Monthly Archives: September 2016

5 misconception about Self-Care

Tired?  Burned out?  Just don’t feel like you have the physical energy to do anything?  No matter, we will just have to force our way through the day just because there is no choice.  We know deep down why we feel this way.  We know why we can’t focus.  We know why we are not making the best possible decision.  We know it’s because we are just physically tired.  We have “abused” our body with lack of rest, bad food choices and lack of exercise.  We know that we need rest, good balance diet and some form of exercise.  What is stopping us from taking care of ourselves?

I am suggesting that there are 5 key reasons that leads to each of us NOT putting enough effort into looking after ourselves.  These reasons are:

  1. Self-care equals Selfish or Self-centredness.  There is a great misconception that self-care is considered as being selfish.  Being selfish or self-centred is clearly not a good attribute to have but in this situation, self-care is being kind and caring.  If you do not take care of yourself, you are not able to care for others.  When you are tired, you are also most probably grumpy and easily angered.  I believe that nothing good ever comes out of any situation when you are grumpy.  Therefore you are not doing anyone favours when you are tired.  Take the time to rest, sleep well and the people around you will thank you for it.
  2. Self-care is a waste of money.  Wasting money is clearly bad.  There is a misconception that in order to pursue self-care, it will cost money and time that we do not have.  It will cost more money to buy “healthier” food options, to join a gym and to get a massage or facial.    That is clearly not true.  Eating healthier does not cost anymore as it is just about making the right decisions to swap certain food types.  Exercise does not cost any more than having a pair of walking or running shoes and hitting the pavement.  At home facials do not cost anymore and can be more relaxing with a hot bath and a cucumber mask.
  3. Self-care is a waste of time.  No one  has time to waste.  Every minute is too precious. However, the reality is that time is relative and if you are to account for every minute of the day, you will find that you have probably spent more than an hour on playing candy crush.  There will be pockets of time that could have been better utilised.  Time that we could set aside for some exercise and relaxing activities for the mind and soul.
  4. Self-care is a sign of weakness.  We live in a world where we do not want to appear to be weak.  A sign of weakness is when we are not able to do everything that we are expected to do.  And what makes it worse is when we compare ourselves with someone else.  There is always that annoying “super-miss-can-do-it-all” and “super-mr-have-it-all” just around the corner.  Whether that’s true or not, you are living your life and must make your life based on YOU.  You need to live out your life based on who you are and what you are called to do.  It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help and certainly not weak to decide to spend time on yourself.  In fact it is a bold decision to do so.
  5. Self-care is NOT for someone like me.  When we look at someone who is “rich”, we see them come out of the hair salon or massage spa, we think that’s an indulgent lifestyle that is not for you.  There is perception that only certain kinds of people are entitled to enjoy themselves. Self-care is not for the elite.  It is for you just as much as it is for me.  We are all entitled to self-care.

We need to have a structure in place for self-care.  As human beings, we essentially have 3 aspects, the physical, emotional and mental.  Each must be taken care off in order for us to live a balance life.  We need to ensure that physically we are in good shape as we are first and foremost physical being.  Depending on our physical state whether we are tired or energised, it will drive our emotional and mental state.  For our mental health, there are mindfulness exercises as well as meditations that we can practice.  As all 3 aspects need to be in balance and looked after, we need to be mindful of what we do.  Each aspect needs to be taken into account.  Don’t wait for one aspect to break down or burn out for you to start.

Start today by being kind to yourself and take care to self-care.

I know that Feedback is good for me BUT

I know that feedback is good for me BUT…. Have we not heard that statement or even made that statement ourselves? We know that we need to grow and improve. We know that we can’t achieve that without feedback. Hence the question, what causes the “BUT” to appear in our sentence or speech. What causes the fear or anxiety that comes with giving or receiving feedback? Which aspect of feedback is more frightening, giving or receiving feedback?

For someone who is uncomfortable with setting expectations, giving feedback can be challenging. It is challenging because in order to give feedback, there must be an expectation of what it should or could be. There must be an aim or desired outcome from the feedback. The outcome must always be to help the person improve and NOT to just criticise or pull them down. One of the reason for not being able to set expectations is simply because you don’t know or have an expectation of what improvement would look like. When that happens it’s difficult to give good constructive feedback. Therein lies one of the keys of giving feedback.

For someone who struggles in themselves whether from self-doubt, fear or pride will have great difficulties in receiving feedback. Receiving feedback will naturally place us in a super defensive position which will result in NOT receiving or listening to anything that is being said. The outcome there is a slow process towards growth and resentment.

There needs to be a good balance of humility and self-confidence with clear expectations and outcomes in order to be able to give and receive feedback. Humility to receive, digest and decide on an action plan based on the feedback. Self-confidence to know that the feedback will not “destroy” your future ability to perform and to be able to put the action plan in the appropriate perspective and self-awareness.

What can we do to be a little bit more comfortable with feedback? The simple answer is to learn and practice. Learn some techniques in giving and receiving feedback and then putting it into practice. Learning the tools will give you a framework and confidence to get started. Practice will help you to make it a natural part of your skills repertoire.

A quick snap shot of giving feedback will consist of 4 key areas:

  • Be specific: Be specific with the observed behaviour or action that you would like to give feedback on. For example, “I have noticed that you have been late for the last 2 meetings.”
  • Outline the significance of that behaviour as it relates to you:   Following on from the above example, “I feel that you could be missing out the discussions as I value your input.”
  • Seek to understand the person’s viewpoint: For example, ” What is your take on this? “
  • Suggestion a solution or alternative: For example, “I would like to suggest that …..”

As a start it will probably feel very unnatural but once you are comfortable with it, it is a very quick process which should take no more than 2-3 minutes. After all, no one wants to hear an hour of feedback. I will conducting a workshop around Feedback in October and you can find out more here.

Just as important as being able to give feedback is receiving feedback. Receiving feedback is a skill that can be developed as well. There is no benefit for you to just be able to give feedback as the growth and benefit is for the person that you are giving feedback to. The benefit for you is in receiving feedback from others.

The most important rule to receiving feedback lies in Active Listening. Active listening is one of the hardest skills to learn as it requires total focus on your mind to just listen. Listen and NOT listen with the aim to respond with your perspective or preparing a brilliant comeback in your mind. Listen without any judgements, reflections and retaliation. Once you have heard the feedback, clarify any areas that may be vague or that you would like to seek further information with the goal of listening for areas of improvement. I dare say that none of us have reached perfection yet and therefore there is always room for improvement. With active listening, even if the person is not very good at giving feedback, you can still get the maximum benefit of the feedback.

Don’t avoid feedback out of fear or awkwardness. Learn more about it. There are various books, articles and training programme that you can attend. Equipping yourself will help to remove the fear and with practice will give you to confidence and comfort level to give and receive feedback.