Our dreams are there and we are here.
Here is happening now and may pull us into feelings of being trapped, lonely, or discontent.
There seems a long way off.
How do we stay present and connected to who we really are here as we take steps to get there?
When we’re still working in the corporate job we don’t love and we feel as though we’ll never get to where we want to be, we run the risk of losing sight of our dreams.
I have faced these very feelings as I’ve taken steps towards my own dreams. Early mornings of dragging myself out of bed and late nights on short deadlines.
I would ask myself, “How long before I can do something different?”
These are my eight reminders to myself for staying present, being mindful—and changing from within the cage.
1. I can stop what I’m doing and take five minutes for myself.
If the pressure gets too much, most of us can take a walk around the block without fear of being fired. There is legislation to cover breaks. If we need privacy, we can lock ourselves in the toilet cubicle.
When the pressure gets on top of me, I steal away and remind myself that this is just for now.
2. I have power in the present moment.
When I feel tired, exhausted, depressed, disillusioned and hardly able to move the mouse around the desk, I may fly off the handle at any little thing. I mutter my complaints under my breath. I try and be happy and smiley but usually the next person to appear at my desk will be greeted with a weary look.
In these moments, I’m not allowing myself to feel. However, by quietly repeating “Stay present Claire,” I open up space for another question: “How am I feeling?” Identifying the emotion can help us release it. I practice by saying “I feel…” and seeing what comes next.
“I feel uncomfortable. I feel angry. I feel fed up, I feel scared, I feel as though I don’t know what to do.”
As we’re working through the days, hours and weeks of transformation, we have a fantastic training ground for mindfulness. When we bring ourselves back to the present moment and feel it for all it’s worth, we can consciously choose our actions and words. This is our power.
3. I deserve infinite kindness—from me, myself and I.
It took me too long to realize that if I do everything perfectly and on time, I rarely get to sit back and smile. There is always something to do. My colleagues might not need lunch breaks. They may not need to leave on time once a week. But, I do.
I breathe deeply because I need to. I work more slowly because I want to get it right. I am kind and gentle with myself because I deserve it.
So, let us practice kindness to ourselves.
4. My job does not define me.
The more I’m able to consciously remind myself that I am so much more than my job title, the stronger I feel.
“This is not who I am, this job does not define all I can be,” I would whisper to myself in the toilets. “I am a dancer. I love to write. I want to talk to people and help them.”
How it’s all going to change will work itself out. By reaffirming my intentions every day, I am strengthening a muscle I didn’t even know I had.
5. I speak words of love and peace when I talk to myself.
I’ll never forget the lessons I’ve learned from listening to the way I talk to myself. When I miss an obvious error in a document, I used to hear my own voice sneer:
“I’m so stupid. I always get that wrong. I’m rubbish at this job.”
Committing to changing my self-talk did wonders to my confidence. Now, when I hear myself say: “I’m so stupid,” I practice changing the thought to: “I’m a very capable person and making mistakes is part of life. I love and approve of myself.”
6. I know I am compassionate.
I love the Plato quote that says: “Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”
We can use to this to our advantage; to connect with people through kindness. The person I find most difficult and annoying, I now think of with gratitude. He doesn’t want to be here either, and in that moment of realization, he becomes an ally. He struggles too. We are in this together.
7. I learned to dream and take small steps.
We often think that the weekend is so short because by the time we have rested and ‘got over’ the stress of the week, there is no time to do anything else. I began creating more time by just picking up a pencil. I wrote down some things I wanted to do. I listed the qualities I wanted in a partner. I drew pictures and searched Pinterest. I took little steps. Then they grew.
8. I know I need support, so I ask for it.
Support doesn’t mean we are weak. Support is about giving and receiving community. We can get support from a helpline; counselor; or a friend. We can asked them just to listen; for feedback; or for suggestions.
When we talk about how we are feeling in a safe environment, we have space to realize truth about ourselves. When I do this, I realize that underneath feelings of inadequacy is a desire to live another way, to speak my truth. The people supporting me live different sorts of lives from my day to day. This is comforting, inspiring, and something to cling onto at the times when here becomes tough and there almost out of sight.
Here is challenging. There seems like another world. In that place, my reminders have spurred me on; kept me present; and helped me to grow. I’ve shifted, moved, changed.
There is closer—the two are beginning to merge.
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