Sometimes you are just rolling along and – WHAM! – you are broadsided by an unexpected obstacle. It might be a physical obstacle, such a being stuck in traffic. Or it might be another kind of obstacle, one that is more ‘internal’, an emotion or a way of thinking that is having a negative impact on you.
No matter the obstacle, there is a simple and practical strategy that can help you move through the obstacle and either get back on track, or find a new track all together!
Last week, I had the honour of being interviewed on Jim Toth‘s show on GlobalNews CJOB 680 Radio. When setting it up, he said he wanted to talk about motivation; people are getting tired of ‘the longest winter ever’ and to top it off, our beloved hockey team, the Winnipeg Jets were not performing as many wished they were.
In the 11 minutes I was on air (click here to listen), I was able to share a few tips. Here’s a bit of a recap, and a little extra.
Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. We have been through a very trying time in the last two years; a global pandemic, the emotional discovery of hundreds of children’s graves at former residential schools, and the war waged by Russia in Ukraine (to name just a few events). Just sit with it for a minute, breath, and congratulate yourself for getting through it – day by day.
Focus on ‘what’s good’. Look around, what’s present in your life that is ‘good’ for you. The sunshine glistening on the snow, a great conversation with a loved one, a brisk workout, a warm shower, your favourite cozy socks. Notice those things and put your attention on them. Allow yourself to be energized by the good vibe they provide.
Move ‘toward’ what you want. Jim mentioned that there were comments being made about the Winnipeg Jets’ performance; some fans commented that they seemed to have lost their ‘mojo’ (my word, not Jim’s). The Winnipeg Jets’ players are human beings, like all of us. If you experience an extended period of poor (or less than desired) performance, you likely begin to lose your energy. Part of that is because you are focused on the past; rehashing past poor performance can be very fatiguing (woulda, coulda, shoulda). So, instead, begin by just ‘allowing’ yourself to be where you are. Just allow whatever you are experiencing to settle. Then begin to move ‘toward’ what you want. While there is value in looking back and asking yourself what you might be able to do differently in the future, the key is to do that quickly and then to begin to MOVE TOWARD THE DESIRED OUTCOME IN THE FUTURE.
Nourish your unit. Motivation is all about energy, and you need nutrition in order to have energy. You know the drill; eat, move, sleep. You don’t need me to remind you of what you already know. I like to snack on junk food like anyone else, but remember the old adage (I am not sure where it started, but heard it in frist year computer science 30 years ago) ‘garbage in, garbage out’. That is true for not only what food, exercise and sleep you put into (invest in) your body, but also what thoughts you allow to take up residence in your mind.
Pay attention. Consider adding a practice of meditation to your daily routine. You won’t believe me about how powerful this can be until your try it. Start with just a few minutes of quiet, connecting to your breath. You will be amazed at the energy surge that can come from a few minutes of ‘presence’, when you disengage from the internal chatter, and engage with what ‘is’. Learn to regularly ‘be where you are’. Even if you do not meditate, per se, just pause regularly to tune in and ask yourself how you are doing. If you are surfing social media, watching a movie, chatting with a friend, or walking around the neighborhood, stop and ask (or pause after you are done and ask) ‘How am I feeling right now? Did that add to, or detract from, my energy?’ Then, adjust accordingly. If what you are doing is not adding energy, try something else. And, move toward that!
“In order for my brain to recover from a traumatic injury, I had to retrain it to strength by charging towards the very activities that triggered my symptoms.”
It resonated with me because of the experience that I shared in my recently published book, ‘Not Crazy, Just Human: Moving Through Trauma to Healing‘. In March of 2020, a shocking phone call from a friend about her son’s suicide triggered a trauma – a distressing memory – of a suicide in my life. What transpired was 14 months of physical and emotional pain. My body and brain seemed to ‘shut down’.
As we processed my distressing memories – or confronted them, to use Polley’s word – the bilateral stimulation allowed for the gradual desensitization of them.
I have not read Polley’s book yet, but I will. Even the subtitle has meaning for me: ‘Confrontations With a Body of Memories’. The operative word, I think, is ‘Body’, because that is where memories live.
Interviewer Deborah Dundas writes, “When I …remarked that the exceptional trauma she’s experienced in her life could have broken many people, she said she’s also been ‘absurdly lucky’.”
Polly responded by talking about the people in her life who have been there for her, making her life feel ‘charmed’, rather than hard.
In Not Crazy, Just Human, I do the same thing. The good humans in my life have been, are, and will continue to be, the ones who ‘anchor’ me back to who I truly am. I hope I do the same for them, as they ‘run towards the danger’.
At the end of the WFP article, Dundas quotes Polley, “I think the hard experiences you have early in life make you who you are and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ” Dundas adds, “You become someone strong and resilient. If you dig deep enough, if you run towards the danger, as Polley does, the advantage might just be a life that, in the telling, makes a difference.”
I could not agree more!
Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!