Updated: Nov 21, 2021
A couple of days ago, I got back from five days away on a boat with my partner; enjoying the sun, eating and relaxing as we pleased. We walked and paddle boarded to explore the river and the wilderness, we read books and spent time in screen-free silence. We even slept-in... a very rare thing for me especially. It was extra blissful because it was our first trip away after months of lockdown and our first trip away together kid-free since becoming parents a couple of years ago.
I noticed however, that we were somewhat in recovery-mode... our bodies seemed to be working to fight off that cold our toddler son had when we left. Sure, we were sleeping and relaxing and enjoying, but it was to balance back out. In my work with retrainers (and entrepreneurs and 9-5ers, and just about anyone, really), I have noticed that we do this; some of us tend to have this all-or-nothing switch where we are in a certain "mode". Vacation mode, healing mode, work mode... I, for example, switched back into "work mode" when we got back and a few its resurfaced that had been non-existent in my "relax mode" while I was away. Our minds are SO powerful! It doesn't have to be all or nothing, there is an in-between, there's a spectrum and a blend. We can do-away with the on/off switch.
You don't have to switch off the "fun" switch or the "purpose" switch, or the "exploring" switch to have the "healing" switch on. This past trip, and the song Vacation by Dirty Heads inspired me to collapse the walls of these "modes" and to explore that other way again, to bring in fluidity and flow in life even further than I ever have to date. Today I'll share with you my raw thinking and ideas, that are flowing from years of coaching and personal growth, so that you can see what may be relevant to you. You can choose to implement all these things in your own way, implement some or implement none, it's all up to you, and that is the beauty of being alive and human - you have the gift of choice.
The first thing I will be exploring are the "modes" that we put ourselves in. They are invisible and only bound by our choices, so we can always change things up.
1. What "mode" am I currently living in most of the time? eg. healing mode
2. What are the benefits of this mode? eg. It allows full focus on me, my health and well-being. It helps me to listen attentively to my body and respond accordingly and lovingly...
3. How does this mode generally feel? I feel empowered, but also a bit like a control-freak, even though I want to relax and know it will help, I get worried. 4. What does this mode "switch off", disallow or make it hard to do or be? eg. it "disables" having too much fun, because I can become exhausted. It "switches off" following my passions, because I'm too consumed with healing and recovering to think about anything else, and my its stop me from thinking as clearly and creatively as I used to.
If you discover several dominant "modes", you can explore each one at a time, although they naturally overlap. As an example, you may find that "healing mode" overlaps with parenting, and a mode you decide to call "protective parent mode", which hinders your sense of calm and makes you less productive in "work mode" too - delve into all.
Now that you are more aware of how things have been, what you have been prioritizing and choosing, you can choose things you'd prefer (If you're not fully satisfied with the answers you came up with). Please note that you may be totally satisfied with how things are. You may also be justifying why you "can't" have the other things you'd prefer, telling yourself that you have to sacrifice them "for now". Again, this may be true, but I'll invite you to continue to dream big and be creative - give prompt 3 a go, you may find there is a way to "have it all", it may just look different to how you'd first imagined it. I invite you to RE-imagine it!
Journaling Prompt 3: What would it be like if it were as I preferred? (Write in the first-person, present tense) eg. I have balance in my life and it feels amazing. I have fun dancing regularly, even if it's in a chair or in bed and I heal at the same time, the dancing and all of the positive feelings and chemicals it brings helps my healing. By this stage, you may have discovered some limiting beliefs, overused old patterns etc that you can retrain with, either through your retraining protocol or through what is shared below.
Reprogramming the pattern
The third thing to do is to create what we - as brain retrainers - are familiar with from rounds, but perhaps forget to implement in other contexts:
- setting up a pattern interrupt
- changing the thoughts, feelings and actions we have in response to something.
In other words, we are setting ourselves up with a plan to follow so that in the moment that we realize we're in that old pattern or about to enter it, we can take a new route.
When you notice the trigger, the POP / OOPS / Pattern start to play out, what can you do to A - stop it? Some crazy action or sound that is totally "out of character" in that moment is perfect! B - take a new route? Plan and rehearse something that will help you to switch off the old path and to think, feel and be how you'd prefer to.
There's a lot you can learn and shift within this three step process. One of the things I discovered & created a plan for: I noticed my full "relax-mode" included no social media and my phone off for most of the trip, which felt so delightful & relieving at the time, but created an overwhelming build-up of unchecked messages, inboxes and notifications to "get back on top of" when I "switched back" into work-mode. This is an ollllld pattern, and something I hadn't yet put focus on changing.
The new plan: - Have 24hrs off social media/offline if I want space, enjoy the time away, then do a check-in with purpose, feeling focused, light and inspired, then go offline for another 24hrs if I feel like it. I also realized that some social media platforms were bringing me lingering to-do-lists and not much else, so I also committed to coming off social platforms that I don't enjoy being on by the end of January (to give myself time to connect with people elsewhere before cutting off communication via those platforms). We each have our own patterns, our own modes, our own choices and the power to create whatever we want. Happy rewiring!
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