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[ARTICLE] How Can I Get It All Done?
Filed Under: Wellness | Published: Nov 11, 2009 | Author: Adele Cox, MA, CMT
 Most of us know that we should consistently make time for Self-Care, but often we do not seem to find the time. Our fast-paced culture teaches us that "slowing down to smell the roses" is a luxury we cannot afford - there is always more to do than time to do it all.

But imagine this shift in perspective: Rather than seeing "too much to do" as the problem, what if you saw it simply as how things are? This frees you from the traps of fighting to get it all done, of worrying about what didn't get done, and of feeling guilty about what you "should" be doing.

I once read that the definition of suffering is "arguing with reality". If we decide that, yes, there is indeed too much to do in our lives, we regain the power to choose what's important right now, and therefore what will get our time and full attention right now. What's more, we can make that choice of what we will attend to in ourselves at any moment during the day. So, simply choosing to bring our conscious awareness to our inner experience empowers us to "take care of ourselves".

Let's take a practical example. Have you ever had something happen that you felt "ruined your whole day"? Perhaps someone cut you off on the freeway, or you had an argument with a family member, or your hapless employee was late again - there are countless examples.

Most likely you felt angry, frustrated, disappointed, out of balance - all of the reasonable and understandable emotional responses to the event. But if you felt the situation "ruined your whole day" or even a few hours in your day, think of how much time and energy you spent in that state of discord, unable to fully focus on anything or anyone else. Imagine if, instead, you had allowed yourself some time to really experience your reaction to the event at the time it happened, found completion, and then chose to shift your attention away from it. The scenario might look like this:

"Oh! That crazy driver just cut me off!" At that moment ask yourself, "What emotions am I feeling right now?" Perhaps at first glance you might think, "I'm very angry at that jerk!" But seething with this anger keeps the focus of your emotions on the event and the other person, and away from your Self.  Take a moment to ask again, this time looking further inward: "What am I really feeling now?" Perhaps the adrenaline rush is related to intense fear ("I could've been hurt or killed!"). Perhaps the anger is rooted in dis-empowerment or lack of control ("How did she not see me - it's as if I'm invisible!").

Whatever the answers, you have the opportunity in that moment to gain new information and insight about yourself, and to move in a more positive and healthy direction toward a sense of closure. With closure and completion comes the ability to truly "let it go", and perhaps next time you're cut off, you'll find it doesn't have to affect you as strongly or for as long as in the past. By choosing to pay attention to your true feelings in that moment, you empower yourself to make the situation work for you, rather than having it "ruin your whole day". On the more tangible side, you also gain back the time you would have spent recounting the story, re-experiencing the negative and ineffective emotions, and surrendering your power and energy to the event (and that other driver!). Imagine how different your days might be if you chose being with your Self in the present over re-living the past.

As you can see from this example, "taking care of yourself" and "taking time for yourself" need not be large time-consuming TODO tasks. They can be as simple as choosing to focus a moment on you. I employ this concept in one of my favorite "exercises" in the car: when I'm stopped at a red light, I let go of the steering wheel. This very simple action allows my hands, arms, shoulders, and back to rest, and most often a deep refreshing breath naturally follows. In those moments, I can bring my attention to myself, quickly checking in to notice "how I'm doing" before I'm off again. No time is lost or wasted, and yet in those moments, I give myself the privilege of being fully present to "smell my own roses".

So, maybe we can't "get it all done", but we can always choose to bring attention and awareness to our Selves in whatever we are doing. I invite you to try while you're out for a jog, or brushing your teeth, or even at the next red light:pick a "rose" - something that has meaning to you - and for few moments bring your full attention to it. As you do, notice what you notice about yourself - notice your thoughts, your feelings, your body. Then find completion, and let it go and move on. No time is added or wasted, yet by simply bringing your awareness to your Self, you've accomplished self-care. Congratulations, you got it all done.

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