One Self-Loving Act at a Time
As we become fully vested in our adulthood, some (if not most) of us begin living a life of routine that is achievement-based and may sound something like this:
Our mornings begin as we take our most precious amount of willpower (the kind that gets you out of bed) to get to Crossfit or some other physical activity but only after our smoothie filled bellies have replaced the eggs and ham sit-down breakfast; we jam through our workouts as if a personal record must be broken, shower and get to the local co-working space (in my case, Buro Midtown ) with impeccable appearance to match, then rush off to lunch meetings where we make sure to choose Della Bowls over Burrito Bowls, consciously choosing what we put in our mouths as much as what comes out of our mouths as we remember the quote, “Speak only words of joy and motivation.” When the day is over, we rush home only to nuke our brains out with Netflix… Repeat, times 4 days a week (hey, this is Miami, not New York).
The Lulls of the Daily Grind
If you are lucky enough to have a partner through this fast-moving time in history that we exist in, or whether Fido is your only “snuggle buddy,” you probably have had the inkling thought at some point “Why am I doing this? Why does it take SO much effort just to live right? ” Even good stress (the kind that you experience when you over exert yourself at the gym but “feel really good” after; working late to complete the project that you’ll get an ace in life for, etc.) can contribute to exhaustion and burnout.
It seems counter productive that those of us who spend so much time in deliberate action attempting to lead the “right life” still suffer a decent amount of exhaustion, burnout, and isolation once we feel that the “ball has been dropped.” How can we stay in tune longer with ourselves and find joy, meaning, and passion in what we are doing in an effort to achieve our goals? How can we become spiritual gangsters against complacency and loss of motivation, one day at a time, without additionally burdening on our overflowing to-do lists?
Become Heart-Centered Over Mind-Centered
There is a subtle but magical difference when you think with your heart over your mind, which over time, can have cumulative effects on the levels of joy to be experienced. When we think with our mental minds, the process is that of a problem-solving notion. When we begin to think with our hearts, we are taking the time to FEEL what we are doing and deliberately remember why we are doing it. Thoughts from the heart that remind us of why we do what we do can lead to feelings invoked by those thoughts of why rather than how. We can hone in better to our desires instead of lack of what we desire.
Mind-centered question : What do I need to do today?
Mind-centered answer: I need to go to the gym…I’m tired but I know I’ll feel better once I get through it. If I don’t keep going, I’ll gain the weight back. (Notice the awareness in the possible loss of the desire?)
Heart-centered question : Why are you doing what you need to do this morning?
Heart-centered answer: I started going to the gym in July 2015. Since then I have lost 28 lbs. Although it is an investment in my time and energy, I love how strong I feel. I love being able to see how my body is changing. (Notice the awareness of supporting and appreciating the desire?)
Have Compassion – FOR YOU
In a society that is addicted to feel-good movies, inspirational quotes, and a pro-optimism lifestyle, we have come to think of negative emotions as something we have to protect ourselves from as if it were the Zika of emotions. The truth is, loving our “negative thoughts” as much as our positive thoughts is an act of loving kindness towards ourselves. When we become obsessed with this notion that we must give our best as often as we can and for as long as we can, we begin to reject the sides of ourselves that experience less than that in positivity.
When we transfer the direction of our compassion (the kind that you have for your best friend on their worst day) to ourselves during times of having negative thoughts, we can immediately become more self-accepting. For instance, I have been battling with smoking cessation for quite some time now. Each time I failed at it, I began to shove the shame of failure into a deep, dark closet and shift my focus to the bad@ss cyclist’s side of me. I was ashamed of that side of me because I had no idea how to have compassion for myself. The minute I shifted my thoughts to a place of compassion for myself, I was able to understand how hard this was for me granted my family’s’ long history of nicotine use.
I can deliberately choose to be on my own team instead of disowning the shamed, shadow side of myself by speaking kindly to myself. “This must be so hard for you, I know you really wanted to kick this habit to the curb. I am sorry you weren’t able to do it this time.” With this level of compassion for my failures, I become my own cheerleader to try again with enthusiasm.
Loving Kindness as Remedy
The truth of the matter is that there is no point in doing all of these seemingly “good deeds” for ourselves until we can have a true sense of loving kindness for why we do it. Taking the time to deliberately love what we do for ourselves can help us keep the “living the right life” burnout at bay. Even good habits can become a burden when we forget why we are doing it. Heart-centered healing centers such as Bagua Center and the Unity on the Bay offer meditation, Reiki, and sound healing workshops that can help us discover joy in the life processes through self-love. Books such as Self-Compassion : The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff can strengthen our understanding of the hidden joys in deliberate acts of self-kindness.
In the midst of all the “doing and achieving” we can take the time to remember why we do what we do, that at the base of these daily routines and personal achievements is the core desire to love ourselves more.
We must remember to have compassion when we find ourselves forgetting to be kind to ourselves and sliding into autopilot… after all, sometimes we forget so that we can remember it better. Namaste.