The #1 Way To Get “Unstuck” And Shift Into Forward Action
Last week I started a coaching session with a client by asking Bill (not his real name) how he was doing. He said, “fine” with a tone that told me otherwise. When I challenged Bill he responded, “you’re right, I’m frustrated, irritable and having bouts of uncontrollable rage”. Then, with a chuckle, he tried to make light of his coping strategies of “driving like a maniac (140 km.hr) to meetings” and his plan to drink 40 oz of whiskey on the weekend (instead of his usual 26 oz). It was clear. Bill was stuck in a downward spiral of self-sabotage that was putting him, his business and others at risk. He needed to switch out of his destructive pattern and back into his constructive patterns again. Bill even knew he was in a downward spiral, he felt out of control and he didn’t know how to switch back again.
How many times has this been you? How much time, energy and money have you wasted being stuck? How many relationship or partnerships have you damaged? How many times have you realized you’re in a downward spiral and you don’t know how to get out?
Getting unstuck is a skill we can learn like any other. First we need to recognize the pattern, know what to do when it happens and then apply the skill. And, just like learning yoga or golf, it’s easier and more effective the more we practice. In order to help Bill get “unstuck”, I introduced him to the “switching model”.
The Switching Model:
Original Source Of Model: Personal Best Seminars
Understanding The Switching Model:
The Downward Spiral:
Everything starts with an EVENT. The downward spiral is triggered when we resist the event. Our resistance leads to an automatic negative emotional reaction. This reaction is based on some limiting beliefs we hold (whether or not we are conscious of them). We react with some automatic behavior (ie. defensiveness, anger, confrontation, drinking) that leave us feeling worse. The downward spiral has begun. We feel stressed, irritable and out of control. This downward spiral is our self-sabotaging pattern in action.
This spiral typically keeps spinning and we can sabotage our selves for days, weeks and months. This spiral keeps looping around and down until the negative feelings eventually dissipate over time. Meanwhile, we feel miserable, we lose sleep, we over eat, we over-react to people (damaging relationships) and we often use vices as coping mechanisms. A lot of time, money and energy is wasted while reinforcing the limiting beliefs that started the cycle in the first place.
Getting unstuck requires us to return to the event. The key now is to see the event merely as words or actions with no meaning attached (ie. not our judgement or the meaning we assumed). When we do this, we can see the event as being neutral. We can accept the event for merely being an event, with no meaning attached and we can initiate our constructive behavior patterns again. It’s important to remember that we may not always be able to control the events around us, but we can always choose how we respond to them. Once we shift ourselves back into a positive place of choice, we feel in control, confident and calm. We resume being productive and constructive.
Once Bill reframed his interpretation of the events upsetting him, he reaped the benefits immediately. His rage and frustration dissipated, his creativity opened up and we created a plan together for how he would approach an important meeting that afternoon. In a follow up call, Bill felt excited for hosting a successful meeting, he had not received any speeding tickets and he enjoyed his weekend with his family.
We all have an amazing ability to choose how we view events around us and choose how we let them affect us, destructively or constructively. A key role of a professional coach is to help people develop mastery over the ability to apply choice. When we apply the power of choice, the average destructive to constructive cycle-time shifts from days to minutes or even moments. Less time, energy and money is wasted and the positive impact can be huge!
Laura Watson, ACC, MSW is President of Venture Coaching Inc., and was a finalist for the 2010 Canadian Coach of the Year Award. Venture Coaching provides leadership and business coaching programs to entrepreneurs so they can create success on purpose! Venture Coaching provides the tools, process and support to accelerate your business and personal growth.