We live in a busy society. Gadgets that may have been designed to simplify our lives keep us plugged in, multi-tasking, and working more than ever. Many of us (myself included) like to think we are making something of ourselves, of our lives. We ask the big questions: what are we contributing to? How are we successful? What are we achieving?
The start of a new year is a popular time to roll out new resolutions to improve ourselves and our lives. We have our goals set. We are enthusiastic…but then, what happens? So often, we put so much pressure on ourselves and we get lost in all the busy-ness of achieving those goals that we get tired out. And soon enough we are back with our old habits and life circumstances until next December rolls around and we think: “Aha, this is going to be the year I ….”.
I want you to know that I believe in change. I think change is a good thing. We are not designed to be stagnant and bored. We are meant to grow and reinvent ourselves once in a while. The question is, really, in what style do we go about in making positive change happen in our lives.
As an achiever and somewhat of a people pleaser, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to be the “perfect mom” or “perfect teacher” or you name it, I’ve done a number on myself about it. What I find is this pattern of behavior puts an awful lot of stress and anxiety on myself. As far as making real change in my life, if I try too hard or push too much to make things happen- it doesn’t work out. The things I wanted to accomplish do not materialize. I end up feeling frustrated and actually tell myself I have failed. I may also end up feeling burned out, lose some sleep, and just give up.
The times in my life where I have succeeded at creating positive change or just generally being a happier and more peaceful person are times when I did not put so much pressure on myself. I eased up. I still had my goals but I did not get too concerned about the details. I had faith that once I made my mind up about something, it WOULD WORK OUT.
This month’s Yoga Journal has a wonderful article about cultivating self love. The four main points are: to love ourselves enough to know that we deserve to be happy and healthy, have compassion for ourselves and release any stress we are putting on ourselves about a habit we have that we want to change, have joy and gratitude for all the good we are doing in our lives and the support we are blessed with from others, and lastly- equanimity; which means to forgive ourselves for any perceived setbacks and instead of being upset- focus on our larger goals of being happy, healthy, and free from suffering.
So now to the title of this post: being soft, gentle, and easy: nurturing ourselves in a hectic world
Here are my ideas this evening to do just that:
- Celebrate any little successes of your day.
- Be thankful. I highly recommend a gratitude journal
- Slow down
- Know what you want, put your intention out there, and then HAVE FAITH. We don’t have to know all of the little details about how things will happen. Just know what you want and release it. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret describes this process well.
- Enjoy and be aware of the little things: the smile on your kids’ faces today when they were showing you what they made at school today, the sounds and smells you notice while walking around your neighborhood, the beautiful music on your radio during your ride to or from work, all of the support you’ve been getting lately from family, friends, or colleagues.
- Think of what you love.
- Just know and feel with certainty all the good that is you. Don’t stress. Don’t push. Don’t rush. Don’t force. Just be…..isn’t that incredibly liberating?
Being easy on yourself and others can be easier said than done. We tend to get attached to expectations of certain outcomes and when they don’t happen we get disappointed. We are driven. We are on the go and have goals. We are working hard and achieving.
If we are too hard on ourselves and others in our lives we can get very stressed, burned out, cranky, irritable, and just miserable. We won’t like our demanding selves very much and people won’t be attracted to us either.
We can still achieve our goals but be easy on ourselves and others. This is what I mean:
Being easy and gentle on yourself and others will result in more peace, greater health, and probably a longer life.
You will also more than likely get more done on your to do lists and accomplish your most important goals when you feel less pressure and you are living life at your ease.
Debra : )
Vegetarians out there: please pardon this metaphor- but truly, how would you eat an elephant? One little bite at a time. Often we take on way more than we can chew. We get overwhelmed. Stressed. Our brains shut down. The answer? One small bite at a time.
It goes back to those baby steps we have talked about. I figure, so long as I am moving forward and taking some kind of action on my goals, I am going to achieve success. Action is important. If our ideas and goals are solely in our heads, we are dreamers and that’s about it.We don’t, however, want to take on too much at once- put too much pressure on ourselves- and then have it all backfire because we get overwhelmed, discouraged, and quit.
Like all things in life- there needs to be balance. Small steps or bites, if you will.
I am continually reminding myself of this. The Warm Milk Journal, for instance, is a big project. Starting a new endeavor like this is a lot of work. There is a huge learning curve. There are parts of this project that come easier for me than others. I find the creative side a lot of fun and easier: the writing of the posts, reaching out and helping others, coming up with ideas for the Warm Milk Journal (because this is something I care and feel so passionately about). The more challenging areas for me are more the technical and business end of things that come with writing a blog. There is so much for me to learn and really I have just started. So I tell myself: baby steps, Debra. Small elephant bites.
I think if we enjoy the journey we will be happy with where we end up!
Debra : )
Being focused on something that has meaning and value in our lives gives us a sense of purpose. I know that I am so much healthier mentally and emotionally when I have this focus going on. I coincidentally, have very little anxiety and sleep much better at night when I am focused. Direction is a good thing. We hear hear so often of people (men particular) who die of heart attacks soon after they retire. I think it is because they lost their sense of purpose for their lives. Play and relaxation is very important for a balanced life but we do need some kind of aim and goals to strive for.
What is one good thing in your life that you can really focus on? A healthy “obsession” that can inspire and drive you? If you have many ideas- write them down. then choose one. Make a decision to focus on one thing. Once you decide to focus and commit to a project or task it is amazing what happens: ideas pop up when you least expect them, people will come into your life that can mentor or support your idea, things just kind of galvanize.
Decide on one of your ideas and commit to giving it your all for 30 days- and then see what happens.
Debra : )