Lately, all my social media feeds seem to be either a competition to do the MOST or a competition to do the LEAST.
On the one hand, we have the “learn a new language and take up kick-boxing from home!” message. On the other, we have the “today is for eating chips in my underwear don’t even try to stop me” thing going on.
It’s the Self-Improvement Olympics vs. the Slacker Championship out there.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but:
BOTH SIDES ARE WRONG.
I keep wanting to yell at the memes that pop up on my screen:
Stop telling people they’re not worthy unless they “improve” themselves! Stop telling people they don’t belong unless they spend their days numbing out! NONE OF THIS IS TRUE.
You’re already enough. You already belong to yourself.
Your feelings are not dangerous. You don’t have to override them by filling up every moment with Productivity-with-a-capital-P, or by numbing them with chips and distractions.
(And let’s not pretend, here. Both things can be ways of avoiding our feelings.)
But really, your feelings are trying to tell you something.
After I posted a video about finding your next right thing, I got questions that went like this:
“But is it okay if I… [fill in the blank!]??”
Eat a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day?
Leave the kids with my partner and take a walk ALL BY MYSELF instead of taking them along?
Put everyone to bed an hour early just to get extra quiet time??
Okay, so how do we know if the things we’re considering are HELPING or HURTING?
How do we know if we’re taking care of ourselves, or if we’re numbing out? How can you tell the difference?
When life feels hard, relief from reality feels good. But checking out from our lives isn’t going to help us, not in the long term, not really.
There’s a difference between taking breaks and numbing out—but how do we tell which is which?
One answer is in CHECKING IN WITH OUR FEELINGS—not to ask what feels good or bad, but to see what makes us feel more awake and alive and present and refueled.
Helping feels different than numbing.
You need rest. You need to take breaks. You need to be able to fill yourself back up.
That’s the feeling we’re aiming for: the feeling of being refueled, present, and ready to engage with the world around us.
The alternative is avoidance: avoiding feeling our feelings, avoiding reality, avoiding ourselves. That’s not our best goal here.
I start by asking myself: how does this activity feel?
Does it make me feel present to myself—more aware of how I feel and what I think, more in tune with my body, mind, and spirit?
Does it make me feel refreshed and ready to be present again—present to my world, present for my people?
Does it leave me feeling nourished, fed, filled up, replenished?
Or does it leave me exhausted, wanting to stay checked out, or cranky with my people?
We’re aiming for the first two, not the last one.
Now ask again.
Ask yourself how the activity feels three times.
- Ask how you feel WHILE you’re doing the activity. How does it feel to choose this instead of something else?
- Ask how you feel while you’re PLANNING the activity. How do you feel as you get ready to do this thing? Does it feel life-giving? If your best friend asked what you were planning, would you feel great about telling them what you had in mind?
- Ask how you feel AFTER the activity. Afterward, do you feel more awake, more alive, more engaged? Or do you feel washed out, grouchy, needing a break from your break?
Your feelings are clues about what’s helping and what’s hurting.
You just have to go a little deeper than “this feels good” or “this feels bad.” You can do this. And you have everything you need to get started. xo.