We are now almost a year into various stages of imposed isolation in our lives. Each of us has probably encountered our breaking point over the course of this experience, managing our sanity to different degrees of success. We are all impacted by stress or change and how we manage depends on a specific situation and our personality. Some will internalize their feelings, maybe pull away and create distance from those closest to them. Others will simmer and keep the frustration bottled up until they explode and push people away. It also depends on how we get to that point - is it a slow build up, where we recognize ‘something’ but are able to justify to ourselves that we have it all under control or does it blindside us and cause us to crash? In these cases, I’ll hear clients say, “It is what it is.” Or “I’ll just get up early (or work late) and that will solve the issue.” I hear the other extreme after the fact: “David, I yelled at my best friend (or dog) and feel horrible.I really need to apologize to them.”
We allow ourselves to get to this point by not taking time to reflect:
- Do I make excuses for my behavior?
- Have I stopped caring how I present myself?
- When’s the last time I made time to exercise?
- Is my diet what I want or need?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
Our minds are fascinating organs. We have spent a lifetime learning and training ourselves how to manipulate our thoughts and actions. Maybe read that last sentence again; kind of blew my mind when I wrote it and re-read it. How do we get our lives to move in the direction of travel we know we need and want?
- Create self-awareness. Reflect on your behaviors, actions, and honestly admit how you feel. What is happening around us and how does that impact who we are and how we behave? This is a great opportunity to ask for help from friends, family, and co-workers. But you have to hear what is said, not just listen.
- Disrupt the ‘normal.’ Break the routine cycle and take action to change. This will take a positive mindset, deliberate intention, and perseverance to complete, but it can be done.
- Use one of your energizers. My clients know that to achieve their definition of success, they need to understand and lean into those activities that give them energy (rather than sap it). Many of my blogs talk about this, but you can download the simple assessment here.
- Focus on the positive. Think of something you’re grateful for or something you’ve learned each day. This is a great exercise to share with your family as it creates a great environment to share positive thoughts and new learnings!
- Track your progress. You’ll be able to sense your energy and resilience changing pretty quickly, but the way to affirm and reassure yourself is to just jot down a few things that you can use to look back on over time and have tangible evidence of your growth.
I used the photo of the broken pine trees because I think they reflect the above so clearly. Precipitation falls onto the branches, not as a deluge, but slow and constant over time. The branches start to get heavier, opening more surface for the freezing rain to get closer to the trunk, weighing it down. Now the tree starts to bend as it is covered with ice.Finally, the tree can take no more and it snaps or is toppled over, pulling up the roots. Remember, this didn’t happen with a big gust of wind, or a deluge of ice falling from the sky, it was a slow, consistent ‘pressure’ over time. Don’t let the pressures of life lead you to the breaking point. Start with self-awareness that enables and empowers you to create action for change.