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Choose your Face

20 July

The focus in a lot of businesses now seems to be around personal resilience, how we cope in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments, how we cope with each other, how we cope with increased pressures and so on. Some of us also have huge personal challenges, such as relationship breakdowns, illness or caring for loved ones.

Resilience is a little like a bank account. If you have a good amount of savings and an unexpected bill comes in, it hurts, but you have enough to cover it. If you have little to no money in your bank account, then you will be scraping and struggling and worried about how you are going to pay the bill. The more savings you have, the better you feel. Same with resilience. Understanding how to save and store your resilience will help you in the long term.

Now, I am not really referring to those of us who have real challenges to deal with, that’s for another day. I am talking about our resilience being very low when on the surface, nothing extreme seems to have happened to us. We have our nice homes, families safe and healthy and well cared for, comfortable beds, food on the table, our basic and intermediary needs are taken care of. It’s just that, well, we feel we may have lost our ‘mojo’. We are not springing out of bed in the morning to embrace each day, and could easily retreat to a small dark corner with a jar of Nutella and a spoon.

As a Coach, I have come to realise that even the most comfortable and confident of people can have the stuffing knocked out of them and have to tap into what feels like a very low reserve of resilience left in their account. I also have experienced this on several occasions in my career but in particular, I remember going through a period in my life where I really had nothing to moan about but felt like every day was a battle; I didn’t really understand why I felt this way at first but later it was clear that I was being undermined at work, not feeling in control and my confidence was slowly being chipped away. Before I knew it, my sparkle had gone and paranoia was setting in. With my inner critic loud and distracting, the world was against me and I was completely rubbish at my job.

During one particular meeting, I remember ranting about something very trivial and accusing a colleague of not keeping me informed. All of a sudden, I had an outer body experience! I suddenly realised how I was coming across to others with my bitter and angry screwed up face. This wasn’t who I really was, I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and something had to change. I had choices to make; change the situation (get a new job), change the way I think about the situation or accept the situation (after defining the difference between what’s real and my paranoia) and learn to cope. My overall plan was to change my situation but I realised in my current state, that would be difficult with the bitterness I was feeling oozing out of every pore. My face reflected how I felt (I was never any good at Poker) so my first challenge was to change that face of mine, it wasn’t a good look.

Inspired by Paul McGee’s Sumo Principles and equipped with his simple equation of E + R =O, (event + your reaction = the outcome) I recognised that the one thing I could control was me, I could control my Reaction and therefore the Outcome. So I started there. Every morning instead of getting out of bed hunched over, face screwed up, immediately pre-empting the day with negative thoughts, I chose to be a different person and I had to fake it a lot. I knew if I chose a different face, smile, be kind to myself, flood my mind with positivity (even if the only positive thing expected that day was a nice lunch), eventually my brain would re-programme. After a few weeks of ‘faking it’, I started to feel different. It worked! A fantastic Ted Talks clip by Amy Cuddy ‘Fake it until you become it’ will help anyone who needs that shift in their lives. Believing in yourself is sometimes a rebellious act, it takes effort but ultimately, you can choose how you react to situations, that’s the one thing within your control.

Take one day at a time and remember to breathe.

Contact Delve if you need some coaching on how your current situation may be affecting your face, we can bring that positivity back into your smile

Written by
nicola

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