Guest post by Michelle Keinan
Let’s admit it – it feels really good to have your shit together.
That feeling of checking things off of your to-do list, looking cute on social media, being a go-getter. It’s just so… validating. Like – you’re worthy, you’re amazing, look at how well you’re handling everything. It’s proof that you are awesome.
Unless it’s not real.
These days it’s so easy to put on display that you have everything under control and make it look easy and impressive to others online. It’s so easy that there is even a genre of sharing that’s all about how “hard” it is – but even those photos are somehow perfect in their disarray, with self-righteous captions that still say “I’ve got this!” and leave the reader (ahem…all of us) feeling like we can’t even get our messes to be good enough.
It all just makes me tired.
Honestly, all of this women’s empowerment language and energy and all we’re getting from it is a push that we CAN do it all, that we’re good enough, that we’re capable… but what happens when it doesn’t feel good anymore? What happens when success and being on top of your game feels more draining than exciting – and it stops being worth it?
I hit that wall when I was a few months postpartum and dealing with PPDA about a year ago. Being self-employed and a co-founder of my own business, I thought I had set myself up perfectly for my maternity leave. I organized everything, I created systems to keep my business going, I had it all mapped out – I knew how to keep my life in order and thought I could handle adding a baby to the mix and just keep on going.
I was so, so wrong.
Because all it took to continue being successful and moving forward was to just push harder – but somehow, I lost the will and the desire I had in me to make it happen. The “wins” stopped feeling good like they used to. And as impressive as they seemed to others, they didn’t fulfill me anymore.
In fact, I started to realize everything I was losing when I was focused on winning. Peace of mind. Ease. Quiet. Connection. And most of all – the opportunity for others to step up and support me, so that I didn’t have to handle everything by myself. It took my own personal crisis to make big changes in how I live my life and run my business – namely, shifting my priorities so that I can learn how to be successful in a way that doesn’t disconnect me from my husband and his love, and his real desire to support me and our family. Something I was taking away from him when I preemptively did everything myself, micromanaged his involvement or criticized him for not doing it the way I would do it myself.
But now we all have a crisis that we’re dealing with. On top of all the stress of keeping everything under control and running smoothly, we have a global pandemic breathing down our necks, we’re trapped in our homes, our outside support systems have vanished, our children have no distractions or outlets other than needing us 24/7 and frankly it’s making us all confront something scary that all of us type-A go getters never, ever wanted to admit to ourselves:
NOTHING IS EVER UNDER CONTROL.
In fact, we’ve been deluding ourselves this whole time, giving ourselves a false sense of security with every accomplishment.
And now that we’re all facing the same enemy, can we all just drop the act? Please?
Here, I’ll go first so that you feel ok letting go too.
I don’t want to be in control all the time. I don’t want to be put together and on top of my shit.
While the thrill of the achievement feels good in the moment, all of the effort and the hustle behind it just wears me out. Being successful isn’t worth it if I don’t feel good, if I’m distant from my husband, if I’m feeling stressed to fit everything in and I have no time for myself. As someone who coaches and leads groups of women I can tell you that high achieving women like us, are not alone in feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated.
So what can we all do to redefine what “success” looks and feels like for us now that posting those perfect moments on Instagram feels like yet another to-do while we’re all just trying to survive out here?
Hmmm – well, for me, it feels like being loved and taken care of. It feels like people thinking of me, reaching out to connect with me, showing up and offering to support me and be there for me.
It’s not about a false sense of security that I’ll never fall apart – it’s about feeling grounded in the reality that even when everything falls apart, it’s going to be ok because I am connected to my community, to what I love and most importantly to my family, especially my husband.
When I’m in “success” mode or “winning” mode, I lose my softness and I lose my heart. It becomes about conquering and achieving and pushing so hard it leaves me spent at the end of every day, with barely enough time for the most nourishing and valuable things in life.
I don’t want that anymore. That’s not how I want to show up for my husband – robbing him of the opportunity to show up for me because I’m too busy and focused on getting shit done for myself and my agenda of what life is supposed to look like.
The connection and polarity my husband and I have – especially when we both get to operate in our zones of genius – is the beating heart of our family. The health of our connection contributes to the health of our family – and to the success of our business as well.
What do I mean by polarity? MEN AND WOMEN AREN’T THE SAME AND THAT’S OKAY. We all have different strengths and this time requires both masculine energy (strong container, get it done, be the rock, maintain structures ) and feminine energy (feel all the feelings, be creative and envision the future, inspire possibility, open up to love,). It’s all a spectrum, so some women have plenty of masculine energy and some men have copious amounts of feminine energy – that is great, and it’s also okay to re-access for yourself what kind of energy you want to lean into at this time. You’ll know it’s right when it feels good for you.
My husband and I are lucky in that we have been cohabiting for 7 years, co-founders for 5 years, and this last year and a half we have been co-parents – we’re used to doing almost everything together and this quarantine lifestyle almost feels like the norm.
Here are the most impactful behavioral shifts that I made that changed my marriage for the better in ways that I couldn’t even imagine:
- Your relationship isn’t a competition, so don’t focus on winning or keeping score. If you don’t think things are equal, you need to take a look at where you’re responsible for overextending yourself – rather than creating a standard and then expecting your husband to do as much as you do or pick up the pieces that you don’t want to handle. Men and women are different, and how we handle our shit is different and how we get things done is different and that is ok! Can you let go of the “supposed to” and stop holding your husband – and yourSELF – up to the perfection standard? If you do, you might notice that your husband will want to be closer to you and show up for you in new ways – even if your to-do list isn’t completed and your house doesn’t look ready for guests to pop over (hey, no one’s coming over for a while anyway!).
- Lavish your husband in praise and appreciation. Yes, I’m serious. When my husband supports me, surprises me, does something around the house that needs doing, or does something I like, you better believe I shower him with appreciation and make him feel really good about it. Why wouldn’t I? I have an attitude of gratitude when it comes to my husband, and I choose to focus on his positives – which naturally creates a cycle of more goodness between us. He’s inspired and his tank is full, I’m grateful because my man is always showing up. And when there is a problem, my husband really hears me out because I’m not constantly complaining about him or being passive aggressive about little things I don’t like. Men love to provide for their partners, so do everyone a favor and notice the ways that your husband is stepping up for you and appreciate the f*ck about him when he does – and he’ll make making you happy his priority
- Be curious and be generous in giving the benefit of the doubt. Consider this: what if everything your husband does – even the stuff that bothers you or pisses you off – actually has a positive intention behind it? Open your mind and stop seeing your husband as a problem – he might be the greatest gift in your life. And if you can start to see your husband as strong, capable and great, you might actually create the space for him to show up for you more than ever before!
It boils down to a question I ask myself every day:
Would I rather be right or be in love?
I choose love. How about you?
Michelle Keinan is a successful Wellness Multi-preneur, Speaker, Community Builder and Expert in Wellbeing through Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Intentional Communication & Somatic Therapy. As an Activist and Media Personality advocating for healthier emotional dynamics for women in business and at home, Michelle’s expertise has been featured on Thrive Global, Business Insider, Nasdaq’s On Deck, ABC News and more. As a podcaster Michelle has interviewed acclaimed feminine visionaries such as Tasha Blank, Dominique Echeverria and Miki Agrawal. Michelle is a certified Somatic Practitioner of the Grinberg Method as well as Pantarei Approach, and an NLP Coach. Her mission to change the possibility paradigm for other healers led to Michelle and her husband Dan co-founding City Wellness Collective— empowering a private community of highly-vetted healers to change the world. Michelle has spoken at Tech Open Air, The New York Open Center and Sustainable Success. A graduate of RISD, Michelle started her career with 10+ years in marketing, leading teams for multi-national brands such as Kiehls (L’Oreal), NBC, National Geographic, Ray Ban, Motorola, MTV and more.