Radical self-awareness to keep moving forward when life turns sideways.
I don’t know about you, but my 2020 vision board didn’t include a global pandemic. I didn’t factor in time to manage the impact of a novel virus.
So much for contingency planning. Mine didn’t include wearing a hazmat suit to Whole Foods and battling my neighbors for the last 4-pack of Charmin. Yeah, no. I didn’t account for that.
Did you account for cancelled work trips, no dinners out, no gyms, or haircuts? Or worse, getting laid off, sudden lack of childcare and a whole new lifestyle over night? Yeah, me neither.
And yet here we are - our best laid plans, daily schedules, our commitments, and for some of us, our jobs, our health and of course, our very lives up in the air.
Life as we knew it (and for many of us, loved it) abruptly over.
If you’re like me, you’re feeling frustrated, anxious, antsy, restless, distracted, and sad. You miss your friends. You want your routine back. You want normal.
And you could definitely use a hug.
I SO get it and I’m right there with you.
I won’t lie – I hate this. I resent it. I don’t want to make time for this shit. I prefer to call the shots on my time, and the what, when, where, who, and how of my days.
I like to choose my challenges. I want to be in control. You too? Thought so.
Before I get slammed for being ungrateful, with no perspective and a negative attitude, I’m well aware I’m lucky. For me, the Covid-19 crisis is a temporary disruption to my business-as-usual. A few workarounds and some self-care, and I’ll be fine.
My heart is with the thousands (and soon millions) of my fellow human beings who are suffering greatly, in pain or were brought to the end of their life by coronavirus. Maybe you’re one of these people.
For the rest of us, though, our experience is different. And it’s ours. It’s yours. Yes, this is a global pandemic but the experience of it is deeply personal.
During a crisis or hard time, I always bristle when clients or friends say things like “I don’t have it as bad as other people” or “I should just suck it up and stop being a baby.”
Do you find yourself doing this? How’s that working for you?
You might think it’s motivating, but it’s the opposite. In the personal growth biz, we call moves like that ‘self attacks.’ They’re like an uncaring parent saying ‘sit down and shut up’ to a scared child whose crying and upset.
If there’s one takeaway from this post, it’s don’t kick yourself when you’re down. Yes, find perspective, practice compassion, be generous, and pay attention to the suffering of others. But minimizing your own doesn’t do you or them any good.
It’s not spiritual; it’s spiritual bypassing. You’re turning against yourself; against your own feelings, experiences and humanity.
Honoring your suffering opens your heart and unlocks empathy, love and kindness. For others and for you.
Which brings me to the other takeaway. While our social responsibility is to stay-at-home and keep our distance from each other, this crisis calls us to personal responsibility as well.
For you, personal responsibility might include the basics like:
- Regular exercise
- Getting outside
- Facetiming with friends
- Eating well
- Daily routines and rituals
- Sound sleep
Maybe you’re also caring for yourself at the next level by:
- Mindful breathing
- Support groups
I hope you’re also making time to put your feet up, read a book, stream some good shows, and dance naked in your living room to Beyonce. Oh just me on that last one? Riiiight. =)
But what if you’re up for another challenge? What if you’re ready to not only survive this pandemic but actually thrive through it. What if you pressed the personal growth gas pedal during this unexpected, unwelcome and unsympathetic crisis?
Now you’re talking. We’re back in business, baby! Let’s get to it.
Here’s a practice to stay the self-improvement course during a major course correction.
As always, I see life as a laboratory all about experiments, trial and error, and safe-to-fail challenges. Approach this practice with curiosity, willingness and an open mindset. Try it on and see what rises to the surface. You’re looking for information, data, new ideas.
The first goal is creating awareness. Action is next. Learning and growth follow.
Turning toward yourself
Last week, my coach said this experience is asking all of us the same question – “Am I turning toward myself or against myself?”
The simplicity of this hit home. When we’re stripped of so much, especially daily contact with other people, we’re forced to be with ourselves in a radically new way. This question becomes a clarifier in this ever-changing, moment-by-moment, one-day-at-a-time landscape.
What is turning toward yourself? It’s practicing undivided attention, maximum self-awareness, radical self-care, and doing everything possible to be whole and complete on your own.
It’s a spiritual process, really. And a beautiful, extraordinary and challenging practice. Not unlike a 30-day silent retreat where it’s just you…and you…and you. It’s a major stretch for even the most developed of us.
Turning toward yourself means seeing yourself in all your glory, being with yourself and learning where and how you disconnect from the essence of your true nature.
It’s being with your thoughts, feelings, body, habits, urges, & yearnings without your usual distractions. It’s sitting with yourself when you want to crawl out of your skin. It’s noticing when you feel like you need a fix – that hit – to get you out of being with yourself and being right here, right now.
Whether that fix is another person, a substance, busyness, shopping, or in my case, my daily iced Matcha tea latte. When those options are removed or harder to come, you’re left with yourself.
Turning toward yourself is sitting with your limitations, your shadow and the parts of yourself you have a hard time liking let alone loving.
It’s also sitting with your hopes, your desires, your untold stories, and the hero within.
And that’s the gift. The more you learn to be with yourself fully, the more you learn about yourself. You’re pushed to your limits of self-awareness to see who you really are, what you're about, what you can handle and just how much you’re capable of.
Ultimately, when done repeatedly over time, it develops your self-trust muscle. Self-worth. Self-love.
Note that turning toward yourself doesn’t mean turning away from others. Not at all. Part of turning toward yourself is recognizing your need and love for others. It’ll make your relationships better because you won’t go to them with needs you can take care of on your own.
Learning to meet your “self” needs clears the path to healthy needs and wants from others.
I know this sounds like a lot and a tall order. And it can be. But it’s a moment-by-moment practice. Just like noticing your wandering thoughts in meditation, turning toward yourself is noticing – without self-attack or judgment – “oh, I’m turning away from myself right now. Hmm. Isn’t that interesting.”
That’s the practice for now. It’s an elegant one. Nothing fancy, no eight easy steps, no this is the cure-all marketing BS. This is what upleveling your personal growth looks like. Simple, stripped down, minimal. With maximal returns.
Practice asking yourself throughout the day “Am I turning toward myself or away from myself?” Then, record your observations – the what, when, where, why, how, and who. From there, patterns and themes emerge. And from those, actions follow.
As always, I’m here when this feels like more than you can handle on your own. Let’s talk.
One last note - none of us turns toward ourselves all the time. This isn’t about nirvana or perfection or never turning away from our needs and wants. Its noticing when we do and then making a conscious choice in the moment.
Turning toward me and you,