Life has a tendency (maybe even a compulsion) to put us in the fast lane. There have been numerous times I find myself singing, “Life in the fast lane…Surely make you lose your mind…” by the Eagles, while I’m running from place to place.
My intention for this site is to offer some simple suggestions for us to live S.L.O.W.©.
As an anxious person by nature who really desires to be calm and at peace, I developed the acronym S.L.O.W.© to help me keep perspective in harried times. I’m happy to share it with you here, in hopes that it can be useful to you as well.
S- Stick to your values
Sometimes we can feel stress when faced with various decisions. There can be tough choices to be made at work, or with family or friends, in our communities or even within ourselves. I have found that it helps me to stop, slow down and think about “what do I value?”, “what is important to me?”, “what will have the most desired impact?” Letting your core values, what you truly believe and stand for, guide you in your decision making allows you to be true to yourself, and at peace. I have been conditioned to operate out of obligation, to do what others expect of me. “All good daughters….” “Perfect mothers do….” “The best wives are….” “Great employees…” But sometimes those expectations contradict what I believe is best for myself and others. I’ve learned that I have a choice, I get a say but I first have to know what I believe in. This component of S.L.O.W.© forces us to do a little reflection and determine what are our values. Then we can practice making choices that align with them. It can be really freeing!
L-Love yourself then others
I was taught as a child that you should love others over yourself and to put others first. There is good in that, to be mindful of other people and their needs. But as I’m matured, I’ve learned that if I am empty, my energy is spent and I’m running on fumes, I’m no good for anyone! It reminds me of the airline instructions to “put the oxygen mask on yourself so you can then help the small child traveling with you”. I remember as a child being so offended by that, thinking “WE (kids) should get the mask first”, but now, I understand how important it is to take care of yourself so you are whole enough to give to those around you. (Remember the saying “if momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy”. That applies to everyone whether you are a “momma” or not). There are small things you can do to take care of yourself. Those will be provided on this site in future posts.
O-Only apologize Once
This is true for everyone but especially women are typically socialized to apologize for everything. We walk past someone in a grocery store aisle and say “Oh sorry, I need to squeeze past” instead of, “Excuse me, I need to squeeze past”. Or we say “Sorry to interrupt,” or “Sorry to bother you, but….” Other times we can fall all over ourselves, apologizing over and over again, if we’ve made a mistake or hurt someone. In doing that, you take energy away from yourself AND continue to focus on the mistake or misstep which can breed negative energy. Not to mention it continuously reminds the person you are apologizing too about it as well. Why do we do that? It could be because we are on auto-pilot and don’t even realize what we are saying. I know I operate in default mode many times. It could also come from insecurity or feeling less than, (if that’s the case see “L” above). My request is that we become more aware of saying “sorry” and to not say it in situations where it isn’t necessary. And in situations when we are sorry then say it, but say it once and mean it. Then there is no need to continue repeating your “sorry”. Apologize sincerely then be free to move on.
W-Wait and Watch
This piece of the acronym is one of the most challenging but my most favorite. As a person who loves to be in control and have EVERYTHING “just so”, I have spent hours (probably YEARS worth of hours) trying to ensure what I think should happen does. And then when it doesn’t, which inevitably happens, I fall apart (either emotionally or physically because I start “spinning my wheels” to manipulate the circumstances, usually to no avail). Part of surrendering to life is realizing that so much is not in my control. I gain peace when I actually “let go” (I used to hate it when people said that to me). When circumstances become challenging, difficult, and/or emotional, I have to consciously step away. (Sometimes that is a literal step away). In most situations, it helps to insert space and time to wait and watch. Wait, take a moment and Watch, what the universe has in store. I’ve learned and experienced that the universe has a plan and things can many times work themselves out even without my “masterful” interfering and calling the shots. The great thing is I’ve tested the universe on this component numerous times, and continue to be pleasantly surprised how things work out. I encourage you to do the same, it saves a lot of energy and stress.
I hope this acronym offers some food for thought and a way to reframe how we function in our lives in the fast lane. Maybe, just maybe, we can stay out of the fast lane and keep to the right, except to pass.
Stay tuned for some more Living S.L.O.W. practical suggestions in my next blog.