7 steps to saving yourself

7 steps to saving yourself instead of waiting for a fairy godmother.I actually wanted to title this post “Save me!”. Because I think, at some point, a lot of us wish for that.  Someone to just come and save us from our circumstances, from our mistakes, from ourselves. Ideally, someone who can give us what we need, without wanting anything back, or making us feel obligated or guilty or ashamed.

Likely, these feelings come up because we’ve let things get to the point of overwhelm.  We’ve probably had hints or straight-out messages that something isn’t right, but when we receive these messages, we get stressed out because we can’t figure out how to fix things in 10 seconds, so we just keep on keeping on. Until finally, we’re pushed to the breaking point or we get shocked into realizing we’re just not happy, maybe by a loss or a shakeup or a breakdown. All of a sudden, we’re lost. We need help but we can’t ask for it because we don’t know how. We’re always the ones helping everyone else. We get angry, because how can we need rescue? If only someone we don’t know that well would come along, see exactly what they need to tell us, tell us this magic information that allows us to have an aha moment and actually follow through, and then that person flies skips disappears out of our lives as quietly as they came in. But that only happens in books or movies or books made into movies.

So, how do we save ourselves?

1. First things first. Breathe. When we are stressed, feeling overwhelmed, and trapped, we forget to breathe from our diaphragm. Shallow breathing keeps us in flight or fight mode. As soon as we take even one deep breath, we relax. Things don’t seem as dire. We give ourselves back some space.

2. Sit with your feelings.  Literally, sit down, close your eyes, take deep, slow breaths, and let your feelings come up.  Don’t try to push them away. Just let them come and go. Anytime you feel overwhelmed, concentrate on your breathing: think ‘inhale’ on your inhalations and ‘exhale’ on your exhalations.  Once you’ve calmed yourself, let the feelings drift in and back out.  What this is doing is two-fold – you are showing yourself that you can have these feelings without being controlled by them, and you are also accepting that you have these feelings with no judgement.

3.  Write down your issue(s).  You can use MS Word or a piece of paper or a journal.  The feelings might come up again while you write.  Let yourself feel them, but continue writing.  Remember to stick to the facts.  Don’t write down that you are stupid or a bad person or useless.  Those aren’t facts, those thoughts are you beating yourself up for living life.   There are good times and there are bad times in life.  Every single person goes through these times.  Your worth is not defined by your mistakes or your failures.

4.  Now, write down the worst thing that can happen in your circumstances.  Think back to other times in your past when things seemed bleak and what the outcome was.  You obviously came out safely, so acknowledge that the chance of making it through this situation successfully are high.

5. Write the best possible outcome you can see happening.  How could you get to this outcome? What would you need to know?  What would you need to do? Who would you need to talk to?  Make a plan.

6.  Talk to someone you trust.  A friend, a mentor, a parent or family member, a partner.  Tell them as much as you need to about the situation and your plan.  Let them help you – they can be your champion; they can give you ideas that you may not have thought of; they can connect you to the right people; they can be your safe place to be heard and understood.

7. Take action on your plan.  Sometimes, your plan may simply entail having reminders in place to meditate, check in with your trusted person once a week to vent and debrief, or use methods to stop your negative thoughts.   Sometimes your plan will be more complicated and involve other people or organizations.  It may take a while, but taking action means you are taking control of the situation instead of it (and the associated feelings) being in control.  Guess what that means?

You did it!  You’ve become your own saviour; no fairy godmother needed.

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If you’d like some support with this, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

How did I get here?

How did I get here? A post on disconnectionLila Duchesne was one of those people who didn’t remember her dreams.  She was unable to commiserate with her friend who couldn’t figure out why she kept on dreaming she was naked at work or join in dream analysis discussions with her colleagues.  She just fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning at her alarm’s insistent beeping with blankness in the hours between.  It didn’t use to be like this.   She used to have vivid dreams about flying and fantastical creatures.  She’d once had a philosophical conversation with a tree where she seemed on the cusp of understanding the meaning of life until the alarm dashed her hopes.  But in the middle of college, her dreams just stopped coming, and 20-odd years on, nothing had changed.   She was musing about this on her way to work because just last night her mother had reminded her that she used to have such a wild imagination when she was a child, always acting out little skits for ‘her audience’, making up songs about people and singing each person their own special song to make them feel better, and she used to draw out all her dreams, papering her room with the drawings.  Her mother had kept all the drawings as a reminder of her “little artist”.   Lila sighed and shook her head now, thinking that she should probably visit her parents.  It was obvious her mom was missing her.  All of a sudden, she felt an arm across her chest, pushing her back onto the sidewalk.

“Hey, Lila!  You almost walked in front of that bus!  Didn’t you see the light change?”  It was her co-worker, Steve.

“No.  Thanks for saving me.”  Lila was feeling a little shaken.  She was usually so cautious.

“Can you imagine if I hadn’t been late leaving my place today?  You’d be splattered on the front of the bus and the road too, probably.  I’d have to write your obituary.  ‘Lila Duchesne, 43 years old, a senior financial analyst with Fastech Industries, a Fortune 500 company, leaves behind her dog Samson, and …”

As Steve enthusiastically went on describing her life and death, Lila felt like she’d just done a sidestep, like, if this was a movie, everybody would be paused, and she’d be looking at herself from outside her body.  I’m 43 years old.  I’m a financial analyst.  How did I get here, how did I get to this life?  I’m Lila, the girl who could run faster than all of her friends, the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and see what adventures she could embark on.  What happened?

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When this happened to me, it wasn’t dramatic like Lila’s situation at all.  I can’t even remember what triggered it.  It was just a little shift and I thought to myself, I’m a software training team lead. I felt momentarily unreal; like I was reading about somebody else in a book.  It was rather neutral too.  I didn’t feel dismayed at the realization, so to speak, it was more like a quiet jolt. And wouldn’t it make a great blog post if I could say that was the moment I realized I wanted to do something else?  Nope. I shifted back into myself and continued working.  But, I do think that it was a catalyst to thinking about what was out there for me.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  Where you suddenly and temporarily had a bird’s-eye view of your life?

What realizations or home truths came about as a result?

If this hasn’t happened to you (or you’d like it to happen again in a more controlled fashion), what could you do to manufacture this shift process to gain knowledge about yourself?  I sometimes have daydreams about being interviewed on a talk show (doesn’t everybody?), and when I start talking about how I got to where I am or did what I did it gets me seriously thinking about why I made the life choices I did.  Other times, I’m watching a procedural and I wonder how I’d behave if I was being questioned in court.  How would I explain my actions?

Now it’s your turn.  Let me know your story in the comments!

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Do you want even more helpful questions?  Click on Work With Me to find out more about what I offer and contact me for a complimentary chat.

Where was I?

Well, I certainly didn’t mean to take a blogging break for almost a year and a half. But it happened because, as I tried to continue in the same vein, I was finding it hard to write posts that didn’t feel lecture-y and dry and that gave value. It also wasn’t enjoyable and rewarding for me to write them so it was easier to just focus on curating articles and posting my thoughts on social media.

However, I feel I’ve hit on a way to get my messages out that will work for everyone. You’ll get stories, along with questions/points to think about at least once a month. I will likely chime in with personal news or extra posts here and there. I hope you enjoy my posts and please let me know what you think!

To tribe or not to tribe?

Lately, I’ve been running across a lot of articles about finding a tribe of people who are like-minded and will support you as well as help to hold you accountable for your business endeavours. On the one hand, I’m all for it. I’ve been feeling a little alone when it comes to starting my own service-based business. People seem much more accepting of my husband’s business, which is product-based. They’re a little more concerned about how I’ll build momentum, a little more worried about how I’ll increase my business. Some of their concern may have to do with people, especially my parents’ age, not knowing what a life coach is, unless they are in the field or a related industry (at least here in Canada). But, overall, it seems like if you aren’t doing a traditional service-based business (ex. doctor, dentist, massage therapist, hairstylist) or one that people at least recognize, then they aren’t ready to fully support you in your new endeavour.  It’s also quite the change for everyone around me, to see me go from working for corporations in one capacity or another to starting my own business, in a field that doesn’t quite sound real to them. Looking at it this way, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for me to get together with a group of people who understand me, know where I’m coming from, know what kinds of practical issues I’ll run into while starting a business, and who will help me, champion me, and be there through the good and bad. On top of that, so many successful people in my field whom I admire have a tribe, so it seems savvy from a business point of view too.

And yet, I hesitate.  I was quite shy as a child.  Once I got to know people, I made one or two good friends and was friendly to everyone else but not close.  As I grew older, I grew less shy, and understood that I was introverted.  I might be quiet until I felt comfortable, but after that, I would be my usual self.  I remember people being shocked by my sense of humour because they didn’t expect it from “sweet and quiet Sérene”.  Nowadays, I’m not shy, and most of the time, have no problems starting up conversations or joining in.  In fact, I’ve always equally liked being alone or with one or two good friends.  The thing is, I have those good friends in each of the different areas of my life –   work friends from the diverse companies for which I’ve worked, friends from my university days, and friends from here and there.  They all know some of the aspects of me I let everyone see, but, otherwise, each set knows different parts of me.  I’ve never had a ‘gang’ of friends.   A tribe would be the equivalent of a gang of friends.  Is that something I could handle?  It seems like this tribe would have to know my personal life as well as my professional life in order to understand me better and know when I’m self-sabotaging from fear of failure, or to help me figure out when I can actually handle taking my business to the next level.   Letting a group of people in wholeheartedly would be quite a significant step for me.

If I choose to go for it, do I actively look for this tribe or do I let it happen naturally?  Do I try to form my own group or join an existing one?  Which will be the harder thing to do?  Am I overthinking it?

As I try to figure out this tribe issue for myself, think about your tribe, if you have one.  It could be your book club, your gang of friends, or an official business group to which you belong.  Are you able to be vulnerable and get encouragement and support?  Do they help you with your goals and desires?  Does your tribe give you what you need?