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What to do when everything goes wrong and fans are being hit

Resilience

Shit hit the fan recently in a few areas of my life. One thing piled on another until it all rolled itself up into a smoking heap of broken expectations and plans.

To kick off my pear shaped quarter with a clang, one of my main team members who I rely on heavily came down with a severe case of Covid.

She was – understandably – off work for 2 months with limited communication, and then, completely unexpectedly, after working for me for 5 years and having an awesome, supportive working relationship, she disappeared and I never heard from her again!

Wtf? As time went on, I became worried she’d died. Turns out she hadn’t.

All her jobs avalanched around me while I waited to hear back from my million messages asking if she was ok.

I then discovered that some of the big tasks she was meant to be keeping on top of monthly (including keeping our training procedures up to date) had not been done… since 2018!

Eventually I had to bite the bullet and accept that she had in fact disappeared without letting me know why. I suspect it might have been the shame of being discovered for procrastinating (for years!) on imperative tasks I’d trusted her with. 🤷‍♀️

All my other projects, business growth and inspiration got sidelined while I trained three new team members to take over, with no useful training procedures.

Hence why I’ve been pretty quiet lately on the ol blog! 😁

Meanwhile, I’d found myself in a very triggering, unpleasant living situation in my new place in Northern NSW and decided I needed to move out despite there being a housing crisis in the area and it being very bloody difficult to find places to live.

I told my landlord/ housemate we’d move out on the 21st July: the date Bloody Good Bloke and I were off to NZ for a month to see (and for BGB to meet) my beloved family for the first time in a year and a half, including a mini new addition to the family!

I flew back to Melbourne to surprise Bloody Good Bloke, then promptly fractured my foot playing soccer the next day.

Landed myself in a moon boot and crutches.

With my car up in NSW, I was pretty much home/ couch bound – apart from when BGB carried me around the house attached to him like a koala, which I took advantage of frequently.

Then NZ closed the travel bubble to NSW which meant that whilst we were stuck in freezing Melbourne — me still in a moon boot — my amazing friends in NSW had to move out for us and store all our stuff!

Triggers galore, I haaaate asking for favours! Big lessons were learnt. So grateful for my beautiful friends.

Then 3 Covid cases emerged in chilly Melbourne and a 5th lockdown was announced milliseconds later.

A smattering of hope remained, until the lockdown was extended again, (still in it) putting an end to the NZ family trip which I’d been looking forward to for so long.

What a shemozzle eh?

Externally, it seems as though a fair few things have been going wrong, and much shit has hit the fan — as it has for all of us over the past year and a half!

In the past I absolutely would have gone into “poor me” victim mode as the stresses and disappointments shunted into each other like a ten car pile up.

But despite my external world getting kicked around, I’ve felt spookily accepting of it all, and more grounded than I’ve felt in years.

A very long time ago, after being broken up with by an ex boyfriend (pre-BGBloke and BGChap) I wrote this blog post (How to handle your break up like a boss). In it I shared an analogy of thinking of your life as a house.

Imagine that your sense of self is a house. The external factors that make up your life (relationships, friends, family, work, money, etc) are the walls of your house; and your real ‘self’ is the pillar in the centre.

Two walls of my house (home and work) got partially blown up,

so then my ‘house’ only had a couple of walls fully standing – relationship/ friendships, and money.

In the past my house would have crumbled with those two key walls knocked out of balance.

But because I’d built up the internal column — my internal support structure — with plenty of concrete plus the skills I teach in the Bloody Good Life program, those two walls being kicked out didn’t bring the roof down.

I’ve certainly felt stressed, uncertain and triggered many times over the past few months.

As well as joyful, light and grateful.

I’ve come out of it relatively unscathed (apart from my foot!). I’m feeling grounded and strong in myself, rather than weighed down by the rubble of my partially-decimated house.

I’m very fortunate to have a loving relationship, friendships and family (from afar), enough money to weather unexpected Covid financial setbacks, and a sense of purpose and passion in my work — even when I’m ears-deep in admin and procedural bollocks!

But I’ve also (thank Ecky) built a lot of resilience through the unconventional mindfulness and self compassion practices that I practice regularly and teach to my clients.

(For more on how to build resilience, see: When life gives you a slap, would you rather be bamboo, or a dried old stick?)

The most important thing that’s helped me through the recent ups and downs (alongside incredible friends, family, and BGB), is something I learnt from my best mate, Eckhart Tolle.

In any situation, we have only three sane options:

Leave it. Change it. Accept it.

I wrote about how to practice this technique in detail here: How to accept something you can’t change when you’d really just rather punch something.

Leave the situation? In terms of the housemate situation, I chose this option.

In terms of the disappeared team member, the subsequently overwhelming workload, the need to drop all my other work and train new team members, the fractured foot, the lockdown, the cancelled NZ trip – I couldn’t leave any of it.

Change the situation? I changed the work pickle by raining new team members to help me get back on top of things in my business — and I now have three epic new team members who I’m sooo grateful for!

The rest: I couldn’t leave, and I couldn’t change.

Only one rational option was left:

Accept the situation exactly as it is.

Actually there’s always a fourth, irrational option, which our egos love to take:

Don’t leave, don’t change, don’t accept. Instead — complain and resist and fight until we whirl ourselves into an anxious/ frustrated mess over something we have no control over. Sounds like the definition of battiness to me.

So, acceptance it is!

This meant allowing the emotions that came with all the fuck ups, not trying to get rid of them.

I had to allow and feel a lot of uncomfortable things!

• The hurt and the confusion of my close team member letting me down.

• The frustration when her disappearance cost me months of time and stress.

• The pain of my fractured foot and the restlessness of being unable to exercise, get anywhere or to do anything easily.

• The stress of having to ask for so many favours of Bloody Good Bloke and friends.

• The anxiety of living in a very triggering home environment for months.

• The hope and subsequent bucket-over-the-head of disappointment when our trip to see family was tackled to the ground by Covid once more.

There have been plenty of emotions to “sit with” as floaty people (and now me) like to say!

— What if I wanted to stand with my emotions? Lie with them? Lean with them? Eh? —

If we try to avoid feeling the painful emotions that life brings us, we wind ourselves into a ball of anxiety and stress and resistance.

If we can try to pay attention to the difficult emotions as they arise — allowing them to be there without resistance or judgement — they mosey on by when they’re ready.

Often, they bugger off and leave us to it.

If there are things going wrong left, right and centre in your life:

Leave what you can.

Change what you can.

And all the while — even while making changes, or realising that you can’t —

Accept, accept, accept.

Pstt - enjoyed this blog post? Splendid news! If you fancy getting these snippets of self-deprecating radical honesty delivered freshly to your inbox moments(ish) after I take them out of the gluten free oven (every week or three-ish), subscribe over here.

I have an online workshop coming up (details TBC) called How to be Less of a Dick to Yourself (AKA Self Compassion for Sceptics)! I would love you to join us — It’s going to be bloody splendid! Click here to register your interest.

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