Something's got to give!

Something’s got to give!


Racing heartbeat, exhaustion levels high and irritable and cranky with my family. All warning signs from me that I’m severely out of whack. Yes, a highly technical term I know, but nothing explains it better than “out of whack.” Basically, I feel like I have lost my centre and it all comes down to taking on way too much. Nothing particularly stressful in what I have taken on, there is just an overwhelming sense of too many balls in the air and the constant feeling of trying to keep them up. What I’m really interested in is how I got there because I’m actually very comfortable with the word “No” and using it when I need to. So how did I get into the situation where I have forgotten to use the word “No” and instead have been saying “Yes” to everything that comes my way?


If this were one or two decades ago I would be in this mess because I was uncomfortable with saying “No”. My need to please others was so high, stemming from wanting to be liked or fearing to disappoint. However, as I approach mid 40’s, yes 45 in 1 months’ time, I’m good with “No”, No and I are good friends, and, if you don’t like that, or me, I’m ok with it. I remember watching my old faithful Oprah in the late 90’s where she said that one of the benefits of getting older was that you lose interest in what other people think of you, and she was spot on.


So how did I get myself into this situation where I am being pulled in so many directions?


On reflection, I can see two very clear reasons why.


Firstly, I am saying “YES” to everything. At the start of each year for the last few years I have avoided the trend to set a New Year’s Resolution, and instead have tried to have an overall focus or theme to the year. As I start to discover more interesting paths in my career and see ideas such as my groups to India come to fruition, I decided that this year would be the year to say “YES” to new opportunities. However, I now see that I took that literally, and said yes to everything that has come my way setting no boundaries as I went. There lies the clincher. Say “Yes”, keeping in mind the following.


Connection. In saying “YES” to everything, consuming myself with tasks and putting myself out there for new opportunities, I’ve ignored my physical self and my basic need for sleep, exercise and rest. Although I’m thriving in work and new ideas, I’m disconnected from my own sense of wellbeing. So, the Life Coach hasn’t got it all worked out, does that surprise you? Not me, we are all trying to live the best life we can and at times we fall out of centre and then recognise that we need to make a change, and I am no different. Isn’t that always the way, we get one part of our life running and thriving and another part makes the sacrifice. It’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in the concept of balance. People often strive to have all parts of their life in balance and I for one can’t remember a time in my life when this has happened. Maybe when I was backpacking around Europe in my 20’s but that wasn’t real life now was it? In my experience, achieving balance (an equal share of all aspects of your life) is an elusive quest. We might have our career in perfect flow but the social life misses out, or we are spending good quality time with family and friends but missing that part of our self that is building a career or learning a new skill. Then there is the challenge of diet and exercise. Get the diet right but the exercise isn’t on par or vice versa. Or just when you think you have everything in your life under control, a family member is sick or you lose a loved one, or something unforeseen happens. But isn’t that just life, isn’t life unpredictable, full of twists and turns, and if so then how do we ever achieve balance?


What I like to aim for is awareness. By having an awareness of a part of my life that requires attention, I’m more than likely to direct action there to bring about change. I’ve been feeling sluggish and tired and know that I haven’t been taking best care of my physical self. If I wrote down a military regime and allocated 38 minutes per section of my life for the next week I would probably see some benefits, but the stress levels in maintaining such a regime would be counter-productive. Instead just in writing this blog I recognise the need for change and will start to implement them. Maybe not with military precision but the mind shift has already started. For me what I have learned in these last few months is that when I say “YES” it must have some secondary questions behind it before I come out with the “Yes” and commit to something new.


Perhaps a checklist something like this.

  • Is this for me?

  • Is it good for me?

  • Does it serve others?

  • Will it impact on my family?

  • Will it have an impact on my wellbeing?

  • Is there time in my week for this commitment?

  • If I am concerned with saying No, why is this so?

If I can maintain this connection to self, ask these questions and continue my ability to say “No” when I need to, then there is no need to be afraid of saying “Yes”.


Tasks have been consuming me and taking away my ability to have this awareness. When life becomes a series of To Do Lists, then awareness is hard to find. Awareness requires space and stillness. It also requires the ability to check in with how you are feeling. For many years I walked around disconnected from my body and my feelings. I was like a head with a body below, but no real connection between the two. Through some good courses in the early 2000’s I learned to make the connection between mind and body to the point where I am now very good at recognising a physical symptom and making the connection to an emotional state. Tense shoulders for me equal taking on too much and holding the pressure of that in my mid back. Louise Hay has a lot to say about this in her book “Heal your body” where she links physical symptoms in the body to the action and cause and provides affirmations to begin to heal.


So how do you start to build this connection between your mind and your body?


1. Well you could read Louise Hay’s book and keep it on hand as a manual to work with. It never ceases to amaze me when I do. When I read about the physical symptom I am feeling and check her description on what causes this, the relevance for me is all too obvious.


2. Mindfulness – yes, a buzz word at present but there is so much to be said for stillness and awareness of the body. Sitting in a comfortable position you can practice this technique in just one minute. Bringing awareness to your body sitting on the chair, how your feet feel on the floor, how your hands feel resting in your lap. Is your breath fast or slow and if it is fast can you slow it down? Is the air around you warm or cool, is the room loud or quiet, what sounds can you hear? All these techniques take you out of your future projecting mind and keep you focused on the present and begin to help you tap into the sensations in your body.


3. Heart-focussed breathing – I wrote about this in my last blog and it’s a great technique to bring awareness to what your heart wants. It is about directing your attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal. As you breathe in, imagine you are doing so through your heart, and, as you breathe out, imagine it is through your heart.


4. How do the emotions I experience manifest in my body? When you feel angry, how do you know that in your body? For me my heartbeat races and I feel tension in my fingers and jaw. When I’m sad I feel a lump in my throat and hot behind the eyes as if tears are coming. When I’m joyful I feel light, my head feels clear and the tension in my neck disappears.


Recognising these sensations in your body and the connection to the emotion, requires practice until it becomes second nature. Until like me you busy yourself in tasks, lose your awareness and then it’s time to practice and rebuild that awareness muscle again. Just like physical fitness, it takes a while to develop but once you have it you must work on it to maintain it.


Will I keep saying yes? With connection and awareness, “YES”. Opportunities, challenges, new learning and growth are what I live for, so I hope they always keep crossing my path. Naturally I yearn for these challenges and opportunities so if I continue to develop my awareness muscles there is no reason not to say “YES”. Already since writing this I can feel the shift. Only this week I was offered an amazing travel opportunity, that had I not written this blog I would have said “Yes” to. My first reaction was “Yes”, and then I slept on it and realized that instinctively I knew it wasn’t the right time for me. It took every part of my awareness to say “No”, but eventually I did and although part of me feels as if I’m missing out, intuitively I know I made the right choice. Proof for me that just recognising you need to make a shift in your life is often the first step and the catalyst to a new way of being.


Love and light

Jo

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