I can feel the joy squeezed out of me by the pressure of my judgments when they are present.
The truth is I still haven’t broken free from my self-judgments related to performance and as a result experience stress related to how I choose to work. My stress levels are nowhere near what they used to be, but they are higher than I would like and the area that now gives me the feedback is the quality of my sleep.
I wear a fitness ring that tracks exercise and sleep quality. I don’t get too caught up in the self-monitoring, but I noticed the readiness score the tracker gives me feels congruent with my own assessment. One of the biggest eye-openers for me is my HRV balance score. Click here if you want to read more about what HRV balance is, but the quick definition is HRV stands for heart rate variability. This is the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. HRV should increase during relaxing activities and decrease during the experience of stress.
My ring compares my two-week HRV average to my three-month average. And I am definitely not getting an “A” right now as the three-month average includes the time I was on vacation.
Over the past year, I have been struggling with sleep. As a woman of a certain age I ascribed this to changing hormones and got on with life, but while on vacation this summer my sleep significantly improved and my HRV balance had a dramatic upward shift. So that blew my changing hormones theory out of the water.
Since resuming work my HRV balance has gone down and so has my sleep quality. I wouldn’t have said I was stressed. However, my body tells me another story. The ring doesn’t lie.
The good news is I know this is not about what I am doing. I love what I do and feel deeply inspired by my work. The learning curve isn’t about doing less. It is about having less on my mind.
My ego is overly invested in evaluating how I am doing and is busily measuring myself against my standards and expectations. I am falling short.
My thoughts of judgments that I am identifying with tell me I am not good enough. I don’t measure up because I don’t have a handle on the backend of Angus’s and my business and the administrative tasks. I’m not a particularly good manager although I am doing my best to learn and improve, and I haven’t found peace with the limitations of what I can get done.
It looks like I have an email issue, an amount of work issue, a training issue, or a lack of staff issue, but really there is no issue. The discomfort I am feeling is actually a sign of my progress.
I am up against the discomfort of not living in alignment with my conditioning. It is because I am making progress in this area that I am suffering. Pleasing and accommodating have been my comfort zone.
Now I’m not doing that. I am no longer trying to live up to my ideals of what the good girl does. I don’t have enough time to answer all my emails. I can’t stay on top of everything. I have to say no to people. I disappoint people. I upset people. I offend people. This isn’t my intention but it happens.
In the past, I would have worked myself into a pulp trying to appease others and meet the expectations of my conditioning. Now I choose to work less and benefit from that, but I live with the discomfort of being woken up in the wee hours of the morning by the whispers of my judgment telling me I am no good and will never measure up. Sharp pricks of fear stab at my nervous system because surely something bad is going to happen if I choose to honor myself. This gets in the way of blissful rest.
This is where I am on my learning curve. The uncomfortable space of being in the process of breaking a habit, but still gripped by the conditioning of the habit. Change is happening, but it isn’t comfortable.
The smoker that quits smoking but still has cravings can probably relate. Plugin any other positive change in behavior and there is discomfort while the old conditioning is still identified with.
This is the way of all habits.
I share this because people usually think positive changes in behavior should feel good, and if it doesn’t, they think they are doing something wrong. I want to normalize that progress can feel uncomfortable. It does not mean you are going in the wrong direction.
It is okay for change to be hard. We are all in the same boat and I hope my reflections will help you to normalize your experience and take the pressure off yourself.
My hope is that this not only helps you to let go of your rule book, but it also helps you to be kind to yourself in the discomfort of that.
My intention is to get better at living in the messiness of life and be at peace with my compulsions to try and tidy it all up. My controlling nature is freaking out because I am living a life bigger than I can manage. The good news is that I don’t need to manage my life. Life is living through me and I choose to honor myself and enjoy it rather than trying to meet my old standards and expectations.
My lesson is not about doing less. It is about serving from a full heart and seeing my judgments for what they are. Misunderstandings that don’t need to be respected.
Self-worth is not measured by my inbox.
Peace is not found in meeting my expectations.
Love is not dependent on approval, not even my own.
When I remember this I sleep well. When I forget, I don’t.
I’m okay being on this learning curve. I’m okay being uncomfortable. I’m okay with my HRV balance being low when I return to work and with it soaring when I am on vacation.
My solution so far until I have a leap in consciousness is to take more time off! Take that standards and expectations. What do you say to that self-judgment? As Angus would say, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate a private couples’ intensives retreat program that rewilds relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.