I’m a business & life coach… and, I lost my shit!
As a coach, my absolute passion in life is to support others to become the best version of themselves. A big part of this is working out their emotional triggers, be that external or internal which set off the programmes they are running which leads them to end up ‘losing their shit’!
Once I’ve identified the pattern of behaviour, we can start with the re-programming, input a new emotional response and find news way to put themselves in the most resourceful state for any given situation. The techniques are unbelievably effective…
So, imagine how I felt standing at the start gate of my son’s first Motocross race literally ‘losing my shit’! I’m a coach … I’m supposed to be an expert at this stuff, right?
The sound of the engines roaring, the smell, the tension emulating from the boys anxious and excited waiting for the start gates to drop.
My heart was beating out of my chest, palms sweaty, I seemed to have created my very own rut in the mud from my manic pacing. My entire body felt like it had gone to war on itself, one voice shouting ‘what the hell are you doing, get him off that bike, no sane mother would allow this to happen’ and the other was more of a whisper saying ‘but he really loves MX and he’s been training for this for months’.
The first voice was much, much louder! and winning this battle hands down. The worse part was that even with all my training, even though I know I ‘should’ know what to do here it all failed me in my moment of need, which only added to me mentally beating myself up!
I started looking for the negative stuff and guess what, my mind did a sterling job of helping me find it.
On his second race of the day he crashed. I knew he was okay I watched it happen, but I was so deep into my downward spiral I ran over, as did the paramedics and he was ushered off into an ambulance – no more races for him that day. Not because the paramedics said he couldn’t race, he had a bust lip, and a bruise on his chest, he’s had worse playing in the local park. He didn’t race anymore that day because he’d scared himself and when he said I think I’m done, I say yes okay I think that’s a good idea, subconsciously validating the voice in his head that was saying ‘I’m not okay’, which was really more about me meeting my needs than his – nice move ‘life coach’.
I arrived home on that Sunday evening and cried, my tears were driven by a mixture of relief, gratitude and disappointment. Relief that it was over, gratitude that my son was safe and disappointment in myself for allowing myself to be in such a state. I had not experienced feelings like that in over 7 years and I wasn’t keen on meeting them again.
So here’s the thing,
For the last 9 months I have avoided going to the track to watch him practice, I have happily packed my husband and son off to Spain for weeks training in the sun, using excuses like needing to be at work that week, or you’ll have more fun without me. I have avoided any situation where I may need to be there because I was too scared to face the feelings I had associated with MX. My boy, is choosing to spend his free time on a superfast motorbike, flying off jumps and speeding round dirt tracks for fun. Whilst the very thought had filled me with fear from day one, I can also see how he comes alive when he is with his bike, how happy it makes him, he truly loves the sport.
I have been brought up with these words, ‘don’t ever go on a motorbike’, ‘motorbikes are lethal’, ‘no child of mind will ever have a bike’. I know only too well what a strong influence and lasting impact words have on us, especially those spoken to a child from someone they love.
These words have rung hard in my ears every day. So when my child decides that he wants to race on this ‘machine’ the negative energy surrounding it had been winding its sticky web inside of me for months.
I would never tell my children not to do something because it’s not something I would do, this goes against all my values. So, the strategy I had created (which I now realise was highly ineffective) was to let it happen whilst avoiding it at the same time.
Then, without any positive mental preparation at all, put myself in the middle of a Championship race meet, which my 13 year old son was competing in and I failed to cope.
Not my brightest of ideas! …yet all of this got me thinking about how many times we repeat this pattern every day and it led me to where I am now…
New things present themselves all the time, and we don’t always know how we are going to feel until we actually experience them. I spent the following two weeks reflecting on that race weekend. I spoke to my coach to explore some of the feeling’s I had experienced and gained clarity on what was triggering these emotions.
I will always have the choice not go to the track, I could continue to avoid putting myself in this situation but I would much rather check in with myself and develop new strategies that can enable me to be track side to support my son in a sport that means so much to him, and enjoy it at the same time. I want to be the best possible coach I can be to him as well as being his mum – I can’t do either if I’m not there.
So, I set to work on me, for two weeks I have raised my awareness to myself in this specific context and I have a new set of strategies. I tested them at his last race last weekend.
I am sharing this because these strategies worked so well for me, I have stepped outside the comfort zone and just two weeks later made it feel safe and comfortable. I created ‘The’ right state, instead of ‘A’ right state, which I certainly was at that first race weekend.
This enabled me to look outside of me last weekend and notice what was happening outside of me instead. One of the things I noticed was many other parents doing the same or similar behaviours that I had been doing, so I wanted to share what’s worked well for me and whether your child is starting to race, competing in gymnastics’, learning to drive, starting a new school or anything else that as a parent fills you with fear, maybe some of them could work for you too J
- Creative Expression – our minds need to be engaged in activity, if they are not they wander. Music is mine – specifically my running playlist, it takes me to my happy place without inducing the heartrate of actually going for the run, writing and doodling also work really well – what’s your way of engaging in creative expression?
- Reduce the Caffeine hits – Okay, maybe have a ‘wake me up’ cup in the morning, reducing it to under 300mg per day is good, none is even better! Caffeine is not a great choice when you’re already feeling anxious, a single cup contains 90mg of caffeine, and if you’re on the fancy filtered stuff it’s up at 200mg! – what could you drink instead of coffee?
- Calibrate – Notice when your triggers are setting off – At the moment, I can get about 100 meters from the starting gate before I have to stop, breathe and check in with my heart rate. I’m still working on getting closer, I’ll only go as close as I can whilst maintaining my ‘state’ and that’s okay – if you pay attention, what do you notice about your state changing in your situation and how are you responding to it?
- Mentally prepare – I enjoy a sneaky 30 mins of quite time every day, so plugging in a pair of earphones to guide me through my motivations and intentions for the day (or in my case the next race) is easy – There’s a nice quote my Mindfulness teacher shared with me. I asked him ‘what’s the point in meditating every day, especially if I’m feeling calm anyway’. His response ‘would you start sewing your parachute on the way down’ I seem to have forgotten to sew my parachute the day I found myself at the bottom of the spiral – When and how do you make time to sew your parachute so you can glide through emotionally challenging situations
- Take your time – No matter where I needed to be next, I walked. Running raises the heart rate, and this matches the feeling we get when we are anxious. It’s counterproductive to do anything that will raise it unnecessarily – Take a deep breath and walk, likelihood is you’ll get there just as fast, just arrive in ‘the’ right state to be effective when you arrive
- SOS Breathing – If the heartbeat rush catches you when you are least expecting it this is a brilliant breathing technique and works every time, breath in for 4, hold for 5, and breath out through your mouth for 6. Do this 2 times, 3 at the most. It regulates the oxygen in your body and enables you to reset the dial to calm.
We are all human, and us humans are emotional beings, we are all coming across new things to deal with in every stage of our lives. It’s a natural part of our growth. The end game is not to perfect ourselves, just to notice what’s happening, when it happens and learn new ways to respond in the most resource way in the future – even us coaches ‘lose our shit’ sometimes J
I tested my new found strategies last weekend – I am still developing them, but have already started to notice all the good stuff and guess what, at the race last weekend, the sun was shining, the environment was happy and my son rode the best he’s every rode.
Self-control is strength. Calmness is mastery. We must get to the point where our mood doesn’t shift based on the choices of others.
It’s okay to ‘lose your shit’ sometimes, it’s okay not to know how to deal with a situation ‘yet’ and there’s the word to focus on … ‘yet’. It’s all okay as long as you’re willing to jump inside the shit, have a look around and work how to clean it up in a way that stops it from getting quite so messy in the future.
Perhaps that’s where the saying ‘sort your shit out’ really comes from J