My lucky break: lessons on the power of positive thinking
I’ve had a bit of a break from writing due to an accident which landed me in hospital and rehab for a couple of months. Through it I’ve learnt a lot about the power of positive thinking, resilience and slowing down.
And… I’m back with my blog.
For those of you who don’t know, there’s a reason that I haven’t posted in a couple of months. We’ve had an interesting time here at Leading Edge Professional Development, due to the fact I had an accident in late April and spent the entire month of May in hospital and then rehab.
While I’ve been on a break, the accident was a literal break. I broke four vertebrae. I’m lucky that it wasn’t worse and I can still walk (which means I am continuing with most of my usual activities now I’m on the mend). However, I do have what is called Cauda equina syndrome, which occurs when the nerves below the end of the spinal cord are damaged. Somewhat ironically, corda equina is Latin for horse’s tail, and the injury has affected the nerves in my ‘saddle area’.
While it’s been a tough journey through rehab, I’m now at the point where I am back into normal life enough to start to appreciate the valuable lessons this experience has taught me.
So much so that I’m calling it my ‘lucky break’.
I’ve decided to write a series of articles from this. First, I’ll look at some lessons I’ve learnt. Then, I’ll share what I’ve realised about the importance of always nurturing my body and mind. And finally, I’ll share what I’ve been reminded about appreciating those supportive people around us.
Lesson 1: Positivity and resilience go hand-in-hand
No one ever thinks something like this will happen to them. And when it does, it tests your resilience in ways that it may never have been tested before.
Resilience really goes hand in hand with positive thinking. If you keep believing that you will eventually make it through, then it really helps you move forward.
So, when you’re upset or complaining about trivial matters, or overwhelmed by life, try positive thinking. It isn’t always easy, but there are techniques that can help, such as practising mindfulness to focus on the here and now, or keeping a gratitude journal to help remind you of the good in life. Or, try talking to someone else for a fresh perspective.
Lesson 2: Slow down – before you’re forced
As I worked my way through rehab, not only did I learn about the power of positivity but the value of slowing down and being present. Before the accident – like many of us who juggle careers, families and hobbies – I would fall into the trap of being unfailingly busy.
I would find myself frequently in the situation where I was physically in one place, but my mind is racing with thoughts about when I have to pick up my son or what work I have to do tomorrow for my business.
There’s nothing like an accident – where all you can focus on is getting better – to make it obvious what it really means to be present in the here and now. Your focus becomes on your immediate surroundings, and paying attention to your body and the signals it is giving. It is almost like the universe was trying to tell me something.
If you’re feeling like you never stop, then it’s worth thinking about slowing down, at least sometimes. It can seem hard, when there’s so many things to do, but it is possible to say no once in a while! It’s better than waiting until the universe tells you to.
Lesson 3: Work out what’s important
Another benefit of my accident has been the ability to step back and evaluate parts of my life, and a big one is my choice of career.
For some people, a life-changing experience can prompt them to change career. I’m the exact opposite! For me, it reaffirmed how much I love what I do – hence my desire to return to it as quickly as possible. I’ve started teaching my leadership training courses again (at least online due to the fresh Sydney lockdown) and it has been wonderful. In fact, it makes me want to give back more and help others through our unique horse-based learning.
It’s a shame though that it’s often an incident which prompts this process of evaluation. So, if you’ve been trudging along in a job, unhappy but not motivated to make a change, then instead of carrying on, perhaps consider ways that you can take a step back and weigh up your options (without breaking your spine!).
Lesson 4: It’s okay to not be okay
And as much as I try to be positive, I’ve also realised I don’t have to put on a happy face all the time. It’s okay to feel sad, or disappointed, or worried – even if there’s no one reason to pinpoint. In fact, there have been studies which demonstrate that suppressing your emotions is bad for both your mental and physical health. Often a vent, or a cry, or even a laugh can be great for letting all that emotion out.
That’s why I’ve started a fundraiser called Clocking Ks for RUOK, where I challenge myself to walk every day. This is not only helpful for my recovery, but helps a great organisation, RUOK. They inspire people to meaningfully connect with those around them and start a conversation with someone who might be struggling with life. I’d be grateful to anyone who wants to sponsor me.
And, if you’re not okay or you suspect someone you know isn’t, then please reach out. Positive thinking is always easier if we have others’ support.
What have the tough times in your life taught you? Let us know in the comments. And for more information about Leading Edge Professional Development, email email@example.com