Once in a while a life event happens to slow us down – it might be an injury, a job loss, a relationship loss or something else. Have you ever had a moment like this where your life took an unexpected or tricky turn?
These are the moments that invite us to explore our “Core Strength.”
I had one of these small moments this week. On Monday, I decided to go to yoga class. I was feeling good (maybe a little too good) and I stretched further than I should have. I am not proud to share that in my moment of private bravado my stomach muscle snapped.
It was the kind of snap that makes you think, “Oh no – did I really just do that?” As I lay on the floor assessing my situation, I tried to transition to another position without groaning out loud (not possible by the way). Clearly there was a lesson to be learned here about Core Strength and the irony did not escape me as I hobbled to the car, trying not to hunch over like the number 7.
After several days of sore muscle and hurt, I decided to press in - literally. I had to go in deep to reach the area that was causing the problem – the muscle (or lack thereof) is at my core. It hurt. I didn’t want to go there. But a massage therapist taught me years ago that “going in” was the path to wellness.
The parallel to life’s journey was screaming at me. Going in is the path to wellness.
Did you ever have a moment that invited you to “go in” a little deeper? It’s a choice. We can let time heal our injuries – or we can dig in to get to “well” just a little faster.
The invitation to explore Core Strength does not require a tragedy or challenge. The opportunity will present itself – like this moment right now – when you are invited to go in.
The journey to “Core Strength” is located on a playground where you get to discover the most exciting things about yourself. On this journey, there are treasure hunts and magic shows and rest time for quiet thought.
Here are the major areas on which Core Strength is built:
Purpose and Gifts. Purpose and gifts are the foundation for our life and “work” here on earth. There are many, including me, who believe that we come to earth with a purpose. Additionally, I believe we are gifted with innate gifts and talents that we are invited to know, embrace and share with others. Rediscovering that which we were born knowing is one of the most joyful processes there is.
Vision. Vision incorporates our wants, our hopes and our dreams. When we have taken the time to articulate it, vision can be a “driver” that guides our decisions and actions. It summarizes what we are striving for in the future – in our life and/or in specific sub-areas of our lives (e.g., relationships, work, parenting, work/life balance, etc.).
Connecting Threads. There are two areas that support and/or thwart the building of Core Strength: relationships and language. The people that we choose to spend time with and the words we choose to think/speak (to ourselves and to others) reveal so much about our past, our present and our future. The people and language that we weave through our journey reflect the conscious and unconscious choices that we make on a daily basis. These areas represent a building point that can fortify our journeys.
Key Questions- Relationships: Who are the people with whom I choose to spend time? What purpose do these relationships serve? How do these relationships make me feel? Are these relationships aligned with my future vision for my life?
Key Questions-Language: What are the stories/themes that I repeat about my life? What are some of the positive things I hear myself saying? What are some of the negative messages I hear myself saying?
Obstacles. Obstacles are the “pause points” that invite us to re-examine who we are and what we are made of. They have the potential to obscure our vision, deplete our energy and distract us from engaging in our “work.” They may make us feel out of control; they may throw us off balance. Tests are the moments that invite wisdom. Tests are gifts waiting to be opened. This is an incredibly fun area to explore because there is so much more that is within our control than we realize – this is a light bulb moment for many in my coaching sessions and conferences.
Building Core Strength is a comprehensive, lifelong process that requires intention, focus, commitment and consistent effort.
As my aching stomach muscles remind me, Core Strength is not built in a day. As I learned this week, Core Strength requires more than doing a few sit-ups once a month.
Building Core Strength requires conscious effort. You have to want it. It takes time to get it. Although it may seem like a huge task, all you have to do is pick one activity at a time. Start slow and build your strength over time.
If you are doing this process on your own, select the questions that intrigue you the most.There is no wrong way to proceed. Follow your interests. Set aside time to do it. Record your efforts. Track your progress. Celebrate your milestones.
Core Strength equals wisdom. Wisdom requires thought.
Helping others build Core Strength is my greatest joy. It represents my life’s work. Let me know how I can assist you in your journey to the Center.
Note: Accompanying this article is another posting, "Core Strength for Business™.” In the corporate or nonprofit setting, Core Strength comes from the collective. As a communications specialist I help organizations explore the extent to which there is agreement on core values, principles, philosophies and goals. In the group setting, Core Strength is built from consistency of word and action and it requires purposeful conversation. To press the analogy further, we’ll call it a “group work out.” At the individual level, the Core Strength questions are a little different but the effort required is the same. Whether we are talking about strengthening stomach muscles, collective thought or your personal and spiritual growth, the process requires intention, focus, commitment and consistent effort. I am supporting your success....
© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact email@example.com for more information on motivational programs.