Ok, so here we are at week 3 of February’s theme, “Being Patient With Yourself While Making Changes.” If you’ve been following the process for the last two weeks, you’ve now got your 3-5 desired changes clearly in mind, and you’re aware of the extent to which you will resist changing them. You’re clear about how big of a change to ask of yourself at this beginning stage. You’ve also been practicing slowing down your awareness so you will be able to STOP, BREATHE and FOCUS when an old habit shows up, bringing you an opportunity to practice your possible new responses.
You’re celebrating your victories (even the very smallest ones!). Most importantly, you’re being as kind and loving toward your “old self” as you would toward an innocent young child. That’s because you really understand yourself now as a “newbie” at learning how to navigate the world, just like a child. You’re willing to give yourself the grace, and the permission, to not be perfect right now. As you figure out what works and what doesn’t in making you successful and happy, you get to grow and learn, and become the version of yourself that matches your desired outcome. Excellent! BRAVO! Keep up the great work!
Today I want to emphasize the crucial ingredient of nurturing yourself…or, put another way, “stopping and smelling the roses” – with intention! It’s one thing to pause and give yourself a break (from stress, self-criticism and the high expectations placed on you by yourself as well as others). Nurturing goes beyond that. It’s right there in the definition of the word: “to feed and protect; to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; to bring up; train; educate.”
Too many demands, too little time – is it really even possible to nurture yourself?
There are so many things to do in any given day. Lists seem to grow by themselves overnight. So many people feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on their “to do” lists – even if they only focus on the “must get done” items.
Most people walk around overwhelmed, stressed, and resentful of the many things they are responsible for in their lives. Those of us over 40 in particular wonder when life got so complicated, and many of us want to know where all the joy went! Think about it: How many people do you see in your day walking around smiling and relaxed? The answer, unfortunately, is probably “very few!” That’s what a lack of self-nurturing looks like…but it doesn’t have to be that way!!
So…what is real nurturing, and how can you incorporate it into every hour?
Nurturing yourself periodically throughout the day is like charging your battery – and the goal, to put it terms that all of us modern folks can understand, it’s as important as keeping your cell phone battery charged. These days we wouldn’t think of going out of the house without the ability to communicate with each other, right? Many of us plug that puppy in every night as part of our routine, regardless of how much we’ve used it up, just to be sure it’s fully charged and ready for the next day.
WELL, that’s how you should think about your reserves of physical, emotional and spiritual energy. Especially given that many of us don’t even get a full eight hours of sleep every night, it is critically important that we take the time to relax for a moment – many times throughout the day – and to STOP, BREATHE, and “smell the roses!” Whatever the “roses “may be for you.
Self-nurturing is a vital part of your overall emotional, physical and mental well-being. This is not just about meditation or deep breathing, though scientific research indicates that they make a surprisingly big difference in reducing stress levels. It’s about identifying things you love and using MANY MOMENTS of your day to connect with them.
There are probably many things, that you love, desire, enjoy, and/or have fun doing. Turn these into thoughts that bring you joy, peace or pleasure, right in the present moment.*
How to choose something that will nurture you effectively for a few minutes
(and I recommend doing this for at least 2 minutes each hour).
Sit for a moment and think about a person, place, thing, pet, hobby or activity that you love. Imagine yourself being with that person or doing that activity. It could be visiting with friends, learning something new, meditating, reading a good book…anything you love to do that you don’t always make time for in your busy schedule.
Breathe slowly and deeply, simply allowing yourself to take a moment to visualize in detail that experience that makes you feel good, happy, invigorated, centered, and fulfilled. Release any judgments about whether it’s something you’re good at, you haven’t done in a long time, you have no time for, or it’s silly or childish. It doesn’t have to be anything related to a change you’re trying to make – but you can, if you choose, envision yourself already having achieved it, and how GREAT that achievement makes you feel (remember, in terms of its positive impact on you, your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real experience or an imagined one, past or present).
That’s it! Repeat this process once every hour (you can think of it each time you look at your cell phone to check how much battery life you have left!), to provide a consistent infusion of self-administered nurturing as you move forward into the new possibilities of your life.
If you’re still feeling stuck, stay tuned, as next week I’ll give you some great tips for choosing your most powerful options for nurturing yourself effectively.
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*NOTE: I’m not talking about going on social media, checking the newest viral videos, or peeking at what’s popped up in the headlines since you last looked two hours ago (I’m talking to you, news junkies!). While cute animals or human pratfalls may provide amusing breaks from work or study, that’s not really the sort of thing that’s going to nurture you. Nurturing comes from something that goes deeper, that takes you to more profound level of connection with your own humanity, and that feeds your soul.
If you MUST use technology for some of these moments, use intentionality (aka self-discipline) to look ONLY at truly inspiring quotes, images that instill in you a peaceful and loving state of mind, or videos such as meditations or inspirational presentations!!