One of my passions is coaching. I make it part of my leadership practices, but this goes beyond management styles. Truly effective coaching can really have an incredible impact on people’s everyday lives…not just when they’re at work.

With this being such a passion and priority of mine, I’m constantly learning and growing – to not only be a better coach, but to be able to be an example of what I teach.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned recently is that we truly have more control than we think we do. In those moments when everything seems like it’s an uncontrollable tailspin – we really do have the power and ability to pull out of it.

We are responsible for our own experiences. No one can make us feel a certain way, unless we give them that power. The fact is, we experience what we are doing. If a person says, “I feel sad,” they are actually doing sadness. In other words, they are using their body (their breathing, their facial muscles, their voice, their language, and their belief structures) in a way that causes them to feel sad in that moment. Consequently, this feeling can be changed in a moment if a person has a compelling reason to do so and enough alternatives.

Ultimately, individuals always have the power to choose what they think, believe and feel, regardless of past conditioning. All change happens in a moment. The moment we change what things mean to us, we create a lifelong transformation in our experience.

I think that last line is the most powerful. The moment we change what things mean to us, we create a lifelong transformation in our experience.

Really think about that for a moment. If we’re able to change what a bad experience means to us, we would have total control of how we’d feel about it…wouldn’t we? Once the experience happens, if we can train ourselves to take a step back and truly evaluate what happened to make us feel sad (angry, frustrated, insignificant, etc), we’re then able to take that and turn it around through a positive reaction.

For example: If the experience makes us feel hurt or betrayed – that is a direct violation of our basic human need to feel love and connection. The automatic response is sadness or depression because in that situation we’re focusing on ourselves. We’re giving ourselves the attention we feel we need by turning inward and feeling sorry for ourselves.

My challenge to you is…instead, once we’ve established what has happened – we can then take back control and do something that reestablishes that need in a positive way. Maybe you take the kids to the park, reconnect with an old friend, or give a family member a call. Whatever it may be…you know the things in your life that fulfill that need – so turn to those. In an instant, you’ll be reestablishing that connection and fulfilling that need…but in a positive way that YOU are in control of.

Pain by itself is not a long-term reinforcement; only pleasure is. Find the things that give you the most pleasure in all the difference aspects of your life and make a list if you need to. Keep it handy! When we experience pain in our lives, it creates a hole inside of us. It’s up to us to decide what we fill it with. Will you fill it with sadness, anger, frustration, and depression? Or will you fill it with love, passion, and gratitude?

Remember: pain is an inevitable part of life…suffering is a choice.