Have you seen this?
It explains what may be happening inside you these days. It may hold a key to why you are feeling irritable and unmotivated. It may explain the magic behind why you’re so tired but your todo list is growing instead of shrinking.
In a Facebook post, Rachel Rhody, brings us back to something we learned in high school. There is an order of needs and the basic needs are the foundation for higher, more complicated needs. Did you ever imagine we would find ourselves at lower levels again.
Aren’t we past this?
Don’t we know better?
We remember days of longing to stay home and relax. We’ve spent our lives yearning for time to get stuff done. We tell ourselves, if only I had a bit more time at home, I could tackle this and finally have my perfectly organized life.
Yet here we are pressing play one more time or standing staring into the empty refrigerator.
Back to Basics
It’s good to revisit the basics. There’s a story of Vince Lombardi when he was head coach of the Green Bay Packers. After suffering a season of humiliating defeat, his job was to rally the troops. He needed to inspire these young men to punish their bodies once more in order to achieve greatness. From seasoned players to new beach warmers, all of those slumped in that dressing room had spent years chasing a ball around a field in search of the elusive win. The coach’s job was to reignite a passion worth getting pummeled for. Lombardi, walked into the centre of the circle and, instead of delivering an impassioned plea, he surprised them all. He held up a football and proclaimed, “This is a football.”
Back to the basics.
We are at square one folks.
The Focus You Need
It feels humiliating sometimes. An insult to our intelligence. Yet when we shut the fridge door, our reality holds aloft the truth that we are not where we once were. Someone has moved the trail markers.
After this pandemic, will we ever go back to the brash custom of the willy nilly shaking of hands with just anyone we meet?
Is the signature Italian double-cheeked kiss gone from our global culture?
Will we always quickly disinfecting our hands after someone hands us a cup of coffee?
Will we we all remain vigilant? Trained into a higher level of germophobe activity?
Having never left our houses, we are finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Like a hiker staring in confusion at the ‘You are here’ marker on the trail map, we wonder how to stumble back to more familiar paths. We wonder if life will ever go back to normal.
Having the time to spend staring at my bookshelves, I rediscovered a book* with 3 key words that I believe can help us return to the basics. These 3 concepts can help shore up the foundations of our basic needs so we can climb back up the pyramid to areas we were trying to tackle before.
If we return to the basics, we may someday have an ounce of appreciation for this virus because it helped us mend cracks in our foundation. It helped us re-establish crucial patterns we had left behind to live a more complicated, and perhaps, less fulfilling life. Patterns we can build on to choose the life we desire. Paths that lead us to where we actually want to go. Perhaps, returning to the basics will help up set up a new course for the days ahead.
Every good song has a rhythm. No one wants a creative drummer that can’t hold a steady beat. The song of your life will quickly derail if you don’t have rhythm.
We rely on the rhythm of the world around us. The sun rises and sets. The moon glides through its phases. The seasons follow one anther in a predictable pattern. Every day needs the same predictable rhythm.
When our internal worlds get dark, this is one of the first things to go. Waking and sleeping times get messed up. Meal times are skipped or replaced with easiest grab from the pantry. More and more caffeine gets consumed.
Returning to or establishing a daily rhythm can bring order and a sense of calm in an unpredictable world.
Take a look at these 5 areas. How can you bring predictable rhythm to your day in these areas? These are the very basics that a baby needs to survive. These are the baby steps.
- Sleep – Regular, predictable waking and sleeping hours.
- Food – Feeding times. Healthy inputs at regular intervals. 3 meals and a snack. 2 meals and snack.
- Mental & Physical Stimulation – Walk. Stretch. Do pushups every time you go to the bathroom. Learn something new.
- Loving relationships – Intentional times of connection. Studies show people and animals are equally effective.
- Comfortable surroundings. For a baby, it’s as simple as a dry diaper. What’s it mean for you? I’m not talking a new lazy boy here, I’m saying clearing a space with a book or puzzle and a blanket to return to when things seem messed up and chaotic.
What are the things that throw you off balance? Bring stability to your world by cutting those off or limiting your interaction with them at this time.
I most often hear that too much news or social media are the biggest offenders in throwing off our mental balance.
What is sucking your energy?
Who tends to knock me off kilter?
Do whatever you can to identify and limit the elements of your world that consistently threaten your stability.
When our vision of the trail is blurred, it’s dangerous to move ahead. Bring your day into focus by getting clear on what is crucial for this day. Not tomorrow. Not what you didn’t do yesterday.
What do I absolutely need to do in this day?
What is a reasonable goal?
Is there one thing you could do that makes other decisions easier? Such as cutting up vegetables so you have a healthy snack ready. I found myself I’m avoiding the laundry. At the same time I wanted to get out to enjoy this nice weather and go for a run. But because I avoided the laundry my exercise clothes had reached an unbearable level of stench and then became the excuse I use to not work out. Seeing as I can’t work out, I might as well just watch another episode. Right? But I know you’re not messed up like that. You probably have never seen the “Are you still watching?” Netflix screen. What is one thing you could do that makes other healthy things easier?
These goals are probably not the kind of goals you used to set. We’re rebooting foundation skills here. Give yourself a healthy dose of understanding and grace.
2 Crucial Tools for Tough Times
Once you set some goals. (I recommend no more than 3 simple goals in 3 areas of your life). Then pull out 2 tools that are probably already in your hand.
An alarm and a timer. You can use the ones on your phone.
I never set an alarm in the morning. I have an internal clock that gets me up plenty early. But I have alarms set to go off at regular intervals during the day. I may not need help starting but I sure need help staying on task. Alarms remind me when I need to switch activities.
Timers are my greatest weapon against un motivation. I decide how much time is reasonable to work on something. If I really don’t want to do it, I give myself permission to only work on it for 15 minutes. I’m always amazed what can get done in 15 minutes when you are focussed.
Set an alarm for each goal. When the alarm goes off, set a timer. Shut off distractions and focus until the timer goes off.
Get clarity. At the end of this day, what would be the most beneficial to have accomplished? Set a time for it. Set the alarm. Set the timer. Then bask in the accomplishment. It really does feel good. I also think it’s a foundational skill for building your self-esteem: The art of making promises to yourself and keeping them. Like you would with anyone else in your world who is important.
Survive Well First in Order to Get to Thriving
Set aside the self-actualization goals for a bit. Focus in on stabilizing the bottom level of that pyramid. If you shore up the basics, you may find your creative juices begin to flow again. Humans were designed for more than survival. But first you have to nail down the basics before you can move on to thriving.
The 5 rhythms that keep babies alive, can keep your spirit alive.
And remember, like a baby, if all you do is eat, sleep and poop, you have incredible value. Not because of what you do but because of who you are. Your worth is not dependent on what you get done.
Establish rhythm in your day.
Stabilize whatever you can.
Get clarity on what you need to do in this day.
Then enjoy. The rest will come naturally when these lower levels are attended to.
Trish White is a counsellor in Saskatoon, Sk, Canada who set an alarm to start working on this post and then set the timer for 1.5 hrs. She posted it and then left to go walk the dog, basking in the accomplishment of a goal completed. 🙂
* (The 3 words: Rhythm, Stability and Clarity are from the book, The Three Commitments of Leadership by Endersbe, Therrien, and Wortman. Although I messed with their order.)
Key to Increased Self-Esteem
Practice the art of making promises to yourself and keeping them. Like you would with anyone else in your world who is important.Trish White