Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The First Step to Living a Happy Life

Posted on: December 4th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

According to A Course in Miracles, we pay a very heavy price for not taking responsibility for our own life. That is – we can’t change it.

For some of us this might mean letting go of the blame and having a really good look in the mirror. The truth is, while we blame others for our misery, circumstances, particular situation we are stuck. This attitude can only breathe more conflict and suffering.

Bad things do happen. Betrayal of trust, thievery of time or money, words hurting deeply being spoken, heart break, physical or emotional violence and even the most horrible things that are beyond comprehension. Sometimes there is a serious trauma that needs to be dealt with before we even start considering reclaiming the responsibility for our lives. However, most of us get hung up on pretty minor things such as “s/he said” stories, “s/he broke my heart” stories, “s/he is mean to me” stories, “everyone around me is stupid” stories or “I don’t feel appreciated enough” stories.

What all these stories do to us is they deprive us of our own power to change our lives.

Remember, if you give something or somebody the power to make you miserable, you grant them the power to make you happy too. What are the chances?

I invite you to exercise this idea for a moment – to experience the power of designing your own life. Let’s change something unpleasant in your life right now. I promise you – it is a fun exercise and it works like magic!

There are two parts to it: not so fun part called “Pointing the finger at myself” and the fun part where you get to actually design the chosen area of your life into something beautiful.

Let’s start with “Pointing the finger at myself”:

Name the problematic area of your life you’re going to work on (i.e. relationship, health & vitality, new business/project, motherhood, work, etc.)

What is the story you keep on telling yourself? The story you are looking for is not a fairy tale but rather something along the lines of… “I am miserable because s/he did this to me…”, “I’m unhappy because they are treating me this way…”, “Poor me – nobody likes/loves me”.

Claim the responsibility. Where did you fall from grace in this area of your life? Where are you not giving something you wish to receive (i.e. love, compassion, non-judgement, understanding, etc.)? Even if somebody seems to be more guilty in one situation or the other, there is still some part you play – even if it’s just 5% of the total. Be humble.

Now it is time to do the fun part – to design this specific area of your life that you just took responsibility for!

There are 7 points to define (let the imagination run wild – get emotional!) on one A4 piece of paper. This is not an essay, so please be concise but ‘punchy’.

Vision. What does this area of my life ideally look like? Make it inspiring.

Purpose. Why is it important to me for this area of my life to change for the better? Why does it matter? Why do I want what I want?

Roles I Play. What roles do I play in this area of my life? Based on my vision, is there another role I could introduce?

3 Changes. What are the three things I must change in this area of my life in order to get it closer to my vision?

Resources. What resources do I have access to already that could help me to make these changes?

3-Month Commitment. What am I committed to achieving in this area of my life in the next three months? What is my 3-month outcome? Make it realistic.

3 Actions. What three actions can I take today that would get me closer to my vision?

Images. Find some images that would represent your vision – the end result – and add them on to your journal/piece of paper you are writing the answers on. 

Keep this one pager on your desk, on your bedside table, in the kitchen or wherever else appropriate, so you see it all the time.

Below you can see an example of the work done already for some clarity and inspiration.

I invite you to put your whole heart into it in order to experience all this little exercise has to offer.

To truly know something takes to experience it. And once we truly know something, we can’t ‘unknow’ it. Taking responsibility for your own experience will gradually become natural to you, not only in the area of life you just did the work on but in every other area too.

Don’t forget that we change one step at a time.

Decisions That Shape Our Lives

Posted on: October 27th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

When we look back at our lives we always remember the ‘big’ stuff – the move from London to Paris, the wedding, the birth of a child, the promotion that took our career to the next level, the diagnosis that pushed us to reconsider our lifestyle, the purchase of the house, the painful divorce that led us to start living our own life more fully etc. These were the monumental changes. However, how many of those grandiose decisions do we make every year? On a flipside, we make hundreds of the smallest decisions daily. Yet, we find them seemingly unimportant – sort of ‘autonomic’.

By focusing only on the ‘big’ stuff we miss out on life. We push and pull in all directions waiting for that big deal to come through and moaning about the daily admin work, anticipating and planning our wedding for a year, yet not showing up fully for our partner on daily basis, desperately trying to make sure that our children will grow into successful human beings without even asking what it is that truly makes their hearts sing.

The small daily decisions eventually lead to the big ones. Think about it. If I make a decision to show up fully for my work today, with integrity, with energy, passion and responsibility, this in time will lead to promotion. If I make a decision today to ask my partner how he is doing, to genuinely listen and be willing to understand, this decision to nurture a relationship in time will lead to a happy marriage. On the contrary, if I make a decision today to spend my time at work scrolling through Instagram, in time it might lead to dismissal. If I make a decision today to be consumed by my own stuff rather than giving my partner time and presence to voice his fears and worries, in time this may lead to the loss of connection and, ultimately, to the end of the relationship.

Those small decisions we make daily accumulate. If we gave a numeric expression to them, perhaps our ‘performance’ here would be easier to measure. Let’s say a decision to show up for work with integrity, energy, passion and responsibility is +1, a decision to scroll through Instagram and ‘push time’ until 5pm instead of being productive is -1. Each day we would get either +1 or -1. For as long as our result is with a ‘+’ in front of it, when we add it all up say weekly or monthly, we are doing ok or even great. There will be good days and bad days but the result with ‘+’ will mean that at least we are trying.

Life is made out of the smallest decisions we make every moment – to be kind or not, to react or not, to ask somebody how they are doing or not to bother, to tell somebody we love them or not to, to dedicate half an hour of our day to our children or not to, to spend fifteen minutes in the morning making a green juice or not to, to pick an apple or a doughnut for a snack – these decisions we make daily shape our health, career, the quality of our relationships and of our life.

What decision are you making right now? To procrastinate or to actually learn something new? To read articles like this one for the sake of intellectual entertainment or to become better at orchestrating your own life?

Your Only True Source of Strength

Posted on: October 9th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

Imagine yourself losing your car key. You know that it is somewhere in the house, however, you decide to go out into the neighbour’s garden and look for it there. Does it make sense? Not really, however, most of us do it all the time – we look for happiness, for safety, for certainty, for love, for appreciation in all the wrong places. We cling, attach, depend, control, please, judge, justify and consume. We look for the things that are of the inside in the outside world.

Here is the brutal truth – our only true source of strength to create and maintain meaningful relationships, to love and be loved deeply, to be vulnerable, to be our true selves and to live fully lies within. We all know it to some extent, however, we keep on looking for our key in the neighbour’s garden. Quite often the house of our inner world is so messy that we wouldn’t even know where to begin.

The day comes when after either a loss of all of our money, multiple failed relationships, a death of a loved one or a serious diagnosis we are forced to look within because nothing on the outside world can alleviate the pain. What if we didn’t wait for something so monumental to happen? What if we found that source of strength within now? It doesn’t mean that tragedies won’t strike, however, if they do, we will have the right resources and inner capacity to deal with difficult emotions. In any circumstance, this inner source of strength is so much better of a crutch than a bottle, drugs, expensive purchases or toxic relationships.

3+1 Steps to connect to your inner source of strength

Define it. What is your inner source of strength? Your relationship with higher self/spirit/universe/god/quantum field? Who or what do you say ‘thank you’ to in the moments of grace? A colleague on the neuroscience course once asked me “Who is this ‘I’ who is observing my thoughts?”. There is no one definition, so let’s just call it a spiritual connection of sorts. It is for you to find what resonates with you and define it.

“A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” – Albert Einstein

Tap into it. We can tap into that powerful place within through being intensely present, through prayer or meditation. It can also be accessed through nurturing a passion – painting, dancing, singing, playing music, writing, etc. Whatever gives us true joy and expands the time. Spending time alone in the nature may do the magic as well – biking, hiking, jogging… What resonates with you?

Build it into your routine. It is not enough to go to the gym once to be fit for life. Maintaining a strong connection with our true source of strength is a continuous work. It should be a part of our daily routine like making a bed. Regular practice increases our awareness which makes it so much easier to catch ourselves looking for that key in neighbour’s garden and bring our focus within. How much time, money and energy we could save living this way!?

Start working on your ‘stuff’. This is a ‘bonus’ step. When we become more aware of what is actually going on within – behind our desire to shop, drink, cling, attach, judge, unhealed parts of us are usually brought to light. It is an opportunity to address the issues that are keeping us away from living a truly fulfilling life. There is so much information out there – so many videos, webinars, books, articles on every possible subject when it comes to personal development that ignorance is really a choice.

Perhaps you found yourself stuck in yet another situation that is too familiar (another unappreciative boss, unloving relationships, etc.), it is very likely that there is a lesson to be learned here – something to address, an unhealthy pattern that you’re running. It can be a disempowering belief about yourself or the world, a meaning you give to certain events or your unwillingness to see your own part in the story. When we go beyond day-to-day’s drama and connect to our true source of strength, it becomes clear what it is that needs to be healed in order for us not to step on the same rake again.

Develop Emotional Resilience

Posted on: September 18th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

When I contemplate emotional resilience, at least two well-known movies come into mind, Erin Brockovich and Joy. Erin, a single mother, despite all odds finds a job as a legal assistant. When she accidentally discovers that Pacific Gas and Electric are poisoning city’s water supply, her life gains a whole new meaning as she starts the fight for justice. Woman who has been thwarted by life suddenly finds something bigger than her own suffering. Joy’s story is even more dramatic. She looks not only after her children but also after her parents and an ex-husband, she is the only one keeping the house together that they all live in. Exhausted and overworked she is trying to juggle life when everything starts rapidly falling apart. However, she has an idea, big bold idea that she truly believes in. Is it an immediate success? No! She has to go to the hell and back facing betrayals, criticism, financial debt and a death of a loved one. However, she rises against all odds and sets up a successful business empire.

Why are Erin’s and Joy’s stories so inspiring? Because their emotional resilience is rather heroic – most of us crumble in the face of a much smaller adversity.

What is emotional resilience?

It is our ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life, solve problems, manage strong feelings in a healthy way, speak our truth – share our thoughts and feelings with family and friends, demonstrate empathy for others, have a positive and hopeful outlook on life, develop and maintain supportive relationships, ask for help when we need to, feel good about ourselves and have confidence in our abilities. Essentially, it is what we need in order to succeed in life.

We all are different people and we have different stories. Some of us are more resilient innately, others are more fragile. The good news is that emotional resilience is a trait that we can develop.

4 key steps to developing emotional resilience.

Alter the perception. Perception is at the forefront of resilience. It is all about the meaning we give to events in our lives that are happening right now or happened in the past. Whether we fall victim to our experience or view it as an opportunity to learn and grow bouncing back from it with greater understanding is completely up to us. Start challenging your perceptions, start seeing those experiences as building blocks to who you are today. Perhaps you are stronger, you have more compassion and humility towards others or solely because of the experience you’ve gone through you are a much better parent, spouse, friend. When faced with adversity, many of us make beautiful promises to be better than…, to never abandon, to never take for granted, to never harm with our words or actions. We don’t want others to go through the same pain we went through.

Change the language. The language we speak to ourselves matters. There are certain communication patterns that can soften the blow and make us more hopeful when something bad happens. Switching your explanatory style from internal to external (understanding bad things happen to good people instead of ferociously blaming yourself), from global to specific (your life isn’t ruined because you lost a job, it is just this part of your life that is facing a challenge right now, you still have friends and family who love and support you) and from permanent to impermanent (seeing challenges as temporary – “This too shall pass” rather than “It will always be this way”) will help you to feel more hopeful in any situation.

Find a hero in you. In adversity we feel as if we are naked – our weaknesses are completely exposed. However, we forget about the strengths that help us endure. We forget to appreciate ourselves for the heroic qualities we possess. In any event you can change the way you view yourself from a victim to a hero. Most of us learn to internalise failure as children and carry that through into our adult lives. Instead, we need to learn to internalise the success – the strengths that we have, the amazing qualities, the things that we do for others and for the world. Perhaps you demonstrated heroic patience, vulnerability, understanding or a sense of responsibility in a very difficult situation, you changed somebody’s life with your honesty and kindness, you cared for somebody deeply… Find that hero in you.

Practice gratitude. We can’t feel grateful and fearful or angry at the same time. It is also impossible to see the cup half-empty when our heart is bursting with appreciation. Gratitude is an antidote to suffering. Make it a habit either by daily practice or by applying an acute awareness. As soon as you start seeing life from ‘a cup is half-empty’ perspective find things to appreciate. What if you really wanted to feel grateful, is there anything you can appreciate right now?

There is a potential in all of us to thrive despite adversity, to nurture hope and resolve.

Learn to Relax & Reset Your Brain for Productivity

Posted on: July 24th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

During the pandemic we moved on to working remotely: our living rooms became our offices, face to face meetings were replaced with virtual ones, all of us who previously had no work e-mail on personal devices now do. We are celebrating the flexibility we now have in this forever-changed world, however, the line between work and personal life is completely blurred. It seems as if we are cheated into thinking that now we have more work-life balance where, to most of us, quite opposite is the truth.

In the past months the question I’ve been asked most frequently was “How can I be more productive?”. The right question to ask is “How can I relax/how can I reset my brain?”. The reason why many of us were not able to be as productive is because we couldn’t maintain our focus and energy levels. In order to do so we need to have a good quality rest – to reset our brain. There has to be a balance – we have to become more well-rounded. Our mornings are scatty because we check our e-mail whilst we are still in pyjamas. This “innocent” little act effectively determines the quality of the rest of our day. Our sleep at night is disturbed because we are scrolling through our phone right before going to bed and worrying about things we’ll have to deal with the next day.

We are desperate to control things from our living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens, however, who or what is really in control? Our lizard brain – oldest part of the brain responsible for our survival is behind the steering wheel. We live in a chronic state of stress, in “fight-or-flight” mode. In response to stress, our sympathetic nervous system is activated and starts stimulating the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Our body deploys all the energy in the muscles – heartbeat goes up, breathing intensifies and we are ready to either fight the tiger or run away from it. The energy we need for healing and repair, for digesting our food, for replenishing the body with nutrients is used to prepare for the encounter with the tiger. Effectively, the tiger that is in our head. Our body doesn’t make a distinction between perceived threat (i.e. nasty e-mail from the client, criticising comment on social media) and a real threat (i.e. an encounter with a stranger on a dark alleyway) – both are seen as equally threatening tigers.

Unless we find the balance, we will burn out, become overweight, develop chronic disease, age much faster and simply live a very unfulfilling life. We are here to enjoy, to be well-rounded human beings, not the shadows of our actual potential selves.

The answer to this is discipline. We have to start living intentionally. We have to realise the importance of play and enjoyment, the importance of balance in life. It is the only way to be productive, creative, healthy and fulfilled.

Remember, nobody had epiphanies when intensely thinking to the point of exhaustion. Insights come when our mind wanders (in the shower, when exercising, during/after meditation etc.). The best thing we can do, especially if we need to make an important decision or to be more productive, is to make time to relax – to fine-tune ourselves.

Change the Meaning – Change Your Life

Posted on: July 9th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

How can we use body’s own intelligence in order to better navigate our lives? Before I started practicing coaching, I never knew that there are people who cannot pinpoint how they feel. They live too much in their head, so everything in their inner world is rationalised. As a matter of fact, we all might struggle to identify our feelings at times, let alone recognise underlying emotions.

Why is it important?

Understanding and recognising our emotions is vital for our well-being. Staying stuck in feelings like anger, irritation or bitterness long-term is detrimental to our physical health. Furthermore, emotional awareness is critical if we want to build strong & fulfilling relationships and raise happy children.

What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

Emotion arises from the body’s response to external or internal stimuli (it is an unconscious process). Feeling is our interpretation of that emotion. Our life experience is dependent upon our feelings – interpretations of our emotions. The amazing news is that all we need to do in order to improve the quality of our lives is to change those interpretations / give different meaning to emotions we are experiencing. However, first and foremost we need to be able to identify the feeling and recognise the emotion behind it.

For example, behind anger (feeling – secondary emotion) there might be deep sadness (emotion) that was caused by a loss of a loved one (i.e. divorce – external stimuli). You can put two people in exactly the same situation – going through divorce (same circumstances) – one of them will experience feelings of peace and relief, the other one will be raging angry. Although, they both have the same underlying emotion – sadness caused by a loss of a loved one, they give different meaning/interpretation to this emotion in association with external stimuli. The first person is probably accepting 50% of responsibility for a failed marriage, therefore, his/her interpretation is “Well, we were both unhappy in this relationship, it would have ended sooner or later, what are the lessons for me to learn here, so my next relationship is better”. The person with raging anger is probably blaming his/her partner for the situation, therefore, his/her interpretation might be “This is an insult to me. How dare he/she treat me like this? He/she stole the best years of my life.” Two exactly the same situations but completely different experiences. If you are emotionally aware, you will always have a choice. If you are not aware, you will most likely have similar experiences to those of a person number two.

Begin with feelings.

Start acknowledging how you feel. Check in with yourself at least couple of times a day. There will be moments when it is easier for you to understand what you feel, i.e. your spouse just said something that made you nervous. You will certainly know that you are not feeling ok. Finding a word in order to accurately describe the feeling might also present a challenge. Here is a printable list of feelings on Etsy to help you. There are so many different words, yet we are using very few.

Recognise underlying emotion.

Let’s say, you feel nervous after something your spouse said to you. What is the emotion behind this feeling? It is probably insecurity / a fear of losing your partner. However, we are all unique – not everybody interprets the same emotion exactly the same way. Furthermore, we don’t necessarily experience the same emotion as a result of the same external or internal stimuli as another person. It very much depends on our past experiences.  The information I am sharing would be true to some extent for most people, however, use it only as a starting point to get to know yourself.

Great news is that emotions live in our body. This natural body’s intelligence can aid us to discover what is behind our feelings much quicker. According to the Body Atlas produced by Finnish scientists, fear creates a lot of heat in and around our upper body. Therefore, we might experience tightness in our jaw, chest and/or shoulders. It will manifest as some sort of uneasiness in this area. Sadness generates a lot of cold in our legs and arms. We may even feel our limbs going slightly numb. Happiness, on the contrary, heats up the whole body and can be particularly felt around heart area and on our face – we get flushes.

Change interpretation.

Catch emotion early enough, accept it for what it is and find a meaning that supports your growth and well-being. It is very important once you recognise the emotion to stop the mental process taking you down the path of least resistance – the usual route. Asking yourself right questions can be incredibly helpful in breaking the pattern of habitual thinking. What is here for me to learn? How can I do better next time? What meaning / interpretation / thought could help me feel better in this moment / this situation? Is it about me – what do I know to be true about myself?

Be curious about yourself, increase your awareness and start improving the quality of your life!

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

Rewire Your Brain for Success

Posted on: June 24th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

Would you like your life to be defined by the vision of your future or by your past?

We are creatures of habit. Whether we realise it or not, we have the same thoughts every day. Those thoughts lead us to feel a certain way and our feelings inspire action. The results we get reaffirm the beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. It is a cycle.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Neuroscientifically speaking, our brain always takes the path of least resistance – it uses the most established neural pathways. Majority of them were formed in our childhood. Through repetition they became so ingrained in our brain that we are no longer aware of the process. It is like driving on autopilot, having our past in charge of the destination. Little children do not have the ability to apply logic. If mummy or daddy are screaming their lungs out, kids won’t think that mummy or daddy is in a bad mood, they’d think “I’m not good enough”. Thirty years later each time somebody is upset with us, we still think we are not good enough. It is not because we are still incapable of applying any logic to the situation. At this point it is so much a part of “who and how we are” that we don’t even question it. The reason brain takes the path of least resistance is because it is preserving the energy. It takes a lot of energy to build a new neural pathway – to start firing different neurons in our brain and go down the non-habitual thinking-feeling-acting route. Something that happens in a split second needs to be brought into conscious awareness, dismantled and reassembled – that is an enormous task. Here is why we need an average of 66 days to form a new habit.

In other words, our brain is designed to go back to what is familiar. If we stumble on success that is completely unfamiliar to us, our brain will do anything to get us back to where we are comfortable. That is why we jeopardise our own success, relationship, health, etc.

How can we get out of the loop?

Studies have shown that human brain cannot discriminate between a memory and a vision of the future. Athletes employ this knowledge to improve their performance. They practice that golf swing, that basketball shot, that football goal in their mind – they visualise themselves to succeed before they even step on a pitch.

We start rewiring our brain by visualising, by making our brain familiar with what it is that we desire. Our brain has no idea whether we actually made that shot or we just imagined it. It is enough to visualise yourself running fast in order to raise your heart rate (just try it!). That’s the beauty of human mind.

How can we use all this scientific knowledge available to us to create the life we want? We begin by making a decision that our past won’t equal our future. We decide to be led by the vision of our future rather than by the ghosts of our past. Then we build it into our day:

That vision accompanied by incredible feeling will stay available to us throughout the day, it will re-emerge each time we are about to make a decision, each time we are about to react in an old way, each time we start feeling down. When it re-emerges, we need to allow ourselves to go back there at least for few minutes. In the words of Michael Jordan, “Every time I feel tired while exercising and training, I close my eyes to see that picture, to see that list with my name. This usually motivates me to work again.” That’s what being led by the vision of our future looks like.

Play the Appreciation Game

Posted on: June 19th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

“Play the appreciation game” – I was suggested once. I thought about many things I am grateful for in that moment. However, at the time I didn’t understand how fundamental this “game” is in our lives. It is very well to say that you are lucky to be who you are, to have amazing relationships and delightful children… However, we usually say it as a fact – provide ourselves or others with a statement knowing that on this planet there are thousands of people living far worse than us. Realisation that other people are worse off than us is not gratitude. The magic happens when we start feeling appreciation for the positive aspects of our lives, when we charge our words of gratitude with a true emotion.

According to the research conducted by Berkeley University, gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. We cannot feel appreciative and fearful, angry, resentful or lacking at the same time. When we shift our focus from what is wrong in our lives to what we can appreciate, the way we feel changes instantaneously. Furthermore, the studies have shown that long-term playing the appreciation game increases our determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy levels.

The long-term benefits of the “game” might take time to kick in but don’t let it discourage you. It is like building a muscle. We exercise several times a week in order to get fit. Of course, we feel great after each work-out, but more obvious results are visible in time.

When you feel frustrated, angry, jealous, lacking, can you make good decisions, can you come up with creative ideas? How would your relationship change if you traded your expectations for appreciation? Gratitude is a short-cut to feeling good, it is an antidote for any negative emotion. Whilst in the beginning feeling appreciative rather than resentful might be an effort, with practice it becomes natural.

Many studies have shown that gratitude makes us happier, more content, more efficient in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we stop striving to improve our living conditions, that we bury our career goals or stay in an unfulfilling relationship. Instead, we are reaching towards our dreams from a place of happiness and contentment – we make better decisions, we enjoy the ride, we have insights that guide us, we experience coincidences that help us get to where we want to go much quicker.

Rules of the game:

  1. It has to be done in writing.
  2. You have to write a minimum of 1 page (A4 – no cheating!) per day.
  3. It is best to do it in the morning after your exercise or / and meditation routine. This way it will set tone for the rest of your day.
  4. Pay special attention to things you feel resentful about – try to see something about them to appreciate, i.e. if you really don’t like your tiny flat, remember all the beautiful, cosy, romantic moments you had in it; if your relationship is far from great, think about the qualities in your partner that you admire. Appreciation is an antidote to all the negative feelings.
  5. Tiniest things count – a smile from a stranger, orchid that blossomed in the living room, child’s hug, etc.
  6. Charge your words with emotion. Really feel the gratitude. Don’t just rush to complete the page – do it properly.
  7. If you are struggling, just ask yourself “If I really wanted to be grateful, what would be those things I could potentially be grateful for?”. Sometimes it may take some effort to break the negative thinking patterns.

Qu’est-ce que l’amour? …or A Tale About True Love

Posted on: June 3rd, 2020 by Domante No Comments

“To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We get scared in the presence of something bigger than ourselves, in the presence of something we cannot grasp the meaning or purpose of, something we can barely find words to describe. It manifests as a magical power pushing us forward, giving us divine courage and willingness to mend our souls. It never just swings by unnoticed… It shakes the ground underneath our feet, it makes us lose our focus and taps into something we didn’t know existed deep down inside. Your Person – true soul mate has arrived.

It is easy to love that very special another when his/her sudden presence seems to be so fragile, when passion is at its peak and two souls seem to be dancing together again after millions of years of being apart. How effortless it appears to be when the universe is laying roses under our feet. We shiver when another shivers, we shelter another from anything this mighty world can bring their way, we always approach with open heart and mind – no past conditioning, no comparisons, no opinions of others… We jump into unknown that is dazzling with the most pleasant emotions, magical sensations – something not from this world. We drink buckets of holly water heaven has landed on us thinking of its limitless resource. This shall last forever!

Then heaven claims its share, usually at the time when we already forgot the responsibility we once had taken. Suddenly we see the “ugly” in another that does not inflict passion, does not drive excitement – certain imperfection, perhaps a weakness or two, maybe neediness that once was so appealing because it made us feel desired and now simply stands for what it actually is. Here is when most of us shake off the responsibility – “This has never been mine”, “It was a mistake”, “He/she has changed”. Some of us get scared that the “beautiful” we fell in love with once is gone forever and run. The others mingle for a little bit longer hoping that the situation will resolve by itself (the “ugly” will be gone with no effort on our part, perhaps we could pay a little bit of ignorance in a meantime).

Once we fall in love we tend not to see the other person for who they are but rather project the qualities of our own anima (female aspect of the soul) or animus (male aspect of the soul) on to the newly met partner / love object. Here is why this phase is called “being in love” rather than “love” itself.

Love happens when we actually start seeing the person for who they are and accepting the existence of the two – the “beautiful” and the “ugly”.

Unfortunately, very few of us are capable of showing courage and commitment in the face of the “ugly” or something we perceive as such. Hardly anybody hugs the “ugly” with warmth and compassion, with the willingness to learn – it is a conscious choice that has to be made, an effort taken knowing deeply in our soul that the “beautiful” is now transformed, evolved, grown into something yet unknown is waiting just around the corner.

“Inability to face and untangle the Skeleton Woman [to meet Lady Death] is what causes many love relationships to fail. To love, one must not only be strong, but wise. Strength comes from the spirit. Wisdom comes from experience with Skeleton Woman. <…> If one wishes to be fed for life, one must face and develop a relationship with the Life/Death/Life nature. When we have that, we are no longer bumbling along fishing for fantasies, but are made wise about the necessary deaths and startling births that create true relationship. When we face Skeleton Woman, we learn that passion is not something to go ‘get’ but rather something generated in cycles and given out. It is Skeleton Woman who demonstrates that a shared living together through all increase and decrease, through all endings and beginnings, is what creates an unparalleled devotional love.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I hear you – “it all sounds lovely but what do you suggest I do!?

I read somewhere that relationship is a university of life. We have the greatest opportunity to grow out of our own fears and limitations through them. Use it wisely!

I really hope that when you encounter the treasure you will appreciate it, you will be willing to accept love in all its guises, you will nurture what has been brought your way. You will be wise and brave (because I know you are already!) and you will commit to stay in the presence of the “beautiful” and in the presence of the “ugly”.

Ps A very charming and funny Ted Talk on the subject: https://www.ted.com/talks/yann_dall_aglio_love_you_re_doing_it_wrong/transcript?language=en#t-4374

Break the Habit of Procrastination

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by Domante No Comments

It is a beautiful Tuesday morning. You woke up with an intention to write an article / complete your to-do list / call a potential client / finish a presentation / start eating healthy and exercising. It is 11am already and here is what you have achieved so far…. Listened extensively to every self-help piece of content on how to start writing / added more items on to your to-do list / cleaned the bathroom / organised your sock draw / commented on every single post on your Facebook news feed / had three cups of coffee and ate a bag of cookies. At the end of this beautiful Tuesday you are beating yourself up about not having done what you promised yourself to do. Then you relax into the evening after promising yourself to do all of those things as soon as you get up at 6am on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow is a new day after all.

We need to demystify procrastination because it really is not an inherent character trait. All of us procrastinate because our brain is designed this way. Procrastination is the limbic brain (the oldest part of our brain responsible for our survival) getting in the way of our greatest intentions. Our prefrontal cortex (much newer part of our brain) is active when we are making plans for our future, making decisions, etc. It is responsible for all those beautiful intentions. According to Dr Timothy Pychyl (professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa), our limbic brain is so primal and so well developed – it overrides the prefrontal cortex. Limbic brain always seeks immediate pleasure and pushes us towards avoiding immediate pain. Running away from the danger, finding food and having sex ensured the survival of the species. In a much more complex world of today, that same mechanism is driving us away from challenging and uncomfortable tasks (immediate pain) that would ensure a long-term success to a bag of cookies (immediate pleasure).

Dr Timothy Pychyl says that procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem. It is about being more focused on the immediate urgency of managing negative feelings and emotions than on getting on with a task.

Why does limbic brain get activated? The task you need to complete may be unpleasant (such as sacking an employee, making a cold call, start running) or there may be some deeper-rooted issues like a fear of failure or lack of self-belief/your ability to complete the task, particularly if you are starting something new. Limbic brain does not distinguish between actual danger and perceived danger. For your limbic brain making a cold call equals encountering an angry lion. It would rather have you sitting comfortably on the couch eating a bag of cookies.

If you procrastinate frequently, it becomes a habit. Those neural pathways in your brain get really established. It means next time you feel slight discomfort or unpleasantness about the task at hand, your brain will go: ”Ooh, there is a bag of crunchy cookies in the cupboard, you know…” or “Ooh, the laundry basket is really overflowing – I wonder if children have any clean clothes in the wardrobe”.

How to get out of this loop?

Get into the habit of not negotiating with yourself, simply start doing what needs to be done. There is a great chance that once you start doing it, you will complete the task. Whether you use a 5 Second Rule, you practice taking control by meditating, you change the meaning of that unpleasant feeling or become a little bit more mindful, it is up to you. Every single one of these tools has the power to get you from thinking about the task to actually doing it.

Master Your Confidence

Posted on: May 14th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

There is a lot of mysticism surrounding confidence. We all heard people say (or even said it ourselves!): “I am not confident enough to take on this challenge”, “I like confident men/women”, “He/she is not confident enough for this role”. It sounds as if confidence is some sort of an attractive magical quality that you either have a gene for or you don’t. While many studies suggest that we are born with certain genetic predisposition – geared towards either more positive thinking or more negative, latest neuroscience proves that biology is not our destiny.

My father was always telling me that the more you know, the more you know that you don’t know. He used to illustrate it with tableware (precisely, with a cup and a plate). If a table, on which the cup and the plate are placed, is the “unknown”, and the areas that plate and cup occupy – what we know, then the circumference of the plate and the circumference of the cup would represent the contact between the “known” and the “unknown”. Plate’s circumference is far greater, therefore, it has more contact with the “unknown”. The more we are exposed to new learnings, life experiences, other people (especially those who don’t think the way we do!), the more we realise that there is only so much that we really know. Jumping to conclusions becomes insidious, because we are now aware that there is so much more to discover. Certainty then is very short-lived, so is confidence in anything other than our own ability to deal with life.

While confidence in general is a variable, confidence in yourself is something you can start practicing, build it day by day and, eventually, master – it is a skill. Self-confidence, broken into pieces, is simply liking, respecting yourself and knowing that you are capable of dealing with whatever life throws at you.

How?

In the words of Robin Sharma, “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous in the end.”

Overcome Addiction for Long-Term Success

Posted on: May 6th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon, you open the website of your favourite retailer and start piling clothes into your shopping basket. Do you need them? Not really. However, you feel like hunting – putting stuff into the basket, deleting and replacing. It feels good!

Perhaps it is a Monday evening and you had a really really difficult day. You reach for a glass of wine that will make things just a little better. After all, it really did when you felt not-so-good the day before…

What we are truly after is a pleasure we get from dopamine release. Any addictive substance or behaviour is our shortcut to brain’s reward centre. Nicotine, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food – all fall into this category.

According to Harvard Medical School, the reward circuit in the brain includes areas involved with motivation and memory as well as with pleasure. Addictive substances and behaviours stimulate the same circuit – and then overload it. Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behaviour causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens (the area of the brain involved in reward and reinforcement) and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.

The brain is very adaptive, so the same amount of alcohol, drugs or clothes in your shopping basket soon won’t be enough to get your reward circuit neurons firing. Therefore, you will need to increase the dose of your “poison of choice”. Needless to say, this is not a sustainable way of getting your dopamine high.

How to get out of this vicious cycle?

Switch from acting habitually to acting deliberately – with the outcome in mind. In other words, seek long-term rewards rather than instant gratification.

Acting habitually

A glass of wine tonight (you may think) will make you relax and cheer you up, however, it will add up to your waistline and toxicity. Buying three beautiful dresses will give you a moment of (so called) happiness, however, it may get you in debt. That cigarette (you think) will relieve your stress for 5 minutes, however, smoking will make you age faster among other things. Somewhere along the way we picked up these habits, and now they are our brain’s immediate “go-to”.

Remember, our brain is designed to protect us from pain and seek pleasure – to make sure we survive. Whatever you associate with pain, your brain will make you run away from. Whatever you associate with pleasure, it will make you seek.

Acting deliberately

It is acting with the outcome in mind. Think about your result.

There is nothing wrong with having an occasional glass of wine, piece of cake or going shopping as long as we are doing it deliberately.

Create rules for yourself that really contribute to your long-term success. If you want that dress or a glass of wine, make it a reward rather than an instant gratification. Delay it. Allow yourself some time to “deserve” it.

Always strive for a long-term success rather than short-lived instant pleasure. Don’t let addiction (however mild you think it is) get in between you and your dreams.