My best friend yelled at me last week, a little. She spoke the truth about some of my actions; about my breakneck life pace and some of my recent decisions. I am not mad at her — I expect that from her, and I love her for it. She was angry with me and for me because she is one of the holders of my stories and secrets — a true and trusted friend.
I sit here thinking about those actions and decisions, and I’m angry (at myself).
Yes, I know the dangers of negative self-talk, but sometimes I feel this. Welcome to my ego and my lizard brain. We all have them.
As I finished writing a presentation in the realm of personal development about Power Skills, Becoming the Expert of You, a maven, the expert of one’s self, I had to admit I am still struggling with this becoming. That may even be the reason I was compelled to create it.
I seem to work out my issues through what I do for a living, as maybe many of us do. I admit I combine what I know about myself, situations I witness, and the results of those 1:00 am deep dives into Instagram’s #realtalk or #narcissist hashtags to find meaning, insights and maybe some comfort in what other people have to say. Who doesn’t love a dopamine hit along the reward pathway in our brains? Ritual de lo habitual.
The Messy Things and Stuff
Lizard Brain and triggers: We all have that one thing someone said to us when we were a kid or says to us now that either spurs us to action or triggers us to retreat. I sometimes feel like I am doing the cha-cha on a treadmill between those triggers, flipping the script on that shitty voice inside my head that is a negative a-hole. The universe keeps bringing us the same issue or person to get over until we learn and move on: a little karmic treat for everyone.
I’m actively working toward being my true authentic self; I think most of us are. The search for the meaning of life has been ongoing throughout history, but I’m still not sure why it’s the number 42 from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Integrity and the bend: A year after my divorce, the lingering fog and sadness from it sometimes make me bend my integrity in relationships. I let bad behavior and lies slide or let ego and selfishness drive the car in exchange for moments of intimacy and connection, which never ends well. I’m working daily on combatting this.
Neglecting good rituals: I don’t always follow best morning practices. I let myself get dehydrated. I blow off exercise. I forget to meditate. I skip writing in my gratitude journal. I roll my eyes at the “three goals” sticky note on my computer monitor. I open a bottle of red wine, find the hidden chocolate in the pantry and binge-watch season 4 of Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce so I can feel like I’m not so crazy, alone or needy. Guilty as charged.
Being Busy: The past few years, I have kept myself busy. Super busy. So “busy” so I don’t have time to stop, access, feel, settle down for a moment, or notice that “busy” doesn’t equal “happy.” I’m constantly running so I don’t catch myself in the mirror and never see a true picture of my emotions, my choices, and at times, my sorrow or regret.
That’s all true.
The Real Things and Stuff
Honesty: Something I’ve come to long for, desire, demand, and appreciate deeply from people, especially my girlfriends, family, and my BFF (and to hold myself accountable more than ever). But dammit if the truth isn’t so hard to get to, say, and share — to ourselves, each other, and the world. Keep people who are honest with you close to you; they are a gift.
Patience: This one is a big one and something that is a practice. Being patient with others and one’s self is so hard. We want everything NOW — responses, connection, results, love, and acknowledgment. The thing is one’s time frame and everyone else’s time frames are different, not always aligned and often full of the busy, the noisy and the simply tired. Patience is truly a virtue.
Humor: A deep, epic laugh in the face of it all is sometimes the best medicine. A good hysterical laughing crying fit has saved me in many situations. The ridiculousness of life actually requires laughter instead of or combined with the tears. We all have our stuff, and many times finding the humor in a moment can delete some of the pain. But there are some moments that are not funny at all, I get and know that too.
The Study of Anger and Actualization
My anger and frustration with myself and the world tend to be a catalyst for creating new blog posts, sessions, webinars, and online courses. And I had a simpatico moment with one of my Mavens Do It Better podcast guests a couple of weeks ago. The brilliant April Wensel shared the origin story of her business — she got angry and started Compassionate Coding because she was fed up with her situation. She was working with an engineering team who was ignoring requests for diversity and inclusion and finally left that job to start her own company. Many people I admire, and respect arrive at similar ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (Donna Summer) moments and take action accordingly.
Many of us have this same story: We get angry, we feel disappointed, and our discomfort moves us to act. I say empathy makes us human, and action makes us warriors. I am constantly working on this.
My warrior leads with joy, positivity, and compassion — things I need to always reflect to myself in heaps. In contrast, my ego leads with fear, lizard brain, impostor syndrome, and the bending of my integrity to “make things okay and don’t make waves” when I fall out of integrity in response to someone (including me) doing me wrong. There seems to be a constant battle going on there with that lovely ego, luckily the joy and compassion usually win.
The Good Things and Stuff
Self-care: When we feel good, we are good, athletes train, humans, all of us should be training in self-care no matter who we are or what we do. We all need to work on being mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy every day.
Self-love: I will always quote RuPaul on this one “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else, can I get an AMEN up in here.” There isn’t much more to say about this than just do it. Easier said than done, I know.
Kindness: Many times, the most hateful, negative people in our lives are the ones who could use some kindness and the person we need to be the most kind to is ourselves. We beat ourselves up constantly, and we need to flip the script on that behavior, practicing kindness even in the face of negativity is part of that training in self-care and love.
Compassion: Feeling empathy alone is not compassion; it is the combination of caring and action with it that makes it truly powerful. When we are open to other people’s suffering, we are more able to deal with our tough situations. Compassion is about the connection, which allows us to deal with stress and heightened situations with more ease.
Forgiveness: The person we most often need to forgive is ourselves, for things we’ve done and said, for things that have happened to us. Forgiveness allows us to release pain and resentment towards ourselves and our offenders. To forgive is not to forget, but to repair.
Becoming an Expert of You
Becoming self-actualized is about the journey. Some lessons take a minute. Some take a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime. Different life stages fuel different actions and different motions.
For me, writing is freedom, and I am more liberated when I admit I’m just like everyone else. I’m right here, trying to figure it out, trying to learn, trying to find that purpose we all seek, with all my flaws, mistakes, failures, and fears. To me, both the trying and the doing is powerful.
I don’t have all the answers (not by a long shot), but I do have a lot of research, tactics, methods, and results, and I used them to build a presentation to help myself and others get closer to that self-actualization. If nothing else, building this presentation made me stop to find some patience with myself, and to teach what I need to learn, which is sometimes the best thing.
Anger does have its upside, though. It’s powerful, and I like to use it for good, as a motivating force toward optimism, finding solutions to big problems, self-insight, setting boundaries, getting things done, getting needs met, and towards channeling emotions into being artistic, thoughtful, and furthering me along the path to becoming my self-actualized self.
Never underestimate the frank counsel of a good friend who tells you the truth, stokes what you were angry about, and inspires your move into action. That is priceless. You can be uncomfortable and upset at the moment, but know they have your back and only want the best of you and for you, which is what we all want for ourselves.
So, as they say, I’m working on it, I’m studying it. And I’m trying, I’m doing, and sharing it along the way.
And if you like this article share it with your friends and spark a conversation.
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We hear the term “soft skills” as the definition of personal attributes that enable us to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
However, there is nothing soft about mastering these skills; there is “strength” in the practice of developing these “Power” skills that are more intangible but critical to your working and interacting with the people around you effectively.
Written by Head Maven & CEO, Heather Newman, Creative Maven.
Heather is a marketer, writer, speaker, playwright, podcaster, Microsoft MVP and lover of culture and “the why.” She has worked for over 20 years in technology and the arts. Heather lives in Los Angeles, California and enjoys traveling the world speaking about Office 365, SharePoint and Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. She is a published playwright, was born and raised in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Drama, Seattle WA and did a semester abroad at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Heather is always looking for an excuse to go to New York, New Orleans, London and the list of cities she made in her Dad’s Time/Life map when she was 11.
Check out her posts #TheCurlerReport, tales of a woman on the go who happens to love her hot rollers.
Connect with Heather on LinkedIn.