This phrase might be my favorite life advice of all. Apparently it’s credited to Voltaire.
My life coach teacher, Brooke Castillo, advises us to “do B- work.”
Her reasoning behind that is if we wait until we are doing things perfectly, we aren’t getting our work out into the world.
Here’s how I am applying it in my own life.
One way is with this blog. I really want to write a sleep post AND a life coaching post every single week.
But life as a single working parent is busy.
So I commit to writing and hitting publish every week, whether or not it’s a great piece of writing. (It never is.)
To my amazement, clients sometimes tell me my blog posts are helpful. Which is amazing!
But most important of all, I am keeping my word to myself. That I get it done every week, no matter what. B- work for the win.
I’ve been posting (almost) weekly for 3.5 years now. Pretty good for a B- worker. And I’d venture to guess that some of my posts might even be better than B- work.
And my recent goal is now two blog posts a weeks, and I'm doing pretty well with that these last few weeks.
Another way I’m doing B- work is with my eating and my exercise.
In case you didn’t read my Valentine’s Day post (link), I’m pregnant. Twenty-six weeks along.
It’s been a rough one. WAY more fatigue and nausea than with my previous pregnancies. Thankfully I am finally feeling much, much better, thanks to iron injections and pure "tincture of time."
And so I, a lifelong exerciser and generally healthy eater, have taken many, many days off from both. It’s easy to beat myself up over it. Like, really really easy. I am not a person who says “all bets are off since I am pregnant.”
But I am finally figuring out that that serves no one, least of all me and my habits.
When we beat ourselves up, we inevitably do even worse.
So i am striving for smaller wins. Eating one healthy meal at a time. Redefining “healthy.” (Right now, it looks like vegetables aren’t really going to happen, and neither is fish. Mac and cheese and PB&J are in the rotation. Reducing but not eliminating lime popsicles, the magical cure for nausea.) Attempting SUPER easy workouts.
These decisions don’t make me feel great… but then I remember that beating myself up helps no one. No one ever took long lasting action from a place of self-disgust.
Where do you find yourself beating yourself up? Can you imagine motivating yourself from a place of love and acceptance? As if you were motivating your child instead of yourself?
Imagine your child learning to walk. You wouldn't criticize them for stumbling after 3 steps. You'd be cheering them on saying, "good work, you got this, get up and try again!"
I promise you that setting the bar low doesn’t mean you won’t do great work. You will. It just makes it easier to start.
If you have a goal you’d like to achieve, I can help. Set up a complimentary life coaching session and experience a transformation in just one hour, guaranteed.
If you do, you're not alone.
I, too, have a really hard time with people being wrong about me. And judging me unfairly as a result.
Or god forbid, not liking me or my choices.
I have always admired people who are not people pleasers, people who just do what they want and don’t give a damn if others don’t like them as a result.
This is not me. (I wish it was.)
This is a problem for two reasons: one, because I can’t control what they think. Much as I wish I could!
And two, it means I may not live my most authentic life in an attempt to control what others think. See above re: this strategy is often not effective.
This came up for me in my own life when I decided to quit my nurse practitioner job in Brooklyn and move to Mexico with my two kids.
My parents were already gone at that point, and my siblings were generally supportive, if not overly invested either way.
But even the judgment of people I barely knew, for example, in my single parents community, bothered me. One person said it would be irresponsible for her to make such a move because she was very focused on maxing out her retirement accounts while her child was young. She didn't say it, but I assumed she meant she also thought it was irresponsible of me to make this choice.
This wasn't even a close friend of mine. Nor a person who I particularly admire. And consciously, I scoffed at her opinion. But if I truly didn't care what I thought, why would I have spent energy defending myself against it, and why would I remember her opinion now, 5 years later?
That said, It’s easier for me – though not easy – to ignore those negative opinions when they from people who aren’t close to me.
But right now, I’m really struggling with what I think a couple of people close to me are thinking about a big life change I am making. I desperately want their enthusiastic support… and I’m not getting it.
And that's really hard for me.
I've spent two months arguing with the invisible jury that resides in my head. Arguing that they should be supportive, that they should be enthusiastic. Just because it would make me feel better.
I know this sounds kind of crazy "on paper" but I think most of us do this. It's called having "a manual" for others, a set of rules of how we would like others to act so we can feel comfortable.
My manual says that others shouldn't give advice -- because it makes me feel really uncomfortable to receive unsolicited advice -- and they should be supportive of my choices, because that is what I do for others.
Unfortunately, other people often have their own manuals, and aren't interested in consulting mine.
So the only thing left to work on in my own brain.
I don't want to like their lack of support. I still wish I had it.
So instead I am focusing on the sadness and anger that comes up when I think about not having their support.
but what I am working on is dropping into my body and just noticing and acknowledging the sadness that is coming up for me.
This isn’t toxic positivity – I’m not pretending to like it.
And I’m not trying to feel better by controlling their behavior – although I would definitely love it if they decided to change their words and actions!
So instead I am choosing the considerably more challenging but ultimately more liberating option of just allowing myself to be sad and angry.
This sounds easy but it's taken me at least 2 months of resistance to remember to do this.
And now I am trying to let go of my story of how they’ve done me wrong, and instead just saying, “wow, I’m sad. Of course I’m sad. They are really important to me and I wish things were different.”
Then I pay attention to my body, letting go of the story of why I am sad, and I just notice the sensation. “I feel sadness bubbling like a big cauldron in my chest. It feels like it will never stop.” (Brain “helpfully” offers up “you’ve been sad about this for two months, you’ll never stop being sad.”) “Shhhhh, brain. I hear you. Let’s stay in the body. The cauldron is big and it’s blocking up my chest and it’s heavy and hard, like it’s made of iron.”
After two months of fighting sadness, two minutes of feeling sadness and just allowing it, I feel a slight shift. It’s not all rainbows and daisies, but it’s not quite so heavy anymore.
I’ll keep coming back to it in the coming hours and days. I'll keep practicing allowing the sadness. I'll keep reminding myself that it's safe and even helpful to do so.
Human brains are terrified of negative emotions. We think we’ll just curl up and die if we feel them.
But the opposite is true. When we allow those big, scary emotions, we liberate them. They don’t disappear, but they loosen their power over us.
Whose thoughts are holding power over your emotions? Do you imagine your parents' disapproval? Your partner's annoyance? Your child's thoughts that you are "mean"?
You can't change what they think, but you can change how you react to their thoughts.
Want some help figuring this out? Schedule a complimentary life coaching session and I'll show you how you, too, can experience this transformation.
As for me, just a few days after trying this, my emotions about these loved ones have dropped by at least 80%. I think about them still but they get so much less air time. I am spending my energy on other, more profitable, ways to spend my time.
If you are making big changes in your life, changes you want to make, you might think that would feel good, liberating.
And maybe it does feel good a lot of the time.
But at least in my experience, it feels like absolute sh*t a lot of the time.
Life coaching has led me to create new boundaries in my life with people I love. And right now, it’s sucking.
No one ever thanks you for creating said boundaries. People want us to stay the same.
Right now, I’m doing a lot of sitting with pain. Coaching helps me to sit with it. It encourages me to lean in and feel it. Because resisting the pain never works anyway. It’s like pushing a beach ball under water: it just takes a whole lot of energy, and it ends up flying up out of the water anyway.
People make it sound like setting boundaries is easy. You just tell them what your new boundaries.
I’m here to say that setting boundaries is really hard. It’s simple, but not easy. You have to learn to sit with a lot of discomfort, if you’re a people pleaser like me.
If you want support setting and holding boundaries, set up a complimentary life coaching session (scroll down past sleep coaching). You’ll learn how to endure the short-term discomfort in order to achieve long-term gain, a life that is more authentically yours.
When I was a kid attending my beloved sleepaway camp, I was what they affectionately call a “barn geek.”
I was the camper that went to every single barn chores. Even the ones that required setting an alarm and crawling out of my cozy, warm bunk in the chilly early mornings while my cabinmates continued to snooze.
I was the one and only kid that showed up to the afternoon activity that entailed cutting goat toenails.
I did it all. Every time I could be with farm animals, I was there.
My favorites were the goats, and I even semi-adopted my own baby goat one summer. But I would feed, water, and tend to any and all animals. In hindsight, I can see that nurturing animals helped me feel nurtured, too.
One summer, I remember being impatient to start a barn activity and the counselor scolded me. She said, “Mellow out, Abby. Animals love mellow people.”
Even at the time, I was able to laugh outwardly with my cabinmates at her ridiculous comment. Animals (and babies) always loved me. I knew that.
But inwardly, those words branded my soul. I wasn’t mellow. I was too intense.
People were always telling me that I was too sensitive. I cried too easily. I felt things too deeply. I was too focused on everyone else’s words, feelings, and actions. I just needed to relax.
Telling me to relax was like telling a drowning person to just relax.
I couldn’t relax in order to save my own life.
And so was born the story in my head that I was “too intense.” Too much.
I believed it for decades.
I tried to hide and play it cool and be casual but I doubt I was very convincing. I am sure my intensity was all the more overwhelming for trying to hide it.
Then, about three years ago, my dear friend Kimberly said something that stopped me in my tracks.
She said, “what if your intensity is your superpower?”
Her question took my breath away.
It made me think of my brother, a successful business coach, saying his ADHD, far from being a negative, is his superpower. Who says you can't decide what is your superpower?
Getting coached on this has helped me realize that holding back my truest self is keeping the world from receiving what this unique person, me, is able to give. It ] keeps my relationships superficial. As a result, it made relationships more likely to end. The very thing I was trying to avoid.
I have learned to lean into my intensity. To embrace it. To stop apologizing for it (most of the time!). To recognize that this is who I am.
But even beyond that, to question what is “too intense."
Too intense for whom? For this broken world we live in?
What if I am the perfect amount of intense, and it is all those other people who are lacking if they are unable to appreciate me?
Indeed, as I have embraced my intensity, I have found, more than ever, my people. The people who value intensity. The people who are intense too. My people.
What stories do you tell about yourself? What negative labels do you give yourself? How are they holding you back? And did you know you can just decide, right now, that they are not true and that you can change the narrative of your life right now?
Just by deciding. You don’t have to prove anything or convince anyone. Just decide and it becomes fact.
This is simple but it's far from easy.
If you’d like support changing the narrative of your life, set up a complimentary life coaching session. There’s no commitment and no sales pitch. Just an opportunity to experience a life changing transformation.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.