“How do I quit being hesitant?”

I realized recently that I’ve been really irresolute all the time, which I’m not happy about. For example, when I first came to the U.S. as an international student, I picked a English name that I like at that time and registered it as the name that I’d prefer to go by. But now, I don’t like it anymore. I don’t feel it’s my real identity. I feel odd when people call me that name. I guess this isn’t the best example, but what I’m trying to ask is how do I stick to one point that I can hold on to. Another example is that I hesitated for an hour at bestbuy to decide which model of iPhone 6 I was gonna get: 16G or 64G, black or white, 6 or 6 plus. I changed my mind every 5 minutes and asked the salesgirl to get a different one for me for at least 5 times. I really don’t like me being like this but I cannot help it. Is there anything or mental training I can do to get rid of this bad habit?

I’d suggest that the first thing you could accept is that your hesitancy has been useful to you in the past. For whatever reasons it has helped you avoid dangers and alerted you to things that are worth worrying about.

Once you are ok with the fact that it is a reaction that has been really useful to you in the past – maybe in your childhood – you can choose what kind of a ‘hesitancy scale’ you want in the future. In which situations is hesitancy a good idea? (eg tight-rope walking) When is it not? (eg eating breakfast) In between there is a range of things that are safe, dangerous, exciting and mundane. You can’t control everything that happens around you but you can choose how you react. Your mission, as a part of living, is to work out how you want to react to life.

So pay attention to what’s happening in you at the moment you become anxious. There is likely a difference – it could be physical, emotional, or something else – between ‘sensible’ hesitation and ‘unhelpful’ hesitation. For example, I had a client who feels ‘sensible’ hesitation in their heart but ‘unhelpful’ hesitation in a particular way their face flinches.

There’s a way, once you identify the difference, of ‘turning down the volume’ on the unhelpful stuff. You can probably work it out yourself once you get there, but get in touch if you want to keep talking.


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“How can one not get defensive during an argument?”

You feel defensive in an argument because you are unsure of how strong your side is. You want it to be true without challenge, and you worry that the slightest bump in the road will send it into a ditch.

Take the time to understand the other person’s point of view. Really listen and try to empathise with what they are thinking and why they are thinking it. If it’s an argument you have a lot, make the effort to actually argue it (in your head or to someone else). Get really familiar with what it takes to believe what they do.

Now, when you you argue your genuinely-held belief you do so from a position of understanding both sides. You will find you are a lot more confident in your position.


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“Why do insults hurt?”

When a part of us believes them.

If I accuse you of being a blue-headed giraffe it’s unlikely to sting.

But if I say “you’ve got an ugly body” then you’ll probably feel a twinge of guilt/shame about something about your body you don’t like (if you’re like 99% of the human race).


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“What should I do about my indecision and how do I know what I want?”

I’m so indecisive and I constantly doubt myself or what I want, if I’m doing one thing, I want the other, but once I’ve found or experienced the “other” I want back what I had. Or I want another “other”
But I just don’t know how to just be and enjoy life. I feel like I have a finite amount of time and I’m wasting it being neither here nor there.
How do I stop being so indecisive and how do I find out what I want?

The first thing you could accept is that your hesitancy has been useful to you in the past. For whatever reasons it has helped you avoid dangers and alerted you to things that are worth worrying about.

Once you are ok with the fact that it is a reaction that has been really useful to you in the past – maybe in your childhood – you can choose what kind of a ‘hesitancy scale’ you want in the future. In which situations is hesitancy a good idea? (eg tight-rope walking) When is it not? (eg eating breakfast) In between there is a range of things that are safe, dangerous, exciting and mundane. You can’t control everything that happens around you but you can choose how you react. Your mission, as a part of living, is to work out how you want to react to life.

So pay attention to what’s happening in you at the moment you become anxious. There is likely a difference – it could be physical, emotional, or something else – between ‘sensible’ hesitation and ‘unhelpful’ hesitation. For example, I had a client who feels ‘sensible’ hesitation in their heart but ‘unhelpful’ hesitation in a particular way their face flinches.

There’s a way, once you identify the difference, of ‘turning down the volume’ on the unhelpful stuff. You can probably work it out yourself once you get there, but get in touch if you want to keep talking.


Got a question? Get in touch.

“How do you measure the talent/potential of a person?”

Everyone always comments on certain people that they have “potential” or “talent”. What factors go into determining this?

If you aren’t sure how to answer this on a broad scale, then I have a different question for you. In your line of work, what makes you think that a certain person has the potential to do well and succeed?

Usually what you’re responding to is a mixture of a basic skill or ability, plus some sign that there is a raw talent for exploiting this skill. It may also be that there is an opportunity (eg a growing industry) that will make a well-honed skill a valuable one.

So if someone demonstrates an unusual skill
And shows an aptitude for developing it
But hasn’t yet
And developing it would be valuable…
Then we say they have potential.


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“Why are we unable to stop thinking about someone even though we want to?”

Because not wanting to think about that person has a story that matters to you – for example because they dropped your ice cream in the mud.

But the ice cream in the mud is a moment in your history that has a powerful meaning for you
So the story is more ‘real’ to you than the absence of that story
So your consciousness considers it more valuable to remember (if for no other reason than to protect you from people who may drop your ice cream in the future)

If you want to forget the story you need to replace it with something more meaningful or powerful for you. Perhaps by remembering a lovely ice cream you shared with a close friend.


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“Why do I get so angry, defensive, and offended over politics?”

People generally feel defensive in an argument because they are unsure of how strong their side is. You want it to be true without challenge, and you worry that the slightest bump in the road will send it into a ditch.

Take the time to understand the other person’s point of view. Really listen and try to empathise with what they are thinking and why they are thinking it. If it’s an argument you have a lot, make the effort to actually argue it (in your head or to someone else). Get really familiar with what it takes to believe what they do.

Now, when you you argue your genuinely-held belief you do so from a position of understanding both sides. You will find you are a lot more confident in your position.

People in political arguments rarely fully understand the alternative point of view, and therefore fear the weakness of their argument.


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“Is it normal to feel a little uncertain at the beginning of a relationship?”

After a couple of dates having a fantastic time and knowing each other somewhat deeply, is it normal to feel uncertain about where your relationship is headed, especially when you’re not with her?

I feel uncertain whenever I expect a phone call or a text message, but don’t receive any. I feel uncertain about whether she wants me, simply because she isn’t spending as much time with me as I’d want. But when I try hard and look at it logically, I feel that she is putting in just as much effort as I am, if not more.

My question isn’t whether she likes me or not. My question is, is it normal to feel this way at the start of any relationship? Or, is the fact that I’m having these feelings, a red flag?

The easy answer is “yes” (and there’s a harder answer too, in a minute).

Were built to protect the things we care about: relationships, kids, jobs, food, etc. and part of protecting something is considering the things that could go wrong. That way we can be prepared if it happens. So there’s a part of us that flags up the things we want to hold onto, and thinks about the ways that it could disappear. And that’s called worrying.

So yes, it’s perfectly normal to worry about losing something that matters to you.

And the harder answer is… Perhaps what this concern is also telling you is that you aren’t getting the validation of the relationship you need. Asking “do you love me” too many times gets needy, and that throws up a totally different type of worry.

So maybe this worry is also telling you to lean into the relationship more. Be more you. Risk more by being more vulnerable. Show more of who you are. Use this relationship to share more of who you really are, and what really matters to you.

And as the relationship persists, and you get to show more of yourself, you’ll likely feel more accepted as you, fully and authentically, and the worries about the relationship will be replaced with a joy of expressing yourself fully in a relationship.


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“Why do I believe the worst about people?”

Why do I want to talk badly about others? Why do I continue to think badly of them even when the evidence proves it incorrect?

The assumption in your question is ‘why do I think the worst of someone when they don’t deserve it?’

If we unfairly victimise someone it is usually because we need an enemy. Inventing an enemy happens when we feel bad about ourselves (guilty, out of control, under pressure, etc) in a way that we cannot take ownership.

Having an enemy gives us reassurance that we did all that we could do, but the presence of this other person (or group or state…) means we are unable to be as perfect as we would otherwise be.

Hence we are stuck in victimhood not through our own actions, but because of others.

It is the ultimate denial of accountability.


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“Why do some people build an emotional wall around them?”

It seemingly appears that they don’t have any emotional baggage or bad past experiences, yet they dont let people in their life easily.

The more people ‘protect’ themselves from vulnerable experiences, the more it reinforces the fear of what might happen. Each time I encounter the fearful circumstance I am reminding myself of what might happen, which is every bit as vivid as reality for me.

So I become more and more convinced that this possibility is a probability. This has the tragic consequence of keeping me further and further away from disproving the thing I fear.

Over time the person convinces themself that the fear is reality.


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“Why do people ignore history, facts, and scientific evidence that contradict their pre-existing ideals?”

Is being stubborn a part of human nature? Is this a irremediable flaw of humanity?

Cognitive dissonance is the psychological effect of holding two contradicting thoughts in mind at one time. It’s uncomfortable. It presents a mental stress and is not something that people generally do happily or willingly. We all search for ‘consonance’ that proves our expectations and reality are aligned.

So most people read/watch things that support their current model of reality.


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“How can I be less sensitive to the things that happen to me?”

I am so sensitive person. I care about every thing in my life, i want every thing to be in a way that won’t affect me(or hurt me).
I realized that it is impossible not to get hurt from time to time but i still have fear of getting hurt. What makes me feel bad is i get hurt for reasons beyond my control, like some one did some bad thing to me, i blame my self for not being alerted and blame my less experience in life, then i tell myself that i learn, but actually what he did makes me feel so miserable and see life as a bad place because i am innocent self from inside and expect all people to be like me.

Let me start by saying I am INCREDIBLY sensitive to what people say, what people don’t say, and what I read into people and situations all around me.

My advice is to not try to change it. But there is also a perspective you can take on that helps you be less antagonised.

If you’re like me you have a radar that is always on, turned up to 11, reads the room an in instant, strongly intuitive about people and sometimes over-corrects to see things that may not be there.

In my profession that’s an incredible bonus. I get a sense of what’s happening in someone often before they themselves realise it. I may not be able to name it, but I know how to draw it out, acknowledge its importance, and give the other person ways of doing something with it.

It also means that in non-professional circumstances I ‘see’ things that others don’t recognise. And because they haven’t paid me to spot them it can cause arguments. As far as they’re concerned it doesn’t exist; for me it’s glaringly obvious.

Which means I can be ‘sensitive’. Reacting too quickly (in their opinion) to something that’s not such a big deal. Going too deep when we’re just having a chat.

So now the perspective that can help you…

This is your interpretation of the world. Everything is relative. If you are in space there is no up, no down, only the juxtaposition of two things. There is no fast, no slow, only the relative velocities of two bodies in motion.

How you feel is how you feel, not how they are being. Thicker skin will shut you down. Keep your skin thin, celebrate the sensitivity you have for what matters out there… and accept that part of the trade you make is that sometimes it stings.


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“What is the difference between mentoring and coaching?”

Thank you for your question.

I’ve been a mentor and I’ve been a coach, both many times.

A mentor is someone you go to for advice. You’re starting a business, raising a child, planning a sabbatical. You’re doing something for the first time, or at least you’re doing it with a level of incompetence.

You look for someone who has done it before, been there, learned the lessons the hard way. They play the role of a teacher, giving you advice on how to approach problems that they’ve seen before. They may have models, strategies, a network of people who can steer you in the right direction.

In short, they help you.

That’s not a coach. A coach is someone who encourages you to be more yourself. They’re basically very good at seeing past the story, asking questions that force you to learn more about yourself in the process.

Maybe you find yourself unable to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do, or you’re scratching your head asking “is this it?”, or you lack the presence or magic touch to step up a rung in your career.

You look for someone who knows how to bring out the best in people. They may have approaches, tools, strategies that can bring more of your own power to the surface. They know how to bring you out.

In short, they empower you.


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“My grandfather is the most selfless person I know and was a role model for me while growing up. How can I change myself to be more like him?”

You can’t. You can only be yourself. But the fact that you admire him suggests you share some of the same values. The only difference is that he is living them.

So get clear on what it is you admire about him, and know that you admire it because it is in you also. Then ask yourself, If I truly lived this value in my life, what would I be doing – in my life, in my context? And do it.

You might also ask him what difficulties he has experienced doing the things he does. It’s sure not to be an easy path. And recognise that these are difficulties you too must overcome.


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“Should I be upset about my bf’s behaviour?”

Hello. Last night my(17F) boyfriend(19M) of three months told me that he basically visited some of my guy friends’ facebook profiles and browsed through their photos specifically to see if they have any likes from me. He said he was simply curious but it upset me because I don’t think it’s just curiosity and I felt, in a way, stalked. He’s also very jealous of any interactions I have with my very few guy friends.

When I confronted him about it he started accusing me, saying “you act all hurt because there’s something you’re hiding from me”. I don’t hide anything and i think i like maybe 4 or 5 pics posted by guys over the past months.

What reaction should I have to what he did? He asked me “it upset you? What are you going to do? Break up with me?”

I’m going to guess that trust is a big deal for you. You like to feel trusted, you like to know that you can trust others, and in some ways trust is the basis of your relationships.

Of course, everyone likes to trust and be trusted, but for you it is a bedrock of how two people can be together.

This may come as a surprise, but not everyone is like that. It sounds as though your boyfriend doesn’t value it as highly. That’s not to say he’s untrustworthy, just that it isn’t an absolute for him. He might have bigger values around curiosity. (In which case he’s as likely to be hurt if you fail to ask him questions about his day.)

So when he goes looking at Facebook pages he might simply be curious, perhaps a little jealous, which is totally normal. What he’s not feeling is any uneasiness that this tiny lack of trust he’s feeling about you is in any way damaging to your relationship.

Like I say, I don’t know you. But it is possible that the two of you just don’t share the value of trust as strongly as you feel it. And that’s normal too.


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“How can I train myself to enhance my executive force?”

The biggest boost you can give yourself at executive level is authenticity. Show up as you really are, speak from the heart, be consistently you every day. People recognise authenticity at a fundamental level. It changes how they hear you, and what they believe.

To do that you need deeply to understand what matters to you and the things that send you off course.

I’d say the best way to achieve that, although I’m biased, is to hire an exec coach.


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“How can I brand myself?”

You are already branded.

Your brand is the way you do things, the values you hold dear, the presence that others feel when you are near. It is the way you react, the path you choose.

Your brand is your history and your reputation, your story.

What you need is not a brand. What you need is a way to express it.


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What do you do when things go wrong?

I learned a resilience trick watching Wimbledon that might be really obvious to you, naive even. A commentator was talking about Andy Murray and the skills of a professional tennis professional. In particular, the skill of putting your failures behind you. Each time a tennis pro loses a point, or mis-hits, or betrays himself through some fault… he starts afresh. Each play is for that point only.

Because if you carried that negative chatter forwards into the next point you’d be setting yourself a low standard – either by telling yourself you were worth no more than that last lost point, or by beating yourself up when that energy shoud be channelled into the current play, the unknown future.
Of course, the transferred skill is obvious. If we continue to talk ourselves down then at best we squander the energy we could be applying to today’s challenges. At worst, we convince ourselves we are only as good as our last failure.
The sports pro skill of putting each point behind is one we can learn at the start of each new day.
But sports pros do something else too, something that almost seems to contradict it: they explore their mistakes in intricate detail, looking for lessons. They go back over lost games, missed points and foot faults looking for ways they could have improved.
So perhaps we need to balance two modes of learning, and make conscious choices about which mode we are in.
In one mode, I’ll call it ‘running mode’ we put each experience behind us, moving forwards, living for the moment, taking each challenge on its own merits, right here right now. Fight to win this one, let the past go hang.
And in the other mode, which I’ll call ‘sitting mode’ we reflect, remember, look for the learning, pause on it, recall the details, regret a bit, celebrate a bit.
And the trick is to notice in the moment which mode you need to choose. If you hear your inner chatter criticising yourself, ask yourself “Is this a moment to run or to sit?” And honour your choice.