This is for you if you’re struggling

Lately, amongst the joys and opportunities of life, I’ve seen plenty of clients, friends and family hitting the wall with challenging struggles. So if you’re in the thick of it, here are a few thoughts that might help.

Last week was a very exciting whirlwind. Monday in sunny Queensland with client meetings, then back in Melbourne, working with postgraduates at Monash. Then off to Daylesford, working with the great people from Honda Australia, then with the fantastic people at the financial services group KNP. Finally, the funkiest advertising company I’ve ever met, Big Red in South Yarra (they have their own coffee machine on-site, so it was a fun resource!).

Now, they were different skills and topics each time, but the over-riding theme was one of growth.

Either these companies have it, or want more of it – or both.

The way they achieve more is to be more effective with their presentations, their technology, their time.

But growth can be a bit deceptive.

When you see it in action, it’s easy to forget the struggle it took to get there. The gestational period can be painful.

This message is for you if you’re experiencing a period of struggle. In any area of your life.

A respected martial artist named John Will recently wrote on his blog, that ‘Wherever you are, you’re exactly where you need to be.’

I’ve been reflecting on that a lot because to be frank, I’ve had probably the most challenging year of my life.

I’m not a fan of the Oprah disclosure method, but some of the bullet points include major challenges such as the suicide of a friend, major house move, breakdown of communications with a family member, intense travel schedule.

And plenty more that I don’t want to bore you with.

I’m not saying it’s been all bad, but there has been plenty of struggle knocking on the door.

But it’s not really about me. It’s more the stories coming from my clients.

I was reminded of it again on the way home last Friday. The train had stopped mid track, because further down the line, police were dealing with someone trying to do themselves harm at the next station.

Now, sometimes when you’re experiencing struggle, it’s easy to think you’re the only one.

And whilst Christmas approaching is often a merry time, it’s also a trigger for these other emotions and ‘demons’ to come out.

As a side note, I would have to say at least one in three of my clients experience some kind of family breakdown, whereby they have to negotiate access to their children or other issues with their former partner.

For people in this situation, Christmas can be a stressful time.

So, in thinking about what we can do to navigate struggle, and find the deeper lessons you can gain from it, here are a few practical things I’ve found that can help give some perspective.

  • Cold showers

I know this might sound strange, but a little jolt to the nervous system in the morning, can be a wonderful wake up call. Studies have shown that cold showers can actually help reduce depression. Try turning off the hot and enjoying the cold before you hop out. You may well be amazed

  • Creating versus Reacting

When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to feel at the mercy of events. But getting back in touch with creating instead of reacting is a powerful remedy. Whether it’s just creating a nice meal, a drawing, writing a story or a journal entry, a piece of furniture, making music – just the act of ‘creating’ puts you back in charge of something you can control. The benefit too is that there are no KPI’s here, it’s just creating for the sake of enjoying the process

  • Breathe

Yeah, you breathe already. But in every workshop I’ve ever run, 95% of the participants are lacking proper breathing technique. Watch a baby breathing and you’ll see the diaphragm doing the work. Not the chest. Yet as we get older we can fall into bad habits. Breathing is one that you can take for granted.

Focus on the breath coming from the diaphragm and circulating through the whole body and you can feel the difference almost immediately

  • Go back to the future

Think of a past time when you were struggling. Did it lead to good things eventually? Were you able to say, ‘Wow, if that hadn’t happened, then I never would have met (someone of importance) or learned…or gained…or tried out …something good??’

Chances are the perspective you have now on that past event is very different to what you had at the time. Try it with your current challenges. Put yourself into the future. Twelve months from now. What could it look like? What good may come of this? You never know unless you ask.

  • Hydrate

You can see a trend here. If your energy is feeling low, your outlook can be bleak.

So drink more water, alkalise your system, ease up on the coffee, give your body (and mind) a chance to find more positive ways of dealing with problems. Go to bed early instead of staying up watching TV. And even kick off the day with a brisk walk or bike ride. It’s so simple it’s crazy, but the benefits can be profound.

Lastly, I want to say if you’re having a tough time, you are NOT alone. And chances are there are people around you who could help, IF you reach out.

Meanwhile, my list of tips might resonate with you or (more importantly) they might even kick-start your own list of what works for you.

Have a great day.

Make it a great day. 🙂

Elliot

On October 26th, 2014, posted in: General by