Chakra Balancing Therapy

Chakra balancing is not a one size fits all to resolve inner conflicts, on-going stress or deep seated limiting patterns but rather is fantastic for energy flow and general energy health!

What are Chakras?

Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘wheel’, spinning life-force energy into or out of the body. There are seven major chakras in the energy body, with the first situated at the perineum, or the base of the spine and moving upwards, the seventh is at the crown of the head. Chakras can be spinning too fast or too slow. The chakras may be distorted, out of alignment or even stagnant. When this happens, life force energy cannot flow in and out freely and we feel like we are blocked. Each chakra is intimately connected via other energy systems in your body such as meridians, acupressure points, organs, tissues, muscles and cells. If any of these are out of balance, it can have an effect on the whole system.

What Causes Chakras To Become Blocked?

Blocked energy flow within your meridian system, stagnant organ function, eating low density or slow digesting food, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of passion or excitement, emotional discomfort, past trauma or childhood stress still getting triggered periodically within your adult life and much more.

How Can Chakra Balances Help Me?

By triggering more energy flow, we allow stagnation to balance your meridians and chakras. This will leave you feeling lighter and ‘flowing’. For deeper emotional release or old limiting ways of thinking and patterns on repeat that are sabotaging and frustrating, kinesiology follow up sessions, help to release this from mind and body memory to compliment the chakra and meridian balancing.

 

Benefits of A Chakra Balance
  • Feel more relaxed
  • Feel more grounded
  • Feel lighter

Think of a chakra balance as a relaxing energy “tune up”, just as a massage would benefit your body, a chakra balance will benefit your energy systems.

Gender-based Violence in the South African Context

“Toxic Masculinity, Violence against Women and Children, Racism, are all pernicious diseases prevalent in our world. Along with pandemics, we need to get rid of these vicious negativities as well. We have to make this World change for the better.” – Avijeet Das

Gender-based violence has become increasingly more prevalent in the media as the demand for more effective resources are needed to protect vulnerable women and children from harm and danger. By considering the severity of gender-based violence in South Africa it will also be possible to understand how patriarchal ideology in traditional culture and religion perpetuate it. Additionally, by understanding the role of deviance in society and how, by scrutinising it, one may be able to conceptualise effective social change strategies.

The severity of gender-based violence in South Africa

The South African public has recently been inundated with media reports of horrific, violent, and senseless acts against women. Ranging from murder to rape and mutilation, the declining feelings of safety and trust in the criminal justice system have led to a nation-wide outcry for something to be done (National Strategic Plan, 2020). During a November 2020 dialogue to mark the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, President Cyril Ramaphosa exclaimed bluntly: “For how much longer must we say, ‘enough is enough’, only for it to continue? It simply cannot go on.” (Ramaphosa, 2020). Along with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and with President Cyril Ramaphosa declaring gender-based violence as a second pandemic, the South African government has placed increased efforts to tackle such violence in the country (Modise, 2020).

Gould’s 2018 article from the Safer Spaces website describes South Africa as being “at war with itself” (Gould, 2018). This becomes painfully clear when considering the 2017/2018 crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) that showed murder overall increased by 6.9% and continues to incrementally increase year on year (Gould, 2018; South African Police Service, 2021). Research from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the 2009 national femicide study found that over half of all femicide cases in South Africa were at the hands of intimate partners, and an average of three women were killed every day by their partners (MRC, 2013, 2014, as cited in Artz, 2018; National Strategic Plan, 2020).

Along with the high murder rate, South Africa experiences one of the highest rates of rape and sexual assault in the world with Interpol labelling the country as “The rape capital of the world” (TEARS Foundation, 2012). The 2009 national femicide study found that more than half of all women murdered, intimate femicide was the leading cause of female murder representing more than half (56%) of all women killed. The same study found rape femicide was identified in every 1 in 5 women killed (19.8%).

Therefore, with all this information, I felt it was pertinent to focus my effort on raising awareness on the issue of gender-based violence in the South African context, with a specific focus on the male’s role in gender-based violence, femicide, and domestic abuse. I felt it was important to reframe the concept of what it means to be a “real South African man.” As agents of social change, we felt it was crucial to allow men to associate the characteristics of being a “real man” with the responsibilities of 1) respecting a woman’s role in society, and 2) most importantly, of refraining from committing violent acts against women and children.

Challenging patriarchal ideology

South Africa has a long-standing history of cultural violence, oppression, and patriarchal hegemonic dominance that Apartheid left in its wake. This is often exasperated by high levels of unemployment, corruption, poor service delivery, and degrading educational standards that as Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed stated “major change is needed urgently” (Amnesty International, 2020).

Adding to the complexity of cultural violence is the deeply rooted systemic patriarchal approach to addressing family values and traditions, religious beliefs, and assumed gender roles, that lean towards a societal acceptance of male dominance and a subsequent female oppression and subservience. By taking a deeper look into the values, beliefs, and assumptions of traditional culture and religion, we get a glimpse into how embedded into society these facets may be, and more troubling, how destructive these ideologies can be when mis-interpreted by self-indulgent leaders with hidden agendas and/or ignorant lay people that do not question the status quo.

Understanding deviant behaviour

Sociology views deviant behaviour as a social dysfunction that lacks effective social integration (Findlay, 1999), so it was important for our awareness campaign to steer clear of demonising men, while still being able to bring attention and awareness to the severity of gender-based violence in the South African context.

The renowned French sociologist, Émile Durkheim noticed that every society had deviance. This led him to the realisation that deviance, however bloody or violent was “normal” and served several important functions for society. He noticed that deviance 1) defines cultural values and norms and increases conformity; 2) it strengthens social bonds among the people reacting to the deviance by clarifying moral boundaries; and 3) it can help lead to positive social change. By allowing men to verbalise: “real men don’t hit women”, we felt this could help re-define cultural values and norms by allowing men to be role models for this new standard of conformity.

During his candid TED Talk on violence against women, Katz (2012), discusses the “bystander approach” philosophy that makes effective use of bringing the conversation of gender-based violence into family and friends dialogues, and places special emphasis on developing men leaders to help re-define the man’s role. Furthermore, he suggests that men and/or boys should lose status among their peers if they are found guilty of unfair comments or misconduct towards females. This ideal approach encapsulates the philosophy of Durkheim’s role of deviance in society, and how, by addressing it correctly, positive change can result.

Creating positive change

In Reckless and Dinitz’s 1972 experiment on what differentiated good boys from bad boys, and how these findings impacted juvenile delinquency, they noticed that good boys often exhibited the following: a strong conscience; they were good at coping with frustration; and they identified with conventional cultural norms. While the bad boys displayed the exact opposite behaviour in every way.

Since personality can viewed as a matter of socialisation, so then can deviance be viewed as improper or failed socialisation. Robert Merton’s Strain Theory (1940, as cited in Burton & Cullen, 2012) argued that the amount of deviance in a society depends on whether that society has provided sufficient means to achieve culturally defined goals. Hence, we felt it is important to address conflict and potential for violence within the home, since a dedicated gender-based violence population-based study on women in Gauteng (2011) discovered that more than 1 in 3 women (37.7%) have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV), 18.8% reported sexual IPV, and 46.2% reported economic or emotional abuse (National Strategic Plan, 2020). Therefore, if one can work with Durkheim’s role of deviance and what it can teach, Katz’s (2012) philosophy of the “bystander approach”, and apply Reckless and Dinitz’s findings to a philosophy of how to groom, mentor, and teach boys and men, with a focus on defined goals for dealing with frustration, equality and conscience in the home, then it may be possible, as our video is hoped to display, that men and boys can be taught how to behave, how to cope with frustration, and how to become effective leaders in society, leading to positive alterations of conventional cultural norms.

Conclusion

As society evolves, the norms, beliefs, and/or values that are not ethically sound should be challenged and re-evaluated. By becoming fully aware of the negative impact of gender-based violence, individuals, cultures, institutions, and religious organisations, to name a few, should challenge outdated doctrines and dogmas that do not place equal value among all members of its society, thus ensuring altruism and guidance for future generations.

References

Amnesty International. (2020, February 11). South Africa: Broken and unequal education perpetuating poverty and inequality. Amnesty International.  https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/02/south-africa-broken-and-unequal-education-perpetuating-poverty-and-inequality/

Artz, L. (2018). The prevalence of violence against women and children: What the data tells us about law and policy reform [White paper]. University of Cape Town. https://www.westerncape.gov.za/assets/day_2_session_2_gbv_lillian_artz.pdf

Burton, V. S., Jr., & Cullen. F. T. (1992). The empirical status of strain theory. Journal of Crime and Justice, 15(2), 1-30. https://doi.org/10.1080/0735648X.1992.9721462

Coetzee, D. (2001). South African education and the ideology of patriarchy. South African Journal of Education, 21(4). https://www.ajol.info/index.php/saje/article/view/24919

Ebila, F. (2015). ‘A proper woman, in the African tradition’: The construction of gender and nationalism in Wangari Maathai’s autobiography Unbowed. Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 52(1), 144-154. https://dx.doi.org/10.4314/tvl.v52i1.10

Elgenaidi, M. (2019). The case against patriarchy in Islam: Fitra, viceregency, and universal principles. Ing. https://ing.org/case-patriarchy-islam/

Gould, C. (2018, September 12). South Africa is at war with itself. Safer Spaces.

https://www.saferspaces.org.za/blog/entry/south-africa-is-at-war-with-itself

Findlay, M. (1999). Crime and social dysfunction. In The Globalisation of Crime: Understanding Transitional Relationships in Context (pp. 94-114). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511489266.005

Katz, J (2012, November). Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue [Video]. TED.  https://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue?language=en

King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/

Modise, K. (2020). SA’s second pandemic of 2020: Gender-based violence. Eyewitness News. https://ewn.co.za/2020/12/29/sa-s-second-pandemic-of-2020-gender-based-violence

National Strategic Plan. (2020). Gender-based violence and femicide national strategic plan [White paper]. https://www.justice.gov.za/vg/gbv/NSP-GBVF-FINAL-DOC-04-05.pdf

Ngubane, S. J. (2010). Gender roles in the African culture: Implications for the spread of HIV/AIDS [Master’s thesis, Stellenbosch University]. Core. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/37323864.pdf

Pew Research Center. (2013, April 30). The world’s Muslims: Religion, politics and society. Chapter four: Women in society. Pew Research Center.  https://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-women-in-society/

Ramaphosa, M. C. (2020, November 25). President Cyril Ramaphosa: Dialogue on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide [Speech audio recording]. South African Government. https://www.gov.za/speeches/dialogue-mark-16-days-activism-26-nov-2020-0000

South African Police Service. (2021). SAPS Crimestats. South African Police Service.

https://www.saps.gov.za/services/crimestats.php

TEARS Foundation. (2012). Development of a nationally accessible assistance and support network for victims of rape and sexual abuse [White paper]. TEARS Foundation. https://tears.co.za/wp-content/uploads/presentation.pdf

Wood, H. (2019). Gender inequality: The problem of harmful, patriarchal, traditional and cultural gender practices in the church. HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, 75(1), 8 pages. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5177

Spiritual Path Issues From Past Lives

Most applications so far have been to overcome blocks. Clients seek out past life sessions to overcome blocks in their spiritual path, and to reconnect with skills or abilities they had through past lives as spiritual practitioners or healers. Clients may find themselves attracted to new religions or paths – and have questions about which religion is most suited to them. They may question the validity of the spiritual path, or seek to resolve a seeming conflict between spiritual and material aspirations. They may want to get in touch with spirit guides, a higher self or higher wisdom to help their spiritual life or healing practice.

Presenting Issue 1 – Make Progress On Spiritual Path – Real Issue: Reconnect with positive past. Unblock ‘negative’ past. Past Life: A life with positive learnings in spiritual life or a religious tradition, gaining skills and abilities spiritually. Life with traumatic events in spiritual life, punished for expressing spirituality. Many within a religion have been punished by their elders for their views and actions, been forced to keep silence about your spirituality, or punished for speaking out. Many wars have been religious wars, so many have been killed for their faith, or had to fight for their beliefs. Vow: “I dedicate myself to growing spiritually.” “I avoid spiritual practice which can be dangerous.’
Presenting Issue 2 – Make Progress On Healing Path – Clients come who are healers or are becoming healers often come for sessions with inner doubts about their abilities, or during down times in the ups and downs of the life of an established practitioner, when the healer needs some healing. Real Issue: Reconnect with positive past. Unblock ‘negative’ past. Past Life: Life with positive learnings in a healing tradition, so regain skills and abilities. Life with traumatic events in healing life, like punishment, labelled a witch, exile or death. Vow: “I dedicate myself to my healing practice.” “I will avoid healing practices which can be dangerous.’

Real Men Don’t Hit Women

Real Men Don’t Hit Women – Gender-based Violence Awareness
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the severity of gender-based violence in South Africa, with local leaders calling it the 2nd pandemic.
Our beautiful land has been smeared with blood and tears from our violent past of Apartheid and the subsequent inequality that is viscerally felt by the poor and the desperate. Corruption, poor service delivery, high unemployment and a degrading educational system has contributed toward the creation of a violent culture where mostly woman, children, and the LGBTQI community fall prey to, and become the victims of gender-based violence (GBV).

What can be done?
While it is easy to point the finger at (mostly) males with rage and aggression issues, it’s another thing to implement an effective strategy that not only combats GBV, but helps to change the cultural and religious power dynamics of how one should view gender, sexuality and (perceived) gender-based roles in our society.
While the feminist movement has been vital in changing attitudes and giving women the much needed respect and value that they have been deprived of for so long, it has not been able to address the mans needs and roles in this rapidly changing time in our lives. Because even with the rise of the independent and empowered woman’s movement, society has still failed to protect women from violence and femicide.

Real South African Men
It is of no use to demonise men and just expect them to change and conform. This will only be met with resistance. A person will only change when 1) they are motivated to change, and 2) when they feel supported as they move into change.
It’s time to re-write the narrative on what it means to be a Real South African Man. Real South African men still need to feel valued and important in our society, but also, real South African men need to grasp the concept of diversity, acceptance, compassion, and respect for the entire population of our beautiful, ancient and sacred land. The new narrative must embody qualities and values than real men can teach their boys so they too can learn how to be real men. Real men must be able to feel like they have a responsibility that contributes in an equal and fair way to the growth and evolution of society. This part is vital!

Conclusion
There is no one-answer that can solve this dilemma, but it should start to raise some valid questions and points on what can be done. In the spirit of Ubuntu and a rainbow nation knows how to find the light in the darkest of spaces, we can, will, and must prevail.

What’s The Big Deal About Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has become quite a buzzword over the recent years with it’s influence moving from meditation practises, into therapy sessions, and even through the corporate world.

While it can be used as hype, it’s intention is to help people calm the neurotic mind by bringing their attention to the present moment. Most often our thoughts and their ensuing emotions tend to get stuck on either stories of the hurtful past, of contemplations of a disastrous future. Seldom are we able to place our fullest attention on the present moment.

2 Effective Ways of Working With Mindfulness

1. If you find yourself getting lost in negative thoughts and emotions, and there is nothing negative actually happening in the present moment around you, then pull yourself out of your mind and become fully aware of your surroundings. Notice how quiet your surroundings suddenly become, even though you may be in the middle of a bustling city. This demonstrates how loud the chaos was in your mind. You’ll notice that those crazy thoughts aren’t happening around you right now. You got lost in the stories of your mind. In fact, you got so drawn into these stories that you lost touch with reality all together. Most of our stress, anxiety, fear, and depression sits in the fantastical stories inside our minds. This is not to say that life is not stressful or to down-play traumatic events, but the point of this exercise is to help you come back to reality. To move you away from the busy-ness of the neurotic mind and place you back in touch with reality.

2. If you are experiencing some difficult emotions, mindfulness will teach you to fully embrace the physiological feelings that your body is experiencing, instead of losing yourself in your negative thoughts patterns.

Most times when we endure difficult experiences we get left with a barrage of negative thoughts that create negative emotions, that then “recycle” back up to negative thoughts, and so the downward spiral continues. Mindfulness helps you to feel the “rawness” of the feelings in the body. By the way, that raw energy you will feel in your body is actually just hormones like adrenalin and cortisol running through your blood stream and triggering physiological responses like rapid heart rate and cold sweats (to name a few). It was you who (unintentionally) labelled it a bad feeling which then made your brain feel unsafe, which resulted in more hormones being dumped into the body, further prolonging your negative experience.

Mindfulness also allows thoughts to come in to the mind, but it does attach to the thoughts that come in.
Its like a leaf on a stream. Sometimes the leaf moves through calm water, and sometimes it moves through turbulent water, but the leaf doesn’t try to hold onto anything. It just goes with the flow.

I’ve said a lot about a simple concept, but I feel its important to understand the context. The reason why we do these exercises is to teach the brain how to move through difficult thoughts and emotions without getting stuck and fixated on them. These practises teach the art of resilience. They demonstrate that you can go through an experience, survive the experience, let it go, and move on with life.

Conclusion

The present moment is all we’ve got. There is no past and there is no future. Memories of the past are merely imaginative hallucinations that the brain projects onto your internal monitor. Its a way of consolidating experiences to help make meaning and context for the present, and potentially try to predict the future.

The only thing that may be real is the present moment. We are forever locked into it. Yet we live most of our lives in the past of the future. Sounds like madness, doesn’t it! ha ha…

From this day forward try to fully embrace the present moment. Experience all of it in it’s entirety, and you might start to notice how many of your problems will start to disappear.

Thanks for reading
Donovan

No.1 Reasons Why People Suffer With Anxiety

Almost all of my clients who suffer with anxiety are also hard on themselves. While not everyone who has anxiety is hard on themselves, I have found that most times, if my client has anxiety, they will also have a tendency to be hard on themselves. They will be hard on themselves because they often don’t feel good enough; they struggle with perfectionism; they procrastinate; and/or have a fear of criticism and judgment. This creates a downward spiral of negative emotions and destructive behaviour that perpetuates anxiety.

I have found that by forgiving the self, all the hurt, abandoned, isolated, lonely, shameful, and scared parts of the self and inner child self, one will be able to begin the journey of healing and integration.

Unfortunately my clients are either unaware of this dynamic relationship they have with themselves and parts that make up the self, or they can identify with such parts, but have a strained relationship with these parts due to so many years of being hard on themselves.

I always remind my clients, that like with any relationship that requires attention to get back on track, so too does the relationship with your self/selves require that same sort of attention.

The mending of this bond between self, and of self does not happen over night, but if one is willing to understand and have compassion for themselves and all the errors, mistakes, and challenges they have had to experience throughout their lives, they can begin to heal these developmental wounds.

You see, you have the most powerful bond with yourself. You were there on the day you were born. You were there, and will always be there with yourself through every experience of every day. And you are guaranteed to be there on your last day when you take your last breathe. This is the most powerful relationship you will ever experience.

I encourage to learn to authentically love yourself.

Thanks for reading
Donovan

Why change is hard & what you can do about it [Strategy]

Even with the promise of a better future, most people that come to see a life coach still find it
incredibly challenging to overcome the downward pull of their past habits and behaviours. The
question we must then ask is, why? Why do we struggle to change? This article will investigate what
change is, why it is hard to achieve, and what effective methods can be used to create sustainable
change.


In this context, change means the ability to alter one’s life to better suit their needs based on
internal (one’s own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs) and/or external (what others say or feel about
them) feedback. Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1986) model called “The Cycle of Change” will be
demonstrated as it shows how people grapple with change. Be aware that each step also offers the
opportunity for the person to back out of the change process. Below we will use an example of a
person realising they need to lose weight for the end-of-year beach holiday.

The Cycle of Change model looks like this:
1. Precontemplation
2. Contemplation
3. Preparation/Determination
4. Action/Willpower
5. Maintenance
6. Relapse

Up until this point this person was not inclined to change or lose weight (precontemplation), but
recently they have noticed that their clothes seem much tighter and they feel ugly in the mirror
(contemplation). Something must change (preparation). This person signs up with a trainer at their
gym to get things going (action), does well for the first 2 weeks (maintenance), and then starts to slip
back into old habits. Eventually the whole gym thing fizzles out and they are back where they started
(relapse).
The strategy below will help to equip you with the tools necessary to create lasting change.

Start with the WHY

Habits become so deeply ingrained that a person doesn’t even realise they are “knee-deep and
sinking”. Habits are patterns of behaviour that are reliable, dependable, and predictable… And that
have tempting rewards! Everything the brain loves!
Your first mission is to clearly state why this change that you would like to have is so important to
you. Your why must create a thirst, a deep sense of passion, and a determination that will barrel
through any obstacle in its way. Start defining why your goal is important to you!

Then look at the WHAT

The What is that “tempting reward” I mentioned earlier. All our bad habits promise us rewards.
Therefore, what “rewards” are you willing to give up in pursuit of change that your current lifestyle
is promising you? Something’s gotta give! You have not changed your life, because on a
subconscious level you have not been prepared to give up those rewards. Maybe your reward is that
first sip of wine after a long day or getting to sleep an extra hour in the morning. Find your What!

Then look at the HOW

The how will focus on the strategies you will implement when the rewards of your old habits come
whispering in your ear to make you abandon your progress and go back to your old habits. How will
you not only achieve your goal, but blast through all the obstacles that Will get in your way?…
Especially when you are at your weakest. How will you ensure that nothing will stop you? It’s time to
come up with a game-plan that covers how you will stay on track when: you feel stressed, you lose
motivation, your results start to plateau, and/or when others are telling you to quit.

And finally, look at the WHEN

Decide when you are going to start. 99% of the work needed to creating lasting change is getting
your mind on board. Nothing and no one can stop a person who is 100% determined to create
change in their life. Such a person needs the change more than they need things to stay the same,
fore to stay the same would be more soul-destroying than to venture out into the unknown in
search of change. Decide now, because no one can, or will do it for you.

… But do NOT

Try winging it and doing it when and/or if you feel like it. It will wobble for a week and then
completely disappear. The well-known Professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson said, “You need a
routine!”
Create a flexible routine that accommodates for unforeseen disruptions. Creating change will
require consistency, diligence, and perseverance. You must force out the old habits by applying
yourself to the new habits for as long as it takes to stick. It must become a part of your lifestyle
which takes time. This will develop resilience and inner strength that will help you achieve your goal.
You can do this! Believe in yourself!

Thanks for reading,
Donovan – Life Coach

Top 5 Life Coaching Tips to Live Your Best Life

There are not many changes that my clients need to make when they embark on their life coaching journey. A few simple steps in the right direction is all it takes to achieve massive results. Below you will find 5 simple life coaching tips that you can implement today that will reap the greatest rewards, and help you change your life.

1. Be 1% better today than you were yesterday

There are too many people out there throwing success away by reaching too high, not being able to manage such a level of change for long enough, and then come crashing down and abandoning the whole idea, landing right back where they started.
This so often happens!
The person wants change fast because they realise how much time they’ve wasted by not doing what needs to be done, so they think if they put 3x, 4x, 10x the amount of effort in, all at once, then the change will happen faster. This never works!
Old habits die hard and they will be the biggest obstacles to success, so when you overload yourself, you’ll become too stressed and overwhelmed, and your old habits will just come sneaking in the back door again.
Therefore, create incremental, consistent, and repeatable changes every single day that make you just 1% better today than you were yesterday.
This method simply alters your current pattern, which doesn’t overwhelm, and can be easily managed.
Over time, these tiny changes start to compound, and only looking back will you realise how far you have come, and how much you have changed.
Success doesn’t happen overnight, but it is built on good, repeatable habits, over time that anyone can nurture.
Patience, practise, diligence, repeat….

2. Stop trying to control everything

There is very little we have control over in life. We have some form of control over things such as our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, actions, and choices. Essentially, it’s everything within us. Notice how hard it is just to control your thoughts. Now try control your emotions when they start running high… Almost impossible right?
Yet many people’s problems are compounded because they get frustrated about the things that are beyond their control. This is everyone and everything that is outside of us. You cannot control how people think, behave, or act. You cannot control the weather, government, money markets, the price of petrol, inflation, corruption, and endless more things out there in the world.
Stop letting life dictate your thoughts and emotions. Stop being thrown into a tail-spin because you get so overwhelmingly annoyed by incompetence, being let down, delays, and obstacles. If you can’t control it, let it go.
Focus on developing yourself.

3. Learn to say No with confidence

This applies to people who want to say no to others, but say yes instead.
They want to say No, but they can’t help themselves and they say Yes. They feel resentment and frustration, because on top of everything they already have on their plate, they must now take on this extra responsibility.
So why do these people struggle to say no?
2 Things will happen if they say no.
1. The natural flow of the conversation will be disrupted, leading to an awkward tension in the conversation.
2. The other person will not like their request being rejected. In order for “harmony” to be maintained, and to not make the other person feel rejected, our “yes” person will conform and accept the other person’s request.
How to say No with confidence
Learning to say No with confidence, you must be willing to deal with the consequences. Like above, there are 2 things you will have deal with.
1. You will disrupt the natural flow of the conversation, leading to an awkward tension that both parties will feel. You must accept this.
2. The other person will not like that you are not accepting their request, and you must okay with that. You must learn to be okay with letting people down on your own terms. While they may not like what you have to say, they will start to respect you more, and more importantly, you will start to respect yourself more.

4. Learn to speak up at work… and in life

1. Asking for help: The average person I coach thinks they must do everything themselves. They don’t want to, or know how to ask for help if they get stuck or fall behind with something. They think asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure, so instead will over-work to compensate, and therefore, create consistent rising levels of stress and isolation. They will rather hold on to their crippling belief than reach out… It seems silly, doesn’t it?
Contrary to this, the person who sucks it up and asks for help understands the value of time and resources. Such a person can solve problems faster and can learn from their mistakes at a much quicker pace. Such a person can better deal with small moments of rejection as well, because they don’t care if someone denies their request, since they know the value that is created if the person accepts to help them out.
2. Asking for what you want: I will briefly discuss the scenario of hoping to get a promotion at work, but this also applies to many areas where one knows they must speak up to get what they want.
The hard worker thinks their hard work will speak for themselves when it comes to getting a promotion, while they often watch “less capable” people rising above them that don’t work nearly as hard as them.
Why is this? Because, while hard work is a necessary tool for success, its not the only tool. Smart workers also learn to nurture tools such as the abilities to: stand up to authority, not worry about what people might think of them, say No, ask for help, delegate, be agile, maintain high levels of focus, and put their attention on the 20% amount of work that will generate 80% of the results. This nurtures things like charisma and confidence which makes one stand out, and are crucial components needed in today’s busy work environments.
Conclusion
While this isn’t a fool-proof strategy, or something that will work every time, it is however, a useful approach to looking at what tools people are using to help them gain an upper hand on life. The only thing that separates a confident and successful person from one that is not, is that the confident and successful person is more willing to accept the consequences of their actions than the average person. That tiny advantage is often all that is needed.

5. How to diffuse a negative mindset so you can become a better problem-solver

Practise gratitude!
Practise it as often as possible. Take a moment now to think of what you are grateful for… Don’t worry, I’ll wait… Did you notice that when you took that moment to think of the things you are truly grateful for, you weren’t able to simultaneously think of anything negative? You may also notice that you had to get a little creative as your list started growing.
Your mind can only process one thought at a time… No matter how many thoughts come in. This brief moment of gratitude helps you to stay in tune with reality, and not get so lost in the negative, over-thinking, doom-&-gloom part of your mind. Furthermore, once the mind changes from negative to positive, it will automatically awaken the Inner Creative Genius that resides in all of us.
This exercise is not about disassociating from life or pretending your life is something its not, but it is a quick way of slowing down the negative downward spiral that your destructive thoughts can take you into.
Study’s have shown that people are better problem-solvers and more creative when they are in a positive state of mind. Therefore, if you are being challenged with a problem that is difficult to solve, first start your problem solving strategy with 5 minutes of becoming aware of all the things in your life that you can be grateful for. This brief moment will create the right foundations for you to get creative on your problem; to see what you weren’t able to see before; to probe at your problem from many different angles; to find the silver-lining that you may not have noticed before.
Your life is defined by how you choose to interpret your experiences, and that makes all the difference. If you start to see the hidden opportunities where everyone else sees problems, you will become your own best friend, coach, cheerleader, and role model.
And lastly… We did not come to this place called life to be free of problems. We came here because we are inherently master problem-solvers. We came here to fix the mistakes of the past; to challenge the old principles of the status-quo. We came here to realise how powerful we can truly be, as individuals, and as a collective.
Thanks for reading,
Donovan

Life Coaching Contemplation – Who Am I? [Updated Revision]

I believe that who I am (besides being a life coach by profession) is mostly composed of self-created schemas from my past that help me to better understand myself, the world around me, and how I can (hopefully) effectively function in it. The self, in this case, my self is an ongoing and evolving process that is designed to adjust to the many challenges and changes that come with living life. Essentially, the way I view myself in terms of my self-concept, and therefore how I think of myself, depends on the perception of my social identity, personal qualities, and generalisations I develop over time based on my experiences (DeLamater, 2018). This becomes the personality, which is uniquely varied, and are among the reasons why people behave and act differently to each other (Willig & Rogers, 2019).
As a therapist, one is taught that humans are inherently social and interact with themselves and others to achieve certain objectives such as to perceive, motivate, persuade, and control (DeLamater, 2018). The behaviours that not only motivate one to act toward another or oneself, but to also contemplate, analyse, and guide the decisions from the responses of the other is commonly known as reflexive behaviour. I often find myself taking part in lengthy conversations with myself as I examine the potential consequences of my actions to help me make the right choice. This is referred to as I. While the more passive, self-reflective part of myself that evaluates the decisions I made and the consequences that followed is referred to as me (James, 1890; Mead, 1934, as cited in DeLamater, 2018). For the me and the I to function, it must be able to differentiate from the me and the other.

As a young baby I had no concept of a differentiated world that separated me from it. My caregivers had to teach me how to discriminate myself from others so I could recognise my physiological and psychological features as a part of my self, and therefore, as me (Bertenthal & Fischer, 1978, as cited in DeLamater, 2018). Learning one’s name is a large part of helping to consolidate all these features into one distinguishable entity known as me, I, and myself. Additionally, I was taught speech and language to assist my own private communication between myself, and to be able to communicate to the world around me. By realising I can communicate with myself in private creates an inner world where I can store, retrieve, edit, and delete my thoughts, feelings, values, assumptions, and generalisations, further differentiating the I from the other.
A crucial aspect of navigating my way through society is by making use of what Hewitt (2000, as cited in DeLamater, 2018) called role taking, and is the ability to imagine scenarios and evaluate the consequences of my actions in these scenarios, while also being able to perceive such moments through the eyes of the other. This helps me to gain clarity on the choices I should make. This technique becomes a useful asset when I want to be accepted by others, such as potential friends, as it helps me assume what the generalised other(s) may expect of me so I can be accepted as one of them. Along the way I often self-evaluate my public performances to assess how to refine my self-concept and my situated self. I look for signs of approval vs disapproval, reward vs punishment, and rejection vs acceptance so I can assign more energy towards a negative or positive self-concept.
In counselling, a key component to becoming, and then living as an adult is how we define and nurture our roles and social identities. My role identity consists of husband, therapist, and student, and I reinforce these identities with the required decisions and consequent behaviours to claim for myself (Burke & Reitzes, 1981; Markus & Wurf, 1987, as cited in DeLamater, 2018). Whereas I define my social identity as a Caucasian, heterosexual, South African male, and ascribe to an individualist culture. In my society I assess my personal growth, and/or lack thereof, by the reflected appraisals I become aware of so I can compare my progress to others in similar fields or domains of interest. Furthermore, according to Burke (1991, as cited in DeLamater, 2018), I will use the social meaning for an identity as a reference point to better understand the current situation, as I have at my disposal the option to choose from a hierarchy of identities according to the salient qualities of the self-schema, and how much investment has gone into maintaining such an identity.

My sense of self and the associated identities assist the development and nurturance of my self-esteem as I evaluate and weigh them according to their salience. From family experiences to social comparisons, I am constantly measuring my self-esteem to understand if, when, and how I should rate my performance according to the feedback I receive. If I perform well my self-esteem will be more positive, as opposed to if I do not perform well. This is crucial for me as it will affect my behaviour and will either provide me with confidence to take on challenges, or I will not feel confident enough and therefore, opt out of a challenge. Regardless, I will protect my self-esteem and seek to verify my self-esteem expectations when I receive feedback. Furthermore, I will rather choose to associate myself with others who share my view of self so I can subtly manipulate appraisals in accordance with my expectations.
As I explore the question of who am I, I can’t help but scrutinize Erikson’s life stage model theory to help me understand which life stages I have experienced and transcended, and the possible life stage I may be currently experiencing at this point in my life. Erikson postulates that each life stage will be met with an age-related crisis that one must resolve so they are better equipped to manage potential future crises (Van Wormer, 2017). I am at the seventh stage of life which deals with generativity versus stagnation. I am challenged with various crises that are not only based on this stage, but elements of previous unresolved crises from earlier stages. I work in the mental health industry as a life coach. However, while I feel I am following my purpose and attempting to contribute to society, I am being challenged by not only the many directions one can take and/or study in this field, but by being able to create a sustainable business for the long-term. Since I only started this career within the last four years, I recognise that the challenges of stage four and five of creating identity and industry were not completely resolved, and often create great confusion and inferiority complexes for me. Stage seven is an incredibly important stage for me as I already feel I have wasted so much valuable time by hesitating on my career. This has created a sense of regret that stems from the negative elements of stage eight.

When I examine who I am I notice that I can effectively differentiate myself from others. From my appearance, to the way I express my verbal and nonverbal language, to my private thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are all associated to me and mine. I am also aware of the imaginative process I create when I try to view myself, my point of view from another person’s perspective, and their response to me (hence assisting with reflexive behaviour). Since we are social beings a large part of how we form out identities is through our social relationships. By the feedback we get about ourselves from these interactions, we start to form a subjective perspective of how we may appear to others, which then incorporates into our self-concept or self-schema. My personality has been dramatically shaped by my associations with the people who have influenced my life. From my family to my friends, teachers, enemies, and mentors. Each person helped me to imagine how they perceived me and how I should behave when in their presence. Part of my youth was dominated by being unruly in school. Upon reflection I was hoping to gain respect from the “cool kids” by imagining what they expected from me, and then imitating their deviant behaviour, which DeLamater (2018) termed “the generalised other”. I also hoped to hide my inability to concentrate for prolong periods, and my struggles to retain academic information. I would rather be seen as naughty than stupid. Unfortunately, this created a negative self-evaluation and affected my self-esteem for many years, as I believed I was not good enough, or smart enough. A positive spin-off of my negative self-evaluation assisted me to study further, and I now embody the role of student. Although I suffered the consequences of my actions, I also established many friendships that demonstrated the fine qualities of the bonding and growth potential that a friendship can provide. It was through these connections that I met my wife and established my role as a husband, and because of these connections that I understood how to treat a woman with respect.

While a small percentage of the relationships I have had in the past were not satisfactory, for the most part, my relationships have been meaningful and important to my personal growth. My parents got divorced when I was young, and I had little contact from my father growing up. My mom and grandmother raised me, and made up the bulk of my family relationship, which allowed me to feel a deep sense of affection, acceptance, and involvement in the home, yet applied healthy means of noncoercive forms of discipline (DeLamater, 2018). Willig (2019) describes family relationships as social institutions that help children learn about who they are, and the world around them. While my family nurtured an overall healthy self-esteem, I unfortunately lacked confidence in some abilities and would often berate myself for my mistakes and failures. This I later learned was something my mom did to herself, and I imagine I picked it up from her when I was young. I was also highly influenced by a group of significant others in the form of my close friends. They assisted my social development, confidence, sense of adventure, and courage. My social identity became that of reckless, funny, caring, fun teenager that was popular among the members of the group. Then into my early adult years my wife became, and still is, my most influential relationship. Our bond has allowed me to express my compassion and love, but also the permission to explore my potential career roles, and the failures that have come with it, and to learn how to embody manhood that is cognisant of success, compassion, and personal growth. It is because of the relationship that I have with my wife that I now can conclusively state that I have a healthy self-esteem which places importance on my abilities, strengths, confidence, and intelligence.

References
DeLamater, J, D., Myers, D, J., & Collett, J, L. (2018). Social Psychology. Routledge.
Willig, C., & Stainton Rogers, W. (2019). Perspectives on social psychology: A psychology of human being (1st ed.). Routledge.
Van Wormer, K. (2017). Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Micro Level: Individuals and Families.

Life Coaching Experiment – Results from my Emotional Intelligence Test

*The emotional intelligence test can be found by following this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/tests/personality/emotional-intelligence-test

I received a total score of 76 on my emotional intelligence test. As a life coach I somewhat expected this result but may have hoped for a slightly higher score since I spend a fair amount of time introspecting on my thoughts, behaviours, feelings, moods, and decisions. However, this only tells half the story. Serrat (2017), distinguishes two areas to pay attention to in emotional intelligence, namely personal competence, and social competence. I seem to focus most of my energy towards improvement of my personal competence, which is made up of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation. Since life coach training entails that one must learn to understand themselves so they can understand others, I have spent many years paying attention to my own self-awareness, and self-regulatory processes. I have especially achieved great success in self-regulation that requires one to practise self-control; to be trustworthy and conscientious; and be able to be adapt and innovate with a fair amount of ease. The only area in my self-awareness where my improvement is slow is related to my self-confidence. While I am taking more conscious steps to improving my confidence and being able to accurately assess my strengths and limits, I feel that when I am very challenged, it can be difficult to remain positive about myself and my capabilities.

Unfortunately, I have paid little attention to self-motivation, and this has created issues such as procrastination, laziness, and a lack of focus and urgency. I resonate with the findings of Zang and Feng (2020), where they note that procrastination occurs when a task is unpleasant to perform. While I firmly understand the value of completing tasks, however unpleasant they may be, I still feel challenged to motivate myself to get them done, and therefore, have created a poor habit of waiting until the last minute to complete tasks. This is an area of my life that requires considerable attention to improving.
In counselling we find that the second area of emotional intelligence is called social competence, and this is the most challenging aspect for me to improve upon. There seem to be a few factors in my personal history that have contributed to my lack of social competence. I am an only child; was very independent growing up; and enjoyed my own company. I now work for myself as an alternative therapist, seeing clients on a one-on-one basis, and have a small group of family and friends. This creates the ideal conditions for an introverted lifestyle. While this has its merits, it also come with some flaws. While I am not afraid of social gatherings and/or interactions, I do feel that the social skills in my social competency is severely lacking. Working in a team environment, whether through sport or business, has never been a part of my life. Therefore, I have not had enough time and/or opportunity to fine-tune such a skill. I unfortunately have noticed that this area of lack has had a negative impact of my ability to feel comfortable in social settings. While my social skills are not optimal, my social awareness fares much better as I use such skills in my work with my clients, so I have ample opportunity to practise and improve.

Applying Emotional Intelligence with my Clients

I work as a therapist so a major part of assisting my clients with their issues is knowing how to be present for them; how to sense what they are feeling by making use of empathy; recognise what their needs are in the moment; enhance their self-esteem; and the ability to apply cultural sensitivity accordingly. While there is always room for improvement, and the propensity to make mistakes, I feel I have enhanced this skill because of my dedication and passion, and the sheer joy of learning how to be a better professional for my clients. Having the confidence to be present with a client is a crucial component to a therapeutic relationship and requires one to be empathetic (Tannen et al., 2019).
Singer and Lamm (2009, as cited in Bayne & Hays, 2017) noticed on a social neuroscientific level, that if one were to pay attention to another’s experience, they may be able to create a vicarious response in themselves to better understand what the other person is experiencing. While there is a debate as to whether this comes naturally or can be learned, I have found it to be immensely useful in my practise. Once one can accurately assess how another is feeling, they may be able to better understand what their current needs are. Paying careful attention to the verbal messages and nonverbal cues is crucial to understanding, not only how to interpret such information, but most importantly, recognising what will be the most helpful response for the client. While it is important for my clients to experience personal growth, it is as important for them to feel safe to be emotionally vulnerable when they come to me. This requires patience to nurture trust and rapport over time, so I can know when to challenge, when to comfort, and when to support their self-esteem needs.
While it is important to attribute one’s professional success in life coaching to displaying acuity in social awareness, it is also important to recognise the role that one’s social skills have on supporting the client/counselling relationship. I have realised that with great power comes great responsibility, and when a client steps into my office they are in my domain, and on a subtle level both of us are aware of it. What I say and do has tremendous influence on how my client feels, thinks, and behaves. As a neophyte I was unaware of how my clients might perceive me and my actions during our sessions, but as I honed in on the areas that needed improving I noticed how my unintentional abuse of power was hindering my success. My ignorance on the importance of building bonds, creating synergy, and leading to inspire, worked against my efforts to help. Midwinter and Dickson (2015) express that one must earn the right to work with the power they have as a counsellor.
I have learnt some valuable lessons and seek to constantly improve on my social skills with my clients. I realise now how vulnerable my clients are when they feel they need professional help, and it is vital that I help them to feel that my leadership qualities are up to the highest standard so we can develop a relationship that values a collaborative effort towards achieving their goals. One of my greatest strengths is to help initiate and manage change in my clients lives by being the right influence for them in the way I work with the communication process.
To develop a successful helping relationship with a diverse and multicultural client-base requires one to adhere to the basic principles of what it means to be emotionally intelligent. Goleman (1998) found that awareness, or the ability to sense emotional information of oneself and others, and management, or the ability to regulate the emotional content of self and others, was fundamental to emotional competence. This, I have learned is the cornerstone to building sustainable relationships in the mental health industry.

How to Develop Greater Emotional Intelligence

One can develop greater emotional intelligence by becoming aware of the principles of emotional intelligence, and the benefits gained from becoming emotionally competent. For this to happen, one must learn to take full responsibility for their actions and commit to being emotionally honest with themselves as they interact with themselves and the world around them. By applying these guidelines one can begin the journey towards gaining more emotional intelligence.
Another crucial component to improving emotional intelligence in counselling is to be aware of how one reacts to stressful and/or challenging situations. One can potentially learn from how they manage the unforeseen circumstances that each experience may bring with it. Furthermore, when one can adapt their behaviour to better suit the potential outcome they wish to have, and not be overly swayed by the emotional upheaval, in real-time, that is when they will have a firm grasp of the practical application of emotional intelligence. This communication, as stated by Bradberry and Greaves (2009), between the emotional and rational portions of the brain is said to be the source of emotional intelligence.
The ability to accurately perceive the point of view from another individual, and then to act in a manner that is conducive to a healthy and/or meaningful interaction is another trait of an emotionally intelligent person. While one can only imagine what someone else is feeling and experiencing, one can improve their perception of the other by applying simple techniques during an interaction, such as active listening, and the three attributes of Carl Rogers’ person-centered theory, which are: congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard (Rogers, 1965).
Since the human species is naturally social, it would be wise for one to network with a wider variety of people that are beyond their social “comfort zone”. Zajonc (1968) referred to the “mere-exposure effect” as a condition that makes something available to an individual’s perception. This can be observed in the dating world when people become acquainted with each other. The more they spend time together, the more they often tend to like each other. I propose the opposite of sorts, where an individual makes an effort to interact with people they are not familiar with, and with whom they may not have much in common. This ability to successfully socialise with individuals who may have vastly different worldview’s and beliefs, in my opinion, may greatly enhance one’s social (emotional) intelligence, helping them to learn more about themselves and others. To apply such a practise with regularity, and with the intention to improves one’s emotional intelligence, may positively impact one’s social skills, empathy, self-management, self-awareness, and motivation. What Dyre et al. (2016) labelled “imperfect practise makes perfect”, may aptly apply to improving emotional intelligence by practising it in different scenarios with different people so the errors that are made along the way can be analysed, and improved upon.

References
Bayne, H. B., & Hays, D. G. (2017). Examining Conditions for Empathy in Counseling: An Exploratory Model. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 56(1), 32–52. https://doi.org/10.1002/johc.12043
Bradberry, T. & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Talent Smart.
Midwinter, R. & Dickson, J. (2015). Embedding Counselling and Communication Skills : A Relational Skills Model.
Rogers, C. R. (1965). Client-Centered Therapy.
Serrat, Olivier. (2017). Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence. ResearchGate. 10.1007/978-981-10-0983-9_37
Tannen, T., Daniels, M. H., & Koro-Ljungberg, M. (2019). Choosing to be present with clients: an evidence – based model for building trainees’ counselling competence. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 47(4), 405–419. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2017.1370694
Zhang, S., & Feng, T. (2020). Modeling procrastination: Asymmetric decisions to act between the present and the future. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149(2), 311–322. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000643
Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monograph Supplement, 9(2).