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Simplify Yourself and Your Expectations of Yourself

If you simplify yourself you will have more time for health and healing of your body-mind-soul. However, you must first learn to change your unrealistic expectation of yourself before this is possible!

‘It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.’ ~ Donald Miller

To further promote healing of your body, mind and soul you can continue choosing simplicity by learning to simplify yourself. Better stated this is about simplifying your own expectations of yourself!

Seems to me like the above quote is saying that you are your own worst enemy. By running too fast and forcing things you create enormous amounts of stress for yourself. This pattern is repeated over and over again with my clients in my holistic heath coaching practice.

You beat yourself up trying to please everyone. The only way to get off this vicious cycle is to understand that you cannot please others all the time. Therefore, you must first simplify yourself and learn to understand what are realistic expectations of yourself.

You must first create the space for yourself by creating health and healing in your own life before it can spill out to others.

You do not simplify yourself because you were never taught this skill. You know no other way than the hamster on the wheel, spinning and spinning until you collapse from exhaustion. You continue to spin and spin, around and around, because you believe this is how you gain love, acceptance, the work promotion or whatever.

You continue to strive for the love and acceptance you never had, by striving to be something more for others and by striving to obtain something by the force of your will.

Your body stands in the way of your will as you push it to perform, beyond its limitations. Then you wonder why you can’t sleep, can’t stop eating, can’t quit smoking, can’t stop feeling angry about everything, can’t stop the pain in your neck, can’t get rid of the lower back pain, can’t…… whatever! Fill in the blanks with your truth.

Your body is the window to your soul, begging you to slow down, begging you to simplify yourself and your expectations of yourself and what your body can do. Your muscles are full of tension as your body’s aches, pains, injuries and dis-eases try to let you know that something is wrong.

Your body is the messenger to alert you that your life is out of balance, but you cannot hear it because the force of your will – your mind dominates. Your body-mind-soul is broken because they are not integrated. The connection has been shut off.

God helps those who help themselves, right? This is what we have been acculturated to believe. Or is it that God loves those who love themselves? It is only through accepting the Love available to you for just being, that you can find health and healing in your life. You simplify yourself by loving yourself. By loving yourself first you find health and healing. This love will then will spill over to all those around you.

What’s the Magic Word? – 'No.'

The single most important way simplify yourself, to love yourself, and simplify your expectations of yourself is to learn how to say 'no.' When it is appropriate for your own health, just say no to your family, your friends and your children. You are not the 'be all and end all' for everyone.

If you want to carve out time for yourself for discovering your Inner Self, which you MUST do in order to find health and healing for yourself, you absolutely have to learn to say no.

The lovely consequence of learning to say no is that you will also teach your children that it is OK to say 'no.' You will teach them healthy ways of choosing simplicity. You will teach them how to take care of their own body-mind-souls. When you simplify yourself, you are setting an example for them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Do your children really need to go to soccer, baseball, scouts, 4-H, cheerleading, hockey camp, crafts, computer club and church groups? Are you just passing on your craziness to them? Are you teaching your children that they must always be doing something to have meaning or happiness?

Are you setting up your children to believe that their life will be as stressful as yours and that the hamster wheel is what they can look forward to?

Can you simplify yourself by simplifying your expectations of your children?

Indian paintbrush, Colorado wildflowerThe Western Wildflower, Indian Paintbrush

Have you taught your children how to be happy at home playing and creating their own world/life? Do you love your children just for existing? Do you need to prove to everyone how wonderful you are by what your children can do?

I know people who cannot have a conversation without talking about their children and their accomplishments. Are you living your unfulfilled dreams through your children? Are you pushing them to be the next Nobel Prize winner, the next great quarterback or the top musician for you or for them?

Can you consolidate your children’s activities to 2 or 3 that mean the most? Variety is important, and exposing your children to many activities is important. Focusing on a few things to perform well is important too. Teaching them about choosing simplicity and learning to value the simple and free things in life is important. If you simplify yourself first you will have time for them to teach them how to balance their own lives!

Running around less for your children will also create your own space and time to love yourself and simplify yourself. By loving yourself more, the love you can pass on is fuller and more enriching to your children. You can do things for yourself without feeling guilt or that you are depriving your children.

The same approach applies to your grandchildren. My generation is now substituting the needs of their children for the needs of their grandchildren. It is wonderful to have time with your grandchildren. Again, just make sure that you maintain the balance, that you have time to simplify yourself for self-care and self-love.

The most precious gift you can pass on to a loved one, child or adult, is the skill for this self-care and self-love done without guilt.

OK, so you want your children to have the life that you never had. Nothing is wrong with that. Just make sure that your goals are not interfering with your child’s best intentions. Make sure that your child knows without a doubt that you love them just for who they are – ADHD or clumsiness or tone deafness or ...

Do not set them up for the loveless hamster wheel – the wheel that you may have chosen – running and running to find love and attention by attempting to always please others or to prove yourself to others. Be an example to them on how to simplify themselves when you simplify yourself first.

You are Not Superman, Supermom or Superhuman

If you need a night to relax, unwind and read, just say 'no' to your friends and family’s requests. Today’s families are so busy there never seems to be any personal time for relaxation and reflection. A life without reflection is a shallow one indeed.

If you simplify your life and simplify yourself, you will have time for Meditation and Intuitive Movement. These are necessary ingredients to heal your body, mind and soul. The peace that you will find for yourself will lead to reflection as a regular part of your daily life.

Being in the sandwich generation is not easy. The sandwich generation is the boomer generation who are caring for their almost-grown children AND their aging parents.

Perhaps if your children are older, you additionally get the expectation for supplying child-care for your grandchildren. Never has a generation been so taxed and worn out. Add personal illness to the sandwich generation’s woes and you get a mix for a real body-mind-soul breakdown as your Body Window starts screaming bloody murder at you!

Generation X and Y er’s please be sensitive to the sandwich generation’s issues. They cannot support you and their parents forever. In fact, they will have nothing left for you when they are gone.

Suze Orman, my favorite financial guru and role model says that if the choice comes up between saving for your retirement and paying your children’s college tuition, that you should always, always choose the retirement first!

I know folks who have suffered great financial hardships to support their children, not just through college but also through financial hardships as adults. I can only pray that their children will be there for them with the same love and support when their retirement money runs out and their bodies wear out.

Learn to say 'no' to maintain your health, your retirement and your sanity. Focus instead on Creating a Sacred Space in your life and commit to being your own best friend. Simplify yourself to allow time for yourself for relaxation and reflection.

Mt. Sneffels and the Dallas Divide, Telluride, CODallas Divide, near Telluride, CO, with view of Mt. Sneffels (right)

Are you an 'Athlete?'

When I lived in Denver for 20 years, the most common thread I saw regarding self-expectation was in the world of participatory sports. Since Denver is so outdoors oriented and one of the fittest cities in the world, all I hear from my associates is bragging about their latest physical accomplishments.

It is in running, swimming, biking, skiing, mountain climbing and whatever. They are physical warriors trying to outdo themselves and each other. They are successful professionals with a side profession as an 'athlete.'

The physical warriors are striving to find the physical balance in their hamster wheel world. They have it right regarding the importance of the body and the need to care for and maintain their physical selves. But, unfortunately, they apply the same unrealistic expectations of themselves in their physical world as they apply to their non-physical world.

Maybe it was just because I could never compete, nor really cared to compete, that I felt this issue so deeply. You can be my judge. Yet almost everyone I know is struggling with bad knees, bad shoulders, tight IT bands, bad ankles or whatever.

These syndromes are all a result of overuse. They will even readily agree on this subject. But yet most of them do nothing to change their behavior. Their destructive behavior in all things in their life is all they know. There are many examples of people who are living proof that the body does eventually wear out if you choose to continue to abuse it.

Did you ever wonder why we use the term work-out? Why don't we call it a play-out or a fun-out? Who originated the term? Why should physical activity be work? Why do we treat our bodies like machines?

I wish we could equate physical activity with body-mind-soul integration with an increased spiritual awareness the body affords. All of the martial arts were originally created as a spiritual practice, not solely a physical one. So was Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. If only we believed like the ancient Greeks - to care for the body as a vital part of daily life!

Athletes of all types need to learn how to use their bodies with ease and flow, and learn to get 'in the Zone' without causing injury. Treating the body with kindness and learning how to listen to it to prevent overuse is imperative if you wish to lead an integrated life of health – total body-mind-soul health.

You need to develop body intuition to find this integrated health. You must always listen to the pain, listen to your body’s message to prevent injury and overuse. You must simplify yourself and your expectations of yourself if you are an 'athlete.'

I recommend a method for training from John Douillard. He is a chiropractor and Ayurvedic medicine practitioner from Boulder, Colorado. Has has trained professional athletes and also spends his time as a public speaker.

I learned, through his book, Body, Mind, and Sport: The Mind-Body Guide to Lifelong Health, Fitness, and Your Personal Best, how to improve performance yet  minimize the effort. It is all done through the breath. His advice has changed my approach to breathing during exercise forever. His "Darth Vader" technique for breathing is extremely effective. Just like in yoga, when attention is paid to the breath, performance improves.

In medicine, we teach pursed-lip breathing methods in patients who have respiratory issues. This type of breathing conserves their energy. It is similar to Dr. Douillard's breathing methods. If it works for sick patients, think how much it will do for you! You too, can simplify yourself with your workouts, and learn more efficient breathing for better energy conservation and performance!

The even, easy and relaxed breath is a signal to the body that you are relaxed, and all is well. Panting with your mouth wide open, gasping for breath to perform a physical activity will only fill your body with stress and decrease performance.

With less effort and stress, less injury is a result. Dr. Douillard has successfully trained professional athletes and can help you, the everyday 'athlete' as well. He will teach you how to get 'in the Zone' without hurting yourself or over-using your body. He will teach you how to simplify yourself and your breathing for the physical activities you enjoy.

Learn how to use sport and fitness to work for your body, mind and soul. Make your physical activity more than just for losing weight, building muscles, reaching a goal or being the best athlete. Make your movement meditative, through the practice of Intuitive Movement.

Make your physical movements a vital part of your daily activities for health and ongoing healing of your entire being. Simplify yourself and the demands on your body and still stay fit.

Otherwise you will continue to beat up your body. You will look forward to knee replacements, shoulder replacements and a worn out body.

There is growing evidence that indeed overuse and abuse of our physical selves will wear out our bodies! I don’t know about you, but I choose to simplify myself, treat my body kindly and use it for the enjoyment of life for as long as I can!

Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala, SunsetSunset over Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala

You can choose to simplify yourself by simplifying your expectations of what your body can and should do.

Never forget that pain is a warning – an alert for you to pay attention! The pain means that something is wrong in your body and you cannot continue on your current course without perhaps, creating permanent damage to you body.

If you create permanent damage to your body, and continue to ignore its messages, your mind and soul will follow. If you ignore your body’s wisdom you will eventually create ill health of your body-mind-soul. Your body is speaking to you to slow down, change your activity, simplify yourself and come to a better understanding of what you can expect of yourself.

Learn to Love Your Natural Look

I am a simple soul, as I have said repeatedly. I spend very little time on my personal appearance. Some would say I don’t spend nearly enough time! However, choosing simplicity is what brings me peace. I have neither the time nor do I have the inclination to primp myself. I choose to simplify myself. I believe this will always be so in my life.

For those of you who wish for simple tips to look your best due to budget reasons, or like me, you are choosing to simplify yourself, read on. (If you are a man with a woman in your life, and you already know how to simplify yourself, support your woman by letting her know that you love her natural look!)

For simple, effective skin care products: I love natural, plant-based products. I try to choose them every time I can.

For a simple tussled look for medium to long hair: To simplify yourself through your hairdo, after shampooing your hair, dry it to the point of retaining a little dampness. Then wind it around the top of your head into a bun. Secure it with a loosely applied covered band or a clip. Finish drying your hair, or let it air dry while you eat breakfast, dress and get ready in the morning. Then take your hair down and let it drop loosely. Do not comb it or handle it too much. Scrunch it and spray to hold. You should have loose, flowing waves.

To save even more time, I shampoo my hair in the evening. While it is still damp, I wind the hair up and leave it that way overnight to dry. Sometimes to get a tighter wave, I wind more than one bun. I kind of look like Pippy Longstocking or a Goth, but I like the results in the morning!

My make-up routine when I am not out participating in a sport is the following: Moisturize with a product that contains sunscreen. Using sunscreen is the single most important activity associated with the prevention of wrinkles. I never go without it on my face. Choose a non-comedogenic product if you are prone to acne. Men, it is important for you to moisturize with a sunscreen product as well.

If I do break out, because my Body Window is speaking through my skin, I apply a little tea tree oil under the moisturizer. I also use tea tree oil on my pimples at night. The inflammation will really go down in 24 hours if you use tea tree oil when a pimple first pops out. 

A little blush, a little mascara, a little lip polish and I am off. I never ever wear foundation. Looks so artificial on me and I am OK with that. If I am going out in the evening I will use stronger colors and add eye shadow and/or eyeliner.

Consider getting permanent make-up like eyeliner and tinting your lashes if it will bring you more value by spending less time on your look. I have permanent eyeliner, but only on the top lids, and I have never regretted it. It is just a light, fine line, and it adds a little drama to my sporty look. This may not be choosing simplicity, but the time it saves me creates value. I considered getting permanent lip color, but have been too afraid to do that. It is easy enough for me to add quick color to my lips. I also always use sunscreen on my lips as well.

For quick easy nails: get a buffing system instead of polish. The buffs on your nails will never get chipped or look old, so the maintenance is easier. I do not have the time or the inclination to spend the effort getting manicures and pedicures. That would not add value to my life. I would end up breaking the nails anyway and I would be ineffective at rock climbing for sure! I have to simplify myself by letting go of any ideas of beautiful nails! For me it’s just not practical!

Find your own, simple and natural look. Reflect on how you might choose simplicity and how it would look to you. Simplify yourself in ways that provide value to you!

Simplify Yourself!

I hope that you are now well on your way to choosing simplicity to add more time to do those things that will provide value in your life. If you choose to simplify yourself you will have the time to create more space for yourself for your own meditation and intuitive movement.

You can listen to your body, to the messages it brings. By loving yourself and reconnecting with God, the Love will flow from you to all.

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