January 3, 2017…and I’m still going strong. It’s true…the hardest part about making a change behind taking the first step is keeping it going. But like with anything else, if you are disciplined and determined, you gain momentum and it eventually becomes a habit or part of your routine. So January is a big month for me as I take my first step, and this blog is my vehicle for forward progress.
Just like the month of January is the first building block of my new year’s resolution, so is the first variable of my BALANCE equation…#Self. To me this means being at peace with yourself through continuous acceptance and grace towards your past, a conscious awareness and purpose in your present, and limitless ambitions and goals for your future. I believe finding peace with yourself requires a BALANCE of these three things so that one does not take away from the other. Most of us are so consumed with the regrets of our past and uncertainty of our future that we minimize the present and all of its opportunities. The opportunity to learn from the past, the opportunity to embrace the present, and the opportunity to have a hand in creating our future.
So balancing ourselves between our past, present and future is only one half of the battle, the other is acknowledging AND accepting we are not perfect. No one is perfect…I think we all know that. But sometimes it appears others are when we are drowning in our own mistakes, shortcomings and insecurities. It’s almost like comparing an apple to a pancake when you try to compare the depth of yourself to just the surface of another individual. Because of the intimate relationship we have with ourselves and the inability to ever take a break, we are constantly reminded of our imperfections and everything that is “wrong” with ourselves leading us to be our biggest critic, but what I’ve realized is that you also have to be your biggest fan because you can’t expect anyone else to be that for you.
This area has already been a work in progress for me and will continue to be simply because this does not come natural to me, but boy does it spill over into other areas of your life and make a difference when you are your biggest fan. It most definitely is easier said than done, but it truly is as simple as changing your mindset. You can do it. Count your blessings instead of others. Control the controllables. We all have conversations with ourselves in our head, either that or I’m just a little crazy. But instead of telling myself I can’t do something, listing out all the things others have that I don’t or worrying about the outcome of something I have no control over, I try to remind myself of the flip side of that thought which is usually more positive and accurate. And if you tell yourself something enough times, you actually start to believe it. This goes both ways though and is why sometimes we get stuck in the mud of our own criticism and pessimism.
Right behind believing in yourself and being your own source of happiness, I’ve learned that in order to maintain and sometimes even elevate your state of mind, surrounding yourself with positivity is key: positive thoughts, positive perceptions, positive affirmations, positive people…I think you get it. We may not always have control of the things that happen around us like what others say or do, but we have some control of who we surround ourselves with, and even during those times when we don’t, we have full control of our thoughts and emotions and how we let things affect us.
Now the question is how do you create this peace with yourself and attain it in a way that is genuine and sustainable and not just a facade or temporary fix? Because any extension of yourself is only as strong as the base you create with your most important relationship…the one with yourself. So it must be the first thing we all focus on. I don’t have all the answers, that’s for sure, but I strongly believe it starts with making time for yourself, getting in tune with yourself and prioritizing yourself…over and over again. If you don’t take this time for yourself, then you don’t fully understand your wants, needs and desires and the rest of your time spent doing other things with other people will never reach it’s full potential. I found once I spent a little more time on myself, I had more self-confidence and energy to make positive changes in other areas of my life and I like to think that had some sort of positive impact on those around me as well. It’s not a one time thing though…you have to continuously love yourself as you grow, which also involves forgiving yourself and sometimes even laughing at yourself.
I’ve hand-picked a few techniques I’ve read about that appear simple yet powerful at helping one to feel centered and find that inner peace with themselves and I plan to weave these into my routine in some shape and form. How will these help me (and you)? They carve out time for myself, give me an opportunity for self-reflection and discovery and create room for positivity by clearing the mind and heart of any unnecessary weight. I intentionally left out anything specific to #Spirtuality and #Passions&PastTimes as these are their own areas I will touch on more specifically later, but they most definitely have a place here too.
- Breathing Exercises – It sounds silly but there are many benefits with doing deep breathing exercises. Just a few minutes while in the shower or before you go to sleep can make all the difference if practiced consistently.
- Meditation – Similar to breathing exercises, meditation only has to be a few minutes to see benefits and can be done anywhere. Find a place to sit, close your eyes, and spend a few moments focused on you and nothing else. Warning: Your mind will wander, ours all do. Just reel it back in instead of getting discouraged and giving up.
- Grounding/Earthing – Research has found that there are health benefits with coming in contact with the Earth, such as walking barefoot through the grass, or being exposed to natural sunlight to increase your vitamin D levels. You can look it up yourself if you’re interested in a science lesson, but I have always loved the outdoors and felt a sense of calmness come over me when surrounded by nature so experiencing the benefits firsthand is enough proof for me. With it being winter in Ohio…it looks like I’ll have to get creative for the next few months.
- Mantras – I recently learned what this is which is a sound, word or short phrase that provides encouragement, inspiration and motivation. I find these usually in what I’m reading or bouncing around on social media. But the important thing is that when you do come across one that speaks to you, you file it away and keep it in your back pocket for when you are in need of that friendly reminder and positive reinforcement.
Now I’m no yogi, but I do enjoy a good yoga sesh, which can incorporate all of these and then some, which is why I plan to take advantage of a free yoga class hosted by a brewery this weekend. You can’t beat that! If I find something new along the way, I’ll be sure to update you.