Yet again, it comes back to Connection

Breakthrough to bold

Last Saturday, the amazing Vicki Hodgson and I ran our first Breakthrough to Bold Workshop and it was sensational!

There is nothing more inspiring than spending an afternoon with a group of people who want to learn and grow.  Not only inspiring, but also heart warming that everyone in the room supported each other, shared openly and made sure they had a damn good time.

We are always 100% responsible for our experience, why not make it a great one? This group certainly did!

One of the things I love about workshops is we never know who is going to attend and what value or little gem they will add to the group. This particular session was full of gold and I want to honour our very first group for that.

One of our participants asked a question around disconnection, why in this overly connected world are we so disconnected from each other?

Great question! And there is one answer that springs to the surface above all others and that is FEAR!

Fear of being seen

Fear of being judged

Fear of not being enough

Fear of getting hurt

Fear of being rejected

Fear of not belonging

and so the list goes on…….

The human spirit longs for true and authentic connection but like most things that are valuable, there is either hard work or risk associated with it.

Because we are now able to access so much low quality connection, I am seeing more and more people becoming confused on why they have this lingering sense of discontent and loneliness. I mean, it looks like they are connected, it feels like they have tons of people around them yet there is a void.

From the moment we wake up, we can surround ourselves with low quality connection. The TV goes on and those friendly faces from the morning show appear, you know the ones that you have been spending an hour with every morning for the last five years.

Over your morning cup of tea, you check your social media for your next dose of connection, FB, Insta, Snapchat and so on.  You see your friends from far and wide, you write some comments and like some things and send a bit of love out into the world.

Yet maybe, you have not yet genuinely connected with the person sitting across the breakfast table from you. Yes, there has been a “good morning” and a quick kiss on the cheek, but is that real connection?

Have you looked into their eyes?

Have you hugged them for more than ten seconds?

Have you taken the time to really listen to what they are saying to you?

You leave the house to walk to the bus stop and see your neighbour. No time to stop, they can just have a wave but don’t break your stride, you have to go!

You arrive at work and as always, there is a lot to do.  It is one of your colleagues birthday’s today and a lunch at the local cafe has been organised.  You consider going for a moment but really, you just want to get everything crossed off the task list before you leave at the end of the day.

You get the picture……

Real, authentic connection, open hearted connection takes time and energy.

On top of that, it requires vulnerability.

Back in the village, we would gather at the well and talk while the water was collected. We would take care of each others children and our front doors were always open. We would come together as a community and build houses for each other over the course of a few days. We would have multigenerational gatherings and (I wrote blog on this a few months ago) sing and dance together.

But this is not the world we live in anymore.

The water comes from the tap and the front door is locked.

I lovingly challenge you to take some time out of your day and have a moment of heart felt connection with another human.  Maybe it will be with the lady at the shop or your partner. Maybe it will be with a friend you haven’t chatted to in a while.

Maybe it will be with yourself…

These are the moments that will change the direction of your life.

Love Kate-3

 

The Tribe has spoken….

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Tribal Rule is alive and well.

I feel confident saying that you would have experienced it in some form or another over the course of the last day, week or month.

Tribes fascinate me and I am always curious to know what tribes people belong to.

“What?” I hear you say, “a tribe? I don’t belong to a tribe, are you kidding me?”.

No, I am not! And yes you are a fully-fledged, card-carrying member of many tribes – even if you don’t know it.

Tribes today come in many forms – families, friendship groups, sporting teams, corporate entities, sex, race, religious and spiritual groups, ethnic groups, professions and so on. Basically, a tribe is any group of people who are connected to each other and have a set of rules and beliefs in how things “should” be.

Without even knowing it, you have been participating in your tribes and adding value to them, as well as enforcing the rules of the group.

The thing about tribes that is particularly interesting is that there has to be some judgement: you’re either in or you are out. You are following the rules the tribe believe in and if you are not, then you are most probably living with some discomfort. The tribe will (eventually) evict you because you aren’t toe-ing the line, making a change or fitting in. If you don’t then it will make life uncomfortable so that you want to leave and find a new tribe anyway.

Here are some examples:

The Vegan Tribe says it’s wrong to eat animal products.

The Environmentalist Tribe say that if we don’t change, the planet will die.

The Catholic Tribe says no sex before marriage.

The Australian Tribe is not very welcoming of refugees.

The American Tribe says they have a right to carry guns regardless of the deaths they cause.

The Apple Tribe believes that their products are superior to any other brand.

The Police Tribe says you must follow the speed limit.

Don’t get me wrong: tribes have many advantages. In fact, the human spirit requires connection and to be a part of something bigger than itself. This is still hardwired into us from our caveman days – we long to belong.

Tribes create social order, promote connection and community, and most importantly, they are good for your health!

A Harvard University study examined the lives of almost 3,000 people and found that those who gather together to go out for dinner, play cards, go on day trips, holiday with friends, go to the movies, attend sporting events, go to church, or engage in other social activities outlive their reclusive and more disconnected peers by an average of two-and-a-half years. Being part of a tribe is not only fun but it can also extend your life.

Plus, how much easier is it to get things done working as a group rather than attempting to do it all alone? I think of the Amish Community building barns together, and the local church down the road from me who holds a yearly busy bee to tidy up the neighbourhood streets. What about Christmas time where each tribe member brings something to the table to share?

Like most things in life, there is a light component and a dark component. We all want to feel included, to belong, to be a part of something, and yes, our tribes give us that. It’s about being with like-minded people who understand you and your language and who support your ideas and beliefs.

Just beware, however, that the tribe will speak when you are not “toe-ing the tribal line”. My dad started a new relationship very quickly after my mum passed away and his friendship tribe was MOST put out! They had a set of rules around how grief should be done and clearly my dad was not doing it the right way.

I had to field a barrage of calls from his social circle, all expressing their unhappiness around his actions. In the end I told them to stop calling. I didn’t care what the Friendship Tribe thought (nor did my dad, mind you), I just cared about what was best for my father and his partner.

In one of my coaching sessions this week my client was telling me about how her new partner (whom she completely adores!) is from a different religious denomination and that her family is extremely unhappy with her. It started as a gentle rumble but has now escalated into a deep roar. They have asked her to make a choice: him or us.

The Tribe has spoken…

 

 

 

 

The Departure Gate

 

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I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

Everyone is here. From the FIFO worker on his way home, right through to the family who is going on the much anticipated holiday. Work and pleasure, happiness and sadness, lone travellers and huge packs of them.

I am sitting here at Sydney International Airport about to board a flight to Nadi in Fiji and am taking in the people, the movement and the stories. I am continually intrigued about people; they genuinely fascinate me – and airports are a melting pot of stories, journeys and reasons. I love how so many different things have brought all of us here to this moment in time – where my path crosses other peoples’ paths and I get a glimpse into their world. A glimpse I might never see if I didn’t choose this chair, in this airport, on my way to that place.

The man sitting a few seats down from me in the coffee shop has been telling his neighbour that he is heading home to New Zealand to bury his Mum. He hadn’t spoken to her for several years after a family disagreement and I can hear the regret and pain in his voice.

“I had this feeling that something was wrong but I have been ignoring it for the last few months. Anyway, after much discussion, my wife convinced me to check in with everyone at home. I didn’t want to, but sometimes it’s just easier to let the missus win. So the feeling was right. My Mum had a brain tumour – an aggressive one – and it was killing her fast. Dad asked me to come back and see her – you know, fix things up before she dies. I honestly thought I had more time and I really believed I would make it home in time to hug her and say sorry. I have spent the last few weeks imagining the moment where I say sorry. I was such a prick to her the last time we spoke. I am gutted, just so gutted, that I didn’t get back in time”.

I thought I was going to start crying listening to this!

I wasn’t part of the conversation so it would have been incredibly inappropriate for me to start sobbing just a metre away from him but jeez..!

This is a gut-wrenching reason to be at the airport! Where has that family gone who was laughing about their trip to Disneyland??

It took all of my resolve to just listen and manage my own emotions. The pain emanating from this man was palpable – he oozed sadness and my heart just ached for him. Being the empathetic creature that I am, I had to get up and walk away. I couldn’t be so close to this man anymore because I was barely holding it together. I moved to the departure lounge from where my flight was soon leaving and started to write this. I am not even really sure what my point is other than don’t have regrets!

Life is too short to have regrets, yet life is also funnily enough too long to have regrets.

I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

 

 

Love your Inner child and your life will change

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There is a photo on my desk that I look at every single time I sit down to work. The photo is of me which most probably sounds pretty arrogant…….

“Jeez, why would she feel the need to look at a photo of herself?” I can hear you saying.

Well, let me clarify, it’s a photo of four year old me and I stole it from my Dad’s house. To be honest I doubt he has even noticed, I mean I didn’t notice the photo for years. Quite the metaphor really!

I wonder how many times I walked past it without even a sideways glance? It has been in a frame, in various positions across several houses for the last 37 years. My Mum was an avid photographer and my childhood was captured in no less than 46 albums, me aged 0 to 18. Looking at the photo I can see why my Mum chose this particular one to elevate to frame status.

This picture absolutely captures me as a happy, carefree child. I have a cheeky grin and I can clearly see my playful nature in my eyes and smile. I am dressed as a good child of the ’70s should be: red, blue and white striped tee shirt under blue overalls – completely fitting of the decade!

When I did finally notice it, it was only because I had started doing consistent and focused work with my Inner Child. As Tony Robbins says “Where focus goes, energy flows”. I was now noticing the little girl not only in myself, but in the environment around me.

Just like the photo, I had not been seeing her at all, and yet she was dying to be understood, nurtured and loved.

I stole this photo because when it finally made its way into my awareness it was the perfect visual I needed of my inner child. I realised that it was this little girl I had been talking with, nurturing and developing a relationship with. I love that I can now look into her eyes through this picture each and every day.

Inner Child work is a vital component of personal growth and development because it reconnects us with the distressed element of ourselves, the little child. This is really about the fact that the majority of what we are contending with in our adult lives comes from our childhood – or more specifically our young childhood below ten years of age.

When we reconnect with these wounded parts of ourselves, we can begin to discover the root of many of our beliefs, fears, insecurities and sabotaging behavioural patterns.

This is where the true healing happens! By giving your inner child the love and connection he or she so desperately wants, you will start to very quickly and powerfully resolve adult problems.

As Raul Lopez Jnr, author, speaker and founder of Live Again Co says: “Heal the boy and the man will appear”. Torn from and then abandoned by his father at age 7, Raul spent the next 17 years on a rollercoaster of drugs, gangs, imprisonment and much more until he decided enough was enough. Reflecting back, he realised that he had work to do with the little boy inside himself who was still struggling to understand why he wasn’t enough.

Raul made poor choice after poor choice in pursuit of healing the ache inside of himself, and nothing was working. After beginning his journey of self-exploration and discovery in his 20s he realised that for things to truly change, he had to heal the little boy inside himself.

We don’t even realise that we are dealing with a wounded little kid most of the time. Yet the more connected we are to our inner child, the more developed and mature we are as adults. There is a powerful and definite relationship between these two parts of ourselves. It can be very surprising what comes up through inner child work – stuff that we did not have conscious awareness of, beliefs that were formed completely out of context, and “gap filling” which is our little child mind making up the story because we don’t understand the bigger picture.

This work is not about dealing with symptoms and using band aids. This is about getting back to the very core of where your beliefs, fears and behavioural patterns started – your childhood.

This is true healing in every sense of the word!

As I sit at my desk each day, I now always take a moment to check in with that little four year old girl. I ask her how she is doing and is there anything that she needs. This is such a simple action but it has produced profound results for me.

If you have never done any inner child work there are tons of resources around. You can work with a coach like me, access tons of information through books and the web, or attend a workshop.

At the very minimum, find a photo of yourself and pop it up somewhere that you will see every day. This act alone will promote the development of one of the most important relationships in your life.

 

 

The Disease of Disconnection

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We are in crisis!

A crisis of disconnection.

True connection, real, authentic and deep connection is becoming harder to come by and frankly, it appears we are losing skills that are really too valuable to let go off.

In our fast paced world, where time is money and looking good is more important than connection, we have create a culture where authentic connection is no longer valued in the same way it once was. This certainly appears to have bought great change to our society, and in my opinion, not for the better.

Do you remember a time when you shopped at a store and knew the majority of the staff who you would happily chat with? A time where you would give your postman a present at Christmas  because he had been bringing your family the mail for the last ten years? A time when a friendship was about hanging out and conversation, instead of snapchats, insta pic’s and texting?

I was reading a great article this morning by Dan Schawbel , he was interviewing one of my all time favourite women,  Brene Brown on Why Human Connection will bring us closer and the article covered many great distinctions. One of the most powerful ones is around the fact that fear is keeping us separated.

Brene Brown said “We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology. We’ve turned away from one another and toward blame and rage. We’re lonely and untethered. And scared. Any answer to the question “How did we get here?” is certain to be complex. But If I had to identify one core variable that magnifies our compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my answer would be fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up. When we ignore fear and deny vulnerability, fear grows and metastasizes. We move away from a belief in common humanity and unifying change and move into blame and shame. We will do anything that gives us a sense of more certainty and we will give our power to anyone who can promise easy answers and give us an enemy to blame.”

I found this paragraph very interesting as it reminded me of the three universal fears that every human being is contending with each day.  They are:

  • The fear of not being enough
  • The fear of not belonging
  • The fear of not being loved

Whether or not you identify these fears within yourself consciously, it has been proven that they are in operation within all of us.  The variable though, is how we manage them. For some people, they are very small and have a low impact on their lives, for others, these fears dominate each waking moment.

It seems so topsy turvey that in pursuit of minimising these fears we have actually magnified them.  We portray ourselves as having tons of friends who we are constantly doing cool stuff with on social media yet we are more lonely than ever.

We dress in certain clothes and go to certain places to feel like we belong, like we are part of a tribe but really all we are trying to do is fit in, blend in and be enough. Its not true belonging at all.

Brown goes on to say “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness”

What stands out in what Brown says, is that it’s all about vulnerability, truly letting ourselves be seen, even if that brings up fear in us.  Until we are prepared to be uncomfortable, to take a chance, then we will continue to repeat the patterns that we have formed.

As much as technology is a powerful tool and there is certainly much to be grateful for, I am sadden that the cost of it has been a diminishment of authentic and deep connection.

If you would like to read the full article, check out Forbes Magazine

The Five Love Languages

 

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Would it be useful for you to know how to love your partner in exactly the way they want to be loved? Would you like to have your partner love you in a way that totally fills your tank up?

I imagine your answer is a resounding yes! I mean, we all want to be loved, especially in the way that is most meaningful to us.

Humans are such fascinating creatures. At times we all seem so very different and then at other times, we seem so similar. Often at the beginning of relationships, all we see are the similarities, then – as time goes on – we start to notice the differences. Sometimes the differences become so vast that the relationship struggles to stay together.

Doing the work that I do, there is one thing I know for sure – and that is that humans have patterns and those patterns become predictable once we have an understanding of them.

For example, a pattern of behaviour that you may already have awareness of is that of the extrovert and the introvert. If you know that your friend is an extrovert, then you can predict with a high level of accuracy that when you take that person to a party they will comfortably find someone to chat with and before long they will have made new friends. Oppositely, if you take your introvert friend to the party, you know that they will either want to stay near you for a while or maybe just chat to one or two people throughout the party. They won’t be drawing attention to themselves and will be less eager to tear up the dance floor.

When it comes to love (how we show it and how we like to receive it) there are also patterns. These patterns were discovered and made famous by a man called Dr Gary Chapman.

Dr Chapman has a background in the church and throughout his years as a minister and counsellor he worked with thousands of people – many of them married. Over the years he identified five distinct patterns in how people love each other. He also noted that often, when a marriage or relationship was in crisis, it was because the couple were showing their love to each other in different ways. Because of that, the partner would misunderstand an act of love and the moment would pass.

The Five Love Languages is one of the most simple, yet effective frameworks that I utilise in helping people create happier relationships. When we can communicate our love in a way that is desired by our partner we create stronger bonds and are more equipped to weather the storms of life together.

When we are miscommunicating our love (or our love is not being understood) it is like a person speaking Japanese to a Chinese-speaking person and then wondering why they are not being understood. They are two very different languages!

So what are The Five Love Languages?

  1. Words of Affirmation: This is all about expressing love and affection through words, praise, compliments, acknowledgement and appreciation. Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If your love language is words of affirmation then genuine compliments and positive words will mean the world to you. Being told “I love you”; “You are a great dad/mum”; or “I am blessed to be with you” will make your heart sing and you will feel truly loved.
  2. Quality Time: If Quality Time is your primary love language, nothing says, “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being present for this type of person is critical – with the TV off, knives and forks down and the phone away. This will make your significant other feel truly special and loved. It’s all about being in the same place and focusing on each other.
  3. Receiving Gifts: This love language isn’t all about materialism. The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift – no money even needs to be spent. It could be a flower brought in from the garden, a poem, or bringing home your partner’s favourite chocolate bar. If you speak this love language, a beautiful gift or heartfelt gesture shows that you are seen, you are cared for, and you are valued.
  4. Acts of Service: Can doing the dishes or washing the car really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service Person” is a powerful demonstration of love. Feeling supported through assistance and acts of service shows a level of thoughtfulness that fills up this person’s love tank.
  5. Physical Touch:  A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. They love hugs, holding hands, gentle touches on the arm or shoulder when walking past each other, as well as all of the more private moments of intimacy. Physical touch shows this type of person that they are loved and cared for. Physical presence and accessibility are extremely important.

Here is an example from the book that highlights the misunderstanding that can happen when we speak different love languages:

A husband said:

“I mow the grass every Saturday after I wash the car. I vacuum every Thursday night. I do the dishes at least four nights a week. I help with the laundry. I do all of this and she says that she “does not feel loved” – I don’t know what else to do”.

His wife’s response was:

“He is right. He is a hard-working man”. Then she began to cry and said, “But we don’t ever talk. We haven’t talked in thirty years”. She is dying for ‘Quality Time’, while he is speaking ‘Acts of Service’.

This example is such a great illustration of two people who are communicating through different love languages and it having a serious impact of how loved they feel. The husband has such good intentions and really believes that he is demonstrating his love by easing the household workload – yet it totally misses the mark for her.

Self-awareness and knowledge are power! If you feel that you could have a more connected and more loving relationship, then I highly recommend reading The Five Love Languages. Dr Chapman even has an online quiz you can do to work out what your own primary and secondary love languages are – and this could be the first step towards a more loving and empowered relationship.