As of yesterday, I’ve been carrying around a little human inside me for 34 weeks. To say the past 8 months has been an adventure would be an understatement.
I’ve always been one of those people to impulsively jump into things. I tend to have an optimistic outlook on what I am capable of, which can end up with me saying too many yeses, and biting off more than I can chew.
I went into pregnancy like that, quite largely unaware of what I was in for. I had just started my business and I figured, 9 months to get this show on the road, that’s a great amount of time. I can do it all!
I’m not really sure how I ended up assuming that morning (or in my case all-day) sickness or pregnancy in general was no big deal. I was so furious that my dating ultrasound put me at 8 weeks instead of 9 weeks that I refused to acknowledge it at first. It was impossible for me to get my head around the thought of having to do that week over again.
As someone who likes to plan and prepare and know things (though paradoxically also enjoys spontaneity, whimsy, and feeling carefree), I still laugh when I look back at how challenging those early months were for me.
It was as if the pregnancy and this little one were telling me,
“Um, hello, you’re not the boss of this!”
I was fighting it, and the only one losing was me.
Though on one hand I just wanted time to fly by and everything to go smoothly (HA!), I felt the urge to explore and engage with the shifts my body was experiencing on a deeper level. I was called to dig into ideas around softening, surrender, and trust. I was familiar with all of these in a conceptual way, but I was pretty rusty in practice.
I joked with a self-love coach, “My idea of receiving is that I figure out what I want, and then I make it happen, or I create the scenario necessary for someone to give me what I want.”
“Well,” she laughed, “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
And she was so right.
Softening and surrendering are far from passive. They do not happen to us, they happen when we choose to pay attention.
Surrender is an active, and sometimes very challenging practice. It requires us to soften and open, and then soften and open some more.
At the start of all this, I practiced letting my whole body feel soft. What was it like to soften each part of my body from head to toe (especially my face/jaw/neck/shoulders where my tension likes to hang out) and bathe in that softness? Did softness have a shape or colour or texture? How often throughout my day was I noticing that I was not soft. Was I worrying or controlling, complaining or rushing or being self-critical? It became easier and easier to notice how my body felt in those moments (not soft) and gently ask of myself:
“How could I soften right now? What would it look like to invite softness into my body in this moment?”
This came in handy over and over again. Especially since I was working on building a business and there were times when I truly couldn’t get done anywhere near “enough” to feel as productive and successful as I expected. I felt lazy and like I was using pregnancy as an excuse. I thought of all the women that were working full time on their feet up until their water broke! It turns out that comparing myself to other entrepreneurs and moms was a great way to create tension in my body.
It was so much more about my frame of mind than my actual level of productivity. I felt so proud of everything I created over the past year, and how far I’d come. And yet it was almost laughable how reflexively self-critical I could be. This process of softening was the one thing I found to be genuinely helpful.
- It helped me learn about how to be gentle when I don’t meet my own expectations.
- It helped me learn about how to be kind when I don’t get everything done that I wanted to get done.
- It helped me connect to the part of me that knows I am enough, even when I have those moments of feeling like I’m not, or that I couldn’t possibly ever be.
Choosing softness, and starting in my body, allowed me to shift tension and hardness and self-criticism.
It gave me just enough space to pause and ask, “How could this be different if I softened? Could I love myself as I am? Could I accept where I’m at? Could I be more present, more deeply connected in this moment?”
I’m looking forward to continuing and deepening this practice indefinitely. It’s one I see myself coming back to over and over… and hopefully you will try it too!