I’m not saying it isn’t lonely when the buck rests with you of course, but that’s only a fraction of the problem and the lazy way into a solution.
Another half-truth that well-meaning coaches and ‘gurus’ spread is that we need to hire them to help us develop more mental toughness.
Not only is that bullshit, it’s downright dangerous.
The problem isn’t that we need to become more emotionally bulletproof, the problem is that we’ve become FAR TOO emotionally bulletproof.
For years, we’ve been programmed by our teachers, parents, industry role models and “the job” to be so emotionally dissociated that we can’t hear the neurological smoke alarm screaming in our head as our house burns down around our ears.
Our threshold levels for stress and anxiety, for example, have become so high that we can shoulder an insane amount of the stuff without us even being consciously aware of it or the damage that it’s doing to our minds and bodies. That is until the volcano eventually erupts and we collapse in an unceremonious heap at the prime of our life and career.
So what can we do about it?
The bottom line is that we need to stop living in fear of our ‘negative’ emotions. Instead of pushing them away or repelling them with a clunky, wrought iron shield, we need to (re)learn how to hear them and understand the messages that the sensations and feelings we experience in our gut, head and heart are trying to tell us. To do so isn’t to be a flaky, crystal swinging, New Age hippie (a movement I have zero time for), to do so is to be a fully-functioning human being who has plugging back into their critically important Emotional Guidance System.
Although painful and uncomfortable, our negative emotions aren’t there to piss us off or ruin our day. They’re there to protect us from danger, teach us a valuable lesson and make us take positive action. If we rob them of their role they won’t go away, they’ll simply take root in our subconscious mind and grow in intensity until eventually (maybe tomorrow) they’ll smash out of the glass box you’ve shoved them into and bite you on the arse when you can least handle it.
If you don’t believe me, ask someone who’s pushed themselves to the brink of, or into, burnout. Not only does it shut down your ability to function with clarity and connection in your personal life, it’s a bullet in the head to creative thinking – which is not ideal when that’s what you’re paid to do.
Unfortunately, the path to burnout is rife in our industry and it’s not something that we can easily spot.