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

Tag Archives: Thankfulness

Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather

“I don’t think we should be complaining about our weather” was the comment Younger Daughter made in response to seeing some of the pictures of Hurricane Irma on the television.

Whatever the weather...

Whatever the weather…

Something of an understatement, me thinks. And quite an astute comment from a 12 year old.

We love to talk about the weather in Britain. In Glasgow, where I live, it is something of a national obsession. We get a lot of weather. And a lot of it is fairly rubbish.

However, what underlies this are both perspective and mindset.

If the only perspective I had on our meteorological conditions – the only frame of reference through which I looked at our weather – was that of our own local situation and recent history, I could have grounds to grumble.

(Although I am acutely aware of my own musings on the importance of personal choice and responsibility – I choose to live here after all).

But look at our weather and compare it with what is affecting others and suddenly my perspective on how grey and wet it might be here is somewhat challenged. Any complaints I might find myself giving voice to are silenced, in humble recognition of how little we have to complain about.

So too with mindset. When we choose a mindset of what isn’t, what we can’t, what is not working or going the way we want it to, often we find ourselves living in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“I think therefore I am” proclaimed Rene Descartes an astonishingly long time ago.

What we think, and the way we choose to view our circumstances, will have a huge bearing on our own personal sense of well-being.

Another oft quoted adage is

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

This is attributed both to Alfred Wainwright and Ranulph Fiennes – both of whom certainly knew what they were talking about.

Now I believe that a hurricane stands most definitely as the exception to this.

But the point is a similar one – external circumstances can only spoil my inner well-being if I choose to let them. I can sit inside and grump on a wet, dreich and miserable day and complain about what I can’t do. I can allow this frustration to tip me into a bad mood and become irritable with those around me.

Or I can choose to dress appropriately in outdoor gear and go out and embrace the wilds of our amazing country, to look for beauty even in the rain. And on my return, I can choose to be thankful for and celebrate a steaming shower, dry cosy clothes, hot chocolate and a good book by the fire in my warm, dry house.

I may not always view my home circumstances with such dewy eyed warmth, but compared with those in the aftermath of recent hurricanes, just having a roof over my head is grounds for celebration indeed.

When we look around us, no matter our circumstances, there are always things we can find – when we choose to look for them – to be thankful for. Including the weather.

More musings inspired by Dr Seuss…and fish.

teach a man to fish

Teach a man to fish…

As part of an occasional series of thoughts and musings based on Dr Seuss words and quotes, here are another couple of my favourites:

 Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!”

There has been much in the popular press recently about the scientifically proven power of gratitude. I can testify to this in an entirely unscientific way. Furthermore, I have anecdotal evidence of several clients. Each of them is choosing to record three things daily that they are thankful for, or that are good in their lives. And each one speaks to the huge perspective shift they are enjoying –

immensely helpful

empowering

“focusing on positive outcomes and feeling much better”

Try it for a week – at the end of each day, simply write down three things you are thankful for. And see what happens Duckie.

 

It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

I LOVE this. If there is one sentence that sums up the power of life coaching, then this is it. If I tell you the specific solution to one particular problem that you have in your life, then once that problem is resolved, you potentially find yourself back to square one when the next problem comes along – stuck with a new problem and no solution.

However, if I enable you to come up with solutions for yourself by learning how to problem solve, then you are potentially set up for life. Each of us has the ability within ourselves to come up with creative and unique solutions to our own problems. What we sometimes lack is an outside perspective, and some objectivity to think outside of the box and learn how to problem solve.

Put it another way –

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.

Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. 

‘Twas my grandfather who used to say that, not Dr Seuss. Ancient Chinese wisdom was considered to be the source of this saying, although doubt is now cast on this. It matters not a jot.

What matters is the ability we each of us have to learn how to learn, and therefore be better equipped for the rest of our lives.

Need help learning to fish, metaphorically speaking? Get in touch – I can help! Find out more about what life coaching is and how it can help you here.

 

Thank people before it’s too late – or, a good goodbye.

Thank people before it's too lateThis week saw us say goodbye to some dear friends. It felt like one of those before-and-after moments: a defining goodbye that marked the shift in life before-and-after them. I cried many tears at the goodbying, and startled myself somewhat at the extent and depth of my sobs – I cry easily and often (it can be a real nuisance) and many who know me know this about me, but even so.

I have been pondering deeply about what was at the root of this volcanic well of tears. And what crystallised for me is that these dear friends, these lovely generous hearted people, have played a key role in my own inner growth over the many years I have known them. Over the past two decades, I have learned to let go of lies about myself, grown in self acceptance, gained more confidence and freedom to be the me I was made to be, and stepped out into a new career. And I realise that this in part has been because of my participation in events and experiences that these dear friends made happen. I am deeply indebted to them for their creativity, inspiration, facilitation and for often stretching me quite a long way out of my comfort zone.

I have been able to express my gratitude to them, through the tears and in writing. It has been very important to be able at least in part to articulate specifics of how they have impacted my life and what a difference they have made.

But I wonder – how many other people are there in my life who are also significant, precious, dearly loved, and how often do I thank them for their role in my life? Now these friends are neither dead nor dying, and we will see them again. But how often do we wait until the person is dead to fully appreciate out loud what they meant to us or tell them that we love them – and by then it is too late.

Between MB (My Beloved as he is known here) and I, we have received emails and letters that have expressed gratitude to us for what we have meant to the sender, and why. These are precious and treasured communications. They have often come out of the blue, sometimes prompted by a significant birthday.

Recently, I heard about a project called The Living Eulogy Box on the radio (Radio 4 Saturday Live, Feb 25). The premise is a simple one – to tell people when they are very much alive and well how much they mean to us, and to honour and thank them for their role in our lives, of whatever magnitude, rather than waiting till they are dead. By that time, for the deceased, it is too late to know of and enjoy the recognition and affirmation of others – how much more would it impact us whilst alive?

Perhaps this is something we could choose to do in Lent, which can be for some a time of reflection – to thank people before it is too late.

Perhaps there is someone in your life who means the world to you but you’ve never told them – you just kind of assume they know, right? Or someone who made a positive, significant difference to your life at a certain point, no matter how far back, but you’ve never let them know?

MB had a card a few years back from a friend, thanking him for his role in her life when they were students more than 20 years previously. He was deeply touched and humbled to read the words, as to him, he was just being her friend, but to her, it meant so much more, and she took the time and trouble to write and thank him.

Thank people before it’s too late – let’s not wait for the goodbyes to tell people how much they matter to us.

Don’t look back in anger (cue for a song….)

Look back...

Look back…

How do you look back at your past life experiences? What lenses are you wearing and how do they affect how you see?

I have been doing a fair bit of musing and reflecting of late on how I got to where I am now. This has in part been prompted by goals I have set myself for this year. And in turn, these goals have grown out of my experiences of the last few years, and what I want there to be more or less of in this coming year. The soul weariness I spoke of a year ago, an understanding of good boundaries and appropriate rest, and the importance of continuing to learn and develop as a life coach have all prompted an unusual-for-me degree of introspection and reflection.

Recently I was listening to a radio programme about whether we are glass-half-full or half-empty people, and how this affects our perception of event.

This struck a chord.

My life has changed hugely in the past 15 years. And how I look back over those years has a huge impact on my view of the future, and expectations thereof. If I allow the impact of MB’s depression, plus my own experiences of soul weariness and over busyness to be the lens through which I look at life thus far, what tends to dominate is regret and sadness at the hard stuff, the things missed, the struggles. And therefore this clouds how I look forward to this year – expectations clouded by negativity and pessimism.

But it need not be thus. We can learn to look back through a different lens.

At no point 15 years ago, even in my wildest dreams, would I have believed that I would be running my own coaching business at this point, with the fulfilment, challenges, joys, freedom and flexibility that this life brings. And I am where I am now because of so many things coming together over the years – opportunities, conversations, huge support from family and friends, MB believing in me, self awareness and growth, access to great training and learning, financial provision. So much to celebrate and be thankful for.

Thus I change the lens on how I look back, and the over-riding emotion is gratitude. And looking back with gratitude changes how I view the present and the future, and I look forward with hope and optimism because I see what is possible. Change can happen.

It’s a simple formula, and nothing to do with the Oasis song that is buzzing round in my head –

Look back with regret and only see the negative, and you will more likely

look forward with fear and pessimism

Look back with gratitude and see and acknowledge the positive, and you

look forward with hope and optimism.

This is not to diminish difficult life events and circumstances. We learn most through the hard stuff. But we learn, we let go, and eventually we move on and the negative then loses it’s power. We can then focus more on the positive and see all that is good.

How do you look back at life, and how does that affect how you look forward?

Dr Seuss inspired thoughts Part 2

Think and wonder, wonder and think.What I love about Dr Seuss is his ability to encapsulate huge concepts in only a few words.

And to do so in beautiful, succinct and often very funny rhyme and rhythm.

This is such a small phrase, and such simple concept.

And yet, in this multimedia, technological world, how much more important to take time to switch off, unplug, and create physical and mental space to think and wonder.

Everyone around us has an opinion. And the extraordinary assault on our minds that is social media ensures that those opinions are entering our lives and homes and minds all the time. But we have a choice – a familiar refrain here. And that choice is to switch off sometimes from the opinions and views of others, and instead choose to wonder and think our own thoughts. Not necessarily that we might then share those thoughts on those very same social media platforms. But that we might simply again stop in wonder like small children at the extraordinary natural world around us. At the enormity of our own capacity to think original thoughts and wonder our own original wonderings.  And that fits well with –

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

What did you miss last week because you had your eyes shut, metaphorically speaking?

We can keep our eyes shut to what is around us by being glued to technology – smart phone engaging part of our brain, half listening or half paying attention with the other part.

By being focused with tunnel vision on what is The Next Thing we need to do, driven by our to-do lists.

By being emotionally absent because we are trapped somewhere else in our minds due to negative self-belief or self-talk, worry or anxiety, our own selfish agenda.

What would it mean to open our eyes instead, that we might really see what is around us – to see and notice the wonders of the world in the small, everyday moments?

To not miss the body language in conversation that indicates more is below the surface if we would only draw it out?

To see the emotion behind the words and be present in that, entering into that space we might otherwise miss?

To receive the compliment as it was intended, and not bat it away with our own negativity? All this can be learned and it starts with keeping our eyes open. And sometimes, when we keep our eyes open and don’t miss what is actually going on, we might find ourselves opening up to new opportunities or perspectives:

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

If we are honest, perhaps that is what we are afraid of….that our own agenda and carefully crafted and controlled plan for our day/week/life will be derailed in a direction over which we seem to have no control.

Maybe that is just me……

…..but I am learning to sometimes let go of my own agenda, and get myself out of the way.

To practice opening my eyes to what is most important in that moment, and in so doing, to catch the emotional connection, or conversation opening, or spark of silliness that I would otherwise have missed, that I might not initially have thought there was space for.

Sometimes I need to recognise that my need to control often clouds or blocks entirely opportunities that make my life richer and allow me to learn more about myself and others, and take myself less seriously.

And surely Dr Seuss would approve of that!

What is your legacy this week?

What would your legacy be this week?

What would your legacy be this week?

Legacy. I have started counting the number of times that word is used by news people in the same context as the Olympics. It’s quite a fun game…try it next time you watch the news and see how often the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘legacy’ appear in the same sentence.

What has been my own legacy for this past week, I wonder? With my family, I have been a wife and mum who has been tired, preoccupied, negative and distinctly lacking in enthusiasm for life. Not what I would want to be known for or leave behind.

I am not planning on departing this earth anytime soon. But I was struck by fact that how we choose to react to the events of the day has a huge impact on those around us, and how representative is that of who we want to be, and how we want to be known?

I would much prefer my legacy to be along the lines of –

bringing out the best in folk

seeking to encourage and speak life in small and larger ways to people

an honest, real practical problem-solver who generally sees the hope in any situation

But this week has definitely not seen me living as that person, and – of course – my Nearest and Dearest are the ones who suffer the most.

Nothing dramatic or terrible has happened. But over the past few of months there have been some fairly significant challenges in several major areas of life for both MB and myself (My Beloved as he is known here). The cumulative effect has somewhat worn me down. And in that weariness my response has been to become preoccupied, negative, and serious. And in displaying such characteristics, I see I am negatively impacting those around me too.

Not what I want, not who I am – not my legacy of choice.

I am not proposing a Pollyanna blind optimism approach here – ghastly and really unhelpful, especially for those in seriously dire straits.

But the question of legacy has made me reflect on my own choices of behaviour, and where I choose to focus my sight. Call it mindfulness, faith, gratitude, meditation – being aware of the moment and practising being grateful does shift the focus from trials and challenges onto a bigger, more hope-full perspective.

Many things have fallen apart/broken/fallen off walls in our house in the last couple of months. There are associated frustrations, time and expense ahead which neither MB nor I have the energy or time for. But we have a house, we have great friends and wonderful neighbours. And there are gifted people out there who can fix broken things.

Right now, MB would most benefit from me being emotionally available, supportive and encouraging. He needs my problem solving and proactivity in helping him process and structure some of his work challenges. If we are taking an in-this-together approach to life and career, my negativity and preoccupation with the woes and worries around us will simply bring him down and be entirely counterproductive.

Both daughters need a mum who is available, positive and has a balanced approach (guffaws from those reading this who know me!). They need me to provide stability and loving acceptance in the very wobbly and unsettling world of teenagerness. That is much more the kind of legacy I want – and I am more in control of that than I sometimes would like to think.

I choose how I respond to events, even if I don’t choose the events themselves.

What about you? What is life throwing at you at present, and how are you responding?

And what do your responses say about who you are, what matters most to you, and what sort of legacy you want to leave this week?

 

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