Pessimism & Negativity

Dear reader,

I was born in Slovenia. This country, beautiful as it is, is prone to negativity. I am very sad to say, that its people are very capable, well educated, talented, hard working … but essentially negative and overly pessimistic.

You won’t recognise it at first. But if you are living abroad and/or have had contacts with other nations and other cultures, you would spot this dangerous mindset instantly.

I used to be just alike – being born and raised there. And I’m not writing this to point fingers to anyone – everyone involved in my upbringing was doing the best they could, in their given circumstances and with given means.

I am writing this to show, that there are things that can be done to change this mindset. That things CAN be different.

First things first, some disclaimers. I do think pessimism is better than optimism. This is my internal belief. Why? Because research shows that pessimists are more right. That they see the truth and holistic picture as it is, not as they want it to be. However, and especially because of this, I had to LEARN optimism. Not to embrace it fully and look at the world through pink glasses (not my thing), but instead view it through pragmatical approach and recover fast from whatever challenges life brings me.

When I first left Slovenia in 2014, my self confidence and professional identity was quite low, I was quite shy and here’s why:

I was taught that “it can’t be done“. That “it’s a waste of time, because my idea won’t work out anyway“.

And if I managed to do it anyway, people were jealous, telling things behind my back or were in best case, cool towards my successes. Very few people were genuinely happy and those people today are all thriving somewhere, either in Slovenia, but many have moved abroad.

In 2014, when I first proposed one humble idea to my hosting organisation in the UK, I was expecting a response with arguments of why this idea might not work out. And list of things how it might not work out. So I was already prepared to give up. Instead, I got a helping hand, telling me it was a fabulous idea and they would like to develop and discuss it further with me. It blew away my mind, because it was a response I would expect the least.

It showed me, there IS a different way. There IS another approach. So I started learning Solution Focused Approach. It changed my life. And I had no idea how much, until I had my mother over for a visit the past weekend. She and my husband were engaged in a conversation, quite passionately sharing some of the views or arguing when not. Their whole conversation was imbued with negativity and moaning about and towards pretty much everything – the politics, weather, habits, news, neighbours, etc. Their suggestions were so negative. And I felt a huge weight on my chest, even though I was not engaged in the conversation and did not want to do so either. I felt 13 again. It felt like home, a known feeling, but not a good fit.

So they drew a picture in front of me, showing me not how they are, but how much I have changed. I have cultivated a whole new and different mindset, which got me to be an international trainer. And now I want to share some of that knowledge and skills I had to learn (sometimes the hard way), but for you, you can simply get it from me.

It doesn’t have to be all bad. We don’t have to live in such a negative world. You CAN learn to do it differently. And change your whole world.

If you are tired of this negativity too and if you are a Slovenian, I am organising a free online workshop for you to have a taster of the Solution Focused (SF) Approach. Sign up here and perhaps make a step towards the best part of your life. It was definitely the best one for me.

See you there,



I Will Be

Dear reader,

as soon as you learn something new and you grow, you’ll be exposed to tests. The more meaningful your step, the harder these trials will be. And I somehow believe that life gives you challenges which you are somewhat capable to fight or survive.

I was given a huge challenge. I have to say goodbye to my morning runs. Possibly for good. Apparently my body’s been quite heavily damaged without my awareness and it is coming out now.

I can’t tell you what an unpleasant surprise that was. And it has come so far that I have to be taking pain killers in order to sleep properly. I won’t go into details, this is simply for you to illustrate that as soon as you think you might master something, life will send you a challenge to prove it.

So I now have an opportunity to prove that I will be. Strong on my own. If I want other people to believe in miracles, first I have to prove that they are indeed possible. Which reminds me of a beautiful song, 9 years ago, when I did my last ballet performance. I was already out of the ballet world for some years, so was not in a well rehearsed shape, but I did it anyway, because my friends and colleagues were so keen on it. We prepared it as part of a welcome event for freshmen students. This was the last time I was on stage and it probably contributed to my today’s injuries. Wasn’t very happy with the performance, but was very grateful for audience’s warm response. So I’m sharing the video below, even though I don’t like it at all and think I did poorly. But it was my very last performance and today I know that I will never be able to do this again.

Why am I telling you this? While preparing for that performance and doing the choreography, I picked a song which meant a great deal to me back then. It’s Christina Aguilera’s song “I Will Be”. I wanted to give the new students a gift of encouragement together with faith that they will make it at the university. Because when you are in trouble, you need to retain the hope and faith that things will get better. And things will get better.

As the lyrics go:

It comforts me
It keeps me
Alive each day of my life
Always guiding me, providing me
With the hope I desperately need

Well I gotta believe
There’s something out there meant for me
Oh, I’ll get on my knees
Praying I will receive
The courage to grow and the faith to know

So whatever challenges you might be facing at this very moment, have faith that you WILL manage somehow. In fact everything you need is already there. I’ll desperately try to recollect my hope and get better and when I succeed, I’ll share it with you. Hopefully before NY’s, so we could do it together in this training. Which I shall cancel in case I do not manage.

Be strong.



The Power of Rejection – a special guest post

Dear reader,

today we have a special post – a guest post from Naomi. She has indeed written a masterpiece for you and this is her first blog.

I have never met Naomi face to face. Our paths crossed as our common friend John Wheeler introduced us one to another, saying we might be a valuable contact to each other. He was absolutely right. We met on Skype more than a year ago, neither of us knew what to expect from the conversation and a few minutes into our Skype we both knew this was a beginning of a relationship that is beyond professional one.

Professionally, Naomi is a Solution Focused Trainer and Practitioner with 20 years of experience in a variety of specialist areas including substance misuse, young people, offending, homelessness and employability. She is passionate about supporting people to notice their unique strengths and how to practically apply these to maximise success in their chosen objectives. She is motivated by equality, fairness and understanding the social organisation of different cultures, including approaches to life, laughter, survival and routine.

Personally, she is such a delight to be talking to, as she is so kind, curious, energetic and bursting in talent. I am honoured that she wrote a blog for you and am more than happy to be able to offer you an excellent read on a topic that we are all very familiar with – rejection. So sit back, relax and enjoy reading!

The Power of Rejection

If you think you are someone who has never been rejected you are either a sociopath, totally unself aware or living so safely you have never taken a risk on anyone or anything. This means you are limiting the amount of joy you can experience in a significant number of spheres of your unexplored life. It is of course natural to want to avoid rejection. Rejection is uncomfortable, anxiety provoking and frequently leads to an excessive amount of self criticism, and in it’s most extreme form, self-hate. What happens when we are rejected by others, either in a work or relationship context, is all too often we then reject ourselves. When we reject ourselves, we are pretty much temporarily doomed: A release of the stress hormone cortisol usually occurs which either makes us inert and paralysed, or overflowing with negative energy heading one hundred miles an hour towards self destruction, commonly in the form of over eating, over drinking, over thinking or over angering.

So. There is all that. Or, there is another way. A way we can use rejection to be one of the greatest gifts the world has handed to us, because when interpreted and used wisely rejection can be powerful. Initially it’s sting is so painful we feel a complete loss of control. However when this initial sting passes, with a solution focused mind, rejection can provide incredible clarity about what is important, how to focus on what we can control and what we have got and who and what accepts us. It can bring into sharp view the people around us that are strong and grounded enough to vote for us even when others don’t or when we struggle to ourselves. It can provide valuable information about the fact that actually the person or situation we were in was unbalanced and therefore not right for us in some way. It can give clues to us about the need for a new perspective or to do something different. It forces acceptance because we are powerless to do anything else, and when you truly practice acceptance, calm follows, and then this strange sense of strength and resolve arrives and suddenly, in coping, an inner peace. Intuitively you find yourself starting to feel able to refocus on what really matters and let go of what doesn’t. You realise in fact that life post-rejection is actually happier and more fulfilling than life pre-rejection, because you no longer have anything to be scared of and everything to try.

And here in lies a beautiful irony … I have avoided blogging for over two years because of an absolute terror of being rejected. Every time I became drawn towards posting thoughts, feelings and perceptions online, I rapidly recalled back again, making statements in my mind like ‘don’t be silly, you’re not intelligent enough to blog, what if people don’t like it, you could ruin your reputation’, and even saying these sentences out loud is making me feel nervous, yet I am going to keep writing and in about half an hour I am going to press send. Why? Because someone whom I respect invited me to do this, Biba, who in her invitation showed her faith in me, which in itself stimulated this burst of certainty that I have in fact got relevant perspectives to share and made me realise I don’t need everyone to approve, I just need some people to approve and most importantly,

I, must approve.

So in writing this I challenge all of us to put the principles above into practice. My best hope in articulating these ideas is that they serve as a reminder to us all about perceived rejection, when we feel raw and exposed and frightened, to ask ourselves ‘How can I use what has happened to propel me forwards to a more desired future?’, ‘What and who is accepting me that shows me where my energy should be channelled?’, ‘What can I achieve if I try not to let this idea of rejection take over and instead use it as a catalyst for positive change?’. ‘If I am as wise as I possibly can be, what might I do tomorrow that would show me I was taking a wise step?’

And the wisdom that comes from interpreting rejection usefully is also becoming aware of our limits so that we can make informed decisions about when to take the risks that might lead to perceived rejection and when to stand back. Beware of the frequent ‘rejectors’ of this world, people quick to criticise others, they are projecting their own unhappy and unsettled mind. Your ultimate power is not to mind what they say and instead seek their strengths. Zoom in on values, gratitude, enjoyment of what is, concepts that no external reaction can touch.

The reason being that when our unique appraisal of ourselves and others is positive and when we deeply, truly attune our minds to become compassionate, our ability to perform highly, significantly increases. Finally I must add that simultaneously seeing and feeling the discomfort of rejection aswell as using it to increase your personal power, is also essential. It inspires us to work harder, be more determined, our own definition of better. But only when we invite it in through courageous acts, taking risks, and regardless of outcomes, forcing ourselves to notice the opportunities not the limitations.



Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers. ~ Anonymous

Dear reader,

some chinese predicted 2015 to be way calmer than 2014? On which planet exactly, or did I miss something here?

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this month, I’m in the middle of opening my own company. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare for someone who finds paperwork boring, annoying and hence complicated. At the top of all, I’ve been absorbed by the idea that I’ll lead a very difficult project on the European level and I’m very excited about it as well as it’s freaking me out. Totally freaking me out.

Sometimes I wonder whether it is really necessary to expose myself to so much trouble and such difficult tasks. Looks like I deliberately put myself through projects that are a bit above my competencies, a bit too hard, complicated, time consuming and out of my league. I strongly suspect there are some masochistic tendencies present.

A famous Soviet psychologist Vygotsky actually recommended this, by saying that a goal should be just slightly above one’s current ability. But sometimes I really ask myself whether I’m being stupid for challenging destinations, that might be out of my reach and domain.

I remember when I first got the opportunity to write an international scientific article. I’ve been invited from some conference organizers that also had their academic publisher and were interested in my topic presented at the conference. I figured why not, but then as I looked into the templates and regulations (from standards, scope, length, sources, citations to spelling and grammar checking) it suddenly looked terrifying. And it was actually, not everyone can do this. Could I?

My first response was closing all the documents and shuting my computer down for quite some time. Then as I returned (the deadline!!), I broke the instructions down into smaller parts. Managed the easy ones first. One task at a time. If it was time consuming, I didn’t stop until it was over. If it was not, I didn’t start the next one immediately, even though I could. It’s good to leave some room and let the unconsciousness  and reminiscence and do its thing. One task at a time. The beginning was the hardest, but as soon as I figured out what I wanted exactly and had a clear sense of what this article’s message was, things sorted out. Slowly. And in the end it was all coming together with remarkable speed, things started making sense, the concepts were smoothly composed into a whole that I was happy with.

So I got my first international scientific article published this January, after 3 months of writing (even though I knew the topic well) and 9 months of review process. If you ask me now, it wasn’t that difficult. But if you’d ask me the same question at the beginning, I’d say impossible.

Hmmm. Could I use some of these in the forthcoming challenges?