I had a breakthrough last Sunday! I did something scary that I had never done before. I sang solo for the first time in my life. It was quite an exhilarating experience.
I have been singing for the longest, but it was always under the protection of fellow choir members. Not that I just mumble and hum while singing in a group, but it is just easier to vocalize when you have the support of others.
Although my voice must have sounded a bit shaky at first, I was able to hit the high notes and do an extended crescendo going into the chorus. It was not so much that I was pleased with my performance from an artistic point of view, but the fact that I stood up there in front of an audience, exposing myself like that, was a breakthrough for me.
Fear of failing is at the core of resistance to placing yourself in situations that bring you out of your comfort zone. In my case a healthy dose of fear of judgment came into play, being a white male singing gospel for a black church. Will people judge me for that? I know it's all in my head and not based in reality, because I got a lot of supportive words afterwards.
Now a couple of days later, I feel more resilient with more energy and ready to take on any challenge that comes my way. Interestingly, I also relate differently to the people around me. Taking a more proactive approach in interacting with others whereas before I was holding back and hoping that someone else would start a conversation.
How do I make this last? I know that over time I will revert back to old habits and loose that amazing feeling if I don't nurture it continuously. I think this fits into a bigger picture of the way I tend to myself in dealing with life. Trying out new things is one way to feed energy and resilience, but I also realize that there are other aspects in my life that drain energy.
For example, I smoke, I skip meals, I don't drink enough water, I don't work out, I sometimes lack sufficient sleep. Hmmm, it's not just my energy level that is jeopardized here I'm setting myself up for cardiac arrest!
I decided to commit myself to a schedule of self care. I literally created a weekly schedule Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm that I pinned on my wall in my office. It reads "Drink a cup of water" at every hour and lists Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as well as Healthy Snacks in between. Furthermore it reminds me to Work Out on Mondays and Wednesday and that I should Spend Time With Friends at least once a week.
By caring more for myself I also hope to make the shift from "doing" to "being". Instead of having the feeling of playing catch up all the time, I need space to reflect and but also to be less distracted by emails, to do lists, phone calls, etc. when I'm in conversation with someone.
Being in the flow comes with great focus and an ability to pay undivided attention to a task or another person. This is also referred to as Mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be stimulated through breathing and stretch exercises that will clear your mind and increase alertness throughout the day. So I included Mindful Minutes in my weekly Self Care schedule. Just twice a day a minute for myself to clear my mind.
Perhaps now, I will be able to get something done that I had actually planned for the day instead of being lived and not recalling what I was doing an hour ago.
As I had mentioned earlier, stepping out of your comfort zone and trying out new things are part of self care. What now remains for me, is to add some of this to my schedule.
Preferably those activities that scare the hell out of me and that would give me that adrenaline kick. To name a few of the things that I have already done: sky-diving (solo jump), guest in talk show on TV, public presentations and speaking on panels (of which I will do more), four day hike in nature.
Can you help me come up with some other stuff? Perhaps you'll get some ideas on how to include self care in your life?