sense of the new environment you are in. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stay still and focused in the midst of chaos, and yet a calm and peaceful mind is vital starting point.
By slowing our racing thoughts and emotions down, we create the space for our natural intelligence and creative problem solving to kick in. There are often more options than we realise and by coming up with a plan B and C and D if necessary, there's a much better chance we will find the key that unlocks the door to a whole new world!
Monday, 16 February 2015 05:32
The whole is greater than the sum of its part.
AristotleFor my thirtieth birthday I gave my now-husband a ' suggested gifts' list. Trust me, even by this stage, and it was still early days in our relationship, I had already figured out this was my best shot at getting what I wanted! On that list, I asked for a Numerology book. At the time I actually didn't know much about Numerology, but as I discovered through the book, there is a whole lot of fascinating information Numerology can tell you about yourself and your relationships.
As a seven life path I love, love, love to analyse and explore, well just about anything. What I didn't expect, was to come to understand why, when I wanted to sit and delve deeply into every tiny matter of difference or indifference, Kevin would scuttle out of there faster than the speed of light. It turns out, he's a three, a happy-go-lucky being that was born to bring lightness to my more weighty self. (PS. Just to be clear, although yes, I am busy losing those few extra kilo's, I am not talking about physical weight here...)
I take things terribly seriously and spend hours looking at every tiny aspect from every possible angle. Kevin would really rather go watch rugby. As anyone who is in a relationship will know, these kinds of differences can be devastating. When I wrote my birthday list all those years ago, I never anticipated that it was the start of coming to understand why I was like I was and why Kevin did what he did.
Within myself, my inner make-up has some quite strongly opposing forces. Gaining insight into these contradictions has helped bring balance to a tricky area of my life, one that has caused a lot of confusion and heartache for me. In coaching, I use Numerology to help clients not just change their relationships, but come to know themselves in a broader and deeper context. Knowledge is one thing, but understanding is an extraordinary gift. It opens your mind to new possibilities and brings strength and courage to change what is causing difficulties either within ourselves or amongst our relationships.
If you are interested in having your Personal Numerology Profile done, I offer it as a professional service. More information, as well as prices and profile options are available here.
Sunday, 01 February 2015 15:14
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I recently got a bee in my bonnet. My life would only be complete if it had mini mustard spoons in it! eBay was a let down, the few places that had, don't post to South Africa, so I got creative. While on holiday in Nelspruit I discovered a gorgeous treasure trove shop that had exactly what I wanted. Well sort of... I just didn't want the mustard pot that came with the spoon. So I jotted down the manufacturer details, tracked them down online, emailed and heard absolutely nothing. A few days later, I called the landline only to be told the number didn't exist.
Hmmm.... I tried the cell number and yes, apart from Telkom trouble, they had mustard spoons but unfortunately I couldn't have them because I wasn't a retailer. I was like seriously, are you kidding me? However, they passed on the details of a retailer in Richards Bay who was willing to order on my behalf. The universe finally relented and that evening a friend visited, who just happened to be going to Joburg the next day and could collect the spoons for me. Hooray!
Not all stories work out quite as well. Years ago, my now husband and I, planned a two week holiday in Mauritius. I accidentally booked the air ticket with a shortened version of my lengthy maiden name, which unfortunately, did not match my passport. The flight was full so I had to cancel my ticket and go on the waiting list to get on the flight. At the same time, I had a really bad feeling about the trip, I tidied my cupboards, sorted out my affairs just in case, and eventually got my ticket. On the second day in Mauritius I was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery with a haemorrhaging ovary. It was quite scary.
The question is, how do we tell if an obstacle is a hint or the universe telling us to halt? Success is often equated with never giving up, with keeping going no matter what, like Thomas Edison discovering ten thousand ways that don't work. But sometimes walking away is the best solution. Courage is not always the quiet voice at the end of the day telling you to try again tomorrow, sometimes it is the quiet voice telling you to let go, to leave something be. We need to listen to both. That is our challenge.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 21:17
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
Happy New Year dear readers, I hope 2015 is a happy, healthy and fulfilled year for you!
Unfortunately, for some people, the year has got off to a rocky start. Over the last two weeks I have heard numerous heartbreaking stories from friends, family, clients and strangers, on a scale I have not experienced before, let alone two weeks into a new year. In the Richards Bay area, a traditionally wet part of the country, the drought has reached critical proportions. The water situation is desperate and some surrounding areas have access to water for only a few hours a day.
The common denominator in many of the experiences people have shared with me recently, is that the obstacles they are facing are largely outside of their control. It is often this feeling that there is nothing we can do that causes the most stress. We feel bleak and hopeless and because our minds can't solve the problem, our thoughts circle around progressively negative scenarios.
If you are facing a serious challenge in your life that you can't change, is there anything you can actually do? Hearing so many painful ordeals, reminded me of an exercise I came across some years ago, called Restoring the Balance. It's a simple but powerful exercise that does exactly what the name suggests. It restores the balance.
Here's how it's done. At the end of the day spend a few minutes reflecting on your day. Using one word, jot down, whether it was a good or bad day. Then reflect on your day in detail. As you remember things that happened, note them quickly as good or bad, according to your first response. Count and record the detailed reflections and then compare them to your initial impression.
The point of this exercise is to notice whether your initial impression of the day matches the results of the more mature process of systematic reflection. If you do this daily, gradually the balancing influence of the exercise will begin to manifest in your daily life.
Another thing you can do when the going is tough, is head over to my Facebook page. Not only would I love to hear from you, but you can join me in sharing 100 days of Inner Smiles. We can't always change what we experience, but we can restore the balance by sharing some of the good stuff we have going on. And you never know, it might just bring a smile to someone else's face.
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 00:00
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over.
Nicole SobonLast summer South Africa went through a phase of power outages that tested the patience of the hardiest African hearts. Since the rolling blackouts in 2008, electricity prices have increased by over 20% a year, and in spite of many people, including myself, making huge efforts to reduce electricity consumption, there is not simply not enough electricity to go around.
The other day, while the power was actually on, I flopped down in the 37°C heat to watch an episode of Modern Family. The story was about Jay who is in the unenviable position of being a son-in-law to a mother-in-law who dislikes him, while being a father-in-law to a son-in-law he dislikes! He is pondering the whole sorry situation and realises the most annoying thing about Phil, his son-in-law, is that he tries so hard. In a moment of clarity, Jay sees that he is doing the same thing with his mother-in-law. He stops and they live happily ever after.
Back in reality, in a startling epiphany, I realised that my problem with Eskom, is that I have tried so hard, to no avail. The solution? I stopped. I gave up feeling personally responsible for Eskom's woes, popped the aircon on, put my feet up and immediately felt a whole lot better about life.
Not everything is so easily solved and the trouble with trying too hard is that it sets up a dynamic of expectations and trade-offs that are often doomed to fail. The feeling that we have done more than our share and someone else has not come to the party, is a breeding ground for resentment and anger and a hard loop to escape.
Sometimes the harder we try, the further away we get from what we are trying to achieve. So if our striving is the very root of the problem, how do we do a 'Jay' and let things go? My suggestion, is that if you are feeling drained and depleted, it's a sign your spirits need rejuvenating so find a way to fill up your own cup.
One way to do that is to simply give up trying so hard. Stop all the effort and hard work in places where it is not bringing a beneficial result. Instead, sit back and take stock of your situation. You may be surprised to discover the ocean of possibilities that arise from simply being who you are, where you are, at the time that you are there.
Sunday, 14 December 2014 16:22
Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts.
I recently listened to a conversation between Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) about people who push your buttons. Elizabeth talked of a great teacher she had in India who said, 'If you think you're spiritually evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas and see how it goes!' Ah yes, the challenge of good old family dynamics. How many of us will get through the holiday period entirely unscathed? There is always that one comment, look or tone of that one person, that hurtles us straight back into childhood behaviours we thought we had long outgrown.
So how do we move past the gritted teeth and bitten tongues to waft through the holidays on a cloud of wisdom and maturity? Is it even possible to keep our balance and the peace? While it is no small challenge, it helps to remember we have various tools in our tool box to call on for help.
In some cases, patience is just the ticket. We have to dig deep and resolve to grow beyond old, habitual patterns. There is something empowering about taking the high road for the greater good, especially at Christmas. At other times, writing an angry letter that you don't send can relieve the emotional pressure building inside and create some much needed breathing space. There are many benefits to expressing yourself fully in private, especially if it helps identify the real bugbear. Once you know the real issue, more skilful ways to approach the situation become apparent.
Sometime we need to speak up and confront the person. It is neither nice, nor easy but it may be necessary to change a dynamic in the long run. In the same conversation with her teacher, the monk reminded Elizabeth that we have an obligation to love everybody in the world, but some people we must love from a safe distance. Some people we simply need to stay away from. The damage they do to our inner self is simply not worth it.
Families are a mixed kettle of fish, they are our history and our legacy and each situation and every family is different. Before we respond, it's worth taking a moment to weigh up the consequence of our reaction. There is something wonderful about 'being family' at this time of the year. Enjoy every moment and I wish you and your precious families a happy, love-and-laughter filled festive season. May you bring joy to each other and to the world around you.
Monday, 01 December 2014 18:28
The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss,
but that it is too low and we reach it.
I recently watched a very moving TEDx Talk by Connie Johnson from Love Your Sister. She is a thirty seven year old mother of two, who is dying of breast cancer. Her message, although sad, is extremely powerful. She talks about how when people find out she is dying, they often share things they would want to do, if they found out they didn't have much time left. They talk about places they want to go, experiences they want to have, and the guilt free chocolate they would allow themselves to eat.
The reality for Connie, is that she simply doesn't have the time, energy or strength to do any of those. She is in and out of hospital, her body is too fragile for things like travel and bungee jumping and she can barely stomach toast, never mind chocolate. She asks the question, why do we wait until we are dying before we choose to live?
It's a good question, one that all of us will benefit from spending some time mulling over. Whether we have a bucket list or not, we all have things we want to do in and with our life. So why aren't we? What is holding us back?
There are a thousand answers to these questions and each of us has our own particular set of reasons or excuses for why we hold back. And it's not just in the big, adrenaline pumping experiences, some of us are simply not made for that. It's the calls we haven't made, the hug we didn’t give, the fear that stopped us from admitting our feelings or speaking up when we know we should have. It's the dreams we ignore and the goals we don't achieve.
The unavoidable truth is that we are all terminal. We don't know when and we don't know how, but at some point of our life, we all face death. But right now, right here, we are alive so get to know yourself. What is it, that is most important to you? Ask yourself. It is time to find out. Stretch out your comfort zone, try new things or do something differently. Say yes instead of no, say no when you usually say yes. Discover what lights up your smile and fills your heart with joy and then go and do more of that.
Now is the time to turn that bucket list into a to-do list. The real question is what are we waiting for?
Monday, 17 November 2014 05:46
Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you.
Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don't mind being hurt.
It doesn't happen all at once. You become.
Sometimes it hurts, but when you are Real you don't mind being hurt.
It doesn't happen all at once. You become.
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
There is something delightful about the blissful feeling of a new … anything. It can be a new love, fabulous job or car that for a while makes the whole world sparkle. We are better than ever, energised, enthused and ready to roll. However, a few years down the line, the picture is not always so rosy.
Those adorable traits we sooooo fell in love with, have turned into teeth-grinding grounds for causing bodily harm to our beloved. Our dream job has become a prison of hard labour for measly pay, and as for the car? Well, that was traded in ages ago, but you should see the fantastic new model that has just come out!
If I was a psychologist, I would probably be interested in the 'why' of this dynamic, but as a Life Coach, I am far more interested in the 'what can we do about it?'. There are some hard facts we need to face. Firstly, reality often does not live up to the thoughts in our heads. The human mind has the most extraordinary capacity for creative thinking, but as anyone disillusioned with 'The Secret' and 'Law of Attraction' will know, manifesting what you think is not as simple as it sounds.
So is this really the end of the fairy tale for us? I certainly don't think so. While I love a happy ending as much as anyone, my definition of a happy ending has changed over the years. I've found that once the initial euphoria has ebbed and our rough edges have been rubbed off, the real us has the opportunity to emerge. There is something about the depth and richness of being real that wins hands down every time. The messy roller coaster ride of vulnerability can transform into greater joy and connectedness than we can begin to conceive.
So what do we do when the sheen of our life has dulled? This is where we have to hang on and hold our seat. We are being asked to open up to all of life, it's disappointments as well as it's joys, successes as well as failures. It takes courage to let go of outdated ideas and embrace the uncertainty of not knowing, to lean in to pain and look into situations not at them .
'Becoming' hurts sometimes. The truth is, living an authentic life is not a happily ever after, it's more that when you are real, you don't mind the hurt quite so much.
Friday, 31 October 2014 07:47
One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.
Two years ago my health took a knock when I inadvertently added a product with soya to my diet. My thyroid function plummeted and I felt absolutely awful. I had zero energy, muscle pain and was constantly light-headed and lethargic. It's taken two years but today I am in a completely different place. Blood tests show a massive improvement in my thyroid function, and I feel happier, more energetic, thinner (hooray!) and fitter than I've been in years.
So how did this transformation come about? When things were at their worst, I knew I needed to make some changes. Unfortunately, it was a catch 22. I needed to improve my diet, change Homoeopath and start exercising but at the time, I didn't have the physical or emotional energy to do any of it. It seemed insurmountable so here is what I did. I chose one thing to start with and just did that.
As a Life Coach, the trickiest clients to work with, are people with many ideas and lots of goals they want to achieve. Thinking and deciding are a crucial part of goal setting, however, if we think too much, we get scattered or start thinking in circles and end up doing absolutely nothing. The more complex the situation the easier it is to get stuck in this dynamic.
At times like this, focus is everything. We have to ruthlessly prune branch ideas to access the root issue so we can address that. This is not always easy to do, but here's a tip, even if the best choice isn't clear, make a decision. Chose one option to focus on, and commit to changing that.
Start by taking small, consistent actions in the direction you want to go. No matter what area of your life needs some attention, if you spend just 15 minutes a day on it, you will see an improvement over time. I started off dragging myself through 10 minutes of exercise every day. As I felt better it gradually became 15, then 30 minutes and now, it's up to an hour a day. It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy. There were many days I had to force myself into doing it, but no matter how awful the task, it seems possible if you only have to spend 10 or 15 minutes doing it.
So choose that one thing and let me know what it is, I’d love to hear from you.