Many driven people possess an amazing ability to “play through the pain”. Whether it’s an athlete who straps on a bandage and mentally blocks out her injury to win a trophy, or a consummate professional who pushes aside tears as she misses her niece’s birthday party due to a work-related emergency, I have found that many top-performers possess an uncanny ability to “white knuckle” their way through obstacles.
While this is admirable to a certain extent, the danger is that these people often get so good at pushing aside their feelings that they actually forget those feelings exist. This leads to feelings of burnout, and leaves them prone to mental or physical injuries. The key is to take time before and/or after stressful events to consider the emotional toll they have on you.
I actually address this in my book, Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety in a technique called “To-Do List with Emotions”. Basically, you spend a moment thinking about what you’re doing to work towards your goals. Notice what emotion arises for you around this activity, and then create a self-care plan to address it.
In the examples above, the self-care plans could be booking a massage and taking a week off from the gym; or planning a “just us girls day” with your niece to catch up. The point is to make sure you don’t get so focused on your goal that you forget to honor and care for the super-human side of yourself that overcame temporary obstacles.