I've had the idea for while now to do a monthly Q&A post, but I wasn't sure if it was something that would be helpful. But after my callout for questions, I was so happy to get your questions and have the opportunity to help you with your self care needs on a more personal level.
I'm limiting myself to three questions because all of these could be their own standalone post. But the questions that I didn't answer today are in the queue for next month. So not to worry, dear readers.
And please keep your questions coming. Don't be shy. I love to hear more of how I can help.
So without further adieu, here we go!
How do we encourage friends or family to invest time in themselves when they are spread thin with running a family?
This can be a tricky one. Most of us have the best intentions when wanting to help our loved ones be happier and healthier, but the danger here is that it often comes across as criticism. And that never goes well.
So when wanting to share the knowledge you have come to know, I came up with a little something to keep in mind. I call it:
The Three E's:
Exemplify + Educate + Exit
Exemplify: Being an example is the number one way to influence the behavior of those around you. You don't have to say anything or try to convince anyone. You share by showing, and when people want some of what you got, they will come to you to share more.
Educate: When they do come to you or ask why you live a certain way, then you get to educate. Develop a strong 'why' to your lifestyle and be ready to share examples of how it's helped you and your family. When people have meaningful knowledge, then they can develop their own reasons to change their habits.
Exit: After you've done all you can, then the next step is detach from your desired outcome. Exit the situation. It would be so nice for everyone to jump on our bandwagons, but the truth is, everyone is on their own journey and have their own freedom to choose. They might take all you have to say, some of it, or none at all. But let them take the reigns. You detaching creates space for the outcome that will serve them the most at this time.
What is meditation and how do I know I'm doing it right? If I'm thinking about the in and out of my breathing, is my mind truly blank/blank enough? Or am I a meditation fraud?
Meditation is an intimidating thing. And with our Western minds, we want to do it right and do it well. But it is this desire and approach that can get us in trouble.
I believe that there is no wrong way to meditate. Now, I'm no meditation guru, but I've been practicing and studying it long enough to know a few things. And all that I've learned has taught me that it's about the journey, not the destination. Yes, that's a bit of a cliche answer, but it's true.
A meditation teacher once told me to picture my thoughts as sentences. Each one has a period, a pause, and then the beginning of another sentence. What meditation can do is to make the pause between the sentences longer and longer, slowing down the thoughts, our mind, and our body.
It isn't to silence our thoughts, it's to slow them down and have some control over what happens in our minds.
Another style of meditation I've studied and love is body-based meditation. With this, you don't try to still the mind and separate it from the body. Instead, you connect with your body and calm everything down together.
Meditation can also become just part of your daily life and activities. By focusing on your breath and being intentional with your movements, you can turn anything into a sort of meditation. I usually do that with things I don't like, like the dishes! But if I approach it as a meditation, then I don't mind it so much.
I talk more about meditation and breathing in this blog post, but I also have a whole chapter dedicated to it, along with guided meditation recordings, as part of my Simple Self Care Course. But here is a link to one of my meditations, just for kicks.
But you are no fraud. The point isn't to have a totally blank mind. It's to intentionally work with the body and mind to create calm and focus. Your practice gets to be whatever it needs to be for you. Someday you may take on a more serious study, or maybe you will keeps it bare bones simple. But there are always benefits, no matter what.
I struggle with the concept of self-care - as the focusing on the self part, and introspection tends to creates more anxiety for me than relaxation. When I'm able to be of service to others and inspire or encourage them, I feel more at ease.
The thought of self care causing anxiety is something that I hear a lot, actually. It seems counterintuitive, and we can place a lot of judgement around those feelings, but that feeling is all part of the self care journey.
There are a few things at work here that might be creating this anxious feeling about turning inward.
First, unfortunately our culture as turned the act of tuning inward and honoring your needs into a luxury for fancy people or a selfish act that is judged.
But when we sacrifice our needs for others (and destroy ourselves in the process), well that is the most honorable thing you can do. While there is a time and place for that, it has become the expectation for everyday living. That expectation tends to counter any fulfillment from taking care of ourself.
Second, anxiety can be the fear that if we do tune in, we won't like what we hear. We don't want to deal with our own stuff, so we keep focusing on others and helping them.
Developing a deep relationship with yourself is hard and confrontational. Especially at first. But just like building a muscle, it takes time and diligence and practice, and after a while it can become a strong part of who you are.
Third, some anxiety can come from not knowing exactly what to do. There are so many things that fall under the self care umbrella, and there are also comparison dangers about what it needs to look like. If you can't spend an hour doing self care a day, then why do it? And are you even doing it right?
This is actually one of the main reasons I developed my online course, to give people a structure to start with to reduce stress and anxiety about it, but really, self care isn't a structured thing. It's a fluid way of relating to yourself that will change in action and duration based on where you are presently at.
It is wonderful to feel good about helping and inspiring others, and keep doing that! But remember, you can't fill from an empty cup. The more deep work you do with yourself, the more you can be of service to others.
Try to define what exactly is creating your anxiety. Once you know your triggers, you can take gentle baby steps to work through it. It maybe hard, but self care is worth the work.
Alright! I hope this was a helpful and relatable post, and I look forward to next month's Q&A. Keep the questions coming a feel free to reach out with any insights or follow up questions.