I’ve had an utterly disastrous week. No one major thing, just a confluence of small setbacks which, as they piled one on top of the other, have tested my resilience.
It started on Sunday night with an acerbic email from my ex which left me awake most of the night worrying about lawyers, settlements and finances. So, I started the week somewhat stressed and seriously sleep deprived.
By Tuesday I had dropped my phone in the toilet. Yes. In the toilet. And no. Don’t ask. I have no idea how. No amount of drying, waving, patting or hoping was going to bring that baby back from its shitty demise.
Needless to say, my Wednesday was consumed by the painful process of getting re-connected with the modern world.
Thursday, I got locked out of the house with no handbag, no wallet, no phone. Grrrr.
Then my date for the evening cancelled on me. Mmm. Disappointing.
By Friday I thought surely its done. What else could happen right? But no. Those little frustrations just kept rolling on in.
When I went to drop the keys back to the agent. The office was closed.
When I went to drop my shoes to get repaired. “Sorry back in 15 minutes” read the sign.
When I tried accessing my invoicing system. It was offline. Aaaaah.
By Friday night when I really did think it was all done. I poured myself a glass of wine ready to deflate and chillax. No no no. Even that was too much to ask. The glass of wine slipped through my fingers shattering into what seemed like thousands of tiny shards across the kitchen and through the hallway.
When things like this happen, most of the time, we deal with it and move on. It’s when lots of them come flying at us that we start to feel stretched, pushed and tested. And this week certainly has tested me –physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yet what I found, was that in each moment, when something difficult transpires, we have a choice.
When I heard my phone plonk in the toilet bowl I could have yelled and cursed the gods. Or, I could take a breath in and a breath out and calmly fish it out, quietly dry it off and go to bed hoping it will work in the morning. When it didn’t, I simply rescheduled some meetings and got it sorted out.
When my friend pulled out of Thursday night at the last minute I could have got pissy and flustered. Or I could simply course correct and zip to the markets to buy some food, drop into a yoga class and come home to make myself a lovely meal and enjoy some peace and quietude.
When the glass shattered – yes I did say F*******k! Then I took a breath in and out and quietly got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the floor.
As I did I managed to smile to myself as I recalled a conversation I’d had with a student earlier in the week. She’d been away on holidays and come home to her fridge turned off and a ton of rotten food. She was going home after our class to clear it out.
“We can approach the crappy tasks in life with a sense of annoyance and frustration or we can choose to do them with sense joy and gratitude. Go home, crank the music and clean the fridge with joy” I said.
Kneeling on the kitchen floor at a point where I could laugh or cry, it was the moment to swallow a dose of my own medicine.
So, on my hands and knees at 9pm on Friday I cleaned the kitchen floor and chose to think of all the nice things that happened throughout the week.
On Wednesday, Amy the sales assistant at Vodafone had been positively extraordinary. She went over and above to get me a phone, to set it up and even helped me with my wifi too. I walked out fully functional and completely reconnected.
On Thursday when my friend cancelled, it created an opportunity to go to a yoga class instead. I focused my practice that night entirely on my mind set. On each inhalation, a positive affirmation. Each exhalation, a deliberate letting go of the negative self-talk.
Then on Friday morning I got an unexpected phone call. Suava and I had recently been on a training program together. She called to share some good news. When she finished her story she turned around and asked me to brag about something awesome I’d done this week.
I sighed deeply. “Oh Suava, it’s been a hell of a week. I don’t think I can answer that.” Then I paused. I took a breath in and a breath out and said “Actually despite the fact it’s been such an awful week I’ve done my best to work through it. So, I’m going to pat myself on the back for remembering to breathe. For staying calm. And moving through.”
We often mistake resilience for strength. Feeling a need to stand rigid and strong in the face of the storm. Weathering it like a cliff face naked against the thrust of the ocean.
We grit our teeth and tough it out.
This is not resilience.
Over time the cliff erodes, changes shape and gets worn down. Rocks crumble and crash to the ocean floor. As mere humans, we do the same thing. Eventually we too crumble and crash.
Resilience is the ability to more readily come back to equilibrium when we feel stretched and stressed.
Rather than standing in rigid confrontation with the eye of the storm, we effortlessly bend and adapt. Move fluidly through the experience a little more like bamboo. Accepting each experience and emotion. In each moment mindfully choosing how we wish to respond.
The best tool we have available to help us do this is our breath.
Each time you stop and take a purposeful breath in and a deliberate breath out you are finding your moment of choice.
To scream and yell and fight it. To swim against the tide.
You can choose a different response.
To move through it. To swim with the tide. Accept what has happened with a calm quietude. Mindfully choosing how you will respond now. And now. And now. And now.
Knowing this too shall change.
So, when the tide flows against you, breathe in and out. Fully posses your power to make a choice and move more fluidly through the rough patches.
If you’re interested to know more, let us know. The M.A.D. team would love to help.
With love and gratitude from all of us at M.A.D. Mindworks.