Have you ever thought that the only time when you can experience a sensation, movement or emotion in your body, is right now? We cannot experience sensations, movements or emotions in our body from the past or in the future, only in the present.
Our presence is formed from our sensations, movements and emotions in the moment. It is how we show up day to day. The language of life is sensation and movement.
If you squeeze one of your hands with the other and recognise this sensation, then let go and see if you can still feel the sensation after you have let go of your hand. There may be a slight 'echo' in the sensation you felt for a few seconds afterwards, however there is then no longer the sensation of your hand being squeezed. You can remember the sensation after releasing your hand, but you aren't actually feeling the sensation.
The purpose of this exercise is to understand how our sensations and movements are only felt in the moment. They are not from the past and they are not in the future, they are from now.
If we rest our attention on our present sensations, movements and emotions, then we can become fully present. This is about our presence in how we show up day to day through our embodied self-awareness which is recognising our full self in the moment.
Our full self = sensations, movements and emotions right now. Therefore take a moment to experience what this is for you. Notice what is happening in your body from head to toe, side to side and front to back in this moment.
Our presence impacts other people. How you show up impacts how other people respond to you.
Be curious in what your body is telling you and question why this is. Maybe your body is telling you to slow down or decrease your stress levels if you have a heavy chest, faster heart rate or tense shoulders.
Consider how your sensations, movements and emotions impact how you show up day to day.
Did you know your brain has the amazing capacity to repair and reset itself at any age?
Neuroplasticity is the natural process of recalibrating the brain. Your brain can create new connections and become stronger through repeated well-travelled neural pathways which are how your habits are formed. Habits are formed from our belief system in what we say about ourselves. This is because the brain focuses only on the belief system as it can only show us the things which we believe about ourselves. Your belief system is operating night and day. Think of your belief system as your software.
The more you focus on developing your mental capacity and ability in new learning, the easier it is to unlearn bad habits which no longer serve you, for example. You can create new neural pathways to be your best self through developing new sustainable healthy habits.
Old neural pathways of bad habits become weaker and break down when you build new neural pathways with new habits which become stronger over time.
Your belief system is built from your own unique experiences of how you value yourself. For example, I believe I can help others become 'unstuck' in their limiting beliefs because I have prioritised self-care. This has enabled me to value myself to become 'unstuck' in my limiting beliefs which held me back for years.
Your brain will focus on your belief system whether this is negative or positive. You have a choice to build and maintain a positive belief system to be your best self using sustainable healthy habits to create new neural pathways.
In order to ensure you keep your brain healthy, it is important to protect the whole body. There are 12 ways you can do this:
1. Mental stimulation in keeping the mind active in new learning for example.
2. Regular physical exercise which reduces mental stress.
3. Eating a healthy variety of nutritious food.
4. Creating healthy habits in exercise, nutrition and sleep to reduce stress levels and take care of high blood pressure.
5. Avoid high blood sugar levels to minimise the risk of diabetes and dementia.
6. Take care of cholesterol levels through a healthy diet.
7. Drink water regularly to avoid dehydration.
8. Avoid tobacco smoke to minimise health risks.
9. Limit alcohol to minimise health risks.
10. Develop self-awareness to manage your emotional responses for your mental health and wellbeing.
11. Minimise activities which can increase your risk of head injuries.
12. Build and maintain your social networks to increase mental health and wellbeing.
Maintaining brain health is a continuous process, however it is worthwhile to minimise the health risks by developing a positive belief system.
Book a free online strategy session with me to explore how you can build a positive belief system.
If you find yourself living for the weekend rather than living in the moment, you know a shift of some kind needs to happen.
Before I because a leader, I used to live for the weekend. I disliked the culture of the majority of the organisations where I worked. I felt like I was just a number. There was a serious need for a positive culture in the workplace to help myself and others feel we wanted to be a part of it.
I continuously disengaged and became disinterested in my work as a member of a team. Eventually I would leave the organisation, as would others, for the same reasons, time and time again. Being undervalued. Having a lack of shared purpose. The expectations and goals of the organisation weren't aligned with their vision. There was a lack of engagement from leadership and trust in the leaders.
How do you develop a positive company culture?
There are 6 building blocks:
Why does a positive culture matter?
A positive culture matters because this increases employee engagement and therefore productivity. A positive culture brings about high-performing teams. People need to feel valued, listened to and understood with a clear sense of direction to want to stay working for an organisation.
The positive culture has to come from the leader and infiltrate downwards. Therefore it is the leader who needs to lead with the company vision, purpose, values, be accountable and develop trust through transparency and integrity. In order to develop the positive culture from the outset, the leader needs to know oneself first through self-awareness.
When employing new members of staff, the organisation can coach the interviewees to establish if they are a good fit for the company culture through questions on values, likes and dislikes and meeting department leaders so they can provide their view on the interviewee.
Consider the impact of your company culture and how investing in leadership development to develop the positive culture, can increase future growth.
Have you ever considered how you are perceived by others? Do you consider how your language, body language or behaviour can impact others?
Whether we like it or not, how we respond to challenging situations can impact others more than we think. We all have different perceptions on situations through our own unique set of associations from our culture, activities we are involved in and our early relationships. What is important to us, may not be important to someone else. How we respond to a situation, may be different to how someone else responds. We also have a perception of how we think others should respond!
The deeper we can go in our understanding of our own emotional responses, the easier it will be to recognise our patterns of behaviour, body language and so on to enable us to make some changes when we become more self-aware.
Have you noticed how our behaviour can be misaligned with our language? Or how our body language can be misaligned with our language?
If we invest into ourselves in being consistent in our emotional responses, the more of a positive impact we can make in our interactions with others. This is greatly needed in leadership to build trust within the team for example.
Acknowledging areas for development in self-awareness is the first step for leaders in creating an environment where employees want to be to feel listened to and understood.
Join me on my upcoming digital course to take the next step in investing in yourself as a leader.
Mastering Emotional Competence in Leadership
How we feel about a situation is a sensation in our body which we often don't 'tune in' to. Instead we label the positive or negative situation with an emotion. We use emotions to describe our perception of a situation. Our perception is called embodied knowing which is our own unique set of associations. These associations emerge from our culture, the activities we do and our early relationships from childhood.
Emotions bridge between:
1. Conceptual - the story of what happened in the situation.
2. Embodied knowing - our own unique set of associations described above, which is our perception.
When we face a situation which is causing us some emotional discomfort, we label the situation with an emotion and embody our reactions to these experiences. We do this by strengthening the connections between neurons from the neurotransmitters in our brain. Neurotransmitters support our learning and include:
1. Dopamine which is released during pleasurable and interesting experiences. However dopamine is also released when we are under stress. Therefore we can embody our unhelpful reactions during stressful experiences because we strengthen the neuron connection when dopamine is released.
2. Adrenaline is released during experiences when we are fearful. Therefore we embody our unhelpful reactions during experiences when we are fearful when adrenaline is released which strengthens this neural connection.
How can we change the perception we have of stress or fear to be constructive to us? How can we change our response to stressful or fearful experiences?
Firstly we should be aware that we generally use too many words to describe the story of what has happened or what is happening in a situation or task which is causing us stress or fear. This distracts us from the sensations in our body which we can choose to 'tune in' to help us overcome the stress or fear.
Secondly instead of labelling a sensation as an emotion, we can explore the sensations in our body relating to the situation or task to then shift our perception of the situation. For stress or fear, we might experience a heavy chest, faster heart rate or a sensation of pressure on our shoulders for example. Identifying the sensation/s, can then help us to explore a more helpful sensation to shift our perception using a scientifically-proven technique in conceptual analysis.
Using conceptual analysis can help us work through stress or fear. This is because the technique enables us to recognise the sensation/s in our body linking to these experiences and then helps us to make room for embodying a new perception to overcome the anxiety or fear.
1. Think about your problem situation or task and have clarity in what is causing you to experience the stress or fear. Do not use words to describe how you are feeling because this is distracting to you.
2. Focus on visualising the struggle you face and paint a picture in your mind of what you see, hear and feel.
3. Consider the sensations you are feeling in your body as you focus on the image. This could be a faster heart rate or a tight sensation in your chest for example.
4. Consider the positive experience you want to feel about the situation or task and why this is important to you. Be clear in why this is important because this is key to the process.
5. Focus on how this feels to you in resolving the situation or completing the task. Consider what sensation or sensations you are feeling in your body and notice this gives you a sense of comfort. This could be a release in relaxing your shoulders for example. You may feel a sense of calm, contentment or a new boost of energy during this movement.
6. Having experienced this sensation, consider if there is room in your image for bringing in the situation or task which has been triggering the stress or fear from earlier.
7. Take a moment to shake your hands or stand up as part of the mental shift.
8. Let the initial sensations you acknowledged earlier from your stress or fear be present.
9. Consider how you can bring the sensation which brought you a sense of calm, into your awareness. Take a mental note of this movement in your body for the shift.
10. Bring the image of your situation or task back into your mind and see if you feel you have a different perception on the situation.
To what degree could you face the situation or task now?
Now you have 'tuned in' to your sensations when experiencing stress or fear relating to a situation or task rather than labelling this emotion. Has this technique changed your perception of the situation or task? Try practicing this technique to create a new experiential awareness.
Sometimes we don't think about the importance of emotional engagement when it comes to our work. Emotional engagement is about being connected to what we do. Being engaged in our work and connected to our colleagues is important to have a sense of purpose, belonging and attachment to feel aligned with our inner being. This is because attachment is a basic need of the brain along with orientation in seeing congruence towards our goals.
How we can promote employee engagement as a leader is by creating an environment of inclusion, diversity and belonging. Build trust in you as a leader through open communication, sharing problems as well as solutions as a team and having a shared purpose with alignment of personal values with those of the organisation.
Develop self-leadership through self-awareness, self-control and self-efficacy to build the belief in you as a leader.
Self-awareness is identifying your personal values and understanding your emotional triggers with some strategies in place to develop constructive responses. Strategies include labelling and reappraising your emotions.
Self-control is understanding emotional responses across 4 domains - biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual which is your personal belief system. Reading, conveying and managing your emotional responses, enables you to 'tune in' to the emotional responses of others to respond positively and constructively.
Self-efficacy is having self-belief when responding to emotion-charged situations with confidence in the ability to succeed towards your goal. Having a clear vision with goals and congruence is also part of self-efficacy to be an effective leader with clarity and direction. Prioritising your health is part of self-efficacy to be the most effective in serving others.
Being of service to others as an effective leader is by 'tuning in' to your own emotional responses and those of others to respond positively and constructively using skills in emotional competence.
Master emotional competence to be an effective leader through self-leadership and being of service to others on the upcoming digital course:
Mastering Emotional Competence in Leadership
Do you ever look back at patterns in your responses to certain situations? Do you ever consider that if you had responded differently in the moment, then this would have given you a different outcome? In the past I didn't consider this, but now I perceive situations differently.
I noticed my perspective challenging situations had changed after recovering from my second acquired brain injury in 2018. This is when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, a condition in which my immune system attacked my thyroid. I had psychosis because my illness was so severe. I hadn't even realised I was sick. I felt exhausted every day but I put it down to being a busy working mum. It was my husband who raised the alarm to the hospital staff that he suspected there was a problem with my thyroid following some symptoms he had noticed after taking me in for some tests. I was in hospital for 3 weeks and the first week is a blur.
This was my wake-up call. The nurse had said to my husband that my brain would recover over time. Neuroplasticity is the brain's capability to adapt and evolve to change itself through growth and re-organisation. This is when my interest in neuroscience began. This was a turning point in my thinking. Before my diagnosis, my emotional response to situations out of my control, was to be frustrated because this was my default behaviour. I didn't question my thinking back then. I would have a short fuse and expect other people to understand how I was feeling without any open communication.
I didn't realise I had a choice in my emotional responses back then. I didn't have inner peace when things didn't seem to be going my way. I wanted to just block out how I felt, just patching up my problems rather than addressing the problem.
After my diagnosis I realised I could have inner peace even through the discomfort. I was anxious and fearful about picking my life back up when I came out of hospital. My faith had brought me through my recovery with a new awareness. I was at a crossroads in my choice of emotional response to what had happened. I could either carry on hitting every bump in the road and become derailed every time from then on into the future, or pass through the discomfort of the situation with a sense of control over my emotional responses to it.
I have often reflected on the fact there are certain situations in life which are out of our control, no matter how we think we can step into the driving seat to steer in the direction we want to go in. This also includes trying to control other people to feel the same way as we do for example. Some of the situations out of my control which I wanted to take control of before my diagnosis included redundancies through office closures, unsuccessful job applications and disengagement from my work.
In my research of developing self-awareness, I discovered a simple but effective framework which can be used to appraise a situation which is causing discomfort. The discomfort we feel during challenging situations is likely to be either because our personal values are being offended or we have identified a need. This is because our personal values are linked to our emotional triggers. My frustration to situations out of my control, had identified a need to develop my self-awareness.
The framework I use for navigating situations causing discomfort is:
Control - Consider if you can control the situation. If not, what are the aspects of the situation you can control such as your emotional response?
Influence - Consider if you can influence the situation using assertiveness to step in/negotiate for a win-win outcome for both parties.
Accept - If you cannot influence the situation, you will need time to accept the situation and move on. Accepting some situations can cause emotional difficulties so time for healing is needed.
In summary, there are certain aspects of any situation which we can control. Therefore we should focus on these aspects such as our emotional responses by developing emotional competence. We often focus on our perception of a situation rather than the situation itself. Emotional competence is learning to read, convey and manage our emotional responses and those of others to respond constructively.
I have learnt we can shape a situation positively through our emotional responses - verbal and non-verbal, rather than letting our emotional triggers take charge which is our habitual emotional response.
If we can find hope during discomfort, this is when we engage with our work and other people. Join me for my free digital workshop on leading with emotional competence to learn the skills and strategies to navigate situations of discomfort.
Leading with Emotional Competence
Many leaders find it challenging to know how to respond constructively to the emotional responses of others at work. The challenge is to achieve an effective outcome, a win-win for both the leader and the work colleague. The goal is to help the work colleague to feel secure and confident as well as having the belief in the leader to be more influential during emotion-charged situations. Otherwise the work colleague can feel ignored and under valued which can lead to job dissatisfaction or more complicated issues where they become disengaged and emotionally numb.
Developing emotional competence as a leader is valuable in the impact this has on the people in the workplace. The outcome of building the skills as a leader is having the ability to negotiate the way through difficult situations resulting in a win-win outcome for the leader and the other person they are interacting with.
Emotional competence helps to develop an holistic approach to emotional responses across 4 dimensions - biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual. Having this approach can help a leader to tune into the emotional responses of themselves and the people they work with. This will enable them to respond constructively rather than either avoiding the person or mirroring the disruptive emotional response of the other person.
What is the difference between emotional competence and emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence has a tendency for our emotions to be contrasted with rationality or rational matters to be seen as a priority over emotions. Quite often the workplace is seen as the place to get the work done rather than an emotional place. Emotional intelligence is more about leading emotion-charged situations with rationality.
The workplace now has to be seen as a place to get the work done and equally as an emotional place because of the pressures, stress and uncertainty the workplace brings.
Emotional competence can be described as rationality and emotions being 2 sides of the same coin.
Emotional competence is a balance of leading emotion-charged situations with rationality and with a constructive emotional response. This is leading with head and heart which is far more influential during emotion-charged situations such as potential job loss or organisational change for example.
Our wellbeing is related to resilience. Wellbeing is the outcome of what to achieve as a healthy lifestyle and resilience is the how to achieve this.
If we aren’t prepared for adversity, our health can be affected by the way we respond in becoming more stressed or having an inability to cope with life’s challenges for example.
If we are prepared for adversity through building resilience skills, we can learn to take a different perspective and become better problem solvers, be more resourceful, be motivated to take positive action and have persistence to move forwards with less of a negative impact to our health.
Resilience includes focus on goals, stress management, achieving optimum health, being change ready, having persistence, motivation and critical thinking. To achieve life long health, you can learn to build resilience in all these areas using micro tasks of daily activities.
The brain learns new skills more quickly with regular practice as the connection between the Smart brain and Impulsive brain strengthens. The Smart brain is responsible for the creativity and strategic thinking. The Impulsive brain is responsible for emotional response, fear and the fight/flight response which automatically kicks in when the brain senses a threat.
Resilience activates the Smart brain and down regulates the Impulsive brain to enable the brain to think through options and problem solve to respond to adversity positively. The brain then sees challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow rather than barriers holding you back.
Resilience takes daily practice but has huge benefits. Learning how your brain works enables you to understand how you can change your perspective and response to adversity.
You are never too old to learn how to build resilience and it’s beneficial for everyone within various areas of your life:
Sense of Meaning & Purpose
Stress Management & Mindfulness
Critical Thinking & Prevention Skills
Motivation & Persistence
Connection & Relationships
Do you want to achieve life long health?
I help corporate executive women to be more influential during emotion-charged situations by developing their emotional competence to respond constructively.