Excerpt of a Sample Coaching Interaction
Dear Dr. Dug,
No surprise that I'm sending you my middle-of-the-night email! The house has finally quieted down. I've been writing this email all day but this is the first chance I've had to finish it. It was a nightmare day. I woke up to a "911" email from my manager saying that the report I gave her yesterday had the wrong table. She was freaking out because she needs to submit it to leadership tomorrow. My heart started beating out of my chest, blood rushed into my head, and I had a rush of worries and self-judgment. So, I jumped out of bed and went to my computer. But then, I forced myself to stop and take a breath. I thought about how I was telling you that mornings are the only consistent time when I can connect with my family. I literally dragged myself out of the chair, went to the kitchen, and did my normal morning routine with the family. I wasn't feeling as grounded as I had hoped I would, but I was happy to spend that time with them instead of on the computer. What do you think I could've done to have not even had that impulse in the first place to jump onto my computer?
First of all, thank you for sharing that information about your own emotions and thoughts. I was able to get a real sense of what that (stressful!) experience felt like. Secondly, I really just want to say "wow!" because you won that inner struggle and were able to put your own needs in front of one of your boss' famous "911" emails! Here are some other great things I heard - 1) you stopped and reflected rather than just acting and 2) you forced yourself away from your computer despite the circumstances.
As for your question about how could you have not had that impulse in the first place - I want you to keep in mind that change does not happen at the flick of a switch and you will very likely continue to have slip-ups like this. The most important thing you can do is exactly what you did - to not finish that habitual act. If you jump on your computer at dawn, but then pull yourself away, this sends a clear message to your brain that you're doing something different. The more times you do that, the more your brain realizes that it has to learn a new way of doing things.
What you said about your time with the family also struck me - in the future, is there some kind of activity you could do that would help you get grounded and present with your family when you are distracted by work?
I hope you were able to wake up today with more calm!