‘Tis the Season!
Although the great marketers of the world want us to believe this is the season of peace, December brings mixed emotions and feelings for most of us and this year continues in that same tradition. Due to the pandemic, we yearn for a deeper connection with our loved ones more than ever, yet reality often brings unexpected results. So my offering this month includes a focus on self, through small steps you might take to bring yourself some INNER peace (which, in a round about way, invites OUTER peace).
The steps listed below are ones I have actually taken myself over the years to invite more inner peace into my human beingness, so I hope you will l consider trying one yourself. I am wishing much inner peace to all this holiday season!
- Set Limits. I would find myself over committed and over extended each year, as my people pleasing part went into overdrive! So, I began to slowly say “No” to things that did not bring me absolute joy or that had the taste of obligation associated with it. I also began to set time limits on social gatherings so I could build more down time into my schedule. Those time limits applied both to myself and to others. I’ll admit the first couple of times I set such limits was awkward and uncomfortable, yet I was surprised at how quickly I felt relief, more freedom and a greater sense of peace. Consider setting one limit this season, sit back and observe what happens!
- Slow down. This concept was a really hard one for me to embrace. I rushed around everywhere, even finding myself running down the halls at work, just so I might fit in just one more thing in my day. It was exhausting! I believed I was great at multi-tasking. I have to thank my yoga practice on the mat for helping me to down-shift and it didn’t happen right away. But with practice, I did finally shift my perspective to ‘One thing at a time’ and brought myself much inner peace. Now, although I always recommend trying it, yoga is not the only path to slowing down. It might be making a commitment to spending more time in nature or reducing your “To Do” list by one each week, until you only have 3 items on it per day (with one of them being some form of self-care!). Perhaps you consider the idea of “being” as productive as “doing”, because being present, being intentional, and being attentive are some of the best gifts you can give yourself and others! Perhaps sitting with some aspect of yourself that invites the perfectionist and inner critic out and, instead, get curious about that part of you that you have been judging and write down how it has served you. See if you can identify at least 3 ways it has served you and then check in with how you might now feel about it.
- Judge Yourself Less. The perfectionist inside partners with the inner critic believing that judgment will motivate us to do better, be better. Unfortunately, overtime, when we strive for perfection, which is an unattainable goal, we are setting ourselves up for failure. The inevitable failure to attain perfection perpetuates the vicious cycle, adding fuel to the inner conflict. To truly lean into inner peace, we need to accept ourselves as limited and flawed human beings, with gifts, strengths and weaknesses. It is the combination of our gifts, strengths and weaknesses that make us unique in this world. The journey of accepting that we are perfectly imperfect beings is the path to true inner peace. Perhaps identify an aspect of yourself that invites the perfectionist and inner critic to come out and sit with it in a space of curiosity. See if you can write down 3 ways it has served you. Afterwards, check in and notice if judgment has shifted in some way.
- Judge Others Less. It is human to compare ourselves to others, yet making a judgment about those differences is something that is learned. That’s the good news – because it can then be unlearned with awareness and understanding. When I would catch myself judging others, I would try to stop and imagine that I had gotten it totally wrong in the moment, that what I was experiencing was a complete misunderstanding. The hardest part was catching myself in that judgment of others. When I could slow my mind down and create some space for understanding, I was then able to lean into the space of accepting that everyone is doing their best with what they know. Culturally, we are groomed to be judgmental, yet I ask ‘When has judgment brought you inner peace?’ Perhaps consider writing down one judgment you tend to make of others and explore the roots of this judgment. Who passed this judgment to you, when do you find yourself most judging of this aspect of others, where does this judgment come up most frequently, and why do you believe you make this judgment. Again, sense into any shift in those judgments after spending some time with it.
- Shift Perspective. As I mentioned above, our perfectionist sets us up for failure, encouraging us to reach for the impossible. When we fail, we might begin to think to ourselves “Why is this happening to me?” It wasn’t until I began to create space for myself (see above) that I was able to shift the perspective to “Why is it happening for me?’ instead. Every failure brings with it a lesson and an opportunity. It is sitting in those uncomfortable spaces, looking for the lesson and opportunity, that opens the door to acceptance of ourselves in those moments, encouraging us to realign with our authentic selves, and to take our next steps forward from that place of acceptance. When we can begin to make this shift in perspective, we begin to see our failures simply as the universe guiding us towards our true purpose, instead of believing there must be something wrong with us. Consider identifying a past failure and exploring what might have grown from that space. Perhaps you gained new clarity on what brings you joy or you decided to take a class to learn a new skill or it brought a deeper understanding of why it wasn’t sustainable in the long run. When you reflect on the new areas of growth that emerged, sense into any felt shifts from the change in perspective time provides.
As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share!