I’ve been making changes in my life over the last few months. Before these changes I wasn’t taking care of me—although I didn’t know that was the problem. I simply knew I felt exhausted and desperate. Once I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself I began rethinking my schedule, my needs, my wants and my life in general. I’d so busy taking care of everybody else, my needs were at the bottom of the list. Sure, I’d get a pedicure every now and then or have lunch with a friend—and I considered these activities to be good self care. And they are good self care, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t taking time to listen to my heart.
My schedule was overwhelming with almost no time to slow down or be still. My family and friends’ needs came before my own. To be honest, I wasn’t aware I had needs. Or wants. I thought making everyone else happy was a selfless and beautiful thing. If they’re happy, I’m happy, right? I found out, no, it doesn’t work like that at all. I am a person with needs and wants—just like my husband and my kids and my friends. Those needs and wants matter. After years of not caring for myself I was exhausted. Something had to change. But how? I couldn’t begin to imagine what self-care looked like, let alone how I would fit it into my busy days.
My counselor encouraged me to have quiet time. There was no agenda, just time set aside to be quiet and still. This idea was so completely foreign to me, when she mentioned it, I laughed out loud. Sit and be still? But I pride myself on productivity! If I sit around doing nothing, I’m worthless. Plus, I can give you a list of reasons I don’t have time for quiet–beginning with having a child with a severe disability, owning my own business and on and on. But, I have to admit, there was part of me that was curious. What would happen if I took time to do nothing?
Everywhere I turned the idea was popping up–a friend mentioned taking time for quiet, I read about it in a book, I came across an article on Facebook. So the following day I set my phone to airplane mode, set the timer for 10 minutes and awkwardly sat on the couch doing nothing. I didn’t try to think about anything or not think about anything. I had no agenda—except to sit and simply be. And nothing extraordinary happened. The timer went off, I got up and continued with my day.
The next day I did it again. It felt slightly less awkward the second day. Again I set my phone to airplane mode and set the timer for 10 minutes. Again, I had no agenda. I sat on the couch and let thoughts come or go. I didn’t try to do anything. I just sat still. And nothing extraordinary happened.
On day three I could feel myself craving the quiet time. My heart wanted it. My heart needed it. I set the timer and sat still. When the timer went off, I got up and began to move through my day. Nothing special happened during my ten minutes of quiet, but something unexpected was happening outside of the quiet. I could feel my feelings with greater clarity. My heart was speaking to me and I was making time to listen. I could make sense of my thoughts. I was noticeably less overwhelmed. I was more present. I could make decisions easier. I could say ‘no’ to things I didn’t want to do and ‘yes’ to things I wanted to do. It was like somehow the quiet was helping me work things out. The quiet was helping me to know myself and what I needed. The quiet was making me, more me.
I’ve started working more quiet into my days. I still love listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music, but sometimes when I’m driving or walking I turn everything off and let myself think. I set aside time four or five days a week to sit and be quiet. In a crazy twist, the quiet time away from productivity is actually helping me to be more productive—although that wasn’t and still isn’t my goal.
Productivity is important, but it doesn’t define my value. I am precious and worthy even if I accomplish nothing. I’m valuable simply because I am me.
Instead of keeping busy to avoid the quiet, avoid my thoughts and feelings, I am meeting myself in those moments of quiet. The story of my life is told in small moments that make up a beautiful journey. Some of those moments include quiet reflection.
I’m listening to my heart.
My heart knows what it wants and needs.
My heart will lead me in the right direction.
My heart will always lead me toward joy.
My heart needs quiet.
The quiet allows me to know myself.
Knowing myself allows me to care for myself.
Caring for myself allows me to be my truest self.
My truest self is who I am created to be.
Do you take time for quiet? Would you be willing to try it?