When I set my intention of Bold Freedom for the year, I had no idea how much freedom I’d find from myself and the old patterns I've been clinging onto in my life. When I set the intention, I wasn't quite sure where it would lead but trusted that it would cause me to step into something greater. One of the main areas I've been finding freedom is from my constant need to always be doing something.
I've been going nonstop most of my life, so when I do slow down or take a moment to sit, I feel anxiety and like I should be doing something. It's pretty clear that I'm no stranger to ambition or taking on a good challenge. And most of the challenges I commit to are ones I create for myself. I'm much like Barney Stinson (HIMYM), I hear of a challenge and raise the bar..."Challenge accepted!". I often accept or create challenges to prove that I can do it. For a while, I got that I was trying to prove myself to others..."Look at me! I did it! I won!" And it wasn't until recently I realized, I often set challenges because I don't believe that I can do it. So I'm essentially trying to prove to myself that I can.
And with every realization, there's often a greater lesson to be learned or discovered.
I’ve been trying to be more intentional about slowing down. Slowing down is one of my biggest struggles and even when I think I’m doing so, my body quickly reminds me I’m not. It’s a constant practice for me and one that requires great discipline. I was gently reminded several times in Thailand that I was not slowing down, and finally, my body had to step in and harshly remind me. I finally got to a place in Thailand where I was understanding this need. And it all shattered when I returned to the states.
I came back to the states for an event in Portland called World Domination Summit. I flew from Bangkok to Dallas prior to going to Portland. I wanted to give myself a few days to acclimate (and get my hair done...#priorities) and refresh before jumping into this event. I knew the event would be packed but was not fully prepared for just how busy it would be. I signed up for so many meetups and sessions to the point some were overlapping. I gave myself absolutely no downtime -- and I'm someone who needs solitude and time alone. And to add to it, my sleep patterns were completely messed up from jet lag and all of the timezone changes. I was sleeping 4-5 hours a night for 10 days straight. Your body can only withstand intense scenarios before it hits shutdown mode.
Insanity = doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.
I returned to Dallas from Portland and slept a solid 11 hours. It was enough for my body to briefly reset and trick me into thinking I was well enough to set off again. I felt pretty okay, so naturally, it was time for a new adventure! I woke up on Friday morning and thought it a brilliant idea to drive 10 hours to Tennessee to see family and friends. And to add to my brilliance, I added my 3 and 5 1/2-year-old nieces to the mix. But don't worry, I'm not insane. I'm an Aunt Extraordinaire remember? I spent 6 days with my munchkins while catching up with family and friends. All the while continuing to not get healthy amounts of sleep. I drove back to Dallas at the end of the stent and added another niece to the mix -- my 12-year-old, Milly. I knew she would be a big help and needed the support for the long drive back. Milly stayed with us for a week before flying back to TN on her own. And for the record, no one asked me to do this. It was all on my own crazy accord.
Things have continued to be hectic, yet I think I'm finally starting to get it. My coach has been encouraging me to create routine and structure in my life, and SLOW DOWN (especially with a nomadic lifestyle). I've been resisting the concept of slowing down. In my mind it means I have to be less ambitious or take on less. And it’s not about that at all. It's about being more mindful and intentional with what I do take on and to give myself quiet time and moments of rest each day.
You have to slow down to speed up. When you're going so fast, you miss so much. When you take the time to take a slower pace or mindset, you're better able to check-in and see what serves or doesn't serve you.
One of my biggest realizations came at 3 in the morning recently. I’ve always looked at my go-go lifestyle as something to be proud of. Look at all that I'm doing! What I had been missing all along is that my need to prove myself or keep myself going entailed a bigger underlying issue -- AVOIDANCE. I've been taking on more and more so that I can avoid conflict and drama. I began this in high school. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic parent for much of my childhood and college years. In high school, I began pouring myself into activities so I could avoid being home. I replaced avoidance with ambition. And this pattern has continued. Staying busy is comfortable for me (whether I’m avoiding or not).
Knowledge is powerful. Once you have a realization and breakthrough, you can begin to take the steps needed toward changing it.
This was a glass shattering Aha! moment for me. Suddenly I could see areas where I was keeping myself busy to avoid conflict, difficult conversations, or areas of healing. And while I can look back and be proud of all that I've accomplished, I can also see where I pushed myself too much. Yoga Teacher Training is a prime example. I signed up the day before it started. And (naturally) wanted to create my own challenge. We had a requirement of taking 60 yoga classes during the 8-week program. Most people take their time and do not finish it during that time. I set a goal for myself to complete all requirements within the 8 weeks. By the end I had completed 73 classes in 8 weeks on top of still having a full-time corporate job. I pretty much pushed everything aside in my life to make this happen. I was missing the point of yoga and why I was doing it. I realized later on that I was pushing myself to avoid being fully present at my job (I knew at that point I would be quitting in the near future, but afraid to let my team know); and I was keeping myself busy to avoid healing from an important relationship in my life that took a sudden change. The busier I stayed, the easier it was to push it away and avoid dealing with it.
I'm finally grasping the importance around slowing down. And can get that I have nothing to prove to others or myself. I don't have to avoid difficult conversations or even my own greatness. It won't change overnight and there will be moments of relapse, yet by having this revelation, I can take small steps towards incorporating stillness into my routine no matter where I am in the world.
Do you give yourself permission to slow down and stop and smell the roses? Can you relate to this and see areas in your life that you're avoiding? Take some time to slow down, step away and see what opens up from a space of calm rather than chaos.