- Maintain alignment between what you feel and need and what you say and do.
- Make value-based choices while taking into account intuition, research, and the bigger picture.
- Do something each day that reflects your deepest needs, wishes, and values.
- Speak up for yourself and ask for what you want.
- Don’t put up with abuse of any kind.
- Give up designing your behavior by the desire to be liked (be imperfectly perfect and yourself!)
- State and maintain your boundaries, especially about the level of energy you can handle being around or taking in.
- Offer your fear loving-kindness and compassion.
From: 4 Questions to Foster Your Authentic Self
By Carley Hauck | Mindful.org/October 12, 2016
Care for yourself at least as well as you care for your cell phone. Plug into a source that restores you every day. People need to be recharged, too.
A research study involving fourth and fifth grade students in Vancouver, Canada found that cultivating kindness in kids helps them to be more accepting of others, more positive in their outlook and more popular among peers, too.
Is this important? Increasingly, yes. Mass murder, bullying and other acts of unkindness have become increasingly common. There isn’t one magic bullet solution, but cultivating empathy, kindness and compassion is almost certainly some part of the answer. Each of these is learned, just as violence is learned. We can choose.
Maybe the world isn’t a meaner place. It has been suggested that the 24-hour news cycle only makes us feel it is. But in spite of globalization one could argue that the world is at least a more isolated and disconnected place. Such isolation can make it tough for many to feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to the larger community.
Cultivating kindness in kids, and nurturing it in adults, builds connection and reduces isolation. We learn through this connection to imagine what it feels like to stand in someone else’s shoes, and to care. We learn that we all matter. We learn to feel compassion for ourselves and for others.
As we approach another New Year it seems the perfect time to reflect on the kind of people we want to be and the kind of world we want to live in. Many of us will resolve to reduce debt or our waist lines. Let us also consider cultivating kindness. Show concern before tragedy or heartbreak. Tell kids, and remind adults, that kindness counts.
So many painful tragedies. What if, in addition to mourning, people everywhere changed their attitudes and practiced compassion in every action? What if we changed our question from why to what can I do to be sure this doesn’t happen again?
We are coming up on another round of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe the annual ritual of hopefulness doesn’t feel so hopeful because it reminds you of all the times you’ve promised to get in shape (save more money or some other goal) – but didn’t. Don’t fret, it is okay to feel hopeful in spite of past failures. This is a brand new year, give yourself a break. Besides, you are unlikely to do better by making yourself feel worse. Instead, forgive yourself for past failures; set small, measurable goals and begin again. You can do this.
Why does it feel so hard to say no? Some common reasons are:
- It makes me feel strong, proud and important when others turn to me.
- I am afraid of starting a conflict or hurting the other person’s feelings if I say no.
- I worry that I might lose the relationship if I say no.
- I am embarrassed to say I don’t have the money if I can’t afford to lend it.
- I don’t feel like I have the right to refuse.
- I want to help.
- I always say yes, I can’t just start saying no now.
- I feel guilty when I say no.
If any of those reasons sounds like you, here are some suggestions for learning to say no.
- Practice letting yourself feel uncomfortable. Saying yes to someone else only because you feel guilty is a way of saying no to yourself, your goals and your needs.
- Establish short and long-term goals that you share with others. If no is not yet a complete sentence for you, it may be easier to refuse with a reason that points to your goals so it is clear you are being purposeful rather than mean.
- Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. For example, I can’t loan you money but I can help you brainstorm alternative solutions or explore other resources.
- Especially if you feel pressured, delay your response until you’ve had a chance to review the situation.
- Remember that you don’t have to rescue or save everyone all the time. Sometimes, deciding why your needs are important is the priority.
- Offer a compassionate no. Acknowledge the need and express regret that you are unable to help in the way requested.
- Remind yourself that your value lies not in what you are able to do for someone or give to someone. You are valuable just because you are you.
Why are boundaries important for self care?
- Boundaries are a signal that you are choosing to be deliberate about your plans and goals. When you do not have or honor your boundaries, you risk being pulled in random directions.
- Boundaries are a way to stand up for yourself. Standing up for yourself can help you feel like you have some control over your life because you get to determine how you will use your resources instead of letting everyone else decide for you.
- Boundaries can help reduce stress and may even reduce outbursts of anger or frustration that often come with feeling out upon or overwhelmed.
A final thought…saying yes to everyone except yourself provides a poor example to others for how you expect – and deserve – to be treated.
It is nice to splurge when you have a little extra cash. It is important to save, too. Decide to use a portion of your refund to make your financial life a bit more secure. Here are some ideas:
- Create an emergency fund. Put at least $500 ($1,000 if you can) in an account that you never touch unless there is a dire emergency – as in rent, utilities or repairs on a car you need to get to work. Add something to the fund – even as little as $2.00 every time you get paid. You can also open a retirement account. Start saving with myRA, a retirement savings account from the United States Department of the Treasury. No costs or fees, no complicated investment options, no risk of losing money. Don’t worry, you can withdraw your money without penalty if you need to. Learn more at myra.gov.
- Pay down debts – if you have outstanding utility bills, medical bills, student loans, etc., now is the time to negotiate with creditors. Ask if they will accept a smaller, lump sum amount to pay the debt off so it doesn’t get in your way later. If you have a lot of debt that you do not realistically expect to be able to repay, consider using the money to file for bankruptcy. Talk with a credit counselor first, ClearPoint, formerly CredAbility, is a good resource – credibility.org. You may also qualify for an income based student loan repayment plan. In December of 2012, Obama signed into law a federal student debt relief plan called Pay As You Earn — PAYE for short. The program limits your monthly payment to 10 percent of your discretionary income. You may even qualify for loan forgiveness. Learn more at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/repay-student-debt/
- Invest in your car – if your vehicle has been needing work, get it done now so you don’t find yourself on the side of the road later.
- Pay off any evictions – This is really important because you will be in a stronger position to rent when you are ready. Ask if you can pay a reduced amount. Get payment documentation in writing. Check your report for free at annualcreditreport.com to be sure derogatory rental history has been removed.
- Pay off fines – pay off or catch up any tickets, fines or probation fees.
- Buy a washer and dryer – trips to the Laundromat can be a drag. This may be the time to invest if your home has connections.
- Pay your car insurance in advance for the year. You might also make rent or car payments ahead, just be sure the creditor understands your intentions and credits the payments properly.
- Invest in your health – maybe you have put off visits to the doctor or dentist because you didn’t have insurance. Use a portion of your refund to have your body and teeth checked out.
- Invest in yourself – maybe you have been wanting to get your CNA, GED, or learn to be a bartender or hair stylist. Now is the time to get trained and licensed.
- Start a small business – do you crochet, make plates or jewelry? Use a little money to invest in some supplies. Use the proceeds to buy a few more. Get a PayPal account and sell your goods on Etsy, Amazon or eBay.
About self help
Whether you are completing exercises in a workbook, reading the latest self-help book or article, or organizing a peer counseling/support group (may also be called a sister circle), you are engaging in self-help strategies. Self-help is a powerful emotional health tool because it requires an active, ongoing choice to face and work through challenges you are facing. Choosing self-help is like saying to a problem or challenge, I am still in charge of my life.
Take Action! Set up your own sister circle
Choose 2 or 3 other women and decide together what your circle will be like. Some ideas to discuss:
- Shared values around confidentiality and trust
- Meetings (when, how often, where, how long)
- Group goals (will your circle focus on a particular topic or problem like getting out of debt, parenting, or will it be more general)
- Expected commitment(s) from group members, etc.
You may need to revisit the values conversation periodically until you find just the right group groove. Sister circles are a great way to invest in your well-being, be accountable for your choices and goals as well as be heard.
Why not give it a try?
There is no one right way to ask for or get support. The only thing you can do wrong when it comes to support is try to do without it. No matter how strong, smart, talented or resourceful you are, you need the support of others. Even if it has been difficult in the past, don’t be afraid to rely on support. Look for support among friends, co-workers and family.
Be careful to choose people that care about you and are emotionally healthy enough to give and receive support. You can also look for support from strangers, such as in a support group.
What is a support group?
A support group is a gathering of people around a problem, period or theme for the purpose of sharing ideas, encouragement, resources and experiences.
Support groups are great because they:
- Are good places to be heard. Use this time to be honest about what is on your mind, what you need and how you are feeling.
- Offer safe space to explore your feelings. Chances are someone in the group has felt the same way and can relate.
- Are places where people know what you are going through. It is easy to feel isolated or like you are alone when you don’t have support.
- Can help you get unstuck because you are sharing information and ideas that give you motivation to move.
- Support ongoing personal development because you get encouragement to try something different.
- Are a great chance to give and get a pat on the back.
Find support groups at local community centers, at non-profit agencies, in the local paper, online, in faith communities or through employee assistance programs. Or you can start your own support group.