I hope you’ve had a great week!
This week, as I wrap up this month’s series on “Self-Care Beyond the Self,” I want to tell you a story about the self-care untruths in action.
On Monday, I hosted a webinar called “Turning Your Self-Care into Visionary Leadership.” I had been promoting it for weeks - as part of the launch for the Beautiful Life Collective (sign up is now open until 9/30, more information below!) - and was so excited to convene for an hour with a group of impassioned women who want to lead through self-care.
The webinar began normally. I felt the typical flurry of nerves as I wrote down a few notes and pulled the visuals I wanted to share. As always, I was trying to strike the right balance of an organized format while speaking from my heart.
I was giddy as the call began. It felt great to see folks hop on the line and feel the warm surge of connection as we talked about self-care. Even though we were meeting online, it felt like a cozy virtual circle.
Then something happened. About halfway through the call, without any clear trigger, I started getting anxious. The warm connected feeling dissipated. I’m not sure what it sounded like to others, but to me it felt like I kept getting off topic and stumbling over my words.
I managed to get through until the end. After I hung up, my sh*tty voice immediately launched in. It told me I should have been more prepared for the call and that everyone on the line was probably bored or confused by what I was trying to share. It told me I hadn’t shared anything about visionary leadership. The voice told me I couldn’t possibly share the webinar recording the next day.
You know these moments of self-flagellation, right? They aren’t pretty. While I’m in one, that’s usually when I start to downward spiral in my self-care. As I allow my funk to grow, I don’t cook a proper dinner or watch too much TV or pick a fight with Micah (or sometimes all three).
But on Monday afternoon, I chose to do something revolutionary. I chose not to believe that voice.
Instead, I took a deep breath and told myself that I did that best that I could. Then, I quickly finished my last to-do list items of the day (including recording the welcome video for the Beautiful Life Collective), and exchanged emails with a friend who had been on the call, admitting that I had felt off during our time and accepting her reassurance. I drank a glass of water and switched the laundry. I made sure I had all the ingredients I needed to make dinner before leaving to pick up Jonah at daycare.
I didn’t feel great, but I was steady. These grounding self-care actions helped me avoid a self-care downward spiral and I was proud of myself for that.
Then, as I was driving to get Jonah, I suddenly understood the real reason I had gotten so anxious during the call. Tracing my feelings back, I realized my anxiety set in just after I had shared my growing awareness around police brutality against the black community.
As background, I’ve had a “Black Lives Matter” sign in my yard for the last couple of years and have considered myself pretty woke on this subject. However, over the past months I have read and listened to more black voices regarding the subject of police brutality. Slowly, I’ve understood just how systematically racist the institution of policing is and how privileged I’ve been as a white person to not understand that. (Ijeoma Oluo’s incredible book, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” is a important one to check out for a critical perspective.)
It felt important to share my growing awareness on the call, but as soon as I did, I got super nervous. I know how strongly some people feel about honoring police service - especially any of us with police officers in our close circles - and I imagined how I might offend those people by publicly stating my newfound belief that policing often hurts people of color more than it helps them.
I’m not proud to admit this, but I think it’s important to spell out what happened if I want to take my self-care beyond myself. The part of me that desperately wants to people please and get all the gold stars is the part of me that got anxious about sharing my truth. This part of me is not very mature. She only wants to feel safe, and gets very nervous when that safety is threatened. When it is, she starts to shut down, lest she get hurt even more. This is why the warm connection went away after I took a risk.
The craziest part of this whole story is that it took me a full hour to realize the real reason I was upset. Before that, my only thought was that I was the problem. The voice in my head told me that the reason I felt off during the webinar was because I should have done better. Had I cooperated with this judgmental voice and went into my self-care downward spiral, I would have lost this incredible learning experience.
I share this story because I think it’s an example of why it’s so hard to have real conversations about social justice. Even if we want to show up in solidarity with vulnerability communities - and I believe most people who are reading this really do - the moment that our safety feels threatened, we shut down or get defensive or start people pleasing out of fear.
This shutting down can lead into a spiral of numbing behavior and self-loathing (so we don’t have to feel these difficult feelings). We mistakenly assume the problem is about us. We never search any deeper for what is really happening in the moment. The bigger truth that is waiting for our awareness is lost.
This is why I don’t think we can separate out self-care from a real conversation about social justice. If we aren’t committed to authentic self-care - which is what wakes up our real self-awareness - we won’t understand when we internalize our challenging feelings about inequalities in the world. Without our self-awareness, these systematic inequalities will continue to oppress the people that need our solidarity while we spend eternity on the hampster wheel of trying to fix ourselves (okay, maybe the craziest part about my story isn’t that it took me an hour to realize why I was upset, but that it didn’t take hours, days, months, or even years!).
My webinar was supposed to be about self-care and visionary leadership. At first, I felt like I had failed in explaining my thoughts about true visionary leadership. Then, as the messy, beautiful real-life experience played out, I realized I had just worked through the self-care untruths I’ve been sharing about for the past month.
I realized that:
I could have an imperfect webinar and still show up to care for the world.
Doing this deeper self-care work did not feel good, and yet this challenging experience was important for my own deepening self-awareness.
I don’t have to go through this experience alone. Right now, I am able to share the truth with you all and find connection in the sharing.
This feels like an incredibly relevant introduction to the Beautiful Life Collective, the socially-conscious cooperative of women leaders. This is the supportive, inspiring program that will help you see your own self-care untruths so that you can show up as a real leader in our world.
Together, we will learn authentic self-care so we can live out our values and create a more beautiful world to hand over to the next generation. We will wake up our deeper self-awareness and gain the support we need to be a self-care influencer.
This program is designed for those of us with a busy lifestyle (most lessons you can download and listen to while folding laundry or driving), and costs less than a couple of fancy cocktails. The women who have already signed up are amazing. This is going to be so good.
Registration is now open and will close on September 30th at midnight EST. We won’t open for new members again until 2019. This is your moment - are you ready to take your self-care beyond the self?
PS - I will not send another email reminder to you to sign-up (unless you are on the Power Ladies mailing list and I have a lot of great self-care resources + reminders coming to you over the next few days). So don’t delay! Sign up now and take your self-care to the next level. It’s our time to go beyond the self and out into the greater world!