I recently had a huge lesson in ‘red herrings’.

After having my thyroid removed early in 2016, I’ve struggled to get my thyroid hormone levels right.  I’ve gone on a roller coaster, switching snail mode of lethargy and depression to being an energizer bunny, darting between tasks whilst experiencing heart palpitations and panic attacks.

Unfortunately the snail in me, was the most prevalent (sob!).  Not all doom and gloom though, there were bright spots where for brief moments, I felt normal.  I always ask myself when going through some torrid issue – what can I learn from this?  I acknowledge that this experience will definitely give me renewed empathy as a coach for clients going through depression or fighting like-situations.  I’m not superhuman though, as this didn’t detract from moments of pure desperation where I grappled for a solution to feeling fully human again.

Last week on my way to a client, functioning energy level at 40% but willing myself to be at 80%, I managed with ease to enhance and embellish the car I was parking next to, with a silver stripe all the way from the back to the front door!! In the moment of realisation, with tears flowing and shock taking hold of my shaking knees, fear enveloped me and the lizard on my shoulder said ‘RUN Quickly, no one saw’.  I know, shame on me for even going there! So guess what I did?

When you spend days coaching others that being fearless is not about being without fear but about being able to walk with your fear, it would have been completely inauthentic of me to not face this head on. Agree?

The note I left on the newly remodelled car went something like: “I’m terribly sorry, I do apologise that I crashed your car. Please call me on xxx and I will pay for any damage.  Terribly, terribly sorry.  Tanya”  (you are welcome to roll your eyes at this and look at me differently the next time you see me).

redherring1I walked away from said car knowing that I was at the lowest point and that something had to give.  Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself what does this have to do with herrings?

In my defence, and just so that you don’t think that I’m an absolute twit, I will share that I did see this breakdown disguised as seemingly ordinary mishap coming!  For the last few snail months I took actions to move myself from snail to lion status.  I had been to doctors, had tests run on my thyroid, increased my medications, exercised daily etc etc.. so it’s not as though I was completely in reaction to this and all the while emotional outbursts and exhaustion were still my central theme. A frustrated despondent me was showing up.  Slinking away from my car that day, I called the hospital and made a time later in that day to immediately run a full suite of tests.  That afternoon walking out of the hospital with a sucker in my mouth and cotton wool on my arm, there was a sense of calmness.  Nothing had changed, I still felt the same but I had taken action.  I realised that I had been in complete reaction to the situation and had fallen into victim mode. When my tastebuds hit the sherbet center of my sucker, I felt I had some power back. I was in creation again.  Creation of a solution.  For that moment, before crashing and burning in bed 1hr later, I felt in control.

The results were rushed through to me the next morning and lo and behold the issue had nothing to do with my thyroid!  Rather a depletion of iron, which popping a couple of tabs every morning for a week started to come right. Simple to resolve!  You would think that I would’ve been over the moon, wouldn’t you? HOWEVER I had a few moments of sheer horror at what had unfolded… For months I had assumed that I had known the answer and had gotten it soooo wrong!!!  I reflect ironically on Einstein’s quote

“ If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes finding the right question, because then it would take 5 minutes to solve”

I had not done that! I had jumped to conclusions and had not delved deeper than the superficial symptoms.  It highlighted to me again, that this is something we often do when relating to relationships, business, health etc.  There and then (whilst kicking myself) I asked myself my favourite question – what can I learn from this? So in no specific order:

  1. Never ever self-medicate!
  2. Just because something appears to be, doesn’t mean that it is.
  3. If something is not working – change it and quickly.
  4. Keep asking questions and get a full spectrum of solutions.
  5. Ask yourself 5 times “What else?” – and dig for the answers.
  6. One needs to have breakdowns in order to have breakthroughs.
  7. And always, always leave a note when crashing into someone’s car (they never called!!).

It’s been a while since the results and the transformation is amazing.  I have placed a picture of a ‘red herring’ on my wall to remind me of the tedious lesson I’ve learned.


Some last useless trivia  – “A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue”.  Origin of saying unknown, but conventional wisdom has long supposed it to be the use of a kipper (strong smelling fish) to divert hounds from following a specific route in a hunt.

Tanya Long  2016/09/18