Beat the February Blues With Unabashed Vulnerability

February. In Canada, it’s a blah month known for it’s short days, cold weather, and depression-inducing monotony. This year, the February blues will be served with a side of never-ending-pandemic and layer upon layer of stressors: business pivots, health scares, unreliable child care, and even more unpredictable workforces and supply chains. 

We’re facing volatility in all areas of life, and, if you’re like most, I’ll assume you’re TIRED – deep down emotionally drained and physically maxed out while carrying the weight of a million must-dos. Sound familiar? 

The bad news is, from this posture, you’re nearly guaranteed to face conflict. You’re probably feeling less patient, less focused, and more sensitive to criticism than other times in the year – and so are those closest to you. The February blahs are not only uncomfortable emotionally, they tend to stall the creativity, focus, and momentum that comes with a new year.

There’s good news too…

The Silver Lining 

What if, instead of being resigned to the fact that February = hibernate-withdraw-and-disengage-to-survive, February could be your month to open up, lean in, and lead well by being vulnerable?

“The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it's our most accurate measure of courage. When the barrier is our belief about vulnerability, the question becomes: 'Are we willing to show up and be seen when we can't control the outcome?' When the barrier to vulnerability is about safety, the question becomes: 'Are we willing to create courageous spaces so we can be fully seen?”

-- Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

What if you met the month head on, knowing that emotions and stresses will be running high in almost everyone you interact with, and using this as fertile ground for communication and relationship building?

What if you committed to connection? Knowing that in order to be understood, you need to be able to talk about what you’re experiencing. REAL talk about real issues, feelings, and experiences with the people you trust. 

Choosing to show up with more openness will increase your relatability and energize those around you. You and others might open up to options and solutions that were previously not identified. This increased connection and trust could have a very positive impact on your work and personal life.

This is the gift that February brings. 

It’s a Practice

When feelings of stress, overwhelm, and fatigue arise, find someone you trust and seek to connect. Practice saying what you mean, taking the chance to be raw and vulnerable. Speak from the heart and ask for what you need. When it comes to vulnerability, you can’t be perfect. Embrace the clunkiness, and as Dr. Brown says, “keep it awkward, brave, and kind.”

And listen. 

Because the way that you’re feeling… that’s likely the way your spouse, kids, friends, staff, and business partners feel too (‘tis the season!). In the same way that you need a place to connect, a friendly ear, some sage advice – you can also be the one who creates safe places for others. 

At Home & Work

Investing in relationships at home when you already feel spread thin may sound taxing, but being seen can be incredibly live giving and essential. If you desire deep relationships, sharing yourself vulnerably and seeking connection with those you trust is the crucial, first step. 

Plan to have vulnerable conversations and relationships at home and at work. However, be careful with whom you choose to be vulnerable. If in your professional situation you do not have trusted connections who can give you what you need, turn to your peer group or other safe spaces before you open up. For this to work, you need to be certain that you have supportive, trustworthy peers and the required confidentiality. 

TLDR?

This month, leaders tend to find themselves feeling tired, impatient, and sensitive to criticism. This often forces them into conflict and unproductive conversations which kill the momentum ushered in by the New Year. Knowing February is a “dark” month in many ways, strategic leaders should open up, instead of shutting down. They should choose to have mindful, vulnerable conversations – at home and work – with people they trust. In being vulnerable, they can connect and be understood, and in turn, create connections that are life-giving. Vulnerability has the power to turn the tides of the February blahs.

Reflection Questions

If you find it challenging to be vulnerable, consider the following:

  1. Are you personally finding that 2022 has been a bit more of a slog than you anticipated?  
  2. Are those close to you struggling with their own energy and moods? 
  3. Are you dealing with conflict by being more aggressive or by withdrawing?

If any or all of these are true for you, there is likely more stress evident in your life at this time.  One way to reduce that stress is through the power of authentic connection.  

Who are the one or two people in your life that you can have an honest conversation with about the way you are really doing? Write down their names and when you will call them. Take a deep breath and make the call. You will be better for it.

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