Roller Coaster Blog cover, "Riding the ups and downs of life"

Shamillah Wilson shares her insights on how she survives the ups and downs of life

Jumping on the ups and sliding on the downs!

This year will truly go down in history as one with the most unexpected twists and turns. As the year is drawing to a close, and I take a moment to exhale, I am able to appreciate the journey for what it has brought me.

As a coach, one of the things I learnt and embraced quite early on was the fact that if I do not consciously choose to stretch myself out of my comfort zone, that the universe would take matters into its hands and provide me with those opportunities of stretch. Indeed as I, and I’m sure many of you realise, when the universe chooses for you, it is unlikely to be ‘fun’ nor will it be in ways that you could even imagine. Hence, through ongoing reflection, I have always consciously identified areas of growth. However, even when proactively choosing growth, it will still have moments of discomfort and sometimes pain.

During this year, I have relocated, engaged with grief, navigated some pretty disempowering situations during travel, and many other ‘mis’adventures that have truly pushed my boundaries emotionally, mentally as well as spiritually. However, despite all these ups and downs, I have remained optimistic, curious and deeply grateful for the ups as well as the downs that were coming my way. In some ways, I felt more alive because of it. Through these different experiences, I was compelled to keep coming back to who I truly am, to hone in and refine what it is that I have to offer the world, and to be more grounded and honest in my connecting and relating to the many people I encounter on the journey.

I suppose, the biggest lesson I have learnt this year was to surrender, embrace and appreciate. Surrender to that which is beyond my control, embrace those moments and claim back the choice of how to respond to the situation, and lastly to appreciate whatever it is that is happening. This approach was quite powerful in that it allowed me to rejoice and jump on the ups, but also to slide on the downs! Accepting that the ups and the downs are both needed for balance, and that it formed part of the yin and yang in life.

As I take stock of my year, I feel the following insights worth noting down:

#1 Remember to connect to awe

I now realise that when my energy is in sync with my heart, body and spirit, even if I’m performing at my lowest and seem to be failing at it, my day never failed to have light in it and I never failed to find something to glance at and smile. The other evening I witnessed one of those perfectly blended amber light and blue sky sunsets…I stood there and watched it, soaked it in and kept on going about my day. It was after I got home that I realised that I stopped in the middle of a busy intersection to see this sunset…not very smart. At the end of it all, energy is real. It comes in many different forms and feels, but the energy that unites your mind, body and soul is truly unique in its abilities to give you a very blissful escape, even for a moment.

#2 Choose optimism and curiosity

In both those moments of ups and downs, your power lies in your ability to choose the mindset you will approach the situation with. I found that when I choose to be positive, no matter how difficult it may seem, it opens up my mind, rather than contracts it with fear. When my mind is open, I am able to approach the situation with greater curiosity. The questions I ask in those moments is what are the opportunities I can grab in this situation, or even what is it I am meant to learn right now? Sometimes, and particularly in those ‘down’ situations, it allows me to pause and not drown in a sense of disempowerment, but give me back some of my power.

#3 Do at least one thing that is within your control

Oftentimes we feel a sense of paralysis during moments when things are happening in our worlds and in our lives. I have often found that what helps is to do at least one thing that is within my control. In the moments of ‘ups’, I identify a way to leverage it, to do one thing that could allow me to jump on it. In the moments of ‘downs’, even if it is just writing about it, reaching out to someone – all these are things that I can do!

So I only have one wish at this point, if you are going through trials and tribulations, I wish for you to find that peaceful energy. It will be weird, but you will truly enjoy the ability to be calm and feel whole in these situations.