A key factor in the process of taking charge of your life has to do with having at least one person in your life with whom you share a desire to move through life at a rhythm set by you rather than one that is set by others. Taking control of the rate of movement of one’s life in the face of job, family, social, and other commitments can seem like an overwhelming prospect. When we share that intention with a partner it becomes much less daunting.
Here are a few suggestions that you might want to try that could make the process easier:
- Check-in with the self. Most of us spend a lot more of our time attending to our thoughts, phones, screens, and countless other distractions than we do being aware of our current experience. This amplifies the tendency to feel anxious and rushed. Like the sign in the casino says, “You must be present to win”. Checking in is about directing our attention inward and bringing a non-judging awareness to our experience, which includes thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions. When we simply note what we are experiencing without reacting to it, clinging to it, resisting it, or judging it, the world feels less out of control. The simple act of bringing awareness to the moment is sufficient to slow things down as we relate to our experience, rather than from it.
- Checking in with others. When we’re caught up in trying to catch up with everything on our to-do list, we generally have little motivation to check with others, particularly those with whom we have the closest relationships, to inquire into their well-being. Our primary relationships can be the greatest source of support for us, and they can be the ones that we are most likely to neglect. The act of checking in with our partner needn’t take long. Merely inquiring about how they are doing is an expression of sincere interest and concern that is itself beneficial to both of you.
- Breathe. Simply bringing consciousness to our breath, even for a moment or two is enough to disengage from the chatter that activates anxiety and distressing thoughts. Becoming conscious of our breathing is an instantaneous means of interrupting the grip of negative thought cycles.
- Turn off the TV, laptop, tablet, cell phone, and all electronic devices. Create an inner sanctuary by making our internal world a place that offers a respite from the external visual, auditory, and other sensory stimuli. Choose to focus only on the kinds of thoughts that promote feelings of peace. This doesn't mean that we ignore legitimate concerns, but that we set boundaries in which certain activities are off-limits.
- Practice humility. We can remember that although we have a body we are much more than that. Affirming our relationship with all of the other beings with whom we share this wondrous planet is a powerful antidote to losing sight of our interconnected relationship with the cosmos.
- Report what you are experiencing to your partner, emphasizing what you are feeling in the moment. It’s a good idea to do this on a regular basis. Sharing our experience with another who can receive it without judgment helps to legitimatize it. It also deepens the experience of emotional intimacy between us.
- Have fun! No, this isn't an excuse to be irresponsible, only a reminder that it's not only O.K. to experience pleasure, but it's as important as anything else. If our experience of life generally feels grim, we’ll find it difficult to manage our commitments. People who feel victimized by their obligations rather than a choice about them, tend to burn out much faster than those who know that they have the power to choose how they feel about fulfilling them.
- Practice gratitude.No matter what is going on in our lives, there are always things for which we can be grateful. Choosing to focus upon what we are grateful for rather than what we wish were different can have a profound impact on our sense of inner peace. We don’t allow ourselves to become consumed in feelings of resentment, self-pity, or resignation. It's simply a matter of where we choose to direct our attention.
This list is by no means complete, but it's a good starter kit. Remember that the greatest gift that you can give to your loved ones is your own happiness and you won’t have much of that to give if you’re feeling stressed out. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind and practice self-care by checking in. Often. Do it for yourself. Do it for your loved ones. Just do it!
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