How Do You Face the Things That Knock You Over?

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Morsels of Change question to ponder:

How Do You Face the Things That Knock You Over?

A number of years ago a teacher told me that sometimes, when allergy season approaches, she gets acupuncture, and takes supplements, and only goes outside when there’s a low pollen count, and closes her windows, and does everything possible to reduce her allergy symptoms before they can take hold. Other years, she says, she doesn’t prepare at all, and ends up knocked over lying on the couch cuddling a box of Kleenex for a few weeks.

This time of year – late October – I always start thinking about seasonal affective disorder, and I’ve been thinking that my approach to it is similar to my teacher’s approach to allergies. Some years I do everything in my power to preempt being knocked over: as soon as September rolls around, I hook myself up with a therapist, a naturopathic doctor, vitamin Bs and Ds, a light therapy lamp, a journalling practice, regular outside exercise; I send notes to my loved ones outlining ways to help and ways not to help and what warning signs to look out for. And other years — I don’t do anything, and I end up sidelined on the couch.

[Side note: If you know someone who faces depression, seasonal or not, I highly recommend Therese Borchard’s posts 10 Things Not to Say to a Depressed Person, and 10 Things You Should Say to a Depressed Loved One.]

Just as my teacher couldn’t explain why some years she prepped gung-ho for allergy season, and other years she just let it devour her, I’m not sure why some years I choose approach A and some years I choose approach B.

I imagine that you can find something similar in your life: the thing that tends to knock you over, and the different ways you have of facing it. 

Perhaps you’re easily fatigued, and sometimes you are the Queen of Self-Care, the Guardian of Your Energy, and fatigue doesn’t stand a chance of knocking you down… and other times, you know you’re running yourself into the ground and you just go ahead and do it anyway.

Perhaps you get knocked over by burnout, and sometimes you approach the busy season with lots of support and “me-time” in place, and other times you just do it all and wind up exhausted and depleted.

Perhaps you get knocked over when you feel unsupported and isolated, and sometimes you gear up for tough times by finding a support group and a friend to phone and a coffee date, and other times you lie on the couch lonely and miserable.

And here’s the curious part for me: I’m actually not sure if one way is better than the other.

Perhaps sometimes we need to get sick, run out of energy, feel lonely and miserable. Perhaps sometimes we need to accept that we can’t control it all. Perhaps sometimes we need to surrender to what gets thrown our way. If we never do any of those things, are we human?

On the other hand, my whole line of work is geared around helping people discover the strategies and approaches that help balance out the bumps so that we have more resilience and are less likely to be knocked over. I see huge value in that approach too.

I think the piece we each need to explore is our own awareness of what knocks us over, our own awareness of the different ways we meet those situations, along with a friendly, open curiosity towards what we are choosing and what it is bringing into our lives.

Morsels of Change question to ponder:

How do you face the things that knock you over?

Laura McGrath, CPCC, is a Toronto-based co-active life coach who helps smart people to live from their hearts. Let's talk! You can subscribe to Ready for Change news to receive thoughtful notes on personal growth, and you can contact Laura to find out if coaching is right for you.