When we are stressed it can show up in our bodies if we don’t slow down and release what we can’t control. Stress is an illusion as are all thoughts. It’s tied to expectations we affix to ourselves based on our interpretation of what should be happening. The “should be happening” is the trip wire. To counter stress we neglect our personal needs because we think doing more is what gets things done. The problem with this thinking is that turning away from the feeling behind the stress only adds to it and creates a cycle of perfectionism which exhausts and defeats us because the standard we set for ourselves is not attainable.
I write, speak and coach about executive presence yet this week I could see myself not exhibiting it. Instead of getting curious about what was going on with me I soldiered on and kept working harder, eating whatever was handy instead of breaking for healthier choices and reflection. I thought, ”If I just catch up, everything will be fine,” denying the signals my body was giving me and that I was observing in my own behavior. I had convinced myself that if I just got it all done there’d be less stress. Then I got sick and still didn’t take the cue to get curious about the fear behind what was troubling me.
You will never “get it all done.” There will always be more to do. Pacing yourself with healthy practices is vital.
When I give myself space to take a deep breath and ask what fear is behind my stress and drill down past all the surface issues of “won’t succeed,” “will feel judged,” “will be perceived as a failure,” and get to the even more ridiculous illusions of “will lose my job,” “will lose respect of people I care about,” “my health will totally fail me,” I get down to the root of what people fear more than anything in the world but spend their whole lives busying themselves in an effort to run away from - “I’m afraid I’m not good enough and will end up alone.”
That’s a really uncomfortable feeling. It’s dreadful. No doubt. Admitting it is hard, but to do so disarms its power. It takes practice to name and sit with the feelings we turn away from, yet it is the very thing that frees us from them. And the more I sit with that discomfort and not turn away from it because I’m afraid the more I can accept the feeling AND challenge it. “I’m afraid of being judged as ineffective but I know I’m capable. I’ve been effective in the past. What has helped me destress, be healthy and effective in the past? Hmm - being as gentle with myself as I would with a child or puppy.
Today do something for yourself. Read. Do a craft or home project. Visit a place that brings you peace. Call a friend or family member you miss. Take a long walk without headphones. This creates space for transformational reflection. Listen to the silence.
If you want more executive presence and career planning tips here’s a link to Mary Lee’s FREE Career and Life Planning Tool: https://www.maryleegannon.com/Your-Yearly-Career-and-Life-Planning-Tool
If you are struggling with uncertainty and feel exhausted and ineffective watch my FREE Training on Three Ways to Move to the Next Level In Your Career Right Now to 1) identify the right role for you, 2) position your transferable skills and 3) create a career portfolio that sells you before you even get an interview. If you don't know where you will be at the end of the year, you are already there.
P.S. Feel free to forward this email to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in life looking for a hand to hold. Sometimes we must be the hand that reaches out.
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and 19-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships. Request a free consultation call.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
You will be sent an email with a link each time Mary Lee Gannon updates the Executive Coach's Blog. It's great to have you with us!