Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Negativity Bias - Remember that time when...

Think of a time when you were embarrassed when you were in school... got it?

Ok, now try to think of a time when someone else did something embarrassing...
...I bet that was harder right?

Our brains are hardwired for self-preservation. We learn from our mistakes, and so anything which our mind feels to be 'dangerous' or could lead to falling out of favour with our clan, will be burned into our minds. Kind of as a warning against similar behaviours in the future. This is similar to how we learn other things. We repeat them until they become ingrained into our minds, and then they become second nature (driving, for instance). This way, we will be better prepared to react in the future. The flip side being that we don't tend to remember other people's mistakes, because our brain will disregard that, and focus on our own experiences.

So, next time you feel yourself getting embarrassed about something - say you stumble and fall - just laugh it off, and know that you are learning how not to fall again in the future. You will remember it, but no one else will.

So, until next time, take care - and mind your step 😉

Friday, 14 July 2017

What is Safeguarding?

Here in the UK, we have a system in place for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This system is managed by a multi-disciplinary team which includes local councils, the NHS, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Together, they work to share information, and ensure that the necessary steps are taken to ensure the wellbeing of those in receipt of care.

If you feel like someone is not being treated with dignity, respect, and proper care, then do not feel like there is nothing you can do. You can contact your local council's social care department to let them know that you have a concern. If you are unable to reach them, then you can contact the CQC directly, and they will be able to instigate an investigation. The telephone number being 03000 616161 and the email address being enquiries@cqc.org.uk

Do not let your concerns go unheard. Anyone can raise a concern, and should there be an issue, then it will be investigated and rectified.

Remember, neglect and abuse may not always be visible, and may not correspond to stereotypes of what constitutes 'abuse'. If you feel that someone is being treated inappropriately, then there may be an issue.

If you are interested in learning more, here are some links which you may find useful:

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Shifting your perspective

I'm sure you know what I am talking about here. When you are in a bad mood, it can seem like the whole world is against you. Nothing will go right, and everyone is deliberately trying to annoy you even more. Right?

Well not exactly. What is happening here is that you are becoming trapped in 1st position.
"Help! My ballet teacher won't let me move."

Let me explain. There is a concept that there are three positions when it comes to interacting with other people. These positions correlate to the various perspectives which can be used when writing. Can you see where I am going with this? These are known, in literature, as '1st person', '2nd person', and '3rd person'. Whilst writing usage of these terms refers to who is the subject being wrote about, in social contexts, it refers to the perspective being taken.

In first position/1st person, we are focused on our own feelings. The biggest question in this mindset is "how does this affect me?" When negative emotions are at play, this is the position we tend to revert to. This is completely natural, it is a form of self-preservation. For example, something which could cause us pain arises, and we instinctively think about how to get away from it. But, in modern life, this reaction can be brought about when the threat is something like a person expressing an opinion which we do not agree with. This can be the hardest habit to break, in respects of this topic, as it is entirely instinctive. But I invite you to - next time you feel yourself being annoyed, or asking how something which another person has said affects you - take a moment to step out of your own head and try moving into what is called 2nd position.

2nd position is when we move out of our own headspace, and try to empathise with the perspective of the other person/people involved. I think it is important to draw the distinction between empathy and sympathy here. Empathy means feeling something with another person, as if those feelings were you own (crying with someone else). Sympathy, on the other hand, refers to feeling emotions towards the other person (e.g. feeling sorry for them). In 2nd position, we are able to understand the other person's reasoning, and can become more compassionate and accepting of their views. This is something which counsellors become adept at, so that they are able to fully connect with their clients - whilst also ensuring that they keep themselves safe through the use of supervision and boundaries.

Finally, there is 3rd position. This is the position of the outside observer. From here, the most objectivity can be gained, which is particularly useful for extremely emotional and/or important discussions. This is the position of the mediator in arguments and dispute resolution. This can be hard to step into directly from 1st position, as we will tend to still have remnants of our own emotional responses milling around in our minds. Thus, it can be beneficial to work through the positions in order to build a full image of the situation.

In closing, I want to thank you for reading, and reiterate my invitation to consider these positions next time you are involved in a heated discussion, or making a significant decision which involves you and your partner/family/friends/etc.

Bring your light to those around you.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

My experiences with NLP tools

For my Holistic Life Coaching course, I have completed a module on NLP coaching. In that module, one of the assignments is to put some of the techniques which are outlined in the textbook, into practice. The student is then asked to write about their experiences. I like this style of learning because it actually helps to develop a working knowledge of the technique, rather than basing all of it on pure theory. Another benefit is that using the techniques actually leads to insight and change in my own life. That is a nice little bonus.
Well I thought I would share what I wrote for this assignment, as I think it can help to explain some of the techniques of NLP, whilst also giving you a glimpse into my life through the lens of a Life Coach. Enjoy!



Select three NLP coaching tools, and, after you are sure you understand the concepts involved, use each tool to analyse or comment on a particular work or personal situation, stating what changes might make a difference. 
The first NLP technique I implemented was that of anchors. I thought this would be useful in a number of situations, and would be quite simple to learn. I decided to try a variation on the movement exemplified in the textbook (pressing thumb and a finger together) to help with relaxation. I decided to connect the movement with feelings of relaxation by using it when meditating, relaxing, and listening to music which made me felt calm. Over time, I found that I could use the movement in stressful situations - at work, for example - to help me calm my mind and allow me to think more clearly. This is beneficial as it is not intrusive and can be used quickly. I think that I will also try using this technique to help me to feel confident when I am trying to make a decision but second guessing myself; I will accomplish this by connecting a movement with thoughts of when I have been successful and received support from others.
Next, I made use of the ‘compelling futures’ technique. This is in respects of my goal of becoming a qualified counsellor, working in an organisation which is in alignment with my views and ethics. I found the process of building my vision to be quite soothing and enjoyable. I decided to do this by combining visualisation with writing down my desired goals. This became almost like a meditation, in that I was picturing myself in the situation. I found this rather easy to do as I have good visualisation skills. I was able to feel the sense of fulfilment which I am aiming for in that vision within me, which was encouraging and motivating to me. I am able to make use of this technique in a number of situations; for example, when I am feeling uncertain of myself or when people are curious as to what I am doing (in that I can give them a clear answer which bolsters my drive to achieve my vision).
The third technique which I practised was the meta-programs. I approached this in a different way to the other techniques. Rather than using the technique for a specific goal, this technique helped me design my goals to more deeply resonate with me, which made them more compelling. After analysing my meta-programs, I can see that I am definitely of the ‘moving towards’ mindset. Even when I am trying to get rid of something, I prefer to think of it in terms of what I am gaining. This has helped me to understand why previous attempts at losing weight had been unsuccessful. Beforehand, I had been focusing on losing the weight, which is an ‘away from’ goal. This became disheartening because I felt like I was cutting things out of my life, and so would be resistant. Since changing my goal to that of ‘becoming healthy and more flexible’ (important as I have injured my ankles and need to work on restoring their mobility), I have found that my weight loss efforts are more natural and there is little-to-no resistance anymore. I am thinking how I am gaining better physical health, more body confidence, and better psychological health too from the exercise which I enjoy and find relaxing. It has been useful to consider some of my other meta-views (‘necessity’, ‘focus on others’, ‘through time’, etc.) which has further helped me with goal setting and maintaining motivation. This has allowed my endeavours to become more enjoyable and inciting forward-motion in me naturally, rather than being a constant struggle to achieve a small success.

During this process, there were some techniques which I found to not work as well for me. The eye-accessing cues, for example, didn't seem to really work for me (although I can see how the theory would work). I am not sure if this is because I am left-handed - whereas the examples in the textbook were for a right-handed person - or some other reason. Thus I feel this technique is too subjective and would require a lot of careful observation on my behalf - something which may not be possible if my coaching is to occur over the phone. Thus, I gave the technique a read through, but did not try out extensively as I felt it would not be too appropriate in my current situation. I will revisit it, however, when I begin to counsel clients as it could be useful for getting an insight into the ways in which they think.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to check out my channel over at YouTube, and also my Instagram account.

Friday, 31 March 2017

My Youtube Channel

Here is my very first Youtube video. I made it last year to introduce people to my channel. I hope to release more videos soon. I will be talking about various aspects of coaching, counselling, therapy, etc. As well as sharing things about my life in general.
Thank you for watching, and commenting, on my videos and reading blog posts.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Do your roles in life, serve your higher purpose?

Work. It is something which can take up quite a significant portion of your life. It's the way which you fund your lifestyle, and you use your education to help you reach your potential in the world of careers. Surely you want deserve to do something you enjoy? But it turns out that there are millions of people who are doing jobs they hate. Sound familiar?
There can be any number of reasons why people do these jobs, sometimes these people may not even be aware why they are settling for such roles (and settling is exactly what they are doing). This also extends to non-working roles such as those in relationships. For instance; parent, child, carer, or partner. These roles can become habitual, to the extent that they are no longer even acknowledged,  and then become part of the identity of the individual.
Is that what you want? Do you want this role to define you, to become your identity? Is that who your are? or could you be so much more?

If you're dissatisfied with your lot in life, then it isn't too late to change it. It will require hard work and perseverance, but it will be worth it. Here are some things which you can examine, to help find that passion again.
  • Ask yourself what this role represents for you, and what remaining in it provides you (be brutally honest). For something such as work, it can be merely a way to pay the bills for one person. For another, their job can feel like their life's calling, and is incredibly fulfilling. But staying in a role which has been dictated to you, can be a way to 'not rock the boat', which may provide stability and validation by others - satisfying a need for acceptance, and even love in personal roles.
  • Get mindful and listen to your gut. You may have been suppressing your intuition for a while, now is the time to get back in touch with your instincts. Do you feel that little flutter in your stomach that keeps you ever-so-slightly on edge all the time? Or is it a cold, hard, numb feeling in your heart that says "you've shut yourself down"? Look for anything which feels like resistance and tension. This will be a sign that you don't feel aligned with what you are doing. If you feel light and effortless in your role, then you are doing fine. If you dread doing the relevant activity, then that is a clear sign you aren't happy.
  • Analyse how you feel about the role at different levels, and what your ideal situation for each would be. This may include;
    • Environment in which it takes place.
    • Behaviour it involves (for yourself and others).
    • Your capability in that area.
    • The beliefs and values expressed in that role, and how well they align with your own.
    • The identity you have in that role, and how closely this resembles your true identity.
  • What possible alternatives have you either dismissed, or not even entertained before? Why did these appeal to you? Why did you dismiss them?
  • What changes could be made to bring your current role more in alignment with your ideal position?
  • What would be your absolute limit in your role? What would be the factor which would cause you to abandon this role? How close are you to it? How can you get further from that?... Do you even want to, or are you waiting for this event to occur (which will give you the permission to leave without feeling guilty)?
So, after looking over these areas, does the role in question still meet your needs? Does it serve your sense of purpose and achievement? Are you TRULY happy remaining where you are? Would changing your role necessarily mean leaving your role (or would reconfiguring be sufficient)? Only you can answer these questions for yourself, and weigh up the aspects to see what is the best course of action for yourself and this current moment in time. You are the expert in your own feelings, and your life. These are just prompts for consideration.

Best of luck in whatever you choose. Be brave, be bold, be brilliant. Be yourself!
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The 5 most important things you need to do, RIGHT NOW!

As part of my coaching qualification, I am completing a module on NLP coaching. This is through working through the textbook The NLP Coach by Ian McDermott and Wendy Jago (Amazon.co.uk affiliate link). One of the questions is based on the chapter about Health, Wealth, and Happiness and asks for the 5 most important goals at this current moment, based on what has been read. Below, you will find the goals which I have decided apply to me. 
  1. Re-evaluate my norm of health: Over the years, I have become accustomed to the idea that my health is what is ‘normal’ for me (which meant that it would be pointless trying to improve it). This allowed me to avoid responsibility, and also the possibility of failure. I realised that I needed to make a change here when my joints started to ache and become less supple. This was significant for me as I have always been quite flexible, and I want to retain that as I grow into my late 20’s and further. Partly because I enjoy the sense of freedom such flexibility provides me, and also because I enjoy being able to participate in play with the younger children in my family. I am also concerned about the various instances of illness in older family members, which is a motivator for me to take care of my body before it ends up in a state of disrepair.
  2. More exercise. This is something which I have been meaning to get around to for a while now. To help me build the habit, I have decided to take up swimming again. This is something which I thoroughly enjoy and find it is good for my emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as physical fitness. Because of this, I can use it as both a way to build my fitness, as well as to relax a few times a week. There is a swimming pool in walking distance of where I volunteer, so I have started going after being there. This helps me to unwind as the sessions can sometimes be quite intense (particularly due to the role being in a hospice).
  3. Start saving money: I would like to start building a nest-egg for when it comes to finding my own place. The price of mortgages in my local area tend to be cheaper than rental, so I would like to build up a fund in order to pay the deposit on a house. That way I will truly have my own place to call home. I value having my own space, and being able to keep my own schedule. This will be more manageable when living either on my own, or with a partner. At the present moment, my schedule (particularly around sleep) is dictated by the working hours of other family members.
  4. Identify what is stoping me from achieving wealth: This is to go hand-in-hand with my previous goal. I have tried to save money in the past, but I always end up dipping into my savings so that I can get something which catches my eye. This is another of the reasons I would like to save money, so that I can make purchases and not have to worry about if I will be breaking the bank. That is one way in which I define wealth. I also see it as being free of unnecessary debt, having a job because I enjoy it - not to merely pay the bills, and also knowing that I will have some money spare at the end of the month as a safety net. But, I struggle to achieve that level due to not leaving my savings alone. So, I am going to look at the reasons why I feel I must make the purchase immediately, and also form a compelling future in order to keep me motivated to save. I will set my baseline as the standard 10% of any income, but I would much rather be able to save more than that (25 or even 30%).
  5. Adjust my perspective: I generally approach life with a ‘worst case scenario’ mindset, in that I spend a great deal of time and energy on being prepared for any eventuality. This is a great source of stress for me, and it also takes me out of the current moment. I can now see that I am giving up my power of agency by living in the future (especially of a future that is likely to never even occur). I think that this stems from a desire to always present an image of being resourceful and dependable. I would much rather be able to focus my attention on the current moment, to feel more connected, and to have less stress. This will allow me to enjoy life and feel a lot more at peace with any issues which do happen to arise (hopefully).

Sunday, 19 March 2017

March is International Ideas Month

I found out the other day, that this month is International Ideas Month. I feel like I've missed an opportunity here, but I've also (unintentionally) been taking part. I've been carrying a small journal notebook on me because I get ideas at the strangest time, and usually have no way to record them. But this 'commonplace book' method has been a godsend. I don't know why I didn't try it sooner. Using it, I've been recording some ideas over the past week or so for various projects. These have included extra bits I could use in my coursework, potential ebooks I could compile to share, videos I could share on my youtube channel, and ideas for future posts on this website - amongst other things.

If anyone is working on a project, or looking to start a new one, here are some tips which I think could be useful.

  1. Carry a notebook/journal/commonplace book EVERYWHERE: - I was surprised at the different places inspiration can strike. If you tell yourself that you will remember it later, chances are you won't. It doesn't have to be a fancy notebook (I actually find cheap ones to be better, because I can really go to town on filling them up and it doesn't matter so much if they get beat up and damaged).
  2. Read widely: - Reading something new - or rereading an old book with a new approach - can spark inspiration. This can either be directly from the book, or the book reminding you of something you heard elsewhere. Oh, and of course, don't limit your reading to books. Magazines, journals, newspapers, websites, blogs, etc. all provide fuel for creative fires.
  3. Watch widely: - This is an extension of the above point, but watch all sorts. Youtube provides a wonderful resource for finding new things, and the format could be something you become interested in getting involved in yourself.
  4. Mix up your routine: - We can all get stuck in a rut, which stifles creativity and inspiration. So encourage yourself to do something different to mix things up. It doesn't have to be wild, just a small change can get the ball rolling. For instance, going to a new place for your lunch at work/school, or going for a 15 minute walk on a night once you have finished your dinner. Just doing something different can perk your brain up and clear out the cobwebs.
  5. Finally, don't force it: - This is one of the most important points, if not THE most important. Don't try to force ideas, doing so just builds up frustration and resistance. If your are facing creative blockages, I find it more useful to go do something relaxing and enjoyable. This helps lower my tension levels and open my mind to new possibilities. I find it can be useful to build a little 'inspiration station' where there are books, resources, and items which inspire me. There is also a playlist I have on my phone which has music which gets me into the creative mood again, and when I put that on I get into the flow straight away (it is actually playing as I write this post 😉).

Here are some questions for YOU to ponder;
HOW do you record ideas? WHERE do you get your best ideas? WHAT kinds of ideas do you get? HOW can you get the creative juices pumping to come up with some brand new ideas? WHAT is your newest idea?
Get stuck in, enjoy it, and go create something new and amazing. You have all the creativity you need locked inside, it's just a matter of finding the right key.



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Who am I?

Well that is a question which can open up various cans of worms, or be like hitting a brick wall - all depending on how you look at the question. The same is true for how we look at obstacles in our lives, but thats a discussion for another time.

Ok, well let's start with the brick wall answer. "My name is Aaron and I am a 22 year old law graduate, from Durham in the North East of England. I am currently studying to become a Holistic Life Coach and will begin a degree in Counselling in September."

Not very exciting is it?

How about this?
"My name is Aaron, I abandoned a career in law because I became disenchanted by the idea of working to make a big company more money. Instead I want to live my passion of helping people to feel happier, more fulfilled, and with a reinvigorated enthusiasm for life."

Or even this...
"I am in the process of learning techniques to help others grab life by the balls, and find the power to do whatever the f**k they want."

Yes. That sounds a lot more exciting, and is still 100% true. Just goes to show the difference a little reframing can do (a topic I will devote a separate post to in the near future).

These are some other interesting bits of trivia about me, which serve to colour the tapestry that is my personality;
  • I like music, all sorts of music. I can go from Adele, to Neon Trees, to Pvris, and then on to St. Vincent all in one playlist. Variety is the spice of life.
  • ...and I prefer to listen with earphones in, even when alone in the house. I'm overcoming this though with speakers. I'd love a Sonos system to have music playing throughout my home and be able to just go about my business with it being seamless. 
  • I like tea and coffee, but go through phases of which I prefer.
  • I'm not a dog or a cat person, I like both for different reasons and would actually like to have both.
  • I much prefer physical books to digital. I will also never throw away a book if I can help it. I will always pass it on or donate it to charity.
  • Autumn is my favourite season (but only when dry)... and spring my least. I like summer and winter equally.
  • Big spoon, but like to be the little one sometimes.
  • I believe in ghosts - and recent experiences at work have reinforced this.
  • Preferences: Savoury over sweet. cold over heat, veg over meat.
  • ...yes seriously. Even when I was a kid I wouldn't be bothered by sweets and dark chocolate has always been my favourite.
  • I'd rather eat Chinese/Japanese food at Christmas, I am not a fan of the traditional roast.
Well I think that is enough about me for now. I'm sure I'll share more about myself in the future. My instagram account will reveal more about me if you wish to have a snoop around on there.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Wishing you well and all kinds of happiness.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Welcome to my new website

I have recently decided to set up a new website, for a number of reasons (such as my old platform freezing up whenever I wanted to make changes, and wanting to connect my website more closely with my youtube channel. Generally I just wanted more cohesion and simplicity in my online presence.

This desire for 'stripping down' has taken hold in various areas of my life, not just online. Yes I have taken a step back from Facebook, so that I no longer use my personal account - whilst still using the 'pages', 'messenger' and 'groups' apps on my phone in order to stay connected to the things which are important to me. Other areas which I have stripped back on are my home (I have donated a lot of things which I am not using recently), my spending, and even my diet.

These are all things which I will go into more detail with in the future, as well as sharing other things which aren't as personal to me - but which do pertain to my career path. So, stick around if you want to hear more from me. I will be sharing insights into self-help, personal development, coaching & counselling techniques, spirituality, and more. I am also open to suggestions for what I could discuss, so feel free to comment and tell me what you would like to read about.

Thank you for visiting,

A. E.