MAWMonday Motivators 01/29/2017

Being authentic also includes being vulnerable. Truth is, every day is not sunny. I have made two moves with the promise of more sunny days. To Nashville from Indiana promised 22 additional days of sun. From Nashville to Reno offered an additional 3 full months of sunlight comparatively. But, alas. Doldrums, pity parties, and ahedonia can hit even the most optimistic and sunny of dispositions. If I’m honest (and that’s an Always state), the cycle of sun, clouds, repeat is pretty consistent. Perfect storms of exhaustion, deadlines, wishes, strained relationships, and sad songs can conspire to hide my sun and yours. I write today to remind you of that fact–the fact that the sun may sometimes be hidden, but it is not gone.

I took some inspiration from Twitter as I do every week. Not just in affirmations and hopeful tweets, but in the reality that people are hurting along with you. You will have clouds, feel your feelings. AND, mind your energy. Clear your mind of clutter. Reframe what’s left with sunlight derived from hope, your intentional action, and, if all else fails, the fact that nothing lasts always.

1. Pity Party

You can’t do every thing. You can’t be all things. We all know these truths, but that does not keep some of us from trying. What is worse is that we beat ourselves up for those lapses. My biggest is missing a meeting. Worse if I set the meeting. But, still pretty bad if I was expected to be there. I can just hear them. “Where’s Michael?” It grates on me. It’s another strike on my permanent record. It means that I won’t get perfect attendance. Woe is indeed me!

And, then I forage the courage to email or text an apology. The lovely person on the receiving end responds with something like, “No problem. We’ll catch up soon.” And, we do catch up. They engage like we never missed a beat–like I never missed a meeting. Those are the interactions that remind you that the sun, though hidden, is still present. Focus on those interactions.

2. Feelings

This tweet reminds me of the seemingly incessant requirement that optimistic folks be cheery all the time. The pressure is not just from those who are waiting to see you fail. I also feel the pressure from those that are genuinely concerned about your well-being. They engage with that, “Is everything okay? You don’t seem quite yourself today.” They usually catch me when I’m in “fix it” mode. It’s a very different interaction pattern than when I’m in my standard mode. I see it more like the zone an athlete gets into as she locks in to compete.

The questions of those who care remind me to maintain awareness of my feelings and to implement my techniques for emotion-management. I share my struggle. My favorite people don’t offer advice. They just tell me how awesome I am. They tell me how great I’m going to look when I overcome. They may offer to help, but their offer is often enough. They remind me that the sun, though hidden, is still present. I cherish those interactions.

3. Habits

Wasting energy is a huge taboo in my present experience. But, that sentiment is balanced with the reality that sometimes a good cry can work as well as 60 minutes of weight-lifting. Sometimes, the energy you have building is toxic and needs to be released. In that sense, it’s not a waste of useful energy, it’s a release of spoiled, tainted, unmanageable energy–the kind that keeps you up at night, bothered, restless, and irritated.

I take comfort in the cycle. Just like me, you will not always be up or always down. But be like me and always move forward. Create a habit of getting up, coming back, trying again. Every time you do, you will find that your effort is rewarded. You will find that the sun shines again. In those moments, I am reminded that the sun, though hidden, is still present. I have a habit of looking for those reminders.

4. Declutter

I know a lot of people who gain clarity by cleaning up their immediate surroundings. It could be your home, your work space, or a desk drawer. There is something about decluttering that allows for greater production. It is that sense, even beyond the physical reality, that everything is in its proper place. That things are out of the way. That production can commence.

It’s the same mentally. My favorite technique is to write a list. Get those things that haunt you out of your head on down on paper. Often, you will find that your list is shorter than you imagined. Sometimes, you will realize that you are borrowing next months deadlines for today. Other times, you will realize that you have spread yourself too thin. Prioritize. Correct it. Make apologies. Get your list to a manageable level. Get help. That is what I do. And, I am always just a bit surprised that this little bit of something staves off hours of doing nothing. I am surprised that the sun, though hidden, is still present. I appreciate those surprises.

5. Reframe

It is as bad as it seems. It was a setback. It was a costly mistake. BUT. And, that makes all the difference. I have failed more times than I care to contemplate. I have been on the losing end of opportunities great and small. I have tried and been denied for lively hood and hobbies alike. I get discouraged. I get angry. I get frustrated. I sometimes take a swim in the mud pit of despair. It is a wallowing that is forbidden by this tweet.

BUT, it’s a swim, which is recreation, which is exercise, which is time, which is opportunity to reflect, which is opportunity to learn. What am I learning? I’m learning that the sun, though hidden, is always present. I am learning to appreciate and live in that truth.