I feel like I just got through one batch of holidays and am diving head-first into another, without a second to breathe. And while I know there are lots of other people who celebrate all sorts of holidays and still manage to run households, businesses, personal lives and school book fairs, frankly I sometimes can’t imagine how they do it. Or, more accurately, how they do it without breaking down and crying and/or getting a little snappish and/or wondering what would happen if they just quit doing everything.
Because those last three are all me. Can anyone else relate?
I manage really well most of the time, and well enough some of the time, but I feel like I head into a major meltdown every six months and can no longer see anything I’ve accomplished. I can only see how much there still is to do, how far I am from my goals, and how exhausted I am.
In those moments, I feel like I’ve been trying to fix the same things over and over again, but no matter what I try I still find myself struggling—with my energy level, my ability to be present for my kids, my ability to get a healthy dinner on the table that everyone will actually eat; with stacks of mail and piles of toys and eighty-million semi-smiling faces that Stella draws, all of which are so cute I can’t bear to throw them out; with programs I’m launching, my visions of which always seem to be bigger than the time I allow to market them; with business cards from contacts I meet at events and keep meaning to reconnect with; with my desire to create a deeper relationship with my husband, my ability to take care of myself and take time for myself, and a deep need to write that’s screaming for attention and mostly being ignored.
Does this happen to you? Do you look up and wonder how exactly everything ended up looking the way it does?
I find these periods to be intense and semi-traumatic. And these are some of the things I do when I get slammed like this:
First, I cry. Usually unintentionally and unavoidably. I’ve spilled tears at least twice in the past four days alone, including once this morning when I picked up the phone and someone asked me how I was.
I think our bodies hold energy and we need to let it out, especially if it’s been building up and building up with no release. Crying is a necessity for some of us. So, if that's you, have at it.
Then I may try one or all of the following, in no particular order:
- Talk to a friend/coach/mentor. They tend to have perspective on things that I don’t. They can tell me, for example, that they’ve been watching me for three years and that this is my pattern. Once I hear this from a reliable source, I can decide to work on it or not, but at least the shock of the overwhelm is lessened and I can calm down more quickly.
- Finish one thing. Life is FILLED with unfinished, and sometimes unfinishable, projects. The mail will keep coming, the mouths will always need to be fed, even your business will continue to evolve. It’s difficult to keep going when you never have the satisfaction of JUST BEING DONE. So give yourself one tiny, doable project, and finish it. Shred one small stack of paper. Pay two bills. Make that dentist appointment. Email one person you’ve been meaning to stay connected to. It will feel really good. And then validate yourself for having accomplished it.
- Acknowledge what you’ve already accomplished. The quickest way to give yourself perspective is to ask your brain for a time-out from self-criticism (“Thank you, I hear you, I just need to focus on something else for ten minutes”) and list some of the things you have accomplished over the past few months. My list includes: My family hasn't starved; I helped my client achieve her dream of booking an agent; I’ve read two and a half Harry Potter books to my kids; I’m running a business; I started making edible quinoa. Keep breathing, keep writing. Read the list over and allow yourself to see progress and accomplishment, allow yourself to be proud simply of living each day of your life exactly as you've lived it.
- Write down what you’re grateful for. Works every time. Feel it in your bones, the things you are truly blessed to have. A body, a life. Loved ones. Movies, books, performances that fill your heart with joy. The ability to express yourself. People who turn to you for guidance. Friends who’ve got your back. Let yourself feel, without guilt, all that you already have, and swim in contentment for that moment.
In fact, I'd like to take a moment right now to thank some people who are great blessings in my life, and who have held me up when I couldn't quite stand on my own. Thank you Debra Woog, Marcy Stahl and Geoff Laughton. You are each extraordinary gifts to this world, and I'm so grateful to have you in my life.
What have you got in your arsenal that helps pull you up when you’re drowning? I’d love to hear what works for you, and I'd love to share it with this community. (Email me here.)
If you're in that drowning place now, or are searching for greater ownership of your life and business, and could use some understanding, guidance and perspective, schedule your complimentary Insight Session and we'll dive in together to find your patterns, your stuck-points, and your next immediate steps to freedom, relief and joy.
Wishing you a light at the end of the tunnel if you need one, and the knowledge that you really are quite wonderful exactly as you are, and have already accomplished a whole lot to be proud of.