As I write this I’m not long back in New Zealand after taking another unplanned trip back to Ireland. Although it was great to see family, sadly the circumstances weren’t what I would have wished for; however, in life we can’t always choose the outcomes we’re faced with. In these instances we can ask ourselves, “Why did this happen to me?” but, after working through the emotion that often comes with tough times, I prefer to ask, “What now?”
You see, if you believe that life happens to you, you’ll struggle to bounce back from tough times; however, if you believe that life happens for you, you’ll inevitably bounce back much quicker. Sometimes life is going to be absolutely awesome and other times it’s going to suck and there’s very little we can do about what happens out there in our environment but there is a lot we can do with what happens internally.
When I work with leaders and those who are interested in performing at their very best I often share with them a few ideas to help them work through the valleys of life and the mindset required to climb to the peaks… and stay there! It’s not always possible to stay at the peaks but there are things we can do to ensure the valleys aren’t all that deep and the climb back to the peak is within our reach.
How we deal with the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life contributes to our emotional health and will determine the overall quality of our lives. So what are some of the things we need to be focusing on when we find ourselves in the valleys of life; i.e. when things suck!
I’m sure you’ve heard it before but I wonder how many of us actually practice it. Taking the time to experience gratitude – reflect on it and feel it – changes the neurochemistry of the brain and drives out fear. Driving out fear is essential to enable us to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. What have you got in your life that you’re grateful for or what could you be grateful for?
Seeing the Reality of the Situation
Once we are in a better frame of mind the next step is seeing the situation as it really is. So often when faced with a dilemma we make things bigger than they actually are – we catastrophise and blow things all out of proportion. A common thinking pattern that those who struggle with anxiety is they ask themselves, “What if?” Of course, it’s never what if everything works out! If you have these thoughts train your brain to immediately ask, “Then what”. For example, “If this happens then what will I do?” Seeing a situation as it really is can lead us to coming up with solutions to make it the way we want it to be; or, if it is genuinely outside of our control, it can lead to the incredibly comforting feeling of acceptance. So ask yourself, “What’s the truth in this situation?”
What’s the Lesson?
Any tough time that we’ve ever faced in life has within it a lesson to make us a better human being. There are going to be experiences in life that will be incredibly painful, experiences that wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, but there is always a lesson in there. So often we get caught up in that question, “Why me?” that it prevents us from digging deep and exploring the answer. It’s never easy to do this when we’re in the midst of a crisis; however, developing this philosophy of life will help you through the tough times. Know this, even the deepest valleys end.
Get Outside of Yourself
When things are ‘happening to us’ it’s so easy to look inwards and wallow in misery but don’t stay there. If you want to bounce back and get back on the peaks of life get outside of yourself. Find a way to contribute to others. Use the lessons you’ve learned to support another person going through something similar. What about contributing to a charity? Something that’s dear to your heart. Connecting with others during tough times helps everyone recover quicker and more completely.
So once you’re on top, how do you stay at the peak? Here are a couple of tips…
Appreciate and Prepare!
Take time to appreciate what you’ve got by remaining humble and grateful. Focus on continuing to make things better and contribute to the lives of others. Lastly, you know that the peaks aren’t going to last forever so prepare for a forthcoming valley. You may not know what form the valley will take but putting aside key resources for those times can help you (and your family) get through those tougher times.
Have a Personal Vision
The quickest way to get back to a peak in life is to have a clear map – a vision – for your life. What’s your long-term vision for your life? Where will you be in five years? How about 10? Having a clear vision will keep you heading in the right direction so you might be able to either avoid the valleys altogether or recover from them quickly.
In summary, if you want to perform at the very best in life you have to have a philosophy that will pull you through the tough times and keep you at ‘peak’ performance. These are some of the ideas that shape my philosophy of life and I share them often with my clients when they get stuck. What philosophy of life can you develop to help you navigate through the peaks and valleys of life?
If you’d like to know more about how to develop a high performing team in a hybrid working environment, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.
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