How to ride life to your advantage

why does life feel so scary_

I’m not a fan of rollercoasters.  That slow crescendo to the top, that gut-out-your-mouth rapid descent, repeated several terrifying times is not how I choose to seek thrills.

My kids love them, and while I’ll gladly roll down dunes getting sand in my knickers, I can’t do a rollercoaster.  More than happy to hold bags and catch vomit.

Yet, I know from my own experience and from people I’m coaching, that many of us are experiencing that rollercoaster feeling (on a daily basis sometimes) these last few months. While this can feel stressful, it’s actually normal for life to feel like this.

People often think their lives are driven by emotions and thoughts, believing they’re abnormal if life isn’t a constant even keel.

Even if we learn that we can manage emotions and thoughts in a way that doesn’t have us screaming in terror, rollercoaster jowls flapping in the G-force, and that a less chaotic way of lurching from drama to drama is a better way to live, life still comes in waves. It just does. Like grey roots during a global lockdown.

Yet we feel a failure if life isn’t a flatline. But what medical insight I’ve gleaned from 11 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy is that a flatline represents death.

With all this talk of ‘new normal’ as lockdown is eased, we forget that the ‘old normal’ wasn’t actually normal at all. We’re not meant to work at warp speed, so run ragged juggling work, family and home that we can’t draw breath. It’s far more normal to have periods of advance, retreat and pause. 

The goal of living well is not that there are no ups and downs, but that we ride them to our advantage.

After an initial flurry of frantic lockdown lunacy – where I carried on my usual pace of work, took on home-schooling 3 kids, heaped on business-pivoting strategising, while absorbing the general low-level anxiety that’s as virulent as the virus at the moment – without taking stock, I hit a slump. 

Thankfully, it’s in the slump, not the uber-uphill manic-ness that we catch our breath.

I recently had to make what felt like a stressful decision to reduce business visibility to ‘pivot’ and create something more adaptable to this changing environment that I’ll launch in September. It feels stressful because of all the ‘should’s’ buzzing round my head like pesky flies. It means #Holding Firm to use this opportunity to pause, even step back, reassess, re-energise myself and come back blaring… rollercoaster jowls flapping in the G-Force (pilates notwithstanding).

I’m also taking advantage to slow down in other areas of life too because I know there’ll be plenty of manic times ahead. That extra morning hour in bed because there’s no school can be spent in a myriad of manners. Those ‘should’s’ (journalling? yoga? prepping the slow cooker?) harass me before my eyes have even opened, but I’m learning to swat them away because sometimes it’s ok to use that extra hour in bed to do nothing.

The rollercoaster of life can terrify us. Or we can use it to live a wide array of paces and spaces to create or curl up, be motivated or be mulling over, scream or be silent, push forward or pull back, switch on or switch off, because the key to life is not an even keel; the key to life is respecting where you are at this moment.

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