Knowing When It's Time To Take A Step Back
Life has been the definition of serene up until two weeks ago. Since I had returned from South America, it has been a smooth transition from world traveler to settling down in a cottage by the beach. I was lucky to find a job that allows me the flexibility to work from home while still managing and growing Kicking Asana. I’ve been able to get back into my yoga practice, which was severely interrupted while globetrotting, and I’ve been able to explore new areas of knowledge, spiritual practices, and deepen my connection to Self.
Two weeks time and a few conversations can change a lot.
Over the past two weeks, I have been inundated with noise. Some good, some bad, and some experiences that just made me scratch my forehead wondering, why all at once?
It started with lunch - All-You-Can-Eat sushi to be exact.
I know, I know, how can an abundance of sushi ever be a bad thing?
However, the conversations that led shortly after opened up the possibilities of new work, potential partnerships, and a little more dedication to something outside of my own projects that I was hesitant to take on.
But, I ignored my intuition and did anyway.
A few days later, my inbox was chock-full with emails - and not the ones you can easily archive.
That conversation was only the first of many that took place over the past two weeks. Old clients and new clients approached me, brands wanted to advertise, a family member wanted to share with me a Craigslist listing for lost parrots in Los Angeles.
If you’re wondering, this is where the forehead scratching comes in.
When it rains, it pours.
I was in yoga yesterday when my teacher, John Jay Verhagen, said to the class, “When it rains it pours.” There’s no doubt, it’s a saying you’ve heard or used at one time or another, but yesterday, it resonated with me.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been given such abundance in the form of partnerships and work opportunities, but what I recognized yesterday - at my first yoga class in two weeks - was that I needed to take a step back.
As each breath led me through the juicy postures in a Hatha class and allowed myself to get lost in the music and movement, I found stillness again. I had been battling noise for days and forgot what it felt like to be inside my quiet mind.
I was able to fully surrender and it felt good.
Are you doing too much?
Do we ever take the time to ask ourselves this question? We’re constantly going, going, going because everyone expects us to be 100% all of the time, but is that really necessary?
The first indicator that you are doing too much is when you begin to neglect the core values you’ve set for yourself. For example, practicing yoga is essential in my life, yet I had managed to lose track of the last time I stepped on my mat.
I firmly believe that the love for ourself must be met before we do anything else. It’s what fuels us to do better and what allows us to grow. When we ignore our basic needs, we lessen our ability to be the best version of ourselves.
When you skip a meal and work at your desk through lunch, you’re doing too much.
Listen to your body!
Last year when I worked for a large marketing agency, I was plagued with migraines every other week. They last 24-48 hours and had me bedridden, depressed, and unsure of myself. I thought they came from hormones or my diet. I changed everything in my life, eliminated foods, got off birth control, tried acupuncture. The one thing that didn’t change was work.
It wasn’t until I quit my job to travel around the world that the migraines stopped. I hadn’t had one since December 2016, but this week, they came back.
I knew the second I woke up with a sharp pain in the back of my skull and a throbbing in my temples that I was doing too much.
You may not always connect the dots between physical ailments and stress, but pay close attention to why you feel the way you do. Do you get anxiety on Sunday nights before the week starts? Or, do you get migraines like I do?
When your body is yelling at you, it’s time to take a step back.
It’s all about balance.
Fresh outta high school, I went straight to work. I didn’t have the leisure of getting into a four-year school where my only responsibility was to pass my classes. Instead, I opted for the 9-to-5 life and worked my ass off.
I desperately wanted to ensure that I never needed to rely on anyone for money or support.
As the money came in and the job titles became more prestigious, I found myself becoming a slave to the corporate world. Sure, the perks of an innovative marketing company seem great from the outside, but when all I did was eat, breathe, and sweat SEO and social media, I knew I needed a change.
I needed balance.
Take inventory of the experiences you have in your day to day. What does a normal week look like to you? Are you able to nourish yourself while still hitting deadlines? Or, do you often hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time to do this.”
It’s okay if you do, as I often can be the same way. Even with practice under my belt, I find myself off balance from time to time. It’s that non-linear personal development that all of us as humans go through.
There’s a Zen proverb that goes, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
We live in a busy world filled with outside noise and distractions. All of the distractions only make it easier to neglect ourselves. How can you carve out time in your day to find balance?
Maybe it is meditation, or maybe it is running a hot bath, whatever you prefer, notice if you don’t have time to fulfill upon these self-care necessities.
If you don’t, it’s time to take a step back.
Taking a step back allows you to take a few steps forward
I get it. It’s easy to combat all that I’ve said with, “Well, I have to work from 8-to-5 and I have deadlines to meet and a promotion to get and there are a million other excuses for why I can’t slow down.”
I’ve been there, too.
But, once you finally take a step back, allow yourself to get realigned with your thoughts, and connect to the quiet mind, you are able to create space and live a life that serves your highest good. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can make a point to be everything to yourself.
When you’ve carved out space for yourself, you allow for more love, focus, and dedication to fill you. The projects you are working on may not be the focal point of all 24 hours of the day, but when you do focus your attention on them, they’re in the limelight!
So, really, you’re taking a step back and taking two steps forward.
At the end of the day, do you want to go to sleep plagued with thoughts and to-do lists or would you rather fall asleep knowing you’ve listened to your mind, body, and soul?
I choose the latter, and here’s how:
If a new opportunity presents itself, what is the immediate reaction? Excitement? Hesitation? Your gut feeling is usually the one you should go with.
If you have to talk yourself into something, you’re doing it wrong. You should never have to talk yourself into anything - unless it’s skydiving because that’s totally rad and I understand why you’d be fearful at first.
If you do find yourself in a new position, how is your body reacting? Do you feel a tightness in your chest? Shallow breathing? Headaches? Don’t neglect the physical responses you have to things.
Take time for yourself. Ask for a Wednesday off to cut your week in half and do whatever your heart desires.
Practice saying no. It’s hard, but what is even harder is running yourself into the ground. At that point, it’s not fair to you or anyone involved.