If It Feels Wrong Don't Do It

One of my Facebook friends shared a poster listing twelve steps to self-care.  Honestly, nothing was a surprise, and I have written on several of them from trust your instincts to letting go. The first on the list, however, seemed to give me a nudge.  It's not a new concept. It's something deep down we know. Yet how many times do we let outside influences affect our choices.

I think it's good to start with an example, so here we go.  At home you serve your kids a variety of foods and then let them decide what to eat. As long as they eat enough to be full and be healthy, it feels right. They get exposure to variety, they get choice, they can change their choices on a whim, and meal time isn't a battle ground. You can instead focus on conversation.  You also know there are foods you don't like to eat, so you respect that they will too.  

BUT when visiting the grandparents, they are old school and feel children should eat everything on their plate. Forgetting that, you put a small amount of each dish on their plate, just like at home.  What do you do? Do you say we do it differently and let them pick and choose? Do you pressure your kids to comply and clean their plate?  And no matter what door your choose (think game show), can you stand by that choice without feeling guilty - either that you said no to your elders or that you complied and your kid were upset by the change in expectations?

Trust your instincts sounds simple and easy, but we move through a world of social pressure to conform.  It's hard to not be affected when negative thoughts are sent your way. Connections, good connections, build us up and support us in our efforts - but not every connection we have is that way. We have bosses at work, partners at home, family with differing ideas who feel they know best, other parents at school and sports, the media, and more sending us waves of opinion that can make us feel out of step and questioning our choices. Sometimes we also just want to avoid drama so we cave. Sometimes we feel the pressure of guilt - undeserved, but still there. 

Hearing my inner voice and standing firm has gotten easier as I age.  My kids have lives of their own, I work from home, my husband is retired, and I have way more control over who I spend time with.  That doesn't mean self-doubt doesn't happen, just that I have a firmer grip on the reins.

When things slip out of control and I find myself wallowing in the swamp of self-doubt, I now have a a list of ways to get myself back to a place of knowing. It's one I am constantly adding to.

  • Quiet meditation, either sitting in silence until you can hear that inner voice or repeating a mantra, isn't easy for me as my mind races. But it has proven effective time and time again.  
  • Riding my bike for an hour out in nature does the same. The rhythm of pedaling, the scenery flying by, the wind buffeting my body and the sun on my face seem to quiet my soul. It takes me an hour of cycling for my body and mind to fully relax. 
  • A well chosen book that supports personal growth such as Unchained by Glennon Doyle. One passage that was life changing for me was when she wrote she realized for her to live her best life, she would make others unhappy.  Wow. I was raised it was wrong to make others unhappy, but when it comes to my best life, I had to find a way to let go of that. I do not control any choices other than my own.
  • Time with someone you care for.  Whether a walk with my husband or coffee with a close friend, I always come away uplifted. Their acceptance allows me to reset and refocus.  I stand tall with their support.

There are hundreds of ways to help you find your center in moments of doubt. There is no right one everyone should embrace.  You simply need to find a way that works for you - one that quiets your mind - and then just listen. Your heart is always ready to whisper in your ear, offering the perfect words you need to hear. Listening does take practice. If it is taking more time then you have, then use your emotions as your guide. If it feels wrong, don't do it.   

My heart has been speaking to me for over six months now and I've been ignoring it. Yup ignoring it. Well not everything it says, but the things I don't want to deal with.  After a conversation with my mentor on Monday I realized it was time. To move forward I need to let go of some habits that are holding me back and embrace some new ones. The biggest to embrace is to create a space for silence every day. No mantras, no music, no bike....just me alone in silence.  This is not going to be easy for me, but I know with practice I will get there. 

Interested?  All you have to do is let yourself be led to try one single thing that you find supports you, that centers you.  Mix it up, change it up, explore your options until you find what works best. And know if you can find a way for your mind to be silent, your intuition (your inner voice), will speak. Have a question that the answer isn't clear on?  Remember, if it feels wrong don't do it.  That emotional nudge is just one way your heart guides you. 

I want to close with a quote from Steve Jobs that honestly gives me goosebumps. I hope it touches you as well.  

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition - Steve Jobs