Do you know what you superpowers are?
The gifts you were born with that make you uniquely you? The ones you were meant to share with the world?
Recently I was reminded of mine. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!
I was in the middle of a challenging situation with a colleague. I was feeling criticized and dismissed. As though I was just a number. A cog in the wheel. Nothing special.
The exact opposite of how I believe we all deserve to feel.
As a result, my confidence was taking a hit. I began second-guessing myself . And everything I said or did. I felt like I was walking on eggshells (always a bad sign for a recovering people-pleaser like me). I knew I was not acting in alignment with my true self.
My intuition was on high alert. My brain began screaming “danger, danger, pay attention!”
So I decided to take a step back and analyze the situation a bit more carefully. To sit with my anxiety instead of run from it. To see what my body – always a barometer for my soul – had to say.
Clarity comes in interesting ways.
The other day I was listening to one of my favorite Life Coaches, Nancy Levin, on Hay House Radio when one of her callers said something that triggered an ah-ha moment for me. And helped me uncover a life-long pattern.
The woman was describing an unkind comment made by a dance teacher she’d had when she was young. It was a thoughtless comment that caused the caller to have doubts about herself and her body image for many years to come.
As the woman told her story I suddenly remembered an incident from my own childhood.
It was a comment made by my grade 4 teacher that ended up having a profound effect on me as well.
Why is it that some weeks feel so darn hard compared to others? Everything can be rolling along just fine and then…bam! You feel like a mack truck hit you.
This has definitely been one of those weeks for me. One minute I felt excited and inspired. The next, all bent out of shape.
Strangely enough it all started during an upbeat coaching group I participate in weekly. We were challenged to choose a long-term goal, and adopt a series of daily, radical steps that would move us closer to it. The idea being that instead of just fantasizing about a dream, we would take actual steps towards it.
Sign me up. As a Certified Life Coach I love this sort of thing.
My heart instantly identified my goal: to speak my authentic truth in front of an audience. Yes, that was it! Speaking was something I’d dabbled in and had dreamed of doing more of for years. I welcomed a little kick in the butt to get me there faster.
But that’s when everything went sideways, and my tendency to over-think things got in my way. How could I break that goal down into bite-sized daily, radical steps? I mean, come on….daily?…radical? Yikes. That sounded intense.
The more I thought about it the more agitated I got. How the heck was I supposed to add anything radical to what seemed like an already busy and stressful life?
Between juggling my full-time office job, my role as a single-mom to a 13-year-old son (who suddenly had more extra-curricular activities than I could count) and the first long-term relationship I’d had with a man in over a decade, I had very little time, let alone desire, to add one more thing to my life. My bucket felt full, dream or no dream.
The more I tried to brainstorm ideas, the more paralyzed I felt. My body, always a barometer of my stress level, went into high overwhelm.
One morning I woke up with a brutal kink in my shoulder. The next with lower back and hip pain. And when my boyfriend came over for dinner I found myself snapping at him for no good reason. Ugh. I was starting to feel tired and depleted, and increasingly resentful about the challenge.
Daily, radical steps? I don’t think so.
By mid-week even my regular seawall walk didn’t lift my spirits. The day felt gray and so did I.
Why couldn’t I figure this out? It was, after all, about moving towards a dream. Something I loved championing others to do. What was my problem?
It wasn’t until I finally had some down time (aka alone time, which these days seemed rare) to reflect, that things started to shift. When I got up that day I immediately wrote a list of all the tasks I wanted to accomplish around my home. You know, important things like vacuuming, scrubbing my tub and doing the laundry.
Hmm…..I took a deep breath and put down my pen.
What was I thinking? The tub? Laundry? Seriously? I was exhausted, tapped out and my body hurt. My inner gas tank was on empty. I needed some solid self-care before my body and spirit went down, big-time.
So I made a quick decision. I wasn’t going to do any of those things. Noooo way.
Instead I was going to take a well-deserved me day and do only the things I really wanted to do. Things that filled me up, that brought me joy.
And cleaning the dirty tub was certainly not one of them.
But calling one of my dearest girlfriends? Now that definitely was. Chatting with her is always a soul-enriching experience. Our conversations flow. I feel heard and gotten, and afterwards inspired! This call with her was no different.
Within minutes I realized we were both going through a similar process. As a wife and mother, she was feeling overloaded too and was longing for more ease in her life. Yet she was doing exactly what I had been doing this week: beating herself up for not being able to do it differently. For not being able to do more.
Ouch. I totally got it.
As she and I shared our frustrations we were able to extend to each other the compassion we had not been able to give to ourselves. And to give each other the permission we sometimes need (crave?) from others to let the unimportant stuff go.
Like scrubbing the tub when we’re already exhausted. Making dinner when ordering in would be easier. Or saying yes to a social event when all we want is to stay home in our pjs.
Permission to take a step back when we’re feeling tired, overwhelmed or depleted in order to figure out what we really need. And what would serve us better in that moment. For the sake of our sanity and that of those close to us.
And that’s when I had my light bulb moment.
My coaching challenge from earlier this week had nothing whatsoever to do with adding more to my plate! Instead it had everything to do with moving things off my plate.
That was my daily, radical step. To do less.
To tap into and listen to my authentic voice, even (especially!) if it was exhausted and cranky. To take things just a little bit easier every day, and find ways to be gentler with my soul.
Now that was the kind of daily, radical step I could embrace.
And doing so would move me closer to my dream of speaking my truth to an audience. Because how could I possibly be authentic in front of others if I hadn’t first learned to be authentic with myself?
As they say: you teach what you need to learn. Clearly this was one lesson I needed to learn. That by allowing myself to do less each day, I would actually create more time and energy to be more authentically me.
(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of a one or two examples from your own life where you’ve learned to do less? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.)