My primary work involves speaking to men and women at companies/organizations about work/life effectiveness and how to release stress, but a few times a year I get to lead retreats for women. Last spring while facilitating one of these self-care retreats in Big Sur, CA, I asked the circle of women gathered, “Do you feel safe with yourself?”
The room grew silent … only one woman raised her hand, nodding her head tentatively.
Most of the women said that almost every day in big and small ways–whether it’s eating when they’re not hungry or saying, “Yes,” to a big decision when they longed to say “No”–they abandon themselves. They squelch that small voice, their wise self who knows what is in their best interest, sending her on her way to the crowded playground to skip rope with all the others who have negated their needs and desires.
How do you abandon yourself? I remember doing so constantly when I was younger –mostly around romantic and platonic relationships. Trying to find–and hold onto–myself in the midst of complex human dynamics often felt squishy and nebulous. I threw myself “under the bus” more times than I’d like to remember. The other day, my son and I talked about friendships (remember the “minefield” of friendship terrain in middle school?). He has off-the-charts emotional intelligence so I largely leave him on his own to figure this out. but I often remind him the most important thing is to be “true to you.” To not sacrifice who you are, for others. To choose friends who nourish your heart and your spirit.
One of the most powerful gifts I’ve received from a 14 year self-care practice (read more) is a strong and unwavering allegiance to self. I have learned the hard way–like most–that you’ll never win trying to please others. But you always win, if you stay in integrity with yourself–even though sometimes this means leaving a trail of disgruntled people in your wake.
Recently I attended a workshop with Jack Kornfield a meditation teacher and author of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (and many other titles). At the end of our session, he gave us each a gold thread and invited us to make three promises to ourselves–tying three knots in the thin cord to symbolize these touchstones. We were invited to wear the thread around our ankle, neck, wrist, etc. for as long as we liked to remind us of our commitment to our self.
I plan to wear my golden thread until it becomes so thin it just falls off my wrist. But even after this physical reminder is long gone, I’m hoping my three promises to myself grow stronger with each passing day.
INVITE: It would be my joy to support you in developing an unwavering allegiance to self through accessing the transformative power of self-care. I’ve got three wonderful opportunities coming up in the next 30 days (all of these events typically sell out, so you might want to register sooner than later). I’d love to be with you:
Sept. 16-Oct. 25 The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal online experience–ideal for busy moms seeking ongoing, daily support on “their time.” Class launches tomorrow, but you can join us any time this month or next. (Pssst ….today only, here’s a $50 off coupon code: 34F98 you can apply at checkout!)
Sept. 27th 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Nourishing & Loving Yourself in Your 40s and Beyond--a one-day retreat in Austin, TX at Soma Vida; for women at all life stages. Space is very limited.