Get back on your feet when life lays you low

Mar­garet Jen­nings meets a woman who has over­come more than her fair share of life’s ob­sta­cles but who has emerged the other side with a re­built life

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Ageing With Attitude -

AS we get older, lost youth, lost op­por­tu­ni­ties, chang­ing ap­pear­ance, and health chal­lenges can trig­ger re­grets, low self-es­teem and anx­i­ety about where we are head­ing, caus­ing our mojo to dis­ap­pear.

That’s the view of Cork­woman Emily Hur­ley-Wilkin­son, an ac­cred­ited per­sonal coach who has had to nur­ture her own mojo dur­ing the many chal­lenges she has faced, as well as that of her clients.

The 50-year-old who has writ­ten a book on the theme, says los­ing our mojo can of­ten show up as ap­a­thy where we feel less ex­cited or in­ter­ested in life. How­ever, in re­search­ing the topic she found that peo­ple who have re­silience, share core traits in com­mon, which lead to her cre­at­ing a sys­tem called PAUSE (which is an acro­nym of those five strengths of char­ac­ter) as a ‘tool’ that any­one can use dur­ing emo­tion­ally frag­ile times.

“I went through menopause be­fore turn­ing 50 and that tran­si­tion con­tin­ues to be chal­leng­ing. Be­tween hot flushes, mood­i­ness and dis­rupted sleep, it cer­tainly can make you feel like crawl­ing under the du­vet and suc­cumb to a pit of doom and gloom,” she tells Feel­good.

“Us­ing the PAUSE process de­scribed in my book has truly helped an­chor me dur­ing the times that I felt like tear­ing my hair out and wail­ing in self-pity,” she says.

The mother of two teenage boys has had to bounce back nu­mer­ous times in life.

“Dur­ing my early 20s, I was di­ag­nosed with poly­cys­tic ovar­ian syn­drome which knocked me for six at the time, as I was told this con­di­tion would most likely mean I would be un­able to have chil­dren and that it would in­crease my chances of de­vel­op­ing a va­ri­ety of health prob­lems later in life,” she says. “It also im­pacted sig­nif­i­cantly on my con­fi­dence and self-es­teem as I fought to man­age the phys­i­cal and emo­tional symp­toms that arose from this con­di­tion.

“Even­tu­ally, when I was to find my then part­ner of sev­eral years in bed with an­other woman, it floored me – but, it also rep­re­sented a key turn­ing point for me – I re­alised that ul­ti­mately noth­ing in life is cer­tain and the one cer­tainty that I did have, was to ‘back my­self’.”

The chal­lenges con­tin­ued: “Then in 2001 when my hus­band and I re­lo­cated back home from abroad, we lost his fa­ther through sui­cide and my own fa­ther in 2016 from an ag­gres­sive de­men­tia. We have had the dis­rup­tion of mov­ing home 11 times, I have had sev­eral health scares re­sult­ing in biop­sies and lumpec­tomies and we have been forced to take le­gal ac­tion to re­solve our struc­turally dam­aged home.”

Amid all that, she found her mojo to write her re­cently pub­lished book and to preach what she prac­tices. “A use­ful ques­tion I find my­self ask­ing clients, and my­self, is this: ‘If not now, then when?’ It brings clar­ity and al­lows us to iden­tify our ex­cuses from real ob­sta­cles. We should all shake up our lives ev­ery so of­ten es­pe­cially as we get older if we have be­come stag­nant from habits and rep­e­ti­tion. Here is a syn­op­sis of PAUSE:

Pos­i­tive: Our ex­pe­ri­ence of life is shaped by the per­spec­tive we view it from, ei­ther pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive. Pos­i­tiv­ity is more than just a word it’s the way we ap­proach life that has the power to sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter our ex­pe­ri­ence of it. The book dis­cusses the im­pact that our pos­ture can have along with the im­por­tance of cul­ti­vat­ing an at­ti­tude of grat­i­tude.

Ac­cep­tance: We of­ten cre­ate more stress and anx­i­ety for our­selves when we refuse to ac­cept who we are ‘as we are’ or when we fight against cir­cum­stances that we don’t like. By be­ing ‘ac­cep­tance-aware’ we free our­selves to turn our at­ten­tion and en­ergy to liv­ing more in the now while em­brac­ing change.

Un­de­terred: Of­ten in our later years, we fall into a ‘com­pare and de­spair’ mind­set, where we give up and ex­pect less of our­selves. When we de­velop a ‘can do’ spirit — we be­come open to achieve­ment. Goals are a good way to get the ‘I can’ juices flow­ing as they chal­lenge us to stretch our­selves and keep us mov­ing for­wards.

Self-Care: When our mojo is run­ning low, we can ne­glect and mis­treat our­selves. A sig­nif­i­cant part of age­ing well, is in our abil­ity to en­sure our life is bal­anced and that we im­ple­ment a reg­u­lar self-care prac­tice. In the book read­ers can do a de­tailed ‘life au­dit’ which shines the light on pos­si­ble ar­eas of ne­glect and how to best to make ap­pro­pri­ate changes.

Em­pa­thy: The abil­ity to form healthy re­la­tion­ships is cru­cial to our hap­pi­ness and well­be­ing and be­ing able to em­pathise is ex­tremely im­por­tant for not only main­tain­ing pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with oth­ers but for be­ing more com­pas­sion­ate with our­selves.

Re­claim Your Mojo: How to Bounce Back with a Re­newed Kick-Ass Ap­proach, by Emily Hur­ley-Wilkin­son, €10.97­claimy­our­

Pic­ture: David Keane

COM­ING OUT ON TOP: Life coach Emily Hur­ley-Wilkin­son from Mal­low, Co Cork.

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