Living on Purpose: Half empty equals half full in Eagle County
Eagle County CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” My client, Margaret, has struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for two years. She is frequently tired and frustrated with the lack of understanding from the people around her.
“Can’t you just get more rest and feel better?” people ask. As Margaret explains, the amount of rest isn’t the only factor. Even a normal-paced day can result in her feeling completely wiped out.
Some of Margaret’s coaching homework had centered on learning about the causes, remedies, and strategies for living with this condition. She has joined support groups and conducted extensive research on the Internet and seen several doctors, specialists and eastern medical practitioners. If effort had anything to do with how healthy she felt, she would have been an Olympic athlete. And yet, the symptoms remained.
Through many of our sessions, Margaret had expressed frustration.
“I’m always tired,” she said. “I’m no longer able to enjoy the things I like to do.”
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During this particular session, she began by expressing her frustrations.
“I’m more tired today than usual but it’s a blessing in disguise,” she said.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“I’m supposed to go to a meeting this afternoon, but I’m not feeling up to it. It’s a relief because I really didn’t want to go and now I don’t have to feel guilty.”
“I wonder if sometimes I’m tired because I can’t say no. Maybe it’s my body’s way of saying ‘no’ for me.”
“I believe in a mind-body connection and that makes sense,” I said. “What if over the next two weeks, you monitor how often you want to say ‘no,’ but don’t, and when you don’t say ‘no,’ notice if your body says ‘no’ for you?”
“That would be interesting to know. I’ll watch over the next two weeks,” Margaret said.
“I also noticed that you began with a complaint ” being really tired ” and immediately followed it with a benefit: not having to attend the meeting. Let’s write down your complaints and come up with at least one benefit for each.”
“I’m not sure how I’ll turn being completely useless unless I get 10 hours of sleep every night into a benefit, but I’m willing to try,” Margaret said.
“Let’s start with that one. What are the benefits of needing 10 hours of sleep every night?” I asked.
She paused, thinking.
“At least I don’t need 11 or 12,” she said. “If so, half of my day would be spent sleeping. Over a week, the additional two hours a night would add up to 14 additional hours of sleep. That’s like losing an entire day for me. So the good thing about needing 10 hours a day is that it’s better than needing 12 hours a day.”
“So even though you had a complaint, there is some good that comes from it,” I said.
Margaret said. “It’s easy to focus on the negative and see the glass as half-empty.
This is like switching perspectives and seeing the glass half full. Nothing really changed except my perception.”
We created “half-full” perspectives for her other complaints, which took some creativity and humor. She also created a standard benefit to use with any complaint, in case she couldn’t come up with one.
“If I can’t think of a ‘half-full’ benefit, I’ll use my standard, ‘Could be worse; could be raining,’ which is a line from one of my favorite movies, ‘Young Frankenstein.’ It’s during the scene when Igor meets Dr. Frankenstein at the train station and says that line moments before it begins to pour. I laugh just thinking about it.”
“This should help you catch yourself when you begin focusing on the negative and switch to the positive. Have fun with it!”
Before she left, Margaret reviewed her homework assignments of monitoring the times she says “no” with her voice or with her body. And she agreed to list her complaints and accompanying half-full benefits.
She paused and said with a smile on her face, “I’d complain about the amount of homework I have, but then I’d have to come up with a half-full statement.”
Coaching Challenge: Monitor your thoughts and words this week. Any time you complain, immediately say the words, “The good thing is that ____” and fill in the blank. This may help to shift your perspective.
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.