Lessons I learned from Random Acts of Listening

Random Acts of Listening

The quality of a relationship starts with the depth of your connection 

I was drawn to Oxford City Centre by Phil Walsh and his initiative of Random Acts of Listening in May 2018.

Jumping on an early morning train to Oxford I met Phil and the rest of the group for a short briefing before heading out to talk and listen to the community voice of Oxford.

After an hour of walking and talking we gathered once again to share our own stories and experiences.

Here are some of the lessons I learned:

Boundaries – not everyone wants to talk to you no matter how good the intention. Please respect each others boundaries.

Our most authentic and intriguing conversations come from real time curiosity and interest in another person – allow intuition to be your guide.

If it feels right to talk to the stranger next to you then do so, don’t force the interaction – spontaneity keeps the conversation real.

Be Present – see the whole person standing in front of you and learn the rich tapestry of life story and human connection wherever you are in the world.

We are all seeking connection with each other now more than ever before.

When you look in your own eyes and face in the mirror see the person that makes up the whole. Notice how your life experience is part of who you are seeing, this is connection with yourself!!

See YOU and then begin seeing others in the same way.

Look beyond your judgements and opinions and see the other person fully.

Slow Down – Spending time talking to another human being is a gift!!

With my full attention, an attitude of curiosity and all the time in the world, I listened fully to the person standing in front of me. As a result I found the conversations to be filled with humour and fascinating stories of real people, real lives.

Thanks Phil for an insightful human experience!

“We all want to know and be known. That’s why doing good is so powerful when the focus is first and foremost the people and not the project.” Chris Marlow

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Scream if you want to go faster!

After a recent trip to a man I’ve known and received healing from for many years it occurred to me that their have been many people along the way who’ve healed and guided me on this fascinating journey we call life.

Life is an interlocking sequence of patterns and idiosyncrasies all at the same time. Each pattern and sequence intricately overlapping the other. Life and living is not one thing but many.

What is interesting is that no ones journey (path) is exactly the same as anyone else’s and no matter what happens the unfolding is unique and personal to each of us?

How amazing is it that our own life cannot be lived by anyone except ourselves? We can explain and share this with others yet no two experiences are ever felt, seen or heard in quite the same way.

All of the people I’ve had the pleasure and sometimes displeasure to meet have helped me learn, heal and grow by being exactly who they are. And all this in order for me to discover exactly who I am!!

And here’s the challenging part, when I include all of the people who pushed my buttons, stressing me out to the point of sobbing I realise how strong I am from the inside out.

These people are as much a part of my growth and development as those who intentionally heal…if not more so.

Most do not relish being pushed emotionally and yet this is part of life’s paradox of yin and yang.  There is a value in both experiences.

As humans, our nature is to turn away from the interaction with discomfort for fear of discovering a truth we’re not ready to face.

I remember when I was learning to ski and being told to lean down the mountain as this creates greater traction on the snow giving more control. The tendency of new skiers being to lean backwards on the heels causing the skis to slide uncontrollably.

Learning to walk we discovered that walking downhill requires us to lean backwards, whereas with skiing the opposite is true and new thought processes are now required to achieve the desired result. The key is in knowing when to lean backwards and when to lean forwards.

This is where the deepest learning is. This is how we grow. We become strong walking uphill, leaning in to the mountain and racing into the face of that which scares us. This is why screaming on a roller coaster is popular, expressing our fears on the journey of the experience leaves us exhilarated and glad we took the ride

The desire to do anything can only be achieved when the desire is stronger than the fear that is attempting to stop us.

I’m curious how you have learned, healed and grown through your experiences with others.

How strong do you believe yourself to be as a result?

Love Angela xx


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Wake Up Call


When the alarm goes off in the morning do you automatically roll out of bed on autopilot or click the snooze button for a few more minutes of extra shut eye?th

Wake up calls come in many shapes and sizes. All calls are an opportunity to take action, pay attention and change your life for the better.

The choice is whether we heed the call.

In the last couple of years I noticed that I felt downhearted and hopeless in life and work and the by-product of these emotions was now presenting itself front and centre in my experience. My current job is not perfect, though it is paying the bills, so why would I jeopardise my job in the long term??

Here was the point I realised I was sabotaging myself and not only in this moment, in others too!

My selfsabotaging had been manifesting in my life as over eating, quitting an activity because it was ‘too hard’ and making careless mistakes at work spurred on by telling myself that ‘I hated myself’!

Such a waste of emotional energy when I knew I could do a good job and make healthy food choices.

Here is what I discovered:

Self sabotage is like watching a thief steal opportunities right from under your nose only it’s yourself you’re stealing from!

The truth is I wasn’t doing this consciously. For the second time in a week I had made a rookie mistake at work and knew it was time to confront the issue head on.

Carelessness is being disrespectful and irresponsible to ourselves and those around us. I knew I could be and do better.  Here was my opportunity to heed the call and so with some gentle questions I began exploring the issue, because I knew I didn’t hate myself!

So what was it specifically about the feeling I had that these reactions were creating? And there was my aha moment! It was my behaviour that I disliked not myself!!  The answer brought a feeling of deep respect and gentle compassion within me and my day was changed in the blink of an eye.

How often have you sabotaged a job or relationship because you didn’t like it anymore?  

Were you aware how this behaviour was coming from a lack of responsibility for your own circumstances?? Did you think someone else would change the situation when you weren’t willing to do this for yourself?

I believe that unconsciously our intention is not to sabotage ourselves or hurt others. I believe our intention is to feel better at that particular moment in time.  And learning how to change this and believing that we can are the first steps. 

With awareness of our actions and responses the outcomes in our life return to our control and conscious responsibility.

So today and going forwards, I’m paying attention to my own engagement at work and in life, after all why create a problem where there is none?!

Maya Angelou sums this up perfectly

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”


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The Dance of Reaction and Response

It’s the lunchtime school break and as I walk along the street one of the girls on the opposite side of the road drops her bottle of water and bag and runs across the road. 

I watch curiously as she jumps on one of the girls in the group in front of me dragging her to the ground. Within a few moments each girls group of friends responded and ran to prise the two girls apart. And all of this happened like a strange form of street theatre as I continued walking.  

I wondered curiously what had been going on in the mind of the schoolgirl who ran across the road that day. What thought was it, that had created such a strong impulse to act so quickly and decisively in the moment? However,  I was also very grateful that one person’s reaction triggered a response in each group to take action in pulling the two girls apart, both of whom were unharmed in the incident.

In the case of the event described above, one seemingly random occurence also created a positive trigger in others thereby averting a potentially explosive situation. 

All of us are triggered from time to time by different circumstances and people of which the source can be the filter through which we’re currently viewing the world. Many of us are completely oblivious to our own internal representations that cause us to lash out at others from nowhere. 

By becoming aware of our reactions and their accompanying triggers we can begin to address them until resolved. 

Ultimately, is this response impeding your life experience and creating stress in your life? Would you like to resolve this now?

We can often perceive that the responsibility and resolution for these issues lie with the other person or situation and not with ourselves. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the power resolve this?… well, the good news is that the answer lies within us!  

So consider these points of self enquiry:

How do I know when to react to this issue/person?

What am I most aware of internally through my thoughts/feelings etc?

What happens just before I react to this thought/feeling/image?

What have I perceived as a problem until now?

Notice the answers to these questions and then ask yourself: how do I know when to shift my attention to what’s important to me?

And finally, how do I know when to shift my attention to what’s important for me?

Have a beautiful day exploring your new perspective on this and many other aspects of your life!
Love Angela xx

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An unseen visitor and losing my voice

It’s the first day of my new job and I’ve lost my voice! Also, I have an as yet unseen creature running around the cavities and wall spaces of my house. Each time I hear the sound of this creature the noise spikes my heart rate and sets off my anxiety as my mind imagines the worst.

During my whispered conversations at work I was noticing that the interactions between my colleagues contained both what was said and unsaid in the verbal and energetic exchange of words.

And so I found myself curious about the following:

How much do we filter out what we’re hearing (and saying) versus what we want to hear?

How deeply are we really listening to each other?

And as we hear the words spoken to us are we actually Listening to what’s being said?

Meanwhile, in a similar yet different situation, my unseen visitor had become a trigger for my fears and anxiety. In a bid to release some of the fear and anxiety I began to wonder what would happen if I allowed myself to hear the strange noises in the night instead of blocking them out and let the sounds be ok?…..AND what if any is the message that is waiting to emerge if I allow myself to hear it?

Each moment of the day we’re bombarded with information on a sensory level. Could there be something specific we’re blocking that if we were to allow ourselves to hear and feel we will be deeply moved and affected by?

There is much wisdom and insight that can be gained at any time and from any situation in life if we’re open to it.

What current situations can you be learning from that will change your perspective for the better if you were open to allowing it?

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Stuck Between a Smokescreen and a Double Bind


Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

The lyrics from the above song aptly describe a stuck state of thinking I found myself in repeatedly over the last year. Interestingly, each time I thought I’d uncovered and cleared the issues that were creating the impasse, I’d find myself back where I started. I wasn’t just feeling stuck, I was frozen in place! It was like having my foot on the accelerator and brake at the same time. This is commonly referred to as learned helplessness.

There are many sayings in the english language which sum up this ‘circle in a spiral’ thinking pattern. You may recognise some of them: Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Whatever I do, I can’t win and my own personal example It doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t have what I want! Each of these phrases and many more give the impression that there is no choice for us in that particular relational situation or level of thinking.

Einstein is renowned as saying “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Knowing what I now know and understand about the structure of our language, I can fully appreciate the deeper meaning of Einstein’s quote.

Our language is what informs our thinking and therefore our thinking informs our problem solving abilities.  However, when the structure of thinking of the problem is the same as the thinking of the solution this creates a loop or potential double bind. In many cases employing the guidance of a coach can help to resolve this kind of issue more easily.

There are many definitions of what denotes a double bind from a technical perspective and so to keep things simple here is Wikipedia’s version:

A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation.

Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion—the use of confusion makes them both difficult to respond to as well as to resist.

A double bind generally includes different levels of abstraction in the order of messages and these messages can either be stated explicitly or implicitly within the context of the situation, or they can be conveyed by tone of voice or body language. Further complications arise when frequent double binds are part of an ongoing relationship to which the person or group is committed.

Double binds have the following language structure:

  • Stated at identity level using the verb to be. An example is I procrastinate, I’m unorganised, I failed
  • Identified as behaviour to identity – unconsciously meaning (for the individual) that the behaviour is a reflection of who they are e.g. I failed so therefore I’m bad or wrong
  • Represented as an either or structure
  • Limiting beliefs –  A belief of “I can’t impact the situation” this puts the ability to resolve the issue outside of the individual

One way to create a different level of thinking and resolve the double bind is to chunk out of the loop. The loop is a perception of thinking and so by asking ‘What have you perceived to be a problem, until now?’ or ‘How did you organise that perception in that way?’ changes the energy and level of thought. This allows the mind to think differently and resolve the issue in a new way.

These questions are profoundly transformative as they are processed at the conscious as well as the unconscious level.

Personally, these questions have finally unlocked my stop/go, thinking pattern and I’m now beginning to move forwards again.

So, if you find yourself in a bind, ask a question that changes the level of thinking and watch the magic unfold!

Have fun,

Love Angela

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An Invitation…

Who would like to come up on stage and entertain us?

I was 5 years old and as soon as the question was asked my hand shot up along with the boy sitting next to me…..pick me, pick me!!!

Looking back, my only thoughts were if I can make my hand look higher than the boy next to me then I’ll be picked first. As it happened we were both picked to go on stage and “entertain the audience”.

IMG_20150215_224717590 That afternoon, my purpose for getting up on stage and singing my song was because I wanted to. That’s it! Plain and simple. Because I wanted to.. In my childlike innocence I stood on that chair, looked out at the audience and sang my heart out for the sheer joy of singing!

There was no procrastination about what other’s would think of my singing, just a strong desire to sing.

Slowly over time our thinking can change to a model of limitation.  We’re taught that when we grow up we have to get a job to earn money. To buy or rent a property and have a family. And whilst these are great choices for each of us to make, it’s really only one of the ways in which to live life and earn an income.

And yet despite this often rigid thought pattern that we’ve learnt, there are people who inspire, encourage and motivate us just by being themselves.

We’re secretly wishing that we had the same courage to grab life and enjoy what’s on offer as those who inspire us.

What I find interesting is that the energy that flows through all of the individuals who inspire me is that they just keep doing what they’re doing! To keep going no matter how small the step towards their goals and the life they’re choosing. These individuals are often described as driven, crazy and tenacious, when in fact they’re just incredibly curious as to what’s possible in life.

The people who motivate and inspire us to go for our dreams are offering us an invitation to join them. It’s like they’re saying “come and see what life is like over here”

One of my friends, Richard White, has literally taken this to heart and set up a daily challenge for himself. These daily challenges have become so inspiring to others that there is now a dedicated facebook group inviting all of us to accept The Challenge!


Alternatively, another of my inspirational friends is creating an authentic life for herself. Laetitia has immersed herself in travelling, learning and coaching. She is naturally manifesting the life of her own choosing. Laetitia has become The Invitation in her own life!


Living a life beyond what is routine is what’s on offer here. Whether chunking down into daily challenges or taking the plunge and transforming your life completely. 

Discover the invitation to immerse, challenge and create yourself everyday!


Angela xx

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