Is It Ok Not To Be Ok?
I say: YES! YES! YES!
The BIG midterm elections have been stirring up many emotions. I don’t think anyone is feeling especially great these days. Hopeful, but not great. And with the holidays upon us….I’ve been seeing Christmas decor since early October…I’m already feeling the pressure of the season.
The holidays have a way of sucking me into a mode that is a bit uncomfortable. Just when I think I have some things figured out…when I’ve got a rhythm with my work, and I’m firing on all (more accurately, most) cylinders, the holidays hit…I have no time for my usual schedule, none for Google Analytics, follow up calls, posts (who am I kidding?), etc…and it feels…kind of, GOOD. It feels strange like playing hooky. Suddenly, I am in high school, concocting a plan to ditch typing (yes, that was still a class when I was in high school). But then, there’s the let-down from the euphoric lapse in “work-tivity.”
THAT part does not feel so good. My brain is clouded. I cannot seem to know where to begin or focus. Doubt creeps in. And I’m back on the Entrepreneur Roller Coaster. Except this is not a ride that I can get off, mainly because it’s all in my head!
This illustration tells the story. (Thank you, Andrew O'Dua!)
I wish I could say that it’s easy for me to snap out of it. That I have mastered the ability to readily accept this “ride” as par for the course. But like some of you, in both my business and personal development, I’ve diligently worked at the overcoming part with uneven success. And these ups and downs are not exclusive to the holiday season, although they are seasonal, even daily, at times. (See illustration above. 😄)
This time around, something occurred to me. I began to ask myself some reflective questions.
Why am I so quick to rail against those “down” times?
Why am I not able to sit with the not-so-positive thoughts and feelings?
Why do I have to always be “up,” even when I’m not?
Particularly when the implicit lessons I’ve learned have encouraged pushing through any feelings that were considered undesirable, thickening the skin and not feeling at all, or powering up against such emotions. But I am realizing that these attempts at self-preservation have real consequences that are sometimes toxic and do not result in a healthy, whole person.
My query is not about the work I do, only; this is also about the person I strive to be. I want what I do to flow freely out of the overflow of who I am. Authentic work requires authentic self-exploration. I cannot support my clients through their challenging times and encourage them to persevere while I seek a magic solution or wand to wave away the unpleasant parts of my own journey. Optimism is not a constant state of being nor should it be pursued as such.
So, I’ve come to a conclusion…it is quite alright to be present with the hard stuff, to allow my life to pause for a moment to acknowledge that this is not a cake walk. To feel the unpleasant feelings and process them in the way that feels right to me. And when I still don’t have “it” figured out, to trust that the answers will come when I am patient with the process and not try to rush past the rough patches. I remind myself that all things, good and bad, will work together for good, ultimately.
The most important thing for me to do during these moments is to use a ritual or plan of sorts to move through it. I play inspiring music. Listen to podcasts that are educational and encouraging. I monitor my thought life and kick out any negative self-talk that begins to ruminate. Finally, I reach out to those who love me, who are my safe havens, and share openly and honestly. (I get to process my emotions externally; this helps…A LOT!) Otherwise, I could easily slip into a hopeless place.
As we enter the holiday season, give yourself permission to create margin for whatever may come up. Prioritize. Don’t feel guilty about what doesn’t get done. And if you’re having a “bad” moment, day, season, take time to recognize and acknowledge it. Remind yourself that this is not static, it shall pass. But don’t rush it. Get comfortable in your own skin and be honest about your emotions, without drowning in them. Lastly, develop your own “down-but-not-out” ritual for these times. Trust me…with the holidays, emotions will run the gamut. Your plan will come in handy!
Don’t forget to VOTE!
Until next time…
*This is a revised repost from the holiday season 2017.