Everything in life is uncertain!

It is very sad to read in the Executive Summary of the  “Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study” that: “Almost four out of 10 respondents (38%) are bothered by excessive pressure” and that “Security is taking precedence over almost everything on the job.” Although the survey was conducted in 2012 and only represents 29 countries, it mirrors very well the climate that can be felt nowadays. This is not only true for multinational companies, but also for public ones and SME’s as I learned from the many people throughout my network as well as through own experience. Michael Carroll puts it this way (page 50): “Yet, somehow, for far too many of us, our instinctive yearning for creative challenge gradually transformed to the point where we ended up preferring security rather than fresh uncertainty, assurances rather than adventure, a reliable and stable job rather than an inspiring mission.”

But, is not everything in life uncertain? Things are constantly changing and re-arranging themselves, every minute and every moment. If we accept this basic fact and learn to be comfortable with ourselves in the first place, getting to know our inherent emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives and needs, thus trusting our inherent abilities, we will be able to deal with ambiguity and also willing to question the status quo. Finally, we will live our lives fully and we will also find our enthusiasm, innovation and creative power back. Stress, problems etc. won’t go away but we will have a different approach to dealing with them, hence there will be less burn-outs, depressions and other illnesses.

We truly need to wake up to the fact that we are the authors of our own lives and that exactly as with high performance athletes, there is an optimum level at which we “function” to our best. It is time to turn around and start looking at our lives from a different angle!

I can help you do that! As a systemic and mindful coach and trainer I can take you to the next level by simply being your guide for a certain while. Looking forward to hearing from you!


Finding and staying with the ‘flow’ – The Yerkes-Dodson Curve

Many of you will already have experienced this at some times in their lives: you are not really motivated to go to work or open your laptop. You feel not energized at all, everything seems to be taking longer than before. Whatever it is you are doing is demanding you so much less than you are capable of that you actually feel completely bored and useless. Sounds familiar? Well, let me tell you that persistent boredom is  also a form of stress which – as all forms of stress over longer periods of time – can make you sick in various ways.

Not being challenged enough is one extreme of the so-called “Yerkes-Dodson Curve” which looks like a reversed U.

Yerkes-Dodson Curve

Stress-Performance curve; source: Michael Chaskalson, The Mindful Workplace, 2011, page 59.

As we also know all too well, life nowadays is asking many of us a lot in terms of data overflow, multitasking, more and more global organizations, hence increased workload at demanding times, etc. When dealing with these sort of challenges but still being capable of handling everything, we move up the curve towards the peak. Pressure increases but so does our ability to cope with it in an effective manner.

Nevertheless, beyond a certain point, if the pressure continues to rise our performance will start to decrease. We feel less able to cope with the multitude of tasks we are to perform, details are lost in a sheer flood of information, we feel overwhelmed and unorganized. Our motivation drops and eventually, when this goes on for too long, we become sick. Obesity, burnout, depression, chronic pain, fatigue, cancer, heart disease are just a few key words to stress what an important impact stress can have on our wellbeing and our lives as a whole. Your body simply cannot cope with the permanent activation of the sympathetic nervous system… stress becomes distress.

At the peak however, when finding the right balance between personal resources and challenge, we excel. In this state you are creative and efficient and you feel very good about yourself. Usually this state is called ‘flow’.

You might be asking yourselves now: is there a way to prevent tripping over to the other side of the U? Well, yes there is! You have to find a “relaxation response”[1], that means a “(…)physical state of deep rest that counteracts the harmful effects of (your body’s) fight-or-flight response”. If you are able to do this, you might even discover a state of much higher performance than you ever would have imagined.

Mindfulness training, as a way of being present right here and now with your own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, will certainly enable you to deal better with wherever you are on the Yerkes-Dodson Curve.

Don’t hesitate to contact me should you want to learn more about how mindfulness could help you! Jenny

Further reading:


[1] Chaskalson, page 63.

On the path of self-transformation







Currently reading an excellent book in order to prepare for a ‘mindfulness in the workplace’ training I am going to attend, it struck me how easy it can be to bring calm and quietness into our daily lives. If you ever had anything to do with psychology, yoga, coaching, stress-reduction techniques or mediation you will certainly know this but bringing it all together to the point is what really makes a difference.

Did you for example know that:

  • What happens in your mind changes your brain and vice versa? You can actually train your mind to change your brain in lasting ways.
  • Small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time? You will gradually build up new neural structures.
  • Human beings evolved to pay great attention to unpleasant experiences? This negativity bias highlights bad news and creates anxiety and pessimism. It takes about five positive interactions to overcome the effects of a single negative one.
  • Psychological pain draws on many of the same networks as physical pain and can thus trigger the same negative experience and suffering?

Little steps you can do on your path to change:

  • Turn positive facts into positive experiences. Bring your mindful attention to these facts, be open and allow them in. Let them affect you!
  • Hold these moments/experiences in awareness, being fully with them, savoring every moment. Focusing on your body sensations and emotions, let the experience fill your body and be as intense as possible so that both your body and mind can absorb it. Every time you do this, you build a little bit of neural structure. This will gradually and over time change how you feel and act.
  • Relax your body whenever you can by taking a deep breath for example or by focusing systematically on different parts of your body. There are many ways to train this from simple methods to yoga, meditation etc. Practicing ‘offline’ will allow you to foster and build strategies for your body which will then also be available to you when a stressful situation arises.

Let me finish for today with a quote:

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” – Buddha Quotes (Sources of Insight)

Have an excellent day/evening/morning! Jenny