Did you ever get scared on a roundabout as a child, when it kept spinning faster and faster? You didn’t like the feeling and started to panic because you didn’t know how to get off. You held on tighter, but it just kept getting faster. You knew that the faster it got, the more likely you were to hurt yourself if you jumped. As the panic rose, the big strong arm of a grown-up came down to save you, stopping the roundabout safely. After a few deep breaths, you started to calm down and tentatively got off the roundabout.
Modern life and the relentless nature of it sometimes feels like that roundabout. It seems to have become common practice for us to live beyond our wellbeing needs. We’re too busy, too pressurised, too… everything. And often, that feeling of spinning too fast on a roundabout returns… only it’s not a roundabout, it’s life. And there’s no grown-up to save us because we are the grown-ups. So how do we stop, before we fall and really hurt ourselves?
Well, the Olympics taught us a great lesson this year. Instead of feeling weak when we need to stop, we should learn to say no like an Olympian…
Winning shouldn’t come at the cost of mental or physical health
The Olympics brings the world together in a show of both physical and mental strength. Olympians are applauded, praised and cheered on as they strive to bring glory for themselves and their home countries. But this year was different. This year, the world was shown that winning shouldn’t come at the cost of mental or physical health. And we really want to applaud this.
Simone Biles, winner of multiple gold medals in the 2016 Games, made the news after she dropped out of some of the Olympic events due to mental health. During a performance, she suffered from a case of the ‘twisties’ – a condition that can be brought on by stress and anxiety, which leads to gymnasts losing the sense of where they are in mid-air. She has spoken publicly about how this was the moment she needed to stop… to say no. She knew she was sacrificing the chance of more gold medals, but she put her mental and physical health first. She went on to win bronze on the balance beam, which she said “meant more than all the golds, because I’ve pushed through so much the last five years and the last week.”
Another Olympian who said no was Canadian diver, Pamela Ware. At the point of executing her dive that the commentator had just anticipated to be ‘spectacular’, she made a misstep and realised she could hurt herself badly if she went through with it. So she said no, and jumped into the pool feet first. Again, she put herself first – something that so many of us fail to do.
If you fail to say no, you will fail
Let’s reframe the idea of saying ‘no’ being a sign of weakness or failure. Because, in fact, if you fail to say no, you’ll end up failing – in a much more serious way. Both Simone Biles and Pamela Ware took the huge and brave step of saying ‘no’ before their roundabout spun so fast that it got out of control. They ignored the world and put themselves first. And that shows more strength than anyone who just keeps going.
In a previous blog – ‘The Taboo of Needing a Duvet Day’ – we spoke about the importance of learning to slow down, as simply carrying on and on can have serious consequences on both your mental and physical health.
So when you feel your roundabout starting to spin too quickly, stop while you can do it safely. The longer you stay on, the faster it spins, the worse the damage will be when you fall.
Have you ever made the decision to stop and say ‘no’? We’d love to hear some inspirational stories where you put yourself first. Let us know in the comments below or on our social media channels.