May: Perseverance

I know I said this last month, but wow, when I planned the themes for this year, I had no idea how topical they’d really be. It’s still blowing my mind!

When I first came up with the idea of a month of perseverance, I was thinking about how the past few months’ themes have been cognitively challenging: from reflecting on your inner self to grappling with the concept of holding two conflicting things in your mind at one time. Internally, those are massive steps to take towards beginning to understand yourself better and I definitely think perseverance is the last step in that process: to keep going and keep practicing reflection, sitting in the grey area, and being present. That’s when it becomes a way of life rather than a habit you’re trying to stick to. When you know yourself and are honest with yourself, you can be more productive and creative all at the same time.

At least… that’s how I envisioned it, back in November before a global pandemic had begun. I spoke about this in my April Reflection, but I’ve been purposefully keeping it pretty light on Instagram with the intention of my feed being a bit escapist. But here, where we’re digging deeper into how to help productivity stick and what that means for our creativity, I can’t ignore something that has so greatly taken over how we live and work. (I hope you’ll read that post for a much more thorough and hopefully nuanced reflection on that idea.)

Now, of course, the theme of perseverance has taken on a hugely different meaning and one that’s a lot less internal as our families, communities, cities, countries, and world persevere through an immensely challenging time.

That can be a whole lot for one brain to take in. I’m not sure about you, but I think that overwhelmed feeling is where I get tripped up and often where my anxiety takes over.

After a quick emergency meditation session, for me, the thing that helps me persevere the most is remembering a time that was so immensely difficult in my life that I felt I’d never get through it, where I couldn’t imagine how something so horrible or difficult could be happening – and then remembering that here I am, and it sure was hard, but I got through it and I’m here and I might have even learned something from that time in my life – or maybe channeled my stress into something creative or perhaps gave back in some way to combat the negativity of the challenge.

This time is unprecedented and I’m not trying to downplay any of the traumatizing, horrific parts of the pandemic in any way. I just want to offer up one method of self-care that I’ve found, for me, to be a tried-and-true method of getting through something that’s immensely difficult.

And that is: acknowledge that this is hard, difficult, and incredibly challenging; sit with the feeling as long as you need; then remember a time when you felt the same way and got through it. And maybe say to yourself: See, self, I did it; I’m still here; I made it through – and if I can get through that, I’ll get through this too.

Resilience is often a slow unfolding of understanding.

Brené Brown

That little boost of confidence, of telling yourself, I can do this, can sometimes (for me at least) make all the difference of weathering a storm. And that boost of confidence can lead to inner strength, and that inner strength will help you persevere.

In this month’s challenge, I have a really simple, tactile way to put this into practice. I hope you try it out with me! And above all, I really hope you and your loved ones are staying safe, staying in if you can, and are healthy and well.

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