Superhero Self Care – Part 5

 

Where Do We Get Such Wonderful Toys?

Lately I’ve been contemplating my superhero toolbelt. Superheroes that are not born with the gift of flight or superspeed definitely benefit from a well-stocked utility or toolbelt. So I was thinking, what do I carry close at hand to help me move forward, even when times are tough?

Why do you need a toolbelt?woman with toolbelt

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a great conversation, making an awesome connection, when someone comes up and interrupts, and whoops!—before you know it, the conversation has veered into a whole new direction. How do you keep a momentary glitch like that from ruining your whole evening, or worse yet, keep you from making the authentic connection you were headed towards?

Perhaps you’re in a rough spot financially, lost a job or contract, or just can’t seem to get ahead. You’re taking all the actions you’re supposed to, and yet you’re not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re trying to be patient, but how do you keep a good attitude?

And the big one, what about good, old-fashioned stuck-ness? Your relationships aren’t where you’d like them to be, your forward momentum has slowed to a crawl and everything you do feels like you have to slog through a foot of mud to do it. Help!

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Anything! Something! It’s true. Before you spiral down into the cycle of feel bad—do nothing—feel bad, stop where you are and take a compassionate look at yourself. What do you notice? Is your heart racing? Are you completely unmotivated? Totally exhausted? Pay close attention to your emotions, as they are the indicator lights on the dashboard of your current state. Even if you don’t know *why* you’re feeling a certain way, acknowledge where you are. The first step of any intervention is awareness.

Now that you’ve checked in, you can choose to grab the appropriate tool from your toolbelt and address the problem. Or not. Emotions themselves are not good or bad. It’s a question of where you want to be. If you want to change your mood or your current state, reach for your tools.

What’s on your toolbelt?

I’ve been working on my toolbelt for years, and I’ll bet you have, too. It’s the kind of thing that you can add to, with every single life lesson. You may call it something else, but you have strategies and coping mechanisms you pull out when necessary. Let’s name a few of the things you can pull out to stop a vicious cycle:

  • Find the humor
  • Visualize a positive outcome
  • Breathe deeply/meditate/pray/relax — even five minutes can turn everything around
  • Write a letter to someone that you may or may not ever send (especially a love letter!)
  • Look at pictures/cartoons that make you smile
  • Make/listen to a playlist of songs that always lift your mood
  • Set boundaries (as discussed here)
  • Keep a gratitude journal, and write in it!

You may have some other tools I haven’t even thought of! Write down all the things that make you happy someplace where you can easily refer to it. Pull out a tool — or two — whenever you want.

You control your attitude.

I know. You’ve heard that before. And it is so much easier said than done. But at the end of the day, or week, or in that moment, who suffers if you wallow in a dark place? Yep. You. You could choose to stay there, but why?

I know it’s tough sometimes. Trust me. I’ve been there. My life lessons have added to my toolbelt, and I’ve noticed some fundamental themes. These are my “4 Ps,” each of which is represented in one way or another in every single tool I use:

Patience — The sun will rise, the sun will set. And repeat. Just breathe. Find good things to distract you from thinking about waiting. Like…

Persistence — Keep doing the “stuff”, the little actions every day that will move you forward. No matter what, in a year, a year will have passed. That should give you some…

Perspective — What was the biggest heartbreak you experienced in school? How did it feel at the time? How does it feel now? Are you at…

Peace — Have faith that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. You have lessons to learn, growth to experience and wisdom to gain.

Oh, and Practice. I guess that’s 5 P’s, because I keep practicing every day, using my tools to be the kind of superhero I want to be. Even when I fall down, no matter how many times I fall down, I get up again. And I know you do, too.

What’s on your toolbelt? Share your favorite tools in the blog comments section below, and we can all add to each other’s toolbelt!

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