When things don’t go your way
March 3, 2011
It has been a strange week.
I had the privilege of going skiing with my partner and stepchildren in the beautiful Austrian Alps. An experience that brought with it a steep learning curve, teaching me a lot about my approach to adversity (with each lesson being emphasised with its very own bruise).
Through the process of learning how to fall and get back up again, I was forced to face my own limiting beliefs and negative emotions about ‘not being very good at something’ head on. This was a very enlightening and humbling experience. I had to admit that despite being a coach (who is supposed to have their emotional s**t together) I was still prone to the same outbursts as everyone else when things didn’t go my way.
When things don’t work out the way we expect, or we suddenly encounter a situation that clashes with our view of how the world should be, in my experience humans do one of two things, they either:
a) Get very defensive/angry at the world, pulling the ‘why me’ (aka victim card)
b) Get curious about the situation and their own reactions to it
In my very recent and physical experience, option A only leads further down the track of pain. When we are in ‘victim mode’ we relinquish our power of choice. We decide that no matter what we do, we will loose and therefore there is no point in even trying. Life is happening to us and we have no ability to control events or our reactions to them. Life is a series of random experiences, some good and some bad.
Who in their right mind wants to live here? Scary thing is, I think if we were all made to swear on the bible then we would have to admit that we all choose option A occasionally. Some of us more than occasionally!
Option B on the other hand opens the magical doors to awareness. When we catch ourselves in an emotional tizz or about to rant at the world, taking a moment to get curious about why we are choosing to react in this way is like a margarita on a hot summer evening to our psychological state. It brings on an instant awareness that even though we are feeling bad about something, we can take a moment to identify why and choose to give it a different meaning and thus a different feeling.
Whilst I was up on the slopes having fallen over for the millionth time, I was forced to look at the meaning that I was giving to my incompetence. I was choosing to blame a weak hip, tired legs, tight ski pants, even a rock to get away from the inescapable fact that I was simply not very good at skiing yet and I had a healthy fear of careering off the edge of a cliff! As soon as I admitted to myself that fear was the underlying factor in the whole thing then I was able to give a new meaning to my experience. I decided to see the whole thing as a massive lesson in ego and limiting beliefs and laugh at myself for falling into the same trap that I teach many other people to avoid. My whole outlook changed, and as a result, my feelings about the situation changed.
Luckily enough my physical performance also changed and by the end of the three days I proudly skied down the whole mountain with my family.
Curiosity is the essential ingredient to learning and expanding your self-awareness.
It may have killed the cat but it will certainly save you from a future of victimhood!