Do you ever hear people say, “Lighten up…don’t take yourself so seriously…”? When I hear people say these things to me I think two things:
First I think (react with), “What the hell are you talking about? I am the most lightened up person I know! I love to joke, play, and chill!”
The second thing I think (respond with) is, “Damn…you’re right. How come I have such a hard time giving myself a break? Is it my military background? Perfectionism issues? Being female? Fear of being caught off guard? I certainly want to lighten up but how the hell do I do that?”
What are the messages we hear when we relax?
When we take a vacation, play, or (whisper voice here) call in sick to take a “mental health day” (shhhhh)? Is there a part of us that judges ourselves for being less that 100% committed to the work ethic that we use to approve of or prove ourselves? Does having fun or relaxing signal not being productive, signal being immature, or signal not meeting our or others expectations?
What if having fun or relaxing or not taking ourselves so seriously signaled living and enjoying life? What if we could re-record those tapes that run between our ears that tell us we have to be perfectionists, be productive, and meet all of those obligations?
So how do we lighten up?
How do we learn to play and relax and not beat ourselves up for what is essentially called….(drumroll)….living. Ughhhhh… A suggestion would be to first find some self-compassion. Then search for the areas in your life that ignite your playful spirit or help you relax and nurture those areas as much as possible.
Some of the things that I do are to go somewhere new, hangout with people who I love and feel good with, play and be with my dog, write and tap into my creative side, listen and sing (not well…i.e. horribly) to music, take a nap, and laugh as much as possible. Probably most importantly is to notice when I’m being hard on myself and what my critical voice is representing…what am I either in fear about or ashamed about being judged or seen?
At the end of the day it really is about living and enjoying this beautiful gift called life.
Do I have to make money to pay my bills and do the things I want to do in life? Absolutely…after all, it’s a part of doing this human thing. AND…do I want to find some balance so that my entire focus isn’t about my life supporting my business but instead can be about my business supporting my chosen life? I would say an emphatic yes to that question. I certainly hope I can remember that and keep giving myself a break. I also wish that same lighten-up and give yourself a break for all of you.