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When life hits you with the unexpected
We can move with or against the momentum.
In March of this year, I was laid off for the second time since COVID started in 2020. I had just moved into a new home when it happened. The final module of a master-level coaching certification training program I had been patiently waiting for was suddenly postponed. To top it off, I had to schedule a last-minute gum graft surgery and had car troubles, all within a short period. Everything had changed, and I had no control over it.
There was a choice to make. I could fight against everything happening or choose to be with it and use its momentum and energy to my advantage, like a master Aikido practitioner, centred, present and moving with their opponent, not against them.
What helped was my complete surrender to what is. Having been laid off offered me more personal time. I took it as an opportunity to reflect on myself, be curious, and learn something new but with a different attitude, without needing a particular outcome.
It felt scary and yet exciting at the same time. I had a few ideas of what I might want to do, but I put those aside initially. I intended to have no goals, to wake up every day and be with my circumstances, not try to change them.
I took some time to read, exercise and do nothing. It exposed cracks in my identity facade. I heard and felt the parts of myself struggling with what I was attempting to do and pushing back. Voices like "you're lazy," "you're unproductive," and "you're useless" were loud. I felt emotions of fear, anger, frustration, and longing.
Over the years, I've done a lot of self-awareness work where what I hear and feel in my mind and body, at any moment, is something I can choose to notice and observe rather than cling and react to. It is certainly not a perfect process, and in many instances, I still find myself reacting to the moment and getting lost in it. Even then, the time between responding and returning to being an observer is much quicker than it used to be. This was a crucial skill during my surrender experiment, to observe and be with the loud parts of me, noticing them and appreciating them without needing to make them right or wrong.
Everything I did went against what society keeps saying we should do. Be productive, add value and work hard, work the 9 - 5, Monday to Friday; all things I wasn't doing, at least not from society's point of view.
Something interesting happened. Different parts of me, parts I hadn't heard of in a long time, came alive. Things that felt heavy suddenly started to feel light, energizing and fun again. Time began to slow down; it no longer felt like a resource that was running out. I started reading more, writing more and feeling overall more creative. Being creative had felt out of reach for me for many years.
By creating space, for which I mean not doing so much, parts of myself came online again. It would have been easy to say it's just who I am; I'm the kind of person who needs to keep busy to feel successful, appreciated and recognized. I'm just not creative and can’t read a lot.
We are capable of much more than we allow ourselves to think, see or feel. The challenge is that those parts are locked away, and busywork is the guardian that keeps them hidden from us.
This isn't a reflection of anyone's circumstances but my own. I will say that we often have more choices than we are willing to admit. Surrendering might not seem like one, but for those willing to consider it, surrender can transform us in ways we cannot begin to imagine until we experience it.
How did everything turn out?
I read a lot, much more than I ever have or thought I could. I finally dedicated more time to coaching individuals — work I'm passionate about — and working with fantastic leaders in their respective fields to create the change they seek to make. I started offering developmental training programs to groups, teams and organizations, something I had wanted to do for a long time; I'll share more later. My car was fixed; it turns out that what seemed like a dire problem was a dead battery. The gum graft went very well. And the final stages of my master-level coaching certification program start in two weeks.
It's compelling to think we have to make things happen as planned. That strength is defined by how willing we are to push through challenges. While that is one way, it's not the only way.
Leveraging the momentum of what is already in motion requires flexibility and adaptability, two crucial skills today. The best way we improve is by using every opportunity that presents itself. In the process, we might discover parts of ourselves we didn't know existed.
Sparknotion — Think Differently.