I often joke about crying in the loo with my inner circle, that small group of people who I allow to see my vulnerabilities, but it’s all true.
When I was made redundant a few years ago I thought the most difficult part would be landing a new role. I’ve generally got a can do attitude and love to solve problems, so I wasn’t phased at the prospect of starting something new. At the time, the best option for me was contracting and I soon found a role that looked challenging but enjoyable.
What I turned up to felt like a war zone.
Within hours it was clear that I was expected to run a 2 – 3 week inception phase for about 40 people. I didn’t know the business market, the people or have a clue what was going on with the project. It was starting within days and there was little time to prepare. The team I was working with were drafted in from a third party and also felt like rabbits in the headlights.
The relationship between the supplier and the customer was very strained and I was somewhere in the middle.
I would usually work in the evenings to prepare or get myself up to speed but for whatever reason, I had neither the inclination, nor the energy. I felt like I was drowning and because I couldn’t relate to what I was experiencing I became really self critical.
As I drove to work each day there was a radio advert that sounded like school kids chanting “You don’t know what you’re doing....”. “Wow” – I thought! “They’re definitely on to me”.
So I literally employed survival tactics. How can I get through this?
I knew the team were worse off than me because they were stuck in a hotel and I got to go home every day. So I motivated them with funny videos, donuts and a bright and breezy good morning each day.
When I stood up in front of a room full of strangers, I winged it. Every instinct was driving me to be defensive and I could feel myself battling this reaction but I stood there feeling vulnerable, anxious and sick, simply being honest about what I did and didn’t know. When it got too much, I tactically escaped to the loo.
So why am I telling you this?
I guess what I learnt at the time was that when we are vulnerable, as awful as that experience is, people relate to us and it breaks down those invisible barriers that we all use to protect our persona. But it goes deeper than that.
Since I started practicing mindfulness, I can see that these circumstances impact us so deeply, because quite often we attach our sense of self worth to how we perform. When we are self assured and can take a step back, we are able to act with discernment and honesty without being driven by our emotions. So mindfulness can provide insight and can lead to powerful improvements in our emotional intelligence. However, this takes practice.
So the ability to reset ourselves can be really useful as without this awareness, stressful events have a habit of building up and can wear down our emotional resilience. So my mindfulness tip is to use a 3 minute breathing space practice. It involves just taking a moment to become aware of our thoughts and emotions before gently focusing our attention on the movement of the breath in and out of the body.
If you would like access to a guided practice, I’ll be adding this to Instagram TV over the next few days, so if you want to learn more please do follow me at @justbreathe.solutions.