Do you believe you can have the self-care that you want?
When it comes to self-care, have you thought:
I don’t have the time. I feel guilty for focusing on myself. I don’t even know where to start.
It can be overwhelming to imagine making any big changes. Especially right now, in this transitional phase between the isolation of the pandemic and resuming some in-person activities.
The pandemic and all the emotions that have come with it are still very much with us and yet things are changing.
You’re making new decisions. You’re getting more social invitations. You’re deciding how much energy you have. When do you need to start saying ‘no’ to people again? (We haven’t had to exercise our ‘no’ muscle in a while!)
The one thing you can do right now
Here’s one simple thing to help move you forward a little bit. One thing to do if you feel stuck, not knowing what to do next.
Start where you are.
Where am I now?
How am I doing now?
What am I experiencing?
What’s alive in me right now?
Take the quiz
This fun, short quiz helps you take stock of the areas where you may or may not be:
💞 showing up for yourself 💞 giving away your energy
💞 aligning with your life goals and values
…and come away with an idea of where you’re at.
The place to start is always exactly where you’re at.
The next step
Once you’ve gone through the quiz, take a look at your result.
Are you up in flames? Is the check engine light on? 🔥 Are you feeling great? Are your systems and your routines supporting you? 🥳 How do you feel about your result? What does it feel like in your body?
😞 Disappointment 😢 Sadness 😡 Anger 😄 Excitement 🥰 Pride
Take a moment now to check in with where you’re at and how you feel about it. This might be uncomfortable! That’s ok.
Feeling the discomfort, naming what you’re feeling, breathing through it, and doing the next right thing is building your nervous system’s capacity! You’re doing great.
Think of a situation where you worry about what others might be thinking of you.
So many of us experience this. This is a big one for me – really caring about how others see me and caring about others’ experience of me. Often that takes me outside of what’s actually mine to control, what’s really my responsibility.
So you’re worried about what others might be thinking of you. What kind of situations does this happen to you in? Maybe in some places in our lives we’re more susceptible to being worried about what someone else thinks of us. Maybe in some situations we’re less concerned about that and we feel clearer within ourselves.
Something to notice in these situations where we’re concerned about what someone else thinks of us is first we don’t get to control what others think. We’re never in their minds, even if we can play a part that might influence them one way or another. We don’t control what others think of us.
I love a saying that I hear often and I repeat to myself often – what others think of me is none of my business.
That’s not our business, what others think of us.
What is more helpful and the reminder I want to share with all of us today is that I am responsible for what I think of me. What I think of myself is what matters more.
✔Am I living up to my values? ✔Am I operating in a way that really aligns with how I want to show up in the world?
That’s what I have control over. That’s what I can do something about. That’s the metric I want to measure and I want to live my life by.
Whose Yard Are You In?
Photo by Jalen Hueser
There are two kinds of yards:
My yard >> My thoughts, my feelings, my actions, my words.
These are all things that are mine. These are the things that live in my yard, that are in my domain. These are the things that I’m responsible for.
Someone else’s yard >> Their thoughts, their feelings, their actions, their words.
I can care about someone else deeply, but I can only do it from my yard. If I go over into their yard and worry about:
❌What they’re thinking about me ❌What they’re feeling ❌What they’re doing ❌What they’re saying
Then that means I have abandoned my yard. I’ve abandoned myself. I’ve abandoned my responsibilities. I’m not taking care of me or what I need to be taking care of because I’m over there trying to take care of what they should be taking care of.
If you find yourself in someone else’s yard, don’t worry! All you have to do is go back to your yard and remind yourself, “I’m responsible for what I think of me. What do I think of me?”
TIP: Those thoughts we’re talking about, “what I think of me…” those are thoughts, those are like clouds that pass through our mind. We’re not even really in control of our thoughts! Thoughts come and go. They’re projections of the mind and the brain. What I’m more responsible for, if we want to get really nuanced here with our language, I’m responsible for those thoughts that I attach to, those thoughts that I believe.
I love the sign for believe. Think – marry.
A belief is a thought that I marry, that I attach to. I choose to bring this thought into my world.
I get to choose what thoughts I attach to, what I believe, what I believe about myself. That’s mine to manage, that’s mine to take care of.
Photo by James Resly
A reminder as you move through your days and weeks (or even just this moment):
Pay attention to what the thoughts are in your mind. Where are you worried about what someone else is thinking of you? Come back to your own yard and ask yourself these questions:
🌱What am I responsible for in this moment? 🌱What do I think of me? 🌱What am I thinking of me right now?
This is a mindfulness practice. This is just noticing where our thoughts go and gently bringing us back to our center. That’s what meditation can be. That’s what any kind of mindfulness practice can be.
Paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment.
Sometimes our judgments of ourselves are what we’ll really notice here. When I come back to the present moment and I pay attention to what my thoughts are, I notice — “Oh there’s a lot of judgment against myself right there.”
Can I let that be here too? Can I come back to a place of love for myself even with my human brain that wants to judge? Because that’s what our brains do.
Where does this show up for you? What is challenging about this for you? What have you found helps you come back to responsibility for yourself and noticing what you think of yourself and really caring for that relationship that you have with yourself?
Join our free support community, The Burnout Proof Collective, to connect with interpreters, teachers, and parents who are working on taking better care of themselves too. This is the best way to get personal support from Brea and to go deeper with your self-care!
Insecurity and self-doubt have been near-constant companions in my life for as long as I can remember. As a kid I worried that I was “annoying”, and spent so much time and energy curating my words and behaviors in hopes of not making anyone around me uncomfortable.
By the time I became an interpreter, I was a master chameleon. In some ways this served me well in that career – being able to take on and portray the world view, affect, and opinions of others. But internally, it left me feeling hollow and empty, or worse, at times anxious and insecure.
I spent so much time trying to conform to what I thought others wanted, that I hadn’t done the real work of developing myself. Feedback was painful and difficult to receive, because in my mind it meant someone was unhappy with me.
Part of the work of healing has been to identify my core values – why I care about the work I do, and the qualities I want to embody through it – and then to seek feedback from respected sources to help me translate those values into actions and skills.
When you have a supportive mentor in your corner, insecurities and areas of self-doubt can become welcome signals and signposts, showing you where to focus your self-development and skill-building work.
If you’re engaged in skill-building and self-development, don’t miss Shanna Grossinger of ASLMentors.com as she livestreams in The Burnout Proof Collective this Thursday! June 24th at 3:30 pm pacific – she’ll share meaningful tips for getting the most out of mentorship.
Reflecting on this intense year will likely bring up stuff for us. Part of this process is to meet what comes up – starting now – from a place of gentleness and curiosity.
Essential oils to support reflection
Plants and elements from nature can support our emotional processing. Here’s an oil protocol to ground and center you, that encourages reflection and movement of stagnant energy. You can apply it daily during your reflection period.
Balance – grounds your energy and spirit in your body, allowing you to access greater intuition and supporting you as you process emotions.
Cardamom – calls difficult emotions out of hiding, allowing you to move, feel, and process them to completion.
Arborvitae – brings extra support and grace to your vulnerability.
Cypress – stirs up stagnant energy and encourages movement.
Lime – eases pain, helps you connect to gratitude within Life’s lessons.
Vetiver – helps you get in tune with your deepest emotions and desires.
Douglas Fir – calls in the wisdom and support of the generations who came before you.
Peppermint – infuses the process with clarity and playfulness.
Frankincense – opens you to divine wisdom, guidance, and truth.
In order to cull all of the memories, milestones, themes and lessons from the past year, I first go back and do a month-by-month review.
Monthly Play-by-Play: Milestones, Important Events, Memories, Themes
Using your calendar, journals, notes, and photos, rewind to January. Put yourself back in that month, as gently as possible, and remember what you experienced.
Photo by Estee Janssens
On your Reflection Guide under the section titled “Monthly Play-by-Play”, make notes about each month.
What milestones did you cross?
What important events took place?
What memories do you have?
What themes were you working on or learning about?
What losses did you experience?
What did you celebrate?
What did you learn?
Stay with yourself
As you recall these memories, your nervous system will respond in kind. Let it.
Notice the emotions and sensations that are stirred in you. Breathe with them. Move with them. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Shake with them.
Be gentle and patient with yourself as you do the work of completing the stress cycle. This is a key practice in moving away from burnout.
Once you’ve made notes on each month of the past year, you’re ready to reflect on the year as a whole.
On your Reflection Guide, consider the highlights of the year.
What were the most important events of the whole year?
What were the major milestones?
What themes emerged and played out over the course of the year?
What were the main lessons?
Now let yourself have some fun, recalling all of your favorites from the last year. Use the template categories to inspire your reminiscing, and add categories of your own!
Spend some time reflecting on, synthesizing, and summarizing your takeaways from the past year.
What are you ready to forgive yourself for?
What are you thankful for?
What are you grieving?
What will you leave in 2020?
What are you welcoming into your life in 2021?
Congratulations!! You’ve completed your annual reflection.
You may feel many emotions after taking in your year as a whole. Closure, grief, gratitude, and sadness are all common. Completing a closing ceremony can help you to honor and embody all that you’ve reflected on.
There’s no right or wrong way to do a closing ceremony, so let yourself get creative. It can be as simple or as complex as you want!
The goal is to allow the energy from your reflections to manifest or be expressed tangibly.
Some ideas to inspire you:
Write on pieces of paper all that you’re grieving, forgiving, or wanting to leave behind, and then burn them in a fire.
Yours – Your business is what you control and are responsible for. All those same bits of property: emotional, material, mental, physical, time and energy.
Life’s/God’s/reality – This is made up of all the things that are outside of my control and your control. Examples include: the past and the future, as well as elements of the weather, accidents, traffic, etc.
Photo by Brandon Nelson
With my yard, your yard, and Life’s yard, we’ve basically drawn ourselves a map of our existential ‘neighborhood’. Maps are cool on their own, don’t get me wrong, but the magic comes when we use them to navigate.
Some scenarios where this map comes in handy:
When you’re feeling stressed.
When you’re afraid someone will be upset with you.
When you feel compelled to say ‘yes’ even though you want to say ‘no’.
When you’re caught in the mental loop of ‘what if’s – worrying about the future.
When you’re upset or angry with someone else.
In any of these not-so-hypothetical cases, you can pull out your map and ask yourself: “Where am I?”
Photo by Daniel Gonzalez
Find yourself on the map: “Where am I?”
Let’s use an example from above, and ask this question: “Where am I?”
When I’m afraid you will be upset with me, the property I’m focused on is your feelings – specifically your feelings of being upset with me.
Whose yard do other people’s feelings reside in? Their yard. Their feelings are their responsibility. When I’m trying to take responsibility for them, I’ve left my own yard – walked right off my own property and onto theirs – which leaves no one home to care for me.
Walk yourself home
When you’ve found yourself trying to manage someone else’s property, walk yourself back home by asking:
“What’s my business?”
Identify what is in your control, or what is your responsibility, and take action.
That could look like:
Donating money, time, or resources to a cause you care about.
At first glance, boundaries can seem like a way to stop caring about anyone but yourself.
Let’s just sit with that. If you’re anything like me, that idea brings up a lot of fear about being selfish, putting my needs ahead of others, etc. When I pause, put my hand on my heart, and just feel those feelings of fear and guilt and breathe through them without feeding them more thoughts, they’re usually a lot quieter in 90 seconds or less.
The most compassionate people are absolutely the most boundaried.
Let that sink in.
The more I leave you to your work/business/journey/lessons, and the more I take responsibility for my own work/business/journey/lessons – the more compassion I’m able to have for you and what you’re going through!
Healthy boundaries are the foundation of empathy, authenticity, and accountability – and they’re an integral part of self-care.
I hope you’ll join us November 21st, 2020 for Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters. We’ll explore what healthy boundaries are, what makes them hard to hold, how to tune into your guidance system, and how to communicate your boundaries in a kind and honest way. I can’t wait to spend this time with you!
Let’s round out our gardening metaphor by planting new seeds in the fertile soil!
photo by Daniel Hajdacki
Once you’ve made space in your garden by pulling the weeds, it’s time to plant new seeds. New seeds are the thoughts and beliefs that you want to cultivate, that will serve you and help you to be your best. You can identify these thoughts by the way they make you feel: empowered, at peace, and motivated.
Creating affirmations is one way to plant new seeds of helpful thoughts.
“What’s a more empowering, kind, and true version of this story? What else might be going on here?”
Let’s take this unhelpful thought as an example:
“She doesn’t care about my needs.”
I notice that when I think this thought I feel sad, rejected, unimportant, and hurt. Not helpful in aligning me with my values of connection and curiosity. I feel shut down and withdrawn – rather than connected or curious.
So I ask myself, “What’s a more empowering, kind, and true version of this story? What else might be going on here?’ I like to use my journal for these questions, and just free write whatever comes to mind. You could also talk this through with a friend or therapist, or simply think about it throughout the day.
What else might be going on here?
In this scenario where I’m believing “She doesn’t care about my needs,” what else might be going on here is that she might be really focused on her own needs. I’m believing that she should be taking care of my needs – which on second glance I don’t actually agree with. A truer statement might be that I support her in taking care of her own needs, and I support me in taking care of mine.
This makes me curious about how I actually may not have been taking care of my own needs. I’ve been upset that she wasn’t caring for my needs, when in reality I was the one who was prioritizing her needs over my own.
The new seed
photo by David Travis
A more helpful thought could be: “I care about my needs,” or “I’m responsible for caring about my own needs.”
Check in with feelings
After identifying new seeds to plant, check out what feelings they spark.
When I think these new thoughts: “I care about my needs,” and “I’m responsible for caring about my own needs,” I feel a softening inside. I feel myself turn back toward myself, instead of being so focused on what the other person isn’t giving me.
When I think these new thoughts, I feel more calm, relieved, open-hearted, and curious. I feel more connected to myself, and I actually feel more connected to the other person as well.
Plant the seed
a lock screen reminder you can save on your phone
Planting the seed of this new helpful thought means installing it into your operating system, so that it can grow and flourish. This takes time and exposure. Reminders can be helpful!
I’m such a fan of sticky notes and lock screen reminders.
Sticky notes can go on your computer monitor, bathroom mirror, nightstand, kitchen cupboard, dashboard of your car, or anywhere else you spend time during the day.
A lock screen reminder is easy to create for your smartphone using an app like Word Swag or Canva.
Whatever will help you keep your new thought top-of-mind so it can grow roots and take hold.
Why isn’t my seed taking hold?
photo by Atanas Dzhingarov
Sometimes a new thought is too much of a stretch for our psyche to believe.
If you read your affirmation or new helpful thought, and you feel emotions or sensations like doubt, resistance, or skepticism, those emotions need tending before your new seed will take root.
Return to part 4 and give space and compassion to these emotions. Sometimes they just need to be witnessed, and they will dissipate on their own. Other times you may want to create a helpful thought that is more believable.
For example, if I felt skeptical when I thought, “I care about my needs,” that may simply not be true yet.
First, I would sit with the emotions that come up. I may feel sad that I haven’t cared about my own needs in the past. I might feel distrustful that I can be counted on to care about my own needs. I may feel doubtful that I can even figure out what my own needs are.
Just naming and witnessing these feelings is powerful. Placing a hand on your chest and imagining what you would say to a friend who was feeling these things can help you find compassion for yourself.
If at this point I decide that I want to find a new thought that’s more accessible or believable, I might play around with a few. Try them on and see how they feel! Some alternate, less-of-a-stretch thoughts might be:
I’m curious about my needs.
I’m willing to practice caring about my needs.
I’m willing to have needs.
When you land on a new thought that feels believable and helpful, then create your reminders and start rehearsing this new thought every chance you get!
photo by Douglas Hawkins
The gardening process
Pulling weeds and growing new plants is an ongoing process. Tending to our thoughts as we tend to a garden over time culminates in rich, fertile soil and a vibrant ecosystem of diverse, healthy life. It’s a moment-by-moment process that requires patience, persistence, and lots of self-compassion…and it’s so worth it.
Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters – 0.2 GS CEUs – Our Saturday School LIVE workshop is happening on November 21st, 2020 from 10 am to noon pacific. Join us to discuss this tricky topic and develop tools to make holding clear, kind, healthy boundaries much easier. Saturday School LIVE workshops are a great opportunity to get to know other interpreters who are struggling with burnout and working on taking better care of themselves!
In our minds, unchecked thoughts can grow like weeds. It’s so easy for them to be constantly playing in the background, orchestrating and puppeteering our decisions and behaviors, rarely questioned or examined…flying under the radar.
Try this experiment now: take your attention from reading these words and turn it toward your mind. Become aware of your thoughts – the steady narration that’s happening in your mind. What’s it saying?
All of the ideas and beliefs you’ve soaked up since childhood are still operating today in the depths of your psyche as your operating system. Many of them are flat-out lies. This inner narration is programmed by your operating system. As you bring your attention to your inner narration, you have the opportunity to uncover your own operating system and the beliefs that undergird it.
Some of mine that I’ve discovered over the years:
“I’m annoying. No one wants to listen to me.”
“People who are angry are dangerous.”
“Any noise in the night is definitely someone breaking into our house.”
“No one will ever really understand me.”
“Prioritizing myself and my own needs is selfish.”
Reappraisal Self-Care Strategies for Fear
Photo by Callum Skelton
Thoughts, running wild and unchecked in our minds, are tricky and cunning – but thoughts on paper are lifeless and still. Getting these thoughts out of your head and onto the page is one of the best ways to weed your garden.
Once they’re on the page, ask them some questions. In mental health coaching we call this “reappraisal.” This is an opportunity to look again at something you took to be 100% true without really questioning it – or – at something you learned during a different time in your life when this belief helped to keep you safe, but maybe now is outdated and not as useful.
“Is it 100% true?”
“Whose yard am I in?” “How do I feel when I’m believing this thought?”Name the emotions and sensations.
You can tell a weed based on its effects on your life. Weeds zap our energy. They contribute to us feeling disempowered, anxious, depressed, and unmotivated. Examining the truth of these thoughts and their effects on your body, mind, and spirit is a major step toward cleaning up your garden and freeing up your energy.
Questioning our thoughts and re-appraising their usefulness and truth can be difficult, especially if the beliefs were planted long ago or have trauma associated with them. Be very, very gentle with yourself as you do this work, and reach out for support if you feel scared, overwhelmed, or stuck. Having a neutral and steady person with you as you weed your garden can be so helpful.
Create a note on your phone titled ‘Thoughts’ or something more creative! If you prefer pen and paper, grab a 3×5 card or pocket journal to carry around with you this week.
When you notice a thought that accompanies stressful feelings (like the kind we talked about last week), make a note of the thought word-for-word – as if you’re narrating. At the end of the day, your list might look like this:
As you’re spending time in your garden, you’ll notice uncomfortable emotions. This might be one reason you struggle to make time for yourself.
Emotions can be very inconvenient, downright painful, and at times excruciating.
Emotions are also called feelings, because we feel them in our bodies. Feeling things in our bodies is something that Americans in general, and white Americans 🙋 in particular, often avoid. This avoidance of feeling our feelings is at the root of many of our distraction-techniques and addictions.
How emotions relate to burnout
The first warning light that signaled my burnout was physical pain. I was unable to sleep, run, play with my kids, do yoga, or even brush my teeth without shooting, aching, burning pain in my wrist, arm, shoulder, neck, and head. I tried all the typical physical healing modalities I had access to: supplements, physical therapy, diet, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture treatments.
It wasn’t until I explored my experience of the pain with my own coach, that I began to uncover the years of emotions that were just sitting in my internal waiting room – begging to be heard. Together in that safe container of support, we made space for guilt, anger, sadness, regret, feelings of unworthiness, fear, and finally hope, joy, pleasure, and love.
Exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion.
Emotional exhaustion is one of the hallmarks of burnout, according to Herbert J. Freudenberger who coined his definition in 1974. Emotional exhaustion is described as, “fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long.”
Of the three components of burnout, emotional exhaustion is the one most strongly linked to negative impacts on health, our relationships, and our work – especially for women or those aligned with feminine cultural norms.
Every word of this Brene Brown podcast episode with the Nagoskis describes so beautifully how emotional exhaustion contributes to burnout and what to do about it. This is required listening or reading for every interpreter! Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle
Feelings always end
Photo by Jana Sabeth
When emotions are stored up without acknowledgment or space to be felt, they must get our attention in other ways. It can be so scary to allow these feelings to move through you. It can feel as if they’ll never leave or they’ll consume us – but I’m here to tell you:
They always end.
Just like a wave, crashing on shore, feelings have a beginning, a crescendo, and a receding conclusion. The more willing and intentional we are about giving them space and ways to move, the less backlog we incur, and the more clear, present, and grounded we can be – even through our experience of them.
Keep a comfort object nearby – a pillow, soft blanket, or an essential oil. Juniper is especially helpful for fear. Set a timer, and when it goes off switch to an activity that feels comforting and safe.
Reach out to a professional – a therapist, a coach, a spiritual guide. Get support in place so that you can feel free to explore this messy, roiling mass that is our unprocessed emotions.
We’ll be talking more about ways to honor our own boundaries and to build trust with ourselves in the November Burnout Proof Saturday School workshop: Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters. Register to join us here.
Commit to staying with yourself
It can be really scary to feel some of these feelings, or you might not feel anything at all. Whatever you find here as you explore your emotions is a-okay. The most important thing is to stay with yourself. This means:
Don’t judge yourself or your experience. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Prioritize time and space for yourself – even if it’s just 5 minutes. Notice that you’re still here when the feelings pass. Allow yourself to feel proud of this scary accomplishment.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and be with your feelings. Maybe you have a certain situation you want to focus on to inspire the feelings, or maybe they’re already simmering at the surface. Just give them space and keep breathing through them.
This may be in your bedroom or bathroom, with the door locked, in your parked car, or outside while walking or running.
Let us know in the comments: What helps you access and process your emotions?
Next Week – Pull the Weeds
In part 5 next week we’ll explore ways to identify the weeds in our thinking patterns and how to work with them when we find them. Because our thoughts feed our emotions, pulling the weeds helps to reduce how often we go through our stress cycle.
Until then, take such good care of your precious self.
This is part 3 in a series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear. You can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.
Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 3
Distractions are plentiful in this hurried life. Even when there’s not something important to be doing, our mind grasps at things to occupy it. This is normal. It takes intention, it takes presence, it takes mindful awareness to notice the departure from here + now, and to guide ourselves lovingly back home, to ourselves.
Cultivating a practice of spending time in this garden of your mind + body + spirit is a gift that will keep giving to every iteration of future-you. Every moment you spend with yourself, and every time you’re willing to notice those departures and walk yourself back home, your relationship with yourself deepens and grows and becomes more fulfilling.
Spending time in your garden can look like so many things. The possibilities are infinite. For as many unique minds and bodies and spirits as there are on this planet (and elsewhere?), there are that many different varieties of gardens. So what will yours look like?
me in my garden with my trampoline, oils, and journal
Maybe yours has your journal, trampoline, and essential oils.
… your crystals, yoga mat, and a Redwood.
… your bible, running shoes, and hot tub.
… your puppy dog, pillow, and ukulele.
YOU GET TO DECIDE!
Whatever your garden includes, it is yours, you can change it anytime you want, and you get to feel comfortable, safe, joyful, and whatever-other-emotions-you-need-to-feel in it!
Finding/creating/making/honoring time for yourself to spend in your garden can be tricky. I find that designating a consistent time has helped it to become a habit that I look forward to and count on. For me, morning time is my garden time – before most of my family wakes up. This practice has also made it much easier to jump out of bed in the morning, because I’m so excited for my special time with ME.
If you want some support, connection, and accountability to help you create a garden-time habit, I made you a Burnout Proof Academy course called Make Time for You!
Some of my favorite resources for spending time in my garden:
Spend 5 intentional minutes in your garden, enjoying your body, mind, + spirit.
Image by Thought Catalog
Let us know in the comments:
What are your favorite ways to spend time in your garden? What helps you to prioritize your garden time?
We’re sharing our favorite garden-time activities in The Burnout Proof Interpreter Collective private Facebook group. Come share yours with us too!
Sneak Peek: Be With Your Feelings – part 4
When we allow time to just be with ourselves, it can open the door to unprocessed emotions showing up uninvited or announced. The fear or avoidance of these visitors can keep us from spending time in our gardens.
Next week in part 4 we’ll explore what to do with these feelings that may arise. Spoiler alert: this might become your favorite part of the whole process!
Until next week, dear one, take good care of your precious self….and enjoy it!