• Brittney daCosta

HOW TO NIX YOUR SELF-HELP TO-DO LIST

Do you find that your self-help to-do list just ends up getting longer and longer and giving you more anxiety than if you never even had one at all? Get a massage, go to the gym, eat more salads. And for once, you just wish you’d show up for yourself and follow through with something? Like even just one thing you’ve been meaning to do for months?

How nice would it be to actually show up for yourself for a change?

But first, let’s take a step backward. What exactly does “show up for yourself” really mean? And more importantly, how on earth do you do it?

My instinctive thought of showing up for yourself is like when you tell yourself you’re going to do something and you actually do it. I tend to think of showing up for yourself as in actually following through with all those self-help to-do items that seem to just keep piling up.

But what if showing up for yourself meant something different? What if it meant something besides our lists that read something like:

OLD SELF-HELP TO-DO LIST

  • Find the time to cook regularly

  • Sign up for boot camp, join a yoga studio, or…

  • Start ______ diet and actually finish it (without cheating)

  • Don’t eat sugar or carbs

  • Read more books instead of watching so much TV

  • Start incorporating essential oils (because I read somewhere they’re healthy)

  • Learn another language

  • Go back to school

What if showing up for yourself looked more like:

NEW SELF-HELP TO-DO LIST

  • Be open

  • Be honest

  • Be truthful

  • Be vulnerable

  • Be heartfelt

  • Be true

  • Be you

Ahhhhhhh… now doesn’t that sound so much more pleasant? So much more peaceful?

When I look at the second list, I feel a sense of calm and peace. Whereas the first to-do list makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. (Completely contrary to what I’m trying to achieve by checking things off)! BYE BYE TO-DO LISTS, HELLO BIG DESIRES

Showing up for yourself opens your eyes to what it is you truly want. It helps you shed the layers of the emotions and the facades you’ve been hiding behind. It helps you be open to receiving what’s meaningful to you and experiencing JOY in a way that’s freeing and without reserve.

So maybe if we showed up for ourselves in such a vulnerable way, our self-help to-do list would get smaller on its own. Not because we’re checking it off (although, that’s certainly part of the reason) but because we know who we are and our own deepest, most intimate desires.

Have the courage of your desire

I don’t mean the “I want” desires that plague our minds on a daily basis. Not the, “I want to be thin”, “I want to control my appetite” “I want to find the man of my dreams” “I want to be a powerful career woman” kind of desires.

But the passionate desires we sometimes forget are there. The ones that are a part of our heart and ingrained somewhere inside of us. The desires that we maybe don’t even know are there.

  • To experience joy without fear

  • To feel like we belong

  • To be heard

  • To know pain, yet come out better

  • To feel unconditional loved

Because when our deepest desires are known and being met, shedding a few pounds, being skinny, or impressing your lover doesn’t seem so important. Instead of uselessly consuming our minds, we can focus on what’s truly important… maybe that’s family, relationships, peace… So how do we make our self-help to-do list smaller? How do we start checking off what’s important and crossing off what isn’t?

The answer is simple and yet oh so complicated.

1. Quiet Time. 


Having just a minute here or a few minutes there in complete solitude and quiet gives you a chance to think without distractions and without someone else’s opinions influencing your thought direction.

For me, this is number one. I use this time to close my eyes and reflect. Reflect on the day past, ahead, everything that’s going on, conversations that were had… Sometimes I need time to process my thoughts and to understand what it is I’m even feeling and my quiet time often gives me just enough for me to work through it all.

2. Breathe.


When you’re in the moment, whether it’s a moment of panic, fear or joy, close your eyes and breathe. This is your opportunity to shut out the world even just for a few seconds and find your center.

Life is busy and that’s totally fine. But sometimes we forget that breathing is an essential life force. So by stopping to take slow calculated breaths, we can reconnect our bodies to the earth and be reminded that this moment is an opportunity, despite whether it’s making us feel good or bad.

3. Journal.


This is a harder one to take one for many, myself included. My journaling history has had its ups and downs and has included many different avenues to get to where I’m at now.

Ultimately, you need to find what works for you. At one time, I found that affirmations and goals were what I needed and now I like to work through my thoughts on conversations, childhood events, and life overall. I like to start by asking myself questions and let my pen take over. (Much like I did at the beginning of this article)

4. Practice Gratitude.


There’s simply nothing like practicing gratitude. The more gratitude you have in your life, the less room there is for judgment, negativity, and anxiety.

See, the thing is, we need to be grateful not just the good, but for the bad too. It seems counter-intuitive but it’s true. When we can appreciate the things gone wrong, we can see how those things have made us bigger and better.

And when we’re going through a tough time but can take a step back to feel a sense of gratitude, we can experience the grief and pain with a light at the end of the tunnel.

So take some time to write in your journal each day three things you’re thankful for. Or go around the dinner table and each says something you’re grateful for that day. Or when you and your family come home from your days, tell each other something that stood out in a positive way.

5. Have a Mentor


Talking to someone, be it a friend, professional or colleague, who’s one step ahead of you who will help guide you and keep you on a forward-moving track.

A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could

Having that person to talk through things with may just be the key you need to work through any intense emotions whether it’s grief from a breakup or anger at a colleague.

Having that person to talk through things with may just be the key you need to work through any intense emotions whether it’s grief from a breakup or anger at a colleague.

When we incorporate these practices into our life, we can be ourselves and not who our self-help to-do list tells us we should be. Our lists will no longer be important to us because we’re acting in line with the person we are and not trying to be someone we’re not.

And because we’re showing up for ourselves in a way that lets us be who we are at our core, we naturally want to take care of our mind, our health and our bodies better than ever before. To me, that’s getting far more accomplished than crossing a few items off our anxiety-causing to-do lists!

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