Sometimes all is takes is one plane ride to have a complete and utter nervous breakdown. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. You are alone with yourself and the fact that you have to confront the brutal facts of your current reality. There is a saying that I have been preaching for years when my clients come to me with crisis. “Every time there is a breakdown, there is a breakthrough waiting on the other end.” Reality bites when you are faced with taking your own coaching! Two weeks ago I was getting ready to board a plane to Syracuse for the MPS Annual Enhancement Retreat. One hundred of our members shut down their law firms for four days to come and invest in creating their futures. I was so pumped to be part of such an amazing community.
At the gate, while reviewing the agenda for the retreat, I was thinking of the breakthroughs that were going to occur in the room, was excited for the clarity that was to occur and how each attendee was going to make 2012 their best year yet! Then my cell rings and it is my husband. “I’ve been layed off”, he says. “Oh yeah, no severance pay.”
I literally walked onto the plane in a total fog. I sat in my seat and for the next 1 hour and 20 minutes had a total nervous breakdown. The poor businessman next to me was frozen in fear as I bawled my eyes out. I was in a whirlwind of panic about all the “what if”, “how are we doing to”, “what about insurance”, etc. Stuck alone with myself, with no access to the internet or my cell phone, I just let every ounce of it flow. The ugly, messy 80 minute mess of it all. No holding back. I then deplaned in O’Hare and proceeded to the gate for my connecting flight to Syracuse.
I sat at the gate, waiting for my connecting flight, and honestly just sat there. The ‘analysis paralysis’ of trying to solve it all and come up with a “Plan B” manic fest was done. By letting it all out, every ounce of emotion, worry, panic and anger, I let it go and was now empty. With all the “mess” removed, I could just ‘be’ in a place of quiet calmness with myself. A place necessary to refill myself after an experience that left me so emotionally raw I had no business interacting with anyone else at that point in time. I was in a place of such quiet and focus that after sometime I got up and asked the gate agent “what time is the Syracuse flight taking off?” She replied. “Ummm…20 minutes ago. Where were you?” I pointed at the chair I’d been sitting in 10 feet away. I was issued a boarding pass for the next flight, three hours later. I sat back down and continued to sit in much needed silence. I finally arriving in Syracuse at 1 am and collapsed in my bed.
The next morning I awoke, entered the room with one hundred attendees, complete awake and engaged. And our team delivered a powerful retreat, making a difference in our attendees’ lives.
So often we receive devastating news and continue on the hamster wheel without allowing ourselves the time and permission to deal with it. Unfortunately, as we all know, that pent up emotion is going to come out at some point. If we don’t let it out intentionally, and in a protected place where it doesn’t ‘land’ on others it is going to come out at some point – typically at the most inappropriate time, in the most unprofessional way, and sometimes on the most undeserving person.
Without the willingness to sit in my own soup for one hour and twenty minutes and allow every emotion to completely and powerfully flood through me I wouldn’t have been able to just BE with it in O’Hare. Ultimately this allowed me to wake up the next day and move on to the next phase which is a breakthrough.
We all want to go from the crisis immediately to the breakthrough. Not possible folks without sitting in the mess and letting it all out so that you can think clearly and calmly. The first key is to not give in to that knee jerk reaction to flee. (We often ‘flee’ into being really busy so we don’t have to deal and fully ‘feel’ what is happening to us.) The second key is to not make any decisions during the nervous breakdown. This isn’t the time for decisions or solutions. It’s time to free yourself of the emotions raging through you.
2. Just BE
3. Awake to the breakthrough
It’s really that simple and really profound. Without the breakdown I wouldn’t have been able to show up for 100 of my clients, be totally be present and kick butt. I would have been trying to hide the anxiety and panic. Following this formula is a way of quieting ourselves to release the panic of it all. Then, and only then, can you faithfully strap your boots on and get back to the land of the living. If you aren’t allowed to hit your bottom, there is no rebirth and growth. We must be willing to “go into the dark” so you can come out richer on the other side.
I saw this quote today and it pretty much drives it home. “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” At the end of the day, belief is the biggest piece of certainty. But there is no path to belief if you’re not willing to breakdown first.
If you are struggling with or hiding from any breakdowns you’ve been avoiding (firing, hiring, getting out of the muck of inconsistent business, referrals or cash flow) email firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary diagnostic to see where we may support you. Here’s to having your own personal breakdown. We look forward to navigating you through the process.
Champions of your continued success,
Molly and Laney