The year was 2016. December. My very spirited children were three and seven years old. I was also a business owner and wife. But even though my “labels” seemed clear, I felt discombobulated at my core.
My obligations and expectations pulled me in every direction, and I found myself unanchored. Each day ended with me sobbing uncontrollably and losing patience with my kids — I was a pressure cooker desperately needing release. I was so far out of balance and unconsciously running on empty.
Sliding off the seesaw for the umpteenth time in a frenzy of emotions, I found myself alone in the car driving to get my children medicine. Silence surrounded me. Without conscious thought, I took a gulp of air into my weary lungs. With that breath, I created the smallest portal to look at what was really going on within me. I was spinning out of control. My adrenals were on overload. I was burnt out. After radical introspection, I realized I had lost the foundational relationship with myself.
As an older mother, I spent most of my 20s and 30s committed to my own self-understanding and healing. But on that frigid, icy winter evening, I realized I was a total stranger to myself.
Fast forward five years. Even though my life is much more hectic than it was back in 2016 with an additional business, I now feel more balanced, connected, and fulfilled.
So how did I get from there to here? And how can you do the very same thing?
First, take a deep breath. In the breath lies the portal I mention above.
Acknowledgement of where you have been coupled with love and acceptance is key as you venture on this path of healing. You did the best you could in every moment.
Next, do an honest assessment of where your energy currently goes. Journaling your obligations, commitments, and distractions is fundamental in understanding where you put your focus and attention. Only with this awareness can you consciously make different choices. Put your judgements aside and be as transparent with yourself as possible. Remember, you have always made the best choices you could make in any given moment.
Once you complete the list of where you are, start another list of where your joy lies. Entries could be as small as a hot cup of coffee and as big as worldwide travel. Where do you feel alive? Whom do you feel inspired to be with?
I remember starting this list with a single word, “Quiet.” My life was cacophonic, and it made my mental chatter deafening.
When you get clear on where your energy is going and where your joy lies, you’ll have an idea of where to go with the next step: setting boundaries and learning to say no.
When I looked at where I was and compared it to where my joy was, I found major discrepancies. I needed to get back to my internal work, to the most important relationship I have – with myself. The time came to admit I couldn’t be everything to everybody. I identified my key relationships and questioned others. I gave myself permission to decline invitations if they didn’t excite me and to question the validity of my “obligations.”
This not only proved liberating, but also transformational. I found people were okay if I didn’t do everything I had done in the past. Events still happened if I wasn’t involved and, in fact, gave others a chance to rise and flourish.
Lastly, commit to a daily self-care practice. This is the final step to show you how important you are to you. Three to five minutes every single day will have a cumulative effect of your showing up for yourself and filling your own container. Simple practices such as following your breath, journaling, and engaging in mindfulness can immensely help you find balance between the relationship with yourself and others.
I had practiced yoga for over 22 years, but sporadically at best, with the pressure of having to do a long session to “make it count.” This time, I intended to practice a daily minimum of three sun salutations. With each passing day, I began to get to know myself again. I awakened to my new self as a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and most importantly as an ever-evolving spirit.
My daily practice became my safe space to deepen the connection with myself. This served me in each of the steps above. I get on my mat with questions about a relationship or potential commitment, and I come out with clarity. I’m now more comfortable saying no when I feel stretched too thin. Because I connect with myself regularly, I am extra sensitive to the subtle sensations of imbalance. I learned to value my desire for joy and know I am worth living a life filled with it. I also learned that more times than not, people honor me when I choose to say no.
When you get clear on what you want and need, as well as what brings you joy, learn how to set healthy boundaries, and commit to a daily self-care practice, you create the space for your relationships to uplift you, bringing more happiness, balance, and connection. And in the end, isn’t this what life is really about?
International award-winning, best-selling author, and intuitive Carrie Jeroslow, helps people go from heartbreak to soulmate by sharing the steps in her first book, Why Do They Always Break Up with Me? She previously worked as a director for Blue Man Group, a massage therapist, and owner of a vineyard in North Carolina. The one constant has been her own path of self-discovery. She has been featured in Thrive Global and Winston Salem Journal, and has been interviewed by Marianne Williamson, and The List TV. She has recently co-authored her second book, A New Paradigm of Education.