Last week was a crazy week. I have been doing a lot of public relations to promote my book and I did four interviews in one week. Three radio and one television. It was a completely new experience for me and it felt like a whirlwind. At the end of the week, I was pretty tired so this week has been a quiet one.
For most of my life, I’ve been someone who shies away from the limelight. As a child I took on the belief that I wasn’t important enough to be center stage. I remember at my wedding being very uncomfortable about being so visible and I have had to do some internal work to be comfortable being seen. It’s important for me as a public speaker and a writer that I’m willing to be in the public eye as it will be impossible to spread my message otherwise.
I think this is quite a common feeling for many people. We struggle with things that might not be obvious. Things like receiving: love, money, opportunities, attention. There are many of us who like to give and that brings a certain feeling of control. We give to charity, we give our time and we give love freely to many people we come into contact with.
However, receiving feels different. Receiving is much more vulnerable and it’s often quite challenging for people to receive gracefully. Have you noticed sometimes how people can’t even accept something as simple as a compliment? I have friends who are such kind people that even when you give them a thank you gift, they share it with others immediately. How easy is it for you to sit back and enjoy something someone has given you? Are you able to receive with grace?
Before I got sick, I had a lot of trouble receiving. Even if someone took my children out for the day, I’d spend it cleaning, tidying or doing something unpleasant. I didn’t even give myself the permission to enjoy the afternoon off and to just relax and indulge in some TV time. When we dig down deeper, we see that at the heart of this behavior is a difficulty in receiving, and a low level of self-compassion.
Last Tuesday a cold front hit and the temperatures plummeted. I’ve been working hard looking for opportunities and also in getting a lot done in case I need to work full time. I’ve been stretching myself and I realized on Tuesday that what I really wanted was to be warm and a little more rest. After my family left for school, I got back into bed for another ninety minutes. I then had a long, luxurious bath and emerged mid-morning. In the past, I would never have given myself permission to do that, mostly for fear of what people will think or say.
As children we long for the opportunity to do whatever we want. We think that as adults, we will have that freedom. The truth is, we do have more freedom than we think. It is sometimes difficult to see, however, that we are the source of the bars we put around our time and our lives. We have the keys, we just need to give ourselves permission to unlock.
In getting so sick from stress, I had to rebuild my life. In many respects, I set new rules for myself. I had to learn self-compassion and I continue build it as a skill, knowing that it has an impact on my stress levels. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m in charge of my life and if I want a few hours of rest and indulgence, I’m entitled to it. I work really hard and I put in a lot of effort to build this new career as a writer and to keep our household running smoothly. I really deserve some rest occasionally.
The fact that I allowed myself to get back into bed and to have that lovely bath, shows me how far I’ve come. Three years ago, I would never have accommodated that. And who else is going to give me permission to care for myself if it’s not coming from me? How many of us are waiting for someone else to give us the things we want?
I have always been very hard on myself and I expect a lot. I expect to be further along my path of personal growth, healing and professional accomplishment than last week. I get so frustrated at set-backs like colds and flu because it knocks me off my pattern of progress. This kind of thinking is what led me to burnout in the first place so I need to keep checking myself and making sure that what I’m doing is bringing me joy and is what I really want out of life. For so long, I did things out of obligation and things I didn’t gain any joy from.
Early this week, I felt quite miserable. Maybe last week was quite heavy and I needed some rest and some fun after all the expectations and commitments. I kept asking myself what brings me joy and I realized that what I really want to be doing is creating things. I love drawing mandalas, I love crochet and making blankets for charity, and I love writing of course. I have just finished making some blankets and I didn’t have a new crochet project. Yesterday, I went to the wool store and bought myself a bunch of new colors. I can feel the excitement in my body of the possibilities, what new stitches I’m going to practice and learn as well as the joy of creating something.
It is so important to connect with what brings us joy. We spend so much time chasing obligations, paying the bills and looking after everyone else. How about receiving something and doing it graciously? Give yourself permission to have some fun, to enjoy life and to connect with what brings you joy.