In a world that thrives on ‘no pain, no gain’, end of summer remains my biggest trigger to date.
‘Vacation is over’,
‘Now it’s time to take things seriously’
= more work, more pressure to perform and more opportunities for my personal Imposter Syndrome to show her ‘I am here for your own good’ face.
I call these my September scaries. Mind you, they show up frequently, regardless of the day/month/year.
Are you, like me, at this stage of ‘I cannot live like this anymore’?
I have an antidote to make this dreaded transition a tad smoother by unlearning these old reflexes: a mindset reboot.
May I first ask you to interrupt your usual program?
Take a break!
From everything that is going on in your life and in your head. The latter in particular.
Because this constant mind chatter may well be distracting you from what’s really going on right now: the messages that your body / brain and your environment have been sending you.
- The first question to ask yourself is: ‘how do I feel right now?’
Frustrated, upset, angry, empty, full, overwhelmed? – name your emotion, but don’t label it as ‘negative’.
Take a few minutes, grab pen and paper, write down what’s going on with/for you right now: where you are, how do you feel about your home, your job, your career, your relationships?
Repeat this process as needed as soon as you can pause out and tune into your feelings.
Make it a ritual, be it in the form of meditation or journaling or walking, or what helps you empty your head from the hecticness and the permanent mind chatter.
Congrats! you have just passed step 1 of ‘I choose to live more consciously’.
Step 2 is cleaning up the old and tired.
Backup and clean your hard drive
In a world of crazy busy, we want to ignore or minimize what we label as ‘negative’ emotions, and see them as merely an annoyance that shall pass; but today, I am going to ask you not to.
So if your brain is telling you: ‘I feel like I am suffocating’ – today is a good time to pay attention to this message and explore it literally and figuratively.
- What is currently taking (too much) space in your mind, your body, your environment?
You can start with the most obvious – your physical space, where accumulating and hoarding tend to show up quite literally.
Start small, build on the feeling of lightness, remind yourself of that feeling to help you get going.
Now, the advanced step: mental, physical, and emotional spaces.
Examine what narratives are running your life scripts: the draining ‘no pain, no gain’ to stay in the ‘race’ of ‘survival of the fittest’, the ‘I am not as […] as‘, and the likes.
A hint: ‘Stick’ (vs carrot) form of motivation can work, it can be a useful tool to get unstuck and to get prepared, until a certain point; but when it starts feeling more punishing than energizing, time to change the narrative.
Now a bit more tricky: examine your connections. If you see yourself feeling relieved that a plan is out of the picture or you are getting stressed out when receiving a text from someone, then … you know where I am going with this: time to evaluate what you want from those relationships, friendships, or acquaintances.
- What are you ready to tolerate and where do you draw the line of full stop?
To make space for the new, you need to let go of the old and obsolete. See it as an act of self-respect, and you being the responsible keeper of your energy, giving your attention to who and what really matters to you.
Upgrade your inner software …
OK, so now I am more aware of what is going on in my head, of those scripts that I have been fed since I was a wee thing and that put the fear in me rather than energize me. What about those September scaries?
One word: stop indulging the brain when you know it’s feeding you its ‘I am doing this for your own good’ but it keeps on telling you the same BS story again and again.
A firm ‘stop it!’ – that’s the main thing you can do.
We may not be able to control our thoughts, but we sure can get into the habit of redirecting them to more productive or helpful places.
As a practice, start by observing how your brain knits a story from a word that someone said, or how you give a personal interpretation to events rather than examining the facts first.
- Peace of mind is also proactively looking for ways to see reality from a more objective perspective.
… and install the new program
Let’s start by debunking something as habitual as those Sunday scaries: why does your brain think that Monday is the end of fun?: because it is back to work.
If you continue seeing work as being a chore, your boss as a judging parent, and yourself as the defenseless child, chances are, you will continue feeling the same way about your Mondays.
The adult in us can step in at any time and remind us that while ‘no effort/no action, no gain’ is true, effort doesn’t need to equate pain.
By flipping the myth of work being a punishment, and looking at it from the perspective of it being a place of potential expansion where we can also flourish, we can start seeing the workplace as a space where we can experiment with our creativity, improve our skills, learn new ones and expand.
Without falling into the trap of ‘forced positivity’, and understanding that expecting for everything to go 100% as planned or wanting to be happy 100% of the time, is highly unrealistic, we can define the parameters of our ‘good enough’. We can create goals, from big to small, and see every day as a new opportunity to reach them.
- And making of Monday a special day, where we are starting afresh and resourced from the weekend, even if it means that we will need to force ourselves to see it that way; after all, old habits die hard, but we are tougher than those.