What you do today defines you tomorrow

img_0001Every now and again I read something that makes a light bulb go off in my head – it’s that elusive “aha” moment that we all enjoy.

I’ve had a mad and crazy year. I have made more mistakes in this year that I’ve probably made in my 10 years of working for myself.

 I know why.

I said YES, as I often do, to too many things. One was to launch a new business  – Coaching Culture Clubs, and the other was to take a year-long course that enables me to apply for an Honorary Ranger position with North West parks.

Around September this year, I was thoroughly mad at myself for messing up an email I sent with an incorrect attachment.

I stopped and thought about what was going inside me that resulted in too many mistakes.

I realized that I’d stopped all the best practices I’ve used for many years.

I had told myself I was too busy to take half an hour in the morning to meditate, journal and read. I choose to wake up every day in a frantic state and jump right into busyness.

Fortunately I came across a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. It’s a quick and easy read and it reminded me that the way I start my day has an impact on how the rest of my day goes.

Start your day in a frantic and panicked state, you will have a frantic and unproductive day.

The “aha” moment in the book was a paragraph called “isolating incidents”. Hal explained how we have a tendency to make an inappropriate choice in the moment, writing it off because just this once won’t matter.

Let’s say you’re wanting to loose weight. You reach for a biscuit, and tell yourself one won’t do any harm. Keep doing this and you become an overweight person.

We do not realize that what we choose in the moment defines who we are becoming.

That’s  the statement that had a huge impact on me. Now I understand where I was going wrong.

Every day when I woke up and said to myself, “I’ve got too much to do, let’s just jump straight into work”.  I was in the process of becoming a person that is rushed and frantic and makes mistakes.

The choices I was making in the moment were determining who I was becoming.

I know I still have lots of inner work to do.

I know the kind of person I want to become.

Which means I have to consciously make choices now which allow me to become the person I want to be.

The question to ask is this : ” Who  am I becoming by taking this action now?”

Thanks to Hal for the inspiration. I’ve gone back to rising early and grounding myself for the day.  What a difference it makes to a day. I am on the road to becoming a better version of me…

My past does not equal my future

Hal Elrod

Posted in awareness, Choices, Habits, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns, Way of Being | 3 Comments

7 Steps to Improve your Emotional Intelligence

id-100349673What exactly is EQ (emotional intelligence)?

Emotional intelligence is the ability
to identify, understand and manage
your own emotions
and the emotions of others.

This intelligence includes your ability to be aware of your own and other’s emotions and using emotions effectively to make decisions.

Having worked on my own EQ for many years, I am much more aware that times when I am feeling anxious have much more to do with me that the other person/ event. I am even beginning to understand how I come to have these ‘buttons’ that can so easily be pushed. I am slowly getting better at communicating this as well.

However, I still make mistakes. Like the other day when I sent an email whilst angry. It has backfired on me –  a good reminder that reacting rather than responding is not constructive or effective.

So I continue to work and research. Some of the books that have opened my eyes tremendously are “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz, as well as “EQ: Emotional Intelligence for Everyone” by Stephanie Vermeulen.

From my research and my own practise I have experienced that these 7 steps go a long way towards improving EQ.

Steps to Improving Emotional Intelligence

  1.  Get in touch with your own emotions. Look up how many words there are for emotions – and keep a list handy. Once or twice a day identify the emotions you are feeling and, if possible, link the feeling to an event. It is useful to keep a journal handy in which to jot this down. For instance, if you are feeling upset, try to identify when the feeling began. Was it when you walked into the office? Or when your colleague told you they were engaged? Or when your boss sent an email asking to see you later? Getting in touch with your emotions like this helps you to understand your own values and drivers.
  2. Identify your stress triggers (step 1 can help with this). Reflect back on when you were really angry or flew off the handle. Can you pinpoint what happened. What might your stress triggers be? How did you react and what is a better way to respond?
  3. Respond rather than react. Stephen Covey put it this way: Create a gap before you react. When you experience high negative emotions, resist the temptation to react straight away. Tell the person/s involved you will get back to them. Now let off steam in a safe space. A great way is to write in your journal, or better some scrap paper – In writing you can shout, swear, scream, call the person all the names you like. Keep writing until you are calmer and have more clarity. It’s a good idea to destroy the scrap of paper. Now go back and sort out the issue.
  4. Develop the skill of embracing arguments. If your response is to get defensive, yell and scream or run away (like me – and I am working very hard on this one) then you have some work to do. A person with a high EQ encourages the angry person to speak more. They listen . They respond with statements like: “You seem so angry; what happened that upset you the most?” They listen for long enough that the other person feels heard and understood.   Then together they find a solution. So powerful!!
  5. Open you mind to other people’s ideas. Low EQ people tune out when someone has an opinion they disagree with. They close their minds. Instead of labeling people as stupid or ignorant and withdrawing, the high EQ person listens and looks for common ground. They are not hooked by the opinions of others. They listen to the opinions of others in an open-minded fashion, then question whether their own opinion is still valid. The high EQ person holds onto their opinions unless they hear convincing logic that another opinion is better, at which stage they are willing to let go of their original opinion. The high EQ person does not change their opinion based on the emotions that are flying around.
  6. Get into their heads and emotions. If someone is angry, pretend you are them; feel what they are feeling; picture what they are seeing. This can help you to truly understand what is happening.
  7. Keep your eye on the  body language of others. Become more observant: look at their eyes, the way they hold their bodies, their shoulders, their breathing, their hands, their colouring. These bodily manifestations  give you a much greater clue as to what is going on inside the other than just their words.

Don’t try to implement all these steps at once. Start with the one that feels the easiest to you. Work with it for a month or two, then tackle another step.

Improving your emotional intelligence is not done with a click of the fingers. It requires slow and steady work. Practicing and experimenting over time leads to automation of the new skill.

Each small improvement you make opens the way to healthier and more stable relationships – at work and at home.

Let me know how it goes;  share your success stories and your difficulties.

When dealing with people,
remember you are not dealing
with creatures of logic,
but creatures of emotion.
Dale Carnegie

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in awareness, Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | 1 Comment

The role you play in a bad relationship

cute-18864_1280If I were to tell you that you have   played a role in your bad relationship, you will probably get all defensive. More so if you play the blame game: It’s all your partner’s fault.

Bear with me.

If it’s your partner’s fault that you have a terrible relationship
then if can only get better if your partner changes something
and you are powerless to do anything to improve the relationship.

So get off the blame wagon and let’s do the Perspectacles exercise:

Think about putting on a pair of brown sunglasses. At first everything you look at has a brown tinge, and after a while you get used to it, and everything looks normal.

Now imagine putting on a pair of blue sunglasses. At first everything you look at has a blue tinge, and after a while you get used to it, and everything looks normal.

Changing sunglasses (spectacles) is like changing your perspective.

Step 1:

Write a list of 10 things you love about your partner. If you struggle go back to the days you met and write about what you loved. Picture this person doing all these wonderful things and notice that your feelings are ‘good’ feelings. Write down the colour of the sunglasses you could be wearing when looking at your partner like this. We’ll call these the Love Spectacles.

Step 2.

Write a list of 10 things you hate about your partner. Picture this person doing all these irritating things and notice that your feelings are ‘bad’ feelings. Write down the colour of the sunglasses you could be wearing when looking at your partner like this. We’ll call these the Hate Spectacles.

When you put on the Love Spectacles, you experience positive feelings about your partner. You are more likely to treat your partner in a loving manner when you wear the Love Spectacles. Now your partner feels the love, and treats you in a loving manner, and so the spiral goes…

When you put on the Hate Spectacles, you experience negative feelings about your partner. You are more likely to treat your partner unkindly or badly when you wear the Hate Spectacles. Now your partner feels un-cared for, and tends to treat you in a way you don’t like, and so the spiral goes….

Who is choosing the colour spectacles you are wearing???

You are. It may be unconscious (but not after you have read this blog), and you ARE choosing.

If you are choosing which spectacles to wear – then you are choosing how you feel about your partner, how you treat your partner and ultimately you are choosing the kind of relationship that you have.

Yes, YOU play an important and powerful role in creating the kind of relationship that you have today.

You are responsible.

You may not like it. If you defend and blame, then you can’t fix the relationship. If you understand the subtle, yet powerful role, you play in creating your relationship, then you can start making changes right now.

Before you see your partner later today, decide, consciously:

Is it going to be the Love Spectacles or the Hate Spectacles?





Posted in Choices, Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | 1 Comment

Shhh, don’t tell anyone

When I teach goal setting in prisons, which I do about 10 times a year, I am acutely aware that inmates already know how to set goals.

After all, planning a crime includes all the steps to goal setting – conceiving of what you want, calling in the resources, working out an action plan and a contingency plan if something goes wrong, then going our there and doing it.

When I point this out to the prisoners they often look a little embarrassed.

Secret 1

Humans naturally set goals.

You do it often. I do it often. Inmates do it often – even when in prison. Some examples:

  • I’ll finish this work, then make a cup of tea …
  • I’ll talk to XYZ in the break, and see how we can sort out the mess …
  • I’m gonna play golf on the weekend. mmm who shall I invite? …
  • I so want to go to Thailand next year. When can I go? How much will I need? …
  • I’m going to apply for the Heart-work program so I can increase my chances of parole…

Yes, you and I are already natural goal setters.

I have had a few clients who are not interested in setting big, huge, life-time goals.  These are successful people I am talking about.

Most goal setting programs tell you to have a hairy, huge, audacious goal otherwise your life is meaningless.


Secret 2

You do not have to have hairy, huge, life-changing goals.

You don’t have to have any goals.

Unless you want them.

Some clients who come to me are still working on goals, just not huge, out-there, extraordinary goals. Unless they want them.

Mostly, these clients are working on far more important goals which  bring more meaning to their lives.

These are goals of how they want to BE in life.

It can be hard work changing who you are. The rewards?

The rewards are growing self-esteem, liking yourself more, feeling good about yourself.

Who doesn’t like to feel like that?

What kind of person would you like to be? How will you show up in the world?

Secret 3

Feelings have a HUGE role to play in goal-setting.

Feelings are your guide as to whether it is worthwhile to pursue the goal or not.

Secret 3 is what prisoners, natural goal setters,  are missing.

razor-wire-1417465_1280Imagine planning a crime. See yourself holding some-one up. See yourself ransacking a room. See yourself in a mad escape. See yourself enjoying the fruits of your labour –  looking over your shoulder all the time, feeling fear when hearing police sirens. See yourself being caught.

Feeling anxious, stressed, afraid, guilty, nervous?

Now imagine the kind of person you want to BE in the world.

Imagine being more assertive, for example. See yourself saying YES and being pleased you did. See yourself saying NO and being pleased you did. See yourself speaking up in meetings. See yourself taking control of your team. See yourself standing up for yourself. See people treating you respectfully. See people coming to you for advice.

Feeling good, contented, grounded?

castle-gate-1022177_1280How about you?

Goal-setting comes naturally to you, even if you were not aware of it.

Now that you are aware, is it going to be a BIG goal or a BEING goal? Or NO goal(which is a goal in itself)?
Now picture yourself living that goal. What feelings do you experience? Does it shift the goal? Does it excite you? Do you feel good about yourself?

If it’s still worthwhile get out there and take action.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird;
it would be a jolly sight harder
for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
You are like an egg.
You cannot go on indefinitely
being just an ordinary, decent egg.
You must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis

All Images from https://pixabay.com/



Posted in awareness, forgiveness, Goal-setting, Life Mastery, Self esteem, Way of Being | Comments Off on Shhh, don’t tell anyone

Bleah days and a 7 step strategy to fix them

9607389739_9b73dd2055_zI had an appalling day the other day.

For a change  I had no appointments or meetings. I looked forward to a day of “getting lots done”.

What happened?

I was unmotivated, distracted, got nothing of significance done. I procrastinated. I checked my emails 100 times too often.

The worst was, that I felt dreadful by the end of the day.

Have you ever felt like that? Perhaps not?

For those who have had a bleah day or two, here’s what I did to get my mind right. That’s the main thing, isn’t it?

Getting your mind right.

In his book “Getting Things Done”, David Allen explains that when something is on your mind that you should/ have or even want to do, then your mind is not clear. You are carrying that thing. That thing is controlling you.

And when you have a bleah day like I had, your head is full of stuff that you should be doing, then you distract yourself by checking emails, AGAIN, then you feel bad and the process repeats itself over and over.

You may be wondering at this stage, “How did Kirsten get herself to write this blog when she’s feeling so bad?”

I journalled.

In my journal, I hauled out all the tools and techniques that I have learnt from books and teachers over the years. I built a strategy. As I went to sleep I told myself to prepare for a great day.

Here’s the strategy:

  1. Ask: What do I need to do/ have to work in a focused manner for 90 minutes?
  2. Give yourself 10 minutes to do that. Mine was to tidy my desk, get the books I wanted and to feed the birds. I wanted coffee, but decided it would be a good reward for 90 minutes of solid work.
  3. Play uplifting songs during those 10 minutes. I have a playlist ready. DO NOT distract yourself by taking 47 minutes to make a playlist!!!
  4. Shift my body. I walked around for 60 seconds, up straight, head tilted up, moving arms about, stretching, loosening shoulders.
  5. Mental preparation: say to yourself: I choose to do this. I want to finish this. I know it will feel great when I am done.
  6. Set the timer for 90 minutes.
  7. GO!

And I did… It feels great!

Here’s a challenge to you:

Build a strategy to overcome your bleah days, share what works for you in a comment.

Let’s learn from each other.

GO NOW – Do what you CHOOSE to do and DO it WELL!

When you find yourself in a hole,
stop digging

Will Rogers


Posted in Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Beware: The Relationship LIE that Destroys.


17357278035_201427ba90_zComplacency slips unseen  into long-term relationships.

You’ve been together for ages. You know your partner really well. You know what they are thinking, what they are feeling and what they will choose to eat at a restaurant.

Yes, you know your partner inside and out.

This is a LIE.

This lie  stops you from supporting and fully understanding your partner.


Because when your partner is reacting to something and is stressed/ unhappy/ frustrated, instead of finding our what is really going on, you dismiss the problem, wondering what’s going on with them. When you don’t understand them it’s because you are judging their behaviour from your view of the world.

You may even decide your partner shouldn’t be feeling like that, should they?

Get this: You will never perfectly know your partner.

Your partner will never know you 100%.

Look at yourself. There are many times, almost on a daily basis, that you refrain from telling your partner something.  You might decide it is unimportant, or you may feel embarrassed about something, or decide its such a distant memory it’s not worth telling, or you may not want to hurt them so you keep quiet. There are hundreds of reasons you decide to not tell your partner something.

The same for them. There are things going on inside their heads that you know nothing about.

That’s how we are: each person has their own unique world they live in, and whilst we may have a lot of knowledge about that world, there are dark, murky corners that we will never seen.

You may have a map of your partners world and it is never 100 % accurate.

When your partner is feeling upset/ stressed about something, dont dismiss it with a shrug and say they shouldn’t be feeling that.

Rather do some detective work. Get our your map of their world and try to  figure out how they arrived at this point.  Ask your partners questions that will help you to understand. Put yourself in their shoes.

Its amazing what happens when you do this.

Instead of feeling irritated or dismissive or uninterested about the place they are in, you’ll suddenly feel empathy and understanding. They’ll get a sense of this and feel like you understand them.

Which you do.

Now that you’ve taken the time.

Feeling understood by a partner is hugely important to everyone.

Feeling understood gives your partner the power to take necessary action.

Let go of the lie that you know your partner well.

Take up the opportunity to explore  their world even more.

This is the path to forever in your  relationship.

If we could look into each other’s hearts
and understand the unique challenges each one of us face,
I think we would treat each other much more gently,
with more love, patience, tolerance and care.

Marvin J Ashton


Photo by Flickr

Posted in Feelings, Life Mastery, Relationships | Comments Off on Beware: The Relationship LIE that Destroys.

Are you a nag?

confident manMorning rush is not always the best time for communication, is it?

Sometimes even the simplest sentences cause great irritation.

There I was rushing around getting things organised for the day. My husband was going to have a hectic day at work; I had plenty of clients and a list of chores to get through.

“Oh”, I thought, “I must remind him to organize that lift for his colleagues”.

As he rushed past me in the passage,  I reminded him.

I immediately saw the irritation on his face.

“I was just trying to help”, I responded, feeling wounded.

Later on that day I found a few quiet moments to myself and reflected on the morning’s interaction.

My intention was to help him to remember something.

His irritation led me to assume that he saw it as nagging – or something similar.

What was going on?

Then I remembered the old classic that I recently re-read: John Gray’s – ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.

When I figured it out, I did wonder how many more times I would make this classic mistake!

The implication for him of my wanting to help implied that he would forget.

I was demonstrating a lack of faith in my husband.

At an unconscious level I was telling him that he was not capable.

Men want to know that they are good enough for their woman. It is intrinsic to their fundamental role as protector and providers.

The mistake myself and many women make is not understanding that nagging implies there is something wrong with the man.

This is a subtle and easy thing to get wrong.

Ever told your partner to stop and ask for directions? Ever told him how to cook a meal? Ever advised him on how to manage his money? Ever pointed out that he is feeding the kids incorrectly? This list goes on and on…..

Start thinking about what your nagging means to your man!

There are, of course, consequences to continually telling your man that he is not good enough, and they’re generally miserable consequences.

Here’s what to do instead:

  • Take notice of your partner’s face when you interact.
  • Make a note of moments when you see anger or irritation.
  • Find some time later in the day to reflect on what happened.
  • Look carefully at the words you used. What is the underlying message you are giving your partner?
  • If you are eroding your partner’s confidence decide how you can change what you are saying.
  • DO IT!

As you develop self-awareness and the ability to reflect calmly on your interactions, you will be able to make small changes that allow your man to feel like a man.

Naturally there is something in it for you too: A confident man exudes a wonderful and powerful energy. Enjoy!

Photo credit

I think I’ll be going to Heaven,
because I had good intentions.
But my actions are another thing.
Curtis Jackson

Posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | Comments Off on Are you a nag?

Believing is Seeing

www brazilianpress comMany years ago I met an old man with a silver beard and a poncho.

He told me:

Believing is seeing!

I didn’t believe him.

Slowly, over the years, I began to understand …

I know that when a person is “in hate” with their partner, all they will see and notice is the things the partner  does that validate being “in hate”. Anything good that is done is invisible.

Many people in South Africa believe that our government is doing a bad job – now almost all conversations are around the bad that has been done, the corruption that has erupted and crime that is climbing. When last did you have a conversation about how great SA is? When last did you even notice something that is working? It’s there – we just don’t think about it or on it or  acknowledge it.

Yes –  we notice, we talk about, we think about all those things that validate what we believe is true.

We only see what we believe.

Is this ok?

Well…. it is OK on a level – after all everyone does it to a greater / lesser extent. The little story at the end of this article is an example of where believe is seeing was not a train smash – it was just amusing!

It’s not OK.

It’s not OK when you are limiting your life.

It’s not OK if you are suffering because of what you are not seeing when you could be seeing something different.

It’s not OK if you choose to only see those things  that allow you to  hold onto being right.

It’s not OK if you lose someone you love because you insisted on seeing them in a bad light.

It’ not OK if you withhold from giving your best because you’ve assumed how you see the situation is gospel.

Train yourself to open your mind to possibilities by asking more questions:

  • What do I believe about this person/ situation?
  • What other reality is possible here?
  • What am I missing?
  • How accurate is my assumption?
  • How does my way of thinking influence what is happening here?
  • How would my life be different if I changed my perspective on this?
  • What am I holding onto that I could let go?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • How can I check if my assumptions are accurate?
  • What am I not seeing?

The more possibilities you explore, the more accurate your view of the situation becomes.

This is what you want:  to view a person or sitation accurately – with all the positives and negatives in the light.

This enables you to take decisions and actions that are appropriate and constructive.

I have worked on this over the years, and I believe it has brought me to a more peaceful and grounded state of being.

Yes – believing is seeing.

Sometimes its ok and not so serious:

The other day I woke up feeling not too good. Nevertheless I did gym, put the washing in the machine and  made hubby’s breakfast.

Then I became aware that I was still not feeling too good. I decided to get back into bed.

This is not something I do often. In the 10 years I’ve worked from home, this was maybe the second or third time.

I lay there quietly drinking my tea.

Then I  heard my husband get up from his desk. I listened as he walked into my office and then into the kitchen.

I smiled as I realised he was looking for me.

He walked up the passage. I wondered how he would react when he saw me back in bed.

Imagine my surprise when he walked right past me  and into the dressing room and bathroom.

He didn’t even see me!

He asked the empty bathroom : “Are you in here?”.

I giggled and shouted from the bed: “Here I am!”

As he walked back into the bedroom I said,  “You didn’t even see me!”

“That’s because I did not expect to see you in bed,” he replied!!!!

We only see what we expect to see.

Believing is seeing.

Belief is a deception
you play upon yourself.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Posted in awareness, Habits, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 2 Comments

The Little Frog

frogMy son had been fixing up the ponds and streams in our garden. As  he was tidying up, he noticed a frog hopping along our boundary wall.

“Let me rescue this little frog”,  he thought, “before the dog catches it.”

“I won’t put it in the top pond because that’s where I’ve cemented,  so I’ll put it in the bottom pond.”

He walked through the garden to the bottom pond and threw it gently into the water.

In a flash the big yellow koi that lives there jumped out the water, caught the frog mid-air, and swallowed it.

He was devastated.

Later, as he told the story we all had a good laugh.

It reminded me that whatever our intentions are, we seldom have control of the outcome.

Which is why the gurus and spiritual readings out there all advise us not to be attached to the outcome.

How do we do this?

  • Let the outcomes guide us and inspire us.
  • Imagine your outcomes every morning when you wake up.
  • Spend a bit of time enjoying the feeling of living the outcome you desire.
  • Then get up and focus on the things that are in your control – your actions, your attitudes and your responses.

And if the outcomes do come your way, be grateful and enjoy!

Success is a journey,
not a destination.
The doing is often more important
than the outcome.
Arthur Ashe






Posted in Feelings, Goal-setting, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Warning: too much fun kills fun

steakChipsI knew March was going to be crazy.

It was.

Right now I’m sitting here determined that I will not eat out in another restaurant till next month.

I also have a smile on my face.

Why? Because my son said something (as kids do) that forced a change of attitude; a change of attitude that I desperately needed.

March was fulled with visitors from abroad as well as local. I was the tour guide most of the time. We had fun! We ate out. A LOT. We had late nights. Plenty.

Just as the visitors left, we skidded into Cape Town for our youngest child’s graduation ceremony. We ate out again. A LOT.

I have to be honest here.

I was complaining.

I don’t like to admit it, but I was.

I told my son about how much we had eaten out and how hectic it was, and how much we had done, and how full I was, and how tired I was….. hana hana hana….

His response : “Mom, it’s really hard to feel sorry for you!

After I had a good laugh I felt much better.

I realized that I’d slipped into complaining mode. There was a far better way of looking at this.

I remembered when I was young and had just started working. Friends and I would save our money and once a month we’d go out to the local steak house . How I looked forward to the happy atmosphere of the restaurant,to the delicious aroma of sizzling steaks and  to a plate full of my favourite food. On top of it all, I didn’t have to cook it nor wash up afterwards.

I treasured those nights out at the local steakhouse.

Now, many, many years later I am able to eat at restaurants as often as I like.

My son’s comment opened my eyes. I have so much to be grateful for – and I have since spend time in reflection and giving thanks for fun, friends, food and  for a full life.

And a full stomach!

And wonderful children who continue to teach me lessons every day…

Yes, too much fun kills fun but only if you have the wrong attitude and forget to be grateful.

Share with me: what are you complaining about that you could be grateful for?

Posted in Balance, Life Mastery | 1 Comment