Paul talks about the magic formula for making the most of any situation. If you want to experience freedom of choice, regardless of what is going on around you, this episode of “Life Happens LIVE” is guaranteed to be right up your street.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” Victor Frankl

freedomOne of the things I love most about coaching others is when they really get that creating more of what they want in their lives doesn’t have to be complicated. Nine times out of ten those light bulb moments follow on from a simple realisation that there is nothing wrong with them after all; it is just that what they have been doing (or thinking) up until that point has been misaligned with the kind of results they want experience.

This takes the attention away from them feeling as though they are the problem and somehow need to be ‘fixed’, and towards an honest curiosity about the law of cause and effect. The look of relief on their faces when it finally dawns on them that the fact they do not have everything they want isn’t to do with them being a bad, undeserving or unlovable person is really quite heart warming :o)

The reason so few people are readily willing to accept this is because we have been conditioned to believe that we live in an ‘outside – in’ world, where the cause of all our feelings (good or bad) lies in whatever happens to be going on around us at the time, and to what extent we are approved of by other people. In a nutshell we still believe we are ‘Stimulus / Response” creatures.

However, the one thing that really separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is that we have evolved to be ‘self aware’. Simply put, this means we have the ability to have thoughts about our thoughts:

Example: We might have a fabulous idea for a new invention that everyone will want, but then shoot ourselves down when we realise that we are just being stupid and that no one would take us seriously!

It also means that we have feelings about our feelings:

Example: We might lose our cool in front of others and then feel embarrassed about it later.

This unique state of being self aware is very important because it is fundamental to our ability to direct our lives in any way we wish… as long as we understand how to make the most of it!!

Victor Frankl, creator of Logotherapy and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”, explained that the reason he was able to survive the horrendous mental and emotional ordeal of being incarcerated at Auschwitz during the Holocaust was because he firmly understood that between stimulus and response there is always a space. It is in this space that we have the freedom to choose our reactions and attitudes towards anything. But most of us are so used to reacting without thinking that we fail to recognise that this space exists. It is not a fault; it is just conditioning.

So what can we do to utilise the value of this space? One of the most intuitive ways that I know of is in understanding the formula:

E (Event) + R (Response) = 0 (Outcome)

The quality of the OUTCOME we get to experience in relation to, well… anything, is always the result of the actual EVENT itself plus our own unique REPSONSE to it. And like all good formula’s we can apply numbers to demonstrate the point:

Let’s say the EVENT is worth 2 and the RESPONSE you give is also with a 2. That means the quality of the OUTCOME you experience has to be a 4. Simple!

But what if you hate 4’s? What if a 4 means that you have to feel like a victim? What if a 4 creates tension between you and others? What if a 4 makes you ill with stress?

What if what you really wanted was to experience a 10? Well then we would have to go back and review the components of the formula. If we did that we would soon realise that, actually, there is not always a lot we can do about the EVENT; that is usually out of our control (particularly when it has already happened!!). So that just leaves us with our RESPONSE. If we know the EVENT is a 2 and we are looking for an OUTCOME of 10, then our RESPONSE is going to have to be an 8.

Perhaps an 8 response is not letting the rain ruin your family picnic by bringing the fun of the outdoors indoors into your living room, rather than cancelling the event and getting frustrated when your disappointed children get upset.

Perhaps an 8 response is forgiving someone that hurt you rather than holding onto the resentment or planning their comeuppance.

Of course there are occasions when the primitive part of our brains kick in with the fight or flight response before the logical reasoning faculty of our higher brain has a chance to work its magic. But even when our unconscious reactions starts to take us somewhere we don’t want to go, that state of automatic defence need only last a moment until we remember who’s really driving the bus!! Then, the first step is to just stop and recognise you have an opportunity to ask yourself some questions:

How could I respond to this?

What are my options?

From the options available to me, what seems the wisest or kindest way for me to take it from here?

 


HOMEWORK


1 – Think of a recent situation in which your reaction to an event (or another person) may have contributed to a less than desirable outcome.

2 – Then grab a piece of paper and write the headings EVENT, RESPONSE and OUTCOME across the top.

3 – Use the headings to guide you in writing out the situation as you experienced it, making sure you separate the facts of the event from the way you emotionally filtered it at the time:

EXAMPLE 1:

EVENT = John said he was too busy to come to my party.

RESPONSE = I took it really personally and was hurt that my party wasn’t a priority for John. I vowed to give John the silent treatment and not invite him to any more of my social events… so there!!!

OUTCOME = There is now a very uncomfortable feeling between John and me, and I’ve heard that John feels really bad and doesn’t understand what he has done to upset me so much.

EXAMPLE 2:

EVENT = My computer crashed which meant I couldn’t get on with the work I was planning to do.

RESPONSE = I got really frustrated and started to rant about how technology is the bane of my life, if only it was like the good old days when things were simple and our lives were not ruled by robots!!!

OUTCOME = I got so worked up I needed to get out and go for a walk to clear my head, which wasted even more time.

4 – Now, think of at least three other (more productive) responses that you could have given in relation to that event. For each alternative response use your imagination to run a movie of how the outcome may have turned out more favourably for you.

5 – Having mentally rehearsed the cause and effect of your different response options, decide which feels right for you and make a commitment to follow that strategy for similar situations in the future.


Take great care. Namaste.

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There is a lot to be said for “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. But what if there was an easier, more effortless, kinder way of living fearlessly. In this episode Paul invites you to try out a different way of approaching the challenges in your life.

“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

fearWouldn’t it be wonderful have a fool proof strategy for getting unstuck and moving forward again whenever you find yourself in the grip of fear?

I once had an almost obsessive desire to discover ‘the magic formula’ for overcoming fear in any situation. Not just so I could use it as a coaching tool but more so because I felt I could really do with it in my own life. However, having trawled through countless books, recordings, courses and seminars I finally came to the point of admitting defeat. I was ready to accept that there is no ONE ultimate exercise or intervention for combating all fear.

That was until, by chance, I heard someone use a phrase that literally stopped me in my tracks. In a moment of profound clarity I realised that the absolute antidote to fear could never be found in an exercise or technique, but rather in the acceptance of a simple truth. The phrase I heard was:

“The question is irrelevant; Love is the answer”

(All together now… Ahhhhhh!!)

At any moment in life there are only two spaces we can be operating from – The space or love or the space of fear. That may seem over simplistic, but when you sit with it for a while it is easy to connect with the truth of it. Let’s look at how these two powerful emotions drive us:

 

FEAR

Fear shows up in many forms, from the obvious to the heavily disguised. The obvious side of fear can be recognised by the physical and emotional discomfort we get through being scared, worrying or having a lack of confidence. The less obvious side of fear manifests in us having the desire to change or control our environment and the people in it. This happens when something inside of us feels threatened or insecure about what we perceive is going on in the outside world, because it doesn’t measure up to our ideas of how things are supposed to be. Sometimes this causes us to be protective: “I must control your actions because I couldn’t live with myself if something were to happen to you”, and sometimes it can come out as anger: “You must feel the wrath of my aggression until you feel obliged to comply with my model of the world”. The interesting thing about anger, though, is that it is not an assertion of power; it is a request for power from someone who is feeling powerless – or to put it another way, afraid.

Fear is also present whenever we judge, belittle or deliberately humiliate others, or when we seek their approval by showcasing our nice shiny badges of wealth and success.

 

LOVE

It is important to define what love means in this context. I am not referring to the romantic ‘fluffy bunny’ kind of love (although that does very much have its place!!). Here, I am referring to love as being a genuine acceptance and reverence for all. When we come from a space of love, fear finds itself out on the street. Love and fear cannot occupy the same space. You can alternate between the two, but you’ll never experience both at the same time. Love is what happens when we strip away our expectations of the world and reconnect with the innate wellbeing that is always present within us. Love is having a deep knowing that happiness and joy is an inside job. No matter what happens on the outside, your wellbeing remains intact because it is not dependent on the thoughts and actions of other people or the right kind of circumstances. Coming from a space of love means acting on your natural desire to show kindness and compassion to yourself and others, and to not expect them to adhere to your own personal standards. It is where unconditional really does mean unconditional. And if you want to get all spiritual about it, yes, it is where you feel at one with nature and the universe.
The difficulty in overcoming fear lies in the action of the ‘overcoming’ itself. In order overcome anything you first have to place your attention of the thing you want to get passed and give it permission to have power over you. Of course it is possible to win the battle, but that can take more time and energy than is necessary for you to exert (and there may be many more battles to come before you finally win the war).

Actually, I do have a lot belief in Susan Jeffer’s popular principle of “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway”, but I have certainly found that this is not always the most efficient (or kind) way of getting things done. In my experience, living fearlessly has less to do with ‘overcoming’ and more to do with shifting perspectives.

One of the most powerful questions I have come to rely on for bringing me out of that space of fear is “What would love do?”

Let’s take a couple of examples:

Scenario 1: You have to make an important presentation to a group of highly influential people.

What would fear do? Fear would have you imagining fluffing your lines, making a fool of yourself and being exposed as a fraud. Fear’s strategy to help you through this ordeal might be to picture the audience in their underwear or two feet tall so that you can tower over them and dominate them with your magnificence.

What would love do? Love would remind you that no one wants you fail. You have valuable knowledge that others want to know about and, as long as you remain true to that purpose, nothing can be threatened. Love’s strategy for guiding through this opportunity might be to send thoughts of warmth and well wishes to your audience before and throughout your presentation.
Scenario 2: Someone says something hurtful to you.

What would fear do? Fear would immediately feel the pain of the wound and lash out in defence. Something inside of you may feel broken or betrayed. You might try to redirect the attention toward their shortcomings in an attempt to re-establish a bit of power, or you might just feel you are the victim of some grave injustice.

What would love do? Love would recognise they are coming from a space of their own fear. They must be suffering in some way. When you know someone is suffering you can be compassionate. Even if there is nothing you can do at that time, love can remind you that your own innate wellbeing is not dependent on their thoughts and opinions of you in that moment.


HOMEWORK


Take a moment to be honest with yourself and think about a situation that you have not been handling particularly well lately (I know, I know, you’re perfect… but just humour me ;o). Perhaps you’ve been scared about an upcoming event. Perhaps you have been too controlling or harsh with someone close to you. Whatever that situation may be for you, spend some quality time contemplating these three questions:

“What is it specifically that I have been afraid of?”

Then,

“So, what has been the underlying positive intention of me responding in this way?”

Then,

“What would love do?”

 

Lots of love!!

Take great care. Namaste.

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