When life gets tough, as it so often does in this modern, fast-paced and stressful world, it can be hard to let people know that we’re struggling. We fear that we will be perceived as overly-dramatic, weak, too honest, too forward, too emotional, inept.
We fear that we will be judged, that people will think less of us.
It doesn’t matter when people ask ‘How are you?’ (what seems like) a million times every day. If we reply honestly and say how not-great we’re feeling, we worry that we will burden the other person, make them feel bad for us or, even worse, embarrass them with our honesty. Equally though, when things are going really well for us, we still refrain from being honest because we worry that we will make the other person feel bad about themselves for not being as good as us.
So instead, time after time, we revert to ‘Im fine'[or any equivalent expression].
I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. Really, I’m fine. I’m FINE. Until, inevitably, you’re really not fine any more.
At the end of last year, the Mental Health Foundation launched it’s ‘I’m Fine’ campaign. A study by the foundation revealed some shocking statistics:
- A third of people often lie about how they feel to others
- One tenth of people always lie about how they’re feeling
- Men are more than twice as likely to hide their real emotions
- 41% of women have regretted opening up to someone in the past
- 34% of people say they use “I’m fine” because it’s easier than explaining how they really feel
- 23% use “I’m fine” because they feel that the other person isn’t really interested
- one in seven people say they do not have a place to express how they truly feel
This has got to stop! You’re compromising your own health and wellbeing by covering up your emotions so frequently.
You don’t need to struggle on, all alone.
Personally, I’m extremely blessed to have had some incredible sources of support. Some have been there as a constant rock, like the wonderful ‘Mr. Wellbeing and Beyond’, and some I have sought out and put in place myself, like ‘Kick-Ass Mentor’. However, I am very aware that not everyone feels that they have the same luxury.
I strongly believe that we need to open up more; we need to learn to be frank about our emotional state and wellbeing. We need to combat the stigma that still surrounds mental health challenges by being honest and by being compassionate to those who trust us enough to open up.
I therefore encourage you not to close-up shop; don’t give up hope of finding someone to lean on.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Remember that there are many places for you to turn in turbulent times. Even when you feel at your loneliest, you can ALWAYS find some support from somewhere. Try to stay broad minded as the support may come from an unexpected source.
Even if you’re in a good place right now, it could pay dividends to spend some time contemplating your support network and assessing where you might possibly find the support you need in the event of an emergency.
Where should I turn?
Friends, Family and Colleagues: I would start by advising that it is important to have a realistic understanding of your personal relationship with the people in your life. Naturally, we all have different kinds of relationships with those around us, that provide varying levels of connection and support.
Know the difference between the ones that will be there no matter what; the ones who will listen; that will let you lean on them and who will give you real emotional support, compared to those who are likely to only offer opinions and judgements. Choose your people wisely.
Do try to keep in mind that some people won’t be able to provide you with the support you need, but thats okay. Some people might let you down, might not fulfil your expectations; that’s okay too. Don’t take it personally. Try to be mindful that they may not in a good place themselves, it might be that they don’t know what to say or do for you. But don’t panic, and don’t let that put you off sharing your worries.
Your GP: Your GP is a neutral, unbiased and safe place for your to off-load your struggles and to seek the extra support that you need when things get really rocky.
A Therapist: Turning towards a trained professional could be the right move for you. There are so many different types of therapy available now. Whether you just need to talk openly and honestly, whether you could do with digging a little deeper into your psyche, or whether you want help in changing aspects of your behaviour and mindset, there will be a professional out there that can help you.
A Life Coach: There is a growing community of life coaching practices available across the globe. Finding a coach who specialises in the area where you find that you are struggling could provide you with the boost you need.
Online Communities: There are literally millions of places for you to connect with people on the wonderful World Wide Web. Try searching for communities of people who share your hobbies, your struggles, your values and get connecting.