This week I want to talk about the idea of “pushing ourselves.” Lately my clients (and I) have been walking that fine line between pushing and surrendering. In an effort to accomplish tasks, pursue our life’s work, and make the most of ourselves, we often forget that the Foundation for what we create is self-love and self-care.
Life is not about how others define “success.” It’s about surrendering and letting go of control. It's at those moments when we are most successful, no matter what our purpose may be.
This morning, I came upon a quotation by Thoreau that really resonated with me:
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
Instead of approaching this from the task-oriented, boot camp-loving, control freak side, I see this as an invitation to surrender and melt into that yummy space where we give ourselves the love, acceptance, and validation we yearn for. Most of my clients right now have HUGE goals for themselves. They want to change the world! However, when asked why, I find that they often are doing it from a desire to serve AND a desire to be recognized, to feel validated, and to be deemed successful by others. These motivations struggle to coexist. When our desire to achieve is not based on OUR desire, but based on external pressures, we set ourselves up for failure.
In Thoreau’s quotation, the Foundation is not the time management skills and desire to squeeze more effort out of every minute. It is surrendering to our inner guide and letting that part of us lead us to building those castles. The same way that a structure needs a foundation, we need to create from a place of abundance, not lack. Proof of this can be seen everywhere:
When you work or give more to others than you do yourself, you feel:
- Sick, not healthy.
- Tired, not energized.
- Stressed, not resilient.
Thus, when we work from a place of lack, we are setting ourselves up for burnout.
Now all that is well and good to say, but living in NYC or “wanting it all” a la Liz Lemon, is not an easy feat. Surrendering to self-love involves a shift in perception.
Here are 3 steps to set yourself up for success and lay the foundation for a Kick Ass Castle:
1. Shut up and listen.
Do you ever have a strange feeling that you shouldn’t be somewhere or that something just isn’t right? Honor it. Our intuition is begging to send us messages, but often times we are preoccupied with work, relationships, food, etc. to honor it. That moment when we choose to listen and honor that voice is the moment when we hear the old AOL email voice saying, “You’ve got mail!” It’s like there's a message in your inbox and your inner guide was patiently waiting for you to login and check it.
2. Being selfish is sacred.
Let me tell you something about most of my past relationships. I was crazy-codependent. I sacrificed, thinking that by helping others I would be happy. And you know where that wound up? Nowhere. The biggest thing I learned from my relationships with family, friends, lovers, and coworkers is that prioritizing our needs is the only way to ensure our efforts are sustainable. So what does that look like? Asking yourself what you truly need and then being still and silent long enough to hear the answer. The kicker is then following that guidance. For me, it means I give myself:
- Time to meditate.
- The space in my schedule to prepare healthy foods.
- Exercise in whatever way my body needs that day.
- Plenty of quality sleep (even if it means I can’t stay out as late as my friends!)
- Lots of water.
3. Feel the crap.
This one is huge! We typically do anything we can to get OVER a problem and not THROUGH it. What’s the best way to HEAL? To FEEL! This tip sucks in an amazing way. When we’re trying to accomplish, we often ignore our painful feelings because we think it gets in the way of our productivity. I can attest that those feelings need to come out and when they go unaddressed, they will come out with a vengeance. What we resist will persist. So compartmentalize when you must, but remember to open up that box and give yourself the gift of feeling those emotions.
The Foundation of any castle, whether that be a job, a project, or a relationship is self-love. To truly succeed, you must surrender and prioritize yourself (your health, your happiness, and your spiritual assignments) above all else.
What are your thoughts on self-love? What's the Foundation of your life? I'd love to hear your story! Share it below in the Comments section!