We are not given a blue-print for life. No rule book is alphabetically arranged that say for Fear turn to page 27 and for Anxiety page 57. There is only performance without rehearsals. We act, react and respond on the spot. Mostly, this is a factor of how we are feeling ‘in’ the moment which in turn depends on the type of thoughts that run in our mind throughout the day.
And to be fair to ourselves, even if we get out of bed anxious & stressed, we never consciously say to ourselves that “I choose to not be my best self today’. We relentlessly try to make the next thing better. Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all type of answers, we can all support each other with thoughts and ideas that help us get through the day.
I am sharing 5 bite-sized strategies you can deploy to centre back whenever you feel anxious or you feel determined to have a better day.
1. Self-talk to get you off the ledge
Words and conversations should leave us in a better place from where we started. We may not always see the merit in the words immediately and that is fine so long as they positively contribute. But if a conversation leaves us feeling negative & cynical about ourselves, that is a big sign that something is wrong. Most often it’s our inner critic on a rampage telling us how we are not good enough, not smart enough, not witty enough & so on.
Be very choosy about what you tell yourself. In transforming and calibrating your relationship with yourself, it is very important to see how your self-talk leaves you feeling. Better or not is usually a good question to ask?
Its job is to get you off the ledge and assure you that you are enough and the little you did today was also enough for today. If your self-talk doesn’t get you off the ledge and into a better place, you need to befriend your inner-critic and maybe even invite it for a cuppa.
“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” – Robert Holden
2. Baking kindness into your day
An act of kindness does wonders for us by reducing stress and enhancing mental health. Here are some ways you can explore. A small online delivery for someone that you know will lift their mood. A thoughtful birthday present as opposed to a last-minute scrambling. It could be ‘time’ that you give to a friend or a parent. Greeting a stranger when you go for your walk. Buying the till-operator a candy bar as you check out with your trolley.
The only catch is to consciously plan and then do. So if you tell yourself when you wake up, that no matter how crappy I am feeling, I still choose to lift someone’s spirit today, and then you go ahead and do it. Studies have shown how Altruism translated into small acts of kindness are good for our health. I also believe that happiness generated by kindness also gives us good skin. Just remember to be deliberate about baking kindness and not use hindsight to recount what you did.
3. Your body keeps a score
We have all heard platitudes tell us to take care of our body because this is the only body we have. But here is my case to amplify this fact so we can sit up & take notice. There are no chronic conditions, there are only acute symptoms. When the symptoms go unattended, the condition becomes chronic. I remember a physiotherapist called a crick in my neck a chronic condition because I had been living with it for over 6 months and was adjusting to not being able to fully turn my neck on one side.
I was quite shocked, I must admit, to be told I had a chronic condition, because I do not identify myself as someone who lets things linger. But there I was having to accept a bitter message from someone who was more qualified than me on the subject. I got back wanting to ‘fix’ it but turned out I had to ‘nurse’ it gradually. There are no instant fixes for cricks in the neck. Symptoms are our messengers, welcome them and engage with them so we can hear what they are telling us.
4. Make happiness as deep as your faith
Faith not in the religious sense but the kind of seriousness, focus and intention we exercise when we are looking for misplaced keys. We have all been there. That’s the moment all our attention and energy lines up perfectly to one goal – finding the damn keys. I urge you to find happiness with the same focus in your everyday life.
We all have so many reasons to fold our arms and despair. We hope that one day we will be happy. Happiness is a topic that lights up a janitor, an astronaut and a barista in equal measure. I like to use the word ‘Faith’ because it helps us to loosen the grip of unhappy and negative thoughts in our mind. It nudges us into positive action. And every day presents us with numerous opportunities.
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” – Steve Maraboli
5. How often to use I Don’t know
We live in a culture where having an opinion is important. You stand the risk of being the odd-one out if you say I don’t have an opinion on this. Offering an opinion is a survival need. But here’s the funny thing, we don’t know a thing about any of the important things in life.
We know nothing about death, sickness or loss. The best doctors in the world can explain how a human heart operates but they can’t tell us why it functions that way. So, using IDK keeps our childlike curiosity alive. It leads us to the next discovery and the next micro-accomplishment. IDK is the source of all the new recipes you tried and new friendships you made. The taste in music and wine you acquired over the years, it all started with a humble I don’t know!
You see, it is so important to be deliberate about things we allow into our 16 hours (sleep time excluded), so we can show up in the best possible way to whatever is in front of us because it will forever become what we have done. Unchangeable. And what we have done over many days becomes our Life.