Being aware of the present moment is one of the through-lines of everything I do. I believe that presence, although uncomfortable at times, can offer the gift of perspective. Gaining perspective about a situation often helps me respond, rather than react to it. As a firey-Scottish-redhead, this awareness has more often than not been an important tool for my emotional survival.
Over the past few years, I’ve adopted a habit of using awareness of the present moment to set future alerts/alarms for myself in my calendar. It’s my way of looking out for future Jenna to help inform healthy decisions for her (me) in the future. Typically, it goes like this:
I recognize an element of stress that comes up during an event. These stressful situations usually carry some level of what my friend Carrie Pages calls, The “Uh Oh Feeling.” The “Uh Oh Feeling” is not a good thing. It is one of the number one indicators that I am in a scenario that is not in alignment with my ability to be at my best. The “Uh Oh Feeling” challenges my beliefs, my confidence and sometimes my emotional well-being. There is often no learning to be gained from these situations except to not repeat them in the future.
Usually, these instances include some sort of annual gathering, like a holiday party or a conference. Sometimes they are simply a regularly occurring busy time of each year. Regardless of the instance, if a situation leaves me feeling drained, sad, frustrated or out of alignment with how I want to live my life, it’s a signal for me to take a moment to offer some direction to my future self. I see this as the ULTIMATE act of self-care.
For example, last year, after attending an annual event that left me feeling like my soul was empty, I simply wrote an alert for myself for a week before the following year’s event. It said:
You do not have to attend “X.” In fact, you are allowed to decline. When you take care of yourself by choosing not to take part in situations that leave you feeling less-than, you are supporting yourself in the most important of ways. You do not owe it to anyone to compromise yourself. You actually serve yourself, your family and your clients more when you make empowered choices to attend events that lift you up, rather than drag you down.
“No, thank you” is a good enough answer. You will yield more benefit through a recharge than an output of energy. I love you.
Jenna from 2017
Seeing this affirmation of choice pop up on my phone provided the greatest source of empowerment. It was a pure reference of me, in 2017, recognizing my future needs and preparing me to care for myself appropriately. What a win!
By the way, I did skip that event and it was the kindest thing I could’ve done for myself. The alarm helped me to be completely prepared for the invite and completely prepared to decline. I missed nothing except for a situation that was not in alignment with my life and it felt GREAT!
During the holidays, it can be tempting to begin to consider and set goals for the year to come. What if this year you chose to eliminate some of the upcoming situations that you know will throw you off track? Caring for your future self is not about avoiding the discomfort of a challenging situation – it’s more about recognizing the situations that do not serve your best interests and eliminating the distractions. I can promise you that a little self-affirmation goes a LONG way in helping you reach your goals. In addition, the phrase, “No thank you” is a complete sentence that will continue to help you create space for the situations that will help you grow in a positive direction.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about caring for your future self. Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll look forward to reading your responses!