In law school I would find myself spending an obnoxious amount of time, right around finals, cleaning my apartment. At the time I thought it was a classic avoidance technique…I will clean so I don’t need to focus on what really matters, my studies.
Today I think what was really going on was much different. You see, in law school, I would spend an entire semester cramming my head full of terminology, case law, statutes, common law and the like into my brain. My brain would be full by the end of the semester. No more penguins could fit on that iceberg come May.
In fact, towards the end of the semester I was known for forgetting the name to common household items (it was a spoon) AND for putting stamps on the wrong side of the envelope. Too many penguins on the iceberg resulted in good penguins jumping ship!
Anyway, what I really think was going on during these cleaning frenzies was that my mind needed a fresh perspective and by cleaning and reorganizing my living space, it was allowed to take a breather and have a fresh perspective, so that my brain could organize and focus.
That is what the year of self love challenge is focusing on this week. Take some time to rearrange your living space. It could be your bedroom, office or even the bathroom. Buy a new bedspread. Get out a different set of dishes.
What ever it is rearrange the living spaces in your life differently to allow that fresh perspective to sneak in. Your brain (and those penguins) will thank you for it.
This week for the Year of Self Love challenge the act is simple. Write down 5 of your greatest accomplishments. Simple in theory, but painstaking in practice. Since announcing it on Tuesday in the Hopelessly Devoted Group, I’ve already had 2 discussions with friend’s who have expressed to me how hard it has been to come up with this list.
Let me give it to you straight, these friend’s are super successful, professional women…who struggle, just like me, with writing down the things they have done they are proud of.
Why is that? Why is it so hard to acknowledge ourselves for a job well done?
Acknowledging what we are proud of doing throughout the day is important to our mental health. When we acknowledge it by putting it in writing we are in a sense, rewarding ourselves, and that feels good. It boosts our mood and gives our brain a healthy dose of dopamine.
Doing it daily results in a measurable history of our progress, which reminds of us of how well we are really doing. Don’t believe me though, Harvard Business School completed a 15 year longitudinal study which revealed that those who wrote down their daily accomplishments experienced all of the above. Calling it “The Progress Principal” it is an excellent motivator for me to start with my greatest 5 and then work into a daily habit of focusing on my progress.
So back to why some, including myself, are hesitant to engage in this good mood inducing activity. For me, I think it comes from a hesitancy to brag about what I have personally accomplished; it’s so much easier to defer to the accomplishments of others. However, I think it’s time to stop that silly behavior. There is a start distinction between taking a moment and privately recognizing a job well done and forecasting it out to the world.
So take a moment and write down your 5. If you feel brave, share it with me. I’d love to celebrate your accomplishments with you.
Let me be honest, when I saw this week on my list at the beginning of the year I dreaded it. I struggle with saying, “No.” And when I say struggle, I mean S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E. I think it has to do with my upbringing. Now, don’t get me wrong, my upbringing was fine. No major trauma. I don’t feel like I have one of those stories where I’m working though the trauma of my past.
However, I was brought up to be a pleaser.
There was really no way around it. I’m the oldest of 4 children AND the only girl. My childhood memories all revolve around caring for my brothers, helping with the family business, and striving for perfection in my academics, my athletics, my music, and my activities. Add to that a conservative christian upbringing where it was frowned upon for women to rock the boat and say “no” to obligations charged to them by their husbands, family, or God and you have a recipe for a disaster on your hands.
Even today, knowing that “no” is a difficult concept for me, I still struggle with it, but in a different way. Typically those opportunities to say “no” aren’t in relation to unhealthy choices (for the most part); my life is a carousel inundated with fun and engaging choices. As an adult, Jason and I often have extended family in crises who need us, to the detriment of the attention of my little family nucleus. I have a demanding day job where it is often seen as a weakness to say “no” to additional or extra working opportunities provided by management. However, that takes me away from my family, as well as those activities that bring me joy. My part-time business can literally be worked anywhere at anytime and for that reason I am always feeling guilty when I’m not working, or, in the alternative pushing to keep myself active to the detriment of myself. We have an active friend group and with so much fun going on all the time, it feels impossible to say “no” to any of the activities and plans being made.
You see what I mean. These aren’t bad things.
It’s just that sometimes, the myriad of choices don’t support who it is I want to be as a person.
Over the weekend, I listened to a Podcast from Super Soul Sunday (thank you mother Oprah) that hit on this topic so resoundingly that I have listened to it three times now. “Iyanla Vanzant: You Matter”was one of those Aaah Haa moments that I haven’t had in a long time. Here is the basic premise for me:
Developing the ability to say “no” is the only way you are going to discover what you are meant to be.
How you ask?
Because when you stand firm in you “no,” you open space up to live in your “yes.”
Think about that for a minute. By saying “no” to the things that don’t honor, that don’t support, and don’t sustain who you were meant to be you can’t make room for those things that are really important to you. I am SO guilty of this. I feel frustration all the time because I don’t have time for those things that I find most important. In reality, it’s my own damn fault.
Yeah, I said it, It’s my own damn fault.
By worrying about others, by being a pleaser, I have over-committed myself in detrimental ways. I haven’t made space to live in my yes.
So this week, let’s flex that “no” muscle a little bit. We can all make space to live in our “yes’s” and really, that is what is most important.
Make sure to check out Iyanla Vanzant: You Matter. Available on iTunes. Here is a video link to her full “You Matter” sermon. (Oh and if you don’t think it’s a sermon, watch the whole thing….It will have you saying “AMEN” by the end)
Fair Warning: I am an Amazon Affiliate. But here is a link to one of my favorite books right now. Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis.
Her chapter on about the word “NO” is about as life-changing as can be…if you are open to it. 🙂