“A new day is on the horizon…”

“…Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have …”

Take courage from all the other women who have, and speak yours.

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World Mental Health Day

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I was reflecting this morning on World Mental Health Day yesterday.  I saw a very moving interview with Frank Bruno about his new book ‘Let Me Be Frank’ and his motivation in creating the Frank Bruno Foundation.  I was very touched by his story and have been very moved over the last weeks by high-profile people discussing issues of mental illness after significant events.  All of this is to be welcomed and applauded.

So I was thinking about the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day being workplace wellbeing.  We tend to think of mental illness as being extreme and sufferers being ‘Sectioned’, but everyday, people are suffering from stress, lack of self-esteem, low confidence, marriage break up etc – all of which may not be traumatic as we think of trauma but can severely affect our performance at work.  The very energy needed in managing anxiety or depression can be extremely debilitating and difficult to manage.

I was talking to someone today who had heard me talk about my work with confidence building in women and he asked me if I worked with men.  We had an interesting discussion about the pressure on men to just ‘pull yourself together’ – or ‘snap out of it mate’.  ‘Big boys don’t cry’ and the pressure to be the strong provider perhaps only adding to the perception that men shouldn’t show their feelings – that it is a sign of weakness.

When a man shows his feelings with another man, that man may feel uncomfortable and not know how to respond.  It feeds into an innate sense in men to be action orientated and ‘fix it’ and they may not know how.  To be able to be with someone in their feelings and really hear them is sometimes all that is needed.  When we are heard, we feel valued.

Later on, after our discussion, the man in question apologised to me for the conversation.  Actually, I felt privileged that he would share his feelings and story with me and I told him that to do that, and to seek help, is a healthy state.  It is a place of vulnerability and courage and from that place can come change.

Some useful things:

Breathe Out

Mental Health at Work

“Our kids have been dealt a bad hand”

I was really struck by two things that came my way this week.  One is the Simon Sinek interview where he explains how Millennials feel about the ‘promises’ they were made about how life is and our responsibility as Leaders and the research from the UCL (University College London) Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool which found that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of 14-year-old girls and nine per cent of boys the same age are depressed.

I was a teenager once and I found that time in my life very difficult.  I had feelings of raised emotions, confusion and a lack of understanding of why I felt the way I did.  I didn’t however self-harm or consider ending my life.  The sad fact of the matter is that many of our young people today do.

Some would argue that teenagers have always felt that this time of life is difficult, raging hormones, exams, having to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life are all probable factors.  This research, however, points out that 10 years ago, the figure for girls was less than 12%.  So there is an increase in incidence of depression in our young people, so what’s happening?

Is Simon Sinek on the right track?  We live in a time when young people will take a selfie an average of four times before they are happy with it and even then may retouch it.  If it’s posted on social media and they don’t get as many ‘likes’ as they think they ‘should’ get, then they will take it down and feel bad about themselves.

Our young people are externally referenced, they don’t want to be different, they want to be, look and do what everyone else in their peer group – not all but apparently a large proportion.  I was different, I didn’t want what the mainstream wanted and I was bullied, in a relatively minor way.  I was excluded from the group, names were called etc. I didn’t have the additional pressure of social media and at my core I had a strong sense that being me was actually ok – even though I was always last to be picked for the netball team.  Over the years I have learned that being different is actually an expression of my individuality.  I have come to like it and I have grown through it.

How do we talk to our children when they have these feelings and this culture? How can we relate to it if it’s not our experience, can we understand it?

I was talking to someone this week who told me that no matter how often they tell their young daughter that she is beautiful or has done well, it just doesn’t sink in.  She can’t accept it.

This research and these issues sadden me.  I want every child to feel ‘special’ as we have taught them, we are all special, individual and magnificent – but in our own unique way. To value myself, to appreciate my uniqueness and my magnificence has been hard work. It has been work.  Work on myself through ‘therapy’ and self development.  I didn’t have the extreme pressures that young people have today.  It’s tough for them and as Simon Sneak says ‘It’s not their fault’.

 

Click here for Independent article on UCL research

Don’t you want to feel great in the world?

When someone asks you how you are do you say “I’m ok” or “Not too bad thanks”.

When I was asked that this morning I replied “I’m fantastic thanks, how about you?”  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges, worries and fears around for me.  It means that I can still stand in my power and my joy whilst experiencing them.

This is because I asked for help.  Being a practitioner doesn’t mean I have it all sorted.  I too need an objective view and support.

Healthy people ask for help.  

It’s ok to not be ok.  You can ask for help.  It’s a positive thing.  You havent failed.  Try it. Try it today.  Reach out now.

Its ok to not be ok

I recently did a talk at an event where I shared my story of how I made a mistake and got myself into a very difficult personal relationship.  The mistake was that I had not listened to my higher self, my intuition, ie my feelings, and I had carried on, logically finding my way through the fog that uncertainty brings. The choice I needed to make in order to bring an end to this relationship was such that I knew others would be hurt.  I avoided making that choice for quite some time.

During this unahappy period of my life I had kept it a secret, I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it.  This was partly due to loyalty but a big part of it was feeling stupid, as in “I should have known … seen the signs … not let myself be x y or z”.

After the talk, I had a conversation with someone who had been in a similar situation and who also had found it difficult to speak to anyone about it.  “I didn’t even tell my Dad”.

It’s hard to admit that we are in emotional pain or in a situation which we perceive as our own fault sometimes.  When we do take courage and share ourselves with another, we can begin to come back to ourselves and clear the fog by identifying our feelings and our true selves.. 

Whether it is a close friend, a stranger or a professional, there is an incredible power in hearing ourselves speak of our circumstances, feelings or fears to another.

There is nothing unwell or wrong about asking for help.  The recent statements by our HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry raising awareness of the issues around mental health have highlighted that it can be an issue for anyone, even the seemingly privileged.

Getting to therapy is a hard, picking up the phone and saying “I have a problem and I need help” is in some ways the hardest bit. People who do that are well in that they have admitted it to themselves, taken the brave step of sharing it with another and are on the first step to recovery.

It’s ok to not be ok.  

How Women Measure Up

I have just returned from a fantastic five days in the beautiful Devon countryside where I followed one of my passions, dressmaking.  I was learning pattern cutting – a method by which you can design your own clothes and make a pattern to your own measurements, instead of making something from a bought pattern and then finding that it doesn’t fit properly.

One of the first things we had to do was strip down to our undergarments and measure each other in pairs.  The stripping down was reasonably ok because most women are used to being at the swimming pool or gym and seeing other women getting undressed, and actually when faced with the task we just got on with it. So, a bit daunting because we had only just met but not too scarimg_20170402_132327.jpgy.

Once we were measuring each other I noticed all the negative self-talk going around the room: “my boobs are too big” or “I have a saggy this that or the other”.  It was quite noticeable and continued throughout the remainder of the course as we made our patters and, ultimately, our bespoke dresses.

I have been aware of my own negative self-talk over the years but I found myself shocked by what I was hearing.  I guess it was because we were seven women, in a fairly confined space, looking at ourselves closely and it was relentless!

The facilitator of the course said that her son had been in a workshop previously and had noticed this too and had asked “Mum, do women do this all the time, ‘cos a room full of guys wouldn’t do that?”

Why ARE we so hard on ourselves.  Why DO we find it so hard to accept ourselves as we are?  It’s absolutely ok to want to improve ourselves, I have no problem with that, but why do we have to be so harsh on ourselves whilst we do it?

Are we critical of each other and therefore critical of ourselves.  Is the negative we see in others a projection of what we dislike about ourselves?

Let us women come together and say “I am OK, I am doing the best I can, I am enough right now and I am just unfinished.”  OR let’s really go for it and say “I am beautiful, gorgeous and talented.”- who are you not to be?