Are you secretly feeling maxed out?
Julie sat down in front of me, a smile stretched cross her mouth, as if it was the only thing keeping her face from falling. “How are you?” I said.
“OK!”, she chirped. “I’ve painted a wall in my house bright blue and I loooovvvve it. This year is all about colorful living.”
“Amazing,” I said.
And then she lowered her eyes, dropped her voice and said, “I also just finished a book called Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink. It made me realize I’m not the only one who feels crazed most of the time.”
As we talked more about her overwhelm and need to be tough and keep going she said, “I feel compelled to keep smiling, keep up appearances, keep saying everything’s “fine” when, if I’m honest, they’re not. And the worst part is I have no idea how to stop feeling crazed about it all.”
“Of course you don’t”, I said, “Because it’s impossible to NOT feel how you’re feeling.”
I see this every day with my clients. Go-getter women who “have it all together” on the outside while the inside is a conflicted mess of overwhelm, doubt, anxiety, and judgment all tied together by a deep belief that to slow down and feel is a sign of weakness.
They spend their days trying hard not to feel what they feel. They run from one meeting to the next, defenses drawn against the emotions that are bubbling just under the surface.
And when the emotions finally do break through they tell themselves:
“Really, this again?!? You’re losing it. What kind of an example are you setting? There’s no time for your emotional crap. We’ve got things to do. Get it together, woman!”
And, though it would seem helpful to tell ourselves to just get over our sh*t, what actually happens is the more we try to ignore what we feel, the more intense those feelings gets.
We want to be happy and content yet completely deny the one thing that brings lasting contentment: Letting ourselves BE ourselves in this exact moment.
So what can we do when it feels like we’re about to cry big, messy tears that hit so quick we’re forced to use our sleeve to wipe up the mess?
Feel exactly what you feel.
Drop the judgment. Drop the criticism. Drop the notion that you shouldn’t feel this way. Drop the need to slap a silver lining on it and say, “Everything’s FINE.”
Acknowledge your anxiety, your doubt, your fear with a kind, “Hi there” rather than a swift, “Go away!”
Appreciate the information that arrives with your feelings rather than shouting, “What the f*ck are you doing here?”
Accept what you feel without the need to fix it or say, “This is not OK.”
Here’s the deal. We do not need to find a “solution” to our feelings problem. In fact, feelings aren’t our problem at all.
Our problem is the wall we've built up against our feelings that we keep bashing up against. (tweet this!)
Soften your heart. Take down the wall. Feel what you feel.
And THAT, my dear, is how to feel better.
P.S. Speaking of feelings, I’m super pumped about a new project I’ve been working on for you. How are you going to feel when you see it? I’ve got three words for you. Energized, Relieved + Free. Not bad, huh? Look for an email from me next week that’ll tell you all about it.
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