On falling down the proverbial black hole and resilience:
“Every week was a new level of growth and intensity… Having gone through that now, it’s much easier to look at the challenges that come up as a bump in the road rather than a threat. ” [From a CNN Money article, quoting Twitter co-founder [asked to step down eventually] and Medium.com founder Ev Williams.
Do you often end up in a black hole, not knowing how you got there? You hit an issue or a challenge and give up too easily, letting it pull you into the chaos?
How can you stop at the edge of that black hole, and see something as a “bump in the road,” to be dealt with calmly and focused. That, rather than getting twisted up about it, as if it really were a threat somehow. Too big a challenge. Too emotional an issue.
The answers are complicated, but the first step -and the key – is simpler than you might think. I work on this fairly often with both organizing and coaching clients. Whether you are decluttering your whole house, running a business on your own, managing your ADHD or in transition, it can get discouraging at many points along the way.
Why so difficult?
When our executive functions are fatigued, it is hard to “think straight.” Think about when you get super overwhelmed. You very likely lose some control over your willpower, motivation and reasoning abilities. Or think about a work situation, where your emotions took over, when normally they may not have. Your “sorting it all out” mental capabilities are exhausted. If you are tired from life, changes, the speed of work or have ADHD, then you will need strategies to help make this work better.
Here’s a common situation you may have experienced:
All of a sudden, I was stuck. I got so caught up in the conversation, I found myself arguing with the client, and couldn’t find my way out ! Not at all how I wanted the conversation to unfold !
Already down the black hole.
- Awareness that you are at the edge of the black hole.
- Reviewing and reflecting on how you got to the edge in the first place.
- The ability to get yourself to pause, so that you can pull yourself back from the edge, giving you time and a clearer head so you can decide what to do.
When we work on this type of issue, a client will spend time reviewing and reflecting on these “black hole” experiences, so that ultimately, we devise strategies such as those below. I’ll use the client conversation above as the example.
- Script what to say. Practice or write it down, so you can manage the conversation and stay away from the trigger points;
- What time of day is best for difficult conversations? And where? How can you set up the best possible environment?
- Just before the meeting, take a few deep breaths and imagine how the conversation would go if it went the best it possibly could;
- Write out questions ahead of time which need to be asked to be sure you hear the client’s perspective and to ensure you are both on the same page;
- Role play. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What reactions, questions, objections will you hear? Think through answers ahead of time;
- Safety net: If the conversation starts down the black hole, don’t give up. What is one question you could ask to pull it back?
- If you don’t address the issue now, what is likely to happen?
Seeing you’re at the edge of the black hole is key.
How do you start seeing you’re at the edge…. rather than realizing you’re in trouble, halfway down the black hole ?
You reflect on examples, those times when you just know you’ve gone down the black hole. And then think about, write about or talk with me about: What got you to the edge. What happened just before the walk over to the edge? What pushed you over exactly? Because when you figure out that piece, which is different for each of us, then you can pause and figure out your own strategies to pause and stop or slow down your trip.
As much as you may have enjoyed seeing Alice in Wonderland go down the rabbit hole, finding Wonderland on the other side, that’s not usually what happens to us.
That is, unless we can stop, realize where we are, pause and figure out some new strategies.
See you in Wonderland.
If you too often find yourself in the black hole or down the rabbit hole and you can’t get yourself to stop at the edge, coaching will work for you. Call me at 603.554.1948 or email me at Sue@CoachSueWest.com
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