Working Around Obstacles.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you.  If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up.  Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

It’s safe to say that I’ve hit a few obstacles over the past few years, especially where work is concerned.  Most recently it’s been with promoting my mental health talks, and programme. 

I often compare it to trying to climb Everest in flip flops.

I know that everyone who is trying to do their own thing struggles with this, but I’ve found that my old pals, anxiety, and depression, make it even more challenging.

To get my work out there, I’ve mainly been trying to reach people by e-mail, as that’s my safe space, my comfort zone; while I’ve had some success, the ratio of responses received to e-mails sent, was depressingly low.

Having worked as a letting negotiator, I know that the best way to sell is to get on the phone (previous managers spent a lot of time hammering that into me and my colleagues’ heads), e-mail is great, but it’s a bit…. Dare I say…. Lazy?

Since my breakdown, I’ve found it harder to pick up the phone; I’ve tried it a couple of times, with the same result, I go into paralysis; I’ve ended up sat at my desk, sometimes for an hour, unable to move, or even function properly, let alone pick up my phone, dial a number, and speak to someone.  I tried to encourage myself, even force myself, but I just got more and more stressed and anxious with myself, and my inability to do a very simple task.

Kim has done a lot of networking to help get her business growing, and I know I should be doing the same, but again, it’s something I struggle with, if I am on a Zoom call, and someone mentions ‘break-out rooms’ I start to panic.  I described in my last blog (Finding Your Identity) the issues I have with talking to people.

I’ve tried to figure out what the block is, and I think it’s a combination of several things, fear (of failure and rejection), low self-esteem, and a lack of self-confidence.  The last two have taken a huge battering over the past couple of years, and I’ve reached a point where I have completely lost direction in what I’m trying to do.  I enter a negative spiral, often getting wrapped up in thoughts that my stuff isn’t good enough, and question, why would people want to listen to me? 

If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you’ll know that I have a particular relationship with an imaginary baseball bat, that I often use to give myself a jolly good thrashing, and it’s been coming out more frequently over recent times.

The problem with all this emotional wrestling, is that my mood plumets, and I fall into, ‘the end is nigh’ way of thinking, and it takes a lot of time and energy to pull myself from that darkness.

What I’ve decided to do is to pause on the mental health stuff for a moment, there’s an obvious brick wall there, it’s high, wide, and very thick, so all I’m doing by running into it, trying to find a way round it, is making things worse.  I’m not saying I’m giving up with it, I’m just parking it for now, accepting that maybe that wall is just a bit too much of a challenge for me right now.

When I talk to my counsellor, she is always impressed at my ability to keep going, to pick myself up, dust myself down, and go again; while I do see it, it’s something I’m finding harder and harder to keep doing.  It means that I’m having to be a bit more cautious and selective as to what I do.

I’m a bit like Wile e Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons; I have an idea, get excited about it, put it into action, and then seem to fall flat on my face as I start hitting obstacles, and that brings on the feelings of failure and frustration.

It’s not that I expect things to just happen overnight, or easily, I know there are challenges to doing anything, the problem is that I find it harder and harder to deal with those obstacles when they come up. 

What I’m learning to do is stop, wait a bit, and then go again; it’s a difficult, frustrating process, but it’s all my brain will allow me to do at the moment.  How long I stop for is dependent on the size of the obstacle.

So, I’ve got a couple of things I’ve ‘parked up’ for now, which are the mental health stuff, and the NHS project I started, and I’m focusing on something that’s a bit more fun and doable for me right now, and that is writing.

I’ve mentioned it before, writing is my happy place, I had to stop it too recently, but I’ve got back into it, and am finding real joy from it again.

I’ve got two projects I’m working on; the first is fiction writing, but I can’t really say too much about that right now; the second is a book based on Kim’s work with Make Peace With Money, with contributions from myself on the mental health side of it.  The book is called Becoming a Money Warrior – A Manual for Money Self-Defence.

There’s nothing quite like the flow I get into when I start writing; sometimes it’s a bit all over the place, and needs editing, but I don’t mind that, it’s all part of the process.  It’s also helping me to get back into the mental health stuff; maybe it will be a way of working around, or over that brick wall I was telling you about.

I know that getting a book published is very difficult, it’s another obstacle I’ve been struggling with, one that made me stop writing for a while; but I’ve learnt that stopping gives you time to think, to assess, change the energy, and figure out the true dimensions of the wall, once this has been done you can figure out a way round it, there might even be a door that was there all the time, I just I hadn’t seen it because I was so focused on headbutting a different spot.

I sometimes see it when I watch rugby on T.V.  When a team gets near the opposition try line, the forwards get blinkered, it’s head down, and they focus on trying to batter their way over.  It’s often multiple players, and sometimes the same ones having a second or third go at the defence; sometimes they get there, and sometimes they don’t, all the time this is happening the backs are screaming and waving their arms, because they can see the bigger picture, they can see an overlap, or gaps in the defence that the blinkered can’t, they could literally walk the ball over the try line.

Stopping is not an ending, it’s a pause, a time to reflect before you start moving again.

The writing, and trying to get a book published, sort of fits where I am right now, as the first step is to find a literary agent, and to do that you need to e-mail them the details (it’s a no phoning zone…. Phew!); yes, it would help if I knew someone in the publishing industry, but I don’t, (unless someone reading this is in the industry, or knows someone who is?) so I’ve got to work within the parameters I have.

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage.  Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

Michelle Obama

I’ll let you know how thing progress…..

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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