Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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:

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.


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.

Build Your Strength

Posted on: April 29th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

I often speak about doing the inner work: meditation, raising awareness, being present, staying in a resourceful state, observing your feelings etc. Whilst this work is truly important, and self-analysis is crucial for personal growth, there is absolutely nothing that can give us mental/emotional strength faster than physical exercise. Inner work requires patience, dedication and discipline. Physical exercise helps us follow-through.

For most of us the time has come to apply more resistance in order to grow not only our physical but mental/emotional muscles too. Probably more than ever before, we need outstanding mental/emotional resilience. We must stand strong on our two feet, we can’t be wobbly – we have to be decisive. Furthermore, we need to be willing to go that extra mile, firstly, by increasing resistance during an exercise, secondly, by taking this practice off our mats and into our work/our relationship/our ways of contributing to this world.

Many sources would tell us that our mental strength determines the strength of our physical body, however, I truly believe that it works the other way around too – we can build our mental/emotional strength by strengthening our body. Here is why:

Movement changes our body’s chemistry in an instant. Even a smallest movement, such as putting on a smile when you don’t feel like it, will change how you feel. Adopt different postures (of a depressed person, of a confident person, of a happy person), and see how each posture impacts the way you feel. When you go through a challenging workout routine, what does that make you feel like? Like a Spartan, like a champion – you call it whatever resonates with you. If you are feeling like a champion frequently, what happens to your mental/emotional muscles? You start building champion’s mentality outside-in.

Good heart-pumping exercise moves stagnant energy. Energy is meant to be flowing in our bodies without any restrictions. This is vitally important for our well-being, and it determines how we show up in the world. In its natural flow our energy is our life-force. The more blocked the energy, the more sluggish, indecisive, upset we feel. By restoring a natural flow of energy, we can reverse these negative feelings.

Dopamine boosts mood, motivation and attention. Endorphins are body’s natural pain killers. They relieve emotional stress and physical pain. Serotonin is known as a happy chemical because it contributes to our happiness and feeling of well-being. Wouldn’t it be great to get a bit of body’s own chemical advantage here?

It may sound like a “woo-woo” to you. However, think about it. We need our bodies to be at their best in order to achieve things we desire in this world. The stronger are our bodies, the more confidence we have in our ability to get to our ultimate destination.

The easiest way to get into a habit of getting out of our comfort zone is through exercise. By increasing resistance in our workout routines, we make pushing the limits familiar – we train our “I can, and I will” muscles that, eventually, will help us push through any adversity in life.

Just like a muscle, we grow through resistance – through challenge. Let’s increase resistance in our exercising routines, so when life throws a challenge at us next time, we are more confident in our ability to deal with it, and we have a much greater resilience.

Wherever you are with your workouts, try something new. The next step for you might be yoga, running, cycling or weight lifting… There is no one-size-fits-all here. Just note where you are right now and keep on taking it to the next level. Simply “push harder” as your personal fitness trainer would tell you.

Awaken Your Creativity

Posted on: April 22nd, 2020 by Domante No Comments

We know deeply inside of ourselves that there is more to this – there is more juice to our lives, there is that flow that we may have had glimpses of, there is that artist’s flare, there is that vibrancy that we have vague memories of. It is that creative force in each one of us that was suppressed at some point in our lives, whether by our own “rational” thinking, by the influence our parents had on us, by the pressure from our peers or wider society.

The very fact that this suppression happened means that we allowed it, we sacrificed a powerful force in order to fit in, to be loved, to be accepted and to be “normal”. This sacrifice cost us our vibrancythe life forceour inner firethe kundalini or shakti in yogic tradition. Many of us started dying inside. It may sound dramatic, and it is if you look at the long-term consequences. Great analogy to this is a fable about boiling frog. If we put a frog in a boiling water, it will jump out immediately. However, if we put a frog into cold water and heat it up to boiling slowly, the frog won’t perceive the danger (it would rather feel like in a jacuzzi!) and will be boiled to death. This is exactly what is happening to us right now. We are slowly and consistently pouring water over that inner fire without realising the danger.

We got into a habit of quieting the calling of that powerful force by overeating, extensively shopping, consuming alcohol and/or drugs, binge-watching television, scrolling up and down on our little screens, even exercising to the point of obsession.

I, too, disconnected from my creative force for a long period of time. It was only when I hit what I thought was the bottom of overdrinking, binge-watching and oversocialising with people who were depleting my inner resources, that I started listening to that calling deep within asking for nourishment.

If we do not hold respect for our inner creativity sanctuary, for our ability bring into being incredible things, whether that is by painting, writing, sculpting, playing music, singing, cooking, doing business, building houses, etc., we can’t expect others to respect it either. It is what we present to the world that gets reflected back to us. If people around us don’t believe in our ability to create, asking ourselves “do I believe in it?” is always a good place to start. And if we were pouring water on that inner fire long enough, we probably don’t believe in it at all.

In her book “Women Who Run with The Wolves” Clarissa Pinkola Estes says that “Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only”. Art here means anything that is born from that life force, anything that is brought into being by us. Using the story called “La Llorona”, author tells us to take back our river of creativity, and she lists several steps we need to make in order to do so. I revisited this chapter in the book recently, and I was reminded how important it is to attend to the life force in us. This is where everything we bring into being sparks from – this is where we begin our journey if we want to live a juicy life.

  1. Receive nurturance. Don’t deflect sincere compliments about your creative life. Practice to simply say “thank you” rather than “oh, this is nothing…
  2. Respond. Respond to everything what is going on around you, choose from vast possibilities of different thoughts, feelings and actions available to you. Use them to invoke curiosity, to inspire, to respond with a unique message. Stop supressing or censoring your feelings – stop saying to yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this way”.
  3. Be wild. Don’t put yourself in a box, loosen the constrictions of your inner life, don’t be afraid to look stupid and don’t take yourself too seriously. “To create one must be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth”.
  4. Begin. Doesn’t matter how afraid you are to fail, just begin. Begin reclaiming that creative force. There is no other way to do it other than getting your hands on that project you were dreaming of, taking a paint brush and start painting, completing that book you have been writing on and off for years…
  5. Protect your time. Dedicate time for your creative work – for that idea, that message, that beauty you want to bring into life, and be vigilant about it. Don’t let distractions get in your way. Treat this time like the most important meeting, because that’s what it is.
  6. Stay with it. Stay through the blocks, through the moments of wanting to give up, through self-doubt, through failure. Do it over and over again until you achieve the mastery.
  7. Protect your creative life. Don’t allow anything or anybody (including yourself) to diminish the importance and the sacredness of your creative work.
  8. Craft your real work. Give your all to it. In that dedicated time and space give your full presence, love and energy to your creative work.
  9. Lay out the nourishment for the creative life. The author lists four key food groups for nourishing your creative life: time (dedicate and allow time), belonging (feel and reaffirm the affinity with what you do), passion (be passionate about your craft), and sovereignty (use the power and authority you hold over this process to bring your creation into life/into being).

I invite you to awaken your creativity and start living a juicy life.

Reach Your Optimal Performance in Times of Adversity

Posted on: April 7th, 2020 by Domante No Comments

Today most of us feel overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks, scared by the scale of the disease tearing the world apart and highly anxious not being able to anticipate what the future holds.

On top of it, we are demanding ourselves to be as productive and as efficient as we used to be. It is absolutely insane. We need to change our approach as our outer circumstances have changed dramatically. “Give me the formula!?” I hear you. I felt the same until I started asking the right question – “Where does my energy go?”.

Let’s look at Human Performance Curve below to really understand what is happening here.

Most of us are on the red side of the curve right now because mentally/emotionally we are all over the place. We are wasting our energy on things that are beyond our control, getting distracted by everything and everyone in our environment whilst trying to pile up even more tasks on our “to-do” list. Our old methods of dealing with everyday life are no longer working.

Whilst we still need some stress in order to reach our optimal performance, why not opt for positive stress such as aiming to do more when we are exercising, completing an important goal/project/task, learning new ways of working, communicating – overcoming “I’m not good with technology” lie we have been telling ourselves. Let’s be honest, we are not good at things we haven’t been practicing much.

Few simple things each one of us can do to move from red (distress) to green (eustress/optimal performance) part of the curve.

This is the time for all of us to start focusing on solutions, not on the problems. It begins with each one of us individually. Shift your own thinking, lift yourself up, get into your optimal performance and then, from that resourceful and inspiring place, help your team, your family and your friends.