Self Care Is Not Selfish

Do you remember the last time you were on a plane?  Try not to cringe.  The half an inch of leg room, gluing your arms to your sides so you don’t touch the stranger next to you, eating nothing but incredibly salty peanuts and tasteless pretzels for the next six hours.  Mentally preparing yourself for this wholly unpleasant experience by practicing your contortion skills and willing yourself not to have to use the bathroom for an unnatural amount of time.  Then, it’s time for the safety spiel, and this is the important part.

“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you.  If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”

There.  That’s the important part.  If you’re travelling with someone who needs help, put your mask on first and then help them.  Common sense, right?  But think about this: how many times have you exhausted yourself helping others?… or said yes when you knew you would regret it later?

In school, in coaching, in life, we tend to help others when we haven’t worked on ourselves first, and when you put someone else’s mask on before your own, you’re setting both of you up to fail.  Before you take on another person’s responsibilities, or put their needs before your own, remember this: self-care is not selfish, and it will make you much more capable of doing better for the people you love in the long run.  Put your mask on and breathe.

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Truth Statements

A coaching colleague recently passed along a reframing technique from Blue Ocean Brain. The technique involves creating “Truth Statements,” which helps reprogram our brains from ruminating on negative thoughts to reflecting on positive thoughts.

One example of a Truth Statement offered by Blue Ocean Brain is this:

“After making a mistake at work you can reframe the situation by saying, ‘I make mistakes because I am constantly experimenting in order to make things better. I learn faster because of my mistakes.’”

Because one of my StrengthsFinder strengths is Maximizer, I couldn’t help but think about tweaking this powerful technique to wring out as much brain-friendly juice as possible. Try on these tweaks:

1. Swap out neutral languaging for any “sad” words. In this case, the word “mistake” may elicit negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, shame, guilt. Replace the sad word with something neutral, such as “this circumstance.”

2. Incorporate your strengths. For example, identify one or two strengths that could be at play, such as creativity or innovation or strategy.

3. Next, add a positive emotion to the statement. For example, gratitude, as in “I’m grateful that…”

4. Experience it. Cue your body to feel the positive emotion. Add the word “feeling” to the statement. Pause to access and experience the feeling as deeply as you can.

Putting these four tweaks in place, the statement now reads (color-coded from the steps above):

I’m feeling grateful that this situation is allowing me
to see how my creativity, innovation, and willingness to experiment
(aka bravery) allows me to learn even more quickly.

Your turn. Think of a negative thought you tell yourself and apply the above ideas. Enjoy!

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The Power of Negativity

Do you remember last week when your boss asked you to take on a new project and you doubted your abilities? Or when you let the unhappy client you were working with get you down for the whole day? What about when you had that second piece of cake and totally regretted it?

Negative thoughts can be powerful; powerful enough to distract from the goals at hand and how capable you are in the face of them. But what if we took a different approach to our negative thoughts? What if, instead of ignoring them, we learn to use them to motivate us? To get rid of distractions? To grow?

The goal is not to be rid of negative thoughts, but to learn to use them as an invitation to pivot to positive. To eliminate the power they have when we fear them, and to give them a voice instead. To allow them to spur your creativity to tap into your strengths, to recognize the power and choice that you have, to be on top of the circumstances instead of the circumstances being on top of us. The negative thoughts want to be heard too – so let them be! Eventually, you’ll notice they’re a lot more positive than before.


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Stop Caring about What You Don’t Care About

I binged on TEDx Talks this past weekend. One title really caught my attention:

“The Magic of Not Giving a F***”

My apologies, in advance, if the title is offensive. If it is, replace the unpleasantry with the word “care,” as in “The Magic of Not Caring” But I happened to appreciate the f-word because of its shock value. It wakes me up and makes me pay attention.

And that’s what a lot of us need to do. Pay attention. Pay attention to what we’re caring about, or what we’re not realizing we’re caring about that we really don’t care about. (Could you follow that!?!)

Because when we don’t care about something but we pretend we do care about it, we feel obligated, put upon, frustrated, and out-of-sync with ourselves.

So I made myself a list. Here’s what I don’t want to care about, that I do care about, that I wish I didn’t care about:

– I don’t care if my mother disagrees with me.
– I don’t care if my dear friend thinks I’m not spiritual enough.
– I don’t care if I disappoint a neighbor by saying no to her invitation.
– I don’t care if I offend someone when my comment was made in love/respect/curiosity, with no intention at all to offend.
– I don’t care if I don’t get it right/perfect/A+ 100% of the time.
– I don’t care if I miss a deadline, or two, or three…
– I don’t care if I don’t have all the answers.

The reality is, I’ve probably made up in my own head negative worrisome stories about how other people are thinking that aren’t even accurate!

So how about you?

– What would you like to take off of your “care” list?
– What would you be relieved to say “no thank you” to?!
– What would you do with the extra energy that comes from that sense of relief?

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