The most important thing I do every day.
It’s not something I eat, or drink. It’s not a book or a super-routine. It’s not something that really any of you would see. But I do it every day. At least I try to. I’m not perfect and that’s actually the point.
What I do every morning is ask myself, “How are you today?” and “Show me where it hurts.”
It only sounds silly because we’re used to living in a culture where emotions and softness is seen as weakness.
Where showing how it hurts leaves you feeling vulnerable (and possibly rejected by the group).
Where emotions are unstudied and unwelcome.
This is not how humans are. This is how a group of someone else’s decided it’s how you deal with emotion- you hide them and pretend you don’t have them.
The reason I check in with myself daily is for a few reasons.
It’s not anyone else’s job to make me feel better. That’s my job, because I cause my own thoughts and feelings.
I want to have an authentic relationship with everyone around me. And that requires that I be myself. Not someone wearing armor or a mask or who is so overwhelmed with her own emotions that she cannot function properly.
This does not mean that we aren’t there for each other during tough times. It means that we can be there for each other during the really rough times when we are overcome by emotion.
Daily life will put us into all sorts of crazy circumstances that require our patience, resilience, faith, understanding, silence, discomfort, speaking up, showing up, bravery, courage, anger, humor.
It’s up to us to manage the daily struggle and provide emotional care and comfort for ourselves. It’s like brushing your teeth or going for a walk or drinking enough water. Emotional and Creative Health is our responsibility– not others’.
I think that we CAN be here for each other. The warmth of authentic friendships and communities can finally be felt if we’re managing our own emotions daily. Otherwise, we’re always going to feel like those around us aren’t ‘doing their job’ being good spouses or friends or team members or parents or colleagues.
If you manage your own mind and emotions, you’ll know more about yourself. You’ll be able to gauge when it is that you DO need support. You will ask for help when you truly need it.
You will know yourself more.
Everyday I ask myself, where does it hurt? And inevitably I find myself crying from relief. Because someone is finally acknowledging how terrible I feel. Finally someone cares. Finally I’m able to let go of the steering wheel and stop white-knuckle driving toward my perfect business and life.
Finally I’m able to soften. To listen to my heart. To allow myself to grieve what I’ve lost the day before and see the shining possibilities ahead of me.
Finally I’m able to stop pretending that it’s all fine. That I feel great. That I don’t feel alone running this complicated business.
Finally I’m able to love my life again. Because when you let your thoughts and emotions pass through, you can be open to the world again. You can be in the moment.
I know that I have the luxury of living alone and that having uninterrupted time to yourself can be challenging. That was what probably sent me into nearly 5 years of depression. Because when I was building my business, I had no time for myself. I was exhausted. I had no help and only people constantly needing me (usually in emergency + unpredictable fashion). It was suffocating and terrible and I was unprepared for it and unsupported (by myself).
I used to believe a thought that caused me so much pain.
“You will never have time for yourself.”
That thought caused me so much pain. So much despair. I never wanted to plan anything ever again because as soon as I had a daily schedule, someone would come along and crush it with their own needs.
To this day, I tiptoe carefully into planning because it only caused me pain– for years. Pain that I didn’t know how to move though. Pain that I didn’t know how to acknowledge. Pain that I thought could be solved by a new scheduling system or calendar integration or time management.
But that pain was caused by saying YES when I should have said NO.
It was caused by believing that the most important thing on my to-do list was all the work.
It was caused by pretending that when I had more time I’d feel better.
It was caused by not acknowledging how bad it hurt. How painful it really was to find myself in the middle of a '“successful” business that was slowly killing me.
It was caused by the inability to heal my own heart.
By business is more challenging than ever. But what I’ve realized and learned is that the most important thing I can do is take care of my own heart first.
I ask myself these two questions, and I listen for the answers. And then I do what my heart is asking. That’s made all the difference in my life. It’s how I decided to move and open an Airbnb and not close my business and decide to travel and get a puppy and buy a truck for my business and get up every day and show up as my most authentic self.
I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time for all the things I really want to do in this world. But I will always have time for myself.
Because that’s the best way to make sure I make the big things happen.