Perhaps we should just get on with it?

I know some of my friends will be spitting their coffee over their phones reading this, but stick with me and let me explain what I mean.

I have heard this phrase a lot over the years, often from the mouths of well meaning but exasperated friends and colleagues, it can often be replaced with buck up! Anyone that has suffered from depression of any level of severity has heard those terms and felt that helpless feeling, even self loathing, in response to our inability to just get on with it. But what if was possible to get on with it, that could protect many of us from becoming ill, or that helped us stay off the anti-depressants.

The thing is most of the people that say just get on with it, are being quite sincere, because that is just what they do, with out realising that this is something that does not come naturally to many of us. There are I suppose situations where we all know that we can just get on with it regardless and then other situations where just getting on with it are impossible.

Getting on with it or JFDI (just flippin do it) is reliant on how resilient you are feeling at the moment when that task is required. Now I am debating going for a run this morning, and to be honest I have been struggling to restart running. As we know my resilience has been a little bit low recently, so I wonder if my inability to JFDI is down to this lack of resilience.

That is my point really, to be able to JFDI of get on with it, we need to address our resilience and look after ourselves. I imagine those that do get on with it pay attention to their resilience albeit subconsciously.

So lets examine my inability to no just get on with going for a run, by looking at the three characteristics of resilience described by Coutu (this is just as much for me, as it is for you).

Realism: When I went for a run on Monday evening I had this ridiculous idea that I could run solidly for 15 minutes before walking (I have not really run since December). I lasted a minute, now I did this 7 more times with some spells of walking as per the app I was using, after the 8th run I felt like a wreck. I was terribly unrealistic about my level of fitness. The level of pain and how quickly I got out of breath took be by surprise and quick frankly embarrassed me. I would even go as far to say I was ashamed of myself. Now this is quite ridiculous, I am 48 and overweight and have not run for 3 months, what else should I expect. There we are I have appraised my realism and there is some work I need to do on what I should expect from my running at first. There is clearly a need to manage my level of expectations of what I am going to feel when I run, which is a certain amount of discomfort during the run, which is then replaced with an elation and high when I have finished the run.

Purpose: This I have examined a lot. In the short term I have signed up for a 10k in June. Now going back to my realism, I am convinced I will not be able to run all the way round. What I want to do is run for 15 minutes and walk for 5 minutes on repeat until I have finished. So that is one reason for starting to run again. The other is fitness. I feel unfit, I am nearing 50 and want to be healthy for as long as I can. This stems back to my core value of usefulness. The longer I am healthy for, the longer I can make a useful contribution. It also makes me feel incredible once I have finished. So purpose is not an issue for me. s

Resource: So I have trainers and shorts, somewhere to run and an app. So I have the physical resources to actually go for a run. However whilst I sit here I wonder about my physical and mental resource, in other words the energy and motivation. If I examine the physical resource, I can go back to realism and examine how long I will be running for today. I will only be running for 8 minutes, how much resource do I need to run for 8 minutes in one minute bursts. It will make me breathless and sweaty and my legs will hurt but only for about 20 minutes. If I examine the mental resource I need all I have to do is remember why I am doing it and is that more important than sitting listening to the radio. How useful will listening to the radio make me?

Well I seem to have talked myself into going for a run. I still however have to do it.

Paying attention to your resilience and what my be reducing it, in theory seems quite easy, actually putting it in to practice is a little harder. It requires you to be honest with yourself and maybe address things that may make you feel uncomfortable. Reflecting is not easy and as I say a lot takes practice. I am learning to be more and more reflective, and it is bloody hard work.

If you want to explore this further and are thinking about some one to one coaching get in touch.

I need a re-charge

What is really funny is that over the past couple of weeks I have been writing about and researching resilience, not noticing that I was becoming less and less resilient myself.

For the 2 or 3 weeks now I have been running around tending to others needs and delivering content. Now I get a lot out of both delivering teaching sessions and one to one sessions with people. However I was not noticing my own well-being and listening to my own advice. I was not giving myself time to recover (or sufficient time). I was underestimating how much all of this work takes from me, physically and mentally.

My preferred attitude is to be introverted. I find it very difficult to talk to people I do not know, or embark on new activities that involve speaking to strangers. For instance if I cannot find something in a shop I will walk out rather than asking a shop assistant. Given a choice I prefer to email or text people rather than talk on the phone.

Us humans are complicated so my introversion is not the full story. I also like to be recognised for doing a good job and I like to make a difference to people’s lives. I have learned to enjoy extroversion and I am now happy to stand in front of people to deliver content, and have coaching conversations with people. To get me to that point though requires quite a lot of energy.

This has been the problem recently, I have been coaching and teaching a lot, and I had not noticed how much this was taking from me. That is until this week. By Wednesday I could feel my resilience waning, and by Thursday night I was completely spent, getting up a going to work on Friday morning was so difficult. In fact how I felt on Friday morning reminded me of what I felt like when I was at my lowest and was unable to go to work. Yesterday I went to work. I had a plan.

I had a lovely walk in to work in the sunshine taking in the views and just being in the moment. When I got to work I talked about what was happening to me with people I trust. I could feel myself re-energising. After work I went for tea with my work colleagues. We drank we laughed, we laughed, we drunk some more, laughed some more and then went home.

I am tired this morning, a little hungover, but optimistic. I will when life gets busy, when I am required to be an extrovert, that I need to schedule in extra recovery time. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to recover. Paying attention to yourself allows you to be the best person you can be.

Trying to find inspiration

I have spent most of today and yesterday trying to find some inspiration for chapter 5 of my book. This morning I had books out all over the sofa highlighting quotes and thinking about where I could put them and hoping they would spark something inside of me, just to get the chapter started without being wedded to one particular writer. I kept telling myself and keep telling myself it has to come from me. It has to be my story of how I connect with myself, how I fail to connect with myself, how I connect with others and how I disconnect from others. The title of the chapter is ‘Are you driven by your emotions?’ There is so much written on this subject that it is so hard not to end up just writing what they have said about it. Then my imposter syndrome kicks in and I start thinking emotionally, my armour comes up and I get stuck. I started telling myself that no one will want to read it. Who do you think you are? You don’t know enough.

So these have been my anxieties today. I set myself really, I told myself I was going to spend this week writing. Then when it started I felt this pressure to write. Then I started writing and Foggy popped up to tell me that people like me don’t do this sort of thing. This is why I am writing this, to put Foggy back in his box. I know he is only trying to protect me, but what he forgets is, that I am 48 on Sunday. I am a big boy now, I have an identity and a self worth and none of that is dependent on whether I write a modern classic or a book that never sees the light of day.

Foggy after all is how I describe aspects of my limbic system. I cannot fight him I have to let him have his say, sometimes what he says is helpful, other times he encourages me to wear armour I don’t want or need. Now I have let him have his say and I have shown him that I will not die if I write a book about personal leadership, I can get back to writing about my experience of emotional thinking, which is essentially what I have just done.

You may have noticed that I use this blog to work stuff out, to get things straight in my head, There is something about sharing what is in my head with people, that does not feel like I am bearing my soul. It helps me immensely and I hope that a lot of you find it helpful. The realisation that the anxieties that you have are shared by others is so reassuring.

So thank you for being there and reading this. I now have something to write about in my chapter tomorrow. I now have that personal angle.

Shining a light on the negative

I have been reading a lot about resilience over the past few weeks. Mental health, well being and resilience are hot topics in everyone’s work place at the moment and as a nurse and coach they are close to my heart. I do write about some aspect of mental health on a regular basis. Being resilient is really quite simple, but so difficult to do.

Why is it so difficult for many of us not to slip into negative self talk and pick up on all the negativity behind us. As I have mentioned before being negative is evolutionary necessary. In more perilous times defaulting to the positive was an instant death sentence. Our brains are amazing at threat detection and keeping us alive, however they are rubbish at differentiating between life threatening and or looking silly. Which again in harsher more primitive times was useful, as being perceived as a bit of a tool in could mean you being banished from your group and being left to fend for yourself.

So our factory settings were and can still be lifesaving. However many of the threats we face daily will not result in our death, but are more likely to result in us being criticised or ridiculed. As mentioned before status and esteem were linked to life and death, but this is no longer the case in modern society. This means we have to be conscious of our default setting and make an effort to upgrade our operating system. The upgrade is as mentioned earlier really simple. The problem is we reset to factory settings on a regular basis so we have to manually apply the upgrade every time we encounter a threat. When you think about it, that is quite comforting, if there is a day when you are faced with a life or death situation, your threat sensors will kick in to keep you safe (hopefully, but that perhaps is a blog for someone else to write).

How do you manage your negativity? How do you create a balanced view of your life? As I say it is simple really. Once you have established that what you are facing is not a real emergency that could end with your death or harm, or the death or harm of others, then you need to challenge your perspective.

Apply some critical thinking

The most effective way to challenge the story you are telling yourself about the situation you have or are experiencing, by just asking yourself a few simple questions. You have to be honest with yourself though, if all you are going to do is confirm what you all ready think then there is no point. It is vital that you create an alternative explaination based on what is really happening.

  • What facts do I have about the situation?
  • Is there any more information about the situation in front of me?
  • What assumptions am I making about the situation?
  • In the grand scheme of my life, how important is this?
  • What are the implications of this situation?
  • Is there another way to look at this?
  • In the light of what I have learned, what would be an appropriate response?
  • What impact would your response have on others?
  • What can I learn?
  • Is there anything positive I can take from this?

Now this takes practice, as it will not come naturally. When things get tough and you have to make important decisions about how you respond to certain situations, whether that be at work, or home this stop check can provide a level of perspective and give your rational mind time to catch up with your threat centre.

If you want this to work then getting a coach will certainly help quieten that negative self talk, and if you are a business owner, or a senior leader it is vital that you learn to create a balance between the negative self talk and positivity, when making important decisions.

If you are interested in applying this approach then please get in touch to discuss the subscription offers I have.

matt@mattycoach71.com

Being Present, and Enjoying The Journey

The past few days have been quite special. Nothing special has happened, apart from life of course and that has been the key to why it has been so special. I have been the most present I have been for such a long time. Finally reading all those books by Brene Brown, Ruby Wax, Stephen Colville and Steve Peters has payed off, and I have finally started to respond to my own coaching.

I did not realise how tightly I was wound until today really, and to be fair there is still some residual tension, but when you are so used to be tense anxious about life it does take time. I can now though appreciate how I turn up and what is going on around me. Life is quite wonderful you know, even the rubbish. I was getting caught up in making it better instead of noticing that it might just be enough, and if it is not it is still your life so enjoy it whilst you make it better. I have said before we can often spend to much time sitting in our future and fail to notice the beauty of what is happening right now. I have said it a lot but actually experiencing it is another thing.

Now I know I have been here before and I know that there will be times in the future when that anxiety and either being stuck in the past or the future will return. I also know that I will recognise when it happens and know that it will pass and I will with practice get back to being present again.

You may be anxious and full of regret at the moment, but that will pass, the world is beautiful, you are alive and being alive is full of wonder, and you will see that beauty again.

Last night when I found that poem, that I had written when I was in pain, I was taken by the beauty and the hope of the poem, I saw it for what it was, and that is why I shared it.

Life is full of highs and lows and both are a vital part of life, so embrace them for what they are.

If you want to embrace you positives and negatives and learn more about yourself and what your success looks like, please get in touch and together we can make a change to you life.

As a health warning however if you find it difficult to see hope, or feel positive emotion, it is important to speak to someone who is qualified to help you. If you have toothache you go to the dentist, so if you think you may have depression see a doctor.

Just The Tonic

As you know I have been a little fed up over the past couple of weeks. In my previous blog I mentioned the tonic of being coached for my well-being which was truly excellent.

Then on Thursday morning I woke up to this song on my Spotify. There is nothing better than hearing something one of children has produced with his band mates. They are so talented and they deserve all the recognition I am sure they are going to get. Please click play and have a listen, I know I am a proud dad but they are bloody brilliant. If you are in Hull on 13th February 2019, pop down to the Polar Bear to see them in the flesh. Tickets are available via Hull Box Office or you can pay on the door. They are supporting another talented Hull band Mauritia.

Make an old Dad happy give them a listen and let them know how good they are.

We all need a bit of coaching, if only to keep our well-being in check

If you are a regular reader of my blog or know me, you will know that for part of my working week I lead the coaching network at my place of work. We are a fledgling network, so therefore we are still training our coaches. We currently have 2 cohorts running and by the end of the year we will have around 40 coaches with an ILM level 5 qualification.

The 2nd cohort (which is really our 3rd but the 2nd I have supported), were in this week completing the coaching for well-being module. My friend and coaching mentor Anthony (I may have mentioned him before) runs the course for us, which in turn is awarded through Leeds Beckett University. I always sit in on the modules, to develop and practice my coaching skills and to learn how to teach the course. Module days are always the highlight of my month, and coaching for well-being has to be my personal favourite.

To be honest it could not have come at a better time, as I mentioned last week I have been a little frazzled lately, and it was clear that that there were others in the room that had similar experiences during January. All the modules that Anthony delivers are very practical heavy with plenty of time spent coaching each other, interspersed with the relevant theory. For this particular module the students pair up with the same person all day. As there was an odd number this week I had the opportunity to pair up with somebody for the day.

So I had a day of talking and rediscovering some different models of well-being coaching and having the opportunity to try out some different approaches and using models in a way I had never done before, whilst at the same time supporting someone else’s coaching development. It was such a fulfilling day, and on top of my own coaching contracting meeting on Tuesday.

My old coach is moving on to pastures new, with a new and exciting job (good luck and thank you so much Vicky), so I have a new coach. It had been a while since I had had a coaching session, and with so much going round in my head, with a million and one projects I was feeling overwhelmed and stuck in the future, causing me to doubt my ability to achieve the goals I had set myself. So on Tuesday I had my first contracting meeting with my new coach.

It was quite liberating. For the first time in a while I had an opportunity to empty my mind in the presence of someone who was just prepared to listen, in the first instance and then probe and challenge. The whole thing took 2 hours (which is longer than I would normally feel comfortable with), there was so much that needed to come out that it felt more like 30 minutes. I talked, she listened, I talked some more she asked me questions, she invited me to draw it, I drew it, she asked me some questions, I drew it some more, I wrote a list and then drew some more, I cried, she listened, asked me some questions. After all that we had a purpose for the coaching and a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. We then set our boundaries and timings for our continued coaching relationship. It was massively helpful. When I walked into the meeting my jaw was tight, my fists were clenched and Foggy was having a field day. When I left my jaw and fists were relaxed and Foggy had gone to be. I had a clear goal and an action plan for the next month. I was back in the present.

Reflecting on that coaching session now, the most impactful aspect was the level of empathy shown throughout. Saying that though being challenged to have an action plan alongside the empathy (compassionate challenge) probably had the greatest impact. We all need that space to talk out what is going on in our heads, especially during these busy, stressful months.

If you don’t have that opportunity seek it out.