Tuesday, July 12, 2011
When we feel stuck or in a rut, it’s because our lives have become out of balance in some way. We feel it -- we know we need to do something different -- but we just don’t know what to do or how to do it.
The good news is that by simply having the awareness that something has to change, we become open to allowing for that change. We open the door to the possibility that there are other options for us besides staying in the rut -- and pain -- that we’re in.
On Dr. Oz recently, a young couple with a special needs child realized that they had fallen into habitual patterns that had created unhealthy outcomes for them. The show focused on their weight issues, but that was only one part of the equation -- a visible symptom of their choices.
In this particular case, they’d had to face some difficult realities about their daughter and her life and had understandably put the needs of their child first. As important as their dedication was, it had also created a feeling of guilt if they even thought about doing anything for themselves.
That, combined with the usual stresses and pressures of parenting, pushed them to do what a lot of parents do (and I certainly did) to get through the day -- resort to fast-food on the run and then crash in front of the TV with takeout pizza and ice cream.
As parents, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty and selfish for wanting anything for ourselves. Whether it’s time, money or other resources, we often put ourselves last in line. In truth, that serves no one. By valuing ourselves and honoring our needs, we are much happier people to be around, we’re more effective and we set a much healthier example for our children.
Okay, so it sounds great in theory, but how does it work in the real world where every moment seems scripted and you barely have time breathe? As you rush from one activity to another, at what point is it that you’re supposed to squeeze in your “me time”?
Well, the answer is pretty obvious -- something has to give. If you want your life to be different, you have to be willing to do something different.
Yes, you may have to make some hard choices that involve other people, but here’s the deal. If you don’t make a conscious choice to do what you need to do now, one of two things will happen: you’ll either snap like a twig, or you’ll give up and become sad and bitter, blaming everyone else for why you’re miserable.
So, if you feel stuck and don’t want to wait for your personal break point to put you on your knees, here are two questions from The Hardline Self Help Handbook that you can use as a filter to run your decisions and choices through -- a litmus test of sorts that can keep you clear on when you’re honoring your needs and when you’re not.
- Would a person of high self-esteem and self-respect do what I’m doing? Why or why not?
- And, the always important, does what I’m doing get me closer to what I really want? Why or why not?
Now, you may not have considered your situation to be an issue of self-respect, but it really is. People who respect themselves take care of themselves.
If you still aren’t convinced, which is more respectful of your family: running yourself into the ground until you have nothing left to give, or tending to your own mental and physical health so that you are fully present and happy in the lives of those you care about? Aren’t you being more selfish when you don’t tend to your own needs?
Take a few moments and run some of your recent daily choices through the two-question filter above. You'll get some amazing insights into why you do what you do and how you can make different and healthier choices.
Now, back to the choices of our special needs parents. On the show, they said they knew they needed help because they too felt stuck. They were exhausted all the time, had no energy to interact with their daughter and even simple physical things, such as tying their shoes, had become difficult. They realized that not only had they let themselves become overweight and unhealthy, their lifestyle choices were actually at odds with their number one priority of providing for the needs of their daughter and giving her the best life possible.
They knew they needed to make changes, they just couldn’t see how, which is where Dr. Oz came in. He helped them see that by putting their own needs first, and by making choices that supported their health and provided energy, they were honoring their daughter more. The things they once considered selfish were actually more in line with their primary goal of caring for their daughter.
And furthermore, if they didn’t do what they needed to for themselves, they weren’t going to be physically able -- or maybe even physically present -- to help her at all.
Remember, if you feel stuck -- if you know you need to make changes -- and you’re ready to do something different, you’re in a great place. Being stuck is simply the step before being un-stuck. And the first step to getting unstuck in any situation is to start respecting yourself and your needs.
Once you realize that everyone benefits from your taking care of yourself, you’ll find yourself easily making choices that not only bring you more joy, but others as well.
Get unstuck and live your joy!
www.hardlineselfhelp.com for more practical tips on living healthy and happy in all areas of life. The book is also available at Amazon and on Kindle. View the book trailer at http://youtu.be/aHJhSz1eV44.