The importance of designing your own “emotional workout”
Summer is holiday time for many people. In spite of not taking summer vacation as I did before I launch my own business, I also prefer to keep working during this period and then go for a little break when the holiday wave has gone and everywhere is a bit more calmed down. So seeing the summer coming and knowing that for me is still time to work, I decided to change some habits for a while in order to create new spaces and be able to take a step back and refresh my mind. And also as a searching internal clarity to deal with the new goals I want to achieve.
As I felt I needed some solitude I decided to work during July at home (and not at the coworking as usual). It sounded a nice idea and I imagined myself relaxed working and thinking at home. Yes, it was a nice idea although I can’t say it was relaxing at all. Nevertheless, it was worthy. Why?
Open the door to solitude and let hidden things sit with you at the table.
Whether it is being alone in silence in your bedroom for a while, travelling by yourself or meditating, letting yourself be with yourself it’s the time you are really able to listen to (only) you. By doing so, you make space for feelings or thoughts you put unconsciously at the end of your to do list. In our daily fast-speed lives it’s really easy to just put everything before this on that list. I use yoga to have a daily space to reconnect with myself and find balance. Although I love to do that and it’s a habit for me, it was surprising to see what happened when I decided to spend more time working alone.
My yoga teachers often say that yoga practice doesn’t finish on the mat, we can extend it to all aspects of our lives. And this is the real challenge. Being home alone working from my bubble was nice and relieving for the first days. But, after a couple of weeks, this also became a routine and I noticed it was even harder for me to deal with unexpected issues or problems to solve. I felt overwhelmed and in a negative mood. It was funny because I was spending more time in my calm and zen home, and at the same time I could see how dark clouds were invading my summer. What was happening was I was really sitting in front of myself after a long time without doing that. Somehow I felt my fears and insecurity stronger and my mental noise was louder, as if inside me things were boiling and asking for my attention. I decided to stop and really listen. Is easy to say that but the truth is that it’s uncomfortable and the temptation to run away from your dark side it’s always there.
I realized it was time for me to plan a new emotional workout to go through my chaos and use that to my own growth.
Our mind and emotions need training too
You probably go to the gym, running, swimming or whatever exercise you might like. What about your mind?
I see our mind as a muscle we need to take care of too. And we need to nourish it at different levels. We know that mind, emotions and body are totally connected. I think the better way to take care of this “life-pack” we all have is not just going to the gym, but also thinking about what kind of mental and emotional fitness you might need right then. You have to create your own mental training in every chapter of your life whenever you need some extra support to empower yourself and make the best out of all situations you can go through life. In the same way you change your exercise training routines, it’s the same for any kind of coaching or therapy you might need.
Every new step you take, specially when it takes you out from your comfort zone (I think those steps are the best) it will give you a lot of joy and energy and also will put you in moments or periods of discomfort as you will be navigating in a new sea (which sometimes it’s scary). An emotional workout that fits you in those precise (and precious) moments can have a huge impact in your life.
We don’t question our need to do some exercise to maintain our body fit and healthy. When it comes to our mental and emotional health, we tend to wait or to think twice before taking action. Usually we won’t do anything until we are burnt out or in some kind of extreme situation. It’s like we need to really confirm to ourselves that we have a “problem”. We don’t need to wait until we have our energies depleted to take action on our emotional blocks. It’s much better to take the responsibility before in order to navigate the path better and even more, to enjoy it.
Define your “way out plan”
After dealing all this with myself (once again and not for the last time) I realize how important is to defined the ways where you can go back to put your feet on the floor again. And also, to face a blocked state of mind for whatever emotion you are going through (fear, insecurity, sadness…). Life is plenty of situations that reflect a new face of yourself that you haven’t seen before. It may be a new job, a new relationship, a trip, a new pet or you just have a child. This is just personal discovery and an opportunity to go deeper in our knowledge about ourselves. It’s an opportunity to know us better and improve our relationship with ourselves.
There are situations we can’t control or where we can be surprised by our own reaction. In my case this happens from time to time. And thinking of a future probability that this will happen again, I think it’s really useful to define your own strategy to help you when you feel trapped in yourself. If you define resources, routines or therapies that help you come back when you feel trapped in the mist it will make easier to find your way out.
I will share with you a practical exercise I found in the book “You are a badass” from Jen Sincero based on the statement “what you choose to focus becomes your reality”. So for me the interesting part here is that she proposes a way to catch your negative thoughts. I found this exercise very simple, easy and practical so I decided to try. To me it’s been one of these tools when you need to turn the mental noise off. I invite you to take a look at her book if you want to go further on this, and I give you here three simple steps you can follow to do this practice and shift your perspective:
- “Become aware of what your stories are”: Those stories are not normally the truth. Identify and write what you’re telling yourself that is distorting your own perception. Jen Sincero recommends to focus specially in the negative sentences that starts with I can’t, I should, I don’t have, I wish, etc. As the stoic Seneca said: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”.
- “Become aware what you are gaining from your stories”: Jen Sincero says that if we have this stories in our mind is because somehow we have a benefit from it. In the case of our stories those benefits are often hidden because we don’t want to recognize them. Maybe we are victimizing ourselves, maybe it’s a way to protect ourselves… You just reflect about which benefit is keeping this thoughts alive in your case. Write it down for each story you have identified before.
- “Get rid of your stories”: Thanks a lot for this one, Jen! In this last step you have to read again your list of “fake rewards” you are getting from your stories and feel in your mind and body it’s time to let them go. Once you have said goodbye to them, write down and visualize a replacement for these old thoughts. You will have a new list of positive and true statements related to your goals and who you really are. You can read it and repeat them until they become your new and powerful state of mind.
We grow, we evolve, and if you want to live your life being present you will have the gift of seeing every day with new eyes. Every day is a new opportunity to do what you really want to do. So what are we waiting for to start clearing up our mind and taking care of our emotions?