Trying to find inspiration

I have spent most of today and yesterday trying to find some inspiration for chapter 5 of my book. This morning I had books out all over the sofa highlighting quotes and thinking about where I could put them and hoping they would spark something inside of me, just to get the chapter started without being wedded to one particular writer. I kept telling myself and keep telling myself it has to come from me. It has to be my story of how I connect with myself, how I fail to connect with myself, how I connect with others and how I disconnect from others. The title of the chapter is ‘Are you driven by your emotions?’ There is so much written on this subject that it is so hard not to end up just writing what they have said about it. Then my imposter syndrome kicks in and I start thinking emotionally, my armour comes up and I get stuck. I started telling myself that no one will want to read it. Who do you think you are? You don’t know enough.

So these have been my anxieties today. I set myself really, I told myself I was going to spend this week writing. Then when it started I felt this pressure to write. Then I started writing and Foggy popped up to tell me that people like me don’t do this sort of thing. This is why I am writing this, to put Foggy back in his box. I know he is only trying to protect me, but what he forgets is, that I am 48 on Sunday. I am a big boy now, I have an identity and a self worth and none of that is dependent on whether I write a modern classic or a book that never sees the light of day.

Foggy after all is how I describe aspects of my limbic system. I cannot fight him I have to let him have his say, sometimes what he says is helpful, other times he encourages me to wear armour I don’t want or need. Now I have let him have his say and I have shown him that I will not die if I write a book about personal leadership, I can get back to writing about my experience of emotional thinking, which is essentially what I have just done.

You may have noticed that I use this blog to work stuff out, to get things straight in my head, There is something about sharing what is in my head with people, that does not feel like I am bearing my soul. It helps me immensely and I hope that a lot of you find it helpful. The realisation that the anxieties that you have are shared by others is so reassuring.

So thank you for being there and reading this. I now have something to write about in my chapter tomorrow. I now have that personal angle.

Shining a light on the negative

I have been reading a lot about resilience over the past few weeks. Mental health, well being and resilience are hot topics in everyone’s work place at the moment and as a nurse and coach they are close to my heart. I do write about some aspect of mental health on a regular basis. Being resilient is really quite simple, but so difficult to do.

Why is it so difficult for many of us not to slip into negative self talk and pick up on all the negativity behind us. As I have mentioned before being negative is evolutionary necessary. In more perilous times defaulting to the positive was an instant death sentence. Our brains are amazing at threat detection and keeping us alive, however they are rubbish at differentiating between life threatening and or looking silly. Which again in harsher more primitive times was useful, as being perceived as a bit of a tool in could mean you being banished from your group and being left to fend for yourself.

So our factory settings were and can still be lifesaving. However many of the threats we face daily will not result in our death, but are more likely to result in us being criticised or ridiculed. As mentioned before status and esteem were linked to life and death, but this is no longer the case in modern society. This means we have to be conscious of our default setting and make an effort to upgrade our operating system. The upgrade is as mentioned earlier really simple. The problem is we reset to factory settings on a regular basis so we have to manually apply the upgrade every time we encounter a threat. When you think about it, that is quite comforting, if there is a day when you are faced with a life or death situation, your threat sensors will kick in to keep you safe (hopefully, but that perhaps is a blog for someone else to write).

How do you manage your negativity? How do you create a balanced view of your life? As I say it is simple really. Once you have established that what you are facing is not a real emergency that could end with your death or harm, or the death or harm of others, then you need to challenge your perspective.

Apply some critical thinking

The most effective way to challenge the story you are telling yourself about the situation you have or are experiencing, by just asking yourself a few simple questions. You have to be honest with yourself though, if all you are going to do is confirm what you all ready think then there is no point. It is vital that you create an alternative explaination based on what is really happening.

  • What facts do I have about the situation?
  • Is there any more information about the situation in front of me?
  • What assumptions am I making about the situation?
  • In the grand scheme of my life, how important is this?
  • What are the implications of this situation?
  • Is there another way to look at this?
  • In the light of what I have learned, what would be an appropriate response?
  • What impact would your response have on others?
  • What can I learn?
  • Is there anything positive I can take from this?

Now this takes practice, as it will not come naturally. When things get tough and you have to make important decisions about how you respond to certain situations, whether that be at work, or home this stop check can provide a level of perspective and give your rational mind time to catch up with your threat centre.

If you want this to work then getting a coach will certainly help quieten that negative self talk, and if you are a business owner, or a senior leader it is vital that you learn to create a balance between the negative self talk and positivity, when making important decisions.

If you are interested in applying this approach then please get in touch to discuss the subscription offers I have.

matt@mattycoach71.com

You know what? I might just be living my dream.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that is has been a different kind of week for me. The big giveaway is that I have blogged 6 out of 7 days. It has been pretty special, not amazing, but pretty special.

The most notable thing this week has been that I have spent the vast majority of the time in the present. Being in the present and appreciating what was happening in real time, has actually made my future prospects far more attractive and much less scary.

I said at the beginning of the week that I still had some residual tension and that I could feel that in my jaw. As I have been writing this, this morning I have just checked in with my body, I have got no fingernail marks in the palm of my hands, my jaw is relaxed and I don’t have that faint feeling of nausea I usually experience in the morning. In other words Foggy has got his feet up and is having a snooze. He is content that he is not needed at the moment. Everything is on an even keel, he is particular dose of realism is not required.

Now I am not saying I am really happy, and that is the point, that is why Foggy has got his feet up. I am neither ecstatic or miserable, I am just content to allow both emotions the space they have in my mind. I have not suddenly reached another plain of consciousness, I am not sat cross legged in the middle of the floor at one with my inner being. I have, however consciously paid attention to and appreciated what surrounds me, how my body feels, what I am doing, and what is happening to me. This has started to calm my thoughts, to the point that I have woken up this morning quite relaxed. I am knackered and full of cold and physically feel a bit rubbish, but that is not having a detrimental effect on my state of mind, it is just something I am experiencing. It is weird and fascinating to experience mindfulness (if you want to call it that) in action. It works, it really does work. I have been setting myself free from my thoughts all week and thoroughly enjoying the journey.

So why do I think I am living the dream?

I do a job I absolutely love, a job that allows me to follow my interest and work within my values, so much so that my role has become an intrinsic part of my identity. People have enough belief in me as a coach at work that they allow me and encourage me to pursue my interests, to the point that they are willing to fund me to complete a course on strategic coaching.

I am writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book, but never thought I was good enough. I listened to my self critic. I listen to my self critic less now I am writing it, because people like me can and do write books.

I write a blog. Writing a blog is my release, it helps me make sense of my world, and according to feedback I get it helps other people make sense of their world and has inspired them to take action in their life, and for a coach there is no better motivation to do something.

I have a loving family. They laugh at me and sometimes look at me sideways, but they love me and I love them. Every time I see my sons my heart swells with pride, they are handsome, kind intelligent and talented and there is not a day goes by when they do not amaze me. Just as I wrote that my youngest just cycled past the window on his paper round and a little bit of joy jumped into my heart. On Wednesday we went to watch Ben my eldest play in his band (Vialetters) at a local venue. I am so blessed to calm them both my sons to the point I look for opportunities to talk about them to others on a daily basis, and I will often talk about them when I teaching.

So that is just a few highlights about why I am living the dream. I am not rich or famous. I don’t live in a big house and drive a fancy car. I am enough , I am alive and I am making a difference.

Are you living your dream? Have you checked? How often do you pay attention to what is going on around you?

Being mindful does not mean you have to meditate or do something dramatic. Just pay attention to what is really happening right now in the physical world, not the world constructed in your mind. It is really obvious but takes practice to actually do.

Being Present, and Enjoying The Journey

The past few days have been quite special. Nothing special has happened, apart from life of course and that has been the key to why it has been so special. I have been the most present I have been for such a long time. Finally reading all those books by Brene Brown, Ruby Wax, Stephen Colville and Steve Peters has payed off, and I have finally started to respond to my own coaching.

I did not realise how tightly I was wound until today really, and to be fair there is still some residual tension, but when you are so used to be tense anxious about life it does take time. I can now though appreciate how I turn up and what is going on around me. Life is quite wonderful you know, even the rubbish. I was getting caught up in making it better instead of noticing that it might just be enough, and if it is not it is still your life so enjoy it whilst you make it better. I have said before we can often spend to much time sitting in our future and fail to notice the beauty of what is happening right now. I have said it a lot but actually experiencing it is another thing.

Now I know I have been here before and I know that there will be times in the future when that anxiety and either being stuck in the past or the future will return. I also know that I will recognise when it happens and know that it will pass and I will with practice get back to being present again.

You may be anxious and full of regret at the moment, but that will pass, the world is beautiful, you are alive and being alive is full of wonder, and you will see that beauty again.

Last night when I found that poem, that I had written when I was in pain, I was taken by the beauty and the hope of the poem, I saw it for what it was, and that is why I shared it.

Life is full of highs and lows and both are a vital part of life, so embrace them for what they are.

If you want to embrace you positives and negatives and learn more about yourself and what your success looks like, please get in touch and together we can make a change to you life.

As a health warning however if you find it difficult to see hope, or feel positive emotion, it is important to speak to someone who is qualified to help you. If you have toothache you go to the dentist, so if you think you may have depression see a doctor.

Thank you Foggy….I think

I have not felt great this week, it has been one of those weeks, where I have just felt out of sorts. Nothing I could really put my finger on, just a bit down on my self.

I didn’t notice my mood until Thursday when I reached the bottom of my mood. This is often the case with my funks or low moods, I generally don’t pick up on my journey down there, however everybody around me notices my descent. I had a few people ask me if I was OK and a few wishing they had avoided me.

So Thursday morning I really did not want to face the world, on Wednesday I had been like a bear with a sore head, and on Thursday morning I just felt terrible about it. Foggy was having a field day, by the time I was on the way to work he had managed to drag up all my shortcomings and exaggerate them, to the point that I was despicable human being who was not fit to be a father, husband, educator or coach, and I was definitely not fit to deliver Human Factors training. According to Foggy my credibility was shot. Wow that escalated fast I thought (no doubt so are you). That is what happens when you let you thoughts run away with themselves.

I did though manage to deliver Human Factors training on Thursday and Friday and as far as I can tell my credibility is intact. In fact I am quite grateful to Foggy for escalating things as dramatically as he did. He made me realise that I was not paying attention to myself as much as I should. I had been too busy concentrating on the future and not paying attention to what is happening to me know.

So on Thursday by the time I had arrived at work I had brought myself to the present, and was beginning to set myself free from my thoughts. I spent the next hour and half concentrating on preparing my room and materials for the training session. Now don’t get me wrong this did not get rid of those unhelpful thoughts completely, but what it did do was diminish them and as the day progressed they got smaller and smaller. So by the time I got home I was able to apologise for my grumpiness with sincerity.

Since Thursday I have been practicing a mindfulness to keep check of the negative self-talk. Nothing too dramatic, just noticing when my mind is either wandering off to the future or past and rather than dwelling on those thoughts, just bringing myself back to the present, either by paying attention to my physical self (my breathing or noticing sensations) or paying attention to my surroundings. It reminds me that those thoughts are not real and not necessarily helpful, and what is real is what is happening here and now.

Now I do not want to get rid of these thoughts completely, as they are part of me after all and can be useful (as described earlier). So I accept them as part of me and know that they will raise their heads quite dramatically from time to time, but that is OK because I know how to quieten them.

If your self-talk is getting in the way and you want support turning down the volume so you can get on with being successful get in touch either by email, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Outline of Chapter 1 of Connected Living (Your Well Being)

Connected Living

As a lot of you will know,  I have been talking about writing a book about connected living. Yes another book about success. Although I shy away from defining what success is and leave that up to the reader, other than suggesting if you want to have a life that is positive and fulfilling you are less likely to be able to do that alone. Therefore we need to start making meaningful connections with the people around us and beyond. Before we can make these meaningful connections, we have to connect with ourselves and that starts with making sure we are healthy and remain healthy, both physically and mentally. This chapter outline concentrates on our well-being that can often be left by the wayside. If you have read my blogs before, you will know that this is a subject close to my heart.

So below is the overview of that first chapter. Enjoy, and feel free to offer me feedback.

Your Well-Being

Since becoming an adult I have struggled with my mental health and well-being. Over the years this has manifested itself in a number of ways, ranging from general anxiety, self-hatred and physical symptoms. I was going to say I manage to avoid a dependency on this journey, but that would not be strictly correct. From the age of 16 until I was 44 I had an addiction to nicotine and I definitely used that as a crutch. Throughout my adult life my depression manifested itself as a physical ailment, generally I would present with joint and back pain. The pain I was experiencing was very real, however maybe not as severe as I felt it was. All the diagnostics came back negative each time. Eventually I was referred to the community pain team. This team was made up of a nurse, a physio a doctor and a psychologist. Each member of the team would take it in turns to triage new referrals. I was triaged (luckily for me) by the psychologist, who ended up continuing to see me. He started me on my journey of recovery from my back and joint pain and on my journey for managing my mental health and well-being. I recognised that my back pain was a useful framework for my poor mental health to take hold of my life, it also provided a shield for hiding my shame.

I had 4 sessions with the psychologists where we talked about how it all started and eventually how I found the pain useful, actively seeking it out to give me something to hide behind. When the negative thoughts were too much I would concentrate on pain in my back, telling myself and all those around me that is was the pain that was too much to cope with, allowing me to withdraw from the world. In my eyes it gave me a legitimate excuse not to be at work, to be grumpy and sit in front of the TV. Being away from the world does not help your depression however, the pain is still the same, the only relief is that you don’t have to interact with people.

As I said though these sessions changed my relationship with my back pain. For the first time I had permission to talk about the real reasons for my pain. It was just like shining a light on those childhood nighttime demons that lurk in the corner of your bedroom. When you shine that light you realise it is just a dressing gown. I started talking about the triggers for my pain, that made them somehow smaller. This was not an overnight sensation, however it showed me what was triggering my feelings of anxiety and how that manifested itself in me becoming tense and therefore creating that pain. Some of the anxieties were connected to unhelpful habits, others were reactions to what Professor Steve Peters would call my Gremlins. Gremlins are unhelpful negative memories associated with certain situations, places, sounds and smells. These gremlins would trigger those anxious feelings. By recognising these triggers I could start rewriting those memories with benign memories. Most of these gremlins were not based in fact but came from assumptions I was making about my relationship with the place I worked and the people I was working with. This was a long slow process but I did start to rewrite those memories. I now do not experience anxiety when I approach my work place. I still experienced pain for a good 3 months after being discharged from the pain team, but my relationship with the pain had changed and I no longer used it as a shield, I was beginning to manage my feelings by facing them. I stopped catastrophising the pain and accepted that my back was hurting because of the tension I was creating and once I relaxed,  the pain would subside. I was then able to carry on with whatever I was doing and eventually the pain would diminish.

With regards to my anxiety I still have episodes of anxiety and low mood, sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis. The difference now is I do not deny these feelings, I am now willing to accept that this pain is psychological. It is still pain and I feel it as I would any other physical pain. Pain killers are not going to work, I once tried antidepressants when I first acknowledged that my mental health required attention. I am no longer on antidepressants, I came off them under the supervision of my GP. So far in this chapter I have been reluctant to call what I was suffering from depression. Now in my blogs I have called it depression, but then when I here about what people who suffer from depression go through I am more inclined to think I have low mood and anxiety as a result of not paying attention to my mental health, which is very different from having a diagnosed condition. My GP called it mild depression, and prescribed antidepressants for a few months in the first instance with regular check ups . In the end I was on them for a year. In hindsight I was grateful for them, they gave me the time and space to get use to paying attention to my mental health. Once I had come off them I felt able to be open about my feelings, and start looking for ways to look after my well-being. As I said I do not believe I was depressed or mentally ill, I believe I was mentally unhealthy, just as I was physically unhealthy. Essentially I had been neglecting myself and was paying the price for that.

This chapter is not about mental health or ill-health it is essentially to help you pay attention to your well-being. If you believe that you may be depressed or suffering from anxiety, then speak to a health professional. If you think you are suffering from any illness that is having a debilitating effect on your life then you need to be assessed and diagnosed by a Doctor, whether that is appendicitis or depression they are both potentially life threatening illnesses that require assessment and treatment immediately, take it seriously and get yourself checked out.

If you are feeling essentially well or just a bit clunky and under the weather then this chapter may well help you stay mentally healthy and even make you feel significantly better.

When I was looking around for ways to help me,someone suggested I have a look at the work of Martin Selligman. He is one of the founders of positive psychology. Positive psychology looks at the psychology of a healthy mind and the behaviours and conditions that encourage that state. I discovered his book Flourish in which he describes what extensive research in the US suggests are the conditioned required to mentally healthy. The research suggests if you have an abundance of the following then you will flourish and be less likely to access mental health services;
Positive emotion

Engagement

Relationships (that are positive)

Meaning  (in your life)

Accomplishment
Positive Emotion

I remember looking at this measure and thinking that is easy, I have always had an abundance of positive emotion. I love a good laugh, I am always cracking jokes. That was true but when I looked deeper I asked myself how often I smiled, I mean really smiled. How often did I look at the world and see more than just my surroundings, how often did I see my beautiful surroundings. I remembered being on holiday in Thailand and having my breath taken away by the beauty of the country. I asked myself since then, how many times had I felt that. I struggled to be honest. I can tell you now every time I take my dog for a walk, go for a run, or just look up at the sky I feel joyful and grateful for living in a beautiful country. I listen to music and smile, I laugh out loud daily. I feel joy when I see family and friends. I smile when I see or hear that a friend is doing well.

Ask yourself do you smile, feel joy and laugh on a daily basis?
Engagement

Do you find yourself during your day taking part in an activity that requires no effort or thought? An activity that you enjoy for the sake of it, for the pure joy of it. Whilst writing this I was wondering, what I do that is engaging. I suppose once I get out there,  running is engaging, but I have to get out there and I have to get into the rhythm of the running before it becomes mentally effortless. Reading a good book I suppose creates the most engagement for me, and most of all researching for this book, reading about how the mind works, how we behave and what makes us successful and effective. I love reading about this, I love talking about it as well, I love giving masterclasses and lectures on this subject. That creates the most engagement for me. I can spend hours prattling on about how to empty your bucket, understand your stressors and connect with each other. I love it, it energises me and the better the response from my audience the more engaged I become. So there we are that is my engagement. This stuff, my passion provides me with engagement.

Do you look up and realise hours have gone? One commonactivity that creates engagement is catching up with a best friend over a coffee that leads to several coffees and then a race across town to pick the kids from school, because you completely lost track of time, catching up on old times. Some of you might get engrossed in a good book, sometimes that might be a new book or an old favourite. Whenever there is a new Jack Reacher story I will pre-order it and devour it as quickly as possible, I will binge read it in about 2 sittings.  Other people love to curl up with a favourite book, something they have read over and over again, it gives them comfort and transports them to another time, without any effort or too much thought.

Music is another way to create that engagement, either playing or listening. Music like many engaging activities also creates a positive emotion. It is obvious really that for you to be engaged in an activity that you enjoy it.

So do you take part in engaging activities regularly?
Relationships (Positive)

Loneliness is a real problem in modern society. In 2018 The Office for National Statistics  released a report on the characteristics and circumstances that are associated with loneliness. The findings are not unsurprising but stark all the same. 1 in 20 adults reported feelings of loneliness between 2016 and 2017.

You are more likely to experience loneliness if you, are single or bereaved. People with long-term illnesses are also more likely to experience loneliness. If you live in rented accommodation, and feel disconnected with your community you are more likely to be lonely. What was quite striking for me was that people aged between 16 to 24 are more likely to be lonely than any other group.

Being single or bereaved, having a long-term condition and even disconnection with the community are unsurprising causes of loneliness. At first glance though the fact that young people are more likely to be lonely than older age groups is surprising. I don’t know about you, but when I imagine lonely people I think of a little old lady or man sat in a flat, not a young adult. In fact over 75s are 63% less likely to report loneliness. That really surprised me. The ONS provides a couple of explanations; a) older people have developed a resilience to loneliness, as a result of adverse life events; or (and this will make you sit up and notice) b) most of the lonely people are already dead before they get to 75%! According to the ONS loneliness increases mortality by 25%, so being lonely reduces your life expectancy. It is vital not only to your state of mind, but to your life that you seek out positive relationships. You won’t only be having an impact on your life, but the life of the person you are connecting with.

If you see the same person everyday, on the train or the bus, or in the lift, start with a smile, then progress to a hello. Now not everyone will respond, but there will be people willing to connect that will say hello.I can think of a number of people who I have connected with, and have a positive, friendly relationship with, that started with a smile and a nod of the head. If you think about it all our relationships start with at least 2 people who have never met before (even your mum and dad). Be bold give them a smile, let them know that you believe there is more that connects you with them, than disconnects you.
Meaning

Does you life have meaning? Is there a purpose to what you do everyday? Putting it another way, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What gives my life meaning in the first instance, is being Dad to my boys. Being a father is an integral part of my being. Next is caring for people. For most of my adult life nursing has provided me meaning. Nowadays I do very little hands on nursing and spend my days as a nurse educator and internal coach.

Essentially all of these roles (Parent, Nurse, Educator and Coach) all provide the same meaning for me. That is caring for and supporting my fellow human beings. I hope I have a positive impact on the people I meet. Being an active positive member of the human race is my meaning. It is as simple as that.

When I had poor mental health and spent time away from work, I was disconnected from my meaning. I didn’t feel I made a positive contribution to the people around me. At the time I was a Ward Manager and was deeply unhappy with what I perceived my role to be and started to disengage with the job. There was a clear gap in my view between my values and what was expected of me. My job no longer had meaning as far as I could see. When I was a Staff Nurse I was caring for my patients, using empathy and compassion, something I felt comfortable doing. I assumed that being a Charge Nurse meant that I would extend this care to my staff as well as my patients. However at the time these attributes were not valued for managers. Coming to work and not being valued had a terrible effect on me and I could not see any meaning to what I was doing and who I was. My mental health suffered and eventually I became so unwell I went off sick. I was not ready to be open about my mental health at the time. My poor mental health manifested itself as back pain. Nurses notoriously have bad backs, so the normal aches and pains became unbearable pain. I would find myself in unguarded moments holding myself with so much tension to create more pain in my back. I couldn’t stop it, I needed the pain so I did not have to engage with the world. Being of sick removed nearly all meaning to my life. I only had being a parent to hang on to, but I didn’t always recognise it. It was a vicious circle the more time I spent off work the less meaning my life had. The less meaning my life had the worse my mental health became. At the time I was not aware that any of this was going on in my head, I had convinced myself that my back was the problem.

As you know there was a happy ending for me. The psychologist who saw me and helped me realise that my poor mental health was driving my back pain, gave me a way back into the world and reconnecting with my meaning. This didn’t happen overnight as you know the struggles with my poor mental health continued for a while longer. My journey to good mental health is relatively recent. Since combining both my nurse educator role and coaching role, I have developed a clear sense of meaning in my life. Becoming an internal coach has given me the confidence to start a blog and do some life coaching, which have all added to this sense that my life has meaning because I contribute positively to the human race.
Accomplishment

What have you achieved? It doesn’t have to be a dramatic achievement, like a first class honours degree or running the London Marathon (although there are plenty people I know who have done this). Accomplishment means you have achieved what you set out to do. It does need to have been challenging though. It needs to have required effort on your part. We have all achieved something in our lifetime. Can you remember that feeling you got from that sense of accomplishment, being able to complete something you have never done before?

On many occasions this accomplishment comes along side the other PERMA components. For instance learning to play a musical instrument or singing in a choir creates positive emotion, engagement, possible positive relationships if you are in a choir or a band, even meaning as music entertains others. Then when you can either play a piece of music that is recognisable or you sing with your choir at a concert, you have accomplished something.

The question is do you challenge yourself to accomplish something most days? It does not have to be really hard, but should challenge you. I go for a run at least once a week I don’t run far or very fast but I do it, and every week I accomplish running at least 1 or 2 miles and even 3 miles. I always aim to exercise for 30 minutes and push myself each time to be out for a little longer. Every week I write at least one blog, to me I have accomplished getting my message across, hopefully bringing some light to someone’s darkness. When it is published on my website I look at it and think, I made that. What have you made this week?
Often all we need to do is take stock of PERMA to realise what a full, and rich life we lead when we actually break it down. As Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly, we often live in a world of scarcity, where we never have enough of anything, we could all do with more of something. If you do a quick inventory of your life using PERMA it can often be evident that you have enough and you are enough.

Another little checklist I like to use comes from Brene Brown, and that is her BRAVING checklist. Often when our well-being is low it is because our self-worth and self-esteem has taken a battering. It is however nearly always ourselves that is the main assailant. It is then worth considering how much trust we have in ourselves. This BRAVING checklist helps you address any trust issues you may have with yourself.

Boundaries: Do I respect my own boundaries? I am clear about what is okay, and what is not okay?

Reliability: Am I reliable? Do I do what I say I am going to do?

Accountability: Do I hold myself to account?

Vault: Do I respect the vault and share appropriately? I am sharing too much? Am I sharing something that is not mine to share?

Integrity: Do I act from integrity? Do I do what is right over what is expedient?

Non-Judgement: Do I ask for what I need? Am I non-judgemental about needing help?

Generosity: Am I generous towards myself?
Before we can even think about connecting successfully with others, we must pay attention to our well-being. When we strive for success it can be very easy not to pay attention to ourselves. If we do this we will pay the price. Paying attention to your well-being is not just vital to success, it can be the difference between a long and happy life or an early death.

Our well-being is heavily dependant on our relationship with shame and vulnerability.

A Monk, Ruby, a Neuroscientist, Gaz, Midfulness and a Lot of Human Factors

 

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I am a little bit done in this weekend. This week has been pretty full on.

I have been trying to think what I did during the day on Monday, and I am really struggling to remember exactly what I did do, it is a bit of a blur. I remember meeting up with Janis and Ann-Marie to discuss what we were going to discuss during our work shop at the Chief Nurse’s Conference on Friday (I forgot to put that in the title). No then nothing I have no clue without look at my diary what I did in the afternoon. I know I was busy but, it’s not coming. If it comes to me later I will tell you. It’s beginning to bother me now.  It will come to me.

Anyway on the evening we went to see Gaz Coombes in concert at The Welly Nightclub (the same venue my son Ben played at the week before with his band). For those of you who don’t know who Gaz is (other than the subject of my wife’s desires) he is a singer songwriter and ex-front man of Supergrass (A popular indie rock band from the 90s and 00s). He was thoroughly entertaining despite the fact that his guitarist who we presumed was a stand-in got a little over excited and needed to be helped off the stage during the encore. The only problem is that I am normally tucked up in bed in my PJs by 9 pm on a school night, and we didn’t get in until 11 pm. I just knew that this was going to put me out for the rest of the week.

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On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was delivering a Human Factors training day to new registrants. Just over a hundred new registrants (Nurses) have just started with us at the beginning of October. For the past 4 weeks they have been taking part in an extensive induction programme. As there are some many of them they are split into smaller groups of about 20. Therefore I have to repeat my day on Human Factors day 5 times. So I did 3 days this week and 2 days next week. I love doing this training, it covers a lot of the subjects I am passionate about. Patient safety, stress management, leadership and teamwork. I throw myself in to every day. At the end of every day I am spent, so by Thursday I had nothing left to give. I could feel myself running out of steam in the last hour of the session.

Thursday night myself, Lisa and my colleague Debbie were going to see Ruby Wax on her How to Be A Human Tour. She was quite brilliant. I love that she is so raw when she delivers, so she stumbles over her words occasionally and shows us all that she is just as vulnerable as the rest of us. The second half of the show has Ruby come out with a Monk and a Neuroscientist. Now the Monk (sorry I forget his name) at one point was talking about meditation and mindfulness, and what he said really grabbed me. I have used mindfulness from time to time and try to do it when I run. I will often beat myself up as I don’t seem to be getting better at it. And this is what grabbed me, it is not about getting better at it, it is just about doing it often. Now the premise of mindfulness is concentrating on the here and now rather than worries and thoughts that are going around your head. One technique is to count your breathes to concentrate just on your breathing, your mind will wander, and when you notice that it has wandered you bring yourself back to counting your breathes. Now the monk said that each time you bring your attention back to your breathing you set yourself free from that thought. The more you bring your attention back to the here and now the more you set yourself free. I love that idea. No doubt like may of you I am a world-class worrier, now I know that I can set myself free of these worries is a game changer for me. Then the neuroscientist chipped in a said that if you do this often enough you will change your brain, as the neurons and their connections will shift as you practice mindfulness. I can tell you this was a revelation. With enough practice and making mindfulness a habit you can change the way you think.

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So another late night on Thursday, but it was worth it. On Friday I tried to cram responding to my emails into an hour unsuccessfully before I went off to the Chief Nurses conference, we me and my good friend Janis were doing a workshop on Clinical Supervision. Rosie one the Matrons was opening and closing the workshop, then myself and Janis gave a brief presentation with some simple activities, then I interviewed the lovely Ann-Marie a ward Sister who has had Clinical Supervision for the past 10 years. We all repeated this 3 times. I can tell you by the 3rd time we were all the verge of losing the plot. We had a great day and it appeared we got our message across about the importance of clinical supervision and the impact it has on professional practice. From the conference I went across the city to do some coaching, with an inspiring young man. Even though I was done in, he managed to re-energise me. By 8 pm I was sat in front of the TV beer in hand. What a week, one of those weeks where you achieve so much, I feel tired but fulfilled and wholehearted. Roll on next week and more adventures.