We can Choose to Make our Darkest Hour our Defining Moment

By January 7, 2021Blog

Founding ‘The Resilience Formula’ 9 years ago and navigating the ups and downs of self-employment, has been one of my greatest challenges in life, and one that I am proud of. I would like to consider myself a real model in the world of Resilience and wellbeing. I too, do not always find it easy; battling with auto-immune diseases that have caused me pain, severe illness at times and weight issues; the suicide of a parent; the financial highs and lows of running a business – have all been big challenges to deal with.

What makes it all count is that I work with some phenomenal leaders in both group and one-to-one coaching. I consider it an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to explore Resilience with these people. The Executive MBA’s are an incredible group who I get to work with annually at Cambridge University, as is my daughter who I have been teaching mindfulness to, since she was only 4 years old.

So, my colleagues, customers and friends all think, “I’ve got this” yet my own foundations have been severely challenged due to various traumas in 2020. It is not an uncommon message to hear these days sadly. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we were a double income household, and we were both self-employed – as a family we had to go on a journey that would present health and financial challenges. The biggest hit to my own Resilience is how to handle it for my daughter.

And so, 2020 was a dark year for me, I have strived for success in my business and family life. Worked so hard to give Jo Jo a loving, stable and boundried upbringing – something I felt I didn’t have, due to my Mum’s mental health challenges. The anguish I felt at having to tell my daughter her Dad was ill took me to a dark place, BUT I am so lucky to have done the work I do. I know that we can make the darkest moments our defining ones. Our commitment to self-care shows our attitude to Resilience, because we can never take it for granted. The minute you think you have ‘made it’, in terms of your personal Resilience, is the minute you could ‘lose your edge’.

I took any opportunity I had to take care of myself, so I would have the reserves for my family and my business. As I reflected over key moments in my 9 years of working with Resilience, I was reminded of some feedback I had from a Clinical Psychiatrist at Headley Court. Headley Court deals with rehabilitation of injured military personnel. After our project at Sandhurst, I spent a day at Headley Court talking to stakeholders about a potential change to pro-active Resilience training. We discussed at length the importance of pro-actively learning skills and strategies when we are well, and how critical this can be in the event of serious illness and injury, because it has laid the foundations earlier in life and can really help us rehabilitate if injury, illness or servere setbacks hit us later in life. Serious illness and injury can be physical as well as mental, and whilst it was my husband’s physical health that posed challenges for us, it was my mental health that came under pressure, through months of isolation, the pandemic, home schooling and working.

The key to my being able to step-back into work effectively now is that I gave myself the time to listen to my mind and body and nurture my wellbeing at any small window that presented itself. This means I can come back in a way that my family and business need me to this year. I have dug deep, reduced alcohol, upped fruit and veg intake, and spent time talking rather than bottling things up.

I don’t think there is many of us out there who can say that their life is free of complication. Working to help people find resilient strategies that will help support their mental fitness and bounce-back, I find that the best way to confront life’s challenges time and again is to meet these obstacles with a simple approach.  It’s the small everyday things that collectively, over time, can make a big long-term difference to sustaining Resilience. This is why we have a model for Resilience, rather than a 10-step ‘this is what you should do’ plan.

Here are my top 6 for January 2021:

  • Drop bad habits
  • Make time to self-reflect – 5 minutes a day is all you need
  • Work out – don’t pressure yourself to be like others. Choose age and health appropriate exercise for you at your time of life
  • Meditate –if this is not for you, at least find a balanced breathing exercise that you like
  • Make time to read or learn a new skill
  • Stay connected
  • Ask yourself, not what you have lost, but what might you have gained as a result of the pandemic?

We can’t avoid the knocks in life, but we can learn how to bounce-back. If we can hold on to the qualities of what value the simple things in life can give us, how to achieve that elusive bounce-back become clearer and simpler. During our darkest moments, we can avoid burn-out and empower us to lift ourselves up.  Allowing ourselves some breathing space for self-care is the very first step we can take towards greater Resilience. Remember, sports professionals often say of tough games, “this is when we find out what we are made of.”

Thank you to all my clients, colleagues and friends who have supported me on the journey last year and I look forward to role modeling my best self through this journey.

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