Some of you may have shown up at work today already holding on by a thread, or completely drained. Some of you may have heavy stuff going on – financial stress, challenges in your personal life, concerns about your business or your job – but you showed up. You got there. And maybe it wasn’t the best day. When your confidence is low, you’re stressed or distracted; every challenge can seem bigger than it is.
But if you think about when you’ve felt this way before, you got through it. You completed the day – whether it was good, bad or somewhere in the blurry middle.
Sit with that a minute and let it sink in. You DID make it through today. Even with whatever heavy stuff you had going on – you still showed up, you still helped clients, you still made a difference. And it was HARD, because you DO have some heavy stuff going on, but you still made it through.
When the heavy stuff hits, or you run into a stressful day – whatever elevates your emotions so you feel edgy and distracted – you are very vulnerable to having your confidence shaken to its core. And that typically makes everything seem more urgent and more of a crisis than it really is. And if it actually is a crisis, your ability to deal with it calmly and effectively is decreased.
On days when you have heavy stuff happening, it’s helpful to apply the following examination to everything that appears to you as stressful, negative or a crisis: Do I have to respond to this right now? Is this an actual crisis?
This works really well if you are already running on negative emotional capital and you receive an email from your boss that sounds like criticism, or a complaint from a client, etc. You are probably in your worst possible place to respond. Or you receive a draft of some marketing materials from a company you hired and you dislike them. Are you really in the best place to respond in a way that is actually giving them productive feedback? So ask yourself, do I absolutely need to handle this today or can it wait until tomorrow – or at least for a few hours? You will be completely surprised at how much better equipped you feel to deal with sticky things that show up as negative or stressful when you come back with your confidence not so shaken. In fact, when I receive tough emails, I always apply this rule, even if it isn’t a tough day. Once the emotional panic that occurs when we receive a “bad” email subsides, you can respond more clearly, less defensively and better serve everyone involved. I’ve even gone back hours later to respond to a tough email and realized in my emotionally heightened place that I actually misread some of it – thinking it was worse than it was.
(Important note: If it’s a client or your boss/team emailing you – make sure you respond by saying, “I received this email. Thank you for sharing this with me. I want to process the information you gave me and really put some thought into my answer. I will respond to you tomorrow.” Or something that lets them know you aren’t ignoring them.)
So, you already made it through today. And hopefully this rule of thumb will help you the next time you have “one of those days.”
Also, breathe in that feeling you feel right now. That feeling of knowing that even when it was hard, even when it wasn’t perfect, you showed up and you still did it. It might not have been pretty, and it surely wasn’t perfect, but it was an amazing effort in the face of some big challenges.
Hold on to that feeling – because it feels GOOD to shift your focus from what you didn’t do perfectly to what you DID complete in the face of difficulty. Anchor to that feeling, because the heavy stuff in your life might still be there in the morning. If not, it will certainly show up in your life again. When it does, draw on that feeling of knowing you did it, not because it was easy, but despite it being hard. Then you’ll know you can do it again.
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