With most of Australia in lockdown, and the rest of the world struggling in various ways, any bounce we might have had in our system has become flat.
Yet we must carry on.
There are ways to do this that don’t fry us completely. I use these three concepts to support myself and others.
They are mindfulness, boundaries, and compassion.
Let’s get some bounce, shall we?
1. Mindfulness brings us to the present moment. It gives space to what we are feeling and experiencing.
A key to building resilience is to not bypass what we are going through. This can be hard to do – we ignore our experience because we think that by paying it notice it will keep us ‘stuck’. We feel like we ‘shouldn’t be this way’. We try to override our experience, but we can’t. We just drag our breaking around with us.
Instead, bring mindfulness to what you are feeling. Is it exhaustion? Fear? Fatigue? Notice this – and feel it. This is so important. Mindfulness is not just a mental exercise. It needs embodiment as well. Feel your despair, your frazzlement, your upset. Acknowledging its presence within you brings honour to it. It shows this is heard, and it’s ok.
Mindfulness helps us choose what will serve us right now. It gives space for choice: shall I flick through the Insta feed, grab wine, yell at my partner? Or take an action that nourishes me, like go for a walk, speak to a friend. Have a nap.
Mindfulness can be as simple as 3 long breaths.
Action: Take 3 long, slow breaths now.
2. Boundaries is about our autonomy.
Research shows resilience is most compromised when we feel we can’t say ‘no’.
Boundaries are a powerful source of agency. They are key to being a grown up in our own life. We know kids need boundaries – and so do we. Put yourself to bed early! Have that conversation with a colleague about what you can and cannot do. Speak to your partner about equitable duties.
Identify where your lines are blurred, and strengthen them. Remember – when you say yes to something, what are you saying no to? You can’t say yes to everything. Eventually you will be stretched so thin you will break.
Boundaries bring clarity. When we had the bushfires in late 2019, the firefighters came and bulldozed demarcation lines on our property. Clear, wide trails through the forest were made. It wasn’t pretty but it was necessary to stop fuelling the fire that could have incinerated us. Think of your personal boundaries in this way. Get clear on what’s non negotiable for you, and ring fence it.
You are not being selfish. You might even be saving your own life.
Action: Write down what your non-negotiables are. Place these in the centre of decisions you make.
3. Compassion reminds us that we are human. Our humanity – our failings and vulnerabilities, are deserving of love and care.
We are not perfect, and never will be. Chasing this is an illusion. Too many people spend their entire lives trying to fix something in themselves. (Maybe this is you?)
Here’s a radical thought: What if we are not broken? What if we could love and cherish every aspect of ourselves? Ask: What part of me have I judged or abandoned, that I can bring closer to me, and embrace?
There is deep power in loving what we most dislike about our self. Our tiredness. Our grumpiness. Our mistakes. Our grief. There is no limit to self compassion. Liberate the energy trapped in fixing, judging and perfecting.
Set down the bag of rocks you carry, and come sit by the well for a bit. Love yourself enough to be human.
Activity: Choose one disappointment or judgement about yourself you hold on to. Feel the hard edges of it. Feel the wound it covers. Allow it to soften, just a bit.
Mindfulness, boundaries and compassion are a holy trinity to help us in these dark times.
Please go easy on yourself and others.
I’m here for you.
Till next week,