Whether it's personal or professional life, curveballs are a given. Unexpected experiences, places, and relational shifts are a near constant fixture in some aspect of your life. When too many aspects are shifting at the same time or there seems to be a curveball everywhere you turn, chronic overwhelm can set in. Part of breaking the chronic overwhelm cycle that costs you health, relationships, and money will involve being intentional about facing curveballs.
Over the next few weeks, we'll explore what I consider to be 5 key practices that can help you face curveballs in nervous-system friendly ways:
1. Information gathering and triaging: when something unexpected happens in your personal or professional lives, it's natural to focus on how unexpected and disorienting it can be. In order to find your grounding again, it's vital to gather more information about the context, the players, and the potential impact of this particular shift. That goes for the outside situation, as well as your inside experience of it to understand how your nervous system is responding to the unexpected.
2. Consistent nourishment: curveballs can leave your nervous system in a bit of a state of whiplash, which makes it easier to default to coping responses. Sometimes, those coping responds can default to feast/famine cycles of restricting or bingeing on behaviours that once served to protect you and can now cause you harm. Rather than judge yourself or your nervous system for this protective response, you can be intentional about breaking that pattern through consistent nourishment.
3. "Work smart and play always" Approach: recently, I stumbled upon a Simon Sinek video where he talked about how unsustainable a "work hard and play hard" approach is. Instead, he invited viewers to prioritize strategy around work and the importance of play. Considering that play is the biochemical opposite of trauma, this made my trauma-sensitive and healing-informed senses tingle. To play always, you need to create conditions to help your nervous system live in ventral-vagal or flow state most of the time. That is also congruent with purpose-driven work and servant leadership, which resonate deeply.
4.Prevention of hyper-individualization of collective issues: by deciding that an issue can only be solved through your actions alone, you're missing a key piece. You do not exist in a vacuum. Your actions are impacted by the actions of those around you to some extent. Your actions impact others' to some extent as well. Instead of hyper-focusing on yourself, the invitation is to take a step back and get a clearer understanding of the broader context in which the curveball is taking place.
5. Abundance tracking: through work with my coach, this practice has helped me contextualize hard things within the broader picture of what's also happening during any given situation. It's not about drowning curveballs in toxic positivity *and* it is about making space for curveballs to be more than a negative experience. Simple practices such as noticing little, tiny joys can help your nervous system anchor in more than the stress of a particularly unexpected curveball.
Over the coming weeks, we'll explore each of these separately. That way, you can get curious about how to tailor them to your experience in ways that serve you, your teams, and your communities. For more articles on breaking the chronic overwhelm cycle, catch up on existing ones here!