I found myself saying this many times this week in a variety of situations. First, in a workshop proposal for a women’s leadership conference focusing on success, then when I was teaching yoga to my faculty class and was stressing the importance of proper alignment, and finally when mentoring some of my young adult clients on decision making. So what is our foundation, how do we build it, and how can it help us?
YOU are the foundation for the life you are building. The stronger your foundation, the better you are at making decisions, dealing with adversity, and living a fuller, more successful life. Through observing that which serves and does not serve us, we can lead a more authentic life. There are so many outside ideas and opinions of what we should be doing or thinking, but we need to take the time to figure out what of those things actually align with our authentic selves. It is ok to question and decide to make new rules for yourself. Figuring out what makes you feel alive and what you are passionate about makes you more confident and proud to be who you are. Knowing these things will help you to create a practice that maintains and supports your foundation through using your positive self talk techniques and engaging in activities that continue to fuel your energy not drain you.
After reading an article in Psychology Today about anxiety in college students and working with my private young adult clients, I realized the universal need to teach coping skills. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic in our society, which goes beyond just our youth, to turn to unhealthy vices as a quick fix to help us feel better, to deal with stress and anxiety, and sometimes to feel that we belong. Drugs and alcohol are the most common of these vices, but we cannot forget over eating, smoking, etc. These vices provide us a quick pleasurable experience, which we mistake as happiness. The more we pursue this “happiness” we begin to create bad habits that can stick with us for a while. Having a strong foundation helps us to turn away from these vices and instead find ways to release the stress that help us to create good habits that will continue to serve us throughout our life.
One of the techniques I have begun to use with my clients is having them list the things that give them a “natural high” and make them feel empowered. Acknowledging the places and things that feed our authentic selves can help us in the areas where we struggle. For example, I may not be an active musical theatre performer anymore but I still remember what it feels like to be on stage and the joy it gave me throughout my life. When I am feeling down, stressed, or overwhelmed, I turn to musical theatre to “cope.” I’ll put my headphones in and listen to “One Day More” from Les Miserables and let the chords vibrate through my entire body changing my energy frequency. Sometimes, I’ll go into my room and belt out “Someone Like You” from Jekyll & Hyde giving me that instant gratification and allowing me to “let off some steam.”
What in you life makes you feel empowered and gives you that natural high? Maybe it’s physical, like playing a sport or doing yoga or building something? Maybe it’s more mental, like doing a crossword puzzle? Or maybe it’s more creative, like writing a poem or painting? The next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed and want to reach for that chocolate bar or glass of wine try to do one of the things you just wrote down and see how you feel after that.
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