Ayana Labossiere Burks is a transformation health coach based in Oakland California. She helps women get past unhealthy relationships that they've created with food, and helps them transform their relationship to exercise. Most importantly, she helps people transform their relationships to themselves. Ayana's been a teacher and an educator for over 10 years. She learned about self care the hard way.
Because Ayana has so much wisdom to share, the rest of this blog post will be in her words–quoted and condensed for clarity from my recent interview with her on the PBH podcast. Here's Ayana:
“One of the reasons why I got so obsessed with this work is because I went through it. I went through depression in 2010. It was the year that almost killed me, but also the year that rebuilt me as a person. My mom was diagnosed with Huntington's disease. I was coming out of an abusive relationship. That was also the year that one of my best friends was murdered. I started to feel like I was getting oppressed by everything that was going on around me. And I started to really look at life as just one big like pain train. It broke me to the point where I was like I'd rather just not wake up.
So I started looking into therapy. I started absorbing every personal development book, YouTube channel, audio book that I could find, and just really engrossing myself in that world. I started to realize yes, life is painful. But there's so much beauty in life. So, I learned how to change my self-talk, the things that I could control.
Ayana's Self Care Topics
So often in our society, we introduce ourselves to people and the second thing we ask is “what do you do?” Because of that, so many of us overwork. We don't know who we are without work.
And that was an issue I had, too. My self-worth was tied up in how much I was working, how busy I was, my to-do list. And once I started to unpack that, I started to find ways for self-care. We need to separate ourselves from our work, even if we love it. And unfortunately, the majority of us don't. Depending on which surveys you look at, anywhere from 60 to 80% of people don't like their jobs at all.
An example of a boundary is making time for yourself.
Part of what we have to do is learn how to say, “I am not my job. There are so many other ways that I'm powerful. I'm awesome. I deserve a break because I exist. Because I'm human, I deserve to have fun and joy. It's not only when 30 things on my to-do list are done. It is everyday by virtue of me being alive.”
Another way to set boundaries is by delegating work.
The people who are really successful are not just are not doing it all by themselves. I was able to increase my income by getting help and support. When we ask for help, it's from an empowered place. So not only are you better mental health wise: it also helps with burnout and takes your business to another level.
Two: Overcoming Fear
There are so many different fears, but the most common ones that I hear about time and time again, that I saw in my teaching career with students, in my own life, and with my clients, is the fear of failure or fear of rejection. The fear of feeling like not enough, or the fear of being judged. All of these fears fit under the umbrella of imposter syndrome.
One of my coaching schools had a great anecdote for fear: we don't want to get rid of fear, because we need fear to help keep us alive. It's kind of like you're in the car: fear doesn't always have to be the driver seat. These fears, they take over. They can lead us to overwork. When you have this imposter syndrome or this fear of failure, it can lead you to work from a place of panic instead of a place of conscious, active planning.
[What's better is] using fear to help you understand what you need to do to move forward. Not trying to banish it. Not trying to get rid of it, because it's a part of us and we need it. You need that balance. You can't have one without the other.
Three: Your Why
We all know that budgeting is good for us. We all know that eating healthy is good for us. We all know that doing certain things for our business is good for us. But if all we have is that just to-do list item, it can feel kind of boring. We have to remind ourselves of why we're doing it in the first place.
I have a tool that I actually learned from my health coaching school. It's called the big MoFA, which stands for motivating factor. Pick any goal that you have for yourself, and ask yourself “why” multiple times, until you get to a deep, deep reason.
I'll give you an example of that. So, I wanted to lose weight. And the first “why” that I had was, well, I want to look good in my clothes. A lot of us stop there. So then I started to ask myself why again. Why is that important to me? Well, I've never felt secure in my clothes or body, and I want that feeling. Okay. Try to get a little deeper. Why is that important? Because I want to be happy and not beat myself up all the time. Why is that important? I want to have self-forgiveness and self-acceptance. I want to be able to love myself and feel free.
I lost 50 pounds, and I've been able to keep it off because I went through this process and I kept connecting to my deeper why. Now all of a sudden, if I have to wake up at 5:30am to exercise, I can do it now because I'm connected to freedom. Freedom is my reason, not just trying to like “look good,” by society's limiting standards.
When we don't dream, it makes it so that the things that we are trying to do become chores. They just become another thing to check off on the to-do list. They lose their fun, they lose their value– even things that we love to do. I love my business, but I've definitely had times in my business (and you will too), where I felt bored with it. When you help yourself with a dream, it can be incredibly powerful.
Kids are just naturally tapped into this dreaming self. Our society discourages us to dream at a certain point, so we have to really connect with that sense of imagination again. An exercise that I love to do with clients is a dreaming exercise where you journal and you give yourself permission to dream.
You visualize five years into the future and you put yourself there in the present tense. You write what you see going on around you. For me, I'm always on a beach, in Jamaica or Maui. Just allow yourself to just go there and write in the present tense. “I am on the beach. I'm sipping a Mai Tai. I have a very successful business and I have enough time for myself. I can give time and money to the causes that I care about.” Bringing it to the now gives you permission to say “my dreams can be real now.”
To find out more about Ayana's work or sign up for a call with her, find her website here: http://www.thriveandbewhole.com/
Sign up for my free training next week here: https://photobusinesshelp.com/webinar