Over the last several weeks, with all of the profound changes in our world, I found myself in a place where I was forced to deeply contemplate what it means to move from the mind’s mental chatter and to center within the heart to make some life-changing decisions.
To get out of my personal mental chaos, I had to take several weeks of leave from a job in healthcare program administration that was draining my mental and emotional energy to the brink of incapacitation. This was especially exacerbated understanding that the healthcare sector has been slammed hard on all levels in the way we do our work. Prior to the current global situation, what was already exponentially taxing due to increased demands in complex corporate and regulatory structures, quite suddenly and abruptly devolved into an exercise in impossibility. And for those of us who have been programmed to deliver the goods no matter how unfeasible or unreasonable, the insurmountable challenges that were rapidly moving beyond our control was a precise recipe for an emotional and mental decline that came with my own perceived failure to perform. This was an especially difficult thing to accept as the perfectionist who believes she must always achieve what is expected – no matter what the cost is to her.
For weeks, as my downward spiral was happening, I really wrestled with myself trying to decide if I should take this leave. I have been conditioned to believe that unless you are on your death bed, the idea of practicing self care by taking time away from the mental and emotional responsibilities of life was a cop out. Guilt is also a wicked bastard that impedes us from acting for self-preservation, even if it’s for our own greater good and the betterment of those close to us.
Fortunately, I have a caring tribe of people who observed what was happening as I desperately tried to navigate through all of this. They saw that I had become a shell of a person who was barely functioning just to make it through to survive each day. I was no longer complete and whole within myself. My own words as a wellness coach of, “be well to do well”, were coming back full circle as I asked myself, “how can I continue to serve if I myself am not my best self?”
Therefore, with strong support and gentle urging from my close network, I pushed aside the guilt and shame, and decided that it was in my very best interest to take time to rest and rebuild. For the first time in my life, I did the “selfish” thing and took care of the Self. And while I did feel that guilt, shame, anger, and sadness when I initially made my decision, I was eventually able to let that go.
What gave me the ability to succumb to my needs and release what was holding me hostage came by going strictly from the heart. I learned to cast aside those fears that are perpetuated by mental aerobics and surrendered into how I was feeling versus what I was thinking. I discovered that from the heart perspective I opened to greater clarity, creativity, and peace– bringing bigger and better things to my map of life.
From this heart space, I learned to listen to what I needed, and taking the time to do for just me. And there is no shame in that anymore. I learned and now accept that there are times where we just need to step out of life, regroup and figure out exactly how we can step back in as our having regained that complete self.
This time away was not only a time of rest and rejuvenation, it also gave me time to dig deeply into my heart. What do I want in my life? What does my heart want? How can I fulfill my soul purpose and also be support to others? And the only way I could even consider exploring answers to those questions was after taking to time to be still and to heal.
While contemplating the possibilities that were prompted with this self-query, I did find something that became readily apparent. I realized that many of us who do wellness coaching and similar support work for others, very often don't do the very same for ourselves. We extend ourselves over and over helping others, more likely than not at the sacrifice of our own well-being. How is it that we can ask clients to take a look at their very best selves when we can't even do that for our own souls and hearts?
It was with this awareness in mind that I took the time – the time to go back to those questions and really look at what was going on in my life. How am spending my time? Is the work I do serving my soul’s deepest desire and thereby the greater good of humanity? I truly believe that when we answer the calling of our soul, we are bringing the highest manifestation of our destined gifts to all. Can you imagine if we all were doing the work that deeply fulfills each and every one of us? What kind of a world we would have if that were indeed the case?
I know that the four cornerstones of my life’s work are to teach, share, give, and heal.
Teach people how to rediscover self-empowerment for change.
Share the tools, resources, and skills I have to help guide that empowerment.
Give hope for sustained, positive life change.
Heal through collaborative partnership.
Going into my heart, I really looked at how, when, and where I can fulfill this mission. I know I need to change how I spend my time and begin to serve myself in this way, and thereby, serve those who look for what I can offer in support of their journey for change.
From a renewed perspective, I now look to my Heart Map to show me the way. This map may not have exact routes, but it will never lead me astray, so long as I heed what direction it provides for me. And how I’m learning to read that map becomes a way to guide clients in reading their own maps. Does this exit or road fill me with joy? Or do I feel dread, fear and trepidation? Is this one met with eager anticipation and curiosity or deep reluctance? Is this turn the one I am obligated to take or the one that I want to take? How I feel in answering these questions are the indicators of the direction in which to head – my emotional GPS.
Newly armed with this insight and practice, I now like to encourage clients to dig deep into their own hearts and rediscover their own maps. And in their reflection, if they feel fear, anger, or sadness from perceived insurmountable challenges, I can then help guide them in reading that map to see solutions they already possess that can address and thereby dissolve these feelings. And in this space of peace and self-realization, they become empowered. Empowered in remembering that they already have the tools they need to take that journey toward their preferred future, that desired outcome that brings joy, purpose, and happiness into their lives. Just like I too was reminded that I had what I needed all along. I just required time to recall how to get there.
I am reminded of a couple of quotes by Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz:
“Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.”
“You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to…”
That “learning for herself” may need a little boost and guidance, but in a collaborative process with clients, it truly is (re-) learning it for oneself and being reminded that the power to do whatever is desired for a fulfilled life is right there on that Heart Map.
As we all continue to face challenges and decide how we prefer to live our lives, we have to listen to that Heart Map. We trust it to lead us as we navigate the path that brings the greatest joy for ourselves and the world around us. If you’d like someone to take a Heart Map road trip with you, let me know – I’d be happy to experience the sights right there with you as you rediscover what’s been there waiting for you all along.