The clock read 7 p.m. on a typical Friday evening, and I found myself among the few souls who lingered in the dimly lit office. I got this job at a creative agency just a year ago and I really wanted to make an impression. With a final click, the last email was sent, and my Mac declared the end of a long week,
"Your Mac is shutting down."
Just a quick run to the bathroom before leaving… And that's when it happened – a peculiar moment in an otherwise unremarkable Friday.
1. An Honest Look in the Mirror
For the first time in months, I took a good, hard look at myself in the mirror. Now, don't get me wrong, I would glance at my reflection daily while tackling my morning routine.
But tonight, I decided to pause, to truly SEE myself.
I gazed upon my face - the weary eyes tinged with red, beneath them, a touch of puffiness. My skin had lost its natural glow, as it has not seen much sunlight lately. Without being too critical, I acknowledged a few extra pounds that had nested around my hips. Blame it on the long hours spent tethered to my desk!
2. Observe the Body without Judgement
This reconnection with myself has caught me by surprise. I slowed down and peered out of the office window. It was already pitch-dark, and Berlin was buzzing. So was my monkey mind.
To quiet that inner chaos, I began to focus on my body.
The tension in my shoulders and neck was noticeable. I gently rotated my head and indulged in a good back stretch. A pulsing vein just above my eyebrow reminded me that stress had made itself at home.
In my mental journey southward, I checked in with the rest of my body. My hands felt fine, but my left foot was subtly numb. It turns out, as per usual I'd been sitting on it all day without realising it.
A few deep breaths helped me release the tension. The evening breeze flowing through the window was also a welcome ally.
3. Trust what Others See
Out of the blue, in this moment of calm, my friend's voice resurfaced in my thoughts.
“You look a bit pale today… …Are you sleeping enough? …Did you forget to eat to lunch again? …Will you miss another party due to exhaustion? …You used to take more breaks when you were a smoker!…”
All those well-intentioned hints from the people around me about my wellbeing that I had brushed aside. But I had been incredibly busy lately - no time to slow down. And I was just a regular employee, right?
For a moment, I pondered how my boss coped with stress?!
Getting Ready for Honesty
My path to healing began when I embraced radical honesty with myself. It was the moment I decided that I owed it to me. It took some practice to make it a daily habit to check-in with myself:
"Are you doing this to please others or to please yourself?"
I don´t quite get it why we'd collectively construct social norms and work cultures that disregard our wellbeing. Moreover, that shame us for expressing our needs openly. Shouldn't it be considered brave to know how we thrive individually in order to bring our best selves to work?
People-pleasing hardly ever leads to wellbeing. But once we embrace radical honesty, we can make the changes that makes others notice instead:
“What makes you glow so?”