I took a couple of extended “time-outs” in April and May. Taking time off as a solo business owner is a major emotional workout for me. People are always bewildered by the fact that I have clients scheduled 7 days a week unless I have unforeseen circumstances and/or for a planned time off. I am truly grateful for each and every client in my life. AND when I do take time off I realize the critical need for creating more open space during my week. I always return from these breaks refreshed and re-connected. I recently hired a business coach for guidance and much needed accountability to create a couple of programs I have been procrastinating on. When I described my practice and current work schedule she first assigned the task to take a look at my client load and determine which days I would be willing schedule consistent time off. Okay, no problem, right? However, when I sat down to begin, extreme anxiety overwhelmed me. I mean, how do I choose? Each day offers the opportunity to work with people with whom I absolutely enjoy! Needless to say, I came back to her with NOTHING and requested that we begin with program development instead. She has continued to ask me if I’m ready…
These past two retreats have revealed to me how tightly wound I am. Last year I wrote a blog focused on creating and feeling comfortable in white space; those moments and periods of time when I am not hustling, but rather connecting without distraction. It has been a year and I have still managed to fill my days totally disconnected. On a typical day I’m in perpetual motion. I awake and do what I call “shoot out of a cannon” downing 2 BIG cups of coffee and immediately get ready for morning clients. I have a running list of tasks between clients and evenings, sadly, are no different. While my husband and dogs are sacked out relaxing on our new nicknamed “slumber party” sofa (which I picked out for US) enjoying a show, I’m still in spinster mode. I MUST get my workout in (for a specific period of time), have dinner (same - roasted veggies and hummus), respond to emails, shower and get to bed hopefully, by 10:30. Pheeew! It’s no wonder that I have sleep challenges. It usually takes at least a full day of feeling completely uncomfortable on vacation to give myself permission to “be” where my feet are instead of riddled with fear that my business is going to completely fold when I return.
I often listen to clients tell me about their crazy, packed days filled with both family and work commitments and how impossible it feels to take time for themselves. I immediately put on my coaching hat and guide them towards realizing the importance making time for self-care and setting boundaries.
I realize that although I place a high priority on healthy living there are critical areas of my wellbeing being compromised, which make it difficult to speak from a place of integrity. I’m putting just as much pressure on myself to be “productive” and often find myself completely highjacked by the chatter of “to-do’s” in my head instead of honoring my body and soul’s needs for connection and sleep.
I believe that this hamster wheel I’ve succumbed to is a due to a faulty societal belief that we have to EARN our sense of worth. Worthiness boils down to checks on a to-do list, our accomplishments, accolades, job title, salary, how well our kids are performing in school and sports, and for mostly women - the (!*!*!) number on the scale, etc..
In her amazing, must read book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about our deep-rooted need to “hustle for worthiness.” She further suggests that we are in constant need to gain approval, love and belonging in this world and have completely lost ourselves in the process. I can certainly agree!
One of my dear friends and I have an agreement that we are allowed to vent about problems to each other on condition that we can commit to one action towards a possible solution. So here it goes:
What is the solution?
First to challenge the “hustle” mindset
Begin with letting go of judgement of yourself and STOP comparing yourself to others.
Brene’ Brown states, that, “When we can let go of what other people think we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging.”
BELIEVE with every cell in your body that you don’t have to buy into society’s BS that you have to lose yourself to gain love and belonging. The most effective tools we can use in this process are patience, compassion, and kindness. You must speak to yourself from a place of deep understanding and compassion and stop beating yourself up for ‘not getting it right,’ be patient with yourself during the process and show your own heart empathy and love.
Define and ENFORCE personal boundaries
We also must define and enforce personal boundaries and STOP with the people pleasing. Again, referencing Brene Brown, “Everyone” has differing views, opinions, and needs, so it is exhausting to try and keep “everyone” happy. And since it is impossible to please “everyone”, the hustle is perpetuated. It’s a no-win wasted effort.
Life is too short to spend your days doing things you don't want to do, or conversely not doing the things you do want to do. Understand that saying no to others' requests does not make you selfish or a bad person. If you are going to do something for someone else, do it because you want to, not because you want their praise or recognition or because you are afraid you will lose them if you don't do what they want. Maybe you will lose them, but if they do not respect your boundary maybe they just aren't the people you should bend over backwards to have in your life.
Build the stillness muscle
Break the frenzied habit. This is THE most challenging practice for me. I can workout for hours, run errands, complete domestic chores like nobody’s business. However, the practice of actually sitting down for extended periods of time to relax and/or get into a creative space is EXTREMELY challenging for me.
Making time for stillness, like any other habit, takes preparation and practice.
Begin with scheduling an appointment with yourself for an activity such as journaling, meditation, yoga, massage, painting/art for any amount of time that’s realistic for you. I tell my “Alexa” to start the timer for 20 minutes to write. I don’t do anything else during that time. The first few times I felt my chest tighten and had to redirect my breath and thoughts. When you rest in stillness and get connected to your body, you notice the momentum of your habits and urges, but you don’t act on them. You actually experience the moment. You can tell what your body wants and needs. You are here, alive, receptive.
When you get to the other side of this practice you will feel a sense of calm and confidence.
Try this experiment of non-doing for a few minutes or longer. Do it even when what appears is painful or challenging. Relaxing into stillness is so loving because you are letting go of the need to fight or control your experience. And if you feel the urge to fight or control, simply let that be also.
See how it works. There is always a path to peace. Allow everything, effortlessly, and resistance ends.
What comes up for you here?
What are you willing to try to stop the hustle get re-connected to your body?
I will keep you posted on my progress!