Joy

  • Feel more joy every day

    You might say joy is my favourite emotion and well, you might be spot on. I have a simple practice that is my shortcut in decisions about next steps, opportunities and relationships at home or at work. I ask myself “will this bring me more joy? I’ve even written about #joymakers in previous blogs.

    Joy is an emotion we can feel utterly spontaneously with no forethought as well as one which we can create and grow intentionally. Today, I’m going to look at what is joy, the positive impacts it has on us and how you can create more.

    There are many definitions of joy – some relate it to a spiritual connection or a sense of deep satisfaction. For me, it is an internally derived emotion, combining acceptance, surrender, happiness and contentment in alignment with my values and intentions. Joy tends to stem from purpose or progression, making it different for each of us.

    Its effects are often longer standing than the moment it is triggered by and can be recalled in both physically and mentally, through our 5 senses like the cold creaminess of ice cream on your tongue, the passion in a singer’s voice or a resonating quote or story in your social media feed, as well as through an intimate sensual connection with another person, a mediation with Source or crossing off a milestone towards a bigger ambition. 

    Joy speaks from our needs to being met in the choices we make about our wellbeing, our pursuits and the people we surround ourselves with. Finding cavolo nero and fresh salmon at the supermarket, seeing a dear friend and sound baths bring me joy that derives from my physical, relational, psychological and spiritual needs being able to prioritise and actively meet my needs.

    I often ask my clients, “how does this create joy for you?” and it can be hard to answer. If you’ve been hiding a part of your true self away or living or working in fear of judgement or rejection, discovering and feeling joy can be harder.

    Being out of alignment with yourself limits the joy you experience and that which you do comes from a place of less self-acceptance, possibly creating a side order of shame or guilt. 

    Aligning life, work and love towards values and principles that promote joy impacts your mental and physical wellbeing. From a neurochemistry perspective, joy releases dopamine and serotonin, allowing us to register joy in our brain. They then flow through our bodies, elevating our breathing rate, making us feel flushed or warmer, our mouths might water and our smooth muscles relax (that’s why your tummy gurgles when you feel good).

    Our mental wellness improves with sharper thinking and greater use of intuition as we enter our “flow state” of being and doing – when the challenge of what we face and our ability to handle it come together in a wonderful balance. In education, sports or the workplace, joy’s effect is to improve engagement, motivation and performance.

    Research has also demonstrated people who feel more joy in their day to day experiences, live longer with improved immune systems, enjoy more satisfying intimate relationships and have more self-belief, -acceptance and -confidence.

    So how can we say yes to joy? I think there are three aspects you can leverage to build more joy in your life, work and love.

    It starts with you. Deeply connecting into who you are and I mean who you really are – in all the corners, brightly lit and often avoided, in your highs and lows, and in the parts you love and those you have yet to come to terms with – gives you the ability to open yourself up to an abundance of joy. Then learning and leaning into your values and principles whilst respecting your personal needs, helps to transform your approach and decision making to align to your brilliance. Together, these develop your platform for a joy fuelled life – in all aspects.

    From your platform for joy, you can actively shift your thinking, doing and being into alignment. By opening to Source (God, Universe, Mother Nature, whatever you call yours), practising self-connection and gratitude, and intentional incorporating your true self in your life, work and love,  you train your joy spotting muscles to recognise what is a #joymaker or a #joytaker.

    Leveraging your soft power through the Powertypes provides you with the mindset and mechanism to protect your boundaries and values, ask for what you need and build the community around your hearth and in your realm.

    This is what my coaching clients rediscover, reignite and reveal by working with me. This powerfully meaningful work brings me so much joy.

     

    If you’re reading this, wondering where you might start, here are some suggestions:

    • – ask yourself “does this create joy for me?” often, when weighing up your options or reflecting on your experiences. What you learn, will help you say yes to more of the #joymakers than #joytakers
    • – practise small daily #joymakers by actively scheduling them into your diary: a favourite food, a moment of mediation, meaningfully connecting with a loved one
    • – note down every time joy pops up for you: big, small, free, expensive, alone or with others. Use it to replenish and top up in the tough times

    Curious about other ways to access more ways to say yes to joy? Search in the box above for joy and it pops up a lot 🤗

    If you’re curious about what coaching with me could do for you, drop me an email (sarae@saraepratt.com) and let’s talk!

  • July Shares

    July is the month of dog days – the hottest days of summer. Historically, they were considered to be an unlucky period, when local dogs were more likely to fight, unexpected thunderstorms came and went, and the combination of heat and lack of rains made crops and their farmers suffer.

    Can you recognise that sensation? A heady mix of uncertainty, out of control, lots of important things to take care of plus overly hot nights meaning extra tiredness and heavy heads.

    This month’s I want to talk about emotions, recognising them, allowing ourselves to feel them, and stepping through them with a few helping hands.

    INSIGHT

    Have you ever been told to leave your emotions “at the door”, or to “get a grip” or even to “suck it up”? Yep, I have too. Compartmentalising emotions, locking them away for later, can be seen as the done thing to do at work and in family or personal situations.

    Yet we find ourselves at a time where skills in emotional intelligence and resilience are valued more and more. Where medical experts are seeing the impacts of unprocessed or repeated emotional experiences on our physical and mental health. Where workplaces are finally addressing the emotional impacts of grief and loss, as being more than the standard 3 days leave and introducing miscarriage policies for mums and dads.

    How do we show up authentically, with our emotion needs fully met?

    When we get hurt physically, we know to clean the wound, disinfect it, dress it and pay attention to it, until it heals – simple first aid practices, right? No one would think twice about you doing just that for a cut. Yet, it’s not uncommon that we brush off emotional hurts or discomfort – perhaps it might be embarrassing, shameful or “just not what we do in our family”. 

    Whilst some forms of emotional pain require formal therapy, we can all practice daily emotional hygiene. They clear the negative and make space for the positive emotions. Here’s some ideas to consider:

    • 1) Recognise and acknowledge your emotions – you might find using an emotions wheel a helpful prompt to effective articule what you are feeling.
    • 2) Listen to your body – so often we get physical accompaniments to our emotions: tense shoulders, joint aches or funny tummies. Pay attention and ask yourself what is behind this sensation?
    • 3) Be compassionate towards yourself and replenish. Do something that makes you feel better.
    • 4) Don’t ruminate – distract yourself with uplifting things: a kitchen boogie, get outside, bake a cake for someone else, call a friend
    • 5) Move your body – release some happy hormones to trick your brain into feeling better. Exercise is a proven pick me up – whether full on sweaty workout or a short gentle stroll. 
    • 6) Seek the lessons and learnings that can take you forward, rather than the stinging nettles to shame or guilt yourself with.

    Take a moment, looking back over the last week or so how have your emotions impacted your behaviour, your mood and your reactions or decisions?

    I know for me facing my emotions takes courage – to look at the big hurts, significant losses and especially the places where I feel I let myself down, in my choices, reactions or behaviours.

    For me, it seems like three types of courage is needed.

    First, the bravery to recognise we have emotions which we are repressing and causing us to not be at our best. Taking a step to change our relationship with our emotions and find ways to sustain our mental wellness can feel daunting or overwhelming. A helping hand from a coach, Mental Health First Aider, GP or Therapist can all provide you with ways to achieve 

    Then we need the guts to meet our emotions face to face and dig into them, knowing that this is going to be hard in the moment – it might stir up long forgotten moments, shake up our moods or sleep for a few days each time we dive in and further emotions may surface. Ones which we’re ashamed to share or we fear being judged for. Any professional practitioner will hold you in reassuring confidence and with compassion, not judgement.

    Lastly, we need a dose of daring to embed the wisdom and learnings into what and where we go next, as well as with who. Most often at this stage, I hear anxieties about what will people make of this “totally different new me”? Then they try new behaviours, like holding boundaries with others or making career or life decisions to affirm their values, rather than diminish them, and anyone who truly cares is simply overjoyed for them.

    Which stage do you need courage for? How will you find it?

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    We have the choice to make emotional hygiene parts of our day to day, or not. We have the choice to seek professional help, or not. We have the choice to stick with our unprocessed ugliest emotions and keep sitting on them.

    When you’ve had enough of their impacts, when you’re sick of their pervasive interference in many parts of life, when you’re exhausted having to hold them in, please take a small step to resolve them.

    One of my favourite experts in this space, Annie Stoker uses a lovely metaphor for this. She describes it as trying keep everything happening and trying to hold a beach ball under the surface of a pool – the ball keeps trying to pop up to the surface and it reacts to the waves and the wind.

    You can keep your hands on the ball, but its gets slippery and unpredictable. Then when you least expect or at a super inconvenient time, your grip will fail. Pop! Up that beach ball comes…….

    Being able to tune into your emotions with ease is a skills developed through reflective practices, such as dynamic mediations, embodiment work and journaling.

    Each of these allows us to safely peel away the layers to uncover what we’re feeling, where are you feeling it, what triggered these sensations and also the meanings you’re giving to it. Then once we’ve gained space to breathe and for our brains a chance to step back from the fight, flight, freeze or fawn response, we can beginning to connect with our inner wisdom to find new ways forward.

    Connection might look like surrendering to our Sorceress powertype’s insights or bringing out Lover’s self care or wrapping ourselves up in Mother’s unconditional nurturing. It could also include focusing on alignment with Queen’s vision for ourselves or our realm or firing up our feisty Warrioress to defend our needs.

    How well do you know your Powertypes? Can you access them with easy, stepping into full embodiment to create synergy between your emotions, your thoughts and your physical actions? How can you enhance your access this month?

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    I should point out not all emotions are negative. Joy, the inner appreciation of our  life’s uplifting moments, is not to be forgotten!

    For me, it’s different to happiness, an externally manifested sense of contentment and pleasure. It can contribute to feeling joy, alongside others elements like gratitude, beauty, good fortune, or satisfaction with life.

    With so many things that can contribute to feeling joy, it can be hard to feel. We might feel ashamed, guilty or even that our “definition” of joy isn’t in tune with others.

    We sabotage our joy with comparison with others and judgement of our worthiness to experience such an emotion. 

    What I do know is the power of feeling joy in self acceptance and self trust is not to be underestimates. Similarly, the skill to bring joy into your life, your work, your family and friends or your communities makes a significant impact on a sense of belonging and being valued.

    So next time, joy pops up, ask yourself two eye opening questions:

    • 1) What other emotions is joy evoking right now and why?
    • 2) How can I create more of this and share it with others?

    And that’s your opener for July Shares – emotions. Love them. Hate them. Part of the human condition is having them – goods ones and tough ones.

    Over the remaining Mondays, I’ll be focusing in on different elements of understanding, learning and tackling emotions. If there is a particular angle, theme or challenge you’d like me to write about, drop me a message (sarae@saraepratt.com)

  • Summer Solstice and new beginnings

    June 21st is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It is a time where we move officially into sunshine, warmer days and a time of wealth in nature. There are many celebrations of Midsummer and it is often seen as a time for new beginnings, manifesting, expressing gratitude and welcoming in abundance.

    This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.

    Margaret Atwood

    I invite you to take a moment outside to feel a little sunshine on your face and bring your focus to your breathing, slowing down and drawing it deep into your ribs. Close your eyes and reflect on what 2021 has brought you with gratitude. Then invite in thoughts, ideas and desires for the rest of the year. You may like to face south, towards the summer sun or to light a candle.

    With a focus on welcoming in new beginnings to your life, I’d like to share two more invites with you today. Will you RSVP?

    One of the shifts I’m making is within my work – I’m inviting in two different ways of working with me. I’ve taken time to consult those I’ve been working with, to investigate the things I do that really make a difference. 

    A difference in the moment and also in supporting long term sustainable change in my clients’ lives – in all contexts – and also in their wellbeing and outlook on the future. Coaching allows us to look backwards and learn from it in the present, then apply that wisdom to our futures.

    Clients who are drawn to me are professional women, working within complex, challenging industries, which are traditionally male dominated. For example, I’ve work with engineers, finance directors, innovation experts, consultants and senior professionals in transport, education and media sectors. A common theme is a sense of having the “play the game” and keep a part of them hidden in order to “better” fit in. This is usually accompanied by a sense of ongoing exhaustion and joy coming from pleasing others (or even not displeasing others).

    As we worked together, this changes. They start to physically look more radiant, shoulders drop and smile shine out. They feel lighter and more vital each day, as well as powerful and resilient to naysayers and society’s expectations of them. They live and work in alignment and authenticity.

    My new beta one to one coaching programme speaks to this – I’ve taken all of my coaching and development education and expertise to shape an experience where you come home to your true authentic self, where you develop greater self-acceptance, self-worth and self-esteem. You will be able to forgive and feel compassion to yourself for what has come before. Together, we’ll remove your blocks and enable you to step into your brilliance.

    You’ll reconnect with your intuition and your body compass, whilst leaning into your values, boundaries and guiding principles. Guilt and shame will fade away, as trust and faith in your inner wisdom and judgement increase. You’ll clarify your vision and who you need to enable you to achieve it – at home, at work and in play. – as you leverage your motivated talents.

    Want in at a vastly discounted rate? This is the cheapest option to work with me ever for one to one coaching plus you’ll get a One of many® Women’s Powertype Assessment and set of Powertype cards to keep. Drop me an email here sarae@saraepratt.com and let’s talk soon!

    The second way in which I’m expanding my work is with businesses, who are recognising traditional learning opportunities don’t address the full spectrum of challenges women face in the workplace and want to offer something that does. I’m offering in-house programmes (both one to one and group options) and also keynotes and workshops for women’s forums, networks and ERGs.

    What I do is partner with organisers to align with strategic ambitions and current needs, whilst providing engaging, thought provoking, empowering sessions. Popular themes that I’ve been asked to share on include 

    • – being effective at work and home
    • – from exhausted striving to joy fuelled thriving
    • – rewiring our female brains for greater success
    • – connection is the answer to thriving in and out of the workplace
    • – communication with the masculine

    Drop me a line to learn more or introduce me to the team coordinating your events.

    I’m also welcoming in an abundance of collaborations with other wonderful people: consulting, leadership and innovation skills programmes for a start-up, career development with business schools and law firms plus two more qualifications I’m hoping to pass!

    The final piece of abundance I’d like to welcome in is a continuation of vaccine rollouts around the world and a return to more travel opportunities to catch up with friends and family. I can’t wait to see you all!

    I invite you to go back to your gratitude and abundance solstice wishes – if you are looking to feel a completeness in who you are in all aspects of your life, an aligned authenticity and more joy makers, please do RSVP to sarae@saraepratt.com and become a beta tester of my transformational programme.

  • June Shares

    We’ve begun to enjoy many new beginnings in the last few weeks – vaccination rollouts on track, gentle easing of restrictions moving cautiously ahead and the ability to connect with loved ones further afield is a much-awaited joy.

    There are calls for swifter progressions in unlocking, alongside more prudent voices to pace ourselves. I’m reminded of conversations I have with organisations and with coachees about their own journeys into their own new beginnings.

    Welcome to June’s theme, New Beginnings.

    INSIGHT

    Evolution or revolution. 

    A cry for incremental careful steps towards a goal or significant, perhaps even radical change.

    Both can have their place and their successes. Both can fail. 

    There is no one size fits all approach to organisational or personal development and transformation. I know this from my professional experience and my personal path from starting out as an engineer to today as a people development specialist, from a damaged good girl to a healing emboldened woman.

    Yet so often I’m asked for an off the shelf programme or workshop. Why? We like certainty, it calms our brain’s worries, it provides an anchor to hold tight to and it gives clarity about what next. For organisations, there is a perceived certainty in the ROI if someone else already tried it and got results.

    Whilst my Realise coaching programme has a number of elements that all coachees and I work through, and I have a large kitbag of tools and techniques learnt over the years, I believe it is successful because together we co-create their path to realising a future where they can confidently and comfortably bring their whole selves to life, love and work.

    I prefer to take a similar approach with corporate work, especially when they are anxious to deliver excellence for their employees and their customers. A bespoke presentation or workshop always meets, if not exceeds, repetitive generic content.

    For some, it is an evolution across the sessions or workshops I facilitate. For others, revolutions are in order. 

    Asian girl looking at camera with pale rainbow overhead in a grey sky

    Regardless of your path’s evolutionary or revolutionary nature, taking a step needs a dose of bravery and determination. 

    We practice it each day – mostly without awareness that we are courageous. In tiny steps in the things we do, how we feel and what we believe about ourselves. It’s what enables us to keep going – even when we feel stuck or like we’re treading water going round and round.

    It is how we start our new beginnings and how we navigate through the ups and downs. We need to connect with our why, the inner wisdom we have as we make each step especially the ones that take us off track.

    How do you get in touch with your courage? I work with the Sorceress Powertype to enhance our connection to our courage – from journaling and mediation to breathwork and creating a “why” statement as the meaning we want to hold and feel in the moment.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    New beginnings are a choice. Most of the time.

    Some are forced upon us due to external circumstances – hello Covid and your difficult impacts; furlough, sickness, loss and more.

    Similarly, some are driven by a desire to get away from a bad circumstance or person. Others by hopes and dreams of a different, brighter future.

    We can choose the meaning and motivation we wish to carry forward. Our Inner Critic likes to chime in with her thoughts around about now – and there is wisdom held in them. She seeks to protect us from hurt, shame, embarrassment or judgement; her tone and words often sting at first. 

    One tool I use with clients to help them assess their meaning and motivation is the In or Out list – very simply put: grab a piece of paper, fold it in half longways and mark one side “I’m in” and the other side “I’m out”. Then jot down as many answers as you can. Push through at least two blank spots.

    Go broad, wide, deep, random, crazy…. Wherever you need to tap into to generate the fullest list you can. Then summon your courage and decide on the meaning and motivation of your new beginning.

    Outstretch open palm with rainbow light across it

    One of the potentially most challenging parts of new beginnings is looking at the people around us. Whilst many will support and cheer us on, some may need to fade away or are yet to be found. 

    Two of the challenges I come across are when important people to us can’t get on board with us. Family, cultural, societal and religious expectations or norms can create real tension when we stop hiding and choose a life as our whole authentic self. These are often deeply held and can create pain on all sides. 

    The second is finding your “tribe” – the people you’ve yet to meet who can help you, as role models, with advice and hindsight or simply walk with you as your new beginning becomes fully embodied. 

    But to recap, many people will stick with you – some may even surprise you by sharing their own journeys that you were unaware of. Be grateful for those you’ve got and ask Source to deliver the right people to you. I’m always amazed when I do this with an open heart, how often they pop up out of the blue.

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Whether your approach is evolution and revolution, new beginnings can help us create more opportunities to experience.

    By honouring our needs and respecting our values, we build a vision and the strengths to take action in creating a brighter future. By bringing our whole true self to every aspect of our lives, we realise greater joy. 

    Each step into our new reality enhances our insights, grows our courage, emboldening our liberty and creating stronger, more resilient connections with our tribes…….for even more joy.

    When the going gets challenging, feels painful or you don’t know exactly what comes next, find one small action and keep the circle of energy going.

    REdheaded woman with wisps of curls and drop earring, rainbow light refracted down her face, across her eye and down her cheek

    Rainbows are considered a sign of new beginnings – set your sights on yours this month. 

    Tell me, are you ready for yours?

  • Recognise your brilliance

    I started this month by sharing “ Self-acceptance is defined as having self-awareness, a realistic, yet subjective view of one’s talents, skills and worth plus a sense of satisfaction in oneself despite past failures, bad behaviours and choices. It allows us to recognise our uniqueness and brilliance, whilst allowing us to change and grow as individuals.” 

    However, when we feel at odds with the situation we find ourselves in or the people we’re surrounded with, our self-acceptance and self-esteem can be impacted.

    Self-esteem is different.

    Self-esteem is an external measure – a comparator with others. It is how we perceive ourselves and our life and career choices relative to others. 

    Black woman with arms outstretched, smiling as she stand with confetti blowing across her

    The external markers against which we are measured – performance goals and targets, competitions and awards, expectations and norms – form our self-esteem. Achieving a sporting PB or getting a bonus at work adds to our self-esteem, by building our sense of value and positive self-image.

    The opposite is also true. A failed business or an indiscrete question by an elderly relative on your marital or parenting status can erode it. We feel worthless and useless; the disempowering Victim archetype comes to the front. We feel like we’re unable to fit in.

    Equally, an overinflated view of our worth compared to others isn’t helpful either. Rather healthy self-esteem lies somewhere between.

    When we recognise for ourselves, without external comparison, our brilliance, we build our self-acceptance. It means we can recognise the good and the bad within us. Self-acceptance is unconditional, deeper within us and allows us to show compassion and love towards ourselves in difficult times. 

    And with a stronger sense of self-acceptance, it is easier to build our self-esteem and not succumb to self-doubt or the voice of our inner critic.

    So how do we recognise our brilliance from an inner realistic perspective, rather than through external comparison?

    Curly haired lady with a huge smile celebrating herself with shiny confetti falling

    I use several tools with clients, such as the VIA Character Survey and the Gallup Strengthsfinder tool – these are great for career exploration and are self-reported outcomes, rather than comparative tools. 

    For today, let’s start simple: grab a piece of paper and brainstorm or mindmap out the characteristics, talents and strengths you have. If you get stuck, pause, breathe and ask yourself “what else?” Try to push through two stops.

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s model of flow balances capability with challenge. High levels of both result in those moments where it’s like everything just aligns perfectly. That moment where time seems to fade away as you are absorbed into a satisfyingly challenging task that plays to your sweet spot. The Flow State Scale is a research tool; you answer the statements with 1 being strongly disagree, through to 5 being strongly agreed for a particular experience. The statements are:

    1.) I was challenged, but I believed my skills would allow me to meet the challenge.

    2.) My attention was focused entirely on what I was doing.

    3.) I really enjoyed the experience.

    4.) It was no effort to keep my mind on what was happening.

    5.) I felt I was competent enough to meet the high demands of the situation.

    6.) I was not concerned with how I was presenting myself.

    7.) The challenge and my skills were at an equally high level.

    8.) I did things spontaneously and automatically without having to think.

    9.) At times, it almost seemed like things were happening in slow motion.

    Using the different areas of your life, pick a couple of activities and complete your own Flow State scores.

    For high scoring ones, dig deeper into what is that you do, think and feel in those activities. Add them to your brainstorm/mindmap.

    Across your page, now look for commonalities. What occurs in a couple of places? Create a new list from these.

    Looking at each one, ask yourself:

    • – do you recognise and feel satisfaction in this element of you?
    • – where else does this positively support and influence your life? 
    • – how you can use, do or be more of this?
    • – how can you practice daily gratitude to recognise and be thankful for them?
    Oriental lady with arms lifted up, catching bright colour confetti strips

    Last exercise for today: looking at your list, can you pick your top or favourite three and find a way to share them with someone else? Sort of mini brag. Not a horrid show-offy arrogant moment. Rather a “did you know I have this nack in ……..” or “I love that today, I got to do/use/be ……”. Start somewhere safe – go into the Haven and share a mini brag

    Go on, own a piece of your brilliance. Articulating it helps you internalise your acceptance and joy in it.

  • Why tolerance stops you from accepting yourself

    Having focused on elements of self-acceptance during May, today I’m flipping it around to look at what we tolerate rather than think, do and feel as our whole self. 

    When we feel uncomfortable in our own skin, that we don’t fit in our surroundings or the conventional culture or norms we live, love and work in, it can be challenging to accept ourselves, as worthy and of value in the world, or in holding fast to our principles and boundaries.

    So what kinds of things do we tolerate instead of discovering who we can become and living as ourselves?

    1.) Comparing ourselves to others

    Success, happiness, recognition and a sweep of other measures can be used to observe the lives of others and decide they are somehow better than us. Scrolling through your Instagram stories of glossy images, secrets shared in the coffee queue, watching a junior deliver with a confidence you struggle to feel and the like can all feel like ways we are not good enough.

    We tolerate these comparisons we make, instead of taking a long hard look at the reality in front of us. The filters applied to a photo, what’s left out of a story or the panic or dread inside of our colleagues. 

    That leads me neatly to…….

    2.) Others’ opinions of us

    From our youngest memories, we recall spiteful comments in the playground, a teacher telling us off for not falling in line or a parent’s disappointment in us taking a different path to the expected one. 

    We take these opinions as wisdom, as fact, as truth. Then we add meaning to them and let them spirally away in our heads and hearts. We allow them to become the filters we judge ourselves, our actions, our character and our choices by.

    It’s not just their opinions we tolerate…..

    3.) The wishes of others over our own

    Ever sat through a play or meal which you didn’t enjoy, instead of saying you’d prefer a different cuisine or declining the invite. Finding the courage to risk conflict or rejection, we adopt the “Good Girl” approach – we seek to please to feel a level of approval and belonging, even if temporary.

    Each “yes” erodes a little more of our self-acceptance and esteem.

    4.) Accommodating people with who we can never be our authentic selves

    You know who I mean. The ones who stop us in our tracks with an unwelcome point of view or opinion that crosses our values, our beliefs or our way of being. They block us from feeling joy and expressing our thoughts, feelings and desires.

    Finding our tribe, the people who light us up and relish in our unique strengths as much as holding us with compassion and encouragement can be tricky. So we are overly accommodating and stick around some people for longer than we should.

    5.) Focusing on the past 

    Our history can become a reason not to move forward. We allow our negative experiences and failures, real or otherwise, to reduce our courage to try new paths and friendships. 

    We sit in unprocessed emotions. We doubt our abilities and question our motivation. We may even sabotage our efforts and thus prove that our past outcomes will be our future outcomes. 

    With doubts and no self-belief, we can never feel the strength to achieve a future where we thrive as our whole selves. 

    Linked to this….

    6.) Procrastination and inaction

    If we’re uncertain about how or what, we should do, procrastination pops up.  If we’re uncertain about how our actions will be received, procrastination pops up. If we’re uncertain about how we’ll feel if we succeed, procrastination pops up.

    Avoidance, claiming that we’re too busy or don’t have the necessary resources, and not holding our vision’s priorities effectively all create inaction.

    That means nothing changes. We tolerate our own excuses for not moving forward.

    My list could go on……not appreciating our small steps, overlooking our true friends, letting bad habits continue, naysayers and energy vampires, grudges or perfectionism, ill suiting workplaces or roles, bullies for bosses, guilt and shame for who we are.

    Showing tolerance at times can be a graceful consideration – a compassionate act towards a slow-moving grandparent crossing the road that stops you driving on, stepping aside to allow someone else in front of us or listening to a friend our their heart out and not jumping in with our anger or solutions.

    Showing too much to others and to ourselves keeps us rooted in self-doubt, giving our Inner Critic voice to tell us we don’t deserve better, we don’t warrant belonging and that our brilliance isn’t welcome. 

    In your reflective practices, as you connect with Source, I invite you to explore your own tolerance – where does it support your values and vision? Can you leverage this to build greater self-acceptance? Conversely, where are you too tolerant? What can you do to recognise those moments to change your reaction?

    This forms part of my journaling and surrendering to mediation, as someone who feels she’s an odd one out in many ways, and in coaching women who know life, work and being themselves could hold more joy if they were their whole self. If I can be of any help to you, I’m in the Haven and of course on email.

  • May Shares

    A month with two long weekends – lush. How was your April in terms of taking action?

    For me, it’s involved periods of deep reflection, exploratory conversations and some extra training. The theme, that keeps coming up in the conversations, reading, and workshops, is around a sense of being “in the group”, yet feeling somehow disconnected with the group and its values or expectations.

    So that’s this month’s theme – Acceptance and Joy. Join me as I share what I’ve been taking out of my research and studies.

    INSIGHT

    The relationship between acceptance and joy was famously explored by Professor Carol Ryff, which lead to her psychological wellbeing model, based on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, “where the goal of life isn’t feeling good but is instead about living virtuously”. It has 6 elements that need to fulfilled to achieve a sense of psychological wellbeing; they are:

    • 1.) Self-acceptance
    • 2.) Personal growth (Our March Shares newsletter theme)
    • 3. )Purpose in life
    • 4.) Environmental mastery (aka control over one’s surroundings and activities
    • 5.) Autonomy
    • 6.) Positive relations with others (aka positive sense of belonging, trust and connection)

    In therapeutic usages, you are asked to rank parts of each element out of 6, with 6 being very positive and 1 being very negative. You might like to do a rough version of this and look at where your psychological well-being – which elements could benefit from some extra attention or what could you add to your Needs Creed to boost that element?

    Self-acceptance is defined as having self-awareness, a realistic, yet subjective view of one’s talents, skills and worth plus a sense of satisfaction in oneself despite past failures, bad behaviours and choices. It allows us to recognise our uniqueness and brilliance, whilst allowing us to change and grow as individuals.

    With myself and with clients, I notice that self-acceptance can be accessible in some areas and create joy yet unattainable in others, where we carry hurt, guilt or shame. Growing our self-awareness and connection with ourselves alongside self-care and compassion can help us discover, explore and realign to create greater self-acceptance and therefore greater psychological wellbeing and joy.

    Asian woman with her hands behind her head, eyes closed and smiling a knowing smile

    Guilt and shame can arise from our worse critic and harshest judge, ourselves. A time when we said or did the wrong thing. A choice that went wrong. A fear of being found out stopping us from asking for help. A decision not to step in and give for others.

    Then afterwards we feel the ickiness, sometimes with a physical sensation of compromising our integrity in our behaviours or a negative view of ourselves. We may react with one of our disempowering archetypes, Bitch, Martyr and Victim with denial, defensiveness, blame, anger or self-pity, isolation and mistrust.

    We need to find courage and bravery to recognise, explore and evoke new beliefs, thinking patterns and habits. I often talk about it as peeling onions. Each layer we peel off can feel comfortable and comforting at the same time. Uncomfortable because we face our less liked parts of ourselves or difficult experiences. Comforting as we find new meaning, understanding and release from them.

    Courage might take the form of journaling, working with a therapist or a coach, or perhaps finding a group where others who have similar desires to grow and experience more joy and self-acceptance with less guilt and shame.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    If self-acceptance requires the ability to see ourselves and our choices realistically, my hunch is we need some sort of criteria to hang our hats on. A row of pegs that help us navigate, evaluate and decide.

    For me, these are my values and my needs. My ability to discern what’s good, enabling and powerful about me hangs off them. Let me give you an example.

    A dear friend had a 50th birthday coming up in July and I’d love to celebrate with her. We’re in different countries, with very different COVID responses. Joining her fits all of my life values – it would be a positive choice I could make to join her, it would definitely be joy fuelling and it would deepen our friendship. 

    However, it would deplete me. My second jab date is just before I’d need to fly and take the train to meet her. I’d be travelling for longer than I’d be there due to the location and I’d be one of 50+ guests inside a restaurant. My physical and psychological needs would be impacted negatively more than the experience would enrich and nourish me.

    Yet, one of my values in life and work is liberty – the ability to make my own choices. I’m owning it. I’m making the hard decision. I’m not going. I need to be courageous and acknowledge the parts of me not yet ready to travel internationally and be surrounded by a lot of people, who maybe aren’t being diligent in their handwashing and mask-wearing. 

    I need to work on the self-acceptance piece here as I consider myself quite a brave, strong and resilient person in many ways so this is a new one for me (and my coach!)

    Looking up at a white woman with her hands on her heart, head tipped back, eyes closed with a cloudy blue sky behind her

    Self-acceptance and joy also go hand in hand with our experiences with others. I believe it is possible to be a part of a group, tribe, team, yet still, be different.

    And that difference can make or break out self-acceptance. A few weeks ago, I was interviewed about finding joy in our lives for a group of women, who are childless through choice or chance. Within that safe space, we had a deep conversation, touching on my work and life and heard deeply intimate, often deeply emotional shares. These women came from several countries, different backgrounds and different ages – what holds them together is a desire to connect around their commonality and find a mutual understanding and respect of their situation.

    Finding your people can support a greater sense of self -acceptance by helping us generate that “realistic yet subjective” assessment of our talents, skills and worth. It can also provide external reassurance and validation to support our inner self-view; it can not replace our own point of view, it can create a sense of belonging and likeness.

    Where would you like to feel greater self-acceptance in your life, your actions, your choices? Who else shares that with you? Can you hang out with them as a reader or listener or at an exhibition, workshop or event? (PS Have you joined me and other women like us in the Haven, as together we seek to create, share and experience joy in our lives whilst cherishing our uniqueness? You’d be super welcome x)

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Without acceptance, joy is hard to find and experience. I’ve said it before – joy comes from within. We absorb the loveliness of a location, an experience or a person’s actions towards us or others and it grows a kernel of joy. It is more than happiness. It is more than contentment. It is more than an external sensation of pleasure.

    It comes from within. We create it through our actions and choices, as well as in accepting brilliant selves as having worth in this world to do things that align to our values and support our needs.

    It comes from investing in ourselves. We create more space and time and energy for joy by working on the parts of us or the parts of life that we don’t accept – by learning more about ourselves, we change, we try new paths, we make new decisions and greater joy follows.

    What one aspect of you or your life could you learn a bit more about this month in order to define or reshape it and find more self-acceptance and joy?

    Black woman with a beautiful knowing smile, eyes shut and her hand on her neck. A neon S shaped light swishes behind her

    Keep peeling your onion of acceptance, shed the tears, feel the pain and release each layer to find your deeper sense of self-acceptance to create space for your joy to flourish.

    I look forward to bringing you a bit more on this theme over the next 4 weeks – you get an extra blog as there are 5 Monday this May!

  • Connection is key in taking action for joy

    Over the last month, I took action to create four amazing workshops with four equally amazing friends. Friends who share my hopes for a world where we, as spirited women, live and thrive with vision, clarity, confidence and joy. A world where sacrifice isn’t praised and reward, rather our needs are respected and met in all aspects of our lives. 

    Maggie, Sharon, Eva and Len each brought a complimentary style and perspective to the creative process and into the zoom room. The hours we put in discussing, sharing ideas in messages and deciding the right way to illustrate a concept or tool…….all of it was full of joy and sparked ideas for opportunities separately and together.

    You might be curious about why I opted not to run these alone – I’m more than capable, I’ve got a wealth of experience as a coach, trainer and specialised Advanced Pilates instructor, I know how to design and deliver learning to a range of audiences and settings. 

    Yes, I could have gone it alone, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun, the sessions as rich and the thinking as diverse, but most importantly to me, the impact and results for you, as attendees, as deeply wonderful. I know to create a community of women, who can lead us into and through the world I described above, I can’t walk it alone as one solitary inspiration, as one solo perspective or as one woman carrying the vision. 

    So why invite others in?

    Together, we were able to take each workshop further in its potential outcomes for attendees. Each of us has a different nuance we bring to that vision from Maggie’s connection to the spiritual and Sharon’s inner bravery work, to Eva’s research drive approach and Len’s neurodiverse thinking expertise. 

    And me? Mine is around accessing more joy by designing life, love, work and more in alignment with your values, needs and desires – which means “doing the work” and we all need a tribe to do that. If Maggie or Sharon are the right people to connect with for your journey, that’s great. If it’s Eva or Len, amazing. My role in this example is to connect you and for others, I am the right coach and I know all four of them would be happy for you and me that found each other.

    What is your vision for the world? 

    And who else wants to make that true too?

    And how do you connect with them?

    If you long to live and thrive experiencing joys in all aspects of your life and lead others effectively, compassionately and from your inner strengths whether you wear the badge of title or not, then I have a single suggestion for you.

    Taking action to bring this from a nugget in your heart and soul into the reality of your world and for those around you, please leverage your connections.

    Who do you need to surround yourself with? To provide wisdom and advice. To lift you up and celebrate you. To hold your hand when the wobbles set in. To listen and truly hear you. To gentle nudge you out of your own way. To speak truths to set you free and into your joy fuelled life.

    Where do you find them? Your address book, your LinkedIn connections, your professional body, an interest, campaign or political group, your church or temple, your college or uni alumni lists, Eventbrite or meet-up, at workshops or conferences, in the coffee queue and your place in the Haven with me and women like us who want more joy fueling our lives is always a place to ask the question, share a win or seek a helping hand or point of view.

    Parents kissing their little boy on his cheeks, he's grinning with joy and a cute gap in his teeth

    I invite you to create a time for reflection over this next week or so and ask yourself those 3 questions: What’s my vision? Who shares it? How do I connect with them?

    You might find it helpful to add names and “roles” those connections fulfil for you (eg a tech whizz, sounding board, soother, etc.). If you’re missing names against roles, do come over to the Haven and ask the 100+ women who are full of great knowledge, a-has and collective support – we’ve got you 🤗

    If you missed the Unlocking Lockdown series and would like to get access to the recordings, just pop your name and email below to get it sent to you. (FYI please watch out for the email to confirm your email for GDPR purposes; it takes 2 ticks to click through and then you’ll get the recordings email)

    You can also contact my gorgeous co-hosts from that page too if you’re interested in their groups, coaching or services.

    I have such a positive sense that we’ve had the big disrupter of our lives and we have the opportunity now to be bold, to be aligned and be fuelled by joy in making new normal a world where we thrive. I can’t wait to meet you in it – hopefully, in person! 🤞 🤗 🧡

    three African women in tribal dress, laughing and dancing with joy
  • Act to increase your joy

    I’m curious how many times do you give up or diminish your joy? 

    I know I have and still sometimes do. I feel foolish and I fear judgement. I worry about the naysayers or the smug “I told you so” faces. I hit analysis paralysis and loop around my why, what and how…. or question my when. My inner critic speaks up and I don’t take her wisdom well. I distract myself with random stuff or better still someone else’s. Anyone need a hand? Now? Perfect, I’ll be right there.

    Sound familiar? Yes? Keep reading.

    I want you to consider the balance of your joy sources – how much of your joy relies on others? 

    Women dancing sensually with a flowing dress sleeve over her extended arm, creating a joyful stance

    Both have value. Both bring something extraordinary to our lives.

    From a brain science perspective, you recognise and feel joy from within……and only from within.

    Let’s take a simple example. You’ve got an extra 15 minute clear this morning, so you make yourself a cup of jo (or tea or smoothie….work with me!). You find your favourite mug and warm it. You hear the beans grind and smell the aroma. Your mouth waters in anticipation. You take the full, warm cup in your hands and find a comfy spot to pause. You feel the sun on your face and take your first sip. Hmm, it’s going to be a good day.

    OK, so what happened? Where’s the joy? 

    It’s in each step if you recognise it, if you take a split section to flex your joy muscles. It’s from within.

    If the example was watching an exquisite performance by a star dance group or attending a sunny picnic with your girlfriends, where’s the joy come from? From within you.

    It’s always from within you.

    So how do you develop your joy muscles?

    Smilnig woman leaning back into a lush green wall of shrubbery

    Like any muscle, it takes regular exercise and knowledge of what makes it work. Here’s are my four practices you need to focus on: 

    1.) Taking action to get really clear on your values, needs and boundaries creates the foundation to ensure you are set up for joy

    2.) Taking action to ensure you create moments for joy creates the training plan

    3.) Taking action to be really present and mindful in the moment creates the emotional and hormonal response to joy

    4.) Taking action by reflecting and being grateful for the joy you experience, observe and participate in creates the “muscle memory” in our systems as well as connecting to Source (God, Mother Earth, the Universe, whatever your bigger source is)

    5.) Taking action to remove or replace what takes or diminishes joy for you.

    Like a great personal trainer, let me remind you that you’re training for the marathon of life and not a sprint once round the block. Many of your actions will go well and others not so much. You will need a team of people around you – to inspire, to celebrate or commiserate, to support and to gently point out what you don’t see, hear or feel in your joy muscle development journey.

    Your joy training community lives in the Haven and you are welcome every day to come in there to share your actions, to seek new ideas and to get support for women like you. Women who want to feel more connected to their joy and able to create and utilise joy to fuel their lives in all aspects.

    If you would benefit from a personal trainer in exploring your values, needs and in creating your action plan, drop me an email to talk about my coaching approach, both one to one and group programmes.

    Let me finish with this quote from “The Secret Heart of Charlotte Lucas” by Laura Moncur,

    Joy is not a commodity to be hoarded and protected. It is like a muscle. It must be used daily to keep strong and vigorous. For all my hardships, I have been able to remain quite joyful, for my muscles are strong.

    May our muscles be strong despite our hardships, but because of our collective action and connection.

  • April Shares

    Another month closes and the 4th month of 2021 arrives! Our April theme is “taking action’ – something close to my heart and purpose in my work. It’s all well and good visioning, reflecting and pondering our futures, unless you take action, you won’t ever get to feel the joy in living your vision.

    And I think you’re here, reading this, as you are a woman seeking to take action and change her life, her work, her relationships, her wellbeing and her leadership with greater clarity of vision, self-awareness and of course, joy.

    INSIGHT

    When I worked with a therapist she taught me the competence ladder model. You start at the first rung by taking action and getting on the ladder; you might already be getting the chills down your back, but you’re doing it anyway and breaking through the inertia of inaction.

    Next, you climb up to the rungs of increasing competency and in each one your knowledge, skills and fluency shift and reshape into a full enabled, capable practitioner.

    You reach the self-belief rung, where your mindset believes and actively acknowledges your developing self’s value and benefits. 

    Finally, we climb to the shady heights of confidence, where you look back on our journey and its bumps and joys with a smile. You feel fully empowered and enabled to deploy your learnings and skills and move with greater ease onto the next ladder……

    She shared this at a time when I was struggling to feel I was doing ok in my role. I had a bully for a boss, who’d encouraging others to confirm his bias and peers who were also struggling with the weight of the expectations on us.

    Suddenly in the blink of an eye, I didn’t need to feel my old confidence and be fully ok with performing at work, I just needed to focus on the next rung of the ladder, no further ahead. To start with a small step and do something that felt safe and would get me taking action.

    Ironically, the rungs of the ladder also gave me so much more clarity on my worth and my potential and helped me recognise the costs of staying put. I left and joined a new company in a role where I was promoted within 9 months and got the biggest bonus I’ve ever had.

    There can be a wealth of reasons and blockers that stop women from taking action on their needs, dreams and desires – courage could be considered to be the handrail that runs up the ladder. It supports and assists us as we climb.

    I believe that it is held in place, firm and true by our vision of the joys to come – where we have climbed our ladders and are thriving. It buzzes with the energy to remind us when we waiver when we doubt ourselves when excuses feel stronger than our dreams.

    Looking ahead into your actions, strengthen your inner vision by crafting a clear image or screen of the top of the ladder. Where are you? Who’s with you? What can you hear? Is there an aroma or taste present? What can you see around you? 

    Use your journaling to enhance your vision, create a vision board, paint it or write a poem about it and your courage will increase.

    COURAGE

    LIBERTY

    Taking action is a choice, as is not taking action.

    Three common filters we use to influence our choice to act or not are deletion, distortion and generalisation, which we use to interpret our values, our beliefs, our experiences and our previous decisions.

    Deletion is the choice to exclude certain information – we dismiss, forget or ignore an input in our decision making. It could be about the how of the action or the potential challenge. 

    Distortion is when we adapt facts, memories or someone else’s opinion to better suit a choice we can make to act or not act. We may make them more favourable to action or inaction and can be fueled by fear or anxiety.

    Finally, generalisations are where we aggregate a few pieces of information to make a wider conclusion or rationale for our action/inaction. (A common one I hear is “I’ve tried it before and it didn’t work” or “I’ve seen other women speak up and it didn’t go well for them”.)

    When you feel resistance to action, check in with yourself: is there anything I am deleting, distorting or generalising that is inhibiting my choice?

    At a minimum, at least twice a week, I connect with peers for accountability on my actions. I share how much progress I’ve made, where I’ve got stuck, where I let myself get distracted or when I exceeded my own expectations of myself. We celebrate, we share, we hold each others’ visions and ambitions with love and care.

    Yes, we laugh and yes, we cry. Our ability to take actions that are meaningful in shaping both ourselves, our lives, our work, our loves and more, is many, many times stronger through our collective might.

    It is exactly why I offer both one to one coaching and group coaching – some things are better explored individually, but when it comes to taking action based on your values, vision and dreams, groups win hands down. 

    If coming out of lockdown, through the self-awareness and tools we’re sharing in the Unlocking Lockdown workshops** or through my blogs, you intend to embark on a new journey, a new period of personal or professional development or to leverage the “new norm” so it works better for you, do consider finding the tribe, the group, the circle to connect with.

    My next group programme begins at the end of April and I’d love you to be a part of it. I’m also enrolling additional one to one coachees. If you’d like a 45 minute exploratory conversation about how I can support you in achieving a life where you can thrive with more joy, clarity and alignment, drop me an email: sarae@saraepratt.com to arrange a call.

     

    ** Missed the first two workshops? Want to join the next 2? No worries, just RSVP here to get the zoom invite and to access the recordings (I’m posting each one the day after the live event)

    CONNECTION

    JOY

    Daily gratitude practise for me also includes an element of joy spotting. Big actions and small ones, aligned to our values and beliefs, which honour and respect our needs and allow us to step into our emotions and feel into them, need to be recognised.

    I think of it as doing a sort of fitness exercise to strengthen my joy muscles. The more I train them, the stronger they are for finding and experiencing joy.

    In terms of taking action, I like to plan a celebration or treat for milestones; not necessarily grand but always something that is replenishing and uplifting. I also use my Passion Planner’s weekly and monthly reflections to look back more formally on my actions, whilst daily, I use a notebook to list 3 wins at the end of each workday and my bedtime gratitude practice to ask for “this please and more” for tomorrow each evening.

    The extra exercise that builds my joy muscle is spotting for others. Acknowledging and applauding for each other brings another joy and collectively builds our ability to keep taking the next step on the ladder.

    How do you spot joy? Could you do it more often?

    Young woman climbing upside down on ladder, reaching out towards you

    I’m excited to share this month with you as we all step a little nearer to new normal, after the disruption of the pandemic, and be here to support you in maximising the positive, joy affirming riches it can bring you.

    We have two more Unlocking Lockdown workshops coming up, both live at 1930 or you can get the recordings:

    • 7th April “Reset and Re-energise: learnings from sports and neuroscience”, co-hosted with Eva Woods, Female Performance and Brain Coach, Connective Performance
    • 14th April “Create your affirming mindset for thriving in the new normal”, co-hosted with Leonore Lord, Coach and Trainer, True Measure.

    It’s completely free to join and you’d be very welcome! RSVP to register your interest and confirm your email for GDPR, then I’ll ping you the invite just ahead of the session and the recording the following day.

    And of course, my invite to join other women like you and me is always open in the Haven.