I am heading off on a train trip to a yoga retreat this coming week. I am very excited and am greatly looking forward to an opportunity for some balanced self-care. It has taken a bit of work to get to this point as I have had to release some unhelpful habits around taking this break.
The opportunity for this break came up and I went through the 'undeserving' and 'deserving' scenarios, neither of which are helpful. Firstly I had that critical task master going through the undeserving soundtrack, with ideas like "somehow I don't deserve to have a break, I should be staying home to do what is needed here, and other people need it more than me'. The truth is me having the opportunity for a break is not stopping anyone else from taking a break and most likely it will make me more available to others and nicer to be around.
The next scenario that task master came up with involved feeling 'deserving' with lots of justification and entitlement related to why I should have a break and that I was entitled to it because I worked so hard, etc. Neither of these two ways of thinking about taking a holiday felt right and left me with feelings of guilt, entitlement and unworthy. My funny mind, all sorts of habits replaying! So how can I bring a more helpful, compassionate understanding to this situation?
Turning up the kind, encouraging friend voice, helped me to realise that when opportunities like taking a break (or any gift) arise it is much more helpful to receive them with appreciation. They are beautiful gifts that I can gratefully receive without the need to feel either deserving or undeserving. When I am able to receive a gift like a holiday with gratitude, I can use it as an opportunity to practice that balanced self care, to enjoy myself and to replenish.
My friend and mentor Shadi introduced me to a book entitled the '5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman. An interesting concept in the book is the 'invisible love tank'. Chapman proposes that each of us has an invisible emotional love tank and when it is empty we have nothing to give and tend to misbehave, be critical and unkind. I believe it is our responsibility to learn to fill our own tank so that we can have something to give. And to be available to connect meaningfully with others! I have used this idea to help me appreciate and understand the need for my break.
I find it helpful to think of my 'train yoga retreat holiday' as an opportunity to top up my emotional tank with the 3 R's, Rest, Relax and Refuel. I need to bring awareness as to why I am doing this though. I am doing it or not, not doing it because somehow I am deserving or undeserving!
I am gratefully receiving it as a gift, as an opportunity to refuel so that I have something to share with others and so that I am nicer to be around for others and myself too. A gift is not something that is deserved, a gift comes from love. Who wants to be with a grumpy deserving, guilty, entitled, resentful or undeserving inner voice? I don't! And also I know that when I am running on empty and scraping the bottom of an empty tank I am not so easy to be around either. It is not much fun for me or others.
So instead, in appreciation for all I do and this opportunity, I am taking a refuel break to gift myself what I need to keep doing what I love to do and to be available for others. And I am so excited and appreciative.
We can gift ourselves all sorts of things in appreciation for ourselves and all we do with that awareness around the reason behind the gift - to replenish our emotional tank so that we lots to share with others. Ideas include a massage, time in nature, a walk, meditation, yoga, a 5 minute shavasana, reading a book, exercise, a cup of coffee, a holiday or anything that brings you pleasure and fills your emotional tank so that you have lots to share with others.
BIG THANKS to you all! Have a great fortnight!
I have been noticing some people, including myself, who appear to have had some memory lapses regarding gratitude or are finding it tricky to express gratitude! So I thought I could do with a gratitude reminder! Maybe you do too?
I have written many blogs about gratitude and consider it one of the most important foundational practices for happiness, resilience and peace of mind. Gratitude can help us to overcome feelings of depression and sadness. It can also help us find the blessing in a difficult situation and turn a so called 'problem' into an opportunity to learn. I can be grateful for the person who appeared too stressed to say thank you as a reminder of the benefits to all of being grateful!
Many years ago now I was introduced to a morning gratitude practice. It is wonderful way to start each morning and certainly sets a positive mood for the day. When I wake I bring to mind all the wonderful ways others are helping me, including growing my food, driving my tram, serving my coffee and generally making my amazing life possible in so many ways!
I have so much to be grateful for and it is uplifting to journal what I am grateful for each morning. But I don't need to stop there. I can continue to express gratitude throughout my day in all sorts of fun ways - smiles, texts, notes and verbal expressions of thanks. And I can include me too, as we will explore.
It is great to receive thanks from others too. But, as we know sometimes this thanks is not forthcoming, or not in the form we want! We can even be met with hostility for trying to be kind sometimes! I had this happen the other day when I noticed someone had just parked in a 'no standing' zone. I attempted to explain this to them, only to be met with an unfriendly response and no thanks! It was a great reminder that I cannot control receiving thanks for kindness. But, thankfully I can control my response!
I have been reminded that I often expect gratitude from others when I do something kind, like make a meal. As we know expectation is disappointment in training. As Confucius says "Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude" When I expect to be thanked for preparing the meal and I don't receive it, I often become resentful, with the burning smell of martyr lingering in the air! This is certainly not helpful for my peace of mind.
So again, what can I do to let go of resentment and instead be an appreciative, kind, and encouraging friend to myself, both in the moment and for the future?
As we said last week our feelings are often associated with a physical body sensation. When I feel resentment regarding feeling unappreciated I usually feel it as a tightening or uncomfy feeling in my throat.
As we also explored It may also be helpful to bring curiosity to your awareness around thought patterns and behaviours that go with that feeling. My funny mind has a whole martyrdom story!
So instead of that whole untrue story if I am aware of that physical sensation of the tightening jaw, churning stomach or tight throat, and see it as a reminder to do those 3 helpful steps outlined in last weeks blog........
When I can remember to thank myself for the efforts I have made to be of value to others then I don't get disappointed in and resentful of others when they are unable to give it to me! When I can give this thanks to myself I can then have compassion and understanding for them. I don't know why they are not able to be thankful. Maybe they have lots on their mind, maybe they did not like the meal I made, maybe they are not in the habit of being grateful.
I cannot control receiving thanks, but I can control thanking myself for the efforts I make to be that positive force in the world! Kind, encouraging affirmations of gratitude have the power to uplift both ourselves and others! As Pema Chodron says ' What truly heals is gratitude and tenderness'.
So once again dial up your internal kind encouraging friend to give you the gratitude and encouragement needed. We can do this through truthful affirmations, like ' Good on you for taking the time and effort to make a meal so that others can come home and relax and receive a healthy, nutritional meal.'
Other things you may find useful are .........
1. A daily gratitude practice - Wake up grateful and journal what you are grateful for each and every day
2. Journaling the value you do brings to others through what you do (whether tor not they are able to see, acknowledge or express gratitude for it).
For example - Being grateful for the efforts I have made to bring value to others by sitting down this afternoon to write this blog so others may benefit from remembering to practice gratitude to others and themselves. I have thanked myself and valued what I have done so there is no expectations of thanks or resentment needed!
3. As discussed we can give ourselves thanks and love through affirmations. We can also do this in other ways too. This needs to be understood in the wise context of taking care of ourselves so we have something in the tank to give to others. More about this in the upcoming blogs.
BIG THANKS to you all! Have a great fortnight!