In a week in which we saw Dominic Cummins and Boris Johnson, who were former friends,
trying to knock each other down with their words and opinions about each other; what they said, how they said, it has never been more important to understand the value and effect of language and the role it plays in our lives.
I realised this more so during a session I had recently with a person whose name I shall change to John for their anonymity.
John’s story certainly embodies the importance of relationships and how words, and their message, can have a huge impact on our lives and our actions.
“I was very down and had decided to leave this world forever.” John told me, “When a text from my friend came through and literally saved my life” He continued.
” I sat on my bed staring at my phone. I convinced myself that this selfish act was entirely selfless. I would tell no one. I truly felt that the short-term pain of my death on those around me would be far less traumatic than the long-term pain of them knowing that I was struggling and failing at life.
After all, I was doing it for them. Not me!
I felt ready to carry out my plan, to put an end to the misery. Just at that very moment, I heard the faint buzz from my phone. A message? One last act before I am gone forever, I thought.
So, I took one last look at my phone. It was a message from my best friend.
It was not even much of a message, really. Just a single word “PUB?”
It was his simplistic way of reminding me that we were meant to be meeting that night. It was just him checking in, but the timing was miraculous. At that moment I felt a strange sense of belonging. Someone had thought of me, was showing interest, and wanted to spend time with me despite the mess inside my head.
I did not go through with my plan. It was a year before I felt able to confide to my best friend what had happened that day. What his one-worded text had accomplished.
He was shocked. He had not realised I was struggling so much. He just did not see through my façade. How could he? It was not because he did not care or didn’t want to help and support me. He was simply unaware, I had never spoken about anything, never reached out!
I had never allowed anyone into that part of my life. I had masked all my troubles and hidden them from sight”.
John’s story reveals that some people value their independence so much that asking for help seems like a weakness. Others simply find it too difficult to open up to friends and family through fear of letting them down or burdening them.
They may have a gazillion reasons why it is not important to reach out for help and will make many excuses to stay silent. Some might feel they do not want to be a concern to their loved ones or to make a fuss… we all have problems, right? There are far worse off people!!
But does it really have to be such a difficult thing to reach out to people? Do our problems have to be diminished because there may be others who are worse?
Maya Angelou once said:
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Have you ever experienced that strong desire to share with someone what is going on in your life, but you just cannot seem to express it? I say you should not carry that weight alone!
If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken. You do not have to be positive all the time, in fact, it’s just not realistic. It is perfectly okay to feel sadness, anger, frustration fear, and anxiety. These are all emotions that have a role to play in our lives.
We have a variety of feelings for a reason and you are not a negative person for experiencing negative emotions. It makes you human.
Suffering alone can be a very challenging and harmful experience.
Your pain and difficulties are just as important as anyone else’s. You must give your feelings the value they deserve and that starts by valuing yourself and your friendships. Those who love you would not wish you to do it alone!
It is not good enough or helpful to tell yourself to “toughen up” or to “get a grip” or even to ignore what is happening inside you. But here is what I believe, you can learn to reverse those sad feelings into more positive ones.
While there are some methods that require you to dig deep and explore your inner self in detail, there are also other more simple and effective ways to beat the blues. Both have value and can be hugely beneficial.
1 – Spending more time outside in nature going to your favourite location.
Laughter is guaranteed to lift your mood so do whatever makes you laugh and do it regularly. Even a good cry will alleviate sadness. Tears can release pent up emotion. Sadly, we are taught not to cry but that is wrong. It is particularly prevalent amongst males, the stigma.
While your favourite bottle of wine can be a pleasant experience with friends it is not a good technique for letting go of sadness. It is scientifically proven that alcohol increases depression and exacerbates feelings of sorrow.
2 – Reaching out to someone you trust can be transformative.
Having that logical conversation with someone can help you put things back into perspective.
Allowing someone to listen to you can help you sort through the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. Reaching out to a friend offers you a safe place in which to talk. There is nothing like a sense of belonging and acceptance during difficult times.
It is normal for everyone to have periods of low mood. However, if your mood is continuously low after several weeks or if you notice any other unusual symptoms like loss of energy, trouble concentrating or difficulty sleeping, you should seek professional help.
Getting support from friends and family is valuable, but it is important to recognise when you need something more. There are experts who can give you the right information, guidance and offer certain services and therapies.
It is worth remembering that for every feeling, thought and emotion you are having there will be many, many others experiencing similar. You are not weak, weird, or abnormal, just human. True strength does not lie in never falling but rather in getting back up every time you fall.
I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”
If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
About Dr Maurice Duffy
Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.