Don’t let the title of this article lead you to a negative mindset, it’s not meant to. It is all about shifting to a more positive and realistic frame of mind. In coaching we call this “safety net” coaching and we use it to let clients explore what the worst possible outcome in a situation might be, because most of the time it isn’t the truth and just a story or a flurry of thoughts that we create in our minds that only serves us by holding us back and keep us stuck in non-movement and in a place of fear. It came to mind for me earlier today as fear came up for me. It was then that I realized that I had unknowingly used safety net coaching in my own life challenges and I thought I would share some examples of what that looks like. Fear can be a very real feeling, yet it can also be a debilitating one and in that sense not real and it holds us back from what we truly want.
So for me in certain life challenges and to get to the next level I had to ask myself the question: “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” When I thought about the worst and wrapped my mind around that, I think it lead me to: “Ok, so what is the best possible outcome?” and it allowed me to process things in a more realistic and present mindset.
When I was deciding if I wanted to end a marriage in my late 20’s, I was terrified to leave the relationship for many reasons and I thought of what the worst possible outcome could be, and there really was none. In fact, the worst possible scenario would have been if I stayed in the relationship and remained unhappy and looked back in the same place years later with regret.
In my 30’s I experienced the traumatic event of my mother’s passing and giving birth to my daughter within days. I was in a very dark place called a “grief induced post-partum depression.” For me simply being in that state was the worst possible scenario, so I finally managed to shift out of it (with much support in many areas) to a place of turning all of my negative life experiences into positive ones.
In my 40’s I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was definitely a game changer for me because I was consciously aware at that time and the thoughts and emotions kept flowing around my mortality, around where my life was going, around my career, my relationship and my children. I remember thinking at that time also: “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” The answer there was that I could not control this diagnosis and that yes, the worst case scenario would be I could die. Being a religious person and one with a very deep connection to faith, I was willing to accept that if it was, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about what could be and what would be and that was the best possible scenario. So when I got passed the place of what the worst could be, I was able to get to what the best possible outcome could be and although it would be a painful and emotional experience, I could walk through what I had to face, get the care and treatment that I needed and then get back to managing my relationships, my career, the care of my children and of myself.
More recently I experienced this with a career change. After 30 years in one field, I decided to start two new businesses. My initial reaction was to immediately revert to safety and took a very well-paying job where someone else would employ me. This didn’t sit well in me for long in my gut and I decided to nix that choice and go with opening up both businesses. Again, I asked myself: “What’s the worst case scenario?” The answer was simple: “If I failed I could always go back to safe, but if I didn’t explore the fear the regret would be even worse!” So here’s the thing, by exploring the worst possible scenario came the birth of the best case scenario and what exists now for me, the opening and sustaining of both businesses and the flexibility to pursue my passion.
So you see, most of the time we go on automatic pilot and think the only thing that can happen is the worst possible scenario, when in reality that is so far from the truth because we have so many options open and available to us.
Even if we do have to face the “worst possible scenario” we can do it in a place where we live in the moment and we make choices on how we want to move forward. I am seeing it via a colleague who is facing a “worst case scenario” in terms of an illness that is very real and she still walks and lives in a space of her best possible scenario every day. I have to say I am truly amazed and inspired and so happy to know her and be taught by her. We are forever all teachers and students and we were put on this earth to explore and make choices.
Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/