My friend’s seven year old son struggles with anxiety and feels life very deeply. So his dad developed this mantra to help him remember the basics:
“We’re going to eat enough,
We’re going to sleep enough,
And we’re going to choose to be happy.”
I repeat it to myself on a regular basis. In fact, my husband Jonathan said it to me just the other day, when I was feeling tired and spun out on stress.
It made me laugh and immediately put me back on course … to go to bed by 9:15pm, that is. And when I woke up the next day, everything looked brighter.
Eat enough … sleep enough … choose to be happy.
Those simple choices are some of the most loving things you can do, dear friends.
However, “simple” does NOT equal “easy”.
In fact, sometimes the most straightforward interventions are the toughest ones to put into practice!
As one reader wrote when I posted this mantra on A Wish Come Clear’s Facebook page:
“Seems so simple, yet so often I don’t do any of those things, especially during very stressful times in my life (like now).”
So, how do we bridge the gap between knowing and doing?
Often people say to me, “Caroline, how do you make yourself set boundaries and get enough sleep and write books and host webinars and all of that?”
It’s a good question. And like the geeky English Literature major that I am, I find a clue within the sentence structure.
“How do you MAKE yourself do X, Y, and Z?”
Answer: I don’t … because “make” implies force and coercion. And healthy, lasting change doesn’t come from there.
Instead, it comes from love.
How do I do what I do? I find ways to fall in love … with the work, with others, and with my own imperfect self.
Real love is the strongest motivating force, bar none.
One of my favorite coaches and authors, Dr. Martha Beck, uses this example: “When you first fell in love with your partner, how did you make yourself keep kissing him or her?”
The answer, of course, is that you didn’t have to “make” yourself at all. Love led the way.
But … (I can hear you saying) … don’t some personality types find it easier to complete tasks and follow through on goals, even if they don’t love it?
Maybe so. I can’t speak for others, but my own personality type is quite determined.
If you speak the language, I’m a Myers-Briggs INFJ (“The Counselor”) and an Enneagram Type 1 (“The Perfectionist”), with either a 2 or a 9 wing depending on which test I take.
I have plenty of striving built into my being. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that striving only goes so far. I’m a hard worker, but my white-knuckle effort is nothing compared to what happens when I allow myself to love and be loved.
That’s why I was so moved by my friend’s husband’s mantra: precisely BECAUSE it was created out of love. It was developed by a loving dad who wants the very best for his son.
So the question isn’t, “How do we MAKE ourselves do the things we think we should?”
Rather, the question is, “How do we let go of judgments and limiting beliefs, learn to love ourselves and others, and take clear, confident action from there?”
How do we stop the pushing and people-pleasing and step into the love?
Those are the real questions.
Will you join me in living into the answers?
If so book a free Clarity Call and let’s talk.
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