A client of mine – let’s call her Josie –went through a very stressful situation at work last year. I don’t need to tell you what the situation is: I’m sure that just the words ‘very stressful situation’ will spark off a memory or an idea in your own mind.
Now you’ve got that experience in your mind, do you remember how you felt? Does it send a shiver down your spine or make you feel rather sick? Did the problematic situation spill over into other areas of your life? Were you fixated on it to the detriment of everything else?
Josie is a very ‘switched on’ self-aware individual. When I met up with her recently, she took out her notebook and turned to a page headed ‘What I learnt last year’.
She proceeded to take me through the points on her list, outlining both the negative and positive aspects of the situation. The positive aspects included the following:
I understand now that working in alignment with my values is more important to me than progression at any cost.
I can break down difficult situations into smaller chunks and just deal with them one at a time.
I feel better when I talk through my options and emotions with someone else rather than bottling them up.
I have learnt that I work best in a small team and am happiest when busy.
I have a family who support me, no matter what.
Through a difficult time, I have learnt that I am stronger and braver than I previously thought I was: I will use this knowledge to speak up earlier, should I ever be in a similar situation again.
Josie emphasised that she had found it difficult to notice these positives during the stressful experience – it was only a month or so after it concluded that she was able to reflect on it and record those feelings for future reference.
As Mr Rogers said:
‘In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.‘
I would add the words ‘and ourselves’ after ‘for each other’: we have as much to learn from hearing our own thoughts shared aloud as we do from hearing from another.
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: is there a past event which you can learn from? As you reflect on it, what insights can help you in the future?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you would like someone to help you learn from the past and plan for the future, why not email me to see how we can work together?