Do you look away when life gets too hard?

There can be many pitfalls and costs in life should we ignore confronting problems. When life gets too hard, we can't always see or don’t always want to see what we need to do to address the aspects of our life that aren't working for us. In this article, Thrive Ontological Coach and Facilitator Louise Smallwood discusses this issue and how things improve when we shift from being a passenger in life to intentionally looking at and addressing these areas.

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Mar 09, 2022

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5 mins read

We all have a ‘too hard’ basket in our lives where we put those things that we put off when we don’t want to deal with them. We may be acutely aware there is something not working in our lives, yet we often still choose to look away. This can lead to getting blindsided by unpredictable factors or falling into a cycle of covering up or band-aiding parts of our lives. 

When I’m coaching, it can often be challenging for my coachees to authentically look at what is actually going on in their lives. When they are willing to look and address these areas, that's when they can achieve amazing and often unexpected results. We often need a wake-up call to shock us into seeing what is really going on. The following is my own experience of this.

In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder and prescribed the appropriate psychological support, including an ongoing medication regimen. The medication had an immediate effect and regulated my anxiety. Over time, my one-on-one sessions with my psychologist stopped, but the prescribed medication continued. I moved countries and cities many times over the subsequent years, but doctor after doctor continued to prescribe the same medication without question or reassessment. Importantly, I never questioned it either. My anti-anxiety medication had become a comfortable security blanket, and I had no intention or desire to change things. I was comfortable, and so I left things alone. It wasn’t until I saw my mother lose all hope for a healthy future decades later that I authentically decided to re-assess my own situation.

My mother’s health had been significantly deteriorating for some time. Doctors determined that the deterioration she was experiencing was not, in fact, an illness, but a severe side effect resulting from being medicated for over 35 years. It had a devastating impact on her quality of life, and, as her daughter, the only way I can describe it is heartbreaking. Only at this point did I start to acknowledge that I, too, had been on medication long term. Throughout my life, the fear that I could potentially spiral right back to how I was as a young adult, prevented me from ever considering making a change. So I looked away and chose to ignore the situation for 27 years.

The truth is that I am not alone – we can all do this in different areas of our lives. We may pretend that things are okay, but deep down, we know they aren’t. We are often too fearful or lack the courage to address what’s really going on. We can do this for years and years until we anaesthetise ourselves from dealing with reality and the consequences of our lack of awareness. For instance, it could be as simple as managing our finances or going for the health check we keep avoiding and putting off. Sometimes it’s because we aren’t interested enough or don’t really care, though more often, it’s because the reality of looking at what is really going on is too unbearable. 

So back to our ‘too hard’ basket. How do we go from pretending that the basket doesn’t exist to actually opening up the lid, looking in, pulling out what’s inside and addressing those things that aren’t working for us? How do we interrupt this cycle of denial?

Choose. Choose to look. Choose to be aware. 

In the Being Framework™, the world’s first comprehensive ontological framework that clearly articulates and maps out how human beings "ARE BEING" in the world, we distinguish how moods like anxiety, fear, care and vulnerability can suppress our ability to take action. Through effective coaching, we can address and work to shift these areas of our lives so we can move forward, even when we experience those moods. In our coach training programs, we support both coaches and practitioners through our group training sessions, workshops, coaching sessions, and the support of a community that genuinely cares for each other as we deal with all that is going on in our lives. 

Dealing with this demands courage. As a coach, and for the many people we work with, it takes courage to be vulnerable enough to authentically look beyond our personal discomfort and be willing to work on ourselves. But the results speak for themselves. Though we still have breakdowns, we find a new sense of ease and flow that was not present before we resolved these areas in our lives. Life begins to work.

For me, it meant starting an uncomfortable but rewarding journey of weaning myself off decades of medication with the support of my doctors and my own coach. It meant I had to tackle the discomfort of challenging them at times and dealing with some of the side effects of that journey, as did family and friends. But the outcome can not be overstated.

If you recognise that certain aspects of your life are not working for you, I encourage you to start the journey, too. Look where you have been avoiding looking. Don't put it off; there is no time like the present to begin. And if you need support, then reach out and find a coach to guide you on the way.


CoachingBeing ProfileProcrastinationCourageBeing FrameworkEngenesis

Louise Smallwood

About The Author

Unquestionably, Louise loves people, is passionate about life, and loves community. In particular, she adores her family and spending time together with them. Having worked in Sales and Marketing in various industries for some 15 years, Louise was first introduced to ontology in 1998, which sparked her deep interest in exploring who we are being, how we relate to reality, and in turn, how that impacts the results we get in our lives. Over a decade ago Louise started her coaching journey, developing her coaching skills, utilising various psychometric tools and being trained across complementary coaching methodologies. Louise now works as a full-time coach and is committed to supporting leaders develop highly effective teams through ontological coaching, and interrupting anything that disempowers them. As an accredited Thrive Coach Trainer, Louise facilitates and leads Thrive Coach Training Programs, supporting, encouraging and developing a new generation of coaches. Louise admits that she loves when she gets to work alongside and partner with her husband John in facilitating training workshops with him. In her free time, Louise also loves to exercise, enjoys watching and supporting her local rugby league team, watching MotoGP, and riding her own Ducati motorcycle with John and their friends. Though without a doubt Louise’s favourite part of her week is Sunday night church.

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