Helena Clayton | This is mine. This is not mine.



This is mine. This is not mine.

31 Oct 2021, Posted by Helena Clayton in Uncategorized

I hear this from a lot people:

  • If I can only work out how to get on top of things and manage my time better, everything will be ok
  • I can do some CBT for my anxiety and that will help me cope
  • I don’t know why I can’t handle everything – I feel such a failure for feeling so overwhelmed
  • Things are so busy but I just need to push on through
  • I’m not x enough and I need to fix that

The key theme is that people seem to feel that the responsibility for fixing everything and sorting everything out lies with them.

That if there are feelings of overwhelm then it must be something they’re not doing, or doing well enough, that’s the issue.

There’s a sense of inadequacy.  I’m the one to blame.  If I just work harder at this, if I can just fix this about me, then it will be ok.  I’m not good enough.  I’m not being clear enough.  Others are coping – but I’m not coping. Or – others aren’t coping and so therefore I have to be especially strong. I’m the problem.

But what’s our part to own?  What’s our responsibility to take on?

Yes, humility is a helpful.  Yes, a small dose of self doubt is useful.


  • there may be some things that I know I do that sabotage me, and there are ways that I might get out of my own way.
  • I can explore and understand the voice of my inner critic so that I know more about where that voice comes from and do what I can to dial up a more encouraging, supportive and loving voice.
  • I can work on getting clearer about what I want and need and ask for that – and also find my voice more when it comes to my boundaries and what’s not ok.

But that’s only part of it.

Because not everything is mine to fix.

Certain things in the organisational and societal system are contributing to the way I feel and the way I respond.  And that has to be factored in.

Thinking about some recent coaching conversations, there are other perspectives to consider:

  • No wonder I feel useless at getting my voice heard when I am the only woman on a senior leadership team and the culture is one of boisterous banter and the men roll their eyes at me when I tell them how that makes me feel
  • No wonder I feel overwhelmed when I’m dealing with a promotion, a mother with dementia in a care home where someone has tested positive for COVID, my son looks like he might be on the autistic spectrum, my wife and I are not really getting on well right now, and I’m also really worried about the climate crisis
  • No wonder I go back to work with pills for my severe anxiety when I feel that I’ll be letting my people down at a time of crisis in the business if I take time out to rest
  • No wonder I am left ragged with self doubt when, as I share some of this with two male colleagues, they tell me with some disdain that they have no idea what I’m talking about and they have no self doubt at all
  • No wonder I feel inadequate when I tell my manager that I have too much work and they tell me there’s no one else to do it and say ‘what do you expect me to do’
  • No wonder I keep pushing through when everything I know about being a man tells me it’s about being strong …

A patriarchal system.  A bullying boss.  Societal expectations to ‘be on it’ and ‘live our best life’.  The pressure to put up and shut up.  The fear of what might happen if we don’t.  The ways our organisations are becoming tighter.  The working cultures of doing more with less and the doubling down on the work when things get tricky. The pathologising of any emotional disturbance.  Outdated and damaging models of what it means to be a man. The ways we are taught to comply and conform.

Some things are ours to fix.   Some things really are not.

And when we can say clearly this is mine, and this is not mine … that’s a helpful start.

You can sign up for my monthly newsletter here.  Some stuff on leadership.  Some other stuff on love. Any anything else that captures my imagination and gets me thinking. First week of every month 🙂

H x





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