Are you struggling to make creative life work for you or have you a burning desire to unleash that dormant creative creature within? Money, health,relationship, career, time crushing your creativity? Lost your creative confidence or never found your passion & purpose? Fear stopping you in your tracks? Lou helps you fulfil your potential & turn fear into fearlessness
Fear is what you feel, BRAVE is what you do about it. Fear is when a soldier loses her limbs and faces a life of disability. Brave is when she decides to learn how to use prosthetic limbs and compete as a runner. Fear is when bombs rain down on your city threatening your family’s lives. Brave is when you decide to take your family on the treacherous journey across seas to find sanctuary in another land and rebuild life from scratch elsewhere. Fear is when you worry about your child’s safety and well being. Brave is when you stand up for her and help her to make the changes that will make her life better.
Flipping fear into bravery is a life skill we can all learn, and we don’t have to wait until disaster strikes in order to learn it. It requires unearthing your limiting beliefs, breaking bad habits and building new ones, and it demands the strengthening of your creative muscle by harnessing your imagination for useful not fearful projected thoughts. Brave is a shift in mindset. You can practice it on a daily basis, and the more you do the better you get at it. Then when bad stuff happens, which it inevitably does at some point, you are well-rehearsed in grabbing your bravery first aid kit and preparing to do what it takes to make the situation better for yourself.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”Winnie the Pooh
Learning to be brave is not easy, it takes hard work and commitment. It takes the willingness to create a vision for yourself, set the goals to make that vision happen, to take the steps, to build your will power, a positive belief system and a set of healthy habits. Bravery is persistence in the face of adversity, it is patience when there seems to be no end in sight, it is failing over and over again and being able to pick yourself up and keep going.
Most of us need support in learning to be Brave. Here’s how I can support you:
- Life coaching– a six session programme with me in which you learn to get from fear to bravery
- School of Life- Becoming Fearless workshop with me on 11th October
- Brave New Girl- How to be Fearless. You can buy a signed copy at my art exhibition 6th-9th October at The Other Art Fair The Old Truman Brewery, London or you can purchase the book through Amazon or any good bookshop
- Join in the Talk with me at Waterstones Islington 12th October
Other resources for learning fearlessness, that have happened with me this month
- Brave New Girl features in today’s Daily Express Column Happy Mondays
- Read my article on the Empty Nest Syndrome in The Guardian
- My guest radio appearances on Joy Cardin Show or BBC Radio Jo Good Show
- Some insider stuff from me on Honest Mum’s Blog
- How I overcome anxiety in Healthista magazine
- Talking about Being Fearless in The Standard Issue Magazine
With my youngest doing her A levels and on the verge of leaving home to travel and then go to University I decided to make her a sort of fun Guide to Living. Stemming from my coaching practice I did a series of drawings for her, of a girl marching fearlessly out into the world and the character Brave New Girl was born. But truth be told though, it was me that was more fearful. After twenty years raising two children I was facing an empty nest and it was rattling my cage. What now? ….
This month I am Guest Blogger on This Mama Does. My usual motivational blog will be back next month.
In the meantime here are some dates for your interest:
8th September my book “Brave New Girl- How to be Fearless” published by Orion Spring will be in all major bookshops. Or you can pre-order here
10th September my Top Tips for Empty Nesters will be featured in The Family Guardian
To Launch Brave New Girl I am offering a 10% discount off my Life Coaching sessions to anyone who buys the book
Summer slows everything down, people are away, there’s a sense of school holidays even if you’re not a kid and don’t have kids, the evenings are long and light and when you can you’re lapping up your year’s supply of Vitamin D.
Life is ebb and flow, there’s time for speed and a time to slow down. Think of a garden; you don’t plant a seed and expect to see a tree the next day. The art of patience allows for a natural pace, the need for speed forces artificial pressure on a creative process. Think of Genetically Modified Foods. They grow quick and taste of nothing. In the film industry we use the three pronged model: quick, cheap, good. You can only have two of the three. Quick and cheap, but not good. Quick and good, but not cheap. Cheap and good but not quick.
“Even instant gratification takes too long” Carrie Fisher is quoted as saying. But she has Bipolar Disorder. “I would get really impatient. I was going faster than everything else around me, and it drove me crazy. You feel out of step with the world” She has achieved a lot, being talented and manic. Her 1987 book Postcards from the Edge hit the New York Times bestseller list and won her the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel; and she’s published three bestsellers since. More recently she’s turned her memoir Wishful Drinking into a one-woman play, as well as an HBO special.
But you don’t need to be Manic to achieve a lot. I’m from the School of Plod, you do a little and often and you can incrementally produce a large body of work. The art is in consistent application. It’s like saving money. You put in 3% of your wages and over time you have built up a substantial nest-egg. It’s called Compound Interest. Day one you put in £1, Day 2 you put in another £1 and you’ve already doubled your money. Day 4 you’ve quadrupled your initial deposit. The same with writing a book; two hours a day or 1000 words and in 80 days you’ve got your first draft.
Carl Honore wrote In praise of Slowness, a book on the need to slow down. He speaks of how we have added speed to everything; speed-reading, speed-walking, speed-dating. He even passed a gym in New York offering speed-yoga. We believe ourselves to be time poor, so pack more in, we run faster and we feel like we have even less time than ever. We do nothing properly, we leap frog from one task to another. Marinade, savour, mull, languish, ponder, wander, contemplate, peruse, explore, lie fallow, are words we have ejected from our vocabulary and left to curl and wither under the heat of our soles pounding tarmac.
When you slow down you simply do things better. Eating, sleeping, making love, creating, inventing, designing all become better when slowness is your modus operandi. Understanding this has created the international Slow Movement, which started in Italy but has slowly spread around the world. Slow Food, growing, consuming in an organic sustainable way that celebrates pleasure and health. Slow Cities where people slow down, smell the roses and connect with one another; slowing traffic, putting in places for people to sit, read, take a breather and decompress, green spaces, art works for contemplation, poetry on the underground.
The Scandanavian countries are showing that you don’t need to work at the speed of light in order to have a kick-ass economy. They work reasonable hours and they are now among the top six most competitive nations on earth. They understand that in order to be more productive people need to be able to work fewer hours, to unplug, to sit in a quiet room. In order to be creative we need to switch off and re-charge on a regular basis.
So take timeout over Summer, use it as an opportunity to kick back and let your creative mind take over. Day dream, chill out and enjoy the view. Then in September you can come back to life and hit the ground running.
If the thought of September scares you, if you are wanting to get out of the rat race but don’t know how, I can work with you to find another way. Lou@createlab.co.uk
If you are coach and want to take your practice to the next level join us on our Quantum Coaching Bootcamp workshop. Warning: It’s not for the faint-hearted
Catastrophizing: What’s the worst that can happen?
Creativity: And what can you do about it?
Our fundamental fears are based around: Death – Isolation – Meaninglessness – Lack of freedom – Ill-Health – Loss of mental faculties
Catastrophizing makes us leap from a relatively harmless event into thinking one of the above will occur
CATASTROPHIZING is to view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is. And certainly previous traumatic experiences can predispose people to catastrophize. I moved to Lockerbie in rural South-West Scotland from a road in London where people chased each other with machetes. I thought I had now moved to a place where I could live and work peacefully and free of worry. Then Pan Am 103 was blown up over the sky above us and all hell rained down. My worst nightmare had actually happened. For years afterwards I panicked and catastrophized over the smallest thing. Sometimes I still do. But I learned the tools to help and I try to put a distance between my horror-storytelling tendencies and my ability to bring a more rational, creative light to a situation.
Catastrophizing has two parts:
Part 1: Predicting a negative outcome.
Part 2: Jumping to the conclusion that if the negative outcome did in fact happen, it would be a catastrophe.
Part 3 Is where Creativity comes in. You need to create a gap. Say something annoying happens: You’ve spilt red wine over your white jeans. Naturally you’d be upset that you’ve ruined your trousers. But if you catastrophize you are likely to jump to the next series of thoughts: ‘I’ve been so clumsy recently, I might have some neurological disorder’. You have gone from a wrecked pair of jeans to imagining a slow painful death.
Until you have a whole raft of evidence to the contrary, it is safe to assume the negative fallout can be simply ring-fenced to having to replace your jeans. But when you are in the habit of catastrophizing it is hard to break the pattern. You ruminate and churn the disaster that is going to befall you. You fill in the details, you create a hugely magnified version of your now distorted view, and you end up feeling helpless. You can’t do anything, let alone sort out the jean problem. Your brain recognizes the images you portray as real and sets in motion the stress hormones to ‘deal’ with the make-believe situation.
Get creative & keep it simple. Write down the incident. Draw two columns. In the first column acknowledge the ‘catastrophic’ scenario. In the second column write out a simple outcome eg I poured red wine over my trousers so I can either try & get the red wine out, or save up to get some new ones. Score the ‘truth’ levels of each out of ten. Draw a big cross over the catastrophe, & colour in the reasonable outcome in your favourite colour. Your brain will align itself with the colour & remind you to focus on a sensible response next time
Also consider, in this case all the times you are not clumsy, the myriad of physical and mental feats you manage to accomplish throughout the course of the day. Record your top three mini-triumphs every night before you go to sleep, to raise your self-esteem. Even when bad things do happen, think about how you dig down, create a plan, work through what you need to do, & slowly get through the obstacle or challenge. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. Of course it is natural to resist a change in how we think. It’s hard work. It’s actually easier to leap up the whirlwind of panic, than to calmly work through a series of strategies to lower your emotional state and re-imagine an alternative narrative.
Yes, sometimes bad stuff does happen & in the book I am writing I will go into that, but in the meantime try to keep your response proportionate to the cause
With your imagination on the job you can reassure yourself with the feeling that whatever happens, bad as it may be, there are things you can do to get through it, survive, and even thrive. What makes you feel emotionally secure isn’t the belief that nothing bad could ever happen, but that you will be able to find creative ways to get through it.
If you need support reconnecting with your creative thinking skills, email me for a free consultation & find out how creative coaching can help you. Lou@createlab.co.uk
A kid that brings an apple to teacher has a mission. Get teacher to like her and mark her grades higher. The manipulation is obvious and we scorn such tactics. And yet as we grow older many of us adopt such people pleasing poses. Not me, you say. But have you ever wanted to avoid conflict or tried to second-guess other people’s behaviours or reactions? Do you have a tendency to give up on your own desires and thoughts in deference to others? Does imagining that someone will get angry change the course of your actions? Is disapproval unbearable?
Giving away ‘yes’ when you’d rather say ‘no’ causes cracks and fissures in your self-esteem. You are telling the world (and your own brain) that you exist to trail behind in the dust of other people’s chariots
The trouble is people start to expect it when you hand out ‘yes’ like free candy. Like a drug addict you have to give more and more away to receive less and less appreciation. And the anger, resentment and bitterness grows like a fire-ball in your throat. Nice You on the outside is a thin veneer to the seething pit of snakes spitting venom on the quiet. People-pleasing depletes your energy and your reserves. You begin to feel that you have nothing left to give, but still people keep taking, because you let them.You make sure you take up less space in the room, you bow to others’ opinions, you listen endlessly to the self-congratulatory diatribe of the narcissist in the room. You do no one any favours, least of all yourself.
So you decide enough’s enough. You take a stand. You start to say No. You start to value your time, your space and your self-worth. And then you get the friction & fallout. When people are used to you being the sweet shrinking violet & suddenly you grow teeth & talons, they react angrily and defensively. They don’t want you to occupy a place of self-respect and authority.
They do exactly what you feared. They remove love, friendship, approval. They distance themselves from you, they walk away, they reject you, because they are used to taking advantage of you and using you as a punch-bag, a crutch, a doormat or a slave. The public rejection and disapproval will be a kick in the gut.
The answer is in your imagination. Create win win situations for both of you. Find solutions that work for everyone.
Sociologist Dr Caryn Aviv in her Ted talk ‘Say No to say Yes’ suggests using the phrase ‘What if?’ What if you pay me $25K more as a salary rise because I deserve it, and you get value for your money? What if we share the chores, then we get to spend more fun time together? What if we create a non-hierarchical structure so that the whole team feels more engaged?
And what do you gain with your New No? You gain self-respect. You gain time. You gain rest and energy. You gain the ability to say yes to the things that you want to say yes to. You gain self-confidence. You gain the right to be direct and authentic. You gain space to breathe. You gain power over your own destiny. You gain inner strength. You will open the flood gates for your creativity, and when you do that your life will start to flow.
You will try and you will fail, you will try and you will learn, you will try and you will grow.
Lou Hamilton is a Creative Coach & she will help you get over your people pleasing tendencies, so that you can get on with living the life you want. Email for a free consultation Lou@createlab.co.uk
Follow Lou’s daily inspirational images on Instagram brave_newgirl Twitter @createlab
BIG THINGS HAPPEN IN SMALL WAYS
Resilience is a reflex, a way of facing and understanding the world, that is deeply etched into a person’s mind and soul. Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not. — Diane Coutu, “How Resilience Works,” Harvard Business Review, May 2002
We hear remarkable stories of resilience and resourcefulness of ordinary people battling through extraordinary experiences. A Sudanese man whose whole family had been killed, managed to escape Sudan, travel across Europe, hide under the axel of a school coach through the Channel tunnel, jump off at a services station and turn up at a police station to seek asylum. He ended up in Liverpool. Now he runs a humanitarian organisation to help people in war-torn Sudan. He displayed a resilient and creative approach to a terrible situation & came out the other side with purpose
The definition of adaptive resilience is ‘The capacity to remain productive and true to core purpose and identity whilst absorbing disturbance and adapting with integrity in response to changing circumstances’
Everyday, even those of us in less extreme situations find that we must dig deep into that well of resilience, using our creativity to a find way through difficulty, when giving up would be the easiest option. What is that ability of ours to tap into sustained effort against all the odds? It is the process of bending and rebounding to overcome adversity without losing our nerve
Your Life School
- Choose daily rituals that help move you forwards. These little practices train your brain so that when the road gets bumpy you can continue with minimal ruffles
- Always be adaptable. Your emotional resilience relies on you being bendy like a willow branch not brittle like a pretzel
- Keep an optimistic outlook. That way you will see tricky troubles as temporary and surprisingly surmountable
CALL A COACH if you need help getting your life back on track. Lou will guide you through the process with minimum fuss and maximum transformation. Follow her daily inspirations on Twitter @createlab Instagram brave_newgirl
If ever there was proof that everyone is creative, we just have to look at the ways we manage to avoid doing things we don’t want to do. We suddenly have a fascination for hoovering dust bunnies, or we create a myriad of reasons to justify putting off going to the gym we pay for every month. We jump hoops to leap out of the way of a looming deadline. It sometimes takes more energy to avoid something than it does to complete it. So what’s going on? Is procrastination laziness or some kind of fear? Fear of failure, fear of being judged on the end result, fear that it won’t be perfect, fear of change, fear of taking the wrong path?
Fear of Finishing?
People have struggled with procrastination or habitual hesitation going back to ancient civilizations. The Greek poet Hesiod, writing around 800 B.C., cautioned not to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.”
Some people say, so what’s the problem, we get stuff done in the end. But at what cost? One of the first studies to document the pernicious nature of procrastination was published in Psychological Science back in 1997. APS Fellow Dianne Tice and APS William James Fellow Roy Baumeister, then at Case Western Reserve University (now both at Florida State University) say “despite its apologists and its short-term benefits, procrastination cannot be regarded as either adaptive or innocuous…Procrastinators end up suffering more and performing worse than other people.”
So can we get ourselves to budge when we have bolted the door against a task we need to get done or a choice we need to make? Most people know what the right thing to do is, and they have the intention to do it but our fears and flaws get in the way. Of course we can make the right changes but we have to do it in small, easily manageable increments or nudges. There is the famous Nudge Theory tactic which was implemented in the men’s urinals in Amsterdam airport. Men were encouraged to aim into the urinal by the introduction of an image of a housefly etched at the back of the urinal. Without word instructions men starting to direct their flow and the men’s toilets became much cleaner places.
APS Fellow Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University is a pioneer of modern research on the subject, and his work has found that as many as 20 percent of people may be chronic procrastinators.
“It really has nothing to do with time-management,” he says. “As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”
We need to get creative, we need to make the completion of tasks more fun, simpler and automatic than the tantalizing distractions we are seduced by. We need to reduce the gap between good intentions and faltering action. We need to build our confidence in our abilities to finish what we started. When it comes to making decisions we need to understand our core values so that we can nudge ourselves to make a choice based on knowing what is really important to us. We can make the changes we want to see and we can improve our lives and our world in the process. We conquer our fears by building in tricks of the trade used by those who successfully beat procrastination.
- Identify & use your core values to help you see how completion of a task or the making of a decision will be beneficial to what you believe makes you happy
- Nudge Theory- nudge yourself towards the tasks with mini-tasks and rewards
- Habit stacking- control immediate impulses by establishing healthy, fixed daily routines
- Accountability- even world-class athletes have coaches or get a buddy and you can jolly each other along
- Manage intrusive negative thoughts- through emotional regulation strategies such as non-negotiation self-talk, power poses and other practical aversion and re-framing tactics such as deep breathing, 30 second meditation moments.
- Focus on consequence- the pain of avoidance versus the satisfaction of a job well done, a fit healthy body, the sight of your book on the shelves of the airport book shop, time for a hobby, money in your bank at the end of the month.
- Visualise the best outcome. Big Hairy Audacious goal-setting and stimulating, enticing vision boards so you can see beyond the immediate blockage.
- Self-appraisal methods and a reward system. There’s nothing like giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Want help with procrastination and its underlying fears? Work with me and together we’ll get you busting those blocks. For a free 30 minute consultation email: Lou@createlab.co.uk
Stress is a natural part of being human, it helps us survive and progress. Yet it becomes harmful when we allow it to be driven by fear, anger and anxiety. We don’t have to run away from hairy mammoths anymore but when we allow the destructive beast of chronic stress to rear its ugly head, then we’re in trouble. It causes dis-ease in our minds and our bodies, we function below par and eventually we get ill.
We set such high expectations on ourselves and others, we hold tight to the outcomes, we tie ourselves in knots trying to ‘get it right’. But the tighter we hold the butterfly, the more we crush its wings. We have to learn to let go. That doesn’t mean we have to remain passive. What we can do, following the coaching process, is manage our lives so that we make the most of what we have, whilst remaining open to other possibilities.
- We create big goals and dreams and we take manageable small steps towards them.
- We recognise and overcome the blocks, limiting beliefs and self-sabotage that stops us taking those steps
- We make sure we are driven from the foundation stones of our core values (the standards by which we recognise that we function optimally, ie time rich, acting with kindness, giving space for friendships etc)
- We identify and set out to meet our own needs and don’t place expectation on others to meet them for us
- We take responsibility for our actions
- We don’t blame others
- We surround ourselves with positive people who support and stand by us, and don’t suck away our energy with their needs and expectations
- We forgive others their transgressions in order to let go of our own pain and anger
- We are ready and flexible enough to shift and alter our path as circumstances and challenges demand
- We build in self-care, timeout, and a slower pace
When we have created this environment for ourselves we are able surrender to the outcome. Why? Because we have done what we can to create a life that is full, meaningful and forward-looking, we enjoy the process, and when the good stuff happens then we celebrate it as an added bonus.
It is hard to do this on your own, so if you are of the courageous minded and prepared to do what it takes, contact me and I will work with you to de-stress and build a contented, happy and fearless life. Lou@createlab.co.uk
My book of illustrations “Brave New Girl- How to Be Fearless” is to be published by Orion Books in September 2016
“Every being is intended to be on earth for a certain purpose.” — Sa’di, 12th Century Persian poet
Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk describes the theory of the Golden Circle. The Outer Ring contains something everybody can answer: WHAT do you do? The middle ring, most people can have a stab at: HOW do you do what you do? But the Inner Circle few people take the time to consider, let alone have clarity on: WHY do you do what you do?
It took me years to work out my ‘WHY’ but I know it now. I am an artist, a filmmaker and a coach, and I am driven by wanting all of these creative processes to somehow make a positive difference. Everyone deserves the chance to build fulfilling and meaningful lives by tapping into their own passions and talents, their ability to think creatively and their primal need to have a sense of purpose. But many struggle with trying to work out what that purpose is, and often don’t even try to find out.
When I got a job for QTV and Channel 4 making the 5 part documentary series DEATH on people with terminal illness, we filmed 12 people over a period of 3 years and it was an extraordinary journey. What we realised was that when people are dying they become very focused on what is important to them and how they want to spent the time they have left.
I didn’t want to wait until I was dying, to work out what was important to me. I wanted to find out what would give my life purpose now. When the TV series went out, something amazing happened. One of the people we’d filmed, who had chronic Chrone’s Disease, received enough unsolicited financial donations from the viewing public, that she could pay for the treatments she needed (and didn’t have access to via postcode lottery) to allow her a longer and pain-free life.
The indirect effect of the film impacting on someone’s quality of life decided my Purpose. “Creativity that Matters”, be that Brave New Girl drawings, paintings to create quiet meditative places in public spaces, films about inspiring people or coaching people to help them find their own mojo.
Why are we here? It’s the Big Question. Eat, drink and be merry or is there something more. Maybe there is a bigger force moving us round like pawns or sitting back and observing us with wry humour, or maybe not. One thing is certain though; without our own sense of purpose we humans function below par.
According to Daniel H Pink in his book Drive, in 1962 Clare Boothe Luce, one of the first women to serve in Congress, was worried that President Kennedy didn’t have a clear purpose. People couldn’t understand what exactly he was in office to accomplish. She told him that a man has one sentence. Abraham Lincoln preserved the union and freed slaves. Franklin Roosevelt lifted America out of the great depression and helped win a war.
Each of us has a sentence that can define our direction and choices. I call it a mission statement. We look at our core values and from them we can carve out our purpose. Having our ‘sentence’ makes getting up in the morning a lot easier. And at the end of the day we can look back and see if we have taken the right steps through small tasks to move us forward under our headline banner.
“One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself” Mihaly Csikszenthmihali
Need help finding your life purpose? Work with me, and together we can start to create a vision for you. Email me for a half hour free consultation to find out more.
Brave New Girl drawings to be published in a book of illustrations by Orion Books in 2016.