When you’re trying to grow your business, build your career, the life you want, things can get really tough. And for me it had got really tough, to the point where about 18 months ago I had what I can only describe as a breakdown.
You’d never have guessed it by looking at me because on the surface it looked like I was always happy, always positive, always doing, and always achieving. But the truth was I’d let work and my need to prove myself dominate my life; it was the only thing I focussed on, it was the source of my high highs and my low lows – there was never anything in between. I never relaxed and I rarely spent time with my family or friends, to the point I’d almost disengaged from family life. I was on my knees, so I reached out and got some help from a health and well-being coach to pull me out of the spiral I’d got myself into.
At times it was a painful process, not least realising how I was able to support the health and well-being of my clients yet completely unable to extend the same kindness, the same level of care, to myself. But still I couldn’t let go – I had so many commitments, so much to do, how was I going to be able to make space, to get myself out of this spiral? In the end I realised all I could do was to just let go, totally.
I withdrew myself from commitments I made. I stopped working on the countless projects I had started. I said no to people. I stopped promoting what I did. I spent time a couple of days in bed just crying. And then something weird happened. I realised my world hadn’t fallen to pieces and rather a calmer space began to emerge, one I knew had the potential to be refilled with all the things I’d pushed away, my family, my home, my love of life, with me – Sarah Woodhouse. Even more than that, my family, my friends, my clients were still there.
Today I’m still working on filling that space with the things that serve me. I don’t always get it right and sometimes I still get overwhelmed, but unlike before where I’d just plough on regardless, I recognise the signs, I stop, and I let go. And yes, sometimes it does mean difficult calls or emails, but most of the time people are really understanding, people get it.
Rather than rushing to fill the space that’s been left with more ‘stuff’, I’m spending the time learning to love Sarah Woodhouse again. To talk to myself more positively, to realise how thoughtful, supportive, and caring I am, to appreciate my strengths and my qualities, and to come to terms with the fact that I’m amazing at what I do. (And I am amazing at what I do!)
I’m beginning to see more clearly what it is I want from my life and my business, and in turn I have a better understanding of what I need to do and what I want to do. Most importantly of all I’m beginning to understand I need to extend the same level of care and kindness to myself as I do to my clients, whether that’s making time for myself, taking time out, or getting regular treatments to ease my muscular aches and pains, to give myself the space I need, the time I deserve, to relax and let go.
I don’t want to be in the place I was 18 months ago, and I’m determined that’s never going to happen to me again – or to anyone else I know if I can help it. And while in many ways I’m the only person who can stop that from happening, I know I don’t have to do it on my own. Asking for help can often be the hardest part of any journey, but all I can say from my own experience is it’s also the most rewarding; personally, professionally, emotionally, and physically.
So look after yourself today, tomorrow and in the weeks ahead. I know it’s cliched, but I speak from experience when I say you can’t draw from an empty well – and if I can help, just ask.