Voodoo for yourself

Why disappointment can be a powerful teacher


I baked bread last night; ciabatta (if you’re interested). I was testing a different recipe, to see if the result would produce bread that was even better than the one I’ve made before. I was disappointed.

What has left this situation lingering in my mind however, is not the disappointing outcome itself, but the fact that it wasn’t a surprise. I saw it coming. I didn’t use the right mixer and probably hadn’t mixed the dough long, or thoroughly enough. Consequently the batter didn’t bubble up as expected, and then didn’t rise the way it should. I knew what was coming. It wasn’t the recipe, it was me.

Yes I know, it was ciabatta, it’s hardly life or death, but it made me think about a few other areas of my life that have left me feeling disappointed recently and whether I could or should have seen those disappointments coming too.

One of the areas I’ve really struggled with, is how I feel about writing. I had a perfectly good recipe for success when I was writing for myself. It was unpublished and deeply personal. I wrote what I thought, my feelings, my opinions and my dreams.

Pressing a ‘publish’ button was like changing the recipe. I got nervous about and critical of everything that fell onto the page. Rather than sharing my experiences in their rawest form, in the hope that they might help others move on in a positive way, I’ve become caught up in word count, structure, followers and likes. It became less about what I have to say and more about what you might say about me.


“When you are up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.”

Time for a ‘swamp review’ in various parts of my life. Disappointment can be a powerful teacher, when we’re ready to learn.



3 Steps to top up your gratitude levels


Gratitude is good for you. There’s evidence!

As People Voodoo is all about looking after ourselves, I started 2016 (not a typo, it was a while ago) with the intention of collating a Happy Jar to top up my own gratitude.

I wanted to become more conscious of, and grateful for, the good things in my life. This jar was all about recording funny moments, achievements, memories to treasure, surprise compliments, activities I enjoyed, etc. You name it, I was going to record it, and with every day that went by, it was going to make me happier and more grateful!

It didn’t last long.

Why? Because I am not a ‘do something every day’ person. Who was I kidding? I can’t even eat the same thing for breakfast 6 days in the row without it feeling repetitive. Motivating myself to write on a piece of paper every day for 365 days was pure torture. It also felt a bit shallow.

I am, however, very grateful for my Happy Jar revelations! Every cloud has a silver lining and mine is that I find it easy to be grateful for lessons I’ve learnt. Since then, I’ve been in search of another way to top up my gratitude levels. Something that’s both satisfying and sustainable. Interested?

I now write a gratitude journal. But before I encourage you to start a journal of your own, you need to be willing to make 2 very important commitments.

Commitment 1 – ‘Decisive’ over ‘daily’

It’s important to keep this activity guilt free. You need to commit to writing when the mood takes you. If that’s every 2nd Thursday or when your team plays a home game, then so be it. There can be no forced daily ritual – just a clear decision to top up your gratitude. Of course if you want to do it daily, that’s OK too.

Commitment 2 – No listing, but lots of learning

Anyone can throw together a list of positive things. This journal is not about list-writing the obvious, it’s about digging deep and challenging yourself to be grateful for the tough stuff and the fire of experience, as well as the shiny, sparkly bits of life.

If you’re willing to make these 2 commitments, then here’s what to do.

Step 1 – Reflect (Thanks to Anna Kane for the 3 points of reflection)

Start off by taking a few minutes to think about things that have happened to you since you last wrote. These do not need to be life-changing events, but you do need one for each of the following three categories.

  1. something positive

  2. something challenging

  3. something interesting

Step 2 – Look for things to be grateful for in this situation or experience

If, for example, your ‘challenging situation’ was an argument with your partner about whose family to spend the weekend with, then ‘things to be grateful for’ might include:

I’m grateful…

  • that we both have a family we love,

  • that I have a partner I care about,

  • that I feel secure enough in my relationship to express my true feelings,

  • that s/he feels secure to do that with me,

  • that we don’t have bigger things to argue about,

  • that we don’t argue often,

  • that we are both generally willing to compromise,

  • that the children weren’t home to hear it,

  • that we both get weekends off work together,

  • etc.

Keep going until you run out of things to be grateful for in each of the 3 situations. Properly run out, not just when you’ve done a few.

Step 3 – Review the lessons

Now that you are in a more grateful place, consider the impact of what you’ve uncovered and actions you might take as a result.

  • What have you learnt from this scenario?

  • Have you changed your attitude or perspective on anything following this reflection?

  • What are you drawn to doing as a result of your learning?

Have a play with it and do let me know if it works for you.

Happy journalling xx

A frog by any other name


I’ve not posted for a while. To be honest, I’ve been struggling to find the words.

So much has changed in my life. I feel a bit like I fell under a spell and woke up a frog. (No disrespect to frogs!) I don’t expect a fairy tale kiss to return me to normal, so after a few months away I’m embracing that ‘frog’ is my new normal and it’s time to hop back into action and put some text into my blog.

As demonstrated by my recent absence, life events really can give you an identity shake-up, regardless of whether the event was long planned and hoped for or catches you square in the ribs when you least expect it. If your experience of this is anything like mine, then you’ll remember times in your life when you just brushed yourself down and carried on and other times when you knew you’d have managed better with a few months in a remote cabin.

With that at the forefront of my mind and spring now properly ‘sprung’ outdoors, it feels instinctively right to spend some time identity spring cleaning. In People Voodoo terms that means dumping the judgement, ripping out the dead and decaying beliefs that no longer serve you and making space for the stuff that really matters and deserves some space to breathe.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Activity 1 – Who am I?

This exercise is very simple. It’s one of those, ‘you get out what you put in’ situations.

Just take a few minutes to quickly and instinctively finish the phrase below a minimum of 10 times. If you’re tempted to stop at 8, do 12, some of the most interesting stuff happens after we hit resistance!

I am …

Now reflect on what came up for you.

Was it about…

  • gender?
  • race?
  • religion?
  • nationality?
  • colour?
  • ethnicity?
  • sexual orientation?
  • age?
  • marital status?

Or was it about…

  • personality traits?
  • physical features?
  • health status?
  • hobbies?
  • political beliefs?
  • achievements?
  • talents?
  • your job?

How we describe ourselves can tell us a lot about our priorities, our state of mind, or even the messages and priorities from those influential in our past or present.

Is that really you? Are you happy with that description? If not, then why are you giving that trait, feature, or ‘box’ so much power? Now is as good a time as any to refresh what matters most in your life. Get your ‘self ‘in order. Literally!  Yes, it’s your job but if it’s not your life purpose and the most important thing in your life, then why is it at the top? It’s your list, you decide what matters right now. It’s not for life, it’s for now. Life will give you reasons to reshuffle soon enough.

Activity 2 – What do “I “really think?

Social media alone throws 100’s of messages your way every day. How often do you comment or react to something on instinct? Do you ever give your view without having any idea why you hold that view or where it came from?

‘It’s what I think!’ I hear  you cry.

Yes, but why? and not every opinon is for life either. Let’s tidy up a bit.

  • Do you really, honestly, believe that?
  • Where does that belief/opinion come from?
  • What does holding that view say about you?
  • Is that who you want to be?

Pick some opinions you hold and give them a good brush down to check if their for keeps or for the bin.

Activity 3 – Go on Go on Go on (best said in an Irish accent)

We are, mostly, creatures of habit.

If you know you don’t like getting your feet wet you’re unlikely to take your shoes off and jump in a puddle. The only problem is, when did you last check to see if it’s still true?

When is the last time you actually ran barefoot across the grass in the rain?

Yes, you may be a closet barefoot puddle jumper!

This week, test yourself on some foods, some conversation topics, some shops you don’t normally go into. Maybe even some puddles. (You too may have some frog in you.)

Oh and if you disagree with anything here, please tell me about it. I’m spring cleaning my views of the world too.

Once upon a story time


I read an exceptionally powerful story this week that I’d like to recommend.

It’s only a short story, about 4000 words, (that’s 8 pages in Arial 10). It’s deeply sad and still magically beautiful. It’s about community and identity, bullying and loneliness but mostly it’s about personal transformation. You probably know it, at least know of it, because it’s been retold again and again since it was first published in 1843. It’s the story of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen.

I’d not heard or read it in full since I was very young and reading it again now, I was reminded of the ability of a good story to do 4 extraordinary things:

  1. To explain what is right without preaching.
  2. To share complex feelings without elaborate vocabulary.
  3. To highlight and debate difficult subjects without getting too personally involved.
  4. To allow us to re-live memories and dream dreams in the company of those who were never there and might not be coming with us.

I love stories, and there are so many of them to help us navigate life. Sometimes the moral of a story is subtle and deep, sometimes a bit lighter and more direct. Although I personally love the deep and meaningful ones, this one is always on the tip of my tongue.

(Caution: swear warning!!!)

The Lesson of a Bird

Once upon a time, there was a nonconforming sparrow who decided not to fly south for the winter. However, soon the weather turned so cold that he reluctantly started southward. In a short time, ice began to form on his wings and he fell to earth in a barnyard, almost frozen. A cow passed by and crapped on the little sparrow. The sparrow thought it was the end. But then the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings. Warm and happy, able to breathe, he started to sing. Just then a large cat came by and hearing the chirping, investigated the sounds. The cat cleared away the manure, found the chirping sparrow and promptly ate him.

Now, it may seem that there are no lessons here, but there are. In fact, there are three:

1. Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.
2. Everyone who gets you out of shit is not necessarily your friend.
3. If you’re warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

Source (I’m told but I’m not 100% sure): “The Advantage in Your Disadvantage,” from The Healing Power of Humor, by Allen Klein

It may have 3 lessons but I’ve always loves it for the 2 lessons that aren’t highlighted.

  1. Make sure that wanting to be different is about being yourself without ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ or just hurting yourself if you didn’t need that image (great analogy  though- love that!)
  2. It’s good to question and challenge things, but sometimes things work for a reason, and if you can’t see a better way, then fly south until you do.

So how can we use stories like this to build our People Voodoo muscle?

Option 1 – Read and reflect

When you next read a story, look out for the less overt lessons and messages.

  • How do you react to this story?
  • What does your reaction tell you about yourself and your view of the world?
  • How does that view of yourself and the world affect your behaviour?

Option 2 – Listen and learn

Ask someone who has known you since your were much much younger to tell you a story about when you were small and listen to how they tell it.

  • What does their description tell you about their beliefs and their opinion of the world?
  • What does it tell you about how they feel about you?
  • What does this tell you about yourself that you didn’t know or have forgotten?

These stories can be very revealing and great for some bonding time too.

I rarely make a  request of you but this week I’d love to get some more stories to add to my collection so please share if you have a favourite.


The 3 step progress review


Last Thursday I was standing in the rain with someone who was smoking his first cigarette of the week, angry with himself for giving in rather than giving up. I stopped smoking more than 10 years ago and can still remember the effort involved.

Even though I’m no addiction expert, when someone asks me how I gave up, I like to think I can help. This was one of those days and I gave my advice confidently and without hesitation.

Removing the smoking reference the advice sounded a bit like this.

‘Don’t beat yourself up. It’s just a bad day. It’s so easy to beat yourself up and tell yourself you’ve failed because of a blip. Acknowledge the blip and keep going. Focus on the progress.’

He thanked me, I wished him success and we both moved on with our day. An hour later, that conversation was still playing on my mind, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

Today someone gave me exactly the same advice.

I may have been kind to myself when I gave up smoking, making allowances for bad days and cutting myself some slack occasionally, but I’m clearly less generous with myself in other areas of my life. I’m also frequently less generous with myself than I am with those around me.

Hands up anyone who could do with taking their own advice a bit more often!

As a coach I believe in goal setting. I see the value in visualizing success and aiming high, but I also question the rigid approach that is often applied to the process. question-1713304_1920

The path to success is often presented in neat steps, a bit like this staircase, where you gradually and systematically work your way to the top. In reality it’s nowhere near as tidy. There are blips; we trip up, slow down or stop and sit to catch our breath. There are days when it feels too far or too high or we just don’t want to take another step!

The staircase also assumes ostrich-571457_1280we can see what is ahead when that is rarely the case. No matter how carefully you try to plan it all out, there will always be surprises. At times you catch yourself nervously peering over the edge hoping nothing will poke you in the eye.




Whether you are giving up smoking, have career aspirations or sporting dreams, it’s important to acknowledge that no matter how well you plan, it’ll always be more like a hilly landscape than a perfect staircase. Dips are part of the journey; they don’t mean you are going backwards, they are just bumps in the road.

This week take these 3 simple ‘and kinder’ steps to review your progress in any area of your life where you are prone to beating yourself up a little.

Step 1 – Look back at where you started

Go as far back as you need to in order to see progress, to see how far you’ve come. If you struggle to see any progress and you’ve been putting a lot of effort in, then ask someone who was there when you started to help you with this. They often see what we don’t.

Step 2 – Acknowledge the progress

If you have moved 2 steps along a 20 step path then celebrate the 2 steps. You’re on the right path! That’s 2 steps further than you were when you started. It’s a positive trend and you are on the right track even if there are another 18 to go. Pat yourself on the back! (Get help with this if you are less flexible!)

Step 3 – Keep going

Now that you can see things are going the right way it’s easier to motivate yourself to keep going. So do it, keep going!

Oh, and the next time you find yourself standing in the rain, telling someone who is struggling with something not to beat themselves up, just remember that sometimes the best advice you can get is the advice you give to others.







I wish I was as strong as you.


We all have values, whether we shout about them or quietly live our lives by them. Courage is one of mine. And yet, I’ve always seen courage as more of an ‘aspirational’ value rather than something I am living day to day. Being courageous is like a mountain that I’m climbing; I’m on my way up but there’s still a long way to go. Sound familiar?

Someone recently complimented me on my courage, and not surprisingly it was at a time when I felt vulnerable, weak and fearful. In fact, I felt pretty pathetic. I probably felt about as far from courageous as a lifelong vegan from declaring they want to ‘eat a horse’.

So what does it really mean to be courageous?


‘Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty’.

Where venture means;

  • to go somewhere that is unknown, dangerous, etc,
  • to start to do something new or different that usually involves risk, or
  • to do, say, or offer something (such as a guess or an opinion) even though you are not sure about it


How do you rate your own courage on a scale from 1-10?

Are you a top of the range, superstar, courageous individual – scoring a 10? or do you find yourself thinking that if we all lined up in courageous order you’d be shuffling towards the 1?

Maybe you are more courageous in some situations than others. Which of these, if any, raise your heart rate?

  1. Walking a worn out rope bridge across a 100m sheer drop.
  2. Telling someone you love them.
  3. Trusting someone with your deepest secret.
  4. Going to a party where you don’t know anyone.
  5. Standing up to a bully.
  6. Spending a big sum of money.
  7. Going into hospital for an operation.
  8. Handling a snake or a spider.
  9. Asking someone to give you feedback on your creative work.
  10. Doing something difficult in public.
  11. Facing your past.
  12. Getting into a 2-seater light aircraft with a newly qualified pilot.
  13. Stopping this list at 13.
  14. Learning to drive.
  15. Owning up to a mistake.

Maybe you are better at facing some fears than others? Which is harder?

  1. Starting something or carrying on when things get tough?
  2. Tackling big climbs or deep emotions?
  3. Not knowing what is behind the door or facing a known risk?
  4. Having to go it alone or having to work with other people?
  5. Saying the wrong thing or not being heard?

It is absolutely possible to be courageous in the face of physical danger but not at all courageous when facing our feelings.

Practicing People Voodoo is about being compassionate with yourself and others, but that doesn’t mean not taking any risks and avoiding the unknown; it’s about being kind to yourself when you are afraid and not just when you are strong.

It is important to acknowledge that it is just as courageous to seek out risk and face it as it is to tackle what life throws at you against your will.

And yes, no beating yourself up when you’re not quite there yet but you are at least trying. You know who you are.

As always, here are a few ideas to help you practice People Voodoo in the area of courage.

Be careful with comparisons

It is so easy to say ‘I wish I was a strong as you’ when we see someone doing something we find scary. That person’s deepest fear might be something that comes easily to you. There are some situations that we are innately programmed to fear, but tiger attacks aside, in day to day life, fear is very personal, and what gives you a fight/flight/freeze reaction might be very different to the next person.

Listen for and support acts of courage around you

Next time someone says they wish they had the nerve to do what you do, they are judging themselves as lacking courage. If it’s something that comes easily to you, or you’ve already faced it yourself, then this is your chance to offer support. It may seem terrifying to them, but only because they don’t know how to tackle it. With tactful questions you can get to the root of what they are afraid of and help take some of the fear out of it for them, with either practical or emotional support.

Recognise and reward courage in yourself

It’s easy to say that we should do something every day that scares us. If I faced a really deep fear every day, I’d be emotionally exhausted by Thursday. Life is not a competition to see who can scare themselves the most. BUT when you do consciously face your fears, reward yourself for your success, whether it was telling your boss how you feel or stroking a tarantula.

If this subject is close to your heart, I can also recommend a great book on the subject.

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

Good luck and please do share your success stories.


5 questions to ask yourself to get the full benefit of autumn.


Today is the Autumn Equinox. It’s official, summer is over!

The days will start to get shorter, the nights will get longer, and the bright yellow of sunflowers will be replaced by the more mellow yellow of falling leaves. It’s a turning point, a time of change. Glorious isn’t it?

Growing up, I didn’t think so. To me, autumn was the wet, muddy, decaying mess that connected the summer to the winter. Autumn was when I mourned the carefree, fun-loving summer before being able to enjoy the crisp, soulful and magical coziness of winter. Autumn was something that required resilience and endurance and felt emotionally like wading through treacle.

I was really missing out!

Like many people, I could not see the beauty and magic of autumn because I wasn’t open to the lessons that autumn offers. I couldn’t see that autumn was an important time for me to look after myself and give myself the gift of reflection.

Here are 5 questions for you to reflect on to make sure you are getting the full benefit of autumn.

Question 1 – What do I need to let go of?

The trees are letting go of their leaves. Why are you holding on to stuff?

Never mind spring cleaning, autumn is the time that nature lets ‘stuff’ go, so don’t fight it. If it adds nothing to your life, or worse, drags you down and holds you back, it needs to go. This might mean a clear out of the wardrobe, your client list or just your crazy to do list. Deep down you know what you need to do!

Question 2 – What am I grateful for?

Autumn is the season of thanksgiving. You may not be a farmer giving thanks for the harvest that will sustain you through the winter, but it’s still just as important to be thankful for what you have. Write a list if it helps bring it to life.

And why not pick a day this autumn and make it your thanksgiving day. Use that day to say thank you to those people who have sustained you through the tough patches in the past year and also to yourself for the times you’ve looked after yourself well.

Question 3 – How far have I come?

It’s not until you look back that you see how far you’ve come. Take the time to acknowledge your progress, in any area of your life; career, relationships, family, hobby, education. It all counts.

I make annual photo albums to capture events of the year. When I feel that I am making no progress, I look back at where I was this time a year or even 5 years ago and I’ve always come further than I realised. Find a way that works for you and make time to acknowledge your progress, and celebrate it.

Question 4 – How can I grow?

This might not be the time of growth in the sense of flowers shooting out of the ground, but autumn is still a time of growth; inward growth.

With darkness descending earlier and everyone spending less time outside ‘doing’, you have more time to be inside ‘being’, not just inside the building, but inside yourself.

Autumn gives us time for reflection after the busy spring and summer. Use the time to take stock and set your goals for your inner growth. It’s also a new academic year, so that could include some organised learning.

Question 5 – How can I honour my shadow?

Last but perhaps the most challenging and powerful of the questions is about honouring your shadow. Autumn is all about darker nights, so there is no better time to reflect on darkness in general and in ourselves.

Not sure what that’s about? Look at what annoys you in others. That’s the best place to start.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung – Founder of analytical psychology

Very (and I really do mean very) simplistically, this is about our ‘dark side’ (yes, like Star Wars but Carl Jung came first!) which we all have in us but are mostly in denial about and/or oblivious to.

I used to get really annoyed with people who over-dramatised things. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised how much of my life has been fueled by drama. Mostly the negative kind. I even went looking for it. When I realised this was happening it was one of those lightbulb moments. Now, when faced with the drama of others, I smile inwardly and rather than judging, I offer to help.

This autumn I invite you to face your dark side and benefit from what you find. It may be dark, but I promise it’s not dangerous.





3 ways to avoid empathy slip-ups


Communicating with people who have a different outlook on or approach to life can be simultaneously challenging and rewarding. We’ve all met people we just gel with and empathise with more easily, and others we find more tricky.

I’ve spent many years helping individuals and groups become more aware of their own style and how it affects and can be adapted to improve their relationships with others. Along the way, I’ve witnessed many situations where the best of intentions led to misunderstandings, slip-ups, bad feelings and fallouts.

Always on the lookout for ways to help people be more empathetic and understand each other better, I was genuinely pleased when social media became flooded with lists of ‘5/10 things you should to know about….’ There’s really nothing better than a bullet point, whistle stop tour through the inner workings of a group of like-minded people to help raise awareness.

I’ve read every list that’s come my way, from ‘Things you should know about people with tattoos’ to ‘Things you should know about mothers that decide not to breast feed’ and there is some pretty useful stuff out there.

Sadly, as with all communication, this list writing can also present a communication ‘banana peel’ to slip up on. Slip-ups I’ve come across have included;

  • writers venting their frustrations at being misunderstood, whilst setting unrealistically high expectations of the people around them, with apparently little intention of adapting their own approach.
  • writers sharing stories of sadness and grief, and whilst asking for greater empathy of their situation, inadvertently or sometimes more directly, suggesting that their pain is somehow superior to the pain of others.

Even if you practise People Voodoo it can be hard to empathise with someone who throws accusations, downplays or belittles your own experiences or expects all the effort to come from you.

And yet, empathy is so incredibly important to good relationships, so here are 3 ways to build your empathy muscle to help avoid empathy slip-ups.

1.Try to separate the behaviour from the intention

Intentions are about who we are, behaviours are about how we are.

Yes, of course how we behave matters, and destructive behaviour needs to be challenged, but before you judge a person entirely on their behaviour, try to see the intention behind it. It is possible that they either don’t have the emotional resources or communication skills to express their intention in a more positive way.  Some well timed, tactfully constructed feedback might be all they need.

2 Be fair with the way you give your empathy

Not everyone shows feelings in the same way, and context and pressure can play havoc with our approach to expressing our feelings.

The person crying the hardest isn’t necessarily the one hurting the most. In fact, someone who has been brought up to look ‘strong’ might intentionally appear emotionless but, shaken up like a can of fizz, they will later explode to release that tension.

With your People Voodoo hat on, try to give your empathy and support equally, regardless of how feelings are expressed. The phrase, ” I can see you are finding this hard” can be appropriate to someone who is shouting or someone in floods of tears.

3.Be prepared to pay for breakages

Emotions are like crystal glasses. If you are going to get them out more than just on special occasions, (and you really should), then you can expect a few breakages along the way. It’s easily done. A scratch here, a chip there.

Be willing to accept your mistakes, apologise and try again, And be bold enough to expect that of others too.

You won’t get it right every time, but don’t let that stop you trying.




Have you felt an electric touch?


When is the last time you were touched by someone? Was it powerful?

How much ‘being touched’ by people you hardly know would you say is acceptable? necessary? or even desirable?

Does the idea of being touched at work, electric or not, make you feel just a little bit uncomfortable or do you secretly hope that this blog is your ticket to becoming electric?

I wonder if your view changes when I define ‘being touched’ like this;

‘When something happens that moves you to emotion; when you feel affected or emotionally stirred’

Touch can be physical. It can be wonderful, especially the romantic variety, but rightly gets some pretty bad press if it’s inappropriately used or is non consensual.

Touching people emotionally is just as powerful and can be much longer lasting than physical touch. It can trigger passionate anger or deep compassion. It can be the making or breaking of a great relationship, creating the intimacy needed to build trust or demolishing years of hard work.

I can remember so many occasions in my life where a word or a gesture stirred extremely powerful emotions in me.

As Maya Angelou so beautifully put it;

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

How do you make people feel?

NEWS FLASH!!! If your ‘anti-fluff’ alarm has gone off, then let me reassure you that this may be about emotion but it’s not at all fluffy. It’s actually rock solid. It’s about emotionally intelligence; the capacity to acknowledge, manage and express emotion in your relationships with others appropriately, and it is critical to relationship success.

Practicing People Voodoo is about being an opportunist; seizing big and small opportunities to connect with others in an authentic and meaningful way, so emotional intelligence is very close to my heart.

If you’ve been told that you have a natural ability to connect with people then you have a real gift. Congratulations, use it well! If not, then don’t worry, because emotional intelligence is something you can learn and develop. You just need to work out a bit, to build your emotional muscle.

So today, let’s start at the beginning – with the senses!

One of the biggest barriers to connecting with others is being unable to connect with yourself; acknowledging your own emotions and what stirs them.

I know that when I feel hurt, it’s a if someone has grabbed my heart and squeezed it and for a split second I can’t breathe. Then a red hot surge in my chest, like a ball of hot lava, rushes from my chest up my neck and to my eyes, whilst the rest of my body feels heavy and numb like it’s encased in concrete.

Even though I can feel anger and love just as strongly, they feel physically very different.

Your turn.

  • What do emotions feel like in your body? Can you describe them?
    • Does your breathing become faster and more shallow or slower and deeper
    • What is your heart doing?
    • Do you feel any heat anywhere? or any tension?
    • Is it more of a thud or a whooshing?
  • How do the sensations change between being excited or angry, proud or frustrated, happy or afraid?
  • What situations stir emotion in you?
    • Do you know the triggers?
  • Who do you know who has an electric touch?

People Voodoo is about being kind to yourself, so please resist the temptation to judge what you find. Every sensation is an important message to be listened to. Anger and fear serve a purpose, it’s what you do next that matters.

For the next few days why not spend some time fully experiencing your emotions in all their electric glory.

I’ll be back for more about reading emotions in others another day. Remember to sign up to get People Voodoo via email if you don’t want to miss it.



Have you outgrown your bowl?

Jumping goldfish wallpapers 20141

When is the last time you learnt something new? Maybe you picked up a new skill or added to your knowledge?

Did you enjoy the experience? Or did you get a sudden rush of fear as you threw yourself over the imaginary boundary at the edge of your comfort zone?

Learning in small chunks and steadily over time can feel quite comfortable, but not all learning is comfortable. In fact, some of the most powerful and life changing leaps forward, that can change the way you see yourself and affect the way you live your life, are quite the opposite. They make you feel like a fish out of water.

These are the things you avoid; that frighten you; that you tell yourself you’re not good at, or can’t do; the things you’ll do when you’re older, wiser, when the timing is right or you have been on the right training course. Will that day ever come?

If you’re honest with yourself, you can probably name a few things straight away that fall squarely into this category. Then add to those, the things in your blind spot; the things that other people see that you either can’t see or can’t quite accept.

Many of us avoid the storm of emotions that can come with powerful growth. It takes courage to face your fears; to look your insecurities deep in the eye and say , go on, try me!

If you want to grow to your full potential, sometimes the only way to be kind to yourself long term is to challenge yourself today. To leap, not blindly into the void, but boldly towards a better you.

A ship in the harbour is safe but that is not what ships were built for.

If you are not getting at least a little uncomfortable as you grow, then you are probably operating inside your comfort zone.The reason your comfort zone has it’s name is because it’s, guess what, comfortable. That means that leaving it behind will get uncomfortable, at least initially. But let me tell you with absolute certainty, that it’s always worth it.

Just like the goldfish that grows bigger in a bigger bowl, you too will grow as a person if you don’t hem yourself in with limiting beliefs and fear of the unknown.

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.

C. JoyBell C.