What a week it has been. I know that it feels really overwhelming right now. On top of all of our usual responsibilities, being an informed and active citizen is starting to feel like a full-time job in and of itself. Fear, horror, outrage, and anxiety are everywhere, and it can be a struggle to get basic tasks completed.
Take a deep breath.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is really important right now to put self-care practices into full force so that we have the energy and stamina to keep moving forward and taking action, whether politically, personally or both.
I've been receiving some great emails in my inbox from fellow business owners.
Kristen Kalp talks about how emotional work can feel like it isn't real work because you can't point to it and it generally "doesn't count" because there isn't anything concrete to show for it.
But it is work, and it's super important work right now.
So I want to tell you, I see the emotional work you are doing. Keep doing it. It's worth it. It matters.
Also, Jen Mazer talks about focusing on the outcome that we want, rather than on what we don't want more of. It doesn't mean ignoring the things that are going on in the world that are unacceptable, but moving through "fight or flight" into knowledge and action to work towards the outcomes we want.
Which leads to what's been helping me not just with processing what is going on in the world right now, but in all areas of life, and that is:
Don't stuff your feelings, but don't defend them either.
Here's a simple step-by-step process for doing this:
1) Feel all your feelings, not just good ones, but not just bad ones either. Don't try to fight the feelings, just notice what they are and name them for yourself.
2) State your feelings. This is so powerful. Look at Michelle Obama's speech in New Hampshire back in October when she said: “the truth is, it hurts." Or Hillary Clinton's concession speech where she says “this loss hurts.” We’re taught that it is weak to show feelings of vulnerability, but you can own it, and do so from a place of strength.
3) Do not defend or explain your feelings. Your feelings are not up for debate. Instead, tell your story in a very straightforward way. Describe what happened and the feelings that resulted.
4) Your feelings are not up for debate, but that means no one else's are either. Listen to other people's feelings and stories. Feel the feelings that come up in response - it might hurt, but that's ok. I truly believe that this is how we find unity - not by being the same, but by being willing to listen to and share our feelings and stories.
Note that this does NOT mean you need to listen to people who are going to tell you how to think, or what to feel, or who you are or what to do. You do NOT have to put yourself in harm's way or accept abuse.
5) Feelings aren't facts. Just because you are feeling something doesn't mean it's true. It doesn't mean it's not true either. But it's good to pause and gather more information.
As I said earlier, this strategy helps in all areas of life. It works hand in hand with speaking up for yourself, whether with a boss or co-worker, your spouse, or even your kids. When I have trusted my kids and let them know how I’m feeling, I am always amazed at the results.
If you're feeling a lot of negative emotions, I love what Jen says about focusing on what you want, and not on what you don't want.
And the amazing thing is that your photos can help you do this really easily.
Today's action step:
Think about a positive emotion that you want to have. For me, it is usually love or joy.
Now, look through your camera roll to find a photo that represents that feeling. It doesn't have to be a good photo. The photo doesn't have to capture and convey that feeling in the way that you want it to. It just has to remind you of it, sort of like a note scribbled in the margin of your notebook to remind you of something, even if no one else knows what it means.
Look at that photo. Remember the feeling. Make it your phone's wallpaper. Share the photo on social media (use the hashtag #resiliencethroughjoy if you feel self-conscious about posting something happy amidst everything else that is going on).
Give thanks for the feeling. Note that this is what you want more of. Remind yourself that you need fuel to fight for what you believe in and that love is resistance.
It may feel like the world is being turned upside down, but love, joy, and beauty are still here - they always have been and always will be. You do still get to experience it.
You deserve it.
And the world needs it.