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  • Louise Southam

When is it time to say ‘enough’ to repeating patterns?


I recently spent 2 glorious days with my incredible coach as he ran one of his NLP Foundation events. I see attending these as putting on my own oxygen mask. I may be an NLP Trainer and practice the tools and techniques in my every day life, as well as when I run development programmes or work with my clients. However, as I headed home on the train I had yet more great insights and uncovered at a deeper level, the ‘stuff’ that likes to show up and remind me that I’m on a journey and in no way have I reached my destination. On the outside I smiled and said yay, more opportunity to grow and develop, yet on the inside I wanted to skulk away and pretend that I didn’t have anything to work on, that I was in a great place, which I am. So on that train, on the way home, I reflected deeply about what my next steps would be and what else do I really want for myself.

I am referring to habits. Ones that don’t support us and although we may say, ‘oh it’s fine, its occasional’, really we know that it is not ok, that in some way we are sabotaging ourselves and getting in our own way. It may be that chocolate that’s calling from the kitchen (even if you’ve hidden it to stop yourself), or that glass of wine to ‘unwind’ at the end of the day, the fifth cup of coffee for an extra ‘boost’ or maybe the sofa is way too comfy to leave it

for a bit of exercise…. Do any of these, sound familiar?

I mostly live a balanced life. I eat very well and healthily, I exercise at least five times a week, I meditate daily, I do yoga, I journal, I practice what I teach….so am I running an old programme that is getting in my way? Yes, I realised I was. I love my life, I even accept the challenges it gives as ‘gifts’ because they are what have led me into a career I literally love and am grateful for every day. I have a level of self-care that I am proud of considering my history; and that I can now say out loud ‘I AM good enough, just as I am’. Wow, that’s even something big for me to acknowledge as I type it.

So back to my habit, what was it?…..it was my dear ‘friend’ Prosecco. I say that will laughter because it has been a friend, we have had some amazing times together, we could just chill in front of the TV at the weekend or we could be around the table together with amazing friends and family, sharing laughter, life, love and well… Prosecco. Why would you not count that as your friend? The reality is, I enjoyed a few glasses at the weekend only, and as you may be able to tell, I am sociable and love living. So why did I question how this ‘friend’ was actually not supporting me but getting in the way of myself. Because I felt out of alignment and that creates incongruence. I’m not saying goodbye completely, merely finding a balance where my ‘friend’ could come along, without having centre place at the table, because what I have inside of me is enough already.

The work that I do means I am constantly talking to people about beliefs, about what’s important and how do these beliefs shape our life. I recognised that I have formed a belief that I had more fun with my ‘friend’ Prosecco, that it gave me permission to relax and enjoy myself. The reality is I did relax and enjoy myself in so many ways, mostly when my ‘friend’ was not present. What I also came to realise was I felt slightly fearful of how I would be when I didn’t have my ‘friend’ with me on social occasions, would l I still be the same? Would others think I’m ‘boring’? What if I WAS boring…..then what? And so the internal dialogue went on and on.

This is what we do. Does this sound at all familiar? If I were to take a guess, what you are saying to yourself is mostly negative diatribe, where you are so unkind to yourself and talk is a way you would never speak to a friend, resulting in feeling pretty awful about yourself. Your body will follow your mind and your physiology changes, which then affects how you behave. You then probably do something to make yourself feel better, like reach for the chocolate, coffee, wine or cigarettes. Then you can feel bad and beat yourself up for that… and so the loop goes on. When we can acknowledge and recognise what we do, it gives us the opportunity to change it and that is what I am currently on a journey to do.

So on that journey home I decided that for four weeks, I was going to create a new empowering belief and some habits that support me. I know that it takes 28 days of doing something consistently to change or create a habit. I am now over a week into my four week plan and so far it’s been fantastic and I am really enjoying how I feel. And my ‘friend’ Prosecco is having a holiday.

I am inviting you to do the same with a habit you think is holding you back in some way.

Start with what you think your challenge is and then what would you like the outcome to be instead. Rate on a scale of 0-10 rate where you are now. 10 is having achieved the outcome and 0 is you’ve not even started. Now go forward 1 space only and look back, what are you doing at here that you weren’t doing at the previous place on the scale? What do you notice? What are you saying to yourself that’s positive? What are others saying or noticing? Then repeat this for each scale all the way to 10. I would suggest you physically do this and take steps forward and turn and look back. At the end of it, notice all the resources and ideas you have come up with and ask, ‘If I start with one of those, which will it be?’ and start there.

Remember, progress in small steps. I also invite you to write down every day the achievements you are proud of as you go through your own journey. This reinforces the progress and also gives you the opportunity to congratulate yourself on your achievements…. This will spur you on further. Go on, try it!

As I neared my station, I suddenly realised I was on a journey home, reflecting about going on a journey ‘home’. That is what I believe the insights that weekend gave me, that I am on the next leg of my journey back to who I am at my core, my true, authentic self.

I embraced the unknown, albeit with a little apprehension, yet I was also excited about creating more balance in my life and watching what unfolded over the forthcoming weeks!

It’s what we learn from our experiences that make the difference, and when we step outside of our comfort zone, we stretch and grow. So as you step out of yours, I urge you to be kind to you, speak to yourself with love and kindness and remember to celebrate all the great achievements on your own journey. And of course the most important thing of all, to enjoy it!

#beliefs #habits #selfesteem #positivity #selfdevelopment

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