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Don’t SHOULD on Yourself

Published on May 11, 2020

How are you holding up?

I’ve been thinking about the extraordinary times we’re living in. This health crisis is affecting every human on the planet in some way; still, we are each experiencing Covid-19 very differently. Some of us are sheltering alone while others are surrounded by family and pets. Some of us have lost loved ones while others don’t know anyone who’s had the virus. Some of us are in stable jobs while others have been furloughed. Some of us are tackling long-overdue home projects and to-do lists while others are overwhelmed with homeschooling children or caring for relatives while working full-time. 

I am among the lucky ones. I am hunkering down with my husband in sunny Sarasota, Florida—although I look forward to seeing our grown daughters when we return to Chicago later this month. I have a coaching and writing career that lends itself to working remotely. And while our extended family includes four 80-somethings, so far everyone is healthy and safe.

I am so thankful for the courage and sacrifice of our frontline workers who are enabling us to stay safely at home—from doctors to janitors, grocery baggers to mail carriers. I also appreciate the countless people keeping us healthy, entertained, and connected—like the many fitness trainers, coaches, and other experts hosting free video sessions.

Despite my good fortune, every day seems to bring a range of emotions. One day (or minute!) I may feel productive or bored, anxious or hopeful, joyful or listless. I often find myself judging my own feelings. Like: How dare I feel happy when others are suffering? Or: How dare I complain when others have it so much worse? 

How about you? What are you feeling? Are you denying any of these feelings because you don’t believe you should be having them? As we say in coaching, don’t SHOULD on yourself! The truth is: You have a right to every one of your feelings. Emotions are not good or bad. They simply are. So how can you let go of judgment and lean into acceptance?

YOUR TURN:Here’s my challenge to you (one I continue to practice)… Notice and name each feeling as it shows up, then take 3 deep breaths while saying to yourself: “Whatever I’m feeling right now is OK.” Let me know how it goes.

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Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Empowerment Coach

I’m Hélène, the Midlife Empowerment Coach. I help women who are struggling in midlife—who wonder if their best years are behind them and what’s next for them. I show them how to put themselves first, reclaim their identity, figure out what’s next, and feel excited about their future.

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