“Every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”  ~Iain Thomas

In the first week we explored how the ever-changing balance of demands and resources shifts us between calm and stress. When our resources are sufficient to meet even great demands, we remain calm, focused, and balanced. Yet, life is so very dynamic.  At any moment an additional demand or loss of a resource upsets the balance and alarm mode kicks in.

stress balance 1Now that we are more familiar with how each mode feels inside, and how the resource of self-compassion helps restore balance, let’s take a simple look at the demand side of the equation. Next month when we look at the science of motivation, we will explore this further. This week, let’s keep it simple and just notice.

Demands for our attention and energy can be sorted into three categories:

External demands include the responsibility and pressures from relationships, work, community, culture, etc. Take a moment to brainstorm the outside demands and pressures you are feeling right now at this moment.

Internal demands are the responsibilities and pressures we feel regarding our relationships, career, community, health, etc. This includes thoughts about physical signals from the body and emotions. Without evaluating if they have value or not, take a moment to notice the internal demands of this moment.

Desires are internal pulls from the heart.  Rather than the voice inside saying Idesires 4 should or I must, desires are a tug in the heart or feeling in the gut. I really want to …. travel more, feel happy, have more energy, be free from addiction, feel confident, play with my children/grandchildren… Desires can easily get muted or distorted by external an internal demands.  First place a hand on your heart and take a few mindful breaths. Now simply ask what do I really want right now? Desires are sensed in the body, simply notice what surfaces inside. This can take a bit more time to clarify, so keep coming back to this simple mindful pause.

Demands and desires are a natural part of being human, there is no need to judge them.  Beneath every demand is a heartfelt desire  The demands we notice then are simply clues to what we really want in each moment.

Most important to remember that we have the ability to stay grounded when the demands start pulling us away.  Mindful self-compassion calms the internal war, strengthens our inner compass, and keeps us grounded in what is truly important to us.

Activate it:  This week simply notice, without judgement, the demands and desires. Listen for I should or I must and I really want. As you notice, continue to practice the tool of self-compassion and kindness, possibly placing a hand on your heart, asking what would be the kindest response to this demand or desire?  Jot down what you notice.

With much gratitude, my wish for each of you this season – whatever you are celebrating or not celebrating, whomever you are with or missing – is that you give yourself  moments to breathe and receive the gift of kindness. Peace!

May You Be Well,


Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC