7. Practice an unconditional friendliness towards yourself
“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” ― Heath L. Buckmaster
Imagine you were sitting at your work table and your colleague was sitting next to you. Every time they wanted to get up to take a break or go and get a snack – you snapped and told her to sit down.
Does this sound familiar?
Are you working around the clock because you absolutely have to or because you are slave driving yourself?
There is an incredibly powerful video where Will Smith defines self-discipline as self-love. It is about making decisions in your own best interest. Self-discipline has a negative stigma to it but he makes a point that self-discipline isn’t so much about getting control of your eating or your body but getting control of your mind.
When I approach this concept in my training work, I have to tackle it with great sensitivity because self-love is a huge concept and one that makes people feel quite uncomfortable. It feels rather unjustified and selfish – how can possibly I love myself unconditionally?
Instead, I share the Buddhist concept of Maitri.
This is about cultivating an unconditional friendliness towards yourself. Think about your best friend or partner or that person in your life who is your absolute rock. What is it about them you love? It’s probably traits such as unconditional love, no judgement, kindness, empathy, compassion. So the question I pose to you is can you flip that? Can you cultivate these qualities towards yourself?
It is not enough to have positive affirmations about self-friendliness and unconditional self-love. We know in external relationships, words are not enough, it is actions that truly demonstrate intention.
It is the same for yourself, it has to be demonstrated by daily acts of kindness. It can be as small as taking 20 minutes for a nice relaxing bath or downloading that fiction book you have been meaning to read and actually giving yourself time to read it – guilt free!
Give yourself permission to take breaks and to recharge. This is about having a hard conversation with yourself and confronting how you are treating yourself. Then make a decision to shift and decide what you are going to commit to.
It is in the simple things like giving yourself space for self-care and committing to that time. It is treating your appointments with yourself with the same honour and respect you would anybody else. Not an attitude of ‘oh it’s just time for me’ so I’ll cancel it and do it another time’.
What is the self-talk that comes up when you do take some time for yourself?
If you need some external support to give you permission to make progress on your own goals, reach out to an accountability buddy and tell them – I am committing to meditation, journaling, and exercise – whatever! Maybe it’s that online course you want to do but haven’t allowed yourself the space. When you make the declaration to someone else, you create accountability not only to them but more importantly to you.
If you can get this right, everything else will fall into place and you can stop working around the clock. The guilt of taking a break will dissipate, you will realise that by making more space for yourself, and you achieve more not less. By taking some more time for yourself, you begin to fill your cup and recharge yourself. Then you become more fully charged and can start to approach your work with more energy, excitement and creativity.
The reason you complain about a lack of balance in your life is because you are not showing up in the calendar enough. It’s not enough to schedule a slot in your diary and then when the alarm goes off you hit snooze and figure you’ll get to it later. The trick lies in showing up to yourself. Get up and work on your activity for as little as 10 minutes to make progress – create that micro win and celebrate it.
It is in keeping the promises you make to yourself that you build your self-esteem, self-confidence and ultimately self-love.
8. Give yourself permission to do things differently
”Let go of the way it used to be to be open to the way it can be” – Lori Milner
Quarantine has brought with it a natural slowing down of our normal pace. I am not saying things aren’t busy but with the elimination of car time and the commute, it definitely enables the day to unfold in a less frenetic way.
Normally I would arrive at gym at 5am and be back in the car by 7am to get the kids to school on time. Now I am waking up at 5am and using the first hour of my day for self-care like meditation, yoga and journaling which puts me into a peak state to tackle the day at hand. I have literally had to give myself permission to do things differently and not feel like I am slacking without the rush of being out the door by 7am.
My routine has taken a different approach and I am really enjoying it. Be aware of putting false pressures or deadlines on yourself because that’s how it used to be. This time will soon pass and you will regret it if you didn’t take the gap to slow down.