Welcome to Part 3 of my interview with Ruth where Ruth finally learns that beating yourself up is a destructive behaviour and there are much better approaches to life.
In part 1 we looked at how her life had been perfect before plunging into chaos. In Part 2 we saw how Ruth began to rebuild her life before almost sabotaging her happiness. As life began to look great, Ruth and Rob decided to try for a baby.
It is very hard to imagine their shock and grief when they excitedly turned up for the thirteen week scan, believing everything to be well. They were given the tragic news that their baby had died at eight weeks.
Beating Yourself Up
I was unable to speak to anyone. Text was the only way I could communicate. Sleep was impossible and I was unable to leave the house. In short I cut myself off from the outside world. I felt so guilty that I was denying Rob his own child.
As Rob doesn’t drive, when he went back to work he needed a lift. I had no option but to leave the house and found enough courage to drop him off and head into St Albans. I vowed with myself that I would do some shopping in preparation for our wedding.
Entering the first shop my mind went blank. I totally forgot why I’d entered the store. The combination of the music, early morning shoppers and general noise totally overwhelmed me.
I froze for a moment before turning and fleeing back to the car. Scrambling to unlock the door I fell into the seat and sobbed my heart out for around 20 minutes.
It reaffirmed to me that I simply wasn’t able to carry on a normal life at that point. I retreated to the safety of my home.
Surreal Hen Party
The pressure was on, because our wedding was only 3 weeks away and I was still awaiting a natural miscarriage. Given the circumstances the hospital offered me drugs to induce the miscarriage.
It was an easy decision to accept this treatment. The procedure was to be given the tablets which can take up to a couple of days to work. I would need to return to the hospital two days later. On Friday I was given the tablets and told to return to the hospital on Sunday.
There was one slight flaw with this plan. My hen party was on the Saturday!
We had arranged a spa day. Everyone was very excited, had booked and paid for a number of treatments. When my friends heard about my hospital appointments and the procedure they wanted to cancel, but I refused. Even if I had to pull out I wanted my friends to enjoy the day they had been looking forward to for ages.
Luckily I was able to attend and we all went ahead with our spa day, albeit it was pretty surreal, given the circumstances.
Two weeks before our wedding there was a scout trip to London for a sleepover on HMS Belfast.
As a Scout Leader I was part of the team supervising the children. I wasn’t sure how I was actually going to manage, as I was still unable to leave the house. The thought of going into London with the crowds and being there for the children as a responsible leader was simply terrifying.
But I needed to do it! I was so scared that if I didn’t that I would never leave my house again.
We live near the station and Rob walked with me through the town centre, crowded with Saturday shoppers towards the station. When we reached the concourse of the station it was packed with scouts, leaders and rucksacks. I just froze.
Rob whispered that we could just go home. But I knew I had no choice and had to summon up every bit of willpower to get on that train.
The strange thing was that once I got on the train I was fine. It was a bit like the abseiling – once I’d gone under the rail it really was okay.
It was a complete switch and I had an amazing weekend, it was so much fun.
Our Wedding Day
Our wedding was amazing and we had a beautiful day. Surrounded by family and friends it was very special.
My heavily pregnant friend was among the guests. I was fine with that as I genuinely pleased for her.
But what I did find difficult was afterwards hearing about other people getting pregnant. It was a real mixed emotion, I was pleased for them but felt extremely sad at the same time. However, the biggest thing that upset me was seeing Dads with their babies.
Time was a healer and so was Rob. As I began to appreciate that he was genuinely not bothered and upset by not having our own baby, it helped to assuage the guilt I was still harbouring.
In 2013 we decided to try again for a child and in the spring I fell pregnant.
We went for the first scan at 13 weeks and everything was fine. We both began to feel excited, especially as we now had a bump!
But during the second scan the Sonographer was struggling to find the heartbeat.
I knew instinctively before the Sonographer told us, that the baby had died. We were told that as it was further on into the pregnancy I’d need surgery. The shock once again overwhelmed us and this time it hit Rob much harder.
But for me I was not going to return to that place I’d been in before. I was determined that I would resist the urge to revert to beating yourself up behaviour. I went straight back to work the following week.
There was a period of time where we wondered if we should try again or should we not and every month became a bit of an obsession about whether I was pregnant.
We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen and went through a period of acceptance, coming to terms with the fact that we would not have children together.
The only difficult time was when Rob’s sister-in-law fell pregnant. It was too close to home, I started to head towards beating yourself up territory. But by then Rob had become very resilient and it didn’t affect him, so consequently I felt much better.
My Mission In Life
I know what it’s like to beat yourself up and make up stories in your head. The life transformation course helped me to overcome this.
My work at the Adult Centre, together with my own personality and the Life Transformation course have all helped me to be able to see when others are displaying beat yourselves up behaviour and how destructive it can become.
I love this aspect of coaching. You can see that by asking people the right questions you can get them to think about things differently and see things a different way. Things that were huge obstacles suddenly start to move
While I work with men and women, my clients are predominately women over the age of 30. The women I see either tend to be holding themselves back with the stories they tell themselves or they are being held back by others. They all have one thing in common. They know what it’s like to beat yourself up.
Like a lot of coaches I tend to help people who are experiencing things in life, in a similar way to my own personal journey.
The corporate aspect of my business has come about from my experience of working in the public sector.
The public sector is all about budgets, cuts and saving money. This seems to come at a cost of how this impacts those on a day-to-day basis on ‘the shop floor’.
Take the annual survey for example. It looks good on paper and ticks the boxes. But exercises like this merely pay lip service to employee wellbeing and engagement. People weren’t being asked the right questions. As a result they become disengaged.
Realistically I think it will be a struggle to change the public sector. There is intense pressure to deliver to restricted budgets and a lack of willingness for management to become more people centred. But I believe there are huge opportunities to create a difference in the private sector.
In the Corporate sector people reach burn out. If they had been listened to and had more support they may not have got to that point.
I’m a big fan of Richard Branson whose approach is if you look after your employees they will run the business for you.
People Centred Approach
I’ve worked with people who had they been given a stress in the workplace survey when they showed up for work they would have been fine. But if anyone had asked about stress outside the workplace they’re a long way from being fine. They’re not healthy nor able to do their jobs properly.
If there had been a process in place that helped to recognize problems at an earlier stage then less people would get to a crisis point.
For example one woman I know used to go home, drink a bottle of wine and chain smoke her way through every evening to deal with her stress, but that’s clearly having an impact on them physically as well as the emotional impact.
It seems so obvious to me that if they had a process in place to help employees before they get to burnout it’s a win/win.
I don’t speak corporate, but I do speak human
Everyone is an individual and should be treated as individuals.
Having been approached by a publisher, I’m currently writing a book for the corporate library. It will be about the person-centered approach to business.
Marketing the book will help to promote this side of the business, but my main approach is to have conversations with companies, this may be one HR professional at a time.
The scope for the support they can offer their employees is very varied.
It can take the form of supporting individuals with stress that is clearly impacting on them as individuals and their ability to perform. It can also be coaching for managers to support their employees or helping employees directly.
The beauty of coaching is that I can make this bespoke to individual needs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I love this question! My number one advice is don’t be so hard on yourself. Taking a helicopter view on my own life I believe it would have been much easier, if I had not been so self-critical. Beating yourself up is a destructive exercise that stops you from moving on.
Given my own experiences I’d also tell my younger self not to give your power away to other people. My younger self wouldn’t have understood that!
Ruth is a life coach based in Welwyn Garden City Hertfordshire, offering online programs, one-to-one coaching, mentoring and development. If you would like to find out more about Ruth’s work and sign up for a virtual cup of coffee to chat about how Ruth may be able to help you, then click here.