A couple of weeks ago I had a nasty accident, which changed my plans entirely, not just for the rest of the day, but for at least the next 6-12 weeks. It got me thinking, so now that I’m recovering, with my broken ankle in plaster, I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt from that unexpected turn of events.
I was struck by how quickly my situation changed. In just one split second, with no way of avoiding it, I slipped and felt my ankle snap. It was so sudden.
During a global pandemic, hospital was the last place I wanted to go, but in the circumstances, not going to hospital wasn’t really a choice that was available to me. Then, being in hospital over a bank-holiday weekend, I realised not much happens at weekends except emergency treatment. I had to wait several days before I could have surgery to fix my ankle. In future, if I’m going to have an accident, I’ll try my hardest to avoid doing it at the weekend! But of course, accidents being what they are, their timing is factor that can’t really be controlled. Once it’s happened, it’s really best to accept it and focus your energy on what you need to do to move forward.
A week later, after my operation, I was sent home to recover, under strict instruction to not put any weight on my injured limb at all for 6 whole weeks. There began a steep learning curve. Everything from climbing stairs to making a hot drink has been a huge challenge. Even the simplest tasks take me much longer because I have to think through carefully how I can achieve them on crutches, and if it’s something I can’t possibly do for myself, I have to ask for help.
In fact, I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve adapted and found ways to cope with my new situation. I realised I’ve had the resilience to quickly move on from negative thoughts about my bad luck. Instead I’ve been able to focus on finding solutions. I’ve become more proficient using crutches, learnt different ways of doing things and accepted help with gratitude.
The pain and other associated challenges are becoming more manageable now, and I am thankful that, although inconvenient, the disabling effects of my injury will only be temporary. This, too, shall pass. The experience has definitely given me time to stop and reflect.
There are many occasions when life doesn’t go to plan. Things change and we find ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable or challenging. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about all manner of changes for so many people. Some might be temporary, like being furloughed, or having to home-school children. Others may have longer lasting implications which remain to be seen. Change can be unsettling, and it can be hard to retain a positive outlook, especially when that change is being imposed upon you.
Whatever the situation is that is causing you difficulty, it can help to take time out from your busy day to reflect, as objectively as you can. Whilst it’s normal to have negative feelings, for example guilt, blame, frustration and anger, getting caught up in those feelings does not help you to find solutions. Better to acknowledge those feelings, then set them aside for a while to think objectively about what options are open to you and how you might be able to move forward.
It might sound easier said than done, but here’s the gift… by focussing on the positive, you can take control of those things you can influence and let go of what is beyond your control.
However, sometimes it’s useful to have a little help. It is surprisingly powerful just to say something out loud to another person. As a coach, it’s my job to listen without judgement and to ask questions to help you explore the situation and discover your best way forward.
There is always a gift in every situation, good or bad. We might not always appreciate it at the time, but if we look for the positives, we will find them. For example, for me, injuring myself has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my son. It’s also made me appreciate my usual levels of activity and all those little things I do and take for granted.
If you’re struggling with difficult circumstances, here’s a simple approach to try for yourself:
- First take some deep breaths and take a few minutes to notice the sensations of your breathing in your body. Do this sitting comfortably, with your eyes closed. When you notice your attention wandering, gently let the thoughts go and refocus on your breathing.
- Ask yourself how much is within your control – focus your efforts on those aspects rather than on the things outside your control.
- Think – what outcomes would be acceptable for you? Of all the options, do you have a preferred outcome?
- What steps can you take towards achieving your preferred outcome?
- Is there anything that might get in the way of you being able to do this? If so, how could you prevent that happening?
- Having considered your options, what are you going to do to achieve the outcome you desire?
- Visualise the difference that success will make to you. Close your eyes and imagine it in detail. Imagine what you will see, hear and feel. Make the picture bigger and brighter. Turn up the volume on any sounds you hear, make the sound clearer. Notice how you feel. Does the feeling have a shape or colour? Where in your body do you feel it?
- Now that you’re clear about the benefits of your actions, ask yourself, how committed are you to doing this?
If you’d still like some help, why not get in touch with me to book a complementary coaching session? The 45-minute session will help you explore your options and formulate a plan to help you deal with whatever challenging circumstances you are facing at the moment, helping you unlock the answers you’re looking for.