Self Valuation

We rely so much on the outside world. We place so much value on others’ opinions, feelings, reactions. We rarely have the opportunity to slow down and recognize how much of who we think we are is wrapped up in external sources: our jobs, other people, things, social media, the places we go. Over the past few days I have begun to grapple with this. It’s not something I haven’t thought of before, but it is certainly something I lose sight of in the pace of ordinary life.

How much of our own self value do we give up, every single day?

As someone who is, under normal circumstances, typically crushed by the “busy” and functioning in survival mode, I can see how it propelled me. I was comfortable there; despite my discomfort, it was a discomfort I knew. I found a twisted sense of solace in it; it was, in its own way, an anesthetizing agent much like food or alcohol can be, and highly addictive. I gave my time, my thoughts, my energy up to so many things, undervaluing myself every time I did so.

The current pace of life is of course much, much different, and I’m left with choices which I have struggled with; I am not accustomed to being the rudder of my own vessel. Busy gave me structure, and my family’s schedules gave me direction. Over the course of my path in writing, I have touched upon how I recognized that allowing each of them their moment to shine wasn’t negative in and of itself, however consistently deferring to them wasn’t necessarily the best thing for me.

I’m working on embracing this freedom, however temporary it may be, and structuring each day by how I want it to flow. This is a practice, and I’m getting better at it, little by little. On the days I am successful, I am taking the time to ask myself what would work best, how I want to feel at the end of the day and listing out what that might mean; what music is playing, what foods am I preparing, what one or two things would make me feel satisfied to have accomplished, are there ways to add something that would spark a bit of joy. I am also learning (or, constantly relearning) how to let the little things go. I am working on my relationships with my daughters, and cultivating better conversations. None of these things would have been previously nor would be impossible in the future to incorporate into the normal pace of life; I just lost sense of them. I am hoping that, with practice, they become a bit more of a ritual I can prioritize.

Because, if I do not value myself, no one else is going to do it for me.

I am also noticing that I have more confidence each day I am successful in knowing what works for me, in listening, understanding, knowing and acting upon what I need.

There are numerous avenues in which to seek, find, read, and hear the things we should or shouldn’t be doing, who is doing it better, who did it first, what we should be feeling, how we should be working through those feelings. So much noise. Now is one of the only times we might be able to choose to turn it off.

The truth is, we all process things differently, and no one knows what you could benefit from more than you. Tune into you. What do you need? What is your body, mind, soul or heart craving that you can accommodate in this current space? Oh, and one tip: don’t wait until 4pm to figure this out. If I haven’t worked these things out when I’m in the best mindset, you’ll find me rummaging in my pantry at 4pm for my third snack and pouring myself a drink shortly thereafter.

Do you know what makes you tick, what makes you happy, how you can soothe yourself, and what works to hold off or even in place of your vices? What could you lean into right now, that you can build on when life resumes? I’m not necessarily asking myself what I want to return to from when life was normal, but what I want to take with me from this pause. If you are having a hard time connecting with what that means for you, you could start here, with an old blog post I wrote when I was just discovering that I didn’t have any idea what that meant for myself.

I am beginning to realize that this is a time to redevelop my sense of self.

I almost squandered it, with TV, social media, booze and giving myself permission to write this time off. But I’m far more important, deserving, worthy and valuable than that.

And so, my friend, are you.

I recognize this is a privilege that I have, and not all are so lucky. However, I don’t feel I need to concede my feelings for the challenges that I am not facing. I can empathize without crippling my own self worth and growth; this isn’t a message for everyone. More often than not I find I write exactly what it is I – and others, it would seem – am needing to hear.

Anchors

I have been existing in a pattern of behaviors and emotions.

I have been stuck, on pause, waiting for a return of normalcy.

And doing what felt good in the moment was fine.

Then, the announcement came that there are a minimum of at least five more weeks of life as we currently know it in my state and I knew I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing for much longer, let alone weeks.

I was stuck in the same pattern of resolving to do better than last week on Sunday, doing alright Monday, slightly less alright Tuesday, drinking away my feelings while drowning them further in Netflix by Wednesday night, and then just writing the whole week off. It was like clockwork.

Wednesdays, for some reason, seem to be the days where life, that I think I can tuck it into a nice little bow, unravels at warp speed.

I knew I needed to find some way to moor this untethered raft. Rules don’t apply. Logic doesn’t apply. Default operating systems and coping strategies don’t apply.

And so, I sat with the following question: “What do I want to feel like, and what can I do that is within my control to help me feel that way?”

What are the anchors in your well-being? For me, they are:

Drinking water. Two glasses when I get up, two more before lunch, two in the afternoon and two between dinner and bed. That was the routine that worked for me when I was at my most successfully hydrated self, so I fell back on that dusty habit.

Eating better. Focusing on foods that fuel me and fill me up versus foods that just feel good to eat in a moment where I become overwhelmed or stressed or just plain sad. I wasn’t eating well enough at lunch, which was leading to some serious pantry diving around 4pm, when the day starts to weigh heaviest.

Movement. 30 minutes or more every day, and recognizing that I could just take a walk and meet that goal, I didn’t need to burn 500 calories to feel satisfied with my effort.

Managing a very stripped down version of a to do list. I am a list person; if you’re not, this one likely isn’t going to ring any bells for you, but this was a game-changer for me. Typically, I chart out my week and list off all of the things that need to happen each day. Now, I’m building a list of one or two things in the morning that will make me feel accomplished if I can cross them off by the end of the day, and not looking forward any more than that. On some days that might be the laundry, it might be the dishes, it might be simply making my bed.

Finding things that I could do for myself that bring me joy. I repotted my indoor plants. I applied lotion (seriously, made me feel not just human, but pampered even). I made frothed milk for my coffee. I connected with my friends. I looked for ways that I could brighten others’ days in fun, creative ways. Not all of these things every day, just one or two as the flow of the day allowed.

And finally, the most grounding thing that I could think of was to return to my nighttime routine. I was never good at the morning routine. It never clicked for me. But a nighttime routine? That is where the magic is for me. I get ready for bed with my youngest, put my phone away, dim the lights, practice my daily gratitude and then read. Simple, yet effective. It sets the foundation for me for the next day like nothing else.

These things all make me feel nourished, and more human. They add energy and purpose to my days. They make me feel accomplished and satisfied. And they compound; typically, when I’ve made the effort to move and drink water, I’m not inclined to pour myself a glass of wine or veg out on the couch, I’m more inclined to get to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up and do it all over again the next day.

I put a post out on social, asking for a suggestions on what others were doing that made them feel like they were handling life in its current iteration. Folks offered back things like loosely structured schedules, movement goals, time outside, manageable checklists, doing one single thing a day that makes you feel good, showering, putting on real clothes and getting ready for the day as normal, shunning the pressures of “productivity”, trying something new, leaving consistency at the door, and not overthinking this season that we are in.

I share all of these bits and pieces with you so that, if you’re feeling stuck in this cycle like I am, you can take what you want and leave the rest.

Find the anchors that can slow the drift if you find yourself too far from shore.

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