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Managing Anxiety When You Have to Say No

Sometimes saying no can be our biggest challenge - how do you manage anxiety?

An anxious woman

Photo by Gary Ross from Pixabay

We all get anxious at times, specially when we feel uncomfortable, out of our depth or uncertain of our ability to deal with a particular challenge, but when it becomes so huge that it causes a complete meltdown, it’s usually too late to do much about it other than survive the consequences that affect both your physical and mental health. Managing anxiety when you have to say no is not so much about finding a way to stop anxiety but rather a way of being prepared to face the inevitable discomfort that saying no can cause.

Conflict aversion

Do you really have trouble saying no or even telling someone the truth when you know that it will cause a defensive reaction?

Avoidance, escape, procrastination, ignoring the situation, and down playing your own feelings and ability are just some of the ways to get out of having to deal with conflict, but why do we fear it so much?

Let’s imagine you have a boss who asks you to work an hour later everyday. You agreed and were fine about that, but after three weeks of the same, you’re tired of getting home too late - you never have time to go to the gym. But she scares you and the organization's culture is somewhat competitive. How do you communicate this to her - would managing your anxiety in this scenario seem impossible?

As this is a work example I will add another to make it more general. You have a neighbour who you have a great relationship with but she has asked you to look after her dog while she’s on holiday.You’re not unkind, you normally love to help out, but this is the third time that you’ve looked after her dog. It’s a dog that's rather hard to control and he pulls, is rather aggressive with other dogs and you just don’t feel a bond with him that would otherwise make this a pleasure rather than a chore. 

How can you manage anxiety when you have to say no?

An opportunity for growth

These two typical examples may be different to your experience, no doubt you can relate and  sense the level of anxiety that would ensue. You may have already created a perfect escape plan with a whole backstory in your head that will mean maintaining your favour with the person. But at what cost?  

Every example such as those above make wonderful opportunities to grow as a person and to end the dark reign that anxiety imposes on your life once and for all.

Once you stand up to the dragon of anxiety, you will get a little braver each time and soon people will respect that imposing, controlling, manipulative or bullying behaviour just won’t work with you. Your relationships with others will improve.

Taking action is your choice

If this sounds like another ideal to add to the archived list that already awaits your attention, you’re not alone and that’s absolutely normal. It’s unrealistic to believe that you can suddenly start saying no assertively without feeling guilt, uncertainty, self-doubt or even panic. You identify yourself with someone who is willing to say yes, a positive, helpful and kind person and saying no feels pretty alien. So the first step is to appreciate your willingness to say yes. You are a positive person with a kind heart who will often go the extra mile. The next step is to let go of the attachment to being that kind of person. Accept yourself for a person who can say no too.

Saying yes when you feel like saying no is inauthentic, anti-evolutionary and it’s giving away your power but worse, it makes you feel bad about yourself and that keeps the game alive.

By being courageous and expressing yourself as an equal, you claim yourself and this is an empowering choice that begins with you, and, like all change you wish to see in your life, if you don’t take the steps to do it, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Tenderly Is How

Managing anxiety when you have to say no is easier when you add the tender touch. Any action you take, make it tender towards yourself.

Anxiety protects you, it makes you cautious and that can save your life, but it becomes dangerous to your health if it’s something that occurs often and results in a constant state of stress. There are a plethora of negative consequences of stress that affect your mental and physical well-being, so tenderness is the first step towards a more self-loving approach that will offset or balance this.

Here are some ways to manage anxiety when you have to say no:

  • Increasing your self-awareness through meditation is a great strategy to reconnect to a space within you that feels more harmonious and able to deal with the challenges that life presents.  The more you connect to that space the more trust you will have in your ability to manage anxiety. There are so many distractions in life and so much to take care of that mental energy is often a lot louder and more imposing than it should be. Harmony is a vital foundation of managing anxiety. 
  • Colour code your emotional state. Once you’ve become a little more self-aware of how your body communicates, you can begin to identify your emotional states by colour coding them. For example:

    BLUE - no anxiety at all (total relaxation) 

    GREEN -  slight agitation

    YELLOW - mental overload or mind gremlins sabotaging your self-esteem

    ORANGE - feeling really anxious along with the tell tale physical symptoms such as butterflies, nausea, sweaty palms, palpitations etc. 

    RED - total meltdown -  Going blank, crying, storming out of a meeting or hitting someone! 

    The colours are examples and you may feel that other colours would better depict these emotions. The emotions and consequences themselves are also very personal, but for everybody, the closer you are to blue, obviously the better. If you feel you are in yellow, you can make a conscious effort to take time out, breathe, come back to your body and assess what is happening, you are much more likely to be able to say no in a calm and assertive manner which will probably not cause the reaction you imagined, but, if it does, you´re more likely to be able to handle that reaction and respond to it in a serene and dignified way.  


  • I would like to add the importance of tenderness towards yourself. To not beat yourself up when you feel that you can’t say no. To not feel useless because you have to do something that you didn’t want to do. Just recognise what’s happened and what you are choosing this time around. You will get another opportunity and you will be that little more aware the next time.  Appreciate your efforts, dust yourself down and shake it off. Say whoops and carry on.


  • Appreciation and self-love. This step is similar to the previous one, but more related to when you do say no. It’s likely to be an anxious moment and anxiety feels horrible so all of your senses are saying turn away, escape to safety! but safety only promises temporary respite. 



All encompassing self-love - The antidote to anxiety

self-love versus anxiety

It's inspiring to see how many courageous women now stand up to bullies. The Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinsteins of this world have had their day thanks to that courage. Your situation may seem small in comparison or it may be of the same ilk, it doesn’t matter because it comes from the same energy source. Whether it’s not being able to say no to your daughter leaving her dirty washing for you to collect every day or saying no to the advances of somebody you have absolutely no interest in, it causes anxiety and anxiety feels the same in everyone’s body.  


How you react to that anxiety and how long it sticks around is what changes.

So, every time you do say no appreciate and celebrate that decision. Don’t worry about whether it was the right thing to say (feeling right or wrong is another blog!!) You did it, you were brave and you put your own needs first. That’s the beginning of honouring yourself more and it leads to self-love.  Self-love is an antidote to anxiety and the more you focus your attention there, the more it expands.  The wonderful thing about love is that it doesn’t care who it’s directed at, or who its focus is, it just expands and encompasses everything around you the more you experience it.  

If you feel like a victim and there is a perpetrator, it's so much harder to manage anxiety when you have to say no, but when you are self-loving you don’t feel like a victim, you become empowered and the perpetrator isn’t seen as the enemy, rather you find yourself being able to step back and see the bigger picture, separating the person from their behaviour.  I bet you can deal with behaviour better than you can deal with a person - it already feels less scary!

You're not alone

Feeling confident and heard

If you are having trouble saying no and the consequences are causing you a lot of stress, please don't suffer in silence. I'm easily contactable (go to contact me at the top of this page) There is also an online course called From Anxiety to Harmony, if anxiety is causing much disharmony in your life.

However, I hope this blog was useful to begin a conscious way to manage anxiety when you have to say no. If you struggle to say no, you can download a free e-guide that comes with audio exercises that help you to reconnect more to your body and become  aware of how to manage your anxiety using your own voice. It’s called Be Brave, Be Heard & Shine Bright - please click below and I'll send you your free copy.

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Sign up to get your free eGuide & somatic voice exercises, Be Brave, Be Heard & Shine Bright!

solidarity during crisis - Gorgeous Hearts Wellness coaching

Coronavirus Wellness Coaching Support

The Covid 19 virus is threatening to change our lifestyles dramatically, at least for the next few months, it's important to focus on what we can do to support ourselves and others rather than falling prey to the far more dangerous virus, anxiety.  Coronavirus wellness coaching support is aimed at all those who are feeling overwhelmed at this time.

Coronavirus - Wellness Coaching Support

Crazy how such a tiny little invader can bring us all to the brink of insanity! This blog, however, is not focusing on information regarding the virus nor the behaviours or ideology around it - there are enough of those.  As a wellness coach I felt like sharing ways that we can support ourselves and others during this time without totally glossing over what is here to expose a way of living that is not in helping us to feel harmony.

Coronavirus wellness coaching support that reduces anxiety 

My daughters are in their 20's so I get their perspective.  They don't fear the virus for themselves because it is unlikely to affect them physically.  What they are concerned about is the financial impact of having to be off work for a couple of weeks, even if they have, or live with someone, who just has a mild cough. Statutory sick pay doesn't cover their rent let alone their bills and food.  Financial worries are probably affecting the majority right now.  Added to this is the fear of passing the virus onto the mothers, fathers and grandparents of their friends who may be more vulnerable. Businesses are anxious about how they will stay afloat as their cash flows dwindle. It's not my case, but I can really empathise with those who are worried about being exposed to the virus due to their age or health issues that could complicate matters. Yes there are many reasons right now to be anxious - however...... 

Anxiety causes more illness than the virus itself and the media is certainly giving us our daily dose to stoke that fire.  What this exposes right now is that anxiety has become a constant in our lives. It seems like humanity always has a reason to fear something. Fear is causing more havoc, separation and self-interest and it is destroying reason. 

Can we just put the breaks on fear for a moment? All it takes is a choice.  Fear is energy - we can align or choose not to align. Simple - not so easy I understand - I'm talking to myself here as much as I am sharing. It can however, be easier when we add a very special ingredient - love.

So, what's my take?

  • First and foremost you know the answer to this within you, so trust that you've got this.  You have plenty of experience of worrying and being fearful - when did it ever change anything? I don't condone burying feelings or emotions either - all this is happening for a reason so observe rather than absorb. When you focus on worry, it becomes the air you breathe, your expression and your actions and consequences. Be curious about what is happening and take responsibility for your feelings and let's collectively put a stop to the spread of the virus of anxiety.
  • Use this time wisely to prepare your body and to take care of it.  You may be young and healthy and not at risk, but true wellness does not need a coffee in the morning to help it to function, it does not feel exhausted at the end of the day nor anxious and reactive to the smallest problem or sign of discomfort. True wellness is feeling vitality and joy. It is having  the energy to take care of yourself and others. A healthy diet and getting quality sleep are important steps to maintain harmony amidst the chaos.  
  •  Appreciate yourself and focus on your strengths.This means connecting deeply to the tenderness and care that is within you rather than focusing on what's going on outside.  Granted you need to keep abreast of what's going on in the world around you, but scrolling down news feeds can be addictive and depressing. Be honest about the percentage of time that you are focusing on sensationalist information and honour the time you need to be still.  Spend some time instead contacting other people online and having conversations that are supportive and uplifting. Listen to each other and share the love.  Love is a vaccine for the anxiety virus.
  • Get some support if you feel overwhelmed. It's not a sin to feel fear or anxiety - it is a very natural reaction, but learning to respond from your wisdom is going to help immensely. I am offering very affordable coaching right now because I truly want to support others. I offer free coaching to those who have financial problems so there is no excuse to feel alone. See at the bottom of this page for more information.

Coronavirus wellness coaching support for who?

Life can sometimes get very heavy, for us as individuals, or as a collective.  Human beings always need interaction with each other, support, to be able to share, to love and to care, but when dark times are upon us, it is a necessity that is as vital as the food we eat.  Just to have somebody who will listen to you without interruptions, judgement, or projections can be the most clarifying and uplifting experience that gives you your purpose back. So, to the question 'Who needs coaching?' I would answer, everybody! 

Are you feeling a bit like Harry the alpaca? Harry knows he needs a haircut but he's not sure if that's a good idea at the moment because what's out there is a bit too much to deal with right now.  Trouble is he keeps bumping into the same wall while the stable door is wide open.   Don't be a Harry! Face the storm and let the wind blow the fringe right out of your eyes.  We will all evolve together if we just choose to stop aligning to the fear and anxiety that is controlling us. 

Life coaching for clear vision

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Don't be alone, overwhelmed and steeped in fear or anxiety. I'm here to help and I'm offering affordable or in some cases free coaching to support as many people as I can at this time. I am an experienced and qualified wellness coach and together we can invite vitality and joy back into your life.

Comfortable goals don't work

Comfortable Goals

Comfortable goals are boring!

Just like comfort eating, we can easily pick up the habit of comfort goaling!

Comfortable goals don't work

If you have ever woken up one late morning on January the 1st with a desire to set yourself a goal, you probably already know that after an initial spout of energy, there is a slow fizzling out period rather like the Alka Selzer sitting on your bedside table! Goals can be uncomfortable to carry through, especially if the purpose of that goal doesn't set you on fire!  A goal needs to be exciting, but it also needs to challenge you. Setting comfortable goals doesn't incite transformation...... 

Examples of comfortable goals

  • I'm going to lose weight, but I'll take my time
  • I will work on my time management tomorrow
  •  I am going to change my job this year as I'm not liking the extra responsibility and my work colleagues are driving me up the wall!
  • My goal is to meet more people - I'll start on-line

You get the drift - you want your cake and you want to eat it. Normal right? 

Of course! and you don't have to be hard on yourself and be uncomfortable to be successful. The reason all of those goals listed above are 'comfortable' is because they are avoiding commitment. Commitment needs motivation and motivation is only real if there is a clear purpose behind it that comes from an alignment to what makes us passionate and energetic.  If goals are just moving away from what isn't working, they can lack pzazz! It's important to zoom out and see the bigger picture...

The insidious 'comfort' in comfortable goals

Being comfortable often translates to not moving. Just conger up an image of comfort and you may find yourself in your slippers and watching a nice movie on the T.V or soaking in a hot bath, but when it comes to self-realization or evolving in any area of our lives, comfort just keeps you in the same patterns and does not lead to growth or expansion. If everything was comfortable, it would make life rather monotonous and dull, and that's because it is the discomfort that makes us aware and honest with regards to how we are expressing, living, working or parenting for example. Comfort keeps on saying "stick with what you know and you'll be safe."

Moving out of the comfort zone and creating the goal

Firstly let's look at moving out of your comfort zone. It's a hot day, do you jump into the swimming pool because you are too hot and the discomfort of the heat is enough to motivate the plunge into cool water, even though you know that the cold will be uncomfortable for a short period of time, or, are you just loving the idea of swimming in that blue water that looks so enticing? This is the intention that you can focus on, the reason for the goal in the first place.

Secondly observe honestly how this particular goal makes you feel.  Meh or hell yeah!

Thirdly make sure that the goal is exact - focused and clear.  I'm going to be more self-caring this year is a bit bland and general. It's better to say I'm going to stick to a) a healthier diet b) an exercise routine on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and c) I'm going to set a time of 10 pm to go to bed in the week.

Fourthly check in with your body and sense how it feels about what you are intending. Do you feel positive that this is achievable and something that can be mastered in the next 3-6 months? Do you feel anxiety and if so, where do you feel it and what is the intensity? You can then anticipate some strategies that will reduce any anxiety that will help you to be more successful.

Lastly zoom out and see the bigger picture. How does this fit in with your sense of purpose? What values are dear to you and how do they relate? How does this goal contribute to other people in your life and society as a whole - this can also give a sense of purpose that is not just individually motivated which helps you to stay on track.

Comfortable goals or exciting purpose?

Life is never really comfortable.  If you don't move, life moves you.  Everything is in motion and we can either be in harmony with the flow or move against its rhythm with all of the discomfort that this will eventually entail.  

A great way to think of a goal is to ask yourself 'What's next?' Instead of imagining goals as lineal journeys of self-development from  A to B i.e. go to the moon, plant your flag and say "I'm here," think of them as a way of continually evolving and accepting of the next challenge. Goals can constantly unfold if we are willing to observe what the next step may be and claim the opportunities that present themselves. 

Purpose can be elusive or really exciting especially when it transcends our individual needs and encompasses the wellbeing of others. Taking responsibility, committing to your life and expressing the best version of you has a positive impact on you and all those around you - we are all connected.

Instead of comfortable goals think of dynamic, evolutionary and life-changing goals that form part of your purpose to contribute to all. If you are healthier you are more joyful, if you are organised you help others navigate around you, if you are confident, you will inspire others for example.

Want to achieve your goals with confidence?

click below to get a free guide to setting goals that will help you to identify your goal, organise a strategy with this great tool and carry it through. 

1 emotional harmony gorgeous hearts

Navigating Your Way to Emotional Harmony

Are some of your relationships driving you up the wall?  Do you get confused with the array of choices and imposing voices? Do emotions get too much when the people in your life know exactly which buttons to press in order to trigger a reaction?  Read on to discover how you can learn to respond and not react.......

Pick up the oars from the water and start navigating your way to emotional harmony!

Navigating your way to emotional harmony looks at the art of  expressing in a balanced way with no particular emotion taking the lead and playing its own solo! Simply it is the art of no reaction and expressing as one whole rather than different ego states taking over for different circumstances. These ego states are highlighted in the theory of Transactional Analysis (T.A ) founded by Eric Berne, a popular therapy since the 1960's.  It exposes the addictions we have to  emotional disharmony that play out as dramas in our relationships and the games we play to get our fix! The consequences of addictions to emotional reactions plays heavy on our physical and mental health .  Even though you may not be familiar with this theory, you might well recognise how it manifests in your own life. I certainly had a few aha moments when I studied this, however,  this is a short blog and doesn't look at T.A in any real depth. Instead it looks at how we may restore emotional harmony through observing and exposing the emotional games in our own relationships.  

You are whole, powerful and creative but who is at the helm?

Navigating your way to harmony Gorgeous Hearts

Transactional Analysis presents that we have three ego states; The Child, The Parent and The Adult. All of these ego states are present in every one of us, and they interchange depending on how we react to different emotional triggers and in different relationships.  

The interesting thing is, we may change the dominating ego state depending on the person or the situation that we are reacting to.  It's a game we all play in our relationships and will depend on the ego state that is manifesting in the person speaking to us or the ego state that has been triggered in us due to a particular situation. I will briefly summarise these three states.....

  • THE CHILD within us can be energetic, playful, spontaneous, free, fun, curious, creative and cute.  Adversely he or she can be stubborn, reactive, prone to tantrums, irresponsible and self-abusive. If someone tells us what to do, we may respond from the child ego state as we responded to our parents when we were children. 
  • THE PARENT within us can be nurturing, caring and responsible, but the critical, judgemental, dogmatic and autocratic person is expressing from the parent ego state.  The parent ego state is often triggered when trying to advise a friend, talking to a member of staff at work or complaining at customer services!
  • THE ADULT is the rational, logical adult self as he or she responds to something in the present moment.  The adult responds to situations with conscious presence, focus and wisdom. When we ask questions rather than advise, when we listen with all of our attention to a friend, when we state fact without attachment to our own perceptions, we are expressing from the adult.

Emotional Harmony - The Whole of You!

T.A. presents that all of these ego states are active and that we will shift between them.  Sometimes we need the creative spontaneity of the child, and sometimes we need the nurture of the parent.  The presence of the adult can bring wisdom and clarity to situations. The question is, who is at the helm?

Emotional harmony isn't about negating certain emotions that feel disharmonious, but rather accepting the full array and allowing them to express in a balanced and beautiful way, like dulcet musical notes. The important thing is to really know yourself, and the best way to know yourself is to observe with absolute honesty by increasing self-awareness. If you observe the way you express, react or respond to all of the people in your life, rather than absorbing the emotions of others and getting lost in  reactions, you may discover some pretty manipulative games. The thing is, many of those games can be quite addictive as we become accustomed to the way these emotions feel in our bodies. We can become addicted to being a victim because perhaps that is how we got love when we were children, or we get a power rush and feel in control as our parent ego comes forth and dominates a situation.  This can easily expose an underlying insecurity and need for recognition. According to Berne, we all display these ego states so judgement and comparison will not help.  What does help is being observant and honest by looking deeper within and allowing your awareness to keep on unfolding before you and revealing the myriad of games that we are attached to that bring disharmony to our lives and disempower us. 

You the Captain

Going back to ego states, restoring emotional harmony means accepting and integrating the positive aspects of each ego state or personality into one whole, unified you.  You cannot disown any of your 'ego states' but you do have a choice regarding how you react to them. 

When you reconnect by bringing your awareness back to you and always within yourself, you will see that there is only one captain.  The crew may seem many, but the way to bring them all together is by re-connecting to the one, whole and harmonious expression that you truly are. You will discover that expression within you. It's called your soul and there is not likely to be a mutiny while the soul is at the helm! Stay connected, present and purposeful.  Appreciate the depths of your whole being and base your self-esteem on that. Patterns of behaviour,  reactions or expectations of how you want others to respond to you and the dynamics of the games we play in those relationships are all about the energy we align to  - but that's for another blog. 

GORGEOUS HEARTS CONNECT & EXPRESS

Connect & Express is a coaching and mentoring programme that supports you to be more self-aware and honest about what is and what is not serving you to flourish. Transformational coaching combines with vocal exercises and body awareness techniques to give a holistic wellness experience that will put you back in the flow of purpose and abundance, however that manifests for you. The programme aims to reduce anxiety and empower you to express authentically and with confidence. Click below and book a call with me. I'll be more than happy to answer your questions and help you with any challenges you may have...