Pace Yourselves for Peace

AuntJodi

Are You Missing Today?

We live in an environment of pushing forward, making gains, striving for perfection, hectic schedules, and getting ahead. Just where are we trying to go? And, will it be worth the sacrifices we are making today trying to get there?  These are questions worth answering.

Goals are wonderful and important. Looking forward to a vacation adds the freshness of anticipation to our lives. But, do we really live the day we are in or are we just going through the motions determined to arrive at some destination in time that we have deemed is worthy of enjoying?

What are you waiting for, striving for, or pushing towards so that you can enjoy your life? A number on the scale so you can finally feel good about yourself? A trip that is going to be the best time of your life? A relationship that will save you from loneliness? A job that will prove that you are acceptable? Unrealistic expectations can rob you of the enjoyment of life around you today.

Today is a chance to enjoy the small things that only today will bring. Moments that will never come again. Opportunities to learn and share and grow that we miss if we are only focused on where we are going instead of where we are. All the rushing creates tension, stress, and loss of focus which over time dulls our senses to the wonderful things about today.

Pacing

Having a mindset that promotes wellness includes learning how to pace ourselves. Words like balance, mindfulness, and time management all describe part of what I’m talking about. These are ways of living that take time and practice to embrace and live consistently. The beginning of this process is learning to pace. When we pace, we take life in smaller portions so that we aren’t overwhelmed. The best place to begin is to focus on just taking one day at a time. Something that sounds so simple is deceptively difficult.

Sometimes I think about this when I’m feeding a premature baby in the nursery at work that is struggling to learn how to eat. We have to pace them, slow the flow and give them time to breathe so that they don’t choke because they don’t do it for themselves. Over time they learn how to suck, swallow, and breath and to be able to take the whole feeding without wearing themselves out…but it is a process. This analogy seems to correlate pretty well with what we need to do for ourselves so that we don’t “choke”. Life can come at us pretty fast sometimes, like trying to drink water out of a fire hose. So let’s talk about pacing in an environment that seems out of our control; what can we do?

There are things in your life you can control and things that you cannot. Begin by understanding which ones are which and accepting that. Pacing involves laying aside emotions that are not helpful, but rather tiresome and distracting, to lighten our load. No need to carry around extra baggage, dump it and you have one less thing to juggle.

When we face times that include immovable circumstances, we can help ourselves by pacing in other areas of our lives so that we have the energy and strength to handle what we cannot change. For instance, if you are tapped out after your twelve-hour shift, don’t promise your kids that you’ll make them homemade pasta when you get home! Pace yourself by setting realistic expectations for yourself. A lot of good times can happen over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grapes that won’t happen if you are stressed trying to pull off unrealistic feats.

Pacing requires you to understand what you value and what your priorities are. You can’t know what to eliminate if you don’t know what is essential. To go back to the baby analogy, the priorities for the infant are to reduce calorie expenditure so that energy is reserved for feeding. This helps them to gain weight and go home with their families. Because of our experience, we understand that passing the baby around between family members, giving it a bath, and then changing its clothes three times for pictures right before feeding time does not fit with the needs of the infant. However, how many times do we sabotage ourselves and prolong difficult circumstances in our lives because we do not do what is needed to meet our own needs? Pacing means understanding your needs and protecting them, valuing your own sanity and health enough to set boundaries in other areas of your life. Constantly putting everyone else in front of your own needs is not heroic, it is destructive. Give others the gift only you can give by being your best self, you are the only one that can do that.

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