Have you ever woken up one morning and thought to yourself “This just isn’t working….” Maybe it is how you are approaching a problem at work. It might be a situation with one of your children or a pleasurable hobby that isn’t fun anymore. Maybe your colleagues, friends or partner are noticing you just don’t seem as happy as you use to be. So what can you do? Here are five steps to reboot your brain:
- Do a reality check: First step is awareness of your situation. This might start with a comment from someone noticing you seem down. Or maybe you don’t want to go do that hobby you have loved for years. You might find yourself showing up late for appointments or not returning phone calls. These are the warning signs that indicate a change in your life may be necessary.
- Do some research. Is there some truth in the comment your friend made? When did you or your colleagues notice the change in you? Has this situation ever happened before in your life? What did you do then?
- Brainstorm with others. We may think we are unique in our growing pains, but most likely someone you know has gone through the something similar. Ask those you respect if they have ever been in the same situation and how did they handle it?
- Check in with your thoughts. We all have patterns of thinking that do not serve us. This might be “all or nothing” type of thinking. Either you have to do something perfect or not at all. It might be negative self talk fueling your behavior. Journaling helps me and a lot of my clients in this step.
- Take one small step. Many people realize they need to change but then expect themselves to do it over night. Change is a process and a journey. It starts with one small step which might feel like going backwards but is necessary.
Here are a few of my own examples.
Many years ago I was working as Director of Development for a software company managing people and projects internationally. I started noticing that I enjoyed finding out what motivated people and how to help them do their jobs better. I wanted to read books on psychology and not software. I started talking to anyone I knew who had made a career change and researched educational opportunities to help me explore different fields of study. Many of my thoughts were negative. How could I leave such an excellent job and become a therapist? What about income? I took one small step by signing up for a class in developmental psychology at a local university. I found I loved it and then created a plan for change.
Another example happened this past year. Just about a year ago I bought a beautiful horse named Ginger. We had been training all winter and competed in our first show in May. It went so well I just couldn’t be happier. A few weeks later we started having problems. The problems got worse and I became really dejected, as did Ginger. Riding became a chore. My negative self talk kicked in along with my own all or nothing thinking. I could have wallowed in self pity for a long time but I was able to change gears because I knew my horse wasn’t happy. I started researching the issue we were having and talked to every person who had met Ginger and I. We asked a lot of questions: When did the issue start? What had changed with my horse (shoes, bit, training)? Did I change anything in my own workout? My trainers and I brainstormed ideas on how to go forward. I also followed the advice I frequently give my clients when their child has a sudden change in behavior and called the veterinarian to examine Ginger to rule out anything physical. It turns out that she had contracted Lyme Disease and that was making her achy and stiff. At the same time I had myself tested and I also had a co-infection from a tick! We both started treatment and had to go back to the basics in our training. It was a huge setback but it brought Ginger and I closer together. I am happy to report we both have recovered.
Below is a picture of us last month.
How do you reboot your brain? What steps do you take?
I would love to hear from you!