Every week I meet those who are, in normal non-pandemic times, highly functional and capable people. I hear their stories about what has changed between before pandemic and now, and it is filled with overwhelm and stress. Then our conversation moves towards what they want out of coaching and they wonder why they are stuck and cannot make progress. Many say that before the pandemic things were humming along and now they are not.
Think of ourselves as big batteries. We face life’s challenges and the battery’s charge dips a bit. We then recover and the charge goes back up again. If life’s challenges rise, our charge may never go back to 100% but hovers somewhere below. If we get sick, it may drop even lower for a time, but then we heal and the charge starts going back up. If we take a vacation, the charge often builds back close, if not fully, to 100% and the cycle begins again.
However, with the challenges that the pandemic brought – not to mention all the social and political turmoil that simultaneously came with it – it has been a drain on everyone’s battery so much that many peoples’ charges have dropped BELOW ZERO. Because their charge is below zero, whatever they used to do doesn’t work any more. They feel drained, stuck – they try but they cannot find the motivation to continue or sustain their previous activities that would have helped them recover, or move to a better place. In normal times, they could have worked their way out of their predicaments, but now they find they cannot.
What is happening here is that they need to acknowledge that their battery charge is LESS THAN ZERO and that their strategies only work when their batteries have charge above zero. Then comes the work that needs to happen first, which to figure out how to get back to zero. Usually this means creating space for a full recovery. It means a dramatic reduction of stressful stimuli and for potentially a long period of time. It means creating capacity, “battery charge” or energy, to be able to deploy the strategies that used to work for them in the past (or new ones if needed).
It can be very difficult to get your battery charge from a negative charge to zero. How does one find time and opportunity to get away from their current life to do this recharging, when we could have job, family life, and other things which hold us in place? Yes, it can be difficult and the solutions are very individual as everyone is different.
If you come to a coaching session, we may uncover the below zero charge of your battery as we discuss your goals for coaching. It is almost a certainty that you find it very difficult to move towards any desired state while your battery charge is negative. It may mean that coaching cannot begin unless it is addressed first, and many clients will need to reflect and act on this aspect of their lives on their own. It *is* also possible to be coached through this process if they have the readiness and willingness for it, although it could be a significant challenge in effort and time.
The pandemic has weighed heavily on every human on earth. It has drained us in ways we could not have imagined. We all have a desire to return to normalcy, and health as it was without the pandemic. Recognition of where our battery charge lies can be a critical part of our recovery process, and likely will need to be addressed first before we can truly see our desired states and move towards them.