10 Questions for Coach and Mentor Nikola Šraibová
In today's 10 questions, we will talk to another member of our Soulmio team, Nikola Šraibová, a relationship coach who focuses her workshops and articles mainly on improving communication and finding emotional stability.
Nikola, you have been in psychology and coaching for a long time. What do you think we should do to better combine our work and personal life?
I would recommend not trying to constantly look for balance even though most smart books often tell us the exact opposite. If we are failing to find this “balance” for a long time, we can easily succumb to stress and anxiety. Rather than looking for the perfect work-life balance, it is, in my opinion, about the ability to walk on uneven terrain and, in a way, accept negative things as part of our lives - both personal and work lives. To learn to respond to sudden events and be inventive. Only then will we be able to handle such situations and find suitable solutions. In short, when I don’t like something, I have to change it.
I like to use a simple formula. To achieve change, we should keep in mind the following: D (dissatisfaction) + V (vision of the new) + FS (first steps) > all this must exceed RC (resistance to change).
Simply put, if we are dissatisfied and we can do something about it, we need to go into action. We are the ones who should make sure that we feel better. I am also of the opinion that whenever things are not going well at work, it is usually just an escalation of something dysfunctional in the person’s private life.
Poor team communication is a major topic in companies and I often hear about problems with promoting people’s own ideas. What can be done about that? How can we improve in those areas?
Whenever we fail to communicate and promote our opinions, it is usually due to hidden shame or a strong inner feeling that we are not good enough. If I think that, I usually radiate it into my surroundings, and, in turn, the people around me will not believe in me and therefore I fail to push through what I want. It is important to value yourself and your time more. To be able to work with what is important to me personally and to say NO if I feel that way.
Some people are willing to take on an inhuman workload. What do you attribute it to?
I know from my practical experience that this is mostly due to the need to demonstrate that I can handle whatever it is (there is usually an unmet need from childhood) as well as due to the hidden expectation that there will be a reward in the form of appreciation. Such appreciation may come, of course, but it only has a short-term effect which then further contributes to me rushing on like a hamster in a wheel.
I would describe it as an unhealthy relationship with myself, where I prioritize the needs of others over mine. Again, this behavior is associated with insufficient assertiveness where we do not know how to set boundaries and limits past which we do not want to go or let others. This reflects the behavior of our parents towards us which we then unknowingly apply to ourselves.
I feel like much of what you are saying resonates with the term healthy self-confidence. What do you personally think it means?
I see it as a connection to myself where I know what I want and need in life and what makes me feel good. Self-confidence is essentially self-awareness where we take in and actively get to know ourselves. It is a never-ending process, the goal of which should be our journey and the knowledge that I am going the right way because that is how I feel. If I should elaborate more, then it is a connection to my intuition and the ability to ask questions that give me the answer to what I really need at the moment. I learn, I gain experience and I use it wisely – in order to do so, I need to be connected to myself and be important to myself.
Long-term stress certainly does not benefit our behavior and mood. Do you think it can be avoided? What do you do for your mental hygiene?
Yes, it can. However, I need to know myself and my limits and not exceed them. Essentially, everything I have mentioned can help. It definitely takes a bit of courage because when we say NO to someone or something, we risk not being accepted or breaking down an established system, and this risk is difficult to accept for our brains. However, if we assess this from a long-term perspective, it is an ability that we must learn not to burn out and to feel good most of the time.
Personally, I know that running, yoga, going for a walk or having the opportunity to talk to someone else about myself and clear my head make me feel good. I feel good when I eat the way I should. When I drink not two but one coffee a day and when I do something meaningful that I find fulfilling. Such as taking care of my children, writing or working with people. And I also know that sometimes I need to be alone – well, I am pretty bad at this one, but I definitely need it in my life.
In Soulmio, you focus on writing psychological articles and running workshops. In what way is the project close to your heart?
For the longest time, workplace psychology was taboo and did not receive the space it deserves. I remember times when visiting a coach or a psychologist was “shameful”. I am glad that the perception of psychology in companies has changed and, on the contrary, a new trend is emerging which deals with mental hygiene intensively. It makes perfect sense to me as effective prevention for those, who have not burned out “yet”, but also as an opportunity to get to know yourself better and take care of yourself in other ways than physically. I think it would be wonderful if we took care of our mental condition the way we take care of our physical condition. If it were as natural to us as brushing our teeth or combing our hair. Then, the world would definitely be a better place to live.
Since you have mentioned burnout, what would you recommend as suitable prevention?
Paying attention to yourself and your needs and not overlooking yourself. People, who burn out, are miles and miles apart from themselves and have been long ignoring what their bodies and souls have been telling them. Being close to ourselves and taking care of ourselves with the kindness and attention that we pay, for example, to our children or loved ones. I see that for people, who have burned out, this is still about their sense of guilt and about them being able to be better and do more. However, these are very toxic beliefs that lead to destruction. This requires help because the world is a hard place to live sometimes, especially due to the ever-present pressure on performance.
Why do you think companies should actively address the mental health of their employees and not leave it to the employees themselves?
Definitely because a balanced person does a much better job. Everyone likes to feel cared for by others and everyone cares about how they feel. Working for a company that takes care of me in this respect would be a very fulfilling feeling for me personally. I also believe that with many employees such care might be repaid to the company in the form of more efficient work and greater loyalty.
Do you think that companies perceive the care for their employees’ mental state as a necessity and not just as an option?
I see this a lot in startups where the company culture is very different and a certain work-life concept is followed to a greater extent. They want employees to feel good because it is part of their company’s philosophy or the specific product they are creating together.
The situation is still different in standard corporations but I am glad that they are also already beginning to see how the needs of employees are changing. They are slowly accepting the idea that the entire approach needs to change.
And what is your personal approach? What do you perceive as most important in life?
Living according to our own values, not according to the pressure of the society that is trying to engrave under our skin that we are not good enough as we are. The human psyche is very fragile, vulnerable and impressionable, especially when people are manipulated through fear or exclusion from society or a community.
I like what Martin Rozhoň says. See through this “Matrix” and consciously do what is in line with us and not with what is out there.