“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” ~Max Ehrmann
“Just be good to yourself”…. have you ever had someone say this to you, and in your head you respond to yourself… “what the f does that mean anyway”?!.. ya, well me too! So let me tell ya..here’s my story: Life was good. I worked hard, I played hard. I was successful. The end. That was the story I projected. I took good care of myself—and everyone else…on the outside.
On the inside, I realize now that I buried vulnerability. I played the resilience card. I sought out quick-fixes. And I convinced myself I could do it all, I was okay, I could fix it all, it was all, going to be ok.. until I really was not. O.K…
In all of that taking care I wasn’t taking care of myself emotionally. Unconsciously, I placed “I’ll deal with it later” labels on several situations when they’d trickled into my life unplanned…. Somewhere along the overachieving path and always looking into the future, I lost myself when these “I’ll deal with it later”labels accumulated. I managed to forget how to take care of my inner world [how to ‘take care of myself’] . It started to affect my outer world. In a nutshell the seams were starting to split. I wasn’t able to hold it all together..
After neglecting what was really going on in my life, I ended up in a curled up ball in my bedroom corner, head buried in my knees, feeling a heavy, really heavy, amount of pain all at once. WTF.. right? How did I get there, and please tell me how the F do I get out!!??!! Humans are amazing, though; we adapt, we heal, we are capable of growing stronger – .When we acknowledge that changes, challenges, and hardships are there to deepen us, to remind us that we do get second( or third) chances, and that we are each made up of love, compassion, and healing, something remarkable happens.
With a sliver of faith in knowing it hast to be better than this…I made a promise to live differently. I said I AM READY!…..
I made a decision to wake up each day, wholly, by connecting to who I am—to nurture myself from the inside out (not knowing in the beginning what that even meant), to be with life instead of delay it—and, in turn, my days started to become more inviting again. I STARTED TO UNDERSTAND… what people were saying when I heard.. its ok, “just take care of yourself”…
Here is what I did.. see if this helps:
1.) I started to travel to connect, instead of using it as an escape.
2.) I became a morning person and started each day with mandatory meditation, reading, and reconnecting with my yoga practice, my yoga studio, my community…instead of rushing here and there and always feeling behind.
3.) I found peace by keeping a gratitude log, writing down just 3 things each day that I was grateful for.. and yes, sometimes ( and now fully) I was grateful for the pain. In writing that, it slowly started to peel back layers to heal the hurt that was buried beneath – instead of pushing it away.
4.) I started acknowledging my accomplishments and mini-successes and celebrated with small rewards instead of rushing to the next best thing, starting the next big project.
5.) I slowed down (a little bit) simplified tasks, reduced my online time, and committed to less instead of doing, moving, and achieving (more) simply for the sake of it.
6.) I committed to feeling. I felt. UGH.. I embraced the sadness I’d been carrying with me and leaned into my fears instead of placing a patch on them. I cried – a lot. I am still working on this.. I am not sure if we ever stop..
7.) I stared listening to my body. I started to love myself. I started to actually SEE myself,.. again.
8.) I chose to let go of stories I kept replaying about the past and the worries I created for the future instead of clinging onto fear and anxiety.
9.) I practice saying NO (a novel concept!) to the commitments that didn’t serve my values instead of saying yes to everything and depleting myself with each added responsibility.
In short, I learned how to say NO so that when I do say yes, it is a FULL. ON. YES!
10.) I created sanctuaries—weekly time for me to relax and just be—instead of waiting for burn out to be my sign its time to start replenishing.
11.) I am learning to follow my intuition and listen to myself in meditation instead of thinking and overanalyzing to the point of exhaustion.
12.) I asked myself questions and allowed it to be okay that I didn’t have the answers right away instead of being hard on myself for not knowing.
13.) I began fully acknowledging the present in its entirety—every aspect, including the playful, joyful moments, and the uncomfortable, challenging ones..realizing the more uncomfortable the feeling, very soon after I would find growth….and a little hit of bliss.
The world started to take on a different appearance—a kinder, more meaningful, more abundant, and compassionate glow… and now I know:
When we take the time to re-connect with ourselves, replace our fears with trust, and learn to let go of the things we cannot control, THIS IS TAKING CARE
When we listen to our intuition, embrace all of our imperfections, and stay authentic to who we are, THIS IS also TAKING CARE
When we ground ourselves in the present and make mental space to find clarity, THIS IS TAKING CARE
When we discover our interior barriers and find courage to dissolve them, THIS IS TAKING CARE
When we learn to be gentle with ourselves, THIS too is TAKING CARE
SO, NOW I AM GOING TO ASK YOU…When is the last time you acknowledged the feelings that are asking for your attention? How do you TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF from the inside out so that you can fully experience life – so that you can say – I’M READY – this IS F’ING GREAT!
Come to MAUI with me this April, come to Vermont all Summer. I’M READY… WHY WAIT?!
Bikram Retreat _ True North