Hey there! Happy Snow Day! I’m at home in Connecticut, writing from a comfy couch overlooking the 4 inches of snow we just got here. It’s absolutely beautiful and I hope you’re having a beautiful day as well.
This morning I was talking to one of my clients who started off the call by saying… “I’m so surprised at how much time I actually need to spend on doing things that calm me down, soothe myself, and take care of myself. I guess I always used to think it was wrong to do these things for myself. My boyfriend can put his head down and work for 12 hours without ever needing a break, but I guess I need something different.”
Somewhere along the line, my client had learned that her natural inclinations about what she needed were wrong and that putting in long hours and taking zero breaks was right. And she had been living her life putting in all of these long hours in order to feel successful.
Lately she has begun to unravel that story and learn that her way of doing things – with many breaks, periodic calming activities and plenty of down time – was helping her feel so much better on a day-to-day basis.
She was also starting to feel grounded in her own way of doing things and recognize that we all have different needs and different environments in which we thrive.
In general, we often question ourselves and the way we naturally like to do things because we see something else being modeled for us either by our parents, our friends, or society in general. Some examples of what I’ve been hearing lately:
– As entrepreneurs we think we need to “hustle” and “grind it out” because we think that’s what the entrepreneurial culture is all about and that’s what it takes to be successful.
– With our friends, we feel like we need to drink all the time to fit in even though we don’t like drinking.
– When eating, we feel like we can’t actually order what we want because we feel like we may be judged.
– When stuck in a job we don’t like, we feel like we should just suck it up and make it work like everyone else seems to be able to do or else we will be seen as weak and someone who always wants “more”
Our need to do something someone else’s way stems from a belief that our way isn’t safe. That our way won’t lead to success. That our way won’t lead to acceptance, and that our way won’t lead to love.
But I want to challenge that for a second and just open you up to the possibility that your needs, desires, and wants are specific to you and that they’re okay.
What if your way was exactly right for you? What would you do differently that you’re not allowing yourself to do now?
Here are some examples of where I’ve learned to let “my way” shine through in my own life:
1. The way I work: I can relate to my client. I watch my boyfriend work for 12 hours a day and he’s able to still be a happy camper. I, on the other hand, work in short spurts and absolutely cannot put in the hours he does. When I do, I am miserable, drained, and my work product sucks. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the way I naturally like to work. I take a lot of breaks, I put intense focus in for a shorter number of hours, and I create a ton of boundaries between my work and personal life. Although this is different from other people, this leads to success and sanity for me.
2. The way I eat: I struggled for a long time when I first quit my job and started being a health coach full time. I eat bread, cheese, wine, chocolate, ice cream and I may go a month without a salad. How could I possibly be a health coach? Through my own personal development work, I learned that my way was more than okay. And when I started being really open and honest in my business about my own food philosophy, that’s when my business took off. Although it was terrifying at first to get real about my beliefs around food, this experience showed me that my way was right for me, for my business, and for my clients.
3. The way I socialize: I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of a partier. I am really social, have amazing friends, and love being out and about, but I really just don’t like getting drunk and partying that much. For years, I thought something was wrong with me, but then I began to accept it and realize that it was perfectly okay for me to function differently. I started socializing my way: having more dinner parties, going out to dinner with small groups of friends, grabbing coffee to catch up on the weekends, and happy hours with just a couple drinks. This took my relationships to another level and gave me that sense of real connection that I had been craving all along.
I could go on and on about ways that I function and thrive “differently” than other people, but these are just a few examples.
The more that we learn that our way is okay and that we will be loved and accepted as-is, the less we feel like something is wrong with us and the more we can align our lives to support our ability to thrive.
And here’s how it all relates back to our relationship with food: We often times rely on food to comfort us when we feel off, misaligned, or wrong. For instance, when I try to work 12 hour days, that ice cream in my freezer doesn’t stand a chance. And for my client, when she doesn’t take time during the day to pause and take a breather, she calms herself with food when she gets home. But when we live our lives in a way that supports us and that feels right, we rely on food less.
In the comments below, I would love to hear:
Where in your life do you feel like you operate “differently”? Do you embrace this or do you try to stomp it out? Try to identify one place where you can let “your way” play out a little bit more.