You Are Trying Too Hard. Give Up.
In my self-compassion practice, I have become famous for saying, “You are trying too hard. Have some self-compassion, and give up.” Giving Up concerns people. They hear “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” softly playing in the background, and their bodies begin to ice over with despair. “Do not give up on life,” I assure them. “You need to give up trying to control your present. Do what you can, where you are, and learn when to step back and let the rest come to you.”
Contrary to popular belief, if you work yourself to death, you can actually die, or at least develop some pretty serious health issues. You are in control of your values, and your desire to meet those values with intention and action. However, if you truly want to live a meaningful, very successful, and happy life, you need to learn when to ease your foot off of the gas.
Living Full Throttle Hurts Us And Our Loved Ones.
This does not play well for fans of action movies, but action stories just show the first 24 or 48 hours of action. They do not show you the injuries, or stressors that befall the actors after shooting these scenes. And, they are just acting. Imagine if they had to subject their bodies to that kind of output every day! The cost can never be greater than the payoff. When pride and machismo come before the body and mind’s needs, your health will deteriorate, and the crazier you drive yourself, the crazier you will drive the people around you.
This last part seems to escape people. They imagine themselves starring in their own action film, but somehow forget their costars. You may be willing to thrash about every moment of your life, but what about your family, friends, and loved ones? Are you developing someone that can be a support or at least a good model for them or are you creating a burden? If you go non-stop, you will falter, and although I would love to see it, you will probably not be the one to catch yourself.
We need to be able to assess when we have given all that we have, and take some time to rest and heal. Even Rome was not built in a day. What are you building that cannot wait? If it is a life, you may want to consider your long game. Too much focus on the short-term will give you short-term success, and long-term heartache. Aye Caramba! Nobody wants that.
So, how do we do that? The secret is in the name. G: Get A Sense of Your Limitations. I: Identify The Warning Signs Of Burn Out. V: Very Quickly Let Go. E: Enter Recovery Mode. U: Use Your Self-Soothing Skills. P: Pay Attention To Your Sense of Relaxation And Adjust Accordingly.
G: Get A Sense of Your Limitations.
Your body, your thoughts, and your responses to others will give you a keen sense of your limitations. If you are having trouble digesting, are experiencing headaches, or are spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, your body is trying to tell you to take a break. If you are flooded with rumination, it is time to stop. If you are especially reactive in your responses to others, you may want to step away from your work and recover.
I: Identify The Warning Signs of Burn Out.
If you find yourself unable to remember, follow, or complete simple tasks, you are probably approaching burn out. If you have spent the last 10 to 20 minutes staring at a blank screen, you are probably approaching burn out. If you are putting off going to sleep because you fear working another day as hard as the present one, you are probably approaching burn out.
V: Very Quickly Let Go.
We love options so much that even when we are enduring pain, we want the option to continue on this path. Nevertheless, if you continue, you will burn out. You must let go. Your goals, intentions, and actions will be there once you recover. You have spent enough time pursuing life. Let it come to you until you are able to fully rest and heal.
E: Enter Recovery Mode.
Now that you have let go, it is time to start thinking about recovery. Instead of doing more, you want to think about doing less. How can I do less? What can wait until tomorrow? How can I take care of myself right now? These are the questions you want to begin to ask yourself, or simply visualize a rested self, and your body and mind will likely fill in the gaps.
U: Use Your Self-Soothing Skills.
Now that you are thinking about recovery, you need to use your self-soothing skills to start moving towards the lovely land of homeostasis. Do some Biofeedback breathing. 6 count regular in and long out breaths (like breathing through a straw) for 10 minutes. Get out of those work clothes, and into some clothes that are purely associated with relaxation, if you can. Do some Mindfulness or Self-Compassion Meditation.
Turn your phone off and take a walk, noticing how the ground feels as your heel and then forefoot strike it. No two steps are ever the same. Turn on a movie or a television show that simply makes you feel at ease. Drinks some warm tea. They make chamomile tea for stress and other tea created especially for settling perturbed stomachs. Let out a long sigh. Relax your eyes. Soften your face. Let your shoulders release, and feel your feet and hands become heavy. Recovery is on its way.
P: Pay Attention To Your Sense Of Relaxation And Adjust Accordingly.
You will know that your self-soothing skills have been effective, when your thoughts slow, and become more focused on well-being, when your heart rate slows and your breathing becomes even and full, and when the tension passes from your body. It is ok if you have to tweak this process as you go along. In fact, the better you get at accommodating your experience, the more robust your self-soothing skills will become.
Nuts and Bolts
Those are the nuts and bolts of the G.I.V.E. U.P. process of recovery. Use it often and in good health. Health is the one thing you cannot get more of by giving it away. Rest and heal not only for your sake, but for all those people who have come to love you. You deserve a good life. You deserve a happy life. You deserve a long and meaningful life.
Doggedly walk down your goals, but when your body and mind tell you that they need rest, give up controlling your present, and let life come to you. Tomorrow is another day, and it will be a good one, if you let it be.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 120. In The Books.