Not far from my Hypnotherapy practice in Richmond are the wonderful Kew Gardens and on Saturday my partner thought it would be a nice idea to spend the afternoon wandering around the grounds to enjoy the sunshine. It was lovely. There were a lot of people in the gardens, all of whom clearly had the same idea as us.
We wandered, trying to steer clear of the mud in places and enjoying the early blooms of snowdrops and crocuses (or croci if you’d prefer).

Eventually we found ourselves by the lake and we stopped and watched the ducks and moorhens who were also watching us – determining whether we were going to be a source of food (indirectly I should add). Alas, we were to prove a disappointment to them.
But watching them propel themselves on the water reminded me of the saying about swans, about how they glide so easily and elegantly and yet they are paddling hard beneath the water. What they are doing isn’t shown – we only see the result. That’s how it is for so many people we observe.

Clients who come to see me in my Hypnotherapy practice often observe that it all seems so easy for others, that they seem to glide through life, elegantly and without trouble. It’s not true. I have yet to meet anybody who doesn’t have some form of struggle in their life. We all face issues, we all have challenges to meet and obstacles to overcome – we’re human. It’s easy to assume that we are alone in these struggles and that others find it ‘easy’.

I’ve worked with clients who have told me that they feel the pressure to keep up appearances in their circle – be it at the school gate, in the business meeting, or with peers. They feel that if they share their vulnerabilities or issues they’ll be judged as weak, or ‘less’ somehow. But experience has shown me the opposite. Often when we share our needs, our feelings, our experiences and show ourselves as the human being we are, we give others an opportunity to do likewise. Many clients have told me that once they shared their true feelings, others opened up to them and shared their vulnerabilities too. Friendships have been established or deepened.

Interestingly when they’ve shared their feelings the other person has told them that they seemed to be dealing with everything so well – appearing to have no problems at all. We don’t know what is happening in somebody else’s life and we’re mind-reading when we attempt to guess. I know I can’t mind read with any success and it might be interesting to consider whether you can too?

We feel that we don’t want to ‘burden’ others with our thoughts and feelings, especially if we feel that we aren’t coping in the way we ‘should’ (which is another topic I’ve discussed). Often by being honest we allow others to get to know us and to share their own experiences and vulnerabilities.

It can feel exposing to share ourselves with others and I know from personal experience how hard this can be, but I’ve never regretted doing so. We cannot guarantee how others receive this sharing but part of sharing my vulnerability is being vulnerable and that is a strength. Being able to be our vulnerable selves is strength. I recommend watching Brené Brown’s TED talk – The power of vulnerability.

You may be surprised to find how much paddling others are doing and that you’re not alone. All swans have to paddle to appear to glide so serenely.

And if there are other issues that you feel are stopping you from connecting in the way you’d like, then perhaps it’s time to have a different conversation first. I’m always available for a chat or we can arrange an informal meeting at my hypnotherapy practice in Richmond.