Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love Yourself First: Shifting In When Life is Chaotic on the Outside

Week 1:  Shifting In When Life is Chaotic on the Outside

Welcome to the first blog of seven aimed at bringing some awareness on how to put yourself first during this holiday season. Basically, from Halloween through New Years, we are constantly being invited, reminded, and inundated with our American culture about how to celebrate a series of holidays all crammed into 8 weeks.  It can bring out the stress in us, tension in our relationships, and become financially draining!  This blog will hopefully provide some insights on how you can step back, choose who you want to be, and how you would like to participate in this time of year. 

I have noticed some interesting issues about the holidays over the last few years.  They start earlier and earlier in the fall and keep escalating and telling us what we need to do to “rock” and outshine others this holiday.  In my work with parents, I am struck by a couple of key observations with my clients. 

First, we are struggling with codependence as a culture.   I define codependence as a reliance on what is outside of us: the external.  Think about it, we have learned to watch and scan the world out there, and react to it, copy it, or push away from it.  We watch for signs of what to do, when to plan, what to buy, what we need, and how we see ourselves.  The problem is, when we can only see ourselves in the external, we can be pulled and pushed in all the directions of others.  We can be swayed by others…. by our partners, our children, our co-workers, and by the media all too easily when we are reliant on these needs for our own sense of self.

The second observation is the way the holiday season is taking our reliance on the outside and moving us around like pawns on a chessboard.  We often are moved into places we may not want to be, or spending time with people, or spending money we do not really have or want to spend.  The holidays bring up an escalation of expectations, triggers and stressors that become one really yucky hot bed of emotions.  And we endure them, with a smile on our face, and wait it all out till after the New Years.

Do you feel this way?  Do you find yourself committing to more of these events and gatherings than you can realistically handle?  Is this based on obligations?  Or out of guilt?  Are you happy and excited with these reunions of family and friends yet at the end of the holidays, do you find you spent more than you wanted and wore yourself out? 

I have a quick exercise for you to consider.  It will only take a moment.   As you sit there reading this, settle in and get comfortable.  Relax your shoulders and your neck.  Put your feet on the ground and get yourself into a nice, rested space.

Ready?  Here we go….  Today is Sunday, November 23rd, and there are 4 days till 
Thanksgiving. ….. only four days. 

Repeat to yourself: “Today is Sunday, November 23rd, and there are 4 days till Thanksgiving. ….. only four days. “

Now stop.  Think about those four days ahead and then freeze.  Take a deep breath in and hold all you can of what you see and feel, then let it go as you exhale. 

Sit in this moment.

When you are ready, write down how you feel.  Can you identify any areas in your body that tightened up?  Where is this in your body?  Are there other places?

What images came into your head?  When you see these images, are they connected to any feelings in your body?  What memories, emotions and/or feelings arise?

Now that you have captured that snapshot: thank it and let it go. It has served you.

Give yourself a couple of these moments of breathe through out the week to create and grab an internal check in. You have created a way to stop the external and move inside. 

You have created a way to put yourself first.

This is a quick and easy way to do an internal check in when you are going into a week as packed full of memories, pains, joys, anticipations, and challenges as this one usually is.  If you can give yourself a couple of these little moments along the way to create and grab an internal check in, you will have a very valuable tool of information for what you can choose to do next.  You have created a way to stop the external and move inside.  You have created a way to put yourself first.

This is the last weekend before we all start the countdown to Thanksgiving.  Some of us will be alone, some of us will be working, many of us will be with family and friends.  Whatever it is you have planned, remember yourself in each day.  Take the time to open the door of your own feelings and let them guide you forward, so you can do the best you can with this holiday and celebration.

I will continue to take a deeper look at each week as we move towards the end of 2014 and offer some awareness and tools for you as you go along.  Next week we are going to explore how to prioritize the massive amounts of time and responsibilities ahead in the month of December, while honoring you and how you can support yourself.

Be well.  Love yourself first, so you can let that love spill onto others.


p.s.  Take this exercise with you over the next week and use it when you feel the need to stop and move inside for a moment.

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