Have you ever had a time when your life seemed to fall apart?
This is how I felt just a few weeks ago. Things went wrong in my life, particularly in my business.
My stress levels skyrocketed as I was forced to make hard decisions and give people bad news time and again. This caused sleepless nights as my mind reacted to the stress.
But, as a person who has dedicated a great chunk of his life to finding ways to combat stress through meditation and NLP, I also saw it as a fantastic opportunity to observe my mind and see if all of that work I’ve done has paid off.
Now – just to put things in perspective, nothing catastrophic happened! However, for over a week I received a steady stream of bad news that made it seem like everything was going wrong at once.
Setting the scene:
I had just finished my 13th retreat which had been successful. The only down side was that I had come away with a bad cold/flu that plagued me for the next 3 weeks.
The scheduled April retreat was about to crumble with the number of attendees dropping from an already low seventeen down to twelve in just one day. And, while a small retreat can be enjoyable, this one was booked and deposits paid for a minimum of thirty people. With just twelve attendees it was not financially viable for me to continue.
The decision of cancelling the retreat and having to call each attendee to advise them of the cancellation, and try to re-book them on other retreats, was devastating for me. I was letting people down.
The phone calls took a couple of days, but I eventually contacted every booked attendee with sincerest apologies, rebooked them into future retreats where possible, and notified the venue of the cancellation. But then, to add to my losses, the venue got back to me and to my horror notified me that the cost of the cancellation had tripled because it was within 14 days.
This meant I virtually had to pay for everyone anyway, even if we didn’t attend, so then I decided I might as well go ahead with the retreat. So after first disappointing them, I re-contacted the attendees to let them know the retreat would go ahead anyway, and at the same time did a lot of advertising to try and get last minute people.
The outcome was that only five of the original attendees were able to attend, as most had made other plans. With the last minute advertising I managed to increase this to ten. But as the days ticked by some of these also cancelled. Also, I was still sick myself, so with the low numbers and risk of spreading my sickness to others I cancelled once again – further disrupting peoples plans!
It felt like everything was falling to pieces.
The stress was often most pronounced at night. I’d lay awake coughing and stressing about what to do. But this was also for me the most interesting time as while part of my mind stressed, another part was very curious to observe what was going on. A chance like this does not come along often – for me at least.
For years during meditation sessions, I’d visualised remaining calm even in difficult situations and this time had finally come. So how did I cope? What did I learn? What worked? What didn’t?
1. The first observation for me was that the times of highest stress were at the points of greatest indecision. Once I accepted the situation, and made a decision, the stress reduced.
2. My second observation was that people reacted much more kindly than I expected when I explained my situation – if you were one of them, thank you.
3. I also observed that my planning and admin abilities aren’t great. I now have a new found admiration for other solo business operators who can keep everything together, and do everything themselves.
4. You might think that with so much meditation, my mind would be naturally calm – this is not true. Stress is a direct response to the thoughts you have – good and bad. What my practice has done, however, is given me a much greater ability to be mindful of what is going on in my mind, have more control over my thoughts.
5. Looking at the relativity of the problem helps a lot. No matter what happens, recognising there are always people who are worse off than you makes your own problems seem smaller.
6. In the same way, spending some time thinking of the positives you have in life is also effective. Be grateful for what you have.
7. But it can’t all be in your mind when you have to solve a problem – focussing on positive thoughts can only help so much. Action is required.
8. Taking a detached and curious view of my mind was a great help. Acknowledging that I had a rare opportunity to see my mind in an interesting predicament was itself a great remedy to stress.
9. As discussed earlier, once I settled on a choice (irrespective of how bad it was) the stress reduced a lot. (Of course you have to really accept a choice and not have second thoughts or ‘what if’s’ once you have made your choice)
10. And finally, my particular philosophical world view (that all good and bad is really a projection of my mind) also had a deep impact on my ability to be less affected by stress than I once was.
So my dark night of the soul (actually it was 10 days) ended and whilst I am left with a hefty financial loss – the stress is gone and it’s onward and looking forward to more success in the future. And in conclusion, I do believe that all that effort did help in a number of ways. It helped reduce the stress in the situation, it allowed me to observe my mind in greater detail and learn more and allowed me to bounce back faster after the difficult period was over.
I hope that you are enjoying success and that when your life does “fall apart”, my observations may be of some help to you in your difficult hours.
Your mind is your instrument – fine tune it and you will have harmony