Mistake Resilience: How To Recover From A Case of “I Should Have Known Better”

Mistake Resilience: How To Recover From A Case of “I Should Have Known Better”

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Do you ever have those things that happen where you’re like, “Ugh, why did I do that?! I should have known better” ??

Like…

…Forgetting to add the salt in the cookies you grew up baking.
…Signing on the wrong dotted line when you’ve been signing contracts for years.
…Those plans you impulsively said YES to that always drain you for days after.

Whether it’s a recipe you’ve made a hundred times or an industry you’ve been in for literal decades, having experience in something doesn’t mean you’re immune to a flub-up.

And the more experience you have, the more likely you are to fall prey to this specific negative self-talk — I Should Have Known Better — and all the negative self-talk that follows it:

I’m such an idiot.

What a rookie move.

How could you do that, *|FNAME|*?!

Sound familiar? I know it well. I experienced it this week, actually…

moments before “the incident.”

 

Over the last few weeks — ok, last few months — I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been having some difficulty with my mental health (as I think a lot of us have been having!). My anxiety has been flaring up so hardcore that it’s been close to impossible to get most things done — and the things that HAVE gotten done, it’s taken all my energy to do them.

So when I finally started to feel a wave of relief, I knew I wanted to tackle something important to me that had been suffering: my podcast.

I started the WANTcast six years ago when I was busy simultaneously working a full-time job, teaching 8 spin classes a week, and spending at least three hours in my car every single day just to get from one place to another.

But no matter what my schedule has looked like, the WANTcast has always stayed a priority since it launched in 2015.

So the fact that I didn’t have it in me to publish a new episode for a whole MONTH, without warning, was wildly out of the ordinary.

The second I started to feel more like myself, I was determined to get “back on track.” I put all the pieces into place, and I finally pressed “publish” on the first new episode in a month last Friday.

WE’RE BACK, BABY!! I squealed to myself in my mind. I geeked out about it on social media, feeling pumped to be in my groove again after an unexpected hiatus, and went on my way.

Cut to Monday, when I’m taking a morning run and decide to listen back to the episode again. (I always love listening purely for enjoyment after everything is up and running and I’m far out of editor-mode.)

I press play and hear the intro music, a wave of relief hitting me that I finally did the damn thing. I’m so jazzed — I’ve listened to this interview about four times already. It’s REALLY GOOD. I’m so proud of myself for getting it out to listeners and so excited they get to enjoy it.

I hear myself talking…

…and then I hear a long pause.

Oh no.

I hear myself clear my throat.

OH NO.

And then, I hear myself taking the loudest, slurpiest GUUULLLP of water right into the microphone.

What happened, exactly?

I’d been so pumped to get the episode out, I’d totally spaced on editing the first 45 seconds.

Which is really the first 15 seconds if you don’t count the intro music.

The LITERAL period of time it usually takes people to pass a judgement on whatever they’re listening to.

Great.
Just great.

Luckily, because I do most everything myself, I know how to go back and edit shit like that out. My run became a sprint as I booked it home and images of one-star iTunes reviews started to flash before my eyes.

She doesn’t even know how to edit her podcast! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Awful listening experience! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Don’t even bother, what an amateur! ⭐️❌❌❌❌

Just NO! ❌❌❌❌❌

And then…the dreaded phrase popped into my head.

Katie, it’s been SIX years. You. Should. Have. Known. Better.

Even the most seasoned runners trip sometimes. The small mistake you make probably won’t define you — but what you do next just might. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing. Whether it’s a small “whoops” or a big “oh shit” moment, things HAPPEN. And we can be really hard on ourselves when we make a mistake — especially if we’ve been doing that particular thing for a while.

If that’s you, and you’ve experienced your own “I Should Have Known Better Moment” lately, here’s what I have to say — and I hope you take this to heart —

That *one thing* does not, in any way, negate all the expertise and skill you’ve built over the years.

Even the most seasoned athletes trip sometimes.

Even the best chefs will inevitably burn a meal.

The mistake you make probably won’t define you — it’s what you do next that matters.

 

The whole process of re-editing, re-uploading, and re-publishing took maybe five minutes. The edited episode is now up and running, but I couldn’t shake the fact that at least 500 people had already downloaded and listened to the episode (and my overactive thirst neurons).

And so in that moment, I chose to practice MISTAKE RESILIENCE (not sure if that’s a thing, but I just made it up so now it is!). Which basically boils down to:

1) GRACE: recognizing my humanity, which means human error will inevitably happen if I’m working on something, because I’m a person not a robot.

2) SPACE: zooming out from the experience and looking at it within the grand scheme of things. I’ve been podcasting for six years, and hope to keep going for many years more. One mistake doth not make or break a pod unless I let it.

3) REPLACE: taking the moment and framing it as a useful learning experience instead of a defeating defining moment. In this case, the lesson was two-fold: I learned to always give my introductions one last listen before pressing publish. And I also learned that getting something done is always better than toiling over perfection for so long that you never end up doing anything.

 

With just 7 weeks left in the year — less than 50 days! — I’m really hoping we can all practice more Mistake Resilience and focus less on what’s going wrong and more on what’s going right. Not to gloss over or avoid missteps and mess-ups, because you are a human not a robot, but to set your future self up for success.

Where can you give yourself grace?

How can you get enough space?

Is it possible to replace that self-loathing with a lesson learned?

 

And then, last thing I’ll say — I know sometimes the little things don’t feel so little at all.

I know the little things can so easily spiral into the big things. And since life is made of the micro-moments, It’s easy to let each one define you.

Life is tough, but you are tougher

YOU get to define You by what you do next.

I believe in you.

I hope you believe in you, too.

 


 

Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

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I’ll never forget the way my dad looked at me when he said: You have so much to be proud of. I wish you could see it.

My heart breaks every time I hear someone I love put themselves down. But I get it. I was once that person, too. The person who didn’t believe she was enough as is. The person who thought her body, her voice, her MIND itself needed a major overhaul.

That moment with my dad, on a family vacation in my late teens, has stuck with me for almost two decades now. I could see his love, his belief in me…and his pain knowing that he couldn’t just say a magic words and fix my self-image right then and there.

I still struggle sometimes — probably way more than I’d like to admit — but I have tools now that I didn’t have back then. And because I’ve been in such a deep self-loathing, self-doubting spiral, I’m able to recognize it quicker in others. Mainly, the people I love most.

And I feel those same feelings my dad must have felt when he looked at me.

I wish I could just say a magic word and fix it all right then and there. But I know I can’t.

But now that I’ve got hindsight on my side, I now know what helped me most when it came to the impact others had on me: how they spoke rubbing off on how I thought.

~

Your self-talk is like a language. And just like learning any language, it’s easy to become fluent in whatever you’re surrounded by and exposed to.

Not sure of the neuroscience here, but I know from my own experience that I learn best not when someone tells me what to do, but when someone shows me what to do. So I’m not surprised at all that while people telling me to “stop being so hard on yourself” didn’t move the needle much, hearing and watching them model healthy self-confidence and self-concept was incredibly helpful.

Someone you love struggling with negative self-talk? Here are some ways to help them become fluent in a more positive, proactive language…without just telling them to “stop being a dick to yourself.”


5 WAYS TO HELP SOMEONE SHIFT THEIR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:


1. Be mindful of universal quantifiers: all, none, never, always, no one, everyone, etc.

Universal quantifiers are words that make a global statement with no exceptions. Not to say these words don’t have their place! Just be mindful and aware of when/how you use them, since their misuse can contribute to the kind of binary thinking (wrong vs. right) that can make someone believe there is one way to do life. Everybody is different (see what I did there?).

2. Ask if someone wants your ear, or wants your answers.
Even if you have the best intentions, sometimes people don’t need them, and just want a shoulder to lean on. before you jump into “here’s what I think,” ask your friend what they need from you in the moment so they feel valued and heard.

Bonus: if they want answers, try asking them questions instead. allowing your friend to come to their own conclusions helps them not only develop their critical thinking skills, but gain self-trust (vs. looking outside themselves for the answers).

3. Give specific compliments without strings attached — and give them often.
Have you ever noticed that you save your compliments for big occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or milestones? People need to know they’re loved, liked, respected, or admired on the regular, ordinary days, too.

Don’t go and “love bomb” people — which is “an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection” (Wikipedia). But make a point to give compliments when they pop into your brain. You never know who’s struggling to see themselves in a kinder light.

4. Bond over what you love, what you want to celebrate, or what you’re working toward.
It’s super easy to bond over negativity — and it’s effective, too! Studies have shown that strong bonds are formed when we talk about what we loathe. We’re connecting…but at what cost?

When problems arise or you just need to vent, go for it. But if you’re searching for conversation topics and tend to lean on gossip or complaints, try adding questions like “what are you excited about today?” or “what’s something you’re really loving lately?” into the mix. These small conversation starters can help spark proactive dialogue and positive connection.

5. Speak about yourself the way you would want your best friends to think about themselves.
We learn from example and take cues from one another. If you want someone you love to have a better self-image and more positive self-talk, show them how it’s done.

Be unafraid to share your wins and proud moments, no matter how big or small, with your loved ones. make sure you share in a genuine way that’s not seeking validation or recognition, and instead creates a space in which it’s not only normal, but encouraged, to celebrate exactly who you are. Lead with your own self-love. Side note: you’ll benefit just as much as they do :)

 

 

WANT YOURSELF:
Which of these tips do you think you can implement right away in your conversations? Which do you see being the most useful?

How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

How To Let Go Of…Whatever It Is You Want To Let Go Of, Really.

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(…or, at the very least, how to get started.)

Doesn’t it sound sexy and badass to say what you’re STOPPING, QUITTING, or LEAVING BEHIND?

I know it does. I’ve done the whole dramatic deal before: written down the things I’m leaving behind, crumpled them up, burned them in a fireplace. Heck, I even took an “anger” themed spin class once.

But it’s not that simple.

We‘re all human – living not just our high highs and low lows but a whole full spectrum of experience every day. Change is never as easy as leaving something behind and never looking back. No matter how mindful you are, it’s very likely you’ll inevitably be confronted with or fall back into an old pattern you thought you were done with. You’re human — which means you’re gonna fall into human patterns and feel human emotions in your life, no matter what. Surprise!!

What’s more likely is what happens to 80% of us: we take that (kinda inevitable?) one step back, then turn on the shame and blame. We tell ourselves we’re “so bad,” we messed up, we’re a failure, we can’t do this, so on so forth blah blah blah.

And that makes total sense. The moment we create ultimatums in our minds is the moment we set ourselves up for shame and self-doubt in the long run.

Social media accounts love to catch your attention with declarative statements about what you should stop doing, leave behind, or let go of.

Notice where the focus is?

To be clear: I get fired up over those “stop doing XYZ” posts on social media, too. It feels good to feel seen!

But whether it’s a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to remind myself:

 

I’m letting go of something in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC.

Because the thing is: the second you STOP, QUIT, or LEAVE BEHIND…what’s gonna fill that space?

 

When I coach people to let go of something – a thought, a feeling, a belief, a situation, a person – I always try to frame it so that they’re letting go of it in order to make space for something else SPECIFIC. If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re most likely going to end up right back where you began with what you’re fighting against…if only because it’s familiar.

Instead of directing your focus toward what you don’t want and calling it a day, try this more productive and proactive formula instead:

I am letting go of (how something affects you or why you do what you do)
So I can (what that thing holds you back from doing)

Here are some examples…
    • INSTEAD OF “I will stop putting others before myself.”
    • TRY “I will let go of my need to please others, so I can make room for myself.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I am leaving behind toxic people.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of excusing bad behavior at my own expense, so I can live out MY journey exactly as it’s intended to unfold.”
    • INSTEAD OF “I will quit negative self-talk.”
    • TRY “I am letting go of my limiting beliefs, so that I can feel confident and grounded.”

Also…notice this formula doesn’t say you’ll always do/feel/be that thing you say you’ve been held back from doing/feeling/being. The point isn’t to find a formula that’s going to be a guarantee, because (as you probably know) there aren’t any guarantees in life. Life loves its curveballs.

The point is to shift your focus.

The point is to make space AND THEN define what you want that space to hold.

The point is to state clearly: this is what I want, this is what I’m willing to fight for.

Burn your regrets in the fireplace if you want. Make a dramatic statement if it feels good. But make sure you do this, too. Just know that you’re a person in progress – and your life will be one long loop of letting things go and picking things up along the way.

You might not get to choose what enters your world, but you sure as hell can choose what you do with it.

 


WANT Yourself: 
What are you letting go of, and what are you making space for?

 

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Giving Selective F***s.

Giving Selective F***s.

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**Heads up: this post about people-pleasing, being defensive, and setting boundaries contains mature language, specifically, f***, a lot. I know we don’t censor our language on the WANTcast and WANT site, so you’re probably used to it, but I feel like the amount today is more than usual, so wanted to give you a heads up should you have eyes reading over your shoulder that you don’t want to see it :)**

 

Let me just tell you what happened in the elevator.

First, let’s set the stage. It’s hot. It’s humid. The air in NYC today feels like it’s about 96% humidity and that humidity is made up of sticky orange juice or something. All I want to do is get upstairs, turn on the AC, sit on my couch with my dog, and write this to you.

I’m also feeling fired up from a business meeting I had with myself over AM coffee, and am feeling way more focused and streamlined than I have in a while.

I walk into the elevator and there’s a man already in there who’s heading upstairs. Another man walks in.

I immediately feel a vibe from the first man — I can’t tell if it’s an “I’m starved for small talk after a pandemic” vibe or an “I’m gonna try and flirt with you” vibe, but either way, I don’t like it at all (sans a few neighbors over the years who have become extremely close friends, the second I walk into my home, I am a VERY private person. I don’t want to small talk — let alone be hit on).

“How is it out there?” the first man asks.
So hot. Like, 9 million percent humidity. I make the mistake of answering.

I can see him looking at my torso and I feel uncomfortable. The second man gets out of the elevator and I contemplate going with him. I wait too long and the door closes, me and Man #1 alone together. I realize he’s not looking at my torso — he’s looking at my WANT tote bag.

“Women Against Negative Talk,” he reads out loud.
Then he starts laughing.
“Is that a joke?”

🤨

Thank goodness I was still wearing my sunglasses, because I have zero game face and I’m pretty positive my eyes were shooting daggers.

No. It’s my business.

(If you could’ve seen his face drop. Lemme tell you, if he’d had any intention of hitting on me, his plans were definitely foiled.)

What happened next surprised me a little, though.

“What does that mean? ‘Negative talk’?” I could sense he was genuinely asking.
Negative talk like negative SELF-talk.
“What’s ‘negative self-talk’?”

Now, as someone who obsesses about our internal narrative and self-told story 24/7/365, it always blows.my.mind. when I realize not everyone knows what self-talk is. I mean, they DO know what it is — we all experience it — they just don’t know it has a name.

And so I explained it to him.

Self-talk is your internal narrative. Negative self-talk is the stuff you say disparagingly about yourself. It can be along the lines of self-doubt, fear, shame, whatever. For example, “I’m not good enough.”

He nodded a little. “Oh — I thought it meant talking negatively about others.”

Still unclear as to what the joke would’ve been…

(Side note: it’s always interesting to me when someone’s first association with “negative talk” is others-focused — gossip or bad-mouthing others — vs. self-focused.)

Anyway. I give an obligatory laugh and “Oh, that too!” which I immediately regret for its fakeness but then realize it’s just what I’m doing to help myself feel safe again, so I cut myself a break.

He goes to get out of the elevator, chuckling. “Good luck with your business!”

The door closes. Scene ends. And my face probably looked something like:

So, this is important:

His exit laugh was most likely reflexive — a laugh out of embarrassment, or trying to lighten the situation.

But it could’ve very well been because he thought it was a stupid concept, or a stupid name for a business, or that he didn’t take me seriously.

 

But I’m not sharing this story because his words affected me.
I’m sharing them because they DIDN’T.

 

Story after story exists of people who didn’t take The Greats seriously. Teachers who thought Einstein wouldn’t get anywhere. Producers who doubted Oprah could “make it” on TV. From athletics to academics, there’s a story of “Look who’s laughing now!” from superstars in every field.

A lot of times, the takeaway is: You need to not care. Don’t give a fuck what anyone has to say.

And I think this is actually really dangerous.

~

I, personally, don’t subscribe to a “No Fucks Given” attitude — even as a highly sensitive person and recovering people-pleaser. You’d think that it would’ve been my way out, right? My go-to catchphrase to shield me from Other People’s Opinions and make me Other People-Proof — right?

But the thing is, that never felt right to me.

 

Because not giving any fucks isn’t about setting a boundary.
It’s about building up walls.

 

Life isn’t meant to be lived on the defensive. I’m not a sports person, but I can’t think of ANY sport that’s solely about playing defense (and yes, I know I’m now mixing my metaphors). If you’re constantly shielding yourself from whatever comes your way, how can you score a goal? If you’re constantly playing defense, what happens to the people on your team who want to help you out?

As someone who doesn’t only care what other people think, but cares EXTREMELY deeply, building up walls and playing constant defense feels like a fight against my truest nature: the part of me that desires connection, collaboration, and community. I don’t want to build up such tall walls that I block out important perspectives.

And so I reject not-caring.

Instead, I get clear on what matters to me, who matters to me, and why the ones that matter to me, matter to me.

I know I will not be for everyone, and I know that everyone will not always agree with me. They might think I’m too enthusiastic, or complex, or “a joke,” like the guy in the elevator. But those are probably not the people who matter most to me, anyway.

So if you’re like me, listen up. This recovering people-pleaser, highly-sensitive introvert emotional sponge is here to tell you:

I give a fuck.
I most certainly give a fuck.
I just give selective fucks.

 

Because living life on the defensive is no way to live. Like Glennon Doyle says, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck—no woman is that cool—she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

 

 

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

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Welp, the NYC streets are packed again, the smells are back with a vengeance, and there are lines around the block for the new Harry Potter Store on 5th Avenue.

Yep. NYC is back in action. And all the signs are pointing to one thing:

IT’S TIME. The transitional moment is HERE.

Pivot or back-pedal.
Reimagine or regress.
Evolve or escape.

If you’re feeling particularly…um…tested lately (by people, by work, by life being life), welcome to the club.

*Because you, along with pretty much everyone else, are in the middle of a transition.*

*And transitions bring tests.*

Tests, in this context, are conversations, instances, or occurrences that give us opportunities to cement our choices in stone.

If you’ve ever put in your two weeks’ notice at a lackluster job and then all the sudden had a pretty great two weeks at work – congrats, you’ve experienced a “test.” 

How much DO you want it, really?
How committed ARE you, really?

Important side note here. Not *everything* is a “test.”

(Side note to the side note, I feel like I want to add this “not everything, because nuance and individuality” caveat to every other thing I write/say, because the internet seems to like to take one thing and make it true for eVeRyOnE. But hopefully, I don’t have to Side-Note my way around conversations with you, and you know this side note to be true.)

BUT, if you have something you’ve said you’re working toward… something you want badly… something you’ve committed to… or just something you know you don’t want in your life anymore, I’ll bet you’ve experienced something that’s made you wonder if you should just stay put and NOT make the thing — whatever it is — happen.

For me, tests have looked like:

  • Multiple work or social invites on the same day: I’ve said I don’t want to go back to overscheduling and overextending myself, so my test is that I’m gonna get multiple chances to overschedule and overextend myself. Do you care more about your mental health or fitting everyone else in? (mental health.)
  • More “meh” workouts than “yeah!!” ones: I’ve said I don’t want to define my badassery by my workouts, so my test is that those workouts that in the past have made me feel super badass are NOT happening. Do you care more about how you feel or about what you do? (how I feel.)
  • More delightful and/or urgent social media content, less “followers”: Ok, this is one I think I’ve written and rewritten about 8xs. I’ve said I want to only create content that lights us BOTH up — meaning, only creating content that either delights me/you AND OR content that lights a vital fire under me/you. After the massive year that was 2020, I got really discouraged by seeing so many people go back to old harmful habits, old negative self-talk loops, or just old un-joyful patterns that they SWORE they’d never visit again. Like, REALLY discouraged.And so I vowed to myself I would only post what brings joy or moves us forward (or both). This has been a non-negotiable for me, and my test has been that my “follower” count has gone down instead of up (and as someone working on a book, I’m also hyper aware of the relationship between publishers and platform numbers). So the question has been: Do you care more about the impact you make, or the numbers you see? (impact I make. every damn time.)

 

There have been more. I’ve been tested quite a lot 😂

Because I’m becoming a NEW version of myself.

Just How It Is and Just How I Am are no longer the same as they once were, and I don’t want them to be.

When it comes to moving forward when it’s easy NOT to, I’m actually HIGHLY motivated by regret.

Not in a fear-based way. But rather, a fired-up way.

Whenever I face a test, I stop to get perspective:

If today was the last day of your life, would you regret how you did things?

Is this a decision I’ll look back on one day as a “fork-in-the-road” moment…and regret not ever experiencing the fork-prong-not-traveled?

Or will I look back and be glad that, at the very least, I TRIED to go down the path I chose?

I bet you’ve been tested at least once this year, too.

AND THIS IS THE THING:

Your life will be a constant reevaluation.

It’s gonna change. You will change. It’s inevitable. Remember to constantly reevaluate.

Reevaluate what and who inspires you. Reevaluate your passions, your missions, the person you are out in the world. Reevaluate what truly matters most. It’s a tragedy to live life as an outdated version of yourself, hitting TEST after TEST after TEST and choosing not to move forward, all the while convincing yourself it’s “Just How It Is” and “Just How You Are.”

But Just How You Are can change whenever you want it to.

This is YOUR life. You get to decide where you go and what you do. Any choice can be the “right” choice, really, as long is it’s a choice you can wholeheartedly stand behind when you ask yourself:

If today was the last day of my life, would I regret how I did things?

You do not owe anyone a past version of yourself because that version is familiar.

Allow yourself the upgrade.

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

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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.

(kidding with this one. kinda. while i love and honor my weekends most of the time, i also sometimes get into habits of working too often during them and end up feeling very much like this.)

 

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.

But/and, different.

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.