Life is so busy these days and unless we are mindful, we can find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed some of the time or all the time.
Perhaps we just battle on, tucking all of our turmoil inside, telling ourselves we’ve coping ok and managing well and if we don’t acknowledge it, it isn’t there.
Family members or friends may check in with us and ask how we’re going and while we might feel close enough to tell them things are not great and we’re not coping, as above, we may actually think we’re doing fine.
But really, sometimes we just need to check in with ourselves!
And this is where honesty and reality come into play…
As an example, what I often see in clinic are people coming for an appointment perhaps for something like IBS who tell me they are doing really well in their lives and in their work. But the symptoms tell me quite the opposite.
Those of you who’ve followed for me for a while may remember how I love to consider the symbolism of the symptoms, where are they presenting and what do they mean. So, when we get someone with IBS (and again, this is just an example) the symbolism of the inner state is that the individual is out of balance, too serious, often controlling, and focused on the negative. They may be easily irritated, judgmental and opinionated, holding onto outdated beliefs and ideas and have difficulty trusting others. Some or all of this may apply. I could go on because there is a bit more, but I think that says enough.
When I read out the symbolism of a symptom or part of the body I’ll usually say, “but you might not resonate with that” and 100% of the time (yes really!) the patient will say, no that’s all true.
As a practitioner I always ask my clients to check in with me between appointments; just give me a little update because this focuses you on what’s going on relative to our previous conversation.
Maybe your counsellor or psych asks you to check in or your GP asks you to make another appointment to follow up.
But what about checking in with yourself?
How useful might it be to make an appointment with yourself (a bit like date night), to check in regularly and ask “hey, how are you doing really?”
Checking in with yourself
Below are some thoughts and prompts which don’t just relate to a moment in time, but to life in general. With the outer world in turmoil, and no doubt more to come over the next few months and probably years as our world starts to deconstruct, our old reality and duality will begin to fall away, and we are going to feel shaken up and turned inside out!
We do need to keep a close check on ourselves, as much as we do on our kids, partner, family, friends. If we keep in touch with our inner self and our inner life, we will find our lives flow and our stress levels are managed, even in very stressful or traumatic times. That’s not to say it makes it all go away, but rather that we will pick up any potential problems sooner and can reach out for help before things really start to unravel.
So here goes … and none of this is new, nothing you don’t know already! Really just some coaching keynotes to focus your day and guide your life.
In these turbulent times it can be helpful to:
- rediscover the power of slowing down, listening, taking a breath and letting each moment unfold.
- look inside, not outside for solutions.
- ‘friend’ and ‘like’ ourselves!!
- eliminate the distraction of the continual and exhausting striving for self-improvement.
- no matter what appears to be happening around and outside us, make an effort to be kind and gentle with ourselves.
- replace the constant and relentless striving for perfection with gentle self-care, self-kindness, and empathy for self.
What I say to many clients is that there is nothing for you to do, practice or learn – you are already the master, you just need to remember. You need to learn (or remember) to sit in your state of mastery and let the illusion of the life you have constructed around you slip away to find peace and harmony in these times of change.
No doubt you can take the headings below and fill in your own story and that’s really the purpose of the exercise.
I’ve given you some thoughts to get you started on a process that is really important to work through right now. In order to survive what is undoubtedly going to come, and to thrive, we need to be strong in our base and brave in our hearts.
How is the landscape of my life?
How does life flow, where are you stuck, what stresses do you have – and we all have them – and how are you managing? These are very stressful times for many and having money worries in particular is something that can consume your waking (and often sleeping) moments.
Take stock of the overall picture and maybe make a list of what is working and what isn’t on the nuts-and-bolts level.
Lists, and by extension journalling, can be a really beneficial tool for managing when things are tough.
It can be a great way to start the day if you’ve had a night of worry, and a good way to end the day if it’s been stressful.
Just jotting down the good, the bad, and the ugly gives you a basis for making changes, for putting together a plan.
What’s flowering, what needs watering, and what needs pruning?
This is a great way of looking at life, not least because Dean is a botanical photographer and crazy plant guy, but these words can create an image of ourselves and our lives as they are and as they can potentially be.
What is going well, what is working, and what brings you joy? Think about your inner life here because nurturing your inner life brings rewards in the outer life and not the other way around.
Buying a new car or a new dress will only satisfy you temporarily!
Planting, watering, and pruning your inner self will bring long-term peace and serenity. And a serene inner self, leads to a serene outer self and a peaceful life, regardless of life’s tribulations.
Here also is an opportunity to ask yourself (and write it down) what or who brings you joy, love, beauty, inspiration, and meaning.
If you can’t write down one thing for each of the above, then make it a priority to fill in those blanks. It doesn’t have to be anything major like taking a trip to Paris to view the Mona Lisa for your inspiration! Often, it’s something really simple like revisiting what you’re seeing from your window or how that flower looks as it unfolds. It’s how we look at and perceive life and how we can change that perception that can make all the difference.
Do we need to plant some new habits or ideas? What do we need to change for our inner garden to flourish?
Maybe we’re feeling a little stale, a little dried up or stagnant. What do we need to nurture or water and what do we need to prune from our lives. This might be people or habits, but it can also be thought processes we’ve got stuck in that no longer serve us.
And this is where mindfulness really comes in. Minding what we think and do, observing, being present. Not letting our mind behave like a runaway train, but putting on the brake before that begins to happen.
We can find inspiration for our whole world in the smallest of things, we only have to change the way we look.
What are the daily rituals that bring pleasure?
I’m quite convinced that many people would put a good cup of coffee, going to yoga, or going for a run on this list.
But it’s often the small rituals that fire up our inner selves and help us start and end the day well, especially when life is frenetic.
Creating a sacred space can be an important aspect of these daily rituals, as a focus to ground and center us.
It doesn’t have to be a whole room or even a whole table, just a corner somewhere you pass as a reminder of the sacredness of life and a focus for the day. Perhaps even the drawing of an inspirational card which sits on your bedside table or next to your workstation as a reminder of something you want to work or focus on.
This focus on the sacredness of life should, by extension, lead us to recognise the value of small pleasures.
My own ritual for example is waking up and choosing an appropriate meditation to start my day, a big glass of water, and a check-in with Dean, often about a spiritual aspect of life. Our morning (and afternoon if there’s time) walk on the beach and watching the birds in the birdbath when we have lunch, all bring joy.
Small things maybe in a world which values materialism and self-promotion, but if they make your heart sing and bring a smile, they are small pleasures to value and lift your spirit.
What’s one change I can make that would bring me more peace?
This seems obvious, doesn’t it?
But sometimes we can’t actually make the big changes we need to make, so we might need to implement smaller changes that can make life more bearable, more spiritually focused, and less fear based. Again, something as simple as meditating even for 10 minutes when we feel super stressed or anxious.
Learning to say no is a big one here! It’s easy to get overwhelmed just by trying to please everyone but ourselves. Try putting yourself first and see how that feels. It can feel selfish and really hard at first, but those around you will get used to it!
What am I doing for my self-care?
And no, I don’t mean getting a pedicure or which supplements you’re taking, but inner self-nurturing and spiritual care, however you want to look at it.
Again, just learning to say no and creating better boundaries is a big thing (and a necessity) for some people. You may find people respect you more if you do start to lay down some boundaries as to availability at work or in the family.
Doing those things that bring joy, pleasure and peace is an important part of self-care.
Being a mum or dad is hard work and sometimes one partner seems to get more time for socialising, sport, work events than the other. Being a hands-on grandparent is the same.
Do speak up if you need some time out. Raising kids is a full-on job, and everyone deserves and will benefit from space and time away. You might only go shopping or indeed get a pedicure, but these things done with mindfulness, bringer deeper benefit as well.
How can I manifest what I need?
I was clearing out a box the other day and found a gratitude journal I kept in 2004. Life was very tough with a small child, and a business to drive (homeopathy clinic plus yoga and meditation classes and retreats), but our biggest drama was that like many we suddenly had nowhere to live! Looking at where I was – mostly in my head – in 2004 and knowing that 2005 brought massive and positive change for us as a family, confirmed how helpful a journal can be of any kind.
Looking back I can see the level of distress I was experiencing, the insecurity and lack of self-worth. You might journal and look back over just one week or one month, but that reflective process can bring insights that help you make change and manifest what you need in your life.
If you want to learn a little more about the art of manifestation, the post below was an update of an update relating to workshops we ran regularly to help people create what they needed in their lives. It’s one of those ‘take what you need and leave the rest’ type of posts!
Do I need to ask for help?
Sometimes this feels hard. We may feel vulnerable firstly in admitting to a problem. Do we even feel safe asking for help? Will we be rejected? And of course, who do we ask?
I’ve always found that sitting quietly with a problem or requirement often allows the person we need to connect with to arrive at our door or in our field without needing to do anything much more than this. Working from the heart rather than the head (ie googling, researching, etc) tends to bring heart connected therapists or friends, rather than head centred solutions which don’t always resonate.
Those coincidences people talk about, those synchronicities, are the result of your inner self reaching out to connect with the energy or resonance that will bring solutions. Yes you might then need to go away and google, but you’ll be surprised at how the answer will appear or the perfect connection or referral.
Sometimes you just have to trust the process!
Some of the information in this post was inspired by the March 2023 report from Lorna Bevan at Hare in the Moon, an astrologer and master coach I have followed since 2018. Lorna inspires and supports her followers week to week with her insights into what life may hold with incredible accuracy, and she certainly helped us get through the crazy years of 2020 to 2022!