Do you ever feel a little bit like a duck, where on the surface, you’re cool, calm, and collected, just floating across the water? And underneath, what you don’t want people to see, is that you’re actually really struggling?
For a long time, I thought that success meant perfection. I thought that successful people looked like the ones I saw on billboards and posters – smiling, winning and achieving.
I thought that if I was struggling, that I clearly wasn’t going the right way. So I hid my struggles, pushed them down and just kept swimming.
But if you try to hold the lid on a boiling pot, it’s just going to blow. In my case, it was always in the form of a meltdown which led me to question my entire life’s direction, and cry inconsolably while trying to communicate what was wrong to my poor family or boyfriend in between sobs (they were often caught off guard, because up until then, I was fine!)
One of the most common phrases in my programmes are that they thought they were the only one struggling with their problem. Part of my role as their mentor is to get them to understand that everyone struggles, and that’s ok. It sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised at how many times they feel safe to share, just because I have created safety and given them permission.
I have found one of the best ways to start identifying the noise in my head is to journal. Get that pen to paper, and just by doing this alone, you can get perspective. Once it is out of your head and onto paper, consider who you might want to share this with (someone you trust) and figure out the right time and place.
One girl in a workshop last week asked when would a good time be to ask the coach for help with what she was struggling with. I said that it was important to separate training from the conversation. Coaches have enough to deal with before training – setting up drills, timing, making sure everyone’s there etc.
If you approach them when the environment isn’t ideal, you’ll likely not get the amount of attention and care that you need for a good conversation. I recommended catching them in the carpark, that always seemed to work for me!!
If you’re a parent, teacher or coach, check in with yourself – how can you model this behaviour? Note – I’m not saying to share all of your struggles, but how can you encourage others to know it’s ok to struggle if you aren’t showing them how? Brene Brown says, ‘Vulnerability minus boundaries is just over sharing.’
If you’re looking to add more tools to your toolkit, check out my burnout to balance webinar. Head to www.brookeneal.co.nz/webinar
If you have a question that you want to ask me, send it through! Each week, I’m answering questions on my social media.