All posts by David Brown

Archetypes- Sovereign

When I speak to clients about fulfilment in their lives, I often hear them say that they fell into their careers, relationships and the places they live. The skill of making the best of what we have is an important one. We can create wonderful lives for ourselves this way.

Taking control

How about creating your life? How about taking control & being proactive?

Rather than always reacting to life, how about creating your life? How about taking control and being proactive in creating the career, life style, relationships and home etc. that you desire?

We all require self rule. To control our lives as we see fit and within the larger context of a global arena. In order to be Sovereign over your life, you want to take responsibility for your place in the world and the part you play in it.  To live confidently, with purpose, well- being and a sense of balance and harmony.  You also create and follow rules that allow your life and the lives of others to flourish.

If you do not do it, others will. Then, you become a pawn in the game of life. You may feel like a victim, disempowered when you see life’s events unfold against you. And when they are for you, you may feel no sense of power that you helped to create such fortune.

The Light Touch

To feel the weight of responsibility crushes some people and inspires others. Some thrive under the pressure of making sure people are cared for, that abundance flows in other people’s lives as well as their own. Standing in the Light of this role, they embrace the need to plan, strategise and take action decisively for the greater good. To own this responsibility is to take control of your life and plan for the future you dream for yourself and bring your friends, family, colleagues and partners along for the journey.

The Unsavoury side of Control

For those that do not embrace this role in Light, there is always the dark. Weak and manipulative, the Sovereign in Shadow is a tyrant. The school bully is a classic example, picking on the weak to demonstrate his strength.  This need comes from an inner weakness that leads to over bearing control, paranoia and cruelty.

As adults this can manifest as the dictator or the destructive leader who exploits others for his own gain. He takes the glory but never the blame. Modern rulers such as Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein are well known as tyrants. Anwar Sadat and Nelson Mandela might be considered leaders of benevolence.

Sphere of Influence

The archetype of Sovereign, the King or Queen, is a daily commitment to controlling the aspects of your life that are within your sphere of influence.  Consequently, understanding what is and is not in your control is the first step in leading with calm, confidence and effectiveness. To lead and give people autonomy comes from self assurance and humility. A great leader must have these qualities. He or she controls through freedom without fear of losing control.

The Sovereign applied

In coaching, it can be the Sovereign within the coach that guides the session towards empowering the client towards finding his or her own Sovereign.  As a result, the client has autonomy. This is how it should be. A client must feel totally independent to be fully empowered. Through this process inner transformation can be evoked. This is the true power of coaching.

Every week I see clients work at taking control of their careers, relationships, health and well- being, businesses, finances, education, personal development and more. And when life throws curve balls I see them working to create outcomes that serve them and the people in their lives.

One client for example was in a long career that he felt served him less and less. Through coaching he found a much more fulfilling career path in which he makes a huge positive difference to young people’s lives. That strength and resolve to take control and create a life of meaning, purpose and beauty is the Sovereign in action.

Over to You

Where does your Sovereign show up in your life? How can this be of benefit to your life? Can you see where your Sovereign might be over controlling or not controlling enough? If you’d like to take more control and create more of the life you want for yourself, why not get in touch and we can discuss your needs?

Pass it on

If you know someone who would benefit from this article, why not pass it on? People are just waiting for the right inspiration to take that next step forward in their lives. Perhaps this blog could be that inspiration for someone you care about?

Post Script

You are a complex combination of qualities, some of which are obvious to you and many others that are not.  The archetypes are a useful tool to explain and demonstrate how to bring these qualities forth and how they manifest in your life.  There are the qualities that are supportive of your best self (the Light side).  There are those that are detrimental to your best self (the Dark Side made infamous in the Star Wars series).  In my Mindful Movement Courses I work with the archetypes to bring forth the qualities that can be supportive to realising your best self.  There are many archetypes, too many to cover in a single course.  I have chosen six: Warrior, Lover, Rebel, Magician, Jester and of course Sovereign.  I hope by writing this series of blogs, I will be able to explain their power and usefulness to you in your life.

5 Tips to Overcome Procrastination and Overwhelm

Do you ever feel like there is so much going on in your head that you can’t focus? When you do try, do other things jump into your mind, distracting you? On those occasions do you notice that you don’t get anything much done? Do you experience mounting anxiety and frustration as time slips away and deadlines are creeping ever closer? Can this lead to overwhelm? When this happens do you ever feel like putting it off (procrastination) and writing off the day only to feel guilty for not sticking at it?

I hear these scenarios often from my clients. We explore strategies to overcome these feelings of overwhelm. We discuss how lists can help to prioritise what needs to be done. Clients discover better ways of working either to prevent these situations from occurring at all or to stop them developing and getting out of control.

I actually experienced just this scenario myself recently. As the weekend progressed, more and more things were cropping into my mind that I needed to deal with on Monday morning. By the time I reached the working week I was in a real panic. I had all these deadlines to make. As soon as I settled down to doing one thing, other important things jumped into my mind and took me away from concentration and focus. It spiraled into an ever- descending pit. Only when I calmed, centred and disciplined myself to focus on one task at a time did the flow and productivity return. Then the to- do list whittled down nice and fast as Monday progressed.

Based on discussions with clients and my own personal experience here are some tips to break the cycle of stress, anxiety and distressed thinking that can come from feeling overwhelmed and having too many thoughts in your head.

  1. Awareness: begin to notice the signs. You will have very particular clues that will tell you that you are reaching overwhelm. These might be: feelings of panic or frustration; having so many thoughts in your head vying for attention that you can’t focus or concentrate; chopping from one task to another as you realise yet another job you need to finish; mounting anxiety; realising that you are losing your calm and not recognising why; tension in your neck, shoulders, chest, back and stomach or combination of these; you are short tempered and snapping at colleagues, family and friends; you are agitated and over active or conversely lacking in energy. There could be many signs. What are yours?
  2. Choice: now that you are aware, you have choice. Will you choose to continue on this trajectory or will you change course and take control? For some people this cycle of mounting anxiety becomes addictive. There is something thrilling about the drama even though you know it is neither productive nor good for your health. Awareness is always the first step. Will you decide to stop the spiral of anxiety, doubt and frustration and take action towards calm, confidence and focus?
  3. Action: do something to break the cycle. Here are some ideas: make yourself a hot drink; go for a walk; workout; have an unrelated conversation with a friend or colleague; make a list and prioritise; do something else that is completely unrelated; discuss the situation with a friend or colleague who is willing to listen; position your body in a way that brings it to centre so that your posture improves, your breathing slows and your mind calms. Find the ones that work best for you. Your mind is feeling a bit dazed. Like a cat stalking a large flock of pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on. It might try and pounce on one. It will never succeed. Only by focusing will the cat have any chance of success. Your mind is the same.
  4. Prioritise: start the focus process by prioritising. If you haven’t already done so, write a list of all the things that need doing and then prioritise each one, the most important and urgent first and the least important and urgent last (or even cross it off the list!!!!). There is a lot to be said for lists. The very act of writing them down literally gets them out of your head and onto the page. Then, your mind no longer has to “hold” the ideas and is free to let it go and focus on one task at a time.
  5. Focus: pick one thing and complete it as fully as you can. If your mind throws up another thing on your to do list, add it to the list and let it go. Discipline yourself to stay with it. Feel your mind calm and your attention focus on the job at hand. Tick or cross off the jobs as you do them and congratulate yourself every time you manage to complete a task.
Like a cat stalking pigeons, it doesn’t know which one to focus on.

One reason why you might find yourself in this situation time and again may be because you have the habit of procrastination or you bury your head in the sand. I am a sucker for that one myself. I know it leads to trouble for me later down the line, but when there are jobs I fear I cannot do, I believe they are hard or even just boring, I’ll put them off. Then they pile up and that overwhelming feeling starts to appear.

I’m learning through experience that this is not the strategy to have. It is important to do the important things and give yourself time and space to do them well. Some things crop up and are urgent, but generally if you can deal with the important stuff early you do not have to rush to get it done last minute. If you take the time to become aware of the strategies that truly work for you, you will feel inspired to act in a way that supports this awareness.

In short, your creativity and productivity work best when you are calm and relaxed. When there is the pressure to get things done and produce material, this pressure acts as an inspiration for productivity when you are calm and relaxed. It is a delicate balance of inspiration that does not fall into overwhelm. When you are tense and anxious your creativity cannot flow.

In anxiety, your whole nervous system (Sympathetic Nervous System) works to shut your body down. In relaxation and flow, your nervous system leads you to open up, productivity and creativity (Parasympathetic Nervous System). It is like a light switch. Either one is switched on or the other. Either you are in fight or flight (stress response) or you are in rest and digest (relaxation response). One is conducive to saving your life, the other to creativity and productivity. Overwhelm and agitation are symptoms of the stress response. If you use these tips and fine tune them in a way that works best for you, you will move into rest and digest and your calm, relaxation, creativity and productivity will soar.

Over to You

Do you experience overwhelm?  What sort of situations do you find overwhelming?  When you experience overwhelm, do you procrastinate and feel anxious?  How does procrastination work for you as a strategy?  What strategies do you use to overcome overwhelm?  Or do you feel powerless to change the feeling of overwhelm?

Pass it on

If you found this article useful and know people who might find it valuable, please send the link on to them.  Also, please share the content on social media.  If you’d like to discuss with me how we might work together to help you stop reaching overwhelm and therefore be more productive and creative why not e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk?

Archetypes- Rebel

Coaching is about evoking transformation. This means growing on the inside, overcoming self- limiting beliefs and expressing a new and more whole voice in the world. By consciously embracing your fullness, you share yourself more completely. To do this takes courage, heart, determination and persistence. This does not have to be a hard journey. It is a journey of blossoming and blooming into your fullness.

Introducing The Rebel

The Rebel challenges the status quo & evokes transformation

One of the archetypes that can be really powerful in this process is The Rebel. So often we create strategies to get us through this situation or that period in our lives. Frequently we discover later on that these strategies are no longer working for us anymore. They do not give us the results we desire, usually because we have decided that we want different outcomes.

Childhood Strategies

As children, we may find that if we lacked attention from our parents for example, that we developed a strategy to get as much attention as possible. We might have been really well behaved and strived for outstanding results at school or sports. We hoped for positive attention by doing this and may have strived harder still if we did not get the praise we wanted. Alternatively, we may have decided to create havoc and get the negative attention that this generally attracts. Attention is attention and people employ different strategies to get it for a myriad of reasons.

Strategies in Adulthood

Later in life we might decide that trying to be perfect so that we can get praise no longer serves us. We might notice that no matter how hard we try we never get quite enough praise from other people to quiet the voice of doubt or concern. We may get to the point that we realise that the only way we are going to have true peace and contentment is to do what makes us happy. No external reference points. Rather an internal motivation that can be pleased if we are strong enough to answer that calling. Instead we might rather do things to receive self- praise rather than praise from others. Our behaviour might look completely different, as we are no longer doing things to please our parents or teachers. Instead we act to please ourselves. We might go walking in a rain storm rather than stay indoors and clean the house or watch TV.

The child that sought negative attention through misbehavior may notice as an adult that people do not trust them or feel that they cannot be relied upon. Therefore, they may not get the partners they want or develop through their chosen career. Their behaviour in the past was to get attention, albeit negative attention, which is going to attract people into their lives that will give them negative attention in adulthood. Until they realise this pattern of behaviour, they may get in the way of their own success. Noticing this will also lead to behaviour change.

Breaking Free

When we notice this need to shift, we need energy that will break free of the old patterns of behaviour. We need a Rebel within us to buck the trend, overturn what isn’t working and break the rules that have kept us in this place for so long. This means we have to destroy the old and bring in the new. We have to shock the system we have created, challenge the status quo and be outrageous. This is how it will feel to us when we take on the challenge of transformation. This is not an external rebellion per se. It is an internal rebellion that will lead to change on the outside.

Think of the rebels of history who changed the world. Mahatma Gandhi transformed India into an independent country free of Empirial rule. Martin Luther King evolved people’s views of Afro- American rights. Richard Branson challenged the monopoly of countless corporations and said he could do it too and even do it better. Steve Jobs revolutionised computing, music, telecommunications, education and publishing. Of course there are many more examples.

The Internal Rebel

For our own internal world, we want this same energy and vision for our own lives. We want to step out of our Comfort Zone, if only for a while, and embrace the unpredictable seas of change so that we can grow into the next version of ourselves. This is a positive energy that has us moving forward, growing, evolving and transforming ourselves on the inside. The result is that our external world will change as well. True growth starts from within.

We want this force in our lives as and when we need it. Not all the time. Being constantly on edge can be due to excessive Rebel energy. We might see this in someone who is always up for a fight no matter what or someone on the edge of society who may turn to crime. Excessive Rebel energy can be destructive and have a negative impact on us, and the people around us. Turned negative the Rebel evokes negative transformation. This can manifest as the Saboteur. A force driven by fear that leads to low self- esteem and self- destructive behaviour, blocking our own empowerment and success.

Rebel Embodied

The Rebel feels edgy. Internally, the Rebel challenges conformity within you. You might feel that as an uncomfortable sensation as the Rebel pushes for change and you resist. The voice of the Saboteur holds you in check while the Rebel calls for something different. This might feel energising or exhausting. Consequently, your body may stand really strong, focused and buzzy. Alternatively, you might feel crushed by the internal struggle, stooped, conflicted and on edge. That embodied agitation can feel uncomfortable for you and others. It may be a sign that the need for change is growing within you. It might be time to listen.

Rebel Energy

The positive energy of the Rebel is very different from the Warrior or the Sovereign. Though the Rebel can be principled and values driven, there is an idealism and searching in its energy that is very powerful. Let me give you an example from one of my clients:

Sacha was a manager in a supermarket chain who wanted to create a better life for himself and his family. He sent himself back to school and then on to do a psychology degree so that he could earn more money and have a career that was fulfilling. He had to overcome the barriers he had within himself that told him he was not intelligent enough to get the qualifications needed. Sacha challenged his preconceived ideas of what life should be like for him and his family. He chose a path he felt was more in line with his values and what was important to him.   He now has much more of the life he wants.

The Rebel’s time

Without that Rebel energy he would not have had the inertia and power to make that happen. More content now, that energy has subsided. It is replaced with other energies to move him forward on that career path which may include the Warrior and Sovereign energies.

As in history, the Rebel has his time and then is replaced by other leaders who cement the new ways into practice. Then in time, things have to change again. So it is with us. We find the energy to change things because life demands it of us or we demand it of ourselves because we do not wish to continue as we are.

Then we settle into a new way of being. Until it is time to change again and transformation is on the cards. Career paths, relationship shifts, growing children, our own old age, health issues, changing goals may all be the arena of the Rebel. When we call on the Rebel, we have the energy, fight and determination to create something new and better than what was possible before. For this, the Rebel is unequalled.

Over to You

When have you needed the Rebel energy? Do you struggle with change or embrace it? How have you managed to evoke transformation when change was required? Do you recognise the Rebel energy in yourself and others? Have you noticed the more destructive side of the Rebel in others or yourself? I’d love to hear your comments and learn how the Rebel has served you, or been a disservice, in your life.

Pass it on

If you have found this article useful, please pass it on to someone you know. You never know when words might strike a cord at a particular time and inspire someone you love and care about to evoke transformation.

Archetypes- Magician

Many of my clients are successful in their careers and enjoy the benefits of material wealth. In spite of attaining these perceived goals, they still feel like they are missing something. They may feel that the magic of their youth has been replaced by the practical considerations of adult life: paying the mortgage, career progression, the responsibility of child care and aging parents for example. Of course, these things are important. Yet, when they are done to the detriment of our dreams this can often lead to discontentment, disappointment and discord. When the magic of life is lost to us, we can call upon our internal Magician to find it again, bring it alive in us and create a magical life of joy and adventure.

Magician Introduced

This Magician is one of Karl Jung’s original archetypes and can manifest in us at any age. As an archetype, the Magician is a universal figure, a reluctant teacher who understands the way of the world and knows how to harness this wisdom for the good of all. You might be familiar with the Magician in popular culture as Obi Wan Kenobi (Luke Skywalker’s guide and teacher in Star Wars), Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter’s mentor) and Aslan (C.S. Lewis’ wonderful Lion Magician in the Narnia Series of books). These figures are more than teachers. Learning their ways equips us with skills to create the life we really want for ourselves at a deep level. As ever with these archetypes, they live within us all. They are not only characters in our lives.

When you were young, you may have been full of ideas about what you were going to be when you grew up. Astronauts, Fairy Godmothers, Firemen, Princesses, Journalists, adventurers and so on. This was the Magician talking to you, filling your head with dreams of what could be. How many of us actually do those things? Not many of us it must be said. There is something about that childhood innocence that makes it so straightforward, when as an adult, we understand that life is more complex than that. Social pressure to live a certain way, take a “sensible” job or career path, have a certain standard of material wealth, keeping up with the Joneses often crush the childhood dream. We cannot see how we can make a living doing our dream and still live up to the responsibilities that society and life place upon us.

Magician Ignored

It is important to realise that we take on these responsibilities, consciously or unconsciously. We also play our part in allowing the voices of society to win out over our hopes and dreams. That voice from the media, teachers, parents, politics, family, peers and society at large is so loud, it drowns out our childhood wishes. That innocent voice becomes quieter and quieter as the years progress and we lose touch with the Magician’s voice. It lies dormant, yet it’s yearning to be fulfilled is still powerful.

The voice manifests in a longing to do something different to what you are doing. It shows up in discontent, a nagging feeling (blog) that there is something more to life, if only you could work out what it is. When it gets really bad, it feels like a hole inside you, a void that cannot be filled. Some people try to fill that void with food, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping and friends, yet it does not fill the gap.

Crisis starts the Search

You can spend a lifetime filling the gap rather than looking for the answer. Most return to the search for that answer due to some crisis or other: divorce, death of a friend or relative, health issues, redundancy, financial ruin, personal touches with death and so on. Neither do you need to wait that long, nor for things to get that bad. If you feel that void, that is the sign to start searching again and begin listening to that inner voice.

As a child you probably spent lots of time at play. You created whole worlds in your imagination that felt so real, you might have mistaken fantasy for reality.

How do you begin to turn it around? If you cast your mind back to your youthful fantasies, you might recall you spent lots of time at play. You created whole worlds in your imagination that felt so real, you might have mistaken fantasy for reality. Yet, in that play the Magician worked it’s wonder. You were in awe, passionate, inspired, motivated and lost in a world of imagination and creativity. That force of your mind need not disappear as you grow older. If it is alive in you, it acts as a force that continues to inspire you and continually create an exciting life journey. To remain connected to it you must give it time and energy.

Finding time and space for the Magician

Too often we are told to stop wasting our time on childish things and grow up. Magic is not only something for the young. It is for all ages. I do not mean the conjurers tricks, the “little, peddling magician who works by rules and books” (C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, Narnia Series). Rather I am talking about the Intuition, Instinct and Insight. The real magic of life in which we have a vision and strive for it, we see life as a mystery and marvel at it and we know life to be an adventure to be lived as fully as possible.

In our hectic lives of responsibility, pressure, stress, tension and endless demands, we need to find some space to connect to that part of ourselves. I know it is hard, yet the benefits are astounding.   Time to unplug and give you the time to relax and remove the almost relentless tension you feel in your body, mind and emotions. Writing, drawing, painting, poetry, music, movement, meditation, singing, crafts, reflection and contemplation are all examples of connecting to the Magician. You get a chance to create and be free to explore your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Over time this connection deepens and you begin to get insights into what other things you might want to explore. The journey is endless. Your potential is unlimited. If you begin this journey, it may start as a hobby. It may grow into something larger and more important to you. It may even grow into a new career path.

Support on the Journey

You may like to join a group. Art classes, music lessons, choirs, yoga groups, discussion meetings, evening classes, bands, meditation or contemplation groups. There is so much out there to join in with. Find the thing or things that really light you up inside and remove the feeling of that void that feels so painful now. Notice the contentment that begins to grow within you.   Surround yourself with like- spirits, for the journey is easier with other people who are traveling a similar road.

So, begin to find that silent sacred space to access the Magician in your life. Only by stepping away from the frantic pace of modern living, if only for 5 minutes, can we hope to hear the voice of the Magician. When we are silent we can listen to our intuition, the voice of the Magician. I am struck that “silent” and “listen” are anagrams. It is interesting that to truly listen we must be silent inside, still and calm, and then the message comes through loud and clear.

As human beings, we are so much more than our conscious mind, the part of the brain that deals with logic, lists and reason. We are also an intuitive and creative being, skills of the subconscious that get drowned out by the loud conscious mind. In its insecurity, the conscious mind or ego, creates a need to be listened to. This is only part of your full potential. To be fulfilled and at peace, we must listen to both parts of the mind. The Magician’s realm is the subconscious, the world of imagination and creativity. When fantasy becomes reality and we live our dreams, the power of peace and harmony, as well as no longer being in internal conflict, is profound.

Over to You

Do you feel that void inside? If so, do you fill it with food, alcohol, cigarettes and the like, or do you seek out the Magician? How did you start your journey to discovering the Magician? Would you like to start your journey to hearing the Magician’s voice? Did you have dreams as a child and wonder what’s happened to them? Would you be willing to go on a journey to explore what your Magician wants for you?

If so, please get in touch.  We can discuss how we can make this happen for you by working together. These first steps can be made more easily with support.  A life coach can be an ideal person to keep you accountable to the changes you commit to and the direction of growth you have decided upon.  If you think you might want to work with me through this process, you can reach me by e- mail on david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk. Please post your comments at the foot of the page. It would be good to get a conversation going about this fascinating subject.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might be struggling with this challenge, please pass this link on to them. It might make a huge difference to their life and may stop the ache and discontent they are feeling in this period of their life.