Do You Say Yes When You’d Rather Say No?

Just Say NO!

Just Say No!


Do you have a tendency to agree to things even when you  know it’s not what you want to do, or that it may even be  detrimental to your own happiness? Do you find saying “no”  difficult? Do you even feel that you have a real choice when  you are asked to do something you really don’t want to do?  Well, you are not alone! Read on to discover what you can  do  to shift the balance for a happier and more balanced life.


So many people agree to do things, and once having said “yes” find themselves flying around, stressed and resentful. To get out of this habit, a person needs to create a better relationship with themself, treating themself as they would others (no better, no worse). Learning to do this is vital for a sense of wellbeing and a truly well balanced life.

To do this, you need to have confidence in our own self worth, and the skills to say “no” graciously without causing offence, but before that you need to understand the many reasons you say “yes” even though it is the opposite of what you really want.

Common reasons people say yes when they really mean no!

These themes have come to light during various coaching sessions with clients. It is not an exhaustive list by any means and you may find several of the examples resonate with you:

Low Self Esteem

  • Everyone is more important than me; therefore their needs must be a higher priority.
  • I feel much better about myself when I am doing things for others, even when I ignore my needs to service those of others.
  • I am wary of upsetting other people, if I say no, they will not like me any more.
  • Everyone else knows what they are doing, if I say no it could be the wrong thing to do.
  • I feel guilty if I upset anyone – it is easier to say “yes” rather than feel bad about myself.
  • I’m always the one who gets put upon – it is my role in life.

Saying “Yes” To Get Them Off My Back

  • I can never think of how to say “no” and not upset them. I say “yes” because at least I have some space… initially .
  • It is just easier to say “Yes” than deal with the fall out – others being cross or disappointed in me. I fear the anger if I upset the person asking, or they’ll sulk, nag, withdraw etc.
  • Saying “yes” makes me feel good… to start with. Then I get overwhelmed by how much I have to do because I have taken on too much.

The Person Who Asks Has High Status

  • I wouldn’t dream of saying no to my parents/boss, whatever they say goes.
  • If I say “no” I’ll get passed over for promotion.

So What Is The Solution?

There is no single solution but some of the following suggestions may be helpful. You may be able to use them to make a difference by yourself, or maybe it would help if you worked through the issues with a life coach.

  1. Think about life in terms of what is fair and equitable.
  2. Think about a pair of old fashioned scales (the sort with a weigh pan on each side). The fair thing is to treat yourself no better OR WORSE than you treat others.
  3. Each time someone asks you to do something, weigh it out on your scales. Use that as the measure between “yes” and “no”.
  4. On balance is it fair and right for you to be asked to do it? If it is – go ahead.
  5. If you feel that the balance is tipped against you, then it is probably time to say no, unless there are other factors at work.
  6. Do you measure your own performance by the same criteria as you measure others? If not ask yourself why not?
  • How do you feel when someone says “no” to you?
  • Does it depend on why and how it is done?
  • Do you stop liking someone simply because they say no?
  1. What makes it right to give yourself a harder time than you would give another person?

How to say no gracefully without upsetting the other person 

Remember that the tone of your voice and the body language you use will have an enormous impact on the way the other person interprets your motives.

If you have trouble saying “no” in the first place, rehearsing different ways to say no which are both friendly and appropriate can help you avoid being caught on the hop.

You don’t need to go into great screeds of reasons. Keep it simple and avoid lying as you are likely to be found out which will cause bad feeling.

Having some responses rehearsed so you are not caught on the hop can be really helpful. Think about the last few times you have said “yes” and wish you had said “no”. Now create the script for how you could have said “no” graciously.

Here are some possible examples:

At Work…

  • Thanks for thinking of me. I’d love to help but I need to focus on meeting my deadlines, happy to help if those could be pushed back.
  • I’d really like to help but if I were to do that, which of my other priorities should I put on hold?
  • I can see how important it is but I simply have no space in the diary to give it the time and attention it deserves. I would hate to let you down or do a poor job.
  • Just look at my diary – there is no window of opportunity till —- I don’t think that will fit with your time scale. It would probably be better to ask someone else.
  • I can’t give you an answer at the moment. I need to look at what you require before committing as I hate doing a bad job and wouldn’t want to let anyone down.
  • I’ve looked at **** really carefully and I simply can’t see how I can get everything done in the time available.

In Your Personal Life…

  • I’d love to see you but I’m afraid I can’t do tomorrow. How about next week?
  • I’m really sorry I can’t help on this occasion but if you gave me more notice I might be able to help next time.
  • Under other circumstances I would love to help but I’m sorry, I can’t at this time.
  • I’m stumped – normally – no problem but I’m snowed under at the moment so will have to say no, sorry.

Where the person has high status…

  • I really respect/love you very much and the last thing I want to do is upset/disappoint/let you down but saying “yes” would mean …..
    • I wouldn’t have time to do things properly
    • I would be doing something I feel is wrong
    • It isn’t the right thing to do
  • Can I suggest ……. as an alternative approach, or
  • How can we come up with something that works for both of us?

When You Feel You Have To Fit Clients In…

If you find it difficult to say no to clients who want an appointment and find yourself creating a longer and longer working day you may find it useful to block out time with appointments to yourself.

One client I have worked with is self-employed. She found it difficult to say no to her clients but the result was her working very long days. She was exhausted and her health was suffering.

She found just saying “no” difficult, so her solution was to create a number of mythical clients. She went through the diary booking in appointments with them in all appointments after the time she wanted to work.

When clients were demanding about her working late she simply showed them the diary and said – sorry there isn’t a space left for those times for months. How about …. instead.

When you say yes simply to give yourself breathing space…

Several clients used to use this as a management strategy. In the first instance it would work giving them a bit of breathing space, however the relief was short lived. They then had to either find space to complete the task in their already crowded diary or go and say they couldn’t do it after all. Both outcomes created stress and had a knock-on effect on the way their bosses and colleagues regarded their efficiency and professionalism.

An alternative strategy could be to ask the boss politely: I am rather snowed under at the moment. I’m happy to help but I need a steer – which is the priority? I can do a —- or b—– in the time scale. Which one would you rather?

Or you could say

I’ll have to get back to you as I need to look at what I can reasonably do in the time I have available. I’d rather not promise something and then let you down. I’ll ring you this afternoon.

With both of these strategies it is important that you are clear about what is a reasonable expectation of you. It is not a strategy to be used to avoid doing a fair share of the work.


How To Have A Healthy Relationship With Others By Having A Healthy Relationship With Yourself

Seeking the perfect relationship with others is often about learning to have the right relationship with ourselves. In this blog I share some insights into how the way we have learned to view the world affects the way we view ourselves, and consequently the way we perceive others!

Towards the end is a quick quiz – a self-audit to help you understand your perceptions. This is the first step to maximising your potential for happier, healthier personal and professional relationships!

Your relationship with you…

The relationship we have with ourselves is based on a number of things, our genetic make up and hormonal and chemical balance – (nature), how we are bought up – (nurture) and on our interpretation of all our experiences both positive and negative, throughout our lives. Every experience we have is filtered through our senses and through the set of principles by which we measure any experience. Let me give you some examples.

  1. You are in a park. It is a beautiful day. A large hairy dog comes galloping up to you, tongue lolling out. Do you think “What a great dog, isn’t it friendly?” or “Oh no, that great brute is coming for me, look at its huge mouth…!”
  2. You are in the same park sitting on a bench enjoying the sunshine. A stranger comes and sits next to you on the bench. They say “Hello” and try to start up a general conversation. Do you think “Friendly person” and make general conversation with them or think “What do they want? Must move away as I feel threatened”.

Neither response is better or worse than the other but how you respond to outside experiences will make a huge difference to what you expect out of life, the way you live and enjoy your life and the sort of relationships you create with others.

Know you can instigate change…

It is important to understand that you can radically change the relationship you have with yourself if you choose to do so. It is actually a matter of conscious choice. However, to exercise choice you need to be very clear about what you believe and the impact that has on the way you behave.

To do that you need to:

  • Identify the things that work well, protect them, and use them as a model for other positive beliefs and behaviors.
  • Identify beliefs and patterns of behaviour that do not serve your best interests, deal with them and create more positive and productive beliefs and behaviours in their place.

I guarantee that this can be done by anyone who has a real desire to improve their life and their relationships.

Any partnership is really a combination of three relationships…

The first two being a relationship which each individual has with themselves. The third is the relationship the two people have with one another. Whilst I am going to focus on personal relationships the principles hold true for us in a professional context too.

At its best, a truly loving, interdependent relationship makes us more than we would be as separate independent people. It is based on the principles of win-win. Both parties have a commitment to look for solutions that facilitate growth and trust. The relationships are built on mutual trust and respect and communication is open and ongoing.

At its worst, a relationship can be destructive, where power and control play a major part and where there are always winners and losers. Partners constantly strive to get their own way and see giving in as a sign of weakness and defeat. Communication is often sparse or built on misunderstanding. People use the same words but mean entirely different things.

For many people their relationship exists somewhere in the middle ground. There are times when it is great, but that at other times tensions surface and difficulties are experienced usually around particular themes.

Common ones are:

  • Money
  • The way one partner treats and values the other
  • Lifestyle and health
  • Work/life balance
  • Trust and fidelity (perceived or otherwise)

An example would be concern about work/life balance and health. Partner A feels that they spend too much time alone because partner B spends too much time at the office. They feel neglected and unloved. At the same time they are worried about how stressed their partner is and the fact that they drink too much and are carrying too much weight.

If you want to truly understand the relationship with your partner and understand how to make it work even better, you need first to understand the relationship you have with yourself and then need to be open to understanding the relationship your partner has with themselves.
Self Audit

So what sort of relationship do you have with yourself? Think carefully about the following questions. Be as honest as you can. There is no right or wrong answer. The questions are designed to help you understand yourself and your approach to life even better than you do at present.

How do you introduce yourself when you meet someone new at work?

How would you introduce yourself if you were at a party?
Do you still introduce yourself as what you do?
“I’m a financial advisor” or “I work in insurance”

How would you introduce yourself if you were not able to use what you did professionally as part of your description?
Do you find that more difficult?

When you look in the mirror when no one else is about.
Who do you see?
What sort of person are you?
Think about how you would describe yourself to others?

You could start with describing the values you live by:
I’m kind
I’m hardworking
I have a strong sense of integrity etc.

What are your unique abilities?
What are you good at?
What do you enjoy doing?

How would you describe yourself physically?
How do you feel about yourself?
Do you like yourself as you are?

How highly do you value yourself?
Do you esteem yourself?
What gives you your sense of worth?
Is just being you enough?

Do you rely on the opinion of others or on what you can do for others to give you a sense of who you are?

When do you feel the best about yourself? Do you ever feel great about yourself?

Take some time out to think about the times you have felt really good about yourself during your life to date. Are there any common patterns?

Consider the following statements and decide if they are: Always true? Sometimes true? Never true?

  • I feel best about myself when I’m at work
  • I feel best about myself when I’m in social situations
  • I feel best about myself when I’m in private situations at home
  • I feel best about myself when I have drunk alcohol
  • I feel best about myself when I feel I’m in control of the situation
  • I feel best about myself when I feel I am needed
  • I feel best about myself when I am doing something for other people
  • I feel best about myself when I am winning
  • I feel best about myself when other people notice what I am doing and say well done
  • I feel best about myself when other people notice what I am doing and say thank you
  • I only believe I am doing a good job if other people notice and tell me
  • I always feel physically attractive and good about my body
  • I believe in myself at all times – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself in the work place – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself socially – I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing well
  • I believe in myself within my special relationship – I don’t need my partner to reassure me all the time
  • I’d really like to have a special relationship but I’m not attractive / good enough

The way in which we see ourselves may be very different to the way others see us. We may feel very confident and know our worth in one situation yet feel incredibly inadequate and of little worth in another.

If our sense of self-worth is generated more by external verification than by an internal sense of self-worth then there is a constant need to be recognised, praised and thanked. When this is achieved it feeds the need for more recognition because it gives us pleasure. When it is not forthcoming it creates a sense of failure and lack of self-esteem, which is potentially destructive.

Like all things, we need a balance between the extremes. If you are entirely self-absorbed and consider yourself perfect in every way it is highly unlikely that you will be the perfect partner, employee or boss. It offers no scope for self-improvement or personal growth.

Creating a strong sense of self-worth and confidence with a desire to be even better is the ideal. Determining our strengths, learning to love ourselves for who we are – wobbly bits included – is a fantastic starting point to creating a wonderful life.


Too Little Time? You Need To Create Personal Boundaries!

Setting Boundaries Space and Time - Genuinely Gina

Sadly it is impossible to make more time. Whatever you do there are only 24 hours in a day or 168 hours in a week. Manufacturing more time is not possible, all that we can do is make better use of the time we have at our disposal.

Creating appropriate and sustainable boundaries is one way to make better use of your time, but many people find it difficult to do this effectively. The consequences can be far reaching, impacting not only on our time but on the quality of our lives and relationships, and how we feel about ourselves.

This blog is to help people who want to create more defined and sustainable boundaries in their professional and personal life.


What do we mean by boundaries?

  • Where we set the expectations of ourselves and others
  • What we are prepared, or not prepared to do
  • What time we are prepared to give to ourselves and others
  • What personal resources we will make available for ourselves and others
  • The choices we make about what is acceptable behaviour and the way we expect to be treated

Boundaries are governed to a large extent by how we feel about ourselves and the extent to which our sense of self is determined.

Setting boundaries is easy if you have a strong sense of who you are and you feel good about yourself.

Setting boundaries is more difficult if your sense of worth is generated by what others think of you, or you get your sense of identity from doing things for others.

Many people feel they have no control over how they are treated or what is expected of them. They put the needs and wishes of others before their own and in doing so make a rod for their own back limiting the development and growth of independence in the other party.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Everyone else is more important than me. My needs come well down the list.
  • If I say no or am too strict people won’t like me.
  • If I don’t say “yes” I’ll get passed over for promotion. People will think I’m bad at my job.
  • I have to do it all, if I don’t it won’t get done properly. It is my responsibility. 
  • Things have just crept up on me. I’m not sure how I got landed with this lot.
  • I must answer my phone – it doesn’t matter how late it is or how trivial the interruption, if I don’t I won’t be doing my job properly.
  • Poor me – nobody appreciates me.
  • I’ll have to do even more so they notice how good I am.
  • No one listens to what I say, they constantly undermine me.
  • I can’t switch off, I can’t relax.

If so, it would indicate that you find setting boundaries difficult! But it doesn’t have to be!

Setting boundaries with others is not about dodging responsibility. It is giving yourself permission to treat yourself equally to others.

Tip: It is often useful to think about yourself as you would a best friend. A best friend will give you honest advice based on what is fair. What advice would you give yourself?

The relationship you have with yourself is in fact reflected in the relationship you have with others. Respecting yourself and recognising yourself for the unique human being you are is a first step. If you expect to be treated fairly, then people will treat you fairly.

The rules for creating boundaries are the same for your professional life, for your personal life, within your intimate relationships, with family, your children and friends.


How to set sensible boundaries

  • Boundaries need to be in the interests of both parties.       They should be fair.
  • Boundaries need to be appropriate for purpose. What works in one context may not be suitable for another.
  • Boundaries should be sustainable. Think about what you can cope with on a bad day, when the car has gone wrong, the cat has been sick and a client is playing up. It is no good creating boundaries that only work when things are going well and you feel on top of the world.
  • Boundaries should be consistent. If you keep changing the goal posts people get confused, there are mixed messages and the boundaries become devalued.
  • Paradoxically there needs to be flexibility to deal with exceptional circumstances. The key is that both parties understand what constitutes an exceptional circumstance, rather than confusion created when boundaries have no clear basis.
  • Set up the boundaries explicitly. Ensure that all parties understand what is expected of them.       Set them up early in the relationship and offer a sound reason for doing so. E.g. I’ll take phone calls until 7.00pm but after that please phone only in an emergency. Be explicit about what you consider to be an emergency or people will interpret it differently to you.
  • Boundaries should not be about ego and wielding power.       Where position is abused in this way you may gain what you want in the short term but it will damage your long-term relationships. As a boss or a parent you need to set boundaries based on your greater experience, status and understanding of the bigger picture. Abusing your position by setting boundaries to make the other person feel inferior or fearful or simply because you can is a recipe for disaster.
  • Boundaries should be set and maintained with respect. Consider your body language, tone of voice, the tenor of the email or phone call. Temper, having tantrums, sulking or withholding your attention when others fail to adhere to the boundaries you set simply makes matters worse.
  • Involve the other person whether it is your colleague, partner, subordinate or child whenever and wherever appropriate. Even young children can be involved. When people understand what is required and why they are far more likely to comply. Be clear what is non-negotiable and why.
  • Offer people choices with clear consequences if they comply and if they do not. The consequences should be in keeping with the boundary and the impact it will make.
  • Boundaries need to be reviewed regularly. As circumstances change, children get older, staff more experienced than you may wish to change the boundary, the consequences or both.
  • Model the behaviours you want from others, show by example.


Remember to set boundaries for yourself

Compartmentalising your life and making a clear boundary between work time and personal time is really important if you are to relax and recuperate and if you are to have a happy healthy relationship with your partner and the family.

  • When you are at work – do your best. Be productive rather than busy.
  • When it is time to go home learn to switch off. Be in the moment and focus on your partner and your child.

Boundaries act like the markings on a map. You can find the quickest most straightforward route, avoid pitfalls, and identify safe havens. When there are no boundaries, just like with a map, it is easy to lose your way and get into difficulty.



What Motivates You In Life?

Motivation to live life to the full; where do you find yours?

There are many different theories about what motivates us. In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) terms, the universal drivers are pain and pleasure.

  • Some people will be motivated by pleasure – they will be drawn towards things that give them a sense of pleasure and satisfaction.
  • Others will be driven by avoiding pain. Decisions will lead them away from those things which distress and hurt them emotionally.

Of course there are times when everyone will identify decisions based on both but without exception we will favour one over another. It is important to realise that it is not about one being better or worse, they are just different.

There are then a variety of other things that drive and motivate us to be who we are. Most of us make daily choices at an entirely unconscious level. 95% of our behaviours happen without any conscious thought at all they become habitual. These patterns of behavior have a significant impact on the quality of our lives.

Let’s look at the theory supported by Anthony Robbins…

He describes us as having six different human needs. According to his theory everyone needs all of the first four but that we will have two dominant needs. It is the way in which we satisfy these needs which makes the difference. They are deep wired into our persona so will have them satisfied come what may. We can achieve them in a positive, neutral or negative way. Understanding what makes us and others tick gives us the choice to achieve the need in the most constructive way possible.


We all have a need for certainty. It is at the core of our need to survive. We get certainty from or relationships, the job we do, hobbies, religion, food, drink, drugs, holidays, routines etc.

The need for certainty is powerful. The level at which we need to have a sense of control over our lives will determine all the choices we make. It demines how comfortable we are with change.

It is why some people will put up with abusive relationships. They fear change more than the status quo.


We achieve uncertainty or variety from the very things which give us certainty, relationships, the job we do, hobbies, religion, food, drink, drugs, holidays, routines etc.

The paradox is we need both, we all need variety or uncertainty otherwise we would be living “groundhog day”

It is the relationship between our need for certainty and uncertainty and the way we choose to achieve it which shapes much of our lives.

If you look at the types of holidays people enjoy it gives a good indication of their needs. If they always choose to go to the same place, like to repeat doing the same things with the same people the need for certainty will be high.

Those who are driven by uncertainty are likely to choose to go to different places looking for adventure and variety


Significance is not about ego. It is about how we feel valued. We gain that sense of value in a wide variety of ways, through or job, our skills – sporting, musical, technical, through the clothes we wear, our possessions – car, house, jewelry etc.

One person may gain a sense of significance from only wearing designer labels whilst another from only buying from a thrift or charity chop.

Some get their significance from doing things for others where another may get it from being a victim, a bully or always being ill.

The challenge is finding a way to satisfying our need or the need of others for significance in a wholly positive way.



In this context love means the intimate, passionate love between two people. We have connection with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, clients, pets etc. People will often settle for connection as it feels safe. They do not have to open up and be vulnerable in these relationships as they would do to achieve true love.

Most people wish for love deep down although many settle for connection or significance instead as it feels safe.

We all need all some level of certainty, uncertainty, significance and love and connection. The relationship between each and the way we achieve it is the underlying structure which shapes our lives, our relationships and the way we behave.

The following two needs are incredibly important to some and of no relevance to others:


There are many who wish to grow and develop personally or constantly work on the growth of others. Learning intellectually, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually is all part of growth.


This can be contribution to one’s own development or that of others. It can be at the level of wanting to surprise or spoil the family or that of making an ongoing significant contribution to others through personal contact or charitable works to raise money to help others.

Think about you? 

What governs your thoughts and choices?

How about your partner, your children, your boss or your colleagues? Understanding what drives and motivates is the key to getting the best out of yourself and other!

So let’s look at an example

As I work with a large variety of people it is easy to spot the patterns. By using an example I hope it will help you to see these patterns in action.

The most common pattern I have noticed in those who present as workaholics commonly is that they favour certainty and significance. They will often use phrases such as “I must succeed, failure is not an option” or “I like to be in control”.

When you talk them about the life they would aspire to they have all identified love as being most important to them. Of course some of them have created loving, stable relationships, yet many others dream of being in such a relationship but have failed to either create or more often to sustain one.


I discovered that workaholics tend to spend a significant amount of energy on underpinning certainty and significance in their lives. This has left little time and energy to find and sustain true love. Moreover I found that they have concentrated on the area of their lives where they feel most comfortable and that is around achievement and success.

When we have looked at the underlying cause I often find that there is a profound belief that they are either unworthy or unable to be loved. They are driven to succeed so that they feel better about themselves and more worthy of being loved by others. The reality is that no matter how well they have succeed they constantly move the goal posts as nothing they achieve makes them feel better about themselves.

The same people often have great connection with others on a large scale, lots of friends and positive relationships with work colleagues. This means that the pain caused by the potential loss of the love of someone special is to some extent softened. As a result they live their lives dreaming of love but they are not quite uncomfortable enough because of the high levels of connection in the workplace to make a radical change.

At work they feel valued, successful and in control, they have lots of connection which in turn makes them feel safe.

In their personal life they feel unworthy, unlovable a failure.

So its no surprise that they choose to spend their time where they feel good about themselves. In the end work takes on a disproportionate significance; there is no time or energy left to look for and to support a loving, passionate relationship. They have become a workaholic.

Consider your own needs… What drives you?

If you answer yes to these then you look for certainty:

Are you someone who likes to know what is what, you like to have routine and feel in control, and to know how things stand. Do you put up with things that are negative rather than rock the boat? Do you crave comfort and wish to avoid pain?

Maybe uncertainty is your crutch:

Are you an adrenalin junkie, do you run from commitment, or end relationships which appear to be getting too intense? Do you love new things but quickly lose interest once you have mastered the skills?

Is significance a need for you?

Do you want to be noticed? Do you feel the need to succeed to make up for a perceived failure in early life (failed 11+ or a school exam for example)? Do you feel at your best when you are doing things for others?

What do you really want out of connection?

Do you want to be loved? Are your relationships in life offering love or connection or both? How important are they to you?

If you have a perfect life, the things that drive you are obviously working well for you. If you feel a yearning for something different it is possible that the basic needs that drive you are not working at the optimum level for you.

To help find the right motivators in your life to meet with your goals of happiness, you can get in touch with me for 1-2-1 coaching or to join a group workshop.


How often do you get a feeling that there is simply too much to do?

How often does that feeling take up energy and stop you concentrating or keep you awake?

What makes the difference between being busy and feeling a great sense of satisfaction and being busy but feeling it is all too much?

 If these questions resonate with you… read on!

Being overwhelmed leads to a sense of impotence and procrastination, neither of which are conducive to a sense of wellbeing!

We all lead incredibly busy lives. Almost everyone you speak to complains that they are short of time and have too much to do. For many of us the way in which we deal with our “To Do” list can add to our sense of overwhelm leading to high levels of stress and a diminished sense of self worth.

Here are some real life examples…

A client came to me feeling completely overwhelmed by her life. Her job felt as if it had taken over her life. As a result she had done nothing in the house for weeks, the laundry had taken on a life of its own, the fridge was empty, she and the children were living on junk food. She felt drained, unhappy and desperate for things to be different.

Another client had failed to meet some important deadlines at work because he was swamped with projects. He was concerned that his standing with his boss and the rest of the team would be jeopardized because of what he saw as “my failure”.

Although both clients were facing different problems the solutions are similar.

In order to solve the problem it is important to understand that in-completions such as these leech our energy and our sense of self worth. The net result is that we spend time and energy in servicing the problem rather than dealing with the problem.

Let me give you an example… If the job seems too big to handle we will often find any number of distractions to avoid dealing with the problem. In fact we often spend more time avoiding doing the job than the job itself would take. For those of you with teenage children you will acknowledge that they are masters of this technique!

Human beings thrive on completion. If we feel we cannot complete the whole thing, the tendency is to leave. If I asked you to eat a whole cow in one sitting you would refuse on the grounds that it was impossible. Yet over time if the meat was used in meal sized amounts it would not only be possible to eat a whole cow but there many of you who would enjoy planning different ways to cook it, love cooking it, and equally love eating the various dishes.

How we present any job or project to ourselves, and others, will have a marked impact on whether we manage to do it easily or with great difficulty.

Imagine your house. Every room is in a mess. There is a sink full of washing up. You get home from work – you are tired from the day. You look around and just can’t face dealing with it. You order a take away rather than tackle the mountain in the sink. You are too tired to do more than collapse on the settee to watch TV. The washing up is put on the draining board before bed. In the morning you have breakfast, there would be time to deal with the breakfast things but there is not enough time to do anything with your sink full. You add the crockery to the pile on the draining board. You leave for work knowing that all that awaits you after a hard day at work is the mess you have left at home.

At work there is a non-stop barrage of requests, interruptions and expectations of you by others. Huge amounts of energy are tied up with worrying about what isn’t being achieved rather than focusing on achieving what needs to be done.

So what are the solutions? 

  1. Creating Bite-Sized Tasks!

By understanding that completions give us a sense of achievement and well being we can create a works or ‘To Do’ list which breaks everything down into manageable “mouthfuls”. Structuring each task in this way gives us a sense of impetuous to go on to the next thing. As each stage is completed take the opportunity to acknowledge that you have achieved success.

Prioritizing what we do is really helpful. Think about the last few days. How much time have you spent on things which could have been left or delegated?

Think about the difference between IMPORTANT and URGENT.

Many things create a false sense of urgency, the immediacy of emails for example.

Playing with your children may be important but lack a sense of urgency in the light of the rest of your list. How many parents regret the lack of a sense of urgency when they realize the time has passed and the childhood days have passed?

  1. Effective prioritization

Prioritize your works list using Franklin Coveys system.

A = Must get done

B = Should get done

C= Could get done

Create your list using the code above.

Most people tend to do the Cs first as they tend to be the easy ones. Try to be disciplined about doing the A’s first. Anything outstanding at the end of the day goes onto the next list. Remember to reconsider the coding for each task, as things that are continually shunted into the next in the “should” or “could” categories can become “must” if left.

  1. Give yourself a break

Many of the things on our list add pressure with out adding value. If you have things like “Sort out and read pile of magazines and periodicals” and you have had this on the list for a while, consider how liberating it might be to simply put the whole pile in the recycle bin. Ask yourself the question “Will anything dreadful happen if I don’t do…..?”

  1. Schedule ahead

We often have jobs to do which are vitally important – paying the bills for example, yet the need to do it is not immediate. Creating a reminder in your day planner can work really well as long as you train yourself to check the planner on a daily basis. For those of you who love technology it is possible to set up visual and auditory prompts.

  1. Take control

Central to the solution is creating a sense of control. It is entirely your choice whether do take control or not. Going back to the real life examples mentioned at the start – both my clients felt that the first act of creating a list of things to do helped them feel better, but just having a list will change nothing. It is taking action that will ultimately change the quality of your life.

Breaking that list into small manageable chunks and taking action to complete the first one offered the clients a sense of completion, that in turn energized them so that they went on to the next task and the next. By our next session they were both in a significantly different place. They were still busy but both felt their lives were manageable. The sense of overwhelm was replaced with a sense of being in charge of their own lives.


Partners of workaholics!

Do you find yourself in a very difficult place? For much of the time partners of workaholics are expected to manage on their own whilst your partners are busy with work. This blog focuses on how partners of workaholics can tackle the feeling of loneliness, and realise they are not alone.

Which of the following are you?

The childless partner – This situation leaves you with great tracts of time waiting for your partner to be available to talk to or to do things with. Yet at the same time, having them physically present is no actual indicator of your partner being available to you. Modern technology adds the final twist of the knife as your workaholic partner has so many more opportunities to be back in work mode. Mobile devices, emails, and social media all have a voracious appetite for attention 24/7.

The as-good-as-single parent – If you have children you find yourself being to all intents and purposes a single parent within your marriage. An added pressure is your your children often idolise their missing parent. They are rarely there to do the boring stuff like homework and nagging them to tidy up their bedroom. When they do make themselves available, the children get to do fun things – it is such a rarity it gives the activity very high status. Once your partner returns into work mode you have the double whammy of having to deal not only with your own feelings but with disgruntled and disappointed children too. It can feel so unfair.

Understanding the workaholic’s divided attention.

An added difficulty arises when your partners also wants to take time “for themselves” to unwind and relax. Where those activities exclude you and / or the children it acts very often like a slap in the face.

When your workaholic partners want to spend time with you or needs to entertain people for work you are expected to drop everything and be available. You are faced with variations on a theme of the following logic:

“You have been nagging me to spend time with you, then when I want to do just that you are off doing something else.”

“I have so little time surely you want to spend it with me.”

“My commitments are so much more important than yours, after all it is me who supports the lifestyle you enjoy. You could do what you have planned at any time.”

“I bring home the money which keeps you in the manner you want, surely it is not too much to ask for you to be with me when I have the time.”

“When I get home from work I’m too tired to deal with all this ….. surely you can sort out ….. the plumber… the insurance…. their homework…. the problem with the teacher….. the dentist etc.”

“I want to spend quality time with the children, so lets do something fun.”

“I buy them wonderful things… what more do they… or you want from me?

I can hear you saying “ We know the problem, what we want to know is how to fix it!”

Instigating change.

If you have tried all the usual ways of trying to change the workaholic habits of your partner, maybe it is time to change your attitude towards the problem.

There is no simple answer to what is a complex problem, but ask yourself “How indispensable are my partner and I to one another?”.

I’m sure you have heard the old adage: If you don’t like things then change them. Where things are out of your control to change the only thing you can do is change your attitude towards it. Very often changing your attitude impacts on the very thing you found impossible to change. The only place to start changing them is by changing yourself.

Loving your partner unconditionally and accepting unacceptable behaviour are two different things…

Think about your particular circumstances. Do you sit waiting for your partner to find a small space for you in their life? By sitting waiting for them to be free you begin to create a structure within the relationship that states that it is acceptable for them to treat you in this way. They are able to sustain their pattern of behaviour because you are at some level colluding with them. What you need is a change of approach. This is not about paying them back, indeed that is the very last thing I am suggesting.

This is about:

  • Developing a strong sense of your own self worth.
  • Being honest with yourself and avoiding playing the victim.
  • Learning what motivates and drives both you and your partner and understanding how to make both sets of needs work.
  • Being loving to your partner whist loving yourself .
  • Learning to communicate effectively with your partner.       (Often we use the same words but the meanings we attach to them are completely different.)
  • Using loving language that sets out your case clearly and firmly. (Without accusing, nagging or whining.)
  • Setting out clear boundaries of what is acceptable and not – and sticking to them!
  • Creating a life that you find fulfilling, even when your partner is not available. Making sure you make the most of every moment of your life rather than sitting waiting.

By considering the points above and altering your attitude to the situations that cause upset, it is possible to create positive change that could make your relationship far more rewarding.


This article offers strategies to help those of you who put your focus too heavily in the past or in the future and in doing so neglect to maximise the wonder of the here and now.


The treasure of time

Time is a precious commodity, especially when you consider that a lifetime of 70 years only has around six and a quarter million hours. Not a lot when you take out the time necessary for sleeping, eating, washing, shopping and working.

Each moment is precious and whether it relates to the past, the here and now or the future it is important to live each moment to the full.

Living in the past

Too great a focus on the past means that the present and future are short changed. Too little and the lessons that experience and living can teach us are likely to be missed.

Living in the future

Too great an emphasis on the future and we waste the precious gift that each current moment offers. Too little thought about the future leaves us ill prepared to deal with life’s challenges, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and financial. To know the needs of the future and only to enjoy the moment is feckless in the extreme.

Time to strike a balance

There needs to be a balance. Use the past to teach us the lessons for the present and the future. Plan sensibly for the future but learn to enjoy the present and to make the most of every moment.

Here are 10 strategies which help you get the most out of each moment. They don’t expect you to find more time in your over stretched day but help you to make a conscious choice about how you use the moment and feel about it.

Step 1

Start your day by taking 10 deep breaths in to the count of 4, hold for 8 and out for 4. As you do so say to yourself, “It is a new day. I choose to be happy and look for the beauty and wonder within the day.

Step 2

Choose a different sense to focus on for the day and as you go through your normal day make a conscious decision to notice:

  1. What you see – look for colour, pattern, texture, form, contrast etc. in all that you see. E.g. As you notice the rain making a pattern on the windscreen of your car or the train window.
  2. What you hear – be conscious of the sounds around you, at home, travelling or at work. Notice the variety of sound, the volume, harmony or discord.
  3. What you feel – notice the texture underfoot, the feel of a soft jumper or shirt on your skin, the feel of the razor as you shave, or the moisturiser you put on your face, the silky skin when you give someone a kiss.
  4. What you smell – the coffee, or smell of bacon frying, aftershave or conditioner on clothes, the pungent smell of cleaning materials or the smell of someone hot with exercise.
  5. What you taste – bitter, sweet or sour.

Think of the language you would use to describe it.

Step 3

Make a conscious decision to smile at people. Notice their responses, expect none but enjoy it when people smile back.

Step 4

Take a short time out from your busy day – 10 minutes to simply be. Sit still and let your thoughts go where they will. Start with the intention of being curious about where your mind wants to take you.

Step 5

Be aware of the physical world around you. Look for the weed that has grown out of a crack in the wall, watch the clouds as they change shape. There is no need to make new time for this simply be conscious of things in your every day circumstances. Be open and curious.

Step 6

As you eat and drink anything be conscious of the aroma and taste, feel the texture in your mouth. Try to identify the different ingredients within a dish.

Step 7

Instead of watching TV, have a conversation about the day. What you have noticed or been curious about. Be equally curious about their day.

Step 8

Make a random act of kindness during the day to a complete stranger. It doesn’t have to be anything big but it needs to be unsolicited and with out expectation of any return. Let someone out into the stream of traffic, opening a door, helping someone carry a bag. No matter how small it will make a difference to the other person’s day, and to yours.

Step 9

Take the time and trouble to notice something someone has done for you and thank them. Even better if it is someone whose efforts usually go unnoticed!

Step 10

Collect gratitude’s. As you lie in bed just before you go to sleep think about at least 5 things you have been grateful for within the day. They can be as simple and small or as grandiose as you choose.

Make every day count for you and for others. Live this day as if it were going to be your last. Live the experiences of the day and be determined to enjoy it.

Being the partner of a workaholic can lead to unwanted behaviour that is potentially damaging to the relationship, all because it is natural to want to feel loved. This blog explores the emotional games can arise in such situations, and how to over come these obstacles successfully.

 How to tell if you are the horse-trading type

Horse traders only give their attention or affection if they are getting what they want from the other person. Horse traders use their mood as a weapon and a reward. An example: When horse-trading types like what their partners are doing, they are loving and kind, there is a gentleness and openness. It is this energy which others seek. When their needs are not being met, the quality of energy changes dramatically – it can range from being cold and distant, sulky or downright hostile.

Horse-trading comes in many forms. Perhaps the most pernicious type of horse-trade of all is that of sex. At its best sex is the most wonderful sharing of intimate passionate love where two people come together to share their vulnerability and their strength. At its worst, it is a trading transaction. I’ll let you have sex with me if you do what I want. It becomes far more about power and far less about love.

Why does horse-trading happen?

Firstly, I must point out that it is very common. It is highly likely that both partners in a workaholic relationship engage in horse-trading. Commonly both people are hurting. The workaholic escapes into their work. Sometimes, the hurt precedes the relationship but the partner believes it is about the relationship and feels rejected and hurt as a result.

The partner wants their workaholic other half to love them enough to leave work in its place and spend time with them. Even though what they really want is unconditional love, their hurt has led them to create a relationship where they respond lovingly when their workaholic partner gives them the attention they are dying inside for. You can almost hear the unspoken words – I’ll give love to you if you give love to me – but you have to give it to me first!

This is understandable – we all want to be loved and made to feel special, but here is the problem – Workaholics are workaholics because of a need within them.   It is actually very little about you, the partner.

What workaholics need

The basic needs of any person are certainty, variety, significance, love, connection, growth, and contribution. We can satisfy those needs in many different ways, but if any activity satisfies three or more of our needs at a high level it is likely to become an addiction.

Workaholics commonly get their needs met at a high level from work. Certainty and a sense of control, lots of variety, a sense of significance from their status, the feeling that they make a real difference, and a sense of connection from colleagues and clients – these are all often at a really satisfying level. Coupled with constantly learning new things that gives a sense of growth and the feeling that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves equals a highly rewarding feeling.

If when they come home they feel they are failing as a partner, a husband, wife or parent, if they have no sense of certainty or their driving needs are met less strongly they will find it difficult to give up the addiction to work.

The significance of significance

Significance is quite commonly one of workaholics most driving needs. If they get it best at work – that’s where they will spend the majority of their time and attention rather than come home and have to face a sense of being a failure. If they get a rewarding feeling for whatever they crave from work, if you don’t give them a powerful alternative at home you could have a problem which could lead to horse-trading.

Deep down what most people really want is true love

Pure love is very simple. You love the person for who they are – right now, whatever they are doing or not doing. In its simplest terms, you love them and give your love unconditionally. Many of us believe that is what we do, yet, the reality is, we love them, but we want something in return.

Now bearing in mind that if you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got, maybe it is time for a fundamental change!

Love them – unconditionally.   Do things because you love them and you want to, not because of what you might get in return.
Remember that they are probably doing the best they can. Being driven is never comfortable. The results won’t be instant. But time and time again once partners stop horse-trading and start loving – from their heart, without expectation of anything in return, things begin to change. Partners find they feel better about themselves too.




To be able to respond to a situation appropriately, or understand a situation to its fullest, one must accept that the way we view a situation all depends on our personal perception.


What do we mean by perception?

Throughout our waking hours we take in millions of pieces of information. We take in information through all our senses. What we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. By itself that information makes very little sense. To make it make sense, we interpret that information and give it meaning. It is the meaning we give it which is the “perception” that we will be focussing on here.

The way we choose to perceive things is governed by our values and beliefs, our upbringing and life experiences. Having chosen a particular stance, we look for evidence that we are correct. Because we continue to interpret things in a very specific way we can always find evidence to substantiate our belief. We then interpret subsequent events in the same way and our perception becomes entrenched.

The result is that our learned perceptions, which have been reinforced by the evidence we have given ourselves that that perception is “correct”, govern the way we continue to read the world around us.


An example of different perceptions

Fred is walking in the park. He sees a dog on the far edge of the park. He thinks to himself, “What a fabulous dog, it reminds me of Bobby my childhood friend. I loved playing with him,” Fred has learned to like dogs. His experiences with dogs in the past have confirmed his belief that dogs are friendly and that he is right to be anticipating a pleasant experience with this one. The dog approaches him barking excitedly and jumping about. Fred greets the dog with confidence and the dog responds positively. Fred’s initial perception that this was a friendly dog was confirmed and his beliefs were deepened.

By contrast Dave is walking in the same park. His mum was very nervous around dogs. She considered them to be dirty and dangerous. Every time Dave went near one when he was little, she would warn him against touching them and as a result he began to be extremely nervous around dogs. As the dog comes near him bouncing around and making a noise, the dog picks up his emotions and starts to feel anxious, the dog’s initial curiosity and changes to wariness. Dave begins to walk faster to get away and the dog begins to chase him. You can imagine the rest. Dave’s belief that all dogs are dangerous is confirmed.


Perception in relationships

This principle of perception holds just as true in the relationships we have with others. We can find the proof we are expecting in pretty much any conversation or in the way others behave if you look for it.

Clients will often site examples as proof that their partner thinks more of work than they do of them, or that their partner doesn’t care, or that there is another agenda going on. When I ask “Is there just the possibility that there could be a different motive or reason behind the words or actions which have been so wounding” the initial response is often that they know their first impression was correct. This sense of certainty creates a set of responses that continue the cycle. There is no space for any change in the pattern, which becomes more and more entrenched.

When the client is prepared to explore the smallest possibility that their partner’s behaviour may not be created to hurt them, and that it is more about their partner’s addiction than their partners wish to hurt or wound the cycle can be interrupted.


Workaholics as an example

Workaholics are driven by their needs. They need the certainty, variety, significance, connection, opportunity for growth or contribution that their work offers. They are often distressed that they are failing in their relationship with their partner or children and escape into the world where they feel more powerful and in control. In my experience many workaholics fear failure and constantly look for opportunities to achieve. If the world of work offers them a much greater sense of achievement it will have a significant attraction.

Let’s be clear I am not suggesting that as the partner of a workaholic that you have to put up with everything and act as a doormat. What I am suggesting is that you start to be curious about what is truly going on. Be prepared to put old perceptions to one side and explore whether your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or whether what is going in is driven by something quite different.


Altering perceptions

In order to influence anyone else the first stage is to understand their world, their perception, by stepping into their shoes and perceiving the world through their eyes. This is the only way to appreciate how they are feeling, to be open to what drives them to be the people they are.

Doing this will change your perception and it is this which can make a significant difference to the way we feel about them and provide an opportunity to make a lasting change.

By changing the way you respond to someone not only do you have a completely different feeling about the situation, you also offer them the opportunity to change too. Your motive must be about changing you rather than changing them. In making an active choice to change your perception to what is happening you stop being a victim to circumstance and as a result feel far more in charge of your own destiny.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel truly fulfilled?
  • Do you know what it feels like to feel truly fulfilled?
  • Do you look forward to each new day?
  • Does your heart sink at the thought of what tomorrow may bring?
  • Do you love bits of your life?
  • Do you wish the rest of your life matched up with the bits you do like?
  • Do you aspire to having a truly fulfilled life?


Living a fulfilled life is a matter of choice

Now before you tear the article up or switch off the computer I ask you to hear me out. I believe that living a fulfilled life is largely a matter of choice. I expect that the vast majority of people reading this would want a life that offered them an ongoing sense of satisfaction and happiness – so what is getting in the way of attaining this?

I find it really interesting that most people I speak to or read about are waiting for something even better to come their way so that then true fulfilment will be theirs. Below is a tiny example of the obstacles of people create to stop themselves feeling truly fulfilled in the here and now.

“I will feel fulfilled when things get back to the way they were when I was young, slim, fit, wealthy, carefree….”

“I will feel fulfilled when I have the perfect relationship, job, family, bank balance, figure, house…”

“I will feel fulfilled when other people see how good, clever, helpful, talented… I am.”

“I will feel fulfilled when I reach my target, complete the course, become something else entirely…”

Fulfilment is a state of mind. I believe it needs to be tackled at three levels.


Level 1 – Love Who You Are

Firstly being fulfilled is about learning to love who you are now, warts and wobbly bits too. So many of us feel we are not good enough. Early experiences have installed

beliefs that are limiting. These can be based on a remark offered for the best of motives but leave a legacy of self-doubt and anxiety.   The problem is that we then begin to interpret everything within our experience through that belief. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Loving yourself for who you are about holding oneself accountable and aiming to become the best one can be. Being the best you can be is far more about looking for the lesson when we make a mistake so we don’t make the same mistake again. We don’t need to beat ourselves up because we failed to get it right. So if you get something wrong – admit the mistake, take the learning from it and move on.


Level 2 – Learn to Learn

The second level of fulfilment is all about learning. Learning is about being curious about the world and how it works. Learning from others present and past, being open to the possibilities that present themselves and the learning that those possibilities offer. Learning is also about using the experience of failing and when things go wrong to inform us how we might do things better.

The fulfilment comes form being determined to use the learning in the future. Success is built on adjusting and learning from previous failures. Reflecting on personal growth is a huge source of fulfilment.


Level 3 – Contribute To Others

The third level of fulfilment is all about your personal contribution to others. There is a difference between the feeling of self worth you get by doing things for others and the feeling of contribution that gives a sense of who you are. Those who only gain a sense of who they are through what they do for others are likely to find limited fulfilment – until they learn that being them is enough to feel of value.

It is where giving is done selflessly with no wish for personal gain that there is the potential for the greatest fulfilment. Try making random acts of kindness to complete strangers, where there is no acknowledgement is needed. Giving anonymously or contributing where the only motive is to contribute with no thought of any return. Watching the outcome from such an action can be incredibly fulfilling.


Finding fulfilment is your choice…

However trite it may seem you can choose to find fulfilment in ordinary every day life as everything has the potential to be extraordinary. From the moment you open your eyes you make a choice – conscious or other wise – to notice (or not) the wonder of each moment. It is therefore your choice to remain in a loveless relationship or a job you hate.

Plan your life to achieve fulfilment. Take time to notice all the little things that nurture your spirit and plan to tackle anything in your life that gets in the way of you living your life to the full.


Take control by choosing to choose how you live your life rather than being a victim to circumstance.