Pictured Above: Director Alyce Renderos, holding one of the conversation cards included with the B.OK Mindful Connection gift.
In a world that celebrates resilience and self-sufficiency, determining whether someone is truly okay can be challenging. The pressures of society, the fear of being judged, or the belief that we shouldn’t burden others with our problems can lead us to wear a mask of strength and conceal our inner struggles.
I know other women will relate when I say that striving to effortlessly balance work, family and personal life without needing assistance is exhausting. Why is this the standard we hold ourselves to and why do we find it so hard to seek help? Perhaps society’s idealisation of the ‘superwoman’ myth makes us think we shouldn’t need it and damages our self-esteem and self-worth when we struggle to meet the unrealistic standards we set ourselves.
We have all been that person at one time or another who puts on a brave face even if we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. To others we may come across as confident and in control but on the inside we may feel anything but. I like to think of it like the swan analogy, calm and composed on the outside but madly paddling beneath the surface. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to ‘turn it on’ or put on a ‘game face’ has its place but the challenge comes when you are no longer able to remove it.
So how can we get better at being vulnerable and encouraging others to feel comfortable doing the same? The best thing we can do is cultivate authentic and meaningful connection. For a long time I thought that true connection was about asking the ‘right’ questions and being able to help people solve their problems. In actual fact the opposite is true. B.OK Wellbeing Partner and Psychologist Jeremy Vernon says genuine connection is built from being present, actively listening and avoiding the temptation to try and solve problems or provide advice. I have a natural inclination toward problem solving and find the latter to be quite challenging, an area I am working to improve in.
We have all been in a conversation when we can tell the other person is not listening, appears distracted or disinterested, talks over the top of us or fails to ask us one single question. Let this be a moment for self-reflection, to guide you on how to best show up for others in future interactions. The biggest gift you can give someone is your time and attention. You also never know what someone is going through so let go of assumptions, don’t take things personally and be kind.
I encourage you to take a moment in your day to meaningful connect with someone in your life.