Life is beautiful, complex, and challenging all rolled into one. It never ceases to amaze me how we learn to manage and grow from the complexities and challenges we experience in our lives.
But sometimes it’s not easy. When our challenges become bigger than what we feel able to handle it is easy to become overwhelmed, emotionally and physically. Lack of self-confidence, self-doubt, fears and insecurities creep into our minds, and at times it can become almost impossible to unpick and make sense of what we are thinking and feeling to decide on the best way forward.
When I think about this, I visualise a group of mischievous kittens getting into our thoughts, left alone to run wild, playing with each thought like a different coloured ball of wool. It’s no surprise that this would be difficult to untangle and put back into order!
During these times the ability to see the beauty and joy in our life can fade. A client once described this as, “her world changing from full colour to black and white” and “feeling unable to find the dial to adjust it back herself no matter how hard she tried”. Another client described this as, “feeling like it was raining inside her every day and no matter how many nice things she experienced the sun just wouldn’t come out.”
We all experience not being able to see the beauty in life at times, this is a normal human phenomenon, whether that’s the result of a painful loss, problems with stress and burnout at home or work or generally feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and fear because of events outside of our control.
This is because our brains find change most challenging. Even positive, exciting change, like getting married or moving house. It can still be stressful and overwhelming for our brains which will do everything in its power to keep us safe by maintaining the status quo. We might hear friends and family say, “you should be happy, don’t worry, you have everything you need, you’re doing well?” Yet inside we are feeling scared, exhausted, low in self-confidence, confused and unable to think clearly to make a plan or dial down our intrusive thoughts.
How many of us, begin to accept that this is just how it is? That this is how it always has been and probably always will be or that there is no solution because I can’t find one. How many of us also think that feeling like this means, “I’m weak” or “I’m a failure” and that not being able to cope somehow translates into not being good enough with corresponding emotions of guilt or shame as you begin to believe what your thoughts tell you. Before long, these thoughts start to infiltrate every area of your life until you begin to wonder, “How much longer can I go on feeling like this?”
At times like this it is crucial to ask for help. It is even better if you can recognise the signs of this downward spiral of thinking early on and find someone to talk things over with. Here at The Thrive Lab we are passionate that prevention is better than cure and that building self-awareness to know when to ask for that help is important in keeping ourselves well and happy.
And we know this from our own personal experiences as well as from helping hundreds of clients with theirs. I talk from my own experience with burnout. I lacked self-awareness and was blind to personal traits that were leading me down this road. I just didn’t see it coming, even though it was something I had always been aware of after witnessing so many of my colleagues off work and struggling with it. And when burnout hit me, it felt as if overnight my confidence had been replaced with a fear, that was so strong at times it nearly paralysed me. Not only did I struggle with work but the impact on my personal health and relationships was affected by catastrophic and negative thinking that made it seem almost impossible to recover. My own recovery was helped by having a coach so that I could explore habits, personal traits and patterns of thinking that had led me to this bleak place.
But the problem is that many of us just don’t think we need to seek help, whether that is formally from a coach or therapist, or informally by saying to someone we trust, “I’m struggling right now and would appreciate it if you could spend some time with me.” We worry about what other people might think about us if they really knew what was going on in our heads, we think we “should” be able to sort this out on our own or we sit and hope that it will just go away given a bit of time. It can be a frightening, lonely and isolating place to be in as we soldier on telling others “I’m fine” when inside we are crumbling, scared and exhausted with it all. In my experience, asking for help was the hardest thing to do.
So, in the week of International Coaching Week the gift you can give to yourself right now is to realise that you don’t need to work this out on your own. It doesn’t have to be this way, you have far more agency and control of your thinking than you realise. We are all beautifully flawed human beings, and I love that about us. Please know that it’s ok to feel like this and there can be a solution, you just might need some help to find it. By partnering with a good coach, you can achieve your best thinking to help you find the perfect solution for you, by you.
A coach will be your biggest cheerleader. You will no longer feel alone, and you will begin to believe that things change and that you can make that happen. Coaching isn’t classed as therapy, but coaching is certainly therapeutic as it gives space to your thoughts, helps you tell your stories and reframe your thoughts and your future, for success on your terms. A coach is like a personal trainer for your mental wellbeing, and I personally would not want to go through life without one.
I know that, at times, I have felt down, anxious, unsure of which direction to take and stuck in a pattern of thinking that is not helpful. And it is at these times when I have found talking to a coach most helpful. I don’t always need six prescribed sessions, sometimes just one or two in depth, focused conversations with a trusted coach will be enough. And I am lucky enough to have coaching friends who will give me their time and attention whenever I need it.
We all go through life experiencing ups and downs. That is why having regular coaching days in your organisation can help people navigate life’s challenges before problems feel insurmountable. Working with a trusted coach can help your people and your teams be at their best. Here at The Thrive Lab we coach therapeutically, and we have the experience, skills and knowledge that enables us to do so skilfully and safely. We are passionate advocates of coaching and believe that it shouldn’t be the holy grail available to the chosen few at the top. In our view, going to see the coach should be like IT software updates or Friday night drinks after work; just part of normal everyday routines that help us work and play better.
What’s not to like about that?
If you would like to experience coaching for yourself, your team or your wider workforce please get in touch to find out how we can help.