Never has the phrase “I wish I’d known this sooner” popped into my head as often as it has since the onslaught of the pandemic. If there is a silver lining to this COVID time – and I think there have been a few silver linings – it’s that many of us have had a lot of time to think. For me, that’s meant realizing that there are things I could have been doing long before now, and that I wish I had! Aside from time spent on bigger questions about the world, I’ve spent the past 11 months improving my life in small but significant ways, including: learning what I really want and need / that I can, in fact, be alone for long stretches of time and enjoy it / and that small habits can be life changing. To be clear, I’m no expert, but the following ideas have been useful to me and I hope might be the same for you.
Don’t stick with it This isn’t the usual advice, but I’ve given up on things that are supposed to work, but just don’t for me. This isn’t to say to give up on, for example, a positive habit that you really want to form just because it hasn’t stuck the first time – some things just need a different approach, alternative process, or time, etc. I’m mean I no longer stick with things because I’ve always done them that way, other people expect them of me, or I just thought they might be good ideas initially. If we admit “I tried that and it didn’t work and, truthfully, I don’t enjoy it”, then we can just stop. Don’t invest time or effort in what doesn’t add goodness to your life. Give it up and find something you do want and you’ll likely discover a way to make that happen successfully.
Understanding our motivations Asking ourselves why we want to do something can be revealing. Discovering “the why” and being brutally honest about it helps make better decisions. If we’re doing something significant in our lives for someone else, that’s not usually a healthy situation and it likely won’t last. I think a good question to ask ourselves is, “if no one knew that I was doing this, would I still want to do it?”
Limiting ourselves to assumptions about ourselves If we keep telling ourselves and others that we’re a certain way, we often end up acting in ways that reinforce it. We might find other people are reinforcing it, too. For example, if we say to ourselves, “I’m a procrastinator”, or “I’m just a disorganized person”, or “that’s just how I am”, it takes the focus away from doing something about it. We get stuck. Instead, if we feel we’re procrastinating, we might make a list of things we’ve wanted to do lately that we actually did get done. Maybe it didn’t happen in the most timely way, but we did “the thing” and that’s a start. A “Have Done” list at the end of the week is a good reminder of what we have accomplished when we’re feeling down on ourselves. Challenging assumptions, not accepting “that’s just the way I am” is a tough but worthwhile goal.
Spend time and energy on developing yourself Devote time to personal growth. I used to think that time spent on myself was time I should instead be spending on others or on causes, which is a bit messed up really, but there you have it! It took me much too long to understand that it’s not one or the other, and that that thinking can actually lead to burnout. Becoming a better human – and I don’t mean the most productive or successful, or that kind of thing – that is, a resilient person who strives to be understanding, kind, principled, organized, and contented, and who contributes what they can to the community, requires personal reflection and unapologetic self care.
Let go of what brings you down Guilt and shame can make life miserable, as can hurtful people, ruminating on negative experiences, and worry about the future. These can be heavy topics and sometimes professional help is needed to work through them. But here I’m referring more to letting go of negative emotions that are manageable and that can be worked through by talking with a trustworthy friend or family member, going out in nature, and changing up our activities. With the state of the world right now, limiting news intake or at least balancing it with positive input like getting lost in a good novel, watching feel-good movies, listening to music, eating delicious food, exercise, nature, and connecting with people (even if only online), is a necessity.
That’s it for this week except that I want to end on what I think may become a regular staple of the blog: a recipe. I made a ton of hummus this week and it’s so good! Recipe below. And if you’re enjoying any of the content on this blog, please share it with others who might, too. You can also hit follow if you’d like so you can be notified by e-mail whenever I post, which is currently once a week. If you are reading this on my christinescreativeworks website, there’s no “follow” option, unfortunately, so head over to: itsjustmechristine.wordpress.com
Have a great weekend, Christine
Hummus (with optional roasted red pepper hummus) recipe
Process the following ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth: 1 can (19 oz/540ml) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed or I like to use the equivalent of ones I’ve soaked, cooked until soft and drained. 2 to 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped 2 tbsp tahini 2 tsp sea salt (or to taste. I usually add a bit more) 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4 cup water (less or more depending on the consistency of hummus you like) dash of ground cumin dash of ground sumac (optional but delish!)
Add 1 roasted, peeled and seeded red pepper for Red Pepper hummus.