Are you a rescuer?

Are you a rescuer?

I want to ask you something. Are you a rescuer?

Sometimes what we think is empathy is actually sympathy and it can do more harm than good.

Let’s take a look at what empathy and sympathy mean and when you think you might be helping someone, where you could be in fact hindering them.

What is sympathy?

First of all, sympathy is all about feeling compassion, or feeling sorry for someone, or feeling pity for them in a set of circumstances. It’s about you projecting your sense of pity on them.

And empathy?

Empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and feeling what they feel. Or feeling lots of different perspectives, which is what masterful coaches are very skilled at doing. They can really demonstrate strong empathy with their clients. They can feel what it’s like to be in their shoes, and they can also feel lots of different perspectives around the client’s situation.


The Trap

When I see empathy and sympathy being confused is in a scenario that I affectionately call The Trap. In The Trap there are three roles:

  • the victim
  • the aggressor
  • the rescuer

What usually happens in The Trap is the aggressor says something or does something to the victim, and then the victim goes to the rescuer and tells them what has happened.

Being a rescuer, being sympathetic

What the rescuer does is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Rescuing is when that person says to the victim,

“Do you know what, that happened to me too, I know exactly how you feel, and this happened to me….”

and you tell them your story of the similar scenario. But you don’t know what happened to them. You don’t know exactly how they are feeling. When you do that you’re making it all about you, not about the victim and that’s a form of rescuing.

Of course, we do it with the best of intentions because we’re trying to show that we understand, or we think that we understand, what they’re going through and that’s the tricky bit in The Trap – because we think we’re doing the right thing.

Here’s another example, so you may say,

“Oh, there there, don’t worry about it.”

That completely diminishes what the victim’s feeling and you’re unconsciously saying their feelings are not actually important.

When you see someone who’s in pain, who has had something happen to them, you want them to feel better because we feel uncomfortable when someone else is uncomfortable.

Sympathy not empathy

Rescuing makes us feel better. It’s not really about making the other person feel better. The other way that that rescuers tend to think that they’re helping the victims is to say,

“I’ll go and talk to that person for you. That’s not on, let me go and sort it out for you. “

That removes all of the power from the victim and it doesn’t let them build any of their own resilience for the future. It does make us feel really good, we’re going to come in with our superhero cape and we’re going to solve the problem.

It’s a bit like the adage of giving a man a fish and he’ll feed his family for one day, teach him to fish and he can feed his family for a lifetime.

When you go in and rescue and solve the problem for someone, you’re robbing them of the ability to learn how to do it for themselves, and the chances are that they will happily let you do it.

What does empathy look like?

Here’s a few things to do instead. Demonstrating empathy, you could say,

“That sounds really hard. I’m sorry that happened to you. What do you think’s going on for that person for them to behave that way?”

Or you might say,

“Hey that sounds really hard. How would you like to be feeling instead?”

That really opens up the possibility of changing the way that the victim is feeling and then you can help them to come up with some scenarios and solutions. But how THEY might do it, not how you might do it for them.

You could say,

“Would you like to roleplay some possible responses? So that you can go back to the aggressor and say I’m not happy with what happened. “

You may be able to offer some roleplay that gives the victim some confidence to go and solve their own problem.

Use empathy to build solutions

Because when you rescue, and you come in with the best of intentions to solve someone’s problem, you’re robbing them of the chance of learning how to do it for themselves and that’s the same as pitying them.

Using empathy and giving the victim the opportunity to build their own solution with help from you is the real super hero solution.

Let me know how you get on.

And if you would like to have a chat with me then click below to contact me for a Breakthrough Session.

What are your emotional bus stops?

What are your emotional bus stops?

What on earth do I mean by your emotional bus stops?

Sometimes it feels that we can go from 0 to 60 turbo-powered and end up reacting in a way that isn’t helpful to us. In my blog post ‘Take The Power Back’, I talked about taking the power back from our emotions and I introduced a tip on how to do that. It’s important for us to know what’s happening when we’re overreacting to an emotional stimulus. It can really trigger us into doing things that are not helpful.

What are your triggers?

Have you ever snapped at your partner, really taken their head off?  Or you’ve reached for a glass of wine or chocolate biscuit before you even knew what you were doing?

Reached for a glass of wine

I know it’s happened to me.  We usually don’t have a lot of time between the trigger and our response or reaction.

The point of the emotional bus stops is to stretch out that process, so that we’ve got more time to notice what’s happening and then choose to do something different … literally get off the bus!

What do I mean by get off the bus?

It’s down to this breakdown of our mind/body connection.  We’re living in a time where we’ve put so much emphasis on cognitive ability, our intellectual ability, that we’ve drowned out all the messages that our body is sending us … it’s talking to us and sending us little message all the time.  When you start to slow down, maybe do some meditation or some mindfulness, that’s when you start to tune into those messages again.

We’ve stopped listening!  I liken this to an insistent toddler!


Imagine you’ve got a toddler beside you, tugging at your leg when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone.

“Mum, Mum, Mum.”

You carry on your conversation, they don’t get a response, the tug gets a little bit harder and the voice gets a little louder.

“Mum! Mum! Mum!”

Still no response and then suddenly,


Or even worse …  a full-on tantrum in the middle of the supermarket.

Are you ignoring your body?

That’s essentially what’s happening to us when we’re not listening to our body.  We are ignoring the whispers of “there’s something here needs your attention.”

When we don’t listen, our bodies respond with some scary symptoms; heart racing, feeling scared, panicking, feeling sick, feeling nauseated, headaches or feeling out of control.

What we need to do is slow down that process.  We’re going from zero to 60 on turbo boost, we’re doing all the bus stops before we’ve even noticed.  We need to slow down and notice some of those other messages that we’re so, so skilled at blocking out.

Notice the messages

It’s time to practice slowing down

The messages are still there, so we can reverse-engineer it, but it takes practice.  You’ve been really practiced at doing it the way that you’re doing it, so to change it, you have to unlearn it and practice.

It’s just about raising awareness at this point.  The way I do it is I think to myself

“Okay, well there’s a response that I wish I hadn’t had and I’m going to forgive myself for that.” 

It might not be in the moment, it might be later on when I’m reflecting on the situation.

I need to think what happened right before I reached for the chocolate biscuit.

  • I was feeling really under appreciated.

That caused me to feel a real heaviness in my chest.  Then I think, ‘what happened before that?”

  • Before that, I had sweaty palms, or I felt a flush of heat.

I can’t give you your combination because everyone is different.  Maybe you felt really stressed or angry.  What happened just before that?  A flush of heat or tingling?

Take the time to get off the bus

The point is that the more you notice the things that happened before the really scary symptom, the more you’ll notice them in the future.  In essence, that slows the whole process down for you and gives you the chance to get off that bus before you start doing things that you don’t want to do.

Let me know how you get on.

And if you would like help then click below to contact me for a Breakthrough Session.

Take the Power Back

Take the Power Back

Have you ever stopped to consider what your emotions actually are?

Emotions start off as a physiological response to a stimulus or trigger. They are something that you feel in your body and it’s the description that we give that feeling in our body that is the emotion. We can have different feelings and we equate them to different things.

If you’ve ever felt held hostage by your emotions, then you’re going to love this. My clients often tell me that if they just could get until on top of their emotions, if they could control their emotions then they’d be able to take the right next action to achieve their goals.  If they weren’t such emotional beings, then they’d be able to achieve their goals.

If I wasnt so emotional

What happens when we’ve got that physiological response?

We’ve given it a label and then what tends to happen is that our brain or our self-talk starts getting involved and sometimes that’s not good.

If we go through the process using stress as an example as that is something most of us have experienced:

  1. something happens, there’s some sort of stimulus or trigger.
  2. we have a physiological response in our body somewhere
  3. and then we say, “I’m really stressed”.

What does it feel like when you say “I’m really stressed or I’m stressed”?

For me and what my clients often tell me when I ask them is that it’s scary. It feels like they’re out of control. It feels really panicky and there’s nothing they can do about it. “I’m really stressed”, and past history dictates that this isn’t going to end well.

I’m going to cover how to get out of that cycle in a future post so look out for that one, but what I want to cover here is just a little bit of magic to try and unhook this a bit for you here and now.

Instead of “I’m so stressed.”

I'm so stressed

What about if we changed it to “I seem to be experiencing stress.”

I am experiencing stress

What’s different about how those two feel?

Can you choose the emotion you are feeling?

The biggest difference is when I’m all stressed this is happening TO me. It’s happening TO me and there’s nothing I can do about it.

When I say I’m experiencing stress, it’s something that is happening inside of me for sure but it’s not happening TO me.

It’s not my whole identity. I have choice.

Im experiencing stress

When I’m stressed, I don’t have any choice and there’s no getting off the bus.

When I am experiencing stress in a calmer way, I can choose, and I can slow things down. I can notice I’m experiencing stress and think “What am I going to do next?”

It’s as simple as that. The feeling’s the same, it’s just the escalation in our negative self-talk can be slowed down, and when you notice that instead of saying “I’m really stressed”, say “I’m experiencing stress”.

Slow Down

Get playful with it, try it out and let me know how you get on.

If you would like to find out more about coaching others on their emotions, mindset and making a real difference to their lives, join me at Coach School.

Coach School

And if you would like help on changing your behaviour to change your results then click below to contact me for a Breakthrough Session.

What to Change to Change Your Results

What to Change to Change Your Results

Coaching is all about getting results. It’s about changing something so that you can get different or better results and so how do you do that?

I’ve heard lots of different answers to that question. I’ve heard

  • change your behaviour to get different results,
  • change your thinking to get different results,
  • change your environment to get different results or
  • change everything to get different results.


Sometimes it can be quite difficult to change your behaviour or change everything and actually all we can do is change small things.

What to Change to Change Your Results

Thinking, Feeling and Body Language are all connected

One thing that really excites me is understanding the relationship between what we think, how we feel about it and our body language.

All of these things are connected, and I think we’ve lost a lot of the mind body connection. We put a lot of focus on intellectual ability and cognitive ability and that’s stopped us from realising that our thinking, feeling and body language are linked.

When you do know that they’re linked it can be really powerful.

Think of a Yellow Lemon…

Let me see if I can explain this. If I say to you think of a yellow lemon, what happens?

What to Change to Change Your Results

The vast majority of us think in pictures, so if I said think of a yellow lemon, most of you will have got a picture of a yellow lemon in your mind. Some of you may have smelt it, some of you may have got the taste of it, some of you may have got more than one thing, you might have got the picture and got some saliva happening in your mouth.

Let’s assume that you got a picture of the yellow lemon, you probably also got a feeling as well.  Your feeling might be eugh lemon or it might have been, mmm that’s refreshing, oh yes, that reminds me of holidays or something.

You get a feeling, maybe a joyful feeling maybe an eugh feeling but a feeling nonetheless, and the other thing that you might have noticed was in order to access that picture of the yellow lemon you might have shifted your body position or your eye position.

Accessing memories links to body language

Now this is where I think things are really interesting because the way that we access memories, stored experiences, pictures in our head is by the way that we use our body.

If you were thinking about something that made you sad, you probably noticed that your eyes go down, maybe your shoulders come forward.

If you wanted to access something, a memory of a time when you were really excited and really happy, you’ll notice that your eyes actually come up and your shoulders go back.

Sometimes it’s almost imperceptible but you’ll tell you’ll be able to feel little shifts, maybe in your face or your shoulders, head, your eye position.

That’s because what you’re thinking, that stored experience, the way you feel about it and your body language are all absolutely linked. If you change one, the others must change.

What to Change to Change Your Results

I get very excited about this because it means that I can do really cool things like I can make you like things that you don’t want to like, or I can make you not like things that you like a lot and would rather not like by changing the picture in your head. But that’s a little bit advanced for this blog.

To change your results, change your behaviour

It’s important for you to understand that if you want to change your results then you need to change your behaviour and your behaviour is the result of this relationship of how you store your experiences, what you feel about them and your body language.

What to Change to Change Your Results

Knowing that, the easiest thing for you to do is probably move your body. If you find yourself in a situation where you really want to change the results that you’re getting and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought, shift your body into a position where you don’t feel overwhelmed anymore. It’s really really difficult to access sad or overwhelming feelings and memories and experiences when you’re smiling and waving your arms in the air.

This is something that I want you to play with. I want you to get playful with it.

Access those different experiences with a smile

It was my gran who first introduced me to this. My dear Nana and she used to say to me when I was sad

“smile until you feel better”

Well, at the time I just wanted to punch her in the face. But actually, it’s true because that physical shift in my face was enough for me to access different experiences which meant a different feeling, which meant a different behaviour.

If you want to change your results, play with that relationship between stored experience, feeling and body language. It will change the actions that you take and that will change the results that you get.

Let me know how you get on.

And if you would like help on changing your behaviour to change your results then click below to contact me for a Breakthrough Session.

Do you know what you need to do?

Do you know what you need to do?

Do you ever know what you need to do, but somehow you find every reason or excuse on the planet not to do it?

I do that all the time!  AND I know WHY I do it, but that doesn’t stop me.  Do you know how frustrating that is!?! I mean I can tell you that I want [insert result here – more time, more money, less fat, whatever it is] and then I go into this pattern of making excuses in my head.  I…can…actually…hear…it – those imaginary devil and angel characters playing out in my head!

Sometimes I just make a cuppa and watch.  Those are the good days, on the bad days, I get suckered in and begin believing the devil type character.

Well, I’m going to share the misery and tell you why you do it too, and then I’m going to ask you a question, ok?

You see as humans we’re not designed to stand out.  It all goes back to when we lived in tribes and there was safety in numbers. If you were outcast, well that was the worst thing that could happen to you, right? You would be all alone when you came up against that predator, or ran out of food.

So when we try to make a big change like losing weight, or getting a promotion, or starting a business, or entering that talent competition our ancient instincts go into overdrive to try and get you to stay exactly where you are…where it is safe.  And the other voice in this argument is the logical brain.

Now if you think of your instincts as a strong-willed 2 year old, and your logical brain as the smart professor then you can probably begin to see how this is going to end, right?  Have you ever tried to out-logic a strong-willed 2 year old?…

It’s unpredictable at best.

How do you weigh the odds in your favour then?

Well what I’ve discovered is that the DISCOMFORT of staying where I am needs to outweigh the discomfort of taking that next step.

Do you know what to do


I remember when we were shipping overseas to start a new life on the other side of the world. I lost count of the number of times that people said I was so BRAVE.

Brave?  Brave? Are you kidding?  I wasn’t brave. Brave to me would have been staying where I was when I knew I was unhappy.

The discomfort of staying where I was FAR outweighed the potential discomfort of making a mistake.

Which brings me to another common reason for not doing what we need to do – fear of failure.

Why are we so afraid of failing?  When did we learn that failing was a bad thing?  Was it at school? I honestly couldn’t tell you, and besides that’s not actually the important part.

The IMPORTANT part is changing our relationship with failure because it’s actually not that bad.

And the more I fail, the more I do.  In fact, my aim is to now FAIL FAST because I truly believe that there is no failure, only feedback.  I am an experiential learner – everything I have learned, I have learned by doing (and more often than not, by failing).



We need to ditch this idea that we get one chance at things and realise that we have infinite chances provided we don’t give up!

So let me ask you…

What are you WILLING to do to get that dream?

And if that dream is to make a living from making a difference and you need some more help then click below to contact me for a Breakthrough Session.