I just wrapped up a 2-day catering gig for a wonderful group of teachers from San Francisco. Every year, these teachers come up for a mini retreat on the farm to connect as a group and set intentions before the new school year begins. I was appointed the job of head nourisher, and as much as I am proud of the food I put out for these amazing humans to feast on, I am currently feeling totally wiped. Don’t get me wrong - some of it is good exhaustion from a job well done and a lot of effort put forth, but there’s something else in that equation that isn’t sitting well with me. It got me thinking about my values, and about how if we go too far out of the way to honor them, they either end up turning into our saboteurs (our negative self talk voices in our head) or stepping on other values just as important to us, throwing us off our balance equation, and leading to the infamous 'burn out' feeling.
Let me explain.
So because I have a value for authenticity and true food, I decided to pull out all the stops for this catering gig.. I am proud of the fact that I asked for a higher rate this year because I completely undervalued my work last year; but along with the increase in rate apparently came this unnecessary pressure (I put on myself mind you) to make sure that the meals were ‘worth it’ to my clients.
So I did it all.. I foraged for local plums to roast and blend into my garden tomato gazpacho. Picked pears from my neighbors tree, roasted them, and topped them on the homemade flatbreads. I grew two kinds of arugula & little gem lettuces and harvested them the morning of each lunch to have the freshest salads for my guests. Made my own preserved lemons and pickled nasturtium capers for the preserved lemon tahini sauce and nicoise salad. Harvested grapes from my clients field, roasted them, and turned them into a roasted grape vinaigrette. Used only the best carrots from our local farm for the raw carrot cake with cashew cream cheese frosting. Grew all my own herbs for the cashew green goddess dressing.
And the list goes on. And on..
At the end of the event, all the guests seemed super happy and engaged about the food, asking me a ton of questions and thanking me for my work. But the feeling I was left with was deep confusion and exhaustion - If I was fully honoring my value for authentic & true food, why do I not feel more fulfilled than I do now?
And then I realized, was it possible that I did too much?
So I ask again, at what point do our values become our saboteurs? At what point did authenticity get paired up with perfectionism and proving myself, that it began to step on my value for simplicity and not overdoing-it-ness? It got me thinking - when we go too far to honor our values, can it end up swinging in the opposite direction and throwing us off kilter? These are the sneakiest kind of saboteurs because they are conveniently disguised in our values' clothing, but in truth are really sabotaging our balance & fulfillment equation.
I also realized that so much of the pressure comes from that which we put on ourselves as entrepreneurs to make it and be liked and all the things, especially in that beginning business start up phase. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and are sensitive to feedback because it seems to feel like there are so many more ‘make or break’ moments in the beginning. We overdo it or sacrifice too much to prove to ourselves and to others that our business or our product or our services are worth it. It’s a slippery slope when ambition and passion are involved. Somewhere in the shuffle it can go too far. It can burn us out. We start questioning our own value. We get discouraged. And we end up doing the exact opposite of why we started a wellness business in the first place (maybe its just me).
I started this business because I wanted to help others take better care of themselves, and a lot of that is through leading by example, showing others how I got it so wrong in the past and what I did to correct that and go after a more balanced and fulfilling life. I think there’s something in opening up about my own story that helps others as well. And if you have gotten to know me at all, then I’m sure you know that I am not good and lying or bullshitting. So this post is all about taking a moment to reflect on catching when things go too far and how to get back on track. When one of our values starts to take too much of the spotlight, its time to get curious and ask why it’s getting so much face time. And then figure out what we need to do to get back to homeostasis (I have already booked a 90-minute massage with my favorite therapist, two acupuncture appointments & a haircut from my old stylist in NYC when I go for my pop up dinner in September!)
I learned that I went too far not because of the expectations of others, but rather the own unreasonable expectations I put on myself to ‘do good work.’ It reminds me of a time during one of my coaches trainings when I was struggling with an exercise. During one of the breaks, I went up to the facilitator all teary eyed and said to him, “I’m having a lot of trouble with this exercise. I just want to be a good coach, you know?” (Clearly my perfectionist saboteur was loud and proud that day!). The facilitator looked me dead in the eye and replied, “Yes, but what is good?” Boom…. Shit, what is good? Does good mean not fucking up? Does good mean sacrificing our balance just to prove our success and our worth? Does good mean always being liked by others?
I have thought about this question a lot since then, and my definition of ‘good’ has shifted quite a bit. Good means trying my best. Good is honoring what’s important to me but also allowing myself to see things from different perspectives. Good is feeling all the feelings and being less apologetic about feeling them. Good means allowing myself to fuck up and not be attached to the outcomes. Good is just another word, but it has ruled waaayy too much of my past chapters in life.
So when I catch myself living by these old beliefs, I have to stop, notice them, and find a way to shift. We often create this image of folks in the wellness world that they never make mistakes and always know how to handle situations. It just isn’t true. Being a coach and an Ayurvedic counselor doesn’t mean that I don't have self limiting beliefs that creep in from time to time. They are still there and I am working through them. The biggest difference now is that I am catching myself quicker once I shift into that land of old beliefs, and trying to be kinder to myself when I catch myself there (because beating myself up about it would defeat the whole darn purpose).
Here’s my quick equation if you want to shift out of any old behaviors or beliefs about yourself:
First step - awareness. figure out what old pattern or old belief is holding you back or making you feel icky right now.
Second step - congratulate yourself on having this awareness instead of beating yourself up about it.
Third step - create a new practice based on a new belief that honors the empowered best version of YOU. For me, I am inventing an imaginary crew member in my tribe who will be called the mediator (alongside the fuck-it sisters, inspector gadget, and my captain- if you’re curious about this, please PM me about my coaching work or see more info here). She will let me know when one of my values has gone too far and is stepping on the others. She's the one who will keep me in check when I want to make that extra unnecessary dish or sauce on my menu that is uncalled for.
I’m curious - what's one of your most important values? And what happens when you go out of your way too much to honor it? What do you end up sacrificing? What other value does it step on? And what does a more balanced perspective open up for you moving forward? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Sending love and good juju