Caring Is Sharing
I decided to make February Appreciation Month! This theme is focused on appreciating others AND yourself; putting into practice Caring is Sharing. We will take a look at what happens when you care too much…is that possible? What happens in the mind-body connection as we process through levels of caring (emotions)? Lastly, why is it that we often focus outward with our caring, neglecting to properly care for ourselves?
Read on and do so with full engagement, settle in with a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, get comfy and know that because I appreciate each and every one of you, this heartfelt message of everything in the above banner is for YOU!
Is it Possible to Care too Much?
Before I answer that question, let’s do a quick review. Remember that we are, at our core, energy. At any given time, we have two types actively at work: catabolic energy and anabolic energy.
Generally speaking, catabolic energy is destructive, damaging, & results in the body releasing cortisol and adrenaline. Anabolic energy is healing, bonding, & results in the body releasing oxytocin and other ‘feel good’ endorphins. Neither type is bad or good; BOTH serve a purpose depending on the situation. The crux is whether we are choosing the energy (attitude, perspective) or are we abdicating that choice to other people and/or situations.
Back to the question at hand: is it possible to care too much? Caring is sourced from anabolic energy. When we lead with caring, the foundational thought is concern. Paired with the emotion of caring is compassion. When we act from feelings of compassion and thoughts of concern, the result is acts of service. This is a very rewarding and heartfelt perspective. From this viewpoint, we take little to nothing personally and we see things objectively, this is where continuous improvement thrives.
Sounds great, right? It is great, unless you overextend into “caring too much.” Over using or over extending any strength can quickly turn into a liability. When we overextend that sense of caring, we may start to view people as things that need to be fixed and set set off to do just that! Or, we may overcommit ourselves and take on the burdens or work of others. Either way, this can result in feeling overwhelmed because we can’t get everything done or frustrated because the person we’re trying to “fix” just plain isn’t cooperating! And just like that, the feeling great turns into feeling not so great. So how do we make sure that we stay in the sweet spot with caring? Here are some tips to get started:
- Set boundaries and stick with them.
- Awareness. Ask yourself why you’re intervening in a situation. Was your help requested? Is your intent truly to assist or is there a desire to control the outcome?
- Reframe. Consider asking the other person, “How can I best support you right now?” Be prepared that sometimes, the best support is presence.
- Set your intentions every morning and review your boundaries; list 3 things that you appreciate.
Connect with me to learn more about Catabolic & Anabolic energy and the 7 perspectives of energy. Source: iPEC.
The Mind-Body Connection
Let’s geek out a bit! The image at left shows Body Maps created by Aalto University in support of a 2013 Finnish study looking at where people experience different emotions in their body. The Body Maps show activity (breathing, heart rate, muscle contraction, etc.) relative to 12 emotions.
Researchers found that not only is there a mind-body connection between emotions and physiological response, but it’s a two-way street! In the Positive Psychology article, Body & Brain, 31 Jan 2017, the author notes, “The body holds your physical health and ability to function; but, the mind houses your spirit and your motivation to function.”
So for the “left-brain” folks, we are now confronted with the fact that our thoughts are physiologically connected to our emotions. For the “right-brain” folks, we are also confronted with the reality that our feelings are physiologically connected to our thoughts! Why is this important to understand?
Want to change how you are feeling? Shift your thoughts to where you want to be. Want to change what you are thinking? Shift your emotions to where you want to be.
Some notable observations from the article:
- Happiness fills the entire body with activity.
- Anger is the emotion with the most intense activation as the body prepares itself for conflict (literal or figurative).
- Fear is centered in the head as the “flight or fight” decision is contemplated.
- Love is the second most activated throughout the body.
So now that you know that this mind-body connection exists, leverage it! BE your best self by addressing both the mind and the body! Practice these steps this month to get started!
- Mindfulness. This is simply practicing self-awareness in the moment. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking/feeling right now and why?” “How do I want to think/feel moving forward?”
- Shift what feels most authentic for you first. If you are most aware of your thoughts, focus on shifting your thoughts to where you really want to be; your feelings will follow. If you are most aware of your feelings in the moment, focus on shifting those emotions AFTER you acknowledge them.
- Take Five. It’s never wrong to hit the PAUSE button for a few minutes. Use that time to take some deep breaths, clear your mind, calm your heart.
Want to learn how to effectively shift your energy/perspective in the moment? Click the image or button below to schedule a complimentary coaching session!
Why do I emphasize whole-body health so much? Because somehow, over the years, I have seen far too many leaders put themselves consistently last. They sacrifice their nutrition, their health, their fitness, their sleep, sometimes even the true sources of their joyfulness all in the name of “leadership.” Weirdly, running oneself into the ground has become a badge of honor.
In the Army, we were trained from the start as leaders to understand that we cannot LEAD OPTIMALLY unless we ensure that we are at our best. It is NOT selfish to ensure that you eat well, or get enough sleep, or exercise to maintain your health. You cannot be your best for others if you’re not AT your best for yourself! It is not only okay to appreciate yourself…it is vital to appreciate yourself!
I am celebrating this month of appreciation by hosting a free community group challenge. Simply join my FREE group and engage (post, comment, like) to be entered into a drawing for fun prizes. Drawing will be held on 3/1/23 with winners posted to the group as well as notified via email & text.
You may be wondering what you would post about or perhaps you’re shy about social media. Not to worry! Simply share your journey of appreciating yourself & others. Maybe it’s putting into practice some things you’ve learned from this newsletter or past newsletters. This community is a positive group of leaders who are committed to whole body fitness (mind, body, soul). None of us are perfect and perfection is not the goal. We strive for growth, learning and improvement as we travel through this journey of life together! So what could be easier? A free, supportive community where you have a chance to win fun prizes — YES!