This is part two of the blog post I wrote over a month ago ‘How to set the most helpful intentions when you have a chronic illness’. I apologise that it’s later than I intended, but the whole process is about finding the easy way to take action, which means doing things at the right time for your overall wellness and I’ve been walking my talk.
In the first post I described how to create a vision by connecting with an alternate reality self who is an expert in illness management and then imagining where you could be in 6 months’ time. I talked about finding the essence of that vision, acknowledging where you are now and about exploring the steps that will move you through the gap between where you are now and the possibilities in your vision. Often just this process is enough to start you moving forward when you have the energy to do so.
This is a really important part to my approach. It is never about pushing, forcing or striving to get somewhere. It is always about allowing your intention (vision) to inspire easy action when your body has the resources to take it. There is, however, another important ingredient to making this powerful process flow with ease.
Identifying the ‘now’ benefits of your steps
Once you have a list of the smallest easiest micro-steps you could take, that will start you moving through the gap, you can superpower the ease in which you will take them by identifying just exactly how they will benefit you. It’s important to recognise not just how they can help you move forward, but more importantly, how they will benefit you in the here and now and in the next 24 hours.
We tend to want to do self-help in order to get us to a destination or make a transition of some sort, however the steps that will be the easiest to take will be the ones with immediate benefits. Your body wants what is best for it now. But here’s a secret that many people overlook, what is best for your body right now is also the most powerful step you could take towards a better future. Attend to being as happy and healthy as you can be today, and you’ll have a best possible chance of being happy and healthy tomorrow.
Let’s look at the step of drinking more water to stay well hydrated. Now that might not seem a very sexy step in terms of overall healing, but if I stay well hydrated, it will help my lymphatic system function optimally today, it will optimise my detox and help me keep the headaches and lymph node pains at bay. I also find that it helps clear my morning grogginess and prevents the sluggishness I use to feel after my afternoon rest. Now if I keep it in my awareness that keeping myself well hydrated will do all that for me to today. I’m much more likely to act, than I am with the idea that if I want to get healthy, I have to stay hydrated.
Choosing your first few steps
Once you’ve identified the now benefits as well as the moving forward benefits you can choose your first small steps, making sure that the most important criteria is how the step benefits you now. I like to choose two from each of the 5 categories I talked about in my first post. (Energy management, nutrition and hydration, movement and exercise, happiness regardless of circumstance, and peace and trust). I choose one from each category that I’m already doing quite consistently and one that hasn’t been happening so consistently (or at all).
Once again, the simple act of choosing these steps based on the here and now benefits often leads to more spontaneous action, when my body has the resources to take that action. However, I like to reinforce it by reminding myself, at the start of the action, of the wonderful benefits I am going to receive from this action today. For example, when I put the kettle on, to make my hot water and lemon to rehydrate myself first thing in the morning, I remind myself how my lymphatic system needs it to do it’s best work, how much sooner I’m going to shake off my morning grogginess and how I’m minimising my chance of getting a headache today (or easing the one I may already have).
Setting and visualising short term intentions
The next part of the process is to set an intention to take each of these 10 action steps, with relaxed effortless ease. For the newer action steps, it might help to visualise yourself taking that step at the time of the day that you intend to take it. This is a kind of mental rehearsal. Make sure that you visualise it happening easily, imagine feeling light in your body and having a smile on your face as you are taking this step. Then, it’s all about letting go and trusting your body to nudge you in the right direction when you have the resources available to you to easily take that step.
The penultimate part of this process involves keeping track with a tick box chart. The idea is that you show yourself how successful you are being, because when you see yourself being successful, you’ll be more motivated to keep taking action. In terms of motivation it’s important though, to measure success in terms of you taking action for your wellness, rather than the outcomes of that action.
A tick box may be particularly helpful if any of the steps you’ve decided upon are brand new to you. Your holistic self won’t be primed very strongly to take those steps if it hasn’t yet experienced the benefits of them. Filling in a tick box a couple of times a day, will remind you of what you’re aiming for and will keep it top of mind. Remember though, the tick box isn’t about making sure you take the action. It’s about giving you an opportunity to remind yourself of the benefits, so that your body will nudge you to take the action if you have the resources to do so!
Above all the most important aspect of this approach is kindly allowing yourself not to take action when your body is telling you it doesn’t have the resources to do it.
Celebrating your success
Whether or not you’re using a tick box to track your action steps, it’s really important that you pay attention to the fact that you’re taking them and the benefits that you’re experiencing. Our subconscious has a bias to only look for evidence that reinforces old patterns. If you want to teach yourself a new trick, you have to consciously look for evidence that the action you’re taking is paying off. For example, if I want to drink more water, more spontaneously, in the afternoons, I have to consciously look out for evidence that I feel better when I do. You can strengthen the message to your holistic self that this new way is good by celebrating what you notice. Write it in a journal or tell a loved one. The more joyful you can be about the fact that ‘yes, I did this and it’s paying off!’, the sooner this new action will become a more consistent pattern for you.
In these two posts I’ve shared my most powerful secrets to successfully improving your wellbeing with relaxed ease! I’ve also talked through this process as I followed it this year, in several Facebook live videos. I’m confident that if you have a little bit of energy to invest in putting everything you’ve read (or watched on the videos) into action, you’ll make a real difference to your wellbeing this year.
It’s not always easy to stay on track without support though, which is where coaching comes in! Group coaching can be a really affordable option to get that support and share the journey with a community of lovely people dealing with similar challenges. Please get in touch if you’d like a quick chat about how I could help you.