It's My Life Inc.

Self-Care

That's me, Melissa HeislerI have a confession.  Many of my clients come to me to find their voice, to claim their lives, and to step into their truth.  I love to help them uncover and accept their true power.  They grow into authentic individuals who take care of themselves while still being considerate of others.  But recently the adage “do as I say, not as I do” was very true.  Although I am clear about who I am and my right to have my needs met, I am also very empathetic.  This empathy all too often leads me to give up my needs for the good of others.  At times it is ok.  I am very clearly gifting of myself for the needs of others.  It is done consciously and cleanly.  There is no regret, no resentment, or pain.  But then there are the other times.

These times usually start when another’s pain seems so much more important, substantial, or excruciating than my needs so I feel compelled to give up parts of myself to serve them.  It may start innocently enough.  Perhaps there is the small sacrifice which was ok but not preferable.  Then comes the next sacrifice and the next and the next and the next.  I start looking for the end of this trial so I can reclaim myself, but the other’s pain keeps being slowly pushed further and further out into the future.  The compulsion to serve becomes stronger than my conscious decision to give.  Then one day I wake up and wonder where all of my self-care has gone.  Dagnabit!  Where was my coach to keep me back from this abyss?

As with all of the lessons I teach, asserting one’s right to self-care is not a onetime proclamation.  It is a daily habit.  Like exercise, focusing on our needs must be a consistent process to have full effect.  If you exercise like an Olympic athlete one day but then spend the rest of your life on the couch I doubt your muscle tone will stick around.  The same goes for maintaining your self-worth and providing your personal needs.  Check in every day.  Are your needs being met?  Are others asking more of you than you have to give?  Are you putting your needs on the backburner because you are elevating others’ needs above your own?  Have you lost sight of your needs because of a crucial issue involving a loved one?

Parents and caregivers can often fall victim to the needs of others.  Our love and sense of responsibility often supersede our own needs.  Yet our noble sacrifice for others usually tends to backfire.  Either we become so depleted that we can not serve those we love let alone ourselves or in our depletion we react with resentment and feel a need to attack others to get our needs met.  Especially during a crisis, take extra time for yourself.  Check in with your body, mind, and emotions.  Are you as clean, clear, and focused as you were before the crisis?  If not, you are not caring for your own needs.  Take a break, ask for help, reduce your expectations of yourself, and find the balance between caring for others and your own self care.  It is possible to help others without being depleted, but to do so it is necessary to focus on ourselves as much if not more than those in need.  Take care of yourself first today and every day.  Discover how self-care provides you with more energy to help those you love than if you resign yourself to a state of selflessness. 

Italian Perspective

I was very fortunate to spend two weeks in Italy this April.  Upfront I realized it was not going to be a normal vacation.  My mother is still recovering from her December and subsequent surgeries so every morning my sister and I were to take turns changing her bandages.  After that responsibility, I expected time and space to be able to recharge and replenish.  This was the first vacation in the four years of my business in which I would not have email, phone, or computer access.  It was to be a time to truly relax.  But as all of my blogs seem to go, I was wrong.

Venice with my buddy, Eleanor

You see there was another factor to this trip.  We were taking it with my mother’s church group.  The trip was created for “mature” travelers so the majority of our group was over sixty years old.  What I quickly learned was how much assistance some of the members needed.  We were walking up and down stairs, over uneven cobblestone, and just walking and walking and walking.  At seventy, eighty, and even ninety years old, this amount of physical activity was quite challenging for many of our group.  Immediately I began to help the other navigate the ancient streets of Rome.

Within the first two days it hit me, resentment.  Here I was on a trip meant to recuperate me from the three years spent nursing my father and I was spending the majority of the time once again nursing others:  taking care of my mother, helping people with stairs, lagging behind with those who couldn’t keep pace with the tour guide, and wrangling those who were getting lost.  The more I thought about it the more the resentment, anger, self-pity, and sadness arose.  It wasn’t a pleasant feeling.  All of my judgments about how things should be and what I deserved were more hurtful than the actual act of helping the others.  So I flipped the switch.

TuscanIn the same way I help so many people reframe their thoughts and experience through MasterHeart™, I chose a new more positive perspective.  I Accepted the situation I was in.  I could not change who was on the trip, I would not change my desire to help others, and I had no other place I could possibly be for the next ten days.  This first step of seeing, accepting, and embracing the reality of my situation brought a wave of calm and a sigh of release.  Second, I filled my heart with Compassion.  None of these people purposefully set out to disrupt my trip.  They were all wonderful people going through a difficult time and they were very grateful for my assistance.  No one was forcing me to help; I was choosing to help.  Embracing Acceptance and Compassion, a sense of peace washed over me.  It was the replenishment I was seeking on this trip.  The rest of the time I enjoyed the sites of Italy at a slow pace, relaxing and resting more frequently than I would have on my own, and enjoying the appreciation and gratitude received from the others on the trip.

What is happening in your life right now which is robbing your energy?  Is it truly the situation or is it your judgment of the situation?  How can you use Acceptance and Compassion to improve your experience?

It's My Life Inc.

Really, I am human

Melissa Heisler, Life CoachThrough the last few weeks, I have received amazed compliments from friends and family.  “I can’t believe you made it through the eulogy.”  “It is amazing you were able to compartmentalize enough to coach a client the morning of your father’s wake.”  “You are such a positive person. You have an outstanding outlook on life. You jump right back out there and make lemonade!”

Well not really.

I was a babbling, sobbing fool when I gave the eulogy.  Yes, I was able to be present for the clients I coached just before the funeral (or I would not have coached them), but I was pretty useless the week afterward.  Actually I have been beating myself up over the last few weeks.  I have been tired and distracted.  I have not been able to concentrate as clearly as usual.  I can’t believe my lack of motivation and ability.  I just can’t believe that after three years to prepare for his leaving, that the loss of my father is hitting me this hard.

But it is.  And that’s ok.

When someone close to us moves on to what’s next, there is a lot to process.  There can be the shock when it happens suddenly, and even when it is expected.  There are the emotions of not being able to see, chat or be with that person again. There is an adjustment to the new norm including holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries without them.  There can be exhaustion from all the time spent caring for the loved one physically and emotionally.  These are not just emotional or psychological issues, but they affect us physically too.

Although I felt clear and clean mentally, my body was telling me a different story.  A loss is a loss no matter the circumstances, the level of understanding, or one’s positive outlook.  The loss of someone dear to us, is the loss of a part of us.  Yes, psychologically we know that the person will be with us forever in our hearts, minds, and memories.  But the truth is that they are no longer with us physically.  They are no longer here to interact with us.  And this loss can affect our mind, body, and spirit.  However it is not solely a “loss” but is also rebirth into our new life and new environment without them.  For that person was a part of us and it takes time to grow into who we will become without that tangible connection to them.

When you experience loss in your life, give yourself time.  Time to process, time to sleep, time to adapt, time to grieve, time to grow into your own next phase of being.  Wishing you peace, understanding, acceptance, and the power to move forward.

It's My Life Inc.

Physician, Heal Thyself

Right now I am in the waiting room of Northwest Community Hospital waiting for a family member to get out of surgery.  Honestly I am tired and exhausted, and any attempt at writing a poignant blog is not happening.  I had intended to write about a really interesting quote I just heard.  Instead I am just trying to keep my eyes open.  You see, I have not been living up to what I preach.  Every day I tell clients to take care of themselves first.  I show them different tools to relax, recharge, and center themselves.  I explain how we are no good to others if we have not first taken care of ourselves.  But I haven’t been following my own instructions.

As with my clients, my fall from stress-free living started simply enough.   A client needed to meet with me for an emergency session over the weekend.  Two new clients wanted to start in the same already busy week.  I was asked to speak at some wonderful events.  A can’t miss networking event popped up.  None of these caused my stress.  But all of them together started to add up.  First I started to have too many morning events and my usual morning meditation started to become sporadic.  As my days began to fill up exercising and clear my mind walks started to drop off.  Then my 40 hour work week became 50 then 60 then even 70 hours.  My sleep began to be interrupted.  My beautiful eating habits started to deteriorate as my travel schedule increased.  About a month or so ago, I realized I was really off-track but thought I could push through it.  “I only have to do it through March (April).”  There were just so many opportunities and emergencies to work though.  As I entered this past week, I could feel my exhaustion.  I had hit my breaking point, but I couldn’t break down now.  I had too many important things that week.  So again I pushed on.  Finally on Thursday night, my body said enough is an enough and it sent me a cold to slow me down.  But, of course, I fought against that too.  I have made commitments on Friday and Saturday I needed to live up to.  But after those commitments, I allowed myself to do nothing.  And, as Peter Gibbons said in Office Space, it was everything I thought it could be.

Over the weekend, as I watched chick-flick after chick-flick in between little bursts of sleep, I remembered who I was.  I remembered what it meant to have a life.  What it meant to LIVE my life.  Be IN my life again.  As much as I love coaching, as much as I love working on my business, as much as I love meeting new people through networking, I was missing out on just being me.  I have a history of thinking my career, my profession is me.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I don’t love what I do.  But it is not me.  The analogy I might give a client would go something like this.  Michael Phelps is an incredible swimmer and has dedicated much of his life to his sport, but it is not who he truly is.  If he suddenly lost the use of his legs and arms so he could not swim, what is left is truly Michael Phelps.  Everything outside of ourselves – our roles, our jobs, our hobbies, our passions – are part of the fun of this life, but they are not our soul and our true being.  Who we are in the moment, at our core, in the silence, is who we truly are.  And I am so glad that life has once again taught me this lesson.

So instead of forcing myself to write a brilliant blog for you, I am going to stop writing now, because it is what I need to do.  It is what I need to do to take care of myself.  And it is what I need to do in order to be fully present for my family member after surgery.

Have a wonderfully, centered, relaxing, recharging week!