Lately I’ve been learning what it means to slow down to get ahead. This has been such a struggle for me this year. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I also value taking care of myself.
I’ve been plagued by the question: How does one achieve “balance?”
Do you get confused about this too?
It seems like the bigger my aspirations, the greater the challenges and fears I have to overcome, the more energy it takes, the more overwhelmed I feel, and, of course, the more it suddenly hits me that I need to take some time to just CHILL.
It can be a vicious cycle of exciting highs and stressful lows.
Last month there was an emergency and I went to meet someone close to me at the hospital where my dad spent the last week of his life.
Everything was fine medically within a few hours, but I spent the rest of the day trying to not go back to that mental state of anxiety, of being in that hospital with my dad 18 months ago.
The next day, I went right back into the routine of work, out meeting lots of new people (which as an introvert can be tiring) and pushing myself on a deadline.
Suddenly two days later, I had reached my max. I was SO STRESSED I could focus on nothing but the tension building in my chest.
I had to take the next day off and just focus on me and relaxing. Since my dad passed last year, I’ve had a couple of panic attacks, so any time I feel stress coming on, my number one goal is to prevent another one. But this led me to question..
Why is it so difficult to find the right balance between work and rest? Why??
It’s because we don’t listen to ourselves.
We have been taught to outsource authority over our own lives since we were born!
First we learned to ask our parents for permission, then it was our teachers, and then our bosses. Even our spouses!
When have we EVER been taught to just ask OURSELVES what we need and give OURSELVES the permission to do it?
The solution is simple. We must seek permission inside. We must listen to ourselves, to our bodies, to understand when we need to slow down and when we’re able to give it our all.
But… easier said than done because we are so conditioned to looking to the outside for answers.
You’ve probably heard the term “the hustle” which inspires professionals to set big goals and reach them by working their butts off. It projects we’ll be rewarded beautifully for insanely hard work. We’ll feel invincible! But what’s underneath this picture of earned accomplishment? The verb “to hustle” actually means to hurry along or to force in a specific direction.
Hurry…force… To me these words are so clearly rooted in fear. Fear that we’re running out of time. Fear that it won’t go the way we want it to. Fear that if we don’t get there first, someone else will.
Whether we identify with “the hustle” or the idea of working our butt off, when we look to the outside for our answers, we’re making choices out of fear.
Fear that we don’t know what’s right.
Fear that we won’t be loved and accepted for acting from our true unique selves.
When we act from a place of fear, we’re stressed, worried, desperate, and not attuned with our own needs.
Yet when we listen to ourselves, we’re aligned with the energy of love: love for ourselves and our wellbeing, love for what makes each of us unique.
Last month I was trying to hustle and I didn’t listen to myself. If I had, I would have noticed that I needed time to process that scary trip to the hospital and the old anxiety it brought up.
I’d have given myself permission to take it a little slow for a few days to let any residual feelings come up for clearing.
If I had done this, I wouldn’t have crashed every afternoon on the couch. I would have been more present for my clients and my friends.
My productivity would have slowed down, but every interaction I had would have come from a place of love.
Last month I chose to look to the outside, I chose fear. But the beauty of this is that I can always choose again.
I can choose to treat myself with compassion and be more present with myself and attuned with my unique needs.
The truth about balance is it doesn’t exist in the ideal image we strive for.
In life and nature, a cycle of highs and lows is normal, but by listening to ourselves, we can smooth it out a bit. We can go along with the ride instead of resisting and forcing it in the other direction.
We can finally be the authority of our own lives, and give ourselves permission to go after what we need in any given moment.
So I encourage you to start noticing, where are you giving your authority away?
Where are you choosing fear and looking to the outside for answers?
How can you take your power back and give yourself permission to do what you need?
It could be taking a day off, cancelling plans to rest, getting a massage, delegating a task at work or at home.
But don’t let my examples sway you. I’m just another external source 🙂
Ask yourself, and listen closely.
YOUR TURN: Leave a comment below and share with us – what do you need to give yourself permission to do most right now?