Listen, learn, make corrections

Last week I wrote that listen, learn, make corrections is my new motto.

I heard that somewhere on social media and absolutely loved it. Not just in relation to what is happening in our larger world with the protests and the societal realizations around systemic racism, but in my day to day life.

Listen, learn, make corrections is what self-loyalty is all about.

If you have been around here for a while, you have heard me talk about self-loyalty. I believe building self-loyalty is the key to decreasing anxiety.

love the term self-loyalty because most of my clients rank loyalty as a top value.

Loyalty to their mothers, fathers, spouse, kids, friends, work, and the world in general.

They are the caregivers for their aging parents.

They are the listeners, supporters, lovers, givers, cheerleaders, fans, head-down-get-the-job-done workers.

They are the backbone of their families, relationships, and workplaces.

They ooze loyalty to everyone around them. They are strong, quiet, kind, get-the-job-done individuals.

The dark side of this loyalty, the shadow side of this devotion to others, is the exhaustion, the never-ending to-do list, the never feeling good enough, whole enough, satisfied enough. The anxiety.

AND the paralysis due to the fear of doing it wrong.

When you are loyal to yourself, you are less afraid to speak up. You have less overthinking and analysis. You are able to see what is happening with the world, check-in with your gut, and then make a sound decision.

Maybe the decision is to seek more support or more answers.

Maybe the decision is that you already know what to do and challenge yourself to move past the fear and confusion.

But with self-loyalty, the fear of getting it wrong or saying the wrong thing doesn’t paralyze you. Self-loyalty reminds you that you will be okay because the relationship you have with yourself is the only one you will be with forever. So we might as well be kind and generous with ourselves.

When we have self-loyalty, listen, learn, make corrections becomes second nature. Without it, the phrase becomes: react, get defensive, shut down.

So what does self-loyalty look like? How do you know if you have it?

Well, self-loyalty isn’t something you get, like a haircut; it is something you cultivate, like stronger biceps. It is an ongoing process, especially for those of us who have High Functioning Anxiety.

At the root of high functioning anxiety is the belief that you are broken and unworthy, and so when you feel anxiety, you want to run away from yourself as quickly as possible in the hope of feeling better. You look outside of yourself to guru’s, family, culture, friends, and other resources to know the right way to move forward. This constant turning away from ourselves to look for the answer perpetuates the message that we can’t trust ourselves.

For example, what is happening in the larger world. I see the need and feel the call to make systemic change when it comes to race relations in this country. And that feels HUGE and scary. My Monger comes in to say: “What if you do it wrong? What if you offend more people?? What if you are a racist?!”

If I don’t have self-loyalty, I might get stuck there spinning on about what to do but not ever taking action. Or I might start reading a bunch of books, listening to podcasts, and soaking myself in knowledge, so I can ensure that I don’t make a mistake. This option also leaves me in the inaction camp.

But what if I practice self-loyalty? This means I know I will do it wrong, I know I will say it wrong, I know I have a lot to learn AND inaction is not an option. So I practice being kind to myself, reminding myself that I will mess up and that is not the end of the world. Being perfect is not the goal. The goal is engaging with the world, making changes where necessary, and doing it better.

I look inward, seeing where my biases show up (whether about race, social class, gender, or sexual orientation).

I read and listen to books and resources and question them instead of just assuming the writer/speaker knows the absolute right way.

I engage in conversations with friends and family about this topic.

I listen, learn, make corrections.

New on The Happier Approach podcast

All this month on the podcast, we are talking about what keeps you stuck and how self-care (and lack thereof!) is one of those things. Those of us with High Functioning Anxiety really struggle with self-care, or at least the real soul-nourishing, true downtime, really-giving-back-to-ourselves kind of self-care. So my guest this week is Mara Glatzel, an intuitive coach, writer, and podcast host who helps perfectionists and people pleasers reclaim their sovereignty. Listen to the full episode here to hear how self-accountability is an act of self-love and learn how to prioritize yourself when you have overly prioritized others.