Today I am bringing back my annual debrief to the podcast.
Looking back on 2022 has been fruitful and offered a lot of data collecting. You know I love to collect data and review what choices, behaviors, and commitments were kept and which of them were not honored.
But looking back has not always been a practice or something I enjoyed. In fact, it felt counterintuitive to me. I know many business spaces normalize this practice but a trauma-informed lens, plus working with hundreds of people over the years, has taught me that practices which in theory should be filled with ease can really stir up whatever echoes of burdens we are carrying.
I feel like for most of my life has been forging ahead with little reflection on looking back. As a result, my inner system felt like it was dangerous to look back.
But when I shifted to looking back as data collection, and not connected to my identity, worthiness, or safety, looking back became a part of my practice of curiosity, noticing, and integration.
In fact, I can’t not look back now, as I want to reflect on patterns, habits, experiences, and changes.
The deep change we want in our lives, in our business, in our relationships, and in our well-being comes with regular reflection and data collection so we can make the needed tweaks and adjustments over time.
Taking time, even into the new year, to truly reflect can even lead to unburdening. Protect this time. And honor the dreams and desires you have for the upcoming year by taking the time to collect the much-needed data that will help download what is in your head and heart into a lived experience.
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Rebecca Ching: Today, I’m bringing back my annual debrief for the podcast. Looking back on 2022 has been fruitful and offered a lot of data to collect and, for those who know me, you know I love to collect data and review choices, behaviors, experiences, and also what commitments were kept and not honored. But looking back has not always been a practice or something I enjoyed. In fact, it felt counterintuitive to me. I know many business spaces normalize this practice, but a trauma-informed lens plus working with hundreds of people over the years has taught me practices, in theory, that should be filled with ease can really stir up whatever echoes of burdens we’re carrying, even in the most basic of practices and rituals. And I feel like, for most of my life, I’ve been forging ahead with little reflection looking back and, as far back as I can remember, I can hellbent on not looking back on my life and just moving forward. It makes sense knowing my story.
Looking forward and planning for my next goal and desired achievement to accomplish helped me move though some really tough times, but as a result, my inner system felt like it was dangerous to look back, like remembering the hard, awkward, and downright painful would whiplash me back to the abyss I was trying to escape in my younger years, and I hear this a lot from those I work with too, so I suspect many of you can relate, and when I shifted to looking back as data collection and not connected to my identity, worthiness, or safety, along with deepening my personal IFS and shame-resilience practices, looking back became a part of my practice of curiosity and noticing planning and integration.
In fact, I can't not look back now as I want to reflect on patterns, habits, and experiences, and changes so I can move towards what I want and continue to look at the areas that I keep repeating and places that keep me stuck.
And I’ve learned the hard way on repeat, that without reflection you can rush into the future and miss important data that can help you stop repeating patterns, behaviors, and trying to meet unrealistic expectations when you don't honor boundaries and so much more that keeps all of us feeling stuck and stagnant, and the deep change we want in our lives, in our businesses, in our relationships, in our well-being, it comes from regular reflection and data collection so we can make the needed tweaks and adjustments over time.
Sustained change and growth, contrary to social media and all the other messages we breathe in, does not happen with a one and done proclamation. It’s doing the reps, as I learned from Resmaa Menakem this year in his somatic abolition container, doing them day in and day out. Just doing the reps and taking time even in the new year, to truly reflect can even lead to some unburdening. This beautiful liminal space in the in-between of the years can be overrun with expectations, comparison, and feeling inundated on making promises and what we need to do or buy or make next year (cue eye roll) the best year ever. Protect this time and honor the dreams and desires you have for the upcoming year by taking the time to collect the much-needed data that will help download what is in your head and heart into a lived experience that matters and that feels aligned.
There’s power in this magical space, and I know this time of year is not always a pleasant one for some of you, but I still encourage you to gently look back as you dare to look forward which can be tender but also provide you a path that is more intentional and self-led instead of reactionary.
I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with humans who navigate life’s challenges and lead in their own ways and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.
Oh, 2022, it has been a windy adventure and very fruitful. I have been listening to a lot of you, too, and this year was full of the complex and did not offer a lot of space to breathe or reflect. It was a full one, and my words of the year were “slow” and “bold.” I added “bold” to “slow” as I felt “slow” needed a little somethin’ somethin’ to help emphasize how bold claiming “slow” was for me.
So, slow. How did focusing on this word work out for me this year? [Laughs] We’ll say, never would I have thought “slow” would be a word I would claim, but when I dug deeper into this word and started to operationalize it, it became crystal clear this needed to be my focus for the year. My two decades doing trauma-informed work spot lit the fact that my constant hurry, overbooking, and feeling like I don't have enough time or space to get things done pointed to my own burdens in my system that still carry there and the cultural pressures that weighed on me too, and I’ll dig into that some more.
But, first, slow is something for me that was always negative for most of my life. Who wants to be known or seen as slow? Slow felt like stuck, and stuck feels like one of the worst states to be in, right? But as the fable goes, the tortoise did win the race, and I’ve been the hare for so long. [Laughs] So, slow really became all about the pause, and it really is all about the pause. Pausing often goes against the message to have the right and best answer immediately or to jump in and take action before being asked, and the pause feels awkward for many, too, sitting in silence. [Laughs]
I know it does for me, but that is shifting, and most important, I’ve worked hard to slow my mind down, and that’s one of the things I’m noticing a lot this year.
Going from how quickly things pass from my head to my body and then transmitted out to the world, slowing that down a bit has been needed and helpful. I do think there’s a way to look at efficiency and productivity through the lens of slow. I’m still working that out, but it’s counter cultural. Everyone’s still trying to hack growth, learning, and healing without sustained results. I hear how many of you are still longing for something different, slower.
This time last year, I unpacked slow and operationalized my approach to it, and I found a beautiful alliteration of P’s to support this lens. So, most of it’s inspired by my Internal Family Practice, and so, I mind-mapped patience, permission, practice, power, play, persistence, planning, presence, process, and progress, purpose, pace, and perspective-taking. That’s a lot of P’s. And so, my mantra started off this year with “slow down for a moment.” Basically, take a beat, and that was a challenge. So, I kicked off the first couple quarters of 2022 deepening my own somatic skills which felt necessary and foundational.
All right, so, let’s kick off unpacking these P’s. My first tenant of slow required me to be present so I can be in the moment, breathe, and make sure I’m responding versus reacting. This is gonna work its way through this whole debrief. Often, I respond and react at lightning speed, for better and for worse. I’ve improved a lot here, but I still have a ways to go, and if you work with me or we’re talking, you’ll often see me pause, maybe look to the side, take a breath, close my eyes, or put my hand on my heart and, again, take a beat.
That’s really been a mantra this year. I didn't do this well when my schedule was too crammed, and so, that’s a big data point for me. It felt more difficult to stay present when I didn't have the space to breathe or I was trying to figure out how to accomplish three things in the time of one of them, and that’s not okay, but I also have a lot of compassion for myself because of my season of life and the systems and the world that I’m in.
I also noticed after a season of sheltering in and having reduced schedules because of COVID precautions, this fall particularly felt like a beast of doing all the things with kids and with work and with peopling. Now, some of this was season of life, some of this was my over-committing, and I'm still working through this, but I know in talking to a lot of you, this fall felt rough.
Slow also required more empathy and perspective-taking, listening, and reflecting before responding. See the pattern here? This did feel like torture at times as I navigated the noise between my ears. Yeah, and I failed at it miserably, especially in my closest relationships and when I felt an injustice happened or felt defensive. I’m still kind of sorting through that place where you speak, boldly, truth to BS from a place of clarity and confidence versus staying silent or over-analyzing or just blowing through a space without thinking through. And so, I’m still working through that, but more space and a slower pace will be needed to increase the time from activation to response.
Slow also required me to pace myself. My speed and efficiency, as I’ve noted, have gotten me far, and I know that’s the case for many of you, but they're also tools of supremacy culture that I need to detox from my identity and worth.
In the IFS community we often say “slower is faster.” It’s kind of cheesy, but it brings the point home. I worked on getting this more in my bones, [Laughs] which, in turn, teased out echoes of burdens in my own system and story that got in the way of pace and pointed to the need for some of my own deeper personal work and healing. That’s the awareness of what I tell my clients all the time. I’ll be doing this work in some form until I breathe my last breath. I think we all will.
Slow brought to my awareness, also, the need to deepen my reps and build practices that require me to practice a few things consistently so I can deepen my mastery of these practices over time. The rush to the top did not give me mastery. Sure, it helped me win, which was fleeting, but this year, I felt so much starting to shift as I built more practices around creating more time and intention in my life.
So, here’s a P that’s been also a doozy for most of my life. Slow required patience as I work on long-game vision and quality versus letting urgency and efficiency lead me. Patience is not my jam, and I don't hide it well. I guess I’m better in some places but still I’m like, oh, my gosh. Especially in my personal life, I have been rumbling with patience for ages, and this year I moved more towards a surrendering, having things resolved untidy, and I deepened a respect for the fact that desired change takes time.
Now, it’s one thing, I say this all the time, but it’s another to really believe and trust this process, right? It helped me in my work with clients who were feeling impatient about their own desired changes and reoccurring struggles so not to get sucked into results over relationships and practices.
Slow required me to rethink the impact of power.
The power of others and the systems I’m a part of while tapping into my own power from a place of self-leadership versus self-protection. My work this year learning from Resmaa Menakem and his Somatic Abolition community played a significant role in helping me honor more slow and bold in my life and deepening my awareness of the role and power in and around me.
Slow required me to stay focused on my purpose and stay clear on my values. [Laughs] Slow also required me to value steadfast process and progress over perfection. I mean, this is, like, #crazy but results and data are important but not at the expense of relationships and wellbeing, and I think this is something we’re all feeling the push and pull around.
Slow required me to make more time for play and playfulness in all areas of my life. I shrivel up without it, and I’m not authentic if I’m not being a little bit of playful, and sometimes some spaces are so serious that I'm in. Not the ones that I create, but some of the other ones I enter. Everyone responds to play and playful differently so there’s a dynamic there, but I also notice that while meaningful work can be fun and exciting and connected, slowing down to play requires space and intention for fun and more joy.
To be honest, this is one area where I felt a bit stuck but in a good way I think. I’m still working it through it. I love to work, and it often feels like play, but really turning my brain off and working on the other P’s of presence and pace and permission so I can walk away from the work I love and just be, that feels new and foreign, and I’m also redefining what work is to me and why I do it, too, so much so that I’ll be focusing on this topic more in the new year on this podcast.
Slow required permission and consent in all I do, and this one really crystalized for me that rushing, assuming, forgetting to ask permission is no longer acceptable to me. I still mess this up terribly, but I’m aware of it more. This one felt hard because it’s deeply important to grow in this area and it gutted me when I realized I moved forward without consent in a conversation or with an action, and this is not something I was taught in any of my workspaces or my family of origin. We just blew through each other and spaces, and while I was trained in consent from a legal and ethical perspective with paperwork and confidentiality in my clinical work, I was grateful I noticed the need to slow down and ask for permission for a line of questions or to offer reflections or if this is a good time to talk, and the list goes on. Just asking and not assuming, getting permission, and honoring the answer is huge.
Slow required persistence and planning with consistency, focus, and a steadfastness so I can actually follow through on my commitments! Slowing down helped me realize how much I am still over-committing. Ay yai yai. The fruit of this reflection helped me slow down on what I say yes to, how I use my time, what gets my attention and focus, and I’m at the point (it’s a blessed point) where I’m gonna say “no” or “not now” to things that I really love so I can also honor other things that I’m really committing to at the time, and one thing that became even more crystal clear (and you're hearing a theme from this debrief) is the need for more space on my calendar, in my mind, in my home, in my relationships. [Drumroll] This led me to make “space” and “pace” my words for 2023.
Now, parts of me are laughing because they don't believe I can do this. I think I’ve got, like, an 80% internal commitment. The other 20% is just eating its popcorn waiting, waiting to see how this is gonna go. [Laughs] You know, I’m still over-committed, according to my calendar, with so many things I love and value, and I know I’m not the only one that feels like things just happen, especially with the demands of parenting and taking care of your health and family and being an engaged citizen. So, if I want to slow down, I need more space on my calendar, around me, and inside of me, right? But what stands out to me is something that I work on a lot with my clients - honoring boundaries and commitments.
So, when it comes to boundaries, we’re often the worst offenders on not respecting boundaries set up to honor our own desires and needs and commitments. We sacrifice ourselves to, “Hey, we’ll figure it out. I’ll take care of it. I got it,” right? And so, kind of really slowing that down, building on what I’ve practiced this year to keep the space is gonna be huge, and I’m seeing how the rush and urgency of living overbooked colludes with aspects of culture that support burning out and full-body sacrifice in the name of work and proving and providing and producing.
All right, so, “space” and “pace” will require boundaries (fierce ones), and so, for me to calendar everything I need to do on a whole nother level, and to not add much more than is already booked for next year -- now, sure, things will happen, things come up, but I want the space to adjust without having to betray my commitments to myself or others or work in a way that feels like I’m offering less than my best. This kind of structure and intention can feel stifling to many, and I know it can feel that way for me if the fear of what if I want to do something else or change my mind or I feel stuck or bored comes up.
So, I’m digging deep and checking in on my fears and concerns about committing to things and saying “no” or “not now” to others. I see how parts of me want space that is not booked, too, and there are fears about not following through and letting myself or others down with this commitment. So, we’ll see how it goes!
Cheers to looking forward and cultivating, I know for me, more space and pace in the new year. I’m so curious what your commitments or focus or words are for the year. Let me know. Now, I know for me it will be a challenge, but I’m here for it.
Okay, so I want to shift gears, briefly. On a lighter note, I want to share some of my highlights of 2022, favorite movies and TV shows.
Okay, at the top of the list: The Bear. It’s on Hulu. Run, don't walk. It is the most real, nuanced, powerful show. I mean, it’s about food, it’s about family, it’s about boundaries, it’s about leadership, it’s about trauma, it’s about addiction, it’s about just realness. It’s so well done, oh, my gosh.
The Good Fight, which moved to Paramount Plus, it started with The Good Wife, and then this is a spin off, and the series wrapped this year. It kind of went out there, but it was medicine over the last few years.
My family loved and cringed at Severance on Apple TV+. My gosh, it’s just the most nuanced metaphor, parable for the word we’re living in. It’s so good, and we Googled when season two’s coming out, and it’s gonna be a while, but if you haven't watched it, we watched it as it was coming out, and it killed me having to wait which slowed me down from binging (it was a good thing) on the show, but it was brilliant.
Shining Girls, also on Apple TV+, is a really interesting kind of supernatural thriller that was so well done.
Our family is a Marvel family, and we watched Ms. Marvel which I thought was really sweet. My husband was not as much into it. She-Hulk, I did not like at first and then ended up loving it. So, it was a mixed one, but it’s still an honorable mention.
Of course, Stranger Things, oh my gosh, love Stranger Things on so many levels.
The Lord of the Rings series, I am not like a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, but this was so well done.
Okay, the show Loot on Apple TV+, hilarious, a must-watch.
Oh, and I just watched Wednesday. I think it’s on Netflix. This, I think it’s up there probably with The Bear. Brilliant!
The movie Turning Red was so good.
We watched Nope. It was kind of this weird horror sci-fi. It was so funny, dark.
Elvis, I was surprised at how captivating this movie was.
The show, The Sandman.
Spirited was also amazing, and the series Julia about Julia Child, and get-wrenched From Scratch. I did not know what I was getting into and just bawled, and it was a beautiful, well-written, nuanced story of grief and love. So, there you go!
My favorite books: Essential Labor: Mothering as a Social Change by Angela Garbes.
Confidence Culture, I’ve shared this book so much. It is so brilliant.
The Journal of Radical Permission which is like a daily guide of following your soul’s calling by Adrienne Maree Brown and Sonya Renee Taylor.
What Works by Tara McMullin, one of my podcast producers and long-term business coaches and mentors. It’s so good! I’ve been influenced by her work over the years.
The Pain We Carry by Natalie Gutiérrez who I interviewed for a couple episodes. Please check those shows out.
Also, Start Finishing went out in paperback by Charlie Gilkey, and I also interviewed him this year. Really influencing how I’m looking at time and space, too.
Then Easy Beauty by Chloé Jones, probably one of the most breathtaking memoirs I’ve ever read that really highlights -- I don't know how to explain it. Just check it out. [Laughs] I don't want to do any injustice to it.
My favorite experiences: I went to a lot of shows this year. We saw Rupi Kaur who’s a poet. It was breathtaking, and she featured a couple local poets. My family went back to Tahoe. It is my soul place, lake life in the mountains with big trees. We saw Dave Matthews this year, (who’s amazing) Elton John, I’m still echoing from that experience. To hear a man who’s been singing songs longer than your whole life that have influenced all seasons of your life - amazing. We saw Alicia Keys. We saw The Go-Gos, Blondie, and then my husband and I just saw Aaron Sorkin’s version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and it was amazing. If you have a chance to see this rendition, run, don't walk.
So, those are some of my highlights for the year. So, take care of you as you transition into the new year. Just remember you're not behind, you are enough, deep breath, and with you.
The frenetic energy of bopping from one thing to the next and feeling like my mind was bouncing from idea to task to all the things happening in the world, left me feeling divided, but as I focused on slowing down my mind and body and really connecting with all the things that come up when you take the time to really notice what’s going on, I see how work and doing all the things I love can be, what we call in the IFS community, kind of comforters and soothers. So, slow and bold was big for me this year, and I learned that feeling productive is seductive and deceptive, and it does not equate to producing quality and aligned work.
So, I’m curious for you, what fears and concerns come up for you when you think about slowing down? What is your relationship with the pace that’s slower in your work and how you respond to the world around you? What are you noticing as you debrief your year and look forward to the new year? Now, I know slow feels radical in a world that moves at warp speed. Slow, for me, is more about becoming a better noticer and being in regular curiosity about my next responses and decisions or circling back sooner than later when I realize I need to recalibrate, and this is the work of an Unburdened Leader.
Leading is hard. Leading is also controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, and your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action.
Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business practices and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to slow down and keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is both actionable and aligned.
So, when the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate slowing down, the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.
To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me, go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!
Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. If this episode was impactful to you, I’d be honored if you would leave a review, and rate it, and share it with someone who you think would benefit from it. You can find this episode, show notes, the ability to sign up for the weekly Unburdened Leader email, and get some free Unburdened Leader resources, and find ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.