This February 4th is Time to Talk day.
Time to talk about mental health. 2020 was a rough year. 2021 hasn’t started off well either. So it’s imperative right now, that we highlight the importance of having conversations around mental health, disconnection and social isolation.
It’s good to talk.
Even before the pandemic, ongoing stress, burnout, low resilience, constant worry, unresolved anger or resentment have all contributed to poor mental health. These issues have been around forever, so we need to focus on them too, not just the ‘severe’ symptoms.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
Research on the effectiveness of coaching and journaling shows us how getting this stuff out of our head and down on paper, or sharing it with someone who is present and listening, can really improve how we feel.
“A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference. We know that the more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us with mental health problems are made to feel.” – Time to Talk website.
Nobody can make us feel anything.
We all feel. We also have experiences that are very real and personal to us. But notice the last line of the quote above – ‘…made to feel’. Nobody can make us feel anything. It is so important not to dismiss anyone’s experiences, yet having the belief that someone else can control how we feel is unhelpful and disabling.
Instead, if we’re ‘triggered’ or emotionally charged by another persons’ behaviour, actions or words, this gives us a lot of data to explore and if we choose to, it allows us to raise our self-awareness further.
Looking within to understand why we’re ‘triggered’, means we can take action within our control and ultimately feel better.
When we blame the external world for why we feel like we do, we have a very limited opportunity to feel better and move forwards. This absolutely does not mean that other people’s unhelpful behaviour and actions should be tolerated or excused EVER, but if we go within and avoid blame in all forms, we will be better equipped to challenge and influence effectively. We can’t make anyone else feel anything, agree with us or do what we want them to do, but engaging in conversation from a place of self-awareness and accountability, brings great power and impact.
Having a conversation sounds simple enough, so why are we not having them?
In the work we do with organisations here at Rising Vibe, we see all too often the conversations that really matter just don’t happen. They feel too difficult. Too shameful. Too scary. In the moment they should happen, denial and avoidance are often chosen rather than the discomfort of saying what really needs to be said, asked or shared. Questions like…
- What happens if I get it wrong?
- What happens if I make it worse?
- What happens if they think I’m weak?
…move us away from that crucial conversation rather than towards it. These questions come up because we’re afraid. If we want to have the conversation, we must understand the reasons behind the fear first.
The fear is social pain.
Social pain is experienced in the brain in the exact same way we experience physical pain. The same brain circuity (the anterior cingulate cortex) is activated when we feel disconnected, excluded, isolated or rejected, as it is when we break a leg, cut a finger or have a heart attack. The fear of judgment and shame causes us social pain. Social pain hurts us. So we simply don’t have ‘the conversation’. The fear of judgement and pain are integral to the reasons why mental health challenges continue to remain at large.
The only way to truly allow ourselves to learn and grow through conversation, is to adopt a ‘Beginner’s Mind’.
When we begin studying a subject that we’re passionate about, we have an attitude of openness, enthusiasm and no preconceptions. If we’re able to step into this beginners mindset more often, conversations that feel difficult would happen. Curiosity would alleviate fear. There would be a desire to learn and be educated and change would start to happen.
So let’s get talking. It’s about time.
This Time to Talk day, let’s have the conversations that matter, because when we talk we feel better. When we feel better, we do better. And the business does better. A lot better.
At Rising Vibe, we support and challenge leadership to:
- Gain insight into what stops you having the conversations that matter.
- Explore and challenge personal barriers and fears through conversation.
- Adopt a beginner’s mind.
- Have ‘clean’ conversations using the right language.
- Use Rising Vibe’s simple and practical tools to enable conversations going forwards…