I’ve owned one yo-yo in my life; it was bright orange and on one side it had a sticker of Donny Osmond. I think I was about ten years old when I bought it, with my pocket money.
Having not thought about it for decades, that yo-yo has been on my mind a lot lately because that’s just how my feelings and confidence levels have been behaving these past few “lockdown” weeks – like an overactive yo-yo … up, down and then spiralling unexpectedly sideways.
It’s entirely normal to be feeling something, all of the time, even if we don’t consciously notice those feelings.
At the moment, my feelings are knocking me sideways and I am noticing them more keenly and more often than usual – on the one hand feeling concerned, fed up, unproductive, like I’m wasting time. I’m also feeling very grateful to be healthy, safe, cocooned in a spacious house with a beautiful garden – I have a lot for which to be thankful.
But it’s like someone turned the volume up on everything I feel, without asking my permission first!
The situation in relation to Covid-19 and the reality of living with lockdown and physical distancing may be bringing up feelings that you’re not used to; perhaps you sometimes get caught up in how you feel and you struggle to move forward.
So what can you do?
1. Get into the habit of consciously noticing what you’re feeling.
The reason you know you’re feeling something is because you can physically sense it, but how often do you stop in that moment and really pay attention to that physical sensation? What do you notice? Where in your body is that feeling – your heart? Your gut? What’s actually happening? Describe what’s going on.
2. Give that feeling a name – it is part of you, after all.
Give it a voice and a language. Give it a shape and a colour! Bring it to life in whatever way will help you get familiar with that sensation. That way, you’ll probably recognise it much quicker the next time it comes along.
3. Ask yourself what that feeling is telling you.
Feelings are faster than thoughts and are important signals, alerting you to take notice of what’s happening for you in that very moment – they bring data and information. Your feelings may have been triggered by an emotional response to an event or a person but they come from within you and reflect something which may be very important to understand. You are telling yourself something and your body’s reaction is the first clue – what is it?
4. Choose how to respond to that feeling.
Yes – you can choose how to respond! From a place of insight and connection with that feeling, you can then decide how to act in response to what you are experiencing.
5. Be kind to yourself while you work out what’s happening.
Your feelings may be painful, confusing, annoying – perhaps the same unwanted feeling keeps showing up – and that’s okay as long as you don’t avoid or ignore it because in the long run that won’t work. Getting familiar with your feelings by learning more about why they are there, will support you to demystify them and understand what’s really going on inside.
6. Share how you feel with others to get support.
Sometimes just saying something out loud to another person can be a terrific first step towards understanding how you feel, so consider with whom you can share your feelings, be that friend, family member or someone independent like a coach or counsellor.
My yo-yo image won’t leave me and I don’t want it to; its a metaphor for how I feel and I know that if I were ever to try and push it away, I would be ignoring and avoiding a whole chunk of my life from which I can learn so much. If I don’t understand what’s going on for me, then how can I fully connect with others?
Feelings matter; how well do you connect with yours?
Siobhain Whitty is an ICF credentialed executive and career coach who supports people to navigate career changes and transitions, including the challenges of undertaking expat roles. Siobhain has over twenty years’ HR and line management experience working in complex, corporate environments in the UK and internationally, including senior / global HR roles. Her background is in International HR Operations and she has lived and worked in the UK, Philippines, Kazakhstan and Qatar.
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Supporting career change and transition, strengthening self-awareness, navigating challenges of expat roles.