GOOOD grief! This morning was a doozy. It began with fallout from a pattern I call, “procrastinate yourself out of possibility.” In this pattern, I put off things my brain tells me are “scary.” I follow that with berating self-talk, like “you’re such an idiot.” This round ended in a shame spiral that took a dive down the rabbit hole, turned left into the anthill maze, and then came to a stop at the buzzing bee hive. The voices in my head were vibrating all the self-doubt they could muster.
This is not a new pattern. I’ve been here before, more than I’d like to admit, but today’s execution of said pattern had a monetary implication: $600 in hotel costs, because this time I put off asking friends if I could stay with them this weekend on a business trip. Today is Tuesday and I arrive on Thursday afternoon. Yes, I cut it that close.
Procrastination, for me, almost always boils down to avoiding what I fear. In this case I feared hearing the word “no,” because my head hears so much more. My brain turns a simple response, like “I’m sorry, I’ve got plans this weekend,” into fodder for my inner critic. This critic tells me, “you’re worthless and you’re not worth helping.” Deep down I know that this is not the case and this is not something my friends would think. They are wonderful, amazing humans, but my inner critic isn’t as wonderful. It wants me to wallow.
While wallowing in this whirling tornado of procrastination and self-doubt, the personal work that I’ve done started to kick in and I recognized that my emotions had hijacked me. The stories in my head had taken charge, and I needed to find something to stop them. Amidst the “you’re just not good enough” parade from my inner critic, I pulled out my phone and texted the following message to two of my closest friends:
“I am stuck in a shame spiral and I can’t think straight right now. I know that I need to tell someone about it. I need a cupcake.”
Just writing those words and asking for help, gave me a glimmer of power. I continued with my morning, determined not to let this self-doubt funk derail me. By 11:00 am, I had sorted out my housing; I will spend four nights in a reasonably priced hotel, three nights with a friend in Brooklyn, and two nights with another friend in Chelsea.
As the morning progressed, I realized I had many reasons to feel grateful:
- I felt appreciation for my teachers, my coaches, the authors of influential books I’ve read, and my chosen family and friends. Unlike other days, today I had tools and strategies to battle this self-doubt, and I knew how to use them.
- I also felt grateful to myself for building the muscles to use these tools.
- Both friends I texted, and another one completely out of the blue, called to check on me and lend their ears. It was amazing to feel the negative mental chatter start to dissipate as I talked through what happened.
- Having my emotions hijacked by my inner critic allowed me to try out my tools and stretch myself. It reminded me that I have more work to do and that resting on my self-development laurels is not how this shiz works.
Today I paid a visit to the mental gym; that place where we cultivate our self-care capabilities. I was reminded that gratitude is a multi-faceted muscle, and you have to work all sides of the muscle to conquer fear and self-doubt. This morning provided an opportunity to work that muscle and honor the fact that I can’t do the work that I do without the work that I’ve done. Even better, I learned that the voice in my head was wrong.
Andrea’s story had me wondering about her favorite self-development books/tools, so I asked if she could share more details. She definitely delivered! I hope you find some wonderful new resources in her list. Enjoy! ~Caroline, CGO Founder
Andrea’s Commentary & Recommendations:
My trip down the self-development road began in 2007, as did the dissolution of my marriage (not a bad guy, just the wrong two people together). With this end, self-awareness began. I realized there was a reason why I ended up in the wrong marriage, and I wanted to understand what role I played in that to avoid repeating it. I consumed as many books, blogs, workshops, classes, events, retreats, etc. as I could. After sampling much at the buffet table for personal development, here are the resources that I love to share. I'm happy to discuss them at any time, with anyone, for any reason.
- The 4 Agreements or anything written by the Ruiz family, specifically The 5 Levels of Attachment.
- Brene Brown: If you haven’t watched her TED talk, stop right now and click on the link!
- Danielle LaPorte: Her book, the Desire Map, is a very helpful tool to find out why you want what you want. It’s a way to reverse engineer your goals by identifying what you actually want before you set the goal to achieve it.
- Paolo Coehlo: Though The Alchemist is his most popular book, reading The Pilgrimage was more transformational for me.
- The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: In this powerful read, I learned that the things that upset me about others are likely because they reflect back to me something in myself I haven't addressed. And, the things that I'm attracted to in others reflect qualities in myself that I haven't fully embraced.
- Big Magic: Creative goodness and frank discussions of what it feels like to create.
- Grit: Resilience: are we born with it or can we develop it? Angela Duckworth's research into how kids (and adults) can up their Grit quotient is a must read.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective: I know this is the one that everyone cites, but there's a reason. His 4 quadrants, for evaluating what is important and urgent, have been very helpful as I evaluate my priorities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrea Koehler
The only way out is through. The only way through is self-awareness. In Andrea’s coaching work, she supports clients to recognize their own wisdom, strengths, and abilities. She partners with them to identify self-limiting beliefs and develops strategies to intentionally create new habits that serve their goals.
Andrea founded The Coloring ProjectTM in 2015, as a way to harness the benefits of coloring as a tool for mindfulness, focus, transformation, and self-discovery. Building the muscles of presence, focus, and intentional practice are necessary for success. The Coloring Project’s purpose and products provide both a trip to the mental gym and an accompanying mental massage.
Lending her years of Leadership Training and Development experience in the Fortune 500 corporate training world, Andrea blends coloring’s meditative mental drift with guided mindfulness exercises. She also uses coloring as an answer for how to stay present during a number of standard corporate activities, such as meetings, conference calls, training events, etc. She works across corporate and non-profit leadership events, team building exercises, and community engagement events.
Andrea currently resides in Seattle. Outside of her professional coaching and training career, when she’s not coloring, you can find her dancing (Salsa, Afro-Brazilian, Hip Hop, and Zumba, for starters) or at the theatre for any Broadway musical that happens to be in town.
If you'd like to connect with Andrea or learn more about The Coloring Project visit her website or connect with her on social media:
- Web: www.thecoloringproject.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/the.coloring.project
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/thecoloringproj
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecoloringproject
- Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/thecoloringproject
- If you love musical theatre like Andrea, check out Coloring Broadway on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/ColoringBroadway
- Favorite Hashtags: #thecoloringproject, #digitaldowntime, #powerofpositivecoloring