Self-Care

New Year, New Commitments

We all know the story. We make grandiose plans to change our lives and achieve new goals when the ball drops on the New Year and despite our best efforts these New Year’s dreams go unrealized. According to the University of Scranton around 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to achieve them.

Imagine year after year, making a commitment to ourselves just to break it. Year after year, we lie to ourselves. Year after year, we stay the same in the areas we’d most like to change.

new year's commitments

Why Don’t We Keep Those Commitments?

When people sit down and envision their future, their next adventure, or their next version of self – it’s exciting. No one sets out with the intention to lie to themselves. The thing is, most people lose that excitement to make progress towards their goals as time edges further away from January 1st.  This happens for 2 key reasons:

  1. Most people don’t keep their goals somewhere they can see every day or are reminded of them constantly.
  2. Most people don’t break down their resolutions into bite size chucks for weekly, monthly, and quarterly achievement.

These simple steps are critical to our success when it comes to making good on our New Year’s goals.

So What Can Be Done About It?

To give ourselves the best chance of getting what we want, the first step is to write the goals down everywhere! On average we are 42% more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.

Placing the goals in places we will see them daily like on Post-Its on our bathroom mirror, on the dash of the our car, or as the backgrounds of our phones will make sure they are at the forefront of our minds. When we think about them daily, we tell our reticular activating system (part of brain that filters the information we take in) that they are important. By doing so, our brain becomes focused on recognizing the opportunities to achieve these goals.

Goal achievement is a series of decisions we make and the outcomes they produce. When our goals are imprinted in our minds, daily, it’s easier to make decisions towards their attainment.

Break It Down

New Year’s resolutions can seem daunting and begin to become overwhelming. The best gift we can give ourselves is to think of the smallest steps we can take, that will build upon each other to get the goal.

Map out the weekly objectives that lead to milestones that eventually compound into the complete goal. For example, if you aim to lose 50lbs start with the goal of 5lbs a month and break that down weekly. Then think of the smallest life changes you can make to ensure you lose the weekly objective and do them. They say you eat an elephant one bite at a time and that is how you achieve your goals.

We now have everything we need to go to make the most out of our New Year. Now, we just think of what it is we want to do… and go do it!

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

Self-Care

The End of Year Life-Audit

Well, we did it. We have managed to make it through one of the strangest and possibly most challenging years we have yet to face as a collective humanity. As we approach the final days of 2020, we are met with the opportunity to reflect and discern on how to best move forward into the New Year.

This can feel like a nostalgic time of year that brings awareness to what has worked well, while getting honest about what hasn’t worked out so well. By reflecting over the most important and basic areas of our lives, we can regain the clarity necessary to create a do-able action plan for the coming season.

We’re calling this exercise The End of Year Life-Audit.

This may seem like a big task, so we’ve broken down the Life-Audit into three basic categories: body, mind, and spirit. Let’s begin.

Life-Audit: Body

Fitness and health goals typically sit at the top of people’s New Year’s resolutions list. The first week of January infamously sees the steepest spike in gym memberships out of the entire year, yet within a few weeks those same people drop off from having lost their original momentum. This is an example of what happens when we do what we think we’re “supposed” to do, versus finding outlets of moving the body in a way most aligned with who we are as people. There is no one-size fits all solution to the health of the body.

In a culture that idolizes very specific body types, diets, superfoods, and fitness trends, it can feel hard to relate with mainstream perceptions of health. This is why the real work is in discovering what health means for our individual body. And then, honor our choice through a lens of support instead of comparison. Caring for our body from the inside out is an act of kindness to ourselves.  It isn’t about pursuing perfection or maintaining ideals.  Rather, it’s the ongoing pursuit of balance.

body audit symbol

Body Audit

  • How did I care for, and treat, my body with respect this year?
  • How have I neglected or overlooked the well-being of my body?
  • Are my eating habits nourishing me or depleting me?
  • What’s the distance between how I want to physically feel versus how I realistically feel in my body today?
  • What is one simple change I can commit to in support of my physical body?

Life-Audit: Mind

The mind governs our mental and emotional happenings. It steers the way we experience the world, and how we process thoughts. In consideration of the pandemic and other happenings this year, mental and emotional health has felt unsteady for many. Our self-awareness and ability to maneuver through challenges relies on the fineness of the mind, and so it’s important to consider how we are engaging with the information available to us. There’s an excess of stimulation these days as we anticipate news headlines and adapt as everything switches online. Perhaps you or a loved one has been feeling mentally fatigued– it’s time to get curious about how our habits contribute to this.

mind audit symbol

Mind Audit

  • How much time do I spend behind the screen?
  • When was the last time I learned a new skill or picked up a hobby?
  • Are my most consistent activities helping me grow, or feel stuck?
  • When was the last time I had a compelling conversation?
  • What’s one way I can invite higher quality stimulation to my mind & life?

Life-Audit: Spirit

The category of spirit can seem abstract, but it’s simply speaking to the state of our joy and the depth of our love. Our spirit feels alive through laughter, through growing relationships, and in connecting with Mother Nature herself. These are experiential qualities that allow us to feel connected to something outside of ourselves. When spirit is active and felt within us we have access to our creativity, inner steadiness, and our own depth. These are the building blocks for feelings of wholeness and long-lasting success.

spirit audit symbol

Spirit Audit

  • Do my relationships (family, friends, community) feel satisfying?
  • When was the last time I went into nature alone?
  • What kinds of thoughts do I have first thing upon waking up, and before bed?
  • What is one thing I wish I could do but feel nervous about?
  • 3 things I am grateful for and why?

We hope The End of Year Life-Audit offers you some fresh perspective and motivation moving forward into the New Year. Remember, it’s never too late to turn things around or support yourself and those around you in a sustainable caring way.

By Melissa Aparicio, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

fingers counting 1,2,3,4,5
Caring Action, Self-Care

Holidays in Full Measure

Kids are so great at counting.  They still tell you their age in fractions.  “I’ll be 5-and-a-half tomorrow,” you’ll hear them say.  They are masters of anticipation.  “Christmas will be here in only six more sleeps.” Some even “track” Santa on the Radar.  Somewhere along the line, we lose this notion as we get older (and stop counting birthdays all together).  But taking the full measure of things is essential this holiday.

Have you ever seen someone at a fitness center jump from one piece of equipment to the next? A little elliptical.  A bit of treadmill. A row or two.  Some weightlifting.  Good for them, they’re working out. It might have even been a great workout.  But they aren’t measuring anything.  Nothing is tracked. Reps weren’t counted.  Time elapsed was ignored.  The metrics were missing.  So, there’s no real basis for knowing if progress is happening or not.  This can happen during the holiday season, too.

holidays in full measure; counting fingers

Making It Count

Taking stock during the holidays before the start of a New Year is a wonderful idea.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all.  The simple notion is that when we’re measuring, we can show improvement.  Just count something.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s something you find interesting. 

Our lives are shaped by how we choose to spend our time and energy each day. Measuring can help us spend that time in better ways, more consistently.  But like most things, there’s a secret to doing it best.

Measure Backward Not Forward

With all of this counting, measuring, and tracking, there’s a trap to avoid.  Don’t make it about the results.  Instead, measure to discover something about yourself and you’ll get to know (and understand) yourself better.

It’s been said that 90% of life is showing up.  That’s a measure we should all be curious about.  Are you showing up? And if you are, is it to expend energy on the things that actually matter to you?  We’re all anxious for 2020 to be over and 2021 to begin.  But take a quick break from looking forward.  Be in the moment.  And try looking back as the year winds down. Now is the perfect time to take the full measure of 2020.  The good, the bad, and yes . . . even the “fugly.”

Face Unafraid The Plans That We Made

You can’t measure the spirit of the season, or goodwill.  But you can track different ways that you are showing up with grateful appreciation in your life.  Make a conscious effort to smile at someone every day.  Send a “thank you” text or email to someone every day of the month.  Make it part of the “to-do list” on your calendar, so you can keep track.

Measuring your personal value system may seem impossible, but it’s invaluable.  And it can be easy if you simply make a mental check list.  In fact, if you are thinking about something, then you can be tracking it, too.  If your mind is crowded with distraction, ditch the mental checklist and write things down instead. 

journaling

And To All A Good Write

The holiday season tends to be filled with lists.  Lists of gifts.  Lists of ingredients.  Lists of groceries. Even seating charts.  But those are for other people.  Consider a list that just for you.  An act of care for self.  Write down three principles, or morals, or ideals that are dear to you each morning before the hustle-bustle begins.  Make it a Decision Journal to track which choices you make and whether or not they align with your ethics.  A perfect gift of self… to self.  In this way we can ultimately do a better job of helping others. 

Believing Is Receiving

Remember, the things we measure in life are the things we can improve. As we inch our way toward 2021, what are you measuring in your life?  If there is something that you believe you would love to have — such as a more fulfilling relationship, a dream job, or a better local community — receiving it may very well come down to valuing it enough.

As for holiday wishes, here’s the best part: The moment you realize you already have everything you’re looking for, the universe gives it to you. In other words, it’s actually better to give and receive… if you’re open enough to accept it. 

You made it through the year.  And what a year it was, by any measure.  But soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

upside down man
Caring Action, Self-Care

The World is Crazy; So Here’s the Plan

Remember “normalcy?” It’s been a while. But before this current version of “crazy,” you probably thought elements of your “way back then” life were pretty crazy too.

upside down man

It didn’t require the first worldwide pandemic in 100 years to hear people saying things like:

  • “I’m not cut out for this.”
  • “I’m getting too old for this.”
  • “I didn’t sign up for this.”

It’s good to recall the words of Mrs. Nussbaum from the old neighborhood: “Always be prepared for crazy.”

It was her simple way of saying: “I don’t want to hear about things not being perfect. I want to hear that you are better prepared to handle it next time.”

She was tough, but fair.  But most of all, she was wise.

That’s because “being prepared for crazy” is a state of mind.  And it’s incredibly useful when it comes to sticking to goals and living a healthy, caring life.  Take comfort in this. Especially when the world goes crazy. Or stays crazy.

Bake In The Crazy

If you have a goal of lifting weights three times a week, you want to stick to it, right? Same thing if the goal is to sleep eight hours a night.

When everything hums along without any hiccups, it’s easy to stick to your goal. If traffic is light, or the boss doesn’t make you stay late, you’ve got time to lift.  If you go to bed on time, you’ll get the eight hours.

But what about when the crazy happens?  Isn’t that the catalyst for making excuses?

The goals are still important, but you didn’t expect the traffic jam.  So you give yourself permission to skip the weights. You didn’t expect the Peterson’s to over-stay their welcome last night. So it’s not your fault your sleep schedule becomes a nightmare.

Okay.  Fair enough. But the only predictable thing about life is how unpredictable it is.  So how can you stay on-track when day-to-day life is so dynamic?  How can you plan and anticipate for the crazy?

If Zig Happens, Then Zag

The Zig/Zag Technique is the ultimate way to plan for crazy and stay on schedule even when life goes bananas. Why? Because it forces you to create a strategy for dealing with chaos before you need to.

If you don’t get home in time to lift weights, then you’ll lift weights in the morning before work.

If you didn’t get eight hours of sleep last night, maybe you’ll work in a “power nap” during lunch.

The Zig/Zag Technique helps you to consider the unpredictable craziness that so often enters our daily lives. And it provides more options for sticking to your goals.  Life is a crooked line, after all.

Do Something vs. Nothing

Maybe the world is crazier than it used to be.  Or maybe it’s always been crazy, but we talk about it more now.  Either way, you can be sure of countless mini-emergencies every day.  Each one designed to re-route you from your goals. But you can do something about it.  And that’s the key. Something is always better than nothing. 

If you choose to plan for the crazy and use the Zig/Zag Technique to find options for staying on-track, then your day will stay on-course.

One other thing Mrs. Nussbaum used to say:  “Look, dearie.  Maybe you can’t always do it all. But you can always do something small.”

She’s right.

Forget the crazy.

It will always be with us in one form or another.

Doing something (however small) is at least a start. From maintaining goals, to pursuing a caring life – it all comes down to a willingness to start. Or get started over and over again. Comforting to know, isn’t it? And there’s nothing crazy about that.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

an eye in the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Becoming the Eye of the Storm

Between the pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, political tension, and everyday stressors of our lives, it seems like we are in a chaotic whirlwind called 2020. These turbulent times can make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, angry, fearful, disappointed, or any combination of the mentioned emotions along with a slew of others. That is external chaos and it’s is out of our control.  

We can only control ourselves and how we react and give meaning to the chaos. Let’s look at these times as a hurricane and, in the following paragraphs, gain a sense of how we can be the eye of the storm (a calming force) for ourselves and others until brighter days come.

Fighting Fire with Fire?

Our raw emotions can seem like a fire boiling our blood or drawing us to tears. Whatever our experience, our emotions are powerful. These emotions can make us feel like chaos not only exists outside of us but is one with our being. Imagine a time where a situation arose that was hectic or negative and our emotions thrust us into a frantic internal state. How did that impact the situation? Did it change the circumstances or make anything better?

We all instinctively know the answers to those questions. In turbulent times, fighting fire with fire doesn’t work – it just consumes us. Our emotions are meant to be felt and used a GPS. The problem comes when we start to give subjective meaning to emotions we experience, turning them into a feeling which changes our state or becomes the lens through which we see everything.

During these times, it’s important we find ways to feel deeply and release our emotions in constructive ways. We must catch ourselves as we give meaning to what our emotions signify. Why? Because that meaning we give them determines what feelings linger, it determines our state, and can alter our attitude.

Attitude is Key 

Attitude is defined as ”a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this.” Note that attitude can be a “feeling” which is our mental opinion or meaning we give an emotion that comes up. With that in mind, our attitudes have the power to shape how we perceive reality, how we see people, and even how we show up. To be the eye of the storm, it’s vital that we keep a positive mental attitude. According to Positive Psychology the characteristics of a positive mental attitude we must cultivate are:

  • Optimism: Being hopeful and confident about the future even when things seem bleak
  • Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how we want them to, but we can learn from everything.
  • Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure.
  • Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in our lives
  • Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
  • Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving

Stay Grounded

The third and final element we get to master as we become a calming force in chaotic times is staying grounded. This simply means we find a way to free our mind of thoughts and be still. This can be done through mediation, visualization, and other breathing practices. There are a plethora of ways to do these practices and the key is finding a practice that fits us personally.

3 elements to becoming the eye of the storm

In a Nutshell

Turbulent times are bound to happen at some point in our lives. Right now, it seems as though the whole world is experiencing subtle and not-so-subtle chaos. In these times, the only thing we can control is ourselves. Becoming the eye of the storm helps us bring a peacefulness to our inner state and allows us to show up as a calming force for others. We become that force by remembering the following:

  1. Don’t fight fire with fire: We get to feel our emotions as they come up and remember the moment we give a mental meaning to them or lament over them, we feel it internally.
  2. Attitude is key: It’s important we cultivate and keep a positive mental attitude if we want to remain calm in turbulent times.
  3. Stay grounded: When we stay grounded through meditation, breathwork, or visualizations we keep a peaceful inner state.

By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

a hurricane and comfort from the storm
Caring, Self-Care

Comfort from the Storm

In these turbulent times, you’ve probably observed that just about every news story is overwhelmingly about things we can’t influence or control, and ultimately this leaves us feeling unable to help, or make a change. It’s easy to get hooked on this headline distress – there’s even a new name for the excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news: “Doom-Scrolling” or “Doom-Surfing.” Where’s the comfort needed from the storm?

If you find yourself continuing to scroll or surf through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing, you need to stop or step back – you need to re-balance with something comforting. That’s because simply hearing bad news can feel like an attack on the comfortable worlds we have built around us. Consuming too much makes us feel bombarded, increases our stress levels, and leads to rising feelings of anxiety.

In fact, that sense of unease is the origin of the word “dis-ease.” So it’s no wonder that feeling low, helpless and stressed are common side effects of the perpetual news cycle we’re all living in.

If you’re anxious, sad or overwhelmed, it’s time to make a change and trade the news for some soothes. To do so, it helps to have a collection of comforting — and healthy — tools you can turn to.

Self-Care vs. Self-Comfort

Much has been said and written about self-care, because it’s so important.  But we don’t hear as much about its fraternal twin . . . self-comfort – the ability to truly soothe your mind and body. And here’s some good news you can use: self-comfort doesn’t require more money or more time – just healthy strategies.

For example, we store anxiety in our body, so the simple act of standing up and doing a full-body stretch is an easy way to comfort yourself anytime.

Speaking compassionately to yourself with consideration and care – by extending the same kindness to your inner-self as you would to a good friend is another form of effective self-comfort.

See if you can introduce more compassion into your internal dialogue in response to unkind self-talk.

Offer yourself encouragement and support when you can. Speak to yourself gently, as you would to a loved one, with phrases such as: “You’re doing the best that you can,” “You’re allowed to make mistakes,” You’re allowed to feel disappointed, and that’s okay,” “Your best is good enough,” “Your feelings are real, and really important.” The key to self-comfort is making sure that you really believe the caring things that you say to yourself.

If you’re not quite yet in a place where you believe that you’re allowed to make mistakes, at the very least, you can compassionately acknowledge your reality at the moment with constructively comforting self-talk like this instead: “You find it really painful when you make a mistake – it’s understandable.”

The opposite approach of self-talk works too, when we reach out to people we trust to support us. We’re all wired to connect with others and to comfort each other emotionally and physically, so don’t be shy about seeking that connection.

Music Has Charms

One of the most mis-quoted phrases is: “Music calms the savage beast.” The phrase actually comes to us from a poem written by William Congreve in 1697: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”  As you can see, no “beast” involved, but rather the “breast,” which in 1697 meant the heart, or emotions.

More than 400 years later, it’s still true. The benefits of listening to calming music – pairing soothing tunes with deep breathing can even lower your blood pressure. So give the Netflix binging a break and instead create your own playlist of comforting songs that help you to slow down or connect with positive memories and experiences.

Self-Comfort to soothe your mind and body

Unicorns & Cotton Candy

When considering self-comfort, it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to fix your feelings right away.  So, don’t find fault in yourself if you aren’t seeing unicorns and cotton candy skies within the first 10 minutes.  The important thing is that you’re building a self-comfort toolbox of healthy strategies to turn to any time you need it.  Sometimes the most comforting thing is to just simply say you’re having a really crappy day.

Every feeling has a purpose, because feelings send important messages that tell us something isn’t quite right, and it’s time to re-balance.  With healthy habits to choose from, you can reach for some self-comfort when you’re ready to feel better.

Now isn’t that a comforting thought?

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

ready, set, stop!
Self-Care

Ready… Set… Stop?

ready, set, stop!

Most of us have grown up being taught that the proper formula is “Ready, Set, GO!”  But in almost every case, we actually need to “GO” before we feel ready.

In fact, starting before feeling ready is often cited as one of the chief habits of successful people.  Why is that?  Aren’t we supposed to have all of our proverbial ducks in a row first? Or is that just ducking commitment?

It turns out that committing to something is far more important than being ready for something.  You probably know of people in your own life that finally quit smoking – not because they were ready to – but because they were committed to it.  Throughout history, how many soldiers were ready to take a hill, versus being committed to taking it, when it was “go” time?

The very act of starting something and committing to it forces us to focus better.  Think of those moments in your own life when you were thinking about starting a new project. You probably had less trouble with focus, and more trouble simply deciding.  Recall the things you absolutely had to get done – even if you put it off for a bit – once you committed to doing it, you got it done, right?  If you want to make meaningful progress in your life, or your job, or your own health, it’s not so much about being ready, it’s more about making the decision to commit, and the needed focus will be there.

Work Begun is Half Done

Want to lose the extra pounds from the COVID quarantine? Great! You don’t need to do a ton of research. You don’t need more information to get “ready.” Just commit to the fundamentals of eating real food and exercising more, and commit to making it happen.  If it’s important to you, you’ll take the first step and trust that you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

The Only Wrong Choice is NO Choice at All

Whether you ever spent time in a high school drama class or not, you’ve probably been reminded on more than one occasion of the old axiom: “Life Isn’t A Dress Rehearsal.”  That’s because this is your life, right now! It’s happening whether you sit quietly or whether you actively participate in it.

If you want to lose weight, or you want to quit smoking, or you want to be more kind, or change jobs, then make the choice to begin – ready or not! If you know where you are going, the universe will help you get there, or at the very least clear a path for you.  A willingness to start is the littlest thing in your life that can make the biggest difference.

Good Enough is Plenty Enough

Allow yourself to be propelled forward by the excitement of doing something challenging.  Naturally, you’ll feel unsure, unrehearsed, and unskilled.  That’s a given.  So if you use that as an excuse to do more planning and more prep work, that’s all it is – an excuse.  You have a choice, though. You can get going right now, if you want to.

Remember the expression some people will say before embarking on a new goal: “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!”  It’s a wonderful way of admitting that who you are, what you have, and what you know in this very moment is all you really need to start. 

Take a chance, and contribute something – anything – to your partner, to your workplace, to your community. If you need more incentive, keep in mind: the people who get started are the only ones who end up finishing.

Begin today. Stand up, step up, rise up, and raise a hand.  Everything from a meaningful existence to a vibrant relationship requires a willingness to get started.  As the old saying goes: “You can’t plan for everything, or you’ll never get started in the first place.” So just get set . . . and GO . . . ready or not!

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.

UCA resources available to help include the Turbulent Times Resources Center,  radio show, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

Self-Care

How to Gain Confidence Even If We Never Had It

how to gain confidence

There is a truth weaved in the famous quote from Marcus Garvey that states “with confidence, you have won before you have started,” that many of us can relate to. Despite that resonance and countless examples of how even in failure a confident person’s confidence doesn’t diminish, the number one regret among the dying remains a wish for the courage to have lived a life true to their selves, and not the life expected of them. It takes true confidence to run towards our dreams, unapologetically, and live a life true to who we really are.

If we are to change that end of life narrative for ourselves and reap the wins Garvey talks about because even when we lose we still are whole and our self-worth isn’t tainted.  We must cultivate confidence. Here’s a simple road map for how to do that.

Confidence is a Seed

Every one of us is born with a seed of confidence. Some of us are lucky to be born in an environment that nurtures and waters the kernel inside of us regularly; giving birth to courageous and bold individuals. For those of us who didn’t grow up in environments like that, it can seem as if those traits are not present in us at all or will never be. The truth is, confidence is something that can be cultivated and grown no matter what. Knowing this fact serves as the first step in letting this plant blossom inside of us.

Growing the Confidence Seed

Many of us believe we are not this bold, self-assured person who can show up in any circumstance as such. These beliefs are exactly why we feel insecure or doubtful in our abilities. In human psychology, self-signaling refers to the truth that our actions reveal to us who we are. Those of us who lack confidence simply do not take the actions of a confident person. These actions may seem impossible at first but that is just a mental barrier. The only way to grow into a courageous person is to take the actions – we believe – courageous individuals take.

This is why practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming say that modeling behaviors, thoughts, and patterns is the most important aspect of changing ourselves. To grow this seed of confidence all one must do is define the actions they associate with a confident person (this is already the belief). No matter how uncomfortable it feels, take those actions daily. Not only does this process rewire our neural pathways and stretch the limits of our comfort zone, it changes the way we see ourselves. It changes the narrative around who we are and when that changes, the stories we tell ourselves about what is possible for our lives change.

Let’s Get Confidence Going

Take these words and transform them into the action steps needed to not have that number one regret of dying humans be ours. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. What does confidence look like to us?
  2. What do all the confident people we admire do to make us admire them?
  3. What can we model from this behavior?
  4. What actions can we take every day over the next 3 months to mimic these behaviors?

Once we answer those questions and devise that 3-month action plan, the only thing stopping us from being the powerhouse of confidence we truly are is ourselves.

by Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Post-It Notes Collage
Self-Care

Are You Living A Busy Life or a Productive One?

bust or productive life?

There has always been a great emphasis on staying “busy” (or at least looking busy). It was once seen as a surefire way to stay employed or to gain admiration from others. But a closer examination reveals that “busy work” has little value in itself.

And value is important.  Just as “quality time” is more important than the quantity of time, busy is falling out of favor while measuring productivity is becoming more vital.

This is certainly true in most professions, but what about in your own personal life?  What do you really care about?

With only a few precious hours in each day, are we using them to catch a glimpse of what we are capable of – who we are destined to be – or are we spending them shuffling papers and alphabetizing the soup cans in the pantry?

Important questions, because important desires are calling us all the time.  The inspiration to write a book or a poem. The yearning to lose the extra weight. The urge to build something of our own versus sticking with a dissatisfying job.

Is the urgency of a busy life getting in the way of a productive one? 

A text comes in. Your tires need air. A client demands an impossible deadline. Real life. But also an excuse to delay dreams one more day for the sake of another fire drill.

How do you make the leap from busy to productive? How do we start living the life that’s important to us instead of just responding to the everyday emergencies?

Think of it this way: you’re going to spend the next decade doing something.

Will you respond to what is urgent, or will you choose to pursue what is important, instead?

Is your craving to be noticed or appreciated (busy) winning out over the ability to be present and satisfied (productive)?

Become Purposeful

Of course handling responsibilities is part of life. But how long will you delay what’s important to you just so that you can handle the Next Urgent Thing in front of you? How long will you put off what productive thing you’re capable of doing, just to maintain what you’re currently doing (staying busy)?

Will you wait 12 months? Ten years? Your entire life?

If you want to start living a productive life, then choose a clear direction for yourself right now.  It takes courage to say, “This is what is important to me and I’m going after it,” but you can do it. 

Otherwise, you’ll only be living the life that other people expect you to live.

You’ll soon find that having a clear purpose and a specific goal prevents you from being sucked into the multiple vortexes of time–consuming, unimportant busy work.

A Specific Goal

A crucial point to understand is that a specific goal is different than a desire.  Wanting to get in shape is a desire, running a marathon is a specific goal. Wanting to start your own daycare center is a desire, securing the first three paying families is a specific goal.

The secret to living an important, productive life is recognizing that it will never demand your attention right now, on its own. You have to cultivate that sense of purpose and prioritize it over the long haul.

There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to normal. Abandon that notion and think more about going forward to new. Start the slow march from busy to productive by picking one thing that you care deeply about, and get started today. 

Trade frantic for focused, and you’ll be surprised how soon perfectionism gives way to purpose. 

Become a purposeful soul, instead of a busy body, and you can celebrate success for a lifetime.

By Mark Smith, contributing author

We are all working our way through a changed world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We may no longer be quarantined or under stay-at-home orders, but everyone is stretched to adapt like never before.  All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us in our communities. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. This is a great opportunity to create the world we want for our future generations. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement!

Would you like to read more about UCA caring resources and products? We have other blogs on Unified Caring Association and our products, caring in our communities, and caring the UCA way!

Unified Caring Association

It is Time to Water the Growing Edge

How we focus our energy on what we want to grow

As our world continues to change quickly and sometimes dramatically, it may be easy to pine over what we have lost, and what we may not get back. It is natural to miss what was once normal. However, it is time that we look to the growing edge. We can focus our energy on what we want to grow: it is time to water the growing edge.

As people continue to seek new ways to live fulfilling lives, they are coming up against challenges.

Challenges like meeting basic needs. These are challenges that UCA has the capacity to help with. Like providing food and needed supplies for children and families. In a pilot project to meet critical needs for children in foster care, UCA provided warm winter clothes, under garments, feminine care supplies, shoes, toiletries and warm accessories.  UCA also provided bicycles to middle school and high school students who would otherwise miss school due to lacking transportation options.

At UCA, we continue to seek the growing edge

We are delighted when we see organizations like One Tree Planted doing their part to restore salmon habitat. This is to grow an increase in the local salmon population to feed a suffering pod of Orca whales! UCA had to step in and do our part to support these endeavors. You can read more about that here.

We also have to water our own growing edge

That is why at UCA, we prioritize self-care for our members and provide articles like this or these. Some members want step-by-step how-to’s of self-care, while others thrive with our updates on inspiration for small acts of self-care that give a big impact. You can’t water from an empty cup, so make sure yours gets refilled regularly!

We hope to help you do your best to water your own growing edge, by staying healthy and active

We also want to know if you have any growing edges that need watering in your community. Reach out to us through access on your Membership Dashboard. We want to hear your ideas as well, and if your Share Your Caring Story about how you watered a growing edge in someone’s life or in your community, we will share it with our members on our website!