3 things that cause me immense stress.
application forms for almost anything
Attempting to understand what clothes go with each other
Deciding when what people are saying is not genuine it's just something they are saying to be polite.
I imagine these are quite surprising to most people but they are part of my life now.
In the past my mask knew how to deal with all of these things.
The thing is wearing the mask that allowed me to appear normal was just making me worse in the long run.
So now I swap better mental health on a regular basis for occasional stress that I can manage very effectively with simple strategies.
What stresses you out that you think is unique to you?
What does disability mean to you?
When you think of neuro diversity do you see it as a disability or as a gift and opportunity.
For me in reality it can be both, sometimes at the same time but there is so much misunderstanding and misinformation that is so prevalent we need to have the difficult conversations.
We need to allow people to ask the questions they would normally be to embarrassed to say for fear of offending someone.
They also need to hear the answers not just from medical professionals but those who live with the reality of being Dis Abled by society ( the emphasis on the word is intentional)
This is what I do.
This is how I can help you make a real difference to your staffs understanding of mental health and just some of the hidden disabilities they may face whilst working for your company.
So today I want to talk about exercise and for those who have been with me for a while you will possibly remember my particular problems with exercise and how I used it as a cover to hide my purges after binge eating sessions.
In the context of stress and stress management it is without doubt one of the best and simplest methods for reducing stress and the chemicals stress leaves in our bodies.
As my own experiences show though it doesn't work for everyone and that is at the heart of #thestevensonway finding what set of tools are best for your individual circumstances.
Many people use exercise as a distraction technique rather than a processing technique and it's important to understand the difference.
I cover all this and more in my stress awareness and stress buster sessions.
If he didn't love himself he was always going to find it hard to love me.
I used this phrase recently in a conversation with a potential new client.
We were talking about how our parents and our childhood in general has a much greater impact on our daily life and our reactions to things than we often give it credit for.
I was using my own experiences as a mirror to highlight my father's behaviour, my reactions to it and the subsequent long lasting behaviours it spawned.
Using my experience we were able to look at the cause and effect in their own behaviours.
Our experiences were not similar in any way but our reactions and behaviours were.
Sometimes you just need someone to hold up the mirror and tell you to open your eyes and see what everyone else sees in you.
Stress if I type it into my emoji search this is what comes up. 😥
Kind of says it all really.
We all have it.
We all deal with it differently.
When we talk about workplaces and absence rates the stress word will always appear.
Thing is have you ever looked at the how you run your business from a stress first point of view.
Way to often we see stress as being a person only problem.
Make the person more resilient is the default situation.
How about taking the stress points out of the process.
How about removing the redundancy and the obsession with perfection?
You might be very surprised at the results.
It's the dreaded Monday morning.
I hated Mondays with a passion I never used to sleep on a Sunday because if I didn't sleep Monday wouldn't come.
Dumb I know but I would have tried anything to escape the hell that I was trapped in.
If you are struggling this Monday you are nowhere near as alone as you might feel.
Take some time this week to just sit, be quiet and be still even if it's only for a few minutes.
You will feel like a complete eejit doing it but the first 3 or 4 hundred are the hard ones. After that it's all downhill.
There is plenty of other things that might help but stillness and silence are great starting points for begining your journey to happier, healthier Mondays.
👷♂👷 Preventive Maintenance 👷♂👷♂
Preventive maintenance has the following meanings: The care and servicing by personnel for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
If you work in manufacturing or engineering I am preaching to the converted here. In fact I am sure my main man John Krieger is nodding sagely about how much money businesses throw away short term by not paying for quality maintenance on their shiny new purchases before they have to call him in to do his "It Verks" miracles.
Now swap the shiny piece of expensive equipment for your brand new member of the team.
That newly trained Solicitor, Architect, Accountant, GP, Dentist, Physio or Mortgage advisor.
Or what about Dave down in payroll who is the only one who knows how the database works?
Maybe its about time you considered some preventative maintenance for your people as well as your expensive equipment.
"I didn't like the pictures in my mind so some recreational drinking was called for to help blot them out. Alcohol would play a huge part in my coping strategies from that point forward. Those days and weeks fundamentally changed me as a human being. I learned to wear a mask on a daily basis."
I wrote those words last weekend whilst working on #thestevensonway
In order to move forward I had to go back and deal with all the demons of the past.
To move forward though you don't have to tell your story on social media. I have but that was my choice.
You don't have to pretend you have it all sorted. I definitely don't.
You don't need miracles and road to Damascus moments. Those are great for TED and keynotes but if your change starts with a quiet whisper in the dark it is every bit as monumental for you as the best story you ever heard on Oprah.
Take off the mask. You deserve better.
I have had a pretty traumatic life.
When people talk about what I have been through they are drawn to the big ticket items.
The murders, the suicides, the bombs and shootings.
The thing that terrified me most out of all my years of poor mental health was my years in the Health Service.
I was literally paralysed with fear that I would never be able to break free from a job that was killing me little by little with its pretty politics and ineffective leadership. A job where I was always the outsider, always the lone voice, always asking why?
Towards the end of my last bout of employment it took more courage and determination to get up and go to work than I ever needed in my military days.
Don't undersell what you are going through and what you are experiencing just because it doesn't (in your mind) stack up to what the keynote speaker at that TEDx event went through.
Monday to Friday 9-5 came closer to killing me than anything else in my life.
💥💥Shut up and say thank you.💥💥
This was the essence of some stellar advice I received today from on of my LinkedIn connections.
We were talking about my plans and the business side of #thestevensonway and he called me out straight away on something I always have trouble with and that was the gracious acceptance of praise.
I was relating a story about a person I have been helping who had called me inspirational, amazing and a wonderful human being.
I didn't like hearing praise and immediately downplayed it and distanced myself from it.
My friend made me flip the narrative and see it from the others point of view and how my lack of gracious acceptance would appear to them.
Lesson learned smile and say thank you because if the other person is praising you you owe them the respect of not dismissing it because it makes you uncomfortable.
What's the best bit of advice a linky has given you?
For years I feared that if people knew the real me no one could love me.
This fear paralysed me.
This fear clouded my judgement.
This fear nearly ruined my life.
To get past it I had to acknowledge my fear. I had to admit I felt that way. I had to get out of my own head and see me the way others did.
Just because the voice is in your head doesn't mean it knows what it's talking about.
For years I feared that if I let anyone see the real me no one could love me.
I felt fear almost every day.
The fear was driven by the stigma I was sure I would face if people knew I was struggling.
If people knew I had an eating disorder they wouldn't see me any more just the illness.
The fear ruled me for so long.
Loosing the fear changed my life.
What do you need to loose to start your change?
I spent years fighting therapy as for me it couldn't fix what was broken.
One day I realised it wasn't there to fix what was broken it was there to show me I wasn't broken in the first place.
This is one of the fundamental building blocks of my recovery.
It will play an important part as one of the pillars of success within The Stevenson Way.
Stop thinking of your mental health as broken/fixed and embrace the fact that it is a moveable feast.
Who's with me?
Embrace your uniqueness.
Be proud to be you.
Is this meaningless click bait or a powerful message.
Or something else entirely.
In reality it's just pixels on a screen or words on a page.
The person reading them will decide what they are based upon an absolute multitude of different factors and they will normally make that decision in a fraction of a second.
For me the fear that someone would judge me negatively if I embraced my uniqueness forced me into a life of conformity.
It forced me into masks that I wore to fit in.
It forced me into isolation for fear of rejection.
So what does my unique look like?
It's 0737 as I tap away at my phone I have been awake since 0504.
A friend and mentor gave me a lot to think about on Monday at 0504 my brain delivered the answer to all of the questions I was asked as a gestalt vision.
I literally woke up with this whole road map in my brain like a Hollywood movie.
This is just one of the many things that make me that little bit different.
What is it about you, that makes you unique?
I am the quintessential bookworm.
I am always learning.
Almost every photo of me as a child on holiday I have a book in my hand.
I have read voraciously for about 40 years.
Fiction was my thing and it was mostly SF and Fantasy then wider ranging into crime, horror, thrillers.
I dabbled in biographies and technical stuff around subjects that interested me but a rip roaring adventure was always my thing.
I have cancelled my Kindle unlimited subscription today as I have read 3 books in the past 2 years.
Don't ask me how or why but I have lost the joy of reading during my recovery from my last bout of severe PTSD.
I used to be three a week most weeks.
I have started plenty, I have returned to old favourites, I tried paperback, hardback, kindle, Kindle app on tablets, even audiobook but nothing works for me anymore.
I am also having similar problems with podcasting and radio, Radio 4 is no longer my comfortable friend during my working day.
We put a huge emphasis on life long learning.
We want courses and certificates galore to prove you are constantly improving.
I am Neuro Diverse and live with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
My learning is not your learning please try and keep that in mind
Why do we do it to ourselves?
Why do we do things that we know are going to cause us problems?
I don't know why other people do it but for me it was only once I made myself do the stuff that caused me problems did things change for me.
I spoke on Thursday about some of what has happened to me in my life to a room full of people.
The feedback has been absolutely mind blowing.
What no one on the evening can see is my right leg trembling uncontrollably.
I swore a couple of times and I only swear as a general rule when I am under extreme pressure.
I stutter a lot and lose my train of thought.
I missed out 2 of the main points I wanted to bring out because I forgot to look at my notes.
Friday was a terrible day for me inside my own head. I was anxious, agitated and my inner voice was giving my ego a proper going over.
Thing is I now have enough self awareness and understanding of myself and my own behaviours to ride it out.
To tell the voices to put up or shut up.
To wake up this morning back in control and rightly proud of what I achieved on Thursday and what I achieve every day.
Never think you are less than those "crushing it" you only see part of the story.
How bad does it have to get before you take action?
On the face of it, it seems like a fairly simple question but it is far from it.
Context and the people involved are key to the answer to this question.
Two years ago I went for a job interview for the job I had been doing for the past four years.
It was becoming a full time permanent position at the same grade and pay as I was already on.
I went in gave what I thought was a decent performance and didn't get the job.
I am now pretty sure it was far from a decent performance and was probably a train wreck of epic proportions.
I was so angry at the time.
It was everyone's fault.
It was a conspiracy.
None of it had anything to do with me.
Less than 8 weeks later I was a broken man puking in the toilets at the GP's surgery trying to find the words to tell him how bad things actually were.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone reading this post it would be this
Learn to take action when things go wrong and take action early.
I never have, I only ever faced things when there was no other option.
Dealing with sh1t early has been a game changer for me.
What sh1t are you going to get sorted today?
Give yourself a break!
Don't be so hard on yourself!
You are your own worst enemy!
I am sure many of you will have heard these words or similar at some stage.
Especially if you are anything like me.
I have mentioned, possibly once or twice 😉 that I have had some pretty severe problems with food in the past.
I have also been in a much better place the last 18 months.
Until Tuesday this week. I slipped rather badly on Tuesday and for no real reason either.
None of my normal triggers were present and I was eating for the fifth time in 4 hours before I was able to stop and get back in control.
This would have triggered self hatred loathing and purging in the past.
The lesson if there is one is not about the eating it's about the way I think about myself in 2019 somewhere along the line I started to do the things at the begining of this post.
When was the last time you gave yourself a break?
I am one with LinkedIn and LinkedIn is one with me.
I repeat this mantra before I press post on all of my content.
It has been the secret to my phenomenal success here on LinkedIn.
I just imagine success and it happens if I want it bad enough.
Hands up all those who believe me....
What no one....
No one has ever imagined themselves better from cancer.
No one has ever wished themselves rich.
And no one has ever thought themselves out of mental health crisis.
Lot of PC type stuff in all aspects of life these days lots of posts about the right and wrong things to say to people with MH issues.
Just remember if you think someone can man up, snap out of it, pull themselves together all you are doing is asking them to think themselves fixed.
It just doesn't work so how did it become the norm.
How do you open the door when you know someone is struggling?