Is it safe and okay to try and feel better?

When a plant is ailing, or has been through a lot, it takes a moment before it can start to thrive again. A little like this plant, humans these days are taking a moment to imagine what feeling better, and starting to thrive, might look like after 2020.

For me, it’s been a busy February, with the 18th anniversary of Thomas Leonard’s passing (Feb 11, 2003); the first lunar new year since Dad died (Feb 12, 2021); and officially restarting the thesis clock on my Master’s degree (Feb 13, 2021.) And of course, the new How to Coach Yourself course starts in about a week, which thrills me to pieces. It’s going to be a fun one where we get to let our hearts out and that feels wonderful.

The underlying theme among clients at the moment: “Is it safe, is it okay to try and feel better?”

Even after this many years as a coach, it’s fascinating to notice a theme within 1-on-1 client conversations. Right now, it’s about what to do now that things seem a little less volatile given the pandemic, political and social upheaval, etc. of the last year. Is this a false sense of security, and 2021 has other surprises coming? Or is there a chance for a revival, and if so, what can we learn from the aforementioned sweet ailing plant?

Here are a few thoughts along those lines:

What to do when you’re trying to come back from a difficult time.

Whenever we emerge from a trial – whatever that’s looked like for you – it can be tempting to rush through to ‘all better.’ Who wouldn’t want to wrinkle their nose and life goes back to normal? Things can move swiftly, but it usually takes at least some reflection for that to happen. Starting with…

(1) Be as objective as you can about what you’ve gone through.

Part of the reason people fail to thrive after adversity is – candidly – because they lie to themselves. “Oh, it really wasn’t that bad.” “No big deal.” “Everybody else went through worse.” Put it to you this way, this isn’t the suffering Olympics! Suffering is suffering. Yours feels how it does to you, and someone else’s feels something else to them. If by comparing to others you minimise your experience you will miss your mark when it comes to recovering. You have to know where you’re starting if your GPS is going to direct you anywhere properly.
So yes. Don’t just be objective about what’s happened, make sure you aren’t minimizing.

(2) Release any negative emotions (or negative “charge”) as thoroughly as possible.

Hanging onto negative emotions is a cause of physical toxicity, and psychological issues. Numbness is often a signal of too much emotion unreleased. Besides, if you’re full up with the negative emotions, where are any of the good ones going to get in?

Instead of ‘letting this happen naturally’ which is fine, try to be proactive about it. Actively reflect on your emotions in your favourite mode. Journalling works really well for some, other people need to chat or make art. Whatever amount you can manage to fit in, try to do more. Like eating more fiber proactively to move things along, this will help a lot.

(3) Transfer “comeback” energy from prior experience.

This one is a bit of a ninja-like move. Reflect on a time when you met with a challenge and recovered successfully in your view. Was it when you got a bad grade at college and successfully petitioned to do extra credit? Maybe you were estranged from family for a while and now you’re on good terms. Or you caused someone harm and are proud of how you’ve made amends.
Now ‘watch’ the movie of this experience in your mind, and observe what you did to overcome the challenge. In particular, relive the experience of recovering. That slow rise of hope and elation at achieving something good, the steady feeling of greater confidence — good stuff! Finally, ‘borrow’ from those emotions and connect, or ‘transfer’ them to what you’re contending with today. Based on how you were able to revive yourself back then, can you help yourself see how to feel better?

(4) Remember that more is less.

Everyone wants to gloss over ‘less is more’ as the cliche it’s become — “yeah, yeah, I should try to do less, or want less” so instead I offer you a tweak.
It’s actually not just that less is more, it’s that MORE is less. Like the child who greedily asked for a triple-scoop ice cream cone and promptly dropped all of it on the ground, we often try to do too much. I’d love to know: if you could be assured of your contentment, what one thing would you pick to focus on in the first half of 2021?

(5) Reach shamelessly for joy, pleasure, beauty and reserve.

Trying to feel better may trigger guilt. Doing so may be challenging, because you’ve gotten in the habit of tolerating so much. Definitely, reaching for joy, pleasure and beauty will take adjusting to, like a plant that needs to remember how to photosynthesize in its new sunny spot on a windowsill, after too long in the dark.
The world we live in, if we care about it and the greater good, needs people with clarity, resources, and energy in reserve. A bedraggled you is going to be less than able to stand up for the better world we want. So I implore you: deeply and shamelessly revel in the little joys and connections, whatever shape they come in. Pull pleasure in close. Bask in beauty. We’re going to need this reserve to grow through the conflicts and speed bumps ahead.

I’m hopeful and proud of how we’ve come through 2020, and though the future is still uncertain, I feel certain we’re more equipped now than ever to thrive.

TL;DNR It’s more than okay to try and feel better. The better you begin to feel, the more rested and recovered, the clearer of mind, the stronger of body, the brighter things can get, and I hope you go for it with no holds barred. I hope the five steps above, taken to heart, help.

Most of all, I hope you keep going, you keep being brave, and you keep feeling better.

My part in being brave has to do with helping you navigate the steps above, and to remember that in a year where so much has been cancelled, your dreams have not.

Pulling back the curtain, and to provide an example, personally, the five-step process above looks like this:

(1) Be as objective as you can about what you’ve gone through.

There’ve been some big decisions in my family since my Dad passed last fall. I’ve reconnected with my therapist, taken time off from my degree, pared back and cancelled everything except private client work. This has allowed the things I’ve ‘kept’ to do especially well.

(2) Release any negative emotions (or negative “charge”) as thoroughly as possible.

I’ve noticed myself coaching myself 200%, even 300% more than usual, and that my self-coaching notes are much lengthier, too. Alongside the return of some kick-boxing, loud keyboard playing and breath work focused on exhalation, the self-coaching is where I’ve been able to accelerate my emotional process.

(3) Transfer “comeback” energy from prior experience.

My best comeback energy has to do with how well my relationship with Mike (my husband) is, after years of emotional abusiveness on my part. When I tap into how bad things were, then walk myself through the story of how things got better, my confidence glows, and I can borrow that glow to apply to future challenges.

(4) Remember that more is less.

In 2021, I’ll be doing very little other than (a) private client work and (b) completing my thesis this year. With just one exception and that is the How to Coach Yourself training, which starts next week. I cancelled everything else knowing that more would diminish these commitments. This single action has contributed radically to my sense of more energy, and has revived my dreams and feelings of purposefulness.

(5) Reach shamelessly for joy, pleasure, beauty and reserve.

One of the ways I’m taking my own medicine is in revising the How to Coach Yourself training to include more joy in learning to self-coach. We’ll be spending 5 weeks together, and the thirst and yearning I sense for the pleasure of coaching ahas and real-life results is thick and palpable! What a thrill it will be to say ‘YES’ to feeling good, and doing good, together in class.

And now, it’s your turn. Will you spend a little time reflecting on the above five steps towards feeling better? I’d love to hear what comes of it.

The final word for today is a reminder of the How to Coach Yourself training.

For less than the price of a single 1-on-1 coaching session, the How to Coach Yourself 5-week hands-on training is now open for registration. We begin next week and I’d simply love to see you in class.

Remember, the only goal of this class is to give you a Self-Coaching Framework that you can use to coach yourself again and again to navigate change in the years to come.

This can be in conjunction with a coach you hire OR on your own, when it isn’t sensible to have a coach, OR, when you’re in-between coaches, as will sometimes be the case.

Hint: If you’re concerned about not being disciplined enough to coach yourself when needed, don’t worry, I address that in class, with elements designed to support you in creating self-coaching as a new habit. We’re definitely NOT leaving this to chance, and you’ll see the benefits of coaching yourself right away from Module 1.

Got open questions about where you want to go next with work, career, your purpose? Maybe you have unsettled thoughts about certain relationships, your spirituality, becoming an empty-nester. Do you suspect self-sabotage or resistance when it comes to your contentment in life? All of these are exceptional fodder to work on in class.

For more details on each of the 5 Modules and/or to reserve your seat, go here. Ready to reserve your seat? Click the button below to select your preferred payment option. (Class size limited to 30.)

Book my seat in ‘How to Coach Yourself’

“Andrea is, without a doubt, the real deal.
She is a veteran coach (and has coached lots of the super stars in the industry) and a wellspring of knowledge…and if you don’t already know about Andrea’s work, I am thrilled to be able to introduce it to you.
“How to Coach Yourself” is a quick (5 session!) experience that will help you not only trust yourself more deeply, but will help you as a practitioner support your clients to trust themselves too!”
— Joanna Lindenbaum, Founder, Sacred Depths Practitioner

Photo credit top to bottom: Lettuce Grow and kazuend on Unsplash