I have spent the past 2 days in Asheville, NC with an amazing group of women (and a few progressive men) learning to build heart-centered businesses.
Collectively, this group is changing the world, leading businesses based in their passion while creating a life of meaning and purpose.
And yet, a common theme emerged as we celebrated our successes and shared our challenges. We are giving so much, to so many, that we often forget to give to ourselves.
Wow! What a powerful realization.
The majority of women, myself included, are giving to and caring for others on a daily basis. Whether at home or at work and everywhere in between, we seem to be hard-wired to serve and nurture those around us.
But, what about you? Who takes care of you?
When do we take the time to give to ourselves what we so freely give to others?
We willingly come to someone else's aid but, so often we suffer alone in silence. And, because we appear to be the “strong one”, “the helper”, people don’t often think that we need help too.
We feel like a child sometimes – we’ve lost our way home and we don’t know how or who to ask for help.
There is power in community and we draw strength from each other and from ourselves.
What is required is courage. Derived from Latin, the root of the word means heart. We need to move from our heads (thinking) to our hearts (feeling) to better understand what we really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really want.
So where do you start?
Self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself during times of challenge and chaos. Set an intention to speak kindly to yourself. Send loving thoughts to yourself, even when your inner critic shows up. Love is a proven way to silence fear.
Appreciation. The body has a miraculous capacity for healing when we get out of the way. Take a moment to appreciate your body today – your vision, your mobility, your heart beat. Notice what may be calling for your attention today and honor your body by giving it what it needs.
Breathe. When stressed we tend to take shallow, quick breaths. Simply being present with the natural rhythm of your breathing and feeling the breath is enough to activate the relaxation response. Each day plan to take 5 minutes out of your day to just “breathe”.
Clarity. When we are unclear about what is important in our lives, we make decisions that are not always in our best interest. What nurtures you? What gives rise to happiness? What allows you to feel a sense of meaning and belonging? Getting clear on the answers to these questions will help you set priorities based on what you need to regularly be your best self.
So while you’re out changing the world with the wonderful work that you do, remember to take care of you.
Let each breath remind you that you are supported, you are whole, you deserve to be nurtured, and you deserve to be free of suffering.
How did you find the courage to take care of yourself today? This week?
If you found some value in this post, please share with others.
And if you'd like a little guidance on taking care of you, download the 5 PEACE strategies workbook to reduce stress and find more peace in daily life, http://www.drmichellebailey.com/5-peace-strategies.html.
“I'm not a runner.”
I can't remember how many times I've said that over the years. When someone would ask, do you run? I'd say, "Oh not me, I'm not a runner."
Four days before Christmas 2012, when I found myself in the hospital being worked up for what we believed was a heart attack, I knew something needed to change.
My amazing mentor and coach Christine Kane is constantly saying, "Consistent actions bring consistent results."
I knew if I wanted to get fit and improve my heart health, I had to find a way to consistently move my body
When I began looking for an exercise I could do consistently, I remembered hearing something about a program that could help you learn to run. A quick Google search pulled up “Couch to 5K.” This app is designed to get even the most sedentary person moving. It’s a graduated program that will have you running 30 consecutive minutes (3.1 miles) in just 9 weeks.
Alternating between walking and running small distances, you gradually build your stamina (and confidence) over time. With just three work-outs per week it made it easier to incorporate into my busy schedule.
So, I downloaded the app and threw caution to the wind. What did I have to lose?
Just 9 weeks later, when I ran my first 5K, it was such an incredible high to cross the finish line. And to my surprise, my first thought was not, "What was my time? Where did I place?"
In that moment, I experienced a feeling of pure joy as I thought, "I just ran a 5K. I am a runner!"
I had shifted the paradigm and broken through the ceiling on a long held limiting belief. It made me wonder what other things I may be saying to myself that hold me back.
What else have I thought was impossible that is really possible? I set an intention to become more aware of times when I hear myself make limiting statements.
Here are three steps I've found helpful for breaking through limiting beliefs:
1. Question the belief. When you notice a limiting thought, ask the question, "Is that true?" Reflect back over your life and scan for evidence that refutes the belief. In my case, I remembered being one of the fastest kids in my neighborhood running to get home before the street lamps came on (for fear of greeting my dad at the door after curfew). In junior high, I convinced myself I wasn't a runner when I didn't perform well in cross-country. A simple reframe here is helpful: “I am a sprinter” instead of “I am not a (distance) runner.”
2. Imagine a different possibility. We are often unaware of how much we identify with our thoughts. Pay attention to the words you choose to follow the statement "I am." Are they empowering words (I am resourceful) or do they deflate you (I am broke)? Picture who you could become if that limiting thought wasn't true. What may be possible then?
3. Break it down. It can seem overwhelming to take on a large project like running a 5K, losing weight, or getting out of debt. Breaking the larger project down into smaller pieces helps shift your thoughts from "likely impossible" to "totally doable!” In week 1 of Couch to 5K, I thought, “Okay, I can run for 60 seconds. Then I can run for 90 seconds. And sure, now I think I can run for 3 minutes.” As I took each step forward it established a new normal. And, what became possible from that new set point shifted.
The secret to all of this is growing an inner awareness of how your thoughts create your reality. Noticing when your thoughts limit your success is key in disarming the threats that generally lead to self-sabotage.
Now I am a runner, and I've released 14 lbs. in the process. And if you're wondering what limiting belief I'll tackle next, it's this: Disproving the belief that I can't be a successful businesswoman. I've already taken several steps forward after putting the above steps in action.
I've found that many of my limiting beliefs are shared by others. Recognizing this simple truth is empowering, as you realize you're not alone.
What limiting belief will you take on today?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Let's shatter some ceilings!
Uplifting Women in Medicine