I am a planner. I think ahead, anticipate, organise and schedule. I write to do lists. I am not known for letting go of control or “going with the flow”. Consequently, I don’t handle last minute changes, interruptions to my timetable, or spontaneity in general, very well. However, recently I have been learning to stay centred; what my coach calls a “place of belief”. This is a lovely place where I see more and I hear more but have fewer distracting, anxiety-inducing thoughts. It is a relaxing and creative place in which time seems to stand still and control is less important. All I have to do is remember that it is available to me whenever I need it.
I have just returned from a holiday which taught me that letting go can be where the fun is. Eight days in Italy with my sister whom I was so looking forward to seeing. Only at my first breakfast with her, I find that it isn’t eight days because she and my husband wanted to do something very special for my significant birthday later in the year. Sis remembered that I like Formula 1 and I’d said more than once that the only Grand Prix I wanted to go to was Monaco. So, within 12 hours of arriving at my sister’s, I am presented with two (very expensive) tickets to the race and three nights in Nice, hotel booked, train tickets paid for.
I was overwhelmed, I felt confused and thoroughly undeserving. This change of plan was difficult to compute, train journeys to unfamiliar places, crowds and heat. I wasn’t prepared for this! I’d had no build up; no planning, no research, no humming and hawing about whether or not to go (I am certain I would have decided not to go). Plus it was too expensive. They shouldn’t have done it. A huge wave of emotion and anxiety swept over me…for just a second. I looked at the expressions of love and excitement in the faces around me, breathed and focussed on the fantastic adventure ahead. With grace I accepted this wonderful gift that the two of the people closest to me so wanted me to have and worked so hard to organise. Returning to my breakfast, I tried to take in the detail but it was all too much so I trusted that everything was in hand and I could go into the detail later if I wanted to.
The trains presented another chapter in this life lesson
So, after two days at my sister’s, we went to La Spezia to catch a train to Genova from where we would travel to Nice. But the train was cancelled and we missed the connection to Nice. How did I respond? Not in the old Shirley way of grumpiness, tutting, swearing and general ggrrr but instead, a letting go of old responses with, “oh well, I have never been to Genova. We get another adventure while we wait for a later train”. We then had a fantastic time in Nice and our day in Monaco was really exciting. It was far too hot but hubbie and I had dressed to avoid sunburn. Yes, there were lots of people but I didn’t worry about the possibility of crowds and congestion, I just went with the flow.
“Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.” (Sylvia Clare)
Thank you to EasyJet for concluding this life lesson
On the flight home, the captain announced an hour’s delay to take-off and I responded with just a shrug. A shrug! A fellow passenger did all the things I used to do; she huffed and puffed and swore loudly. I was appalled at this image of my former self. I really didn’t like that version of me and I saw how futile and unhelpful that behaviour was to her and her fellow passengers. I am holding on to that image of me to remind me not to go back there if I can help it!
You may wonder how it is that I been able to become so sanguine. How can I have found letting go so easy? Well, in addition my coach introducing me to my place of belief, Chris, a tutor on my NLP course, put me onto this bit of dialogue. It is from the film ‘Bridge of Spies’ between the Mark Rylance character, Rudolf Abel, and Tom Hanks as James Donovan:
James Donovan: I have a mandate to serve you. Nobody else does. Quite frankly, everybody else has an interest in sending you to the electric chair.
Rudolf Abel: All right…
James Donovan: You don’t seem alarmed.
Rudolf Abel: it help?
That question “would it help?” has stuck with me as it reminds me that my reaction to a situation is a choice. I can choose to stress out, with all the behaviours that go with that, when things don’t go my way, or I can choose a “resourceful state” (in NLP language) which enables me to accept that it is what it is and respond more appropriately.
So, a trip of a lifetime to watch the fastest road race racing cars in the world has helped this control freak to slow down. I now accept that I can’t always be in control and that letting go of the steering wheel is where the fun starts (so long as the steering wheel is metaphorical!) Who knows? In time, I might even be given to more bouts of spontaneity…
To learn more about how coaching can help you to let go, contact me on 07990 514537, or email email@example.com.