How to Help Yourself Out: 5 Strategies

Nov 08, 2021

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“Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can.” —Louisa May Alcott

The words shared by American author of the revered Little Women novel hit home most deeply recently. Again and again I am reminded we often don’t absorb truths until we are ready to receive them, contemplate them and look for a wisdom beyond what we currently understand, yet knowing more understanding is needed.

Upon reviewing posts from years ago here on blog, the weekly practice of sharing content to begin the week, writing Monday Motivational posts inspired by my own life journey and discoveries continues to be an approach I enjoy as the process of writing forces the mind to better understand, clarifying the necessary takeaway points so they can be applied in way that best works for readers of TSLL and the journey they find themselves on that this moment. The Monday Motivational posts keep coming because the learning is never ending so long as we wish to grow and better understand so as to only make new mistakes in the future.

So long as we choose to remain present in our lives, in a world that will always be changing, we will always have the opportunity to learn. Sometimes the learning can become overwhelming, and for a moment we may want to stay entirely still, not learning, not moving, just breathing and existing, as a way to hold our space, perhaps to catch our figurative breath.

During times when we desire to stand still as life exhausts us, feels to be too much, we are doing what we need to do: care for ourselves, helping ourselves out.

In 2012 I wrote a list sharing 30 Simple Ways to Help Yourself Out, and each of the suggestions are constructive habits to elevate the quality of your everydays. Today I want to go a bit deeper, sharing a handful more ideas for helping ourselves out when the world seems to be too much, changing either too quickly or proceeding in a way that we need more energy before we partake.

However, I will share that what I have learned from my own experience is often it is not the world that is changing too quickly or the change is too confusing; instead, our exhaustion reflects our need to recalibrate our lives. In other words, something within our lives is depleting our energy on a regular basis, and we need to tend to it. Another way of looking at it is to remove the chronic stress that while not loud and obvious, is steady, persistent and destructive. Because once we do recalibrate and stop the ‘leak’ draining our energy, we find more enjoyment in the world as it is and wish to become an active participant, sharing ourselves and being open to possibility.

Below is a list of approaches for living well that can relieve the subtle, yet destructive chronic stressors.

1.Practice self-discipline

“Self-discipline is self-caring.” —M. Scott Peck

Throughout a hectic day we may grant ourselves little seeming-to-be luxuries that step over a line of good practices. They seem insignificant because we aren’t doing anything excessive, but little by little they add up because we aren’t tending to the problem that needs our attention – the hectic days, the chronic little stressors.

If you are enduring a work or life schedule that continually leaves you at the end of the day exhausted, drained emotionally and searching for something you normally would only enjoy occasionally, it is time to check in with yourself and your schedule. What can you change to bring a better balance of peace to your days. It is necessary to find comfort not in what we reach for (food, drink, bad habits that after the initial pleasure high, make us feel bad for letting down our guard), but comfort in how we travel through our days.

2. Communicate respectfully about yourself and your needs

“If you do not respect your own wishes, no one else will. You will simply attract people who disrespect you as much as you do.” —Vironika Tugaleva

A frequent topic here on TSLL and one that is a significant game-changer in the quality of our days, is simply stating what you can and cannot do. There need not be a detailed explanation as to why, but when you figure out what you need to care for your well-being, you establish a quality of life clarifying what will be welcomed and what will not. If the relationship moves forward, you have shown you will put the brakes on, open the door and let them out so you can drive along on your own in peace if certain boundaries are not honored.

One way to potentially prevent such conversations is to praise what you value. Currently with my contractor (we are getting close to done, and I must say, I am ready for it to be done, but it will be worth the journey), I thank them for their clear and regular communication about what subcontractors are arriving, when they are arriving, what will be done, etc.. Such communication was not the case early-on in our project, so I had to convey what I needed, what times I needed the house to myself, express what I was frustrated with when it happened and not just take it because ‘that is the way it works in remodeling projects’. No, it became exhausting for some time, but there has been a significant shift, and I am saying thank you far more, and rarely, if ever, having to establish or clarify a boundary.

When we don’t set boundaries, when we just go with the flow to avoid confrontation, that is how a chronic stress enters our life. When we become a passive participant in our lives, they are no longer our lives. Such chronic stress that is not blatant or outwardly obvious erodes our well-being gradually – the relationships we attract are unfulfilling, the conversations we have draining, and our confidence and contentment gradually, yet steadily, begins to evaporate.

The hardest step is choosing to vocalize what you need to say. The second hardest thing to do is standing firm, yet civilly holding your truth not to attack them, but to respect yourself.

3. Savor what nourishes you (even if the crowd doesn’t ‘get it’)

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”—Jean Shinoda Bolen

When we sincerely enjoy or love or are drawn to something, our genuine interest is the shield that blocks worrying about what others may think or say. Initially, it can be hard to let ourselves be drawn to what speaks to us because we fear the push-back from others, but once we cut ourselves loose from such fears, the momentum and rush of enthusiasm propels us to fully engage and the quality of our life elevates. The joy we feel attracts others who can appreciate our sincerity, and we draw to us other people who appreciate our strength to be fully ourselves.

Because we are engaging with what feeds us, we nourish ourselves and build up our strength, noticing a difference between those activities in which our energy is depleted. Simply witnessing first hand the difference, we choose to nourish more readily knowing the benefits doing so brings into our lives which also makes it easier to not give a hoot what others think when they question our choice.

4. Do what you can in the face of the unknown

Life can be frightening when we stop to think about all of the unknowns swirling about, and studies have revealed that often it is financial worries that hold our attention and cause chronic stress and worry. While we understand we cannot control the future, the key is to rationally look at what you can control and take action. Simply by taking action to do something that puts the odds in your favor alleviates the fear, reduces the anxiety, and like a good night’s sleep, calms your worried mind down thus giving you the strength to know you can handle whatever may come your way.

Often heightened fears come from people, marketers, scammers preying on the human instinct to survive and creating an idea of scarcity. In our 21st century survival is primarily about money rather than being able to run from a ‘bear’ so to speak, so the urgency they try to create that we aren’t doing enough or won’t have enough is to their benefit when we accept it. When our minds are calm and we are thinking clearly, we can seek out the information we currently lack to better understand what action, if any, needs to be taken that would be most beneficial. We make better decisions, and we put what we can control into our court.

Speaking of what we control . . .

5. Cultivate a simply luxurious life . . . it will take time, be patient, but trust doing so is worth your investment

“Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, color, sounds, and work that nourish you.”
Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

My decision to move to Bend nearly seven years ago was an investment in creating a simply luxurious life that nourished me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to settle in, to find a home, to build a social circle, but based on what I knew about myself and after all of the research and exploration I did to learn about Bend, I knew it would be worth my effort.

When we pay attention without filter from the outside world to what nourishes us and lifts our spirits, buoys our being and reenergizes our energy we become clear-eyed about what environment will bring us both peace as well as nourishment to engage fully with life.

“It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” —Diane Von Furstenberg

I spoke about a self-awareness I learned about myself in last week’s episode of the podcast regarding HSPs regarding my investment in my house. Each of us, regardless of whether or not we are HSP or not, are making our way through our days trying to keep an optimal level of arousal with all of the external stimuli. My home, the place I return to after being out in the world that offers wonderful activities I love to partake in, is a place that calms me down and allows me to think clearly, rest my mind and be wholly myself without edification. Investing in a space that enables me to fully step out into the world is how I know my balance, a healthy, life-lifting balance is achieved.

~Read this post sharing 50 Ways to Live Simply Luxuriously, and explore TSLL’s first two books which directly focus on this topic: Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life and Living The Simply Luxurious Life

Incorporating any one of the above strategies may at first seem counter-intuitive, but the truth is, when we nourish ourselves conscientiously, our decisions and how we move through the world improves. Not only do we begin to find peace in our everydays, but we model what being at peace looks like and what it requires – not more, just better, thoughtfully living, yes courageously living, but courageous in the sense of embracing our humanness and understanding how to surround ourselves with those people and the environments that support us rather than take advantage of us.

“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” —Kristen Neff

I appreciate the above quote’s truth. Part of conditioning a population to be critical of themselves is to promote them to seek more, to spend more, and constantly feel as though they are not enough so they seek outside of themselves. While there are many problems with accepting such a reality or way of living, the primary problem is that we begin to lose trust in ourselves and start to throw away unconsciously the power that resides within each of us to choose to learn and grow and then value our own self-worth, knowing that we are enough just as we are in this moment. Imperfect but enough with a mind capable of critically thinking that will not be lead to believe all is doom and gloom. We have agency and when we take back what is in our control, we elevate the joy we experience, we improve the connections and relationships we build and we no longer linger in spaces that do not nourish us.

So as Louisa May Alcott reminds, “keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can”. It is not being selfish to do so, it is being self-full (not full of one’s self), but consciously aware of how to tap into your full self, honoring it and tending to what you have control over so that you can be your best self each day of your life.

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5 thoughts on “How to Help Yourself Out: 5 Strategies

  1. “The hardest step is choosing to vocalize what you need to say. The second hardest thing to do is standing firm, yet civilly holding your truth not to attack them, but to respect yourself.”
    It has taken me a very long time to do this and I still struggle, but as a fellow HSP truer words have never been spoken. I have always been a people pleaser because I abhor conflict, yet the whole time I feel like I have not lived genuinely. Thank you Shannon for another uplifting post, I always look forward to your wisdom.

    1. Thank you highlighting what spoke to you and why. I think as HSP it is especially hard to share something someone likely won’t to hear but needs to be said (although admittedly, it is hard for other temperaments as well, but perhaps in different ways) because we pick up on ALL the subtle behavior and spoken shifts and changes prompted by the boundary setting and unknowns seem incredibly large and thus extremely overstimulating to take in and all the while still holding our space well. Thank you for stopping by PKB. 😌

  2. Oh Shannon, this really spoke to me today! I feel I am forever letting the “distractions” of life fill my days and before I know it, another day/week/month/year goes by and I’ve yet to tend to MYSELF!! Louisa May Alcott’s quote personifies what I feel TSLL is all about. I will need to print this post and study it carefully until it seeps deep into my subconscious mind 😊 Have a wonderful week!

  3. The most profound comment I can make is “yes.” I agree, am I able to function within these lofty parameters of life? I am working on it and surely appreciate your words of wisdom. Interestingly, I often recall a specific birthday when I announced to myself and all in my circle that I was done, done with their neediness and manipulation of my life. There were shock waves, there were comments that I expected. And yet, we all survived. It takes time, you are correct, the process can be long and tedious but at the same time, we learn with each experience. As we each navigate our life journey as an HSP or not, we deserve to examine how we can best support our decisions, you help us with this, thank you.

  4. Thank you thank you for this post Shannon. These posts always remind me to practice what I’ve already learnt from your books and podcast. The points about practising self discipline and to communicate my needs particularly stand out to me. And of course, I’m continually striving to live simply luxuriously. It is an ongoing practice as you say. Sometimes it is all too easy to get caught up in the whirl of stresses that is life, usually through the influence of being around others experiencing such stress which heightens my own. Remembering to centre myself and be calm – usually also done in my home where I feel most content – is of utmost importance, but also sometimes slips from the mind. Visiting your blog and taking in your content always does wonders for reminding me of these things!
    Sarah x

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