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Take a Breath
I have resisted writing this specific Daily Anchor (DA) for nearly three months now. The topic came to me around the same time I started writing these DAs, but I put it in my idea garden for a later time.
I knew that I would eventually be pulled to write about this and I also knew that there were going to be a lot of tears when I tried to do so. There have already been a lot of tears in the last three and a half months, and this topic is one that I know so intimately that the vulnerability was more than I wanted to lean into.
Alas, it’s been surfacing, again and again the last few weeks and it’s time for me to write what I can at this moment. I’ll go ahead and say that there’s no way I can share all that’s on my heart or in my head about this, as that would be more like a book than a DA, ;-) but I’ll try to share enough that this is helpful in some way for you.
“Take a breath.” You wouldn’t think that something so small or perhaps seemingly insignificant to most would break me open and guide me to a deeper understanding of myself and how I invite and allow pain into my life over and over again.
“Take a breath.” This guidance came to me during my morning meditation and prayers earlier this year and it pierced through armor I didn’t realize I had in place.
I was in a place that I have been in many thousands of times in my life… I was giving and giving to others, taking care of everyone, trying to hold space for so many people, and ridiculously close to empty in my own tank.
“Take a breath.” These words were so significant to me because I was back in a place of being out of balance with how I show up for myself and how I show up for other people. I was on overdrive with trying to take care of others and not realizing how much my own health was suffering because of it.
Out of Balance and Armored Up
When I get that out of balance an armor goes up that eventually leads me further and further away from my heart. Because I love so deeply and feel compelled to take care of others (in and of itself not a bad thing at all) I can go too far and put up armor around my heart that allows me to ignore my own needs and feelings.
We all know by now that there’s only so long that we can ignore our own needs and feelings before things go very wrong. This has played out in many different ways for me over the years:
At times I have become physically and mentally ill from taking on too much to care for others and not recognizing my own needs.
Other times I have actually physically injured myself because I was so exhausted from giving and giving that I got myself into situations where I wasn’t as aware as I needed to be and had an accident. This happened last year with my two concussions.
At times I have become angry and blamed others for the situations I didn’t like and that I found myself in, when in fact it was me and my choices that got me to that place.
I even went into a career earlier in my life based on what others wanted of me and what I saw as a way to please others and be good enough (worthy) and not where my heart actually felt most in alignment.
I could go on and on here, but I won’t. The point is that I have often lost sight of my true self and my needs and my calling in order to be what I thought other people needed me to be.
And, because it is my true nature to love and give and be of service*, it is my responsibility to know that about myself and find the balance between my heart of service and my own well-being.
That is why “taking a breath,” is a good practice for me. It guides me to pause before acting. It allows me to check in with how I want to contribute, how I want to show up for others, how I want to show up for myself. Often it allows me to recognize and make space for my own needs.
Do You Need to Take a Breath?
Your reasons may be different than mine, but that doesn’t mean that taking a breath isn’t something you also need.
Have you been pushing yourself hard because you’ve been “not at your best” since COVID started or since the start of the uprisings?
Have you been working extra hours to try to do the same amount of work you were doing pre-COVID?
Have you been full tilt involved in the protests or trying to find your place of integrity and alignment with the social injustices that are finally being outed?
Have you been trying to balance work and family in a new and incredibly challenging way because all of your normal services and institutions have been shut down or altered?
Have you been consuming more social media or news than perhaps what is mentally and emotionally healthy for you?
Do you need to take a breath?
*PS: In order to make this DA short enough to not become a book, ;-) I didn’t go into my being an Enneagram 2; however, knowing this about myself is what has allowed me to grow more and understand more about myself over the last decade.
PPS: This song, by Sleeping At Last, is a beautiful example of what it means to be an Enneagram 2, and in four short minutes sums up my strengths and challenges. And, yes, it brings me to tears every time I listen to it. If you know what your Enneagram number is and haven’t heard the song that shares the heart of who you are I encourage you to find your number on their podcast and listen to the song. A warning though, that it will likely bring you to tears, as well. The songs are absolutely beautiful.
PPPS: I may talk more about the Enneagram in future posts, and Charlie and I have also discussed bringing in an expert we LOVE to the Academy to teach about it. But if it’s something you are curious about and interested in knowing more about right now, here are two books that I highly recommend for beginners: The Wisdom of the Enneagram and The Road Back to You.