In a recent conversation I was struck by the power that analogy has to illustrate and clarify a point. I was inspired to recall the analogies I use in my coaching conversations and the gifts of Positive psychology.
You are on an aeroplane and the safety talk is underway, ‘In the case of an emergency put your own oxygen mask on before you help others’ In real life your oxygen mask is your self focus, your self-care, the amount of time you invest in yourself. An acronym for this attention is Spices – how well are you meeting your social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional, and spiritual needs? Taking part in our positive psychology courses is an excellent way to meet these needs. When our needs are met we feel happier and more content. At home, keeping a gratitude journal can help you to exercise your self focus muscle by tuning in to and connecting with the positive aspects of your life.
You are excited to be driving to Devon for a summer break but soon you realise that there is not enough fuel in the car to get you there. If you don’t stop to top up the fuel in your car you will eventually breakdown. In real life you may be firefighting; dealing with one crisis after another, looking after everyone else first while leaving yourself short of time for you. This may lead to burnout. Being pro-active with your own self care is like adding fuel to your tank. You will feel more satisfied with life and be able to live your life with ease. Fresh air Fridays offer free half hour sessions using specific tools that will give you breathing space, an opportunity to tune into your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. At home, use a stopwatch to monitor how many breaths you are taking for a minute. Practice slowing your breathing down to 7 breaths or less, making the out breath longer than your in breath. This will engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the incredible system which calms the fight/flight response in your body. Slowing your breathing down will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
You find yourself in the situation where you have very little money in your bank account, and you need to pay your monthly bills. You may still be able to make the payment, but there will be a huge cost in the form of overdraft charges. In real life you have relationships with others and with yourself; this is your emotional bank account. Investing in yourself and in your relationships is like making deposits into your bank account. This means that when there are challenging times your emotional bank account is not empty; it is in credit and withdrawals do not break the bank. Our free laughter sessions are one way to bring positive emotion and connection into your life, the equivalent of a huge deposit in your bank. Laughter encourages social bonds, improves your immune system and increases the rush of happy hormones coursing through your body. At home, practicing random acts of kindness, expressing gratitude and showing appreciation will improve your connection with yourself and with others.
As I take my clients for a walk out in nature, either individually or in a group, the changing cycle of nature is there to remind us all that there is a season for everything. It shows how the cycle of transition mirrors our own life, it is confirmation that change is inevitable and valid. Spring and winter are the beginning and end of the seasonal cycle and align with the ‘letting go’ of one thing and giving ‘birth’ to another. Summer represents the ‘growth’ period while Autumn signifies that completion is near and it is time to ‘take stock’. We can resist change or grow with it. Being self-interested, maintaining our focus, investing in our development and accepting the inevitability of change are key to a flourishing life, a life worth living.