Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 7 – What’s Next?

Who’s still on board?! A huge thanks to anyone who’s watched a video, clicked a link or got in touch. Some of the private messages I’ve had from people have genuinely brought me to tears! I cannot tell you how much opening up has helped me acknowledge what’s going on and get to a stage where I can do this. At the same time that opening up gives permission and acceptance for others to reach out over that common ground to discuss something difficult for them. And so the cycle goes on if you join in and let it – We rise by lifting others!

If anything in particular has struck a chord with you this week I’d love to hear about it! I knew it would no doubt be overload so as well as everything always being here on my FB on Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, I’ve popped the videos on YouTube too so if you search for Sam Watling Coaching then you will find them and all the supporting links in the video description anytime you might want to go back to them.

Today’s video is mostly about ‘What’s Next’. For me, I know for a fact that I’m blessed and yet I’m not at peace. That confirms to me that for most struggling with their MH it’s not about what we have or don’t have but about meeting a deeper need than that which is what I aim to work on. Oh, and most importantly to be kind! Good luck, and remember I’m always here to discuss any of this more if you’d like to!

Further reading:

I do like a bit of Derren Brown and his book Happy was excellent. Hint… The Stoics were pretty close! Here’s an article on his guide to being ‘happy’. 

Speaking of Stoics, here’s a video on their beliefs. ‘What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole thing calls for tears’. Life is difficult. Expect the worst. Accept that it’s highly likely that whatever happens, it could be worse.

What is Imposter Syndrome, and how do we deal with it?! A great article linking to research, a test and some practical ways to deal with it. You’re not weird and you are certainly not alone, estimates are that 70% of us will feel it at some point in our lives.

I love the rock! His positivity and outlook on life is infectious. The whole interview with Oprah is brilliant but his last few words on gratitude were particularly good. Keep in mind what your anchor is, especially in tough times, what or who is it that reminds you why it’s worth pushing on and hoping for change?

Here’s a lovely article on acceptance and how to apply it!

Treat yourself like someone you love – This is (almost) my last post for the week but I think it wraps things up quite nicely.

Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 6 – What’s Missing?

We all have needs and if they aren’t being fulfilled for whatever reason, it can leave us with a sense that we’re lacking or longing for something, that can creep into every-day life and affect our well-being.

What we need could be as simple as a proper challenge, more exercise or ensuring that more of our actions are aligned with our goals and development. Today’s video is a bit about what’s helped improve things for me along with a couple of simple tools to help us focus on the things most important to us.

If you feel like you’re missing something then where might you focus your efforts to get the right balance back into your life?

Further reading:

Absolutely love the idea of Ikigai! Here’s a great article about a concept we don’t have a word for in our language but which has Japanese people jumping out of bed each morning. It’s the cross section where, what you love to do, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs meet in the middle. Many believe that we all have one and it’s our purpose in life to find it! What might get you jumping out of bed to seize the day?

If you’re a bloke in York and you do Facebook then I’d recommend joining York Menfulness. It’s a genuinely sound group of blokes building a support network where opening up is accepted in all circumstances. It’s free and there’s no obligation to share if you’re not ready so why not? If you know someone who doesn’t do FB then there’s a meet up page which details all the events they run including circuit training and ‘Walk and talks’ please recommend for us – Members are also supported if they’d like to run their own events. This group has really helped give me the boost I needed to accept what’s going on with me and talk about it.

This book by Stephen Covey has been a game changer for many. One of the differences of this to other books on performance is that it focuses on character ethic rather than personality ethic. I.e. Rather than appearing a certain way and hoping for success to follow, instead working on basic principles for effective living to set you up for genuine success. This includes the Circle of Influence and concern which I touch on briefly in today’s video!

I was lucky enough to have some group coaching with Andrea Morrison Coaching and have since followed her facebook page and business group. Andrea has come through some incredible challenges in her life and emerged with calmness and wisdom that feels superhuman but which she now works on sharing with the world! Read more about her coaching and follow her pages here!

It may seem incredibly simple but sometimes having a visual aid can really help define what it is that you want to work on. Choose your own headings for what you consider a full life then go ahead and fill up your slices for where you are at right now. This can help to focus where our goals might be lurking and our growth most needed!

Want to volunteer but not sure where to start? Volunteering gets you closer to your community and achieving shared goals which can genuinely be a life affirming experience. It can also help you up-skill and build your network. York CVS is a social action organisation and supports lots of organisations and volunteers across the city. If you need something different and you’re not sure where to look this is a great starting point!

Today has been about looking for the gaps in our experience where we could be lacking. Don’t ever stop searching for what it is that sparks your passion. Coaching for me has opened my eyes not just to the possibility I can help others but that I can continue to change the narrative for myself and grow in the right direction, despite self-limiting beliefs. I’m excited where this journey is taking me and what else I might uncover. Where is your journey taking you?

Opening up in Lockdown – Day 5 – What are you waiting for?

Does anyone else ever find themselves knowing what they should be working on, but instead end up spending time on less important things? Or sometimes even completely wasting valuable time then berating yourself for it later?!

I’m sure we all procrastinate to some extent, and some of it for good reason! But today will be about how we can try to at least be conscious of how we spend our time and how we might be able to keep on track when we need to. Oh and, of course, eating frogs.

Further reading:

One of the things I kept procrastinating on was ‘dealing’ with my anxiety. Each of us is different so this won’t be for everyone, but if you’re feeling overly anxious and it’s affecting your day to day life then you can self-refer online for CBT here. It can be really effective and is a good stepping stone to taking back some control. If you want any more information about it then please do drop me a private message and I’d be happy to discuss in confidence.

Don’t be afraid to talk about this stuff. You won’t make anything worse or vaporise someone into dust I promise. But you will show someone you care!

An illustrated video summary of Eat That Frog! By Brian Tracy with the useful points. It’s geared up mostly to a role within an organisation but the reality is this works for personal growth too. What are you putting off?! Do the worst first!

Here’s a little more on perfectionism and procrastination as well as some great tips to break the loop including a bit on the Pomodoro technique.

For anyone who fancied a go at using the Eisenhower Matrix – Using either the web app (or apple app if on iphone) you can add your daily tasks into the 4 boxes of importance/urgency. You can re-order them in priority and you can set a 25 minute timer if the Pomodoro Technique is of interest to you.

Today has been about how to ensure we focus our action and thinking on the things we are actually able to influence and are most important to our development. How much time is left over for procrastinating after all that, I suppose depends on how far you’ve set your sights!

Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 4 – What are your goals?

When you coach others it’s almost impossible not to coach yourself. Once I began to ask myself the right questions my progress became less hindered by the opinions of others or the types of scripts we all write for ourselves that can get in the way, it was simply about how best to proceed, despite all those things.

I’m not claiming coaching is a cure for anxiety or any mental health problem for that matter, but what I can be 100% sure of is that it can enable progress despite your mental health and that progress can be a force for positive change in your life.

So tell me, what would you like to work towards and what action could get you that bit closer to it?

Today is going to be about ensuring progress on our goals using one of the most popular coaching models. For those who don’t know much about coaching, the late Sir John Whitmore was basically ‘The Daddy’ and this is what his company has to say about him.

Further reading:

Kindness is the theme of this years Mental Health Awareness Week. Why not plan in some time to be extra kind, to others and, even more importantly, to yourself. This happy website has tons of ideas for where to start if you’re not sure!

‘Are you alright/How are you?’ are possibly the phrases we speak the most to each other, so much so they have become a greeting. They are also among the most powerful questions we can ask another person. To start changing it from a greeting to a meaningful question, ask twice.

Using the SMART method to set some goals is a useful way of giving yourself the best chance of achieving them. While we might dream of the big long term goals, they can seem too distant or scary to approach. Breaking things down to more measurable and achievable tasks can set the ball rolling in the right direction. Don’t forget to write it down. That written contract with yourself means something!

Here’s a nice article on how to stay accountable. I find that the more I write down my goals the more accountable I feel to myself. The more I talk to people about where I want to be the more accountable I feel in general. Some people even post their goals on social media because they find it hard to let followers down. What do you do to stay accountable?

Here’s Glenn Close standing up with some brave, honest people talking about how the stigma around Mental Health has affected their lives.

Don’t forget to believe in yourself! Once upon a time we believed in ourselves and in everyone else wholeheartedly, just like this incredible kid! I’m slowly but surely getting that back in my life and it feels right – Thumbs up everybody, FOR ROCK AND ROLL!

Jack Woodhams  from the incredible York Menfulness group has written this brilliant poem about the importance of talking!

Today has been about progress and growth. Whitmore believed, and I can’t disagree, that to truly coach people you have to believe in their capacity for growth and look forward into what drives them to achieving it, rather than just looking back over where they may have ‘failed’ previously. This is undoubtedly and infinitely more important when it comes to coaching yourself.

Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 3 – What are you not saying?

Today I go a bit deeper into what’s been going on with me, how my anxiety seems to have developed from a more long-standing imposter syndrome as well as a useful tool that’s helped me gain some self-awareness. This has not only been pivotal in helping me start to take ownership over what’s going on with me, it’s incredibly useful for helping us own our positive traits and abilities too!

What feedback are you not using to your advantage and what are you not telling the world that might be holding you back?

Further reading:

Check out Action For Happiness and try their 10 day challenge and watch some great videos of how other people are trying to take positive action towards a happier life.

I’ve had a couple of people message me about trying my little task at the end of yesterday’s video – THANK YOU! I know it’s tough right now with all the restrictions but it’s as important as ever to reach out and be kind. Giving credit where it’s due might be just what a person needs to focus on the good things about themselves! 👍

No photo description available.

Can you remember what is was like in school? I can’t remember much of it but I do know I spent a lot of time trying to fit in. Can you imagine if we didn’t feel the need to conform and all felt able to talk about stuff right from the start – Can we encourage the next generation to be more like this ‘Stand Up Kid’.

Here’s a little visual of the Johari window for anyone interested. The idea is to keep growing our open window to become more aware of ourselves. To try and move what we can from our hidden window, and get feedback on some of the things in our blind window, in order to be able to grow and become more self aware and authentic. Remember this does not necessarily need to be the big stuff!

Tell me, what are you good at that you don’t talk about? What have you always wanted to try?! Make it real!

During today’s video you might have noticed me check my language when I said ‘I don’t take criticism well’. Definitive language can direct our thinking.

The book ‘Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes’ helped to solidify this for me. As well as a fascinating story about an Amazonian tribe largely walled off from any other civilisation, it’s a great reminder about the importance of language in our experience of life and how we see ourselves in it. With no words for ‘worry’, no numbers or grammar as we know it, the Piraha people live for the moment in the only way they know how and are found to be inherently ‘happy’/content.

It fascinated me that we’ve come to accept language as something simply to communicate our thinking to others rather than something that can actually govern our thinking. Definitive language is something we all use, but when you define yourself as ‘a terrible cook’ rather than someone who ‘needs more practice’ what doors do you close for yourself?

The book is hard going but worth the pay off if you have time – Here’s a summary if you don’t!

Here’s a fab little article on Imposter Syndrome and 6 ways to start fighting back TODAY!

Big changes, good or bad, can bring about cognitive dissonance especially if it involves uncertainty or letting go of something important to us. This is a wonderfully written article about why it happens and how we can work on coping strategies.

A bit more information about what CBT actually is and how it can be used to help focus on handling unwanted anxious feelings.

Winston Churchill used to refer to his depression as a black dog. This video from the WHO organisation is useful to try and illustrate what living with depression might be like so we can all be more aware and try to be compassionate.

Toxic shame is a fairly modern term for an age old problem. This article has some insight into where it can come from and some of the ways it can manifest in later life.

Today has been, not just about recognising your vulnerability, but your potential too. This quote reminds me, when I’m caught up in one of those unhelpful scripts about myself, that it will pass and allow me to think from a different level about the situation.

It’s also an insight into the idea that we must sometimes go to those deeper levels to try and solve a problem for ourselves. An analogy might be that you find yourself sitting in a cold room. While you could shiver and hope to warm up eventually, the next level of thinking might be to search for the thermostat. Perhaps the level further may be to try and learn the skills to fix the heating system or deeper still to accept that it’s finally time to ask for some help and there is no shame whatsoever in that.

Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 2 – What are you seeing?

Have you ever decided on a new car and then started to see the same model everywhere? Or bought a new item of clothing and suddenly everyone’s wearing it?! It’s not a coincidence, nor is it some secret law of attraction. It’s a part of our brains which we can all make use of to work to our advantage. I’ve been trying to trust mine a bit more to highlight the things I can do to achieve my goals, whether or not I believe I can at any given time.

What might you look to achieve if you could prepare yourself to see all the opportunities available to you?

Further reading:

After talking about my anxiety a bit with someone I work with they recommended I join the mailing list for The School of Life. I’ve never had a recommended mailing list before so I subscribed. A few days later a beautifully written and thought provoking email dropped into my inbox with an entry from their sister site – The Book of Life.

Calming and honest descriptions of everyday life, hope, struggles, relationships. You can follow this link to see everything but I’d recommend subscribing. The emails sometimes contain the odd ad for some really lovely books and games but for the most part it’s a fascinating take on life and I would recommend it for those who like to ponder a little deeper.

Here’s a bit more reading on the Reticular Activating System and why it’s so important for us all!

The Chimp Paradox is a book by Steve Peters. This is a very simplified video explaining his concept but illustrates the idea well. If you find yourself reacting to situations from an instinctive, fight or flight mode, then your inner chimp might be governing the way you operate and this might be useful for you.

Time to Change is a Social Movement attempting to remove the stigma and end mental health discrimination. There’s loads of stories and personal accounts on the website and information about how you can get involved!

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is Kindness. When you look for ways to do something kind for others, you’ve no idea how far the ripples might travel and the benefits on your own well-being! (Yes, this is a Thai Life Insurance video but it’s great honestly!)

Most of the stuff I’ve found online about Appreciative Enquiryis in relation to organisations but I honestly feel we should all be using it when reviewing our own progress and achievements.

It focuses on the good we are doing while simultaneously capitalising on it for future action rather than picking apart or berating ourselves when something has gone wrong – What have you done well recently and how could you do more of that?

CORONAVIRUS ANXIETY WORKBOOK! Sorry for shouting but if you’re struggling with everything that’s going on right now then The Wellness Society have put together this brilliant free little workbook with explanations around what you’re experiencing as well as tools for helping you through. Good luck!

It’s worth stating at this point that I do recognise my privilege. The fact I’m a white male in the UK and all which that affords me is not lost on me. In the 70’s, Imposter syndrome was originally thought to only affect women. It’s since been shown to affect everyone but women and minority groups in particular are susceptible to it.

Recent research last year through Natwest’s ‘Own Your Imposter’ campaign showed 60% of women who have considered starting a business did not due to lack of confidence or imposter syndrome. This is no doubt part of the reason only one-fifth of UK businesses are started by women.

We opened with this video at an International Women’s Week event in February and I think it’s a reminder to us all that stereotypes and bias are formed in our early years. We MUST remind all children they are capable regardless of gender!

Today has been about seeking out what drives you. What connects you to that state of flow you get into when your passion meets your creativity and you excel. Once you’ve got that in mind then start to think, write and talk about it as much as you can. Your Reticular Activating System will help highlight the opportunities and then it’s up to you to grab them – You’ve got this!

Opening Up in Lockdown – Day 1 – What are you saying?

Social media has given us SO much to be thankful for during this lock down, but I am conscious it is never the full story. It’s more important than ever that we’re aware and open about our mental health and allow space for the people we care about to be honest about theirs.

Seen as it’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek I’m going to try and take off the mask and talk a bit about what’s actually going on with me in a bid to remind people it’s OK, in fact it’s vital to talk and keep working on ourselves regardless of what we’re going through. FEAR NOT, this will not be upsetting, it’s about working on who we are and how we can grow even when our brains might be working against us. More to follow…

It was also International Coaching week last week and I’ve spent the last 18 months training to be a coach. Despite having a fairly major wobble throughout that time it has enabled me to keep identifying and progressing on my goals. It’s also given me some light-bulb moments to shine a light on my own mental health journey too.

Along with a video each lunchtime for the next 7 days I’ll be posting articles, videos, resources and contacts relevant to each video which might be of interest or help you with your journey as they’ve helped me with mine.  While this is no doubt the most self-indulgent thing I’ve done to date, I’m hoping that talking about my journey might encourage you to talk about yours.

Welcome to Opening Up in Lockdown – Day One! I’ve spent a fairly large part of my life hanging onto a role I’ve written for myself. It’s something I’m sure we all do to some extent. It’s only been with a spell of anxiety and trying to embrace a growth mindset that I’ve really started to come to terms with just how much playing this role takes it out of me and what I might do to start working on it.

The more I talk to people about where I’m at the more I hear from others their stories and see their strength. It’s never a weakness to accept our vulnerabilities. Today is about the importance of articulating. Getting what may be bouncing around in our heads formulated into full and proper words. So that we may confront it, disagree with it or use it to our advantage. What is going on and what do you want to achieve?

Further reading:

The ‘Minds At Work’ website is a great set of resources for managing anxiety and generally coping with the current crisis as well as a diary of online events to help plan your days if you’re struggling!

Have a look on the NHS Website to help work out what you’re going through – While it might seem an obvious link – it took me a long time to accept the feelings I’ve been having and even longer to google them. Reading up and realising that what you’re going through has a name, that there’s research and treatment for it can genuinely help, not only to come to terms with reality but also to start figuring out what’s the next step to working on it.

“I think everybody should talk to everybody”. Can you remember when you were a child and could just say what you wanted to people?! No me neither, but still I love this video as it reminds me of the simplicity of conversation to connect us. On some level I think most of us just want to connect and be heard.

Got something serious going on and not sure where to turn? The Samaritans have been going 70 years and answer a call every 6 seconds. They are waiting for your call so don’t wait, call 116 123.

Today has been about talking. By being honest about what is going on or what you want, you make it real. In doing so you begin to build your tribe and the people who can share experience, hold you accountable and remind you that you’re not on this journey alone!