You are the protagonist in your life
No one else can write this story; what stops you from stepping into your life?
As women, we are pulled in every direction. Relationships call for our care and attention, work demands commitment, children cry for more time, and all the while, laundry and dishes accumulate. In addition to family and work demands, our minds are constantly bombarded by media images, news headlines, and phone notifications. All of this input activates our body's systems of survival and self-protection. If left unchecked, this leads to chronic stress. Chronic stress is a physiological state of unrest in the body; the body is in a constant state of threat and alert and never receives the cue to rest and relax. If you have experienced trauma, you are already more sensitized to perceive threat and are at greater risk for chronic stress.
We are being over-stimulated and stressed out from every direction and our body does not know how to keep up. We may begin to experience chronic stress as normal or give up on vitality from our state of exhaustion. In our overwhelm, it can be difficult to remember that there is a way out. The path involves making active choices to minimize the amount of information, toxic people, and stimulation we experience on a daily basis. Here are examples of what this could look like:
turn off notifications on your phone
limit screen and scroll time (there are apps that can support you in this)
un-follow accounts or people that stress you out
rest when you have your period
be attentive to when, how, and from who you take in your news updates
integrate more supportive touch in your life (i.e. baths, massage, cuddling, martial arts)
be discerning about what you eat
add a morning and night practice of mindfulness
have dedicated times when you are not available
set policies for yourself (ex. I will check email three times a day, instagram once, voicemail twice)
spend more time in nature and with good friends
commit to a movement practice
Do you know what it feels like to be calm? When is the last time you allowed yourself to play and rest? While there are very real constraints in each of our lives, the reasons we give ourselves for why we cannot have more of the life we desire are often based on false beliefs we developed in our past or reactive responses from a state of chronic stress. Here are some reasons you may find yourself using:
I can't because of (my partner/children/mother/etc)
I don't have time
What would people think of me?
What if I'm bad at it?
This is just what life should feel like
I'll do it tomorrow
With all that is going on in the world, who am I to feel happy?
I'm too privileged
I'm not privileged enough
I don't deserve it
I have too much to do
My children need...and that's more important
No one will help me
I have to do it all myself
I'm too tired
While these reasons can be convincing, it is more likely that the true reasons you are not prioritizing yourself are that you do not know how, don't believe you are worthy, you are afraid something bad will happen, or your body is in a state of exhaustion/depletion/adrenal fatigue/overdrive. When we are in a state of chronic stress, there are two parts that need attention: the body and the mind. The body needs supportive practices to come out of states of survival and exhaustion. The mind needs practices to learn or remember that it will be okay.
Often on this path, there are places in us that require attention and healing. It can be difficult to face these places within us, so we prefer to say that we are too busy or believe it is not possible in order to protect ourselves. Here is the problem with this popular strategy: the joy, vitality, and dream that you are seeking is on the other side of the healing and you have to go through it to come out the other side. This does not mean you have to put yourself in danger or re-experience trauma, but it does mean you must learn to ride the waves of discomfort that come along with healing if you want the promise of a new life.
Do you want to reclaim you life? To put yourself front and center in your own story? To allow yourself to have what you need and want? If so, I invite you to investigate what currently holds you back. There is always something we can change. Even if we cannot change the external circumstances, we can create internal space and wisdom. We can integrate practices that honor ourselves in bigger and bigger ways as our courage and resilience builds. We can become more discerning about who and what we desire to be around, what calls to us, and what behavior serves our highest self. The following inquiry questions can be used as journal prompts or conversation starters with a trusted friend to help you find greater clarity:
What/who/where excites me and fills me with joy and happiness?
What social issues do I care the most about right now?
Who are the most supportive people in my life?
Who in my life brings me down, harms me, or does not honor/respect who I am?
What am I doing that keeps me healthy?
What have I not taken care of that I need to in order to support myself?
What is my relationship to money?
What things am I doing that I really don't want to do?
Who's opinion am I the most afraid of if I started living life in closer alignment to who I am?
How does what I eat make me feel?
Who's voice is in my head when I think about doing what is right for me?
What is the impact of social media/television/media on my mood, thoughts, and behaviors
What do I need to forgive myself for?
Where am I being dishonest with myself about what I want and need?
What is one thing I could do this week to come into greater alignment with who I am and what is right for me?
As always, do not hesitate to reach out if you need more support!
Desire to explore these inquiries with other women? Join the next group!