Today I got involved in something completely unexpected. In the course of supporting someone in my network who very bravely shared that she had also experienced sexual assault and harassment, I became drawn into a dispute.
I say drawn in because, aside from feeling taken aback and a little shocked, I didn't really get angry or upset. For a redheaded Leo former lawyer who used to frequently find people on the internet who were 'wrong' and try to put them straight, this was a huge achievement.... yay me!
You can't have failed to have seen the 'me too' epidemic that is flooding Facebook right now. I am so proud to be part of this moment, to have an opportunity to watch as so many women found their voices and stepped forward. It's not easy to speak up about something that is systematically shut down and overlooked. I should know.
So when some guy also from our network responded 'what about the men' and went on to accuse each of us of bullying, being 'confused feminists' and attention seekers (with words approximating 'there is no way that THIS many women in my network have been sexually assaulted or harrassed'... oh how we will laugh at the irony one day!)... well this redheaded Leo former lawyer would normally have gone to town.
Instead, I got curious.
About his reaction, why he would feel that way, about my reaction to him, about what his words were doing to the brave women who stepped forward.
It would have been so easy to get drawn in and to get really emotional, upset, to feel frustrated and hurt and outraged that this guy would step into the middle of a beautiful moment and attempt to belittle and diminish the pain of women all around him. It would have been so easy, in a righteous rage, to have taken him down and pulled him apart.
But what would that have served?
He didn't believe us and was outright looking for a fight. You know how I could tell? Because when I asked him to stand with us, to add his voice to ours, to use the platform.... he moved on to picking on other people.
That, ladies and gents, is the definition of a troll.
You can't convince someone else that they are wrong. Frankly, I have bigger and more important things to worry about than a single voice here or there.
That's why every single day, I spill my guts to the internet.
It's why, in the last week alone, I have spoken openly about domestic abuse, sexual violence, anxiety, depression, medication, whether it's possible to work in a highly demanding job whilst struggling with mental health (hint: fuck yeah it is).
Are these strictly in my wheelhouse as a stress, exhaustion and overwhelm expert working with rising stars in the professional world? No. But do they affect all of us? You betcha.
Everything fro stress and overwhelm, to neglecting your needs in favour of others, to enduring sexual harassment in the workplace, repressing trauma exists on a spectrum. The behaviours we exhibit at every point of the spectrum are similar; coping mechanisms, repression, reaction.
I know that every single time I speak up, no matter who I embarrass, no matter whether the 'wrong' person reads it, whether I do myself out of a job or opportunities further down the line... every single time I speak up, without fail, I give strength and a voice to other women.
Like my 1:1 client who messaged me requesting to start work with me straight away because 'when you were talking about how scared you felt, how you thought you weren't good enough, that they would fire you.... that's me every day and I knew I had to work with you', like the old colleagues and friends who message me daily telling me that they have had similar experiences, that they're going through it right now, that they feel lost and alone.
Like the women in my community who know that I can read their thoughts because I say it exactly the way that they think it.
Like you, reading this right now.
I have had so many women reach out to me today over this simple message exchange. Thanking me for getting involved, for helping them regain their peace of mind, for backing them up when they felt alone and attacked.
The more you open yourself up to receive support, the more of it there will be.
Trust your intuition and your instincts and take a step forward; ask for help, be honest about what is going on for you.
We speak the same language, we understand each other. Whether you're ready today, tomorrow, next year, when you need and want my help, I'm here.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
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