Recently, with the uncertainly in people’s lives and in the world at large, I have been contemplating the unpredictability of life and how we best deal with it. I have talked about resilience in my blogs – the need to be emotionally intelligent, to prioritize self-care, but dealing with change and embracing impermanence and the unknown – oh this can feel scary!
I find this exciting. Like an explorer discovering new lands.
Excitement is a great energy that helps us move, it motivates us. It can feel similar to fear, and physiologically, anxiety and excitement are alike. The difference is in our interpretation and motivation.
There’s a fine line between anxiety and excitement. Physiologically, the two are almost identical. You know the feeling: butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, racing heart, and nervousness. These symptoms all result from the arousal of the nervous system.
When we are afraid or excited our body prepares for action: enhanced vision and hearing, extra adrenaline for increased performance – it is exactly what you need at that moment. To turn fear into excitement you need some tools and techniques at your disposal.
The first step is to remember that you have the power to choose your response. Using the three C formula is something I have used and advocate once you are aware of that feeling, once you recognise that you need to change the butterflies in the tummy, the collywobbles, into positive energy that will result in peak performance.
- Curiosity: This is the inquiry where we ask ourselves questions such as “What’s going on here? What’s happening? Is there a lesson? Am I safe?” By doing this you immediately shift from the ‘fight or flight’ part of your brain (Amygdala or ‘reptile brain’) to the prefrontal cortex. Your body and mind shift and you gain some clarity and calm.
- Courage: Really feeling what is going on with you – feeling your feelings and not running away from them through distractions or business is important. Feelings can be uncomfortable, but they will pass – quicker if you simply notice them and say to yourself ‘this will pass’. Stay with it – be brave.
- Compassion: Nurturing yourself and exercising self-care once you have achieved the first two stages is vital. Pat yourself on the back and be kind and gentle with yourself.
Creating new paths and possibilities – even in uncertain times
In the froth and foment of turbulent times you might think it is not a good time to do something new – to walk that new path, but why not? It might be the best possible time to throw yourself into the unknown.
Ideas and projects, new strategies at work, an enterprise, a new business venture … If you want it to start the journey now, there is everything to gain. With so many things experiencing changes, put yours into the mix and see what happens.
Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous
If you work in business or are a coach you will have come across these words to describe the context we are operating in and the challenges we face. Research is showing that key elements in success are leadership which is engaging with wellbeing and with resilience/sustainability (Rimita et al. 2020) and an approach that favours transformative, experiential learning (Seow et al. 2019). I have spoken and written about the transformation that happens through learning and coaching many times. The cycle is:
- Embrace impermanence
- Change fear into excitement
- Put wellbeing at the forefront of everything
- Find out what resilience means to you
Wishing you well on your explorations in 2021