self acceptance Archives - Wildflower Fire Coaching

How are you showing up for yourself.

My therapist asked me a question this week which has been bouncing around my head since the session.

How are you showing up for yourself?

It made me stop and think.

I think it came on the back of a bit of a monologue about all the stuff going on right now and what I was doing for other people. Standard stuff, nothing that probably any other midlife person wouldn’t relate to.

Eldest kid about to sit GCSEs, a bit of ex-husband and co-parenting stuff to navigate, Dad not feeling too well and needing a bit of extra support, Mother in Law poorly, and my husband recovering from surgery at the same time as landing a big piece of work that needed a few nights away from home, some health stuff coming to the fore that I really need to focus on. Oh and running a business with all the day-to-day stuff and stuff that involves.

How are you showing up for yourself.

Well, it’s a good question, and if she’d have asked me a few years back I’d have proudly said mostly by just cracking on and ignoring the increasing feelings of squeeze and tension.

Because that’s what I was very good at. Putting more lippy on, concealer over the concealer and just cracking on.

Do you relate?

I’m not sure it works though to be honest. I’m not sure it works and I’m not sure it’s terribly honest or helpful. In the long run, it’s generally a pretty bad idea too.

Related to this, I read this week, that following an FOI request that 185 out of 317 councils answered, there are 10,000 people off on long-term sick in local government right now. This is up 18% from 2019 and will be an underrepresentation given that data was only provided by 58% of councils. The true figure could be anything up to 17,000 people if the data provided by the councils that responded is used as a proxy figure for the rest. 

Although the data does not include a breakdown of the classification of illness, another survey carried out by Unison this year, showed that of the 12,000 NHS workers they polled, almost 31% had taken time off due to mental health issues in the past year. One in five of these did not disclose the real reason for sickness absence due to fears that their manager would not be supportive.

If we think about what local authorities, staff and residents have been dealing with since 2019.

– COVID

– cost of living crisis

– hybrid working

– impact of rising demand

– rises in costs of fuel

– national political instability

– global conflict impacts

And the fact that a high proportion of public sector workers are women, there is a triple impact in the challenges of public sector cuts that they have to manage. Impact as leaders within the public sector and managing stress and frustration of teams and service users. Impact on themselves of enduring waits for hospital appointments or lack of availability of medication such as HRT or for ADHD. This further impacts on families, with women often bearing the brunt, with supporting older parents who may be on long waiting lists for operations, or other family members who no longer get support such as access to youth services or breakfast clubs. 

No wonder levels of mental health issues and burnout are rising. 

One of the things that I hear time and time again from the public sector people I work with is the endless change, churn, and challenge of how to do more with less. Less people, less resources, and less patience. I don’t just mean less patience internally within the organisation, but externally from residents, customers, patients, service users. People are generally less patient, expect more, quicker and don’t much care that there may be 1.3 people doing a job that previously had 6 people to manage it.

Put that in the context of the endless cutting back, the making more with less, across a sector that let’s face it, the fat was trimmed from a long time ago now. It’s obvious to see why so many people are struggling.

Struggling but not telling their managers, if the Unison survey is anything to go by, because they don’t think they will be supported. Struggling but struggling on, until they can’t anymore and end up on long term sickness with depression, anxiety or burnout. I don’t know what proportion of the 10,000 (or maybe 17,000) people are off on long term absence with mental health issues, but I’m going to take a guess that it’s more than a few.

Don’t even get me started on Rishi Sunak and his sick notes. That’s a conversation for a whole other day. Maybe one day never, as hopefully there will be a political change coming soon enough to enable everyone to kick some of the worst of the last 13 years (unlucky for some, well in fact most let’s face it) into the long grass.

Anyway, back to the original point. How are you showing up for yourself.

It’s been a long time since I had a proper job, since I set up my business in 2014 but some of the old pushing on through habits die hard. It’s taken me the privilege of getting into my 50s to realise that there is no cavalry coming to save me, tell me to eat my greens, take a day off, put that phone down and go for a walk, stop watching Netflix and go to bed.

I show up for myself by getting into my diary and making sure I book my friends in, that I show up on the yoga mat on a Friday morning at 10 am, that I get the shopping sorted so that we’ve got some healthy meal choices in the fridge and to get off this chair every now and then, have a stretch and go and sniff the flowers once in a while. 

So I ask you the question again, in the face of it all, all the showing up for family, older parents, your teens about to sit exams, your best friend having another crisis, your sister that needs you to walk the dog, your teams and helping them manage the pressure, how are you showing up for yourself ?

And if you are not, if you can’t remember the last time you did something just for you. Then get your diary out and have a look at the next time you can book a date with yourself in. A reading a book under a blankie date, a walk in the fresh air somewhere new date, a trip to the garden centre date, an afternoon cinema trip date, a date with a nail salon, a date with a mate, a date with that fancy gym you pay for but hardly ever visit, insert your date of choice.

Let me know how you are planning to show up for yourself this week.

It’s been three years…

I have spent the last three weeks writing up a piece of work that was a follow up from the first piece of consultancy/interim management that I delivered in 2014/5. It was a really interesting assignment, one where I was able to use and further develop my investigative and analytical skills, indulge my inner geek by immersing myself in lots of interesting data, talk to wise and wonderful people across the country and spend time focused on an area which I am hugely passionate about.

Whilst re visiting the area that I started out in, and coming across people that I first met at work 10-15 years ago, it got me thinking about the last few years of working for myself and all the things that I have learnt and done in that time. It got me thinking about what I thought I would do and how far I have come. It got me thinking about what I thought I would do and haven’t yet started. It got me thinking about what I thought I would do and what I am still procrastinating about (see my beautiful Wildflower Fire logo above as one example!!) It got me thinking about what I thought I would do, why I thought I would do it and who I thought I would do it for.

When I set out to start my own business I was one of those people who was out of the house 12 or 13 hours a day for 3/4 and more days a week. I was the main breadwinner and I was doing what I thought was my most important work. I made up for the time that I wasn’t with my young children by packing as much in as possible when I was with them. While I was doing my important work I made sure I went to sports day, Christmas plays and was there for significant events but my important work was never really far from my mind. When I set up my own business my main thought was how to generate more important work.

On the subject of work, I have been fortunate and I am hugely grateful that I have always had enough. Sometimes burning the candle at both ends to get it done, sometimes wondering what will happen at the end of the month, but I’ve always had enough. It turns out that there is always important work that needs doing. What’s changed and changing is the importance of work in the context of the rest of life. The last three years have seen significant life changes, mostly instigated by me, that have impacted as well as enhanced my ability to do important work. Amicable divorce, single parenthood, a couple of house moves, new partnership, start of the menopause, directorship of a couple of companies to name but a few. Along the way I’ve started to realise that I’ve learnt a few things.

I’ve learnt that I like, actually love, professional mess, complexity, problems and jigsaw pieces that need tidying back into some sort of order. I’ve learnt that while I enjoy working to inspire, lead, challenge and develop people, that I’ve not yet learnt to do it in a way that doesn’t take every single last ounce of energy and capacity that I have. I’ve learnt that being clear, assertive, real and respectful gets the job done. I’ve learnt that I don’t tolerate bullshit and that if I trust my gut instinct I can usually see it, smell it, feel it from 10 miles away !I’ve remembered that I have always had an ability to cut through the bamboo and expose the real issues at the heart of a matter. I’m still learning that there’s a time and a place to do it !With reference to number 4, I’ve also learnt that I care a bit too much about what people think of me, what I say, what I write and that this care impacts on my ability to be authentic. I’ve learnt that there’s a place for ego but its best to think with head and lead with heart. I’ve learnt that while I get inspired, energised, motivated by being around people, actually some of my best work is done quietly, independently and in my own way. I’ve learnt that many people want many things but saying no, that’s not for me, I’m not the best person, I don’t want to do that right now doesn’t mean that the world will cave in. I’ve learnt that most people, including me, are beautifully winging it much of the time and I’ve learnt that no one really has the answer any more than I have the answer. I’ve learnt that peri menopause is a thing. A life changing, energy sucking, anxiety ridden, increasingly liberating thing. I’ve learnt that cutting open my chest, taking my heart out and putting myself out there on virtual paper is something that I find really hard, scary and difficult to do. At the same time I’ve learnt that courage leads to courage. Fundamentally, I’ve learnt that none of it really matters.

It turns out that for me, the important work is embracing simplicity, motherhood, putting one foot in front of each other every day and lying down at night and thinking was I able to listen today, was I heard today, did I learn anything new today, did I teach anybody anything today and if I had today again would I do it all again in exactly the same way.