11/8/19 - Treat Yo Self.
The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com
Before you treat others as you'd like to be treated, make sure you are actually treating YOURSELF.
Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!
*cue intro music*
Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and a person who cares about your well-being. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.
Today's mantra is: treat yo'self.
I think the reason I voraciously read advice columns is that I’m always keeping an eye out for myself. This person doesn’t get along with their mother...OMG AM I A SHITTY MOTHER in this specific way? If the answer is no, I’m clearly not doing the things that that mother is doing to alienate her child, I feel a temporary sense of relief. Maybe i am not messing it all up. My worst fear isn’t that I might be a bad person...it’s that I might be a bad person and not know it. It’s the not-knowing, the potential lack of self awareness, that keeps me up at night. And so, I am vigilant. Vigilant about myself, vigilant about what I ask of others, especially vigilant about what I ask of the people I know love me the most. It’s not so much the fear of being too much, it’s the fear of being too much and not knowing it. Vigilance, a tightening of the defenses, sometimes seems like the one thing that keeps this fear at bay.
And so it is that I find myself elbow-deep in this week’s “Ask Polly”, written for NY Magazine’s The Cut by Heather Havrilesky. “Help,” writes the questioner, “I am afraid I’m a nightmare person.” Ooh, I think, go on. Are you a nightmare person, and more importantly, am I too a nightmare person?
“I want to be okay taking up space and asking for help, while also being grounded in myself. What if I’m the type of person who doesn’t appreciate others and always wants more? That’s terrifying.”
Oh shit, I am thinking, we are starting to get into “me” territory real fast.
This is the thing. I am inhaling Coach MK’s Shady Bitch lessons - god knows I am going to need them, especially as I march into my first holiday season in years without the armor of a job at Harvard, however tenuous, to protect me. My vulnerability is part of my actual profession now, and yet I struggle to be at peace with it when I am in the presence of my family. I feel pretty sure that I am not a nightmare person 85% of the time, but once you put me in front of the people who have always reacted to my emotions as if they were a totally disproportionate ask, and all that assuredness evaporates.
I hope I can feel stronger this year as I face them, more sure of myself in the face of whatever remarks they make that were designed to make me feel small, more empowered knowing that their intolerance of me isn’t something I have to fix. But what do I do for myself when I am unconvinced of my own lovability? What will I say to myself when I refuse to believe in the reality of the love that truly does surround me - from my husband, my daughter, my coworkers, my friends - and when it seems like the only love that could ever prove me lovable is the love that I will never earn, try as I might?
Polly responds to the reader who wrote in with her searingly beautiful response. And it boils down to this: “Inside your head and heart, I want you to be the unconditionally loving, present, patient mother you never had. … you need to treat yourself to an existence where you’re allowed to want what you want and feel what you feel.”
That, right there, is why I care so much about doing what we are doing here. That’s why I’m ready for the holidays without the Harvard shield, because I know that I deserve the existence I have created for myself since leaving academia, a place where i was never allowed to want what I wanted and feel what I felt. I KNOW this, and yet it is so easy to lose sight of how right it is that I am here. One single instance of “I just don’t understand why you don’t just keep applying for jobsl because you never know” is enough to make me forget, for a moment, all that I have built. And even though I know what I am going to say - I know you don’t, bless your buttons - I also need to set a reminder for myself about the internal work that I am doing, and the inherent good in an existence where I am allowed to want what I want and feel what I feel.
So with thanks to Donna and Tom of Parks and Rec, the mantra for this already exists. Treating yourself isn’t just about fine leather goods, although it certainly can be if that’s your jam. It’s about the conscious act of giving yourself space and grace and love when the people around you will not. It feels unnatural, to say the least. That’s why you have to return to it over and over again - that’s why the mantra is needed.
So, in those moments when you feel unnaturally vulnerable, emotional, and in need of reassurance and love, in those moments when you want to blame yourself for just having TOO MANY NEEDS, stop. What you’re doing is natural - it’s easier to blame yourself for needing too much than it is to just let those needs be and give them space. Only you can create that space, and it’s time to treat. Yo. self. You get to feel feelings. You get to have needs. Your gut is great. Treatyoself.