Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.
Friday, 14 September 2018 13:53

True Colours

A rainbow is not afraid of showing its true colours
because it knows it is beautiful inside out.
Matshona Dhliwayo

You guys have known me for a while. Apart from that one unfortunate incident when an open fizzy cooldrink landed upside down IN my handbag, in the parking lot of Builder’s Warehouse, I’m not one to talk much about hardware stores. So, the other day, as I marched purposefully into Builder’s Warehouse, it was unusual, to say the least. I was on a mission. My task? To discover... not my true nature, no siree. I was there to discover my true colour.

Sam Adams rocks! He discovered he is no black man. His true colour turns out to be Chocolate Indulgence! Mine is... well, it’s complicated. I seem to be rather a mixed palette.

The first obstacle was deciding where exactly to match my skin tone. I live in Richards Bay. It’s hot. The outside of my arms are way browner than the inside bits. Once I started looking, I discovered that my face and palms are completely different tones and textures. At which point I completely lost focus and hurtled down the, -‘Oh my word, who am I really?’- rabbit hole.

We often think of the meaning of life as being something mystical, something to be attained only while sitting cross-legged, alone, in a cave, on a mountain top, eating nothing but nettle soup. However, understanding the way things are can be a rather ordinary experience. When we examine anything with curiosity, it quickly becomes apparent that things are not as they seem. Black and white are minuscule options within the colourful spectrum of life... something easily confirmed in any paint store, for the skeptics out there!

None of us are entirely good or entirely bad, in fact, even trying to define good and bad for ourselves, leads into murky waters. The moment we start getting to know ourselves and what we are really made of, we find it virtually impossible to pin ourselves down. We are neither this nor that, nor not quite this, and most definitely not that.

Practically, this is good news! It means that the way it is, is not the way it has to be. We can change. We can grow. And we are constantly evolving. Not only are we a rainbow nation, to my delight, I discovered I am a rainbow body, beautiful inside and out. A myriad of ever changing sights and sounds, colours, expressions, moods and desires, and so are we all. Living with this understanding, makes us less certain of right and wrong and a lot more open to the extraordinary creative, potential that is life.

So there you go! Who knew that to discover your true nature, all you had to do was visit the  paint section of your local hardware store. My true colour, by the way? Summer Pecan with a hint of Coconut Cream. Delicious sounding, if I say so myself.
Thursday, 30 August 2018 05:10

Holding the Space...

A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds space for you
while you awaken your inner healer so that you may heal yourself.
Maryam Hasnaa

I’m a doer, so when it comes to sitting tight and holding the space, things get a little uncomfortable for me. However, as anyone fortunate enough to have experienced someone holding the space for them will know, it’s an extraordinary gift to give to another human being.

According to Heather Plett, holding the space means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold the space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support and let go of judgement and control.

Holding the space is one of those things that goes around and comes around. Someone can be holding the space for us as we hold the space for someone else, often at the same time. It’s when we are there for a friend and then go home and cry on our spouse’s shoulder. It’s showing up when someone is struggling saying nothing more than this is hard, I’m here. Holding the space is what we pay therapists for. Sadly, it’s a rare skill and few people have the ability.

So now what? How do we go about learning to hold the space? How do we get our inner healer to awaken? To really be able to hold the space for someone else, we first need to learn to do it within ourselves, with our own emotions. We need to discover what is means to stay present with our own experience, as we are experiencing it, without changing, fixing or rejecting it. We fully feel our anger, joy, or vulnerability without trying to change or impact on what we are feeling. Yo, that is no small task! How simple it sounds but how very difficult to do.

Imagine not judging your own feelings? No guilt, no shame, no feeling bad about feeling what you feel, whether it’s anger, excitement, love or despair? Imagine giving yourself the time you need to heal from what has hurt you, not rushing yourself because of someone else’s, or some societal, agenda, but allowing yourself to grow at your own pace? Imagine feeling good enough, that you are okay as you are, no matter how messy you are in that moment?

As we are reminded in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time for everything. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Holding the space is allowing ourselves, and others, the time to go at their own pace. It’s offering unconditional support with an open heart. Our time and gentle, focused presence truly is a precious gift we can give to others.
Monday, 13 August 2018 17:02

Mountain or Molehill?

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
Carl Bard

Who doesn’t have a hint of good old drama queen within them? That inherent ability to blow things entirely out of proportion. I gotta tell ya, I am a mistress of catastrophizing. Kevin in a bad mood? My brain flashes an image of me homeless, alone, filthy, living under a bridge, oh, and with rotten teeth. Thank goodness Kevin is such an even tempered fellow!

So what is this overreaction all about? Dont' know, don't care. Is it possible to change it? From my own experience, I can say a resounding YESSS! To do it, we are going to have to talk about these wayward minds of ours ... and parenting. For most of our life, like bad parents, we have let our minds go where they want and do what they will. That pretty much sums up the average mess we get ourselves into.

As magnificent as these mighty minds of our are, they really, really need a touch of guidance, maybe some training and a hefty dose of discipline. Think two year old left to their own devices. That mayhem? Yeah, that’s your untamed mind.

Generally, experience has a way of keeping us vaguely in line. You eat five ice creams in a row, like you want to, and feel so ill you never do it again. Replace ice cream with alcohol, macaroni cheese or chocolate cake, if that’s your thing. Feedback from outside ourselves can also be a powerful influencer of change. We do something, get a result we don’t like and we learn and adapt our behaviour.

Ultimately, thought is the master of words and actions. If we want to speak and behave differently, we have to think differently. Most of us forget that we think our thoughts and it's not them that think us. It is possible for us to tame our own wayward minds. We can calm ourselves, even when we feel panicked. We can support and encourage ourselves and we are capable of giving sound guidance to ourselves because most of us really do know better when it comes to ourselves.

When we take responsibility for what is wrong with our lives, we stand the chance of fixing it. It’s hard to step up and be the wise parent and acknowledging there is a problem truly is the first step to change.

What do you need to say no to? What do you need to say yes to? How you would rather do this whole adulting thing? Now do more of that. It’s the courage to change that we often lack so remember, you’ve got this. This is not how your story has to end!
Monday, 30 July 2018 10:09

Doing it Differently!

At some point you have to stop acting as though life is happening to you
and acknowledge the ways you are happening to it.
Jillian Michaels

Believe it or not, but coaching clients have been known to turn up at sessions sheepishly admitting they haven’t done their homework. Shock! Horror! It’s a flashback to school days and quite stressful for many people.

At the start of my own coaching journey, I discovered a rather troublesome belief lurking in the recesses of my mind. It was driving my behaviour without me even realising it and ahem, it went like this. If is it not 100%, it’s useless. Lovely! That particular phrase pretty much sets me up for a lifetime of failure. I mean, honestly, how many things are ever 100% perfect?

During coaching, apart from uncovering your own personal arsenal of limiting beliefs, another area we address is challenging the idea that setbacks are a disaster. All or nothing thinking seems to be a universal quirk of human nature. When it comes to our own behaviour, if we mess up, we just know it’s because we are a mess and everything is hopeless.

As magnificent as our brains are, the whole clever mechanism has the tendency to be a teeny bit lazy. Kind of like water, our thoughts also follow the easiest route. The more you think in a certain way, the stronger the habit of thinking in that way becomes. Make an embarrassing mistake? Why, that’s irrefutable proof that you are a useless somebody who will never achieve anything. Get dumped? Proof that you are unlovable.

Should I continue? Nope, let’s not! Let’s not walk this old familiar route and instead try another option. Changing the pattern is all important. From my own experience, be warned, it takes a lot of effort to reroute the convoluted highway of habits in our heads.

In times of weakness, I instantly revert back to old, unhelpful patterns of thought. However, what has changed, and is still changing, is the awareness that this is not helpful. The moment I catch myself, I can choose an alternative approach.

Sometimes we are doing the best we can and we need to remind ourselves of that. In fact, a rather large obstacles to achievement is feeling overwhelmed before you start. Life is not school. Different rules apply. As Najwa Zebian reminds us, these mountains we are carrying, we were only supposed to climb.

Put those heavy burdens down, especially ones that are no longer relevant. We do not have to carry our mistakes, heartaches, fears and disappointments with us forever. Travel lighter. Be willing to try new things and see where a sense of freedom and choice takes you. Go on, surprise yourself! I bet you can.
Monday, 16 July 2018 07:13

The Truth about Love!

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe
is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced
by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Douglas Adams

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is often an extremely frustrating business. When a person’s brain is misfiring, as my father’s does, it makes connections that have me scratching my head at their sheer novelty and unexpectedness. The rest of the time, life is pretty much Groundhog day. No matter how often the same thing has been said or done, it’s always the first time for the person with Alzhiemer’s. Eish, see how you do around repetition one hundred, never mind a thousand and counting!

However, there’s more to our story than just challenges and lost ground. My dad and I muddle along but beneath the surface, something extraordinary is happening. Like an archaeological dig, as we get our hands dirty, in what really is quite a mess, something magical is being uncovered.

In this weird and wonderful world without rules, everything is welcome. Each moment offers the opportunity for a do-over, a chance to improve on the previous attempt. There is such forgiveness in forgetting. Mistakes are promptly erased and there is no continuity to hold on to. Nothing can be relied on. What worked yesterday is gone today and back next week. Reality is in constant flux and you cannot pin anything down or quite put your finger on it. It’s as if the very centre of gravity, of the world as I knew it, has shifted.

Beyond the superficial frustrations, I’m discovering a world of unconditional love. Love, not based on give and take, but a more enduring, encompassing love that has no language, no rules and certainly no tangible rewards. It’s no longer about making sense of things. Recall and recollection? Nope, not happening. Results and doing? Pretty much a hit and miss affair.

There is space for frustration and exasperation, misunderstandings and disappointments, and also for patience, compassion, love and laughter. This is not going to end well, there is no happy ending around the corner. Instead, these difficulties are the very ground that is nourishing the infinite love at the very heart of being human. There is only this moment, what is happening here and now.

When everything else is taken away, what we are left with is something ineffable, A connection to something very essential to life. Not this... and definitely not that... but very much there none-the-less. It’s a world in which simply being is good enough. Imagine that. A world where it’s enough to simply be, in joy and sorrow, in pain and pleasure. What an awe-inspiring world it is!
Sunday, 01 July 2018 08:10

Hang on.. or Move on?

And once the storm is over,
you won't remember how you made it through,
how you managed to survive.
You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain.
When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in.
That's what this storm's all about.
Haruki Murakami

Here’s some useless information for you. The name Soul Sense Life Coaching had it’s humble beginnings in a rather more earthy side of life. None of this airy-fairy soul stuff, it began with feet. Yes, feet! Back in the 1900’s (haha), after training as a Reflexologist, Sole Sense was born. As the business evolved from a focus on physical wellness to mental and emotional well-being, Soul Sense Coaching arose. Recently, a friend pointed out that with Novus perfumes becoming a most enjoyable sideline, the time for Soul Scents is here! One name, a few tweaks and a lifetime of use!

In this high speed world of instant gratification, going the distance is an increasingly rare quality. In the past, marriages lasted a lifetime and jobs were forever. This is no longer the case. These days, ‘it’s not working for me,’ has become a perfectly acceptable reason to move on and find something better. In fact, fast-paced, busy and the good old ‘undo button’ epitomize the modern lifestyle.

However, every now and then we are given an opportunity to re-look that dynamic. Showing up, staying, holding our seat, all of these offer alternative ways of being in the world. And make no mistake, it’s a different world, one that is no longer about you and what works for you. Putting our needs and wants aside to fulfil a broader, and possibly thankless task, whether for the greater good or not, is a big ask.

When someone close to us messes up big time, they let us down or behave appallingly, it’s hard to know if it’s a time to leave or a time to stay. Without doubt, there are times when leaving is the best or a necessary option, especially if there is any form of abuse or danger.

But sometimes, these challenging experiences take us beyond our capacity as we knew it and guide us towards a deeper and clearer understanding of the limitations of our habitual way of being. A bit like ‘sole’ to ‘soul’ and ‘sense’ to ‘scents’, to go the distance, we may have to give up some ground. We may have to change, adapt, or get creative to work with what we have to make it into something it wasn’t to begin with.

It’s hard. Marriages that heal from infidelity go through this type of process. They are no longer what they were but those differences can be a good thing. It also happens when we have children or care for an elderly or ailing family member, or any experience that has us realizing we are not the centre of ‘the’ or even ‘our’ world. Instead we have fleeting glimpses of being a part of something that is much greater, much vaster, than we ever imagined.

Sometimes to heal a relationship, or the world, for that matter, we may just need to tweak things a bit. An adjustment here and there, a small change that captures a whole new reality. At the end of the day, the story doesn’t end with us, it begins with us. Right here, right now.
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 14:21

Did not Finish?

At some point you have to stop acting as though life is happening to you
and acknowledge the ways you are happening to it.
Jillian Michaels

One of the commentators of the local Comrades Marathon last weekend mentioned that DNF - Did Not Finish - are the three most dreaded letters for any runner to have placed after their name. The Comrades is an epic race with various cut off times throughout the day. If you haven’t passed a certain distance at a certain time you are not allowed to continue. The most hair raising cut-off comes at the end of the marathon. Runners have twelve hours to complete the 90-odd kilometre race. When the twelve hours are up, along with a dramatic crowd cheering countdown, a gun is fired and that is that. If you are not over the finish line, you are a DNF’er.

Can you imagine being a kilometre or two away, or worse, actually being IN the stadium, after enduring an excruciating day of pain and suffering, but missing the final cut off? Truly, the disappointment would kill me. According to psychologist Susan David, that’s because I have dead people’s goals!

When we are not willing to try in case we get disappointed or when we simply don’t want to feel what we are feeling, she reminds us that we have dead people’s goals. Only dead people never have unwanted feelings or are inconvenienced by their feelings in any way. For the rest of us, our strong emotional reactions are a flash-light showing us what’s important to our lives. We feel strongly because we care deeply. It’s what makes life, life.

Whether it's not finishing, not starting or just plain failing at something important, one of the hardest tasks is finding the capacity to endure our suffering. Endure is such an encouraging word. It captures the sense that there is more to you, and to this moment, than the pain - physical, mental or emotional, as the case may be. Some people fall in love, get their hearts broken and vow never to love again. Others fall in love, get their hearts broken and vow to fall in love better next time; to align more closely with their core values and what brings them happiness.

That is what we want to do more of. Use our emotions as data to guide us closer towards who we are and what’s important, rather than as instructions about who we are or how to be in the world.

The same Comrades Marathon commentator mentioned that the night before, she had been chatting to a runner that had started, but never finished the race, ELEVEN times. What an extraordinary example of endurance and resilience in the face of adversity. Seriously dude, respect!
Saturday, 19 May 2018 10:38

Willing to Heal?

Before you heal the body you must first heal the mind.

Human minds are Incredible! Earlier this year, while researching for a blog post, I meandered down a Google-link-clicking-rabbit-hole. I read a range of writers on a whole lot of topics but one sentence stuck with me. It’s a simple sentence that’s had a profound impact on my life.

This happened months ago and when I decided to write on the topic, I tried to trace the original article. Nada, I could not find it anywhere. Searching my history for hours turned up nothing so I gave up looking.

My magnificent brain, however, had other ideas. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, it kept reminding me of some other topic I had researched further back in time. I tried again, found nothing and re-gave up! Lol, is that even a thing? Anyway, my brain didn’t. It kept wondering and trying and one morning I woke up with it figured out. Two minutes on my computer and I found the article.

One of the foundational principles that New Insights Life Coaching is based on comes from a very simple model of change. To change, we have to be unhappy with the current situation. It’s along the lines of, ‘you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’. If we don’t want to change, chances are it ain’t gonna happen.

While reading Kristen Brown’s article I had an epiphany! Healing works on the same principle. When it comes to pain-filled emotions, being willing to heal is a vital ingredient. We have to want to change.

I am willing to heal from this. Read that again and let it sink in for a moment. I am willing to heal from this. ‘This’ being anything that is causing you mental, physical, emotional or spiritual pain. How powerful it is to glimpse the healing in the reminder of our willingness, our openness, to the possibility of healing.

It’s a wonderful question to ask yourself and an important one to contemplate. Whether it’s physical illness, emotional devastation, or mental anguish, ask yourself, am I willing to heal from this? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

In coaching this equates to step one of the change cycle. I’m unhappy with the current situation and willing to change. Step two involves thinking and deciding what to do and how to go about the transformation. Step three is to take relevant action and step four is maintaining the action until change occurs.

When it comes to physical health, healing and cure are not always the same thing. Some things, although they cannot be cured, we can still heal from them. Give your beautiful brain a chance to work on your healing in the background. Be willing to heal and allow yourself the space to figure out what that means for you. You may discover an unexpected gift in the muck!
Sunday, 29 April 2018 18:35

You Didn’t!

Love can sometimes be magic. But magic can sometimes... just be an illusion.

The latest in the emotional world is that we are not actually at the mercy of our emotions after all. You are the creator of them, well at least your brain is, according to Lisa Feldman Barrett anyway. She reckons that emotions are our brain’s best guesses according to the information they have to work with. Basically, using past experiences, your brain predicts and constructs your experience of the world. The good news is that we have more control over these guesses than we realise.   

In coaching we explore this concept under the topic of projection. Projection describes the process of how we give meaning to the information coming to us. It’s what our brains do, make meaning out of situations or hazard a guess, if you prefer that terminology. It’s a unique process not without it’s limitations.

Here’s what I mean. Someone says something to you and along the path of you receiving that information, processing that information, and making meaning out of that information, it becomes something else entirely. Sound familiar? Robert McCloskey summarized it perfectly, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Sometimes even when you are really, really sure someone did or said something... they actually didn’t. Or if you think they are a certain way, they’re really not. You just made it up because that’s how we humans roll!

Right so where to now? How do we start transforming our emotional life into something more along the lines of what we want. The bad news? It's not going to happen at the click of your lovely fingers.

It takes effort and awareness to change the meaning you are giving to the sensations you experience and the conclusions you draw and have been drawing since time began. It is, however, possible. If you start paying attention, even to the most obvious triggers that set  off an emotional reaction within you, the insight gained will help you start the process of drawing different conclusions.

So, if you’ve found yourself kissing way too many frogs recently, shake things up a bit. Do it differently. Get curious and see what happens. Say no where you would usually say yes, say yes, when you tend to say no. Give your brain some new information to work with and start believing that you can. It’s as good a guess as any!
Monday, 16 April 2018 08:24

Tighten Your Belt!

When we learn to live without, we discover what we're really made of.
Sarah Arthur

I was listening to a radio interview with Frank Magwegwe, Founder of ThrivenFinancial Wellness on how to survive the recent VAT increase. The cost of living in South Africa is soaring. Food, petrol and tax increases have left many of us wondering how on earth we are going to cope. The radio show host commented that we have been asked to tighten our belts for so long, he didn't think these belts of ours could get any tighter! My word, I can so relate!

Frank gave simple but useful advice on which debt to tackle first, suggestions to reduce hidden expenses, for example, unnecessary bank fees, wasted water and electricity causing higher bills than necessary, and some ideas for finding additional ways of earning income..

One thing he didn’t mention is that for many of us, to really reduce our spending, we have to talk about consumerism. Our urge to buy. Our wanting. The problem with wanting and buying is that it's like using salt water to quench your thirst. Yeah, see... it doesn’t work! Unless we reduce our wanting no amount of buying will satisfy us, at least not for long.

Wanting is addictive. Have you ever had it that you are sitting there, minding your own business, until the idea of wanting something grabs your attention? The moment that thought settles in and gets comfortable, it becomes all you can think about. Most of us go about satisfying our desires by focusing on the object of our desire, be it chocolate, a particular rather enticing person, or a job or car we want.

And so we indulge in the object of our fantasy and sometimes it’s as good as we expected but often there is a niggle of dissatisfaction. The object of our desire doesn’t quite meet our expectation. So we keep looking and trying and buying, hoping to find that perfect moment so we can relax because finally, we have everything we need.

Instead, if we take the time to get to know our desire from the inside, from the point of view of the desire, we start to recognise the addictiveness of wanting. That is what we need to stop indulging. Wanting and dissatisfaction. It is possible to be happier with less, to be satisfied with what we already have. For most of us, enough really is a lot less than we think.
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