I listen to podcast series called Don’t Tell Me The Score. I referenced an episode in a previous blog, The Squeaky Wheel Gets Fixed, and I find that I can take something out of most of the episodes. Last weekend I listened to a recent episode where the interviewee was Ed Jackson, an ex-professional rugby player who is happier now, as a quadriplegic following an accident, than he ever was before. The episode was simply titled ‘Perspective’. I won’t spoil it too much but Ed goes from being told he will never walk again to climbing mountains. It’s all about his mindset and perspective and if you are looking for some inspiration from an ‘average person’, this is a great listen.
A client of mine also listened to this episode and they write a newsletter for their school. Kindly, they sent me a copy of what they wrote and have agreed that I can share their thoughts on perspective.
“It got me thinking about perspective… perspective is a strange thing, particularly in these times, where we’re expected to stay in a confined space but take world view. For me, it means coming to terms with the changes and seeing them within the context of wider society, as well as acknowledging our own losses, however minor or major they may be. Last weekend I was supposed to be running the London Marathon. I thought I’d be sad after months of training, and I was surprised when I wasn’t. It did help that this situation has been going on a while, so my brain has had a chance to process the information, and that Manchester marathon was my target race. Manchester was cancelled with only 3 weeks notice… I’d run on average 50 miles a week since January, and had just completed the last of 6 runs over 20 miles. I was looking forward to the taper (and a bit of cheeky carb loading…) when the news came. To many people, mourning the loss of a random race which I stood no hope of winning is bizarre. People are dying, how less important can you get than a marathon? You have probably felt the same about things you have lost, big or small – not saying goodbye to your friends or school, matches, hanging out with your friends, celebrating your birthday the way you want to, missing your exams…. It is important to give space and time to your feelings on whatever you have lost because of lockdown. It doesn’t matter about its importance to anyone else, if it was important to you, acknowledge your feelings about this – are you sad? Angry? Confused? Uncertain? And give your feelings the respect they deserve.
But eventually, you need to move on. You need to put things in perspective – view your situation from others point of view, acknowledge the scale of your loss in light of other things going on around you. It is easier said than done, and I know some students are still struggling with organising their life around the new changes. But there are ways to start this process. If you haven’t already got to grips with working from home, or finding a new routine, or dealing with the uncertainty, or managing how much time you use constructively, rather than on social media / games / Netflix etc. here’s some ways you can start:
- Don’t put off the stuff you don’t want to do. You will feel better for tackling it. Get a timetable together. Work out when would be a good time for you to do your work / chores or whatever you’re putting off and get started. Start with half an hour. Then write yourself a little post-it telling yourself what to do next before you finish. This makes it easier to come back to.
- Be honest with yourself. This is hard, but you know whether you’ll do something or not. If you’re not going to do it, don’t say you will. Work out why you’re not going to do it and go from there. Are you telling yourself you’ll finish your project by Friday but you know deep down you’ll get distracted? Are you saying you did 2 hours work but deep down know you spent most of it on your phone? Don’t lie to yourself, or you won’t get to the bottom of what’s really stopping you.
- Find a new hobby or challenge. Very often if you motivate yourself in one area of life, you can motivate yourself in others. It stems from self esteem… if you feel good about yourself, you will achieve more in all areas of life. To do this successfully, work out what you need – relaxation? Challenge? Mental stimulation?
- Be a squeaky wheel. I know, that’s a bit random, but there’s a saying – the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you are struggling in silence, it may go unnoticed and you may not get the help you need. Speak up, ask for help, and we will do our best to support you.”
I’ve not really told my personal story to an audience before, but in November 2004 I was widowed when my late wife was killed by someone later convicted of death by dangerous driving. I went to visit a local charity, Wishes4Kids, to discuss donations at the funeral and as I was walking there, a lorry was driving down the main road towards me. For a split second (and it was only that) I had a thought that if I stepped out in front of it I wouldn’t have to deal with the grief any more. In that split second I also realised how selfish that would be and I’d just be leaving our families with even more grief to deal with. I walked in to the charity office, and met one of the nicest people I’ll ever meet, the late Russell Brickett. He offered to set up a fund within the charity in the name of my late wife which meant that we could keep track of the money raised by any events we did.
Obviously, I still struggled for a while and it was only watching the Boxing Day tsunami footage on the news programmes that gave me some perspective. Hundreds of thousands of people had lost whole families, homes, villages. I couldn’t comprehend how that must have felt for them, and I was sat at home watching it. Yes, my life at that point was not in a good place, but it was nowhere near as bad as theirs.
These events combined gave me the perspective that I could still live my life. I was here and able to do good things in the name of my late wife. The first event I arranged was myself and a group of friends running the Stratford Half Marathon in 2005. It was from here that eventually I got a charity place in the 2007 London Marathon and fell in love with the event and then running, which has now turned in to my job and passion. I still run the London Marathon every year for the charity.
Perspective can be tough at any time. We all have things that matter to us at this moment in time. We can think that we are bad people when we focus on our problems when there are worse things happening to others. But we have to take time to look at how we feel and look at how we can change things in our lives to move forwards.
Out of seemingly bad things, can come positive change.
I hope that you can take something away from this blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and I’ve set up a very supportive Facebook Community where like-minded people can share their experiences of life and exercising. Please feel free to join and invite others you know who may be interested.
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