This glossary or terms has been put together as a way of understanding the deeper meaning of the word, according to its Latin etymology. For the few words like ‘shy’, which don’t have Latin origin, I’ve taken the old English meaning (often rooted in old Norse or old French).
Faith (Latin: fides as above)- To trust, to believe
Confidence (Latin: Con=with; fidere (same root as fides)) – With trust, with belief, assurance in, reliance of
Self-confidence – As above + in oneself
Love (affective) – to cherish, delight in, approve (for the sake of the other’s good, and not as a means to one’s own self-gratification or self-satisfaction)
Self-belief – Conviction of the truth of oneself
Self-interest – a motive of human action oriented purely to oneself
Ego – the conscious and permanent subject of one’s own mental experiences and free decisions
Self-worth – the inherent significance, value and dignity of oneself
Humility – grounded, down to earth, authentic perception of one’s state
Self-esteem – to value -, determine the value of -, appraise -, oneself
Arrogance – a manifest feeling of superiority of one’s worth or importance, combined with contempt of others
Self-respect – act of regarding -, a looking at -, observe -, oneself
Self-acceptance – take or receive willingly the self. This notion assumes that one receives oneself as a gift unto themselves and unto others [and the necessity of the divine Gift-Giver]
Self-centred – assignation of a point round which things revolves being oneself. Also meaning engrossed in the self combined with little regard for others
Selfish – Often a momentary motive behind an act that is self-seeking, self-ended, self-ful. Tends to be seen as lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure
Egocentric – Often a behavioural trait or dispositional characteristic centred in or arising from a person’s own individual existence or perspective without regard for the feelings or desires of others
Self-doubt – to dread -, fear -, be afraid -, be of two minds -, undecided -, in and of oneself
Optimistic – disposed to take the most hopeful view of a matter
Hopeful – to be full of confident expectation
Persevering – continue steadfastly, persist
Resilient – inclined to leap or spring back (from set-backs, adversity)
Shy – timid, easily startled, shrinking from -, avoidance of -, contact with others
Scared – to experience: fright, to shrink from, shun, prevention of, aversion of
Persistence – abide, continue steadfastly
Fear – irrational panic, horror, or aversion
Afraid – to take out of peace
A massive thank you to the Online Etymology Dictionary for its help in this!
A 12 week action-focused community-led Health & Wellbeing Programme designed to progress you into looking, feeling and BEing healthier by Spring 2021!
Education. Accountability. Support. Action plan. Fun. Achieve.
Dates: On Wednesdays from 6th January – 31st March 2021 @ 20:00 GMT (London time). Half term (17th February) is taken into consideration.
Location: LIVE online webinar (Presentations delivered live online, and live community forum available for accountability and community support).
Presented by: Claz Gomez – Health & Wellbeing Therapist and Accredited Life Coach.
Cost: This will cost you: – your effort, – your time, – your commitment, – your heart, – your sweat, – your tears, – your sacrifices. BUT… you will see long term health changes that will prevent chronic illness, disease and pain. The benefits of a more balanced and healthier life far outweigh all the costs… most especially when hitting your 60’s-80s.
Format of the session: 1hr total: 20-30 min of webinar teaching. 10 min breakdown of weekly activities. 20 min live Q&A or free discussion with coaching.
Format of the week: Each person will be challenged with a set of tasks or activities to strive toward throughout the week. One of these is to motivate and support each other on the Winter 2021 Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme online forum (only nicknamed the HEW crew).
Who is this programme suitable for? This programme is for:
- Individuals or families wanting to manage their weight and prevent obesity
- Health enthusiasts needing a systematic boost in planning and motivation
- Chronic disease and illness sufferers in need of relief from their physiological aches and pains
- Individuals who want to optimise their physiological balance & performance
- Smokers wanting to approach their cessation holistically
- Stressed & burned out workers who desire to build a healthy routine into their lifestyle to promote recovery
- Fitness fanatics recently rehabilitating from injury
- Anyone who is simply striving to achieve better work/life balance
- Those who are struggling with sleep issues
Week 1: Know your body, your lifestyle & your history
Week 2: Establish your goals
Week 3: Integrative energy intake
Week 4: Menu planning & Healthy food preparation skills
Week 5: Self-awareness, Moderation and Portion Sizes
Week 6: Healthy Eating Check-in + Review
Week 7: Wellbeing Check-in + Review
Week 8: Metabolism & Physical activity
Week 9: Sleep, Stress, Self-care
Week 10: Detoxing, Fasting and Finding what might be right for you
Week 11: Movement & Exercise
Week 12: Living out your sustainable change
Get in touch if you have any questions about this programme. Watch my video to learn about why I am putting on this programme.
REFUND POLICY: No refunds within 7 days prior to start of the programme.
Bookings now open
Simplifying life, goals, objectives and tasks is part of the solution to procrastination as simplicity purifies and clarifies the path ahead, making it more attractive to bear. Here are 6 suggested approaches to make things more… SIMPLE! This works best in reverse order!
S – STREAMLINE
Streamline any processes by designing a system of working that presents very little resistance to flow of intentionality, increasing productivity and efficiency of those less enjoyable tasks. One example of this: schedule a specific time to allow for distractions. Otherwise, 100% focus. Another example is to schedule timed bursts of productivity like the Pomodoro method.
I – IDENTIFY
Get to know and understand the root cause of the procrastination. Work with a coach to get clarity on the root of procrastination so that it can be addressed and overcome moving forward. This needs to be addressed in order to avoid ‘regular bouts’ of procrastination. Importantly, there could be deeper issues there making procrastination an outcome.
M – MILESTONES & MOOD
Set deadlines. Enter specific milestones into a diary (or a project planning software if the objective is big enough).
Sometimes a particular mood is required for optimal productivity. Mood regulation (aka emotional control) is a helpful self-mastery technique enabling fluidity & consistency of productiveness.
P – PRIORITISE
Using the Eisenhower Matrix is a great way to sort a task list out into 4 categories of priorities. When one knows the order of one’s life and activities, one can organise and plan accordingly. Do remember though: more often than not, time management is not the root cause of procrastination, and for long-term changes away from procrastination, the issue will have to be solved at the deepest level.
L – LESSEN
Procrastination presents a gap between intention and action. Lessening this gap could take all sorts of forms including giving a personal meaning to the task, rewarding oneself as an incentive to complete a task earlier than needed, trying different motivational methods that will work, and forgiving oneself from procrastinating and starting again with a fresh slate.
E – EASY
Yes. Make the tasks easier for yourself. If what has to be done is complex or large, break things down. Take baby steps if necessary, or go ahead and just ‘eat that frog’ (which isn’t that easy – but for those people whose core values include ‘challenge’, this might be the right way forward)! Try different things.
I’m Claz, a Professional Life, Career & Wellbeing Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I work with individuals as well as organisations providing high-end coaching. I also run affordable workshops that you can check out on my events page. Alternatively, you can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com.
🤷♀️ Why do people get stuck when making a decision?
That’s a really good question, and there may be many answers to it! This is why I find it helpful to take a systematic and structured approach to the decision-making thought process. At every stage self-awareness is as necessary as the content that surfaces when thinking through a decision. Many obstacles and hindrances to decision-making often and subtly surface up into the light but can then be excused by the irrational self. In these moments, it can be a challenge to have clear perception.
Whether you are making a life-changing decision about your relationships, your career, your life goals yourself or your wellbeing, here is my 7 step personal decision-making approach for clarity. I hope it will save you time, stress and ultimately heartache, when trying think through your decision!
Step 1: Define your situation
This is where it begins!
The more self-knowledgeable you are, the faster you will pass through this stage. Here, you’ll get to weigh up the significance of this decision you’re making against who you are, what you stand for, where you’re heading, and decide whether this decision needs to be taken now.
If you are a person of faith, then you will also want to bring God into this entire journey.
Self-Coaching questions for step 1
What is/are… [aka Define]:
- the significance of this decision?
- your needs?
- your priorities?
- your wants?
- your vision, mission & values?
- the implications if you do not make a decision about this?
- the ideal decision?
- the timing of your decision?
Step 2: Clarify what you’re making a decision about
Clarifying what the driving and resisting forces of this decision are, what is influencing the decision and how much power those influences have over you and your decision, as well as gaining insight into your decision-making strengths and weaknesses will help clarify what your decision is really about.
Self-Coaching questions for step 2
- how does this decision align with your values?
- how does this decision align with your goals & vision?
- how does this decision align with your purpose & mission?
- what are your decision-making strengths and weaknesses?
- what are the driving forces in your decision?
- what are the resisting forces in your decision?
- what are the influencing factors in your decision?
- what gaps are there in your knowledge, skills, competencies and experience re this decision?
- who is/are influencing this decision?
Step 3: Identify outcomes of your decision
This activity will help you to separate what are assumed, and what are certain outcomes of your decision. Broken down into short, medium and long term outcomes, this step will help you to reflect on your emotional and psychological commitment to those outcomes.
You’ll also gain some insight into your change readiness.
Self-Coaching questions for step 3
Identify the short, medium and long term outcomes with:
- what will this decisions’ impact be on your physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological health?
- how will it affect the people directly involved in your life?
- what it will mean for the regular routine you live by or your daily activities?
- what are the material considerations of your outcomes (e.g. possessions & value of them)?
- what are the financial considerations of your outcomes (e.g. regular income, savings, investments, retirement)?
- what are the career & job considerations of your outcomes?
Step 4: Consider the options, alternatives, consequences & opportunities of the decision
Here is where you identify all the risks in your decision, as well as the impact of this decision to your and others before actually committing to it.
Self-Coaching questions for step 4
- what are the pros and cons?
- what are the risks? How to mitigate them?
- what are the positive and negative impacts?
- where can opportunities be found?
- how will it cost you in time & personal resources?
- what sacrifices will be required?
- what would you ideal choice be if you had to choose?
Step 5: Understand any emotions behind your decision
Your heart is greatly influenced by your past experiences, your desires, your passions, your pains, your personality, and a myriad of other factors and qualities.
Here is an opportunity to check the balance between your emotions and your rationale, moving forward without looking back in regret.
Self-Coaching questions for step 4
- what pressures may this decision be feeding on?
- what needs may this decision be feeding on?
- how can I be more balanced (head vs heart)?
- what emotions are influencing here?
- what are my fears?
- where might I be experiencing limiting beliefs?
- how will my feelings change after this decision?
- how are my past experiences influencing my emotions & feelings?
- when am I likely to change my mind because of others’ feelings?
Step 6: Capture other viewpoints & objective opinions
There is GREAT VALUE in seeking counsel.
Seek the opinion of those:
- immediately involved in this decision
- indirectly involved in this decision
- experienced in this area
- whose wisdom you appreciate & respect
- in the ‘helping’ professions
Self-Coaching questions for step 6
- what do the people most involved in this decision have to say?
- what do people indirectly involved in this decision have to say?
- what do people with experience of this decision have to say?
- what do people whose wisdom you appreciate and respect have to say?
- what do professionals from the ‘helping’ professions have to say?
Step 7: Prepare & commit yourself to your decision
Often, limiting beliefs and self-sabotage about a decision happen before the very moment of committing to a decision. This is unlikely to happen if you’ve gone through the previous 6 steps to decision-making clarity. You will know what actions are needed to move forward confidently and courageously.
Self-Coaching questions for step 7
Prepare & Commit:
- what are my critical activities moving forward?
- what personal preferences do I have?
- how can I exercise greater freedom of heart?
- where do I need to exercise more resilience?
- where do I need to exercise more courage?
- what are my coping strategies?
- how often should I review my progress and approach?
- what does my task list look like?
Need an objective opinion to walk through the above with?
Depending on your situation (particularly the time limitation) and the gravity of the decision you have to make, you may be interested in an intensive breakthrough coaching session to get to decision-making clarity quickly, and for putting a sketch plan in place.
Intensive Breakthrough Coaching Session for decision-making clarity (2.5 hrs)
What is included in your session?
- Initial email outlining your preparation for the session
- Any relevant tools or materials required for activities in your session
- Face to face to face session in West London OR video meeting call (prices vary by location & added onto base price. Video meetings via Zoom are no extra cost.)
- Follow up email with reflections from the session and suggested actions
My intensive breakthrough coaching session is great value at a base price of £325. For this amount you will gain:
- peace of mind and of heart that you have made the most informed and thought-through decision you could possibly have made
- clarity on 99.9% of elements, factors, influences and options worth considering
- an impeccably designed set of action points / plan to make any changes smoothly based on who you are and where you’re heading
- greater knowledge of your blindspots and choke points, with an increased desire to manage those
- confidence because you’ll have cleared mental and emotional obstacles preventing you from moving forward
- enhanced or maintained good quality relationships (personal or professional)
- holistic & well-balanced perspective, energy and momentum
- avoidance of more time and money spent down the line from a decision that ultimately cost you more than you could afford
- relief from stress and heartache that would have been an outcome of a poorly-made decision
When we look up at the world, it’s not difficult to see how and why sleep wellness is reputed to be at its lowest point in terms of human priorities in all of modern history. We tend to try and find so many solutions to our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological ailments during our waking day, when actually, the best solutions and remedies to these ailments occur naturally at night, when we sleep.
We need to wake up to the following facts:
- Tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five (21%) GP consultations in the UK.
- The NHS in England is spending almost £50 million each year to ensure the nation gets a good night’s sleep and insomnia is a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults.
- Sleep deprivation in the UK workforce costed the economy £40.2 billion in loss of productivity in 2016 and it is estimated this will steadily rise to £47 billion by 2030.
- Workers who sleep less than six hours per day report on average about a 2.4 percentage point higher productivity loss due to absenteeism or presenteeism than workers sleeping between seven to nine hours per day.
With all the things we would like to fit into our day, a really good starting point ought to be our sleep – since the quantity and the quality of it greatly influences our daily activity, energy levels and productivity, which in turn affects our daily achievements.
There is a multitude of techniques, methods, hints and tips on sleep wellness online. But here are my top tips for sleep wellness (learned from experience!).
Your Bed: Your mattress, your pillow, your bedding, it has to be right for you! It is really important to invest a good amount of your attention and time to getting the right bed and sleeping environment for yourself. Yes, it’s easier to buy beds and mattresses online, but how do you know it’s the right firmness for you and that you will be comfortable recuperating in it every day for the next 8-12 years? During this Covid-19 period, where we are seeing many shops closing down, one of the types of shops that I’m really praying doesn’t close down are bed stores – for the simple reason, that is very difficult for people to buy the right mattress and bed for them unless they’ve tried it out.
Bedding: We can be more flexible with bedding, but I’d say the main thing to consider the material that you choose. Cotton is a natural fabric. It is breathable, wicks moisture and stays comfortably cool against skin. Polyester, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric and does not absorb water the way cotton does. It will trap moisture and heat in hot environments, which can make for sweaty and uncomfortable nights.
Room temperature: Another critical element to a good night’s sleep. In the summer we all know how difficult it can be to sleep well. If you don’t have an air conditioner in your bedroom, then we can learn about room-cooling techniques from the Mediterraneans. Provided you do not use the bedroom for any kind of daytime work, close the curtains and blinds during the day, as well as all the windows and any doors. In the evening, as it starts to get cooler, open curtains/blinds and windows wide to let air in to cool the room.
Light & Sound: Invest in real sturdy black-out curtains. If you’re choosing windows, opt for windows that not just look great, but block sound efficiently. Sometimes blocking out light and sound needs to become a priority, and extra measures need to be taken. My next door neighbour has the most enormous dog with arguably the most enormous bark, and if there’s a fox that sets him off at 02:30 in the morning, it instantly wakes me up. And I don’t mean snoozy kinda woken up. I mean really awake. So I know that if the dog hasn’t been taken to Richmond Park for a good workout that day, I know I have to stick earplugs in the ears. So… aids such as earplugs and blackout night masks can be most helpful sometimes. Note: Make it non-negotiable to pack these two things in your travel kit!!
It took me a month to find the perfect bed, mattress and pillow for me. That’s partly down to the fact that shops such as Dreams and Bensons for Beds exist! Thank you Dreams! And the other part is the fact that I did not want to regret my decision of beds further down the line. #JustSaying
Cut down on caffeinated drinks (note: green tea has caffeine in it). If possible eliminate caffeine from your diet except for treat days and special occasions.
Don’t eat 2 hours before going to bed, with the optional exception of an organic camomile (infusion is better than supplement) only – or organic ginseng infusion around 60 mins before bedtime. Another thing that can be considered in your diet is an organic magnolia bark supplement, which affects your HPA nervous system and has been known to regulate cortisol spikes during sleep – please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication.
Don’t look at a screen of any kind (including tv) at least 30 mins before bed to reduce visual stimuli. A Lumie clock is great for gradual de-stimulation of your optic nerves through the technique of light reduction. Another light-reducing technique is to focus on the flame of a single candle 5 minutes before you sleep without any other lights on, inhaling and exhaling in deeply and slowly. These techniques will help you fall asleep easier.
Build into your routine (aim for fall-asleep time to be between 21:30-22:30) a relaxation ritual. Something like a self-massage (on feet, hands, neck, shoulders, arms & legs) or a 30 min hot bath will do wonders. You could soak unscented bath salts in some of the suggested essential oils in point 6 to increase the relaxing effects of bathing, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.
If you’re not into massage, perhaps just the thought of spreading a lotion might be a better option. There are lotions that can be spread on your skin to aid a good night’s sleep. I have two different brand lotions. One contains magnesium, lavender and camomile, and the other contains magnesium and melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in your body to encourage sleep and controls your sleep cycle. If you do this, just enjoy the process – make an effort to go slow with the lotion spreading, avoid rushing and be tender and caring to yourself and your skin. Put some love into it, and just that in itself will help you to relax.
To be frank, all the above and below suggestions can be built into a consistent routine. But there is one routine that requires extra special attention: that of your wake up time. Try to wake up every morning at the same time. I know the thought of weekend lie-ins seems absolutely glorious, but the effect of a lie-in on your circadian rhythm can be brutal as you head into the weekdays. Take a nap during the day if you need to try to make up for some sleep deficit, but try to stick to the same wake up time. Irregularity in this will affect your hormone balance, which in turn effects your immunity and your metabolism. Homeostasis is greatly disturbed when sleep regularity is disturbed, which is why quality of sleep is as important as quantity of sleep.
Important: Often, people who are trying to make health-related changes in their lives give up far too soon or too quickly. Don’t do this! Don’t just give up after one week and think that you’re not getting the results you’ve been hoping for. Likewise, 4 weeks is not long enough for your body to have made its changes for long-term effects, even if you have been super consistent and faithful to the plan. I would highly recommend that you give yourself 12 weeks (that’s just 3 months and only a quarter of the year) to give your body a chance to adapt to internal changes, thus seeing results. 12 weeks is applicable for any health-related changes and works as much for sleep as it does for body recomposition (let’s just cross-reference that to weight loss for this purpose), or smoking cessation, or healthy eating habits, or gut re-balance… or anything health, really!
Aim to ‘spend’ built-up energy caused by stress on a physically demanding activity at some point during the day. Human stress response is most naturally impacted by the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine (although other hormones also impact stress responses) into the blood stream – and these can be regulated by exercise. Even something as simple as a 10 min hard plié workout (and example of a load-bearing, strengthening exercise) or a HIIT workout (which promotes supramaximal expenditure of energy /or anaerobic exercise) will help you re-balance, and work toward physiological homeostasis.
Natural Therapies & Remedies
Aromatherapy solutions work wonders! I recommend an ultrasonic diffuser or nebuliser to release the oil fragrances for up to 4 hours into your sleep without burning the properties out. If you don’t use equipment, you could blend with carrier oils and massage the mixed oil onto your skin (use only therapeutic grade essential oils for this), or dab the oils onto a tissue that you have close to your nose when you are sleeping.
Calmative Oils (C): Calms and sedates the nervous system, mind, and reduces anxiety
Soporific Oils (S): Induces sleep
Hormonal balancing Oils (H): Motivates the endocrine system or balances hormone levels.
OILS: Valerian (S/C), Lavender (all), Sweet Orange (C), Petitgrain (C), Mandarin (C), Sandalwood (C), Clary Sage (C/H), Chamomile Roman (C/H), Neroli (C), Sweet Marjoram (So), Maracuja (C – not an essential oil, but a great sedating carrier oil for massage).
Important: Please seek professional advice from an aromatherapist if you are on medication, are pregnant, have sun sensitivity or have serious underlying issues as the effects of essential oils have an impact on the effectiveness of medication and pregnancy.
Two very popular natural remedies in South Asian medicine for aiding sleep are ashwagandha extract and tulsi. They’re known to reduce stress & anxiety, buffer anti-oxidation in the brain, lower cortisol, increase muscle growth & strength, and improve fertility & reproductive health.
Vitamins & Mineral remedies
Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for aiding sleep are:
- Iron (needs vit C for absorption)
- Calcium (needs vit D3)
- Vitamin C (necessary for iron absorption)
- Vitamin D3 (necessary for calcium absorption)
- Vitamin B
[please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication]
Pre-Sleep Release Techniques
Activities that help you to recollect yourself, your feelings and your mind may help you let go of the weight/burdens of that day. Meditation / Prayer, reading and spiritual moments or activities will help you to achieve this. The practice of examination of conscience helps me to find peace, and to also learn to accept my humanity in all its wonders and imperfections.
Brain dumping for the day – get all the last vestiges of the day’s worries, struggles and pains onto paper, and then throw the paper away, symbolising that you’ve let go of the day’s burdens and anxieties, and allow yourself to be at peace with who you are that very moment you fall asleep. Alternatively, journaling allows you to store those thoughts and feelings somewhere other than your head!
Understand your Sleep Wellness
Monitor your sleep activity every night using a Sleep app. I’ve been using the Sleep as Android sleep cycle app for at least 7-8 years now, and it gives me a lot of helpful information that helps me to monitor my sleep wellness.
Particularly if you’re close to burnout, please, just STOP! Book yourself into a hotel and make a sleep retreat for yourself. Approximately every 2 years, I book myself into a sea-view hotel room for 7 days with the intention of recuperating physically and mentally, in order that I don’t burnout! About 50% of the focus of these 7 days is my sleep. If you have an interest in the programme I set for myself, please do get in touch with me and I would be delighted to share that with you. It would make this post too bulky to include it here, and there is a lot of wellbeing practice in it that needs thorough explanation. Note: I make other retreats that focus on other dimensions like my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. My point being that I don’t try to cram too much or set too many goals into one retreat.
So I have given you some techniques, methods and concepts that work for me. I’m of course also open to any thoughts you might have on this subject too! Feel free to leave comments below. I’m always learning new things, and love to learn about sleep. But I leave you with these words from The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity:
“While diet and exercise have their parts to play in a healthier Britain, SLEEP is the catalyst that makes diet and exercise more effective – whilst also delivering significant additional health benefits. Clinicians are already ‘prescribing’ exercise, it is now time to ‘prescribe sleep’ to the nation.
A good night’s rest is essential to a healthy lifestyle – protecting you physically and mentally as well as boosting your quality of living.” ~ The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity
I’m Claz, a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Career Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.
 National Hydration Council. GPs reveal UK ‘tired all the time’. https:/www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/press/gps-reveal-uk-tired-all- the-time/#footnotes1 (accessed December 2019)
 Daily Telegraph (2012). https:/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/ news/9257191/Sleeping-pill-cost-to-NHS-almost-50m.html (accessed December 2019)
 Hafner M, Stepanek M, Taylor J, Troxel WM, Van Stolk C. (2016) Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross- country comparative.
 The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity, 2020 Sleep Manifesto. Sleepcouncil.org.uk
When I was 13 years old, I went on a retreat. At the start of the retreat, we were put into the same group and had to remain in that same group throughout. In our final group exercise, we had to come together with our group leaders. One person would be asked to leave the room so that the rest of the group could pick an animal that he or she could be compared with, and to explain why. Believe it or not, I still use this as a team-building exercise for already existing teams if I deem the individuals in the team to be mature enough to see the analogousness of it, because I appreciated what it did for my confidence and for my trust in my little group. It’s surprisingly effective! When it came time for me to be compared with an animal, I was not expecting the comparison I received! I was compared to a nightingale. The group listed many reasons for the comparison, but the one word that really stood out for me was ‘optimistic’. In some mystical way, that word has shaped my life; my beliefs, my attitudes, my behaviour. Until I first entered the corporate world, I was as liberated in my ‘yes-ness’ and optimism as I was in my creativity. And then… I learned all about risk.
About positive assertive communication and the ‘NO’
What has this story got to do with positive assertiveness or saying ‘no’? Let us first establish what they are. Assertive Communication is a style of communication in which a person stands up for and respects their own needs and wants, whilst also taking into consideration the needs and wants of others, without behaving passively or aggressively. Positive Assertive Communication is about framing your thinking in a way that inspires a movement of love in your heart – so that your ‘no’ doesn’t close you off, but opens and frees you up to something (or someone) else! When you look at all the definitions on the web for the word NO, you’ll find the key word that stands out is negative (e.g. a negative vote or decision; an act or instance of refusing or denying… etc). These acts essentially block and close up – not just the other person, but yourself as well. As a natural ‘yes’ person, I have had to learn how and more importantly when to say ‘no’. We find ‘no’ more so in the corporate sector than in the charity sector, where there is naturally more generosity and spirit to serve within the organisational culture, and desire to make a difference.
Positive assertiveness is now something that more and more people are looking to assimilate into their personal and working lives. That’s why I am launching my first positive assertiveness & boundary setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 3pm on Zoom. It will be an interactive opportunity to explore practical ways of positive assertiveness, as well as the ‘why’ for it all. The purpose of this blog is to speak a little more about the ‘no’ in relation to leadership, and when it is necessary to use it. This is where I say: Dear leader, use positive assertiveness at all times. When necessary, use ‘no’.
When is it appropriate to use ‘no’, then?
The leadership styles (I won’t go into leadership or management styles in this blog post) in which we would most frequently see ‘no’ is in the authoritative and bureaucratic styles of leadership. The best leaders in the world know how to use all 5 styles of leadership to suit the situation and the people, and have nailed their communication styles in order to implement the best courses of action in their team. Of course, this isn’t a step-by-step formula that leaders learn. They learned this through experience and decent self-knowledge! In management training, managers identify the two most common ‘no’ styles of management in the ‘tell’ or ‘sell’ management styles. Again, the best managers in the world master all 5 styles of management to suit the situation and the stakeholders involved. So when ought the ‘no’ come into ones leadership or management? Here are 3 key moments when the invitation of positive assertiveness needs to be put aside and a ‘no’ steps up:
- When there is a high risk of danger or severe hurt to yourself or to others. So many people knock health and safety. But guys, it’s a no-brainer. This shouldn’t be classed as a ‘duty of care’ exercise at all. It should be built into our intrinsic nature to care for and protect each other from danger or hurt for the due reason that we are human beings. When I’m driving on the road, I seriously appreciate ‘no’ signage – because it’s a prevention and deterrent to me putting myself in danger. This ‘no’ is a crisis prevention or crisis management measure. If a leader/manager sees a catastrophe or a crisis impending (i.e. it will happen, and it’s not speculative), they will rightly start putting on the breaks. What’s important here is that the good leader/manager will brief their team, ensuring that the team are fully communicated with and feel a part of the crisis prevention.
- When positive assertiveness has been exhausted. I get it. Sometimes, there is only so much positive assertiveness that can be applied until a ‘no’ must kick in. Someone who has set a boundary and now needs to make sure the other person understands and respects that boundary must do so by communicating that with them. My workshop explores how to do that positively in more detail. But what happens if the recipient isn’t responding as you would like to the positive assertiveness? There are two further courses of action. The first course could be to use a slightly more aggressive assertiveness. At no stage should the assertiveness be passive. One ought always to be aware of and sensitised to their impact on the other person. To be passive assertive is to allow oneself to be indifferent to their impact on the other. This is neither caring nor emotionally intelligent! Slightly aggressive assertiveness pushes on the firmest edge of ‘firm’ and the most uncomfortable end of ‘comfort’. The second course could be to put in the strict ‘no’. Just remember two main things if this option is the last recourse to action: a) The ‘no’ must come from a place of goodwill for others and the main people involved, not from an abuse of manipulation, control and/or power, and; b) it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s worth thinking how the other person would best respond before jumping into this last resort.
- Compliance. We touched on this briefly with health and safety in point 1. When it comes to compliance, there is no airy-fairy way of ensuring legislation is complied with, unless there is clarity on the boundary. These sets of rules are not optional. Most people will see the benefit of the rules quite naturally, but some people do like to consider themselves as ‘rule-breakers’, and get a kick out of pushing their limits. At some point, the ‘no’ kicks in here. If you are a parent, this balance is one you will already be familiar with. The only difference is that you’re not parenting a toddler, but managing/leading grown ups. Having said that, some of the best leaders and managers in the world are looked up to as ‘father-figures’ and ‘mother-figures’, and there is something very beautiful and life-giving about that.
Risk management plays a big part in the ‘no’ word or action. Good leaders and managers have superhero risk mitigation and management skills – either learned through study, experience or naturally developed whilst growing up. It is for this reason that ‘no’ can and should be used, when necessary.
What if I’m the person used to being told ‘no’, and it really gets to me?
Flip the other side of the coin… if you are the recipient of the ‘no’, then the method I use to give the other person the benefit of the doubt as to whether his/her ‘no’ was personal (on either side) or not, is to think about all the risks that the ‘no’ was preventing. Undertaking this small analysis tells you much more about the priorities of the leader and any underlying issues than most outward communication from the leader would. That is, unless your leader or manager is very open and very honest (I appreciate these leaders very much!). The reason why I brought up the ‘no’ as a personal affront or defence, is because in some cases, a manager might feel threatened in some way by their direct report, and so they develop a habit of saying ‘no’ to their direct report; even if the direct report’s suggestion or action is actually good for the team and the organisational mission. This is personal. On the other extreme, the direct report is constantly being told ‘no’ without any clear business justification. This is likely to be personal. A key example of this latter one would be racism or any other form of discrimination in a team. If any of these are you, then I recommend coaching to address those issues and to help you make the right decisions for yourself moving forward.
I’m Claz, a Professional Career Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Wellbeing Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com. Sign up to my first positive assertiveness & boundary-setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 15:00 on Zoom to learn more about the fundamentals alluded to in this post.
Over the past two weeks, two people have approached me about experiences they are having concerning jealousy. One person has told me that she is jealous of a friend. The other has told me that her friend is jealous of her. There are 3 points that I want to pick up on this:
The difference between envy and jealousy
Envy refers to a sadness at the sight of another’s perceived advantage. From the Latin invidia, meaning “to look against the affairs of others hostilely”, envy breeds resentment and turmoil eventually leading to begrudging the other, to selfishness and to implicit covetousness if it is not remedied.
Jealousy wants to vigilantly guard what one possesses (or wants to possess) and to keep others from having it. The etymology for this word brings up “zealous (which means a fiery kind of fervent), enthusiasm, and longing”.
Jealousy in its rightful and balanced form, isn’t a bad thing. A prime example of this is a marriage. It is right that a husband or wife vigilantly guard the marriage (the person possesses the grace & mission of marriage, but does NOT possess the person who is the spouse **very important**). What often goes wrong in jealousy is when that husband or wife forces the action of guarding beyond the point of vigilance into an extremity of paranoia, and knowingly or unknowingly interchanges guardianship of the sacrament of their marriage into a possession of their spouse. A human being is not the possession of another human being, and should never become one. This will lead to enslavement, objectification and imprisonment in both parties. The human being rightfully belongs only to God, but they have to want to choose that for themselves.
As mentioned, jealousy in its rightful and balanced form can be considered quite a healthy thing. However, envy, in any form is not a healthy thing. At all. Nothing about envy can be good for you, or for the other. Unfortunately, what many people don’t really realise, is that envy is beyond the human dimension. Envy is of a spiritual nature. So if someone is envious of another, there is no cure for this except by spiritual means. Envy employs your emotional, psychological and social (psychosocial) faculties, but the issue of the envy one experiences is not emotional or psychological or social at its very root. In other words, your thoughts, feelings and relational capacities are not the fundamental cause of the envy. We can then deduce that envy is not of human nature. However, the nature of envy can become manifest in anything human. This leads to the thoughts, feelings and relational circumstances where we would experience envy, which then of course fuel our decisions, choices and consequently our actions.
This highlights how the spiritual becomes manifest in the human being. There is a journey there, that envy takes, to infiltrate a person’s spiritual faculties, which they will feel the breadcrumbs of in their soul. And it’s here in the soul that envy will do most damage, depending on the person’s response to it. However, unless you are an extremely spiritual person, do some sort of reflection and recollection on yourself at the end of everyday through prayer and are conscious about where your moral compass is pointing at any one time, then it is very difficult to spot your own envy in yourself. It’s often either pointed out to you, or you notice the effects of the envy, by your own feelings, thoughts, choices, actions, and consequences of those actions.
So whilst jealousy may be taken out of its correct context and would still need addressing, the priority for me, would be to address envy. You’ve probably heard of something called the seven deadly sins? Well… envy kills you. And if you’re a spiritual person, it will kill your relationship with God. My primary concern for souls would be to address this – but it can’t be done on a purely human level. It requires spiritual work that combines your efforts, with that of divine help. There are 3 steps I would recommend to take:
- Identify if you are envious, or jealous, or none of the above! Be honest, try to be objective when thinking about it and put your pride to the side during this task. I’ve put some questions below to help you discover if you are or not.
- Increase your spiritual capacities. You will need them to remedy your envy.
- Remedy the envy. This will take a lot of time, often a lot of painfulness, past hurts may come to the surface. The key to this is perseverance, and keep up your spiritual practice. I will write a blogpost on the remedy at a later date, but for your information, the 3 things necessary to remedying envy are:
- Deep generosity
So to help anyone who is perhaps experiencing envy, or knows somebody else who is, here is step 1 of my recommendation:
How do I know if I’m being envious?
Here are questions I would ask myself to determine if I’m being envious. Remember, be honest, try to be objective when thinking about it and put your pride to the side during this task. Answer these questions with a candle lit safely by your side, in a quiet place and time that is today’s ‘me-time’.
- Is there something someone else has/doesn’t have/is/isn’t, that I have/don’t have/that I am/am not, which hurts me or which I can’t bear?
- What is it that hurts/upsets me?
- Where could that hurt/upset be coming from? (Reflect on your past, and do a lot of digging)
- How is it taking me away from my true self and living out my values?
- How is it affecting my productivity?
- Where has it affected my (personal/professional) relationships? What have those outcomes been? What have the impacts of the outcomes been?
- Which choices have I been making in my heart as a result of this?
- Where have those choices stopped me from growing, overcoming and practising virtue or character strengths?
- Where has this situation driven me to act irresponsibly, unfairly or irrationally?
- Which concrete actions that have I taken were influenced by this hurt/upset, if any?
- Could I survive without/with (without if your envy is because of a lack of; with if your envy is because there is too much of)? Could I excel without/with it?
- What would the situation look like if I were not envious?
Answering these questions should give some clarity as to whether there is envy going on in any particular situation – whether that’s in personal or professional life. Envy is extremely detrimental in the workplace. It breeds:
- Deterioration in trust
- Irrational conflicts
- Lack of commitment & focus / Increase in distraction & fault-picking
- Avoidance of accountability
- Diversion from achieving end goals and results
Managers can observe attitudes and behaviours stemming from envy, and should pull staff up on it gently and in the right way, should it be causing dysfunctionality within teams or inhibiting progress and team excellence. When a personal matter affects an organisation’s productivity, then managers have a duty of care to their staff, and can offer support or help. Nobody deserves to work in a negatively charged environment – whether that’s implicit of explicit.
Keep an eye out on my next blogpost for part II, containing the remedies to envy.
I’m Claz, a Professional Career Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Wellbeing Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com.
My very first IGTV Live debuted yesterday… here is the result – in all its flaws and rawness! 💁♀️ I soooooo need IGTV Live lessons 🤣
You might need to fast forward to 04:02 for the actual start of the event!
Stress is a really interesting topic to me as I consider the hugely challenging circumstances currently being experienced all over the world during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The aim of this blogpost isn’t to give you 10 top tips to short-term stress relief. As it’s mental health awareness week, you will find this kind of material in every other post you scroll through. Rather, the point of this post is to give you a deeper physiological understanding of stress, and to point you in the right direction in implementing long-term changes so that you are in a better position to manage stress for the long haul. I’m coming at this as someone who treats bodily stress through massage therapy, and as a life, career and wellbeing coach whose clients are coping with various stressors (more about what this is later). I would also really like to thank Jaromir Myslivecek from the Institute of Physiology of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for his research into this topic. His article The Basis of the Stress Reaction has provided the main scientific foundation for this blogpost.
What is stress, from a physiological point of view?
Understanding what stress is helps us to navigate it, deal with it, give it its right place in our lives. So what is stress? There are many definitions for stress, as Myslivecek alludes to. In his view, ‘stress is the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). This response is characterised by stress response elements that could have both positive/beneficial impact (eustress) or a negative/detrimental impact (distress) on the body’. I will pick up on this more because human beings (as with all living creatures) have been designed to cope with stress. Myslivecek describes stress as ‘the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). It is not a nervous tension, as it can occur in lower animals and even in plants, which have no nervous system. Stress is not a reaction to a specific thing. It should be considered a reaction that helps the organism cope with different situations and, therefore, stress cannot and should not be avoided.’
Let’s look briefly into human histology – bone ossification (growth) in particular, since it will explore Myslivecek’s point more. Our bones grow under enormous stress. Is it necessary? Yes, it is – as the pressure is part of the process of the strengthening of bone tissue. Our bones never stop growing since bone cells in the body continue to reproduce to replace those that die. Broken bones knit together and heal by growth. As we get older, our bones are still renewing, but the rate of deterioration of cells in the bone may be faster than the renewal process. This kind of stress is eustress.
So… our bodies were designed and built to handle eustress. From the moment we were conceived, our bodies have remained in some form of eustress – the stress of growing. They will continue to handle growth stresses until the moment we take our last breath. Where we are physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically distressed for prolonged periods of time – well, this is something that our bodies are not naturally designed or built for.
We can think about it this way: Eustress leads to positive outcomes and impacts, in so far as the end goal is not a negative one, or does not transform into a distress. Distress leads to negative outcomes and impacts. In BOTH of these, we will find: STRESS. This is enough overview with which to begin from. I welcome medical experts to comment or even correct me if needed.
Is it manageable?
Stress is an overused word these days, and I believe that is partly because of a genuine lack of understanding of the two different types of stresses, and how we ought to relate to them. Stress can also increase or decrease to different degrees as well. It’s very easy to believe that our stress is one thing, but it is actually another. There is quite a lot of chaos and confusion if the stress is distressful or if the stress is chronic (no longer manageable). Only eustress will recollect you, bring you some peace, order and direction in the context of stress itself. Stress is manageable, and even when you think you’ve lost all control, not all hope is lost.
To navigate through the stress, to put together your action plan for managing it, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel, two of the most important things to look at are the cause of the stresses, and the impact the stress is having on you.
How can the cause (aka the stressor) be identified?
‘Stressors can influence the organism acutely (acute/single stress) or chronically (chronic/repeated/long-lasting stress)’ says Myslivecek. ‘The repeated influence of a stressor can have great significance in the context of allostasis, which is defined as the ability to maintain stability through change’. As a change management practitioner, you can imagine my delight in the science of this statement… but that’s a topic for another day!
To determine the cause of the stress (the stressor / the stimulus / the trigger), I run a wellbeing self-assessment with my clients. This report is an analysis of the eight wellbeing keys to the right. I help my clients come to crystal clarity on what their stressors are, so that the root can either be nourished or dug up. Nourished when the stressor leads to eustress. Dug up (I’m sorry, this is usually quite a painful process) when the stressor leads to distress. Although Myslivecek says that ‘in humans, the majority of stressors are psychological and social’, the other areas of wellbeing could be greatly impacted. So I offer this assessment as part of a wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to simply complete a questionnaire then purchase their unique report from me for only £19.95 to see their results.
You can take your wellbeing self-assessment here: http://bit.ly/ToC-WSA.
You could also complete this explorative task on your own and without any aid. All you need to do is look at each wellbeing key, and write down what is discomforting, not quite at right balance, stress-invoking or is unsatisfactory to you in your life.
Here’s an example exploring the social key: a) Tension in the relationship between my boss and myself. b) My kids are complaining that I am not spending enough time with them. c) At the moment I feel like I have so few friends. d) Business networking gives me the sweats. Which ones are distressful? Which ones are a form of eustress? Which ones are acute and which ones are chronic? What degree of importance on a scale of 1-10 do you give them (1 being low and 10 being high)?
Then repeat this process for the other 7 wellbeing keys, and see what comes up for you.
How can the impact of that stress be measured? Indeed, what is the impact of all that stress?
Taking the wellbeing self-assessment is only part one of this stress-identification journey. The second part of the journey is nailing down the exact impact the stress is having on you. For example, you may be distressed by your next door neighbour who is repeatedly playing their music on full blast until 5am keeping you awake. Not only is the outcome of physical tiredness going to have an impact on you, but you could also be greatly impacted by short-temperedness in your family relationships, or an unkept living environment, or poor performance in your workplace. To help clients determine this, I give my clients a Stress Impact Assessment (again, based on the above wellbeing keys) to complete.
A comprehensive Stress Impact Assessment is a part of my wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to attend one of my Radical Self-Care Workshops to go through a mini version (4 wellbeing keys) of this Stress Impact Assessment. You’ll find all my upcoming workshops on Radical Self-Care on my Eventbrite channel.
If you wanted to assess the impacts of your stress without my aid, you could draw a 3 columned table. The first column contains your stressor. The second column contains at least 1 (but likely to be multiple) outcomes of the stressor. The third column contains the impact. This is a very important piece of work, because this will actually help you determine which stresses need addressing.
Once you understand your stressors and the impacts of that stress, you can really begin to map out a plan for stress management. Otherwise, you’re just trialling and erring without really understanding your fight-fright-flight capacities. You could be throwing away a lot of money for something that you stumble onto by accident. Approaching your stress management systematically will help combat the chaos that comes with negative stress.
Why work with a Wellbeing Coach
Wellbeing coaches who have a good overall knowledge of the body (I would recommend level 3 qualifications in bodywork as a minimum since they show some level of competency in the hormonal and nervous systems). They will also have a greater understanding of healthy eating, psychology, in fact – a good holistic understanding of all 8 wellbeing keys altogether. Such a coach would be in a good position to support you in managing your stress. They can also help you in your stress prevention strategy. They:
- Take into account your physical wellbeing, through understanding and analysis of symptoms showing up as outcomes resulting from chronic stress or distress.
- Will help you look at your life as a whole, as no one area of your life can be isolated unto itself.
- Work with you to implement stress management strategy – forming action plans to prevention systems.
- Look at your dietary intake, and can recommend dietary plans (but not subscribe vitamins or supplements unless they are a registered nutritionist).
- Go through, in overview style, your financial as well as your environmental and occupational situations.
- Recommend physical exercises and signpost you to helpful resources.
- Think outside the box to help you with your career progression and development, without losing or selling your soul!
Of course, there is so much more that could be said about this topic, even from a physiological perspective – but I hope I have achieved what I set out to according to the second paragraph. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the above material, or would like to embark on a bespoke 3 month wellbeing coaching programme with me. I offer a free 30 minute consultation call.
I’m preparing to open up a 1 year Career & Wellbeing programme to 6 keen hi-potential job hunters or career chasers to escalate their performance as individuals, and to work as a team to achieve their unique life & career visions. Do you want to be someone who receives unlimited access and support from me, who will be championing you throughout your journey of growth and self-actualisation?