August is almost over after some very hot weeks for many of us. I’ve spent a few weeks in Spain and along both the east and west coast of Sweden so I’ve been lucky to have plenty of opportunity to cool down. I hope you too have been able to enjoy rather than endure the sunshine.
During this month and next, many of us will be returning to work after, perhaps, the longest break we have in the year. Not only do we need to get ourselves back and up to speed but for those of us with kids, we need to get them, their wardrobe and their mindset right to return to school as well. So rather than enjoying our recharged batteries, the holiday soon feels like a distant memory and any feelings of relaxation we were enjoying are long forgotten!
To help you (and myself) avoid an autopilot response of stressing and rushing around in this busy reality, I’m sharing one of the chapters from my book What’s Your Excuse for Not Being More Confident? below. I hope it will enable you to stay calm and focused rather than frazzled and stressed, whenever your return to reality hits.
I have too much on my plate (extract from What’s Your Excuse for Not Being More Confident?)
Do you feel you never have enough time to fit everything in or to do anything properly?
It’s true that life is busy. Technology has increased the pace at which we live our lives, leaving us feeling overloaded and dissatisfied. We can then end up blaming ourselves for not achieving more in the time we have available and fail to acknowledge the successes we do achieve. We lose sight of how to be calm and peaceful, how to know that we are OK and how we are enough.
One of my clients had a busy family life alongside a successful career and though she appeared to be on top of it all, and others often expressed how in awe they were of how she was managing to spin so many plates, she herself felt drained, insecure, like she never accomplished enough and like she was always waiting for things to calm down. I’d often hear her say things like, ’When the eldest has gone off to university….’, ’When I have trained up my new PA…’, ‘When my daughter is old enough to cycle to school….’ and all along, she was self-critical and not confident about her ability to cope.
The fact is no one gets everything done in this day and age. There is no end of things we think we need to get done. Rarely do we get to the bottom of our In Tray. There’s always another phone call to make, another dinner to cook, more clothes to iron or another event to attend. And unless you accept that this is reality, regardless of how much you do achieve you’ll never feel satisfied or at ease.
But this feeling of not being up to the task originates with you. Life happens around you and it’s your response to its demands that dictates your level of confidence. Life can be busy but you don’t have to react with negative feelings of not being or doing enough.
In other words, if the above rings a bell for you, you can change it with a shift of focus. Because an overly busy life doesn’t have to be an excuse and the missing link to living and enjoying your life with self-confidence is you.
To accomplish this shift you’ll need to develop ways of blocking out mental clutter so that you can deal with what is in front of you at the time – mindfulness is an effective way of doing this.
Mindfulness originates from the East and its benefits have been recognised there for thousands of years. The practices used there are typically very time consuming and often linked with religious beliefs that may not fit so well with our more secular society but in recent years, mindfulness practices have been adapted to our Western way of life and are gaining momentum.
Here’s a mindfulness practice you can try, to introduce some calm into your life:
Being more mindful
Focus on your breathing for 5 minutes. Close your eyes if you wish, and really take notice of the air streaming in and out of your nose. Feel how it’s colder coming in and warmer coming out. Really empty your lungs before your next deep breath. Try to simply focus on the act of breathing and when other thoughts come into your mind gently bring yourself back to it. Your thoughts will stray, so don’t give yourself a hard time about it, simply notice it when it happens (this can also take a little while, especially at the beginning) and bring yourself back to the breathing. Over time it’ll become easier and easier, and as you get used to the stillness and focus of this exercise, try increasing the time you spend doing it. Equally, if two or three minutes feels like all you can fit in and/or have the peace of mind to do, that’s fine too. Try increasing when you’re able to and allow yourself to be pleased with whatever you manage. Try doing this exercise daily and you can do it as many times as you are able to and feel like in any given day. You’ll soon notice a greater ability to maintain a calm and positive perspective and deal with daily challenges.
Now, go off and make the most of your recharged batteries!
Would you like to read the rest of What’s Your Excuse for Not Being More Confident? which is packed with tips, tools and insights? Then email me and take advantage of my summer offer of wavered postage and packaging – the total price being £7.99 (offer ends end September).
Before I go I’d like to wish you all a lovely end of the summer and a fun and productive autumn ahead.