When your mind is whirling with all the responsibilities, is there a way of restoring calm and clarity to set the restart button? People can thrive on the excitement of busyness, and then there comes a point where our emotional control is exhausted.
I coach figure skating, which is a tough sport that requires dedication, effort, and determination to overcome fears. It can be empowering as you are the only one that can accomplish or fail. Failure is an opportunity to learn and persevere. Skaters are exposed as the centre of attention and this can be a valuable life skill. Some skaters thrive on this attention, and others will need to overcome anxiety and fear. Part of my job as a coach is to cultivate inner confidence and encourage each skater to discover their motivation for the person they may become. There will be something in this sport that will challenge them as there will not be instant gratification. How a skater deals with and
works through the challenge helps them to develop coping skills.
People can generate the mental whirl of repetitive thoughts with all the emotional baggage that is attached to this pattern of thinking. So, when there is an under-story which has triggered emotional exhaustion, I invite the skater to take a deep breath into their lower lungs to encourage them to be present. Then I ask question to find out what the possible trigger could have been that created the overwhelm, which could be something outside of the activity. Are they feeling sick, or hungry, or perhaps something happened to them that was unpleasant? Sometimes there is a realization around recent experience and interpersonal relationships. When one claims responsibility in the situation there is a sense of power returning. Being able to step out and see the big picture there is an increased ability to gain control and reset to attend to the present.
On the surface it was simply a conversation. Asking small questions and having the
skater consider how the outcome could have been different, we were able to shift the
mindset. The only thing in life one can control is our reaction to a situation. Once aware that a triggered a feeling, recognize it, pay attention and learn. We have the ability to be responsible for our emotional state of mind once we are conscious of it. This can change and outcome to one of grace, calm and clarity to an otherwise charged situation. The art of accepting others as they are, and accepting ourselves as we are, is a mind shift to strive for. This clears emotional exhaustion and can restart from a clearer, calmer place.
How often in your life has an opportunity crossed your path that had the potential to change your life? Did you jump at the chance and see where it took you or did you shy away?
Recently I was watching a show and one of the characters asked if the other had ever thought of leaving their tiny town. He responded that it was safer to stay in the place he knew then venture into the unknown. How often have you found yourself held back because venturing forward would put you into unknown territory? So often we don’t venture too far from what we are used to unless we are forced. We may also venture out if the pain and discomfort of the known is unbearable and we have the impression that the unknown could not possibly be worse. Neither of these scenarios starts off a new stage in our lives on a very positive foot.
It is normal to be resistant to change. So far, we have been surviving doing what we are doing. We know what to expect and who to expect it from. So why try it? Well, think of this. Think of your favourite dish or drink. How much you enjoy it and savour it? Now think about the time just before you tried it and someone offered or suggested it to you. In that time before did you know what you were missing? No. After you have enjoyed it can you imagine not being able to enjoy it again? I am sure you don’t want to imagine that. Before we experience something, of course, we don’t know what we are missing. Afterwards, we have always gained something. It can be the knowledge that, yes I tried it and I will tell that story to the end of my days, or that you have added something new to your life that brings joy and has expanded your horizons. It could also be both!
Now, this goes well beyond food and drink. This applies to anything in our lives. I remember a new director coming into one of places I worked, and he asked why we did something, and our answer was because we have always done it that way. He would then challenge us to find some other ways to do it. This was to flip us out of our comfortable boxes that we found ourselves in. It challenged the ways we were doing things. That didn’t mean that we scrapped everything and went with something new for the sake of doing something new. What it did do was allow us to expand our thinking and the way we saw the world. From there we could see where we could add or change things to provide more to our staff, volunteers and clients.
Our personal lives need this too. When we Take a Chance, we are opening to new possibilities. Yes, when we do this it brings on disruption and the need for adjustment, but what is gained? You gain a new experience that expands your thinking and who you are. It gives you a new perspective that may be beneficial in solving old problems. It allows you to challenge some of your deep-held beliefs and thereby start testing those other beliefs that still exist. It can give you the wiggle room to move closer to who you want to be and where you want to go in life.
One of my strongest experiences in this was a trip to Costa Rica. There were so many chances that I took on that trip and literally took a leap forward for myself. I had always told myself that I was afraid of heights and that any sport or activity that involved heights was a hard stop – NO GO – for me. I was on a business development retreat and our coach created an activity day that would challenge each one of us in some way. As coaches, we challenge our clients to move figuratively into scary territory, so this was a way to experience this literally. The activity was Ziplining over the tops of the rainforest. It wasn’t just one run; it was 7 runs that equated to several kilometres. I must tell you the first run was a blur. I was terrified! I was quickly attached to the second run before I could protest. By the fourth run, I had the courage to be present and really take in the view of the valley and the rainforest below. It was magical! I would have never seen the volcano from that vantage point, and it was like I was flying over the treetops! What I have now is the confidence to challenge those things I tell myself and try something new when the opportunity comes available to me. I also know that I will always come away with something amazing even if it is something I choose to never do again. Now, will I Zipline again? Yeah sure! Will I be scared? Yep!
So how do you know when something is worth taking the chance on? The guidance I was given requires answering two questions. Does it excite you or pique your interest? Does it scare you? If you say yes to both then it is most likely something that will have a lasting impact on your life if you choose to do it.
If you would like to have help to take a chance on any area of your life contact me for a Free Strategy Session to discuss how we can work together.
Since 1998 I have been involved with crisis response with distress lines and more recently with victim services. One of my responsibilities was training and mentoring volunteers to support people on some of the most challenging days in their lives. One of the biggest messages I tried to instill in the volunteers I trained, was “Seek to Understand – Avoid Assumptions”. Why is this important?
All of us have had unique experiences in our lives and from these experiences, we have created an idea of how the world and people work. Our view of the world is just as unique as our experiences. As my former volunteer trainees can attest, I love using the analogy of siblings. If you have siblings or close cousins consider the environment in which you were raised. In many cases, you generally had the same or similar environment as your siblings. Now consider times when you have been in a similar situation as a sibling. Did you make the same decisions? Were your reasons for your decision the same? In most cases, the answer was a strong NO. So if we are not able to have the same decision-making process as those who have been raised with similar values, and environment then how is it possible for us to KNOW what is going on for someone who has probably had a vastly different experience with life. We can’t. When it comes to being present from others, we can’t assume that we totally understand what is happening for them. What we can do is ask questions to understand. Get clarity on the meaning of words that they may change their tone on when talking with you. Just like we are the only experts for ourselves, each individual is an expert on themselves.
How often do we find ourselves in a heated chain of texts on social media or text? There is an added layer of complexity when it comes to communication in text and on social media. So often we just write and send, or passively read what has been written, without going and looking back at the context. One word can have a different meaning for different people and can cause a conversation to go off the rails very quickly. When we notice things have gone in an unexpected direction, what is our first instinct? In general, it is to stand our ground and even attack.
I am going to invite you to try out a radical idea. There is no guarantee that it will work every time. Whether a conversation was in text or verbal, what do you think would happen if you said, “I noticed the conversation is going in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I would really like to understand your side and figure out how we can get back on track. What does….. mean for you, because it means….. to me.” If you are not sure where it went off track asking what the other person wants you to understand and then getting clarification if it doesn’t quite jive with how you understand the world.
What would be your reaction if someone said that to you in a conversation? How would you feel? How would that shift your impression of that person?
When we take the time to seek to understand how others experience the world we expand our own horizons and are much more open to hearing other experiences of the world and life. This is a rare gift, not only to the person you are offering it but also to yourself.
Don Miguel Ruiz speaks about this in his book the Four Agreements when he states Don’t Make Assumptions. Essentially saying that we create our own drama because we are assuming how others think, feel and are. So much misunderstanding can be mitigated when we take the time to ask someone what is going on for them and finding out the deeper things rather than assuming or leaving conversations at the surface answers. For those who have read and thought about what is written in this book, you will know that although these concepts are simple, they are not easy to actually do. They take time and they take effort and patience on our part because not everyone is willing to try back. When we remember that the only thing we can do is to try our best and extend that courtesy, some amazing things have the potential to happen.
How can you seek to understand others as you move forward? Feel free to add your comments, experiences and impressions in the comments section or the chat.
Added Reading on this subject:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBielOoXDuE&list=PLV6IVEQAlu9rC92-LFJ0EjViq-9BYGj-o