Stop Fixing! Start Nurturing Yourself Instead!
September 24, 2018
My Pilates instructor told me the other day that I looked relaxed. I thought about her comment and realized it is very possible that I have not been relaxed for over a month. Let me explain.
In late July we became aware of some significant roof leaks over our family room (also the room where I coach). The month was spent calling roofers, moving furniture, laying down buckets, and drying out carpeting and furniture. Not to mention paying to replace a couple things that had been ruined. It became a period of time when I just went into fix-it mode.
How can I resolve the issue? What will resolve this issue now for the short term? When can we fix the problem more permanently?
At one point, we realized that even our desired permanent fix wasn’t doing the job we had hoped for. Thus, it was back to the drawing board with more problem solving and more meetings with roofers and contractors to create a new plan. While this process was somewhat effective, not once during the past 6–7 weeks did I even realize that I was stressed. Not once did I turn to myself, my emotions and my body, to determine how I was doing and to realize that in fact I was STRESSED OUT!
How did this happen? How did I leave myself behind in the dust? I am a life coach for God’s sake! I know better than this. I work with clients on self-care, self-kindness, and self-compassion, and yet here I was not taking a moment to carve out time to take care of me. I guess I rationalized that getting the roof problem resolved was taking care of me, which it was. However, it did not address the emotions creeping up and lodging themselves in my body without any expression for over a month.
I began to feel stagnant. I began to feel like I was just going through the motions. I found myself longing for things to return to normal. Yet, this was my new normal and I was not accepting or loving it at all. Sorry Byron Katie. I deserted myself in the very time when I really needed myself the most. I could have comforted myself, yet I didn’t. Truth be told, the idea never occurred to me. A life coach friend even suggested that I do some self-coaching.
I did not heed her suggestion. Basically, I fell into my default mode. I had operated for many years as someone who fixed problems for other people and fixed objects like the roof or a car. I clearly remember when my dad was killed that I was overwrought with grief immediately. However, when Kim and I drove into Cleveland for the funeral preparations and everything else that entailed, I went into fix-it mode. I didn’t shut down completely. In fact, I did on some level take charge and get things done.
It worked. It allowed me to get through one of the most difficult weeks in my life. Psychologists and spiritual leaders who study grief state that this behavior is normal. Going into business mode allows us to let in just the amount of trauma that we believe we can tolerate. When something traumatic happens, our bodies sense that feeling everything at once may be overwhelming. This is probably why grief of any kind—the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the break-up of a relationship or friendship, even the loss of control when your roof is leaking—is a process that takes time.
The lesson I have gleaned from the past six weeks is that my new habits of offering myself self-compassion and self-love are not automatic. I have been operating in this life for almost fifty-four years. I have been practicing life coach skills for seven of those fifty-four years. So, I have a lot more practice in being tough on myself and pushing myself to get it done than I do in taking care of myself.
This is why it is so important to practice my new skills. It’s also important to forgive myself and show myself compassion for leaving my needs on the back burner for six weeks. Beating myself up for a lack of self-compassion will not be helpful. I am human. I err. I will err again. So, now it’s time to start over the process of putting myself front and center with all the love and compassion that I desire.
Oh, by the way, we have a new roof over our family room!
I just found out about Waking Up in the World, a free online event by Sounds True. Sounds True is a multimedia publishing company founded in 1985 by Tami Simon, with the mission of disseminating spiritual wisdom. I have taken part in a number of their online classes. I like that they offer these at a low cost. That being said, it’s difficult for me to take in a lecture every day for ten days. I tend to upgrade so that I have this resource for a lifetime and can review it whenever I want and at the pace I want. I thought I would share this online event with you because it looks exciting and will provide the learner with ten days of training on how to become “an unstoppable force for good”!
I find quotes helpful reminders to take care of myself. That being said, I clearly benefit from all the reminders and help that I accumulate to practice self-compassion. Remember to take care of you!