No One Has an HGTV Reality

First, a huge thank you to our friend, Mary Dell Hayes, who was our first podcast guest! She is the inspiration for this content, and we are grateful for her willingness to come to the table with an idea of content she would like to see covered.

One day she sent me a Marco Polo and asked me if we would be willing to dig into the topic of accountability. As we talked more, she pondered the concept of before and after pictures, and how they influence our ideas around change and accountability.

We live in a world of before and after – of a rock bottom before and an amazing comeback story. The issue isn’t the fact that this is truth for a lot of people (rock bottom to come back story), but that it is a superficial representation of it. It skips the very best, and most authentic part of it – the mess.

Real life doesn’t happen in before and after. It is actually the process between where the real meat lies. The part where we surrender, claw and cry. The part where there is no pause button, and where we have to dig into the depths of our soul, and find the will to move through the fear, through the escape, through the very things that make staying the same so comfortable.

It also conveys an idea that accountability shows up in the form of a drill sergeant, barking at you, and highlighting your imperfections and insecurities. This may make for a decent after picture, but in the end is shallow and insecure.

The truth is that true accountability, the kind that allows space for transformational change, is both invited and supportive. It is truthful, but in a manner that is more, “You got this,” than “Suck it up.” It is many times as quiet and humble as anything else. It allows space for people to trust themselves, and take pride in the surrender that comes as a part of the process. Which is really not a lot of what we see when we see the snapshot.

As we talked all of this out, we also came around to a discussion on vulnerability. I had a friend note recently that she was baffled by the vulnerability movement. She was seeking clarity on what “vulnerable” really means, as she stated that she sees a lot of people celebrating their sickness and calling it vulnerable.

That is not vulnerability. That is transparency. Transparency has two sides. On one side, it is self-seeking, self-indulgent, a plea for external validation. I would argue that this happens when people are immature in their change process.

The other side of the transparency coin is one that is balanced with vulnerability. Vulnerability is an intimate thing. It is less, “Hey! Look at me!” and more, “I am inviting you to see me.” It is less about being an expert, more about learning. It is less about being critical, and more about being curious.

Ironically, we started this discussion a few weeks ago, but came together to solidify the content and tape the podcast during the first week of self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where people have somehow managed to put together a homeschool schedule and space worthy of a spotlight on HGTV, and others have done so with a home office space. Meanwhile, I am pushing aside everything in the junk room to carve out a makeshift home office, and our dining room table and living room look like a classroom have exploded on them.

How is this relevant? Many of us are all walking through figuring this thing out. Many of us are struggling with the idea of homeschooling while juggling remote work, and the stress and anxiety of what all of this might mean for us financially and emotionally. We are in a vacuum in an all new way. Isolated, sometimes with social media as our escape and our connection to others. Don’t be fooled by the snapshot. It is bullshit. Most of us are hot mess moms – no matter what shows up on our social media feeds.

So…we don’t have control over what is happening out there. What do we have control over? It is insanely simple, yet a challenge to implement: I really only have control over the me I bring to it. My thoughts? My reactions? My actions? All a choice. How much I consume? A choice. How I perceive everyone else’s realities? A choice. How I show up in my life? A choice.

In fact, it is how I show up in my own life that dictates how I perceive all of that other stuff anyway. When I feel overwhelmed, anxious, and frustrated, I need to take a moment to pause and ask myself what is happening with me. Many times, the pause and a series of deep breaths can offer us a better perspective, and give us space to make our next steps a choice rather than a reaction.