As I’m looking over January’s theme “Relaxing with my work”, I’m beginning to really see how hard I am on myself. I expect myself to master concepts that only great writers, CEO’s, and Zen masters fully understand.
Just because I tell myself to breathe all nice and deep and relaxed over the next week when I’m feeling stressed out doesn’t mean it will happen right away.
Maybe that should be a theme of the month. Stop being a big bully to myself.
I wanted to publish this review of my theme two weeks ago, but I felt like I was still processing my information. Now that I’m ready, let’s begin the review…
Week 1 - Breathing
The first week I wanted to focus just on my breathing. I found that I didn’t give myself goals that were well defined. Because of this I didn’t really get focused on my breathing until halfway into the week.
This is a weakness of mine that needs a little tending to.
When I did remember to take relaxed breaths I felt a lot better. My mood was serene and my mind was much more creative. For example, when I became tense, my breathing was shallow. When I relaxed I opened up my lungs and let buckets of air in. I became much happier.
It’s amazing how the breath is so closely tied to our happiness.
When I take the time to relax with my breath, it’s not hard to be happy. When I let my emotions carry me away, I lose track of my breath and happiness, constrict my breathing and creating a cycle of worry.
Week 2 – Muscles
The second week I wanted to focus on relaxing my muscles. Because last week’s goal of relaxing with my breath wasn’t very organized, I took a more disciplined approach.
I wrote down just one way that I could be more aware of my tense muscles.
So whenever I switched tasks, I focused on my muscles. I noticed if I was tensing them or just not paying attention to them.
By only focusing on one area of relaxing with my muscles, it was much easier to notice when I was straining and when I was relaxed.
Week 3 – Be Playful
The week 3 theme didn’t go as well as planned. It was too broad.
I tried to laugh quietly to myself when I noticed my breathing becoming shallow or my muscles tightening, but I had trouble connecting with this concept.
Maybe I should have been more imaginative. I’m not sure.
What do you think?
Week 4 – Watch the Changes
This was my favorite week. I noticed myself transitioning from one task to the next with a slight smile on my face.
The transition between working on reports then going to a meeting used to irritate me. My thoughts would stray to everything I didn’t like about this change. After relaxing with my work, my transitions were much smoother.
I had to attend an important meeting and instead of worrying about how boring it would be, I focused on enjoying the interactions. My muscles and thoughts were relaxed. I actually sat back in my chair and smiled. I couldn’t believe that I was privy to this cool little show.
I didn’t think that week 3 was a very good theme, but now looking back on it I wouldn’t have leaned back and smiled in that meeting during week 4. I was feeling playful. I was actually cracking jokes to boost the mood level in the room.
I enjoyed the concept of creating a theme of the month, but I felt a little too encumbered by the weekly process. I think I will move back to working on one concept each month without breaking it down into weeks. If I don’t see the progress that I expect from making habit changes then I’ll try another method.
What career or personal development theme would you create for yourself?
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* Psychology today has an awesome piece about our inner voice and how to deal with the extremes within each of us. It's called, The Wolf of Hate.
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