The second week of the Women’s Wellness Challenge is all about connection. That is connection to our inner selves, others around us and the beautiful planet we call home. Feeling connected is such an important aspect of our overall wellbeing. Without connection we can feel lonely, isolated and unsupported. On the other hand, feeling connected boosts our energy and vitality, gives our lives meaning and allows us to experience shared emotions such as joy and love.
These days, it is more important than ever to focus on nurturing our connections. We are living in an era of loneliness where the combination of social media, loss of community and more recently the pandemic have made it so easy to become disconnected and distracted. It takes effort to keep connections going when our daily interactions are so limited but it’s one of the most important things we can all do for our health and wellness right now.
Connecting with your self
We will get to connections with others and your community later in the week but for today we will focus on deepening your connection to your inner self. It is important to start with strengthening this foundational relationship with yourself as this enables you to go out into the world without losing a sense of who you really are. Without this relationship to your true self, you can end up living in a way that feels inauthentic. You say and do things that you think you should rather than listening to your own intuition.
Conversely, when you feel connected to yourself, you know who you are, your values, what you like and dislike. You aren’t swayed by others opinions or what is deemed acceptable by society but rather you are able to truly tune into your own inner knowing. You feel a sense of inner peace and confidence that who you are is ok and you are less likely to fall into the trap of self-comparison or judgement. This means that you are also more likely to accept others as they are, knowing that we are all unique but part of the same greater whole.
How we lose connection with ourselves
With all of the intensity and stimulation of society, we can easily lose sight of ourselves. The demands of a career, family or just the fast pace of daily life today is enough to leave us feeling lost and wondering who we are. We go through life on auto-pilot acting mindlessly out of habit and distracting ourselves with social media or any other addiction. Trust me, I have been there!
Some of the common ways we can lose the connection with ourselves includes:
- People pleasing i.e. over accommodating the demands of others
- Trying to fit into society norms
- Periods of intense stress or big life changes
- Over identifying with particular roles in life
- Too much technology or other distractions
This is a very normal process that we all pass through at different phases in life. But being able to recognise when we are falling in to the trap of disconnection and taking actions to re-connect will make these periods pass more quickly and with less impact. Feeling uncertain, unable to make decisions or overly anxious and afraid are all signs that it is time to to re-connect with your self.
How to re-connect with your self
- Time alone
One of the most important factors for re-connecting with yourself is spending time alone. We are constantly bombarded by information from others and the world around us. Whether it is in person or online, we barely go an hour without reading or hearing opinions from others. Although it is important to listen to others opinions, without time spent alone it is difficult to process this information and form our own opinions about things. Even though connection with others is important, we need time alone to connect with our spirit. Being in nature can also take this to the next level!
Journaling can be a very useful tool to support you in connecting to yourself. Through writing in a journal, you can start to unlock your deepest thoughts and feelings that you might suppress during every day life. A journaling practice can be as simple as asking yourself “How do I feel today?” or “What are my true thoughts/feelings about X?”. You can then free write until it feels complete. It is better to write with a pen and paper and write quickly, without reading or editing as you write. This way you allow your inner voice to take over and you write in an uncensored and unfiltered way.
- Personality tests
Personally, I find personality tests so useful in understanding who I am and how I behave. Of course they are made by others and are always a generalisation but some of them are very detailed and have been heavily researched by psychologists. My favourite is the 16 personalities test which you can take for free here. The results tell you which personality type you are most like inluding personal strengths and weaknesses, tendencies in work, family and love life. It can be very useful to see things from this perspective and you might learn something about yourself that you had never thought of. Always AHA moments galore with these tests!
Finally, meditation is the ultimate way to connect with your Self. Through meditation practice, you are able to witness your thoughts, sensations and emotions and realise that the true you is actually separate from all of this. Your deepest inner self is an observer, the one who experiences everything through the lens of your senses and the filter of your mind. When you connect with this deep part of yourself in meditation, you realise that no matter what happens in the outside world, no matter how painful something might be you will always be ok. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as sitting in silence, focusing on your breath and observing anything that arises in your experience.
Be your own cheerleader
Connecting with yourself in this way will help you to become your own cheerleader. By this I mean you will be there for yourself and stand up for yourself no matter what. Feeling this strong anchor point inside helps you to navigate difficult times and know that you can make it through. You are able to listen and attend to your own needs which then allows you to go out into the world and support others from a place of fullness. It is important four your wellbeing to know when it is time to give and when you need to receive.
Feeling connected to yourself and confident in who you are will also support you in making any change you want in your life. If you are aware of your strengths then you can use them to your advantage. On the other hand, if you know your weak points you can plan ahead and put strategies in place to support yourself through any difficulties. As I always say, this is not about judging yourself but about knowing and supporting yourself. This also means not taking yourself too seriously and being able to laugh at your quirks and “flaws” knowing that it is part of being human!
So that is all for today, tomorrow we will be moving onto the topic of connection with others and the importance of belonging for your wellbeing. If you have been feeling alone recently and feel like you are in need of more connection in your life them stay tuned because this one will be for you!
Today’s challenge: Identify your strengths and values
Your challenge today is simple! Make a list of 5-10 character strengths that you possess. Some examples include:
Optimistic Hard working Organised Ambitious Friendly Adventurous Creative
Loving Kind Persistent Focused Patient Resilient Practical Generous
Feel free to choose from this list or add your own. It’s better to do this by yourself if you can but if you feel stuck you can ask close friends or family for their ideas. Once you have your list, see if you can narrow it down to your top 3. How can these strengths support you in reaching your goals? How can you use them to your advantage?
Over to you…
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