The Golden Medal for a Great Parent

Good day, my dear Friend!

Have you ever wondered if you are a Great Parent?  If there was a competition for the nomination of the Number One Father of the Year or the Most Fantastic Mother in your community, would you have what it takes to WIN this nomination or would you at least try to participate? What criteria would you have to meet in order to receive the Golden Medal of a GREAT PARENT? 

A Conversation with a Stranger

I remember talking to a lady at the airport who told me the story of her life in ten minutes, and for nine minutes of her story she was complaining to me about her heartless, selfish mother, who never praised her and often called her an idiot, messy and lazy. In the midst of our conversation, or to be more precise of the lady’s monologue, her daughter came up to her asking for a tissue because she had spilled juice on her blue dress. The lady gave her seven-year-old an angry look and said to me, without getting up from her chair: “Imagine, she spilled juice on her new dress!” Then the mother turned back to her daughter and whispered in a way that I could hear every word: “Why can’t you be like normal kids? Like an idiot, you just makes a mess everywhere you go!” The girl dropped her head and walked away defeated and ashamed.

What I Wanted to Tell Her

The airport announced that my flight was boarding and I was ready to leave, but I thought I’d give her a piece of my unsolicited wisdom before I go. So I asked: “Can I be honest with you?” She said: “Yes, of course, tell me.” “I am a parent and I have made many mistakes, and one thing that helped is being aware of how my parents affected me as an adult and how I was affecting my kids. We, as parents, have the power to either build our children up or break them and set them up for failure. I had to notice my destructive behavior as a parent and worked on it. Believe it or not, even though my sons are adults now, I still say or do things as a parent that I am not proud of. It usually happens when I feel down or stressed out. When we stress – we regress.  We can be the best parents and role models when we practice self-care as parents and stay balanced.”

Then I added: “l am really sorry that your mother called you an idiot, but now you are calling your daughter an idiot, which makes you an idiot mother. I am sorry your mother called you lazy. You believed her words and even today you keep that belief alive and behave lazily. You did not even get up and take your stressed out daughter to the washroom and help her clean up. I feel bad that your mother called you messy, but please take it out of your head and do not mess up your own parenting by embarrassing your daughter in front of others. Your mother told you maybe twenty or thirty years ago and you still blame her and live by her program. 

We Have the Power to Break Bad Parenting Cycle

“Guess what, you do have the power to break that cycle and stop blaming your mother, who probably did not know any better. Start thinking of WHAT YOU REALLY WANTED AS A CHILD and give it to your child unconditionally, daily, with love and affection.  To which she answered: “But it is not easy to be a parent. What if I mess up again?” “I am sure you will,” I said, “because every human makes mistakes, and when you do mess up again, don’t be so hard on yourself. Just keep reading, watching and learning more about how to understand kids, how to motivate them and how to praise and raise them into confident and happy adults. Once you put your attention into becoming a better parent, with time and practice you will get better at it. Remember: where attention goes – energy flows – RESULT SHOWS!”

After my plane took off, I looked at the fluffy and pure clouds in the sky and imagined the moment when, one day, the lady’s daughter would bring her a hand-made Golden Medal of the Most Fantastic Mother. How she would look into her mom’s eyes, hug her with all her warmth and whisper in her ear: “You are my Most Favorite Person in the whole world… I want to be like you!” To which the mother would reply: “The most important thing, my princess, is that you will be very very happy, loved and respected by others. You don’t need to be like me or any other person – you are unique and very special!” 

Start Positive Programming Today

In that moment, I realized that during those brief moments of connection when, from the bottom of our hearts, we say positive and uplifting things to our children, the most powerful programming of their brain takes place. It is never too late to be the Greatest Father or the Most Fantastic Mother for your child and program their little brains for success and love. Why not start today? Even if it is only five minutes of positive reassurance! Sometimes five minutes is enough to create a Miracle. 

Be the parent who creates miracles in your child’s world.

With Love,

Active senior woman

Hamda’s Success Story: Vibrant Energy and Weight Loss at Any Age

Hello, my Wonderful Friend!

Today, I want to share with you a story about my Star client who knows the secret of achieving any goal. We often like to talk about the achievements of young or middle-aged people, but forget to share inspiring stories about the elders. Yes, they have lived more years, and they have seen more and done more, but as they grow older, sometimes they lack the energy and the motivation to be more active or to improve their health. The good thing is that they are still with us and we can help them bring back their own inner power and feel more energy to stay healthier and prolong their lives. There is no doubt that a life of good quality and healthy habits will allow elderly people to better connect with family, to have more fun and joyful time, and to continue being active contributors to society.

Especially for you, I have prepared a story about an elderly woman who achieved her fitness goals (despite her age) and has become a great role model for others.  Get yourself a fresh cup of tea and allow yourself to relax for the next few minutes and enjoy your reading. It’s story time just for you to get inspired now, and to encourage others later on!

In 2015, I was coaching a lady by the name of Hamda: a 64-year-old widow with four grown-up children.  Hamda came to me for help with anxiety related to her health issues, as well as wanting to reduce her weight.  Usually, during the first session, I recommend a very effective technique that has worked with most of my clients in the past. I explained to her the concept of positive affirmations and that repeatedly seeing, reading and writing positive affirmations of how she wants to feel, act and look like in the future can affect the subconscious mind to such a degree that it slowly starts transforming the body to align itself with healthy thoughts. Some clients are skeptical at the beginning of coaching about the power and benefits of affirmations until they try them and see the results.

The next day after the session Hamda started reading and writing her statements in her language ten times a day. I also suggested writing down the affirmations with a bright marker on colorful paper and post it in places that she spends most of her time; These are some of the affirmations that she was reading daily: “At any age, I choose to feel younger, stronger and healthier!  When my energy is low, I know that it is temporary and I can continue to exercise to feel better! I can be happy, energetic and fit at any age! I have what it takes to renew my body and to achieve my ultimate health goals.  I take full responsibility for my health and for my happiness! My past failures, pain, and worry remain in the past because they belong in the past! I enjoy the process of creating my bright future! I understand and listen to my body, I exercise daily, I eat healthy food, I maintain healthy lifestyle habits. I have enough energy, will power, time and resources to achieve the results I want!”

Hamda started reading and writing the affirmations right after waking up and before going to bed.  She posted them in her bathroom and bedroom.  Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do.

During one of our initial sessions, she told me: “My business was rapidly growing, while my body was growing at the same speed. I do not understand why my mind is still so clear and fast, but my body is so heavy and lazy. I am out of breath after climbing two flights of stairs. I feel like I’ve lost control over my body, my heart hurts sometimes, and I am scared to die early, like my husband. I have so much to do; my family and my business need me. I have gained seventeen kilograms in five years since I started my business. I have the energy and the willpower to run three branches of my business and zero willpower to take care of my body.”

Hamda had two main issues: she loved food, and she didn’t move much. Especially at the end of a long and tiring day, her willpower would be so weak, that she would eat late and a lot. We both agreed that she needed to commit by showing some actions toward a healthier life. Together, we developed a program for Hamda, where she chose the activities that she wanted to try out: it was yoga and evening walks outside. The research shows that empowering elders profoundly affects their motivation and that we need to involve seniors in planning, selecting, and evaluating their own physical activity program. It is important to let them make their own choices.

Hamda’s daughter, Sarah, hired a personal yoga trainer and started doing gentle yoga exercises with her mother two sessions per week. They were holding each other responsible and tried not to miss a single session.  Four times a week Hamda started walking with her two grandchildren for thirty minutes a day. Hamda’s older son, Saeed, bought his mom a fitness tracker Fitbit with a simple screen to show the number of steps she took each day. This gift certainly helped Saeed’s mom to stay focused on her goal. After three months, Hamda increased her walks to one hour per day. Later on, she met other women of her age, who were regular walkers, and continued walking with them routinely. After the first package of ten private sessions of yoga was completed, Hamda decided to do yoga two times a week and shared with me that she started feeling sensations in her own body and gaining a better sense of balance. She once called me and shared with excitement in her voice: “You know Gulnara, it looks like I was disconnected with my own body for so many years…We are taking it slow with my yoga trainer, but I feel alive again.  You know, I am so surprised… I have never thought that at my age I can do with my body what my trainer is pushing me to do.”

You are probably wondering what factors of motivation helped Hamda to stick to the program and achieve desired results? Firstly, she was open to my suggestions but actively participated in choosing her own favorite activities and the frequency of her sessions. Secondly, she had a clear goal to reduce her weight by 17 kilos. Thirdly, Hamda was prepared to invest her time, money and energy to her goal and was ready to pay the price for feeling and looking healthier. And the last and fundamental reason behind her success was support from her loving family!

At first, she started with food. Hamda impressed me with her discipline in choosing to eat higher quality food and reducing her portions. Hamda found a great and fun yoga trainer, who was passionate about helping people. With time, Hamda bonded with her trainer and was looking forward to every next session. By walking with her grandkids, Hamda had time to talk with them and to listen to their stories.  Later on, she connected with a support group of other walking ladies. Once Hamda said to me: “When I think of my childhood, growing up we didn’t have the opportunity to attend sports clubs, gyms or walking tracks. It was a land of the sandy desert surrounded by the ocean with extremely hot weather outside…and no facilities, but Allhamdullilah (which means ‘Thank God!’ in Arabic) people were very active and moving a lot back then. Nowadays, new generations, mashallah (which means ‘as God has willed’ in Arabic and is used to show appreciation for something) have everything.”

The most beautiful thing about Hamda was that she felt young at heart and was not afraid to try, to take a risk and push herself.  After four months of our coaching program, Hamda showed me the notebook where I was giving her the home assignments and the list of affirmations that she was reading out loud daily in her own language. I was impressed to see how neatly she wrote down her thoughts about her activities and her progress after our sessions. I did not understand a single word, because I cannot read the Arabic language, but I saw a sense of pride and self-confidence in Hamda’s eyes when she was showing me her notes. Hamda was disciplined, but not too hard on herself; she was committed and she celebrated small wins. She had to push herself, but she did not focus on the goal too much. She really enjoyed her activities and the whole process of doing something great for herself.  After our program, she reported that she had more energy to go on with daily tasks and felt much lighter, less worried and more energetic. Even though the metabolism of older people slows down and makes it harder to lose weight, by eating healthier and exercising Hamda fixed her metabolism rate and had become best friends with her own body. After the first few months, she lost five kilograms and planned to continue her journey to a stronger and healthier body (and more fun and active lifestyle). Today she is 15 kilos lighter and feels 15 years younger! Hamda is my Star-client, a great role model for others. I was privileged to be a part of her positive change.

We all have people in our lives who are growing older, and perhaps they wish to be more active and happier, but many of them have a hard time finding that energy because of their age.  How can we shift our focus from cure to prevention?  How can we help them to strengthen their health instead of focusing on curing the illnesses? How can we show our elders that they have the power to make that positive change by shifting their negative thinking and believing in themselves at any age? Initially, it may require a great deal of energy and effort from adult children, family members, and health care providers to empower the elderly. We can do so much for others when we ourselves have the power to support the generations before us with patience and to enter their vulnerable, yet the beautiful inner world, filled with joy, pain, past stories, and future hopes.

Do you have an aging person in your life whom you can help? Keep your energy reserve full and high so that you have what it takes to function effectively while still being able to be strong for someone you love.

With Love,

Mutter und erwachsener Sohn machen ein Selfie im Garten

As a Mother, I Take Full Responsibility

Good day, my Wonderful Friend!

We always find what we look for. If we look for exceptional qualities in our children, we will definitely see them. I did not notice these qualities in them before, but I see them now. The qualities that I observe in them now are maturity, honesty, reliability, dignity, and independence. My sons are no longer little boys – they are men.

When my younger son was little, he adored me so much that he wanted to be inseparable from me, and once asked me if he could marry me after growing up. My older son was always eager to hug me when I was picking him up from the kindergarten, and now the only times I get a hug are when I ask for it.

Time passes by, a lot of things change. When our children were little, they satisfied some of our needs to feel loved, needed and wanted. I lead a busy life as an independent woman who loves her career. The mother in me still feels at times the desire of being needed. I feel that I am no longer necessary to my sons and that they are rapidly moving into their own adult lives that I might no longer fully be a part of. It means that I need to create my own fulfilling and vibrant life in order to be a self-reliant and supportive parent and not a burden to my sons. In my heart, I know that no matter how rough, masculine and strict my boys look on the surface, deep inside they still need their mother’s encouragement, approval, and respect for who they are and what they do.

I miss those fun times when they were younger and we traveled together or went for short ski trips. We used to laugh and joke around more. Now that they are adults, I feel that our time together is less relaxed. We have serious and deep conversations, and sometimes heated discussions. I do admire their intelligence, curiosity, and love for learning. They have become my greatest teachers. The latest technology related items and knowledge I possess is because of my children. They constantly contribute to my progress, and I feel blessed.

I must confess: my sons’ honest feedback can be painful. Because they know me so well, they can offer me the best insight, the most accurate memory of my past, the harshest criticism and the sincere compliment that means more than praise received from any other person. I know their compliments are usually sincere and truthful.

When I was not as confident in myself as I am now, I could not take their feedback. I used to shut my children down when they tried to offer me advice or start an argument. I was so self-critical of myself that any additional even minor piece of criticism could literary break my spirit. I noticed my increased emotional strength from my improved ability to listen and to take in what my sons had to say, even if it is very uncomfortable or even hurtful. Someone said that truth hurts. I do agree.

I learned to manage my own perception of what I want my children to be or do, and just let them be. I am not perfect, and even though I give parenting training and counsel parents, I am guilty of still offering my sons unsolicited advice or a critical remark that perhaps did not have to be said. God knows I try very hard to be more mindful of what kind of impact I have on my children and how I can be more helpful rather than harmful to their self-esteem or state of mind.

We never retire from the parenting role, and I know I still have a lot of work to do to show my sons how much I believe in them and appreciate their efforts to grow at their own pace. They never complain, but I know they face and overcome their own challenges, just like every one of us in this life.

The stronger and confident we become as humans, the kinder and more accepting we show up as parents. The moment we stop growing spiritually, mentally and intellectually, the bigger the gap between us and our children will become. To be able to connect with our children, we must stay connected with our own selves. I noticed a strong correlation here: the more I appreciate and respect myself – the more appreciation and respect I can show to my sons. I am committed to being a better mother every day. It was my choice to become a mother, I take full responsibility to excel in this role: perhaps the most challenging and rewarding task of my life.

With Love,

Retro effect and toned image of a woman hand writing a note with a fountain pen on a notebook. Handwritten text Set Boundaries as success and evolution concept image

Can We Stop Others from Hurting Us?

Who Hurts Us the Most?

In life, we inevitably get hurt. This is because we are humans and humans make mistakes and do silly things. Ironically, more often than not, we get hurt by people we love and feel close to. We value their opinion so much and truly care about what they think and say about us.

From my coaching practice and broad life experience, I know for a fact, that people who hurt us usually are hurting themselves. Their internal hurt is more an unconscious process than conscious. It might not be obvious, but their pain runs deep inside. It is possible their on-going pain, or dissatisfaction with life makes them feel miserable, unfairly treated, or angry at the world and everyone in their lives, including you. Does it make them bad people? Not necessarily. They just think and feel so bad about themselves and their lives, so ALL that they ruminate on is bad thoughts and the words coming out of them are also bad and toxic. In turn, their behavior can be bad and hurtful.

Did you notice how often I used the word “bad” in the previous sentence? I did it deliberately to remind you of the ripple effect coming from the negative internal state that we sometimes cannot manage and it leaks out of us into every area and relationship of our life.

What can we do if we have people like this around us? How can we change them?

Here is a question that requires a more honest answer. What can we do if “we” become that toxic person because we can no longer manage our internal pain? Or if we can no more suppress our resentment and disappointment with another person or with life circumstances?

What can we do when we become that person with “bad thoughts, feelings, words and behaviors” and keep hurting ourselves and others around us?

How Can I Change Another Person?

Often I have clients who come to me with probably the most frequent question: “How can I change him or her?” My straight forward answer is, “You cannot change another person.” What you CAN do is to show them two things:

Number one: How to live the life you would want them to live, by example.

Number two: If you what to change them because you feel hurt or violated by that person, you can teach them how to treat you, by not accepting this treatment anymore.

I know, it sounds much easier than it actually is in real life, especially as we get so conditioned to tolerate and accept things. Often, we believe the reason we are being treated the way we are is our fault or because of our own feelings of worthlessness.

We are scared to speak up and say how we feel because we are afraid to hurt or upset others. In the end, we get hurt ourselves. 

Part of your journey to happiness is cultivating self-love. One of the ways to cultivate and show love to yourself is to recognize your patterns of self-blame and to set the boundaries with people who treat us in a way that makes us feel small. As hard as it seems, we must speak our truth, and as hard as it might seem, we should stop tolerating negative and disrespectful treatment from others. If we do not honor ourselves by setting such boundaries, we risk building up resentment and withdraw from the relationship altogether.

Setting Boundaries is Your Responsibility

People might react with a negative or dismissive reaction, but it is not your responsibility. Your responsibility to be brave and communicate your needs with love and respect without pretending that everything is all right.

When we keep resentment inside and let negative thoughts boil inside of us for days, weeks or even years, that’s when we hurt ourselves greatly. Those judgmental and harmful thoughts can lead to physical weakness and illnesses, to mental distortions and to relationships breakups. The relationships that could have been saved if you spoke up sooner than later; if you were courageous enough to show your vulnerability and commitment to work and grow your relationships, even if it required you to have painfully-honest conversations.

If you want others to stop hurting you, end hurting yourself.  The act of setting boundaries is your responsibility.

Show yourself self-love and self-respect by being brave, reliable and honest with yourself and others.

With Love,

How to Talk to Yourself to Avoid Destructive Procrastination

Good day, my Wonderful Friend!

Have you ever put off working on an important task for days, delayed answering e-mails or facing essential issues in your life, like saving money for your future or opening your own business? You spend time watching TV, browsing the internet or going out to feel better, but, unfortunately, you know it is only temporary relief, and the reality comes back to bite you in the end. The next thing you know, it’s the end of the day, and nothing was done, while tasks remain unfinished? This force inside of you is called PROCRASTINATION.

Wikipedia defines procrastination as ‘the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished… and putting off or leaving things until the ‘last minute’ before the deadline. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt.

I have a new definition of procrastination. I would call it the energy draining battle between two voices in your brain.

How often does the voice of your Greater-Self tell you: It’s a great idea, you can Do it! You just need to start acting on it.

Meanwhile, your Protective-Self voice says: You are going to fail. It will be painful. Remember you failed when you were a child and how painful it was? Don’t even start…it will be painful if you fail again… you are going to embarrass yourself, you don’t have enough skills, talents, or energy….

So what do we do in these cases of procrastination and delay? How can we silence that loud and negative Self-Protective voice and how can we give power to the voice of our Greater-Self? Here is a great exercise that you might find helpful. It definitely helped me!

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take a few breaths. Now imagine going inside your brilliant head and standing between two people who represent these voices.  1) One person with the Greater-Self voice and another person with the Protective-Self voice.

And you’re having the following conversation with your voices:

Listen, guys, I know you want the best for me.

You…my Protective-Self, are trying to protect me from pain from potential failure or embarrassment. I understand your intention and thank you…But why do you know that I will fail THIS time? What if I do well THIS time? And even if I do fail, it’s not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes, that’s the only way to learn, and maybe THIS time I will handle my failure well. I am a grown-up person, who no longer needs to be protected… and if you really want to protect me – then protect me from doubts in my abilities, from constant hesitation, from other people’s negative comments and hold that protective shield that will really help me to focus on my growth and not on fighting the negativity in my life.

And then, imagine turning to your Greater-Self and saying with firmness.

And you, my Greater-Self have been too quiet and not assertive enough. I want you to be stronger and every time I have new ideas, help me act on them right away! Push me forward, support me, encourage me! And in the moments of doubts tell me: Even though You are afraid to make a mistake or be less than perfect, you can still do it and it does not have to be perfect!

And even if you happen to make a mistake – you can always correct it. Successful people are ok to make mistakes and start acting, even when they feel uncertain and don’t have all the information required to succeed. They usually operate in that simple system:

ACTION-FEEDBACK-CORRECTION! ACTION-FEEDBACK-CORRECTION!

My dear, Greater-Self!

Please always remind me to look at the BIGGER PICTURE. Please tell me that I have the power to start now and finish what I started. Praise me when I practice this exercise. Do not let me get discouraged if my anxiety and tendency to procrastinate does not go away at first. This is normal and expected. Please be the patient, encouraging and loving voice in my head.

My dear, voices! The Protective-Self voice and the Greater-Self voice! Listen carefully:  from now on, both of you must be focused on ONLY PRODUCTIVE, LOVING, ACCEPTING, SUPPORTIVE AND MOTIVATIONAL THOUGHTS! Let’s all agree on that and shake our hands!

Then imagine that you are shaking the hand of the person who represents your PROTECTIVE-SELF and that of the GREATER –SELF. You have made an agreement. Your brain knows what to do. Take thirty long and relaxing breaths and then open your eyes. Great job, my friend! Your mind is re-programmed, and you can finish that daunting task that you have been avoiding! You can strategize, immediately start and tackle everything QUICKLYand PROACTIVELY!  You can reach the finish line way before the deadline!

Repeat this exercise every time you need to break your tendency to procrastinate and after a few weeks, your brain will re-wire itself according to your new behavior, and from a chronic procrastinator, you will transform into a CHAMPION who can successfully reach his FINISH LINE!

YOU ARE A CHAMPION…

With Love,

Happy man faces skyline

How Allan Got Unstuck from Feeling Totally Stuck

Good day my Wonderful Friend!

In my coaching practice, I have people coming with different issues and pains. So they are coming for a solution, and they are taking steps to change their lives for the better. They show their commitment, and they take action. But there is one common thing that I see in most of them. Regardless of what area of life they are complaining about, they all feel something in common. They feel STUCK!

Some of my clients got stuck in a loveless or sexless marriage and have no clue how to fix it. Some are stuck in boring jobs or working under a moody “Mr. Demotivator” boss. Some clients are stuck in their plateaued weight and can’t lose another kilo unless they cut their arm off. Another category of clients is stuck in their single life and lie to themselves that they are better off being single and free, but deep inside wishing to be a loving relationship. They are stuck because they are scared to get hurt in love or feel weak to take responsibility for a future family. I have clients who are stuck in financial issues and feel deeply buried inside their endless debts. They have a bad relationship with money and money runs away from them to live in other banks or other peoples’ wallets. Another group of clients is stuck in their constant need for approval, either by friends and family or by the strangers in media who put likes in their profiles.

Looks like we are all stuck in one or more areas of our lives.

What I would like to share with you is my observation about the type of clients that were able to get unstuck and move forward much faster than others. What is the deciding factor in their rapid progress?

These successful clients understood the power of the BRAIN in our daily lives.
They quickly learn that transforming their brain functioning will lead to happier emotions. They realize that our feelings do not reflect reality. Our emotions reflect the way we interpret the reality in our brains.

I remember one client, let’s call him Allan. At his first session, he complained that he got stuck in a job that he did not like.
“ I am Junior Architect, but 90% of my day I am dealing with annoying suppliers and sorting out administrative issues. I am not using the creative side of my brain at all. I have no mentor, and I feel as if I am wearing a hat of invisibility. Nobody notices me at work.”

Allan felt stuck in that job for the last 2 years but didn’t know what to do. He could not quit his job and look for another one because he felt responsible for his elderly mother who lived with him. He could not leave the job he hated because of his financial restraints.

Step number one: Power of Positive Focus

The number one step to becoming unstuck from the situation was to ask yourself a question: “What do I want?” and focus on the desired result instead of negatively thinking about a hopeless situation.

Allan wanted to have more creative tasks in designing new architectural concepts or even restoring old buildings. “I really hope to have a supportive boss that I can learn from, I am inexperienced and young, I want professional training. I want to work with a friendly team. And then he added: “…And I want my mother to be proud of me.”

Step number two: Change Your Inner-Talk

I asked Allan to count the times he engaged in negative self-talk every day and write it down. He was shocked with how often he heard a self-defeating and self-critical voice in his head. The list consisted of phrases like: “No one likes me at work, it’s impossible to find a new job in today’s market, I wasted my time at the university to become an Architect and now I am doing this stupid admin work. My boss probably thinks that I am useless. I can’t make my mother proud. If I asked my boss to give me creative projects, I am sure he will refuse.”

If you decide to get unstuck from an unwanted situation in your life, it is imperative to talk to yourself with love and compassion and replace self-criticism and negativity with encouraging statements. Allan was a highly-disciplined client and started to catch and replace unsupportive phrases with positive phrases in his head. For example, instead of “No one likes me” he substituted “I am a likable person, they just need to get to know me more.” Instead of: It’s impossible to find a new job in today’s market” he thought silently “I can find a job in any market situation because I am a lucky person and a great employee.”

After a couple of weeks of continuous self-encouragement, Allan’s attitude toward himself and others quickly changed. When I saw improvement in his confidence, I asked him to take the next step.

Step Number Three: Get Busy/Take Actions

When you build up your mental strength and feel emotionally stronger, it’s time to take action.

There is nothing more important than taking deliberate and conscious action to keep your attention focused on your goal.

As homework I asked Allan to do three things in the next seven days:

  • Firstly, his task was to ask his mother if she was proud of him.
  • Secondly, to approach his boss with a request to give him more creative projects.
  • Thirdly, to establish contact with at least one co-worker and invite him for coffee.

A week later Allan reported to me with enthusiasm his accomplishments. His mother said that she was proud of him and was surprised that Allan could doubt that. YAY! His negative thoughts about his mom proved to be wrong! We need to remember that worrying is most often just a waste of time.
As a successful client, Allan kept in mind how just how little of what he feared would ever really happen: in fact, 98% of our worries never come true!

Another good news was that Allan was finally able to speak to his boss. “He was not super helpful or promising, but at least he did not refuse me and that he needed to think about suitable projects for my level,” Allan told me. “I am happy I tried, even though I don’t hear the answers I want, at least I feel stronger just because I spoke up.” He added. How often without even trying we give up because we are afraid to get hurt by rejection. Most of the time, people are not as horrible as we picture them in our heads, and we have more chances to get a “yes” than we think.

Allan connected with one of the young civil engineers in the office, and they planned to have lunch with him early next week. Another small success! Even when we start taking tiny steps and claim our power, the higher the force, the Universe, our God notices our efforts and the solutions we seek to come to us. When the solutions and opportunities start showing up in our lives, we need to be mentally-, physically- and emotionally-ready to implement and act upon those solutions.

Allan and I did some more work, and he started to feel more confident in himself and his abilities. The key to his success (and to the success of my other clients) is a day-to-day repetition of positive, affirmative thoughts followed by actions, even they are only small actions. When positive thoughts are practiced to the point of becoming habitual, they lead to more constant and consistent happier emotions and to productive actions. It was fascinating and affirming to observe how the discipline of daily repetition of positive thoughts literally changed Allan’s body chemistry, his level of energy and overall outlook on life!
In turn, his new energy level affected everything he did, and Allan started feeling more in touch with imminent vision, and now had more energy to follow his dreams. I notice something similar to a ripple effect on my clients, who started focusing on fixing at least one area of their life. Then, the entire process of deliberate and focused action-taking became synergistic, while other areas of life improved miraculously.

In which area of your life do you feel stuck today? What steps can you take today to start getting unstuck, my friend?

With Love,

Joyful old woman and granddaughter are ready to cook together

Grandmother’s Love and a Child’s Ticket to Success

Good day my Wonderful Friend!

 

When I was six years old, one of the most favorite things for me was to spend time with the elders in my neighborhood. I loved their wise stories. Unfortunately, in the little town where I grew up, we did not have community centers for elders, and I really wanted to make them happy. Together with the other kids on the block, we decided to organize weekly concerts for the neighborhood elders. I lived with my grandmother on the ground floor, and we used my balcony as a stage. We would handwrite the invitation tickets for each concert, organize and rehearse dances, read poems, and create other entertainment presentations for the shows. For us little kids, and the elderly spectators, those weekly concerts were our summer’s highlights!

One day that felt like the unluckiest day for a 6-year old me, a nurse in my school found lice in my hair. To my dismay, 45 years ago in Kazakhstan, we did not have a medical remedy to get rid of those damn hair insects. My auntie, who picked me up from school took me straight to a barber, who skillfully used a shaving machine to fix the lice problem! I remember looking down and watching my beautiful long curls falling on the floor and in less than 10 minutes, I was walking home with a shiny, bald head. All I was thinking about was a concert in two days and how I would handle the role of the Master of Ceremony and a leading actress with my new, not so attractive image!!!! To make things worse, my aunt brought from a trip a pair of beautiful ribbons with red polka dots. I was looking at them with tears streaming down my cheeks and a feeling of total despair. My chubby, cute grandmother who was raising me, gave me her usual warm hug and said: “People will always love to see you perform with or without the hair. You entertain them with so much love! Plus, you are still beautiful.” I did not believe my grandma at first, but then I saw in her eyes so much genuine love and admiration. Her words cleared my initial thoughts to cancel the program. On the day of the concert, I brought her my ribbons and asked her to tie them up. She looked at me with astonishment and asked: “Where should I tie them?”

“My ears,” I answered with determination. These ribbons will make me more beautiful!’

My grandmother followed my instructions, then looked at me with a big smile and told me that I looked absolutely stunning!

So, here I am a 6-year-old girl with a bald head, red polka dot ribbons tied around her ears, announcing other children’s presentations, dancing and entertaining everyone. As soon as the concert started, that little girl completely forgot about the lost curly, beautiful hair and the pain from her throbbing red ears due to the tightly tied red ribbons that were stopping blood flow!

I still think that on that day, I had the most successful performance of my life and the most number of people laughing with or at me! I felt that unshakable happiness to do what I loved doing despite the loss of my hair and the fact that by the end of the concert my ears turned dark purple!

My dream was to make people happy. My wish was to make a difference. I did not know how to do it. I always wanted to make people smile, laugh and find joy. Today, I can say that my dream did come true.  I live with purpose and a lot of love in my heart…My grandmother had only four grades of school and could not even write. With no education, and with a huge amount of love in her heart, she always managed to convince me that my performances were fantastic and that I looked beautiful regardless of my baldness. That unshakable faith in me was my ticket to success.

Do you have or know of children in your life to show your unshakable faith and love to?

Is there a kid in your life to whom you can give the ticket to growing life confidence right now?

If you do have children, start displaying your respect and admiration to them. Trust me, it doesn’t take too much, but if you choose to stay committed to the process and show them your support and greater emotional availability, soon enough you can change your child’s level of self-esteem and sense of well-being.

With unconditional love, consistent belief in your children’s uniqueness, continuous and conscious efforts to speak positively to and about your children, you will have the power to positively affect the way your children show up to face life’s biggest challenges.   

With Love,

Senior woman doing stretching exercise on the beach

Getting Healthier and Stronger at Any Age

Good day my Wonderful Friend!

 

Today, I want to share with you a story about my Star client who knows the secret of achieving any goal. We often like to talk about the achievements of young or middle-aged people, but often forget to share inspiring stories about the elders. Yes, they lived more years, and they have seen more and done more, and sometimes they lack energy and motivation to be more active or to improve their health. The good thing that they are still with us and we can help them to bring back their own inner power and feel more energy to stay healthier and prolong their lives. There is no doubt that alife of good quality and healthy habits will allow elderly people to connect with family, to have more fun and joyful time, and to continue to be active contributors to the society.

Today, I have prepared a story about an elderly woman who achieved her fitness goals (despite her age) and has become a great role model for others.  Get yourself a fresh cup of tea and allow yourself to relax for the next few minutes and enjoy your reading. It’s a story time just for you to get inspired now, and to encourage others later on:

In 2015, I was coaching a lady by the name, Hamda: a 64-year-old widow with four grown-up children.  Hamda came to me for help with anxiety related to her health issues, as well as wanting to reduce her weight.  Usually, during the first session, I recommend a very effective technique that has worked with most of my clients in the past. I explained to her the concept of positive affirmations and that repeatedly seeing, reading and writing positive affirmations of how she wants to feel, act and look like in the future can affect the subconscious mind to such a degree that it slowly starts transforming the body to align itself with healthy thoughts. Some clients are skeptical at the beginning of coaching about the incredible power of affirmations until they try them and see the results.

The next day after the session Hamda started reading and writing her statements in her language ten times a day. I also suggested to write down the affirmations with a bright marker on a colorful paper and post it in the places that she spends most of her time; these are the affirmations that she was reading daily: “At any age, I choose to feel younger, stronger and healthier! When my energy is low, I know that it is temporary and I can continue to exercise to feel better! I can be happy, energetic and fit at any age! I have what it takes to renew my body and to achieve my ultimate health goals.  I take full responsibility for my health and for my happiness! My past failures, pain, and worry remain in the past because they belong in the past! I enjoy the process of creating my bright future! I understand and listen to my body, I exercise daily, I eat healthy food, I maintain healthy lifestyle habits. I have enough energy, will power, time and resources to achieve the results I want!”

Hamda started reading and writing the affirmations right after waking up and before going to bed.  She posted them in her bathroom and bedroom.  Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do. Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do.

Even though Hamda had issues with her weight and worried a lot, she still had the energy to run a successful family business.  Hamda had a close relationship with her children. When her husband died from a heart attack, Hamda sold his business and opened a perfume boutique, something she had always wanted to do.

During one of our initial sessions she was sharing with me:

“My business was rapidly growing, and my body was growing at the same speed. I do not understand why my mind is still so clear and fast, but my body is so heavy and lazy. I am out of breath after climbing two flights of stairs. I feel I’ve lost control over my body, my heart hurts sometimes, and I am scared to die early, like my husband. I have so much to do, my family and my business need me.  I have gained seventeen kilograms in five years since I started my business. I have energy and willpower to run three branches of my business and zero will power to take care of my body.”

Hamda had two main issues: she loved food, and she didn’t move much. Especially at the end of a long and tiring day, her will power would be so weak, and she would eat late and a lot.  We both agreed that she needed to commit by showing some actions toward a healthier life. Together, we developed a program for Hamda, where she chose the activities that she wanted to try out: it was yoga and evening walks outside. The research shows that empowering elders profoundly affects their motivation and that we need to involve seniors in planning, selecting, and evaluating their own physical activity program. It is important to let them make their own choices. Hamda’s daughter, Sarah, hired a personal yoga trainer and started doing gentle yoga exercises with her mother two sessions per week. They were holding each other responsible and tried not to miss a single meeting.  Four times a week Hamda started walking with her two grandchildren starting with thirty minutes a day. Hamda’s older son Saeed bought his mom a fitness tracker FIT BIT with a simple screen to show the number of steps she took a day. This gift certainly helped Saeed’s mom to stay focused on her goal.  After three months, she increased her walks to one hour per day. Later on, Hamda met other women of her age walking in the same park and continued walking with a group of regular walkers. After the first package of ten private sessions of yoga was completed, Hamda decided to do yoga two times a week and shared with me that she started feeling sensations in her own body and gaining a better sense of balance. She once called me and shared with excitement in her voice:

“You know Gulnara, it looks like I was disconnected with my own body for so many years…We are taking it slow with my yoga trainer, but I feel alive again.  You know, I am so surprised… I have never thought that at my age I can do with my body what my trainer is pushing me to do.”

You probably wonder, dear readers, what factors of motivation helped Hamda to stick to the program and achieve desired results?

Firstly, she was open to my suggestions but actively participated in choosing her own favorite activities and the frequency of her sessions. Secondly, she had a clear goal to reduce her weight by 17 kilos. Thirdly, Hamda was prepared to invest her time, money and energy to her goal and was ready to pay the price for feeling and looking healthier. And the last and fundamental reason behind her success was support from her loving family!

At first, she started with food. Hamda impressed me with her discipline with the food quality she started eating, and the size of her portions was much smaller! Hamda found a great and fun yoga trainer, who was passionate about helping people. With time, Hamda bonded with her trainer and was looking forward to every next session. By walking with her grandkids, Hamda had time to talk to listen to their stories.  Later on, she connected with a support group of other walking ladies. Once Hamda said to me

“When I think of my childhood, growing up we didn’t have the opportunity to attend sports clubs, gyms or walking tracks. It was a land of the sandy desert surrounded by the ocean with extremely hot weather outside…and no facilities, but Allhamdullilah people were very active and moving a lot back then. Nowadays, new generations, mashallah, have everything.”

The most beautiful thing about Hamda was that she felt young at heart and was not afraid to try, to take a risk and push herself.  After four months of our coaching program, Hamda showed me the notebook where I was giving her the home assignments and the list of affirmations that she was reading out loud daily in her own language. I was impressed to see how neatly she wrote down her thoughts about her activities and her progress after our sessions. I did not understand a single word, because I cannot read her language, but I saw a sense of pride and self-confidence in Hamda’s eyes when she was showing me her notes. Hamda was disciplined, but not too hard on herself; she was committed and celebrated small wins. She had to push herself, but she did not focus on the goal so much. She really enjoyed her activities and the whole process of doing something great for herself. After our program, she reported that she had more energy to go on with daily tasks and felt much lighter, less worried and more energetic. Even though the metabolism of older people slows down and makes it harder to lose weight, by eating healthier and exercising Hamda fixed her metabolism rate and has become best friends with her own body. She lost five kilograms and planned to continue her journey to a stronger and healthier body (and more fun and active lifestyle).  Hamda is my Star-client, a great role model for others. I was privileged to be a part of her positive change.

We all have people in our lives who are growing older, and perhaps they wish to be more active and happier, but many of them have a hard time finding that energy because of their age.  How can we shift our focus from cure to prevention?  How can we help them to strengthen their health instead of focusing on curing the illnesses?

How can we show our elders that they have the power to make that positive change by shifting their negative thinking and believing in themselves at any age? Initially, it may require a great deal of energy and efforts from adult children, family members, and health care provides to empower the elderly.  We can do so much when we have power ourselves to support the generations before us with patience and to enter their vulnerable, yet the beautiful inner world, filled with joy, pain, past stories, and future hopes. 

Do you have an aging person in your life who you can help? Be careful to mind your energy stores so that you can function effectively while still being able to be strong for someone you love.

With Love,

tulipesbouquet

Show the World How to Make you Happy

Good day, my Wonderful Friend!

 

I was walking by the flower shop a few days ago and saw beautiful tulips of different colors. I stopped and stepped closer towards the bucket of fresh pink tulips. I felt that they were calling my name: “Hey Gulnara, come closer, smell me, bring me home with you, I know you love beauty, I promise to draw even more beauty into your life and uplift your spirit every time you glance at me” – whispered one pale pink tulip, sticking out tall from the bucket.

A few minutes later I was walking home with a bouquet of pink tulips wrapped in brown craft paper in hand. As I was trimming the stems and placing the flowers into a vase, I was overwhelmed with happiness. I began to think about all the years I have been walking by flower shops, with different flowers calling me each time. Sometimes they were roses, other times daisies or peonies. I would walk by with a hope in my heart that someone else, someday, would bring or send me such beautiful flowers, either as an expression of love or merely knowing that they would bring me happiness and joy.

A few years ago I was passing by a flower shop and at this time it was yellow roses that were calling for me. That day I decided to stop waiting and hoping that someone else would bring me flowers, and instead bought them for myself. That day I was able to show myself self-love by taking action.

I remember loving flowers ever since I was a little girl, and today flowers continue to be the first thing I notice wherever I go. As I reflect on this, I find myself asking: “Why couldn’t I buy them for myself before?” Perhaps I was so preoccupied with seeking love from others as opposed to connecting to the love within myself. I thought that if people loved me, they would know what I liked and want to give that to me. What I forgot, however, is that one of the most important people to show me LOVE is actually ME.

You may have heard the saying, “love is a verb, not a noun.” Without love being active it loses its significance and power. With this in mind, I have a question for you: If love is an action, then how many small or significant acts do you take daily to show yourself love and appreciation?

The day I bought myself yellow roses, was the day I first SHOWED myself that I deserve to be loved and to be surrounded by beauty. Now, if flowers call upon me in the flower shop, I no longer walk away hoping that someone else will bring them to me. Instead, I take it upon myself to buy them. Sometimes I’ll choose to buy a big glamorous bouquet and other times a small and simple bunch of wildflowers. There are even days that I buy myself just a single flower. It’s not the number of flowers or the grandness of the bouquet that makes me happy, it’s the fact that I take action to buy them for myself and enrich my life with natural beauty. I choose to be active, and not passive, in my expression of self-love.

If you love flowers, go get them for yourself. We often use flowers for celebratory purposes and wait for others to give them to us. However, we don’t always need a particular reason to have flowers – embrace your love for flowers, or whatever it is for you that brings you joy.

No matter how challenging or puzzling your life might seem to you right now, please know that it isn’t permanent. Throughout it all, you deserve to celebrate YOU! Explore yourself, get to know what you love and find a way to give it to yourself, be it a flower, a book, a dinner, or a course that you always wanted to take. You are responsible for discovering your authentic desires and needs, the things that fulfill you and make you stronger.

We teach people how to love us. When you show the world what you love by giving it to yourself, there is a very high chance that the world will follow your example and start showing you more love and appreciation as well.

With Love,

Conceptual yoga hands in morning sunlight.

Focus on Your Inner Power

Good day my Wonderful Friend!

 

There is one important thing that I have realized after many years of coaching, counseling, researching and writing for and about women. I have come to the conclusion that we become connected to the beautiful flow of life only when have obtained inner power, and a strong sense of self-acceptance. We start feeling connected with this unstoppable force that people call God, the Universe, the macrocosm, and that we start feeling aligned with and supported by everything around us. When we find that sense of connection, we no longer feel lonely, detached or isolated.

When we do find inner power, we can interact with the world from a place of strength, joy, and mental and emotional generosity. I hope that my inspirational writing will help you to feel happier, more liberated and stronger in order to give the world around you your best talents, skills, and your incredible presence when you spread the inner light wherever you go….

I always find it helpful to focus on inner power, cultivate it, and continue building it even when I feel having so little energy left to move forward. This worked for me, even though it took me some time to build my strength.

Spend time understanding yourself, what makes you happy and what you really want. Do not waste your time explaining yourself to people who have already made up their minds about you. You have two choices here.

Choice # 1: you might choose to move on and remove yourself from the company of those toxic, unsupportive or jealous people.

Choice # 2 is for the people you cannot remove from your life (i.e., family members).

The only way to change their minds about you is not by explaining yourself and your behavior, but by living your dreams and reaching your highest potential, even if it takes longer than you might want. Make sure to follow your dreams and desires for YOU and not for anyone else, and don’t forget to have fun in the process!

Do you want to spend your wonderful life trying so hard to please others or to convince them that you are worthy of love? You know, we humans all have different journeys in life. Unfortunately, some people are not ready to change, they feel stuck and self-critical; therefore they criticize you.  Some people have a notorious tendency to judge others, for the same reason – they judge others because they continuously judge themselves. Anyway, arguing with them or trying to changing their minds about you is just going to be a waste of your valuable time.

What is the best thing to do? Just let them be and wish them well, perhaps these individuals are at the stage of life where they are not ready to grow or better themselves, at least at this point of their life. Respect their pace of growth and life choices. Focus on YOU, your vision and your actions. Concentrate on things you can control, and make a conscious commitment to follow your dreams and goals, in order to reach the peak of your potential.

Trust me, I wasn’t always smart and wise, and there were times when I made mistakes by doing the wrong things or focusing on unimportant stuff. I could not find any energy to move forward. The best motivation that pushed my change was not the desire to prove myself to people (who I thought disapproved of me or rejected me). The best motivation came from a focus on a burning passion in my heart to do something meaningful, something that was within my personal power, own agency and skill set.

I have a few questions for you, my friend:

Question # 1: What can you be passionate about for an unusually long time, something that you know you won’t lose interest in?

Question # 2: What value can you bring to people around you and prosper while offering your unique skills?

(Many years of coaching and observing happy people helped me realize that doing what you love and sharing your gifts with people will help you to expand yourself, your mind and your soul).

Question # 3: How can you gain more energy to leap into something new and exciting?

Like an athlete that prepares for an Olympic final, you will need to train your mind and your heart to build your energy RESERVE, my friend.

What would be the first steps to increase and maintain your energy RESERVE?

  1. Remove from your daily routine things that deplete your energy.
  2. Explore what makes you strong and introduce routines/habits/activities that increase your energy.
  3. Stay away from judging or blaming others–this is a waste of your energy.
  4. Re-focus your attention from changing the external world into your personal transformation and consistent growth.
  5. Encourage yourself to take risks and take actions towards your dreams, even if your risks are small and your goals are baby-goals.

This approach is much more authentic, healthy and liberating than trying to prove yourself to others. You focus on YOU and what YOU can do, end of the sentence. It’s OK to ask others for help, but this is your journey, and you need to start walking it. The Universe – in the form of helpful people and favorable life circumstances – will meet you in the middle, but you have to start somewhere by YOURSELF.

One more thing, my dear, please switch off that harsh voice of your inner critic and write down all the things that you feel happy doing. Try to remember all the times when people complimented you on your unique skills, and when they praised you on specific quality. List all those compliments down, reflect upon them, find patterns and consistency in what brings you the most satisfaction and joy.

When you finally switch off the voice of the inner critic, focus on what you love doing and concentrate on developing your talent, you will obtain clarity and power to bring your unique gift to the world. When you keep focusing on your inner strength, you will begin to feel more powerful.

I am sure that you do have what it takes to find your path. Just believe in yourself more each and every day.  I have a feeling that very soon you will find the path that will lead you to a fulfilling life when every single morning you will wake up with a smile on your face and a deep sense of purpose.

I am sending you my light and warmest wishes for this prosperous year ahead!

With Love,