Since the start of the pandemic, I have been operating on minimum mental bandwidth. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the amount of office work and household work, but I found my inner peace by following a few principles.
1.Choose your tasks wisely
My mom asked me why don’t I talk to relative X. I told her “I have limited energy. I am using it to keep you happy by helping you sell some of the unused items in the house. You are a part of my inner circle and I care about you. But that relative who is only bothered about my marriage and kids is not a priority for me in life.”
She thinks I avoid people. But I consider it as using energy and time wisely.
Questions to ask yourself?
- Will this matter to me in the long term?
- Will it make me happy?
- How much of an energy drainer is this?
- Does this person matter to me in the long run?
2.Convert Overthinking to useful thinking
Overthinking triggers anxiety. Useful thinking provides solutions. When I overthink, “What is my future?” When I useful think, “What can I do today that will help me design my future?” When I overthink, “Is this all my life is all about?” When I useful think, “What is it that I want to do differently in life?”
Dots can be connected only backwards.
A few months back, one of my Quora followers messaged me, gave me her number and asked me to call her to help her clear mental blocks. There was no context on why I should be helping her for free. A part of me felt bad for her and wanted to do whatever I can but the other side of me reminded me how I should not make everyone’s problems mine.
While I would like to help a lot of people, which I do through the more than thousand answers I have written on Quora, hundreds of articles on my website and the free talks I give every now and then, you got to respect my personal time and give me a valid reason on why I should spend the next couple of weeks working for free on you. If I had so much leisure, I might as well break a few more of my limiting beliefs.
Don’t make everyone’s problems yours. You come first. Take care of your own mental health. Then you can fend for others, which is an immediate family circle. Then the close friends who were there for you or can be there for you. If you are not working full time and have a lot of mental bandwidth, then do free services.
4.Say no without feeling guilty
Last year, a friend messaged me abruptly saying that she was in Bangalore staying at her boyfriend’s place and asked if we could meet once. I was on leave that day and asked her to come over. Then she slowly changed the conversation that she wanted to stay for a couple of days which later got extended to 2 weeks and then she further added that she was feeling suicidal and I should take care of her physical and mental needs for 2 weeks.
I had my psychology internship, research paper and practical exam that week and my student who I was tutoring for a year, had her final exams. I could not take more leaves as I had to close my project before the year. I didn’t even have an extra room to provide for her. There was no way that I could provide her that kind of physical and mental support.
While it might sound that I am being too selfish, my husband indeed accused me of that, I said that is not something I can accommodate and she should seek professional help and not a friend who is already overburdened. She never reached out to my mentor who is a specialist in that nor spoke to any other professional. All she needed was attention which her boyfriend was not giving. Not an assumption, knew her since ages.
Also, friend is an overgeneralised term. You can’t keep being there for everyone who wants to cry unless you are a therapist where your profession demands you to be that. There should be certain give and take in any relationship or else you end up feeling drained mentally all the time.
Learning to Say NO without feeling guilty about being selfish helps you attain that mental peace.
When to draw the line?
- Does this relationship matter to you 5 years down the line?
- Will the other person do the same for you if you were in their shoes?
- Is it beyond what you are capable of?
- Are you doing it because you want to be a nice person?
- Are you doing it because you genuinely want to help?
- Does it hurt your mental health and happiness?
5.Stop Catastrophic thinking
Two years ago, I cried in the middle of the night terming myself unhirable. “In the past one year, all I have been doing is fix someone else’s stupid SQL queries. I have wasted my time with this organisation. My future is dead. Why will anyone hire me?”
My pain was real. But what I chose to do with the pain made all the difference. While I somehow managed to get into a good company with the credentials I had on my resume, I chose to pick up Data Science skills and forayed into building Natural Language processing models.
You might truly be in the worst position today. But that doesn’t define your future. You still have the chance and opportunity to change it by taking an action towards the future you want.
There are a few people in my life who I find it difficult to forgive. I often meditate on them and send them love. Again when worst case scenarios happen, the hate comes back to surface. The next day, I meditate on them again.
It is very difficult to forgive and love people who have done irreparable damage to your life especially when they never apologize or realise their mistake. But you deserve your inner peace. Let the anger go. Send love no matter what.
7.My top secret
I meditate and follow mindfulness. Without this, I would not have been able to achieve any of the above. If you would like to join any of my future guided meditation workshops, you can register here.
Happy finding your inner peace!