Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Graphic_black_and_white.gif“Time for Change” focuses on different issues about the Disquiet. It’s like a coaching conversation in which I will work on a particular aspect and provide steps you can take to work with your own Disquiet. You can ask questions or share you experiences here in the comments below.

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This month’s article: In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Right before the accident, I had been thinking how great I had been doing! I was thinking back on how happy I was about running regularly, lifting weights and eating a balanced diet. I had never felt so good. Then my back went out. I spent the next 8 weeks walking around like an ancient crooked little man. Being so limited, I got used to lying around on the couch. And you can’t lie on the couch without eating ice cream – its a law of nature. I got used to take-out and comfort food. When my back healed, I was a different person! Gone was the love of moving and the discipline of regular exercise. It stayed that way for several years. It took a long time to get back in shape and it stopped being a pleasure. I had lots of relapses and it was a frustrating return to health. I remember the experience well. It was as if I was in a different body. And the routines and habits I had carefully developed felt like they belonged to someone else.

This is not a unique story. Has something like this happened to you? You have a set path of how you are going and something throws you off. Once off the path, did you find it really hard to get back on?

This is especially true when working with your Disquiet. If you have hung around me, you already know that the way I recommend you to work with your Disquiet is to engage it – learn what it has to tell you in terms of how your life might be out of alignment with your deepest values. Once you know that, you can ‘set a new course’. The sailing metaphor is helpful because you can use your Disquiet like a navigational tool. That can help you define a new way of seeing where you want to go and how you want to get there. The next step is ‘pack for the trip’. What new skills, resources and things to support you as you make this ‘journey’.

There is a critical piece in this that is missing from a lot of self-help or other coaching approaches. It deals with this question: What are the emergency provisions for the trip? You know, just like the first aid kit you take on a camping trip? What are the things you need to know, have or do that you can use in case you are knocked off course that will help you get back on course?

break_glass.jpg In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Recognize these fire alarms? In case of fire you break the glass and set off the alarm. You need something like that in your life for your journey with your Disquiet. What are the things you can do when you lose your way. This takes planning – now, when it’s calm and things are going reasonably well. When you are lost and confused it’s near impossible to generate an emergency plan.

Here are the steps for building your own emergency list that can get you back on the path. Think of it as something you can pull out in the midst of being dazed or confused. You might have no energy and feel too tired to go on. So it has to be almost like a to-do list to get you going in the right direction. Something you can follow and trust that if you do these things your sense of direction will come back on line.

Create a list based on these questions (there are examples following the list):

1. What are the things you do that when you do them, they remind you of the way you want to live and how you want to be in that life? (Hint: these are activities and actions that bring out the best in how you feel about yourself and what you are trying to do – examples below)

2. Who are the people who know the ‘best’ of you and can mirror that back to you?

3. What kind of support systems do you need?

4. What makes you feel solidly grounded and gives you meaning?

To give you a sense of what this calls for, let me share my emergency list’:

1. The things that remind me of me and the life I want: I know that if I get off my path, the first thing I need to do is get my but out into nature. It’s funny but I always remember who I am and what is important to me when I am in the woods, hiking near a lake or kayaking. Also, I need to get moving – walking and other exercise clears my mind, reduces stress and gets my pilot light going. I have regular practices of meditation and Tai Chi that make a huge difference. If those fall away, I feel rocky like something is not quite right. So I need to bring those back on a regular basis. It might sound funny to you, but going to a movie is a way of ‘remembering’ for me. I love the whole experience of going and seeing a movie. It relaxes me and sparks my creativity. I will describe it below, but getting back in touch with my loved ones and friends is another critical way of getting back.

2. The people who can help remind me of who I am and what I am up to: This is a critical piece because I have learned that I tend to ‘go underground’ when I am lost. I drop out of sight and burrow. So one of the first things on my list (I mean this literally) is to talk to my partner Leslie or call a friend. Getting back into relationship with the people who really really know me is vital. Through them I remember who I am. Also they are great sounding boards and will call me on my stuff.

3. Support systems: These are the management systems. Time management and outside help are the big ones. When I get lost, I usually need to look at how I manage my time. Often I have overcommitted myself. I have said ‘yes’ to too many projects and requests and gotten smothered. It often happens slowly and creeps up on me. It sometimes comes up like I have stopped breathing before I realize I am overwhelmed. Just as with a budget for money, I sit down with my calendar and really look at exchanges of activity – how much I am expending and how much am I replenishing? Usually I find that all the things (step 1) that I do that recharge me went out the window. Other things I look at: Gym memberships, yoga classes, the bike working for the rides in nature, etc. In other words all the things that support me.

4. What grounds me? My spiritual practice, walks with my dog, nature and writing. These also give my life meaning. Another important source of meaning is being involved with something bigger than me. It might be helping a poor family, volunteering, teaching, etc. Through the giving of myself to others, I get a greater perceptive. It’s almost like changing a camera lens to a wide angle view – there is greater perspective seeing the big picture. I can then see what threw me off my path in a different perspective. The things that are throwing me off course sometimes don’t seem so huge. And I don’t seem so small.

This has really helped me regain my footing when going through life. Especially when I have been working through a period of Disquiet. Consider this list a critical piece of equipment for your journey. I think it’s inevitable that we hit stormy weather and rough seas as we travel our lives. We don’t want to lose the great navigation system we have created from working with our Disquiet.

Take some time when all is well and calm to create your emergency list. Literally write it down and keep it in a place you know where you can find it. That way you always know you have it nearby when you are thrown way off course. You can reach out and grab this step-by-step list of how to get back on course. You will come to trust this list unlike anything else you have because you will know it’s the way back. Take it out and update it from time to time. You will find that as you grow and experience more, there will be new things to add and old things that no longer serve to remove.

Enjoy the process of creating this and knowing it is in a safe and accessible place to help you.

Here’s to safe travels!

P.S. Need help in learning what your Disquiet has to tell you? Now there is a way to get help – for free and in total privacy. Go to the link below to read about a free 6-day coaching course that will help you. Each day for 6 days you will receive an email with an
exercise that will guide you in learning how to mine the gold of
your Disquiet. You don’t have to struggle with this. Get help today. Go here.

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3 Responses to “In Case of Emergency Break Glass”

  1. Stuart Baker Says:

    Dave, I think you made a real good assessment, and a fine survival list.

    I think for me probably the one crucial item is talking to someone close who knows me and can be supportive while not supporting my “stuff”. Much seems to flow from this first important connection.

    Thanks for the post Dave.

    Stuart Baker

  2. Dave Schoof Says:

    You just defined what real friendship and support is – someone who doesn’t collude with our stories and victim mode but who is compassionate and still calls us on it. I call it ruthless compassion 🙂

  3. Sam kkc Says:

    You just tell the very useful way to protect ourselves and others in a dangerous situation.thanks for this.

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