In today’s SEASON FINALE, two listeners ask about finding confidence and self-love again, and finding positive communities when all people want to do is bond over negativity. There’s a common theme in the answers to both of these – and it has to do with how you become the first-best version of yourself instead of the second-best version of someone else.
**This is the SEASON FINALE of Season 4! Thank you so much for helping the WANTcast grow and evolve over the last almost-four years. We’ll be taking a break over the summer and coming back stronger than ever in August with Season Five.**
Like this episode? Take a screenshot + share on social, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast and #womenagainstnegativetalk!
I’m not gonna lie: the last few weeks have felt really, really tough. The kind of tough that’s hard to explain to people. The kind of tough that makes it hard to motivate yourself to write. The kind of tough that puts off tasks and escews social plans because there’s a rager going on inside your head 24/7. The kind of tough that make you question…well, not everything, but a whole damn lot.
I don’t know if it’s because we’re nine months into the year and still dealing with SO much of the same BS (you know what I’m talking about.), or because it feels like I’ve been doing double duty looking after both others AND myself and the load has just felt really heavy lately, or because the seasons here in NYC are starting to shift a bit early and I’m caught off-guard by a change I wasn’t ready for, or because the brainspace that is usually reserved for “future growth” in both the personal and professional sense has been hijacked by wedding/marriage prep.
((Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been listening to the new Phantogram album on loop and it’s making me feel things that have probably been repressed for a really long time.))
In any case – I’m not a stranger to this feeling of heaviness and toughness, which is why I think I’m not too crazily overwhelmed by it. I know it well. I used to get really scared that it was my default state. That I was destined for a lifetime of being in conflict with the way I was inside vs the way I was perceived by others: glass-half-full to everyone else, is-that-glass-even-able-to-hold-that-much-water-without-tipping-over to myself inside my head. It wasn’t that I was overly optimistic and constantly disappointed, OR overly pessimistic and cynical about the world. I just felt feelings about everything. Hence the heaviness.
And then I dated someone who was like this way more often than I was. He was one of the most creative, intuitive, empathetic people I knew – and most emotional, besides myself. I saw his highest highs and lowest lows, and he always seemed to bounce back to neutral eventually.
How did he navigate his tough spots so gracefully?
With a catchphrase I soon adpoted as my own: The emotions of the situation are not the reality of the situation.
This doesn’t mean your emotions are wrong. It just means they’re not an accurate picture of what’s going on OUTSIDE your head. You are allowed to feel exactly how you feel, and feel it about exactly what you feel it about.
So while, say, these last few weeks have felt really heavy and really tough, I know now that this is my emotional response to a set of situations at hand. And emotions are ever in flux. This is just an ebb in my flow.
The solution, for me, is to just start do-ing.
To do one small, small thing that sets off a chain reaction in my head and heart that tells me I’m okay.
That I’m capable of moving forward even if I don’t feel like I am.
The one thing empowers me in an oh-so-small-but-oh-so-big way to do one other thing, and then another, and then another. It’s like picking loose change up off the ground…eventually you have enough coins to make a full dollar. And you have to pick up every single coin to get there. Sometimes you luck out and find a quarter. Sometimes you’re relegated to pennies. But both make you at least one cent richer than you were the second before.
Ever caught yourself saying, “Eh, it won’t matter anyway”…or, “It’s not enough”…or, “It’s too small to count”….??? Welp, one step is better than no step. And you can’t move anywhere if you don’t take one step after the other. Send the email. Return the call. Write the thing. Write a LINE in the thing. Get your shoes ON. Heck, make the bed!!! When the world seems the most overwhelming the best thing we can do is just take life choice to choice. No choice is too tiny. No change is too small. No decision is insignificant.
I’ve started to work through my feelings of heaviness by doing small acts at the very beginning (or middle, or end) of the day that make a HUGE difference. I’ve learned that when everything feels tough, nothing feels doable. I tend to procrastinate and tell myself I’ll get to things once I feel “better.”
But – and this is something I need to KEEP reminding myself over and over – once I start doing *A* thing, whether or not it’s *THE* thing, then I start to feel two percent accomplished and two percent more likely to do another thing, and another, and another, and then eventually everything feels a lot lighter and a lot more manageable. And eventually, I’m back to writing again. And it’s like the toughness never happened.
Except the body remembers.
And the body takes with it the good stuff if you let it.
So accomplishing one small thing after another in the midst of tough times helps develop resilience and PROOF that the toughness is not your default state. It’s one part of the amazing, multifaceted person you are.
And that’s the reality of the situation.
Need some ideas? Here are some things to do when literally just getting out the door seems like a feat in and of itself, your heart is feeling either understandibly or inexplicably heavy, and you don’t feel like doing anything:
Make your bed.
Exfoliate and/or put on a face mask.
Brew yourself coffee.
Send ONE email you’ve been meaning to send (this is my own personal go-to).
Text a friend and tell them how much you love them.
Clip your toenails.
Read three pages of a book.
Lace up whatever shoes you exercise in and tell yourself that if you still don’t want to work out after 10 minutes, you can stop.
Blow dry your hair.
Take 10 slow, long, loud breaths.
Update your resumé, press kit, LinkedIn, or social media accounts.
Do your laundry, then – plot twist! – fold your clothes after (instead of leaving them on the ottoman what do you mean i never do this…).
Make or buy organizational tools for your drawers and closets so you know where things are when you need them – and then organize those things.
Make or buy yourself a healthy meal – or pack your lunch for the next day.
If you use a calendar app on your phone, set a reminder at a specific time (every day, if you’d like) to plan your next day or just to take a standing break.
Drink a full glass of water – it’s amazing how much simple hydration can do.
Hug someone. PS – a puppy is definitely “someone.”
Now I’d love to hear from you! What is something you do to help yourself get back on track when you don’t feel like doing anything? Leave a comment and tell me your go-to.
Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:
Inner monologue? More like inner bitch. Don’t give her the power.
“Empowerment” is trending, but somehow we’re still here telling our negative self talk it can go fuck itself.
Tell me again how is this supposed to be helping?
For what I’m guessing is some sort of evolutionary advantage, we’re programmed to interpret the world in very black and white terms. There can be no middle ground when it comes to right and wrong, and when we disagree with something, we typically villainize it rather than try to understand where it comes from (or what the real solution should be). Good Versus Evil. Us Against Them. It’s a formula that’s easy to understand and easy to master. It’s caveperson-like. So it’s only natural that with this sort of mentality, we’d choose sides with our self-talk and try to bully one of them into submission.
Brené Brown says to give your inner voice a name – she calls hers Gremlin. For some people, providing that separation might be useful and allow you to distance yourself from the harsh, usually untrue things your inner voice likes to say.
I, however, have never been able to separate my inner voice from myself.
Because the thing is, it’s all a part of who I am.
Maybe my brain is playing tricks on my heart, maybe my inner voice is misguided at times, but at the end of the day – it’s all just me, telling myself what to believe.
Some people might say to snap out of it – to tell your inner critic to shut up. And hey, that might work for some people. But it NEVER works for me. Identifying my negative self-talk as someone other than myself – an ass, a bitch, a bully – only puts me on the defensive and gives me yet another thing about myself to dislike (on top of whatever it is I’m negative self-talking about).
Empowerment, for the record, is defined as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” Yet I cannot see how throwing insults at insults does anything to make us feel anything but more aggressive and afraid. They’re just harsh words to combat harsh thoughts. Abuse masked as “empowerment.” Which, to me, is anything but empowering.
Instead of fighting against what is, why not try fighting for what could be? Instead of taking sides, why not confront the perceived enemy? Instead of viewing your inner monologue as separate from your “true” self, why not try to understand what it’s actually trying to tell you? Calling a very real part of who you are a “bitch” just reinforces and strengthens those negative-talk muscles that have been trained over the years to come to your defense in their negative-talk way – and focuses on the problem, not the solution. Berating a part of who you are is not the answer. Tapping into a new reserve of power to retrain that voice – that voice that so longs to be helpful – IS.
Next time you’re tempted to punch your negative self-talking self in the no-no zone, sideline the smack-talk and reframe it as something more. Here are a few ideas of what your negative self-talk really is…
1) An invitation to explore
2) An opportunity to rise
3) A clue to an imbalance
4) A way to practice moving forward through fear
5) A wound to be nurtured
6) A signal for help
7) A warning preview of what it looks like to not be self-actualized
8) A sign of neglect
9) A cry for help
10) A distraction from the truth
11) A language that’s been learned all wrong
12) A muscle that can stop working and go recover now, thank you very much
13) A call to action
14) An empathetic pathway
15) A clue as to what needs some extra love
When I first started working on WANT, I would get pitches from people with books or websites with names like “Bitch On The Inside” or “#StopHatingYourself Life Coaching.” We’re so aligned, they would say. We’re all about empowering women. I respectfully declined every single one of these pitches.
Again, to each her own. I guess I can understand how some people need a metaphorical smack upside the head to catapult change into motion… But I don’t think that’s what makes the change LAST.
Because here’s the clincher: the quicker we are to call our inner monologue a bitch, the quicker we are to find fault outside ourselves. The quicker we are to clique up and take sides and tell our friends to “get over it” or “snap out of it” when they’re feeling down on themselves, the easier it is to do it to ourselves. Life becomes arduous and unfair. It’s a negativity loop that goes on and on and on – all in the name of self-love.
Teaching yourself a new language, whether it’s Spanish or Self- Respect, is a process. Sometimes it’s as simple as going word by word. Phrase by phrase. Today, pledge to stop calling your inner voice a “mean girl” or your “inner bitch.” Your mind and heart are smart, and they’re most likely just trying to protect you from disappointment, shield you from loneliness, or numb that Ghost Worry pain that’s predicting what other people might “find out” about you so that when they do “find it out” it won’t hurt as bad.
Your inner voice is just used to using this warped defense mechanism – a defense mechanism you don’t need.
Think back to the times when your negative self-talk starts to act up. What is it usually trying to tell you? What does it signal? How can you reframe your most common self-critiques…without resorting to name-calling? Tell me in the comments below.
And know someone who needs this? Share it with them today to help them shift their negative self-talk.
Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:
Your freedom is always there; it’s always just a choice away.
It’s a choice disguised in different jobs, different scenarios, different ways of seeing the world
In working clothes, in workout clothes, in the people you’re with and the hours you spend plowing or sauntering or dragging through your day; it’s all your choice…
Your freedom is unstoppable, un-steal-able, unshakable and unmovable. It’s that thing you carry around with you in your pocket, that little gem or stone or twig you found outside that bends in a funny way that you look at or touch and remember, Yep, this is who I am, This is what I stand for.
It’s about inspiration; it’s about being inspired where-ever you go. It’s about relying on no one but yourself to create this for you, relying on yourself to Be the change and Be the moment and Be that person who doesn’t just sit in fear waiting for someone else to make the move.
It’s about every place being a possible home, every person being a possible vessel, and every dollar being trivial if every possible moment is monumental.
It’s about knowing your value and trusting that value in a way even the harshest of words or coldest of beings or darkest-most-gloom-filled-mornings-that-last-through-3-p-m-and-beyond could not shift.
It’s about knowing your thoughts, knowing your heart, and knowing that no one knows you better than you know yourself. You have the final say, you have the last word, you have the brilliant ideas and YOU have the voice that matters.
It’s about what you love being a part of you at all times.
In all ways, in all days.
Life is yours for the taking if you know what to ask.
Is this real?
Is this true?
Is this fear speaking, or is it faith?
You get to decide what is real, you get to decide what is true.
YOU get to choose, the fear or the faith.
You get the wild. You get the free. You get the You.
It’s about the way the darkest darks lead to the brightest lights, the storm and the sunshine, the flowers and the weeds.
It’s about how one cannot exist without the other.
There is no right time. It’s all the right time.
It’s about happy.
It’s about now.
Never miss a post. Sign up for WANT in your inbox every Tuesday:
As you probably already realized…this episode is a little different. It’s just me today. I’m gonna try something new. It just so happens that by the time a lot of you listen to this, it’ll also be my 30th birthday. I decided that today, I’d jam about 30 lessons I’ve learned in 30 years. I know. A little headline-y. But hey – I always love reading those lists, and hearing what others have to say about the lessons they’ve learned, so I thought maybe you’d like to, too.
Honestly, as I was thinking about it, there is a LOT of overlap in the lessons I learned in season one of the WANTcast, so it seems fitting to honor the end of Season One with this episode. Some of these are pretty deep (think body image and life choices), some are a little more trivial than others (stuff about smog checks, for example), but in the moment, they ALL feel huge.
My hope is that this can help someone else through their first three decades – and maybe, just maybe, set the tone for what kinds of lessons open up to you from here on out no matter what decade you’re in.
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review oniTunes, share it onFacebook, tweet it out onTwitter,or post it onInstagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:
5:30AM: The alarm buzzes, and you refuse to open your eyes. Everything feels heavy. Your body is stuck in the drowned-out stupor of last night’s snackfest, when you raided the pantry and dove into that box of trail mix to accompany you as you browsed Netflix trying to find that one episode Crazy Ex Girlfriend you only got halfway through the night before. That one episode became four, and that handful of snacks became a now-empty plastic Costco tub of crumbs and pieces. That list of things to do is still three pages long, you feel puffed up and hung-over from snack overload, and that 6:30AM class at the gym you were so set on starting your day with is looking as unlikely as a sequel to the movie Titanic.
And so you wallow. You wallow in your despair, saddened that the great roll you were on only a few hours before has taken a different course. That good news you heard yesterday and that great opportunity you had last week don’t even seem so exciting anymore. I’m just not cut out for this today, you think. I’ll try again when I feel better.
Self-sabotage is a beast. It’s what we do when our long-held doubts and questions start to be negated and answered – and we panic. It’s those excuses we give and those rules we break semi-unintentionally. Self-sabotage is what keeps us from following up with that business contact that serendipitously came out of nowhere, what gets us digging into the fridge at 11pm when we’ve finally started to feel good in our skin, and what self-induces insomnia so that morning spin class is half over by the time our eyes flicker open in a groggy haze.
Self-sabotage keeps us in a place of fear.
And the difference between successful people and the ones that stay “stuck” in fear is not only self-sabotage – it’s control.
It seems obvious that success and control would be married, but it’s more like they’re…related. They’re slightly dysfunctional family members that love each other and need each other, but in too large of doses can drive each other into the ground.
Sure, success requires control to a certain extent. It requires control in vision, in preparation and in execution. The thing is, the most successful of individuals see the goal…yet relinquish control when it comes to the result. Successful people, above all, trust: trust that their hard work and preparation and high spirit will not be in vein, trust that their dominoes will fall into place, and most of all, trust that if their dominoes don’t, they’ll figure out a way for them to do so.
Not too long ago (in the grand scheme of things), whenever things would start to go great for me, I’d start to make something go not-so-great. Probably to counter-balance what I thought deep down was something I hadn’t earned or didn’t deserve. More than anything, I was afraid of success. Failure was easier for me to stomach than the thought of possibly letting someone down once I was at the top. I’d react to Good Thing after Good Thing by falling back into my safe zones that kept me out of responsibility. Out of true extraordinary-ness. I’d do things that made me physically and/or emotionally feel awful. Forgetting deadlines (I don’t forget deadlines), binge eating or restricting (especially when I felt was getting too comfortable with the thought I didn’t have food “issues”), underpreparing for auditions (I was a serial over-preparer). Stuff that was completely antithetical to the ME I knew I was MEANT to be. These self-sabotagey habits kept me viewing myself as someone who was young, someone who was second-best, someone who needed help and assistance and was Less-Than. My legs felt heavy underneath me, and I’d cry to my closest confidantes that I felt like I worked so hard only to botch it all up. To me, self-sabotage was about staying in a zone that was safe, a zone in which I couldn’t be a true leader – because being a true leader meant I had nothing to follow but my own lead. And what’s more, if I could cry to someone about it later, I could be loved.
The “stuck” are without trust. The “stuck” are afraid of what happens if a domino accidentally hits another and takes a wrong turn, or stops the flow altogether. People who are “stuck” are so overwhelmed by outcomes that staying in the same loop begins to seem a whole lot more attractive. I know because this was me.
I don’t even recognize that girl anymore. I empathize with her, but god, she seems like such a far cry from who I am today. I now realize that I had major, maaajor trust issues: I didn’t trust myself to be able to handle success, and I didn’t trust that others would still love me if I didn’t “need” them in one way, shape or form. Oof.
Life is one big game of cause-and-effect, and we are hardwired to fear loss. And moving forward fearlessly into the life you know you’re meant to lead? There’s gonna be loss along the way. In a good way, yes – but sometimes, there will be losses you won’t be able to predict. Self-sabotage is nothing more than a sick, twisted defense mechanism should we be given everything we ever dreamed of and then not know what to do with it.
Because what if that happened? What if we literally got EVERYTHING we ever wanted? All our goals reached. All our boxes checked. Our lives would undoubtedly change. And change is very, very scary. We could have it all, and then lose it all once again! We could have it all, and then face a new host of obstacles even tougher than before! We have ZERO control over what happens once our light shines at its brightest. We could also do everything in our power to reach the goal but at the last moment, it’s pulled out from under us. That’s another option. The only way to succeed is to relinquish control – but relinquishing control sometimes means disappointment. So the “stuck” stay afraid, yet in control. The stuck person figures that if she fails, it’s gonna be at her own hands, not because of someone (or something) else. To make a dark analogy – it’s like goal suicide.
I’m nowhere near accomplishing all of my goals or feeling like I’ve got my shit together 100%, but here’s what I’ve learned about keeping yourself on…well, maybe not the “right” track, but the “right-for-you” track that will make you happy more often than not: Know what you want. Know EXACTLY what you want, every single detail you can muster up, even if it’s just a feeling. As a recovering sabotage-aholic, I can say that it’s not all going to be butterflies and roses, and you WILL have moments of relapse. We’re only human. It is inevitable. I had one last week. But when it happens, stop it in its tracks. Note exactly what you did, and dig deep for an answer as to why you did it.
Then do one thing to be proactive – to at least pick up some of the pieces and get the train rolling again. Strayed from your healthy eating plan? Have a green juice the next morning. Didn’t follow up with someone? Shoot off an email apologizing for being out of touch, and propose specific plans. Haven’t paid your overdue credit card bill yet? Pay that sucker and take the forty seconds’ worth of time to register for automatic bill pay.
Be proactive. Not reactive. Tell yourself you’ve got this. And ask yourself with full honesty, controlled intention, and release of the uncontrolled aftermath: How do I want my dominoes to fall?
Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:
a different version of this originally appeared on the chalkboard mag in 2012