Challenging Change: Controlling the Uncontrollable

As part of our regular breakfast series, we were delighted to welcome Niamh Gaffney from Directionality to Irish Times Training – to share her tips and tricks on how to rediscover choices and regain control in the face of life’s many challenges.

As one of 25 global medical coaches, Niamh also works with clients who are struggling to return to normal following traumatic life changes, and has notably achieved a number of national awards for her work with cancer survivors. Combining research driven training and solution-focused coaching, Directionality’s clients dramatically improve their mental and emotional fitness levels, allowing them to become more adept at managing the demands of an often-changing life.

If you would like to get a flavour of the event, click on the button below to see just a few of Niamh’s tips for dealing with change or check out the transcript of her “three-step process” below.

Niamh’s Three-Step Process for Dealing with Change

“I work on the principle of a three step process when it comes to dealing with change. The first step of that is choosing what’s important or getting clear on what’s important for the person. Once you know what’s important to you, you can get a very clear set of directions a very clear destination which will help you out of that swamp out of that stickiness that you can feel you’re in when dealing with a particularly difficult challenge and with that kind of GPS system it makes life an awful lot easier.

Once you know what’s important to you everything kind of falls away – the fuzziness and the extra noise falls away. So once we once we know what’s important to us the second element is to change your perspective on this because our brain can really trick us. It’s a master of efficiencies but we get stuck into the habits of of a lifetime – we get stuck into the habitual way of thinking about things and when you can change your perspective you can kind of override those habits and you can challenge yourself to think of things in a different way and that pushes back the boundaries of your comfort zone and it allows you to grow – it allows you to learn, to experience new options and it allows you to create new solutions for the challenge.

The third element and probably the most important element is this notion of control. Quite often when a big change happens to us we react from the perspective of a victim and in that respect, in that perspective, you we will always be stuck in the same way as that you cannot quench a thirst without physically drinking some water you cannot move from the perspective of a victim and still live the life that you want, still get the things that are important to you. So choosing what’s important – changing your perspective to one of being a responsible for your outcome in life and then controlling it – by actually taking action and doing the things that you can do that will allow you to move through change and to experience it and life the way you want to so in a way it plays a very big role. In a way that notion is a bit of a bugbear for me because quite often when people experience and particularly illness or some kind of very extreme challenge they’re told by well-meaning people you just have to be positive and the reality is that that directive can tie up people just as much as anything that they do themselves because now they feel under social pressure to be positive. They feel in a way that they’ve perhaps caused their situation by not being positive and the reality is that’s not the case at all because you can’t just be positive you can’t become something just overnight – you have to grow into it, you have to move into it, you have to learn it and experience it and the only way to do that is to again choose what’s important to change your perspective and learn new things and control by doing the things you can do.”

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