The Golden Cage: Learning to Ask for Help When You’re in the Helping Profession

September 06, 2011

Or: Even Experts Get the Blues

Or: Just Because You’re an Internet Sensation, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Crack Up a Bit

Or: Cracking up a Bit and Asking for Help Doesn’t Mean Spewing all Over Your Social Media and Freaking Everyone Out

Or: What To Do When You’re a Coach/Blogger/Brand and You Freak Out Publicly and Don’t Know What to Do Next

Or: You’re Human, Aren’t You?

Or: Learning to Ask for Help, No Matter Who You Are Or How Many Clients/Page-Views/Followers/”Likes”/Fans You Have

Let me paint a little picture for you…

You are amazing. You are creative and funny and eloquent, and just so fabulous you run off and get yourself some training (formal or otherwise) and decide to go into business for yourself. You have the sparkliest website. You get a kajillion comments/hits/RTs. Your posts are stumbled. You build a brand in your name. Your social media presence is impeccable. Your Klout score is through the roof.

You have more clients than you know what to do with.

Suddenly, you start feeling a little lackluster.

Maybe you’re a body image coach and you realize that while you’ve been telling everyone to occupy their day loving their bodies, you kind of can’t stand your own. Or [GASP] you decide you want to lose some weight. Maybe you’re a relationship guru who one day finds yourself packing up your bag in a panic, because the cracks are starting to show in the foundation of your marriage. Maybe you’ve spent the last five years building a reputation on being the most calm and loving entity on the entire internet, but now you’re finding yourself screaming at your children in public, flipping people off in traffic, or consumed with boiling, hot anger.

In other words – maybe you’re coming to the startling realization that you are in fact human, and you feel a little guilty.

The thing about the internet is that with 24/7 access to people – if you are in fact, a “brand” – you might start to feel like you need to be LIT UP, sparkly, fresh, hot, enlightened, inspiring, and genius all day, every day. With clients friending you on your personal Facebook page instead of your fan page, or a twitter following that is 40 % best friends, 40 % business collaborators, and 20% prospective clients, suddenly the line between personal and professional gets very, very blurry.

You sort of start to get the feeling that you need to present a perfect, carefully-lit, glossy finish to your life, so that you can get ahead in the world. Your business is hinged on your ability to selectively share with your networks. You want to appear smart but not obnoxious, pretty but not photo-shopped, transcendent but not unreachably woo-woo.

It’s exhausting, and, on occasion, explodes in inconvenient firestorms in public internet spaces. 

It can feel like you can’t be truly honest with anyone, because it might damage your business.

It can be extremely alienating.

It can kind of feel like dieting. You are really really really good for a little while, but then all of a sudden you find yourself sitting in a corner in your kitchen with chocolate all over your hands and a mess of cookie boxes in your lap. Or, you know, the internet version of that.

Sometimes, you forget that even those who are in the business of helping others need to stop and ask for help every once and a while.

You forget that you are FIRST AND FOREMOST a human being, and that means you have human feelings/needs/wishes/fears. You forget that showing weakness and vulnerability can be very appealing.

It means capitalizing on our strengths AND our weaknesses.

It means telling the truth, and believing that the right clients/followers/money stream will find us.

It means being completely transparent about our motivations.

It means that we do not need to aspire to perfection, no matter WHAT our tagline reads.

It means getting real with social media outlets, but not spewing all over them just because we’re having a bad day.

But mostly, it means believing that we are enough just the way that we are.