Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | MIND - MIND YOU WORDS: NICK BEN­NETT Nick Ben­nett is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: mind­

There was a time in my life that even when ev­ery­thing was won­der­ful I would still be wait­ing for the worst to hap­pen. It was dif­fi­cult to con­vince my­self that noth­ing bad was go­ing to hap­pen. It was just a feel­ing and one I later learnt to iden­tify as a form of an­tic­i­pa­tory anx­i­ety.

On the out­side I was con­fi­dent, calm and ca­pa­ble (or I hoped that that was what was be­ing seen). On the in­side I was battling with self-worth and guilt for be­ing suc­cess­ful. I know it sounds strange and if you’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced it, that’s great.

How­ever, it dogged me for many years. The ques­tions in my mind would come up “Do you re­ally de­serve this? What if peo­ple find out you’re not as good as they think you are? Tak­ing on all of this re­spon­si­bil­ity is go­ing to make you crash some­day! You know it don’t you?”

To com­pen­sate I would take on more, push my­self, strive to be bet­ter and con­vince my­self that I’d be OK and that it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen. While it didn’t quite ring true, it helped. It wasn’t that I was over­whelmed by neg­a­tive think­ing, it’s just that I had to fight to keep my head above that think­ing.

What that led to was me us­ing a huge amount of emo­tional en­ergy when­ever I was pre­par­ing to run a train­ing pro­gram or fa­cil­i­tate a ses­sion. It was most ev­i­dent on the morn­ing of de­liv­ery when I would of­ten start the day throw­ing up be­cause of the pres­sure I was putting on my­self.

Some years ago I was talk­ing about this with one of my ec­cen­tric friends. He, be­ing rel­a­tively wise, said: “You al­ways know where you’re go­ing to end up with th­ese work­shops, don’t you? You know the ob­jec­tive and the out­come?”

The an­swer was yes. “How does it feel when you get there?” I told him it felt great, the feed­back was strongly pos­i­tive, the out­come hav­ing been achieved and recog­nised. I al­ways felt an im­mense sense of re­lief, very calm, al­though drained.

“Well, there’s your an­swer.” My quizzi­cal look prompted fur­ther in­sight. “Start with the end in mind. You’re suc­cess­ful, feel­ing great and very calm. You know that’s where you’ll end up. So start with that as the feel­ing and you’ll no longer be wast­ing all of this en­ergy on the neg­a­tive stuff you’re feed­ing your­self – which is ob­vi­ously ex­haust­ing you.”

All th­ese years later I re­alise how sound that ad­vice was. I fo­cus very much on what I can con­trol and let the rest sort it­self out.

And I al­ways en­vis­age the end re­sult as a suc­cess­ful en­gage­ment. I don’t al­ways know how to get there but I do know that I trust the power of the group I’m work­ing with and my in­tu­itive re­sponse that is con­nected to do­ing my best for them.

In the words of Ziggy Mar­ley, “Do­ing some­thing that is pro­duc­tive is a great way to al­le­vi­ate emo­tional stress. Get your mind do­ing some­thing that is pro­duc­tive.”

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