Fessing Up: The Inner Sanctum of a Workaholic’s Heart

When I was younger, I wanted to be impervious to heartache. I was careful in my personal relationships to maintain just a little cool remove.

Emotional risks, like those that go along with failure and falling on my face, were reserved for my work life. Compartmentalizing in this way would cushion me from unnecessary pain, I reasoned.

Turns out, it had the opposite effect. Being too cautious meant I didn’t cultivate the antibodies that would make my heart more resilient.

A few years ago, the circumstances of my life forced me into a corner about this matter. I emerged from the tussle ready to risk a little more to allow myself to feel more powerful emotions. This business of “getting in touch with my feelings” wasn’t automatic. Sometimes, deeper emotions are neither secret nor obvious.

Next month, I’ll give a talk at an event where author Brene Brown is also speaking. If you haven’t checked out her popular TEDx talk, please do. Brown makes a convincing case for how being vulnerable makes us stronger. I very much look forward to meeting her.

This past weekend, I took a big emotional risk. The results were inconclusive. Ordinarily, I would have been devastated. Instead, I told myself that few things are in my control, and the whole point is to wade into life up to my nostrils. That means allowing my heart to be submerged as well. Okay.

Is this what is meant by work-life balance?