Learning to adjust your sails...
By Court McCulloch
‘She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.’
- Elizabeth Edwards
From before I was born, my life was filled with challenges.
I was born dying from a rare blood incompatibility with my mum. My appendix ruptured due to the fault of a doctor at age three. There’s been so many times I can’t remember a day without abdominal or hip pain. I’ve felt frustrated and insecure and constantly covered in eczema.
I remember standing in the bathroom with my head against the door, unable to remember a day when I wasn’t in pain. I was in my final year of school - but I had barely been there.
I’ve felt like every single day is a challenge, and like every single year brings another health problem.
Last year, we went to England for the summer. After what seemed like a typical irritable bowel syndrome flare, I became really unwell. Severe stabbing chest pain, whole abdominal pain, exhaustion, constant nausea… and many months and tests later, a diagnosis of the chronic pain disorder Fibromyalgia.
And then last week, an ultrasound to check on some abdominal pain found a cyst with an endometrium cell in it.
But despite it all, I believe I’m lucky.
I have the most supportive and loving family you could have. My brother stood beside my humicrib in neo-natal care and sung to me. My mum who is always by my side whenever I need her. My dad who is always able to put a smile on my face and laugh at it all. And I have a boyfriend who will stand by me through it all.
It’s led me to health and wellbeing and to fall in love with looking after myself. It’s taught me about nutrition, exercise and self-care practices. It’s been able to steer me into a career where I can help others.
And it’s made me aware of other people. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of medical problems. But there are so many people in worse situations. When there’s cancers, conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and Progeria, and so many other genuinely hard experiences, it puts things in perspective.
I won’t lie. There are days where I just want to cry… and it’s even taken a few tears to write this. When I’m frustrated and angry at the universe for not giving me a break. When I’m exhausted from smiling through constant pain. When I feel like I couldn’t look after myself more… yet I still face more and more challenges.
What hurts me the most is that I’ve been in so much pain that the thought that being dead would be better has crossed my mind.
In those moments where I want to ignore reality and crawl into bed, I’ve learnt to give myself a little pep talk and remind myself that it’s just a challenge that’s designed to help me grow that little bit more.
When I’m trying not to cry, when I just want to give up, I need to remind myself that I’m strong enough and capable enough to face whatever is thrown my way.
We all have things that impact us. Whether it’s health, finances, relationships, work… and everything else, we face adversity in so many parts of our lives. But we’re never really taught HOW to face those things head on and with resilience.
So… here’s what I turn to:
I stop making myself the victim.
It sounds harsh… but it’s THE most important step to building resilience and facing a challenge head on.
The minute that we allow ourselves to believe we’re a victim is the minute we let a situation get on top of us - we lose all our power to be resilient.
It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves and not face the challenge. But we need to give ourselves time to process, and then choose to not let it define us, and to take control.
I look at where I can tackle the situation head on.
The number one tool I have taken from being a life coach is looking at where I am now, where I want to be and the steps I need to take to get there.
We can’t tackle a challenge without knowing what we have to do to tackle it – it’s impossible.
Look at the situation as if it were happening to your best friend. What would you say to them? How would you recommend they change the situation? What actions would you tell them to take to get their dream outcome?
Now go about smashing those actions!
I remind myself why I can overcome it.
Reminding myself of WHY I can overcome a situation is one of the most important things I can do.
It can be so easy to feel hurt, alone, defeated and with a strong need to crawl into a cave. But we forget just how strong we are. And we forget that we are capable of facing whatever situation we're in.
Whatever that negative inner voice is telling me, I write down in a list. And next to it? All the reasons why those things aren't true.
I am alone - I have a beautiful set of family and friends who will always be there for me.
This is so unfair - I am a strong and positive person and I will remain optimistic.
I will always have something wrong - I have the determination to beat this.
Practising gratitude and appreciation for why you can move forward is the most grounding, optimistic and resilient thing you can do.
I envision myself where I want to be.
By dwelling on negatives, you attract negativity. If you continue to complain about your situation, it’s never going to be fixed. By focusing instead of how you want the situation to be and feel, you’re attracting a positive outcome instead.
I love using time where I’d normally ‘zone out’, like in the shower, or instead of looking at my phone first thing in the morning, I like to envision how I WANT to feel and what my ideal situation LOOKS like.
If it’s journaling about your ideal situation, if it’s envisioning, if it’s creating a manifestation board… work out what helps you focus on the positive future, not the ‘negative now’.
BY COURTENAY MCCULLOCH
Founder of Thrive Collective, activewear-wearing, brunch-loving, dog-obsessed girl on a mission to help all women realise their real potential and start living a life where they thrive in every moment.