How to fight back against the sausage factory of life!
Sometimes life turns you into someone else. Nicola Harker, Doctor and coach, reflects on how you can get back to the real you. (Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash)
I used to refer to Medical school as "The sausage factory".
I felt like all the best bits of me were being squeezed out, and I was being de-humanised and processed to become someone else. A doctor.
I loved many aspects of being a doctor, especially as a GP following the twists and turns of the lives of my patients, being a detective to work out what was wrong, supporting them and being their advocate. But over the years I forgot about the sausage factory, and all the parts of me that had been squeezed out.
I forgot that I was funny, energetic, creative, intuitive, and strong.
Until one day I woke up and realised that my life could easily slip away without me ever getting back to who I truly was. It was like suddenly breaking the surface of a choppy sea, I could finally breathe but I was scared and I didn't know which direction I was heading in.
Do you sometimes feel like this? That your life has has taken you in one direction, but along the way you've lost who you were and you've become someone you don't recognise?
How do you find the courage to break out? How do you find the clarity and direction when all you know is that something needs to change?
Coaching was the starter motor for my journey and has continued to be a powerful tool that I reach for when I reach new horizons. Coaching helps me to do my best thinking, find clarity and overcome unconscious obstacles. The process of coaching helps you to explore the problem from all angles and be open to all possibilities. Investing in coaching made me gulp initially (could I really spend that money on myself?) but I have never regretted the investment.
Coaching challenged me to ask questions such as "does it have to be that way? Why or why not?" and "what am I assuming about this situation that makes it difficult to see a solution?" Powerful questions crack open the nut that confines you, and encourages you to see life through a new lens.
But there was something else that I needed to help me to break free of the sausage factory. I needed the courage and self-belief to take shaky steps and trust myself that my need for change was VALID. Everyone around me wanted to label my desire for change as a "mid-life crisis", but deep down I knew I'd been crying out for change for years.
The techniques of Mindful Self-compassion have been my keel and rudder - keeping me centred, authentic and brave. Self-compassion helps me to stay in touch with the deepest part of myself that knows what I value and believes in me. For many years, before I learned these techniques, I doubted myself, I didn't trust my emotions and I dismissed my intuition.
And finally, what I most needed when deciding to change career, were great friends that listened and encouraged me. When you set off on an ambitious path to live your life authentically, and get back to your true self, you will inevitably stumble over obstacles. There are times when you wonder whether going back to a steady salaried job would be easier! It's not always easy to see the path ahead, and you definitely need great people around you to help you to keep going. I invested in my self-development because I realised that I couldn't always tread this path alone, and I have valued my true friendships more than ever.
No matter how bumpy the path, the rewards of rediscovering your inner genius and expressing your talents are so great, that it's a path I'm grateful that I've chosen.