Okay, hear me out.
I know that everyone and their cousin is touting the importance of self-care.
You’re probably thinking if one more person talks to me about bath bombs or girls nights, I’m going to puke.
You’re a busy, self-starter, career driven (and killing it) lady, and you do deserve to take some self-care time.
But what if self-care wasn’t literally caring directly for yourself?
Dr. Laurie Santos, Yale professor and host of the Happiness Lab podcast, says, “Self-care doesn’t have to be selfish.” I just started listening to her podcast thanks to an amazing interview Dr. Santos did with Jenna Kutcher, the Goaldigger herself, and it really made me realize that maybe we’re missing the true point of self-care.
Dr. Santos says about improving our well-being, “One of the most shocking ones for me is a study looking at how simple interactions with strangers positively affect your well-being,” she said, adding that, even for introverts, “a simple chat with a stranger can make people feel great.”
You can learn more about this here (Association for Psychological Science) or here (this links you to the New York Times).
So self-care may have more positive benefits for us when it involves other people.
In the interview with Jenna Kutcher, Dr. Santos noted (and I’ll strongly paraphrase here) that doing small acts of kindness for others or volunteering helped improve well-being more than doing things just for ourselves.
I’ve started to test this for myself. For me, self-care has been buying dinner for a good friend and getting caught up post-COVID. Also, self-care has been going with a friend to do volunteer work.
That being said, if you’re sick of the same ol’ self-care, then it’s time to shake it up. Find a friend and go volunteer. Help out a neighbor (meet your neighbors, now there’s a challenge). Tell a stranger you like her blouse or hair or smile. Take care of yourself by taking care of others.
And if relationships of any kind are hard for you, book your 30 minute Discovery Call. I’m not just a life transformation coach for women, I can help you in all kinds of relationships or with dating. I’d love to chat with you, as you now know, taking to a stranger can make you feel wonderful.
Every day on Facebook in Women Living Without Limits and other Facebook groups that I’m a part of I find women that are struggling with loneliness and with making friends in adulthood.
There’s no doubt that as we age, community can be harder to find. And that’s why I have 1:1 coaching programs that challenge my clients to find community and to discover ways to end their loneliness.
However, before we embark on finding community, first let’s define it. What is community?
There are three definitions of community in the American Heritage Online Dictionary:
1. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
Examples include Americans, Hondurans, Japanese, etc.
2. The district or locality in which such a group lives
Examples include Arizonans, neighbors, specific tribal affiliations
3. A group of people having common interests
Fans of a Sports Team
Star Wars fans
People who love books
Moms of teenagers
We will be using community in the third sense. A group of people having common interests.
Why do we need community?
Ever since COVID (or in some cases our early 20’s) community has seemed more elusive.
We have fears. Fears of getting sick. Fears of getting in arguments with people of different political beliefs. Fear of rejection. Fear of wasting our time or energy. And so instead of engaging those fears, we disassociate, and remain in our small worlds.
Also building community is a muscle, talking to strangers takes some practice. Putting yourself out there takes courage, motivation, and skills.
But we know from extensive study on the topic, that community/friendships are vitally important to our mental health and wellness. As part of the human race, each of us needs a space to belong. We need to feel connections. We are already members of communities whether we know it or not: your family, your neighborhood, your work colleagues all make up various communities in your life.
It’s important to note that communities constantly change. We move in and out of a particular community depending on varying circumstances from changing jobs, moving, death, differences of opinion, changing stages of life, changing needs, and growing interests in other areas, etc.
Community is THE PLACE to find comfort during difficult times.
When things aren’t going well in one community, we always have the option to try a different community. Connection with others helps us to stay balanced and find neutral or positive mental health outcomes.
I can tell you that at varying times I’ve felt very lonely.
I remember before COVID and when I initially started working for myself, a number of my closest friends moved away from Phoenix. I didn’t have a work community anymore, and my friends were moving across the country (literally). I had just become a mom, and I lacked the connections I once had.
And to know me, you know that my teens, 20’s, and early 30’s were times of so much community.
* I loved going to happy hour with my gal friends,
* I stayed in touch with my friends from college,
* I went to church,
* I was in the Peace Corps, to name some examples.
All of those communities shaped me, but during that season where I watched my communities dissipate, I struggled. My mental health deteriorated. And I hit an unexpected season of loneliness.
Luckily, I had the tools and knew the strategies for finding new communities. I literally built them around me, and now I have multiple communities where I feel supported, loved, and involved.
And that’s what I hope to teach you today. Here are five strategies for building community.
1. Talk to strangers. One of my closest friends from college who I am still friends with today, I met by picking up her pen cap and giving it back to her. It really is that easy. I’ve met people at parties, in lines to movies, at the bar, and all because I had the courage to say hello, make a connection, and introduce myself. You never know who you will connect with.
2. Search for people that have commonalities with you. When I didn’t know where else to go for friends, I went to places where people shared the same ideas. So church, the gym, meetup groups, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, book clubs, etc. have all been places where I’ve found friends and other communities to be a part of.
3. Join Facebook groups. I may be a little biased as I facilitate Women Living Without Limits, but from my own experience I have met all kinds of amazing people in Facebook groups. Also, I’ve specifically held events to build community like the Virtual Happy Hour, Vision Boarding Made Easy, and now the Virtual Book Club. Outside of this group, there are groups for people from your states like Arizona Girl Gang, Age Groups, and even people who love Peloton or Costco.
4. Do good. Become part of a board or community service group. Walk dogs at the shelter, serve food to the homeless, or organize clothes closets for foster children. Whatever makes you happy. One of my best friends I met because I volunteered to serve on a board in my church. It was actually not the world’s greatest experience EXCEPT that I got to meet a life long friend and so that made it the world’s greatest experience.
5. Get to Know the Friends of Your Friends. I have made several friends thanks to attending parties of friends or through “being set up” by friends. Again, some of my closest friends to this day I met hanging out with other friends. I guess that old saying, “Birds of a feather…” is quite accurate.
I’d love to hear if you have other suggestions for finding community in the comments.
And I encourage you to take the first steps. You’re lucky if you’ve had a community find you. It’s usually the other way around. You’re probably going to have to make some effort.
Also, if you really don’t know how to start or where to find them, coaching is a great way to start taking steps.
We all know the importance of finding your community, and a coach can be there to help you brainstorm, set a goal, take action steps, and hold you accountable to taking steps to meet your community. I have coached on this very topic several times.
So, schedule a Discovery Call today to see if working together is right for you to help you find the communities you deserve.
My husband and I have driven one car for over a year now. With us both working from home and not going out a whole ton, we haven’t found a need to buy a new one.
However, recently we needed to take it into the shop for a break check up.
We borrowed a car from my mom and drove them both to our favorite mechanic shop which is a good 30 minutes away, plus traffic, where we used to live.
The drop off went fine, but the pick up was something else. We tried to leave with enough time to pick up our daughter, get the car, and get our daughter to her swimming lessons. Yet, I had a scheduled phone call for work, I had to switch over to my cell and I was feeling super unprofessional.
So once we arrived at the shop, I tried to get my daughter dressed in her swimming suit. She hates public restrooms (did I mention we’re potty training) and she was not having any of it. By the time we had received the update from the mechanic (everything was fine), my husband came to get us in the bathroom and we got her loaded up in the car.
Let me tell you, my stress level was starting to climb. I don’t normally feel like my life is out of my control, but the time crunch plus the daughter’s unwillingness had made my blood pressure start to rise and my annoyance factor climb.
My husband managed to get out of the parking lot and on the way. I on the other hand got stuck with some old guy slowly trying to get in his car which was parked in such a way that I can’t back out and exit the parking lot.
And now I’m super annoyed. I’m trying to make it to the scheduled swim lesson, and I can’t move!
Finally, I figure out I can go back into the mechanic’s area and do a loop to get out. By the time I get to the exit, the car is gone, and I’m even more upset. I just want to get to my daughter’s swim lesson on time.
As I’m driving down the streets of my former stomping grounds, fuming about the circumstances of the afternoon, my husband calls (hands free, no worries) and I tell him about getting trapped by the slow, old guy. He says to me, “Oh, the one with the cane? I rescheduled our daughter’s swim lesson for another 40 minutes, we have plenty of time.)
And now I feel bad. I feel bad that I wanted to rush someone who needed the time. I feel bad that I didn’t think to problem-solve the timing of the swim lesson, but very grateful that I had a husband who did. I feel bad that my life got out of control, and I spiraled out with it.
See, we all do it. We all have those days when everything spins out of control, and we get so upset. For some of us, that can be day after endless day, week after endless week, month after month, etc. But it doesn’t have to be. For the next few weeks I want to talk about the different areas where our life can feel out of control (at home, at work, in our love lives) and give some tips for regaining a sense of calm.
If you could use some calm in the midst of one of life’s storms, contact me. Let’s connect.
*Warning Trigger Alert: Child Abuse*
We’re starting to explore a few areas where lives quickly get out of control. Last week we tackled “in the home”. Today I’d like to talk about relationships. So I started to think about what causes relationships to get out of control, and I broke it down into these categories (recognize them? I talk about them a lot):
Relationships get out of control when we lose our sense of self values by hanging out with someone who continually pushes those values away by belittling them, making fun of us, showing us that our values aren’t as good as theirs, etc. I can’t read the news without reading about the latest child predator (R Kelly, Jeffrey Epstein, etc.) It makes me think about “grooming” the concept of people helping to break down people’s values, priorities, and boundaries so that they can corrupt the other person and get them to do what they want (for nefarious reasons). This is not something that happens over night, but over time, and when it happens to us we begin to feel crazier and crazier.
Relationships get out of control when we throw out our priorities. Maybe more affectionately referred to as codependency. I love my spouse and daughter very much, and they are my number 1 priority, but if I don’t also focus on the other things I have determined to be priorities like self-care, serving others, and building my community, I become a burned out victim in my own life.
Relationships get out of control when we don’t uphold our boundaries. After we firmly establish what our boundaries are, it’s important that we maintain them in all aspects of our lives. I’ve had friendships and romantic relationships where I’ve let people step all over my boundaries as a means to “people please” and make the other person happy. It’s never gone well. I start to resent those people, and I start to resent myself for allowing it to happen.
Relationships get out of control when the relationship replaces all of the things we are passionate about doing. We have been given passions so that we can live our life’s callings. Yet, if you have a demanding relationship that requires you to do what s/he/they want, and you do less and less of what you were made to do, you begin to lose yourself. Over time you’ll completely forget who you are until you end up becoming too much like the other person.
I wasn’t entirely sure how to encourage you if you have a relationship that is out of control. I know so many people struggling with toxic relationships. As their friends, it can be easy to tell people to just write off those relationships, but it’s never that simple. There are ties that bind us to the people in our lives whether the relationships are healthy or otherwise. So I put out an intention yesterday to hear what I needed to share with you, and here are three quotes I heard or read throughout the day. I hope they inspire:
“When you say NO to the things that don’t serve you, you allow time and space for the things you actually want to say YES to.”
“I would rather adjust my life to your absence, than adjust my boundaries to accommodate your disrespect.”
“I hold the ability to forgive when appropriate. ”
I’d love to talk more about this with you if this is an area in which you struggle, let’s jump on a Discovery Call and see if working together is a good fit.
You want to know the secret of finding calm in the midst of a crazy work day in the snap of your fingers? Okay, well maybe not a snap as much as a tap. Check this out.
In October of 2013 I was hired on for what I felt was my dream role. It was an increase in income and a bigger role than I had held previously. I loved working for the organization. I enjoyed my co-workers, and I felt like we were living a great mission.
Three months into my position the wheels fell off the wagon and major changes were in order. I love change, it didn’t phase me. I continued working with amazing colleagues, and we were still doing a lot to make a difference in the work we were doing. Together, we were making huge changes that were having a positive impact for children in Arizona.
Five months later, the floor fell out from under me. The boss I had loved getting to know and work with, tore into me for something so small and stupid (this would become the norm) and our relationship struggled for the rest of her time with the organization (I had eight bosses in the span of five years). My team and I couldn’t seem to do anything right or fast enough to please her. I also have a strong sense of integrity and when I pushed back, she didn’t like it. Ultimately, I learned that she was trying to fire me, and I was devastated.
I took some much needed and deserved time off and was going to quit upon my return, but while that was occurring, she was going through some troubles with her boss and was in essence given a “get out of here” message. By the time I came back, she was on her way out. I was in counseling during those couple of years doing what I could to survive each work day. I couldn’t comprehend a boss that wanted me to work nights and weekends, break policies and procedures (not to mention rules and laws) and said I was the one without any integrity. Sadly, I still wanted to like her and be liked by her.
Things got better for a time, but I was burnt out. My next boss was great but eventually he was shown the door. And then it came back to the mad scramble of trying to figure out what the new boss wanted who also never thought we did it well enough or fast enough. My team was trying very hard and trying to help, but it was never appreciated nor supported. Finally, I had enough. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know what I valued or if I had any integrity. I didn’t like who I had become.
I have many more stories about that workplace that could fill an entire book about backstabbing, sabotage, blaming, affairs, and depression. Later, I learned that I was experiencing workplace trauma. Something I still struggle with, although it has improved greatly in the past couple of years.
Sometimes work gets out of control and because we spend so much time there it can affect everything else from finances, quality time with the family, self-care and our mental health not to mention our relationships inside and outside of work.
That’s why I invited Sara Whiteside to come talk to us about techniques for handling work when it gets out of control. Sara is a certified EFT Tapping practitioner and coach. EFT stands for Emotional freedom technique (EFT) and it is an alternative treatment for physical pain and emotional distress. It’s also referred to as tapping or psychological acupressure.
I’ve had a session with Sara and I can tell you not only is this practice scientifically based (used by counselors, psychologists and social workers) but it really does work.
Catch the replay of this video to learn more about this wonderful practice. Sara’s video can be found by heading on over to the Women Living Without Limits Facebook Group.