EP 03 // Masking Feelings + Finding Balance

Ep 03

Welcome back to the Open Door Conversations Podcast! Whether you are looking for leadership info, unique perspectives on life, or to better understand yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Today, Akua is answering questions brought forward by listeners and breaking down her answers into easy-to-follow steps.

How do you approach topics that are not so positive when those around you are pushing positivity at all times? Akua gives information and guiding ideas on how to engage with yourself or with others when positivity goes too far and becomes unhelpful.

What about finding “balance” in life? Akua gives her honest opinion about how tiring it can be to achieve balance and breaks it down into attainable goals and tasks.

She addresses both questions using 3 steps for understanding yourself better:

  1. Cultivate awareness around the situation.
  2. Experiment and engage in different ideas and methods to change the situation.
  3. Set expectations and think about moving forward.

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What's Covered in this Episode About Toxic Positivity

  • Using steps to know yourself better
  • Toxic positivity
  • The importance of feeling
  • How to achieve “balance.”
  • Focusing on integration over balance

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I don't believe in balance. And when we're trying to achieve balance, it actually ends up being a very tiring situation, because you can't ever do everything equally." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Rather than trying to ask myself, you know, what is balanced look like? Or that I'm seeking work life balance, or even that I'm seeking work life integration, I try to ask myself, what does success look like today?" - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Balance is not static, it might look different day to day, you cannot focus on everything at the same time." - Akua 

Mentioned in Masking Feelings + Finding Balance

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

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Here’s the transcript for episode 03 about Masking Feelings and Finding Balance

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the open door conversations podcast. I am super excited as I usually am. But today is really excited because this is my first hashtag ask Akua episode, and today I am answering two questions. So I'm really excited about this. This is something I'm trying out. So I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback. And I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on how I can really shape this episode moving forward. But the first question I have is around dealing with people who minimise your feelings and experiences. And I share some thoughts by going through my three step process on how you can really work through what you would like to do moving forward, and maybe what you would like to do differently. The second question I have is thinking about balance. I think that for so many of us the last two years have been really interesting, and that we've been rethinking some of our priorities. And so I think this question is incredibly relevant. And I talk a little bit about what balance is the fact that I don't believe in balance. And I also encourage you to really question where this thought comes from around balance. Are you comparing yourself to others? Are you being unrealistic? What is really coming up for you when you talk about balance? So let's get into these two questions. So what I'm going to try and do is attempt to approach these questions I receive using this framework I take my clients through, but please keep in mind that I will be making assumptions and providing advice more so than coaching. Typically, my coaching conversations and relationships are not driven by my perspective, but by my clients agenda. So let me very quickly tell you the three step process I take my clients through, the first step is building and cultivating their awareness around the issue challenge situation. The second step is all around experimenting and engaging with different approaches for themselves and others. And lastly, we set expectations and think about the way forward. So now that I've shared my approach, let's get into the question I have today. So in this episode, I wanted to share this question that actually came from a recent workshop that I ran all around self promotion. And so this particular participant asked, this is a bit difficult to ask about or talk about, but there is such a push for positivity at the moment. But I know as a mum, and I think once again, this can be replaced by any position or any point in life that you're in, but this particular person was a mother. But I know as a mom with a lot of my mom, friends, it's very hard to talk about the bad days. And we get a lot of looks when we're talking about our children driving us mad and needing five minutes of peace. But I think it's really necessary to be able to acknowledge those bad times or those times where things aren't going as good. So you can move forward and be positive. Otherwise, they can just escalate and sort of take over. So how do you deal with that? Especially when you're communicating with other people who maybe don't understand your position? I think this is such a great question. I think that so many of us deal with this to a certain extent. We feel like people who maybe don't understand where we currently are or don't understand what we're doing are very bad at supporting us. I actually have an entire blog post an entire guide about this. And from my perspective, what I want to describe this sort of situation or phenomenon as is toxic positivity, and it also relates to our inability Need to deal with our emotions and feeling like sometimes we need to speak to others or talk through things with others. And of course, it's important that you have people in your life that you can have these conversations with. So I'll be talking a little bit about this from different perspectives. In terms of this guide or blog post I have, I will make sure that both the toxic positivity guide and how to deal with emotions guide are linked in the descriptions. I've received this question in many different forms over the last few months. And this is also something that I thought about, especially in 2020, because I didn't want to feel like I was complaining. And I feel like a lot of people that I've heard this question from, or variation of this question from don't want to complain, they're incredibly grateful. But they also want the opportunity to just vent and talk about some of the things that maybe aren't going as well, I think the first thing to keep in mind, especially if you want to approach somebody else, or you want to have someone's else's support, or somebody else's ear is to recognise that not everyone is ready or open to support you. So if I was to go through this three step process to talk a little bit about this situation, and think about toxic positivity from this perspective, and really recognise that sometimes it can go too far, right? Sometimes we are denying the reality of others or forcing ourselves to be positive. And that's not always helpful, right. So really recognising that there is a time and space where we have to go through and sometimes that we have to share some of these emotions that are a little bit more difficult to deal with, okay, we feel things and our feelings are valid, and our concerns are valid. So sometimes we have to learn who can actually support us who can actually hear us out. And we have to make sure we're around people who don't minimise some of these things that we're feeling. So back to that three step process, that first step really is around cultivating your self awareness. So in this question that I received, or this statement I received, it's great that you're aware that you have some of these what you've described, they may not be negative thoughts, right? We're adding that that connotation to them, we have these feelings, right? That may be negative or see negative in some context. And it's great that you are aware of this, right? So that first step really is around, how do you feel? What do you need? Right? So you've recognised you need someone to support you in processing this, right? Or it could be that you recognise you can process this on your own. So what are some of the things what are the tools, rituals, routines you can do to processes on your own? The second step is thinking about engaging, how do you want to engage with these feelings? How do you want to deal with these feelings? How do you want to share your experience and thoughts? Do you want someone just to listen? Do you want to share those experiences and thoughts? Maybe through a journal? Do you want advice? Do you want to talk to someone who knows you? Or do you want to speak with an expert to really start to engage with the situation and start to think about how best? Can I deal with this? How do I want to deal with this? How have they dealt with this in the past? When do I feel better? How do I feel better working through this? Alright, last but not least, let's think a little bit about setting expectations. So who are the people who are open to having this conversation with you? Who are the people who are just going to be there and listen and maybe not even provide advice if you don't want advice you just want someone to vent to or just someone to speak with and sort of talk this through with who are the people that you might want to avoid might also be something that you want to think a bit about? What can you share with people to let them know what you want in exchange, right? So we can actually set the expectation with someone that hey, look, I'm not looking for advice. I don't want your thoughts. I just want you to sit there and listen, I just want to talk I just want to share. All right. So I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Is this something that resonates? Do you find that you're not able to get the support that you need? Have you found that the people you have around you rather whether they're in your personal or professional life or men as my minimising sorry, or dismissing your feelings? Or do you find yourself masking or brushing off your own feelings because of this? If yes, right in some build your awareness and recognise that emotions will come and go. So learn how to name your emotions, and be open to recognising that there might be different ways you can engage with this. It doesn't just have to be talking it out with someone, you can learn other ways to do it. Learn to work through your emotions in a constructive way. Right? Once again, whether that's through engaging with a friend, a partner, a professional, it might also look like dealing with them yourself, as I mentioned before, and learning to self soothe. Finally, set the expectations for yourself and others around you Around how you want to actually deal with this situation. If you need advice, say that's what you need. If you need space, give yourself space and time. We are not robots, so you should not treat yourself like one. Also, people can't read your mind. So let them know what you're looking for. All right. So that's what I have for you in relation to this question. If you have any thoughts, anything you want to share any ideas on how this particular person Since I can also think about how to move forward, please let me know you can connect with me on social media, or leave a comment below. Let's get to the second question that I have for today's episode. The second question is how to get balance. And once again, I'm going to take it from the perspective of not just what I've seen, I guess, in my own life, but also the perspective of how I support clients with trying to engage with this question. I always love to push back and ask what is important about balance, right, or sort of asked that question to have a better understanding of where this is coming from, is typically the first approach that I take when someone asks how to get balance. And a lot of times when I am thinking about teaching this or doing a workshop on work life balance, I actually start off by saying that balance doesn't exist. And I find that the concept of balance is typically quite difficult for a lot of high achieving leaders, especially to sort of grasp, and using the word integration tends to work a lot better, simply because when it comes to balance, it sort of, from my perspective makes it seem like everything needs to be given an equal weight. And I believe, and I think that a lot of people in the coaching space also share this is that there is nothing such as perfect, there is no point in time where you're going to be able to do everything equally, you're always going to have to give something up. And so for me, I don't think there's anything such as balance. And when we're trying to achieve balance, it actually ends up being a very tiring situation, because you can't ever do everything equally. For me, my definition of balance changes depending on the day of the week. And rather than trying to ask myself, you know, what is balanced look like? Or that I'm seeking work life balance, or even that I'm seeking work life integration, I try to ask myself, what does success look like today? What does success look like right now? What does success really look like for whatever time period that I'm dealing with or looking to engage with. And I think one of the easiest ways to help you think about this concept of balance for right now, or the concept of work life integration for right now, or how I like to describe it as what is success look like for right now, is leveraging a really simple coaching tool. If you've ever had the opportunity to be coached, or you've ever been in sort of the self development space for a while, you've probably heard of it. But I think it's such a helpful tool. And that's why so many coaches continue to use it, even though it's been around for forever. And that's leveraging the wheel of life. And the Wheel of Life is a very popular tool because it helps you make sense of the different areas of your life. And it also helps you see how this concept of balance is not incredibly helpful. Because with the wheel of life, you're pretty much just looking at this wheel. And you see how all these different elements sort of interact, to help you have a full life and how you can engage with all these areas at the same exact time. So it helps to highlight the different areas that might be important to you at this point in time, these different areas that you might want to concentrate at this point in time. So I'd actually recommend that you pause this for right now. And just Google Wheel of Life template if you need a wheel of life template. And this template when you find it honestly, there's so many different ones out there. Maybe I'll even link to one in the show description. But it just shows you and remind you that all the different areas of our life are interconnected and we can't focus at them all at the same time. So when you have an opportunity to download the activity or download one of the worksheets, or templates of the wheel of life, it's really up to you to decide where you want to focus. A good way to figure out where you want to focus is by asking yourself, Where Am I satisfied? Where am I the most satisfied and where am I the least satisfied and maybe starting where you are the least satisfied might be the best starting point potentially. So once again, you cannot and should not try to focus on all areas at the same time. And really think to yourself when you've decided on the areas that are important. What do you need to do to simply improve this area? Just by one point, you don't need to improve anything by a massive number of points. Just ask yourself what do I need to do to improve this by one point? And I think from there, you're going to get a lot of really interesting insight and a lot of interesting thoughts around what you can even maybe do just tomorrow, right? So not a year from now, not five years from now. But what you can potentially do just tomorrow to have some improvement in that area. So back to this concept of trying to achieve balance. And I've already mentioned before, I don't like the concept of balance, I'd much prefer thinking about what does success look like right now? And how can I achieve sort of achieve work life balance or work life sorry, integration at this point, to me, it's really a constant process, you know, process, it's something that you have to continually do and think about. So one of the things that I think about is sort of setting a recurring time in my calendar, to really think about how things are going and MIT where I maybe want to shift day to day. So in summary, you know, balance is not static, it might look different day to day, you cannot focus on everything at the same time. And the first step in feeling balanced, if that's a word that you want to use is defining what balance looks like to you. And that wheel of life activity template worksheet that I talked a bit about earlier, can really help you do that. So in terms of thinking about next action steps to find balance for yourself. All right, put a recurring reminder in your calendar to reflect and check in on your own definition of balance. And I have this in quotes honestly. And last but not least, write out the specific steps you think will help you feel more balanced. Right, help you feel more balanced, but remember to start small. So that's the second question I have for you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen if you have any thoughts or additional follow up questions, you can always connect with me on social media, access to my social media accounts and where those are what they look like are in the description. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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