“Good vibes only.” “Only speak kind words to yourself.” “Tell yourself you can do anything.”
Nope, these don’t work for me either.
Real talk: Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk might not work for you if the words you’re speaking aren’t believable in the first place. Research has shown that if you don’t already feel that great, repeating a happy-go-lucky phrase might actually make you feel worse than you already do. In one 2009 study, “psychologists Joanne V. Wood and John W. Lee from the University of Waterloo, and W.Q. Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick, found that individuals with low self-esteem actually felt worse about themselves after repeating positive self-statements.” [Association for Psychological Science]
Self-talk isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s information. It’s the emotional lens we cast over that information that determines what we do with it (or how we verbalize it to ourselves). That’s why I don’t shame myself even MORE when I start to say something mean to myself: I know there’s real information somewhere in there, and other truths that are present. I just might have to slow down and lean in to figure out what they are.
So if replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk doesn’t work on its own, what DOES?
When your negative self-talk starts to flare up, get curious. Look for alternate truths in the situation — proactive ones you already believe.
I just got home from a trip to LA where I got to see my family — parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles….some of whom I hadn’t seen for over two years (which is very out of the ordinary for me).
My grandparents, who are thriving in their 80th decade, were an especially special visit. They’re a part of the WANT community, too. You might even be reading this right now because they sent you a link to sign up. They’re definitely reading this right now (hi, Nana and Papa Ronny!).
As some of WANT’s biggest superfans, they always love asking about not only my work, but about YOU.
They can’t believe how many amazing human beings I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, virtually or IRL, because of WANT. They want to know how we find each other, how we know each other, where you’re from, what it is you love, everything.
It’s pretty incredible that we’re able to talk the ins and outs of a career and community that primarily exist in the digital space without missing a beat. (My grandfather was actually the very first person to introduce me to The Internet back in 1990/91 — any of my ’80s-millennials-and-older remember Prodigy?!) They understand what I do, they understand how we connect…
…and, they understand the immense amount of energy it takes to be your own boss, publicist, creative director, editor, assistant, and team.
A few months back, I shared with you a post I wrote about creating a Joy Tab — a list of things to help you turn the focus back on your self after being others-focused for so long.
When I shared it, I got so many of you sending emails to me, echoing what I’d expressed in my post: I’d been so caught up in trying to be of service to others over the last few months, that the only “self-care” I was doing was the stuff that would just keep me afloat.
Sleep. Water. Movement. Food.
I, and you, needed to get back in touch with what was needed on a solo level.
Fast forward a few months, and I found myself in the exact opposite position.
I had gotten so self-focused that I felt disconnected from others.
On a personal level, I leaned so heavily into self-care that I began to fear the absence of it (a faint echo of the old disordered tendencies of my 20s, ones I do NOT want to ever go back to).
On the professional level, I felt such intense anxiety (as the one building, navigating, and steering her own ship) that I’d spend my days spiraling about work I was stressed about, spend my nights staying up mega-late finishing the work I spent the day stressing about, and wake up completely wiped the next day.
And the cycle would repeat.
What I realized is that this time around, I didn’t need a Joy Tab to help me focus on myself. I needed a Connection Tab to help me focus back on others.
Because here’s the thing:
As humans, we aren’t meant to be fully self- or others-focused.
You can tell just by practicing a fake conversation with yourself: imagine talking to someone and all you say is “I, me, mine, my”…..or, on the flipside, you deflect any question about yourself and only say “you, yours, they, theirs.”
It feels icky, right?
That’s because when you only focus on ONE, you either create distance between you and others, or between you and your SELF.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while I believe it’s an important conversation at ALL times, it’s particularly important this month of this year, when we’re actively creating a new normal that’s ACTUALLY new…instead of the old patterns that weren’t working in the first place.
A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We must practice self-care and community care.
And so, as a Mental Health Awareness Month gift, I created a free SELF-CARE + COMMUNITY CARE (or JOY TAB + CONNECTION TAB) Toolkit just for you. Click here to download it.
One last thing about my time with my grandparents.
During the course of our lunch together last Wednesday, during a trip in which I was so thrilled to put my self-focus on pause for a few days and soak in some community-focused time, my grandfather asked me a question: How do you decide to write the things you write, and speak about the things you speak about? (my Papa Ronny is the master of open-ended questions.)
I laughed as I told him:
“I wish I had a more exciting answer to give you, but the truth is, it’s just how my chatty, highly sensitive brain works.”
A few days later, upon reflection, I now think that’s just one part of the answer.
Yes, my brain is always going a mile a minute and always has this “Clarissa Explains It All”-style monologue going on (with the volume all the way up).
But the other part of the equation is YOU.
I don’t believe I am alone. I don’t believe any of us are.
Maybe I’m the one with this specific platform and this specific voice, but my experiences are NOT unique.
I know this because of talking to you. Reading YOUR posts on social media. Emailing YOUR inbox and DMing back and forth on YOUR platforms. Learning from YOUR words. What my chatty, highly sensitive brain tells me is so similar in many ways to what your chatty, highly sensitive brain tells you.
And THAT is why we should not, cannot, and MUST not ever be 100% self-focused or 100% others-focused, and why we must create systems and strategies for ourselves to regain a unique-to-us balance of the two when we lean too far in one direction or the other.
Because both focuses have important lessons to teach us, questions to ask us, and ways to relate. We will not find every answer we need in others. And, contrary to a lot of pop culture self-helpy advice, we will not find every answer we need in ourselves either.
The key is curiosity.
Sometimes we need to get curious about ourselves; sometimes we need to get curious about others.
But make no mistake: there is gold both inside and outside us all.
Two weeks ago, I finally turned in the keys to our old studio apartment. Keys I should have turned in weeks ago. We had a month’s worth of a lease overlap and so I held on because…well, because.
Because I have a tough time letting go.
Because I struggle moving on from things that are great.
Because I thought maybe if I could hold on a little longer I could preserve all the goodness that was brought to life in those minimal square feet. As if that goodness was fleeting.
For those new here: my husband, pup and I spent all of 2020 in a 470 sq ft box in the Manhattan sky (aka studio apartment). And then two years before that. I was so skeptical this would work and thought it would be a relationship disaster. But Jeremy insisted, and he’s got a great track record (he’d found our last two apartments before this, both of which I adored), so I figured I’d humor him and stick it out a year.
But joke’s on me, because not only did it become my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in, but it was the place our relationship has grown/thrived the most. And that’s mostly because it’s where WE have grown/thrived the most.
And I think that by holding onto the keys, I’ve been harboring some fear that maybe we’ll go backwards.
This has shown up in other aspects of my life, too. Avoiding anywhere that requires a substantial subway trip, out of fear I’ll get back into a routine of over-scheduling myself. Staying
What I’ve learned I need to learn, over and over and over again, is that stories don’t end just because a chapter’s been read.
Every event I’m going to be doing for quite some time will be centered, in some way, around creating YOUR New Normal. A New Normal that isn’t just soul-filling, but actually sustainable. Moving forward into it fearlessly, with your fear less than your faith. Where you’re not clinging desperately to what was out of fear of what could be.
There is no “back to normal” because there is no “back to” anything.
It’s all about creating what’s next, and next, and next. As the saying goes, “Anything that’s meant to be yours cannot be taken away.” And also, as the saying goes, “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”
As for our apartment? We’ve got 1 year in this new home of ours, then onto (hopefully) a more long-term place to nest. I’m beginning to embrace the idea that all the transformation that’s transpired for me over the last year-plus is now a part of me. My surroundings might change, my days might look different, but what’s mine is mine for keeps.
And, there’s so much good ahead.
I don’t want to spend this next year so busy longing for a chapter I’ve already read that I miss the one unfolding in front of me right now.
And so. Onward✨
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After almost six years and 124 episodes, I realized I’d never done what many people do right at the start of their podcasts…shared my story.
But as I’m evolving, WANT is evolving, and the world is evolving, maybe now is actually the perfect time for a (re)introduction. If anything, so that maybe you can recognize a little of yourself in these words, and know you’re not alone.
In this jam-packed episode, Jessica and I dive into how to figure out what “normal” and “best” mean for you…when what you’re feeling is anything BUT those things.
(We’re also laughing a lot, because Jessica brings SO much joy to the WANTcast.)
Her new book, Know Your Endo: An Empowering Guide To Health and Hope with Endometriosis, isn’t only for people with endo – but for people who think they could possibly have endo, for people who love people who have/could have endo, or people who are questioning if the “normal” they experience is the same “normal” they hear everyone else talking about. It is a revelation, a revolution, and a treasure trove of both stories and strategies to help you build your confidence AND your toolkit.
“Monday morning, indoor group fitness opens back up in NYC!”
I saw the news headlines plastered all over my friends’ social media timelines, celebratory emojis abound. Not soon thereafter, the emails started rolling in.
As a group fitness instructor for the last almost-14 years, I’ve become intimate and familiar with the so-called “hustle.” The early morning, the late nights, the laughable pay (I once taught at a studio where one person showed up, and I got paid per head, so I made a whole $3 for that class), the long commutes. Teaching through sickness, through injury, through life crisis because you can’t find a sub.
Not to say that’s all it’s been. Far from it. There are many reason why I’ve prioritized it over the years, and why I’ve stuck with it even when I wasn’t making enough to cover a gallon of gas: the community, the people, the way you’re able to make massive shift happen within a span of 45 minutes that lasts long after your heart rate has settled down.
Pre-2021, I probably would have been thrilled by all the emails rolling in talking about reopening. But this time, this year, in 2021, that was not the case. Anxiety hit. Hard.
I knew. And when I finally did get on that bike for my very first class back, my suspicions were confirmed.
I am not the same person as when I last got up on that bike.
This isn’t a post about group fitness at all, and it’s not about the safety logistics of “opening up.” This is about going Back To Normal.
My experience teaching spin classes over the last two weeks since reopening has been great. Supportive managers, grateful class members, intimate classes of no more than 6.
And. I am not the same. I can already tell that I lead differently. I facilitate a different experience. I imagine that when I go back to IRL speaking engagements, I’ll have a similar reaction. How ironic that it took the absence of pressure from weekly “stage time” — whether on a conference stage giving a keynote or a spin podium coaching through a breathless push — to feel as if I’ve finally found my voice all over again.
My experience has been one of a multitude of examples thus far in which I feel as if I’m going back in time and seeing my life through asliding-doorslens, being given an opportunity to take one path instead of the other.
Maybe you feel it, too. Going places you haven’t been for a year and realizing you’ve changed but they haven’t. Being asked questions you would have answered with an emphatic YES or hard NO before, now bringing you hesitation and pause.
A transition has been brewing over the last year+ and can now FEEL everything starting to bubble to the surface. It’s incredible and terrifying at the same time. Because now, right now, in this moment, we get to choose our true New Normal.
Restrictions are lifting in more areas, vaccines are being rolled out in more places, and for some, life is beginning to look more “normal” than it has in 12 months.
My fear is that people will be so eager to “get back” to how things “once were” that they’ll forget all those moments over the last year that made them realize that “how-things-once-were” was, in a multitude of ways, NOT working.
I do not want to buy into the so-called “hustle.” I want to define my own success. I do not want to say YES when I mean NO. I want to say YES when it means YES and NO when it means NO. I do not want to distract myself into perpetuity anymore. I want to always be paying close attention. I do not want trust without truth. I want truth, then trust. I do not want an existence made of checked boxes. I want a life lived outside the lines that we’re told give it shape. I want rest. I want contemplation. I want deeper conversations and holding someone to their word. I want racial and gender equity. I want evolution. I want forward motion.
This past year has presented us with so many lessons to learn and unlearn. So many systems to dismantle and truths to face about our world, and about ourselves.
And here’s the kicker: they’re not new.
These aren’t new lessons and systems and truths. The difference is that this time, weren’t “too busy” or “too distracted.” We were sitting down and paying attention.
And I worry about our collective attention span dwindling and going back to the way things were.
Don’t let it happen.
Journal about it all (What’s Your Story? by Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond is a great place to start. I truly will never ever stop recommending this book). Keep talking about what you’re learning. Keep evaluating and re-evaluating the systems and structures in your life.