When life is hard, one of the last things that you want to do is show up for it. And yet, life still goes on and we have responsibilities, and we have goals and dreams that we envision for ourselves. And so, showing up is important. But how do you do it when life is hard? Well, that’s what this episode is all about. So, let’s dive in.
Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.
Hello, my gorgeous friends. Do you know that one of my favorite things to do every single week is sit down and record this podcast? It is very rare that I have a week where I’m like, “Oh, I’ve got to get this podcast done.” It happens occasionally. But for the most part, I am always excited.
And I was thinking about why that is. And what I’ve found in my mind is that I have thoughts like, “This is a way for me to connect with many people. This is a way for me to hopefully add a little sparkle to your day. This is a way for me to share with you what’s worked in my life and what hasn’t worked.” And it’s a great honor for me to be able to share these things with you.
I had a completely different episode planned for today, but I just wasn’t feeling it. You all know what that’s like, right? Like, you just tap into the energy of what’s going on, how you’re feeling, and you’re like, “Nope, that’s not the podcast for this week.”
Just when I thought that we were having a moment where the collective nervous system could calm down, we now are facing new things to worry about. And I’ve been receiving many messages from clients and family and friends about, “How do I deal with this? I’m freaking out. I’m scared.”
Or I even have friends who are in the region of conflict right now, or they have family there and they are feeling all of the things. And rightfully so. And so, since I’ve bene getting a lot of questions and requests, I have decided to open up one of my most popular five-day workshops that I’ve ever done. It’s called A Week of Calm.
You can go to weekofcalm.com and I created this when COVID first started. Y’all remember that. I think it was March of 2020. And everyone was freaking out. No one knew what this virus did. No one knew how to deal with it. There was this panic globally about COVID 19. And so, I decided to do this five-day workshop to help those who wanted to show up differently in the chaos.
And I believe that no matter what’s happening in the world – we have more of the global meta things to worry about, but even in our day-to-day lives. Some of you may have lost a job. Some of you may be going through a divorce. Some of you may be sick or you’re dealing with someone and caring for someone who is sick.
Listen, y’all, I believe in the law of attraction. I believe in the energy and the magnetism of our emotions. But I don’t use that as a reason to escape the realities of life for every single human being. Part of it is hard and awful and sad and there’s also the part that’s beautiful and joyful and amazing.
And I always want to – whenever I am talking with you or working with my clients – to honor both. And when you are in those chaotic hard times, I want to provide you the tools to help you navigate them. And that is why I highly suggest, if you are in a state right now – that’s what I call it, you’re in a state – a state that you want to figure out how to handle in a way that serves you, go check out weekofcalm.com and take part in this five-day workshop.
It is by far one of the favorite things I’ve ever put out into the world because it was our lifeline for many of us during the pandemic. So, I hope you enjoy it. and this is my gift to you.
Today’s podcast – this might be hard for me to actually record, you guys. I’m going to keep going. The show must go on.
So, my project manager and her husband, who does our web design – he creates a lot of the magic behind the scenes – they moved to the States in December of 2021. So, just a few months ago. And they moved from the Ukraine.
All of their family is still there, and they are in the middle of this war that is happening. And this week, I can’t imagine being in their shoes. They know I love them, and I appreciate them so much. But this week, they have shown up even when it’s hard.
I can’t imagine having left my family and then a war comes along, and they’re stuck there, and I can’t get to them, I can’t help them, I can’t do anything really for them. And that is the situation that they’re in. And yet, this entire week, they’ve been on the meetings. They have done the work. And they have showed up even when it’s hard.
And I’ve seen Anna’s face and I can tell that she’s not well. She’s probably not sleeping very well. She’s worried. You can tell, she’s in fight or flight, and yet, she’s still showing up when it’s really hard.
And it was offered to her that she doesn’t need to work right now, like, take time off. But she chose to keep working. And I get it. I know when I’ve been in hard situations, sometimes having something to focus on instead of what you’re worrying about is a little bit of relief.
But as I was saying earlier, I know that some of you listening right now, you’re in a hard time. And maybe just dealing with the past two years, you’re like, “I have had enough. I just want a break.”
And yet, the world keep happening and doing what the world does. And so, I wanted to dedicate this podcast to all of you amazing men and women – because we have men that listen to this podcast, which I think is really cool.
But I want to dedicate it to you all who are in the hard right now. And I want to share with you how I deal with showing up when it’s hard.
The first thing I want to share with you is around worry. Because a lot of times, I have found that hard and worry coincide. They usually come in a package. And so, I’ve shared this on a previous podcast. But I want to briefly share it again here because it’s been really helpful for me.
When life is feeling hard and I’m full of worry, I like to do a list. And I write down everything that I’m worried about, everything that I think could happen in the world, could happen to my family, could happen in my business, could happen to my friends. I just write it all down.
And then, I create two lists. One is my list, and the other one, I put as God’s list. And I start to separate things out.
So, the way I do this is I look at my list and everything that I have absolutely no control over, I put on God’s list. And I have a conversation with the universe, like, “Hey, listen, this is bigger than me. I’m going to let you handle this one. You’ve got this.”
I love that I actually cheer the universe on when the universe has always had it, right? But I just give that to God, the universe. And then, everything else goes on my list. And that’s what I focus on. I focus on what I have control over.
I remember doing this during the pandemic. I couldn’t control the virus. I mean, I had some influence like wearing my mask and, you know, not being around people. That was in my control, yes, 100%. But on a global level, we didn’t know how this virus is going to operate.
And so, at the end of the day, I didn’t have control over COVID 19. And so, I wrote down, “We may all die. I may get sic. My business is going to crumble.” Like, all of the things that I know we all were thinking during COVID, that was probably what I was worried about too in the beginning. Until I did the Week of Calm, tat totally shifted me, truly.
But in the beginning, I was freaking out. And then, I wrote down what I had control over; taking care of my health, wearing my mask, doing all the things that we were told to do in the beginning to take care of ourselves and protect our neighbors. I did all of those things. And that’s all I had control over. And that’s what I focused on.
So, write down your list and separate it out. Give what you can’t control over to God, the universe, whatever you call a higher power. And then, you take care of the rest. So, that’s number one.
Number two – and this has been really helpful for me. The other thing that has been really helpful for me is to honor how I’m feeling. I feel like a lot of our suffering – in fact, most of our suffering – is because we don’t allow ourselves to be human and to feel all of the human emotions.
So, when we start to feel sad or angry or whatever those emotions are, we want to instantly change it. Especially people that don’t know the law of attraction really well and you’re afraid of attracting bad things into your life. You’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to feel better right now.” That or you beat yourself up.
You beat yourself up because you are being a human, is what I like to say. So, for me, it’s been so helpful just to be like, “Yeah, babe, you’re anxious today. You’re sad today. You’re worried right now. That’s okay, I’ve got you.” And that energy just lightens the mood a little bit.
Because what I used to do was feel anxious, sad, or worried and beat myself up for it and feel even worse. So, allow yourself to be where you are. In fact, this whole month within the School of Self-Image is exactly what we are talking about; emotional mastery.
And as I told the women within the membership, I’m like, “The first step is you have to feel and honor where you are right now in order to change it.” But a lot of you are trying to change it without being where you are right now. And it’s impossible.
It’s like me being here in Denver and trying to get to California but not wanting to admit I’m in Denver. I don’t know if that was a good analogy, but it’s what I’ve got right now. But honoring where you are, I think, is the way to show up when it’s hard. And here’s why.
When you finally accept that you are in a hard place feeling the hard things, you don’t use all of your energy fighting with where you are. And trust me, that takes a lot of energy to suppress and deny and try to pretend.
Instead, it’s like, “Okay, I’m anxious today, and I’m going to get some work done. Okay, I’m feeling really sad today and I’m still going to show up and get some work done. Or I’m going to show up for my family,” whatever it is that you’re wanting to show up for.
So, allow yourself and honor where you are right now. And then, that leads me to the next thing. I have found that it’s really helpful when I’m in acute phases. Like, when I am so deep in just really uncomfortable and painful emotions – and I’m talking about sadness, grief, that kins of energy – to allow myself to do the bare minimum.
I experienced this when my daughter was sick. And I still showed up. But I gave myself grace and I’m like, “Okay, you’ve got some things to do. Whatever you can take off your plate right now, do. Get it off your plate and do the bare minimum.
Because here’s the thing. We want to honor where you are, but we also want to keep your momentum moving. I know what it’s like to be in a hard place and then you just stop. And as you stop, you just – I don’t want to say indulge, but you just ruminate in that energy. And then, things begin to pile up around you.
Maybe you’re overeating. Maybe you’re doing things that don’t serve you. And then, you’ve added layers upon layers of hardness on top of the already hard thing. And so, how can you keep the momentum going, show up, and still get some things done and also, at the same time, give yourself grace?
And for me, that’s allowing myself to do the bare minimum. Like, “Today, I’m going to go work out for 10 minutes, or I’m going to write one page.” For those of you who work for someone else, look at how can you do the bare minimum outside of work, so that you can still keep things moving a little bit, but you’re not moving so fast that you’re exhausting yourself and there’s no space for healing and there’s no space for processing.
The other thing is to allow yourself to do mediocre work. And this is really hard for us perfectionists. But when it’s hard, what we often want to do, especially again for perfectionists, is we want to do nothing at all. We want to wait until we feel amazing, or we want to wait until we think it’s perfect in order to do the thing, or to put the thing out into the world.
And I really believe, you all, that the secret to my success, other than expanding my self-image, is my willingness to do mediocre work when it’s hard. And I honestly remember putting some things out in the world four years ago that wasn’t my best work. Even two years ago, it wasn’t my best work.
But I still showed up and I still did the best I could, and I allowed it to be mediocre, knowing that the momentum would keep me moving. And not only that, I would learn so much about what I want to do different next time.
And so, allow yourself to do mediocre work, especially when it’s hard. The other little hack that I have for showing up when it’s hard is to do the opposite of what your mood tells you to do.
Oftentimes, our moods want to feed themselves. Sad moods want to feed themselves with sad music, sad thoughts, sad clothing, sad, sad, sad, sad. Now, I will add this in there. There is a moment for that. Especially if you haven’t allowed yourself to feel for a long time. You need to get that sadness out. You need to put on the sad music, and you need to cry.
But a lot of times, what happens is that we indulge in these moods, and we stay there, and we constantly live a life based on our mood, not our desires. And so, when my mood tells me to procrastinate, I get to work.
When my mood tells me sometimes, “You need to go work,” and it’s always when – I wish you could see my hands right now, the way I’m doing them. But sometimes my mood’s like, “You need to go work harder.” And that’s coming from fear, or it’s coming from me wanting to avoid something else in my life. That’s usually when I’ll go rest.
When my mood tells me to go eat, that’s when I check in with my body and I’m like, “hey, are you really hungry?” And usually, the answer is no, when the mood’s telling me to eat.
And so, just doing the opposite of what my mood tells me to do is another way to show up even when it’s hard, in service of who I want to be and in service of the vision that I have for my life, my company, and myself.
The other thing that I suggest – and we talk about this in the Week of Calm. I think it’s on the final day. But it’s important that you have a goal when things are hard. Because what happens is, if you don’t have a focus when you wake up in the morning and your brain is left to do its mental gymnastics, that it’s not a good performance, you can just spin in an energy that doesn’t serve you.
And sometimes, the goal can be so tiny for that day. But it gives you a focus of where to focus your energy and to, again, keep things moving in a direction that serves you. So, I think that’s super important. And again, we go through this in the Week of Calm. So, I’m not going to go too far into detail on that, but again, go to weekofcalm.com and you can access the program. So, have a goal.
Now, I want to talk more about self-care when things are hard and how to show up. The first thing I’ve noticed when things are hard, what my mood tells me to do is to stay inside and to worry and panic and feel bad.
So, I like to get outside. I like to get outside every day anyway because I feel like we all need more vitamin D. But being outside and being in the sun and being in the fresh air is a way to get your energy moving and to shift your mood a little bit.
The other thing that I suggest is to get into good company. Put yourself around those people who uplift you, that you can talk with, that help you see the world maybe in a different perspective than what you’re seeing right now that makes it feel so hard. I think that’s super important.
Eating well. It’s crazy that when it’s hard is when we often want to choose foods that make it hard on our bodies. And this is why, when it’s hard and you’re having a hard time showing up, it is so critical that you take care of yourself; more critical than ever.
So, this is a time when I want you to really think about nourishing yourself well with delicious foods that work for your body. The other thing is to move. This is all about movement. And you don’t have to move as fast as maybe you would when life doesn’t feel so hard.
But we want you to keep moving because, when you stop moving, that inertia is often what takes us down and spirals us out of control. And so, move. And maybe you go to the bare minimum, as I was saying earlier. Maybe the bare minimum for you today is, “I’m going to walk for 10 minutes. Or I’m going to stretch for 20 minutes.” But make sure you’re moving your body every single day.
And then, you know I couldn’t have this podcast and not talk about one of my favorite topics, which is style. What does style have to do with showing up when it’s hard? Get dressed.
Again, remember when I said moods love to feed on themselves? So, a bad mood will tell you to go put on your sweats and eat Cheetos. That’s what my bad moods used to tell me to do. They still try to temp me every once in a while.
But getting dressed is a sign to the universe that you’re showing up. And more importantly, it’s a sign to yourself that you are showing up. It’s just like that act alone tells my brain, “Let’s go.”
And again, this might be where you go to the bare minimum. Maybe you don’t get dressed to the nines and do a full face of makeup. Maybe you’re like, “Okay, I’m just going to put on a dress because this makes me feel a little bit better, but I’m not going to do my hair and makeup today, and that’s okay.”
We have to give ourselves grace as well. It’s really a dance between honoring where you are as well as honoring where you want to go, honoring your goals, honoring your vision. And sometimes in life, we’re moving quickly in that direction and we’re feeling great, and life doesn’t feel hard.
And at other times, things happen, and we have a lot of thoughts about them that weigh us down and life becomes hard for us. And that is just the reality of being a human being. And so, honor that. And also, honor where you are and honor where you’re going. And honor the pace that you need to go at.
Finally – and this is more of a broad question that I ask myself when life is hard, when it feels hard. And the question is, who do I want to be in this? Who do I want to be in this hardness? Who do I want to be in this life?
No matter what is happening in the world, you get to decide who you want to be in that. Oftentimes, when hard things happen, we revert back to past patterns of how we dealt with hard. And maybe that hasn’t served you. I know it didn’t for me because I would freak out. I would panic. I would worry endlessly for days, weeks, years.
And then, I realized, “Oh, wait, I can actually show up in this hard in a new way.” And this question has guided me in purposefully living in the hard. When we’ve had hard things happen in the company, I’ve asked myself, “Who do you want to be in this?” Because I am starting to deal with ageing parents, I’m asking myself, “Who do I want to be in this?”
When I went through my divorce, when my daughter was sick, when I injured my back, I asked myself, “Who do I want to be in this?” And my answers have ranged from loving to strong to supportive to assertive.
But asking that question has allowed me to show up in the hard in a very intentional way that has helped me navigate it in a way that serves me. And on the other end of it, helped me to learn and to grow and oftentimes to create results that I would have never been able to create had I just allowed my past self to take over and behave the way that she was used to behaving.
Even during this world crisis that we’re facing, I’m asking myself, who do I want to be? Who do I want to be for you all? Who do I want to be for my family? Who do I want to be for my team? And I’m allowing that answer to guide how I show up in the hard times, in the hard things.
During COVID, I asked myself, “Who do I want to be right now?” And the first answer that came to my mind was, “I want to be calm.” And that is exactly why I created Week of Calm.
So, again, if you are going through a hard time and you’re feeling a lot of anxiety, a lot of worry, a lot of uncertainty, go sign up for this free five-day workshop at www.weekofcalm.com.
Do we say, “WWW,” anymore? I feel like that was so 2000. Anywho, get in that workshop. You will find that will help calm your nervous system down and it will give you the tools to show up even when it’s hard. I love you all and I will see you in next week’s episode.
Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to schoolofselfimage.com/manifesto and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.