Time To Move On

I’m sure you are all familiar with the old saying: “When at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again”.  In my time as a teacher I must have said it a million times without realising that I was doing the person involved a huge disservice.

How many times have you “tried” to lose weight, give up smoking, get fit, be more positive or assertive? How often have you failed?

Of course the word in itself has no power to keep us stuck but the reality is that when we think about trying it creates a sense of momentum and effort but it has the capacity to leave us wafting  about and going nowhere.

Let me demonstrate. Choose an item , a pen, mug anything that you can move will do.

Try and move it. Really try!!

You will find that you haven’t tried to move it you have either left it exactly where it is or you have actually moved it.

I use this simple exercise with clients who wish to achieve something but have so far failed. They often say I’ve tried this and that, may say they have tried everything.  My observation is that by using the word “tried” they have allowed themselves to feel powerless, stuck in the No Mans Land between wanting and achieving. It gives us permission to fail.

That may sound really harsh but I’ve noticed a consistent pattern where people have found it difficult to change something they say they really want to do. I’m not talking about one or two instances but in many hundreds of people I’ve helped over the years.  The good news is that when people realise they are caught in the “trying” trap and choose to look at things differently they are able to achieve far greater levels of success and do it consistently.  In the first instance the simple act of shifting their language changes things energetically. Their mindset is very different and as a result so is the outcome.

“I’ll try to …….. ” Feels very different to “I will ……”

In the first instance you don’t actually need to know exactly how you are going to create the success. Having the clear intention that you will succeed and that you are prepared to do what it takes to create that success is a very powerful starting point.

Maintain the belief that you will succeed even if it takes several attempts and you are firing up your levels of motivation and commitment in a fundamentally different way to the far more flabby “I’ll try”

Time and time again my clients have proved to themselves that they can succeed once they escape the trying trap and so can you!


The past, the present, the future. Where we choose to focus our attention has a profound effect on the quality of our lives.Never Let Your Fear Decide Your Future

Here you can read the 10 steps to stop the past spoiling relationships you have now.

Example 1: When what we have learned in the past is applied to the here and now we have the opportunity to develop new ways of behaving. Making the right choices in the present allows us to look forward to a future free of limiting beliefs and negative patterns of behaviours.

Example 2: If we fail to learn from the past, life has a habit of presenting the same lesson over and over again, until we actually learn and make a change for the better.

An example of this in a relationship: Some people choose the same sort of partners time and time again with disastrous consequences… A client had suffered through a string of terrible relationships. When we analysed what was going on she had always chosen her partner on criteria based on external characteristics, looks, lifestyle etc. When she began to think about the values she thought were important and likely to sustain a long term, loving relationship she realised that her ideal partner would need to be from a very different mould. A few weeks later she met such a man and they are now enjoying life together.


You can choose not to hold on to a negative past

Negative emotions are extremely expensive in energy terms and are corrosive to a sense of self worth and wellbeing. Holding on to anger, frustration, hate or a sense of rejection does nothing to get back at the person who has caused the initial hurt.

Understanding that you CAN choose for things to be different, giving yourself permission to express your feelings and then to forgive absolutely, gives you a sense of freedom, control and serenity.

By letting go of baggage many years after experiencing abuse or unhappiness, the clients I have worked with created a different and very positive present, and an exciting future for themselves.

Letting go does not mean forgetting all about the issue, it is about deciding to let go of the negative emotions surrounding the problem. Absolute forgiveness leaves the path clear for peace and space for growth.

When negative emotions have built up over a period of time, people have a tendency to interpret other people’s motives in a particular way. It is a default setting that causes the consideration of every action or lack of action, every word or lack of one from the person who we feel let down by, as being hurtful.

Lack of learning and continued negativity results in the continued interpretation of motives in a particular way so each situation becomes more proof that the negative thinking is right. The result is hurt piles on top of hurt with the potential to destroy the relationship.

Does your default setting take you to a negative place?

Think about the emotion you feel most commonly in the relationship that is causing you pain.

In the last week, which are the five emotions you have felt most commonly? List them:






If you have spent a lot of time feeling negative emotions maybe it is time to break the pattern.

Your past does not have to dictate your future

We can actively choose to do things very differently. We can choose to create a set of empowering beliefs that support the very best future.

  • This is not about giving in or thinking about who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
  • It is about choosing whether you want your present and your future to be better.

Those who have suffered abuse as a child, been bullied or who have lived in unhappy circumstances have the choice to let their awful circumstances blight not only their childhood but their adult life too.

They can bring with them the sense of lack and a belief that they deserve no better, or they can let go of the past and the negative emotions created by their past.


They can make a conscious decision to make adult life count for something else and if they have children, to ensure that their children’s childhood is very different.


You have that same choice. A useful place to start is to look at the way you interpret another person’s motive.


Step 1 – Identify your emotions.

Identify all the negative emotions you feel on a regular basis. Make a list.


Step 2 – What makes you feel this way?

Look at your list and identify what specifically makes you feel that way.

How much of the way you feel is actually based on something from your past? Does it remind you of the way you were treated by a parent or a previous partner? It is not uncommon for a tone of voice or specific actions to trigger powerful emotions from past situations. Have the two situations become confused? Do you need to deal with your baggage from this past relationship rather than let it spoil this one?


Step 3 – Change your physiology.

The way you stand, how you breathe, and your facial expressions all impact on the way you feel. If you are feeling sad, or angry or rejected change your physiology before you attempt to change your thinking.

You can do this by giving yourself a physical shake, by dancing round the room, gurning in the mirror, hopping on one leg or doing a silly walk. Dramatically changing your physiology will change your mood and emotional state.


Step 4 – Consider a different possibility.

Consider the possibility that the motive you have attached to the person and situation could be different in reality to the one you have assumed.

Is your partner doing and saying (or not doing or saying) something specifically to hurt or annoy you or could there be a different reason? Could it be that their behaviour is more about them?


Step 5 – Interpret the motive differently.

Consider how things would be different when you choose to interpret their motive as being less about you and more about them.


Step 6Change the trigger to the negative emotion.

People have a tendency to make conditions for feeling emotions. They often make the conditions for feeling positive emotions very difficult to achieve and those for feeling negative emotions very easy.

I will only feel happy when… I have the perfect partner, a top notch job, a huge house, children who never argue and always keep their room tidy, a holiday home on a desert island and.. and.. you get the picture. Even when they achieve all the conditions for achieving happiness the likelihood is that they will simply add more conditions.

I feel rejected… every time my partner is late home from work, or when they don’t have time to talk to me when I phone them at work, or when they respond to a phone call from work, or when they bring work home or when they don’t hear what I say or when they disagree with me or.. or …

You can choose to do it differently. Our emotional state is actually a choice we make!

Make it easy to feel positive emotions:

It is a new day, I choose to be happy. Every time I see someone smile, or I give or receive a hug or a kiss, or I see the beauty of nature or I focus on helping others or I ask for or accept help I will feel happy.

Make a decision to make it more difficult to feel negative emotions:

I will feel rejection only when they kick me in the shin, spit in my eye and tell me they reject me. Rejection only comes if I were to consistently believe in the illusion that it is all about me and when I consistently focus on what I don’t have rather than what I do. Instead I choose to take the opportunity to make the first smile, ask about them, lighten up and enjoy.

Create your own list of conditions for achieving positive and negative emotions.


Step 6 – Breaking the pattern.

Most partnerships have a pattern of behaviour and response. Eventually the responses within the relationship become automatic. This is particularly true of relationships where there is negative behaviour going on (including that of parent and child). Each person takes on a role and the initial trigger and response become automatic and an ongoing cycle of negative behaviour is created. There is little room for interpretation – it is as if each person is programmed to behave in that specific way and indeed that is exactly what is happening. Until someone breaks the pattern, the cycle of hurt and unhappiness will continue.

Think about how you have responded to your partner in the past.

Now think about how you might do things differently.


Step 7 – Identifying different responses

Think about how it feels to take an active choice to do things differently, to take control of the situation and to know that you have so many more options.

  • Identify the three situations in your relationship that currently give you the most pain.
  • Change your perception of the motive behind the actions that are the problem.
  • Think about how you might do things differently in each situation and create a list of as many possibilities as you can.

It is important that this comes from a positive place within you. This is about changing your responses to the situation not about trying to change them.

Rehearsing your new alternative in your head can be very helpful. Have several alternatives ready for the right circumstance when they happen so you feel prepared.


Step 8 – Trying out the non-judgmental response 

Be curious about how things are going to work and remember you are just trying things out, you may need to try the same thing several times or try several alternatives before finding ones which work for you. Remember too that trying something once is unlikely to be a magic bullet.

A small change consistently applied can make an enormous difference over time.

Remember step 3… the tone of voice, your body language and facial expression are all incredibly important. Simply saying words is not enough. See yourself as others see you, watch what is really going on.


Step 9Evaluate what is going on

If things work well – celebrate. If it doesn’t appear to work as well as you would like ask yourself “what can I learn from this?”. Think about whether you simply need to persevere with the same thing or whether things need to be done differently in the future.

Make yourself the focus, you are the only thing you can truly control. This is not about failure, it is about experimenting until you find which way works.


Step 10 – Get some support and help  

Dealing with your sense of self worth and identity makes an enormous difference to how you feel about life and relationships. Dealing with your own emotional baggage and learning to forgive others and yourself will give you the very best foundation to enjoy a wonderful present and an empowering future. Working with someone you trust and who can help you manage the process can be incredibly helpful.


You cannot change the past. What you can do is make sure it doesn’t spoil your present and your future.


What Motivates You In Life?What Motivates You

Motivation to live life to the full – where do you find yours? Do you even know what your motivation is? This blog explores the key motivators in life, so you can understand yourself better, and make informed choices to create the life you truly aspire to.

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. Choices are made often at an entirely subconscious level, which has a significant impact on lifestyle.

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

He describes six different human needs. According to his theory everyone will have two dominant needs and will need all of the first four to some extent.


The need for certainty is powerful. People who favour this need often show great determination, courage and resolve. They need to know that things will be certain, that they have some sense of control even if it means putting up with things which are less than perfect.


Those who are driven by uncertainty crave adventure and variety. They love change and will often change things that are working well simply to get the buzz it creates. They are curious and often playful and adventurous. You will find explorers and extreme sports people at its most extreme edge.


For people who are driven to succeed, attainment and success will be high on their list of personal values. They get a sense of self by doing things for others and being needed. They will push the boundaries to make a difference and to be seen as the one who has made a difference.


Love is the most powerful in the range, and the thing which most people long for deep down. Connection of friends, family, work colleagues, acquaintances are all important to those who are driven for connection.

The last two needs may be present but not always. These are:


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.

Recap: Everyone favours two out of the first four.


Case Study: What specifically do workaholics favour? 

Interestingly of those I have worked with, workaholics commonly favour certainty and significance. When I speak to clients they will often use phrases such as “I must succeed, failure is not an option” “I like to be in control”.

When you talk further to them about the life they would aspire to they will identify 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 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.

Unpick things even more and 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 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.

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.


Overcoming The Fear Of Failure in BusinessBe Brave

The difference between success and the fear of failure in a business is perspective. If you are worrying about surviving in your industry, and become focussed on a fear of failing, it will impact hugely on the way you think and how you operate. Instead, you need to change the way you view your situation to encourage a more positive outlook.

The non-virtuous cycle

At times of challenge it is all too easy to focus heavily on worrying about survival and fear of failure – the trouble is, it governs the questions we ask and impacts hugely on our motivation and energy levels. This leaves people feeling fearful and disempowered and this impedes the quality of thinking. In turn, the quality of our thinking has an enormous effect on our performance in every area of our lives. You only have to watch sportsmen and women who do brilliantly in training and in friendly matches, but fall apart when it really counts.

So what does that mean for you as a business owner?

You have the choice between focussing on failing, letting your mind dwell on all the implications, or you can choose a different way.

Focus on success as the only option and you start to ask a completely different set of questions.

  • What is it I need to do to ensure my business is a success?
  • How do I define success?


Kick-starting a positive outlook

I am amazed at how few people know what success is for them. They make plans without identifying their destination and how to get there. They become easily distracted and spend a great deal of time fire fighting. Strange given that very few of us would just get the car out of the garage and drive without some idea of where we were going.

Once you know where you are heading, it is so much easier to plan the journey step by step. Planning needs to be structured rather than rigid; strategic planning maximises the use of your time, energy, finances and makes the best use of the resources at your disposal. Breaking things down into bite size pieces avoids being overwhelmed – after all you wouldn’t attempt to eat a cow in one sitting but it is enjoyable meal by meal.

  • For starters am I really clear who my customer or client is?

Many clients I talk to are rather foggy about who their core customer is. Marketing then becomes much more challenging. Clients are afraid that by narrowing the customer/client group down too much they will lose potential income.

In reality the opposite is true. You can start to profile your customer base, where they can be found, how to reach them, what services or product they would spend money on.

  • What is it that my business can do which really adds value and makes me stand out from the crowd?

Today’s customers are spoilt for choice. Competing on price may be difficult so what else do you offer as added value? Is it the quality of service or product, your expertise, that you offer something unique, creative, quality of relationships or that you go the extra mile? Do your market research.

Ask your customers what they want and how you might make things even better. Not only are you able to target your efforts and buying more effectively but it makes them feel more valued, particularly when you listen to what they have to say.

  • How can we ensure that our customers and clients come back again and again?

Ensuring that you deliver what you promise is absolutely vital, as is communication and putting things right when something goes wrong. Relationships with customers are important if you want repeat business and if you want them to tell everyone else how wonderful you are.

Creating core messages throughout your business

It is here that training your staff to understand that EVERY interaction with a customer or client by phone, letter, email or face-to-face advertises your business is paramount. Team members have a vested interest in making your business successful as it provides job security, they should understand this. It also helps develop a sense of pride – not only do they enjoy work more but they become effective ambassadors. I have found this to be true whatever the business.

Creating rapport and effective communication are fundamental to good relationships and to healthy sales figures. Many organisations underestimate the value that training all staff in these skills can bring to their balance sheet.

A bird in the hand…

You know the old saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” yet so often businesses devote all their energy to finding new customers. They fail to see the benefits in staying in contact with those who have already.

Taking the time to create a database of customers so you can keep in contact is incredibly useful. Keep your business within customers’ consciousness so they naturally think of you when they need something. Follow contacts up not once but several times.

Instead of fearing failure, focus on success and see failure as an opportunity to learn… if something isn’t working, don’t fret about how your business might fail, instead find out what specifically needs to change to make things better. Sometimes it is just a numbers game; a sales person who gets one sale from every ten calls will get more sales simply from making more calls. Analysing what makes the difference in those successful calls so you can replicate it has the potential to boost sales enormously.

The difference between successful business people and those who fail is that whilst successful people feel fear – they do not dwell on it. Recognise that difficult times bring great opportunities and focus your energy on what you need to do to ensure your business is a success, and you will soon be part of your very own success story.





Is it possible that marriage is harder for the modern woman than it was for generations past?

Surely the freedoms women enjoy today, and the wealth of choice we have about our own future makes a modern marriage a happier marriage?

These are the concepts I contemplated and issues I addressed in an article published on Your Tango. To find out the answers to these questions, and to read a wealth of fix-it tips for the modern married woman, go to the full article http://www.yourtango.com/experts/miss-gina-gardiner/misgivings-modern-marriage

Why Over-Working Is The Same As Being Overweight

 In a quest to help workaholics understand how to create a better work/life balance I like to use losing weight as an example of how to move forward. Sound intriguing? Then read on!

Being a workaholic

If you are a workaholic, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it becomes the default setting when life gets tricky or you stop focusing on the life you want. But do you also see that the problem with only using your ability to “focus” is that it requires constant effort and it fails to get to the underlying causes, which are usually about our beliefs?

To make this point clearer, let me use a different example, but one where there is a very close parallel – losing weight.

Here are some facts:

Our desire to lose weight drives a multi billion pound industry in the Western world.

  • There are thousands of different diets, books, exercise programs and videos all giving wonderful advice.
  • They are usually telling us what we already know.

Being a healthy weight is just an equation.

  • Take in more calories than you use in physical activity and you are guaranteed to put on weight.
  • Use more calories through physical activity than you eat and you will lose weight.
  • If it is so simple, why are so many people still significantly overweight?

Many people get as far as buying the product and by doing so feel good for a short while because they believe they have at least taken action.

The same principle is true of gym membership.

  • People sign on for a six month or year-long membership and buy all the right gear.
  • They go once, or a few times, find it hard or boring, maybe pull a muscle and then give up.

Specialised food is available in thousands of different guises.

  • So why are more people in the western world overweight or clinically obese than at any time in history?

We are bombarded with TV shows showing obese people fighting their flab or makeover programmes.

  • We see people having radical surgery to address the problem. Is it addressing the problem?

When I talk and work with people who are overweight and get to the heart of the matter, without exception they have a proven track record of being able to lose weight.

  • In fact, many of them have lost their body weight several times over in their lifetime.

The problem does not lie with their ability to lose the pounds.

  • It is about how they feel about themselves and the relationship they have created with food.
  • The issue is how to enjoy food and maintain a healthy weight whilst feeling good about yourself.


How many of you or your close family and friends would recognise the weight cycle below?

*I feel bad about how I look, I must lose weight!

*I need lots of will power – I’ll go on a diet

*On a diet – all I can think about is food, it takes over my waking thoughts and most of my conversation outside work

*Lose weight – feel better about me

*Life happens – I find the weight creeps back on as soon as I eat normally or I want to feel valued and happy but I don’t – I need comfort so I eat

*The metabolic rate has been altered by being on a diet so I actually put weight on more easily

*I’ve put weight on again – feel bad about me – what I really need is will power – I need to go on a different diet.


Does it have to be like that? No!

Once clients change their relationship with themselves and they learn to love and appreciate who they are – wobbly bits and all – they can start to create a very different relationship towards food and life.

The result is a healthy lifestyle that is easy to maintain in the long term, a better self-image and a healthy emotional approach to food. The weight loss might be somewhat slower but it doesn’t rely on will power in the same way. They are able to create a lifestyle change that is lasting and doesn’t require a huge investment of will power.


The principles about changing your work/life balance are no different!

If you want true fulfillment and a great work/life balance, where you feel in control, you need to look at why you are driven to work such long hours.

Think about the benefits of letting work take over your life.

Think of the costs to your health, your sense of wellbeing, your relationships with family and friends. What has it cost you?

Think about the balance between the costs and benefits of continuing with your present life.

Does it serve you in the short term? How about over your life as a whole?

How long are you prepared to keep paying the price?

Are you ready to take control of your life?


What Is Your Default Setting For Life?

Remember: If you always do what you have always done, you will always have what you’ve already got.

Take action now! You may find these related blogs helpful:

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

Too Little Time? You Need To Create Personal Boundaries! 

Time Is A Finite Commodity – Do You Have Enough? 


Alternatively why not join me in a 1-2-1 personal development session, or attend a dedicated course. Please get in touch for more information!


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.



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.


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.