Whatever the cause of the stresses in your life, it’s a truism that a problem shared is problem, if not halved, then very much easier to deal with. Talking things through, as I’ve said many times before, is always a helpful way to develop and crystallise one’s thinking and there are usually plenty of people to have those sorts of conversations with.
There are occasions, however, when you need more than just to bounce ideas off someone. There are times when we need a completely non-judgmental, sympathetic and discreet person to help us through the tricky stuff. When we have made a mistake we need support to put it right. When we feel wobbly, we need help to regain inner strength. When our grand plans turn to dust, we need consolation and direction.
Of course, we all have friends and family and I would never suggest that they are not usually the first port of call for emotional support. However, in most of our relationships – though by no means all – there is a thin little line between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ and it generally goes against the grain to cross that little line. Friends do not necessarily understand or are interested in work-related problems and anyway, we probably don’t want to go into detail about professional issues in a social context. Talking to work friends about our emotional concerns is something very few of us have the nerve to do for many obvious reasons. Talking to those closest to us might give us positivity and love but doesn’t usually provide the critical overview we so often need.
One of the ways in which the Pluralists Club works so well is that it is a group of like-minded people observing The Chatham House Rule in a safe environment. Every member of the club can tell you about a time when they have exercised poor judgement, had an emotional crisis or wished they had done things differently. The great thing about our members is that they sit in that perfect space between understanding professional dilemmas whilst having no professional axe to grind. The relationship between members is not too intimate to be fully honest but it is not so distant that experiences can’t be shared. We console each other, advise each other and cheer each other on.
I have a range of supportive networks which are all helpful. I have a few relationships which cover the personal and professional divide. However, like everyone, I sometimes find myself in a situation where I need clear-eyed, intelligent but sympathetic advice. When I look at other pluralists I see a group of people who know where I am coming from and where I am going – that’s the sort of support we all need when we forge our own path.