Transitions are hard because they are all about change. And the unknown is scary and our little human minds really like to know what to expect. When you’re in transition, it feels like there’s no solid ground that you can stick your expectation flag into. It leads to a low-level anxiety or worry or fear that at some point you’re going to have to reckon with. It’s tempting to keep your head down and just stay busy and wait for “things to calm down.” But being able to be nimble during transitions requires you to check in with yourself and be somewhat in touch with how you feel about what’s changing. And that means you need to process what you’re feeling. Which takes time.
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To-Do: Check In On Yourself
I’m just going to take a wild guess and wager that you don’t have time for emotional processing blocked out on your calendar. Maybe you’re seeing a therapist or coach, to which I say, good on ya. But your need to process doesn’t always wait until your Tuesday afternoon appointment. I fully believe that things come up when they’re ready to be seen. And just like you want to capture an idea when you have it, you also want to process an emotion when it’s arising. Which means sometimes, you’ve got to let go of being productive so you can process.
Allow Yourself Process
I’ve been getting up early to get a little work done before the rest of the house wakes up. The other morning I knew exactly what I wanted to work on. I sat down, peeked at Twitter, and read about Jacob Blake being shot in the back with his kids in the backseat. And about the 17 year old white male who opened fire on protestors. And you know, lately it feels like there’s something every day that can just knock the wind out of your emotional sails. Whether it’s something happening in the world, or in your own little world. Like a kid or friend or family member in distress in some way. And it’s hard to be productive in that space. You can only stay head-down for so long. And then you’ve got to process it.
Which is what I ended up doing that morning. I reached out to a friend who lives in England. (Which is 5 hours ahead of us, so she was up.) And we talked how we were doing and what we were worried about and what we wanted to do going forward. It made all the difference in my emotional state and my mindset. I felt so much clearer after that. It was an hour when I wasn’t being productive, but it made me so much more productive after it was through.
Check In On Your Family And Friends
Maybe the processing you need to make space for isn’t just your own. As a parent, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that sometimes my plans for the day need to be put on hold because one of my kids is going through something and needs some attention. Believe me, I’m a proponent of a little benign neglect but to my view, the kids are really struggling at times to wrap their brains around the pandemic.
It has meant that I’ve needed to ask for more time on my work projects. And that’s tough to do, but it’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So, your tiny assignment for today is just to check in with yourself on how you’ve been doing on your emotional processing. Have you been giving yourself the time you need? Do you have the tools? (whether that’s a journal, a trusted friend, a therapist, a coach?) Have you been feeling bad about how much energy you’ve either been devoting toward your emotional health? Or is being depleted by your emotional health? Let me just wave my magic wand and tell you that it’s OK to be less productive and more attentive to your emotional needs. And the emotional needs of the people you care about.
Maybe one of the silver linings of Covid-19 and our country’s response to it is that we realize that our previous expectations for productivity where a little out of whack. And that emotional labor is just as, if not more, important than actual work-related labor.
I just want to say I see you. I’m with you. And please don’t ever feel bad about doing what it takes to feel good mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.