After my client learned that he was given a one-year suspension from the University that he has attended for the past 2 years for academic underperformance, he felt an overwhelming rush of fear, sadness, and regret.
It felt like a huge loss on so many levels. He felt like a failure. He wanted a second chance.
Even though he knew that the dismissal was warranted and would only be for a year or less, all he could think about was everything he would be missing. Everything he lost. And everything he could have done to shift his trajectory and choose healthier and better behaviors and outcomes.
One day, shortly after he received the news of his suspension, he and his Mom called me.
He told me his story and shared every reason why he wanted to go back. He vacillated between crying, apologizing, justifying, and speaking on his behalf.
Reaching out to me — an acknowledgment that he needed guidance and help, and the recognition and willingness to do the hard work ahead — reminded him of what was possible. Instead of wallowing in his present circumstances, he chose to dig in, take accountability, motivate and commit to righting his ship.
“You know,” I said, “if you are telling me today that you are committing to this process and doing whatever work is necessary to build the necessary self-awareness and life skill set to live a healthier, more conscious and happier existence, we can hit the ground running with the coaching relationship. I have a lot of experience coaching lost, confused, and wounded people. We can figure out some small daily steps that you can do starting in this moment that will shift your trajectory and get you back on track.”
“I am ready.” He said.
Our weekly 1:1 FaceTime calls began. Daily texts followed. Mindset shifts began to unfold.
He had a series of big losses in his life, including the deaths of some very cherished loved ones, and these losses carried with them heavy grief. As he learned, grief work was no small undertaking. Our immediate work was drawing out his story, getting a handle on his thoughts and belief systems on which he was subsisting, and bringing to light areas of change and growth. Reworking his story from a place of strength and not victimhood was key. He actively shed some of his old and self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors and cultivated some new thoughts and actions that were nourishing, and most importantly, more useful and helpful.
Because his feelings and behaviors are changing with his shifting beliefs, thoughts, and story, he is acting and engaging with his world from a more curious, grounded, and empowered place. Instead of focusing on the outcome, he is opening himself up to the process and the learning therein.
He no longer lets his brain go unmanaged and run the show. He is committed to a daily practice of curating healthy, motivating, and uplifting thoughts and pruning out the old, unhelpful, and negative ones.
He recognizes now that relationship with self is key to a meaningful and satisfying life. He also is learning that he can be in relationship with others and not expect that they need to make him feel a certain way or be in a certain way for him to feel good — he can do that for himself, regardless of what they do or say. He can let others be who they are with no agenda. He can wake up in the morning and feel his anxiety and know that it is his companion for the day, not his foe. It’s all in how he manages it. He can be free to feel however he chooses based on the quality of his thoughts. He can feel anything and survive. He is no longer a slave to his emotions as much as the manager and regulator of them.
Gradually, with each passing day, his thought loop is shifting from “I am not enough” and “I need certain external circumstances to change in order to feel better” to “I am in control of how I feel and how I show up in this world, regardless of what the outside world is doing. I don’t have to have all the answers. It’s just one step at a time. I am open to embracing the process and the learnings, and not focusing solely on the outcome.”
No idea how to love yourself right now? Take a walk. Do an online yoga class. Meditate. For 10 minutes or 50 minutes. Movement, mindfulness, and embodiment are wonderful integrators of body, mind, and spirit. Soak in the outside, breathe deeply, root yourself into the ground, feel your feet, and notice the energy moving through your body as you move.
No interest in journaling? Do a 10 minute thought download each day, emptying your brain and your many thoughts onto paper. No rules. No grammar or sentence structure needed. Moving your thoughts from head onto paper has a way of lightening the inner load and creates a different awareness. With 60,000 thoughts coursing through your brain each day, be conscious of what those thoughts are as they create your feelings which generate your actions and results in your day to day.
Create a life philosophy that is based in a growth mindset, a willingness to be uncomfortable, a curiosity.
Take one daily step — one awkward, wobbly, significant step — to move one step closer to becoming the person that you want to be. Create a routine that feeds you, lifts you, and keeps you engaged.
What’s your ONE small thing for today? A walk. A conversation. A nap. An uninterrupted study session. A new empowering thought.
Commit to doing it. Embrace the process. Transcend loss.
I’ll be here cheering you on! You got this.
#makethefirststep #shiftgears #tellmemore #embracetheprocess #shineon #itsallgood xoxoxo