As you'll see in my video, I had some real eye-opening insights when I learned the tool I'm going to teach you in this week's Inner Work lesson, 'Who Says So?'. I was introduced to this tool by my good friend and spiritual counselor, John Earle. It is an exercise in his book, Waking Up: Learning What Your Life is Trying to Teach You. And now I am passing it on to you to add to your self-care toolbox. I hope it is as eye-opening for you as it was for me.
Our Outer Work topic for this week is Movement and Exercise, and how you can approach them in a non-sabotaging way. I found the advice I'm giving you helpful for myself, so I hope you find it useful too.
Finally, make sure that you're still taking the time for self-care every day this week. I'm guessing that if you were good about it last week you are already noticing the benefits. (And if you weren't good about it, show yourself some compassion and just start again. More on this in Week 4.) As I mentioned in last week's lesson, daily self-care was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. So remind yourself that not only do you deserve to make time for yourself everyday, it is a necessity for your health and well-being. Be fierce about carving out that time. Prioritize. Let go of the things that aren't as important.
“Who says so?” exercise
We all hold primary beliefs that we have inherited from childhood, our family of origin, religion, our society and culture--even the TV shows we watch and the social media we scroll through! A few quick examples:
*Making a lot of money is a sign of success in life.
*Holidays are obligatory family times.
*The busier you are the more important and relevant you are.
*You should always put your children first. (Did you catch the 'should' in that sentence?)
Now, you may agree or disagree with these examples. None of them are inherently right or wrong. Some of them might actually really work for you. Some might not. The point is that you probably don't even realize you have these beliefs because they're so ingrained in you. And there's a good chance these beliefs are at the root of your 'inexplicable' feelings of dissatisfaction, anger, resentment, depression, anxiety and stress. By cultivating more self-awareness in this course you can begin to examine these beliefs and ask the all-important question, "Are these beliefs serving me, or am I serving them?"
What you will find when you start examining 'your' beliefs is that many (most?) of them were never 'yours' to begin with. I call them the ‘voices in my head.’ Whose voice are they? When I started examining my beliefs, what I uncovered went something like this: "I should (fill in the blank) = the voice of guilt = the voice of perfectionism = the voice of other people's expectations = Hi mom and grandma!" Does this resonate with you?
I invite you now to go back to your ‘Shoulds’ list that you worked on last week, and for each 'Should' ask ‘Who says so?’ Give yourself time to do this. Some answers might jump out at you right away; some may take a little longer to unearth.
We all know that movement and exercise are keys to good health and wellness. So why do so many of us sabotage ourselves when it comes to these things? Some of us would much rather read a book (who's with me?) or watch TV than do a workout.
Take a moment to write out some obstacles getting in the way of you exercising more regularly. (Too tired? Not enough time? Haven't found any kind of exercise you really enjoy? Just not disciplined?)
I read an article a while back that quoted the work of Stanford behavior scientist B.J. Fogg, who says the problem with how humans approach habit formation is in having an all-or-nothing mindset. Using the example of a yoga practice (or other exercise routines), this would look like feeling guilty or like a failure if you don’t do a full 60 or 75-minute practice every week. Those feelings of guilt and failure eventually cause you to just give up because you don’t like feeling that way. (Who knows what I’m talking about?)
So what can you do instead? His suggestion is to set the bar low. If you ease into a new habit, you’ll be more successful and that in turn will boost the likelihood that you’ll keep it up long-term. Going back to the example of an exercise routine, I experimented with this concept myself during the pandemic and found that I really enjoyed doing shorter routines–anywhere from 15-45 minutes–when I just didn’t feel like I had the time or energy for something longer. I ended up feeling good because I knew that I had still done something, and that felt way better than feeling guilty or like I failed if I did nothing. And guess what? I am proud to say that this habit stuck and I am exercising more often now than I have at any other point in my life!
If I can do it, you can do it!
So what kind of exercise do you enjoy, or at least can tolerate for 30 minutes?
It doesn't even have to be exercise per se; it can be any kind of MOVEMENT: Walking up flights of stairs instead of using the elevator. Raking instead of using a leafblower. Parking at the furthest end of the parking lot instead of close to the door.
Put EXERCISE or MOVEMENT on your calendar EVERY DAY.
Inner Work Homework:
Stay mindful of all the times you hear yourself saying, “I should ____” this week and then immediately ask, “Who says so?”
Outer Work Homework:
To show you how impactful just 30 minutes of exercise can be on your well-being, put it on your calendar to do this 30-min 7th Chakra yoga video at least once this week. (If for any reason this video isn't working for your body, check out a few more choices on my YouTube channel here.) Once you've done it, take a moment to journal about how you feel!
Every Day: Gratitude Practice
Continue your daily list of 3 things you're grateful for. Remember: don't rush to write them out and move on. Focus on them and really internalize them for a moment. This helps to ‘fill up your tank.’
Every Day: Doing What You Love
Remember: When you start incorporating self-care ON A DAILY BASIS, it changes your mood and stress levels noticeably. Do some kind of self-care for yourself on a daily basis and you will lessen your chances of getting burned out and overwhelmed.
Go back to your list of things you love to do from Week 1. Choose one of the things and take the next 30 minutes to do it. Then, journal answers (if you’d like to be held accountable, email them to me) to these questions:
*What did you choose to do for your self-care this week?
*Share a few observations (positive or negative) you had during your self-care experience, including if you came up against any obstacles.
*How did you feel after?