The power of breaking the routine


Last weekend was spent away from home. Together with daughter and friends, we visited dear friends abroad, spent the weekend together.

From Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, I did not spend one minute doing the dishes, vacuum cleaning, driving to the supermarket, tidying up the living room, … without feeling guilty that I did not at the same time tidy up the garden, made an appointment to groom the dog, took care of payments, and more. We were busy having fun and seeing the sights and catching up.

Being away from it all combined with talks with friends, offered perspective.

Without any effort, I had a different view on myself, my priorities, and my life.

It was refreshing. It felt empowering.

Staying away from the usual endless to-do-lists, opened up mind-space to look at my life from my adult point of view. Adult? What I mean, is that in my daily routine, I am constantly behaving as a parent/employee/housekeeper/…. These are roles that I play, not the real grown-up me.

Breaking the routine, and having long talks with friends somehow triggered a different view on myself. When I sometimes talked about myself, I also described myself to myself. My own description of the things I’ve been through, my background, my experiences … also hit home with myself. I could see myself like somebody else would. At one point I consciously and explicitly realized: “hell, I’ve been through quite a few things, and successfully so. Looking at it this way, I am actually a pretty accomplished lady”.

It felt good.

Why don’t you give it try yourself?

You don’t even need to get away for the weekend. Find some quiet time and space for yourself. Forget about the to-do-list. This is you-time. But if you can really get away, maybe during the upcoming eastern holidays: that works best. A change of environment is the most effective.

Now: describe yourself, as if you are contemplating your own person from somebody else’s point of view. Imagine that you are Miss Inquisitive, looking at this person that is you. What do you see? Describe yourself.

The idea is to just use your senses. Observe. See. Film yourself.

Just see and hear and experience.

When you notice that you are mentally processing, judging, commenting: stop yourself. Go back to your observing self, get back behind your camera and continue your observation.

Start with a relatively superficial description of how this person looks and how she or he moves, and what she/he does during the day. Remember: you are observing, not criticizing. You are investigating this person that is you from the point of view of a well-meaning but relatively neutral person.

Then drill down a little deeper into the things this person is accomplishing during the day, during the week, during the year. Describe the things that he or she has organized and managed the last months, and the last years. How has he or she gone about things? What were the results? Be open, and take your time to look at everything, including the things that you yourself tend to either forget or consider non-important.

Describe how she or he relates to others: children, spouse, friends, family, colleagues …

Try to see how this person relates to him- or herself: look at yourself as if you are filmed: what do you see? How does it feel? Take your time. Describe yourself in detail, without criticism.

When ready, describe the more difficult moments this person has experienced. What has he or she been through? How did she/he cope? Allow yourself to be admiring of the beautiful and strong things this person has accomplished.

See it. Feel it. Breathe in. Breathe out.

If this works for you, go ahead and ask for the input from a close friend. Without feeling an obligation or expectation to flatter you: how would he or she describe you? Your friend will probably describe certain aspects of you, that you hadn’t seen yourself yet.

In the end, if this works for you as it has for me, you will feel deeply reconnected to yourself.

Sometimes, and for certain aspects, you might see some things of yourself that you are not happy with. Maybe you now see that you’ve reacted in ways that hurt others. If you feel how your behavior hurt the other, you can now go back to that person and acknowledge the hurt, and apologize. Maybe you now see that you have been acting in ways that are superficial or untrue to yourself. Be kind to yourself, don’t judge. There are reasons why you acted that way. Now that you see it, you will change things.


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