Living on Purpose: Release worry, Eagle County
Eagle County CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado “-For the past two months, Tyler expressed growing concern about his job security. Although he had been with the company for eight years, the industry and the economy were shifting.
Tyler began our session with, “Today we got news that one of the industry leaders in a similar market went out of business. The economy is changing and if you don’t change, you lose,” Tyler said. “I’m worried I might lose my job.”
“What else are you worried about?” I asked.
“There are several things that I worry about. Our retirement accounts are plummeting. I seem to be arguing with my wife more often, and our daughter, Jane, is having trouble in school. And that’s only the beginning; there are a lot of things I worry about.”
“Give me three words that describe how you feel,” I said.
“Surrounded, claustrophobic, and overwhelmed,” Tyler responded.
“When was the last time you felt surrounded, claustrophobic and overwhelmed?” I asked.
Tyler paused and said, “The last time I felt this way was last weekend. We were decorating for Jasmine’s 6th birthday party and I was in charge of blowing up the helium balloons. I was having so much fun that before I knew it, I had blown up 50 balloons and was completely surrounded. They were everywhere!”
“This is a great metaphor. Let’s play with it. How do the balloons relate to what you are worried about?” I asked.
He thought deeper to draw connections between his worries and the balloons. One of the most effective tools in life coaching is to create a metaphor to symbolize the problem and brainstorm solutions.
“I was surrounded by the balloons, just like I feel surrounded by my worries!” he continued. “Each of the balloons represents one of the things I am worried about ” my job, my family, and our finances,” he said. “I could go on and on there are so many things I worry about.”
“When you found yourself overwhelmed by the balloons, what did you do?” I asked.
“I quit blowing up balloons and walked out of the room,” he said. “The separation was good. I could still see the balloons, but I wasn’t surrounded by them. Maybe I could do the same thing with my worries.”
“If you take a step back from the mass of balloons, maybe you can see that you are separate from them and that each balloon is separate from the others. It’s not one big mass of balloons,” I continued. “If each balloon represents a worry, how can you get rid of some of the balloons?”
“After the party, we sent some of the balloons home with other kids, we kept some for Jasmine and then popped the rest,” he said.
“Which balloons or worries could you pop or get rid of?”
“Some of the things I worry about I have no control over, like the national economy and what will happen at work. I could pop those balloons.”
“What about the ones you do have influence over?” I asked.
“I can’t tackle them all, but I know which ones are most important ” my family and my finances,” he said.
For each area of importance where Tyler had influence, we brainstormed action steps, complete with deadlines and accountability. This helped Tyler gain a sense of control.
His attitude had shifted significantly during our session. My sense was that as he took these steps and felt more in control, he could more easily handle worries as they popped up.
We would see in our next appointment. No need to worry about that now.
Coaching Challenge: If you feel worried, use the balloon metaphor described above. Each of your worries is represented by a helium balloon. Notice how surrounded you feel by the things you are worried about. Step back and separate yourself from the balloons. Notice that the balloons are separate and that there is a lot of your life outside of the balloons. Separate the balloons (worries) into things you can and can’t control. Release the ones you cannot control. Prioritize the ones you can and create action steps to move you forward.
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. If you have topic suggestions, e-mail or comment on Sheri’s blog. Sheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.