Have you ever been talking to someone (a friend, a colleague, someone you admire, someone who might potentially hire you, etc.) and, in your mind thought to yourself, “I’m nailing this conversation!”? Every point was on point, your thoughts carefully crafted and well spoken, making great eye contact, and using excellent accompanying hand gestures. Your audience is totally enraptured in what you’re saying and you’ve even got a few on-lookers in the background…I call this The Oprah Zone. The shining moment when everything you say makes perfect sense and you look and feel fantastic as you’re saying it. It’s a bright moment when you’re in the Oprah Zone. It’s the moment when you feel totally grounded in yourself and are letting your best and highest qualities shine through. At least this is how I imagine I would be if I were on the Oprah show; so pick the appropriate venue for you (Oscars, Grammys, Howard Stern, CNN, etc.).
However, as much as I love being in the Oprah Zone, I don’t believe it’s possible to feel this way (on top of the world) all of the time. Being in the Zone is fabulous! But when you’re not in the Zone (feeling less than), you don’t have to deny it or beat yourself up. I truly believe that the lows are just as important as the highs, especially when we allow ourselves to be completely authentic about how we feel.
Sometimes when you’re feeling sad, low, uncomfortable, or not quite yourself, you need space. Time alone to process how you’re feeling. And other times, you need to reach out for support.
This may sound entirely obvious, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Much of what we see in the media and on social media showcases people in their Oprah Zones. Advertisements promote products and services that appear to increase your likeability or enhance your image. There is a lot of pressure to be perfect all of the time. Striving to be better, to evolve, and to grow is different from trying to be perfect.
I recently went to the doctor for a regular check-up and when the nurse took my blood pressure, it was elevated for the first time. I ended up having a discussion with my doctor about anxiety, which both surprised me and felt like a huge relief. Talking about anxiety makes me anxious, so I often try to avoid it. But opening up and letting someone help me was the first step in feeling better.
The truth is that we are all more than our Oprah Zones. We are beautifully complex creatures and I believe the authenticity of each of us is what matters the most. Every part of you matters. Every part of you contributes to your whole being. You don’t have to like every part, thought, or behavior. But if you choose to accept those components instead of denying them, transformation can happen.
I was talking to a friend who had just gotten back from a trip to China and I asked her how it was and if she experienced any culture shock coming from the US. She said at first certain things would seem really different, and it was easy to judge them. But then she took a step back and realized that it was only her conditioning that was causing her to judge her surroundings. It made me think about the way we interpret and judge our feelings. If it’s possible to let go of our assumptions about another culture, maybe it’s possible to let go of our assumptions about ourselves. Instead of feeling like we’re only “good” or “worthy” when we’re feeling great (happy, energized, inspired), perhaps we can notice that while we don’t like it when we feel not-so-great (sad, tired, hopeless), we can avoid judging ourselves as being “bad” or “unworthy.”
And yes, I do hope to meet the one and only Oprah someday. Dream big!