Emotional Work

Day 172 and 3 People

I recently heard in my therapy practice that there are three distinct people being juggled inside of you at any given moment. The person you want others to see you as. The person others see you as. And finally the person you actually are. The hope is that you find a way to be at peace with all three.

I am not at all congruent on this matter. I’m not even sure I can articulate the distance between who I am and external reality. In my head, I’m introverted, cerebral and not very interested in other people. In my head I prefer to keep to myself.

That doesn’t match at all with the person who others see as cultivating and thriving on attention. The person who enjoys spending hours on social media doesn’t seem introverted. I think that’s the person others see me as. They see me as an extrovert who intuitively gets attention.

And that sure as shit doesn’t match the person that is smart, hard working and well connected. Thats the person I want to be seen as. That’s the “brand” I think I should have to be respectable in the eyes of others. I want to be seen as the person you turn to who can help you solve a problem. I want to be seen as the person you turn to if you need an introduction. And then I want the people I send introductions to to trust that I will only send them the best people.

Of course, the truth of the matter is I am all these people. I am an introverted cerebral person that likes to spend time alone with her thoughts. I am also the person who thrives on attention and knows how to cultivate it. And I am a hard working person who you can count on to make good introductions and steward your social capital well.

So next time you get worried that the world thinks you are someone completely different from who you see yourself as just remember you are 3 people. You are different. You are the person you want others to see you as. You are the person others see you as. And finally you are also the person you actually are. It’s all you. And it’s wonderful.

Emotional Work

Day 148 and Ted Lasso

As I’ve written about before, I like shibboleths and secret codes. And Ted Lasso is my go to show for the language of emotional empathy.

It’s touched a nerve for a certain corner of the internet. The folks yearning for positivity. It shouldn’t have worked. And yet the show’s curiosity opens up your heart. It was a tonic for a tough year. So much of its magic is about learning to accept others as they are and love yourself for you.

Jamie Tartt: “Coach, I’m me. Why would I want to be anything else?”
Ted Lasso: “I’m not sure you realize how psychologically that is

I’ve written about the concept of psychological safety in building partnerships, most recently in venture capital. If you have a desire to improve your bonds with others try Ted Lasso. It will teach you much about feelings you never knew you had.

Whenever someone special is going through something in their life or if I just really love them I’ll rewatch Ted Lasso. I’m having an afternoon off and doing just that.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 147 and Over My Skis

For a Colorado native (let’s ignore that I was born in Silicon Valley) a number of our most cherished pastimes are kinda “meh” for me. Skiing is a sport that I can take or leave. That apres ski life is much more appealing than cutting it up on the slopes. But one key metaphor from ski culture gets used lot. “I’m over my skis.”

To be over one’s skis is to risk crashing. Being over ones skis happens out of enthusiasm. An inexperienced or unfocused skier lets their center of gravity tilt forward over their knees. Best case scenario, you are simply going too fast and you better “pizza” your skis to slow down. It’s a endearing but slightly awkward experience which is what makes the metaphor so appealing. It’s never a bad faith metaphor merely a goofy oops.

I got over my skis this week. I’ve been so excited for my workload (new investments, new startups to advise) and some new structures forming in my life ( is coming into focus) that I’m leaning in and finding myself going too fast. A friend of mine, who is my favorite person to “over do it” with, was on the phone with me a lot. I was excited to talk to her. But all this added up.

I realized oh shit I need to slow down. I haven’t crashed yet but I’m french frying. There is still time for me to “pizza” or in the immortal words of South Park’s ski instructor Thumper

If you french fry when you should pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time

I love french frying, the food, the ski position and the metaphor for speed. I want get over my skis. But if I don’t pizza “I’m going to have a bad time.” So with true Colorado wisdom it is time to kick back, get some THC and pizza. May this edition of Rocky Mountain wisdom aid you in finding balance on the slopes and off.

Emotional Work

Day 133 and Emotional Shibboleths

When I was a kid I was terrified of drinking. A family member went to daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and my reaction to it was “I hope I never become an addict because this seems like a huge time commitment.” Little did I know that it’s one of the best possible uses of one’s time! As a kid I had not yet been initiated into the secret code words of emotional work.

AA and Al-Anon are filled with shibboleths. So many phrases (don’t “should” on yourself) or or even a single word (triggered) that I heard in daily life turned out to be passwords for the initiates into emotional work.

It’s not just AA that uses a these types of passwords to show that you too have committed to to either program work or some other system of working on yourself. Inner child shows that you’ve done family systems or trauma work. Speaking of mindfulness generally means you have committed to a meditation practice.

Once you commit to therapy, performance coaching or program work (which isn’t just for alcoholics Al-Anon is for anyone) you will find yourself noticing the little hints that someone else is also on a path to working though their self limiting beliefs. Wait that was another shibboleth! Entire television shows like Bojack Horsemen and Ted Lasso light up the minds of folks on this path. My favorite quote from Ted Lasso is a classic framing of self love work

Coach, I’m me. Why would I want to be anything else?” Jaime

“I’m not sure you know how psychologically healthy that actually is”. Ted Lasso

If you ever find me using phrasing you don’t recognize it’s quite likely it’s because much to the chagrin of my teenage self I now know that this is the best possible use of an hour a day to work on oneself.


Day 131 and Doing Less with More

I’m a lot busier recently. Maybe it’s a function of the ebullience that is gripping a vaccinated America but I’m finding more obligations in my calendar than I can recall in years. It’s still not quite to the place I was when I was a full time founder but I’m noticing fewer long blocks of time to myself.

I benefit from unstructured unencumbered time at rest. It’s not that I need it to be alone time or quiet time as much I need full on rest. I thrive when I have no reason to get out of bed. I do best reading and synthesizing when my mind is free to wander without any obligation to anything but that space.

Even otherwise pleasurable but not explicitly rest activities like going for a hike or painting my toenails doesn’t register as rest to me I’ll feel a kind of indignation when I’ve had an otherwise amazing day (filled with leisure activities) but didn’t get enough rest. I’ll think “sure it was fun” but also “now I’m tired and that wasn’t restful at all” goes through my head. For me the most restorative thing is not to do anything at all.

In fact the further away my activity is from boundaries like being constructive the more constructive I am afterwards. I try not to set myself up with the expectation that I am rewarded by productivity when I am at rest. That would set in motion the same circle of doing activities and not feeling rested because it wasn’t explicitly rest. That would become a kind of self limiting belief that leads to workaholism which I’ve pledged to avoid.

I hope that as the enthusiasm of exciting work and better help take more of my time I don’t feel tempted to indulge in activities that don’t feel restorative to me. None of this year would have been worth it if I went back to old unfulfilling ways of living.


Day 130 and Smiling When Sad

If you asked me my dominant emotion when I was younger I probably should have said anger. I was a fired up young woman. But as the years have gone by and the social benefits of seeming happy have piled up I’m finding it easier to spend more energy on smiling. This isn’t the same thing as being happy.

We like when people are friendly (even if we actually prefer they be kind) and I seem to have bought into it as a moral virtue over the years. I thought it was a gender thing but now I’m much more convinced it’s part of a family trauma cycle set in motion by my father who is exceptionally good at being liked. Cue Bojack Horseman joke.

You inherit your parents’ trauma but will ever fully understand it. Haha the cop is a cat.

Naturally I rebelled against perception of happiness and likability thing with a lot of anger as teenager. Cue lots of screaming stuff like “why do you care more if other people like you more than family” and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what I repeat to my therapist now as an adult.

And because intergenerational trauma and family systems work actually isn’t bullshit I’m starting to realize I stopped being angry and started smiling at some point not because I’m happy but because it’s a learned behavior from my childhood. And the smiling is papering over a lot.

What used to be passion, intensity and anger is fermenting into sadness over the years. Not because I’m actually sad inherently but because it makes me sad to lie about how I feel all the time. But I’m not entirely comfortable expressing any emotion. So now I smile when I’m sad. I’ve absolutely smiled when crying from sadness and grief.

Thankfully I hasn’t yet started laughing and smiling when I’m angry, but I fear if I don’t resolve this pattern and move on it might not be far off. I’ve still got significant work to actually feel my emotions in any given moment. Anger feels like it’s too reactive. Sadness like it’s a sublimation of something else. And if I actually am happy then I need to feel that. But I can’t force it with a smile.

Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 129 and Worried About Wellness

Last week I felt like I was struggling to hold together level emotions and coherent thought. I had a lot of “feels” posts where I spent more time inspecting my interior world than I did analyzing exterior events.

When I feel energetic I can take in more information and engage in synthesis but when I’m feeling tired or otherwise am flaring from autoimmune condition I requires more mindfulness. This mindfulness lends itself to more of an inner focus. Often this brings me a sense of peace and emotional well being. Lately my case has been well controlled to the point of recovery, yet I haven’t felt as emotionally joyful about the development as I thought I would.

Then around Thursday or Friday of this week I found myself turning a bend. I was excited to think about very abstract ideas like the aesthetics of finance and how critical theory and how great works culture is colliding with Gen Z vibes.

I struggle with wanting to lean into enthusiasm though. Too many days in a row of exertion or excitement and I fear I’ll set myself back. That’s a kind of self limiting behavior that I hope I can let go. I want to feel confident in my energy but I do not want to turn myself back into workaholic habits either. This is a fear so persistent I’ve tagged eight posts in the last five months with the topic. So great is the fear that I felt some relief that I felt physically unwell today as I could blame my body instead of making the choice for myself if I wanted to be driven by energy and not recovery.

I can’t put off the mixed emotions on wellness and how I feel about working in the world. My capacity is nearly there. I’m taking on more and more. I have even plotted some of my next moves. But I’m feeling Augustine about the whole affair. Oh make well God but not quite yet!

Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 106 and Perceptual Drift

I often find it easier to talk about the darker parts of my journey from chronic disease once I’m already through the worst of it. If you are hearing about my long dark night of the soul it’s probably because I can see dawn breaking.

Maybe it’s because it’s hard to discuss the challenges when you are in the thick of them. Having any amount of perspective when life is at its worst is a skill reserved for religious scholars and internet advice gurus. The rest of us just try for hindsight being 20-20 at best. I admire the stoic philosopher types but I’m generally just happy to be able to survive rough days with a minimum of pain and angst.

It’s likely this tension between a better current reality and the heaviness of past challenges that made me so confused by the reaction when I posted about the envy I felt towards people who live healthy normal lives. A number of people checked in on me worried or concerned about how I was doing. I didn’t get it. I had just been discussing how well I’d been doing so why was everyone offering to pray me me?

I’d come to terms with some of the sadness and anger I’d felt during the worst days of my illness because I was doing well. I’d been posting about how excited I was that I felt great, had clean bloodwork, and was seeing better days. It was because I was doing so well I decided it was best to ruminate on the challenges I’d experienced. I was on the other side of it. Feeling well and energized meant I had the capacity to explore the dark places. When I’m actually in a dark places usually all I can do is survive the experience.

But I get that others didn’t see that now. They saw darkness and sadness and reach out to me with kindness. The love and support from people close to me and the messages and prayers from my internet friends all added up to me feeling like the good times will just keep getting better. If you are reading this I encourage you to share your journey. You just might get back the same love that I got. People are great that way.


Day 32 and Happiness

While yesterday was the recap of my month of long form writing. I don’t feel entirely done with the experience that is emerging from this practice. The benefits are both much more apparent (and subtle) than simply finishing what I set out to do. So to kick off month 2 and day 32 I want to share a little more about this emerging insight.

I’m just happier than when I started. I feel a sense of joy and playfulness that feels much closer to me than I thought possible. Especially in the shadow of the pandemic and political instability it feels a bit heretical to be rising up. And here I am finding childlike feelings of play in the midst of chaos. But the more I put out these feelings of happiness out into the world the more I get back from friends and family. Writing has turned into a virtuous cycle where I tap into the enchantment and wonder of my own mind. And as I share my feelings and ideas I get back comments, messages, and phone calls with people sharing their own process. It really feels wonderful. We are together making new things from our minds.

Giving each other permission to find joy and excitement in our pursuits seems crucial. If we don’t it’s all too easy to get sucked into the despair of the nothing. You may remember the nothing from childhood. It’s the growing horror that absorbs all creativity and joy in The Neverending Story.

With the narratives of despair (and the terrible realities on which they are based) can consume us like The Nothing. It’s goal was to consume the land of Fantastica. It’s power is disillusionment. And I very much wonder if this constant drumbeat of doom sends us to a similar place. Our very nature as humans who form communities, share insights, be creative, build new things together, all becomes subsumed by consuming horror after horror.

But the nothing was stopped in my life. Even a small gesture like a long form journal brings back the human spirit. We share it and others recognize it in themselves. We connect and share. And in doing so push back the encroachment of the nothing. It’s a battle we can easily win by doing something as simple as being happy sharing our thoughts with each other.