As well as running my own business, I am a mother of two young children, a wife, daughter, sister, friend. I have an allotment to tend, a lodger who I cook for half the week and I am part of a spiritual community. It is easy to lose myself in the whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities, but one thing that helps is making sure I have regular slots of time to myself.
This includes daily meditation and walks. Now that both of my children are past the baby/ toddler stage, I am also able to get a decent night of sleep, which makes a huge difference. And for those that are still in that phase, I see you. It’s tough. I’ve been there.
Other things that refresh me are listening to music, dancing, playing the piano, gardening, painting and making cards for people.
But what has this got to do with work?
All of my work involves practising and refining my own listening skills, which means putting the other person at the heart of my attention and focus. When I lose touch with myself, I cannot do this fully. It is as if there is a small child within me, shouting “Wait a minute! What about me? Give me some attention now!”. If I am completely honest, I am distracted.
So I have come to the conclusion that it is helpful for all of us to ‘be a bit selfish’ sometimes.
I notice that when I forget to protect ‘me time’ – and I do, often – and instead start focusing on achieving too much, I am less able to listen authentically to others and less able to share who I am. I snap more easily and am less patient with my children. I notice my inner critic rearing its head more frequently and accusing me of being a failure. Because I’ve lost touch with who I really am.
However, when I have maintained my practices and my own tank is full I am able to be present to whatever life throws at me, I am able to set aside my own agenda and to listen wholeheartedly to another’s perspective, to another’s story.
So, I encourage you to please work just a little less and let yourself be a bit ‘selfish’. Let your house be messy or the washing up undone. The e-mails, social media posts and paperwork can wait. They’ll still be there.
I encourage you to listen to that inner child and find out what s/he really needs to be nurtured. Because if you can listen to yourself you’re more likely to be able to genuinely listen to those you love. And even to those you don’t. You might even surprise yourself.
And everyone will be better off for it.
I’d love to hear from you. What are the practices that refill your tank?