Tag Archives: rest

(Non)Judgement

Sitting looking over the downtown Calgary cityscape late this morning, reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” – I was routinely interrupted by thoughts of what felt like passive self judgement passing through my mind.

“You should be working on something”

“Go outside and move”

“Come up with some ideas”

?

^^ Yes, that last one was word for word a thought that crossed my mind. Which then made me stop and laugh- as if my mind stating “come up with some ideas” was going to help me “come up with some ideas”. Ideas for what? Where was this pressure coming from? Why MUST I be doing something on my first (albeit scheduled) day off.

I’ve often stopped and thought to myself while working with training clients to think “it might actually be harder for this person if I asked them to pause and do nothing for a few minutes (or, the horror, a full 45-an hour) instead of pushing them physically”.

The last few days I’ve been networking away at Spruce Meadows and around Calgary, with the next few days bringing me to other areas Alberta. My first venture into out of province work for one of my businesses, RideWell Performance, and taking steps for myself to get uncomfortable again with networking, branding, and see how far I can go with my dreams. Rebranding RideWell over the winter was essentially an attempt to keep my brain busy while my other business, Integrative Movement, went through some expansions that required patience. Now, here in Calgary, with some free time and the bulk of the immediate work for now done, I sit scouring my brain for things to do.

My response to those thoughts? A conscious amusement and then a two hour nap.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard for me to balance those judgement-like thoughts with things like “the knowledge you’re absorbing from this book is going to serve you later on”, “this rest will mean more energy for the rest of the week”, “you absolutely need a day like today to catch up after the last few weeks”, “my body says this is right and I know to listen to that”.

It’s been observed many times that entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, and business owners are always hustling. I mentioned last post about how I’ve come to cringe at being labelled a “hustler” or as someone who is “always on the grind”. I understand most people mean those labels as a positive thing, and are often incredulous when they hear about what entrepreneurs do routinely to chase down their goals.. but it also skews the optics of success towards burn out levels of time management. It also makes it difficult for, especially younger, self-starters to internally justify rest days, days to be human, and days to just chill t f out.

Was I doing nothing today? Absolutely not. I was reading, learning, and resting. It’s become absolutely crystal clear to me that business development and success largely depends, if not solely depends, on it’s leaders and teams personal development.

What makes or breaks brands in today’s world is the culture that surrounds them, and the association it’s customers makes between the people within the business and their goals.

I’ve had business owners and high level managers as clients both in terms of therapy and training- and while they have a higher tolerance for stress (positive and negative), they often struggle to monitor their inner dialogue around self care and compassion- and this feeds into their decisions around business and people management. It’s easy to look from the outside in and say “if you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to help others” but when you’re that person trying to do it all and be it all, the pressure can seem more then logic.

I think many of us have already learned the hard way that burning out, getting sick, or just getting discouraged by fatigue and pressure is REAL and is a real dream crusher. I’ve experienced more scary level moments of “why am I doing this” leading towards “I do not want to be doing this anymore” in the last couple years. Luckily for me, I have figured out a way to change my scenery up (both physically and mentally) when this happens to keep me obscenely passionate about what I do. Moments like this have forced me to be creative and pursue lateral thinking for all my ventures and the people within them. It’s why I’m in Calgary now, and it’s why some expansions have happened. However if I had followed the alternate route down a more negative burn out road- I might not be where I am now.

We’ve been conditioned as a society to always be on the go- to always be pushing for more. To the point where we’ve seen the birth of industries based around scheduled and invested in down time (think meditation classes, certain styles of yoga, spas, etc etc). These are not bad things- but why can’t we accept for ourselves a simple quiet day to develop in others ways, instead of what is perceived as “the hustle”.

The great Thomas Plummer said it well:

“What made you successful is often the very thing that prevents you from staying successful.”. Hard, endless pursuit of more needs to be contrasted with recovery, rest, and time spent inwards. Without that, you may find you lose the purpose behind what you think you want.

We do not HAVE to do anything. Not in the societies most of us live in, with the afforded comforts we’ve been given. There is ALWAYS a choice and choices do not have to be concrete. Doing or thinking something because it’s always been perceived to be the way things are, or because others around you are seemingly doing the same thing is not a reason to hold the same expectation for yourselves.. and, more then likely, those perceptions aren’t the entire reality. We all generally think and go through similar things- and rarely do you find judgment for taking care of yourself if you are honestly doing just that.

What does self-care and non-judgement towards yourself look like?

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I’m not me

Okay, so last week was one thing. I described it as topsy turvy. This week was just hard to handle.

I’ll start off by reiterating that concussions suck. Also that I am the worst at taking time off. Like, officially the worst.

When I wrote last week it was pretty close to when I started noticing initial symptoms of a concussion. Loss of concentration, sleeping more than usual, fatigue, headaches, etc etc. I had been to a doctor, who gave me not much instruction or useful advice. He suggested I maybe take some time off and then re-assess. Standard procedure for a concussive event is to take at least 7 days off (no work, no school, no exercise, nothing. Off off.). I know this. So my brilliant self decided to sort of take the weekend off (I saw the doctor on Thursday night) and then try and do half-work days throughout the week, as well as classes and practical exams. I managed to keep myself away from the barn, though, so high five for me? No. No high fives. Throughout the week, I noticed many new symptoms. The most predominant being going from sleeping WAY more than usual to not sleeping at all. 18hrs down to 3hrs. Not okay. Mood swings. Oh my goodness mood swings. Losing my patience with everything much more quickly then regular me would. Feeling sad. Feeling anxious. Feeling great. Feeling awful- in a time frame of under an hour. My concentration and focus has yet to return.

Trying to work was the worst idea, as my job is all computer focused and requires a high-degree of concentration. I can’t read for more than 5 minutes without getting distracted, dizzy, or having to look away. Class is the other thing that was an awful idea this week. Tuesday was the worst, coming back after missing the previous lecture. I absorbed approximately nothing from Tuesday’s class. I sat there in a fog for the entire time, and skipped the lab because I just couldn’t handle being there any longer. Physically and emotionally. Thursday’s class was better. My focus still wasn’t good, but the class was a little more engaging and less reading focused. Thursday I was also required to do two practical exams (one make-up and one new), both which required me to understand, teach, and guide a “client” through two different types of workouts while being video-taped. Anyone want to wager a guess at how well those went? Understanding what I was teaching wasn’t there, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to really remember what I was doing through the tests. So not expecting good things on those reviews. Friday I saw another doctor. A much better doctor this time. One who has a concussion specialization, not one who was working a walk-in. I knew she was good, because she gave me news I didn’t want to hear- even if I knew it was coming. At least another 7 days off of my life. Serves me right, I guess, didn’t reeeeaaaaally take the first 7 days off.

I know, guys, it’ll end up being 14 days. Why am I getting all weird about it? Who wouldn’t want a break?

If you’ve had a concussion, or know someone who has- you know how important it is to rest. You’ll also know how hard that can be sometimes. With other injuries there is usually a physical, visible disability that comes a long with it. It’s quite obvious why you are taking time off. To you, and to those around you. This is a very invisible and mysterious injury. You can’t see it. You can’t predict it’s healing process. You can’t push it.

The perspective of taking time off now, so you don’t have lingering symptoms for months down the line that interfere with your life further, makes a lot of sense. So what is it that makes it so hard?

Part of it, I think, is that this sort of injury tricks you into viewing yourself as fine, and thinking others will view you as fine too- and by taking time off when you’re “fine” people might think you’re just being lazy. This isn’t true, of course, but it’s really hard not to see it that way. Concussions come with messed up self-perceptions. Those who know me know that I would never just take time off unless it was well-deserved. I like to be busy. I take on as much as I can because I love to. When time off is necessary, I try every trick in the book to convince myself that I don’t need time off. I know, ridiculous. I know other athletes to this too. That attitude towards life is what makes what we do possible. Never stop. But when it comes to flipping that determination around to successful recovery.. sometimes we get a little mixed up.

I’m blessed with being surrounded by people that constantly remind me to slow down when I’m doing too much. Rather then support my irrational decisions to push myself harder when I need to be taking pressure off the gas they constantly put things into perspective for me, or attempt to anyway. Do I listen all the time? No. Should I? Probably, yes. Do I try to? Yes. Always. There is no way that I would be as far and as successful in my endeavours if I hadn’t listened to the advice and wisdom coming from these people at least most of the time. When I have thoughts like “people will think less of me if I don’t do this…” or “my life is falling apart because I can’t do all this at once..” (that one was an exaggeration.. I don’t ever think that… do I??)- I am only met with acceptance of who I am, and reassurance that I am doing just fine. Usually I am given exactly what I need for that moment. What more could you as for in friends and family? 

Another difficult side to this, that I’m noticing, is that I don’t feel like myself. Partially because I’m not able to do many of the things that make up who I am. My normal motivation for everything is feeling a little tired (that is probably a good thing- a little easier to take a break with this mentality) and my frustration levels are much higher then they normally are (probably not a good thing). Also because the symptoms of this concussion like to play around with my emotions, making it hard to handle things I would normally not even blink at. It’s comforting to know that these are just symptoms, and they will pass. However, it’s also scary to not have control over my own head- and not knowing what is coming next a lot of the time. This feeds into the challenge of being able to perceive how those around me are viewing me. It’s a little confidence shaking.

On the plus side, I have a fantastic excuse for pretty much any stupid thing I say– Nobody can argue “concussion” as reason for not knowing something or those everyday face-palm moments!

What are your concussion experiences (personal, or someone you know)? How did you handle them?

I am hoping that next time I write I’ll be a little more “me” and a little less “concussion”! Until then, wish me luck at not concentrating (hopefully the only time I’ll be asking for luck in this) and “staying zen”.

 

 

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