Release Your Past

How do we self-sabotage and stop ourselves from moving forward? There are a number of blocks that stop people from realising their dreams.  The most common of these are limiting beliefs and unexpressed emotions.  In this post we are going to deal with unexpressed emotions, send them on their way so they no longer hurt you or anyone else. 

By unexpressed emotions I mean the hurts that happened some time ago. E-Motions that you still hold on to – the disappointments, expectations someone failed to deliver, an argument, resentments, something that happened to you. The thing is when we hold on to these stories we run the risk of adopting coping mechanisms that are unhealthy to avoid any discomfort. We re-experience the emotion each time we rehash the story as if it was happening in that moment. We avoid and/or react to similar situations as if they have power to hurt us again. Is it time to deal with those old wounds? Become free to harness your energy to achieve your goals and move you forward on your right path.

10 Steps To Release Negative Emotions 

  1. Which coping strategies do you employ to distance yourself from feeling – see link above. Each coping strategy only denies you from dealing with the emotion and letting it go. 
  2. When you are triggered what emotion you are feeling…name it – fear, embarrassment, anger? Is this emotion about the situation you find yourself in now or does this situation remind you of a previous situation/emotion?  
  3. When triggered be curious, close your eyes and take a moment to go back in time to first time you felt this or the last time.  Do so with curiosity and compassion.
  4. Allow yourself to be in that moment. What happened, why did it hurt so much? Let the emotion come and sit with it, it won’t do you any harm. If you feel like shedding a tear go for it. Let it flow and let it go, it’s in the past.
  5. Sooth your younger self, tell your younger self that it’s okay to feel the pain, tell him/her that he/she is safe now and you will protect him/her from that happening again.
  6. If it’s anger be curious follow the route cause. Is that anger fear of being hurt, being vulnerable, not being understood, not speaking your truth perhaps? A protection mechanism. Is the present moment triggering the previous emotion.
  7. If the emotion is still presenting there are a number of tools to engage, one such tool is release writing or journaling.  Write a letter to the person or situation and describe how it made you feel.  Don’t hold back, go for it, write as you feel even it ends up being a blur. Than tear up the piece of paper/emotion. It can hurt you now as you will recognise if it repeats and can repeat the release writing until it has no power anymore.
  8. Talk to a good friend.  Tell them you have something you would like to go over with them but to just let you talk and get it out of your system. When we deny our vulnerability we deny the opportunity to be heard, authentic and understood.
  9. If someone else’s behaviour was the trigger look at your values.  Which value was compromised?
  10. Update your boundaries – brave up and gently explain why that situation was not in accordance with your values.  They will understand and respect you. If not they don’t get it and you have put a marker down.

Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.

Eckhart Tolle

Take Ownership

Do not indulge in a pity party. This is an exercise in owning the emotion, allowing yourself to really feel what is going on for you, sit with it until it dissipates and let it go.  The pain can’t kill you and each time you do this you grow stronger – believe me.  Look at it as a great opportunity to look at your life and be willing to break these patterns, habits that no longer serve you.

This is Post 3 in a series to help understand and process negative emotions.
Post 1 Why We Need To Process Our Emotions
Post 2 What Is Keeping You Stuck
Post 3 Release Your Past – 10 Steps To Release Negative Emotions

While coaching is focused on the present and the future it is core to our practice to accept each client as they are and that every client is whole.  We do not focus on the past and that is the fundamental difference between coaching and counselling.  At times a client will be stuck and unable to realise a goal or dream.  To facilitate transformative change it is sometimes necessary to go back to identify what is in their way and release it in order to move forward. A eureka moment for sure! Unburden the negative emotions of the past that keep you stuck. Look to your future and see what you can do.

Try coaching…it will change your life.

Sometimes a client might require more than help than a coach is qualified to offer.  One of the reasons for the free 30 minute chemistry check call before taking on any client is to ensure that each client’s goal/agenda is coachable, that we are a good fit and if necessary redirect to someone who better suited for their needs.

Tracy O’Keeffe
See What You Can Do

Accredited Executive & Life Coach
Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience
QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

What Is Keeping You Stuck?

Are you someone who despite your best efforts, cannot seem to achieve the goals you desire? Do you put it down to lack of motivation or will power? Do you look at others who seem to make their goals reality and say well its different for them because… We all do it – we tell ourselves stories.

The good news is that you too can achieve your goals, your desires and move forward with purpose. This is entirely achievable and with some curiosity, compassion and patience you too can change your life for the better. Until we understand what is stopping us it is difficult to make that lasting change we seek a reality. There are typically 5 coping mechanisms, which ones are yours?

Coping Mechanisms

  1. Numbing – excesses in the following areas – so over-…eating, drinking, sex, working, drugs, social media, spending money, exercising.  These are numbing techniques to avoid feeling something uncomfortable.  This is where addictions are created.  The issue you try to avoid does not go away but waits for you on the other side…now you have 2 problems instead of the one you started with!
    For example: if you reach for the goodies each time you feel sad, for comfort or to obey that negative voice in your head now you have a potential weight/health problem to add to your woes.
  2. Be Strong – my own personal favourite, at an early age I realised I could only rely on myself for emotional support. This involves pushing through the emotion, suppressing it to be able to keep going, not acknowledging your needs, feelings and putting on a mask.  The problem with this is it doesn’t enable self-expression.  The more you ‘be strong’ the less practice you get at being authentic, speaking your truth and being vulnerable. Being strong requires a lot of energy which could be better spent letting those closest to you be closer.
  3. Distraction is an exercise in avoiding discomfort.  Resulting in getting busy, refocusing your attention and energy on a holiday, project, painting the shed. Something else so you don’t have to feel and deal with the pain.
  4. Self-Imposed Positivity – not allowing oneself space to acknowledge disappointment and uncomfortable emotion by side-lining it with affirmations and positive thinking. No acknowledging, no processing, no awareness so no healing.
  5. Spirituality – Similar to the above and can involve dispelling one’s emotion by channeling energy into meditation, prayer, skipping to the lesson learned rather than acknowledging how we feel. Skipping over the opportunity to uncover our truth, expansion and the rewarding growth.


When we find ourselves in emotionally difficult times and/or are triggered and don’t understand why – we reach for our coping mechanism of choice to help us avoid the emotional discomfort. This can result in unhealthy and sometimes addictive behaviour that only parks the emotion for a later time. And the cycle continues, round and round, holding on to the past and unable to free yourself to achieve your goals.

People come to coaching to achieve a goal and/or for change.  Some of those things that hold us back from achieving our goals are our conscious/subconscious thoughts, outdated belief systems, cultural influences, negative self-talk, stories we tell ourselves, a lack of boundaries. It is part of the coach’s remit to help the client with their clarity to see what is happening and perspective to enable them to get past it, which, with awareness and attention they always can. Life is full of ups and downs and there is little we can do about that but we can control how we respond to it. We are responsible for our own happiness and being aware of how you process your emotions is one step closer to your best life and one of your own design. This is Post 2 in a series of 3.

Post 1 Why We Need To Process Our Emotions
Post 2 What Is Keeping You Stuck
Post 3 Release Your Past – 10 Ways To Release Negative Emotions

Choose coaching…it will change your life.

Tracy O’Keeffe
not a writer, just passionate about coaching

Accredited Executive & Life Coach
Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience
QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

Why We Need
To Process Our Emotions

Uh-oh, as humans we really only want the good emotions, don’t we! As a life coach we typically focus a lot of our attention on the mental and behavioural levels to assist our clients achieve the changes they desire.  What we think has a direct impact on our actions/results – please note!

However we have 2 other vital parts that make us human beings – the emotional and spiritual levels. These 2 parts play an important part in how we live our lives and are what makes us uniquely us.  These are also the sum of our lives and where messy lives, where the joy, happiness, peace is but also sadness, anger, guilt and fear.  Fact – life is full of ups and downs and we are made up of mind and body.  People love coaching because it helps them clear the blocks that stop them from achieving their goals. The biggest block of them all – emotions.

Unresolved Emotions

As humans, we spend most of our time trying to feel good and avoiding things or people that don’t.  We learn to repress, suppress our emotions if we don’t have an outlet for that expression.  EMotion is Energy in Motion, it travels within the body.  Unexpressed emotion needs to be released.

An unprocessed emotion can have an impact on your wellbeing. It also has a tendency to be recycled again and again. Do you ever wonder why unwanted patterns within your life/relationships keep repeating?  Do you self-sabotage your potential, your relationships but don’t know why? Well your nervous system runs the show – anxiety, old traumas and emotions can get stuck in the body.  When we feel that warning signal we tend to move away from whatever could potentially cause that feeling or potential harm again – this is a learned response. When the emotion is pushed down or ignored we miss the opportunity to understand, to be curious, to be uncomfortable, or experience emotional pain (yes, I did say that) and that’s when we develop coping mechanisms. 

Did you know there are 5 coping mechanisms which us humans adopt that can result in some unhealthy habits. For example 1 coping mechanism is ‘over’ doing things – over eating, over drinking, over sexing, over doing exercising, over working – do any of these resonate with you?  All 5 coping mechanisms are covered in Post 2 – which ones are yours?

Don’t beat yourself up, you are not alone – anything to avoid emotional discomfort or to look within. We reach for the thing that numbs us or elevates us from our life-angst. As emotions can be tricky to deal with I have broken this blog post into 3 parts –

Post 1 why us humans need to process our emotions
Post 2 your coping mechanisms
Post 3 Release your past -10 x ways to process your negative emotions

Holding on to negative emotion from your past requires a lot of energy, the more you hold on it the more exhausting and harmful it becomes. Ask yourself wouldn’t this energy be better spent in learning acceptance, open honest communication, learning to speak your truth. Allowing your emotions so they can draw to their natural conclusion and see them off on their way, uncovers a lighter, happier, freer you. When people talk about ‘baggage’ this is what they mean – lugging an invisible suitcase around full of repressed emotions that just don’t serve you.

Fear of being hurt, looking foolish, anger from what happened to you, the injustice of it…this loop of thoughts/feelings can keep you trapped in the past. Learning to live a life to the full is totally achievable when you learn to manage and process your emotions, enabling you to take the right actions for yourself and the people you care about.

Your life is a reflection of your ability to process your unresolved emotions

The key to inner harmony is living a heart-filled life, being able to set your sights on your goals and taking action towards them. It is totally achievable, I know because I have done it and have helped others achieve that balance too. It takes courage and authenticity and having healthy boundaries in place. 

As someone who has struggled with expressing my emotions, living a successful life is one that is focused on letting go of the past, living in the present and creating my desired future.

Try life coaching…it will change your life.

At this point it’s important to make the distinction between counselling and coaching. As a coach my focus is on my client’s present and future to help them achieve their goals. I work with the whole person and so help my client process their emotions should they arise as part our coaching session.  Counselling/therapy focus on helping people process a trauma in their present and past.   Sometimes the client might require this type of care which as a coach I am not qualified to offer.  One of the reasons for the free 30 minute chemistry check call is to ensure that my clients goal/agenda is suitable for coaching, that we are a good fit or if necessary redirect to someone who better suited for their needs.

Tracy O’Keeffe
not a writer, just passionate about coaching

Accredited Executive & Life Coach
Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience
QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

Coaching For Covid

We find ourselves in uncertain times….times that can impact on the way we think, feel and therefore live our lives.

Some may be finding it difficult to regulate stress levels, eating and staying productive. Brain fog or difficulty making decisions can be a challenge. Current circumstances may be forcing some to look for a career change, which was unexpected. Is this a pipedream or an opportunity.

The impact on our freedom, the uncertainty of what’s next and the underlying levels of stress affects us all. Take control of your life, your purpose and your thinking through coaching. Get clarity. Identify what you really want and take actionable steps towards owning your life and fulfilling your purpose.

Some simple tips to stay present….

We get approximately 60,000 random thoughts per day. Some positive, some negative. Think of the brain like a computer, quality in, quality out. It serves you what you feed it.

We choose our thoughts – be aware of your thoughts and notice if you are choosing negative thoughts to listen to.

Ask yourself ‘is it true’. Byron Katie The Work beats the inner critic or and even worry by asking this simple question. Her quotes are worth the cost of the book alone. The basis are 4 simple questions and are 100% responsible for the absence of my brain ‘spinning out’ anymore. Game changer.

Focus. Start and complete one task at a time. Multi tasking depletes focus. Congratulation yourself, tick boxes or just feel the pleasure of getting stuff done.

Don’t forget who you are and what is important to you. If possible, spend time on the things that make you happy – people, hobbies, nature, sport, you know what they are.

Meditation – yes I know, people always go on about how good this stuff is. It can calm the nervous system by restoring the energy centres and healing the heart through gratitude practice, help brain focus and eliminate negative thinking. If you haven’t found one you that resonates, keep trying, there are so many free meditations available. My personal favourite is Dr Joe Dispenza’s Blessing Of The Energy Centers. It costs $25

Lastly, be kind. It can be underrated and considered a bit soft. We all wear masks in life – and I don’t mean the pandemic kind. Those masks we present to the world as we would have it see us. But we never know what the other person is managing or how they are coping. Old habits of smiling and a gentle hand on the arm is not possible at the moment. But a kind word can be a worth so much. Harold Kushner said it best “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world”.

Accredited Executive & Life Coach

Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience

QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

Goal Setting Like A Professional

I’m not going to waste your time…let’s get straight to it…as a coach goal setting is an integral part of what we do, assisting people in identifying where they are and helping them build a unique plan that enables them where they want to go – in life.

One of the most popular goal setting models we use in coaching is SMART CAR. It brings a clear structure into goal setting.

  • Specific – as many details about the goal as possible.
  • Measurable – how many elements are measurable?
  • Action Based – actions required to achieve goal.
  • Realistic – is this plan possible to implement?
  • Time Bound – choose deadline, client to contract with themselves.
  • CAR – commitment, accountability, reward.
    • What are you willing to commit to?
    • Who is going to hold you accountable?
    • What audacious reward will you give yourself when you achieve your goal?

A very useful tool when locking in the detail.  So there you go! You now have a tool to set some goals.  And well that’s the point – anyone can set goals. This tool is only used at the end of the coaching process and when the goal is definable.  If it was this easy we would all be achieving our goals like ninjas.

So why do some people make goals and stick to them and others don’t?  Why do some give up halfway or self-sabotage when their goal is in sight?  Because for so many of us there are unforeseen elements at work thwarting our efforts. The best will in the world won’t help if you are unaware of your self-limiting beliefs. Fixed mindset, bad habits, lack of boundaries, people pleasing, negative emotion or self-talk, lack of understanding one’s values, culture and your subconscious are just some of the elements that can prevent you from achieving your potential.  Jeez – it seems a lot, but all of us have a mix of these within our makeup which can result in not being able to reach our life purpose or potential. In upcoming posts I will help to explain and demystify these in more detail. Rest assured regardless of what is holding you back, one to one coaching can help you to unlock the barriers and realise your dreams.

Sometimes at the beginning of the coaching process it’s hard for a client to reach for what they truly want.  Sometimes it’s not something they can verbalise or even allow themselves to dream.  Often at the start of the process the client will ask for something smaller not realising what they are capable of. This is where the art of coaching comes in, through dialogue armed with the coaching process (co-active coaching, skills, tools, competencies) the coaching goal often changes to something more meaningful, see for reasons why people choosing coaching.  A coaching session might start with goals like making a big decision or choosing a different career but ultimately it may become about being fulfilled…clients soon realise change is possible.

If you think about it – setting goals is done in the head and often are unattainable unless they are done with a combination of head and heart. Understanding where you are stuck or what needs to change is a reflective process, best done with a professional guide. When we coach, we coach the whole person.

Some help in getting started when choosing a goal ask yourself…

  • What are your deepest beliefs in this area of your life? Are these yours or someone else’s. Are they outdated?
  • What do you truly want and why do you want it?
  • What are you willing to do to get it?

Or choose a life coach who will aid you in unlocking the blocks. Commit to yourself and realise your potential.

Tracy O’Keeffe
not a writer, just passionate about coaching

Accredited Executive & Life Coach
Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience
QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice &

Know Thyself Blog

Know Thyself…is a quote from Socrates, in fact the full quote is ‘To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom’. While Socrates was credited with this insight it was in fact Aristotle, his teacher, who gave birth to this concept.

Another worthy quote from the Greek philosopher (384-322BC) which ties into this is ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’

And this is the crux of it all, the two are linked – brain and emotions. For every thought there is a corresponding emotion which has an impact on our actions. You might be saying that’s not the case with me and some thoughts might not resonate or even register. But consider it….think about something…your parents, kids, friends, a fun time, a terrible time, a flower, a scent, a memory. What come’s up…warm feelings, emotions such as happiness, anger, a postcard image of that time, golden light, flowers, taste. Good or bad, our thoughts are hot wired to our emotions.

So here’s the rub. With 60,000 random thoughts every day do you know what you are thinking?

These thoughts represent a mix of unconscious and conscious belief systems, cultural and family norms thrown in, patterns of positive and negative thinking, old wounds, memories. If our thoughts have an impact on our feelings, they also impact on our actions.

We choose our thoughts. This can impact positively or negatively depending on which thoughts we choose, impact on how we see are ourselves and on how we impact on those around us. What we choose to think about or even more important – how we decide to think about things can prevent worry, spinning out on negative thought patterns and repeating old learned behaviour. Choosing your thoughts allow some perspective and positive intervention enabling you to feel and create the actions and results you want.

So what are you thinking?

Accredited Executive & Life Coach

Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience

QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics

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Why Life Coaching?

When I tell people I’m a life coach invariably they scratch their head and make some vague reference to counselling or mentoring.  They might have the word ‘goal’ somewhere in their description.  They have heard of it, know it’s got ‘good stuff’ but have no idea of what it really means. 

This post will tell you…what is coaching, why is it growing in popularity, what motivates people to choose it, why should everyone do it once in their lives. 

What is coaching?

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as:

An interactive process that helps individuals and organisations improve their performances and achieve extraordinary results.

Sounds wonderful but what does it mean?  Coaching promises a shift in thinking and being.  Sounds like hard work?  Not at all, what better fun than to invest some time in yourself. Be honest…when was the last time you gave yourself time to really think about your life?

Using a combination of tools, techniques and skills coaching offers you an opportunity to step off the grid for a moment. To have a conversation about what you really want in life with a personal guide who is trained to provide you with perspective and clarity to enable you to get to where you want to go.  This 4 x session process gives you the space you to step back in with a new understanding of your part in it all.  I liken it to an osteopath for the mind! 

4 valuable, enriching, illuminating conversations.  Every conversation is different because each client is different and your life is different.  However 4 x sessions can change your perspective, energy and zest for life, if you let it!

Why is it growing in popularity?

Coaching is now the second-fastest growing profession in the world, rivaled only by information technology

Establishing Key Differences between Coaching and Counselling. Jan 18, 2010. Aoife Harrington (MSc, BA Psych,  Reg. Psychol PsSI).

In the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Summary it was estimated that there were approximately 53,300 professional coaching practitioners worldwide. This represents a growth of 14.11% in 4 years.  

What motivates people to choose it?

People participate or seek out coaching because they want things to be different. They are looking for change or they have important goals to reach. 

Co-Active Coaching. Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, Laura Whitworth.

There tends to be two reasons people choose coaching – life and career.

They might have all the trappings of success but aren’t fulfilled.  Sometimes its peace of mind they desire or more fulfillment.  It could be for a better work/life balance.  Usually it means they are ready for change.

Why should everyone do it once in their lives?

While coaching might be focused on an outcome or a goal, clients can find the path to achieving these can be more rewarding than the goals themselves.   It might start out with a business focus but migrates to bigger topics like core values, boundaries and purpose.

Coaching offers an alternative to counselling or mentoring.  It provides a perspective to understand who we are and why we do what we do.  It enables us to move forward by establishing clear goals with vision and purpose. Coaching assesses where you are now, looks at where you want to be and helps you to build a bridge to get there. 

Why coaching? Because the results will change your life.

Tracy O’Keeffe
not a writer, just passionate about coaching

Are you living your best life?

Accredited Executive & Life Coach

Accredited by the World Association Of Coaching with Neuroscience

QQI Award Professional Coaching Practice & Ethics