You Can Befriend Your Self
“I am reminded by the brilliant Tamara Toles O’Laughlin that we are in syndemic times. Times in which the number of systems collapses and crises is unprecedented. “~ Alison Lin February 4, 2021 Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Liberation, Change Elemental
How would you say you’re doing these days?
Really – how are you?
- How’s your body? How’s your sleep?
- Do you have some trust-able support people around? (I like to have a mix of friends and hired professionals)
- What’s bringing you joy these days? Or does it feel like survival mode?
- What’s been weighing on your mind? (Pandemic disruption? Planetary collapse? Rising costs? Rampant ongoing injustice? Something else?)
Oh and – How’s work??
Those are great self-check-in questions to befriend yourself and gauge your current state. The basics to orient where you’re starting from before launching into action in your day.
Create a pattern of asking yourself these questions – could be silently in bed in the morning, befriending yourself before your feet hit the floor. Could be 10 minutes of writing in the morning. It could be that you offer to be a check-in buddy for a friend or colleague, calling each other every day or once a week to check in.
We all need to raise our game of self-care in syndemic times.
What helps you care for yourself?
The future depends on the inner place from which we operate.
~ Otto Scharmer, Presencing Institute
As you treat yourself, you’ll treat your people and your organization.
When people who are actually creating a system start to see themselves as the source of their problems, they invariably discover a new capacity to create results they truly desire. ~Peter M. Senge, Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society
When stressed, we operate out of scarcity and our ability to collaborate plummets. Our emotional intelligence suffers, we become unbalanced and more easily and frequently prone to irrational and destructive behavior… Chronically operating from crisis and stress exacerbates all the other challenges to successful social change work. Our entire existence narrows to today’s to-do list. When we are frantically racing, we fail to invest the time in planning, reflection, evaluation, and capacity building that could help yield greater and more consistent results.
~ Robert Gass Tools + Publications
Emotion regulation is not about not feeling. Neither is it exerting tight control over what we feel. And it’s not about banishing negative emotions and feeling only positive ones. Rather, emotion regulation starts with giving ourselves and others the permission to own our feelings—all of them. ~Marc Brackett, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
PRACTICES to care for your Self
- Mental and physical rest: time away from work computer and news, resting the body (naps!), doing something easy around the house, no stress activities
- Writing: even 10 minutes in a journal – no judgement just write anything. You could also go through the check-in questions.
- Walking: noticing how your body feels as you walk, noticing what’s around you, the temperature, the sounds you hear, smells, the light etc.
- Listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts
- Time in nature
- Physical exercise
- Yoga, dance or other movement
- Playing with or snuggling pets
- Garden, yard or outdoor hobbies (I keep bees and a garden)
- Letting go – whatever that looks like for you. You could walk by the water and throw rocks in, assigning each a meaning. You could write a note and burn it (safely) or shred it. You could take a shower or bath and invite the water to take it away. You could visualize the situation and see it leaving you – floating away, burning up, or dissolving. Shake it off – anchor your feet on the floor and begin to shake, up the body – be careful as you get to your neck and head. Continue to shake for a few minutes or more to shed whatever you needed to let go. This is a healing response in nature when animals experience trauma.
- Time with supportive family/friends (even virtually)
- Conscious Breathing: noticing your inhales and exhales, intentionally deepening them in your body or lengthening them by counting on inhales and exhales. If you can slow your breathing and focus on the outgoing breath it helps regulate your “rest and digest” or parasympathetic nervous system. Count down from ten on a slow exhale several times to calm the body and mind.
A special note on anger.
Being a leader is a lot of pressure. Inevitably, something will go wrong – or you’ll do something that caused a problem – and depending on how you organize yourself, you may experience anger. Anger is energy. Often we can’t express our anger. When we stuff that anger inside (rather than express it) it causes us problems – and will cause the people you lead problems too. I believe we need to find healthy ways to express our emotions (including anger) even if we are the only ones who know about it. Here are a few ideas on how to release/work with our anger:
- Dance, shake off, exercise vigorously
- Have someone give you a brush down,
- Yell and scream (go for a drive or a swim and scream underwater, go for a hike and scream or yell to the mountains – all of these Stina has done to great benefit!)
- Create artwork with your anger – paints, markers – anything tactile
- Write about it – get it out on the page. Then you can close the book, or tear out the page, burn it (safely) or tear it to pieces
- Its important that we don’t allow our anger to get stuck inside of us
Stina helps leaders see, study, and support themselves – in service of their visions for what the world can be. She designs and leads processes to create new human capacity and well-being, new shared awareness, new relationships, new trust, new vision, new clarity, and new plans. Read more about me here