As many of you know, I am a psychologist and a wellness coach. I wear two hats, which often interchange because the two are similar in many ways. In my work with both therapy clients and amazing mothers that I coach, there seems to be a common theme: being more intentional. It filters into almost every intervention and is often the very thing that makes all the difference.
Being more intentional…
What does Being more intentional actually mean?
Intentional living is all about taking yourself out of autopilot mode and taking control of your life again.
You don’t think you’re on autopilot?
How often do you feel like you are just going through the motions of the day? … Wake up, get ready, get kids ready, breakfast, clean, work, school, work, kids, meals, clean, TV, bed, sleep and all over again.
How many times have you caught yourself thinking it was Tuesday when it was actually Wednesday? How did the days roll into each other?
Being on autopilot means succumbing to the daily routines and doing them without much thought. They have become such second nature that you just do them. Day in and day out.
Sometimes you stir it up with a social engagement, a glass of wine, or a fun vacation. But the rest of the time it feels pretty hum drum. Am I right?
Getting out of autopilot mode
The trick to breaking the cycle is not necessarily adding more excitement to your week. Life and responsibilities have to happen. And, when we have kids, we have to have routines – it keeps everybody sane.
The trick to being more intentional is paying attention. Being present. Being conscious.
You can simply take your ordinary daily routine and become conscious of it, which makes you more aware. When you become aware you begin to recognise just why you do certain things the way you do them.
Just why do you put the kids to bed at 7:30pm every night? (I know I need some time out so bed times are a fast rule for our household).
Just why do you read a bedtime story? We do it so that we have wind down time and connection time. Many do it because they were told it was a good idea. But when you are clear on the why, you can make it more so. I know I want connection with my kids before I get that needed break from them and so I intentionally use a bedtime story to create that.
When you know why you do things, then you have choice – to continue doing it this way, or change it.
Being intentional puts you in the driver’s seat of your life.
The benefits of living intentionally
So why, exactly, would intentional living become one of the main themes in my interventions with clients?
Well, more often than not depression is about being stuck. It’s a state of non-movement. It’s a space of helplessness and powerlessness, which often turns into hopelessness. When a client struggling with depression can become an agent in their own life again, the veil begins to lift. They are able to have choice, see options, take action. These shifts create movement in their lives as well as their emotions. And these movements can help to dislodge the depression.
Anxiety is often a state of inner conflict. Oftentimes clients are at conflict with themselves – they are not living in alignment with their values, or they are being placed in situations that are inherently uncomfortable. Becoming intentional and aware allows them to take ownership of their choices again and to make changes that allow them to live authentically .
(I am really providing only the briefest and surface level understandings of these conditions here – there are, of course, other and deeper reasons for these conditions. But often intentional living brings the person back into control of their situation, time, choices and responses).
Intentional living for mothers
My work with mothers has been the most powerful in this area.
When women become mothers they lose themselves. It is almost an inevitable and necessary part of the process of attuning with this new being that is 100% dependent on you for survival.
If we didn’t lose ourselves in the process, I doubt we would be able to the job as well as we could.
The next step in the process is to rediscover who we are. We shoulder new responsibilities and cares. We have another heart that walks out there in the world, apart from us. We need to learn to be the new version of ourselves that carries more than one identity.
Life gets busy and overwhelming. The demands are high and our own self-awareness and self-care slips, easily.
Becoming intentional is about rediscovering you. The you that exists amidst the cries for cuddles, the complaints about broccoli, the dirty nappies, the midnight wakes ups, the sibling rivalry and the never ending mountain of toys that never seems to diminish.
Becoming intentional is getting off autopilot and becoming aware.
It is time to stop and take stock of who you are – are you who you envisaged you would be? What changed? Who do you want to be now? What do you need to do to make this happen?
Sit quietly now for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths and enter your body. Be present in this moment and notice everything around you – the sounds, smells, sights. Feel your body. Now ask yourself those questions and simply see what comes up.
It may surprise you.
Being intentional is about carving actions that move you toward those goals again. It is about looking at your current action, being present in it and asking “does this serve me”?
And this, my friend, is just the beginning of intentional living.
The bigger picture of intentional living
When we allow ourselves to become conscious again and take control of where we want our lives to go, an endless realm of possibility opens to us.
But beyond this, we are able to be more present in our own lives and in the lives of our children and partners. We can take small moments and make them count. We can discard routines that don’t serve us and carve new ways of connecting and mothering that work for us.
As we near the end of 2020 – what do you need to let go of?
And what would you like to craft for 2021?
Sometimes having a coach to walk you through these questions is the most powerful life changing gift you can give yourself. A simple 90 minute session could set you well on your way…
It’s time to be intentional.