Pausing to find your footing doesn’t make you a failure and negative self-talk doesn’t mean that what you’re thinking is true.
I lay in my hospital bed staring out at the East River in New York City. The pain of surgery was intense and the sweet relief of pain meds flooding my IV couldn’t happen fast enough. I thought of all the plans I had for the month and how none of them would happen. Anxiety covered my body like a thick blanket.
I was going to miss my deadline. For 73 consecutive weeks, I produced an episode of my podcast, YOU WANNA DO WHAT?! The streak was coming to an end. I couldn’t sit up without assistance and a silent prayer and when I finally felt strong enough, 3 weeks had passed. In media weeks, it might as well have been an eternity.
When I finally sat down to record, I couldn’t find my rhythm. After many stops and starts, I removed my headphones, switched off my mic and scrapped the 57 minutes of jibberish I had just recorded. I had lost my momentum.
The next day I sat quietly, listening to Michelle Obama’s new book, Becoming. In Chapter 6, Mrs. Obama describes the feeling of failure:
Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt, and then is escalated, often deliberately by fear.Becoming, Michelle Obama (Chapter 6)
The hairs along my arms stood at attention. My momentum had been replaced by failure, self-doubt, and fear. If you’ve ever spent months working out, eating healthily and dropping pounds, only to be derailed by the Holidays or an invitation to a destination wedding, you know what I mean. It’s f*cking hard to pour yourself into something – career, family, marriage, relationship, health, finance, education, etc… only to have life toss a mean curveball that forces you to restart.
But life is what happens when we’re busy planning our other stuff. Pausing to find your footing doesn’t make you a failure and negative self-talk doesn’t mean that what you’re thinking is true. If Michelle Obama is right, and I believe she is, failure is a feeling and feelings are temporary.
Once I unpacked my own feelings around failure, I was able to release them. The next time I sat behind the mic, the words poured out of me.
I invite you to listen to Episode 74: How to Regain Momentum and Disrupt Fear. It’s a personal one. If life has ever knocked you down, you’ll want to listen.