Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Hello and welcome back,
One of my favorite moments from my morning routine is when I carve out time for growth. Learner is my #10 CliftonStrengths. A podcast I was listening to got me thinking about the different ways in which each of us learn and how learning impacts our performance. Today I am sharing one of my most meaningful learning experiences and highlight the twelve steps on my journey towards high performance.
(1) I started working with a therapist about 3 years ago. I have found this process immensely helpful in all aspects of my life both personal and professional. I consider my therapist an integral part of my #DreamTeam, i.e. the team of people who help me live my life to the fullest. Despite it being a difficult realization, I finally understood that I can't, nor do I want to, be able to resolve everything that comes my way in life, alone! This one hour every two weeks where I get to sound my thoughts with a mental health professional produces more insights and change than any self-help book our course I have ever attended (put together)!
Recently I expanded my mindfulness practice to include (2) focused time for observing my thoughts. I became aware that I frequently find myself feeling trapped by them. I catch myself saying "Hold on, but that's not true..." or "Did I just really think that about myself?" and even recognizing patterns and saying to myself "Here we go again!" It's exhausting. I can feel my energy being drained by this constant back and forth between some deeper knowing and my thoughts. I find it hard to control these thoughts in the moment as they arise as some sort of internal narrative.
Through this practice, I realized that my thoughts regularly tell me that I am taking up too much space, that I should be focusing my energy on caring for others like I always have, that my worth is tied up in how useful I can be to others. The podcast reminded me that these were limiting beliefs that were resurfacing, beliefs I grew up with and saw being modeled at home and with family. So this time, I decided to (3) question my limiting beliefs.
Doing this was hard because I needed to get out of my head to gain clarity, and this is where (4) I picked up my journal and began journaling - downloaded my thoughts onto paper. I became aware of how big a role this limiting belief had played in worsening my anxiety and driving me towards a burnout. (5) My sister was a helpful sounding board helping me gain a broader perspective and answer those questions realistically. It felt reassuring to have the support of a loved one.
I spent some time (6) finding the courage to open up and talk to my mother about this and when I did, I felt both angry and relieved. I finally understood where these beliefs came from and how they shaped my mother’s life and she understood how they had affected mine. Her reaction was one of openness, love, and a longing for change. It has been and is cathartic to work together on (7) creating new beliefs we want to carry forward.
(8) I spent some time sitting and meditating on the strong emotions that had come up, mostly anger and sadness. With time I understood that I was allowing these unconscious and indoctrinated beliefs to influence my thoughts, emotions and actions. I was doing it to myself, nobody was doing anything TO ME. (9) It felt good to take responsibility and regain a sense of control.
This experience made me (10) adjust the filter through which I observe myself from one of judgement, to one of compassion. Since then, (11) I prioritize self-care. I dedicate time daily for reflection, I hug myself and smile in the mirror because I love physical affection, I prioritize buying plants and flowers because they make the air in my home smell sweeter and inspire beauty and calm, I treat myself to a massage every few weeks because high performance takes a toll on my body, I pause daily and give myself permission to slow down because I know my thoughtful actions are usually more fruitful than my survival reactions, and most importantly, I am patient with myself and my family.
It is clear to me that a life of reflection, shedding, and growth is the cycle that unlocks true performance, and it needs (12) time and patience, it cannot be achieved in a rush.