When the last year started, I declared to myself – it is going to be my year. Not in a selfish kind of way but more in a getting to know yourself better kind of way. I had been feeling for a while that we are so indulged in our fast-paced lives, constantly moving, rushing and stressing that we almost never have time to have that self-talk that we need the most to keep us moving in a healthier and happier way. We never allow ourselves to have those hard conversations and to make peace with our shortcomings, accepting and forgiving not only ourselves but also others around us.
A realization that I only had now after all these years – I can’t be there for anybody else if I can’t be there for myself first. When you approach the world and your work from a place of scarcity and lack mindset, you end up seeking and getting all the wrong things, things you didn’t set out to gain. In fact, quite the opposite of what you set out to gain for yourself. I guess, what I am trying to say is, you can’t fill in the cups of others when your own cup is empty. I found repeating to myself over and over again, ‘Fill your cup and take care of yourself first so you are in a better place to offer something of value to others.’
This reminds me of the safety manual with instructions that you get every time you board a plane. The instructions are quite clear about how to help others when in an emergency situation. It states pretty clearly that if cabin pressurization in the aircraft is lost and the oxygen levels drop, you are required to wear the oxygen masks that will fall out from above and you should always put your own mask first and then help others even if it is your children. You have to make sure first that you are in a proper state yourself to help them.
This realization, a better understanding and my need to be more in tune with myself and to slow down lead me to name the year 2018 as my year. Almost 3 months in the next year, I am feeling pretty confident about sharing the simple little things that have been working for me in gaining a better understanding and to keep nurturing that relationship with myself.
A morning routine that works for me
There was a time when I found myself searching on YouTube, ‘Morning Routines’ and watching all the videos that came up. I even tried to incorporate some of the ideas into my mornings. Instead of feeling a little better it felt a bit strange and that too not in a good way.
Most of the examples we see out there are about how waking up early in the morning is the key to success somehow. We are conditioned to believe that the best work happens in the morning and the A-type person is more appreciated and considered to be a functional part of society. I tend to disagree.
I have always considered myself to be an A-type person but for the past two years, when I decided to take it all slow on a pace that works for me, I realized I work best in the later hours of the day. I don’t like waking up with the ringing alarm clocks in the morning. I like to wake up when my body is naturally feeling rested and ready to start the day. I don’t like being rushed into anything. I like to ease into things in my own time on my own terms.
Unlearning what we are conditioned to believe when it comes to a morning routine was a big deal for me and just accepting what feels right for me and allowing myself to want that was a huge leap. It helped me in coming up with a morning routine that is working for me. Not a 100% all the time but yes, most of the days.
I learned that there is no one size fits all formula for this too. It is your journey and your process of discovery. You have to walk that path yourself and start trusting yourself more to come up with something that will feel right for you. My encouragement for you would be to start to learn to yourself and see what feels right for you. Give yourself permission to want what your heart wants and allow yourself to device what works the best for you as you are the best judge of that.
Here are a few things that are working for me when it comes to a morning routine which I am sharing as an inspiration for you. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest.
Journaling and morning pages
I always had a thing for journaling and writing pages full of stream of consciousness for as long as I can remember. It helped me to communicate with myself better, clarify my thoughts and set intentions. I had left doing that for a while until last year. I started writing morning pages again. I started to feel much better at communicating with myself and coming up with new ideas and ways of doing things again. I still am by no means a master of morning pages. I struggle with consistency but the days I do get to write a few pages in the morning, I feel more in touch with myself, my visions and my goals. I feel much more in tune with the work I want to be bringing into this world.
I started experimentation with meditation quite recently but I do find it to be very calming and it helps me in feeling grounded. The app that I use myself and can recommend is headspace app. I tend to not pressure myself and not beat myself up for not showing up when I couldn’t.
Reading a book
Reading a book while I sip my morning tea has become my new favorite thing. It allows me to enjoy the quiet and embrace the slowness and mindfulness that I crave.
Not checking my phone or emails as first thing in the morning
Don’t we all wake up and the first thing we think about is our cellphones? I used to find myself doing that too – to check the time and then suddenly checking all the notifications, all the apps and emails and sometimes even an hour has gone by while I was still at that. I figured I was being pulled into other people’s agenda and as an empathetic individual, I could feel the burden of other’s emotions too. Now I take an intentional approach and not touch my phone until the later hours of the day.
Regulating my information intake
I have made conscious choices about who do I follow online, where do I go on the internet and who do I choose to listen to. I was having a very hard time when I decided to start my own online venture as I was researching, reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts and sitting through the entire long and mostly pointless webinars. It not only deprived the life out of me but also the joy out of the process. I choose to start my business because I wanted to build a life that I would love instead I was feeling miserable and overwhelmed. I am not suggesting that all the advice out there is irrelevant and useless. All I am saying is, there is way more information out there that can possibly consume and honestly, there is a lot of noise out there too and quite a few conflicting pieces of advice. Not everything you find on the internet is going to be relevant for you. After a long period of feeling constantly lost and shattered, I found a way back to myself by reminding myself about how it was my year and all the answers that I was looking outside were all inside me. I needed to shut the outside noise so I could hear my own voice and to start believing it. I learned to listen to my intuition and follow my heart unapologetically. It enabled me to find the courage to unfollow and unsubscribe everything that wasn’t serving a purpose for me. I remember Kayte from Simple and Season mentioning once on her podcast how overwhelm can be a sign of a piece of advice that is not right for you. It resonates with my personal experience. Everyone who made me feel like I should want to be doing something that I didn’t want to do or buy, everyone who made me feel like I wasn’t enough, everyone who made me want to be someone or something else – was a sign for me to politely unfollow.
Taking a walk
Taking a walk whenever I need to, sometimes in the middle of the day. That kind of privilege comes from being your own boss and working for yourself. A lot of guilt also appears by taking a 20 min walk in the middle of the day. Guilt that you should be working on the business and not wasting time doing walks. In the beginning, I had to repeat to myself that how it was my year and I need to fill my cup first but later, I experienced, the more I am in tune with myself, the more best kind of work I produce and the more I resonate with the people I am here to connect so I need those middle of the day walks whenever I feel like.
Learning to say no
I have always had a very hard time to say no but as I am growing older I am learning it probably is one of the most important things to learn in life.
No, I don’t want to.
No, I don’t agree with you.
No, your opinion of me is not the reality of me.
No, I don’t want to work for free.
No, I can’t go to get-togethers when I have anxiety.
No, I can’t always snap out of it.
No, it doesn’t feel right.
No, if it’s okay I don’t want to collaborate with you.
No, my niceness is not weakness.
No, I don’t want to engage with you on social media.
No, I don’t want to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.
No, I’m not going to take that crap.
No, I don’t need to buy that thing you advertise.
No, I am not ashamed to make time for myself.
No, I am not sorry for standing up for what I believe in.
No, I will no longer apologize for being myself.
No is, in fact, a good word. It allows you to carve that space you need to live and be the best version of yourself in your creative work and life. This section of the blog post was inspired by Matt Haig’s latest Instagram post.
What simple things in life have you been trying out? I’d love to know what’s been working for you in the comments below.
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