GOING FOR GOLD

A personal Journey – A recent client of mine wrote this lovely chronicle of her own personal journey which I am delighted to publish here. I hope it gives some idea of what therapy and personal development are all about…

The season of change and fresh starts is right here as I pen this piece. Spring has finally arrived bringing with it the opportunity to discover new things and that’s very much what I intend doing in 2018.

Discovering Life Management has brought about the beginning of exciting life changes for me.

Problems

Christmas is not my favourite time of year – even when I’m happy – but December 2017 had plunged me into new lows. Lucky to have reached mature years and with elderly parents still just about making it, losing both of them two years earlier had hit me hard.

By the New Year, I had also lost my best buddy, my Labrador to an unexpected stroke which had left me with an overwhelming sadness as all I could do was to watch helplessly as the vet carried out my final act of love from me to my Perro.

I had limped through the festivities and couldn’t wait for the season to be over as I looked forward to the twinkly lights fading to match my depressive mood. In my mind, it wasn’t fair that I was wallowing in darkness whilst everyone else seemed to be doing great at this jolly time with their perfect partners, families and friends in their perfect homes. Others were seemingly celebrating in perfect festive style plucked straight from a Christmas TV ad – and all neatly wrapped up with big shiny bows around their shiny front doors. I was out of the game and almost resigned to believing that it was always going to be like this for me from now on. My spirits were rock bottom and was in no mood for Auld Lang Syne my dear but was longing for a great big cup of kindness.

I was rigid with stress and tension as I constantly fought back the swell of tears which always seemed to be bubbling under the surface. I had suffered a lot and repressed certain things for way too long now and I was near to cracking under the strain of pent up emotions. But somehow I got a grip and realised I needed some professional help. I was looking for someone to talk to who would be neutral, understanding, empathetic and non-judgemental. I wanted and needed that someone to hear me out and listen to all that had gone askew in my life over the last few years.

By coincidence, a few days into January I met up with an old friend who told me he had been having a bit of a rough time of late and happened to mention “this guy in Fairlight” he’d been seeing who had been helping him through his troubles. I latched on to this, got his name, typed it in Google and that’s when I found “Jeff Turner, Life Management.” I made contact with Jeff through his website and that’s when my lifeline began. I had originally thought I was looking for bereavement counselling but what developed over the next few weeks went far deeper as the past came up and bit me on the ankles.

We all need help sometimes

I had lost a husband to alcoholism some 15 years earlier which widowed me at the age of 43. Shortly afterwards, I had fallen straight into the arms of the first person who had shown me just a tad of affection but sadly all this ended up doing was to send me headlong into an abusive relationship. Thankfully, we parted company before he actually killed me but it did leave my bank balance in bits. OK so the guy had messed with my finances and messed with my head but he couldn’t take away my soul could he? – well that’s what I thought at the time.

12 years later Jeff was about to lift the lid on a tinderbox of unresolved issues. Would any counsellor really feel like taking me on?

Jeff answered my call in the time frame his website had promised, and a week later there I was at Oak Lodge being greeted by the most beautiful Weimaraner dog – the one and only Blue whom I had met on screen earlier of course – and he was even more gorgeous in reality. Blue led the way into the house where the most amazing spacious area opened up before me. A room flooded with natural light, and a calming, tranquil atmosphere complete with scenic wintry garden backdrop.

As I entered, the ambience was such that I could not have been further from feeling like I was going to see a shrink. Add a sea view and I had found a little bit of heaven.

My journey into myself had begun. Years of feeling rejected and being surrounded by destructive so-called friends with negative attitude towards me had left me in tatters. My self-esteem was on the floor and I had lost all perspective of who I had become or how I could possibly add value going forward.

With utmost expertise, Jeff immediately got a handle on the mess which was me in the chair opposite. It was immediately apparent that he was carefully constructing a programme for me which was then brilliantly executed over the next few months. The foundations were being laid for how I was going to start underpinning my shaky framework.

Jeff was soon teaching me how to find myself again and renew my relationship with the stranger within me who had evolved over the last 57 years.

I needed to find the old me; the old City career girl who was confident, positive and strong. In my former life as PA to several top flight executives, I had been the personification of the phrase “behind every successful man there stands a woman”. Where had she disappeared to? Not only did I need to find the old me, but I needed to dig deep and unearth an emotion much more alien and uncomfortable – I needed to love myself and even cosy up to the wonderful me inside. That was going to be hard; I’d never felt any of that before, not even when I was flying high.

Through Jeff I learned that I needed to start putting myself at the top rung of the ladder. First and foremost though, I needed to reach out for my own breathing apparatus before even thinking about helping anyone else. I had done it all the other way, putting other people first for decades and just look where that had got me.

In Jeff you find a person who emanates a generosity of spirit and sincerity. Very quickly I realised he was not going to chastise me, look down on me or painfully wash out my injuries with salt water. Quite the opposite. My mental wounds were soon being gently cleansed and healed back to life with kindness, empathy and understanding. The winter sessions at Oak Lodge became a series of naturally relaxing experiences as week by week my muddled head got calmer and calmer with every session.

Along with his formal professional qualifications, Jeff has a “First Degree in Humanity” gained at the “University of Life” – a qualification no grant could ever fund. During our programme Jeff would often share words of wisdom with me which he had picked up along the way from his own peer group. By introducing snippets from his life into our conversations, I felt completely at ease with sharing snippets from mine. He often conjured up pictorial images of various suggestions he put to me making them clearer for me to understand and tailor-made; then he let me loose on them to photo shop however I liked. Jeff makes me feel that it’s all just for me and I’ve never felt that before. That’s what Jeff does; he puts you first and puts you in charge. He facilitates the process with such ease that suddenly you find you no longer have the monkey on your back.

All at sea

When I first met Jeff I explained that I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread as if I was lost at sea in my little boat struggling to stay afloat whilst bobbing about helplessly in a wild ocean. As the weeks went by and I started to unwind we talked about how I was going to get some sails to steady me. If I could get a handle on all this I might even arrive at my destination in a 6 berth yacht with washing facilities and champagne in the fridge! That sounded much more like it and even much more like the old me. What a relief; it was all going to be just fine now with Jeff on board.

Some weeks in, Jeff mentioned meditation which he thought I might find useful. I had no knowledge or experience of this but I was very open to the suggestion if he felt I could benefit from all it brings. Three weeks in, I joined the weekly meditation class where I met the group who made me feel extremely welcome and although I was in the company of seasoned meditators, never once did I feel like the new girl. Jeff would go on to teach me about getting into trance, the power of focusing the mind and the resulting relaxation and calmness of mindfulness. 5 sessions on, I have learned about posture, breathing, focus, the “Inner Sanctuary” and the power of using distance, distraction and detachment as useful techniques for dealing with certain situations and that’s just the start!

Letting go of the past

Jeff is also a master hypnotherapist and as he got to understand more about where my adult life had taken me, he explained a hypnotic exercise entitled “Sands of Time” which he thought would really hit the spot on how entangled I was feeling.

In early March, in an induced state of trance (hypnosis), this literally changed my life.

Since that day, I have let go of a load of old baggage I had been carrying for many years and through this exercise I also learned how to release all (I now realise) unnecessary guilt surrounding my husband’s death and the shackles were finally off from that wolf in sheep’s clothing scammer who had cunningly emptied my savings account back in 2006.

This exercise also shone a light on how I was now going to tread the path ahead now I was steady on my feet as I left the rocky road behind. I am delighted to share the experience and my new-found inner freedom; the luggage has now been completely washed out to sea and I am carrying nothing but my own self-worth. I still have a few back-packs to carry but the difference is that I’m now hands-free and the sacks are filling up with heaps of value and high regard for myself so they’re as light as feathers. I hope to get them full to bursting with pride as I travel on my way. I have found the whole meditation experience all of the things Jeff had outlined and I am looking forward to getting better and better as I practise more and more and advance from beginner to intermediate stage.

Making better choices

Another thing to be found in Jeff’s catalogue is his ability to explain succinctly about choices and options and there was never a time when I felt that I was being given a rigid set of instructions which I had to follow. Jeff gave me the tool box and it was up to me to make my selections. Jeff has not only shared my issues but has taught me how to own them and re-label them in the process. Jeff has expertly navigated me through my own maze by handing me the compass and is helping me to point it in the right direction. What we will do as we go along is make adjustments accordingly in response to magnetic variations.

I started my journey in January with a counsellor but several months in, I find I am hitching a ride with my life coach; that’s how much I feel I’ve moved on and all in a relatively short period of time. It’s only taken 3 months to sort out more than a decade! I look forward to every session and to sharing with Jeff how I am growing thanks to his guidance and support.

The finish line in sight

By the end of March I was getting back in control and my self-esteem had improved considerably. I had gone from “no good” to “nearly there” and I now have a clearer idea about where I am heading. I have a strong feeling that I am leaving the caterpillar behind. Worthlessness has morphed into Worthiness and there’s a new creature emerging. We are now working on where I go now with this new me and how I will sustain and manage inevitable future wobbles.

We are working on my story board which is forming the stepping stones for my future ambitious life plan. “If you can imagine it, you can live it” says Jeff; fabulous words for me to cling on to as we watch the butterfly emerging.

We have identified areas for my development (through something called the Wheel of Life exercise) and I am learning that me and only me is the one fully in control of my hopes and dreams. They can be anything I want them to be! Jeff has taught me that I am responsible for myself and it’s OK to make choices that suit me first and foremost (which can be done while still maintaining consideration for others).

This seems so much easier for me now that I have deleted the painful bits from the back story. I finally understand that I am free to edit my future in any way I want to.

Someone once told me that you can’t go back and start a new beginning but you can begin today and create a new ending. I can honestly say that what’s gone is gone for me now and I am feeling new as Jeff is carefully fixing my fragile broken wings and helping me to fly again.

The race is on now and I am up for the challenge as I head for my sixth decade with improved core strength and a spring in my step once more. I am going to again take part in this game called Life with a passion. Like the good old me and not be last year’s version, toppling before even leaving the starting blocks. I feel like the qualifying rounds are behind me and I am in the finals now and I can even see myself on the podium.

When I am awarded my medal for participating in the toughest event, hopefully, the inscription will read: “In pursuit of excellence she put up with the rain and found her Rainbow”.

I am the living proof that anything and everything is possible with the right support and encouragement.

Instead of feeling sad I am now feeling happy – happy and proud to be the person I know I am now after all that’s gone before. Clear on where I am going in the future. Look out world – my place is confirmed and it’s going to be a great summer…..!

Here’s a message to all other self-doubters or to anyone else about to crack – Help is out there!

All you need is a little bit of Jeff, a whole load of Life Management and a dog called Blue.

You too could go for gold!

D.E.T. April 2018

The Journey Continues

February 2020

With the gloom of January behind us like me you may have decided to make a definitive change in your life. As the darkness gradually gives way to the light you too may be considering the positive changes that spring might bring.

However, even if your mind is firmly made up and you have decided you are going to change your job, or your career or made a life changing decision about your personal life – ending a relationship perhaps – have you got the confidence to carry it out?

It’s not called “having the guts to do” it for no reason. It is possible that your stomach is churning; increased stress levels have affected your nervous system; tension has risen up in your stomach and your gut is hurting.

Following my change of partner last year(!) my own big lifestyle change as we go into the new decade focuses on the workplace. But truth be known, the nerves are kicking in as I plan changes to my established routines, which I am keen to manage in a flawless transition. Preferably no cracks or potholes please!

I have not worked for someone else for some years. Unlike the late 70s when I earned my first salary, these days there is no such thing as a job for life. In fact, having experience in only one industry, company or job role for more than several months or, god forbid, years or decades can be seen as a negative in the world we live in today. Diversity and experience in a spread of subjects makes for a well qualified candidate, a pleasing read on your CV, something extra to talk about at interviews, and may even highlight an interesting, attractive person on your Tinder profile!

A revolution has unfolded since the 1970s and today’s status quo dictates that it is more likely that you will have experienced a varied career already if you are in your 20s or 30s. It is also highly likely that you’ve travelled a bit of a winding road with many twists and turns in your personal life if you are 50 plus. I know I have.

Like me your adrenalin may well be kicking in at the prospect of going back into the workplace for the first time after a good few years away. The anticipation of spending a large part of the day having stimulating conversations with adults of a similar age is positively exciting, yet you are filled with fear and dread of the modern-day unknowns. Aware that you are out of practice and your anxiety levels are high. If you’re like me, you may have many gremlins in your head right now and might already be thinking of doing a U-turn and needing a nudge to spur you on. You may have a confidence issue or a feeling of needing to be liked or of making the right first impression.

I have recently embarked on a new job role in a position which requires me to draw on some old technical skills not used for a long time and (stupidly) I am nervous about the prospect of undertaking tasks I could once breeze through. Will I be as proficient as I used to be? What will my efficiency levels be like now I’m older? Will I fit into this new workplace with its trendy acronyms and urban dictionary? My fears and dreads are like everyone else’s but my new-found ‘presupposition’ is urging and encouraging me forwards, whatever the outcome. This way of thinking is one of the pillars of Neuro Linguistic Programming which I came across as part of my life coaching sessions with Jeff at Life Management and I would like to share its benefits with you.

Through Jeff’s expert knowledge of the subject, and through his guidance and coaching, I have discovered the Law of Requisite Variety.

The Law of Requisite Variety is a presupposition of NLP. It states that the system/person with the most flexibility of behaviour will control the system. It is also the first law of Cybernetics. The individual with the highest amount of flexibility of behaviour will have the most influence on the system.

Through the power of the Law of Requisite Variety, only now do I feel brave enough to explore the road less travelled so far. I have always been a confident person but have many ideas and beliefs which are stuck in my head, drummed into me by either my parents or my teachers or they may be just a bi-product of a 1960s upbringing. Parameters were set, for the common good of course, but perhaps I mistook guidelines for hard and fast rules not to be meddled with.

Most of my life my actions have been primarily dictated by my inner fear of hurting or letting down my peers, friends or family. Worst of all I am aware now of taking responsibility for the feelings or behaviour of others, even allowing those to dictate my own.

However the Law of Requisite Variety has given me the permission to experiment and take risks, follow MY choices first (whilst still being considerate to others of course) and the resulting new ways of thinking are helping me to allow myself to become unstuck from the outmoded and ingrained thoughts and feelings I have nurtured now for 60 years.

I now feel I am allowed to break through emotional barriers. That my opinion counts and that I should respect that first above all others. Only then will I be free to walk my own path, not one that fits into a neatly constructed one fits all emotional box where everyone else’s well being is catered for and I am left outside looking in.

NLP is a very powerful tool and the Law of Requisite Variety to me doesn’t just mean ticking of a check list of “things to do before 60” but is now my driver pushing my emotional agility in directions I would never have previously considered. It is freeing me from a host of long established feelings- mostly guilt, if I’m honest, over nothing! – worrying about how people have felt when I have done or said something. I can honestly say I am now born again in the new found freedoms granted me by discovering this wonderful pre-supposition of NLP.

Understanding the Law of Requisite Variety has encouraged me to challenge attitudes I considered to be the norm, to increase my own personal flexibility and to make choices which conflict with my comfortable, usual default positions. Even with my limited knowledge of NLP, I am already experiencing the benefit of tweaking my behaviour by being more open to saying yes to things I would have said no to in the past. This is already – slowly but surely – building my confidence levels back to where they were 25 years ago and will be of huge benefit as they endeavour to put me at an advantage whilst educating and enriching me. The result being that this will prove the theory that the person with the greatest flexibility will have the most influence and the greatest likelihood of achieving their outcomes.

I can highly recommend that if you are feeling frightened about the practicalities of going forward with the decision that you might have taken weeks or even months to make, I am sure that a bit of NLP can, and will, help lift the spirit within you and help you to become the stand-out person, be it in your professional or personal life.

By expanding my map of reality, I have an increasing belief that I might even be able to have the château and the gateau after all, because now I have my new friend NLP encouraging and supporting me to seek out and experience all potential openings available to me.