“The most important relationship is with yourself.”
On hearing we would have to lockdown and isolate in March 2020, Cape Town, South Africa, for 21 days, brought sensations of panic, overwhelm and my trigger of fearing deprivation. Thriving on connection, getting my energy from people, my surroundings and experiences, for a moment I couldn’t imagine how I was going to survive, let alone thrive.
Now, all that I had to look forward to was limited outings to buy supplies, stockpiling essentials, the elimination of all physical contact, hiding my smile and feeling my own breath behind a mask felt so restrictive and near impossible. As a person who thrives on intimacy, contact and face to face interactions and who gets her energy from experiences – I feared the worst. I would have to spend more time with myself. What would that bring up, what would I see?
We all have our own defense mechanisms – ways of protecting ourselves – from what life deals out. They evolved as we did to help us cope and survive. They deny us the ability to push through a situation and grow through the pain, discomfort and challenge. Many years ago, after achieving a “masters” in reframing my well used defense mechanism I had a realization in an intense session with my life coach. The only way around was through. Escaping pain and pretending that everything was either fine or would be fine made me a fake.
At the time being authentic was an outcome I was striving for so the realization that my “everything will be alright” approach to life made me inauthentic was mortifying. That session was followed by a year of facing the brutal truth. Of naming, facing and living in any pain that entered my path. Believe me, when you look for it you see it – it surrounded me and put me in a place that gave me the choice – reframe the pain or transact with it and transform because of it. I picked the second option and with the support of many I have a new relationship with pain. In facing pain – I am inviting growth.
Something I want to tell you about your defense mechanism is that if well managed it can serve you well. So, knowing I avoid pain, hate deprivation and need connection, how did I reframe lockdown? I found a mirror and faced myself. I decided that if I couldn’t connect with people I would connect with the only person I knew would be with my all the time – myself.
It didn’t start well. I started off fast – making sure I was as busy as possible and filled my hours and days with business plans, new material and course development, zoom calls, online courses, audible books, coaching sessions, workouts, board games, Netflix and banana bread.
I put everything I did in my diary so I looked, sorry, felt busy. I was productive yet unfulfilled. I was busy, but incomplete. I was useful yet felt useless. Part of me kept saying, make the most of this time, it is a gift, you will not get another chance to be still with yourself again. The outer me was always activating something the inside was desperate for silence, stillness and solitude.
And then came the space to reflect. The realization that my business was futile and that mindfulness was purposeful and fulfilling. As I looked inward I became energized, inspired and felt resourceful. My days felt meaningful as I saw the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Some of the things that I apply to unlock the self-connection were actually rather simple. The key was to do them every day. As I frequently say to my clients – it is better to do a little thing daily than a big thing once.
- I walk, pray, read and meditate daily.
- I spend hours expressing my creativity in the craft of crochet.
- I live in the moment. I smell, see, hear, touch and experience everything sensually.
- I practice gratitude and see the extra ordinary in the ordinary.
- I value the light and dark side of myself. I am this and that.
- I write in a journal every day, capturing my experiences and accessing my sub conscious thoughts.
I met, made and grew to love someone this lockdown – myself. Through introspection and internalization, I found a wealth of possibilities. By sitting in silence, solitude and stillness on a regular daily basis I connected with my soul self. Finding what sparked joy enabled me to feel connected with what was truly important at a time when everything was fragile, uncertain and scary.
“A meaningful life starts with knowing, being & loving yourself.”