Archive for May, 2010

Early Warning Signals

Monday, May 31st, 2010

worried-womanThe concept of extreme self-care is the foundation of my work as a coach.  Practicing extreme self-care means taking great care of yourself even when it seems boarder line self-indulgent.  A lot of my clients struggle with the idea of making their self-care a priority.  They fear it may seem inappropriate or selfish.  I often remind them that in order to be ready to help others in a healthy way, they must be there for themselves first.

Examples on how to practice extreme self-care will always be unique to each individual.  We have different needs and priorities.  A few ideas below:

  • Giving yourself permission to change your mind about a commitment you’ve made, even though it might disappoint someone.
  • Asking someone to stop gossiping around you instead of tolerating it.
  • Eating the best food you can afford.
  • Spend more money on a great bed, nice sheets, and a great water filtering system.
  • Getting a massage or a manicure, once a week instead of every other month.

It’s not always easy to put yourself first, I realize that.  It’s a good idea to have a great support system that can remind you of taking great care of yourself – a loving partner, a trusted friend, a supportive coach – people that will raise a “self-care” flag when they see you not living up to your self-care standards.

It’s also important to be aware of early warning signals that help you recognize behaviors that spell trouble.  Let me give you some examples of what I mean.  I know I am heading for trouble when:

1.  I get less than eight hours of sleep a night.

2.  I feel irritable because I am hungry, sleepy or thirsty.

3.  I am too busy to exercise.

4.  I miss my prayer time in the morning.

5.  I feel overwhelmed and like I am not doing/being enough (whatever that means!).

6.  I don’t pet my cat when I get home.

When I begin to feel the slightest bit overwhelmed I:

1.  Ask for help.  I might call my husband, coach or a friend and talk through a problem.  I delegate more work or I might ask a specialist to step in and take care of a task I am struggling with.  The point is to remember to ask for help.

2.  Reevaluate my priorities.  I visit my Vision for my life/business, review my goals for the week/month and notice where I might be spending energy on things that are not important.

3.  Identify what I need to let go in order to focus on what’s important.  Sometimes it helps me to get physical and I would clean a drawer and look through my clothes to give away things I no longer need.  The act of letting go of the clutter helps me create a ‘space’ in my head to think more clearly.

It’s crucial to recognize the warning signals that are threatening your quality of life and to have a plan of action when they show up.  First, discover what makes you feel edgy, irritable and frustrated.  What behaviors trigger this reaction?  As you notice these things write them down and create your own early warning signals list.  Finish the sentence:  I know I am headed for trouble when…

Use these signals to remind you to turn your attention to your priorities.  Once you identified your early warning signals, develop some strategies like the ones I mentioned above to support you on your journey.  Think about what resonates with you and take action whenever you feel like you start to get edgy or overwhelmed.

We don’t have a natural instinct for extreme self-care.  It’s up to us to develop routines that give us energy and joy so that we can be ready to give more to others and to contribute to make the world a better place.

With energy,

Ana

The Heroes Around Us

Monday, May 10th, 2010

maosLast week I’ve heard a very touching story.  As most of you know, there was a major earthquake in the north-west province of Qinghai.  In spite of all the progress and wealth China has been accumulating, the rural areas such as this province are extremely poor.  A friend told me that she knew of  a man, a truck driver from Hong Kong, who decided to go to this province and help.  When the earthquake hit, he was there.  He went inside a school and saved a few people before he succumbed to his death when another unexpected shock hit.  The Hong Kong government offered to bury him in the official plot with all the honors of a statesman.  His family refused.  They said that they are humble and want to be all buried in the same humble place together.  Besides, what he was doing, they said, was simply what their family did for generations.  They never had much and helped those who had even less.

Now, showing off is big in this town as it is in any other money driven place in the world.  Here is a family that said no to that; they didn’t want to show off their good deeds.  To me this man was a hero.  A quiet hero who drove a truck and moved vegetables from one place to another and who was moved by the suffering of other people he didn’t even know.  He did something about it and served others to the best of his abilities.

Like him, there are many others who go about their every day lives cleaning streets, selling pizzas, handing us our coffee, teaching, and taking the time to perform extraordinary acts of kindness.  They go by unacknowledged and uncelebrated.  Not that they seek that.  They are happy knowing that someone has something to eat, shelter for the night, clothes on their back because they followed their call to be of service.

Look for the heroes around you.  Get inspired by their stories and follow their example!  Make sure you help others when you have a chance without expecting anything back; recognition, fame, whatever.  Just follow your instincts and be fully engaged in the process of being of service.  I know you can!

With energy,

Ana