How many times have you heard yourself or someone you know in the work place say ‘I’m Fine’, with a smile, when asked, How are you? Whilst beneath the surface the reality is often quite the opposite with stress and lowered resilience making life a daily challenge.
When we say we are fine when we are not we are denying how we really feel, often trying to convince ourselves and others that all is ok. We pretend that we have got everything under control, that we don’t have a problem, that we don’t have any difficulties.
Sometimes we think avoidance is the best way, it seems less messy, we don’t have to seem less able to cope and of course the moment we acknowledge a problem we have to admit that we don’t have our shit together.
Life is a journey
The fact is life is not a straight forward journey, sometimes it’s great and we float along, but it gets messy sometimes, it’s really hard sometimes and that’s when we need some help. The ‘I’m fine’ mask can, for many people, become a habit – a way of avoiding any exploration of current or past emotional issues.
But the stress and emotions of anxiety and worry that go with that can only be pushed so far down and be held in for so long. Eventually they begin to leak out bit by bit, in irritability, anger, sadness, self-sabotage, relationship tension, poor sleep and lack of motivation in our day to day.
We try external self-soothing with things like food, alcohol, over spending, over exercising, gambling, substance abuse etc,.. But the self-soothing only works for a short time until the emotions start to leak out again. This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to deal with the issue, that you can’t pretend everything is fine for ever. The challenges are the contrast and we need the contrast of what we don’t want to teach us what we do want.
The answer to dealing with stress which has impacted on your resilience is within you. Sometimes we may need help to face our truth, to go within to help us tap into our inner strengths and resources. This could mean speaking to your GP mental health professional, a mentor, a coach, family or friends. Just talking things out can be a great relief as nothing is as stressful when it’s outside our own mind. This is because as we speak things out we become a little more self-aware of what the issue is, as it’s often not the current challenge we are dealing with.
As a business owner one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our business is to develop a deeper sense of self awareness. With deeper self-awareness we are able to acknowledge and deal with the real issue which is often a few layers down and linked to past experiences.
With deeper self-awareness our leadership potential grows as we become more accepting, loving and compassionate with our self we are more able to notice more how we think, feel and act. We become more mindful and allow ourselves to feel our emotions rather than pushing them back down. The ripple effect of deeper self-compassion is having a more open minded, greater resilience, compassionate and understanding of others
Developing Self Awareness
We can’t develop deeper Self Awareness unless we take time for ourselves, without distractions, without social media without other people’s needs. We need to take time to go within, to find who we are and what we need. It’s a process, a part of our life journey of self-discovery back to our authentic self as we practice metacognition, our ability to think about thinking. To think about thinking we need to learn to quieten the mind so we can see new perspectives including seeing ourselves as others see us. Developing greater self-awareness is key to dealing with stress, overwhelm and low resilience.
Tips to develop greater Self-Awareness
- Practice conscious breath work /belly breathing at least twice a day. Doing three rounds of six breath in the morning when you wake and before bed. It’s also great to use this breath work as you feel stress increasing or you are going to deal with a stressful situation. It will activate your para sympathetic nervous system and help you stay calm and alert.
- Try meditation even if it’s just fifteen to twenty minutes a day – a guided meditation can be more effective if you struggle to switch off the internal chattering of your mind
- Practice grounding /earthing – simply taking five to ten minutes a day standing bare foot on grass, sand, dirt while you use your conscious breath work – this allows your body to draw on the earths energy and can reduce tension and create a calm sense of wellbeing
- Journaling your thoughts ,getting what’s in your head out onto the page can reduce the volume of stress and over load and help you see new perspectives
- Practice gratitude – Gratitude is a state of mind and as we practice the art of gratitude we create and strengthen new neural pathways of a strong positive mindset. With a strong positive mindset we are better able to deal with challenges and more able to see potential and possibilities.
We all have the capacity for growth, change and greater resilience to a life of joy ,we just have to be willing to take the first step into a new undiscovered space within ourselves.
Written by Jackie Rowe, Focus Coaching
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