Shifting Through the Tough Stuff

Acceptance – it is what it is

I haven’t been feeling my usual buoyant self over these past weeks. I don’t like it. I’ve been feeling less than 100% physically, but what’s been worse is the lack of motivation. I feel like I’ve lost the pep in my step.

This is not something I particularly want to share with you. I tell myself it is not helpful or inspiring to anyone to hear this about me, even though I suspect that might not be true. However, it is my reality right now and I know the best place to start is where you are (if you want to move anywhere different). I was faced with the choice of not writing (which I did last week) or starting here – here in this not-ideal, unmotivated, lacking pep-in-my-step place.

If I was to use a metaphor to describe how I feel, it might be that I am stuck in a swamp.

In my swamp, the mosquitoes are biting, there is no way to move or go anywhere. I am just here. There is something in the air that is sucking the motivation to move or do anything right out of me, despite how much I hate being here. It feels as though I might languish here for the rest of my days. This is overly dramatic (I know).

Notice how I want to shift immediately to judge how I’m feeling and making it wrong.

I’ve mostly tried to ignore these feelings over the past weeks. I’ve disappeared into an endless number of Grey’s Anatomy episodes. I escaped into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And then I return to the feeling I don’t like. And it is still there, waiting for my return.

I’m going to look to another in this blog post to help me though.

Psychologist and author Susan David talks about gentle acceptance – it is the base of her emotional pyramid of needs. David reminds us that we cannot control every situation. She says there is no value in struggling to deny or suppress uncomfortable emotions: this only makes us feel worse. (Yes, to that!) By showing up to a difficult situation and accepting it we grant ourselves the freedom to move beyond it. Acceptance is a prerequisite for change.

You can find Susan David on Instagram @susandavid_phd

This blog is my version of acceptance. There’s nothing quite like going public for owning who you are and where you are. There are, however, other ways one might work on gentle acceptance. Perhaps that’s allowing yourself the freedom to journal exactly how you feel without editing it. Maybe it’s choosing to speak to someone and paint a picture of exactly where you are.

Acceptance is the prerequisite for change.

Susan David

Compassion – meet yourself where you are

The second layer of the emotional pyramid of needs described by Susan David is compassion – meeting yourself where you are.

One of the hardest things to do is to let go of comparison not only to others but also to earlier versions of yourself. It is so hard not to judge oneself for not being as thin, fit, successful, motivated, driven, happy (or whatever) as one used to be or as others seem to be. Meeting yourself where you are is all about letting go of comparison and .judgement. It’s about reaching for compassion.

According to David, compassion gives us the freedom to redefine ourselves as well as the all-important freedom to fail, which contains within it the freedom to take risks that allow us to be truly creative. Be kind to yourself (and others). Cultivate compassion, forgiveness, flexibility and non-judgement. Give yourself a break and let go of perfectionism.

This is a short video talking about extending kindness, grace and compassion to yourself and one technique I use to help me do this.

A simple way to practice self-compassion is to ask yourself, “What do I need today?”

Routine – create pockets of healthy routine (and let go of what you cannot control)

Walking in the woods is one of my healthy routines. Taking photos is another because it helps me slow down and be present (a personal mindfulness and mental fitness practice). Here are some photos from my walks this week.

Connection – Nurture Relationships – community is essential to your well-being

One of my other healthy routines is continuing to connect with a few close friends. Sometimes that is in person, but often it’s not. It is also the reason I decided to go back to in-person church after I was fully vaccinated and the reason my husband and I plan to travel, to see my family in South Africa. Nourish your relationships, especially if you are feeling lonely.

Courage – stay open to tough emotions

Courage is more than just the acceptance of our emotions says Susan David. It is the willingness to learn from them. Our emotions are data that tell us what we’re missing in our lives. They are signposts that can teach us how to make better decisions and take values-based action.

Reset – make habits out of behaviours you have consciously chosen

Your actions should reflect your values.

Wisdom – life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

We are all young until we are not. We are healthy until a diagnosis brings us to our knees. The only certainty is uncertainty. Once we realize this as truth, the healthier and more authentically happier we will be. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is fear walking.”

Susan David

I am learning to accept that it’s okay to be where I am. I’m remembering to ask myself what I need and reminding myself to keep up with my healthy routines like walking and staying connected. The rest is a work in progress, and that’s okay.

Coaching

I’m thankful for this amazing client. The courage, growth and determination I’ve witnessed during our sessions is one of my favorite parts of being a coach.

Connect with me if you are interested in learning more about coaching or mental fitness.

Sue Das, CPCC, ACC, CPQC, B Soc Sc (SW)

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