Never let them see you sweat

Written by Glyn Conlon

I see the big picture, organise the details, meet the deadlines, and never let it seem as if I need support.

I had never asked for appreciation or acknowledgement, I wore the lone leader cap, both with family and my career. I’ve got this as my badge of honour, that is, until I noticed that perhaps I wasn’t appreciated anymore. When did this happen to me?

When did I become unnoticed, unappreciated, undervalued and undone. And when did it start to matter?

Is this the big M?

Yep, I was on top of it all the time…except when a task veered beyond my toolkit of expertise. But that rarely happens. Right?

I’m here to admit it happens more and more of late. What I’m talking about is self-doubt that comes with Menopause. Those changes in my body and in my mind that I am trying to pretend don’t exist.

I now find myself saying “I am not prepared to drop this because of the principle of it”. That niggling sense that I am going in a different direction to the rest of my family and they are looking at me weirdly.

Pre the big M, sometimes the task is too foreign, the time too short, the energy too finite to pull it off. And then I’m stuck acting like a Lone Leader, trying to operate without the necessary support. Then I get hit with the sick stick and “have” to stop.

This pattern is on incessant repeat in women’s’ lives and possibly men’s lives, although I’m not as sure because in my experience, men are not talking about a whole lot of stuff. They suffer with anxiety and depression just like women though.

I have reflected on the reasons a Lone Leader prefers to operate solo, even when overwhelmed and here they are:

You could be accused of being high maintenance. You could raise eyebrows and whispers in the powder room like “how did she land this job”? Or at playgroup “what is she thinking, I’m a mum; I would have handled it SO differently”.

Will they think you’re a pest?

Will they have more important people to support and no one will answer at all!
This imagined consequence of rejection is enough to keep you from raising your hand; unless, that is, it’s to help clean up.

Or are these reasons in our own heads?

Are we perpetuating our own futures?

Is what my kids say to me actually true? “Mum you need to talk to someone and get help with your feelings…”

Holy shit! What about some acceptance or recognition of the things I have achieved! The self-development hours I’ve put in. I want someone to see me with fresh eyes, see me for the growth and the investment in myself over many years.

Until recently I had forgotten the basic simple human trait – Others want to help.

When you can ask someone to help you, they are instantly flattered. Beyond the initial ego-boost, your potential helper experiences a sense of validity and purpose. It’s almost like you’re doing them a favour.

According to recent research, heterosexual marriage is an unequal institution. Women on average do more of the unpaid and undervalued work of households, they work more each day, and they are more aware of this inequality than their husbands/partners. They are more likely to sacrifice their individual leisure and career goals in the relationship and for their relationship.

I have two daughters 30 and 27 years and a partner . A year ago started I noticed I was feeling blue a lot more. I caught the symptoms a lot later than some of my friends. I wanted more fairness and equality and HELL YEAH I wanted more understanding, team work and to be heard.

Then I asked, if society undervalues most of my work, perhaps I do too. Time to start doing what I ask my clients to do……Journal.

I notice my children who come from the “pampered” generation. They know more about everyday things, especially technology and are able to do things quicker. Often looking at each other as if they have finished the book and I am way back at the forward.

Please let’s stop talking about what’s gone wrong, what’s going wrong or who’s wrong — let’s plant trees together and save the future, I say.

Maybe, just maybe women are subordinating themselves! Are we undervaluing ourselves in our relationships, our careers and with our children? Are we enabling the struggle of menopause?

Then I utter those famous words …ahem cough cough – “Coach!, Coach thy self”!

My life takes on a warm glow when I keep a journal. This type of journal is special and is based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D

The way I journal is to has two components to it, firstly to hear my feelings and to know that when my needs are not being met, this stirs feelings I don’t like and I can then make an action request; a powerful component to listen to any pain that surfaces and discover the beautiful needs that lie underneath any hurt and misunderstandings. I then look at specific action requests to meet that need; a very powerful part of moving forward for future peace of mind and connection with your partner, family or workplace colleagues.

Then lastly, just before sleep; simple gratitude. A quick 3 minutes of indulgence is enough to lift my mood and bring forward opportunities.

My Mum who is 87,is an ornery character of late, her badge of lone leader is, never asked for support and never will. She is so proud of that mantra.

I have discovered that by giving her a journal she eventually tells me that she needs to know someone cares and is listening and that helps her think she can go on. The anxiety seems to take her from behind and with a flurry of texts to me she is once again complaining about everything that has ever made her sad in her life and everything that is not fair and how everyone there is unkind to her. Post journalling she seems to be embracing peace of mind.

This is possibly her own beliefs catching up to her and being played out on the big screen before her eyes each day. These beliefs have always been in her life yet and now she has a way of journalling them through to clear them from her body and her mind. Its early days still.

What can I learn from her behaviour? To work through things as they arise to look at my needs as my guidance and know they stimulate feelings I don’t like and then do the journalling to breakthrough these beliefs, habits behaviours and doubts.

In a study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep. They reported faster time to sleep, improved sleep quality, increased sleep duration, and less difficulty staying awake during the day. This is not because their life was simply better – levels of gratitude are more dependent on personality and life perspective than on life situation.

Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.

A small bit of jealousy or envy directed at the right target is motivating. Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.
Did you hear social media swan in the back door?

How does gratitude reduce feelings of envy?

An attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy. Benevolence and inadequacy cannot be completely perceived at the same time.

Make sense?

I propose our greatest joy needs to come from our work and from our families. Perhaps nurturing our life’s work which includes our family, rather than excludes our career.

I propose a purpose which starts when we are kids, takes a detour or sabbatical when our kids are born, comes back with a vengeance when our kids are whatever age you decide and then our passion and purpose continue until grandkids, then right back into it.

Fear is our greatest enemy, not our children or our partners or our bosses. Let’s self-coach ourselves to peace of mind.

Loads of love


Glyn Conlon Communication Mediator

Glyn helps business professionals resolve conflict by communicating effectively so they can protect the things that matter most– in the workplace and at home.

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