Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Category Archives: The Importance Of Valuing Others

What role do those nearest to you play in your life? How willing are we to listen to others, and change how we behave as a result?

Learning to stop, notice, and value friends

So after last week’s little humpluck in the duvet of life, normal services resume this week. Christmas seems to be hurtling towards us faster than ever before. My senses were assaulted this week at a large garden centre by a singing reindeer complete with winter wonderland entourage, and an overwhelming scent of cinnamon from the barrage of candles that greeting me. Some of you reading this will know exactly where I have been!

And so to what is exercising my mind this week. I am planning a big launch in January of a coaching tool that I have written, and want to share some of the backstory that led me to write it. It will be very personal, and will need to be approved by my beloved before I publish it, as it is very personal to him too. Our story has had it’s complications, but nothing is wasted, and I never stop learning.

But that is just a wee teaser for you….Advent will see me writing simple short reflections on keeping focused on what matters most at Christmas (a theme never far away for me!). And between now and then?

Learning to apply my own medicine seemed to really strike a chord with folk. The concept of boundaries and limits that we have been exploring has really made me stop and think about how I choose to live, and what I need more and less of in my weeks to not overstep my own limits.

Valuing friends

Valuing friends

Friendship is very high up that list and realising that making time for friends is crucial to my mental, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

When I better understand my limits, I am less likely to become overstretched and miss out on time with friends. The other side of that equation is about prioritising friends because they are important (and probably much more important than many of the things I am tempted to become preoccupied with when in hyper-controlling-mode) and therefore protecting time with them with good boundaries.

Some observations about friends over the last few weeks:

  • the support network aka protection squad of friends around elder daughter at a potentially nerve-wracking social event in her honour
  • having friends listen to and reassure me about my own anxieties concerning same event
  • being asked to help a couple of different friends in dire straits (and having time to do so)
  • support for younger daughter as she learns to deal with her twin braces
  • at the Good Food Show, inspired by chef/TV chap James Martin emphatically affirming his own friends – “If you want to get anywhere in life, you need to have good friends around you”. A humble, honest and very down to earth guy.

None of these examples are life shattering, and again are simply my own recent reflections. But as I start to look out for that which is most important, and prioritise it, my perspective shifts. Celebrating my friends, and seeking to be a good friend, are aspects of life that are well worth protecting.




Do you listen autobiographically?

Do you sometimes get to the end of the day and think, I wish I had listened to others more?

I suspect that this is not top of our list of daily regrets; more likely a deep regret on our deathbeds, by which time it is too late.

listen autobiographically

Do you listen autobiographically?

But that is the irony – often we are too busy ensuring that we get our opinions and views across to notice whether we have listened to the opinions of those around us. We don’t stop and notice where we failed to listen.

Listening autobiographically is a phrase I came across first when reading Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. For me, this book was a hugely influential and powerful way of turning conventional ways of thinking completely inside out.

When we listen autobiographically, we listen with a view to responding – we think of our own experiences and only allow the speaker to finish so that we can then express our views or give advice. We interpret what the speaker is saying through our own filters, and therefore make judgments accordingly. We give the speaker little value or respect, because we only want to get our point across. We risk appearing superior, judgemental, too busy, disinterested and shutting down the conversation.

So what does it mean to listen without filtering the words through our own story?

We listen with a view to understand. Of course we may not agree, and may have opinions that are valid and worthy of expression and subsequent discussion. But we earn the right to express those views only when we have properly listened without judgment. To hear the non-verbal, the underlying emotions, the meaning beneath what the speaker is communicating.

This type of listening takes time, effort and practice. But the benefits are huge – real connections with people, understanding the heart and soul of the speaker, new insights, empathy, new shared heights of creativity.

This fits with being more content in our skin, knowing who we are and what we have. When we have that security, we have less to prove to others, and are competing less to get our point across. We can listen, understand, and share as and when appropriate to the other because we know who we are.

Listen – what is your motive? How can we learn to stop listening autobiographically and get better at listening to really understand each other?

Friends come and go, but at what cost?

friends to dance with

Precious friendships are too important to lose

Are there people in your life, precious friends once upon a time, that you have lost touch with?

People whom at the time you knew them well, you could never imagine them not being in your life. But sometimes life happens, time passes, the connection lessens. Perhaps they were the ones to not return the call and so we put the onus on them to re-establish the friendship. And then more time passes, they slip out of mind, new people come into our lives.

But how often, when we reflect on that person, do we realise that we miss them? We miss the way they made us laugh. We miss crazy dancing about the living room with them (maybe not, but a nice idea!). We miss our late-night-deep-and-meaningfuls.

Chances are, they may be feeling the same. So what is there to lose? Very little in the grand scheme of things. Friendship is too important to take for granted. But sometimes our pride or stubbornness gets in the way; we put it on our mental “must get in touch with so-and-so” list where it stays and festers. And then we get to the end of our lives and look back and regret that loss…..

There have been many small incidents charting the importance of friendship in our house this week. Eldest daughter is working her way through the potential minefield that is the social groupings at secondary school. She is learning about loyalty, integrity, and what it means to be a good friend as she tentatively makes new ones.

Talking with a group of students, we oldies were observing that friendships formed in student days, in that intense bubble, can often last a lifetime, if properly maintained. This weekend sees us re-connecting with precious friends who live some distance away –  seen rarely, but the connections of two decades are so strong that they are quickly re-established. It has not always been thus – I have had friends slip just to the brink of near-permanent loss of the relationship, and realised with a start that I need to make amends.

Be the first to call. Get back in touch, and remind both of you how significant and special the relationship you share is. You will be glad you did, rather than risking regret at the loss of that friendship.

I have confidence in ….me?

What abilities of yours are you confident in?

Do you wish you were more confident?

Another oft-cited deathbed regret, this follows on from the discussion of the comparisons game – when we learn to accept who we are and what we can do, and start to live as that person, we gain confidence in being ourselves. If we are constantly wishing we were something or someone we aren’t, not only will we not be free to be ourselves, but our confidence in our own abilities will be rock bottom simply because we do not believe in our own abilities.

I am not advocating misplaced confidence, cockiness or arrogant pride in ourselves. Not good, any of those.

Being aware of who we are and the strengths and skills we have

is key to enable us to do what we do best.

I say this often to people in my work as a life coach, and it can involve something of a mindset shift. We generally are quite hard on ourselves, and can be downright dismissive of our own abilities. Particularly us Scots. But as we start to understand who we are and what we can do, and put those skills and characteristics to good use, our confidence grows.

Equally, as we gain confidence in what we can do, and understand and accept ourselves, we can also grow in confidence and acceptance of what we can’t do. That sounds a bit odd, but there are two elements to this.

Firstly, trying something completely different that we wouldn’t normally do and stepping way out of our comfort zone can be exhilarating and great for our confidence. Elder daughter cites abseiling down a cliff as a key achievement in her short life. She doesn’t like heights, and was very nervous about stepping – literally – off a cliff. But with good tuition and great support from friends she did it. And her confidence soared.

Secondly, when we are confident in what we can do it is easier to be accepting of what we can’t and that provides a great opportunity to build someone else’s confidence:

“I can do this part of this project/task/exercise/event but I don’t have these …..skills. However, you are great at this – would you do this part, and show me and teach me as you go?”

What a gift to boost someone else’s confidence as well as positioning ourselves to graciously learn something new.

What difference would being more confident make to you?



Don’t make them guess how much you love them.

tell those you love that you love them!

Watching a programme on television recently about a day in the life of a busy accident and emergency department, I was moved to tears by the heartfelt and earnest opening remarks of an A and E consultant: tell your loved ones how much they mean to you because you never know what is going to happen to you that means you never get the chance again.

Stark, emotionally charged words from someone who has witnessed the loss and grief of sudden tragic life-changing events all too often.

This is a common and more expected death-bed regret

wishing we had told others more often we love them.

We all like to be appreciated, and if we are honest, sometimes our focus in a relationship can be receiving love not giving it. Equally, often we know in our heads that we are loved by those around us and that we love and value them.

Here’s the thing though – how often do we actually say it out loud? I know, I know, not a very Scottish thing to do at all. But I challenge you this week to try it and see what fun it is. Don’t necessarily tell all your friends and family at once right enough, in case they all think you are having some kind of crisis or are terminally ill. And there can be the odd awkward moment at first, especially if it is a wee bit out of character.

But telling a friend what specifically it is that you appreciate about them, and that they mean a lot to you is an incredible gift to give. You could even go so far as to tell whoever it is that you love them.

To their face.

I do this a lot now – not sure what those on the receiving end think of it, they all know I’m a bit bonkers. But it’s fun, and I would be heartbroken to get to the end of my life (be it sudden or expected) and for those precious to me not to know how much they enrich my life, give me joy, make me laugh, inspire me.

Thank you for being my friend.

what are the best things about your friends?

What are you thankful for about your friends this week? Next week is the fabulous American celebration of Thanksgiving, and a good time to think about what we are thankful for as we muse on what it means to be a friend and to have friends.

When I think about the friends who share my life, I am thankful for those who

  • make me laugh until I cry
  • show interest and support in whatever I am up to
  • encourage and challenge me to be the best version of me
  • are vulnerable with the hard stuff they are facing, and expect the same of me
  • share in or tolerate my bonkers sense of humour
  • share in the mundanities of life
  • listen without agenda when I need to process stuff out loud

They come in all shapes and sizes, and have been around in my life for varying lengths of time. But they enrich my life, bring me joy, nourish my soul and make me want to be all of that for them too.

This week, I am going to make a point each day of thanking one of my friends for a specific characteristic about them that I value.

Why not do the same? To whom could you say “Thank you for being my friend”?

Want some more tips about how to deepen and enrich your relationships? Sign up for your free Self coaching guide here!

Thank you for your time and attention

A thankful time of year

Thank you for your time and attention.

Have you ever ended a letter or email like that? If so, what lies behind the words?

Perhaps you might have said “Thank you for your time and consideration” or similar.

Sometimes we use phrases like that in anticipation of the attention, time and consideration that we are hoping the reader is going to extend to us. In other words, our thanks is conditional on help or input we are wanting from the other. And in a business context, nothing wrong with that, we all do it.

We’ve been thinking about friendship over the last few weeks and I wonder, are we sometimes guilty of the same kind of attitude with our friends? Perhaps the time, attention and consideration we offer to others is in the hope of receiving the same in return. And of course friendships do work like this – give and take, mutual respect and affirmation. But conditional time, attention and consideration leads to the risk of conditional friends.

What would it look like instead if every day this week you offer unconditional attention and consideration to those you call friends? To pay an unexpected compliment. To listen without an agenda. To do a random act of kindness. A spontaneous hug.

Not in anticipation of what they might do in return, but simply because they matter to you and you want to say, thank you for your time and attention in being my friend.

What shape is friendship to you?

 What shape is friendship to you?

What does being a friend mean to you?

And what kind of friendship would you want to be on the receiving end of?

In thinking back over the last week in our household, the lowest common denominator in all of the interactions and conversations has been friendship.

For elder daughter, this has involved stepping out into new independence with friends, and establishing new friendships and all the dancing-around-the-edges that this involves.

For younger daughter, the absence of her big sister in her new found freedom means a change in shape of that friendship,  and the need to grow in her own self reliance.

I have been blessed by a lovely gift from a good friend, rich and nourishing conversation with a cherished friend, and honest accountability from a long distance friend who is in a really tough spot. I have been reminded over and over again that without such close connections, life would be intolerable. Watching my own children journey through friendships and the soul-warming joy and the crushing heartache that can accompany that (remember the playground, and who was who’s best friend or not? Painful, painful) reinforces the understanding that what is worth investing in most often also comes with the highest cost.

Who are the people in your life this week that you can seek to be a friend to? What ways can you show friendship, and how can you express your appreciation of those who enrich your life?

Are there people around you that you could reach out to with friendship?

Perhaps there are friendships where there has been a rift, a drifting apart, and an accompanying grieving for what used to be. What would it take to reconnect, to reach out in vulnerability and say, hey – can we start again, you are too important to lose from my life?

Friendship – what would your life be like without it? How can you enrich your friendships even more this week?



Be a friend or seek a friend?


We have been thinking over these past weeks about where we want to be, and who we want to become. This involves accepting ourselves, understanding who we are at our best, and choosing every day to live as that person.

Often we get it wrong.

Often we make mistakes.

But every day we can choose again to be more of who we want to be to those around us.

I came across this quote on friendship and it struck me as being exactly what I have been thinking about – we don’t seek to get, or even do, we seek to be. In being a friend, we gain friends –

our perspective changes

we look at what we can bring of ourselves to the other

we seek to bring out the best in the other

we choose to display more of the best characteristics of ourselves.

This week, who can you be a friend to?

How can you be more of the best of you to your friends?

And how can you seek to bring out the best in those around you?



What evidence of love do you display?


How do you value and cherish those nearest-and-dearest to you, day in day out?

In both the mundane and repetitive, and just down-right dull, and the exciting and life-changing and thrilling, whenever those days come along?

Well, you know the answer I guess – one step at a time.

These past three months have seen us celebrating at three weddings, and two significant wedding anniversaries (as well as our own recognition of 21 years married – less note-worthy but still special for us).

The above quote really made me stop and think. We say we love those nearest-and-dearest, those we share our lives with – our partner/spouse/cherished friends. But what evidence can they see in the way we treat them to support our profession of love?

How much do we value them? Listen to them? Prioritise them?

Oooh, a tricky one – how often and how quickly do we apologise to them when we get it wrong?

So this week, just a wee thought to mull over – what evidence do those you love have to support that statement? How can you show them?