"Everyone faces what I call obstacles: blockages, fears, things that get in the way of creating the life you want to live. Sometimes we think we are alone in this. . . However, everyone will face obstacles, and every problem is solvable."
This is how Donna Higton starts her Busting Obstacles book. I've had the pleasure of knowing Donna through a shared online group for over a year now. As you will see, she has overcome her share of obstacles and is helping others do the same.
J - What happened in your life to turn you around 360, send you backpacking to Australia, and crack you wide open to finally listen to your inner knowing?
Donna Higton - In a word: misery. I was so unhappy in a corporate job, living the life I was meant to live (according to conventional wisdom), and I hated it. My soul was climbing the walls and I had this incessant thought, "There must be more to life than this." I later realised this thought was a misinterpretation of the message from my soul, "There IS more to life than this." I couldn't see any way out of that life, and when the idea came to go to Australia and travel, I had that "two roads diverge in a wood" moment.
I either took that path of the adventurous and unknown or I bought a house and carried on down the path of conventional life. After much deliberation, I tossed a coin. It came up heads, buy a house. So I did best of 3, best of 5... and at some point in the coin-tossing, I realised I wanted to go to Australia. Even if it wasn't the right, conventional, sensible thing to do. Once I'd broken the shackles, it got a lot easier to listen to my inner voice.
J - As a former masseuse, your knowledge of the physical body must play a big role in guiding people to understand their inner body—their inner voice?
DH - Ironically, no. As a masseuse, I did ask people to listen to their body all the time, but what I saw and experienced was a lot of people ignoring their body's messages. What really changed things for me was having MS and being forced to really listen to my body (as well as my mind, heart, soul, and energetic self). This is the experience that helps me to teach my clients to listen to themselves.
The experience as a masseuse reminds me that the majority of people do not take the time to listen—even if their body is screaming at them; they don't stop long enough to interpret the messages, to get quiet, to listen to themselves.
J - What is one tip you would offer to someone looking for a better, happier life that they could use right now to make a big difference?
DH - Ask this question daily: what would make life better and happier today?
So many people think if they get the money, the career, the house, the car, whatever it is they want, then they'll be happier. But the truth is that you can be happier now, on the way to all the things you think will make you happier. Mass marketing has done a really good job on us all to make us think we need more stuff, more success, more cash, more plaudits for more happiness. But what you actually need is to focus on being happier. And then you can go after the stuff, the success, the cash, the plaudits if you want to.
J - As a life coach, what is the most common problem you see people struggle with that, if they knew how to resolve it, would jack-rabbit their lives forward?
DH - Being too hard on themselves. Most people judge themselves so much more harshly than they would anyone else. And it creates a problem where we feel we cannot do anything right (untrue), we are not good enough (untrue), we have to be perfect (impossible). This makes us fearful and often exhausted because we think the only way to satisfy that inner mean girl is to work ourselves into the ground. But even this doesn't satisfy her.
If you can learn to praise, celebrate, and be kind to yourself, it frees you up to succeed AND feel good. Life gets easier. A lot of the self-imposed drama drops away, so you have more time to do what you want to. People think that tough love works. It never worked on me, and I have never met a client who didn't benefit from more self-love and less self-flagellation and criticism.
J - MS, fibromyalgia, cancer, chronic back pain, migraines, and more, can be life debilitating, yet as an MS sufferer yourself, you keep going, living your best life possible. What advice would you offer to others like yourself who carry this extra burden?
DH - Learn to listen to your body and as much as you can, give her what she needs. When you are dealing with a chronic illness especially, there is such a temptation to try to keep up with other people or keep up with the person you used to be. But this is utterly counterproductive. The more you overdo it, the harder life is, and you often make your illness worse.
So do what feels more difficult (because it's not what we're used to doing) and listen to your body—give her the rest she needs. In the long run, you'll have more energy this way, even if it means resting more than you really want to. (It took me a really long time to learn this lesson!)
Donna Higton is a life coach and the author of Fall in Love With Life, Obstacle Busting, and is currently working on her 3rd book. She helps women who know there is more to life to fall in love with their lives, feel good, and make their dreams come true. Find her at www.donnaonthebeach.com.