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Blast away those winter blues! by Mel Carnegie


With rugby season upon us, Mel Carnegie reckons you might be interested in exploring how a bunch of rugby bums might actually be able to help blast away winter blues.


It’s that time of year again. Memories of summer are fading into the distance, children are back at school, and there’s a chill in the air. To top it all off, it’s getting darker earlier every day, or, as one of my Scottish friends would lament, “Aye, the nights are fair drawing in.” So is it any wonder that many of us are starting to feel a little bit down in the dumps?


Have you found yourself grumbling about all sorts of things lately? The weather, work colleagues, rising costs, lack of good TV. You name it, when we’re feeling fed up, any number of things can add to our frustration. Short of getting away from it all, it often seems there’s little else we can do other than complain and just sit things out. Well, this is where I’d like to introduce you to a team of rugby bums who just might be able to lend you a helping hand – cost-free and within the comfort of your own home.


Imagine four bottoms sitting on a rugby goal post. With a little more imagination, you could say that each one looks like the letter W and that the goalpost is a letter H. Got the picture? Good.


Now I’d like to introduce them to you as your very own team of helpers, sitting and awaiting your instructions. Their names, by the way, are Who, What, Where, When and How, and they’ll happily burst in to play as soon as you point your finger.


Remember I talked earlier about the way we grumble? The way we can blame other people and situations for the way we’re feeling? We know, of course, that there are times when it feels good to express frustrations and ‘get it off your chest’, but did you also know that whenever you point the finger of blame out at anything or anyone, you are potentially causing yourself more harm than good?


It’s very tempting to point out and say things like, “It’s his/her fault, he/she made me feel this way!” The complaining might feel good at the time, but if it’s left at that, it becomes just a temporary hit that creates a sense of helplessness, only compounding our blues. We’re left with the same feelings of frustration, and as well as that, now a sense of powerlessness as well – because nothing is happening to change it.


As with most things in life (as I’ve usually learned the hard way), it’s all about perception. So here’s the trick. Rather than putting energy into what is annoying you, instead choose to focus more on how you’d like things to be and what you can do about it. By doing that you will increase your sense of control and ultimately affect your feeling of wellbeing.


No matter what the situation might be, there is always something we can do – even if it seems insignificant. When everything in my world had collapsed around me, I made it my focus to recognise what was still within my control. On some days, it seemed that only my ability to breathe or my decision to speak softly or loudly were in my control – but even acknowledging those small things helped me to lift out of helplessness one small step at a time.


Beating the blues is all about remembering that you always have a choice – no matter how small it may seem.


Imagine pointing your finger out towards whatever is upsetting, annoying or frustrating you – and look at how you hold your hand. Notice that for the one finger that points away, there are three pointing back at you. For each of the three fingers pointing back at you, allocate one member of your rugby team and use them to start a question that gently allows you to consider your options.


For example, let’s say that a friend or colleague has just done something to annoy you – out goes the pointing finger (to acknowledge the source of your frustration) then immediately in comes three members of your rugby team, one for each of the three fingers pointing back at you.


How would I prefer to be feeling right now?

Who can I talk to about this?

What can I do now to make myself feel better?


The answers will come – maybe slowly at first, but they will come. With practice the questions will come more automatically and the answers will flow more freely. The more time you spend getting used to your new rugby team, the more keenly they’ll play for you – and they’ll start jostling for your attention.


So, how’s that? Point your finger and four rugby bums come running to do your bidding. I don’t know about you, but that thought alone makes me smile.

Mel Carnegie

Professionally, I work as a leadership and change development coach, helping business leaders and their teams to achieve their best potential. I love what I do with a passion, because I am driven to help others succeed, particularly through times of change and challenge. Coaching and developing leaders and their teams has been my chosen career for the past fifteen years. I love my work with a passion. I still get a huge buzz whenever a client makes a breakthrough! Nothing gives me greater pleasure than guiding others to tap in to their inner strength, helping them to remove blocks and move forward with confidence. How did I get here? Since early childhood I’ve dealt with a number of difficulties – the early death of both parents, emotional abuse, betrayal and abandonment. Through these experiences I instinctively learned about resilience and flexibility; how to stay balanced and focused while all about me fell apart. This is what led me to become an avid student of self-development – and ultimately to my chosen career. Until recently, though, I kept the background part of my life private. It didn’t need to be shared. I discovered I was good at what I did, and quickly gained a solid reputation as a professional and motivational coach. Why would anyone be interested in knowing about my past and the roots of my career…? My shock discovery in 2009 hit with such force that it nearly destroyed me. My journey since then led me to publish my first book “I’m Still Standing” in December 2012. It’s the account about overcoming adversity – not just once, but many times over. I wrote it in the hope that by sharing my story, I might be able to give others hope in times of trouble. Or just to find the courage to make changes in their life. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, and feel deeply blessed. My beautiful son is thriving at University, I am surrounded by a wealth of wonderfully colourful friends and family. I love my work and I love my life, happily splitting my time between the UK and my home in France. I have no idea what the future holds for me – but I know that now my life has properly begun. And I’m ready!

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