So many migraines that month. So I was extra hard on myself regarding my health. “I shouldn’t have eaten that.” “I should have gone to bed earlier.” “I should have exercised.” “I shouldn’t have exercised.” Like many health things you don’t know till after the result.
When I fall into the should trap, I know I am in trouble.
All that self-talk was making me feel like an unhealthy person that makes unhealthy choices – despite having really good numbers from the doctor a few weeks before.
I decided to look at my healthy choices instead to reframe how I look at me and my health.
Just the other morning I was up early, made a smoothie, walked the beach giving a big smile and good morning to everyone I passed by. I wrote this on a bench overlooking the channel doing quiet time. I thought about all the fruits and vegetables I eat and how I exercise regularly. I take my vitamins regularly and always floss. I go to the chiropractor.
Seeing ourselves in a new way is the first hurdle of change.
So I thought about how I would act if I saw myself as a healthy person who makes healthy choices. How would you?
I was walking the wetlands. Three girls came running and shrieking by, probably scaring all the wildlife away on what I hoped would be a peaceful walk.
I felt the annoyance crawl up my stomach to my throat.
How could they be so rude? Where are their parents?
Then I passed them on a bench they decided to sit on. They were looking so cute. I remembered that age. I spent time running and yelling outside much my youth.
Instead of annoyance I had warmth in my heart.
We are so quick to judge, snark and criticize. It seems we don’t allow imperfection anymore – at least of others. We are taught to have self-compassion for ourselves at the same time assume that we are right. So a person can be brought down by one inartful statement or video showing their worst moment.
The next time you feel that “I am right, I can’t believe you did that. How could you?” ask when you have done or said something similar. Even in our thoughts. None of us are perfect. We can be human together.
I was writing this in the car after my walk with my windows open enjoying the summer breeze. Then a car pulled up playing rap music loudly with the bass up.
I started getting annoyed again briefly before remembering that just yesterday we were playing 80’s music in the Jeep with the windows down. I let go of the tension. I love the feeling in my body when I think of others with kindness.
It’s like the idea that you should only surround yourself with positive people. But, aren’t most people negative sometimes? Maybe the negative person needs a positive person around and your job is to be that positive person. You might be the only positive person in their lives.
Where do you see yourself judging others?
We need to give grace to others. Our world desperately needs more of this. I forgive…forgive me… are words to live by.
I wasn’t even going to walk the wetlands. I had woken from a nap after another migraine hit. Daily for the past two weeks.
But, my inner voice said to go. The wetlands were cool, sunny and green. And loud. The red-wing blackbirds, robins and little yellow birds were tweeting. The frogs were making their deep trombone noise. Even the swan made a long, low call I hadn’t heard before.
When a mom and her boy walked by, I couldn’t get out hi. My voice was soft and could barely be heard so I waved instead. The boy happily shouted, “She’s waving!”
Why couldn’t I speak? Where in my life wasn’t I speaking?
I hadn’t expressed or sat with feelings around Mother’s Day. First without my Mom, 7 without my son and my cousin 10 years younger than me died that same week. It was unexpected and he was a sweet, gentle, funny soul.
My voice refused to sing two songs at choir Mother’s Day morning.
I didn’t want to sit with any of the losses, but sit I did. On the couch with my ice pack on my head. But, I wasn’t processing a thing.
I wanted to go to the funeral in St. Louis the weekend after, but the migraine kept going. I even got a shot from the doctor.
Finally, I spoke to a friend over lunch during that 8-hour break from pain the shot gave me. And the migraine still came back. I was mad at myself, my body, my migraine. Everything was betraying me.
I was alone Friday night and read various books on healing. I did the Calm Body Meditation by Sandy Newbigging. He was saying many health and other problems were due to your conflict with what is. Your resistance.
I was so tight. I was resisting everything. I had to say I was willing to have my migraine. I was willing to have the feelings of sorrow. I was willing not to do what I want and drive 5 hours in the car.
As I let go of resistance, my body felt freer, looser.
I woke up with a migraine again on Saturday morning, but I did some Calm Meditation and being with things. It went away until evening. Instead of pushing through to do stuff with my migraine, I allowed myself to take a nap which it seemed my body wanted to do.
An hour later I was up enjoying nature and the sound of birds.
A reminder to listen to that inner knowing, notice what I am resisting and express what I am feeling.
Yesterday morning I was walking along the beach. My grandpa loved to sail so I always look at the boats in remembrance.
There are always many more boats at shore, than in the water.
When I mentioned that to my husband he said that from growing up around here, he’d see people come in from Chicago just twice a year to spend a weekend with their boat. Even the smaller boats like his co-workers have are not taken out much.
I told him that if we had a boat we would take it out every weekend. Then I thought about the blowup kayak which has not seen much use or the tent or the picnic basket.
It’s time to take them out. Let’s use our fun things. Mark on your calendar so every year it comes up to schedule time with the boat, go-cart, fishing rods, or whatever it may be.
I will also watch when I buy limited use, seasonal items. To make sure I have the money AND the time to use them. I already nixed the idea of a porch swing. It sounds nice, but I know I won’t use it much and we don’t have anywhere to put it.
If you find yourself frequently overwhelmed with low energy and a vague sense of not-enoughness, check your pressure. How much self-pressure are you putting on yourself? To be perfect. To get things done. To keep up with your friends. To be what society wants you to be.
The pressure may begin with the media and society, but you are taking it in as the standard.
You get to choose. This is your life. You can choose to step away from the expectations and pressure.
It may be uncomfortable, but for your health and sanity it may be time.
Today notice when your energy flags or you are feeling anxious. What are you thinking? What are you saying to yourself? What pressure have you put on yourself?
That pressure will not help you perform better. It’s harder to perform when you are anxious.
So breathe 5 deep breaths.
Ask yourself if it’s even true what you are saying to yourself about what you must do. Is it true you have to be perfect? Is it true no one will love you if you don’t get it right or say no? Often it feels like it, but from my life and the life of my clients it’s rarely true.
Think about where this particular thought came from. Is it even you or is it a magazine, a parent, a teacher, a boss?
Then ask how the self-pressure if affecting your life. Is it worth it?
Think about what you would do and how you would do it without the pressure. How does that feel? How can you enjoy the process?
Instead of self-pressure, try self-compassion. Talk to yourself with kindness. Give yourself rest and breaks. Comfort yourself when guilt and failure arise instead of beating yourself up. Notice what you do accomplish instead of only what is undone.
Decide what enough would look like in this situation. Do that and allow yourself to be satisfied.
It’s probably not time, money or resources that is keeping you stuck instead of moving forward. Fear is the big culprit. Or maybe you call it anxiety, being uncomfortable, or feeling out of your depth.
When most of us make changes, we want to make them, yet we don’t. Our ego prefers to keep us safe with what is known. There is anxiety in change.
That is when the mind chatter comes in. “What if you get rid of this and need it in the future?” “What is you try to wake up early only to fail? Again. You are just a night owl.” “Why bother making plans? Your plans never work anyway.”
Is is a wonder that change is hard? We are fighting ourselves.
I have found the best way to make the change despite the fear is to not allow that fight within. I have decided to get up early. So when that alarm rings I will get up. As soon as I start whining to myself about how I don’t realllly have to get up yet and I’m too tired and I’m so cozy, I shut it down. I know once I start to listen to those thoughts the odds of me getting out of bed plummet.
At this stage you need to talk to yourself and pump yourself up more than listen to yourself.
If you really can’t stop the anxiety ever, why not visit a therapist who can help you work through things and/or find a good medication for you.
Go ahead and think about what makes you anxious about making a new change or habit. In the planning process. Think about the obstacles and what might go wrong so you can plan for it. Think about ways to make it easier. This is the time to deal with the fear and anxiety in change.
But, once the decision is made and you are ready to implement, stop the inner broadcast. Don’t make it any harder on yourself than it can be.
Some personalities are more inclined to flake out. I am one of those who has to create systems as prevention.
It seems more and more prevalent to make excuses. “I’m not feeling up to it.” “I know there was a deadline, but, I’ll get it done as soon as possible. I got overwhelmed.” “I know I’m late again. Traffic was ridiculous.” “I’m sorry I was supposed to help at the bake sale. I totally forgot.”
We are told we need to cut everyone slack. And most people do. They may say, “It’s no big deal”, but often resentment is building inside.
We all tend to get annoyed at people that never follow through with plans. But, most of us are in denial about how much we do it.
You may be sabotaging relationships and work opportunities with flaking out.
If you flake out a lot and feel you are disappointing people all the time, you may want to see why.
Are you saying yes to things you really want to say no, too? Then flaking out at the last minute to get out of it? Don’t say yes, if you are dreading doing it.
Have you over-committed yourself time-wise so you can’t actually do all the things you said yes to?
Or made agreements, while forgetting your self-care and energy needs?
Are you really afraid or anxious and that is why you want to bail?
Is there something you are hiding from or not admitting?
Keeping your commitments is a basis of trust in any relationship. Once you commit to something, make every effort to follow through.
It also means – make less commitments. If you flake often, you are probably making too many commitments. Be very mindful as you say yes.
How to Quit Flaking Out
Don’t say yes immediately. Take time. Look at your calendar. Are you overbooked?
Have rules about how many evenings you’ll be out, which events you never attend, what things you will typically say no to so you have policies to fall back on as you make decisions.
Set up systems like alarms to remind you to do things. As soon as you say yes, put it in your calendar and ask if there is anything you need to do before it happens like order flowers or pick up the suit from the dry cleaners. If you say you are going to pick up the milk, write it down and have an alarm set so you will do it.
Confirm plans the day before so it is less likely either one of you will flake.
Leave at least 10 minutes early for everything.
Before you make an excuse to someone, check in with yourself. How can you fulfill your obligation? Show others you are considerate of their time and feelings. Not feeling like it, being tired, or overbooking yourself are not great excuses.
Don’t text or Facebook an excuse. Actually call if you absolutely have to miss. Technology has made it too easy to break commitments.
When you make an appointment, go to the appointment. Business people are paid for whom they serve. If you don’t show up, they don’t get paid.
Stay for a little bit rather than not show up at all.
People are counting on you to do what you say you will do. So respect other people’s time and don’t bail on plans or decide at the last minute you can’t do something. We all have distractions and opportunities that make easy excuses. Be the person who shows up and is dependable, not just when it’s convenient.
Ever notice that some people have super busy schedules but they seem to float and flow in time? They’re rarely stressed. They are enjoying life.
And other people with the same schedules are tight, stressed and feeling overwhelmed?
That’s because schedules and not enough time are not the real reasons people are stressed. We like to think we are stressed because there isn’t enough time. That we think we can fix with better time management, being more organized or having a more efficient planner system and the latest apps.
Yet, much of the stress is because of your current relationship with time. The relationship is broken and uneasy. Time feels like the enemy. We want to think linearly and productively. When there is energy, focus, emotions, beliefs to dig deep into to find your improved relationship with time.
Where are you with time?
If you are looking to change your relationship to time, check out my class.
I haven’t done spring cleaning in years. I tried – but doing all that work in a couple of weeks or even a month makes me tired. Not to mention with spring allergies, March & April are not my most energetic months.
I would look at those clever lists (now you can find them all over Pinterest) and feel guilty that I was not doing a bunch of cleaning this month.
I choose to break down my cleaning. I have broken up the various tasks most people do for spring cleaning and I do a few each month – usually doing them about twice a year. So curtains would be in May, defrosting the freezer in November, cleaning light fixtures in Feb and Aug.
This month’s cleaning & maintenance tasks pop up on my Google Calendar. Then I usually take a Saturday morning to work on them.
You can create your own spring cleaning throughout the year list. Here is Martha Stewart’s spring cleaning list (Yea, that is not happening this month). Now divide the tasks by 12. If there are some that you want to do more often you can schedule them that way.
Now add them to a digital calendar like Google Calendar, or an app like Regularly, or in your paper calendar. Or if you have a household notebook or home care file on your computer you can put a checklist there.
We all like to think we will be thinner, richer, connecting with friends, have a great family and spiritual life and a beautiful home in the future. We want to be attaining goals. But, when it comes to taking actions to get there our favorite phrase is, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
The problem is tomorrow becomes today and you end up in the same place you were yesterday. We don’t like to think of what we have to do that will take us where we want to go. For most changes there is regular action needed.
What if instead of thinking about your fantasy tomorrow, you thought about making the present better. You could be aware so you could make conscious choices that make you feel good about yourself and your life. Throughout the day you could ask what would make this moment better? Your better moments means each day gets a little better.
How would you make your breakfast time better? It can be as simple as breathing or praying before your meal. Or adding berries to your cereal. Or turning off the to list in your mind. At breakfast ask what you can do right now – not tomorrow. What feels easy and natural?
For me and writing this article, it looks like picking up and cuddling the cat for a minute instead of staying annoyed as he walks back and forth in front of the screen.
If you become aware of yourself eating snacks on the couch watching TV, what could you do in that particular moment? Could you portion out the rest of the snack, move into the kitchen, put the snack down and walk in place?
Being present and aware also helps you cement those habits, those daily actions that get you where you want to go. I read somewhere that discipline is remembering what you want.
Your present and what you do becomes your next today. What choices can you make right now that will bring you the today you want?
Join us in our New Habits course to help create sustainable habits to help you in attaining goals that make the conscious choices easier.