October 23, 2013

Picture this. You’ve just completed a large project, a new product launch, a new system roll-out, etc. Or perhaps it was your wedding or a family reunion. It’s over. It was wonderful. But wait, what is that you’re feeling?

I had just such an event about 10 days ago with my first annual Transform & Thrive! retreat for women. Here are a couple of the photos.

Kypris Aster Drake, Elivia Melodey, Karen Orell & Debra Wilson Guttas

Kypris Aster Drake, Elivia Melodey, Karen Orell & Debra Wilson Guttas

Our Seaside Location in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Our Seaside Location in Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Our After-Lunch Yoga for the Chakras

Our After-Lunch Yoga for the Chakras

(photos courtesy of Karen Orell)

It was a great success! The workshops by all the presenters were inspirational, we had an awesome group of women who interacted well with one another, the food was delicious and the weather in Cardiff-by-the-Sea that day was gorgeous. To top it all off, the feedback and reviews from the women included: “It was an awesome conference. Looking forward to the next one.” “Shifted my fearful behavior thinking, a start to a better path.” “What an amazing experience!” “What an eye-opening experience on money!” “Wonderful day – you really took care of us.”

The only suggestions were more time for each speaker and a larger space.

So what’s the problem? How come I felt so empty the next day? “I should be happy!” I kept telling myself. “You should be celebrating!” came the other voice in my head. “You have no right to feel what you’re feeling.” “I know. I know. I should be happy. What is wrong with me?” Then came the guilt.

Are you with me? Can you relate?

Just what is that about? It can be quite hard to connect with at first, and the guilt doesn’t help! All those emotions that don’t make sense; that don’t seem to fit with reality.

Part of it is adrenaline. There’s a lot of excitement, anxiousness, and build-up leading up to the event — all of which create a hormonal soup in your physical body. After the event, the hormones plummet, leaving you with, what is that, is that depression I feel? Hmmmm. “I can’t be depressed! Not after all that!”

Another part of it can be how you process what just occurred. Did you plan for some time to really digest it in full, outside of the emotions and commotion of it all? Or did you just expect you’d pick up your life and move on? And, did you allow yourself the space and time to really celebrate? To relish the experience?

I haven’t had children, so please pardon my comparison here, but I liken it to the birth of a child. First, you have the conception (the original idea), then you have the gestation period (the planning) and then there’s the delivery. Then you have what comes afterwards. They don’t call it postpartum for nothing!

For me, I didn’t anticipate when I interpreted at first to be “negative” feelings. I didn’t recognize it as a mild form of depression; coming down off the “high”. The retreat was over a year in the making. That’s a long gestation!

In addition, I didn’t really celebrate. The day following the event, my husband hopped on a plane for a family event that had been planned in advance. We had both thought that I’d relish the time alone, but in fact that added to the letdown I was feeling. Left to my own devices, I spiraled down the path of looking at all the things I needed to do differently next time.

Lastly, when it’s all over, you’re left with what you started with. You don’t have that “big thing” that’s been consuming your thoughts in recent months. Life is back to normal, whatever that is or was. That can feel a little drab as compared to all the months of planning!

So what have I learned?

1) Be prepared to experience some letdown after it’s over and don’t beat yourself up over it! It’s a perfectly normal, hormonal, physical response!

2) Plan for some down time to move through those feelings and to reflect.

3) Celebrate! Plan a way to celebrate what you have accomplished!

4) Surround yourself with supportive family or friends who can reflect back to you the good and keep you grounded. Make sure that in your review process, that you really spend some time to celebrate the things you did that worked very well.

5) Do something to nurture your soul. Read a juicy book, walk on the beach, get a massage or pedicure — whatever it is for you that feels nurturing and allows you to just “be”.

Bottom line, if you know what to expect, and plan for it, it won’t take you by surprise. Then, you can just move through the process with ease. 😉

Now it’s your turn. What has been your experience? How can you relate? What do you do to nurture yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Please post them below.

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