Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Your Most Important Relationship

Posted on: March 25th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

It is impossible to explain to someone what mango tastes like. Yet for somebody who actually tasted it, just hearing a word ‘mango’ creates a very sensory experience. For a long time, the notion of the most important relationship being the one with yourself was like that mango to me. I kept on hearing how amazingly sweet and juicy it is. I understood it intellectually.

Last weekend though in the intensity of kundalini yoga teacher’s training I ‘got it’. It became evident to me that our relationship with the Higher Self/ Universe/ God/ Spirit/ Grace/ Unified Field (pick a name that resonates with you) supersedes any other relationship in our life. There is a hole deep inside each one of us that I am sure you have experienced the feeling of at some point. That hole typically feels like a lack, longing or loneliness. It takes us out on the quest to find the perfect intimate relationship, to build friendships, to strive for recognition, for significance, to become rich and famous. What we don’t account for is that all of these things will fail us at some point, none of them can fill the hole for a long time. There is nothing wrong with beautiful relationship, significance or being rich and famous, these just aren’t the right ‘filling’.

The relationship that supersedes any other is the alignment with our deeper truth, it is the stillness and the quiet knowing that we are a part of something bigger, just like the wave is a part of the ocean. Maintaining this relationship then means finding and fostering the connection with our deeper truth. A Course in Miracles says that 5 minutes in the morning spent with god ensure that he is in charge of our thought forms throughout the day. In other words, if we spent five minutes in the morning to realign with our deeper truth, we’d live the rest of our day more authentically. It would impact the quality of our decisions, how we show up for the people in our life, how we react in challenging situations and whether we are moving in the direction of our fulfilment.

There are many ways to connect to our deeper truth, to nurture the most important relationship we have. Kundalini yoga, meditation and gratitude do the magic for me. I know that if I start my day with either one of these practices (or all of them as they are so intertwined), it will be somewhat different. It doesn’t mean that nothing unpleasant will happen and the day will be just a pure bliss, however, my alignment will completely change how I respond because my response will be coming from a place of wholeness rather than lack.

When we take care of the most important relationship in our life (that with ourselves), our cup is overflowing and we show up more giving, more compassionate and more understanding in every other relationship we have.

What Is Controlling Your Life?

Posted on: March 18th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

For as long as I remember I’ve been told that I am weak, that I am too emotional, too sensitive, too fragile. I’ve been told that something was inherently wrong with me. Why can’t I just suck it up and be like normal people?!

The older I get, the more I realise that I am not weak, I am strong and beautiful – I allow myself to feel so much. It takes courage to stand still in the face of a difficult emotion, not to cover it up, not to run away from it, not to eat it up or drown it in a glass of wine, not to gamble it away, not to make it somebody else’s fault, not to sedate it with medication, just surrender to it. Have you ever tried it? What I learned recently is that very few of us actually ever had.

Uncomfortable emotions are like messengers, they are telling us that deeper enquiry is needed, they are offering us an opportunity to overcome and grow. Allowing ourselves to feel doesn’t mean going into full-blown drama. Drama is self-imposed, it is nothing but a story we made out of the initial emotion. We can save a great deal of time and energy by refusing to go there. The initial emotion (the pain) though is something we have to face and enquire into.

What happens to the most of us when we have that initial emotion, when discomfort arises, we launch right into our default coping mechanism. This is a self-soothing behaviour that we have adopted fairly early in life. Some of us reach for food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, others have an urge to buy something, to open social media feed, to bury themselves in work, to have a conversation with someone, to start cleaning the house, to watch TV, to play video games… You name it. Some of the coping mechanisms are healthier than others, however, the key is in recognition why we do what we do. There is nothing inherently wrong with a glass of wine or with shopping when we choose to do it consciously. Otherwise, it is doing us – we are no longer in control of our spending, smoking, gambling, alcohol or food intake…

It is very difficult to suddenly start noticing and facing our emotions, because it literally is a fraction of a second between the moment an emotion arises and the moment we launch into our coping mechanism. However, we can do this backwards, because, if we are honest with ourselves, we know exactly what our coping mechanisms are (Do you eat crap, although, you know it is not good for you? Do you drink too much, overspend, etc.? What’s your poison of choice?).

A friend of mine, who wanted to quit smoking, went to see the addiction psychologist. She advised him to have a journal, and every time before he picks up a cigarette, to answer a simple question “What’s the reason behind his desire to smoke a cigarette at this moment?” In other words, what is going on for him right now? She said he could smoke after answering the question if he still felt like it. However, every time he would answer the question, he’d lose his interest in smoking and he’d put the cigarette down. He actually hasn’t been smoking for over three years now.

Answering one simple question helps us enquire into the uncomfortable emotion that has arisen and, effectively, to face it. Once it is faced, we no longer need to self-soothe. It doesn’t mean that it will never arise again. It most certainly will, but it will no longer be in control of our life.

Remember, the pain (that sudden difficult emotion) doesn’t last, it passes very quickly if we allow it. Drama, on the contrary, is something we feed, indulge in and foster. If we suppress that pain or make a drama out of it, it can last for years on end. The only difference between suppression and drama is that one is an explosion on the inside, the other one – on the outside.

So, how could you apply this in your everyday life?

You know exactly the behaviours that don’t serve you. Keep an eye on them. You want to be slim and healthy but keep on reaching for a packet of naughty biscuits or a piece of rich fatty sugary cake?

Well, next time you catch yourself craving naughty stuff, pause, open your journal (or Notes on your phone) and answer the question. “What is the reason behind this desire? What’s going on right now inside of me?” The answer might be “I’m just hungry”. Great – make a healthier choice (you might have actually skipped a meal, haven’t slept enough or haven’t had enough water). In this case, the reason might be purely physiological. However, the answer might also be “I’m anxious right now” or “I feel a hole inside of me that I need to fill” or “I feel deeply sad”. Really allow yourself to experience the emotion and to pinpoint it as accurately as you can. This will do as a starting point. It will help you to take back the control of your health, finances and just overall life.

In time, you can enquire further by asking yourself “What triggered this emotion?”, “What is the message – what needs to shift/to be healed in me?”. Change happens one good enquiry at a time.

We are so fascinated with exploring the cosmos, different planets, galaxies, yet we forget that there is a whole universe inside each one of us.

Rise Above the Drama

Posted on: March 4th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

I have spoken to a friend recently who was undermined and harshly judged at work despite her obvious competence and remarkable work ethic. These things hurt especially when you know that you sacrificed the time with your family, your hobbies and your health in order to deliver projects in good time.

When we find ourselves in a situation like this, we immediately want to react whether that is by defending, attacking or retracting. If we jump to one of these knee-jerk reactions, we take ourselves down to the level of those people who caused the perceived injustice. We are now a part of a drama triangle, effectively becoming a victim with those ‘wrong-doers’ being the persecutors. Soon we start looking for so-called rescuers (people who would affirm our innocence in the situation) to fight our corner. Often, people get stuck in the drama triangle for weeks and months on end.

There is no solution to be found when we are in a drama triangle. We can’t see the situation clearly because we are busy playing our role. Furthermore, we are stripped of our true power.

In any conflict resolution, it is absolutely a must for at least one of the people involved to rise above the situation. Otherwise, everyone is just boiling in the same soup.

I want this person to be you!

So, how could you?

Respect yourself. You don’t need to respond immediately. Often the immediate response makes us feel emotionally hungover few hours later. Be a little bit like Mark Darcy from the Bridget Jones series. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, his normal response to any type of insult would be “Alright then, I see”. Joking aside, leave the room, breathe deeply and give yourself time to digest what just happened. If you can’t just walk out, ask for a 15-minute break.

Rise above the situation. Remember, hurt people hurt others. Whatever has been said is not coming from a happy place. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes for a moment can do a magic trick – quickest way to change our perception. What’s going on in this person’s life? What’s going on in their intimate relationship? What is happening for them at work? Any form of attack is usually a call for love. The best question you can ask yourself here is “How can I see this situation differently?”. It shifts our focus from being a victim to gaining much broader perspective.

Communicate non-violently. You can and you probably should still call them out, address the behaviour but with compassion instead of anger and judgement. Explain how what they did/said made you feel without the blame. Ask direct questions but from the place of curiosity, not judgement. “Have I done anything to upset you?” / “Please tell me honestly what aspects of my work are not satisfying to you? I need to know in order to be able to improve”. The preceding steps help to get to this point where you are actually able to communicate in this manner. In my own experience, when I spoke to anyone in this way, people got very humble and 100% of the time they told me that it wasn’t about me, that they were facing some challenging situation either at home or with their health.

Set the example. Don’t tell people, instead show them how to treat you. Remember, you always set the example to people on how to treat you. People will only treat you as well as you treat yourself. Good questions to ask yourself in order to shift this are: “Do I truly value and respect myself?” / “Do I truly value my contribution to this project at work?” / “Do I truly feel like I am giving my 100% or am I feeling a little bit guilty (even if for no apparent reason)?”. People pick up the energy, therefore, on a subconscious level they know how you feel, whether that is justified or unjustified. People pick up when you are feeling ‘not good enough’ and, again subconsciously, they will be treating you this way. Effectively, the conflict on the outside (in what we call the ‘real world’) points right at the conflict inside of us. That conflict is between the deeply ingrained limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves and about the world without even realising it, and what we think and believe on the conscious level.

Every tricky situation that upsets us is usually a call to have a really good look at ourselves and adjust the relationship that we have with ourselves first and foremost. When all we want to do is to point the finger at others, it takes some practice and stamina to come back to our centre and to turn this ‘pain’ into a gift, but we can do it – we can do hard things.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Posted on: January 28th, 2021 by Domante No Comments

Topic for this week is sleep. Why? Because it is the most undervalued asset in the area of human performance and wellbeing.

According to a study, sleeping 4 hours (or less) “ages” brain performance by close to a decade (Boom!). That’s serious cognitive impairment stemming from a single night of poor sleep. Lack of sleep also lowers the body’s production of human growth hormone, which helps slow the body’s ageing process and affects everything from the ageing of our organs to the number of wrinkles we have. Furthermore, poor sleep accelerates the ageing of the immune system and makes us more prone to chronic, age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Lack of sleep increases levels of the damaging brain proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Scary!

Furthermore, several studies have indicated that sleep deprivation affects food preferences and is linked to increased appetite. When we don’t get enough sleep, we crave the ‘bad stuff’. In other words, we need fast fuel and the fastest fuel available is glucose that we get from carbohydrates.

Due to sleep deprivation many of us end up relying on caffeine and sugar to go through the day. It is not sustainable, and it is truly harming us. Are you ready? Once you know, you can’t ‘unknow’ it…

Routinely getting 7-8 hours sleep is one way to ensure we’re able to perform at our best in all the thinking, planning, decision-making (including our food choices!) and communicating we do throughout our day.

“How on earth do I get 7-8 hours of good night’s sleep?! Have you not seen the news recently?!” I hear you.

If a good night’s sleep doesn’t come naturally to you, you need to be proactive and go after it. Yes, more work to do, but it is all for the more productive and healthier YOU.

Ventilate the bedroom 30mins before going to bed (or sleep with an open window if possible). Studies have shown that the dioxide level in the bedroom goes up fast if we sleep with a closed window. However, sleeping with an open window is not always possible due to noise or cold. Make sure you at least ventilate your bedroom well before going to sleep.

Switch off the heating in the bedroom for the night (or reduce to a minimum). According to science, the most comfortable room temperature for us to sleep is between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

Use relaxing scents. Get an essential oil diffuser and stock up on a good quality relaxing scents such as lavender, rose, clary sage, chamomile or frankincense. These scents have so many more wonderful properties other than just relaxing the body.

No screens at least 30mins before bed. I spoke about this in the previous post. Blue light tricks brain into thinking it’s a daytime. Therefore, our pineal gland doesn’t release melatonin that prepares body for sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone before going to bed, activate the Night Shift setting (Display & Brightness on iPhone and iPad).

Dim the lighting in your bedroom. Research has shown that being in a fully lit room prior to going to sleep results in delayed and shortened production of melatonin compared to dim lighting.

Have a set bedtime and wake up time. Light, time, and melatonin are the main factors that impact the circadian rhythm. Therefore, inconsistent bedtimes may disrupt our circadian rhythm, which may lead to obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar, and the higher risk of developing heart disease.

Establish a ritual to relax the body and the mind. Chamomile tea with your favourite book could do the trick. It was reported that even 6 minutes of reading a (paper) book can ease tension of stress in our body. If you were thinking “What am I going to do 30mins before bed without any screens!?”, here is your answer. You may also consider the last two tips for a good night’s sleep.

Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine stays long in our body. Therefore, if we consume caffeinated beverage after 2pm, there is a great chance of us having trouble falling asleep or not being able to move into the deeper phase of sleep called REM which benefits learning, memory and mood.

Avoid alcoholic beverages. Consuming alcohol before bed reduces the amount of REM sleep we get. The more alcohol we consume, the more REM sleep is impacted. A study on rats has shown that just 4 days of REM sleep deprivation affects cell proliferation in the part of the brain that contributes to long-term memory. Lack of REM sleep is also linked to reduced coping skills, migraines and obesity.

Have an intense exercising routine. It increases the slow-wave sleep (delta sleep). During the stage 3 of NREM sleep our body consolidates the memories and repairs itself. Our brain has a chance to get a proper rest from activity and recharge.

Take a hot bath. Body heating offers similar benefits to going through an intense exercising routine in terms of our ability to experience more slow-wave sleep afterwards.

Welcome to the Culture of Burnout

Posted on: January 21st, 2021 by Domante No Comments

“I want to curl up in the corner and cry” – says to me one of the strongest women I know. She is a gorgeous looking lady with a beautiful family, fascinating career and a very positive outlook. Normally, our conversations end up in giggles no matter what’s the problem. Not this time… She is absolutely exhausted, yet you could never tell because she holds herself as if she was a Wonder Woman (actually, she is one but they are not immune to burnouts too!).

The study into Google’s search data revealed a 24% spike in 2020 in searches online for terms such as ‘signs of burnout’, compared to 2019. Experts believe that this month (January 2021) we will see a record high burnout spike due to COVID-19.

According to the survey, initiated by The Office Group in September 2020, among millennials, the top three causes of burnout are working longer hours (59%), inability to separate work and personal life (42%) and an uncertain job market (33%). Among workers 50 and older, 48% reported not being able to take “a proper break” since the beginning of lockdown.

Why are the statistics so important? They show exactly where we stand as a society. Living in survival became part of the norm. We think it’s normal because the majority of the people we know are feeling the same. We must understand the implications of living in this ‘norm’ and be proactive about our own wellbeing rather than just wait for the circumstances to change.

When we are stressed, our body is in a ‘fight or flight’ mode: all the blood pumped into arms and legs, all the non-essential for survival systems (such as metabolism, tissue repair, reproduction) are suppressed and operating at a minimum capacity. In other words, our body is deprived of its natural ability to heal and repair, to absorb nutrients, to rest. Furthermore, we are not resourceful or creative. Although, adrenalin running through our bodies may be giving us quite the opposite impression by keeping us alert and active. Remember, it is the quality of work done that truly matters, not the quantity. In survival, we tend to make mistakes.

Human body can sustain short periods of stress, however, prolonged stress can literally kill us. The essential thing to understand is that the most of the madness is in our head, stress is mostly self-induced. Imagine an antelope, it is peacefully grazing on the grass when it sees a predator. Immediately animal’s survival instinct kicks in and it starts running for its life. Once the predator is outrun, the antelope stops and starts peacefully grazing on the grass again. Antelope, quite opposite to us, humans, stays in survival mode only for as long as there is a real danger to its life. We, humans, are able to activate body’s stress response by thought alone. Our brain doesn’t make a distinction between a perceived danger (a fear of missing a deadline) and a life-threatening danger (a stranger with a knife coming towards us).

Let’s get back to burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. We might be feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, lacking in motivation, negative or unable to concentrate. Our work performance might have dropped, the quality of the interpersonal relationship diminished, bad habits creeped in (comforting ourselves with alcohol at the end of the working day, eating junk, smoking etc.) or we actually might have physical health problems.

How to get out of this ‘culture’?

Set relaxation time and treat it like a meeting with a very important client. Put it in your diary.

Unplug. Technology enables work stress to creep into our relaxation time. Impose a ‘no phone at the table’ rule during your family dinners and weekend activities, avoid looking at screens at least half an hour before bedtime. Blue light tricks brain into thinking it’s a daytime. Therefore, your pineal gland doesn’t release melatonin that prepares body for sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone before going to bed, activate the Night Shift setting (Display & Brightness on iPhone and iPad).

Have a life outside your work. If it means finding a hobby or a like-minded community, do so.

Learn to say ‘no’. Take your wellbeing seriously. You do not have to work overtime every day and every weekend. It is not sustainable.

Get enough sleep. Unless you belong to the 3% of the population that can thrive on less than 6 hours of sleep per night, you should aim for 7-8 hours. Our cortisol (stress hormone) levels are lowest around midnight and highest about an hour after we wake up. Make sure you are fast asleep before midnight, so you can get the benefit of it.

Organise yourself. Part of the stress comes from keeping endless to-do lists in the head. Spill it all out onto a piece of paper and organise it into blocks (whether that’s by project, by type of activity or by completion date).

Stay in touch with your body. Your body signals you when something is not right. Let the body speak for you. Become aware of your shoulders – are they up or down, is there any tension? Place awareness on your jaw – are your teeth clenched tight? Your breath – are you breathing into the top of your lungs (chest expanding)? That’s a stress breath. Take at least a few deep breaths into the bottom of your lungs (your belly expands on the inhale) when you notice any tension in the body.

Get your body moving. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, to relieve stress, to improve mood, self-esteem and cognitive function.

Practice mindfulness. Simply be aware of what you are sensing and feeling – be present whether through meditation, visualisation practice, breathing or prayer. It helps to relax the body and reduce the stress.

Hydrate sufficiently. Being well-hydrated improves sleep quality, cognition and mood. No, a can of fizzy drink does not count as water.

COVID-19 added to our already stressful lives  immensely. Being bombarded with negativity and triggered into survival 24/7 means that we need to take responsibility for our own wellbeing and be proactive in seeking solutions that work for us. Switching to body’s parasympathetic nervous system, so we are able to rest, repair and digest, will come as a result of a conscious effort.

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.