By: Lindy McClymontJune 2020
There’s a very fine line between being the “deliverer of hope”, the eternal optimist, the positive opportunity seeker, the “glass half-full” preacher, the “use this time wisely” advocate, the “this too shall pass” orator and being the human being who sees, seeks and embraces balance in this time.
I know from personal experience, that I move from the “everything’s gonna be okay” narrative to “OMG, what next” panic mode, regularly. In one day, our emotions and thoughts can swing to extremes, can be on polar-opposites of the hopeful and the scared spectrums. Our emotions and thoughts are playing tricks on us and if we remain unconscious to what we are “feeding” ourselves, we can become victim to them. Now, I am not advocating that we should look at the current state-of-affairs through rose-tinted glasses, nor am I encouraging us to always see the bright side, it’s all about seeing the messy middle.
This month’s blog is to offer 10 solid strategies to help us navigate the uncertainty, help us remain conscious and remain mindful of what we are “feeding ourselves”.
It’s still 20plenty – it just looks different and plenty is being redefined.
In our years of working with change, people development and behavioural shifts, we have compiled some ideas that work if practiced plenty…and so perhaps,it’s time to look inward.
So, here goes….10 strategies that help us balance our thinking, our emotions and our responses.
- Truly connect: as people we love to listen to and tell stories. Teams, I urge you tell stories as opposed to just jumping into virtual meetings and getting down to business, numbers and spreadsheets. Share stories of successes and challenges, share stories of feelings and emotions. Be honest and create a safe space for people to share…the good and the bad. We only truly connect to others when we feel safe and where trust is present, and it seems we cannot build trust if we do not truly connect. Take some time to share…not just talk. Take time to be curious about the people in your space, tell stories to each other and listen intently. This applies in your families too.
- Make friends with your thoughts: when you have a really good friend, you tend to want to spend time with them, you tend to want to listen to them and get closer to them. The same goes for our thoughts. If we are constantly falling victim to the “busyness”, we never really give ourselves time to sit with our thoughts, to get to know them, to understand them at a deeper level. We cannot become curious about our way of thinking, if we never sit with our thoughts and explore their impact on our behaviours.
- Know your triggers: yep, we are all triggered by different things. Things people say or do, things people don’t do, certain narratives, words, people or thinking patterns will trigger us. Now we need to be loaded in order to be triggered, so if we know what our triggers are, we are better able to unload so that we are better able to self-manage and self-regulate when triggered. I may be aware of a trigger, see myself being triggered, unload my own ideals and emotions, and respond more maturely.
- Rest: how uncanny that we should rest while economies are crumbling, businesses are retrenching and people are fighting for survival. Surely, we should be hustling harder, working more, pushing hours and burning the midnight oil. But we know that when we feel unhealthily stretched, we cannot maintain a good mental state or clarity of thought. It’s not about resting all day or being lazy, but about taking purposeful moments each day to recharge and give our brains and bodies a break. Don’t get caught in the tyranny of “being busy” constantly, find moments of rest and avoid the guilt.
- Anchor yourself: an anchor by its definition is to keep a ship stable in rough seas, to keep it moored or to prevent it from drifting. The swells may seem high, the seas quite rough and we may easily drift. The question is: are you anchored? And where? There are various ways in which we can positively anchor ourselves in turbulent times. We may use our personal values as an anchor, we may choose to serve others, we may lean on our faith, we may anchor ourselves in our purpose. The key here is to realise when we are drifting, when our thoughts and emotions are turbulent, to notice when we feel sucked into the swell and then to throw out our anchor to stabilise. Some days we may be throwing the anchor numerous times, other days not at all. What is your anchor?
- Reach out: This is a vulnerable action…to put yourself out there and reach out to people. Does it show weakness? Does it reflect low confidence or esteem? Does it open me up to being judged by others? Or does it show strength to say hey! I need help, I need to talk this through to gain a new perspective, I need to explore this with someone else? Vulnerability is strength – it is being brave enough to let yourself be seen. Whether you reach out to a trusted friend, a coach or mentor or a family member, we all need to embrace “reach-out” moments when we are feeling low, alone, confused, afraid, or frustrated. Reaching out is an action that demonstrates humanness and to be listened to, is often therapeutic in itself.
- Manage your internal dialogue: the most important conversation you ever have, is the one you have with yourself. Make sure your own internal dialogue is serving you. Our internal dialogue can affect how we feel, how we behave, how we respond. So be mindful of what you tell yourself repeatedly – you may just believe it! Often, journaling our internal dialogue brings clarity, writing down our dialogue allows us to see it from a different perspective and can empower us to shift the dialogue when we spot unhealthy trends of disempowering patterns.
- Give yourself permission to feel: we are so often drawn to feel the good stuff. The joy, happiness, peace, fulfilment……but what about giving ourselves permission to feel the tough stuff…..the fear, anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment. At times, we will need to sit with the discomfort of tough emotions, become curious about where these emotions come from and sit with them, through them. The reality is that we can’t always be “on top of the world”, there are times when we will feel the gut-wrenching, stomach-knotting, nauseous-making feelings. If we gave ourselves permission to feel them, to sit with them, to sit through them, it could give us clarity as to what to do with them to shift them? So, if I were feeling the fear right now, what if I sat with it, felt it deeply, and considered where this feeling stems from and what control I have over the circumstances or my response to it? Avoid running from them, sit quietly with them to explore your choices.
- The universe rewards action: to sit idle and not to start or do something will Uincrease the spiral of fatigue and helplessness. Now this is the balance between rest and action. It’s not about finishing the big project in a day, or solving the challenge in an hour – this is about doing something small to get started. If you have a business idea, design the logo. If you have a process challenge at work, start the mindmap, set up the meeting. This is not about size, this is about the starting blocks. Tidy one room, pack one cupboard, schedule one team meeting, write up part 1 of your business plan. Hope is not a strategy and so action, in small consistent steps, aids in our sense of achievement and control.
- Allow others to keep you real: at times, when we feel under pressure or stressed, we show up in ways that are not aligned or not conducive. Our blind spots may become brighter as we behave out of character, or out of our true selves. If we give permission to people close to us, to call us out kindly and gently, we increase our self-awareness and gain clarity on seeing ourselves through other people’s eyes. This can be valuable as when we are open to feedback that comes from a place of genuine intention and kindness, we grow. Nobody particularly likes feedback or likes our behaviours being called out, but feedback is a gift of potential growth. Contract with people in your space that you trust and love and invite them to keep you real, when you are derailed.
10 solid strategies, 10 opportunities to remain conscious and engaged with yourself, 10 habits that could keep us balanced in our views, thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
Easy? Not all! In fact, some days they’ll be the last thing you wish to do. So it’s not all about living in the positive la-la land, it is neither about being the prophet of doom and gloom, it’s about being more conscious in a world that is calling for us to be present, to own our space, to embrace the balance and to keep taking a step forward.
What have you done today, to navigate your messy middle ground?