The linoleum-tiled room filled with laughter. As I looked around at the 16 faces in our circle of chairs, I saw nods of recognition and smiles. We were halfway into my workshop, Self Care 101, and I had just asked the moms in the room a question.
What can you say "no" to to be able to say "yes" to what brings you life?
One mom had just volunteered her answer.
"This might be a little thing, but I'd like to say 'no' to my phone when I wake up, and 'yes' to in-bed devotions, which is something I just made up."
"What difference would it make in your life if you could do that regularly?" I asked.
"I think I would be a game-changer to focus on God first thing," she replied, "But I'm setting the bar pretty low for myself here."
When it comes to setting goals for yourself, do you aim high or low?
Do you tend to bite off more than you can chew?
A secret to making change
When it comes to making change in your life, it's easy to think you have to "go big or go home". You've been stuck in one way of doing (or not doing) something for so long. It's going to take a massive overhaul to make something happen, right?
Setting a low bar for yourself might actually be the best plan for success.
In my certification training, we learned to coach clients to only set action steps that are 90% do-able. Even if that means the bar's set pretty low, a small step a client is 90% sure she can achieve is WAY better than a huge leap she is only 40% confident she can do.
Why is that?
Your brain on 'reward'
Using the 90% rule allows your brain to feel the reward of trying new things.
When you commit to, then DO, something that's a bit of a stretch, yet 90% do-able, your brain releases dopamine. As author Monica Mehta puts it, "When dopamine flows into the brain's reward pathway (the part responsible for pleasure, learning and motivation), we not only feel greater concentration but are inspired to re-experience the activity that caused the chemical release in the first place."
Does that make sense?
The flow goes like this:
Commit to a do-able step -> Do it --> Feel great --> Your brain : "Yay! Let's do it again!"
Commit to a pie-in-the-sky-step --> Fail --> Feel disappointed --> Your brain: "This stinks. I give up."
The mom who committed to in-bed devotions? I'm thinking she has a much better chance of being successful than if she'd said, "I want to wake two hours earlier, pray for 30 minutes, start a new exercise routine, and have a hot breakfast on the table by the time my twins wake up."
Committing only to what is 90% do-able will help you experience small successes and want to build on them.
1) Think about ONE area of life where you might be biting off more than you can chew.
2) Have another go at it with the 90% rule. If you could set ONE action step for yourself that you're 90% sure you can accomplish, what would it be?
Note from Charissa: Brave Self Care is a coaching practice open to all. To be authentic with you about my life, I sometimes share stories about my faith. But I want you to know that we don't need to share the same views to work together! The best coaching is client-centered, meaning that if spirituality is a big part of your life, it can be a big part of your coaching experience. And if it's not, it doesn't have to be. My job as a coach is to believe in you and support you, wherever you are, whatever your spiritual background. Period. <3
It was a spontaneous decision, really.
I was sitting in the college Sunday School class I help lead, when a question my co-leader asked struck me to the core:
What are ways you try to provide for yourself what only God can provide?
I immediately thought of Instagram. I believe deep down that only God can fill my deepest longing for belonging and love. But the way I act says that I think I can find belonging and love for myself...on social media.
It's one thing to use a certain platform. It's another to be compulsively checking, again and again, to see if someone's 'liked', shared, or commented on something I've posted. It's one thing to serve others through social media, helping them not feel alone. It's another to use it to serve myself, to feel relevant in the world by the way others react to me.
Knowing that Lent, the period of time before Easter, was about to begin, I decided then and there to take a break from Instagram for the 40-some days before Easter.
Here are some highlights from this time.
Getting feelings of withdrawal - I find myself looking for the app on my homescreen, wanting to see all the hearts! The week feels long.
Instead of experiencing something (cute / pretty / yummy / profound), while at the same time documenting it, while at the same time wondering what people will think of after I post about it...I'm just experiencing things.
I read over 300 pages of Little Women! I have so many blog post ideas!
There's less temptation to brag about stuff (grandparent visits, an outfit, a meal I made, etc.) Is this like the saying, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" (If I didn't Instagram this meal, did it even happen?)
I used to joke with Greg when I was on my phone that I was "just doing my job", i.e. leaving comments on IG. It comes naturally to me to say a kind word and find connections with folks. But I realize now that, seriously, it took the time and energy of a job! Maybe a 6 hr a week job?
I'm not thinking about it so much, like "I can't see IG, I'm not on IG."
I got a nice email from a newsletter subscriber about how she's off social media and was glad to get my email. Emails, texts, WhatsApp messages and calls are more important forms of communication now.
Realization: I made a choice to make my phone irresistible.
(Related: We're all addicted to the smartphone slot machines in our pockets. Great read! (Also, *face palm*.))
Checking in on IG once a week is like checking our mailbox less frequently. Because we pay all our bills online, nothing urgent is missed. I'm not responding to comments lightning fast, but nothing so far has needed an immediate response, anyway. It's all good.
It's easy for me to 'zone out' on Instagram. Just because I'm not on it doesn't mean I don't have plenty of 'replacements'. I find myself hooked on YouTube and rediscovering blogs I'd forgotten about.
This feels pretty normal now.
I have checked a few favorite feeds through Chrome, but because it's so annoying to look through on my phone it doesn't become a rabbit hole I fall into.
Did fall into a rabbit hole accessing FB through my browser on my phone. Endless scrolling before bed...blah, not the best feeling.
Week 5 & Week 6:
Not much to note! Being off IG feels freeing. I'd meant to post once a week during my fast (let's be honest, primarily to assure myself that I wasn't missing out on any incredible professional opportunities), but opening the app the last couple of Wednesdays has left me feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to say.
Life became simpler without Instagram.
I wasted less time. I had more creative ideas. I had fewer regrets at the end of the day.
Yet, I've heard from so many of you in the Brave Self Care community who are still thinking about a Self Care Tip of the Day I shared on IG Stories, who feel encouraged by what I write, and who just plain enjoy being connected on Instagram. And when I can engage in a healthy way, I feel the same way!
I'm thinking about how to re-engage, and I sure don't have all the answers.
I'd love to hear from you...
Have you ever done a social media fast? What did you learn from it?
How do you enjoy social media without letting it take over your life?
If you have 2 mins to hit the 'Comments' link below and let me know, that would be awesome!
Technology. It's a blessing and a curse, right?
Take my cell phone. It helps me let loved ones know I'm thinking of them at a moment's notice. Sharing silly pictures and voice messages helps me stay connected to my friends and family across the globe.
Yet if I'm not careful, precious hours of my day can go down the drain scrolling Facebook or going down YouTube rabbit holes.
I'm on a hiatus from my beloved Instagram account for Lent. I wanted to set aside a way that I generate affirmation and 'likes' for myself and hopefully strengthen my ability to rely on God for my sense of value.
This has been a great time to think about the ups and downs of technology. Is there ANY upside to having instant access to a zillion distractions on our phones?
Below are 5 tech tools for self care that have helped me care for my body, relationships, and inner world. Best of all, they're free, so you can try any of them and see if they work for you!
Tool #1: Water Drink Reminder app
Cost: Free with ads or $2 without
Good for: Increasing your liquid intake
User notes: When I started to have terrible indigestion pains in first trimester, my doctor suggested drinking more water. This was the first app I tried, and I like it. The little 'drink' icons are cute and motivating to use, and I get a little sense of satisfaction each time I log a new emptied glass.
Tool #2: WhatsApp messaging
Good for: Keeping in touch with loved ones
User notes: WhatsApp lets you exchange texts, pictures, videos and voice recordings with individuals or groups. I have a group chat with two friends (one in another state, one in another country!) that's still going strong after almost a year. It's like a private chatroom where we talk about how our days are going, tough stuff we're processing, and share prayer requests. It's been an enormous comfort and a reminder that I'm not alone.
Tool #3: EnneaThought® for the Day email
Good for: Growing in self-awareness
User notes: The Enneagram is an ancient typing system that can help you understand your core motivations, biggest fears, and what a path towards wholeness might look like. It's not for the faint of heart. But I'm hooked on its wisdom and the way it helps me empathize with people who are different than me. (Here are descriptions of the nine types, if you'd like to see.)
The EnneaThought® for the Day is little email from The Enneagram Institute that comes to your inbox daily with a short reflection for your type. Here's one I received as a Type 1:
"It is easy for you to become annoyed about the wrongdoings of others. And it may sometimes be true that they are wrong. But will your interference actually help or hurt the situation?"
GOOD QUESTION, EnneaThought® for the Day. Good question.
Tool #4: Guided Meditation by The Honest Guys
Good for: Chilling out when you're anxious
User notes: There are a plethora of guided meditations on YouTube, but there's a reason this one has over 10 million(!) views. My sister introduced this to me and I use it when I want to take a rest but feel super tempted to waste time on my phone.
Tool #5: Yoga With Adriene
Good for: Getting a little movement in while your kid is napping or it's miserable out
User notes: I haven't been to a yoga studio in ages, but when I feel my muscles tensing up or have spent a bit too much time at the computer, the Yoga With Adriene channel on YouTube is a great place to go. Some of the videos are grouped by length, so if I only have 20 minutes before school pick-up, I pick a short one. Adriene is warm, funny, and encouraging - telling users to "find what feels good" as they practice.
What did I miss? What apps or tools do you use that actually enhance your ability to care for yourself?
You can read more reader recommendations here, and add your own in the comments section below. I'd love to learn from you.