What can we learn from our ‘baggage’?

How often have you heard someone refer to their past experiences, as ‘baggage’, e.g. an ex-spouse, partner, redundancy, debt, etc?

We can’t change the past, but we can change the way we deal with similar situations in future.

Becoming self-aware helps us to understand and break through our beliefs about past experiences, helping us to learn and grow.

Asking ourselves questions like ‘What happened?’ and ‘How could I have done things differently?’ is a simple way to start an internal dialogue.

I like to think of my past in a positive light. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if it weren’t for all of my experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. I have chosen to forgive and forget those things that do me a disservice and I use all of the experiences that serve me well.

What can you learn from your past?

Why, what is how

Have you ever done something really awful and asked yourself ‘Why?’

Have you ever been asked ‘Why did you do that?’ and felt attacked by the question, making it difficult for you to answer?

I was part of the ‘why tribe’. Awake at 3am, asking myself, why I’d messed up in a meeting? Why I had, or hadn’t said something? Beating myself up and getting nowhere with answering the question, other than further down a rabbit hole…which at 3am, is a very dark space.

Asking yourself ‘why’, can force you on an emotional rollercoaster, as you can come up with a million subjective answers.

Asking someone else ‘why’, can feel like a personal attack or criticism; putting them on the defensive.

So how can we do things differently?

Slow your brain, take a mental step back and ask ‘What’ happened?

Keep to the facts! We learn best when we feel safe.

Think about who said, or did ‘what’. ‘What’ was said; who was there, etc?

Once you’ve gathered the facts, ask, ‘How’ you could have done things differently? Not better, because this too is subjective. Better in whose eyes.

Once we have answered ‘What and How’, we may even be capable of answering, ‘Why’.

New behaviours, which lead to a positive result, are learned quickly by the brain, so the next time you are in a similar situation, you will know what you should do differently to achieve a different result.

Helen Martin has an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural change and focuses on developing self-awareness and reflection with her clients.

How important is self-awareness?

Having researched ‘how to change behaviour in 3-months’ as the basis for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural change, I was surprised to note that 70% of my coachees lacked self-awareness i.e. low to very low.

This was confirmed by an HBR article which states than between 85 and 90% of individuals they surveyed lacked self-awareness.

Self-awareness is at the foundation of emotional intelligence; without it, it becomes hard to develop meaningful (business) relationships and since building relationships are vital for business growth, it’s a skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that emotional intelligence can be learned. Psychometrics and Emotional Intelligence models are invaluable to help you understand what can help and hinder you in business, and coaching, can be valuable to unlearn bad habits.

Contact me if you would like to find out more.