Pictures Touch

I use pictures in coaching to evoke reflection, inspiration, and associations.

Something in a picture might evoke an association, a thought or a feeling that wants to be talked about.

For example: In a coaching session, a client might say that they feel stuck. I might show them the following card, and they in turn can share what they see, and what the card makes them think about, thus getting the person “un-stuck”.

Question: What does that card make YOU think about? Please comment or send me a message.

Source: Dixit Board Game

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If you are curious about more thought-provoking questions and inspirations, I am looking forward to meeting you in a Free Discovery Meeting:

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The 3-To-1 Positivity Ratio

Research shows that our brains are hard-wired to over-emphasize the negative experiences we have. Due to an evolutionary survival mechanism called the “negativity bias”, the human brain holds on to and amplifies the negative much more than the positive. It was more essential for our distant ancestors to remember the experience with the dangerous bear, than the beautiful field of flowers.

According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (University of North Carolina, 2009), we need three positive experiences for every negative emotional experience in order to keep a positive mindset. According to her, we can actively build a collaborative relationship between our survival minds and our thrive minds. This 3-to-1 ratio should be maintained both in thoughts and feelings, as well as in interactions with people that matter to us.

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What are a few ways to build that collaborative relationship between those two parts of our minds?

It starts with awareness: Pay attention to when you are having negative thoughts and feelings, including stress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, blame, guilt, shame, self-doubt, regret, etc. These thoughts might happen in response to yourself, to others or to events and circumstances. When you notice them, counter by commanding your mind to come up with at least 3 positives:

See the adventure around the challenge: Can you learn something new? Can you explore something exciting? Can you grow a new skill?

Look for opportunity: What is a positive aspect of a negative event? What could be a positive consequence of the negative circumstance?

-Zoom out and broaden your view: What does the big picture look like? What do you see now that you have not seen before?

Take small risks that take you out of your comfort zone.

Practice self-compassion: See the beautiful essence in you! Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.

These thoughts could be quick and simple, and they will start to shift your brain activity to the positive side.

If you are curious about this and many more Mental Fitness exercises, I would love to meet you in a non-binding chat.

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Here is a Link to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Self-Test

Playing to our strengths

Playing to your strength means doing what you are able to do well, rather than doing other things.

An example: A friend’s son was assessed for ADHD. In the process, it was found that he is simply a kid who needs more physical exercise than he was getting in school and at home. It was not easy, but the school and the parents found ways for him to get more play time outside and more time when he is unplugged from any technical devices.

This story led me to think about people in general:

Are we living our lives playing to our strengths or are we just playing along with the structures we find ourselves in?
How can we create the lives that make it possible for us to use our strengths and flourish?

This is of course only part of the picture. As professionals, we have to be realistic: It is not always possible to use our strengths (or is it?), to embrace our weaknesses (have you heard the term “own your weaknesses”?), and to know your growth areas. As a person working with other people, you can also play to their strengths (how exciting!), and of course, we are well advised to stretch to form new strengths, and develop an authentic, informed, and confident awareness around the whole topic. In summary: To be who we are!

In my Nature Connected Living Quest you will discover and work in a very comprehensive way with your strengths.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

(Photo by Dustin Humes, Unsplash 2022)

Article inspired by: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/01/10/play-to-your-strengths-13-even-better-ways-to-improve-your-leadership-skills/?sh=6ca7d03b6f79

Judgement is Disconnecting

Judging others, circumstances, or oneself is stripping an event of its embeddedness into the system it occurred in.

– Manuela Zeitlhofer (2022)

(photo by Eskay Lim, Unsplash, 2022)

Have you ever noticed yourself judging others, circumstances and yourself (!) with a very sharp and self-righteous mind? And has it ever happened, that – in comparable situations – you found yourself full of compassion, or curiosity over the mistakes and wrongdoings of others and yourself?

If you can relate to both, you might sense that…

…judgement comes from within, because ever external circumstance can lead you to either be judgemental or compassionate. (Some contributing factors might be the self-care you treat yourself with, and how full your reservoir of self-love is.)

…there are factors inside of you that sabotage you, your goals, your goodness (called “Saboteurs” or “Inner Critics”), as well as factors that bring out the best in you (called “Sage”).

…every problem, every circumstance, everything you might get agitated or upset about can lead to an opportunity, a gift even.

This topic lends itself so beautifully to coaching! If you are curious, please comment, or send me a note.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

My Animal Teachers

Dora & Speckles, June 21, 2021

After I had written my previous two posts, a racoon attacked and killed one of our ducks: Dora, a little black female.

I was reminded that nature is neither good nor bad, nature just IS. The racoon needs to eat. The ducks don’t fight back. (And I failed to keep them safe, as our electric netting fence was not strong enough to keep the racoon out.)

We have been planning to get a dog in September. Too late for Dora, but hopefully the dog will deter any predators and keep our remaining ducks safe.

I am still sad about loosing that little bird. And I am contemplating what it means to be human, and to have the choice to be humane.

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What does it mean for you to be humane and in what situations do you see yourself be consciously humane?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Animal Communication

For many people, animal communication is something that only the ‘gifted few’ can achieve. This of course is entirely untrue as we were all born with the ability to talk to and hear animals.

Holly Davis, Animal Communication With All Species

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Challenge: Communicate with the next animal you see. Then drop me a note! What have you learned?

“Starlings”, by Manuela Zeitlhofer, May 28, 2020

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Animal Teachers

How frequently do you interact with animals in your daily life? – Chances are that those interactions are scarce, or limited to pets. Our societies might have separated humans from animals, seeing humans as superior to animals. Yet, we admire certain qualities in specific animals. What can we learn from animals?

How about patience, living in the Now, connectedness with the intricate web of life we are part of, responsibility, attentive listening, living in tune with the natural world, and sticking together.

(inspired by 10 Important Life Lessons we can Learn From Animals)

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Can you guess which animals possess then traits listed above? – This can be a rewarding activity to do with your child! Also, you might want to observe animals around you to see which traits they display!

“Master of Camouflage” by Manuela Zeitlhofer (July 28, 2022)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

My Wealth

Do you associate wealth with money? I do struggle with the concept at times. Then I remind myself that I have enough. For me, it comes down to making the conscious decision to be happy in the Now. Because NOW is all we have. The past is a memory and the future is an imagination. Most of the time, I have all I NEED in the very moment I am in. It is often the WANTS that I want (!) to pursue.

To remain still and just be, let the moment be all I want – that is happiness for me. My wealth is my happiness, the feeling of being enough, and of having enough (or more than enough), right now.

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How about you? Where lies your wealth? And what are your thoughts about this week’s posts?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

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(photo by Anton Luzhkovsky, Unsplash)

What is Wealth?

Once there was a wealthy father who was concerned that a privileged upbringing might give his son a limited view of life. He decided his son needed to see how the other half lived. To do this, he asked his personal assistant to find a very poor family who would be willing to allow him and his son to visit and stay with them.

After weeks of searching she found a very poor farming family who lived in an impoverished country area and organized for her boss and his son to live with them for a couple of days and nights. At the end of the visit, as they were driving back to their expensive suburban mansion, the father asked his son, “What did you think of our stay on the farm?”

“It was great, thanks, Dad,” came the reply.

Keen to see if he had achieved the mission of his visit, the father asked, “Has it helped you to see how poor people live?”

“Sure has,” answered his son.

“Well, tell me about it. What did you learn?” enquired the father.

“I learnt,” his son responded, “that while we have a swimming pool fenced into our backyard, they have a creek with swimming holes, a Tarzan rope hanging from a tree, and rapids they ride on old car tubes.”

“We have one dog that lives in a kennel. They have four that live with them.”

“Our large house stretches almost to the borders of our small piece of land. They have a small house on open fields that stretch beyond sight.”

“Our patio looks out on a neatly mown lawn whereas they view their garden, fields, trees, and hills to the very horizon.”

“Spotlights turn our yard into day at night. They have nothing but thousands of twinkling stars to light their night.”

“We have to drive to the supermarket to buy our vegetables but they grow theirs right outside the back door.”

“We have servants to serve our meals and clean our house. They serve each other and clean up together.”

“Our property has walls that fence others out and us in. Their fences contain milking cows and woolly lambs.”

“We have security alarms, barred windows, and locks to protect us while they have family and friends to protect them.”

The father looked at his son in absolute amazement.

“Thanks Dad,” the boy added. “I never realized how poor we are.”

(101 Stories for Enhancing Happiness and Well-Being Using Metaphors, p.208)

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Question: How does this metaphor compare to your perception of wealth?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

(photo by Guilherme Stecanella, Unsplash)

In My Own Way

Have you battled internal obstacles – problems that were entirely created by your way of approaching the world in your thinking and actions? – I have!

For more than a year I had been bothered by a digestive issue: There was a knot in my intestines, always in the same spot. It never went away. The intensity of the discomfort varied. I consulted my family doctor. I consulted an Ayurvedic doctor. Nothing. I researched online. – A partial breakthrough was achieved when I found a useful video how to alleviate the symptoms temporarily. But no solution appeared. I started to despair.

Then, we went on vacation and I did not drink my tap water. The discomfort was gone.

I had stumbled upon the solution. The problem – or obstacle – had been too close to me to be visible.

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Question: What is an obstacle you have come to live with, because you do not perceive there to be a way around or over it?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

(photo by Ethan Dow, Unsplash)

Changing Course Fluidly

Flexibility is the key to common sense and success

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. The captain, who was concerned about the deteriorating conditions, stayed on the bridge so that he could keep an eye on all activities. One night, shortly after dark, [the fog was getting even thicker] the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, ‘A light, captain, bearing on the starboard bow.’
‘Is it steady or moving astern?’ the captain asked.
The lookout confirmed that it was steady, which meant that the battleship was apparently on a dangerous collision course with the other ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, ‘Signal that ship: “We are on a collision course. Advise you change course 20 degrees north.”’
Back came the response from the other ship: ‘You change course 20 degrees south.’
Annoyed at the arrogance of the response, the captain said, ‘Send: “I am a captain, change course 20 degrees north.”’
‘I am a seaman second class,’ came the reply, ‘you had still better change course 20 degrees south.’
By this time, the captain was furious. He shouted, ‘Send: “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees north.”’
Back came the flashing light: ‘I am a lighthouse.’
The captain changed course. (Tales for Coaching, 133)

(photo by Ethan Dow, Unsplash)

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Questions:

What cannot be moved? What CAN be moved?Answer (?)

What represents the ‘fog’ for you? How could you lift this fog?Answer (?)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Change – Perspective – growth … Obvious?

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. – Max De Pree

Do you remember the metaphor about the two caterpillars looking at a butterfly I shared a few days ago? – It can be found at: https://creeksideinspirations.ca/two-caterpillars/

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Question: What change are you resisting and what might become obvious if you change your perspective?

(photo by Jeffrey Dungen, Unsplash)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

Edison and the Light Bulb

Failure is a natural part of the creative process!

Thomas Edison, the American inventor, is thought of as being one of the most creative and intelligent men in history – and yet, the history books tell us that he attended his school in Michigan for only three months before being expelled at the age of 12 because his teachers thought he was ‘educationally subnormal’. In later years, Edison was to become famous for his saying ‘genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration’.

This was certainly true for him in his attempts to convert electricity into light, one of his most famous endeavours. He was reputed to have tried and failed over 1,000 times to perfect the incandescent electric light bulb, and when advised by his colleagues and friends to give up the whole project because it was doomed to failure, replied with total conviction and some surprise: ‘Why, I haven’t failed; I’ve just found a thousand ways in which my formula doesn’t work!’

It was as much Edison’s positive and tenacious attitude to endeavour and problem solving as his obvious intelligence and creativity that, in the end, were his most powerful allies.

(Source: Tales for Coaching, p.109)

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Moral: There is no failure – only feedback!

Questions:

  • What represents the ‘light bulb’ that you are currently trying to invent?
  • What projects have you given up because you thought you had failed? Could they be rekindled?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness Coach

The Star Thrower

Do you see your mission and your goals clearly? And how do you feel about small steps – do you give yourself credit for them, do you celebrate your small accomplishments?

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Story: A man was walking along the beach when he noticed a young boy apparently picking something off the ground and throwing it out into the sea. As the man got closer to the boy he saw that the objects were starfish. And the boy was surrounded by them. For miles and miles all along the shore, there seemed to be millions of them.

„Why in the world are you throwing starfish into the water”, he asked the boy as he approached.

„If these starfish are on the beach tomorrow morning when the tide goes out they will die”, replied the boy, continuing with his work.

„But that’s ridiculous”, cried the man. „Look around you. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. How can you believe that what you’re doing could possibly make a difference”? The young boy picked up another starfish, paused thoughtfully, and remarked as he tossed it out into the waves, „It makes a difference to this one”. (by Loren Eisley)

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Moral: What is never attempted will never be accomplished; even the smallest of efforts defeats apathy.

Question: Who or what are the ‘starfish’ that you want to save?

Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness Coach

Freedom in Between

So often, people feel that they are not in charge of their own lives, that their lives are determined by circumstance, duties and habits.

Victor Frankl is said to have shared a thought-provoking perspective:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl

What are your thoughts on that? Please drop me a note.

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New and super relevant: I have expanded into Mental Fitness coaching to support lasting change in my clients’ lives.

#mentalfitness #personalfreedom #mindfulness #coachmanuelazeitlhofer

Multiple Perspectives

Essentially, things just are. We attribute meaning to things and events. Sometimes we dwell in the negative aspects or implications of something, when there really are other sides to everything.

In coaching we use this principle, and we call it reframing: We encourage a different perspective or seeing something in a different light.

Today, I did this with my sandpit: Part of our property consists of a former sandpit that was left in its soil-deprived state. For the past 25 years, nothing more than a few tough grasses, willows and even fewer very tough pines and cedars (all looking like bonsais) have been growing here. In the summer, this bothers my agriculturalist’s heart. Now, with a little bit of snow, the steep banks make marvelous sliding hills. And I wonder what other things in my life need reframing.

How about you? What could you reframe right now? – Please share your thoughts!

Everything Has Two Sides

I repainted my mailbox. It looks like new, but the flag is not installed properly yet (long story). When I inspected it today, contemplating how to solve the issue, I noticed beautiful ice crystals on the north-facing side of the mailbox. The south-facing side was steaming in the sunlight.

I was thinking how everything has two sides: literally and metaphorically speaking.

If we accept that our perspective can only be subjective, and that every situation has different aspects to it, then we have to accept that we might not always sit on the sunny side of a reality. And if that is the case, we could infer that there IS indeed a sunn(ier) side to things.

How does that strike you?

By the way, as a life coach I can assist you in finding those other perspectives. And I accept new clients!