My coaching work has taken me into the world of mental health and wellbeing and is showing me more sides of this world than I was expecting. From the sporting hero transitioning into a new career, through to the family man and teenager, too much is left unsaid and unanswered because the question is never asked.
In previous articles and blogs I have written about what I believe to be one of the greatest cumulative challenges that we face as individuals HIDI. The summary of which is simple – we fail or are scared to ask for Help for fear of looking weak, our Identity is not clear be that due to changes in circumstances or not knowing who we are, the Direction ahead isn’t obvious, so we amble from one area to another and finally the feeling of Isolation being trapped in a place where no one else understands or can help so we spiral into isolation and loneliness.
What prevents us from asking, just that simple act of asking? Consider these three situations, all very different but all very much the same.
As a teenager fast becoming a young adult, it becomes very uncool to show signs of weakness – it’s an area where others can exploit and pick on. Ask any teacher that has had to deal with bullying in their classes or schools, so much of it is known as ‘ridicule’ or ‘banter’ focused on a difference or a perceived weakness. For the person receiving it can and does have a massive impact, potentially leading to and creating self-esteem and self-belief challenges and further onto deeper issues including clinical diagnosis.
In the same way in the sporting arena at all levels nobody wants to be seen as incapable or weak and will therefore avoid seeking help – the coach and support team have permission to challenge and develop, but nobody else. A football player wouldn’t seek out the best player and ask how they do that special thing, why not – because of the fear of being rejected, feeling weak by comparison or worrying what might be said by others – the peer pressure argument.
Consider the business leader they may have 10 direct reports or 10,000 at no point will they share with the co-directors or shareholders that they do not know the answer or what to do, their husband or wife doesn’t understand what they are up against, employees will never know they aren’t sure which way next and their friends in the pub will always say just go for it you always land on your feet. However, in the background they are haunted by the responsibilities of their own family, all of their employees and their families and the history of the business and creating a strong legacy for the company for the future. Isolation is all around as pride prevents them from seeking support and help, with only the lucky few that have a fully trusted support group around them.
These three examples are all different and very similar at the same time – mental welfare and wellbeing is very much on people’s agenda’s as more and more stories become evident and are shared in public. This has always been around the key difference is more people are speaking up rather than hiding their own story.
The biggest challenge is creating the correct environment for people to ask for help – as the old saying goes you can’t force a horse to drink the water you can only show it the way. Unless someone asks for help trying to fix them is unlikely to work – the three examples above will never accept advice forced on them, age is not the challenge here. We’ve all ignored and avoided great pieces of advice and still lived to tell the tale.
Some food for thought – below are random questions in no particular order focused on Asking for help, reflecting on our inability or avoidance of asking for help, some will simply make you think where as others won’t be relevant to you! Now is the time to ask a better question of yourself and of those around you, for some it’s time to openly ask for help!
- Where will you be in a year or in five years from now, if things don’t change?
- What is in my control right now to create, change or influence?
- When I listen to my thoughts and that little voice in my head, how am I using my energy?
- If you could change anything, what would you change?
- What will it take to shift my thoughts and actions to focus more on what is in my control?
- What do you wish was different?
- How often are you thinking about anything bad that might happen?
- What are you thinking might go wrong here?
- When you aren’t busy/when you are lying in bed at night – what are the things that make you most upset?
- What do you wish you could change about yourself in all of this?
- What’s the most frustrating part of everything that is going on?
- What is going on for you that doesn’t help?
- What helps you cope?
- This might seem like a dumb question, but do you know why you are most upset about what’s going on?
- What do you most wish was different?
- What would be one step forward here?