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Stop mental whiplash when you don’t know what to do [Wise Wednesdays]

One of the recurring questions in coaching conversations is: “What do I do when I don’t know what to do?” Let me save you time, money and anguish: Sometimes you know but the decision feels hard and it’s time for some inner-work. Sometimes it’s not time to know but you’re impatient. Sometimes you just need more information. It’s usually one of these three. But what can happen (unless you have a great coach of course ;) is the “sudden move” aka the reactive decision… You decide to do something just to avoid the discomfort of not knowing. You FINALLY tell your boss/partner/person irritating you what you REALLY think. You drop that project (or take it on even though you can’t) You get on a plane to another country to go see THAT person or place. I’ve done all of these. But what happens? Well, nothing. You feel the same after a little adrenaline kick. And your head hurts. Maybe your heart hurts too. Your intuition is fogged up. The ‘sudden move’ stretched you too much, too fast. Let's call this Mental Whiplash. There’s a debate in the running world about whether to run barefoot or not. Nobody really knows. In 1960, then unknown Abebe Bikila stunned the world by winning the Olympic marathon (and breaking the world record) running barefoot. He tried a pair of shoes but they hurt, so he ran the way he knew rather than make a sudden change. Sports scientists may not know exactly which is best, but they agree that suddenly changing the way you run increases the risk of injury. Abebe knew this intuitively.

Photo: Abebe Bikila changing the world of Olympic running one barefoot step at a time, Rome, 1960. Making sudden, reactive changes in your life can hurt your body but also your mind and therefore your flow = Mental Whiplash. So if you don’t know what to do, beware of the itch to make a reactive, ‘sudden move’. It’s not always what you need.

Have a great week,


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