2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year for me already and as a Coach, Mindfulness Teacher and Founder of Aspirational Living I always vowed I’d be truthful with you all about my own life experiences too. We all know that life isn’t plain sailing but, as a coach people often look inwardly and think that it is, many may think I don’t experience the same difficulties as others but, I’m here to reassure you I do, of course I do I’m only human too. I’m not exempt from pain, hurt and other charged emotions, I experience them too but, over the years I’ve learned tools techniques and strategies to help me to move forward in a healthy, helpful way.
In this blog post I’d like to share with you, the range of emotions we can all experience when we encounter a difficult experience and then share my top tips in how to move forward from a difficult experience when you’re experiencing a personal difficulty.
My own difficult experience
At the beginning of this year, I made plans to take my own business to a whole new level and have continued my own personal development training and I’m currently working hard to complete the final year of my Msc. I must admit this hasn’t been for the faint-hearted and it’s required hard work, dedication and commitment. Especially on those dark and dreary winter evenings when everyone else is going home to their families. Aside from that, I’ve really enjoyed studying and I’m a real geek when it comes to learning about human behaviour.
Everything was going to plan, the boys were doing well, Richard (my husband) also and life seemed to be going well. Then, a few weeks ago I encountered a difficult experience, one which I wasn’t expecting and didn’t see coming. Luckily, this doesn’t happen that often but, it knocked me sideways and I felt completely pulled out of shape by life. I had a (very) difficult encounter with someone close to me and the conversation didn’t exactly go as planned, emotions were running high, words exchanged, and it left me feeling upset, hurt, frustrated and shocked. I felt depleted of energy and I couldn’t make sense of what had occurred. It took me a few days to process the experience as it triggered some very deep emotions and for a short while I just stayed with the experience, trying to figure out how it all went wrong and then I began the process of healing and moving forward.
I knew I needed to take some time out to pause, reflect and make sense of everything that was going on, so I did just that. I went for long dog walks, I reflected (a lot), I leaned into my emotions and what I mean by that is I explored my thoughts, the way I felt and the emotions I was experiencing. I listened to motivational podcasts to inspire me to move through this difficulty and read a few of my favourite chapters from my books. This is my ‘go to thing,’ when I’m feeling a little down in the dumps as it provides me with the strength I need to move forward and past this experience. I knew from personal experience and my mindfulness practices that I can’t/couldn’t change, control or influence anyone else or anything else in that situation apart from myself. I remembered the only thing I can change is the way I respond to the situation and even though right there in that moment all I wanted to do was withdraw from the situation, I resisted and I held onto these emotions for a while longer and explored why they might have been triggered.
Understanding your own behaviours, patterns and habits will help you to make sense of what’s really going on for you and it’s only then you can truly move forward in a healthy, helpful way. Once I’d done this and made sense of my own emotions, I was then able to move forward. I knew I had to hold onto my personal values and remember to rise above any drama and stay true to the person I was, so I did just that; I remained respectful, I did the right thing when no one was looking (integrity) and I was kind to both myself and others. That gave me the strength I needed to move forward with grace and be courageous enough to tackle this situation head on. Doing just this requires bravery, courage and the foresight to know when you’ve dealt with a difficult experience you can then, and only then move forward.
There’s a lot to be said for knowing you did everything you personally could in a situation and then being able to accept a situation for what it is and finally moving on, knowing there’s nothing more you could have done. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you agree with a situation, it just means you accept it for what it is right there in that moment. Once I took this approach, I was able to move forward and I felt an instant relief, I felt happier and more motivated to keep moving forward.
Even though nowadays I’m able to take a proactive approach, I haven’t always been this way. In the past I use to dwell on situations, I’d overthink, overanalyse things and then catastrophise everything, reliving that experience over and over again wondering what I could do differently. Through mindfulness I’ve learned techniques to help me to deal with these situations and now I have the tools to deal with things like this when they crop up.
9 healthy, helpful steps to move forward from a difficult experience
- Acknowledgement – Acknowledge the emotions, feelings and thoughts you are experiencing – if you can jot them down and name them; hurt, guilt, resentment etc. This really helps to identify how you’re truly feeling
- Self-compassion & kindness – Being compassionate and kind to yourself is the biggy! When we’re feeling low we don’t want to look after ourselves and be kind to ourselves but, it’s important not only for survival but, in order to enable us to gain strength to deal with the situation in time. So eat right, sleep well, hydrate.
- Reflection – Reflect on what has occurred for you and map out on paper, what happened, what was your role, their role, what exactly happened and then build in some time to make sense of it all. Give yourself the headspace and alone you need; go for a walk, get outdoors, have a long soak in the bath but, don’t dwell. There’s a real difference between reflection and dwelling.
- Gratitude – Be grateful for everything you have, the people who are there supporting you, loved ones and be grateful for everything you have good in your life right now. It’s hard to cherish this when you’re struggling with a difficult experience.
- Support – Take the support offered to you, if a friend calls you or texts, get back to them. Meet up with them, go out even when you don’t want to and never shut yourself off from the world, we all need someone in times of need.
- Acceptance & Letting Go – Remember you can’t change, control or influence anything or anyone else so just move on. Accept the situation for what it is and move on, letting go and ridding yourself of any negative feelings. Whilst you hold onto this, you’ll never move forward with your life.
- Trust & Patience – Trust that in time things will change and they won’t stay the same forever. Be patient with yourself and others and trust that in the end things will work out as they were meant to; time is a great healer.
- Empowerment – Empower yourself to make decisions that are right for you and find strength in friends and loved ones. Listen to motivational podcasts or videos, read your favourite books, watch your favourite movies and take advice from others who have experienced a similar situation.
- Willingness to grow & learn – If you adopt this healthy, helpful mindset it will stand you in good stead moving forward. Life is not plain sailing and it’s not about being immune from difficulty and hardship, it’s about having a willingness to learn and grow from every experience; the good, the bad and the ugly!
These are the 9 healthy, helpful steps I follow to help me move from a difficult experience to a more positive space. I hope they will help you too in the way they’ve helped me and as soon as you start practising them you will start to reap the rewards and feel so much more positive as a result of this.