Halloween night

October 31st, All Hallow´s Eve. Halloween.

jack o lantern

I have to admit that this is not one of my favourite times of the year. In part it´s because once the clocks change to an hour earlier, it starts getting dark very early in the evening, the weather gets more unsettled and the temperature drops…

But mostly it´s because I don´t like scary stuff. Not even a little bit.

Estoy escribiendo estas líneas entre tandas de niños que llaman a la puerta haciendo “trick or treat”, y esa parte no me importa, hasta me hace ilusión. Me disfrazo de algo sencillito que no dé nada de miedo (este año ha tocado toga y corbata de Harry Potter, otras veces es vestido y gorro de bruja), y disfruto repartiendo golosinas a los niños del barrio.

What I´m not comfortable with are the really scary costumes, horror movies, etc. Luckily, there´s plenty of choice nowadays, and I choose the child friendly version of Halloween, appropriate for all audiences 😊

But it is true that when one thinks about life back in times of our ancestors, with no electricity or central heating or any of the convenient things we´re so used to these days, and on a night like this, dark, cold, windy and rainy, one understands how they believed there were spirits and ghosts roaming around in this world… And also how they wanted to combat them in the best way they knew: with light.

I reckon that´s why fireworks and bonfires are so popular here in Ireland at this time of the year, and they remind me of Saint John´s Eve… Old rituals that have evolved into more modern ones, but that deep down still keep the same fascination with the unknown and the supernatural.

Mucho más colorida es la fiesta del Dia de los Muertos en México, que me encanta no sólo por su estética, sino también por la manera tan bonita y tan alegre que tienen los mexicanos de recordar y de honrar a sus antepasados, reconociéndolos como parte de la familia. Así de esa manera parece que el mundo de los muertos está un poquito más cerca del de los vivos, y en lugar de verlo como una cuestión de “nosotros contra ellos”, nos anima a aceptar la muerte como parte del ciclo de la vida, y a comprenderla en lugar de tenerle miedo.

To accept and understand. Maybe that´s the key to many of our fears.

To accept the challenge of looking at them face to face, of listening to what they have to say to us.

In Marie Curie´s words:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

Version 5

Well, the time has come to add one more number to my version historyversion 5.

Here it goes:

  • V5.0 – I develop an interest in coaching
    • V5.1 - I take a three-month-long online course in coaching fundamentals, to see if I like it. I love it.
    • V5.2 - I sign up for a master’s degree in coaching with emotional intelligence and neuro-linguistic programming.

Those of you who know me in person are probably aware that I´ve been interested in the topic of personal growth and development for years… Interestingly, I hadn´t bumped into coaching until last May. When I finally did, it resonated a lot with me, and this weekend I have started my master’s degree :-)

wooden coach lettering

Pero, ¿qué es esto del coaching? Es verdad que “coach” es una palabra que se utiliza hoy en día para cosas a veces muy distintas, lo cual crea confusión, y también hay varias definiciones de “coaching” que se centran en aspectos diferentes. Para simplificar, podemos decir que el coaching is a process of accompaniment, in which, through active listening, questions, and other resources, the coach makes it easier for the coachee (or client) to define their own goals, as well as to identify and manage the changes that are needed in order to achieve them.

Going forward, I´ll be sharing in this blog a few things related to the world of coaching, and also about the many tools and resources that it draws from. Regarding definitions, for the moment I´ll leave you with this one, food for thought:

A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.

Tom Landry

I have to...

One thing that I set out to do with the blog a few months ago, and that I´ve kept doing since, is writing a new post each week. As you can imagine, sometimes I find it harder than others to keep it up... I usually write during the weekend, when in theory I have more time, but then in practice, it´s not unusual to get as far as Sunday evening without having written the week's post, as it happened today. And at the end of the day, tiredness and laziness start to show up...

woman typing on laptop

But hey, here I am, writing, as it couldn´t be any other way. Tiredness and laziness are going to have to wait for another little while.

But how do you achieve that? How do you get to keep up a habit when that moment arrives, the moment when you don't feel like doing it at all, and instead you feel like skipping it?

Una opción es recurrir a la fuerza de voluntad, como hacemos muy a menudo: te recuerdas a ti mismo/a todas las razones por las que “lo tienes que hacer”, te echas una buena bronca por querer escaquearte, y te obligas a hacerlo aunque no te apetezca. Porque al fin y al cabo, “lo tienes que hacer”, ¿no?

Yes, that option will probably work, at least at the beginning, but at the cost of giving you a hard time (and you suffer it twice: when you beat yourself up, and when you end up doing it without any motivation). So then in the long run, how can you stay strong and keep up the habit if you see each step as an obligation? How can you not stop feeling like doing it?

Maybe the trick is to make it look not like an obligation, but something we have decided to do ourselves, because that's the reality - even if it's something that somebody has imposed on us, if we have committed to it, it's because we have accepted that commitment, for whatever reasons.

En estos casos, puede ser útil preguntarnos para qué nos hemos comprometido a ese hábito. Y fijaos en que digo “para qué”, en lugar de “por qué”; el “para qué” nos lleva a mirar hacia adelante y encontrar la motivación, mientras que el “por qué” nos deja mirando hacia atras, buscando justificaciones. Si seguimos con el ejemplo de este blog, yo sigo escribiendo una entrada a la semana para alimentar mi lado más creativo, para mantener vivo el blog y que no vuelva a caer en el olvido, y para seguir compartiendo mis reflexiones y mis experiencias, por si les pueden ser útiles a otras personas.

Y ya una vez que ya hemos recordado el “para qué”, y tenemos claro que merece la pena seguir en la brecha, podemos utilizar trucos del lenguaje para darle la vuelta a esa percepciön de obligación, simplemente eligiendo las palabras adecuadas, tanto dentro como fuera de nuestra cabeza.

Hace poco oí en una conferencia que si decimos: “tengo que hacer…”, o “debo hacer…” lo que sea, sólo con pensarlo ya nos estresamos y nos desmotivamos, y es que no nos suele gustar que nos obliguen a hacer las cosas, En cambio, volviendo a la idea de que en realidad lo hemos decidido nosotros, si lo cambiamos por “quiero hacer…”, nuestro cerebro lo acepta mucho mejor, y sentimos mucha menos resistencia.

¿Y qué pasa cuando no nos sale de dentro el decir “yo quiero”? La conferenciante ofrecía en ese caso una tercera opción: simplemente decir “voy a…”, sin entrar en si es algo que quiero o que tengo que hacer. Lo voy a hacer y punto. Es lo que toca ahora, y no hay que darle más vueltas, que es lo que les digo yo a mi hija pequeña cuando me discute algo de lo que le pido 🙂

And, as a final point, something else that helps me a lot is knowing that the biggest resistance that I have is really towards getting started, towards breaking that inertia that I feel before I begin. Then once I'm on the task, in this case, writing, I know that I really enjoy it, that the ideas keep coming with little effort, and that after finishing I feel really happy for having published an article once more.

What about you? What tricks to you use to stay motivated and keep up your habits?

Conscious songs: Imagine

This morning I heard on the radio that today would be John Lennon´s birthday, he would be 81 years old today. Let´s remember him with this song, which I find both beautiful and profound: Imagine.

And please, even if we have listened to it a thousand times, even if we think we know it by heart, today let´s give ourselves the luxury of really paying attention to the lyrics, immersing ourselves in their meaning, and closing our eyes to imagine how it would feel to live in such a world...

And then, if you feel like going a step further, I propose that you consider which sentence is the one that impacts you most, that confronts you most, and reflect on it a little, because in order to achieve that world that we imagine, everything starts within each one of us :-)

And I leave you with this quote, attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, that´s also very relevant to this topic:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Conscious songs: The colour of hope

Continuing with the conscious songs theme, let me tell you about another song that cheers me up and motivates me every time I listen to it, this time in Spanish.

It's Color esperanza (The colour of hope), by Diego Torres, and it's dedicated to those of you who are facing a challenge right now, whether it's something that you chose yourselves, or something that came to you for whatever reason (and there's always a reason, although we don't always see it right at that moment).

UPDATE: The video I embedded when I wrote this post is no longer available on Youtube, so I´m adding here two different videos with the written lyrics, one in Spanish and one in English. Some of the sentences I would have translated differently, but hey... Leaving perfectionism aside, I hope at least the gist of it is understandable 🙂

In Spanish:

In English: