When it comes to self care, I believe there are five things we need to consider in order to be successful. In previous posts we covered the first three, Mindset, Awareness, and Direction. But honestly, they don’t amount to a hill of beans unless we take action.
In today’s post we’re going to go over some ways you can create a practical plan and find the motivation in taking those first reluctant steps towards healthy, balanced living.
Okay, so, today is all about (in my opinion) the hardest part of any self care routine; taking action.
Truth be told, it’s pretty easy to curl up on the couch and contemplate all the ways you could bring balance and wellness into your life, but it’s another thing to actually DO it.
Raise your hand if you ever promised yourself you’d start tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or once the conditions were a bit better, or when the circumstances were less challenging…
Are you raising your hand? Come on, let’s be honest… put it up there. Okay.
But seriously, whether it’s clearing the clutter, scheduling the appointment, establishing the boundaries, or lacing up the sneakers, there’s something deep down in our heart that we know would improve the quality of our wellbeing if we, you know, actually did it.
So, what’s the deal? Why can’t we just get over ourselves and DO THE DAMN THING? What is holding us back?
I mean, we’re smart enough to conceptualize the positive benefits of these potential actions, so why the hell can’t we rally and just do it already?
Well, there are several reasons.
For starters, there’s conditioning.
Humans are creatures of habit. We have routines that are so deeply ingrained into our character, that we’re not even aware that we’re doing half the shit we’re doing most of the time. We’re unconsciously doing things like checking our phone, clenching our jaw, judging our bodies… These things seem to just happen.
But every single thing that you do in your day, you once had to learn how to do. Then you had to put it into practice. And now, here you are, living your life on autopilot.
You don’t have to think about brushing your teeth, or HOW you brush your teeth. You just brush your teeth, and most likely while you’re brushing your teeth, you do things like take inventory of your day, or notice the giant zit growing on your chin, or realize the mirror is really quite dirty, and your mother would be really disappointed in that. The point is, a good chunk of life is set on autopilot, leaving our brains to be wild horses (for better or worse).
There are two points I’d like to make with this example.
The first point is the reality of creating new habits. Learning to brush your teeth when you were a kid was challenging. You didn’t do it very well and your guardians had to “remind you” if not bribe or force you into doing it. But here you are, virtually a lifetime of practice, brushing like a boss.
You’re so good at it now, that you don’t have to think about ANY of components of the process. You simply brush your teeth and get on with life.
Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re struggling with this oral hygiene thing. And if you are, that’s ok, too. I have confidence that you’ll figure it out.
Anyway, the second point is how much open space there actually is in your life and in your mind.
Because you don’t have to actively think about WHAT you’re doing with so many of life’s little routines, you can actually use this time and space to empower and inspire your ass.
Instead of fixating on the rabbit hole that comes with focusing on the emerging zit on your chin or with the notion that you’re a slack-ass housekeeper that most likely disappoints your mother, you can use this time to look into your own eyes and practice confessing the love and patience you have with yourself and the process of evolving.
You can use this time to psyche yourself up for all the amazing things you’re gonna do for your wellbeing.
You can use this time to get to know yourself, to understand where your habits come from, and to make plans to give them a bit of a zushing if need be.
You can use this time to practice REconditioning your brain.
Okay, so conditioning is one of the hiccups we encounter when we’re trying to become an active participant in our wellbeing.
Sweet mother-of-all-that’s-holy, can we talk about practicality and expectations for just a minute?
We’ve all got goals. We’ve got these ideas rattling around in our heads of what “better” living might look like. We have visions of what a healthier version of ourselves might be. We can see it, we can taste it, we can feel it. But it’s usually the END RESULT that we tend to focus on, and not necessarily the process.
If it’s weight-loss you want, you see a slimmer version of yourself.
If you’re looking to save some money, you see a fatter bank account.
If you’re longing to have confidence, you see yourself conducting your business like a boss.
What you may not see is how much you’re going to struggle and fuck up along the way.
There’s a REASON you’re not already living the life you’re craving. Is because it’s HARD!
And it’s hard because it’s unfamiliar. And it’s unfamiliar because it’s not what you currently do. And it’s not what you currently do because you haven’t taken the time to learn how to do it. And you haven’t taken the time to learn how to do it it’s because there’s some bullshit chatter in the back of your head that’s throwing up roadblocks.
These roadblocks usually look like unrealistic expectations.
Like, you’re expecting to just suddenly be good at whatever it is you’ve set out to do. You expect things will go smoothly. You expect faster results. You expect the chatter in your head to be optimistic and encouraging. You expect you’re going to enjoy yourself along the way. You expect this “thing” you’re working towards is going to improve everything else in your life. You expect it to make you happy.
News flash: Expectations suck.
Not only do they suck, but they’re extremely unhelpful and put unnecessary pressure on you. Poor you, poor us.
Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard to let go of having expectations. They’re pretty intimately entwined with your vision, right? But maybe, just maybe, instead of having expectations, you could practice swapping them out with observation, curiosity, and open-mindedness?
Expectations tell your brain that something is going to be true, real, and available. Whereas, cracking open the boundaries of your brain, and tapping in to your observation and curiosity skills will make the whole process more “doable” as well as enjoyable.
Okay. Conditioning: check. Expectations: check. Onto practicality…
While I believe most of us are virtually limitless with potential, I also believe in setting the bar pretty low.
I used to joke, saying, “I like to keep my goals low so I can reach them.” But it’s kinda true.
I totally dream big. Like, Mount Everest big. I see myself up there on top of my achievements. However, I know that in order to get up there with all the nosebleeds and thin oxygen levels I have to prepare myself appropriately for the trek.
I can’t just say, “I’m gonna climb Everest” and head out tomorrow and to reach the peak (btw, this is totally an analogy if you didn’t catch that, I have zero desire to climb Everest). Anyway, there’s a lot of shit to consider before I head out.
I have to make sure I set myself up for success. Right?
I need to condition my body.
I have to strengthen my mind.
I need to make sure I have to proper resources and support that will get me to the top.
And most importantly, I have to divide the whole process into small, practical, achievable, bit-sized goals.
If I try to hike Everest tomorrow, I’m just going to end up in a cold, sobbing heap, with a bruised ego and likely a pulled hamstring. …I’m not ready. But today I can put a few pounds in a backpack and do some lunges around the yard. I learn about how other beginners started on their journey, because I’m not alone in this world. There are other people out there who care to share their experiences and support (which is the final key for creating self care independence, but we’ll talk about that next time).
If you’d like to have a guide to help organize your self-care action plan and set practical, achievable goals, I'll leave a link for that in the show notes at the bottom.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for being here.
I’ll see you soon.
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