Divorcée Life: Easy trick to allow yourself a little “me time”

Welcome to a series of world-class master coach videos I’m sharing on topics that are key to emotional healing after divorce. Cheryl Richardson is the founding president of the International Coach Federation, she co-created the Body and Soul conference series sponsored by New Age magazine, and speaks professionally before numerous universities and Fortune 500 companies.

In her 1988 book, A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote that "caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Whether or not you believe that we, as women, tend not to have the freedom of choice that men have, one thing most of us have experienced is the pressure to sacrifice nearly every moment of our lives in the service of someone else.

Are you finding it difficult (both before and after divorce) to stop the hamster wheel and give yourself permission to live a little?

Here’s the easy trick that I found in the video below.  (Or, think of it as coming into self-care from the back door.)  

Your kids, friends, and family need you to be good to yourself.

Scroll down past the video for top divorcée takeaways on the key sentence above, and the importance of “me time,” in case you'd like an idea of what's covered before watching.

Divorcée takeaways on making time for ourselves:

  • Sometimes, the pressure comes from ourselves to do more and more for our families, and not necessarily our families forcing us to work ourselves to death.

  • We know we need to take time for exercise and to support our well-being, so why is it so hard to give ourselves permission and let some other tasks slide?

  • There's an inner voice that tells us we're selfish or self-indulgent.

  • In order to shift this, ask yourself the question: "Wouldn’t you love to have had a mother who took such good care of herself that she felt great all the time?"

  • How many of you grew up with mothers who were worn out all the time? Worn out, tired, and didn’t have time for you because she couldn’t or wouldn’t give herself any downtime?

  • Or, her exhaustion may have manifested in her being angry and resentful, with only enough energy to try to survive every day.

  • When we set boundaries on the service we provide to others, we can intentionally choose to give more in some situations, but it comes from a better place -- from love (and having a surplus of energy to give) instead of from obligation.

  • If your own mother put herself last, it can take years for you to overcome the patterns that her example set for you.

  • When a mother puts herself last, she is often filled with rage that she can’t express, but it leaks out in little ways that the child’s psyche picks up on.  (Rosetta's Hint: Even if you're not a mom, your exhaustion and feelings of "giving up" can end up as a dark haze that effects your friends', family's, and colleagues' perceptions and feelings about you. When you realize this, and if you want more love and acceptance from those around you, spending time in pursuits and passions you enjoy can be the starting point for change in how others see you and relate to you.)

  • When you start to resent the things you feel you have to do for others, you end up doing everything resentfully. Even the things that you would have done willingly, lovingly, freely come out with anger and resentment because you haven’t filled your cup first.

  • (Rosetta’s Hint: If it’s difficult for you ever to treat yourself with love and care, start with just two minutes a day. That’s long enough to take a few deep breaths. It’s long enough to spend two extra minutes in the shower. It’s enough time to notice something pretty outside your window.  In other words, it’s enough time to pause on the pressure cooker -- and maybe you’ll take a third minute off, or even five minutes. The first step is to stop the hamster wheel -- even if it’s just two minutes -- so you can feel a pause of peace.)

  • (One more hint from Rosetta: Please don’t be afraid that, if you pause your pressure cooker that you’ll just collapse on the couch and pass out from fatigue. You want to pause in ways that will refresh you, not be the last straw that makes you collapse. Taking a break is a reminder that you are a human being, not a machine.)

  • If you try my hint above, and you want the next step, you can click Contact in the navigation bar above, type the message "self-care step 2," and I’ll email you back with the next tiny step.

Would you like more help around how to allow yourself the downtime you need?

If you feel you’re sinking or stuck in dealing with your emotions (as you navigate separation and divorce, or as you try to heal emotionally after divorce) why not schedule a 30-minute virtual coffee date with me? You'll get immediate help and techniques to feel better from the moment you get on the call. (And if, after our call, you don't feel our time together was helpful, your $25 payment will be auto-refunded. There is nothing to lose, and you will feel better fast.)

Click this link to learn more

Making it safe to feel again

Today's post is about the work of Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work -- and the presenter of one of the top 10 most watched Ted talks of all time.

In fact, I'm going to link to all three of her Ted talks (plus a subsequent appearance, post stardom, on Oprah's OWN Network), and hope that you decide to watch them all.

Brown's subject is shame and vulnerability.  Not particularly sexy topics.  Not something you'd think would go viral.  Yet it has.

Shame?  Not my problem.

So, if you're thinking, "Shame?  Not my problem," read on because if feel that your life has recently blown up in your face, chances are that part of the backstory is shame. 

Exactly what is shame, anyway?  According to Brown, it's feelings of "I'm not _____________ enough" (good enough, perfect enough, extraordinary enough), and if these feelings don't change, then your life experiences are likely to prove you right.  (That's my assessment, not Brown's, but stay with me for a moment.)

Brown posits that the one thing that completely unravels connection to others (family, friends, and romantic partners) is shame.  And she draws a distinction between shame and guilt.

Guilt says, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake."

Shame says, "I'm sorry, I am a mistake."

The sense of being inherently flawed in some way "makes it nearly impossible to allow oneself to be vulnerable, and without vulnerability, there is no way to experience deep connection," says Brown.

It's an inside job.

Not only this but, 99% of the time, it's not the outside world that tells us we're inherently flawed.  Insidiously, it's an inside job.  We're the ones who give ourselves shaming internal messages.

But our culture does play a role as well, when it casts vulnerability as weakness.  According to Brown, fear of being out of control of our lives means that:

  • Joy becomes foreboding.  (We want to beat tragedy to the punch.)
  • We don't get excited because we're afraid the thing we're looking forward to won't happen.   It is easier to live a life where the default emotion is disappointment rather than to hope and be disappointed.
  • We use perfection as a shield.  (If I have an absolutely perfect, uncrackable exterior, no one can get me.)
  • We stay so perpetually busy that the sad truth of our lives and its emptiness can't catch up with us. 

Brown found, through 12 years of research on this subject, that there was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging from those who don't.  Those who feel they belong believe they're worthy of love and belonging.  Brown's research also shows that shame is directly correlated with depression, addiction, and anger issues.

Vampire in daylight

Brown offers a bunch of suggestions on how to move from shame to worthiness.  Here are a few that I felt were worth repeating:

  • Have the courage to be imperfect.  Be willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are.  (My addition to this thought:  It takes so much time and effort to create and maintain the facade of perfection that there's not much time for anything else -- like relaxation, pleasure, or joy.)
  • Be kind to yourself first, and then be kind to others.  (I say:  Convince yourself of your inherent worth by treating yourself as if you're worthy and valuable.  It's a process.  The more you do it, the more you'll believe it.)
  • Embrace vulnerability.  Come to believe that your imperfections and vulnerability are what make you beautiful.  Brown gives a few examples of vulnerability:  the willingness to say I love you first, the willingness to do something that offers no guarantee, the willingness to breathe through uncomfortable situations. 
  • My take:  Especially after divorce, we try to protect ourselves and shield ourselves from further trauma, but part of recovery is accepting that, no matter what we do, we are vulnerable.  So let's unlink vulnerability = tragedy.  You've just survived one of life's worst events.  You survived it!  You're still here!  And, if you've learned and become wiser from the experience, you can protect yourself through wiser choices.  So you don't have to protect yourself by shutting down.
  • Brown says that shame grows through secrecy, silence, and judgment.  The objective is not to be perfect and bullet-proof.  I say:  Practice sharing with a friend the emotions or experiences that you feel are too shameful to express.  Let the shameful feelings see the light of day.  Just like a vampire in daylight, you can see these painful emotions lose their hold on you.

Watch Brown's talks to hear lots more about this -- including the confessions of her own panic attacks and emotional breakdowns.  And how her own from-the-stage confessions didn't destroy her career as she had feared, but blasted her into bestselling-author, Oprah-guesting stardom.

Here's her TedX talk (Kansas City) on "The price of vulnerability":

Here's her subsequent TedX talk (Houston) on "The power of vulnerability":

And, here's her Ted talk (Long Beach) two years later, in which she gets vulnerable herself about how she feared her Houston Ted talk would destroy her academic career:

And, finally, the no-longer-playing-small, newly glamorous Dr. Brown appears on Oprah in 2013: