In honour of World Mental Health Day, I would like to share some of my own experiences with mental health.
My mental health challenges were/are related to a history of striving for high performance, anxiety about not achieving high performance and being ‘in control’.
This was particularly prevalent in my twenties.
My main problem was - If I found something about myself that I couldn’t improve, I would obsess over it and make the problem much worse.
For example, shortly after leaving university, I panicked in a presentation to a group and I also failed a job interview when nerves got the better of me.
I spent the subsequent days, weeks and months analysing why these things had happened and my anxiety started to build.
I got myself into a real rut about presenting and interviewing. I tried to think my way out of it, to analyse all I could to try to ‘make myself better’.
This over-analysis led me to experiencing panic symptoms in everyday conversations – which wasn’t a great way to live!
Firstly, the symptoms of panic were very unpleasant.
Secondly, the shame that I felt by ‘failing’ in a social situation was tough to bear.
Thirdly, I knew that if I couldn’t pass job interviews and present to people, how could I progress in my life? How could I achieve things? How could I make my parents proud etc.
Eventually I spoke to a counsellor, who spotted where I was going wrong extremely quickly.
During our discussions she taught me three techniques amongst other things;
She taught me about the 'thinking about thinking' technique – where you take a step back and observe your thoughts. This helped me to recognise negative thoughts and let go of them using imagery that I had chosen. It was incredibly liberating and I still use this technique today.
She taught me how to accept the outcome, you are going to try your best, and if you panic, so what? Accepting that I might not do well at something was a big weight off my shoulders.
She also taught me how to differentiate between a positive drive to succeed and obsession.
As a result of our sessions, the anxiety and panic symptoms quickly left me as a result of stopping the over-thinking.
When coaching my clients, I consistently come across people who’s challenges with mental health have led to a lack of confidence and a negative perception of themselves, which restrict their careers and happiness in general.
What negative thoughts or experiences are stopping you from being content?
Sharing your thoughts with someone else, and reflecting on them, is a great way to be aware of your mental health blind spots – either with a counsellor, a coach or even a friend.
When I speak to people with low confidence, anxiety, addiction or depression, more often than not the root of these challenges are a result of thinking too much about what others think of them.
If I notice that one of my coaching clients needs to speak to a counsellor, I refer them to one of my contacts – and the results have been life-changing for them.
It’s good to talk!
Speak with someone to reflect on your blind spots and find out how you can be happier!