Sometimes life does not go to plan. You can just wake up one morning and everything just goes downhill fast. It’s not that you have necessarily done anything to bring it all crashing down (although sometimes that can happen too), but sometimes shit just happens.
It was just a few weeks before Christmas and I was meeting a colleague for a coffee first thing in the morning. I was early after dropping my daughter to school for sport and so I decided to go into the café and order breakfast, something I don’t often do on a busy weekday. It was a rainy morning, so I dashed out of the car and walked into the café and found myself a seat. The café was crowded, so the only seat left was right by the door, where my bare legs were getting a bit of a draft (get out the violins right). So after I ordered, a couple at the back of the café got up to leave, and I decided to move to their vacant table (why oh why did I do that). As I get up to walk to the back, I slipped on the wet floor and with much grace (not), I started to fall. My hands reach toward the ground, desperately trying to brace my imminent crash landing. My right hand hits the ground first, slips forward on the floor and crack goes my arm. Given my spectacle, people rush to my aide, only to try and pull me upright by my arm. Yeah I wasn’t real impressed by that as my shriek kinda communicated.
Just as I manage to get myself upright holding my arm close, my colleague comes in, takes one look at me and says – I’m taking you to emergency. Onya Troy, what would I have done without you?
So 30 minutes later, xrays taken, the doctor informs me I have cracked the head of my humorous bone in the shoulder joint in several places and will need surgery to stabilise it the following morning. I just stared at him with my mouth open.
So before I know it, I have 13 pins and a plate in my right dominant shoulder/arm. This was not how I saw my day going!!
What resulted was obviously a big adjustment. Six weeks in a sling with no driving possible and my dominant arm out of action. Well hell, I admit, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for a couple of days there.
Do you ever wonder what would happen if your life suddenly got turned upside down? Sometimes in the blink of an eye, things can take a turn for the worst. We could lose our jobs, lose a loved one, be diagnosed with an illness or be involved in a traumatic incident. When adversity like this strikes, we often feel like we have had all the wind knocked out of us, and we are unsure how to pick ourselves up off the ground. But believe it or not, we often have hidden reserves that we didn’t even know we had and if we stop and give ourselves the opportunity, we can access this reserve and let it kick in when we really need it.
1)Kick Start Yourself Into Action – When adversity strikes, we can sit and wallow, and sometimes that is ok and reasonable for a short while, but at some point we need to adopt an action mindset. We need to start to consider the steps we need to take to kick start our thinking around options, resources, ideas and strategies and access our reserves of potential and see the adversity as an opportunity to learn, grow and flex your mental toughness muscles.
2) Kick Your Critic To The Kerb – It’s always easier to remember all the times that you didn’t cope or the things that did not go to plan. This negativity bias we possess means that your inner critic can often get the better of you. But consider your opportunity to think about a time when you actually exceeded your own expectations. Remind yourself of the situation and the circumstances and that you could access these reserves when you really needed them.
3) Just Reach Out – You really don’t have to be Wonder Woman or Super Man and do everything yourself. Often there are people around you who really care and all you have to do is ask. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Tapping into the resources offered by the people around you only gives you an opportunity to be stronger.
4) Focus On What You Can Control – Too often we lament on the things we can’t control, focusing on all the “What ifs” of a situation and spending a lot of our time, wishing “it had never happened”. This is really a waste of energy and quite honestly just gives you brain drain. So focus on the things you can control… the next action step.
5)Reframe – Every time you say to yourself “this is too hard”, reframe a question to self…. “So how could you make it easier?” Don’t accept the “below the line” statement to yourself. Ask yourself the “above the line” question and consider the options and possibilities you actually have.
So if you have lost your mental toughness mojo, do yourself a favour….. pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get to it. Yeah baby!!
Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.