As I trade in my flip-flops for real shoes and my t-shirts for sweaters, I find that the transition from summer to fall makes me feel less than grounded. A bit scattered actually, because for me the fall season means “back-to-school;” a signal that it’s time to get back “on track.” I contemplate all sorts of activities: online courses that will help me expand my business, a new series at the local meditation center, festivals in the mountains, football games and classes at the local University about gender politics.
The lazy days of summer are ending and it’s time to get engaged. I make lists and commitments to all these activities, then invariably, I get anxious about how I’ll manage all that I’m putting on my plate. (I want to do it all and do it all perfectly!)
So while I love the fall season, I also know that this is a good time of year to pay special attention to strategies that I’ve learned in recovery that keep me feeling balanced.
Here are suggestions from some of my favorite teachers that help me feel balanced and navigate the urge to do it all:
“Choose discomfort over resentment.”
This is one of my favorite Brené Brown quotes from her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” When friends ask me to join them for a special activity, I feel bad about saying no. I’m worried that they’ll stop liking me. I’m worried that I’ll be missing out on something great and will never be asked again.
Brown asserts that if we agree to do something that we really don’t want to do or just don’t have time to do, it leads to resentment. I join the activity then I’m mad about being there. I get cranky and irritable and I’m not much fun to be with (and you can bet I’m not grounded). Brown encourages me to pause before I say yes and challenges me to deal with my discomfort about saying no.
I’ve learned to say “Thanks for asking, I can’t join you, please ask me again.” And it works!
“Always do your best.”
This is the fourth agreement proposed by Don Miguel Ruiz in his book “The Four Agreements.” He suggests that we can free ourselves from negative beliefs by living in alignment with four principles. This fourth agreement reminds me that to maintain a feeling of balance, I must recognize that I can’t always “do it all,” nor do I need to be perfect in everything I do. I can’t work 12 hours a day, remain fit, spend quality time with friends and family, and engage in all the hobbies that I love.
When I get clear about what I really want (instead of what I don’t want), embrace what I really value, I can make choices that honor both.
“Do not do unto yourself what you would not do unto others.”
This is the Platinum Rule (as opposed to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”). In his book, “How to Be an Imperfectionist,” author Stephen Guise says that I need to follow the Platinum Rule: In other words, to stop being so hard on myself!
Kristen Neff, pioneering self-compassion researcher, author, and teacher, offers practical suggestions on her website that help me offset my negative self-talk when I can’t do everything I want to do or am trying to do it all perfectly. I find that adding one of these practices into my routines ultimately gives me more satisfaction than trying to squeeze in one more activity with friends.
What are your strategies for staying grounded in your busy life?
How do you “do it all” while staying true to your responsibilities?