You know it when you feel it, it pokes at you, stings you, feels just not right. Your intuition, your internal guide knows what’s best for you and we get so good at not being able to listen to it. We tune ourselves out of hearing this voice in relationships, when we eat, where we work, what we allow to happen to ourselves. By learning to trust yourself you’ll find that you send yourself subliminal messages that are meant to keep you healthy, happy, and safe.
We know how we really feel around others, but we get really good at silencing it because we feel like we need to, but the things that we feel deserve to be validated. You know if your boss makes you feel uncomfortable, if you feel afraid when you’re with your partner, if you feel like you can’t be your real self around your family then you know it. We are taught that we have to accept some degree of unhappiness even in relationships and being uncomfortable allows us to grow, but listening to that voice makes it more apparent when you’re in real trouble. When you do hear that message, learn to appreciate it and use it to your benefit. You are never responsible for other’s actions, and you get to make choices about what you’re willing to tolerate in your life regardless of who it is.
In our super fast, get it done society, we rarely have time to actually acknowledge or appreciate the food that we put into our bodies. If you tap into your gut instinct, you can learn how your body feels about what you put into it. It is thought that more than half of the population is lactose intolerant, you might find out that you fall into that camp if you listen to your body and the messages that it sends you. Every time we eat, a symphony of messages get relayed throughout your body, to chew, what fluids go where, peristalsic muscle contractions need to occur, what hormones are released, etc. You know some of these reactions personally, you salivate when you see something delicious, you get a sore tummy when you eat too much or food that your body can’t handle. If you become aware and trust the messages you’re being sent, you might learn something new about your body that could be the key to reaching your goals that you thought were unattainable or out of reach.
It’s sort of an unspoken expectation that you don’t like your job, you just go to work, make money and that’s it. And many times it is really hard to change your situation, but what if you were able to change your situation by trusting yourself? If you listen to what your heart tells you about your current situation, you might find yourself compelled to take the action to change. Remember that feeling afraid is okay, and it’s something to lean into, changing jobs or industries can be really scary, but if it’s something that will make you feel happier then it is worth it tenfold. The Dalai Lama says, “the purpose of our lives is to be happy.” We only have so much time, so why spend 8 or more hours a day being miserable?
What You Allow:
I am not willing to allow myself to be treated poorly. If someone speaks to me hurtfully, I remove myself from the situation If someone makes me feel like I am not living in congruence with my vision then I’ll try to communicate that, but if they do not change their behaviour I remove myself. Listening to my heart has kept it safe. Knowing that my heart is leading me in the right direction means that when it tells me something is up, I dive deeply into what the problem is and work to resolve it. If you realize that something goes against what you feel is okay, you absolutely DO NOT have to stay in that environment.
Listen to what your heart is telling you, it is only guiding you to your best self, and it knows exactly what you deserve. Trust yourself and know that you are your own decider, you don’t have to be treated or treat yourself in any way that makes you feel wrong or unhappy.
When I first hopped on the self care train about 3 years ago, I was a chronic people pleaser, it’s just in my nature. I would double book, over commit and that led to speeding tickets and forgetting what was important to me. It took me a really long time to diagnose this as a problem. I thought that the more people I could squeeze in, or making more appointments would make me happier, healthier, I thought that having my calendar filled up to the 15 minute increment mark was a sign of my success, little did I know not having a “NO” in my vocabulary was stifling my relationships, forcing bad habits to creep back in, and making me forget my worth, here are the 5 things that helped me to Embrace My NO and allowed me to become even more successful and so much happier.
1. Know Why You Say Yes
Wanting to say yes isn’t wrong, you’re probably wanting to say yes to people who you hope would say yes to you, or if it’s at work you want to advance and look good. Unlocking the reason that you jump to say yes before thinking about it really changes whether or not you’re willing to commit, if you feel like you have to say yes, think about where that feeling comes from, is it because you bailed on them last night, are you worried about job performance, do you feel anxious about upsetting them? These are are totally valid reasons, and you can decide to say yes or no, but try to grasp an understanding of what’s guiding your answer so that it is deliberate and not just convenient to say yes.
2. Use a Planner
I’m totally a visual person and if someone verbally asked me to do something and without hesitating I said, “yeah, I can be there” without checking my datebook I would constantly find myself overbooked. Using a day planner helps in a few ways, it buys you time, you can say, “I’m so sorry, I don’t have my book in front of me, I’ll let you know as soon as I’m able to check it” which gives you a chance to check if that’s the same time you were supposed to go to the dog park with a friend or if this commitment would carve into your gym sesh, slowing down your response time allows you to evaluate how willing you are to say yes. It also makes sure that you aren’t double booking or overcommitting yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I’m busy until 3, could we try for 4 instead?” giving yourself time to decompress between social encounters and allowing each function to run later than anticipated is super important, I mean don’t you just hate when you’re in the middle of an amazing convo, want to pour another cup of tea and realize you’re supposed to meet up with colleagues to discuss business in the coming month?
3. Set Your Boundaries
There are a few things that I will not give up for anything, I always go to certain yoga classes, couple’s time is Friday nights, and I get moody when my gym schedule gets switched around. Find your core values, the most important things to you, and write them in stone. Do not agree to get coffee at 11 when pilates starts at 12 if that class is something you truly value. If you are able to have influence on your work meetings, try to make sure that they won’t interfere with hanging out with your kiddo at gymboree. Those things aren’t things that you’d like to do if you get a chance, they are your indelible appointments with yourself. Even if it’s just one specific hour day, it is sacred because it matters to you and you should matter to you.
4. Know Your Worth
If you know a thing or two about me, you’ll know that the title of this post and this point are both a part of my values and vision statement, I so truly believe that knowing your worth is one of the most special gifts that you can give to yourself, and that’s true in time management as well. Going back to #3, thinking of your appointments with yourself and as sacred is not something that we are trained to do, it is counterintuitive from how we live our lives. A whole hour just to drink tea and be alone? But I could be doing laundry, or meeting with a client, or picking up the living room, or vacuuming. Seriously, if you don’t know your worth and use that to set those good boundaries you invite yourself to be trampled, you are worth saying no, you are worth taking a 45 minute bubble bath, self care is important and the best way to take care of yourself is to realize that you deserve it.
5. Learn How to Say No
Saying no or turning people down doesn’t have to be a negative thing and you don’t owe anyone an explanation, if you have ‘7pm drink a glass of moscato and dance in underwear like Callie from Grey’s Anatomy’ penciled into your datebook and some friends from the office suggest tapas, you can say no to that, and if they press you or even nicely take interest in your plans, you can just say, “I already have plans,” or my favourite, “I’m spending time with a friend.” You are your own best friend and it is totally okay to think of yourself as such. Just know that your time belongs to you and how you spend it is your business and no one can tell you if that’s right or wrong.
As women, we are taught from a very young age that our bodies are private and that we shouldn’t reveal them, look at them, think of them, or be proud of them, as we get older this modesty comes from a place of sexualization. The reason that we have Free The Nipple rallies are to desexualize women’s bodies, but I wonder how far this mentality permeates into our lives. For a very long time, I was ashamed of my body to the point that I hated looking at it, I would take a shirt off, switch into a clean one, take off my pants and put new ones on, I tried really hard to never be totally naked. When I committed myself to changing my life, I implemented naked time, I spent at least 5 minutes naked in the mirror, looking at myself in different angles, except I was looking for things to love. I would take note of where I saw muscles taking shape, or other changes in my body, noting where I had new freckles, (ladies, this is a good time to do a self breast exam too, just saying).
At first, I felt totally stupid, and gross, and ugly, but after a while I looked forward to it, not out of vanity, but out of appreciation, I spent that dedicated daily time to getting to know myself better, having a better relationship with myself, even talking to myself out loud. Becoming more comfortable with my naked body also changed my relationship with clothing. I used to use clothing to conceal “problem areas”, but once I adopted my naked time routine, I started accepting that that’s just how my body looks, and that clothing doesn’t change that, if there’s a roll here or loose skin there, it’s still there and still visible, it’s just got cotton over it. I started thinking of my body as the most amazing raw veggie, and clothing as oil, herbs, and spices. My naked body was perfect in its raw form, but it was fun to experiment with new flavours. A carrot is still a carrot after you put olive oil on it. Changing that outlook also challenged me to leave my clothing comfort zone and I haven’t looked back.
Image: Frances Cannon Go To Her Site
Taking five minutes out of your day to embrace the meat suit you’ve got can help you get past the things that you spend so much time fixating on the things you hate and allows you to start noticing the things that you love, how amazing your body is, and all the things that it enables you to do. Your body is your vehicle, it may be dinged up and scratched, maybe parts of it are held together with duct tape, but it keeps you safe, moves you around, and takes you on every adventure you get to have.
I love vegetarian and vegan fare. Fresh Macadamia Mac and Cheese makes my heart feel fuzzy inside, but sometimes I really want fish. I have been a strict vegetarian before, but found that for my lifestyle it was really impractical. A huge part of this is because I’ve never lived alone, or maybe more importantly, I’ve never not lived with omnivores. My family growing up ate more meat than cavemen, my roommates had a smoker in the backyard, and my live in boyfriend has au jus for blood, maybe if I had been in an environment with other vegetarians my experience would be different, but it isn’t.
Another reason that I’m a part time vegetarian is because I don’t believe in food denial, there are things that I choose not to eat, but I don’t like to put limits on my diet after spending a really long, unhealthy part of my life doing just that. But I do try to make sure that my meat is special, going to farmers themselves for my meat or making sure that is has been raised and butchered ethically. Does it make me sad to eat meat? Sad isn’t the right word, reverent is probably a better way of putting it, but I try to be reverent of everything that I eat, it is a cornerstone of my mindfulness, I appreciate and give thanks to all of the food that I eat, I am thankful to the rice that I eat for growing so healthy that I can give my mind energy, I am thankful to avocados for being so perfect so that I can have flavour and protect my body, and just the same way, I am thankful to chickens or fish for giving themselves to help me make muscles and new cells.
I think of food as fuel and not just food so I like to try to get a diverse array of all food types including protein, and meat is a really protein dense substance which for someone who oftentimes just isn’t hungry, it’s a life saver. I make sure that my protein comes from a vast array of foods, in a given day, I may have quinoa and a protein shake in almond milk for breakfast, black beans with lunch, and a portion of a chicken breast with dinner. Being a part time vegetarian allows me to experience more foods and most importantly it’s what works best for me.
I also feel good about being a part time veg because it supports sustainability and helps support ethical, local farmers, who doesn’t love supporting small businesses?
Every day, we think about 50,000 thoughts, that’s a lot of thinking! A lot of our thoughts are the same, I bet you can think up thoughts that you repeat to yourself on a daily basis. In yoga, we focus a lot on the messages that we tell ourselves while attempting or holding a challenging pose, because when we face challenges it’s incredibly easy to slip into negative thinking. But how often do we think negative thoughts even when we aren’t trying to get that leg straight in Birds of Paradise? If I let myself think all of the thoughts that come into my head, I would be a really negative person. If just misplacing my keys was enough to make me think of myself as a ‘forgetful piece of junk’, imagine what a worse situation would bring up. With all of that in mind, here are 3 ways to become more aware of your thoughts.
1. Tap In
Pretend that you’re a fly on the wall of your own thoughts and just take note of them. When you think negatively about a situation, try to think through what prompted it, did you forget to put gas in the car last night and now you’re rushing to fill up before work? Maybe your jeans are fitting a little snug and you feel like you’re undoing all your hard work at the gym. Just become observant as to what draws up these thoughts, don’t try to change them, just notice them.
2. Think Before You Speak
A lot of what we think comes out of mouths, think about when someone compliments you, are you one of the few who says, ‘thank you!’ or are you more likely to say something like, ‘ugh, no, you’re way prettier than me’. My guess is that if you’re in the second camp then that is really what you’re saying to yourself, and it is coming out in your interactions. Try this, next time someone compliments you and you want to say something that demeans you, be aware of what you want to say, say ‘thank you’ but then reflect on why you want to say something that hurts your self image.
3. Think Your Thoughts
Like the rest of the world, our thoughts are instant gratification and they move faster than bullet trains. To become more aware of your thoughts try thinking your thoughts all the way through. If you’re contemplating taking up guitar and then you see a billboard for a new restaurant you’d like to try, wait until you finish thinking about guitar before deciding which friend you’ll try out the restaurant with. By slowing down your thoughts, you validate them and bring your attention to them completely. Our minds have a habit of running on autopilot, you’ll recognize this if you meditate, how many times do you have to “bring your attention back to your breath” because you’ve started trying to remember what all was on the shopping list. Turn off autopilot and actually take the time to think your thoughts, if you don’t feel like committing to the thought, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t serve you, just make sure not to shut out your thoughts about how amazing you are.