Don’t struggle in silence – 10 top tips to lift you if you’re struggling in your life right now
This is a bit of a blog from the heart and I’m sharing because if it helps anyone else out there who’s struggling, that would be great 🙂
So life’s challenges and for me specifically being a single Mum of three, have slowly caught up on me. And the more I’ve taught myself to cope with everything going on, the more I’ve got used to it and the more my tolerance levels have gone up. So I wanted to share with you all, how I’ve been really struggling behind the scenes for a few months now and what I’m doing to change it. I’ve had a little break down but often you need a breakdown to have a breakthrough!
Earlier this year my body and mind really started to shut down on me – classic adrenal fatigue – and I came to fully realise the amount of stress I’ve actually been under. And if I’m honest it’s been chronic stress. And maybe stress (a word we through around a lot), isn’t even the right word. A combination of imbalance, doing too much, juggling, exhaustion, never-ending, loneliness, business challenges, financial pressure, just bringing up 3 human beings! It just all built up. And my usual positivity and vitality fell to the wayside. I was trying to improve my mindset but was just finding it really to shift it and really hard to cope. And the smallest thing (like a radiator pipe bursting!) would just completely tip me over the edge! I felt emotional all the time, I felt like a failure, I was like ‘this isn’t what I want for myself – agh!’.
My personal struggles will be different to yours and struggles don’t need to be compared or competed against. Maybe you’re in the throws of a divorce after your partner left you, perhaps you’re dealing with a toxic partner and don’t know how to get out of your relationship, maybe you’re looking after elderly parents or dealing with the death of a loved one. Or dealing with horrendous teenage years, a partner who has depression, you losing your job, your partner losing their job, fertility challenges, feeling low in life having previously been so positive, dealing with the news that you or someone you know has got cancer, struggling to juggle work and motherhood, being bullied in the work place, just general life fed-upness… these are just a few of the things that some of my BEST clients are currently dealing with. So I know I’m not alone in this.
One thing I’ve come to realise is that there are a lot of people struggling and I’ve put this blog together to help you realise that struggling is OK. And most importantly to remind you that you will soar again!
So a little bit about me before I share my top 10 tips…
The last 10 years of my life have been pretty full on. I had twins in 2008, a nasty divorce in 2009, the recession kicked in and my first business nearly went under in 2010 when my twins were two. I managed to keep my business afloat and I retrained to become an online coach and set up a new business, whilst still running the other business. I became pregnant in 2015 which was a total shock and my daughter’s father made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her (still doesn’t) and so I had her by myself when my twins were seven and a half. Having a baby by yourself when you’re already a single parent, is basically off the scale exhausting and involves juggling beyond my wildest imagination. In 2017 I decided to move to Devon and my parents (who are unbelievably supportive and helpful to me and my kids and I don’t know what I’d do without them!) were supposed to follow, but didn’t because they couldn’t sell their house. So I found myself in a situation where by I was in a beautiful seaside town (which I love dearly!) with no friends and family near by. When I moved my daughter was 14 months old and I soon realised that I was dealing with a toddler who had no fear, wanted to run everywhere, didn’t sleep well, needed physical and mental stimulation from the minute she wakes up to the minute she goes to bed, hates being inside, is a complete daredevil, adventurer, explorer and adrenalin junkie with a passionate, fiery and determined temperament. A truly amazing girl! But a very different child to my twins. So I had to (and am still learning) an entirely new set of parenting skills to cope! Dealing with a high-energy, sensation-seeking child is a whole other level of parenting I never knew existed until I experienced it myself!
And as she’s so visual and physical, she also has very delayed speech. So a couple of months ago when she turned 3, she only said a handful of words, which is really frustrating for her and of course very hard for me. Thankfully the words are starting to come now, but that has been a full time job in itself for me over the last few months. Tabitha also flagged up other SEN alarm bells as her listening and communication is behind for her age and she’s fairly belligerent, only doing things she is motivated to do. So I’ve had to go down the SEN path and come to terms with a SEN label (which is a whole other blog!) and that’s been a really challenging journey in itself. Throw in some childcare dramas which have resulted in me working less hours when I’m desperate to put in more, and a variety of business challenges (and yes doing this with no partner!), you can see how it’s all caught up on me!
People used to say “Janey I don’t know how you do it” and I’d reply strongly “Well thought management, positivity and finding the joy in every day really helps and of course there are people in a much worse situation than me”. And suddenly when people say “Janey I don’t know how you do it”, I’m wanting to scream “You know what? I don’t know how I’m doing it either!”.
Oh and peri-menopause! As many of my previously positive clients have hit peri-menopause (which kicks in from as early as 35 and as late as 48/49 but typically around 42/43/44), they were suddenly struggling with anxiety and depression, a classic peri-menopausal symptom that goes unrecognised for so many women. And I realised that I was probably dealing with that as well!
In short, my days have been too busy, my mind filled with too much and with my age, a big hormonal shift is happening too. All this meaning that I’ve felt like I’m under a big black cloud. It’s been absolutely awful!
And as I started to admit to myself for the first time how much I have been struggling, and that I wasn’t feeling myself, my immediate default was to keep it in! To sort it all out myself. After all I’m the strong one, the solutions provider and the mindset coach. I mean how can a mindset coach be in a situation where she’s finding it hard to cope? Isn’t she supposed to be able to turn everything round with her thoughts? Apparently not. Cue imposter syndrome rearing it’s ugly head. Which then meant I hit a huge roadblock at work, with a lack of confidence and disconnect in my business, which has also been driving me mad and affecting my revenue for months.
And it was only when I confessed how I’d been feeling to a closed client group I run, that not only I felt a huge sense of relief that I’d opened up how I felt, that I also came to realise that there are a LOT of people who are struggling massively at the moment but either don’t realise it, don’t want to admit it, don’t want to deal with it or don’t know how to change things.
As I was, many of my clients were trying to fix things and sort it all out by themselves. Feeling ashamed and even embarrassed to be feeling this way. Genuinely feeling like their whole world was crashing down around them. Feeling like they weren’t where they wanted to be in their life, not being the real them, not happy in themselves, yet with everyone around them (from co-workers to parents to partners and friends) thinking that they have got it all together and everything is groovy.
So over the last couple of weeks, I’ve really taken a good look at my life, reconnected with the real me, not the struggling me (because you can SO lose your real identity when you’re struggling!) and I’ve started to make some small adjustments AND some big overhauls in my life. I put all my BEST principles into practice, accepted some things that I can’t change, really looked at what I could change, had some coaching, have done some soul searching and emotional work and I’m starting to feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
And here are 10 tips to help you if you’re struggling at the moment…
- Struggling does NOT mean you aren’t successful or a great human being. In fact it means the opposite – I know that when you feel like you’re struggling, it can be hard to appreciate that you are successful and doing a good job in life. But when you’re struggling, it actually means that you ARE doing a great job. Because what you’re doing is navigating your way through a period of your life and dealing with a challenge, or plot twist or emotion that is difficult and perhaps not one you’ve not had to deal with before. We also get so stuck in our situation that we forget how many other people would ALSO be struggling if in our shoes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have gone against yourself, blaming yourself for all sorts of stuff – NOT HELPFUL in anyway! In the middle of my meltdown, I realised I needed to stop being so tough on myself and not only have compassion for myself but also do some emotional work that involved forgiving others on my journey (where I was carrying negative energy) and also to forgive myself. This helped to free myself and lift my energy massively. Also what we have to remember is that sometimes when we struggle, it’s life’s way of saying ‘you’re on the wrong path’ or ‘let’s do something different please!” and actually I’m starting to shift things in my life because of the struggles I’ve been under. And I’m starting to get really excited about the changes I’m making which perhaps I wouldn’t have had the guts to do pre my meltdown. When you’re really struggling and you start to fall apart, you have the evidence that says DO SOMETHING ELSE… CHANGE THINGS!
- Just because you’ve coped with challenges before, doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with new ones – This has been one of the biggest learning curves for me in the past few months and I think why I’ve found it hard to get my head around things. I found parenting pretty much a walk in the park with my twins, yes there were two of them and yes it was full on because of that, but they were very well behaved and very easy going and sweet natured. Dealing with my daughter it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I love her beyond words, she is utterly incredible and she is on this planet for a reason and I know she will make a huge impact in the world. But my god have I got to hold on to my hat with her! And I’ve had to be really honest with myself and say “THIS IS HARD. HARDER THAN I THOUGHT” but that is okay. Why are we so afraid to say when we find things difficult? I’m just having to learn new skills to help her and me. And I’ve realised that being a single Mum of twins was a walk in the park in comparison to being a single of mum of twins and a feisty, head strong girl who is not able to communicate properly what she wants/needs. And of course I’m bringing her up 100% by myself! So I have to let go of the former me, because I’m not dealing with the former challenges. I have to build up a new skill set and navigate a different section of my life. Don’t be afraid to let things go, ensure you’re focusing on what’s in front of you and not complicating things by comparing your life to the way it might have been before. Often it’s not actually comparable.
- Struggling does not mean you’ll struggle forever – BIG mindset shift for me has been that all these challenges are temporary. And I keep reminding myself of JK Rowling’s story. She was a struggling single parent a”s poor as you can possibly be in the UK before being homeless” as she stated in her Harvard speech a few years back, before she had her breakthrough. And you do get so stuck in your struggling situation AND struggling identity, forgetting how different you’ve felt before and how different you can feel again as you rebuild your mindset and adjust your life. And when you’re out of your current circumstances, they are very likely to be part of your success story! Deal with the struggles but don’t make the struggles about you. It’s just circumstances, you WILL get through them.
- What are you afraid to change? Who are you afraid of letting down? Who’s opinion are you worried about? So one thing I’ve realised with that wonderful perspective of hindsight post meltdown is that there have been things I wanted to change for a while, but was worried about letting people down. I’m closing my first business Fit for a Princess in Wandsworth this month and I probably should have closed it years ago. It’s not made me any money for a long time and the responsibility has been a big one. But I was worried about my trainers and didn’t want to let my clients down. In the end I realised that not having the responsibility of that business would free up a lot of my energy. So I gave the business away. Yes gave it away. Because there is a value of being free from something, it’s not all about money. Sometimes we need to check in with our fears and be really clear whether they are just. AND whether we can break through them. Are they really as big as we’re making out? I know when I’ve coached burnt out Mums working 50 hours a week in the city that the driver for that work isn’t always authentic. It’s the expectation of a parent or that other people will think they’re weak for stopping or slowing down. Know your drivers and know your fears and get help unraveling them as I did with one of my coaches a couple of weeks back. Lower the fear, embrace the fear. Because one day the fear won’t be a fear at all! Most people know what they need to do to change things, but doing it is another thing. Ask yourself what you’d do if there was no fear (and in some cases no money involved!) and that might give you your answer.
- More people are struggling than you realise. So stop worrying what others think of you and stop comparing yourself – In my line of work I see the behind the scenes of people’s lives. And it always amazes me how different people’s lives really are behind the scenes compared to what you see on social media. Maybe you’re reading my behind the scenes now and thinking ‘I never saw Janey struggling’ if you’re my Facebook friend or follow me on Facebook / Instagram? Let’s be clear here, this is NOT about people sharing things to hide certain things. This is about YOUR interpretation of an image / photo / post. I am still happy whilst I’m struggling! So I’m not being inauthentic with my posts and as I’ve just shared, I didn’t actually realise how much I was struggling until I had this mini breakdown recently. But we mind map all the time on what we THINK is going on in other people’s lives (comparing our back of house to someone else’s front of house), without knowing the facts. Social media means we mind map on a biblical level. So please STOP and question your assumption of people’s posts and the impact it has on you. I know from my BEST program when people join and then I learn what they’re going through, I often think ‘Wow, I would never had guessed that”. And I think that’s the power of that program. Another story to share is I was at the beach the other day and this old couple were sat on a bench. The old man went off to get some coffees and the old lady who saw me smiling at them said “You’re probably thinking ‘ah look at that old lovely couple’, let me tell you dear, he’s been a complete a** to me all my married life and I’m waiting for him to pop his clogs so I can be free” and I chuckled, but thought I wonder how many people were looking at them like I was and painting their own picture – NOT fact?!?!
- Sometimes you need to stop doing the things you love – Yes I’m a huge advocate of doing things you love in life, it’s all about doing things that bring you joy, a spark, set your soul on fire. But in a world where we can do a LOT of things, sometimes (and NOT forever) we need to think about what we really need over what we really love. I was running bootcamps in Sidmouth last year. I LOVED them, I really did. Exercising on the beach as the sun comes up, being with a fab group of women. Perfect way to start the day. But setting your alarm at 5.15am 3 days a week when you have a child that sleeps terribly and you’re already stretched time and energy wise started to catch up on me. When my daughters SEN challenges were brought to my attention at the end of last year, I knew I needed to simplify things. It was a hard decision but they understood because of what I needed to do for my daughter. And if I’m honest I had a real genuine reason to stop them. I had questioned whether to close them sooner as I was finding it hard. But I didn’t want to let people down and I didn’t want to admit defeat. Crazy isn’t it. We push and push until we have a big reason to stop something. Why are we not enough to stop?
- Some people won’t get your struggles – Everyone has different maps of the world so any fears or advice comes from THEIR map of the world that isn’t always applicable, right or helpful to YOUR map of the world. So family and friends may want the best for you, but they might not be able to give you the advice you need. Nor might you not be able to confess how you’re REALLY feeling and what’s ACTUALLY going on. You’ll give part of what’s going on, and share some of your feelings, but either because you don’t want to burden them, you’re ashamed of how you’re feeling or because you think they’ll give you advice and support that isn’t going to be helpful to you, you keep the big things to yourself. This is where it get’s dangerous and why people suffer in silence. This is why BEST is so powerful. Because a) you can share your struggles to two coaches (me and Gill Harvey Bush) who don’t have an emotionally vested interest in you so can say it as it really is and confess feelings that you’ve perhaps never shared before. And b) you become part a group of women in a judgement-free zone who completely have your back. You don’t have to tell your family and friends everything but DO SHARE WITH SOMEONE.
- Watch out that struggles don’t create more struggles – When we focus on struggles we can make them bigger and then things snowball. Really try to objectively look at what you need to do and take the pressure off yourself to fix things quickly. That pressured energy can be a struggle in itself. What are the priorities? What are you making bigger that it actually needs to be? What can you temporarily park to one side? We are living in a generation of multi-tasking, trying to prioritise and doing things quickly. It’s back firing. I’ve had to really manage my thoughts, really look at my choices and boundaries and ensure that I’m not part of the problem here. When in a bad place, we do tend to make things bigger than we are, then we panic, then we procrastinate. Just be honest with yourself AND… this is important. How would you be feeling and what would you be doing if you’d got through your struggles, had found a solution, were on another life path that actually felt great now you were on it. Our energy is everything. I teach this! Mine sucked for a bit, but getting into the success story has been one of the most powerful things I’ve done.
- Listen to inspirational content that lifts you –I’ve done nothing but listen to inspirational content over the past few weeks. My own BEST audios, entrepreneurial podcasts, inspirational business training videos… things that make me feel excited, happier and calmer. The definition of inspire is to ‘breathe life into’, when you’re struggling you need this more than ever! I’ve meditated, allocated 5 mins at the beginning and the end of the day to check in with my goals, values, dreams, ME! Yes me sitting in the middle of all the crap is still here, and I realised I mustn’t forget her!
- Action lowers fear, panic, stress, overwhelm and anxiety – I soon realised that I was stagnating in my struggles, I was getting more and more stuck. Going over them again and again in my head, getting confused, not being able to see the wood for the trees. And the biggest shift came from some small action points that got me making progress. Not huge massive breakthroughs , but little pieces of progress that all added up. I started to say well done to myself, congratulate myself for getting the crap jobs done and smiling about them rather then being bitter about them. As I started to make baby steps, I reminded myself that by chunking things down I COULD make progress and change and that everything I want for myself and my life and my children IS 100% STILL IN REACH!
- To take a break in between school drop off and work or take a lunch break (AN ACTUAL LUNCH BREAK!) to have a 30 minute fast power walk and swim in the ocean
- To simplify my work so that I’m getting more out of doing less. For the next couple of months I’m focusing on my BEST program and in my social media I will be sharing posts mostly around mindset tips. In a world where you can do anything, you can’t always do everything.
- To be clear on my priorities, I cross checked them (a great coaching exercise I do with my clients) and my top 3 are my self-care / mental sanity, boosting revenue in my business and helping my daughter with her speech. So I’m focusing on these.
- I’ve created little blocks of space in the day to remind myself of all I’m grateful for, all the things I have to look forward to, connecting to my authentic business values and goals and doing things that make me smile 🙂
- I’m having a sense of humour again! When we make things more fun, the load lightens right? I’d got a bit too serious. Time to lighten up!
And as I say, please don’t struggle alone.
BEST might be just the thing you’ve been looking for. It has been my most successful program to date and has helped hundreds of women all over the world. I’ve needed to remind myself of all the BEST strategies to help myself recently and as I said above listening to the audios has made a huge difference to me… and I created them!
Imagine being inspired and having all your personal struggles answered anonymously by me and Gill for a whole year?! Invaluable advice and support at your fingertips with content you can listen to anywhere, 24/7. It really is magic.
BEST is open now, click here for details.
I really hope this blog has helped anyone out there that has been struggling…
I’m ready to soar again, hope you are too!