Recent studies tell us we’re deep in the hard, my friends. 50% of people say their stress levels are through the roof (when many were already struggling to cope). 40% have gained unwanted weight, 25% are drinking more, 2/3 experience disrupted sleep, and 1/3 are battling depression.
And the biggest unpleasant surprise? These findings aren’t based on stats from immediately following the onset of the crisis. No, they’re from 20 MONTHS into the pandemic.
Everywhere and anywhere, the effects of loneliness are starting to show. We weren’t meant to walk such dark streets alone, night after night, and it’s time to embrace a modern, proactive, and reciprocal approach to strength-building.
Get ready to challenge your outdated and false beliefs about weakness, friendship, and stress tolerance. I’m putting resilience under a new light for the second part of our October series, Global Life in the Hard.
This week, I’ll examine and then eliminate what stops us from getting and giving support. Because if the past two years taught us anything, it’s that when everything crumbles, all we want is each other.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- The unjustified shame of appearing weak
- Why asking for help extends a sign of trust
- Not wanting to burden someone with your stuff
- Misconceptions about what drains resilience
- How crisis-sharing deepens a relationship
Listen to the Full Episode
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- Global Life in the Hard
- Expat Coach Coalition
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- Susan Silk and Barry Goldman: The Ring Theory
- Join Year of Transformation
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
Catch These Podcasts / Articles:
- EP248: Rebelling Against Toxic positivity
- EP07: Stop Believing Three Myths of Adaptation
- EP84: Bitter PTA President
We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 7:00 am in New York, 1:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 6:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
There’s one very wise member of The Bean family. He says, “If one of the Bean girls says, ‘I’m fine,’ they’re not fine.”
It’s more like, “I’m FINE.”
Does this sound familiar to you? How many times have we said, “I’m fine,” when you’re really not?
Right now, it’s even hard to know if we’re fine or not because things are so far away from what we’ve known and in this episode of Expat Happy Hour, we’re going to talk about getting and giving support because things aren’t always fine, right now.
When I think about just the world, for those of us who are living globally mobile lives, and those of us who serve people who live globally mobile lives, there’s a lot of uncertainty around. People are asking themselves, “What is this new world for those of us who are in this umbrella of Global Citizens?” People are working from anywhere. There’s a question of what the trends will be for global mobility in the future.
Those of us who have had the mobility taken away from our mobile lives are feeling the mental and emotional strain of being separated from loved ones. And then there’s all kinds of other shifts happening globally where people are in an area where they haven’t been governed or the healthcare system has not been managed well, that’s creating a sort of a beginning new migration wave where people are going to areas where they’re going to feel like there’s going to be more support, right? So many unknowns.
And when we’re looking at that, what we do know from research is that we actually need more support than ever. Even what? 18, 19, 20 months into the pandemic. There’s a report from NPR on Morning Edition, they talked about one year after the start of the pandemic that our stress levels are actually increased and it has a real impact on our physical and mental health. And there’s a survey that they did that’s based on the American Psychological Association and half of the survey respondents said that the pandemic has increased their stress levels in a context where people were already struggling to cope. 40% said that they’ve gained weight during the pandemic, a quarter said they’re drinking more. And nearly two-thirds are sleeping either too much or too little.
We’re talking one year in, not the first three months when we thought this thing was going to be short-lived, right? And this impact on our mental and physical well-being is serious. It’s increasing the likelihood of diabetes and hypertension and we’re seeing a third of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression. 20 months in.
We really do need to keep talking about physical and mental health. In fact, I think it’s more than ever. And that’s one of the reasons why I kicked off my October series Global Life in the Hard. If you’re listening to this in 2021, last week we talked about creating international connections and the hard. It kicked off with episode 248, where we got into this idea of Rebelling Against Toxic Positivity. And if we’re going to make connections, we’ve focused on Making Connections with Locals in the Hard, if it’s COVID times. We had a guest come in and talk about that, Hélène Raison gave her Insight. I also talked about Crossing Cultures in the Hard, especially in these times, when things aren’t quite back to normal.
All of this has to start with really connecting with ourselves and admitting where we need more support, otherwise, all the efforts that we’re making with others is not based on a solid foundation.
So that was last week and this week we’re talking about Getting and Giving Support in the Hard. I’ll be doing a special session for Coaches Coaching Expats in the Hard inside my private Facebook group Expats on Purpose. It’s free, so join us there, October 12th, 2021 if you’re listening to afterwards, let me know, I’ll make sure I get you the recording if you’re interested. We’re going to look at Grief in the Hard with Sandra Corona the following day. And then after that, we’re going to talk about Mental Health Red Flags with two qualified psychologists, Renata Andrade and Elena Darmenko so that we can all get savvy around how we can get and give support in the hard, right now. So join us.
All right, so this episode today is kicking off this week’s focus. And I want to set the scene by talking really transparently about what keeps us from getting and giving support in the hard. And you know me, I promise straight talk. I’m just going to say it like it is because if I don’t say it, we’re not going to talk about it. And this exact thing happened to me last week where I named the elephant in the room. And as soon as I did, everybody was nodding and going, “You’re right. It’s exactly that.”
Okay. So let’s just talk about it.
What is it that keeps us from getting support? What do you think it is? What word comes to mind or phrase?
Here’s what I think, the reason that we don’t get the support that we need when it’s hard is shame. There’s shame that stops us because we don’t want to be seen as weak or incompetent.
Listen, we know this from research, but when I say it, my eyes actually well up because I’ve been there. I remember years and years ago when I was in college, I had transferred universities and I was so deeply, deeply lonely. I’d left this amazing community of people where everybody knew me and I felt very confident and validated, and I was suddenly alone in a city of millions. And I was so lonely that it started to show up in other really unhealthy ways.
And in retrospect, I’m pretty sure I was also depressed. But I was scared to reach out. I had family in the city. My aunt was there, she is also a qualified psychologist. I could have talked to her anytime. I had another family member in the city. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. There was this shame there to say I was struggling. I had to, I don’t know, put my chin up and say, “I’ve got this.” And when I look back on that, I know that that wall of shame was there because of perfectionism.
You know I’ve shared this before I call myself, “A recovering perfectionist,”
or “A perfectionist in remission,” depending on how the day goes, and it was like, what if I tell you that I’m not thriving, right? If I tell you that, what are you going to think of me? Are you going to think I’m not good enough? These are the things that happen and I hate saying it again, that’s where that idea of shame comes up. I hate talking about it, but I want to name it because that is what stops people from getting help, right? We’re afraid that people will judge us or reject us. That again this idea of, “They reject me because now I’m weak,” or, “I can’t do it,” or, “See me as lower,” or, “Not good enough.”
Maybe you’re not getting help because you’re worried that it’s going to drain your energy or theirs, right? You don’t want to burden someone. So these are all the things that go up in our wall of shame, which stops us from getting the support that we need.
And I know you might be surprised, but I’m actually an introvert. And what I know about being an introvert, is that when things are hard, you go inward, right? Go inward to try to make sense of it. You go inward to try to figure it out. You go inward to conserve your energy, so you can solve this problem. And that’s not the default for an introvert to go outward when they’re struggling,
Here are some of the things that have helped me in my own process of learning how to get support, how to ask for support, as someone who is been a perfectionist. As someone who would have that inward turning tendency. And I’m going to share it with you in case it helps you.
The first thing that has helped in really getting support is to realize that when I ask someone for help, I’m actually extending a sign of trust. When I asked a friend or share with a friend how it’s hard, it actually elevates our relationship. Because I’m saying, “I trust you and I trust that you see me and I trust you with this.”
And I know I’ve been on both sides of that equation. I remember a dear friend of mine, she confided in me about some really tough stuff that was going on in her relationship. And I was there as she just bawled her eyes out and sat there as she processed these things. I had no idea what was going on with her, thinking how grateful I was that she trusted me. And how connected I felt to her because she felt like I could be there and witness, the struggle that she was having. And the beauty of that is that that moment helped us in terms of not only her getting support, but us feeling connected. And years later, when the tables turned and I was struggling, I knew, I had a safe shoulder to cry on.
So when we ask for support, we actually are deepening our relationship.
Okay, but the thing is, why we don’t do that as a default? Why don’t we just ask? Because when your friend doesn’t ask, you’re like, “Why didn’t you just say something?” But the thing is, is we’re carrying around this part of the shame is that we’re carrying around these myths that we have about resilience and I talked about this in the past. I did a podcast called: Stop Believing Three Myths of Adaptation.
I talk about the three myths of resilience. And the first one is about resilience, it’s about being tough. So if you’re not resilient, you’re not tough. And again, it goes back to that shame about being weak, but the truth is resilience is actually about being human.
So resilience is about living in our humanity of showing up and performing and demonstrating strength, and then relaxing and rejuvenating, and sitting in what is true, right? Whether it’s grief or sadness or exhaustion and then rebuilding and moving forward. It’s not stagnant. It’s a living process.
So it’s not about being tough and stoic because that’s not what real resilience is.
Resilience also isn’t just about facing the bad stuff. I know that a lot of people think about resilience in face of adversity, but resilience also is about navigating complexity. And the reason why I think it’s important to name that difference is that you might have a lot of things going on, and none of them are necessarily bad. If you have twins, you’ve got two gorgeous children that are healthy, that’s not bad. But man, that’s not easy.
Or if you’re in a bi-national relationship in a new country and navigating a foreign language and trying to get a job, those aren’t bad things. But that level of complexity is high, right? So you might not even be giving yourself credit because you’re dealing with complexity and not hard stuff. It’s about that level of complexity. It’s facing that complexity, even if it’s good stuff.
And that’s why this is a thing, we go back to shame. I talked about it in our last episode about “everybody has it worse than I do,” right? And there are people that have it way worse than if you’re listening to this podcast, probably millions, if not billions of people have it harder than you do. BUT you’re still dealing with a level of complexity that takes a massive toll on you, and if you don’t recognize that toll, you’re not going to be able to keep those balls juggled as long as you want to.
So resilience is about navigating complexity. And then the third myth is that resilience is something you develop on your own. It kind of goes back to that idea of being tough. And that’s not true. Resilience is actually built in community.
And if you go back to this idea, depends on as well, what culture you’re from. I mean, I know, I’m from a very independent, individualistic culture. So, I’m was sort of injected at this idea of, “You have to do it on your own.” And you might be coming from a culture where it isn’t appreciated to ask for help, right? You might be indoctrinated into some of that way of thinking, but real resilience is actually built in community. It is a collective experience.
So those are some things I think that are holding us back from getting support that we really need. And I know from a coaching perspective, getting support isn’t like when it’s hard. It could be like getting support because you want it to be easier if that makes any sense. I know one of my clients hired me because she saw some complexity coming and she’s like, “I don’t want this. It heavy on my shoulders. I want to get the right support built-in now so that when all of this starts coming down, I’ve got an amazing system of people in place to help me make it happen.” It isn’t this idea of we have to wait till it’s almost unbearable. It’s about being savvy and looking ahead and saying, “Hey, this is going to be a big transition. What kind of support do I put in place to make it easier?”
Imagine that? imagine making something easier. *laughter* Right? Instead of just waiting until it’s almost unbearable. So I think that’s another thing we don’t think about is, at what point are we– I wanted to say worthy of getting support right? It’s like we don’t think we deserve support unless it’s almost overwhelming.
What about like, “Hey, I took on this new job. I’m not going to be around the house much. Now, I’m gonna make sure that I have my groceries automated so that I have more time for my family when I get home,” right? Not like waiting for the whole burden to come crashing down.
All right. So let’s have a look at this. We’ve talked about some of the things that are holding us back. Shame comes in many, many forms. Worried about being seen as weak or incompetent fear of being rejected or judged. How perfectionism plays a role in it. How we worry about burdening our friendships, and how we are battling this idea of having to do it on our own and rejecting that we even deserve support unless we’re nearly at our breaking point.
All of that is garbage. Let’s stop those things and start really embracing this idea that if we get the right support right when we need it, everyone will benefit. Everyone wins.
All right. So the question is, “If I’m ready for that then who can I go to for support?” And this is pretty easy. But the first one you can go to are your friends. And one of the things that has helped me being able to go to my friends with confidence, without that icky feeling of, “I’m going to burden them,” or “What if they say yes and they don’t really want to.”
I’ve spoken about this in the podcast, Bitter PTA President, it is about a clean “Yes” or a clean “No.”
So I had an iron deficiency. I was physically struggling with my health while I was working at a full-time job and I believe breastfeeding my brand new child and the iron deficiency etcetera. And I was really physically at my limit. I was working with a doctor to get my body back on track and I made an agreement to my friends. I said, “Hey, listen, there’s going to be times where I really need a break and I need to take a rest and I’m going to ask you to hang out with my son. So for me to be able to ask you, I need you to promise me you’ll only give me a clean ‘yes’ or a clean ‘no.’ No explanation. No hard feelings. Just clean ‘yes’ or a clean ‘no.’” And they both wholeheartedly said, “I’m in.”
And every time I reached out I could say, “Hey, just looking for a clean ‘yes’ or a clean ‘no.’ Do you have time today to take my son?” And that was a way I could come to an agreement with my friends to ask for support.
You can initiate the clean ‘yes’ or a clean ‘no,’ with your people so that, you know that you’re not going to be a burden and it will be actually an elevation of your relationship and not a threat.
So I hope that helps, this idea of clean ‘yes’ or a clean ‘no’ to help you create really healthy, nurturing boundaries with your friends so that you can get and give support in a way that feels great. Again if this goes outside of the scope of just what a friend can do, we’re going to talk about working with a group of professionals in a second. But make sure you check out what’s going on inside Expats on Purpose this week because we’re going to talk about when to seek help from a coach and when to seek help from a therapist.
Okay, so you have got clean yeses and clean nos setup with your friends. You might want to think about, if resilience is building community, are there other people struggling with the same thing you’re struggling with and a group could be a great place to go. So that you can say, “Hey I’m not alone,” and you’re going to be with a group of people who totally get your situation and have been experimenting with new ways of approaching the shared challenge. So think about joining a group to get support in the hard, but make sure that it’s facilitated by someone who is a professional so it’s not just a space where everybody’s complaining about what’s hard but actually you have professional tools to support you and going forward.
All right, and that leaves you to check out professionals that could help you, right? How do you get and give support and the hard if you want to get support? Maybe it is time to go see a coach or go see a therapist. In terms of the hesitation to asking them for support, please can I remind you THAT IS THEIR JOB. They are delighted to see you. They are delighted to talk to you and see if you are the right fit for them. And what I know from all of the coaches, all of the therapists, counselors, and people that I am in community with, if they are not the right fit, they are going to refer you to someone who is right. I’ve also seen that in like the physical therapy space, like caretakers care.
So if you are looking for someone to give you professional support and you’re not sure if they’re the right fit, check out if they do like a 30-minute free consult and at the end of your time together, if you two are not the right fit, ask them, “Do you know who might be a better fit for me?” So I hope that takes away some of the hesitation of getting support from a professional.
The other word of advice I have for that is please really make sure that you seek out support sooner rather than later. Because what I’m watching from the other side is when individuals come to me and we start doing the work together, they’re like, “God, why didn’t I come to you four years ago?” Because of what they’re learning now and how they’re changing now, if they had started it three, four years ago, all of those years would have been different. It’s the same thing for psychologists. I know that early intervention is really important. So if you seek out early intervention, maybe then you wouldn’t be bringing a massive crisis to a psychologist. So really honestly, I think if you’re working with really good professionals, reaching out sooner rather than later is great, because if you reach out soon enough, there’s going to be a day when they’re like, “I think we’re good. You got it.” Like, “You don’t need more support because you have taken back control of whatever it was hard, rather than doing all the damage control and the repair from what went wrong,” From not getting help.
All right. So, all the people there in that sort of the support and health profession that I know totally want to be on your side, and cheer you on and get you the support that you need as fast as possible. Another bit of advice there is just to make sure there’s a match chemistry-wise if you are going to be in that place where you want to get supported by someone. You should feel good about it. You should look forward to working with them and you should feel good about the type of support you do get.
The other thing I want to just mention is this is an investment in yourself, right? We’re not just problem-solving here or removing something that’s hard. It is a long-term investment, whatever kind of support that you get. You will learn new skills, new tools. New ways of seeing yourself and then the other side of that is more health, more happiness, more depth, and new competencies. And this is a wonderful investment for you and for your relationships, for your business, for everyone that touches your life.
All right. So this is just the tip of the iceberg on this week’s focus of getting and giving support in the hard. I hope that you’ve walked away with something useful for you, to encourage you to show up in ways that are productive for you and for your community. Let’s keep the conversation going inside on Expats on Purpose. We’re going to talk about supporting expats as a coach. So if you are a coach or an aspiring coach and would like to work with the global mobility community, check out my workshop where I’m going to give some behind-the-scenes tools and insight based on working with expats for over a decade. We’ll also talk about grief in the hard right now. And mental health red flags.
This is all part of the month-long series Global Life in the Hard for expats, and for the coaches and practitioners that serve them. If you would like to add even more tools to your toolset and be surrounded by others that get you then definitely check out Expat Coach Coalition. We have opened the doors and taking applications now. This is a group of Industry-leading professionals who are dedicated to elevating how we serve expats, making sure that we get the right tools in the hands of those who are living globally mobile lives, right when they need them, as well as doing the work to flourish in our own business. So check out Expat Coach Coalition and apply today.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I’ll leave you with the words of Oprah Winfrey: “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
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