Last week, I wrote about how someone commented on my weight, because I don’t look the way I did before I had my second kid.
(If you want to read that one, search your email for the subject line “This mentality is killing our businesses.” If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here.)
Anyway, I told you that story because I was pleasantly surprised by how I handled it.
Not too long ago, I would have seen 2 options.
“Someone is noticing that I’m fatter than I used to be! How incredibly shameful. I must start a diet right away!”
Then I would have started one. I would have done it for a few days until giving up because I hate life when I diet, and I just can’t muster up the energy to hate life for more than a few days.
But rather than feeling liberated, I would have felt I had FAILED at the diet and felt horrible about myself. And felt like everyone knew I was a failure.
2. Not started a diet because I was self-confident enough to know that I don’t believe diets work. But not so self-confident that I would have believed that I don’t need to lose weight. And so I would have lived under a black cloud of guilt for not “getting my body back” after baby #2. I would have thought,
“Why can’t I be more like the OTHER moms? Those totally natural-seeming slim and athletic women I see toting babies all over San Diego. What’s wrong with me???”
This time, without even fully realizing what I was doing, I stumbled on option 3:
3. Nothing is wrong with me.
Nothing ? Is? Wrong? With? Me ?.
I don’t buy the idea that my body should always look exactly the same throughout my adulthood. I give myself permission to think totally differently about this.
What does this have to do with business?
When it comes to how I work in my business, do I try to force myself to be the person I was before I had these kids?
The person who worked ’til Jeopardy came on…
Who checked email and Slack multiple times on the weekend…
Who felt in her gut that the solution to any problem was more hard work?
And then do I feel like a failure when that’s not possible… because I can’t muster up the energy to hate life for more than a few days?
Or do I not force myself, but feel like a loser because life’s different now? And wonder why so many other moms seem so successful and perfect in their businesses, when I’m… decidedly not?
Or, do I go with Door #3?
3. Nothing is wrong with me.
I can’t work until 7. Daycare closes at 5:30. But also, I can’t work until 7 because I already work until 8.
It’s just that it’s not all “work-for-money” work. It’s physical labor, like buckling squirming limbs into car seats and wiping up poop. (So much poop.) And mental/emotional labor, like being the calm in a sea of 2- and 4-year-old chaos. Even when I don’t feel like it. Or losing my shit and then figuring out how to deal with the kids and myself anyway.
My life has changed, and the way I work is changing with it. Does that make me a failure or a loser? No.
I give myself permission to think totally differently about this.
Would that giving myself permission were as easy as snapping my fingers or saying my favorite mantra over and over. (“It is safe for me to grow and change.”)
To go back to the body image example —
For years, I would tell myself, “I love my body” over and over, but I was really thinking, “I’m awful and fat.” That thought didn’t disappear just because I wanted it to.
So how did that change? It wasn’t a one-time mindset transformation. But also, it didn’t “just take time.” It took 4 things.
Time + Practice + A mentor’s guidance + Peer support
That’s how I know that giving one’s self permission is not as simple as saying, “I give myself permission to create a different working life.”
It’s a process that takes time, practice, guidance, and support.
The same thing is going on with business.
It’s not all about changing the way you look at things. And it doesn’t just take time.
So if you’re feeling like you’re trying to give yourself permission to change the way you do business, but you still secretly tell yourself things like, “I’m a failure. I’m awful. I’m not doing this right,” I just want you to know that I have discovered that, for me, permission is a process.
It took all 4 of these things for me to feel safe to grow and change.
And I’m telling you, because I’m tired of watching people blame themselves when the guilt and anxiety hounds them. You’re good enough! But maybe you could also provide yourself with more of these four elements.
What do you think?