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A problem shared: why Jeremy Kyle's guest might just be right...

I've never been one to admit "I'm struggling". I don't like to bother people or bring them down with my woes and no one likes a moaner. I've never had much time for Jeremy Kyle 'guests' who air their dirty laundry in public either. In fact, I admit I've been quite judgemental about them. However, I have come to learn that both professionally and personally, talking about your problems with people is actually a bloody good idea.  

 

But people don't like people who moan about their weight, right? 

It's true no one likes people who moan about how overweight they are. If you moan about the weight you probably wont make many friends, except for other people who moan about being overweight. However, being overweight is rarely about being overweight, usually it's a by product of someone going through some tough times, some stress or life generally sneaking up on them. How often do we talk about that? 

For most people it's easy to say "I'm on a diet" because it's so common these days you'll always find yourself in a good company.  But this is very different to saying "I'm struggling with my weight". It's even harder to talk about underlying reason for being overweight, the hard stuff, the overwhelm or life getting on top of you.  

Do people respect your diet?

Does anyone every dismiss your efforts "your not still on that diet are you? It's all a big fad anyway"?

How different would it be if you shared the problem rather than the solution? We live in a society which shames people for looking a certain way so it's understandable that people don't really open up, but what would the impact be if instead of saying "I'm on a diet" we said "I'm struggling here"? What if we shared how the weight and achieving our goals makes us feel instead of talking about calories? Would people be as dismissive?

 

What will people think of me?

I met a guy recently who was starting out in a job he'd never done before. He was a total novice. He had no prior knowledge or relevant experience and hadn't done much research yet. He didn't even have a clear direction, more sort of a vague sense of what he wanted. He went to a meeting with a group of people, almost all of whom were very experienced in his new field and just went around the room telling anyone who would listen how little he knew, how clueless he was and how he basically had no idea what he was doing or any real sense of direction.   

What did these people think of him?

I remember thinking it was a little embarrassing. Perhaps he was being too open. Maybe people wouldn't take him seriously given his lack of prior thought on the subject. Did it come across a little unprofessional? 

Do you know what happened?   

People fell over themselves to help him.  

They gave him resources, potential contacts, ideas, leads and generous amounts of their time. He learnt more in a few hours that I would have done in a month.  

No one judged him. They had all been in a similar position themselves at some point so they were happy to help and loved helping out a fellow professional by sharing what they knew.  

 

It makes sense when you think about it: 

Which type of people do you help? 

Those who are struggling 

What do you do when people seem fine? 

You leave them to it 

The very behaviour we adopt to make our problems go away just keeps them hanging around for longer.

Think of a problem like an unsolved puzzle you carry around everywhere with you in your pocket. You know it's there but unless you share it no one else does. As long as it stays tucked away it doesn't get any closer to being solved. Yet, if every time you meet someone you share the puzzle, each person manages to work out just one tiny piece, bit by bit and in no time at all your puzzle is solved. Each person holds a bit of the solution and every meeting takes you a step closer to completion. The longer you keep it tucked away, the more opportunities you pass up to find a part of the solution.  

Hmm, perhaps Jeremy Kyles guests have it right after all..............