Lobsters can be found everywhere; in relationships, jobs and homes. What’s good about them is if you gradually increase the pressure on their situation, they tend not to notice. Like a lobster. 
In order to cook a lobster you don’t put a live lobster in a boiling pot. They’re not stupid, they’ve got reflexes and would jump out. What  you do is you put them in a pot of cold water and gradually turn up the heat  until they’re cooked. This way, they don’t really notice. However if they’d known about the end situation at the beginning, they wouldn’t have got into the pan. 

How do I know if I’m a lobster?
There’s a simple question to test whether or not you’re exhibiting lobster-like qualities:
‘If I had known it would be like this when I got into it, would I have done it in the first place?’

For example – if you’d known that your whole team at work would be gradually made redundant and their work given to you, would you have taken the job?

If you’d known that on the flip side of a passionate man you’re  dating was an increasingly bad temper, would you have gone out with him at  all?
What’s wrong with being a lobster?
Lobsters are often ‘putting up with’ a situation that they’re not at all happy about (being cooked). If they had been dumped in that situation their reflexes would have told them to get out, but having had the heat turned
up gradually, they’re numb to it.

Is it fair?
If you have identified yourself as a lobster, you might want to ask yourself whether it’s fair. Given you’d have jumped straight out of that situation had you known in advance, is it fair to expect yourself to endure it now?
Look after yourself
Once you’ve recognised that you’re now in a pot of boiling hot water that you definitely wouldn’t have got into in the first place if you’d known, it’s important to get out. It may be as simple as recognising the situation as unacceptable and walking away, or you may like to have some coaching/support to put together an action plan. Either way, it’s time to get out of the pan.

What is 'Attaching Meaning'?

‘Attaching meaning’ or in strict NLP circles ‘complex equivalence’ is a common thinking pattern a lot of us fall into. In essence it is ‘this means that’ for example ‘he crossed his arms -that means he doesn’t like me’ or ‘she texted back immediately - that means she’s super keen” etc.

OK…and what’s wrong with doing that?!

Well…if you fall into a pattern of it, it can lead to confusion and disappointment. You’re not always going to be right – folding arms can be because someone is cold, and texting back might just spell efficiency…or a hundred other things. Imagine how many conversations have gone on in order to attach meaning to the frequency or speed of return texts?!

For performers this attached meaning is a common trap. They are regularly put up against a panel from whom they get no verbal feedback – only the twitch of a pencil or the raising of an eyebrow. What does this mean?! Have I got the job?

This week we ran a competition for our audition workshop and the entrants were requested to send us their worst audition ever story. The results were astonishing – we had casting directors asking their dogs what they thought, co-performers who brought their own whips(!) and a lot of performers who had all but been given the job by casting directors only to hear nothing. Imagine attaching a meaning to all of that – ‘the dog didn’t seem to like me, I’ll probably never work again’, ‘I really thought the whipping worked in my favour, the casting director was scribbling away’ etc.! This searching for meaning can either end in disappointment, a knock to the confidence or at best a wasted week of worrying. 


Oh dear…I attach meaning all the time….what should I do?
  • The first step is to notice it – and having read this, you probably will.
  • Then question it – does this really mean that? Or am I guessing? What else could be? And how valuable is guessing?
  • Then forget it. Find something else to do that isn’t deciding what things mean. 
  • There is one alternative…and this might be dangerous (but can definitely highlight how wrong you might have got your attached meaning)…ask them! Can I have some feedback (because I really thought it was in the bag because you smiled at me when I came in and when I left?). 
  • There can be a hundred reasons for not getting a job, and many of them are completely out of your control. What’s great is when you know you’ve done a good job, and that’s all that matters.

If you'd like to find out more, I am running a one day workshop for performers called 'SMASH IT" with another Canary Coach and Director, Tim O'Hara.

For more details see:


Every body’s talking about the Olympic legacy of encouraging more people to take part in sport, and certainly anything that can be done to improve the nation’s fitness, and especially that of our children, is to be encouraged.  But I’d like to see another legacy – one of us feeling rather more positive about ourselves.

Despite not being a great sports fan I have loved every minute of it from the start of the opening ceremony to the end of the closing, and I can’t wait for the Paralympics to start.  Hasn’t it been lovely with everybody talking about how good we are, how well we’re doing, what a great show we’ve put on?  For two whole weeks all the negativity evaporated, people actually talked to each other, people were smiling – even the newspaper headlines were positive and excited. 

Do we deserve to be so down on ourselves?
Low national self esteem seems to be ‘Great’Britain’s special subject – largely led by the newspapers.  Whenever I remark on this I’m told ‘Good news stories don’t sell newspapers’ – is this really true I wonder?  Have newspaper sales dropped in these weeks – I doubt it; if they have then we get what we deserve.  All the things that have made us feel great about the Olympics from architecture and engineering to creativity and sporting excellence are here all the time – we just choose to ignore them.  

Take a bus more or less anywhere in London or any of our cities, sit on the top deck if you can and you will pass fantastic buildings – old and new – which, if you were a tourist in a foreign city would have you gasping and grabbing your camera.  Thomas Heatherwick who designed the fabulous Olympic cauldron has been designing amazing buildings, structures, furniture and, objects for two decades – including The Rolling Bridge in Paddington (check it out on YouTube) – there has been an exhibition of his work at the V&A this Summer. 

We have incredible orchestras and theatres – our great National Theatre has tickets for £12  

and  the Royal Festival Hall starts at £9 and regional theatres are also more reasonable. And the London theatre fringe is an absolute mine of brilliant material, generally very inexpensive because nobody is being paid for doing it! Most of our great art galleries and museums are free – how many countries can say that?  And it’s not just the cities - our countryside is second to none (especially when it stops raining!), our gardens are beautiful and our towns and villages all have their own unique history and charm.   

Let's try for a bit of balance
I’m not suggesting we should ignore what’s wrong – the banking scandals, corruption in the Police force and media, the recession, the NHS crises et al.   But why not look at it in context?  When individuals come to us with low self esteem they will often use phrases like ‘I’m useless...or hopeless... or no good’.  To which our first response is generally along the lines of ‘Are you an entirely useless person, or is it more that there are lots of things you are good at, and at the moment you are struggling with [x]’! This changes the focus to the positive and ‘at the moment’ is key –  indicating that what is less than perfect can change.  
So, let’s just remember all the things that make Britain great – not just for these few weeks – but permanently, and even when individual stuff doesn’t look that good ‘at the moment’.  I’m sure we’ll all feel better for it!

If there’s something you’re struggling with 'at the moment', check out the rest of our website and get in touch.  


The idea for this blog came to me following a recent coaching session with a client.  I  carried out a ‘values hierarchy’ (as described in Sarah’s blog of 14/5/2012) and, as is often the case it took quite a long time and was quite a mental struggle for this client to identify his values – it doesn’t tend to  be something we think about.  Among others, one that finally came out was ‘making other people happy’. 
‘What a lovely person’, I thought.  Most of the rest of the session concentrated on some common omission from the values hierarchy and we didn’t come back to this in the session.  However, a few days later I received an email from the client. He told me that he had done something nice for some friends he was meeting and they had been very complimentary and obviously enjoyed what he had done. Initially he had told himself that he only did it for the praise he would receive and felt bad about this.  However, given a bit more thought about the sort of things we have been dealing with in his sessions he eventually changed his mind. He realised that when he gets thanks for doing something for someone else it actually isn’t the praise which is the motivating factor, it’s that the praise is a sign that the thing he had done had brought pleasure to somebody else.  This insight made him feel a lot more cheerful – he was living to his values.  If you are not living to your values, then you are unlikely to be happy.

Accepting compliments comes hard to some people
Many people suffering from low self esteem find it very difficult  to accept compliments and praise – they feel they don’t deserve it or, as in this case, manage to find a way to turn round a generous and pleasant gesture into something selfish. 
We all need to feel appreciated – it’s what helps us to feel valued, and valuable. That’s why it’s unusual for small children to suffer from low self esteem – as they start to learn to walk and speak and do all the 101 other things they need to do, they get loads of encouragement and praise from Mum and Dad and everyone else.  When a baby stands up to try walking, and then bumps down on his bottom we still tell   

him what a clever boy he is, we wouldn’t dream of letting him think he was a failure because he didn’t make it across the room.  But then somewhere along the line – probably around 7 or 8 – things change. 

Pressure and criticism tend to take the place of encouragement – the ‘could do better’ style of parenting and school reporting come into play and suddenly the child starts to believe that he’s a disappointment, not living up to people’s expectations. And unless we’re very careful as parents this feeling can carry on into adulthood and low self esteem can become chronic.  But, even if this is where you are now – it’s still quite possible to change it.  If you feel you are inclined to view yourself negatively, here are a few tips which might help:
- Listen out for your internal voice – are the things it is saying fair? Try imagining a friend saying those things, or distorting the voice into another character.·        
- Create a book for your achievements – we often focus way too heavily on our weaknesses or failings. ·        
- Stretch  your comfort zone frequently with a ‘10% new’ attitude – start small and work up – a new route to work, have your lunch somewhere else etc. ·        
- Be curious about other people – it takes the focus off yourself and stops you worrying about how you are performing.

If low self esteem is holding you back– then NLP coaching can help you improve it.