Valerie Ling

Clinical Psychologist Pennant Hills, Hornsby and Hills District



view:  full / summary

Raw Chicken and Onions

Posted by Valerie Ling on February 12, 2020 at 6:30 AM

Raw Chicken and Onions

I was on my way home from work when I thought about how it was going to be tricky to get dinner going while trying to fit some things that had cropped up. I thought about how I could simplify the process and perhaps delegate it out. One of the values I have as a parent is for my children to find opportunities to serve others. I thought this would be a great opportunity for one of them to serve the family - by cooking dinner.


I called home and a very tired child picked up the phone. Apparently they had an excursion today and had been on the trampolines for hours. As I broached the topic of cooking dinner, I was not sensing enthusiasm from them. I was tempted to skirt round the issue and probably withdraw the request.


However, that's not how life works is it? There are going to be times when no matter how tired you feel, you need to do the things of life! Cook, help out around the house, hold a job and do what you need to do. I decided this was an opportunity to help this child of mine work through this request and find a source of resilience to express an important family value, and have a chance to see what they could do when they reached in.


We are currently reorganising our chores around our children's strengths. What they are good at, what they do out of a natural curiosity and interest. So I worked through this with my child to find a way to expand their energy and find the perspective to serve though they were tired.


Here's what happened. I knew that if I said dinner would mean cutting raw chicken and onions, they would be interested and motivated. You see this child has a fascination with raw meat! They like the way it looks, feels and gets great satisfaction from cutting it. Weird? It seems to be linked with their interest in health related topics. They also are able to watch movies where there are autopsies and has an interest in the human body.


Now the fact that we were having chicken dinner was a winner ;) . I added that they could chop the onions! This child also has an interest in drama, and frequently wishes they were able to spontaneously cry. So chopping the onions is their opportunity to shed some tears and re-enact some scene in their minds.


Shifting their energy to an expansive space through focusing on their strengths, natural curiosities and interests gave them the opportunity to serve without giving up.


It's much the same with us. We can't escape from life's responsibilities. By locating our interests, strengths and curiosities, we can find that our energy expands when we expand our focus away from what we are not good at, what we dread, to finding how we can work in our strengths and within our interests.

Join me to expand your resources and energy:

Mindset Matters

Posted by Valerie Ling on January 31, 2020 at 7:55 AM

I took a difficult path today and I took it because I knew I had to


I have come back from annual leave and there are a couple of things that are standard, my summer reading books and time to reflect on the year ahead. It's also a really important time to ask some important questions.


Why are you doing what you do Valerie?


How did it start?


How is the journey unfolding?


Where are you going next?


What or Who stands in your way?


The answer to that last question this time round was a big resounding - Me.


I knew I needed to really face that, because I was starting to feel the drag in my feet, and a quick resourcing check indicated that my Purpose tank needed recharging. Fear, anxiety, double guessing myself and then this one - reactively making decisions, emotional signals to pay attention to.


So I did a brain dump to find out what those messages were, what they were about and identified 2 unhelpful messages.


Now the next thing I have in my arsenal is to always surround myself with people who can mentor and coach me. And this was in my diary today. I had some decisions to make - would I fess up and go head on with these 2 mindset issues?


The choice of issues I could focus on was a plenty. There were a lot of How and What conversations I could have, and that would have been an easy avoidance of the all important "Why". I could go to town on getting more coaching input for how to be more efficient. I could go all in to get reassurance that what I was doing was "right". That, though folks, is just avoidance when you know your tank is running on empty and you just pile on more things to DO and more ways to reinforce that what you are doing is working.


I knew already who was going to be on my list of coaches to talk to. A new friend and business mentor who is an expert in my area the burnout and wellness space.


Side story. I could also have avoided talking to someone else who is an expert in the burnout and wellness space. I wouldn't want him to know that I struggle with this stuff. I could have run away from getting him to take a close look. It would have shielded my pride a little more. That's why I knew I had to have the conversation with him. When your why is about YOU and protecting YOUR stuff - you got to do something about it.


And that is both hard and extremely essential. As I sat down to speak with him, the voice in my head said - be proud you took this path today and be extremely grateful you opened yourself to this.


And I was. Proud and grateful. I voiced my mindset issues, and Declan went all in. And I came out much clearer that I was in this picture where I am on holiday, relaxed and viewing the beautiful shores of Noumea.


Superpowers unlocked!

Work in Flow

Posted by Valerie Ling on January 13, 2020 at 7:05 PM



In my work with clients, I notice how rigid we can sometimes be with our expectations on when we 'should' work. Guilt when we are not working this way can lead to further burnout.


Understanding the science of productivity and creativity, you will find that what is more helpful is to know your individual ingredients to achieve flow.


Flow is a pleasurable state of being highly engaged, focused, distraction free, wrapped in the moment of creating and producing, learning, growing and creating.


You need to have a knowledge of a few ingredients in order to ride the flow:


What gives you meaning, purpose and joy

How, when, where you work best

Obtaining feedback, input and immediate shaping information

Be goal focused and specific on the one thing

Know your energy zones

Get away from distractions


This is me sitting typing this message you in one of my optimal flow zones, in a noisy cafe, wide open skylight, big space, away from kids and the office. I am working on my 90 day plan for my business and growth targets.





Who You Are and Who You're Becoming

Posted by Valerie Ling on December 16, 2019 at 2:50 AM

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


Posted by Valerie Ling on November 25, 2019 at 9:15 PM


It really won't kill us...


I was tagged in a post asking me what I thought about a fairly comprehensive article looking at the simple acts of connection and kindness and the research that shows through all of our human spaces, family, friendships, work and well being - human connection and kindness is such a powerful antidote.


My first reaction was to wonder why we needed research to show us this. My second was to be thankful that people continue to study the very things that make us human and humane.


How much does history remind us of our propensity towards cruelty and forgetfulness. We must not forget. We must also continue to elucidate how small acts of generous consideration can lead to shifts in our well being


So tell me .... what small acts of kindness have you experienced lately?




P.s., My last videos in my latest burnout series are out! Check it out below!

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

Tell 'em to Dream, Son

Posted by Valerie Ling on November 18, 2019 at 1:35 AM

A casual lunch conversation where I reflected on a tendency for us to tell young people not to expect to have some burning passion or dream. Perhaps it is a way of us trying to protect a generation who has lived through the disappointment of governments, profound political upheaval and higher levels of family disruption than ever before from further disappointment. The disappointment of dreams not coming true.


Except that...


Every great movement, discovery, revolutionary change came from a dream.


The biggest issues in why work becomes a drudgery comes from an inability to meaningfully connect with what we are doing, and a myopic view of how what we are doing is making an iota of difference.


You can't have a sense of a mission without a dream.


You can't have a growing vision without a dream.


You can't grow without a dream.


Am I suggesting we tell our sons and daughters to aspire to Branson, Winfrey and Obama?


Maybe. If that's what seems to occupy their dashboard.


What I mean is, if your child is like Alex Keaton (this will date your vintage) they've probably debated you from out of the womb, took on every slippery angle they could find, debated their way through school, took on councils and elections in tertiary school, and wanted to study Political Science as soon as they could. "Where's the money in that son?"


Too often that is the conversation we land up having.


But...what if...


We watched their interests, no matter how diverse. What if we engaged with what consumes their waking moments. Things that fire up creativity. Things that wound their social conscience. Things that give them a sense of order.


What if...


We explored the opportunities to broaden those inclinations. Books, movies, hobbies, conversations, classes, tinkering away at developing not only interest, but knowledge, skills.


What if..


We hung back when they encountered adversity. Setbacks. Mistakes. Clarifying of whether this was something that they would keep looking at. And we said "get up, try again" instead of "I told you so".




A dream can form with the basis of reality and experience, and would not necessarily be something they needed to wake up from. Instead they had a map of possibilities to figure out options, pathways and expressions - of what drives them, inspires them, and ultimately brings meaning for them.


That's got to be worth something? That's got to be what dreaming is about.




See Below: My first video in the series on why burnout is so prevalent!

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

When's Your Holiday?

Posted by Valerie Ling on November 11, 2019 at 12:30 AM

Of all the things I get asked, today I was asked this lovely question by a friend, "When's your holiday?" You can imagine that in our household, quite a bit of intentional thinking goes into it. Actually there are 2 main All-Stop rests we try to book in advance. The first is a personal retreat and the second is the annual vacation. It was so nice to have this question asked, I believe not just for curiosity sake, also as a genuine reminder between friends to rest.


If you have not already done this, consider placing some thinking and planning now for when you are going to take your holidays next year. Leaving it till when you feel hurried and frazzled may mean that you miss out on pacing yourself and having intentional thought as to when you are going to need that recharge.


Try this out:


1. Find the spot in your 2020 diary that you are going to best be able to take some complete time off - no phones, email or work stuff hanging around you. Head for a really mindful time of rest. Perhaps this could be right after a pretty full on season, or just before one.


2. Consider some shorter 'reflect and recharge' times for a mid-season break. Try a personal retreat - take yourself somewhere nourishing that you can have a couple of responsibility free time. In earlier years with young kids in tow, I just did this at home - and did nothing other than read, sleep and order takeout (or make some frozen meals in advance).


3. Place these in your calendar already - and let them be a reminder that a break is coming, so your body and mind start to feel the encouragement relief that is coming.


Then... enjoy the feeling that you have honoured the natural need for rest and recovery!




P.S., See below for my latest vlog on dismantling burnout!

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

Be A Work In Progress

Posted by Valerie Ling on November 4, 2019 at 12:55 AM

Our sense of self can be so negatively shaped by our sense of defectiveness and shame. So often we make the mistake of basing our identity in things beyond our control. In my latest vlog, I share some of my own experiences and hardships when it comes to forming an accurate sense of self. Ultimately, we must have compassion for ourselves. Let's embrace the reality that we will always be works in progress.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

I Need The Idiots Guide!

Posted by Valerie Ling on October 28, 2019 at 3:15 AM
"I need the idiots guide!"
In my team, this means I am in execution mode, I do not have the capacity to deal with the details, I just need the blow by blow account of what I need to do. It's a phrase I use as a shortcut and it's caught by my beloved Assistants (I have 2, I NEED 2) who know that means I am requiring their strengths in detail and logistics. It means I also have absolute trust to take direction from them and accept their influence. It means they have trust that it will be caught in the right spirit. I was pleasantly surprised when my personal assistant actually headed the email with "Your Idiot's Guide to Your Meeting". Loved this. Loved the candor. Loved the willingness to catch my words and take it seriously. Loved the confidence. Loved the synergy. Loved the team work, The picture you see before you also brought a smile to my face. It was my team member knowing how botched up I make all her wonderful Canva designs, and decided to tell me what to do - straight up. Love this.
You can bet that conversations that come out of this space are straight up, clear, compelling and yet collegial. They come from having alignment conversations where trust and respect grows. In a small business environment you need this. Why don't you let me hand you the Idiot's Guide to having 5 alignment conversations with your team. Straight up - done for you to get the picture right about what a small business team looks like when it is running in high performance alignment.

Who Will You Trust Is Not The Question

Posted by Valerie Ling on October 21, 2019 at 2:45 AM


One of the common issues that I hear come up in working with burnout in small business owners is the emotional exhaustion they experience negotiating conflict within their team. You spend so much time as a business owner building something from your own personal space that when we have other people "move in", the communication can get muddied. We implicitly assume that trust will come through the personal connections we make with our team. However, it is not just YOU they need to trust. It is the process and the position that also requires mutual trust. Without clarity in our communication, we can get entangled in dynamics that lead us to feel:

* Betrayed

* Attacked

* Taken for granted

* Taken for a ride.

Can I say - and vice versa. Our team can feel the same as well. That is because, in a small business environment, trust and buy in feels so personal - both ways. Both for the business owner who has invested in their business, and their team who have invested in taking the risk to sign up!

Essentially, there are three layers of trust that exists in any commercial relationship. Personal, professional and positional. Personal trust speaks to the personal integrity and dealings you have had with one another. Is the relationship respectful, honest, humble and seeking to make give and take work. There is Professional trust. Can you count on one another to take ethical, competent and technically sound steps to work together. Then there is Positional trust. Is there acceptance of the role you as the business owner occupies, and the role of each member on the team to take, allowing for effective team work.

When conflict arises in a small business it can commonly have personal meaning attached to it, when in fact, it could be relying on some other dimensions of trust. These areas of trust are not mutually exclusive, they need to be seen together as a lens for effective communication and teamwork, and not be split off into confusion.

Every week, for 5 weeks, from the 7th of November 2019 I will provide you with templates and visual material for both you and your team to align your perspective. It’s a DONE FOR YOU RESOURCE called ALIGN BY DESIGN. What you get:

+ 5 conversation templates for you as the business owner to have with your team

+ 5 videos and processing material for you to get comfortable and confident with these conversations AND

+ 5 videos and communication prompts for your team members to view and align their thinking with yours

+++ LIFE TIME OWNERSHIP, never have to renew - it will always be available

Modules will start to be available from the 7th of November, one conversation released each week. You can start to access the conversations relevant to you, or use them all! Your choice, there is no EXPIRY date.

How can you be part of this conversation revolution? Click here for more details…