Imagine bearing the weight of all that is difficult and challenging in your life on your shoulders all at once. Then, imagine having to go out into the world with that load and pretend that everything is fine.
After a while the load becomes too much to bear and you reach a point where you need to step back, to withdraw and retreat.
That is the most loving thing that you can do for yourself.
When you don’t feel okay and you don’t feel well (as in your overall wellbeing is in poor condition), you need to take care of yourself.
Being in situations where you can’t fully honour and accept where you’re at only makes things worse.
When you’re burdened by challenges you need to replenish and care for yourself rather than constantly be in situations that require you to put on an act and pretend you’re okay.
That can be a a difficult lesson to learn when you struggle with being vulnerable or want to be seen as someone who always has it together.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been asking myself the question ‘what is this blog about?’.
I’ve been thinking about the topics I share most often and how that can be encapsulated into a few words, a clear answer to my question.
Over the past few months I’ve been in a personal development, problem solving, self-help space which is reflected in my writing.
But in the last few days the ideas I’ve had for blog posts have been things I’ve noticed or observed, nothing to do with personal development.
I was then reminded of the origin of this blog, taking the opportunity to notice something in myself or the world then use that to find a lesson, growth point or a helpful reminder.
It’s a balance of introspection and extrospection.
To observe and understand life in the same way that we can observe and understand ourselves.
It’s a mix of personal development, self-discovery/exploration, career, social-media, wellness and blogging tips.
As the years go by, I actively and consciously learn more and more about myself, specifically the way I work.
Years back I used to write monthly todo lists, I didn’t realise it at the time but I was mimicking things I’d seen other people do. Sort of like people that are organised and productive write todo lists so that’s what I’ll do too. I was doing the behaviour without any true intention so it didn’t really make me the organised and productive person I aspired to be.
I then discovered MuchelleB on YouTube who I’ve learnt a lot from. She inspired me to write structured weekly todo lists which I’ve been doing for a few years now.
But lately I’ve found myself needing something else.
And so I started writing daily todo lists.
I’ve been using post-its which are great because you can’t fit a lot on them.
I’ve been using them at specific points in my day where I find myself stuck for what to do or how how to spend my time in the most caring/helpful way. I’ll write 7-10 tasks and work through them for the rest of the day or even just a few hours.
I’ve found that when I’m more intentional about what I’m doing in smaller sections of time, it’s much easier to be disciplined. In contrast, when I I’m working from a full week’s worth of tasks day to day, I end up just doing what I feel like doing rather than what needs to be done.
And the purpose of this post is to serve as a reminder for when things aren’t working well that you might just need to do something a little bit different.
Have you ever found yourself putting time and effort into something whilst hoping for a very specific outcome? And then the more it seems like you won’t get what you want, the more you try to make things happen, the more things seem to not be working out.
I think most of us probably get some amount of enjoyment from working towards the things we care about. But if there appears to be no real progress, after a while it starts to feel un-fun.
This might feels like a reason to push and pull, to apply force and pressure to get a desired outcome. We do this because we think it’ll help. We think if we encourage a situation enough, that it’ll lead to us getting what we want.
We think we can lead a horse to water and make it drink.
But the outcome is often exactly what we don’t want.
We’re actually better off stripping things back and doing much less. And in doing so we can get closer to ourselves and actually check in with how we feel and consciously decide how best to proceed.
When something is not working, often the best thing is to simply fall back, do nothing and let things be.
A few months back, I was looking at buying some reusable items that would in the long term save me money and reduce waste.
After a quick google I learned that this item could be used hundreds of times (one site even claimed up to 1000) before needing to be replaced.
And so I got thinking, if people are only making one off purchases of this item every couple of years, how does the company make enough money? Then on a wider scale, how do companies selling reusable or sustainable items make a good profit if they don’t have regular customers (as in the same person shopping from them every few months at least).
In terms of making money, something that is short term that needs to regularly be bought will make you more. Although of course a re-usable item would be listed at a price to accommodate for the infrequent repurchases. However, in the long term, customers tend to spend more on the less sustainable item like plastic straws than they would on the reusable option, in this case metal straws.
I think the answer to this is yes, sustainable products are profitable. If they weren’t people probably wouldn’t be selling them. But if the intention of a company is to remain environmentally sustainable, they can’t be focused on doing whatever it takes to make as much money as possible because that’s when they start to sacrifice the original intention.
I recently found myself with a problem.
My initial instinct was to solve it.
I found myself focusing my efforts and energy on figuring out the best solution but at the same time, I felt stuck.
Then suddenly, it occurred to me that I could just do nothing. This problem was the sort of thing that wouldn’t matter in the years to come, it also wasn’t urgent. Whether I took action right away or in a couple weeks would make no real difference.
So, I decided to do nothing which felt strange at first but it was also liberating.
I think this happens to us all from time to time.
Stress and anxiety can result in time ‘speeding up’. You spend so much time feeling overwhelmed that by the time you go to take action, it already feels like it’s too late. And so you go back to feeling overwhelmed again and the cycle repeats.
When you feel like there isn’t enough time, your instincts probably tell you to speed up but it turns out that you’re better off doing the opposite. An easy way to slow yourself down is to meditate.
Taking just 10 minutes is incredibly impactful because it’ll help to reduce overwhelm. But also, 10 minutes of meditation feels a lot longer than 10 minutes of watching a tv show. It’s sort of like time slows down when you relax which might inspire you to embrace a more relaxed way of living.
Make note of how you feel
Perhaps you feel tired, stressed, jittery or tense. What can you do to help combat those things? Identifying how you feel not just emotionally but also physically can be great a great starting point to help shift the feelings.
Stretching or a quick workout could help calm the jitters. If you’re tired, maybe you need to rest. Once you tend to your needs you can get back to doing whatever needs to be done from a much more relaxed headspace.
Write down exactly what you need to do
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by big tasks and feel like ‘there’s so much to do i don’t have enough time, I don’t know where to start’. Writing things down helps ease the anxieties because once you know exactly what you need to do it makes it much easier to start getting things done. For people like me bigger tasks need to be broken down into smaller tasks.
An example of this is when I was recently tidying my bedroom, I wrote down each specific area I wanted to tidy. Doing this made me realise the overall task wouldn’t take as long as I thought and I actually had more than enough time to do it. However, because I’d given myself several smaller tasks it meant that I could have split them over 2 or 3 days if I genuinely didn’t have enough time to do it in one day.
Around a month or so ago, an idea came to me that I found really useful.
The idea was that situations that emotionally charge us are a reminder to focus on ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, feeling bad or worrying, take some time to check in with yourself.
Perhaps you were involved in a situation that left you feeling upset. You could ‘go off’ at the other people involved, blame them or get annoyed at yourself.
You could also ask yourself ‘Why is this bothering me?’, ‘What can I do for myself to shift my mood?’ or ‘How can I take responsibility for the part I played in this?’.
Asking these questions assures you’re looking at the situation consciously, taking care of yourself and not focusing on other people.
When you’re working on yourself, it can be easy to overlook the progress you’re making. Sometimes it can feel as if nothing has changed.
It’s not until you find yourself in a challenging situation and you are able to manage it so differently compared to in the past, that you realise the work you have been doing is working.
Perhaps, in situations that feel comfortable you used to default to playing small and hiding away. But, now you find yourself speaking up and allowing yourself to be seen and heard even though you feel nervous.
That’s how you know the work is working.
If you’re someone that likes to vent and offload I think it’s important to be mindful.
Think about things such as:
How many times have I vented to this person about the same issue?
Has anything changed or am I just repeating the same thing over and over again?
Do I want help solving this or just someone to sit and listen?
The answer to those questions might make you realise that you should spend more time solving your problems than you do talking about them. Your answer might also inspire you to ask before you vent instead of dumping on someone and apologising after.
As much as I think it’s totally fine to want someone to just listen without trying to offer advice, I also think that people have the right no not want to hear you talk about your problems, especially when you’ve gotten into the habit of carelessly dumping on someone over and over again.