“He said ‘Bye’. It wasn’t the word, but the way he said it. It sounded kind of snide and dismissive. Or maybe he was simply tired or mad at something else. Was he saying he was sick of talking to me or thinking I was annoying? What was it he meant by, ‘Bye’?”, it was moments after I’d been picked up from the train and I needed to unleash this story to someone I trusted.
“Are you listening to yourself?”, my husband asked, “I think he was just saying goodbye to you. Honey, you overthink everything and you have to start letting go and go keep going on with your life.”
He was right. The time I spent analyzing a farewell could have been time I spent writing, or working on a new idea, or going to my “Zen place” of analyzing ticket buying patterns. But in the end, what I was doing was totally human.
The majority of us spend far too much time in our own heads. We can have entire “made up” conversations with someone based on one thing they said or did. My friends who are dating now tell me stories about this all this time, “When he texted me back, he just wrote “cool”. What does that mean? Was he truly getting what I was saying or writing me off?”. And then we discuss it for ten minutes.
When you work on your own, interactions with the outside world mean a lot. It could be the difference between landing a deal or losing a client. I have to be aware of the impression I leave. But then again, what’s more important is that I just do good work.
Here’s what I’m doing to get more into living through actions over words:
1) When in doubt pick up the phone or meet in person. — I don’t have to tell any of you how text, email and instant message are all wonderful means of communication but often misleading. I speak to each of my clients at least once a week. I make sure there is always a reason for the communication, I keep things brief and to the point. Sometimes I walk away feeling all is resolved and once in a while, I know exactly what needs to get better or resolved to get something done. Human to human communication is key.
2) Find your Focus- I have learned that I do my best thinking and writing in a quiet place while all alone. I now keep a journal in my bag to write down things that are bothering me so I can “pack it away” after quickly jotting it down on paper. This frees me up to regain focus on whatever I need to get done. I find “listing” to be another way to dive into each morning with an hour of focused work checking off the things I need to accomplish by tackling them first thing.
3) Take action- “Doing the work” isn’t always just professional it can be personal. On a recent trip to London I discovered all my weeks of work had taken a toll on my physical appearance. You know, when people take your picture and you end up begging them to delete it. I was choosing work over working out, and in the end, it’s not healthy. Upon my return, rather than complaining about it, I got down to work. I chose a new exercise regime and began tracking all my food again. Regaining my self-confidence could take a minute, but at least now, I’m in total control and doing something about it.
4) Be with those who love you most- Whenever we overthink things, it comes out of insecurity. The world is full of people who aren’t going to like you or understand you. But guess what? There are some people who will love you and support you no matter what. And make sure to be that jolt of love and joy for someone else. I have a friend going through a breakup who called me earlier this week. My job, to find a quiet place and simply listen to him. And I did and assured him life would go on and that I adore him no matter what. Seek that understanding as needed and be that rock for someone because the outside world is hard to navigate, and friends can make everything better.
5) Be secure in your strengths- There are certain things, I am really good at. After 42 years of living, I know exactly what those are. The short list includes karaoke, making Spotify playlists, snuggling dogs, navigating a grocery store and making someone feel like they can conquer anything. Whenever I need a boost of self-love, you will find me doing one of the above. And in doing these things, I end up feeling better about all else.
A few years ago, I was told about the “Sunday Scaries”. This is when you start to have a panic attack thinking about all you have to do or deal with in the week ahead. Many of us have suffered from these moments of panic. But the next time that cycle begins for you, stop and breathe. Ponder all of the above. Map out what needs to happen and do the work. Life isn’t meant to think about, it’s meant to live. In the words of a dear friend, “onward and upward” my friends, “onward and upward”.