With a little help from my friends
A friend of mine has been missing since 9th January. We don’t know why he left and hasn’t come back home. He is an ex-Royal Marine so whilst we have comfort in knowing he’s trained to be resourceful and can look after himself, the flip side means he knows how to stay off grid. Perhaps he just wants some time away and this might be why we’ve heard nothing from him for over two weeks now. There’s been no phone activity, nor bank cards used. Or, have we not heard from him because he needs help, because mentally he's not in a good place? For our own self-preservation, we are sticking with the former rather than the latter.
I am letting the search for him become all consuming; I am taking the lead with the Facebook charge and feel the need to thank everyone personally who is sharing my posts – and there are 100s who are kindly doing this. The method in my madness - if I thank these people and then need to post another update, I will have made a connection and they might feel compelled to further share.
Amongst many others, I’ve also been out searching in the town we know where he last was; I trudged the streets with my sister and eldest daughter, handing out flyers and chatting to people, again, making contacts to ensure his face is memorable. Time means memory fades. We can’t afford for that to happen.
Whilst it was uplifting that so many had already seen our appeal on Facebook, the fact we didn’t generate any leads was demoralising. We felt like we’d taken a hit and went home with a heavy heart.
During challenging times, it’s your mindset that will get you through and none more so than now. I am heavily relying on my mental resources to get me through this, because dissolving into tears means my brain is not in an open and resourceful state. For how can I come up with new ideas and generate leads, if all I feel is doom and gloom? It’s imperative that to find my friend and help him, if he needs it, we need to remain calm and think with a clear, rational mindset.
Don’t get me wrong, I have dissolved into tears a few times and that’s completely natural. I’m not for one minute suggesting that during tough times we must always remain stoic with a stiff upper lip. It’s OK not to be OK but it’s not OK to stay that way. When it feels like your ship is sinking, you need an emotional life buoy. Yes, support from family and friends is important but ultimately, you need it to come from you.
Five game-changing steps to becoming emotionally resilient
1. Know the warning signs
First and foremost, recognising when things are starting to feel off-kilter, is the start to becoming more emotionally resilient – you recognise when to head things off at the pass. You know you. You know when things start to feel too much, when you feel the world is on your shoulders, there’s never enough time in the day or that things begin to feel overwhelming. That’s when you take your foot off the gas and slow everything down. Give yourself some space and time to re-group and think about the nature of your thoughts about the situation.
2. Be conscious of your thinking
When you start feeling out of control, a helpful question to ask yourself is: ‘Why are you thinking like this?’ It helps to have that self-awareness and to go back to the root cause of your thoughts and feelings. Once you have acknowledged the nature of your thinking and processed the reason, you can think about replacing the negative thought which is not serving you well, with a much more helpful thought. Remember: the brain cannot think two thoughts at the same time so what could you be thinking which will move you forward? When we feel stuck and are frozen to the spot, unable to think clearly, I find a powerful question to help reframe my thinking is: ‘If I knew the answer, what would it be?’
3. MUMMS it
Make Up My Mind Slowly is a powerful Winning Edge tool to use when you feel bombarded by a question or request, or perhaps if you feel your mind spiralling out of control in a situation. We very often give a knee-jerk reaction and regret it later. Or we decide how we feel about our circumstances without reflecting and giving ourselves some time to assimilate. Instead, make a more informed decision. Saying ‘no’ is perfectly reasonable. If someone asks something of you and it doesn’t sit right with you or at that time you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to say ‘no’. If you’re worried about their response, one great way to put it to soften, is to say: ‘it isn’t against you, it’s for me’ – it’s an empowering stance to take.
I am covering the basics for work and my house is teetering on chaos. This has a ripple effect on my well-being as I work best with organisation and structure. Also, I am not emotionally present for my children. Whilst I can put work and life admin on hold for a certain period of time, and my children are very good at understanding the importance of the situation, something has to eventually give. So, I said I couldn’t dedicate today to the search. I do feel bad but my self-care needs to be a priority so that I’m able to continue to help effectively with the search efforts.
4. Celebrate the ‘wins’
Keep a Victory Log. It may sound a strange thing to do but noting all the ‘wins’ you achieve, means that when you feel at a low ebb and maybe think you’re disorganised and can’t ever keep a handle on anything, reading through your Victory Log will remind you this simply isn’t true.
In my situation right now, I am keeping a log of all the places and people we’re all contacting and when I feel like we’re treading water or that we’re not achieving anything, I read through all that we have done so far, many tasks which are saving Police time.
5. Tell yourself it is so and it will be
Affirmations are a powerful way to re-programme your neural pathways. Quite literally, you run your brain, rather than let it run you. This means being aware of your self-talk – the way you describe yourself to you and others. Affirmations repeated out loud to yourself daily – a kind of mantra if you will – will also help to build your self-esteem and resilience. During challenging times, keep reminding yourself how awesome you are, how resourceful and resilient. If people ask how you are, you say: ‘It’s challenging but I’m working through it. I know I can do this.” The opposite is demoralising and doesn’t serve you well. My daily mantra which is relevant in so many areas of my life, and which is on the necklace I wear daily, is that of Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well; all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
Sometimes, it is a case of ‘fake it til you make it’ and so you wait for your subconscious brain to catch up and make it a reality. Repeat the mantra until you reboot your mindset to believe in yourself. Again, hugely effective.
I can help
These five game-changing tips to being emotionally resilient can help you in so many facets of your life and if you keep practising them, you head emotional turmoil off at the pass.
Self-improvement is a work in progress and as the great Zig Ziglar once said: People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”