Tag Archives: dreams

Are you true to yourself?

How often are you doing or saying something that does not feel quite right? As if you are saying someone else’s words or just doing something because others would expect of you? Or have you ever felt you are playing a role, or felt that you are a fraud?

If any of these examples ring true for you, then you were not being true to yourself.

Compromising our authenticity can lead to stress and unhappiness

Our society and culture still tends to expect women, in particular, to fit in, to compromise, to satisfy other people’s needs, be it their spouse, children, colleagues or parents. Trying to satisfy all those demands of people around them, women often compromise their true self, their authenticity, and often without consciously realising it.

When we are not being true to ourselves, we feel fragmented and lose confidence and trust in ourselves. It can lead to stress as our own needs remain unsatisfied. Women also find that in the long-term their health and fitness suffers, and they become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied. In fact, in a recent Guardian article  ‘not being true to oneself’ was cited as the top regret by people close to death.

When we are true to ourselves we feel satisfied and happy. We are brimming with energy, confidence and motivation; in short we feel good about ourselves.

Being true ourselves …what does that mean?

There are a lot of authors who have written about authenticity and being ourselves. Personally, I like the three components of authenticity put forward by Goffee and Jones in their book: Why should anyone be led by you?. They fit well with the NLP and other self-development processes that helped me and my clients.

In my view there are three steps to being true to yourself:

Being self-aware and conscious of your own feelings and needs

When asked whether they are self-aware, most people nod and say: Yes, of course!. But, a good number of us are not as self-aware as we think we are. Especially we women are very good at ignoring our feelings and needs in favour of those of others. And, habitually putting others first, leaves us out of practice being in tune with what we feel and need, let alone giving it a voice.

If the above resonated with you or you know a friend or colleague who falls into the others’ first and my needs are not important category, here is an easy way to raise your awareness of what you feel and what you need to be yourself:

  • Ask yourself: “What am I feeling?” Name the feeling(s), and acknowledge them. Be gentle with yourself.
    If you do not find it easy to name your feelings, check out this classification of emotions
  • Then ask yourself: “What do I need? Name the need or needs, and whatever they are, acknowledge them.

My top tips are: 

  • refrain from judging and analysing your feelings and needs. What ever you feel and need it is right at that particular moment.
  • Once you have named and stated them, consider how you might be able to act on your feelings and needs[1]. Sometimes it is all about saying ‘no’ to things next time or stating what you want instead.
  • Also check out my article on What’s your self-care strategy? for further inspiration.

Being grounded and comfortable with who you are

This is all about knowing and being in tune with who you are and what you stand for. You know and are proud of where you have come from and who you are now. You are comfortable in yourself and as a woman. Not being grounded means that you constantly feel the ground is shifting beneath you, and you feel unsettled and ill at ease.

If you are not already grounded in yourself, take some time to find out about yourself. Go on a fun journey of discovery allowing time for yourself to get to know who this wonderful woman, that is you, is. Questions that can help you the story of YOU , are:

  • What is important to me? (ask yourself this question a number of times and for different areas of your life)
  • What do I stand for?
  • What is my story? And, how comfortable am I with that story? (where do you come from, you origins, how did you get to where you are now?)
  • What is my identity as a woman?

To make this journey even deeper and your story more meaningful to you, consider journalling or unconscious writing. Both work best after a meditative practice. If meditation is not for you, consider putting some lovely music on after a pampering session and take some deep breaths into your core, to centre yourself before asking yourself the questions above. And, just keep writing until your inspiration rests.

Knowing and fully embracing who we are, grounds us in ourselves, and helps us to be true to ourselves and lays the groundwork for being consistent in what we say and how we act.

Being consistent and standing up for your needs and who you are

Do you say what you do and do what you say?

This equally applies to our interactions with others and our relationship with ourselves.

When we say things we don’t mean, and do not follow-up what we say with actions, others start to mistrust us and lose confidence in our abilities. Guess what, the same applies to ourselves. When we say we will do something for ourselves, and not do it, we lose confidence and trust in ourselves. Putting ourselves last signals to us, that we are not important, even if we are trying to portray the opposite to the outside world.

The first steps to being consistent are self-awareness and being grounded. Once you acknowledge what you feel and need, what is important to you and what you stand for, you can take action.

Let’s take an example: if you feel slightly stressed that your colleague comes to again just before your need is to focus on your own deadlines (going home, to lunch or project deadlines), and what’s important to you is being friendly and supportive, you might consider stating your feelings to your colleague and suggesting someone else as their contact point this time. It is helpful to run through these kind of scenarios, especially if they are repetitive situations, beforehand, so you already know what you are going to do and say next time the situation where you want to be true to yourself happens.

Consider the following questions:

  • How do know you are being xxx or have xxx? Substitute xxx for the quality, value, need or characteristic that is important to you or you stand for. It can also be a quality or value you want to embody from now on.
  • What does it mean when you are being xxx or xxx?
  • What will you see, hear, feel or say, or do when you are being xxx or have xxx? (do this for any scenario where you were not true to yourself in the past and want to change how you are being)

Being clear about what it means be you, will help you to be consistent, and it will help to avoid some of those ‘wish I had not done that/said that’ episodes. 

I invite you to do this practice as often as you can. It does not take long, maybe a just a few minutes every day to centre yourself in your true self – our needs change, you change and you experience different situations daily, and different things are important at different times.

Allow yourself every day to be true to yourself – like everything else it just takes a little daily practice.

Enjoy being your true self.

[1] In an ecological way, which means in a way safe and has a positive and evolving impact on our lives.

It’s so easy to give up on your dreams, isn’t it?

What is dream? According to the Oxford English dictionary one definition is: “A vision of the imagination indulged in when awake, one prompted by desire, hope or ambition“.

As women, we are often conditioned to be practical and put other people’s needs and wants before ours. ‘Indulging’ in dreaming or pursuing our dreams often feels like wasted time as women have been culturally conditioned to believe that some of our dreams cannot become reality, or we feel we do not have what it takes (time, skills etc.) to realise our dreams. Denying ourselves our dreams or putting the pursuit of our dreams last on the priority list, often leaves us feeling frustrated, not good enough and/or stressed.

There are a number of common pitfalls that I found many people encounter in the pursuit of their dreams, and you might recognise yourself in some of them:

You focus on what you don’t want, and not what you do want

When going on a journey, no one would ever say,  “I do not want to go to France, Germany, Italy, US etc” when they wanted to go to e.g. Spain. And ideally you would specify where in Spain you would like to go. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to do that with their dreams. They tend to think about what they don’t want about their current life, instead of what they want in their future life. As a result they tend to get more of the same of what they have now.

Have you ever noticed that when you focus on a certain topic that all of a sudden you spot it everywhere and lots of different bits of information or opportunities in relation to that topic come your way? That is exactly how it works with your dreams and goals. Therefore, instead putting your focus on what you don’t want, put it on what you want, and you are likely to get it.

So ask yourself: What specifically do I want?

Make sure whatever it is that you want, it is stated positively. Our mind is configured to process only positives, i.e. if I am now asking you to not think of a pink and green striped elephant, what are you are thinking of? If by any chance, you come up negatives i.e. what you don’t want, be playful and turn it into a positive and affirmative statement. It might take a little and it is very worth it.

Dreams are too vague – make them real to you and as specific as you can!

Studies have shown, and this is also borne out by my coaching and consulting work, that we do need to know the ‘what’ of our dream(s) (in a business setting, a dream is usually called a vision), and we need to know it in some detail to make it real and allow us to recognise any opportunities that take us closer to achieving our dream along the way.

The key question to ask yourself here is: What am I seeing, hearing, feeling or saying to myself when I have achieved my dream?

A key tips is to just focus on answering the question, without going into any potential obstacles to your dream. If any obstacles, doubts or negative self-talk comes up, my invitation to you is to write it down and deal with it once you have gone through the rest of the process.

Dreams are not clearly linked to what is important to you in life

Often our dreams (or goals for that matter) do not motivate us as much as we expect them to , they don’t feel quite right or they do not quite make sense to us. The two key reasons usually are

  • we are conflicted due to limiting belief (see my blog article on obstacle strategy) and are sabotaging ourselves along the way.
  • we do not have the ‘goal beyond the goal’, i.e. we have not connected the dream to what is ultimately important to us. And often when we make that connection, the dream can change into something that more real and feels more motivating to us.
    So, when you think about your dream or what you want, ask yourself: Why is that important to me? What does that give me?
    I invite you to write down your answers, and for every answer ask the questions again, write down your answers and ask the questions again, and do this about three to five times. My key tip would be to do a short meditation before you ask yourself those questions, and just let your answers flow.Once you have completed the exercise, review your dream in light of your answers, and check if there are any changes you need to make to your dream, what has happened to any obstacles identified in the previous step and what other options to fulfill your higher values opened up for you.

Not knowing the ‘how’ stops you from taking the next step

Many people believe that they need to know ‘how’ to achieve their dreams before they can take action. It is one of the main reasons why people don’t realise their dreams.

If you are grappling with the ‘how’ question, my invitation to you is twofold:

  • Ask yourself: what resources (and that includes your skills, capabilities, friends, family etc) do have that will help me to realise my dream? And what resources do I believe I need at this point to take the next step?Focussing on the entire dream is often too much too soon. When we focus on the first step, and then the next, and the next, we are able to develop the ‘how’ at a pace that works for us.
  • Share your dream with others. Often what happens is that even if we do not have the skills or knowledge how to achieve our dreams, someone else might or they might know someone who has done it.

Taking action is key

Part of making a dream real and focussing our minds on achieving our dreams is to set a deadline or a target date, that is realistic. Even if you are not able, at this time, to set a deadline for your overall dream, you can name the first step or first goal.  As Diana Sharf Hunt has said: “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” A date will bring an extra degree of focus and urgency. I invite you allow yourself to put a stake in ground and name your first step, one that you can take by the end of next week and commit to doing it.

As human beings we are designed to have dreams, goals and ambitions and to follow those dreams. If that was not the case, we would still be living in caves. So, if you are not already dreaming and pursuing your dreams, start dreaming and …

Go for your dreams!

The TIME phenomenon – why is there never enough?

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whenever I speak to clients, friends and other women about their goals and dreams, they often tell me: “I could not find the time” or “there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want”.

What this really means is: “I feel I need to do too many things in the time I have available” or “my goals are not that important to me”.

Time is a convenient scapegoat. A lot of us are ‘at effect’, meaning we prefer to put the blame for our choices and decision outside of us, on other people or even innocent concepts such as ‘time’.  If we took responsibility for our choices and actions we would be ‘at cause’, that is we take responsibility for whatever happens to us. If there is not enough time, it was our choice to prioritise other things over our goals. For a lot of women this will sound harsh, especially those among us who are already stressed out, battling to reduce their massive to do list by even 10 % or fire fighting between a multitude of conflicting priorities.

However, using the ‘never having enough time’ excuse to justify not achieving what we most want, leaves most women frustrated, stressed and/or feeling like they failed somewhere along the line. Over weeks, months and years, this can lead to erosion of self-esteem and confidence, chronic dissatisfaction and ill health. So what can you do about it? The first step is awareness!

Where do you feel time is controlling you? Use the next week to listen to yourself and write down the times you blame time for not achieving what you want, for not doing the things you wanted to do and feeling stressed. Also, write down the things you do do during that week; if you can, write down a detailed daily diary of how you spend your time.

Look at this list at the end of the week and see if there are any patterns emerging. Is it a particular area of your life that always gets neglected, a particular set of goals or activities that is always down prioritised or a particular group of people who are given less time that you wished?

What is important to you? The next step is all about being clear about ‘what is important to you’, your values and guiding principles in life. In order to successfully prioritise we need critieria to prioritise against. Our values are those criteria. Knowing these will help you to make decisions much quicker and enable you to say ‘no’ to things that do not match your priorities.

I invite you to make an appointment with yourself for at least 30 minutes and if you can 1 hour, and reflect on the following questions:

  • What is important to me?
  • What do I value?
  • What motivates me? What am I passionate about?
  • What makes me really happy?

You can either focus on a particular area of your life (e.g. work, family or relationships) or on your whole life. You will end up with a list of words and phrases that reflect your values (what is important to you). Review this list and then without thinking about it, quickly put the list of values into an order of priority starting with what is most important to you and ending with what is least important. When you do this you might like to ask yourself the question: “What from this list can I not live without?”

Re-aligning where you spend you time – Once you have your prioritised values list of what is important to you, check your daily diary and your ‘not progressed/not achieved’ list against your values and ask yourself:

  • Which activities that do not match my values am I now saying ‘no’ to?
  • Which activities that match my values am I now giving priority to?

I know it can be hard to do this exercise when time seems in short supply. It will pay you dividends to take this first step and take control of your time.  Don’t let time control you!

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