The Importance of Reflection In Difficult Moments

Reflecting on difficult moments

What would you do if you unexpectedly had to leave your house and were not be able to come back for three months? That is what happened to me. A quick decision to water my flowers before leaving the house for a concert with friends turned into multiple fractures in my ankle, surgery, and a knee scooter. 

As a coach who embraces a growth mindset, I often ask others what insights they took away from an experience and how they can use that learning. It seems like a simple question. It actually is not. Many times, I tried to answer that question and struggled. After taking some time to feel all the feelings and reflect, I am raising my awareness and processing the lessons I have learned and the importance of Reflection.

This article is sponsored by Neely Coaching

Practice positivity

A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to put more positivity into the world. This challenged me to be more aware of my thoughts and behaviors, reframe my language, and reset my mindset. It is not easy to be positive when facing challenges and yet it can make a huge difference in moving forward. 

One evening, my parents had gone out and I had been working in a guest room. I emerged to fix my dinner and rolled my eyes as I saw that my dad, a practical joker, had left one of his fake snakes on the floor in the living room. And then it moved…it was real. I was alone and on a knee scooter. I picked up my dog and grabbed my phone. After the snake was captured and relocated, I sent out a “what else can happen to me” text to friends. After some commiseration, one of my friends proposed a different viewpoint and shared that as a spirit animal, the snake is a symbol of transformation since they shed their skin. She offered it as a positive sign. And I took it!

How do you choose positivity, even when facing challenges?

Don’t forget joy

Sometimes joy finds us and sometimes we need to create it. If you are going to be on a knee scooter for a while, why not make it fun? I had some help from a friend who sent me bike handlebar streamers and a squeaky duck with a spinner while my dad added a horn. Sure, there were some “is she serious” looks when I was out in public (which I promptly ignored) but it felt good when an x-ray technician asked to take a photo of my scooter to share with a young person who had a recent injury and needed encouragement.

Since I could not climb stairs, I moved into my parent’s house. What I will take away are the little things – how excited my dog and parents were to see each other each morning, how my parents tried cauliflower rice (they gave it a thumbs down) and cauliflower crust pizza (it got a thumbs up), and time spent together doing puzzles, watching the game show network, and having dinner together. Sometimes we need to be intentional about noticing the joy around us.

How can you make a conscious choice to have fun and encourage joy at work, home and everywhere in between? Are you missing “the little things” that bring you joy?

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It’s About Perspective

The view from a knee scooter is different. Living with a temporary disability, where you must be more thoughtful about physical environments, like navigating a restaurant or getting from the parking lot into a building, as well as how people look at you and treat you, was sometimes scary and frustrating. I gained even more respect for individuals who must deal with those tribulations regularly. 

There was a progression from soft cast to hard cast to boot to brace. The boot was big, clunky, and heavy. When I transferred to the brace, it literally felt like a weight had been lifted. It got me thinking about where else in my life have I placed myself in a boot when it could look different and feel lighter. 

How can you shift your perspective and look at your life in different ways? Where are you missing opportunities to show empathy and make someone else’s day brighter or easier?

Give people the opportunity to love on you

I started feeling comfortable and was not letting being on a scooter slow me down. One night before bed and right before my surgery, I cut a corner too fast and tipped my scooter, falling on my broken ankle that was in a soft cast. I had not cried or shown much emotion up to that point. I was “pushing through”. When my dad asked if I was okay from the other room, fear, vulnerability, and frustration all came out in a flood of tears sitting on the kitchen floor. Dealing with uncertainty is hard. Unexpected change is hard. Being vulnerable and asking for help is hard.

I was raised to believe that there is a blessing in serving others. A timely Sunday message drove it home in a different way when the speaker asked – why would you rob someone else of the privilege of service to others by not accepting their help and grace? 

How are you letting pride, feeling unworthy or weak, or being vulnerable stop you from letting others receive the blessing of being kind? 

Who says?

Why do we get stuck in “should” s? I should be this way. I should do it this way. My life should look like this. There is more than one way. And guess what – you get to decide what that looks like for you. There were many moments of angst that I experienced getting caught up in the “should” s – I should be climbing stairs by now. I should be working harder on my business instead of taking time off to recover, I should always be positive, I should be more social instead of taking time for me. When I hear my clients use “should”, I ask them – who says? So, I started asking myself.

How can you notice when should’s are running your life?

Let your (control) freak flag fly

I was facilitating a workshop where I had asked the group to break into smaller groups and talk about something that recently happened to them while the others practiced listening and then shared what they learned about the speaker. I talked for only three minutes. When I asked what they learned, they laughed and said, “you are a recovering control freak like us”. My accident forced me to focus on one day at a time and understand that I can have a plan and I need to be flexible with that plan.

I have shown myself more grace when I cannot get everything I wanted to done. I’m more aware, not only that I need to say no, but also of what I want to say no to and I’m identifying my boundaries. I’m a work in progress.  

Where do you need to be more patient and flexible in your life? What opportunities are you missing to say no or set a boundary?

Unlearn what you learned

I recently had a Yoda moment at physical therapy when my therapist was explaining that the casts and boot I had worn were designed to create stability to help my bones heal and physical therapy is designed to unlearn those habits. This meant becoming confident in putting weight on the ankle that was broken, relearning how to go up and down stairs, and re-strengthening muscles and joints. Often my therapist will remind me to trust my ankle. What I hear when she says that is ‘trust yourself’.

What do you need to unlearn? How can you trust yourself more?

The day after Thanksgiving, I moved back into my house. It is the next chapter in my recovery. I continue to reflect, learn, and grow. The biggest lesson I was reminded of from my knee scooter is everyone is going through something. A lot of times we don’t even know. The actor Michael J Fox, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, once said, “It’s been a struggle but I’m happy. I say that because I hope on some level people can find happiness in spite of whatever they’re going through.” I’ll leave that right here for you. 

Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. 

reflecting oh difficult moments
Debby Neely
Debby Neely

Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. Their mission is to help you be the best you can be.

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