lou bevacqui

Act in Your Own Best Interest


I just got home from a fantastic trip with a friend of mine. I had a great time, lots of sun and fun. I even missed out on sub-zero temperatures back home. I really have no reason to complain. I should feel peppy and full of energy, but I don’t. I feel lethargic and tired, and most of all I feel guilty for it. I know what I really need. Sleep. But instead, I think what I should do is get right back at it. Start working and jump right back into the normal pattern of my life. There are so many times when I struggle with this tension between the way I am feeling and the way I believe I ‘should’ feel. It’s especially hard for me when I return from a vacation. I’m sure it is for others too.

When I feel this creep up, I know I have to ask myself, “What do you want?” It’s not a question that we normally ask ourselves. Oftentimes we just act! We say yes, or jump into the ‘next thing’. But if we pause and take the time to figure out what will actually help us get that feeling that we want…because it’s never a thing…we can become much more resilient. 

There are a few different ways that we can get the feelings that we want. I know the way that I can get the feeling I want right now is to sleep. That is a very physical way for me to get the energy that I need after an incredibly fun trip with my friend, Rob. The problem with this? I am completely judging myself for needing to sleep. I mean come on! I just came back from Florida, and everybody’s complaining to me about how it was -45° here and how lucky I was to be on vacation. Honestly, we are the one who stops us from acting in our best interest. Most of the time we actually do know what we want and what we need but we have trouble acting on that knowledge. We need to stop judging ourselves for what will actually help us in the moment. If we can do that, if we meet our needs, we get the emotion that we are looking for and, in turn, will be more available to ourselves and to others.

So how do we do this? Some of it is by releasing that self-judgment and taking the action we know is in our best interest. If we are feeling tired, take that nap. Stressed? Don’t accept that invitation, or say no to that project. These are physical actions you can take. But we do live in a certain society. Try to tell somebody that you’re going to go take a nap after you’ve come back from a trip with sun, sand, and snorkeling while they’ve been battling -45° for the past two days. We also live in a society that values work above all else, sometimes even above the financial reward of the work itself. 

You have to begin by being good with you, being square with your own knowledge of what it is that you need rather than putting more value on the opinions of others and what they think you should need. If sleep is what you need and you know you’ll be better for yourself and others for it, go take your snooze. They may not be understanding, but is everybody always understanding of the decisions that you make? They may not understand it. But I’ll bet you don’t always understand their choices or what they need either. So, what are we back to? Judgment. Put your blinders on and start to concentrate on what would be best for you and what emotion you actually need in this moment. It may just be more energy. Let’s not forget that emotions are energy in and of themselves. 

But how do you get the energy you need–the emotions you need–in the moment when you don’t have the option of taking a nap or separating from something that truly does need to be done? We’ve talked about not judging yourself and taking the action that is in your best interest. But, in the case where you can’t take the immediate action (nap) that you know you need, when you’re not judging yourself, and you can actually focus on what else could help! Maybe some TLC could help. You might need to be gentle with yourself, you might need to take on less even if you have to be available for others. Not judging allows you to identify what are the essential things you have to do, and enables you to accept that you may have to do them more slowly or not do extraneous things. It’s almost like you’re taking an emotional pillow, puffing it up and laying down in the bed of yourself. 

When you reserve judgment, you can acknowledge how you are feeling in the moment (tired in my case), and what you want to feel (energized), and take action to generate that feeling inside yourself. The number one way to emotionally set yourself up to be successful when you do not have the physical tools available (I couldn’t take a nap) is what I would call mental rehearsal. Visualize how the thing you need to do is going to go. Literally play it in your mind. Go over it as much as you possibly can. See how you want the responses from others to be. Now don’t try to imagine yourself as something that you’re not. In my case, since I was feeling lower energy, I visualized myself giving a lower energy workshop. I saw the kids being successful. I pictured the workshop going in the positive direction and the main message getting through. 

When you do this mental rehearsal you are then able to go into that activity putting out so much less energy because it’ll already have happened for you. Your mind does not see what you imagine as any different than what actually happens in reality. Gary Mack, a sports psychologist who wrote a book called Mind Gym, talks about this in the realm of basketball. They did an experiment with a team that was having trouble hitting foul shots. The team was broken up into three groups with the groups doing one of the following activities:

  1. To shoot foul shots for one hour, or
  2. To shoot foul shots for half an hour and then to visualize shooting foul shots, thinking about the ball going through the hoop in their mind, or
  3. Just visualizing shooting foul shots and thinking about the ball going in the hoop, 

What they found was that the group that only did visualization ended up doing so much better than the other two groups, that they stopped the experiment altogether and the whole team did an hour of visualization and an  hour of foul shooting. Visualizing can put you into the right emotional energetic mindset for whatever you need to accomplish. But, when you are tired or feeling ‘off’, take the time to acknowledge what you are feeling, without judgment, and to visualize how to proceed through your activity successfully, really bringing to mind those emotions that you will feel as you accomplish your task (they may be confidence, accomplished, satisfied, or competent).

It’s now two hours before the workshop I need to give. I’ve done all the other work that I need to get done for the day. So, what I am going to do now is just rest, use my visualization and start to see this process happening the way that I want it to happen. I can’t control how the workshop is going to go, but I can control the effort and the non-judgment and everything else that I am putting out for it to work. This will meet my needs right now, and, in turn, I know it will result in a better workshop.

If you would like to learn tools and skills to help you improve your emotional aptitude, reduce your emotional isolation, lessen your avoidance of shame, fear, and anxiety, and enable yourself to reach your goals, break old habits, or create new ones, I can help. I provide emotional resilience coaching, so you can achieve your goals.  We can meet either virtually or in person at my office in Waterbury, Vermont.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

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