I had a great conversation with myself yesterday.
I was driving home after “one of those days.” We all have them. The days where we know we are not showing up as we desire; letting that nagging voice of self-doubt creep in; allowing incessant thoughts to take up far too much valuable real estate in our mind; and so on and so forth. That day.
Upon feeling off balance, I self-soothed for the first time in a very different way. Instead of venting and wallowing, I asked myself, “What advice would you give a friend who is experiencing the same thing?” How could you help her make sense of her feelings but, more importantly, start to feel better?
That’s when I started giving advice to myself.
(Fun fact: my dog, hanging out in the back seat after a long day at doggy daycare, found this very amusing.)
It’s an interesting exercise if you haven’t done it before. The practice allows you to detach from your personal experience and emotions and visit them objectively and with exceptional care. It allows you to talk to yourself calmly and quickly arrive at problem solving. Because that’s what great friends do. They listen, process and then offer you the insights, perspectives and words that make you realize it all really will be OK.
In my line of work, and in the way I manage my relationships, I give advice… a LOT. By nature, I am incredibly people-centric and feel my best when I form deep, authentic relationships. I am an open book, and I build trust and community through sharing. Though I know I give good advice, what I find most striking is I have a very hard time heeding the advice myself. I hear the words leave my mouth, things like
- That relationship is no longer serving you
- Just say “no” more often
- Forgive yourself
And it’s as if another version of me floats above my head, looks down, points, laughs and exclaims, “Great pearl of wisdom Carrie; too bad you don’t internalize that!”
Fortunately, I know I am not alone in this feeling. It’s really hard to give advice to ourselves! But I want to get better and so, in the spirit of holding myself more accountable, I hereby commit to heeding the following three pieces of advice I give to others regularly:
1. Failure is a Gift
Here’s what’s funny… if I hear of a friend who takes a misstep at work, I am genuinely joyous for her a I know she is about to experience the best gift of all—learning and evolution. I can’t wait to spin failure in a different light with uplifting statements like: “Failure is opportunity in disguise” or “Thank Failure for the incredible lesson it will teach you.” When it comes to me? I HATE to fail.
When building your own business, as I am with the Women in Leadership Nexus, you succeed and stumble over-and-over again. This past June, I experienced what to me was my first “failure” in running my own business. In short, I didn’t meet a goal I had set for myself, and it left me feeling dejected even though I did not want to admit it. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t want to share this shortcoming with anyone—even though it wasn’t a big deal!
A few days ago, I tried something new and told a good friend how I was feeling. She gave me the very advice I give to others, reminding me that not meeting a certain objective is not a mark of failure but rather an opportunity for self-reflection on what I want to do differently the next time that goal is in front of me. I instantly felt better.
My “omission” was incredibly cathartic and normalized the reality that we don’t always hit it out of the park… and that’s OK! My chief takeaway? Talk about failures to de-escalate the negativity that typically surrounds them. Make failure a normal part of conversation so that your mind catches up.
2. Don’t Let Others Steal Your Energy
Over the last few years, I have become very focused on my energy. I am acutely aware of people who leave me feeling ignited and activated; perhaps not all that surprising, I carve out ample time to spend with people who leave me with that feeling. I am also very aware of those who have the power to consume or steal my energy. The latter is the hardest for me to manage.
As someone very sensitive and a feeler, an action, statement or behavior that doesn’t land favorably with me can consume my thoughts, thereby giving someone power over my state of being. What’s most frustrating about this feeling is that I inherently know that this individual does not deserve to have this power.
Moving forward, I am going to try to remember that in life we deal with those people over and over again that can hurt our spirit. Sometimes it’s the toxic boss who disempowers and belittles us. Other times it’s a friend who lets us down in a profound way. That I cannot control. But I can control how much I let that person occupy my mind space. When I am left feeling depleted, I can also choose to refuel with the people who make me feel my best—and I am so blessed that there’s a lot of them out there!
3. This Too Shall Pass
There’s a reason people say this phrase repeatedly—and why it’s typically something you hear from your parents at a young age. It’s because the passage of time shows us that often the very things that upset and frustrate us today are mere blips when we look back. That’s the beauty of life; it dances ahead of us constantly turning, twisting and evolving... reminding us that the best is always yet to come.
In remembering past trials, it can be energizing to realize how far we have come since that moment in time. People who get fired from their jobs go on to start incredible businesses. Spouses who divorce can fall in love with someone new all over again. Families who lose a loved one go on to honor that individual over-and-over again.
For me personally, in moments of unknown and fear, I am going to choose more regularly to revisit past moments that conjured the same emotion to remind myself that we always do come out on the other side better. This too, really does, pass.
A few months ago, I read the book “Letters to My Younger Self,” written by Ellyn Spragins. In the book, she shares that the answers to our current life obstacles lie within us. That we have the ability to coach ourselves and advise ourselves no matter what comes in front of us. We know this to be true; why else would we give such great advice to our friends?!
So perhaps it’s time we make a pledge together. That we pledge to share with ourselves the same loving, empathetic, helpful advice that we so graciously give to others. And, more importantly, that we pledge to actually listen to ourselves.
You may also like from Carrie:
Carrie Majewski is committed to affecting change. As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as VP of Marketing for Trilix. Carrie is a 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” honoree and a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner. In her spare time you'll find her trying out a local hip-hop class, exploring parks with her rescue dog Tori, and sipping coffee with other powerhouse women.