One year on, so much has happened. What state of mind are we in?
How do we find the resolve to continue well?
What does living through this ‘well’ even look like?
What type of practices can ground us and make us stable, joyful and hopeful in the midst of it all?
When you are a coach, people look at you and how you live your life and sometimes expect you to have it all sorted. Of course, as coaches, we are people just like everyone else and certainly do not have all the answers, even if some coaches may pretend, they do.
One thing that I do think being a coach makes you good at, is processing seasons. We become experts in being able to articulate and observe what is going on in people at a surface and deep level. We become aware of underlying problems and issues and we learn great techniques to help people break free from these.
Throughout this past year I have observed and processed what myself and others are going through. It’s been such an up and down year. It’s had so many massive changes in life for us, not being able to see those we love, enduring extended isolation, some of us on our own, others with just our immediate family or household. Work has changed for all of us, in one way or another. We have had to learn to live with uncertainty. Uncertainty around what will happen to the economy, uncertainty around our work, uncertainty at times on when and if we will beat the virus.
Here are some self-coaching tips we can dip into to ground ourselves in the midst of it all; ways we can help ourselves feel stable, consistent and hopeful.
Tip 1 – Remembering
In our lives we will have good times and not so good times. We will have different seasons in our relationship with God. In the Bible God, created lots of festivals of remembrance for the Israelites throughout the year. Each one was designed to remind them of moments in their past history with God and to set aside time to hear from Him afresh.
Why did God create such a robust structure for a whole nation to consistently throughout each year remember and celebrate good times, times when God brought breakthrough? Obviously The Lord set these up for a reason. He knows it does us good to remember our testimony with Him. During these times, time and provision was also made to listen to what God is saying afresh. I love that framework; first remember how good God is from what is He has already brought us through, then from that place of remembering and thanking Him, listen to what He wants to say. Maybe we hear Him more clearly when we take the time to remember who He is and who He has been for us.
I believe this is a discipline that helps keep us on track. Remembering who God is and what He has done, is hugely faith building. We have a coaching exercise where we lead people to do this and then help them apply what they remember to their future. This coaching exercise brings so much breakthrough and plays a key part in helping people move forward into areas they may have felt fearful of before. Remembering good times is powerful.
In the difficult season we are in now, how much more important to remember who God has been for us in our past. This will fill us with faith and hope for the future, knowing who God was, and knowing that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), so we fill up our hope tanks and feel grounded and secure and hopeful for a better tomorrow.
Tip 2 – Re-calibrating
My mum used to give me this advice when I was growing up. If I was struggling with something, which was just going on too long, she used to say; ‘just carry on like it will go on forever, and before you know it, it will be finished.’
As weird as this may sound, the CEO of a company I used to work for adopted this and found it helpful as I too have found it. What it in fact helps you to do, is re-calibrate. If we are impatient, we can feel trapped, frustrated and helpless in any situation and we will not be able to find joy or contentment.
One way of losing this is to move into a kind of acceptance. If this went on forever how would I cope? We are all incredibly adaptive human beings. We can survive the most awful circumstances. Re-calibrating, in this way, can help you find calm. It’s like telling your brain and your heart, ‘ok life has changed, this is now what it is like’. As strange as it sounds, doing this, we will find a way to live this out and see it through, even if it goes on forever! We will be ok; we will be better than ok! This kind of self-talk will ground you. It will help you find joy in the midst of the most boring, or difficult circumstances. So, carry on like it will go on forever, and before you know it, it will be done!
Tip 3 – Avoiding ‘Groundhog day’ as best you can!
If you watched the movie Groundhog day you will understand this saying. For those that didn’t the movie is about a chap who lives a day and after it wakes up every morning to have to live the very same day over and over and over again. He learns how to relive the same day better and better until at last he manages to win over the girl he is in love with. The day he has to relive again and again is called ‘ground hog day’. This day is based on a superstition originating in a town in Pennsylvania, where a day is celebrated, where groundhogs can predict spring coming by emerging from their burrow.
In perpetual lockdowns and restrictions in our daily lives we can get this ‘ground hog day feeling’, reliving the same day, again and again, like Bill Murray, the actor in this movie portrayed.
We need diversity! Our brains need diversity. Bus drivers are significantly more susceptible to dementia later in life than cab drivers? Why is this? We are designed for variety and diversity? Driving the same routes every day is not good for our brains or our well-being.
So when we feeling like we’re are stuck in that groundhog day feeling like every day is the same as the previous day, with all kinds of restrictions and inability to travel, what do we do?
We can actively look at changing it up as best we can. Do anything to change it up, however little. A different route to the grocery store. Different recipes. Calling different people. Changing your routine in any way you can. Even different mealtimes. Different forms of exercise. These changes will help just a little to keep you mentally sane!
Tip 4 – Learn to find the joy in the season
However awful the current season you are in is, learn to find whatever is good in it. The Bible says; Whatever is good, noble, lovely admirable…. think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
It’s a kind of re-calibration of sorts. Watching the news, thinking on the horrific and terrible things recalibrates you into a negative frequency. Nowadays we have to work harder at thinking on what is good, to find a positive frequency to live on. There is no mainstream news media channel that focuses solely on positive news in the world, that I know of.
How can we find the joy in the season? Well think:
What is good about now? What has this season given you that no other season could have?
Eg. Appreciation of your home? Appreciation of your local area? A closer relationship to your spouse or housemates? A huge appreciation of friends and family whom you may not have been able to see? A new way to prioritise?
What is the world learning through this crisis that is good?
How is the world adjusting in good ways because of the crisis?
Eg – In our area all the homeless people have been taken care of and taken off the streets since the pandemic.
Children have had to stay at home from school and the myriad of other activities they used to do and have subsequently had loads of family time which they would not have had.
The list is endless if you really think of what is good.
Learning to encourage yourself and to encourage ourselves in this way, is a great life skill to develop. It’s a discipline that will stand you in good stead throughout every season. Bill Johnson’s book – ‘Strengthen yourself in the Lord’, is a good read to help you learn this kind of resilience and strength, that will help you feel grounded, stable and joyful no matter what!
So, there are a few tips to get you thinking. Ways of looking after your mental health and staying grounded in this season.