The Joy Tab.

The Joy Tab.

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You:
How Are You, Really?

Me:
Last Saturday I hit a breaking point. Or whatever you want to call those moments these days where it just all feels like too much and not enough simultaneously. A vortex of feeling. A black hole of numbness. No tears though. Vortexes suck up tears and numbness doesn’t cry.

I confided to Jeremy that I felt as if the only times I’m truly happy lately are when I’m 1- singing, 2- running, or 3- all doing something together as a family unit (walking, drinking coffee on the couch, watching a movie). All the other times felt…anesthetized. This, I said, made me so sad. Not the feelings themselves (or lack thereof), but the ratios.

And he said: well that makes sense. You’ve spent almost an entire year just focused on how you can help everyone else. It makes sense that the things that fill you up are when you’re totally and completely self-focused.

Oh.

It’s true. Since March 2020, I’ve been switched onto Helper Mode. Personally and professionally. This is not a complaint. Rather, a recognition. My work is completely focused on helping other people through their tough stuff. Always has been. My personal motto (or one of them, along with such phrases as “don’t not give a fuck, just give selective fucks”) is one passed down to me by my high school theater teacher; that whenever you walk into a room the first thing you do is ask “what can I do to help?” Heck, it’s even in my astrological chart and Human Design and enneagram and all that stuff. Being of service is in me on a cellular level. And as entrepreneur Gloria Atamno says, it’s not always an easy task to separate the change you wish to make and what you actually carry the responsibility for – especially for those who feel like it’s their life’s assignment and calling to make that change.

All this focus on others honestly wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was doing more than the bare minimum to keep mySELF afloat – which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m usually someone whose energetic balance is worked into her daily life. It’s not just happenstance – I’ve spent almost two decades carefully crafting my days when and where I can to make sure I get solo time amidst the cacophony that is life. I thought ‘d figured out my formula.

But without commutes, social plans, small talk with the barista at the coffee shop, random trips to the drugstore (because I’m sure I need something, I’ll think of it later), and the predictable everydayness that was life before March, I’ve been way off balance for far too long. My scales (Libra here!) have been askew for almost a year.

~

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’re not MEANT to be 100% self-focused or 100% other-focused constantly – we need to be both.

And yet the last year has held many of us in one lane or the other:

Maybe you’ve been SELF-focused: doing things to keep yourself decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Self not because you’re arrogant or believe others don’t deserve these things too, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are your own. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of others. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well, you also end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been OTHER-focused: doing things to keep others decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Other not because you believe you’re undeserving of these things yourself, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are out there in the community and world. We create the world we want to live in. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well about others, you also end up feeling burnt out and disconnected from yourself.

I do NOT want to tip the scales so far in one direction that I lose sight of the other, nor do I want to dim or blur my focus on others just to give myself some TLC. Again, keeping my Others-focus sharp is important to my DNA. I just need to sharpen my focus on myself in the meantime.

So what’s helping me (or at least what I HOPE will help me this month, I’m still working on this) is keeping a JOY TAB.

A list of 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that bring ME joy. A list of suggestions and Common Joy-Bringers at the top, then space for me to fill in the blanks.

Maybe you’re the opposite, though. You feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy isolated and trying to keep yourself satisfied/decent/hopeful/well that you rarely do anything that truly connects you to others in a way that feels meaningful to you that helps you focus on others AS you continue to focus on yourself.

For that I’d suggest the same convention, but with a twist. A CONNECTION (or COMMUNITY or SERVICE TAB (pick the word that feels right to you). 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that serve someone else or connect you with others.

I picked 10 per week because I like the idea of more than one thing a day. I personally need a lot more Self-oriented joy in my life. Also, I didn’t assign a specific number per DAY because I slip. Some days I don’t do anything that brings me joy that’s all my own — but days are long, so if I skip a day, I can surely find something to do to double up on another day. This ALSO makes me feel less guilty for spending “time on myself” when the guilt bug starts to bite (again – for you the feeling might be different).

Want your own Joy and Connection Tab templates? Click below to download:

To be honest with you, I stopped asking people “How Are You” long ago. Because I noticed that the default answer is usually “fine.” Even when people aren’t. We’re so pre-programmed to hear THAT question and give THAT answer that when people actually want to know how we are, we end up dismissing a chance for real connection, real emotion, and just real REALness beyond the perfunctory response. “Fine,” to me, is an answer you give when you give when you don’t want to talk about something. Or when you’ve had so many people in your past try to fix you that you just don’t want to get into it. Or, more commonly, an answer you give as a courtesy to someone else you figure is just asking you How You Are because it’s the polite thing to do. Nice, not kind.

And that, to me, is a shame. That we’re so used to equating the question “How Are You” with something either negative or obligatory that we just give the easiest answer that’ll stop the conversation soonest.

So, yeah, I’m not fine. And no, you don’t need to try and fix it. Because since I’m able to identify why exactly it is that I’m not fine — because I know your heart, and I trust that when you asked me How Are You, Really you actually wanted to dive into the deep end with me — I feel confident in being able to move through it. I’ve been here before, I’ll be here again. What’s going to make this time different?

 


WANT YOUR SELF:
What are some things that bring you JOY? What are some things that make you feel more CONNECTED TO others?
Can you make these suggestions for your future-self to take advantage of, for those times you’re looking to balance your scales?

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

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Big announcement…

WE HAVE A FREAKIN’ OFFICIAL COMMUNITY!!!!!!!!

(Please excuse the all-caps shout. This has been so very long in the making, and I reserve the right to shout with glee from the internet-rooftops.)

THE WANT COMMUNITY is exactly what I envisioned for WANT when I dreamed it up back in 2007: it’s a place to shift your self talk, build a positive mindset, and make a lasting impact by being the you you know you’re meant to be.

WHAT IS THE WANT COMMUNITY?

We’re a members-only club by women, for women that gives you empowerment, encouragement, resources + support to shift your self-talk – not just from negative to positive, but from reactive to proactive.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Well, I believe that you deserve to be the You you know you’re meant to be…and you deserve to be surrounded by the kind of support + encouragement that makes you believe it’s possible to THRIVE being that person. TWC is where you go to build positive habits, self-confidence, and self-worth for the long run – and where you connect with fellow community members to put all that confidence to good use out in the world.

WHAT WILL I GET BY JOINING THE WANT COMMUNITY?

⚡️ WANT Your Self Today deliveries: Bite-sized pep-talks, prompts, and pieces of inspiration “From Your Self” (😊) in your inbox M-F

⚡️ Weekly WANT Challenges + Prompts: community prompts in the private clubhouse to make shift happen in both your world and the world

⚡️ Monthly Virtual Meetups: including Q+A sessions, mini-workshops, panels, workouts, guest speakers, community happy hours, office hours, and more

⚡️ WANT Your Self Quarterly: A digital mini ‘zine delivered to your internet door 4xs a year containing community updates, member spotlights, notable TWC Wins, and more

⚡️ Our Private Community Board: This is my favorite part. Connect, cheer on, and bond with other TWC members. Download the app (WE’RE ON AN APP, and it’s not owned by Facebook! 🤯) to stay connected wherever you go!

…and more.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Because “doable” looks different for everyone, we’ve got 3 pricing options to choose from, starting at $4.99/month. All plans are identical, and you can change at any time

Interested? Click below:

 

I cannot WAIT to get to know you better in The WANT Community — and, maybe even moreso, I cannot wait for you to meet EACH OTHER. You’re gonna love each other.

LET’S MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN.

Meet you in TWC!

How To Keep Your Good Going.

How To Keep Your Good Going.

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About seven months ago, I wrote:

Well. We’re not there yet.

But it feels like our New Normal is close.

Can you feel it too?

And hopefully, it will be a New Normal that’s been needed for a good long time.

I believe in you. I believe in your heart, your determination, your strength, your power. And while that’s great, the thing I care the most about is that YOU believe in you.

The year is beginning to wrap up. This weekend there were celebrations of joy around the whole WORLD (which is pretty bananas when you stop to think about that. The whole world). And the phrase that keeps swirling around in my brain is:

NOW THE WORK BEGINS, BECAUSE NOW THE WORK CAN BEGIN.

Fighting for change is not easy. Working to implement change after fighting for it is a whole other kind of “challenging.”

Because no matter the change – in our relationships, in our body image, in our careers, in our self-worth, in our society – the real test comes when it’s time to build and then maintain what we’ve fought so long for.

The real test comes when it's time to build and then maintain what we've fought so long for. Click To Tweet

I’ve gotten caught in the trap of achievement-seeking before, and then totally botched the building and maintaining part. It feels productive and proactive in the moment to fight for a win but the real test is what you do with everything that comes after.

I know I don’t want to look back and just see dreams. I want to look back and see how I built them. I know I don’t want to look back and just see determination. I want to look back and see what I did with it, especially in the quiet moments when no one was watching.

I know it can be really overwhelming to begin to think about the “now-whats” of life, especially directly following mentally and emotionally tumultuous times. Definitely rest and recharge and practice the actual self-care that leads to relief and release.

And then after, consider visiting these thought starters to get your wheels turning about where to go from here. Because it’s clear our Old Normal wasn’t working, and it’s important we pivot instead of falling back into a way of life that wasn’t serving us:

  • What have you learned you can do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you learned you CAN’T do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized doesn’t matter all that much? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized DOES matter a great deal? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What are you most excited about right now when you look toward the future? Why? And, what will you do about it?

  • What have you fought for this year? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What will make this New Normal actually ✨NEW✨ for you? And, how will you make it happen yourself?


Let me know what you come up with in the comments. I’m always here.

Every batch of parents hopes their kids’ generation will “be the ones to change the world.” That’s all fine and feel-good. It’s important to keep hoping for better and better tomorrows.

And.

Don’t wait for another generation to come around.

Be the change you were born to be.

Right now.

I believe in you. And I hope you believe in you, too. 

How To Harness Positivity When Everything Feels Like A Dumpster Fire

How To Harness Positivity When Everything Feels Like A Dumpster Fire

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(…and the dumpster was filled with rancid milk and rotting broccoli and dog poop bags.)

 

WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, my theater teacher used to tell us that instead of saying we were nervous before a show, we should tell ourselves that we were actually excited. Both nervous and excited are “aroused emotions,” meaning they trigger a response in the body that prepares you for action. They’re two words for the same sensation.

But sometimes, there are no substitute feel-alike words for what you’re experiencing. Flipping the shittiness feels saccharine and silly at best, tone deaf and demeaning at worst. You might be feeling exhausted, defeated, enraged, lonely, confused, or some kind of special cocktail of all the above ingredients. “Positive self-talk” probably feels pretty empty, and pretty hokey.

It does to me, too.

Because the thing is that positive self-talk doesn’t always work.

 


THE NOT SO GREAT POWER OF POSITIVITY

Studies have shown that if you don’t believe what you’re telling yourself, and you don’t already have high self-esteem, your brain knows you’re telling yourself lies. The University of Waterloo published a study in the Journal of Psychological Science concluding that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.” And what’s more, you start to feel ashamed of the fact that you AREN’T that person you’re trying to tell yourself you are.

What’s even more interesting to me is that the aforementioned study also said that when asked to list both negative and positive thoughts about themselves, the people who had lower self-esteem actually felt BETTER when they were allowed to say the negative thoughts about themselves. The so-called positive feelings that were being generated came directly from their so-called negativity. It’s no wonder we stay in negative self-talk loops – we stay where we believe we belong.

 

PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.

Positive self-talk isn’t necessarily empty and it most certainly isn’t bad. But jumping straight to the “talk” part of “positive self-talk” is skipping the vital step of determining what it means to actually be positive in the first place.

If there is ONE message I hope you internalize about harnessing positivity during the toughest of times, it’s this:

Positivity isn’t inherently feel-good, happy, or rainbows in the sky.

Positivity is NOT about uplifting mantras and affirmations.

Positivity is about being proactive, not reactive.

Positivity is about being proactive, not reactive. Click To Tweet

Positivity is about recognizing the full spectrum of a situation – the highs, the lows, the lights, the darks, and everything in between – and making a proactive choice to move forward.

By this logic, positivity won’t always feel good. It might feel uncomfortable, you might feel angry, there might be sadness lingering in the background or dread pushing its way through to the front of the line. Your problems won’t disappear and you won’t be handed solutions on a silver platter. And so you might feel discouraged or like you’re doing things “wrong.”

But as long as you’re being proactive, not reactive, I can assure you – THAT is positivity in motion.

 

HOW CAN I BE PROACTIVE RIGHT NOW?

Some words are easily flipped. And while maybe you can’t flip the stinky dumpster fire of dog-shit and turn it into a babbling brook filled with glistening pebbles…maybe, just maybe, you can flip what positivity actually means to you.

Nervousness to excitement. Positive to proactive.

The words we choose to use hold so much weight. It’s vital we dissect what they mean to us before we decide what we do with them.

Instead of asking yourself, “How can I be positive right now?”, try asking yourself “How can I be proactive right now?”

Report back in the comments. I’d love to hear where your proactive choices take you.

 

 

Pod From The Heart: 5 Podcasting Tips To Start (And Maintain!) A Successful Show

Pod From The Heart: 5 Podcasting Tips To Start (And Maintain!) A Successful Show

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“You should start a podcast. In a few years everyone’s gonna be doing them. If you want to, now’s the time. But you know, also, don’t do it if you don’t want to.”

Sitting in a café in Silverlake across from my friend Jessica on a crisp April afternoon, I soaked in her words as my eyes wandered in the way they do when I agree with someone but am also a little terrified by what they’re saying.

It was 2015 and I’d just launched the website for my new project, WANT: Women Against Negative Talk, three months earlier. I was simultaneously working as an editor for a wellness site, which I joked was my “grad school” since it was so clear that everything I had learned about navigating the digital space over my four years thus far was directly applicable to what I was creating on my own. There were clear formulas, processes, and platforms to follow and utilize.

Podcasting, however, was brand new territory. I barely knew of anyone who listened to podcasts…let alone HOSTED them. Well, except Jessica. Did I have what it would take to start my own??

It’s over five years later and I’m so glad I took Jessica’s advice when I did. My podcast, WANTcast: The Women Against Negative Talk Podcast, launched in September 2015 and just celebrated its fifth birthday (I’ve got a kindergartener, folks!). Not only am I relieved that I got to podcasting before the medium’s big boom post-Serial…I’m relieved I took the second part of Jessica’s advice to heart just as much as the first part:

“…But you know, also, don’t do it if you don’t want to.”

Expectation vs reality.

My heart both bursts and breaks when I think about people starting podcasts today.
It bursts because I absolutely love how accessible podcasting is. I love that with minimal equipment and overhead, almost anyone can create a show. I love that with the slew of podcasting platforms that exist at various price points, almost anyone can subscribe and listen. I love the wide range of possibilities that exists with podcasting.

It breaks for the same reasons one’s heart breaks when anything they love becomes a bit too mainstream. I’m reminded of the bloggers circa 2010 and the big blog boom that followed soon thereafter (side note, try to say big blog boom 10xs fast). It seemed like every single mega company was adding a blog to their website – and if independent bloggers weren’t willing to turn their blog into a business to keep up, they’d fall back into the shadows.

Big media companies now dominate the pod charts, making it harder and harder for smaller, independently-run podcasts to get the downloads (and even visibility!) they deserve. If you’re a small fish in the big pond of pods and want to monetize your podcast, the mainstreaming of podcasts has made it REALLY hard to do so, especially without the help of an ad network.

But that’s not all: while podcasts *seem* relatively easy for anyone to create, the process of creating a quality episode – let alone entire show – is anything BUT. With only your voice, mind, and sound quality to connect with listeners, something as small as a faint clicking sound in the background (your dog walking on hardwood floor or husband typing on his computer, perhaps?) can get listeners saying No Thanks. The one exception is if you’re a big celebrity…in which case, people find the lack of polish somewhat endearing. Stars! They’re just like us! 

The problem with THAT is that those might be the podcasts people are being inspired by when they say they want to start their own. But the bar listeners have for a new voice is so different than the bar they have for their favorite celeb who feels “so accessible!” to them. You can have the best ideas and the most well-thought-out episode…but if your sound quality isn’t decent, it’s going to be tough to retain listeners…if that’s what you’re after. And that’s not even taking into account episode structure, intros, outros, interview skills and styles, editing or lack thereof, storytelling, coughs, sneezes, ums, likes, laughs, and so many other purely subjective things that the listener may or may not love or loathe.

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t care about making bank off your pod, the expectation vs. reality gap of “starting a podcast” has become so wide that, according to studies, half of all podcasts don’t get past 15 episodes (this one study from 2018 said that 12% don’t even get past the first episode). 

Because I want to.

I’m so glad I followed (and have stuck with) Jessica’s initial advice of “you know, don’t do it if you don’t want t0.” While I’ve worked with sponsors in the past, I stopped doing ads back in early 2019 because I didn’t want my need to make money from podcasting cloud my judgement of whether I actually WANTED to podcast or not. With every single decision, pivot, and new season of the WANTcast, I’ve asked myself: is this something I am doing because I feel like I have to, or because I feel like I want to?

So far, the answer has been: because I want to.

Because of this rule of thumb, I’ve been able to cross the half-decade mark feeling so proud of not only the show, but the listener community we’ve developed. I trust my audience, and they trust me. And they know I don’t take that trust lightly. They know I choose topics, guests, spotlights organizations, and the very rare very occasional sponsor with them in mind.


Over the last half-decade, I’ve invested in this mic, this mic, and this mic (which I use currently). I’ve made sure to never sacrifice the quality of the episode, which means I’ve turned down many guests who are ok but not a stellar fit, and have hired an editor to make sure my sound is as clean as can be given the equipment I’m willing to pay for.

Our topics are deep and nuanced. We’ve covered: Facing your fears, Creative depressions, Personality types (astrology, human design, Myers Briggs, and more), Body image, Trauma, Sex education, Speaking up, Racism, Sexism, Ableism, Ageism, Jealousy, Forgiveness, Visions, Dreams, Goals, Self-doubt, Self-worth, Anxiety, Overwhelm, Mental illness, Ghost worries, Circumstantial happiness, Experiential longing, Fat-phobia, Body neutrality, Addiction, Recovery, Through lines, Grief, Boundaries, Planned Freak-Outs, Self love, Self like, and SO much more.

And if there’s one thing I’ve embraced, it’s that I do things MY way.

I don’t do things by the book, but I attribute the WANTcast’s longevity to sticking to a few specific self-made rules. Take what works for you, leave the rest.

Here are my top podcasting tips for anyone who wants to start a pod from the heart:

Set your own schedule.
Pick a schedule that works for you, and don’t be afraid to alter it when it no longer does. Refuse to sacrifice the quality of experience for the quantity of episodes. When I began the WANTcast, I started on an every-three-weeks schedule, because I was working a full-time job, community to and from that full-time job, and knew I would never have the bandwidth to create and produce episodes on a weekly basis considering the rest of my life. All the podcasts I listened to were on a weekly schedule, but I knew I’d be one of those people who never got past 15 episodes if I followed their lead.

Since then I’ve been on an every-three-weeks schedule, every-other-week schedule, a weekly schedule, and what is now an every week-or-two schedule (because right now, I need that flexibility for my own mental wellbeing). Consistency is key but it will also screw you over if you’re too married to it. Find what works for you, whether it’s what you see others doing or not.

Fuck analytics.
Analytics are overrated, and subjective. DO NOT look at analytics to tell you how “good” or impactful your pod is. Marie Forleo calls these Vanity Metrics: numbers that don’t actually move the needle in your business. Are you giving people a clear CTA in your episode about how to let you know they’re listening and loving your show? Do you prompt them within the episode to share? Are they sharing? What are they sharing? What are they saying?
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The only thing I find analytics good for is to see what’s working and what might not be working as well as it could. Know your average download rate. What episodes fall below that rate? Which ones fall above it? Did an episode spike in listeners and then drop back down right after – a sign that maybe someone with a big following shared your episode, and so their followers ONLY listened to that episode? Look at analytics with a critical eye. Once you do, you’ll start to see patterns, and you’ll be able to get information about what kinds of content people are loving the most, so you can make more of it.

Don’t be afraid of the PIVOT.
Begin with clarity of vision, model, and purpose…AND be willing to pivot to serve the greater vision. Start with a clear reason WHY you are starting your pod. What is it that speaks to you? What are your objectives? How will you know whether you’re achieving those objectives or not? Will you have guests? Sponsored ads? What problem are you solving for you listener, or how exactly are you looking to enhance their life?

Start your pod with those at the forefront. Make your plan. Stick with it for at least 10-15 episodes so you get into a rhythm and can accurately gage what is working, what isn’t, and what were just growing pains.

AND THEN…if you EVER feel like you need to make changes, make them with that clarity of vision in mind. Get back to your roots. Your whys. Your mission. Maybe that means you change the format of your episodes, maybe that means you change your schedule. But whatever it is, don’t just keep doing something simply because it’s how you’ve always done it. I promise you that if you’ve developed a close relationship with your community, they’ll most likely be on board and be able to see the bigger picture.

Do it  because it’s a fit for you.
Do it because you love it. Do it because it’s fun. Do it because it’s a fit for you.
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Do NOT do it to “keep up.” Do NOT do it because you think you should. Do NOT do it because someone else told you to. If it works for you in one season of your life, great. If it stops being a fit for you and doesn’t work in the very next season of your life, let it go. There will always be a new platform or medium to get into. That doesn’t mean every single one is going to be the best fit for YOU…or ALWAYS be the best fit for you.

There are no rules.
My last rule I’ve followed is…there are no rules 🙃
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Well, other than to stay in integrity with yourself and your show by constantly re-assessing if your intentions align with your impact. But other than that. No rules other than the ones you make for yourself.


WANT YOUR SELF:

Have you started a podcast? Have you chosen NOT to start a podcast? Why, or why not? Are you THINKING of starting one? Which of these tips did you find the most useful?

And if you’re a WANTcast listener…what has been your favorite episode so far? Did you have a favorite guest? Or maybe a favorite topic we covered in a solo episode or a favorite story that’s stuck with you? I would LOVE to hear.

Not subscribed to the WANTcast? Subscribe here in iTunes or over on Spotify.

And while you’re at it, subscribe to Jessica’s podcast, One Part Podcast. She is very very wise.

The Self-Talk Shift For When You’re Feeling Behind Everyone Else In Life

The Self-Talk Shift For When You’re Feeling Behind Everyone Else In Life

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True or False: I’m able to distance myself from what other people are doing and avoid the comparison trap.


Maybe you think I’m not affected by ‘what other people are doing’ because all of my work is about being proactive and building a strong sense of self and all that kind of stuff BUT!!!! Guess WHAT!

I’m human!

I get affected by what other people are doing, and how they do it, all the time. No way am I exempt.

HOW I get affected has changed, though. Whereas I used to compare myself to other people and berate myself for not being as good or professional or ‘together’ as someone else…

…now what usually happens is I just get SAD. Or exasperated. The negativity doesn’t question my potential – it questions my ability to reach it to its fullest.  

Does that ever happen to you? You’re not jealous and you’re not really even self-deprecating…the self-talk that’s coming up isn’t:

I’m a failure. 

I’m not successful like they are.

She’s doing THAT way better than I am.

The self-talk is more along the lines of:

I’m exhausted.

I’m doing everything I can and it’s just not cutting it. 

I’m so behind.

I can’t believe I’m still HERE. 

If I only had [fill in blank], this wouldn’t be so hard.

It can be frustrating seeing what other people are able to do with their resources, their connections, and their privileges – and telling yourself to celebrate what they’re doing instead of telling yourself that you’re in competition with them (which is a good idea, because there is enough room for ANYONE and EVERYONE) won’t magically make those feelings of frustration magically disappear. Celebrating others and feeling down about your work, progress, or Self aren’t mutually exclusive.

This happens most often for me on a professional level – but it also rears its head personally. I compare what I’m able to do with what someone who has a financially robust support system, like a high-earning partner or a wealthy family, is able to do. I compare my work days at home in my studio apartment (where I cowork with my husband) with people who have homes with dedicated offices or even just doors that can close besides the door to the bathroom. I compare myself to people who have cars to sing in (which is one of my favorite ways to blow off steam), people who have home gyms, people who live mere minutes from their families or best friends…as you can see this kind of thinking is NOT productive. And this kind of thinking can become really detrimental, because then what happens is that I start to frame choices I’ve actually made for my best well-being in a negative light, and all the sudden the negative self-talk loop starts, and just keeps going. 

What Is A Negative Self-Talk Loop?

A negative self-talk loop is when the demeaning and degrading story we tell ourselves about ourselves or our life not only plays on repeat in our brain, but leads to even more demeaning and degrading thoughts. Since negative self-talk thrives off of uncertainty, it makes complete sense that it’s been having a field day for so many of us in so many ways throughout 2020 in particular.

When you’re in the negative self-talk loop of ‘I’m trying and it’s not enough,’ ‘I’m so behind,’ or even just ‘Why does this have to be so hard,” try this reframe:

Do the very best with what you’ve got…and the best for what’s next.

 

Do The Very Best With What You’ve Got…

Do the very best with what you’ve got. And remember that what you have could be something that someone else longs for. Some of those things are superficial (like the layout/size/location of your home) or based in choice (like whether or not you have kids). Someone who lives alone might be longing for the interactions a family would provide. Someone who has a spouse or a kid or both might be longing for even just an hour of solo time. The proverb ‘grass is always greener’ became a proverb for a reason. Everyone – EVERYONE – has their breaking points, or stuff that just makes things harder than it is for others.

And then of course there are all the barriers to entry that are so very beyond superficial and so very beyond choice. No, not every one of us has every single privilege, but we all hold SOME sort of privilege in comparison to others. I’m in my 30s, I’m white, I’m cis-gendered, I’m able-bodied, I’m a college graduate, I’m a size that society doesn’t actively exclude…there are so many aspects of who so many of us are that give us a massively unfair edge over others in our society. If you’re reading this, it means you have access to the internet, which I recently learned more than HALF the world still doesn’t have. There are so many systemic barriers to entry that exist for so many people when it comes to them living the life that they’d love to be living.

This isn’t a post to tell you to suck it up and put on your big kid pants and pull that twisted parental BS so many kids in my generation got about finishing the food on our plates because of the vast amount of starving people there are in the world. Nope. I am so over that shame and blame game.

Guilt, as I told my brother the other day on one of our heart to heart calls, is one of the most useless emotions – not always – but most of the time. Because most of the time, guilt, leads to shame, and shame leads to silence, and silence gets us nowhere. As WANTcast guest Christen Brandt, co-founder of She’s the First, said in Episode 71, if you’re feeling guilty about your own privilege, that’s actually a sign it’s time to do something WITH it.

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…And The Best For What’s Next.

When you start to go down this path, and then you think of all that others don’t have, and maybe the guilt and shame starts to bubble up, repeat to yourself: I will do the best with what I’ve got, and the best for what’s next.

The what’s next part is so important here. Because sometimes (not always, but sometimes) when we focus so intently on the ‘what we’ve got’ part, we forget to look forward. Life is a dance between the past, the present, and the future – doing the best with what we’ve got and the best for what’s next encompasses all three. We’re doing in the present, working with what the past has brought us, and building toward the future.

This past-present-future mindset not only allows you to embrace where you’ve been and where you are, but also look for ways you can enhance and improve life – your own AND others’ – in the future.

When it comes to life enhancement and improvement, it’s really easy to get stuck looking in your rear view mirror. I know I’ve definitely found myself in positions where I’m kicking myself, rhetorically wondering WHY didn’t you start sooner? WHY didn’t you have that conversation? WHY didn’t you speak your mind? WHY WHY WHY

…and it’s usually because I was so wrapped up in whatever my perceived roadblock was, that I forgot that the present moment is ALSO a step away from the past and into the future.

No moment lives on its own, by itself. Every moment is intertwined with both all the ones that have come before it and all the ones that will come after it. Sometimes it’s SO hard for me to just do the best with what I’ve gotten in the past and what’s in front of me in the present. But when I can remember that this moment is also in service of whatever is next, it’s that super small but ultimately seriously meaningful change that can help me keep going WITHOUT getting stuck in my own negativity loops.

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Set Your Future Up For Success.

My hope is that we’ll someday untangle being perfect with being right. And we’ll stop confusing doing the BEST with doing the best you CAN.

So whether that’s finding a way to get your business running from your studio apartment, or taking job interviews while also taking care of your kids, or feeding yourself nourishing dinners when the grocery shelves are barely even stocked, or helping your household become actively anti-racist, or whatever it is for you, try that reframe. Do the best with what you’ve got and the best for what’s next.

Use what you have now and what’s led you here in the best way you can, and set your future up for success as well. Know that the now isn’t the forever, and the cool thing about that is there are tangible things you can do right now that your future self will thank you for.

Like Maya Angelou said, Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better. Put it on loop, and just keep going.